Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Year I Lost Everything (and Gained So Much More)

before you read this, this is long and this is more personal than most of my posts, but that's why I wanted to post it.
tw: suicide, drug abuse, and depression

Today was a Friday last year.  I didn't have class but I had a routine, yearly check-up scheduled with the Women's Health Center and then I was gonna see a friend's show in the evening.  My girlfriend wasn't on campus that weekend but we were planning to have some really terrific sex when she came back, 'cause it had been a while.  I had five final papers to start worrying about and working on, since I am a masochist who signs up for five classes a semester whenever I can.  It was all okay, though, because it was nothing I couldn't handle.
And then the year of absolute shit was upon me.

At my routine check-up (that never takes more than 20 minutes), the nurse practitioner found something.  "I'm feeling something that isn't supposed to be there" she said as she examined me.  There was a lump, an irregularity, something that required an ultrasound.  So there I am in the lobby, chugging glasses of water to prep for the ultrasound, texting my friend that I don't think I'll make it to his show and I'm really sorry but something just came up.

The ultrasound technician definitely sees something wrong and it's probably an ovarian cyst but we won't know until later tonight.  So, you know, just walk back to campus on this dark, cold December evening, alone and weak from not eating all day in anticipation of the check-up.  

I get the call around 9pm, the one from the nurse practitioner that says I'm definitely going to need surgery to remove what they believe is an ovarian cyst.  And now it's real.  I have no idea how to handle this information.  I remember filling out forms before freshman year and talking about the parent's contribution to my tuition with my father and how, when it came to the health insurance, he told me that he probably couldn't afford that part.  "Just take care of yourself and let's hope you don't get sick for the next four years."  Okay.  Fuck.  Because now I'm halfway through my Junior year and I never could have foreseen needing this surgery.  And I will never be able to afford it.  This is the shit they don't prepare you for when you go away to college, when you live on your own, when you try to make it in the real world.  They never tell you that one Friday you're just gonna go in for a routine check-up while your girlfriend is out of town and have your whole world shatter before your eyes.

So my girlfriend and I spent the next two months in and out of the Women's Health Center on campus and the Cancer Center at [local hospital].  We would spend the next five or six months worrying about my emotional state and the obvious deterioration of my mental health.  The surgery itself, which happened in January, radically altered everything about my life (which I blogged about) from how I ate to how I had sex to how I was as a student, etc.  We were advised not to have penetrative sex before the surgery for fear of coming into contact with and harming the thing that had to be removed, and were not allowed to have any sex for two months after the surgery.  It was difficult to leave my bed most days and I was so drugged up on painkillers that I didn't even have the inclination to, so I missed a lot of classes.  I missed a lot of everything, actually, because I wasn't getting exercise or fresh air, wasn't going to work at my campus job, wasn't eating regularly, wasn't showering more than a couple times a week, wasn't going out and being with people, wasn't doing my schoolwork, and worst of all, I wasn't really telling anybody.  I was slipping into a real depression, especially since my sister was back home and could only make the trip up to see me once, and my girlfriend was taking a semester off and we rarely got a chance to talk.  So, I developed a sort of dependency on my painkillers... and lied to my girlfriend about it whenever she confronted me.  She wasn't physically present which made that part really easy.

I was supposed to take my Percocet whenever I felt pain from my incision but it wasn't just pain from my incision that I was feeling.  I was getting headaches from my poor diet and terrible sleep schedule, and getting dizzy from standing up for too long.  My back started hurting from having to put effort into standing up straight because the incision made it more comfortable to hunch.  I couldn't masturbate, so I couldn't rely on the natural endorphins that are released and make you feel good from having an orgasm.  I couldn't even fucking laugh without it hurting.  I didn't like being awake and missing my girlfriend and knowing I had work I wasn't doing and thinking about how much money I still owed for the surgery (even with the school's standard health insurance covering most of it) and worrying about how I wasn't talking to other people and hating the huge scar on my body now and having anxiety about how I wasn't leaving my bed.  That's when I started taking my Percocet for any random reason I could come up with.  And one night, I thought about taking enough to kill myself. 

I never actually went through with that, and I wish I knew what made me decide not to.  It was a real low point and, honestly, I don't even know how to feel like that again, thank god.  I wish I could explain what prevented me from doing it.  All I know is, my girlfriend saw me mention my suicidal feelings on Tumblr and reached out to me right away because she is actually the best human and gave me as much emotional support during the whole thing as she could.  But I don't know how effective that was in stopping me because I was still lying to her (and everyone who asked) about how I was abusing my Percocet, regularly.  It's no one else's fault, I just wasn't being honest because I didn't want to be told to stop.  I'm just so grateful that I ran out of my prescription when I did.  It forced me to deal with a few things on my own and without any drug dependency in the mix. 

The Spring semester that started a mere week after my surgery proved to be the most difficult semester of my college career.  I actually had to drop one of my five classes for the first time since freshman year and now, my finals week was rapidly approaching.  Time for all of that work I wasn't doing to finally collapse on me.  My finals week was the most isolated, sleep-deprived, mentally draining period in my life, but I managed.  And then, in my first week home after all that, my girlfriend broke up with me.  Now, to a normal person this probably seems like the coldest, most terrible thing to follow the months I just went through- but my ex and I are far from normal people.  In actuality, this was the best thing to happen to me since our getting together in the first place. 

You see, we are adult humans who talk about things.  And the things we talked about that night were how we knew we had to break up because after nearly two-and-a-half years of being together and trying to work things out, we realized that maybe we're just shit at fulfilling each other's needs... WHICH IS OKAY!  You can get along really well with someone and love them and respect them and communicate with them and just not fit well together.  And part of communicating really well with someone is realizing sooner rather than later that the relationship doesn't work, and being okay with that.  And I feel like that's something else that they never tell you, especially not when you're 21 and ESPECIALLY NOT when you're a girl. 

We have really unhealthy ideas about relationships because there's this heterosexualized notion of monogamy and romance and these unrealistic ideals of finding that one person, and smoothing everything out despite all your differences and your incompatibilities because you're supposed to complete each other.  And when you're a woman, it's even more important for you to find that match because your life depends on the man you give yourself to.  It's hard to believe that you can actually be truly happy when you're single when this is all you're hearing.  Maybe you disagree with me because you have had a different experience but these are the things that I've learned about love and relationships from actually being in them.  It's what I've observed from being a girl in this time and place and being told from the media and from cultural traditions and all sorts of things that I need to find the one person who completes me.  Well, what if that one person who completes me is me?

I was in that relationship, happy because we get along so well but unsatisfied because we weren't necessarily compatible.  And when you are insecure, you need more love and attention than another person can really give you, because you're trying to make up for what you don't have yourself.  That's the terribly sad but true paradox of insecurity.  And maybe this moment will never happen for you- and for that I am truly sorry- but when we broke up, I immediately realized that I didn't need to try to salvage and cling to a relationship that wasn't working because I was afraid I couldn't find better.  I have been told that I'm ugly or undesirable, so no one would want me.  Others have wrongfully believed that I'm ugly and undesirable, and have lost out and denied themselves the pleasure.  Oh fucking well.  Right now I can't be bothered.

Getting through the semester that I needed her most without my ex-girlfriend, and coming out of it relatively unharmed, taught me that I could survive without her (which I sorta didn't think was possible sometimes).   And looking back, I know I couldn't see it then but, I had so many people around me who cared about me and who tried to make my life easier.  I had bosses who understood when I couldn't cover my shifts.  I had professors who consistently encouraged me to rest and take extensions rather than force myself to come to class and hand everything in on time.  I had a medical staff that was working on getting me back to normal.  I had friends who literally devoted huge chunks of time in their weeks to just staying with me and bringing me food and helping me put my shoes on and just making sure I wasn't alone.  I had family who checked in with me and asked about me and drove me to the airport and the hospital and back to campus.  I had a girlfriend who gave me all the love and support that she could, that she knew how to give, that I was actually capable of realizing. 

And those things are hard to see and appreciate when you're hurting as much as I was, when you are as scared as I was, when you are in the downward spiral of losing motherfucking everything.  Okay, so I'm still paying medical bills a year later, and I still have this massive scar on my body, and I still get terrified at the thought of ever having to get another surgery sometime, later in my life.  But at least I can recognize that I am not alone.  And at least now I understand my own worth and can appreciate myself, which is something you don't expect to gain in the year you lose everything.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Major Attention-Whore

Earlier today, internationally-known curmudgeonly douche nozzle Donald Trump offered President Barack Obama a deal in the form of an internet video entitled "Major Announcement."  After the whole birth certificate episode of a couple years ago, the Donald thought that his name had been out of the papers for long enough and decided to remind us all of what an irrelevant fucking asshole he is.

The following is a totally unofficial yet ridiculously accurate translation of what he said: 

Donald: President Obama is the least transparent president of this country.



Donald: We know very little about our president.



Donald: I’m very honored to have gotten him to release his long form birth certificate.

translation: I have no shame and make no apologies for spending all of our precious time on stupid and inconsequential bullshit because I’m a racist dildo.


Donald: (I’m just paraphrasing here) I will give $5 million with no strings attached to any charity of his choice, just so long as he meets my very specific demands that in no way sound like a kidnapper negotiating the release of the child I just stole BECAUSE I AM A FAIR AND GOOD DISGUSTINGLY RICH PERSON and could not have possibly just given these charities money for nothing.


Donald: If he releases these records, it will end the question and, indeed, the anger of many Americans.  They’ll know something about their president.

translation: DID WE THINK IT WAS OKAY TO JUST ELECT A BLACK PRESIDENT?! HE’S FUCKING BLACK!!! Surely, everyone is more upset about that than the economy or reproductive rights or healthcare or lgbtq issues or ANYTHING OF SUBSTANCE.  I can’t be alone here.  I’m not racist; I just hate having a president who isn’t White… errrr.. transparent.


Donald: (again, paraphrasing) So, all he has to do to get this money is work for it, baby.  Yeah.  Earn this money.  Put your college records in a brown paper bag and deliver it at the pier no later than 1am.  Tell no one where you are going.  Knock four times and a man in a beige trench coat will be waiting.  The password is “squeaky vagina.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On This September 11th

It is hard to ignore the significance of September 11th in U.S. history.  As a New Yorker, this day really resonates and stands out as something that made me (ten years old at the time) very confused and afraid, and even more confused and afraid when I saw those feelings reflected in the adults around me who were supposed to know what was going on.  I remember how, for a moment there, this whole nation was united in feeling the loss and the vulnerability and the fear.

But that was one attack for us.  I'm not trying to downplay the magnitude, I'm just trying to put things in perspective.  There are places where attacks like the one we experienced on 9.11.2001 are not as rare an occurrence.   Furthermore, (and I can't believe this still needs to be said eleven years later) that attack was not the fault of every Muslim in this or any country.  The loss of life may have been great on that day, but we show ourselves to be much weaker when our response to something like that is not to build ourselves up again but, rather, to single out and persecute innocent people for their faith and practices in a country where religious freedom is supposed to be part of the most basic foundation.

I say this as a New Yorker.  I say this as a girl who spent the night of that September 11th literally not knowing if her father (who worked on Wall Street) was ever coming home again:

This Islamophobia thing we've got going on in this country- something which was always basically lurking but had a chance to really flourish after the attacks of 9.11- needs to STOP.  Not only is it harmful; it is also illogical.  It is ridiculous to hold up Islam as an example of a religion which is spread through violence, as people like to say, but ignore that whole thing called the Inquisition and that bit about Manifest Destiny.  And, for fans of more recent history, certain shootings which were the result of Christian extremists... but nobody seems to want to refer to those.

The fact is that religious faith, in its very essence, requires some kind of zealotry, some kind of passion, and when that sort of thing is taken too far (in the name of ANY religion) it can result in a body count.  This is a frightening reality but it is not a reality that is limited to Muslims.  We need to get over ourselves.

I, myself, am queer and am obviously going to hell and/or its counterpart in a bevvy of religions according to various people.  So don't come telling me that there are some religions that are founded on hate and violence and others that aren't.  No.  It's more like religions were formed to explain oddities in nature and to give people hope.  Those stories and beliefs then evolved into the stuff that we see today.  There are people who use their faith as an excuse to reach out and love people and to find the strength to carry on throughout their lives.  That is good and humane and hurts no one when it is pure.  And then there are the ones who use their religion as an excuse to hate certain groups of people- and that is so backwards, I cannot believe they don't see how inherently wrong that is for themselves.

The same goes for the memory of September 11th.  I think that if people want to use this day to commemorate the loss of life on so grand a scale and to reflect on the events that soon followed in a way that makes them value life more, then that's beautiful and wonderful and they should do that.  But do not use this day for your hate.  DO NOT use this moment as an excuse to harass and persecute those who face the harassment and persecution daily because it makes you feel better.  That is weak.  That is reprehensible.  And that is the opposite of what anyone needs right now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Reason You "Don't Feel Puerto Rican"

I have very pale skin for someone who is Puerto Rican and Dominican.  It often surprises people to learn what my ethnicity is comprised of and, because people typically assume that I am White, I do not face as much racism as Latinos with darker complexions.  But this, in no way, disqualifies my experiences as a Latina.  And even if I didn't have this issue with my skin tone, I still have a wonderful ethnic marker in my thick, curly, and untamable Puerto Rican/Dominican hair.  Like Gabby Douglas at the Olympics- whom I commend for her badassery both in and out of the competition- I have had to contend with the most ridiculous internalized racism about it.  Women of my own fucking background have criticized and scolded and insulted my hair.  It was never good enough.  It was never straight enough.  By all traditional standards of beauty, it was "bad hair."  

But this post is not exclusively about that.  As with any human being, there is more to me than just my hair; there's a lot of stuff going on underneath it, too.  In high school that stuff going on underneath was pretty brilliant.  Dude, I mean I was a fucking extraordinary student in high school!  I'm talkin' I was in AP classes and I graduated fourth in my class of something like 100-140 students.  I was a big deal.  Unfortunately, my academic excellence came with a very strange consequence, and one of the most racist comments I've had to encounter in my personal life.

"But you're so smart."

That was the response that I got from OTHER DOMINICANS in my predominantly Dominican school when they found out my heritage.  Not only is it insulting to me to be disassociated from my ethnicity because I'm too good at being intelligent to fit in with my own people; it is insulting to you, the Dominican person who buys into the idea that the ability to learn and articulate oneself and get good grades is strictly a White thing.  It's that White mentality of "this is us over here and that's them all the way over there and we act like this and all of them act like that" and it's that divide that we KNOW doesn't actually exist so cleanly in real life but we somehow get convinced that it is until we start to believe that people of colour are "acting White" when they get good grades.  This particular brand of racism, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is the "internalized racism" to which I referred in my opening paragraph.  It's something that I know a lot about, not just from my time in high school or that issue with my hair, but because I am the daughter of one its proudest  participants.

My father (the Puerto Rican one in the equation) writes almost compulsively.  He writes books, plays, poems, short stories- all of which I stopped reading a few years ago out of self-preservation.  At some point, he wrote his autobiography.  I have not read it.  I refuse to read it.  I don't need to; I've spent my life listening to his anecdotes and reading this book will only infuriate me.  Even the title, Funny, I Don't Feel Puerto Rican, infuriates me.  (Please don't feel obligated to buy it or anything; I don't)  That line was his response, growing up in the Bronx in the '50s and '60s, to people who would say "funny, you don't look Puerto Rican" when they learned of his ethnicity.  This title floods me with unwanted memories of my own high school experience with my ethnicity and it pains me to know that my father truly believes that there is a certain way to be Puerto Rican. 

I don't want to be the person who tells other people how to identify, but I'm his daughter so I know where and how he cultivated this mentality.  It is, in large part, based on the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story.  I shit you not.

At the tender age of eleven, my father saw West Side Story and identified more with the Jets than with the Sharks.  Thus, he concluded that he was more White than Puerto Rican, neglecting two imperative points in the process:

1. He was not an immigrant.  He was born in New York and so were his parents.  Of course he identified with the White kids!  They were the New Yorkers!  If the Puerto Rican characters had been 2nd-generation New Yorkers like he was, he probably would've felt more like them.

2. West Side Story was written by White men.  They were not accurate depictions of the experiences of actual Puerto Ricans living in New York; they were the brainchildren of some White guys who wrote down what they saw as being the major differences.  Even the Sharks' music is not based on Puerto Rican music: the "I Feel Pretty" number features castanets (which are from Spain), the structure of "America" is traditionally Mexican, and that mambo they do in the gym originates from Cuba but all those Spanish-speaking countries are interchangeable, right?  Additionally, those Sharks were portrayed by the likes of Russian Natalie Wood and Greek George Chakiris- great performances and all but fuckin' A for authenticity, guys!

My father and I differ in a lot of ways but I think I am most proud of the way that I refuse to allow stupid things like that to govern how I identify.  I know that I'm a Latina and if someone is gonna try to tell me that my experiences don't count because I don't resemble their pre-conceived notions of what that is, then they can show me the credentials that make them an authority on my life.  The fact is, I had a Dominican mother and a Puerto Rican father (whether he feels that way or not) and there is no stereotypical media representation or grade point average I can get that will change that.   In the meantime, I have decided that for my own mental and emotional health, I will start referring to my father's book by its true title: It's Not Funny But Internalized Racism and the "Us vs. Them" Mentality of White America Which is Informed by Media Representations of Latinos (That Were Written by White People in the First Place) Have Been Embedded in American Culture and Attempt to Disqualify My Experiences as a Genuine Puerto Rican.

It's a mouthful, but it's better than ignorance.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

diary of a queer woman of colour/film student

This is something I posted on Tumblr last night.  I decided to put it here as well.

I like intense films.

I like when important characters die.  I like when their death means something deeper than just another one biting the dust for the sake of beefing up the body count, when someone who they loved and trusted is responsible for it.

I like when the person responsible loves them too.  I like when they are conflicted about the murder and have to live with the guilt.

I like when actors look awful.  I like when make up artists spend their energy making their eyes look puffy and when they have stubble and disheveled hair and bruises and look like they haven’t showered in days when their characters haven’t showered in days.  Or when they look like they just woke up when their character just woke up.

I like when time is malleable and the film doesn’t unfold in chronological order.  I like the challenge, having to figure out what’s going on and hate being led by the hand.

I like when actors surprise themselves and everyone else.  When they leave their comfort zone, when they ad-lib and go out on a limb and even scare me.

I like when questions of morality are used to disrupt the status quo.  I don’t like when they reinforce it.

I don’t like when films insult my intelligence.

I don’t like the way some human beings are reduced to stereotypes while others enjoy the warm hues of complexity.  I don’t like narratives with double standards or when women are objectified and not treated with the same respect by the camera as men or when people from oppressed groups are made the butt of the joke… or the villain.

I like films.  I like to watch them.  I like to analyze them.  What I don’t like is feeling like they don’t like me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Problem with Pretty

I got hit on in Spanish yesterday.  This is nothing unusual; I tend to attract older, Spanish-speaking men as I walk through the city, minding my own business.  It was this particular man’s phrasing that stood out to me. 

“Estás muy linda,” he called out to me when I walked past him, which translates to “you are very pretty” but, which implies that this statement is not always true, that my prettiness is temporary, short-term, fleeting. 

My inner drag queen started to amuse herself with the thought “He must’ve meant ‘eres’ (the permanent version of ‘estás’) because I am ALWAYS pretty.”

But here’s the problem with pretty:

I spent so many years of my life truly believing that I am not pretty.  It didn’t matter very much to me because I always knew that at least I am smart and funny and I care about other people, so I stopped putting beauty on a pedestal.  I simply accepted that it was not an adjective that many people would use to describe me.  I didn’t realize that, although I said that I didn’t care about something as superficial as physical appearance, I was, in fact, selling myself short and filling my head with this idea that I deserved less than what I wanted.  And worse: less than what I needed.

I figured that since I wasn’t pretty, I should not turn down offers from the handful of people who were deluded enough to believe that I was and I felt I owed it to myself, and them, to be with them, even if they did make me feel awful about myself in other ways.  Sometimes that didn’t even manifest in other ways at all.  My first boyfriend praised my tits but told me on our first date that I should lose a few pounds.  And I stayed with him for nearly a month after that!

That’s what insecure people do: we stay in abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships longer than we should because we have trouble realizing that we have options.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that is constructed on beauty worship- which I would be more or less okay with, except that it is one idea of beauty.  One nearly-impossible-to-achieve standard of beauty.

Take my breasts for example and how that boyfriend I mentioned was under the same mistaken impression that most people are under: tits should be big and waists should be small.  For the most part, it does not work like that.  Of course there are always rather thin people with rather large breasts, and vice versa, but usually, the body is naturally proportioned to support that abundant tit-meat you’re carting around.  

But if your breasts are “too small,” you must be anorexic or “under-developed,” and you undoubtedly wish you had a bigger rack.  If you happen to have that large chest that everyone is supposedly dying for, but also happen to be fat, you must be “too fat” and could stand to lose some damn weight- and you are obligated to hear that sentiment expressed by anyone and everyone.  And forget it if you’re a man.  If you’re a man and you have (big) breasts, you are either “not a real man” because gender is entirely dependent on secondary sex characteristics (SARCASM!!) or you have man-boobs brought on by too many cheeseburgers and not enough exercise.  No one is allowed to be content.

And I honestly wish that the presence, absence, and/or relative size of breasts were the only areas in which beauty is scrutinized, but we all know better.

And it isn’t as if those precious few who actually fulfill the criteria can even enjoy their adjective much.  There are all kinds of counter-attacks for the “beautiful people.”  We accuse them of not having substance, of being obsessed with their looks, of being stuck up, of being mean, of being self-absorbed.

We objectify them.

We pick them apart, making fun of their “imperfections” until we are no better than the masses who called us ugly.

We call the beautiful women who don’t want to fuck us “bitches.”

And the worst of all, we say that women who have the audacity to embrace this beauty that we worship, by wearing the revealing outfits the fashion industry convinces them they need, are all “asking for it” when they are raped.

We are conditioned to think that being pretty is the most important thing in life.  More important than being intelligent, or being compassionate, or being independent, or any other thing that a human being is capable of- so we all break our backs trying to look beautiful, forgetting that we already are, and forgetting that external beauty does not measure human worth.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Asking for the Moon

Last night I had a dream that my father was talking smack about gender equality.  You probably don’t know my father, but this is very realistic.  He was arguing with another man about how bitchy feminists are, how cold and unforgiving they are… when they fight for basic human rights.   

In my dream, I started arguing with him, defending that fight- much like I do with him in real life.  After listening to me for a few minutes, he responded with what he must have considered a very poignant misquoted line from Now, Voyager*:

"I gave you the moon, why can’t you be happy with the stars?"

What my dream-father meant, of course, and what dream-me actually understood (because I was unconscious) is “men have given you so much, so many things, why can’t you be happy with what you have? Why are you asking for more?”  

My response to him went something like this:

"Because we want the moon.  Because the moon shouldn’t even be yours to give, you stupid asshole.  Because having the moon is a basic human right. And how can you say that you gave it to me and then ask me to be happy with less anyway?!"

I stand by those words even now that I’m awake.  I’m actually really proud of myself for being able to make such an articulate argument while I was unconscious.  Now, if only I could transfer that awesomeness to these final papers I still need to write...  

Maybe I was able to think so clearly in my dream because it is an argument that I constantly have to reiterate when I’m awake.  It is an argument that so many of us, suffering from all different kinds of oppressions, have to make all the time.  Asking to be treated like a human being is not asking for too much.  And, as nonsensical and contradictory as what my dream-father said was, it perfectly encapsulates the kind of bullshit that we often encounter.  

Because the 14-year-old girl in me likes to stare at fan manips of James McAvoy with sloths and prevent 21-year-old me from actually getting work done, I am a very passionate Tumblr girl.  I recently got into an argument about race and gender with a sexist, transphobic, racist asshole on Tumblr, like you do, in which I had to defend my major and career path in addition to my role as a woman of colour.  In the same post, he told me “you already have your equality” and, at the same time mind you, accused me of wasting the opportunity I’ve been given with my college education by studying about injustices rather than studying to be a scientist because too many women “complain about the lack of females in scientific subjects, and with this decide to study feminism to ascertain why, rather than actually break the chain and enter these fields themselves, thereby contributing to the trend that they oppose.”

I mean, it’s a valid observation; not enough people are trying to be the change that they seek.  I will grant him that.  However, I must take his criticism with a grain of salt because a) I have been through his blog and he is an asshole and b) he said all this and still claimed that I “already have [my] equality.”  Furthermore, I don't think he understands that women are socialized to pursue careers that do not focus on math and science.  We are encouraged to do other things because the misconception is that women are not as good as men in these fields.  This, of course, leads to stereotype threat and the internalization of that harmful belief that women are actually not good enough, and then women do not try to become scientists.  And the few that do are so clearly entering a man's world that, more often than not, they begin to feel intimidated by the majority. Additionally, I don’t think it’s fair to charge some people with that kind of responsibility while others just walk around, pursuing whatever profession they desire without having to worry about how it reflects their whole gender or race or sexual orientation, etc.  So I said this:

"What I am majoring in/plan to do with my life is not the issue.  The issue is that no matter what I do, I will be held up as an example of what my entire group as a whole is capable of in a way that men never have to worry about- unless they are not white or straight or cis or neurotypical or able-bodied or from a middle-class background because that’s the whole point here; when you have privilege, you do not experience marginalization and therefore do not understand the imbalance.
And I don’t understand how you can tell me that I already have equality and reinforce the fact that I clearly don’t, and NOT even realize it. If there was true equality, as you suggest there is, I would not have to tailor my career path to fill that gap because, by definition, there would be no gap."

What faux-allies and most people with privilege see when they look at us, the oppressed, fighting for our basic human rights, is a group of people asking for more than they need.  They think our demands are outrageous and blame us for our own dissatisfaction.  They expect us to be content with the crumbs offered, to sit here repeating to ourselves *“Let’s not ask for the moon, we have the stars” (the actual quote from Now, Voyager).

So, let me make this really simple and easy to understand; if you have the moon, a.k.a. privilege, you don’t get to tell other people not to ask for it, a.k.a. equality. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Since this month began (you know, Women’s History Month, the month that’s supposed to make me happy and proud) I have been bombarded with overwhelming true stories of ridiculous hate crimes and it’s fucking appalling.  There is no other word for what’s been going on. 

First, there’s the story of George Hodgins, the 22-year-old autistic man who was killed by his mother in a murder-suicide that will likely be remembered as another “act of desperation from a long-suffering mother” instead of the despicable murder it really was.  The next thing was the murder of the 28-year-old Mexican transgender activist Agnes Torres.  Unlike George, she was not killed by her own parent, but she was the sixth member of the LGBTQ community to be murdered in the town of Puebla since January.  Now, on the heels of these horrific stories I’m learning about (but, sadly, am no stranger to) comes a Twitter trend so disturbing that I have to put my foot down and address it. 

Expecting parents and people who fantasize about someday having children often write letters or make promises to their offspring about how they intend to raise them.  I know that when my sister was pregnant with her first child, she wrote a letter of undying love and unconditional support to him.  Similarly, my girlfriend often vows that anyone who dares to hurt her future babies will suffer unimaginable pain.  This is typical, protective, parental devotion.  What is decidedly not “protective,” “parental,” or a display of “devotion” by any stretch of the imagination is the string of unsavory and homophobic tweets found on the hashtag #ToMyUnbornChild, a trend which has been absolutely blowing up recently.

Here are just some of the grotesque things people have been tweeting:

So basically, I am praying that every single one of these people just puts the kid up for adoption instantly so that someone who would actually like to be a parent can have a chance.  Or, they should get an abortion- and that brings me to my Women’s History Month angle. The way I understand it, Republicans are all gnashing their nails because sexually active (and responsible) people all over the country have the outlandish idea that they are entitled to reproductive rights.  This includes access to contraceptives and birth control as well as the right to abort the unwanted fetuses they have become impregnated with.  Scary stuff indeed.  It is so scary, in fact, that women were not allowed to attend the meetings in which these issues were discussed (the Republican Hearing on Contraception).  Anyone with a uterus (i.e. the people who typically become pregnant) was automatically disqualified from these hearings.

Apparently, the only people allowed to attend the hearings were people who would rather let unwanted and unloved babies grow up and be murdered at the hands of their own parents than allow the unfit parents-to-be to abort the potentially gay fetus they so despise.  A fetus is not a living being; a baby is.  When a person gives birth to the thing that they were carrying in their womb during their pregnancy, when that creature breathes air independently for the first time, that is when it is another living being.  So, abortion is not murder.  And even if everything I've said is suddenly rendered inaccurate and this debate regarding the abortion/murder struggle becomes more clouded than it currently is, you know what is a perfectly simple example of murder?  Killing your 22-year-old son because you consider him a burden. That is homicide, straight up, and sympathy for that is disgusting.  Killing your gay child would also be an example of murder, but I guess not many Republicans would care to back me up on that observation. 

As an unwanted child myself, it disgusts me to think that someone should have to grow up knowing that their parents hate their very existence.  Whether it’s because they are gay, bisexual, autistic, transgender, or just happened to be born to people who didn’t want them, no one should live in fear of one day being murdered by anyone, least of all their own parents.  That is fucking disgraceful. 

So, To My Unborn Child (the one I’m not planning to have any time within the next ten years, if at all),

I really wish I could promise you a world that does not suck at its very core.  I wish that when you are born, you don’t have to endure this despicable environment that champions ignorance and hate and snuffs out any sign of deviation at the source.  I wish that I could give you assurance that the people you meet would only judge you based on your character, like Martin Luther King preached, but I can’t and for that I apologize.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more to change the harmful way that people think and act to make this world safer for you.

The only thing I can promise to do is raise you with unconditional love and support from my heart- even if you do end up being straight.