This is pretty important, as I have Trichotillomania and was bullied very badly for it. The more that awareness is brought, maybe there will be fewer kids that have their hats and bandannas pulled off in class, laughed at, mocked, hit, and/or worse for something they cannot control.
And now, a wonderful (and useful) entry, courtesy of Sovin, on etiquette for interacting with people with disabilities. Sovin?
1. If you see someone with a visible disability (or someone tells you about an invisible one!), it’s pretty natural to do a double take, especially if that person has a pretty/cool cane/crutch(es)/chair/etc. But gawking or saying “But you don’t look sick/seem so able/etc!” is really hurtful. If you catch yourself doing so, please apologize - that means the world!
2. “I hope that you have a system that works for you/that your [medication, therapy, medical device] is working well for you” is a much more cool, adult response than “I hope you get better/don’t need it soon.”
3. Most people don’t mind polite questions! “May I ask about [behaviour, disability, or device]?” is preferable to “Why don’t you…” questions or comparing people to stereotypes or media examples (usually incorrect and occasionally really offensive!).
4. I love witty humour! But please think twice before making jokes. “I should be holding the door open for you!” when someone with a cane is holding the door? That stings, a lot.
5. Try to think about other people’s limitations! If you want to invite a friend to go somewhere, is there wheelchair access? A person with a cane may only have one hand - how much can you carry/hold/easily open doors with the same? Try to keep pace with them, don’t walk ahead, then forget or pause to wait every few feet, it can be really embarrassing.
6. If it looks like someone is having trouble, asking sincerely if you can help is great! Assuming that someone wants help or how you can do it is rude and inconsiderate.
7. If you see a person with a disability using or doing one thing one day but not the next, that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Sometimes I can walk across the room without my cane, sometimes I can’t; that doesn’t mean that I’m lying about needing it, and it’s a hurtful thing to hear.
8. Don’t touch a person’s medical device without permission. Ever. It’s rude, invasive, and threatening. They aren’t toys; they’re necessities, aids, and, for a lot of people, the basis of their independence and/or health.
9. Don’t offer unsolicited advice about treatments or health concerns. You may just want to help, but it comes across as condescending and rude if you treat someone like they haven’t done their research, especially when many people spend a lot of time considering how to best take care of their health.
10. People with disabilities are people! They aren’t objects of pity or inspiration, and they aren’t martyrs, no matter what the after school specials say. Be respectful and treat other adults like adults, apologize if you make an error, ask about their experiences rather than assuming, and you should get along just fine!
I don’t know if anyone is ever going to read this, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.
I’ve been a Pixar fan since the first time my mom brought home a Toy Story tape and I didn’t want to watch it because it was a boy story. I had been told, from a very young age, that if I liked boys’ stuff I’d become a boy, and I didn’t want that; I wanted to remain a girl, but I also wanted to like whatever the hell I liked without people telling me it didn’t fit my gender. Anyway; I cried and said I wasn’t going to watch it, and then my mother put it in the VCR anyway. Three minutes later, I was completely hooked. I watched it again. And again. And the next day. And I didn’t want to return it to the videostore. Next time my mother brought home a Pixar tape, I’d watch the hell out of it, without caring whether it was a boys-only club…
… which, until June 2012, it always, without fail, was.
In 1997 I was 5 or 6 years old. Now I’m 20, turning 21 in October. I had to wait almost 21 years to watch an animated movie that told me a few important things: love your mother; you don’t have to be a boy to do things people believe to be masculine; you can save the day; your mother can save the day; it’s worth getting close to the women around you, stick together, love each other, don’t engage in girl hate. There are scenes in Brave that are almost real conversations I’d had with my mother, and I couldn’t help crying a little when I realized two things: first, all the men around me had already had their Brave before (The Lion King, anyone? To mention at least one); second, even they hadn’t had any movie telling them about their mothers. We have a lot of animated films that talk to us about loving our fathers, but none about loving our mothers. When was the last Disney movie where the mother was alive and had lines? So that’s why Brave would be a good movie even if it was bad; it would fill a massive hole in people’s, mostly women’s, childhood.
But of course, you people know that already.
The reason I’m writing now is that I don’t want you guys to think, “Ok, we got that out of the way, now let’s move on to more boy-centered stories!”. Like Disney did with The Princess and the Frog. It’s pretty obvious that we’re never having another black girl lead in a Disney movie, because they have their token and that’s it. I hate it. I hate it that we have endless stories about white people, but very few about people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, and I hate it that, once a company produces a single movie where a minority race gets some decent screen time, they proceed to never film anything but white people again. It’s terrible and there’s simply no excuse for that. (By the way, Brave totally did that, too - if you guys could be so historically inaccurate as to include a corsets, not to mention magic!, there’s really no excuse for not having a few - not just one! - people of color in Brave)
And I don’t want you, Pixar, to do the same thing. I hate to feel like this is the last female lead character to ever appear in your movies. It was sad enough to see that you chose to open Brave with a cute short movie about… how a boy deals with his father and grandfather and chooses his own path. We have tons of movies like that, and you guys chose to show another one right before the first one ever to deal with a female perspective. And your next trailer doesn’t even have a female character in it; I’m sure we’re seeing some Celia in Monsters University, but I bet she’s having a few funny, jealous lines and that’s it. That makes me sad.
That makes me sad because Pixar has continuously given me some of the most magical moments one can experience watching movies. The thrill of seeing your trailers and being unable to wait to see your upcoming attractions. No other movie company has done that, and I’m a grown up. I pay my bills and have tons of work to do, and yet it’s an animated movie company that manages to always make me excited for the next release. And still, people like me are never in your movies. We almost never have lines. We’re not important characters. And I know there are people inside your company who makes amazing movies that don’t have characters like them.
So I ask you: next time you have a movie about, I don’t know, animals trying to learn to talk, fruits trying to get away from a juice factory, plushies that are brought to life by magic, you have it, make sure at least 50% of your characters, be they whatever they are, are female. Make sure you have some protagonists. Make sure, the next time you have an animation about humans, that many of them aren’t white, and many of them are female. Make sure you talk about lives that are as important as (white) men’s, but somehow can’t be seen anywhere in cinemas. Ask yourself: why are we making this character male? (And, when dealing with anthropomorphic characters, ask yourself why are they white.) Can we change that and have the same story? If we get a different story, is it more interesting and worth telling?
Pixar is so revolutionary in many ways - you have the most imaginative plots, you deal with delicate issues, you can bring audiences to tears with simple stories, you put your heart into it. If you’re not anything like the rest of the industry in all of that, stop being like them in telling only men’s stories, to, about and by men. I’m tired of feeling like people like me can’t have stories, because no one is interested in telling them. Don’t tell a women’s story only once, to get that off your shoulders. Do it again. Do it in your next movie. You have 12 stories (I’m not counting the shorts) about men; I think it’s high time you strived towards making the score even.
Thank you for your movies, and a special thanks to Brenda Chapman.
(I’m pretty sure they are never reading this, but I had to get this off my chest.)
When I say “we,” I mean those who identify as heterosexual, and I say we’re OK with that because we do so little to alleviate those fears. Even those of us who claim to be progressives or allies fail at times to seriously account for the experiences of those members of the LGBT community we claim to care for. We spend time speculating people’s sexual orientation, only to co-opt, or dismiss as unimportant “coming out” stories. Some of us even make vicious jokes, suggesting it doesn’t matter because we don’t hate gays. And then we have the unmitigated nerve to wonder why more people are not open about their sexual identity.
This isn’t progress. The applauding of the bravery involved in coming out isn’t what we should be aspiring to, rather, we should be actively rooting out the homophobia in our communities and our own thinking that makes coming out such a brave act. Our goal should not be making coming out safe, but to make it unnecessary.
We can hide behind “who you love is your business,” but that doesn’t cover it. The people I love are straight, they are gay, they are bisexual, they are transgender, they are refusing to label themselves. This world should be safe for all of them. Their eyes should never know fear.
Everyday, I receive messages from people of color who tell me how great this blog is, how nice it is to read about these examples and to have a place where they can be compiled. They tell me how they’ve pointed people to this blog when their friends don’t understand white privilege. They’ve told me it’s therapeutic to read an apologetic examination of white privilege.
I receive even more messages from white people. They say that they never understood privilege before they read this blog. They say it’s changed the way they think and speak. They say they were angry at first, but then as they read on, they learned how to better encounter their privilege.
I’ve received messages from college professors saying that they’re going to share this blog with their students when they talk about white privilege.
I’ve received messages from people who say this blog gave them courage to speak out about racism.
So don’t tell me that blogs like this don’t do anything, because as someone else has said, that simply means they don’t do anything for you, probably because you are simple and small minded. You are scared of examining yourself. You are a coward. This blog is for the courageous.
“Sally Ride was an American heroine, looked up to by a generation of science lovers ever since she made history by blasting into space on NASA’s shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. On that day she became the first American woman in space.
But her longtime partner, Dr. Tam E. O’Shaughnessy, is a very accomplished woman in her own right.”—
In the words of an awesome lady on Facebook. “The tragedy in Sally Ride’s death is not only that a smart, talented, brave woman was taken from us too early, but also that her partner of 27 years will not receive the federal benefits that all other spouses of astronauts receive.”
The Jim Henson Company (previously Muppets, Inc.), which used to provide toys for Chick-fil-A kids meals, has decided to end its relationship with the company over Chick-fil-A prez Dan Cathy’s announcement that the restaurant doesn’t support marriage equality.
In a note on their Facebook page, Jim Henson Co. announced:
The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.
The very best part of this is that they will donate their payment from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD. I am experiencing newfound love for Muppets.
You know what’s weird? Telling people you are going to a comic con and having them reply “Oh that must be tough, huh? All those geeks and weirdos everywhere? Hee hee hee haw! Be careful!”
I don’t know how to respond to these people, so usually I say something like “Well, lucky for me, I fit right in with them”, or sometimes I just roll my eyes. But now that my heavy rotation of comic connery is over, at least for a little while, I want to break this down and talk about what a stupid, dumb stereotype this is to have about Comic Con attendees.
Yes, people go to comic cons dressed up from head to toe, they stand in long lines for hours and share lots and lots of random facts about their obsessions with other people, they pay loads of money for artwork and signatures, and they pose for photos with complete strangers. I am completely unsure how this is any different than sports fanatics who also stand in line for hours and spend tons of money on tickets, who paint their half naked bodies from head to toe in their team’s colors, who hoot and holler and yell and fight and participate in the sports “fandom”, who quote random statistics of their favorite players, and cry when their teams win or lose.
This is the exact same level of appreciation shared by people who consider themselves to be fans of a particular thing, yet one group is heralded and the other is ridiculed. I have met and befriended tons of jocks and sports fans who are as socially awkward as the stereotypical “geek” that attends comic con, and I have met some brilliant and articulate fanpeople with whom I have enjoyed great conversations. My hope is that one day, I will tell someone that I am going to Comic Con and the typical response will be “Really? I’ve never been. Is it cool?” I will say “Yes. Yes. It is exhausting, crazy, bizarre, and totally cool.”
Comic cons are WAY more fun than any baseball games I have attended. I mean, aren’t baseball bats just less impressive light sabers anyways?
From time to time, I get emails asking me whether this or that behavior is adult, or I see something tagged as #adulting on Tumblr like “Ate two bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Total adulting fail.”
There’s a little panic that I feel when asked to make judgment calls on the lives of strangers, and sadness if this blog makes people feel bad about themselves for things that they should totally not feel bad about.
Since the point of this blog is absolutely not to make people feel bad about themselves, here, from my admittedly limited perspective, are things that have zero bearing on whether or not you are an adult:
1. A deep appreciation of cartoons 2. Sometimes — sometimes — eating an entire canister of frosting. 3. Reading the Harry Potter books all the way through for a sevent(eent)h time in a row 4. Getting ridiculously excited about something super trivial 5. Possessing no desire to read Ulysses 6. Etc.
Here, from my admittedly limited perspective, are things that do have bearing on whether or not you are an adult:
1. Treating others, and yourself, with decency and kindness 2. Figuring out what things that need to happen, then doing them with minimal self-pity/whining/procrastination
There you go! That’s it! I think almost every entry on this blog falls into one or the other of those two things.
This post is for all of you who have survived the urge to end your life, either coming out the other side or still fighting to stay alive.
I noticed how when someone has a physical illness such as cancer, and they come out the other side or even remission, they are able to celebrate surviving. I think all of the survivors of being suicidal should too.
“Our works are very much pro-life. We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life. If the rights of the unborn trump all of the rights of all of those who are already born, that is a distortion too — if there’s such an emphasis on that. However, we have sisters who work in right to life issues. We also have many, many ministries that support life. We dedicate to our lives to those on the margins of society, many of whom are considered throw-away people: the impaired, the chronically mentally ill, the elderly, the incarcerated, to the people on death row. We have strongly spoken out against the death penalty, against war, hunger. All of those are right to life issues. There’s so much being said about abortion that is often phrased in such extreme and such polarizing terms that to choose not to enter into a debate that is so widely covered by other sectors of the Catholic Church — and we have been giving voice to other issues that are less covered but are equally as important.”—
Despite the fact that I made a few posts about it on Thursday and didn’t bring it up again, over the weekend my Askbox was overloaded with dudes telling me why I’m wrong and asking why I’m on a witch hunt against a hard-working comedian and why do I hate humor and what about FREEDOM OF SPEECH? and all that bullshit. SO HERE WE ARE AGAIN.
I heard two apologies yesterday - one related to the Tosh thing, and one not. They were both from comedians. The first was Louis CK’s interview on The Daily Show.
When I reblogged the post about comedians defending Tosh, people said “well Louis CK was joking because he doesn’t watch the show, it was sarcastic.” If you saw TDS last night, you saw that Louis CK had actually watched Tosh.0 and was legitimately saying he found it funny — BUT, he wasn’t aware of the rape joke controversy. It was just bad timing. Which, fine. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was on vacation and hadn’t been on the Internet. Well, except to tweet, I guess, and do nothing else. Whatever.
Then he says “comedians and feminists are natural enemies,” which, haha, I get it, humorless feminazis! We don’t like the way the current industry of stand-up comedy prioritizes the voices of straight cis white men over everyone else and defends anything they say as “their art” and the way they characterize us as humorless when we just have a sense of humor that doesn’t involve denigrating women. So I guess we’re enemies, then.
Then he says, “Stereotypically speaking, feminists can’t take a joke.” Seriously? You’re even admitting it’s a stereotype, and you’re saying it anyways - to huge applause! It’s actually worse than starting a sentence with “no offense, but…” or “not to be sexist, but…” It’s just getting up there and admitting you’re regurgitating something that probably isn’t statistically true. I thought stand-up comedy was about finding new and humorous ways of looking at things as opposed to repeating tired stereotypes, but hey, what do I know. I’m just a feminist.
He says he did some research and read a lot of interesting material about rape culture and how the constant threat of rape polices women’s lives. And then he’s like “So now I know about that, and I didn’t before. But I can still appreciate a good rape joke.” And then - AND THEN - he says, “women, we heard you, now shut the fuck up about it.”
So in other words: Louis CK got pulled into the rape joke controversy, and did some research on it and discovered that some people have legitimate reasons for not enjoying rape jokes. You know, apart from the fact that we HATE LAUGHTER AND FUN. Great. But he says that any joke about a bad thing (he specifies rape) is still funny to him. So this, I guess I’m calling it an apology, but it wasn’t. He falls into the “well both sides are kind of wrong, so no one should change, and I still defend my right to make jokes that hurt people” thing.
MST3K’s Bill Corbett got some heat on Twitter recently too. His son bought a Transformer toy and named it Tranny. Bill tweeted, “I’d MUCH rather have my son playing with a Tranny-the-Transvestite doll than anything associated with Michael Bay.” Some people were like, “Uh, that’s offensive” and his response was that humor sometimes offends people and everyone should get over it. Sound familiar?
Let me admit it upfront: I had no idea. I thought the term was a shorthand for more accepted terms — maybe not the most reverent, but certainly not all that offensive. I assumed it became offensive only in context, when used with malicious and even violent intent — when clearly meant to hurt and belittle. In those two tweets above, the first seemed like an amusing bit of reportage of what my kid actually said. In my mind, the second one was mostly a slam on Michael Bay. But the more I look at the second one, the more I see how it’s not that simple.
I also did a lot of research, not only about the nomenclature but about the science (my old friend!) of it all, and about the appalling level of violence against trans people. I understand a LOT more than I did a week ago. Still a relative noob, but much, much more informed than a few days back.
I won’t use the word again.
It can be challenging for people in comedy and art to find better ways to do what we do, and avoid hurting people who don’t deserve to be hurt. But that’s my problem to solve, not anyone else’s.
I want to make people laugh, and occasionally think, and maybe — wow! — both at once. I want to have fun doing it. It may always mean being irreverent, skeptical, absurd, even indulging quite a bit of cynicism and sarcasm. But I never want to depend on continually kicking people who are already down to do what I do. I’d rather find another line of work entirely. (Bowling alley attendant comes to mind, since that might have been my last honest job before getting all artsy-fartsy and comedyish.)
I want to stand on the side of humanity. I want to be humane, even when being a goddamned wise-ass. There’s no tried and true path through this, but it’s really worth trying to find it. I want to make people laugh, not feel shitty about life. ”Leave the world a better place than you found it.” A twisty task for someone in comedy, but others have shown that its not impossible.
In both cases, a comedian did something wrong. They made light of a subject that is very hurtful and personal to people. They joked about a topic that isn’t taken seriously by the police or the court system or most of society.* In Louis CK’s case, he educated himself, but learned nothing. In Bill Corbett’s case, he educated himself, learned something, and shared it with everyone else.
(*This is why I’m not even bothering with all the “Well what else can’t we joke about? What about war and murder and serial killers???” Asks in my inbox. Those things are taken seriously by everyone involved. You don’t hear police saying “well, the victim SAYS they were stabbed 37 times by this person, but that knife could have been shoved into them by anyone! They were drinking that night! They were out after dark alone!” People openly DOUBT and attempt to erase the experience of rape survivors and trans* people. There is a god damn difference.)
So now we know that comedians CAN learn and change. If they want to. Louis CK and every other rape joke apologist can learn, but doesn’t want to change, because it might force them to think about what they say every once in a while, and if there’s one thing people hate, it’s introspection and self-evaluation.
In the mean time: support Bill Corbett and Rifftrax by buying some of their stuff. If you haven’t watched Twilight with the Rifftrax, your life has no meaning. Support comedy that’s funny without being tasteless and purposefully offensive. Support NON-LAZY comedy, where they’re actually thinking of jokes instead of repeating stereotypes. And for fuck’s sake, stop defending rape jokes.