Do You, Boo: A Pro-Woman Rallying Cry


I have a confession to make. I love hanging out with dudes way more than women. I’d rather drink beer than wine or mimosas and I’ll never be caught dead in Chanel. I hate shopping. All of these things are things my favorite girlfriends love to do. As the resident shithead in the bunch, I’m pro-freedom, which just means I’m a horrible enabler, but I’d like to make a case for why we should all be enablers for our fellow sisters so that I can finally hang out with my girls more often. I’m selfish like that.

Repeat after me: “do you, boo!”

Now say it hundreds of times a day to the rest of the women.

Thinking about critiquing another woman’s outfit?

“Do you, boo!”

About to issue some unsolicited feminism rant to your stay at home mom friend?

“Do you, boo!” And then maybe offer to babysit.

Wanna repeat some advice you read in Cosmo about how to get a man by changing everything about yourself.


Then say, “do you, boo!”

If you are a woman, and you were socialized to be female, you’ve probably sat around and had other women tell you all the ways you are inadequate for not being them.

“Well, I did this form of therapy, and you really should try it because you’re not really trying to heal if you don’t!”

Nope. When I tell you I’m gonna make art and hang out at church instead of going to therapy, the only response you should have is “do you, boo!”

“No man is gonna love you dressed like that!”

They have no idea what clothes we are wearing, you guys. They don’t care and we shouldn’t let them dictate that anyway. The new best response to outfit decision making is just, “do you, boo!”

“I heard that if you don’t eat vegan you get fat! You should eat like me!”

The only appropriate response to food choices is now, “do you, boo!”

“Time-outs are oppression, you really should do what I do with your kid.”

Stop projecting your bad advice on to others unless you are willing to learn in exchange. And seriously, you have no idea what you are doing because literally none of us knows what we are doing.

This is the core of the Mommy Wars. It’s the core of women’s magazines and if I had a nickel for every time one of my fellow sisters tried to tell me I shouldn’t stand in my truth, I’d have already invested it and become filthy rich so I could write.

It’s probably the worst part about being socialized female and it’s even worse, if god forbid, you don’t fit a stereotypically feminine mold. I’ve been talking about doing stand up for weeks now only to get more push-back from other women than from the men, which I think is both hilarious and deeply disturbing. I look like a girl but I’m more comfortable in a dive bar playing pool. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my sisters in the wine bar.

I don’t want to turn this into a rant because we all suffer under this regime, so instead, I’d like to remind you that when a friend is doing something differently from you, it in no way invalidates you.

You can just say, “do you boo!”

And be cool with it.

For instance, instead of telling other women what will or won’t get them a man, you could say: “do you boo and if he don’t love you the way you are, fuck that noise.”

This is how my male friends are. They don’t change for anybody. They give no fucks about what other people think. I once had a pair of 17 year old boys tell me that if a woman really loved them, they’d be cool with them sleeping in 2 hour shifts and would have to “just deal with it.” This is why I love hanging out with men so much, they remind me to not give any fucks. We could easily do the same, if we all started reinforcing each other.

So. Do you, boo.

I’m starting to think most of our anxiety can be tied back to the ways we are socialized to gaslight each other and the only people that benefit are the men because we are too busy hating ourselves to organize and get together. Except that most of the men aren’t trying to oppress us either and they suffer from our low self esteem as well. Every time a man mentions his girl’s anxiety problem, I’m just like, “how the hell do you think she got that way. ” This is why women need compliments so much and it’s also why one of the ways I demonstrate my affection is to compliment them constantly, because otherwise we sit around in our heads and listen to every bad voice that has heard us without a counter plot. So join the real feminist conspiracy by being good to each other.

Tearing each other’s self esteem down is the root of so much marginalization. If you are too busy hating yourself to get anything done, you can’t get anything done. It’s been a highly successful tactic and it is a colossal waste of my mental energy and yours. I’m starting to clear out those nasty little voices, by simply saying, “do you, boo.” We need to love each other more than we do. And if the men really loved us, they’d say the same. So tell your man to say, “do you, boo” too.

We’ve gotta stop shitting on each other.

So the next time you are thinking about critiquing your friend, ask yourself, “is this in any way harmful to me or am I just uncomfortable because it is making me question my choices?”

If it’s not harming anyone, hush and then say, “do you boo.”


Community, Community, Community is Going to be my new Mantra


I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we approach community, and each other. This generation feels isolated, disconnected.

Are we really alone in this struggle?

The enormity of the struggle seems real, even my rich friends with good jobs can’t afford rent.

We judge our friends who struggle and whose lives aren’t picture perfect on Facebook. We forget that Facebook is all just an elaborate series of lies.

In college, I tried to look out for everyone. Pass out on the couch? That’s what I keep an extra blanket for. Too drunk to consent, guess who is getting some snacks and a walk home. Need to be put to bed after a rough night? Only after a glass of water.

This is a deeply embedded part of my ethos. WE look after each other to survive, that’s what community is supposed to be and what worries me is that we’ve attempted to replace this with underpaid workers. Love isn’t replaceable. There is no price you can pay that replace the love of someone holding your hair back.

My generation is so starved for actual love, I’m tempted to go around the country taking care of the same people I’ve been taking care of the whole time.

That’s a joke, obviously, but the community I grew up in and built is full of misfits, orphans and some of the brightest and most beautiful minds you’ll ever meet.

And we are drowning.

Sometimes I feel like I’m slipping under water while rocks get thrown at me. Usually I’m trying to also carry others to the shore but lately I’ve just been threading water trying to survive. I wish I had the answers this time but I don’t.

But here’s how I’m coping: I’m trying to spread as much love as I can. And this is the small acts of kindness. It feels good to remind myself that I have the power to do for others but it’s also about building the communities we’ve destroyed. Those communities take work and they take more than one person to build but what comforts me as I talk to others is knowing that everyone else wants this too.

So how?

Just start talking.

Leave the house.

Help where and when you can.

Talk about everything but politics for a while. The trolls can have it out while the rest of us have snacks.

Literally all of us needs to sleep more and eat better. And we need to remember that food used to be a social occasion.

Do frontline service work, on a local level (this means you actually serve people).

Join a civic organization, preferably one with older people involved, so you get reminded that life is long and there are things much bigger than you in the world.

Our generation isn’t so much selfish and narcissistic as we are completely confused as to how to build communities. A bunch of latch-key kids obsessed with performance and success, each of us are running on a hamster wheel going nowhere.

We could get off the wheel, band together and figure out how to escape the cage.

But that means talking to each other and that also means we stop pretending everything is ok.

I tell lies on social media. So do you. And social media can’t replace real community.

The Best Gift my Pain Gives me


A bunch of people died so I’ve been quietly mourning. I decided I didn’t want to be a burden. That’s how I roll. It’s failing miserably.

I could tell you about my mourning but I won’t. My body count is mounting and it’s been growing for years and I’m tired in a way I can’t explain.

If I went to every funeral, I’d never have time to do anything else. And my jokes are so morbid now that no one hears them as jokes anymore but me.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

Sometimes I lose hope.

But I can’t. It’s not allowed. Because most of the time that hope is the only thing standing in the way of destruction.

Sometimes I dream about running off into the forest and just reading Rousseau style so I don’t have to cope with humanity anymore.

I straight don’t have the balls to pull it off.

So, I’m trying to rebuild the things we destroyed and I don’t know how they got ruined. I’m running around listening to the pain and isolation all of us are experiencing.

We’ve forgotten how to be friends in our efforts to be perfect.

We put on the brave face and fill social media and our conversations with bullshit. We lie and pretend to be normal.

Our generation’s real claim to fame might be how absolutely full of shit we all are. We’ve all become PR pros. It is destroying all of us.

We’ve ruined communities in favor of pretending we can be completely independent. None of us know how to listen because we are so terrified of how what we say will look.

We’ve made dating a ridiculous charade where none of us knows how to love anymore, where apps have replaced any sense of real love. Swipe left, fuck badly and pretend it’s fun. Cry and repeat.

We’ve replaced friendships with drive-by conversations we put on each other’s walls as if it is the same as the salons of the past. As if it is the same as showing up and laughing in person.

We’ve destroyed whole relationships in the name of what? You know the ideological game is nonsense? RIGHT?!

I can’t care anymore. It’s all so absurd. We are past satire and I know what that means historically and the only good news I have is that we have the power, only collectively, to change it.

I was hoping I wasn’t going to be part of a generation where absurdism won the day but maybe it’s right because my life is so damn absurd. And it’s absurdity that makes me laugh the most.

These aren’t good signs.

And before you ask, this has nothing to do with the presidency or the Republicans. This has been our trajectory for some time and our cultural problems have been there for a while. The conservatives just caught on to the game faster than the left did. I’m pleading with everyone to wake up.

“Progress” is not inevitable and nothing is coming to save us. I hope that empowers you because we actually have the power to control the culture around us.

All of this: institutions, culture, community are nothing more than a group of people. So stop acting as though these forces are outside of you. Indeed, they are all of us. In every moment, in every way.

Neither side is right. There are so many sides. None of this matters as much as sharing food with one another.

Please tell me someone knows this fighting with the people we love about ideas that shouldn’t divide us is bullshit because I can’t keep pretending?

We have to stop the circus.

We have to stop the charade.

Because I can’t keep watching the best of us destroy ourselves any longer.

And I have a solution….

No I don’t.

I have suggestions I hope you will all think about.

I can’t carry this alone. I can’t do this alone anymore and neither can any of you.

So here’s what I’m proposing.

I’m proposing that the best solution to my problems and yours is to love each other like our lives depend on it.

Because lord knows they do.

And the rest of it, is meaningless. We work to survive and to occupy our our time. We work to feel useful.

But maybe it’s time we start living for each other instead.

Because I think we could have saved some of us. I think we could have done it through love.

I think our ideologies could succeed better through love.

War has been tried. Anger has been done. Hate is so boring to me now I can’t take it anymore.

I don’t know how to be mean anymore.

I don’t have the capacity to hate anymore.

The only thing I have left is my capacity to love.

And they call me crazy for it.

They call me weak.

They claim I don’t understand the nature of oppression. The nature of oppression is hate.

It’s my pain that makes me like this. You see enough dead bodies and you start to value life. Take enough beatings and you can’t watch other people take them either. Be surrounded by enough hate and you learn to love to survive.

I’m beginning to think that maybe that pain is a blessing. That maybe the energy I no longer have to hate is gone for a good reason.

I keep getting told that my love is why they hurt me but they hurt me when I hated too. And if they will hurt me anyway, I’d rather go down for love.

I know who I am. The thing I am always proudest of is that they did everything they could to take my capacity to love from me and they couldn’t.

I’m going to the grave with a love that I hope that everyone understands, because it has been so much more powerful than my hate and anger.

And you can quote whatever study you want to me, but I didn’t need a study to know that love is what has kept me alive despite my PTSD.

I know what has been keeping alive.

And it isn’t my anger. It is my love.

It is the joy I feel helping others and feeling like I’m a small, meaningless, insignificant person in a vast universe where nothing matters except how hard I tried to love in this vast absurdity. It is all meaningless but it is all still so goddamn beautiful. This existence is the most ridiculous and loveliest miracle of all time and it has been for all time.

And the worst thing our generation has done is we tried to shed that love in the name of the self. We shed it for rationality. We laughed at it and patted ourselves on the back for our inability to feel. We are proud of the communities we destroyed.

I don’t have all the solutions but I know something for a fact.

We need each other.

We need love.

We are not going to thrive or survive on our own.

We aren’t good feminists for leaving half our community out and not taking care of each other. Feminism wasn’t about independence, it was about acknowledging that our world needs us to provide leadership that emphasizes love and community. It’s a heavy responsibility but all of us are responsible for this world we are in.

Our men might be happy at work but each and every single one of them needs warmth. And we need them to lead. We need them to remember their strength because they need it too. We need them to remember their responsibilities to their communities. The burden is easier when we carry it together.

I’ve never been so scared for us.

And there is no technology that can save us from this.

And I don’t know how else to ask for this:

But I’m begging each and every single one of you to set aside your ideologies and PR and rebuild the communities we need.

Not ideologically.

Not tribally.

Not for work reasons.

But because the best thing I learned from being poor is that the only way to get the cup of sugar you need is to love the person you are asking it from.

And now two Stanford degrees later I don’t know how to teach everyone of us to ask for sugar.

It seems like we can replace these things with professionals, but there is no replacement for love.

I’m telling you, I’m being honest now. I’ll be the one to say it, if I have to: none of us are ok right now.

There is only one cure.

It’s love.

An unconditional love that follows you through the moments you don’t post on Facebook. It’s the kind of love you have when staring down the face the of monsters. This is going to be carried in on the backs of warriors for love. And we need each and every single one of us to carry some of the load.

It’s the kind of love that doesn’t ask us for anything but our truth. Our truth is dark and painful sometimes but it is gorgeous too and I’d rather hear it than watch a sea of glossy lies while I watch the best people I know forget who they are and who they were meant to be.

I’m not watching the best of us destroy ourselves.

I won’t.

I can’t.

If the best thing I contribute in this lifetime is my love, I’ll be happy.

Because there’s no point in saving the body when the soul is gone.

I’m going to find that soul again because I refuse to believe we are are the sheep and robots they tried to turn us into.

And maybe the real rebellion is to be as human as we can be.

I’m human.

So are you.

And it is so fucking beautiful, and I just wanted to be the one to tell you that.

Because there is still time for us.

And in case you didn’t know

I’ll love you no matter what

Because I don’t know how to do anything else.

And that is the greatest gift my pain has given me.

My First Rally


I remember the first rally I was involved in planning quite clearly, though I never talked about it until now. The reason I never talked about it is because I don’t really consider it a big deal and I don’t really think of it as mine. This was a community victory, that I was proud to be part of, and I didn’t feel the need to bring it up until I kept having other leftists tell me who was in my community. You see, according to the left, white people and black people always live apart, never intermarry and apparently never go to school together before college. This was news to me and if you had told me this when I was a child I would have laughed in your face. When I tried to laugh in the left’s face for the same offense, I got called racist and then told to shut up. Because clearly the goal of the left is to end racism by stopping poor whites from suggesting that they live with, love, and feel a part of the black community. That’s obviously a problem worth fighting. Still, I didn’t want to bring these inconvenient facts about my upbringing up because I was trying to keep my mouth shut for the good of the group. But because the left went and got Trump elected and have clearly demonstrated that they have NO IDEA what they are doing, I’ve decided to stop doubting myself and explain to you why I think this whole idea is complete bullshit.


I grew up in a black community. The whole time. I have black family members and neighbors. I love them. And if you try to do anything to them, I will fighting cut you the same way they promised to cut people for me when I was a 15 year old girl and the other white girls at my high school were threatening to jump me and the black girls told them that if they came for me, they’d better come for them too.I have not forgotten who I still owe. And I owe the black community a lot. They have been my home and my shelter even when I was cast out from my actual family. And then I got to college and this curious thing happened and people kept telling me that I hated black people. This was extremely confusing, because my first thought was, “why the fuck would I hate my own people?”


You see, the idea that we are somehow separate was not mine and I know this for a fact because I remember the community I was raised in. I went to high school with the children of actual Black Panthers and the real grassroots folks of Civil Rights. They were vets, factory laborers, and yes, hookers and drug dealers too (if you are judging right now, you have the problem, people need to feed their kids). Though you certainly could not tell who’s parents held what job by their race (that’s right kids, trafficking can happen to anyone even white girls who went to Stanford!). I don’t remember EVER being in the racial majority in school and I don’t remember ever being that upset about it. It never really seemed strange because these were my neighbors and friends. We grew up together. We got in fights. We fell in love. We died beside each other in battlefields. We were married into each others’ families. The very first question everyone asks me when they visit Stanford for the first time is, “why are there so few interracial couples?” And maybe this world isn’t yours. Maybe that’s not in your sociology books or it doesn’t reflect your lived experience. I don’t know, but it is mine, and I’m proud of it and I’m sick of apologizing for it. We did some beautiful things in this world.


When I was 14, I had just been elected class president. In February, it was brought to my attention by my people that our school, despite being majority black, didn’t have a Black History Month Rally. We found that rather egregious, so in addition to the normal basketball homecoming festivities, we decided it was time for our school to represent basic reality. Although I helped plan the basic logistics of that rally, I had very little to do with it day of, and in fact sat in the audience. Instead, I handed the microphone to my good friend who gave what I still consider the best spoken word piece ever written outside the Civil Right’s era and then the black community ushered in their own traditions because it was THEIR show.

I’m not here to change that. Black people have their own histories and struggles and pain, and some of that struggle has been in common. Some of those issues we can fight together on, but no movement for justice in this country can happen without black leadership. I know this, everyone who truly does this work for any period of time knows this. If given power, the first thing I will do is hand over the mic to my black friends, family members, community leaders and activists LIKE I HAVE SINCE I WAS 14.

When they tell you that WE HAVE TO BE separate, know that is their game. Know that it has taken an army of subversive poor white folks who have believed that we can love each other to get me to this point. We don’t have to let the likes of Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer speak for us. First of all, they ain’t working class and secondly, they don’t know our people. And if they so much as look at my community the wrong way, they aren’t going to have to worry about sucker punches. I don’t sucker punch. I bare knuckle box because I was raised right by a community that loved me, and by a community that was majority black. There ain’t nothing those racist pieces of shit can do to me to make me forget that and don’t for a second think they haven’t tried.  Know that I also know it has taken an army of subversive black folks who have also believed in love to get me to this point too. They all paid the price for it. And I know who I owe and who I serve.

Some Coping Mechanisms in the Dark

I’m seeing a lot of posts that make me…. a bit worried about everyone’s ability to cope with what lies in front of us.
If Hilary Clinton had been elected, we still would have had LOTS of work to do. The process of fighting oppression is a lifelong struggle you can’t expect will end. We need to be playing the long game and we need to be able to cope and function under more severe repression and oppression. Because none of these systems are going away in our lifetime. Oppression is much older than us and it will be here long after we’ve turned to dust.
I KNOW everyone is tired. I am too, I’ve never NOT been tired in my life. And its legitimate, I really wish and will put my own life on the line to give people the kind of world where we don’t have to do this stuff, but we don’t live in that world and we never have and now things are about to get much worse.
I’ve endured horrifying conditions in my life. I was starved, beaten and raped as a child and abused throughout my life. I was silenced, beaten down and unsupported after my childhood by the elites. I have had to sustain some coping mechanisms to come out of that functional. I’m not telling you how to feel but I hope I can help make this easier to cope with. Here are some tools I used to cope in the face of evil.
1) I try to find joy in the darkness, so I look for beauty in human beings and art and comedy. I try to laugh constantly.
2) I do the things I CAN do to fight what I can. I don’t expect to win every time, but the fact that I am moving towards a tangible goal makes it easier and over time is how the world gets better.
3) I remember that I come from a long line of sufferers who have continued to pass on beauty despite suffering. We all stand here on the backs of people who endured despite the odds. Existence is an insane and beautiful miracle. I often turn to science, nature and good humans to be reminded of that.
4) I try to turn my emotions into actions. Anger is useful and good, if it propels us to challenge the system, but only if we address that anger effectively and constructively.
5) I continuously try to create; for agency, so that I can make beauty when its hard to see it, and so that I feel I am contributing.
6) I reach out to my community and try to build bridges so that there are support networks.
7) I study history so I can understand the long game and my role in it
8) I accept responsibility for changing the world, even in small ways through my actions.
9) I approach this work with a an ethos of love. Now, we have a misunderstanding about the ethos of love. Real love isn’t about being comfortable or not being challenged, real love is about relentlessly believing in the good of others even when they can’t see it for themselves, it also means working towards continual growth.
10) I am constantly trying to draw strength from the amazingness of those around me and when I can, I try to lift others up.

PSA: Hook Up Culture, Not Actually Mandatory


Ah hook up culture, the bane of my millennial existence. I’m still friends with a number of my former students, because some genius thought it was a good idea for me to be teaching kids 5 years younger than me. It was, because I’ve gotten the immediate satisfaction of watching them become incredibly cool adults. Most of them are more adult-y than I am, but I’m pretty sure that this is just my personality and we’ll be continuing to use that excuse until I’m 80 and we start using senility as an excuse for what has been a very consistent pattern of behavior. In any case, I have the pleasure of being near enough to their age to get what they are dealing with but far enough to have made and seen enough mistakes to warn them. Not a single discussion has gone by this year that wasn’t about how much they hate hook up culture and how much they wish they didn’t have to participate in it.


I never managed to successfully hook up with people when I was single, it all inadvertently became a relationship, so I actually told my friends I was no longer hooking up with people to avoid relationships, which is a level of commitment phobia that made even my most player-y male friends disturbed. So I can approach this from their perspective and I still get to say that it sucks. The thing is, as a commitment-phobe and sexual abuse survivor, hook up culture made it possible for me to be very casual about two things that none of us are actually successfully casual about. I realized, very, very recently, that I had engaged in most of my consensual sexual activities while disassociating because it was the way I brought myself to being able to let people I didn’t particularly trust or like touch me. That and lots and lots of alcohol. So you say sexual abuse survivor and you expect that, but this is a lot more common than we think it is. I have lots of friends with very happy childhoods who report the same experience. So I decided the healthier thing was not to do it anymore, the hook up thing, I mean. So I stopped.


When I was coming of age, this behavior was supposed to be both enlightening and liberating. Finally, women could fuck people they didn’t know or like too! HOORAY FEMINISM! Or something. I’m not really sure, I just know that it was very much part of the cultural expectations. And it’s not because dudes are assholes, because ultimately they’ll try to get away with having sex with the lowest level of commitment possible if they can. The reason for this is many, but one of the big ones that tends to get overlooked is that we get married much, much later than we used to. We have about a decade or more (pending on when you started having sex) where getting into a serious relationship IS A VERY BAD IDEA but we are still human and want to get laid. Most dudes don’t want to do the hook up thing forever, just until they reach an age where they are comfortable with a relationship that might lead to marriage. For college-educated folks, this age generally starts around 26, 27. Which means that in the interim, we all have to find a way to satisfy basic cuddling needs without accidently getting serious with anyone before the socially sensible time. It also means, that a lot of us don’t date the people we could see as a marriage material until we are at this age. Which has led to a lot of confusion for a lot of really wonderful people that I know. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, these are sensible, thoughtful decisions so long as the hook up thing doesn’t bother you, but if you have feelings and don’t drink, my guess is that it’s hard to be intimate with strangers you don’t like. I mean, I just don’t have that level of self-control.


One of my former students felt so much pressure that she asked me if it was ok for her not to have one-night stands. That’s right, folks, I had a beautiful, intelligent, well educated, professional young woman ask me if it was ok if she didn’t do something that felt right for her body because the culture is so pervasive and powerful that is not socially acceptable for her not to. So I just wanted to be the adult in the room that said this: No, you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t nourish you. And any guy that isn’t willing to wait to have sex with you until you are comfortable and trust him doesn’t deserve to be having sex with you at all. If hooking up with people makes you empowered and happy, I say go for it! That’s awesome! I support you! YAY SEX! But what is empowering to one person isn’t empowering for others.


Millennials are very confused about relationships. We grew up in the aftermath of divorce becoming commonplace and the in the shadow of the sexual revolution. We now have to negotiate a world that has fewer and more nebulous rules. But there is one rule we can all agree to, no one gets to tell you what to do with your body and sexuality. If it makes you feel more empowered and comfortable telling dudes you aren’t sleeping with them until they make feel safe, however long that is, then do that.


I’d apologize to my still single male friends for spreading the word around, but they’ll have to admit first that they’ve complained about this culture to me too and that at the end of the day, they want the girls they are sleeping with to be happy and comfortable too. I’m not sure what to do about the “still need to get laid” problem, but I think we can start by being honest with each other and ourselves.

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


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.

People are People. Treat Them that Way


I had just gotten back from China, when I found myself on a party bus with a guy I was seeing on my way to a formal when he said to me “I just feel like I really want to have sex with a Japanese girl.” Facepalm. I had a conniption fit. And in response to my conniption fit he said: “well don’t you have things you want to do, like hook up with a black guy?” Double Facepalm. No, I told this granola eating, long-haired, alternative religion having, white male, I don’t reduce people to stereotypes or treat them like things I can collect.

Just so we are clear, I have interracially dated, several times now. It never once occurred to me that it was abnormal or special until I had people tell me it was weird at Stanford. We all dated outside our race. But I would never and have never gone out looking for men of a particular race. Though I joke about my desire to not date privileged men (which, everyone please calm down, is a joke) that applies more to the cultural jumps I would have to make and tolerate to be around men who read a lot of Ayn Rand and don’t appreciate my trophy wife jokes. I interracially date because it would be really hard not to and not in fact, be racist, especially as a white woman, and also because I have been attracted to different people from different races, because people are attractive. Given that this is the norm in the community I’ve grown up and my parents aren’t racist bigots, it was a bit of a culture shock when I got to Stanford and it seemed like the only acceptable interracial couple was Asian Women with White Men.

I studied China, and like everything I study I fell in love with the place. So I lived there for three months while learning Mandarin and became really well educated in Chinese history. It gave me fantastic insight and perspective on the world to have such a wide range of knowledge. Now I knew American history, Chinese history, and European history. My undergraduate adviser could make connections between anything and everything and I wanted that too. I didn’t want to have just one lens to look at things, so it was paramount for my growth. I didn’t think about the problems with the white men/Asian female trope until I acquired a few Asian male friends and also went to China. My Asian male friends explained to me that they felt desexualized by American culture, which was true when I looked at mainstream culture, though in my community, which has a large number of immigrants, Asian men were pretty much treated like all other men (meaning they needed a car and couldn’t have a baby mama-standards that make perfect sense in High School). I started noticing that most of my classes on China were populated by white men and Asian women. And then I went to China.

In China, it didn’t take very long for me to realize that something was amiss. There were 22 of us in the program and 1 Chinese-American male and 4 white females. Within a very short amount of time ALL of the white men admitted, proudly, that they had “yellow fever.” Why anyone felt the need to say that to me in a bar is anyone’s guess, but I have a gift for making people comfortable enough for them to say horrifying things I can’t unhear. The thought of “yellow fever”, by which white men have a strong preference for Asian females, just seemed wrong to me before I knew why this was happening. I was actually one of two people, the other being the Asian male (who I remain good friends with to this day), who was studying to had studied China. The rest of the crew was there for future business reasons, because they liked Asian girls or because they were trying to explore their own roots in depth. No one knew as much about Chinese history as I did, which is fine because I was the only one with that major.

Since I was being my sassy self, I decided, why not ask the source? And I did. I asked all of the men I hung out with in China why they had a preference. Universal answer: Asian girls are skinnier, more submissive and more ‘appreciative’ of white men and more willing to do ‘exotic’ stuff. I can’t make this up. It was so horrifying for me that I started taking long walks around the Beida campus with the only Asian dude in the program so that he and I could escape and pretend we were 12 and living in a magical secret forest (the Beida campus is really beautiful). I stopped going to social events. I stopped talking to people. I’m very sensitive about this sort of thing, when I see people getting exploited, especially by people I know well, it makes it hard for me to stick around.

Here is what is wrong with this. For one thing: it is racist. I am sure that China has women that act on the full spectrum of human behavior, so saying they are all submissive is a weird colonial hold over from when we still talked about white man’s burden. Skinnier and appreciative are more on the line of sexism, where in this universe women are trophies, but not full human beings, they are there to serve the men. Skinnier is also racist and highly problematic, again because it eliminates the possibility for diversity in the whole human spectrum. I met women who fit that stereotype and women who didn’t, and women who were hurting themselves to meet that stereotype which doesn’t sound that different from being at Stanford. That those were the only answers means that these men, all of whom were my age, were looking for a shadow of a human being. The sexual exoticism is both, it is the idea that men are entitled to whatever they want sexually, and that a woman is “better” (to be weighed and measured) if she will do what he wants, if her sexuality is defined by his. The assumption that Asian women have a somehow different sexuality from any other race reduces them to objects. I am sure Asian women, like all women exhibit a wide range of sexual preferences from the vanilla to the more extreme, because that’s what human beings do, and they are human beings. It is ok as a white male to find an Asian woman attractive, you just can’t feel that way for racist and sexist reasons and you can’t impose hundreds of years of colonialism on the body of the person you spend your most intimate moments with, ever. For any reason.

The fact that this was so socially acceptable that we could casually and openly discuss this in bars sort of scares me. In fact, many men at Stanford told me I was insane for pointing this out and treated “yellow fever” as a sort of rite of passage. It is part of a more problematic line of thinking among young men, which is that they are entitled to a sort of bucket list of sexual experience before settling down with a “respectable” woman. Instead of finding partners with equal interest in their sexual preferences they separate women out into objects to be conquered or gained in life experience before settling down their desexualized and virginal wife. With this line of thinking, they think they are entitled to certain experiences and that wives are not supposed to want to explore their own sexuality, so they must do that first before marrying. Women get reduced to points on a score card. And the women they do marry find themselves in marriages where they are never truly equal and full human beings, and where they will have had their sexuality sold out under them as one of their roles as wife.

This is what men my age tell me scares them about marriage, the loss of freedom and the fear of intimacy. And that is fine, that is human, I feel that too. But if they redefined the role of wife into one who is an equal partner, an equal explorer in this weird frontier known as life, then they wouldn’t “lose” their freedom and would experience greater and more secure intimacy because they would see the woman in this situation as less of a symbol of accomplishment. So in other words, gentlemen, you can be free when we are free. Human beings loving other human beings because of their beautiful humanity, that is what this is all about.