Why I Never Cry

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My mother used to laugh at me when I cried. Weakness was the cardinal sin in the house. Before you think my mother is a monster, you should know the reasons. My mom was afraid, afraid that her sweet, sensitive, intellectual daughter would get eaten alive in a cold world that had eaten her alive. She did what she thought she had to do to save me from a world that would punish me for weakness, for tears, for over sensitivity. I look back on this now and it is easy to be angry, I’m angry for every tear I never got to shed and for the years I’ve spent thinking of myself as cold, unfeeling, and indestructible. I’m angry that those words came to define me more than my intelligence, or my kindness or my deep sense of loyalty and love for others. But most of all, I’m angry because I can’t tell my mother she was wrong. The world was every bit as cold and unfeeling and dark as she made it out to be and I needed to be strong enough to survive. But most of all, I’m angry because instead of working towards creating a world where she would have been wrong I’ve been simultaneously encouraged to be tough and unfeeling while having my anger thrown back in my face as some sort of explanation for the cold world I was facing.

 

As a little girl, I used to walk around after the rainstorms and pick up worms and put them back in the ground. Teachers often put their most challenging students next to me because they knew I’d help without judgment. I readily went hungry to feed other kids. I cried at the end of books like the Outsiders and I hated bullies with a passion. This is the part of me that I’ve always loved more, that I’ve always wanted to just be able to inhabit at all times. But I didn’t have that option because I was born a soldier in a war against my own people and I don’t just mean poor people, I also mean people who feel things and intellectuals, and artists. People who are different. People for whom this is going to ring painfully true. I mean the war the hunts the better angels of our nature and calls hope unrealistic. I didn’t ask to be a soldier in that war. Had I been born into circumstances where I didn’t have to fight, I’d be sitting in a science lab somewhere peacefully living my life with calmness and joy. Instead I’ve spent the last 28 years holding back tears and playing the role of the warrior and I’ve done a damn good job, I know because some people have gotten the mistaken impression that this is all that I am and that this is what I want.

 

I often wish now that I had the capacity to make my emotions visible, because then maybe people would have known when I was struggling. Then maybe I could have demonstrated my human failings. Then maybe I wouldn’t be so tired from having to act all of the time. People are surprised when I need help, people will often push me past my limits because my pain isn’t visible to them, they don’t see the way I’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dogs to fear demonstrations of weakness. They don’t know how many times my sweet, vulnerable, sensitive nature has been violated, destroyed, and mocked. They don’t know how exhausting it is to keep lugging this sword everywhere. They haven’t had to pick up the pieces when I’ve needed help. They haven’t had to rock me to sleep or get me through my panic attacks. And they don’t know that I’ve been hiding all of this not for my benefit but for everyone else’s. Because what happens when I have opened up? When I tell people about my life and what I’ve been through, it causes them pain. It makes them uncomfortable. It is hard for them to hear. It makes them feel bad. So I hide everything to avoid being a burden to anyone, because I’ve existed in a world where I have to justify my existence. I have to be of some use or I risk losing everything because I have been entitled to nothing.

 

So they say I have a bad temper. They talk to me about my language instead of asking how I’m doing. They pick fights with me without considering how much I need to hear something positive. They tear me down to build themselves up. They assume that I don’t need to hear anything positive because I’m so strong, I must already know! They think this is fun for me. That this constant struggle is a lifestyle I enjoy that is a completely authentic choice. I didn’t get the choice about my activism, I had to do it to survive in a system that’s been trying to kill me since I was born. They call me a bitch. They expect me to have perfect super human strength at all times. They demand I do things they themselves can’t do. Then they question my sanity instead of questioning the sanity of the world that made someone so sensitive so shut down.

 

And this is one thing when the “they” don’t know me. When they know me from my writing or the internet or when they have just met me, but what hurts the most is the people who do know me. The people who have watched me bend over backwards and sacrifice my body for my students. The people who I have cared for, the people I have fought for, the people I have tried to protect. It’s the people who I have seen me with animals and with books in my quiet hours who haunt me the most. Because I know they love me, but they don’t love the part of me that needs to be fed because that person stands at odds with the person they need me to be and they haven’t considered what I need.

 

But I can’t be that person anymore, because that person was destroying herself. What I can be is wonderfully loving, gentle and kind. Maybe that’s the only way to do my part to make it such that little girls don’t have to be told their sweeter nature is a life threatening liability.

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The Things that Set Us Free: Reflections on Opposition to my Cross-Class Relationship

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When I was 22, in the careless days of my mostly drunken youth, I was coming out of relationship with someone, who for a variety of reasons, wasn’t terribly cool about my class background. Which had grown to be pretty standard operating procedure; I had grown to expect my best-case scenario to not be treated like nuclear waste. The words “damaged goods” had been used more than onceThings had gotten so bad that I was mostly just grateful when they managed to make it through a half an hour without saying anything terribly offensive. And if they laughed? I was so starved for the way love is expressed through laugher that I fell in love with just about anyone who laughed before they expressed horror. This experience and four years of frustrating battles with my peers and staff at Stanford had turned me into a cynical, angry, radical pain in the ass. After ending a relationship with one of the most stereotypical privileged white male social justice dudes (hereafter known as PWD) you’ve ever met, after having him spit venom at my sister and refuse to come with me to funerals when I needed him, and of him crying about how hard his life was, while I was just trying to keep my students and myself alive, I said something stupid which now has come back to get its karmic retribution. I said I wasn’t going to date privileged men anymore. At first I was joking, then I started saying it out of spite so that I could horrify my female peers, then I became deadly serious. Those of you who have followed my blog the last several years will remember this as the relationship I had to flee from last year.

 

There were a lot of reasons why PWD didn’t work out when I was younger, and one of them was that our class backgrounds were so vastly different and he was deeply disturbed by mine. This is probably normal; hanging out with me is like having to deal with cognitive dissonance whiplash all day. I’m sure it was stressful and frustrating and because this person lacked empathy and context and I recognize that it was trying. I also recognize after almost two years of a relationship that made me hate myself that my banning of his “kind” was probably justified as a reaction to the fact that actually he had been incredibly causal and self-righteous about being emotionally abusive. The problem with that reaction is that it lumped a whole group of men together, that shouldn’t have been lumped together and that I, of all people, should have known better.

 

The relationship I fled from, didn’t work for a variety of reasons. We have very different approaches and attitudes towards life. It turns out that I reserve my kindness and patience for my students and seem to have a much harder time accepting and making excuses for dudes when they don’t perform like me. He didn’t want the kind of intellectual life I wanted and admittedly, it probably is pretty draining to hang out with me ALL DAY and listen to the insane variety of thoughts and reading I do and have to try to keep me intellectually entertained, especially because in my case, boredom leads to depression. Which is to say, that part of the reason our relationship didn’t work was the also the difference in our class backgrounds. We had grown up in the same neighborhood, but I was too far into being a Stanford alum for us to work. There was no way to go back once I left and I never fully belonged in the first place.

 

So I left that and I moved down to LA. I started hanging out with Ross, as friends for a long time. We had a lot conversations about what words meant because it turned out that words meant different things to us because our backgrounds were so different. But the point was that he had the conversation. We also had conversations about what words meant because we both have the intellectual habit of needing to pick apart words. My past isn’t exactly easy for me to hide (I may be white but no one believes my ass didn’t grow up poor, even when I’m trying to pass it takes the average rich person about 5 minutes to figure out I am not one of them, less if they are exceptionally smart or wise or if I’m not trying really hard to code switch) and Ross had read a lot of my writing for a long time. He read my memoir in its initial draft and I kept sort of expecting him to have the kind of breakdown guys used to have. I mean, I’m used to making dudes cry because of my childhood. So used to it in fact that I stopped talking about it, not because its triggering or unpleasant for me but mostly because it is unpleasant for everyone else. The breakdown I was expecting him to have never occurred, and I could tell you its partially because he’s technically a deviant among the rich and has always hung out with working class people or because he’s an incredibly imaginative writer but both of those don’t get at the root of it, which is that he’s just incredibly empathetic and sees people as people. And if I were still the same 22 year old shithead I once was, I probably would have seen none of it.

 

Since I had only strayed far from my own class background and only seriously once when I was much younger and no one believed there was any danger of me settling down with anyone, I sort of didn’t expect any backlash from my friends about this. I mean, for inter-racial stuff, sure. I expected that. We don’t talk about these cross-class relationships often, sometimes we talk about mixed-race relationships but given that Ross is Jewish and I’m mostly just trailor trash with some native thrown in and therefore incredibly pale, we didn’t really have the cross-race issues. Although Ross was raised Jewish and I was raised by “recovering Catholics” our actual religious and political views are very neatly aligned. Although we still have conversations about culture and I will never understand the way Ross experiences the world as a Jewish person, this rarely poses much conflict for us. But the class difference is vast, tangible and present. So when my friends started expressing their concerns about his background, they didn’t really have a choice but to frame it in terms of class.

 

Some of my friends thought Ross was doing the intellectual equivalent of “slumming it”, meaning that while he found me fascinating in an exotic way he’d eventually wisen up and end up with his own “kind” because of my inherent inferiority in his mind. In other words, they assumed that he is so classist that despite my two degrees from Stanford, he would always look upon me as inferior to the girls who were raised rich. Besides being super personally offensive to Ross, this argument, understandable though it was, eventually came to really hurt me. Because it denied the half of myself that actually shares the fact that Ross and I are both also elite graduates from the same institution. My community never lets me forget that I’m not all the way from the hood anymore. But it also hurt, because even supposing that Ross should see my class background as inferior it meant that my friends saw few redeeming qualities that another sane and not blind human being should see. Like I dunno, the fact that I’m a good cook and I give massages. Or that I’m incredibly compassionate. Or that I’m entertaining and funny. You know, the other traits that define me besides my pain and struggle. The things that have allowed me to thrive despite struggle, all those cool, wonderful things that my community claims to see are in fact visible to other people who are not from my class background.

 

Some of my male friends from working class backgrounds had more specific concerns related to a lifetime of having to compete with men like Ross. Some of them sort of viewed him as your stereotypical villain from the movies. This happened for good reasons; I have countless well educated working class male friends that have actually had girls break up with them because they had less money. This struggle is very real and I have very much fed into the perception that owed it to the community to stay away from privileged dudes. I had become a symbol in their minds, and because I had been so loudly against marrying people for money (I am still am because its immoral and a shitty way to treat people), they kind of assumed that I’d be one of the “good girls” and stay within my community. It took nearly four weeks before I realized how much I believed in my responsibility to the community and to the men I grew up with but it couldn’t change the basic fact that I fell in love. I struggled with my guilt for months, worried most of all about what message it would send to my male friends. For his part, Ross felt he couldn’t really challenge this, he said he understood how they felt because he’d feel that way too. But at the end of the day, my affection and loyalty to Ross won out. He had to fight hard for that, because for me the fact that he came from money was more of a barrier than an enticement and because I didn’t trust him. To avoid making this thing too long I’ll skip the listing of hoops he had to jump through, but suffice it to say he jumped through them, probably getting a few burns in the process because he saw enough in me to overlook how difficult this was going to be. And just so we are clear, both Ross and I understand and understood these concerns. Ross anticipated them far better than I did and sometimes had to explain them to me. These concerns are borne out of oppression and anger and a lifetime of bad experiences. They were concerns that not long ago, I too would have held. However, none of this makes it any less stupid.

 

The reason I call it stupid is because it reduces two very complex people down to a single identifying marker. It makes us our demographics and ignores the fact that although the both of us are probably compatible with literally no other person on the planet, we somehow work well for each other. We like to refer to this a “complementarily cray.” It isn’t enough that our intellects are well matched, I have lots of very smart friends, it is also that through some weird magic we happen to have very similar ways of looking at things while simultaneously making each other better people. I can feel the physical difference of his pressance, I am in less pain now than I have ever been in my life. He manages to keep my anxiety in check. We finish sentences and somehow really like living with each other when we’d be terrible roommates to anyone else (as always, a continuous apology to anyone who has ever had to live with me). And we’ve both been on the planet long enough to know how rare that is, how hard it is to find fellow mutants whose mutations happen to work in complementary and not destructive ways.

 

I can’t tell you how many times in the last year someone close to me told me that if I held a high intellect as one of the central standards in my dating life that I would die alone forever or that it was going to be really hard to find someone who would tolerate my intelligence because apparently really smart women are lepers. But again, this was understandable. This was not untrue. It was just shitty on an individual level. It had been suggested that I make more of an effort to appear stupid to attract men or that I let go of my long standing Bonnie and Clyde fantasy in the name of stability. This idea has been with me for as long as I can remember, which is to say that for as long as I have been old enough to date I have had the perception of myself as somehow untouchable because of my brain. So when an actual genius tells you that he loves that you are smarter than him and that he tells his friends you are smarter than him and demonstrates that he really means it by the respect he gives your intellect, you certainly aren’t going to just take that lightly. But I was not prepared for that actually happening in real life so sometimes I settled and sometimes I settled on being alone. I’ve been lucky because my parents have a really good marriage going back almost a decade and a half under absolutely insane conditions. The lesson I learned from my parents is that marriage is only worth it if you find someone as compatible with you as my parents are with each other. So this was a precondition for me and because everyone kept telling me this was impossible, I started making lots of jokes about ending up alone with cats. Then this dude had to come along and ruin all my fantasies about solitude.

 

The funny thing about this is that our even matched intelligence meant even matched neurosis. You know all those annoying traits I had when I was younger? The detachment? The commitment-phobia? The intentional attempts to push everyone away from me before they can hurt me? Yeah. I was SUPER FUN to date. Suddenly gives you a new perspective on it when you have to watch your own behavior reflected in someone you really love. Might mellow you out. Might make you less of a hypocrite. Might also make you more understanding and compassionate. It might also make both of you a giant pain in the others’ ass for several months. But what it’ll definitely do is grow your ass the fuck up.

 

So I’m typing this from Los Angeles because we both did some growing as people in directions that were not part of either of our plans. I’ve learned that Maya Angelou was right, love costs all that you are and ever will be and yet it is only love which will set you free.

A Short, Noncomprehensive List of Taboo Jokes that I Find Funny

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Recently, someone mistook me for a fascist and questioned whether or not my social justice values somehow were mutually exclusive with having a sense of humor. I find this to be a disgusting allegation that I refuse to stand for, so I present to you an bibliography of  just some of the jokes about race/gender/sexuality etc that I find funny.

 

Carlin breaks it all down for us

Louis CK explains white privilege

Paul Mooney educates the people

Key and Peele demonstrate the absurdity of Nazis

Key and Peele educate the masses

A PSA on assumptions and stereotypes from Key and Peele

Louis CK explains how real the struggle is

Amy Shumer and gangbang philosophy

Amy Shumer makes domestic violence funny

Monique, just generally being amazing

Basically the entire South Park collection but especially the last few seasons

Jessica Williams breaks down catcalling

 

I hope we’ve all learned an important lesson today. You can be funny without being an asshole. You can support social justice without banning speech, which is just being a different kind of asshole.

 

 

I Know How We Lose Good People

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During my senior year, I had three deaths in the family in two months. We had two suicide attempts among my close friends. I directed and performed the precursor to Class Confessions, wrote FLIP’s constitution, participated and spoke at rallies and programs, and advocated for mental health care services for the poor on campus, all while finishing my classes with very minimal assistance from anyone. I managed to graduate on time, a feat I only accomplished because my mom begged me to do so for the benefit of the family. I was a very potent symbol, I entered Stanford and they wouldn’t even use the term low income, by the time I left FLIP (First Generation, Low Income Partnership) had changed its name from NextGen and low income was becoming part of the lexicon. I didn’t do this alone but I was very often in the position where people thanked me for speaking because they didn’t have to. This was definitely my baby in college. And it was a baby I bled for, by the time my senior year had ended my headaches were so severe I had to get weekly shots of Toradol to remain functional and I was going through an absurd amount of vicodin. I gained a great deal of weight. I did real damage to my jaw and neck. By the time the year was over, I was exhausted. I spent a summer trying to rest, only to have my community make jokes about how lazy I was. My favorite ones were bathed in sexism, instead of simply allowing me a break, they referred to me as my boyfriend’s housewife, as if a simple three months off somehow negated my work. I have many rich friends who have taken time off without this kind of pressure, and when I told them I was going to need to take last year off, they didn’t understand why it was so distressing for me. Instead of getting a year off, I had the worst year of my adult life. It was marred by homelessness, a trip in the ambulance, recovering from being wheel-chair bound, leaving an abusive relationship and applying to grad school with minimal basic resources, like the internet, while all of this was going on. In the fall after my senior year, still suffering from daily migraines, I signed back up for a martyrdom I had come to expect in my life. I’ve repeated this process over and over again since graduating.

 

The most common response to my breakdown last year was, “we had no idea, and we assumed you were ok, you are so strong.” This came from really kind, well-meaning people that I love. People pushed me back into the classroom after a traumatic injury. When I did it again, people still pushed me back. And this was well intentioned, I’ve been given a set of cognitive gifts that I didn’t earn and it makes me especially talented at certain tasks. It is awesome that people are inspired by my work and strength and I get the strong desire to have me continuing to do the work. I also was raised with the belief that my gifts are meaningless if they contribute nothing to others.

 

 

At the end of my senior year, after 4 years of activism, one of the deans asked me where I was from as if I was some sort of alien. She had heard me speak for four years but for some reason didn’t ask this question until then and obviously had failed to listen since I was forced to be incredibly open about my background or else I faced the negation of my entire existence and awkward questions about my behavior. It also would have meant less access to the already limited resources on campus since my oppression was not visible to those who don’t understand that poverty that affects white people is still systematic and brutal. She wanted to know what my “deal” was. On average, I get challenged on my origins about 3 times a week, unless I refuse to leave the house, which might be why no one ever sees me outside of my house. This part of my burden I have accepted without complaint for the last decade because I figured it was the price I paid for having the skin color we identify with privilege. I suppose it would be less exhausting to explain my origins so often if people didn’t challenge what I said to them.

 

 

“I have a multiethnic family and I grew up poor.”

“But you are white.”

 

“I care about police brutality because people in my family and community have been victims of it.”
“But you are white.”

 

“I spoke a nonstandard dialect of English when I entered Stanford”

“But you are white.”

 

I have many more examples, but you get the point. Insert this conversation for every aspect of my identity, multiply it by nearly every person who encounters me now and you have some inkling of what a normal class period or activist meeting is for me. I understand that I have white privilege, that despite my poverty, disability, history of vile oppression at the hands of authority figures and men, my white skin still matters. As a result of this understanding, I also took the responsibility for educating other people myself so my nonwhite friends didn’t have to. I know my whiteness matters. My family was the target of eugenics, and it still matters. I am so happy to do this, I’ve been fighting my whole life for other people and it feels natural to me and I’m good at it. But at some point, a nuanced discussion about the intersectionality of privilege went from the understanding that my whiteness brought privilege but that I still suffered from class oppression and gender oppression to the absolute assumption that my whiteness negates my class oppression. That, in fact, my whiteness precludes me from participating in the discussion at all. My whiteness matters, I’ve always been aware of it. But I’m not sure it matters enough to dismiss the oppression I’ve experienced. I’m not sure my white skin shielded me enough from hunger, pain, and violence that anyone has any business telling me whether or not I’m doing enough or that I don’t need liberating too.

 

A lot of things happened in Seattle. My financial aid didn’t go through like it was supposed to because of a change in funding. My disability made it nearly impossible to work, and I had very limited networks and resources. I found myself justifying my existence every day, constantly being re-triggered in a to fight for something that is deeply personal to me. If you knew me a few years ago, you’ll remember what absolute snot I was about my responsibility to the community and what I expected from others. We talk about how important it is to go back, for our most marginalized members to fight the fight continuously, and most of them accept this responsibility because we know what privilege it is for us to be in the position we are in. You know, the representatives of the marginalized among the elite. But we never talk about the cost for people who have already suffered tremendous trauma. It is a struggle I know well, but it was always part of the deal. What wasn’t part of the deal constantly had to have arguments with my fellow soldiers about whether or not that trauma happened. In the fall, I volunteered to be part of a sit-in to talk about school segregation in the west and got politely told that my whiteness made me ineligible for such a task. I got painfully bored in class, talking about things that I have long talked about. Hearing things like, “well, you’re poor so why don’t you tell us why poor people are like this.” Being a token is part of the package. But it was different when I could actually get things done and when I felt like I had a place to contribute to the overall mission.

 

I get where this anger comes from, of course. Too often in this country, programs that should have helped the poor excluded people by race. I’m often on the receiving end of co-option attempts because I fit the image and narrative that would allow people to say, “hey she did it” and I carry the guilt of that knowledge with me. Too often, pointing out the suffering of poor white people has been used as a distraction from talking about the very real problems that nonwhite people face under a system that is both classist and a result of centuries of white supremacy. Marginalized people are pitted against each other in a zero sum game and instead of coming together, hunger, violence, trauma, and anger leads to hate. So I understand that sometimes people have very legitimate concerns and responses about the way my narrative is used but I can’t change the basic facts of my existence to fit a narrative. Believe me, if I could I would.

 

The irony of all of this is the people that have given me the most support are outside of this community. In November one of them came to see me in Seattle, and if I told you his demographic information your immediate presumption would be Privileged White Male. We had spent a lot of time being close friends in LA together during my interim period between schools while I was recovering. He’s stepped in on several occasions when my family couldn’t and when I moved we realized we missed each other and sometime in the process fell in love. My friends hated him because he comes from an incredibly rich family. As they hated him, he spent a good portion of his time listening to me be miserable at graduate school, coaching me through my frustration and anger for several hours a day even when my anger was technically directed at the very people he was born into. I was so bored, I got depressed, my work starting deteriorating and for the first time I lost the motivation to fight. In November, Ross came to visit me and one of my other close friends was hired by an organization in which he would be called to represent a category he wasn’t demographically part of but had worked extensively with. To say this friend was qualified for this particular job would be an understatement. Although he was queer male of color, the organization was specifically focused on women’s issues, which is actually a topic he has researched at a graduate level. He called me to make sure taking the job was ethical.

 

After the phone call, I told Ross about it and he simply said, “You know they are going to treat him like shit, right? Like they are going to give him so much shit.”

 

Without much thought, I responded, “Yeah, of course, we know that. We don’t expect to not be treated like shit, you just hope to find a place where the shit is manageable.”
It took about three weeks for me to realize how deeply disturbing that thought was. Is liberation martyrdom? I was always ok with the martyrdom bit, but I wonder sometimes if Joan of Arc might have been less willing to burn if she had spent time having her own people tearing her down the way I’ve watched myself and some of my friends be torn down by the very community that claims to represent us. On the last day of classes, I found out the government doesn’t actually consider what I do research. That combined with the fact that my research focused on class meant an uphill and brutal battle, and it was a battle I was prepared to fight until it became clear to me that it was a battle I was going to feel like I was fighting in isolation.

 

So I guess what I’m telling you is that I burned out. I’ve been burned out for a very long time and it took a rich white dude literally rescuing me to finally get some rest. I’m hoping and praying that my motivation to fight is going to come back. I deeply wanted to run into a forest and never speak to anyone again but it’s not really an option with the Internet. Maybe someday someone will show up to my cabin and tell me I’m needed and I’ll stop baking shit long enough to hear them out. When? Roughly the same time I stop viscerally understanding why other activists kill themselves.

 

In the meantime, I’m in LA. I’m happy, I’m writing, I’m working on the design of future school projects; I’m helping former students. I’m making cinnamon rolls from scratch and sleeping for the first time in about 28 years. My headaches have drastically declined and I live with a fellow mutant who seems to be uniquely good at figuring out when I need help. So good that he flew up to Seattle, packed my things and brought me home all without anyone knowing about it except my mom.

 

Why didn’t I tell anyone? Because I knew what people would say when they found out. The few people this has leaked to haven’t disappointed on that count. Some friends have been incredibly supportive and for that, they have my eternal gratitude. My friends who have questions and concerns have legitimate questions and concerns and I feel an obligation, in my role as representative to explain my choices. So allow me to address those concerns. No, I am not going to change my mind. Yes, it is possible I will return to some PhD program, but maybe not. The following is a list of things I will do with my time: sleep, cook, clean, take care of my cat, take care of my body, finish this book, write other books, do research, make trips to the library, sit on the board of two schools, continue to support my former students, yoga, watch and make cartoons, be a good, focused supportive partner. You know, live my life like a normal person. No, this wasn’t terribly feminist of me, but frankly it says a lot about the system that it took a dude to take me out of poverty and I practice a version of feminism in which I don’t look down on women’s work as if it is beneath me while asking other women to do it for me so I can feel “empowered” at work. I’m as proud of my gender normative skill-set as I am of my other non-gender confirming skill sets. What I have a problem with is people who live and contribute nothing to their families or communities, but I have nothing but respect for the many women (we appalaud stay at home dads, while shaming mothers) in my life who have made their home their first priority . I’m pretty loose with how we define contributions because women have provided vital, unpaid work to humanity since existence. But I also find it deeply disturbing that after only about a month of not working, people automatically assumed that I would suddenly stop doing anything instead of letting me have the break I so badly need. It is a bizarre assumption, especially because I have so many privileged friends who have taken substantially more time without comment and also because I’m fairly certain that no one would assume, “I moved in with someone I love and am taking a break” means, “I’ve had a lobotomy” if I were male. I’ll address everyone’s weird response to my dating outside my class background in a separate post, but for the record, I think y’all are being quite silly about that considering I have two degrees from Stanford. If you are one of the many people that had questions or concerns but now feel happy for me because of my explanation, I appreciate you too. So now everyone has been informed, questions have been answered. If you have some other concern that I haven’t addressed, please think about asking someone other than me before you bring it to me. If for some reason that’s not an option, then keep reading the following sentence and think about whether or not your questions or concerns are actually vital to my well-being:
I am happy. I am healthy. I found a fellow mutant I fell in love with.

I’ll Vote However I Want, Thanks

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When I decide who I’m going to vote for, I ask myself a few basic questions.

 

The first one is “will this person make it more likely that kids like me don’t go hungry in the future?”

 

The second is “will this person, to the best of their abilities make life better for working class people?”

 

and

 

On the foreign policy side, “will this person not embarrass us and avoid anything that resembles bombing poor and marginalized people in other countries/sending poor people to die and kill in other countries.”

 

A quick analysis of that list demonstrates where my priorities are; and that is with improving the life for the poor anywhere. That’s how I decide who I’m going to support when I vote. I decide this way because I grew up poor. Until you take care of basic needs like food and shelter, it’s really hard to focus on things like, say, whether the boys are taking me seriously in boardroom debates (spoiler alert: I’m not getting invited to any boardrooms). Working class women rarely have favorable working conditions and they don’t expect to, and the men don’t either. They don’t have paid leave. Childcare. Access to medical care. Any workplace protections against exploitation, including gender based exploitation (this one you can thank the killing of unions for, a process that began in the 80s and which the Clinton’s continued and will likely continue). Up until very recently, I’ve been both food and housing insecure. My concerns in politics continue to be dominated by preventing that both personally and collectively. For the first time in my lifetime, we have a candidate whose central focus is preventing that.

 

We’ve actually grown less progressive on social and economic policies in the last few generations. Under your grandparents, they would have just called Sanders a Democrat. He’s not even anymore progressive, except perhaps on race and gender, than FDR, who was President during the last Depression. Sanders didn’t leave the party, the party left him and the rest of the economic progressives sometime in the 80s. Now we are facing the kind of economic insecurity that ushered in the Progressive policies in the 30s that we now take for granted. Republicans and the rest of the country were not any less bigoted in the 30s. Those policy changes were fought for, people died for them, and it was just as improbable to get FDR’s New Deal passed as it would be today. Fortunately for us, our grandparents had the fortitude to vote with their conscience. Additionally, for millions of Americans this economic situation is equally brutal to the ones facing our grandparents. The jobs report says one thing but the homeless numbers and the hunger numbers don’t lie. People are still struggling. People with jobs are struggling. And our social safety net is weaker than it was for Baby Boomers or Gen Xers. Things have actually gotten worse for the poor in my lifetime. My mom worked my entire life and I still went hungry and there seems to be a contingent of Democrats that is woefully out of touch with that reality. Some of the people who are voting for Sanders are people who see his approach as the most sensible way out of their situation. The only reason his policies aren’t considered mainstream here, unlike how he’d be portrayed in nearly every other industrialized country, is because America drank the neoliberal kool-aid and then forced it on everyone else. There is no doubt in my mind that Clinton has drank the kool-aid, and everyone else with power has too. If you genuinely believe that the neoliberal policies that began in the 80s is the best way to move forward for your community and self then I respect that. I disagree with you and I’d be happy to have a chat about it, but I respect it. But for the left to sit here and pretend like Sanders’ views are somehow outside the purview of the mainstream while not also challenging what that mainstream is and how it got to that point is disingenuous at best and red-baiting at its worse. If you truly believe in progressive policies, you should be rejoicing about return of the word socialist in a positive light. It has been a very long time since we’ve been able to be openly that progressive and it is a radical and significant cultural shift, one which benefits all progressives no matter where they sit on the spectrum.

 

 

Media representation in this election, like all previous elections, has been utter nonsense. Clinton certainly takes some bullets for being a woman but the Clinton campaign has also done everything in its power to ensure that Sanders is marginalized by engaging in Cold War tactics and basically ignoring his candidacy. Many Sanders supporters are frustrated not just with how Fox News treats Sanders and his positions, but also how MSNBC and Salon and Huffington Post have treated Sanders and his positions, from refusing to cover him at all to labeling his supporters in destructive and divisive ways that are going to hurt us if Hilary is the nominee in the general. I can’t even imagine how the media would have treated Warren if she had thrown her hat into the ring; she’s both more progressive and aggressive. And the vast majority of Sanders supporters, including the bros, would have backed her.

 

This election has also been dismissive of working class people in general. We DO vote (and we’d vote even more if you made the elections national or state holidays so we had time off work and if you provided transportation; maybe advocate for those things if you are really concerned with representative democracy). We DO read. And we DO think for ourselves. We have policy positions and we can vote outside narrowly defined demographic categories whose significance were determined and circumscribed on the same liberal campuses we don’t get to attend for a variety of economic and social reasons that only Sanders seems to be aware of. We are NOT all mindless bigots and those of us that are (AND NEWSFLASH: YOU HAVE THEM TOO!) vote for Trump, not Sanders. Many of us have long-standing commitments to a variety of Civil Right’s movements and see the Sanders candidacy as a continuation of that. Talking about the working class as though they are idiots you need to save from thinking, is precisely why the Democrats lose elections, why it is so easy for the Republicans to cipher off those votes, and is also incredibly frustrating to watch and to attempt to defend from my position. I met as many bigots with problematic views towards women, nonwhite people and the poor on the left as I did on the right and the folks on the right at Stanford would usually at least hear my arguments before grabbing the pitch forks or saying something immensely classist.

 

If you are a Hilary supporter and there are lots of reasons to be, that’s great. I still love you. I voted for Hilary in the 2012 primaries because I felt that her and Obama had remarkably similar positions and she was the one with the most experience and ability to actually carry them out. I then voted for Obama in the general, because I agreed with his positions. The difference this time around is that Sanders’ is actually closer to my views than Clinton is, so I’m voting for him. I think they have basically equally poor shots of carrying their positions out, but if their views were the same I’d vote for the one that I thought had better odds of carrying out policy. Their views are not the same and I have the right to vote based on policy position and so does everyone else. Be a Clinton supporter, she’s worked really hard and has been influential to me as a young woman. I get the appeal. I will vote for her if she is the nominee in the general but don’t tear down Sanders’ supporters. Defend her positions, defend her record, make a case for why she is the better candidate that holds her up as equal to the men. Because that’s the thing, Hilary is strong enough and smart enough that she doesn’t need us to qualify her positions or election by her gender, I judge her by precisely the same standards I judge the male politicians.

 

And that’s why lean Sanders.