First things first, here are some ways you can help those affected by Harvey:
Second of all, I honestly don't have much to write about because all I can think about is Houston and how they need our help. Please do what you can.
And finally, I just want to share a few social media highlights from the last few days.
Professor Wolbrecht goes on about this for about 11 tweets. My response to Matt Walsh: Yes, this is how it ought to be, people helping people. As @iwillharness posted:
@iwillharness is HARNESS YOUR ENERGY TO POWER CHANGE (founded by America Ferrera, Ryan Piers Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama, Harness connects communities through conversation to inspire action and power change). Check them out.
Last week, I shared this Tina Fey sketch on Facebook and thought it was somewhat cathartic to see Fey eat a sheet cake (because that does seem relatable) but there has been some serious backlash against this sketch that is worth reading and acknowledging our part in it as well. While some are claiming the brilliant satire of Fey to be overlooked, I believe with that platform she had that night, she could have done so much more with it, especially knowing that a lot of people were looking for something we're clearly not getting from 45.
She's a smart lady and uses humor well most of the time. I've been a fan of hers for years. Hell, my branding is to say I'm a lovechild of Tina Fey and Audrey Hepburn. But, while I have admired the witty New York writer, I am becoming more aware that she does not have the best reputation in the feminist world. She sides more with white feminism than intersectional feminism, and a lot of her humor is pretty damn racist. I noticed more of it in Kimmy Schmidt, but it's definitely seen throughout 30 Rock as well. And yes, she's a comedian. A lot of people felt the need to remind us of that after the backlash began with the sheet caking. Comedian or not though, a lot of POC took great offense to the sketch, and that should be enough for us to look at it (and ourselves) with greater perspective. While I don't think it's fair to hold Fey to that level of presiding over us, we the people were expecting/needing more in that moment. No, she's not a leader, but she's the face we saw and looked to for hope.
I do wish she had ended the bit with a more of a unifying tone instead of telling us to stay at home (because a lot of people thought she was seriously suggesting that). When I initially watched it, I thought there was something to it, the idea behind not giving power to the white men whining about their rights. It seemed to say "take care of yourself, you're not alone, don't just sit around and do nothing though," which who's to say if that's what she was going for or not. Either way, the audience for that message was people like me. White ladies overwhelmed by guilt and the sad state of the world. It reminded me of the following Bo Burnham lyric from his song "Sad":
"That's it, laughter, it's the key to everything
It's the way to solve all the sadness in the world
I mean, not for the people that are actually sad, but for the people like us who've gotta fucking deal with 'em all the time
Being a comedian isn't being an insensitive prick capitalizing on the most animalistic impulses of the public, it's being a hero!
The world isn't sad. The world's funny! I get it now! I'm a sociopath!"
And the other day at a Town Hall meeting with my Congressman, was I tempted to get up and ask him: "So, what do you think of Tina Fey's cake sketch?" Yes. Without a doubt. I wanted to get up, ask my silly question, and tell everyone there I brought enough sheet cake for us all to share (which obviously I didn't). I wanted to do that because the room was so full of hate, anger, and shouting, my friend and I were holding hands throughout a lot of it because of how intense it was. So, I created a humorous situation in my head to ease the pain. Because humor is a wonderful thing to turn to during moments of struggle, but sometimes it's truly not enough.
I was visiting my family this past weekend when I heard about Charlottesville. As I was sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight back down to LA, I was writing down some thoughts in my journal. This is what I wrote:
"But I struggle with my perspective as a white cis middle class woman - haven't we had enough of those [stories]? I don't want to be more of the same. I want to change. But this is where I am. A young woman. Or am I just a woman now that I'm 30? I am part of the problem. I need to do more.
It's vulnerable for me to share those words on this platform. Writing in my journal is a safe space where I can let it all out without any repercussion or outcome. It's just word vomit. But I wanted to share the words above because I feel like I'm not alone in some of these thoughts. A lot of people I know are struggling with how to voice their feelings with everything they're watching on the news. A lot of people are not talking about it. A lot of people are saying we need more love in the world. A lot of people are open to friendly discourse and conversation. Me? I'm thinking about jumping on a plane and flying to Charlottesville or somewhere else in the world to get more involved. I'm not going to, but the thought is there. I'm looking for protests, panels, and marches in my area. And yeah, I'm definitely open to talking about different perspectives, but when it comes to racism, bigotry, classism, or anything close to those? Fuck it. I want to scream in a lot of people's faces right about now. I am angry. I am full of rage. I am thinking some horrible thoughts. I am ready for action, instead of just sitting behind my computer, observing everything that's taking place. I am thinking too much about myself.
What about you? What are you doing? What are you feeling? Do you have any words to share? The quote I keep in mind lately is "If you are silent in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu. Other words in my mind are from Ani Difranco. Who, around 2011, rewrote some of the verses of a 1930's labor song "What Side Are You On?" and it seems appropriate to share some of the lyrics today:
"Too many stories written
These words have echoed in my mind for 72+ hours. What side are you on?
Our SCROTUS thinks there are many sides to this. Many sides. WTF. He said, "I think there is blame on both sides... You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.” It's infuriating. It makes my blood boil. I thank whatever god you believe in that I'm not in high school right now and can pour myself a very large scotch to numb myself from the pain.
I wish I had a better note to end on this week, but with everything going on in the news, it's hard to focus on anything else. So for now, I'd like to take the time to think more, reflect, listen, scream, and do more than contribute my $5 to whatever non-profit can help people out this month.
First of all, I highly recommend that you listen to the Nerdette podcast. It's quickly become one of my favorite things to listen to and from work. The guests provide homework for the listeners, which I am so into and have fulfilled all of the assignments I've listened to so far (yes, I'm a nerd and it's the Hermione Granger in me that's coming out).
Second of all, if you haven't seen the film Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre and starring Jenny Slate, do yourself a favor and rent it on Amazon. To this day, it's still one of the best movie going experiences I shared with some of my close lady friends.
Now, with both of those things said, I want to share something that happened to me the other day while I was driving home from work, listening to Jenny Slate on the Nerdette podcast.
Jenny was speaking about how amazing Gillian is to work with, and as she was saying "while she loves men, she has just no time to bend towards the male gaze," I looked to my right and saw this old dude in a beat up mini van just staring at me in a very creepy manner. Jenny's voice continued, but I couldn't hear the rest of it. My ears seemed to stop working because all I could focus on out of my peripheral vision was that dude continuing to stare at me.
I tried to get back to Nerdette, but my mind was running all over the place. I thought of that 30 Rock scene when Liz mentions the male gaze and Hazel responds, "Yeah, they're all a bunch of gays." I thought of earlier in the day when a guy catcalled me from his car as I walking down the street. I though of when I learned about the male gaze in college and how that opened my eyes up to cinema more. I thought of Orange is the New Black, Wonder Woman, the manic pixie dream girl and the cool girl. And as I was thinking about each of those, I was focusing on the male gazing at me from his window. How dare he objectify me. How dare he stare at me. How dare he continue to do so even when I looked back at him, clearly seeming upset.
The light turned green and we each drove off, me in a slightly more raged state than before. I rewound the podcast to hear what I had missed. Jenny's voice calmly surrounded me in my car: "she has just no time to bend towards the male gaze, and I needed that. I needed a role model like that in my life. It changed everything from my personal style to how I think about myself in my community to how I pick my jobs. And I like that she allows me to play women who are sexually active, have sexual preferences, but are not sexualized in any way that is going to create a marketplace for the patriarchy. I like that."
We need more people like Gillian Robespierre.
In that moment, I breathed a little easier. I felt comforted, understood, and not alone. It was as if Gillian and Jenny were in the car with me, and we were driving off to create more badass feminist art. And we definitely don’t have time to deal with any of the bullshit that is the male gaze.
Last night, I attended a panel put on by Amplifier at their LA Pop-Up Studio in Silver Lake. The title of the event was The New Feminist Agenda: Where the Women’s March Goes From Here, and it included a group of five artists and activists. I attended this in hopes of finding some answers to the questions I've been asking:
The speakers also mentioned the importance of finding our tribes. We need to utilize the people around us and start the work from there, building out. I was instantly reminded of the Leslie Knope quote: "Not to say that public service isn’t sexy because it definitely is, but that’s not why we do it. We do it because we get the chance to work hard at work worth doing, alongside a team of people you love. So I thank those people who’ve walked with me, and I thank you for this honor. Now, go find your team and get to work." It's one of my favorite quotes of all time. A close contender, however, might be from one of the panelists - Paola Mendoza - last night, who said: "Organizing out of anger is exhausting. But if you organize out of love, it's energizing. Love keeps you fighting. What got me out of bed on November 9th was love for the undocumented community. My love for democracy."
Those words are definitely what I needed to hear, and why I left feeling better than when I arrived. Those words reminded me that so many of us are fighting with love right beside us. It's love that keeps us going, not anger. Anger is what is coming out of the White House currently. Well that, and fear. It's a lot of old white men in there that want to control others, to fit us in this mold they made for us. And when we don't, they don't know how to handle it so insane things just continue to happen. Those crazy things might make us angry, which is good. That is the fire within us, but what fuels the fire? That's love. We need to keep the love burning and light each other up with inspiration.
Oh, also, something important I took away from this panel. Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable. We all have to be more uncomfortable to incite change.