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.

How I’m Learning to Fall Back in Love with my Scars


I heard the click of the bic lighter, a sound I would later come to pretend to love and then I saw the flames.

It’s one of those cute stories I used to tell. That time I put a fire in a diaper out. At first I forgot about the lighter. I blamed it on a faulty furnace. I forgot where the burn scars came from, scars that only some of my more observant lovers would notice. They are actually all over my body and I remember now how I treated them myself. A cold shower flushed the plastic down the drain, but the scars remained.

I issued excuses, and then covered those up. It’s all a series of elaborate lies. I could lie so easily, my intelligence and respectability, my pale skin acting as a kind of alibi only I would ever have to live with.

Now it’s all of you who will need the alibis.

Only once did they ever ask questions, my body seems to know how to hide. My body knows how dangerous the truth can be, maybe that’s why I’d fall in love with the truth later as an adult. Maybe that’s why I went looking for it.

And so here I am today, thinking about how best to cover up defensive wounds on my wrist from that Christmas they tried to kill me. I remember how they got there now and I used to be grateful only those with the right background could see they weren’t self inflicted. Pretty clear defensive wounds, kids. I wasn’t kidding about some of my skill sets. I got them from the father in died in prison for selling the same drugs you are now all entrepreneurs for selling.

I lied because I had no choice and you can call that convenient but I know my brain is magic because the truth only came when it started to be safe. All right, I lied again. It came a little sooner than I would have liked but that’s the way my brain handles things. I’m not in control of it and that has turned out to be the greatest miracle of all.

Or so I thought.

Then I got reminded how much pain my scars could cause.

I could lie but the truth should be obvious now. I can play CSI on myself. I change the subject and pretend to be normal. Do the scars or the Stanford degrees come first?

No one seems able to process both.

So from now on you’ll have to listen to those stories about each scar because each and every single one of them is proof that I belonged at Stanford in the first place.

You did extracurriculars. I survived murder attempts and rape.

I’m not going to apologize for that. I won’t be backing down or lying anymore. I’m here because my own brilliance saved me from multuple attempts on my life.

My ability to get back up and laugh after rapes can be called madness all you like but it’s also why I’m an unstoppable force. I refuse to apologize for that either.

I’m going to stop apologizing for my pain. I’m going to start falling back in love with my scars. I know who I am and I’m not going to be told what to hide anymore. Choose to deal with it or don’t. I can’t help you there.

But if you want to know how to survive, how to thrive even, when everyone around you is mad enough to light babies on fire, I’m your girl.

The answer to the question of how I’ve survived seems to be jokes, music and love. Little acts of kindness made by people who didn’t have the power, fallen soldiers in a war we lost before I was even born. I got conscripted before I even had a choice, like my ancestors before never, going further back than I even know. We come by our stubbornness honestly, because what other choice is there? They said give me liberty or give me death, and too many people weren’t given the choice at all. I’ve always been more of a lover but that’s a weapon too when the whole world wants war and the struggle is against anger, pain and hate. They called me stubborn, and I call that still being alive. That stubbornness was all passed down from ancestors who survived long enough to keep me alive.

My body is all the more beautiful because it has been marked by monsters that fell long before they could take me with them and I’m going to fall back in love with it even when no one else can handle it.

It’s not my concern anymore whether or not it hurts you because maybe you need to know discomfort. There is beauty in this kind of madness. I wonder sometimes how much beauty the rest miss out on because they are so afraid of being anything other than normal.

But I can’t make you see what is patently obvious to me.

This is centuries of the human condition. I wasn’t the first fire. I won’t be the last one sold. This isn’t an unfamiliar story, it’s just one that never gets told.

I’m almost bored by it these days. It makes you forget your social graces.

“Oh shit, was it just inappropriate to mention the murders I witnessed. My bad.”

That’s my mundane.

And I’m not sorry about it.

And the reason I’m not sorry is because despite this, I’m still standing, and laughing my ass off at this whole charade.

That’s a choice.

It’s always a choice you have.

So make that choice like your life and the lives of everyone depends on it.

Those scars, they aren’t going anywhere but if they remind you to love they are beautiful, and you should demand love for them.

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.

Trigger Warning: This Post is About Trigger Warnings and I Think You are ALL Full of Shit


I have PTSD. I was diagnosed when I was thirteen after putting away the man who sexually, physically, and verbally abused me from the ages of 2-13. It is a complex, challenging condition that I spend a lot of time working to combat and control so I can be a functional human being. I had it in high school, I also had it in college as a history major at an elite institution. I will never not have it, my therapist says too much damage was done for me to ever not have nightmares, which is to say my entire existence on this planet will involve never sleeping like a normal person. My triggers are so numerous and severe that to avoid them all would require that I never leave the house. Here is a brief, non-comprehensive list of things that trigger trauma associated memories and panic attacks

  • Budweiser
  • Ammonia
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Fly swatters
  • Rubber bands (specifically being hit with them)
  • Being approached from behind
  • Having a white male “square up” to me
  • Home Depot
  • Raisins
  • Depictions of incest, rape
  • Depictions of violence
  • Most crime dramas
  • Depictions of methampehamine
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Crowds
  • Phone calls
  • Christmas trees (Christmas in general is rough, Thanksgiving ain’t much better)

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point here, each and every single one of those has a specific association to trauma for me. Now, imagine for a second that I decided that the best way for me to deal with the trauma is to avoid it. HOW THE HELL WOULD I LEAVE THE HOUSE?

How did I study history? Or literature? Or anything, really? It’s almost like avoiding triggers doesn’t actually liberate you from trauma at all!

Or maybe they do for people that have a specific trigger or instance of trauma, I don’t know but it’s not my experience that this approach helps.

But my bigger issue with trigger warnings is conceptual. When it comes to the treatment of a severe mental health problem, where does the responsibility lie? I’d argue that the only people who should be telling me how to treat my PTSD are me and my doctor, but most certainly not university professors who don’t have training or classmates who don’t have the disorder themselves. Although I’m very public about my struggles, I also still think that my compatriots who chose to deal privately have the right to do so and we should respect that. So when a university administrator or classmate demands the removal of a reading, or even a content warning (for adults… did you guys actually follow content warnings as kids, I know I didn’t, and I took great pleasure in subverting the man in that way), on my behalf, it feels a little patronizing and, well intended, but particularly destructive if it means that it changes what conversations we are having.

I really want to believe this is well-intended, and I think for most it is. I think most professors are just trying to do what’s best by their students and that students are trying to deal with these issues. But we’ve made it such that saying, “hey, I don’t think this is the best way to do this” is now somehow a form of oppression and it isn’t. I was a poor student at Stanford with PTSD and I don’t believe trigger warnings are the best way to liberate me, and other people do. And that’s fine. You can disagree with me because this is America, and you have free speech, but the point here is that this issue isn’t one sided. Reasonable people can disagree about this.


But some of this doesn’t feel well intended and it’s because of the way people describe what happens when they are “triggered” by books like Antigone. They say it “makes them uncomfortable.” Now, I’ve had a lot of panic attacks and flashbacks and uncomfortable is not how I would describe the experience. I would describe it as debilitating, painful and challenging, but it also didn’t stop me from reading things for class because I recognize as someone who has spent most of my existence on the planet feeling “uncomfortable” (hungry, sick, tired, poor), that sometimes I’m going to feel uncomfortable. And sometimes I’m going to learn things from that discomfort. It just strikes me as an insane level of entitlement to assume that you’ll NEVER BE UNCOMFORTABLE during your educational experience. Are we sure that’s the goal, here? Because my goal is to get more services for the poor and to force the rich to deal with the challenges that face the poor. I actually don’t give a shit whether or not people at elite institutions are uncomfortable when encountering challenging readings. I hope the folks with PTSD get treatment to make real triggers manageable and I will fight and have fought for that treatment, but I don’t understand why I’m supposed to care about the discomfort of a bunch of kids who are supposed to be learning and who live in a contained, safe space to do that while the rest of the people their age are trying to survive poverty and war.  But what really bothers me is that these words, “makes me uncomfortable” are the same words that were used to silence me as an undergraduate.

“Heather, don’t talk about your childhood, it makes me uncomfortable.”

“We can’t use the term low income because it makes people uncomfortable.”

“We shouldn’t talk about rape/incest/poverty/racism/sexism because it makes people uncomfortable.”

The reality at most elite campuses is that the children are extremely unlikely to have PTSD. How do I know? Because Stanford doesn’t even have a PTSD specialist on staff, but they have 13 eating disorder specialists. PTSD wasn’t covered in my health insurance when I was an undergrad. And when I was an undergrad, openly discussing my PTSD, most of my classmates told me that I shouldn’t talk about it because of how it made them feel. They described It as awkward, uncomfortable, and like experiencing the pain of cognitive dissonance. They were not telling me not to talk because it was triggering THEIR PTSD. They were telling me not to talk because they didn’t want to deal with real life. So my concern is that we have very privileged college students setting the agenda of what we talk about and what we read about. A “hey, this has rape, its ok if you need to step out” was common educational practice before trigger warnings, and if that’s all that was happening from the movement to include trigger warnings, I’d be on board. But that’s not just what has happened, it has actually shaped syllabuses around the country and my feeling is that the minute books get banned, you become a fascist.

Since most of human history has involved rape, murder, genocide, and war, most literature and history would need a trigger warning. Can you study history and avoid trauma? Should the only people studying history be those without trauma? Should we be making that choice for other people? Who determines that? Who has the power to dictate what we read? Why do college students have that much control over the syllabuses of professors? Should they? It strikes me as a profound level of entitlement and privilege to assume that its ok to demand the right to shape the syllabuses of professors. My working class, PTSD having ass would never have assumed I had that right, so I’m trying to figure out how oppressed these college kids are if on the one hand they wanted nothing to do with my attempts to advocate for more mental health services for the poor, and on the other they are demanding (and succeeding in these demands) that professors exclude readings based on the personal preferences of the students in the classroom.

Since I taught real history, obviously my students encountered content that was challenging and probably deeply reminiscent of real oppression for most of them, on a regular basis. My students with anxiety and PTSD had never had such a sympathetic home. I created a space where we could address these feelings in a safe, academic environment that was full of love. When we talked about the victims of Japanese sexual violence, I, of course said to my students,

“This video will be difficult for some, and by that I mean at least 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted before the age of 18, which means this will be personal to several people, myself included, in the room. If you need to walk out, that’s ok. I ask the rest of you to respect this conversation.”

But this has been common educational practice for some time, so what UChicago and other university professors who are worried about the trigger warning situation is something else. It would be different if the trigger warning discussion hadn’t resulted in texts being removed or in the media being banned from public protests. Those are the tools of fascists. And here’s what I’ve learned about fascism, no matter how sympathetic the fascist is to my group of people, people like me do not survive fascist regimes.

Because we “make people uncomfortable.”