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Seasonal Exhaustion

The holiday is pretty much directly upon me. This weekend I have Christmas with my family. We are going up tomorrow night.

But I don’t feel super merry. In the words of Bilbo Baggins: “I feel thin. Like butter spread over too much bread.”

It has been a long and tumultuous year. The world has continued to terrify me with its ability to be random and cruel while simultaneously delighting me with the warmth and full hearts and adorable cat photos that I have found within it.

Normally at this point in the season I am wearing a festive hat and bouncing around the house to Christmas music like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m not doing either of those things. And what’s weird is that I don’t really care to.

I think the weight of everything that has happened this year has just hit me all at once. The deaths of black women, the burning of black churches, the police brutality, the trans lives that have been lost, rape culture, the everyday harassment that comes along with being femme on the internet or on a street or wherever. Shit, some asshole even killed a lion.

I’ve talked before about the exhaustion that comes from dealing with social justice stuff all the time. The compassion fatigue that we all can feel merely from having access to the internet on a daily basis.

It wears. It takes a toll.

I’m not in a place right this second where I can talk about how to cope with that toll. I’m in it. I’m just looking forward to going home tonight, slapping on some Christmas music and faking it as if I’m going to be making it while I mix up some holiday cookies.

We cope. That’s all we can do sometimes. And I’m just learning now that it’s OK to just cope. To breathe into whatever we’re going through and to be not 100% for a while.

That’s actually a pretty good Christmas gift for me to give myself, now that I think about it.

 

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th is a day set aside to remember those who have been lost to in acts of violence against transgender people.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started on November 28th, 1998, when Rita Hester was murdered. Her murder, which has yet to be solved, galvanized the community to start a web project titled “Remembering Our Dead,” which then spun out to become the Day of Remembrance that we observe today.

The transgender community is effected by anti-LGBT violence disproportionately when compared to the rest of the LGBT community. A report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) found that 72% of victims of anti-LGBT homicide were trans women, while 67% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were trans women of color. So far this year we have lost 30 members of the trans community to unspeakable acts of violence. Please take a moment to learn their names, if you do not already know them. Hold them in your heart today.

Trans people are also more likely to be subjected to police violence than other members of the community at large. According to the survey conducted by NCAVP, transgender people of color are 6 times more likely to experience physical violence at the hands of police when compared to white cisgendered people. The trans community generally are 7 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting to the police when compared with cisgendered people.

Added to that sobering number, the trans community also faces staggering numbers regarding suicide rates. According to the Williams Insitute, 46% of trans men reported having attempted suicide. The numbers for trans women are not much better at 42%. The rate of suicide attempts among the LGB community is half that. And the rate among the overall population outside of the LGBT community is a mere 4.6%. Those numbers are deeply skewed and also deeply frightening.

Not only do trans people face violence when it comes to heterosexuals who may be transphobic, the fact of the matter is that trans people are frequently overlooked and underrepresented within the LGB community as well. One of the latest and possibly best examples I can give you of this is the recent Stonewall film debacle. But Stonewall isn’t the only example of this issue. Trans erasure and trans silencing and even transphobia are rampant within the LGB community.

The trans community faces a disproportionate level of violence and hardship within the LGBT community, and they get so little support

For my part, I am at a loss when it comes to days like today. I cannot imagine what it must be like for people to walk through their lives so maligned by the people around them. Grappling with a trans identity in a society that is so hetero- and cis-normative must be difficult enough, without that added fear.

I think the worst thing has to be the sense of betrayal when faced with transphobia and transmisogyny in the LGB community. I get that no community is perfect, but the fact that I’ve had to shut down repugnant phobic remarks within my community has shocked me. The fact that there is so little recognition or acceptance of trans issues is so disheartening.

To my trans friends and anyone reading this who I may not know: I see you. I will do my best to be an ally to you in every way that I can. And if you are struggling, know that you are valued. That you are seen and cared for by the people around you. Please reach out if you are suffering. Please stay.

To my fellow cis people: Do your best today and every day to be open to what trans people are saying to you. Learn to be called out with dignity. Learn to open yourself to experiences that differ from your own. If you have anything to spare, please consider donating time or money to trans organizations and communities in your area.

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You can’t take the sky from me: Harassment edition

So immediately after I got that horrible phone call on Monday, I called public safety and got someone to come and take a statement from me. Once we realized that the person calling was from inside my university, my HR rep got involved and hooked me up with someone in the Office of Equality and Diversity here on campus.

My meeting was this morning. It’s gorgeous outside, if you haven’t noticed, so I grabbed my coffee and headed over, enjoying the sights and sounds of the bustling campus. I left my headphones in my desk, true to my promise to myself to live my life unfettered by blockades meant to keep the world at bay.

Walking into the building for my Equality and Diversity meeting, a man from Dannon Water was coming out with a large cart full of empty water bottles. I held the door for him, joking when he thanked me that I didn’t have nearly as much on my hands as he did. He laughed. His smile was wide and white in his face. A handsome guy. Mid-20s. The sort of person that I usually avoid locking eyes with because I am afraid of what comes next.

I patted myself on the back internally for being brave enough to interact with him and breezed by.

As I passed him I heard him grunt and say “Damn, girl.” Immediately I felt cold rage rise up in me. I wasn’t hot. Wasn’t ashamed. I was furious on a level that could not be contained. As the door closed behind me I spun to see him still staring at the area where my ass was a moment before.

I opened the door again.

“Are you fucking serious right now?” I said, eyes burning into his face.

He blustered and stuttered. “Uh, um, I, uh… I was looking at my phone!” Outrage and shame and disbelief played on his face. He knew he was caught. And he could not believe that I had pinned him so quickly. Could not believe that I was calling him out to his face.

I said, “No you weren’t, now get in your damn truck.” And I slammed the door behind me.

I am living out loud, assholes. Watch out.

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This body is not for you.

On Monday afternoon my work phone rang, as it is wont to do. I answered it.

“Good afternoon, College of Engineering.”

A man’s voice answered.

“I just have to ask you a question.”

My stomach sank a little at the tone in his voice. I have had these interactions so many times before that I feel like I respond to cues that I could not possibly articulate to you. I knew, in my gut, that he was about to be disgusting.

“Sure!” I said, trying to maintain my chipper phone demeanor. “How can I help you?”

“I just need to know what color your panties are so I can jerk off.”

My face and neck were suddenly hot and crawling with shame. I snarled “go fuck yourself” into the phone line and hung up.


 

Friends, I am so tired.

When I walked home from work on Monday I felt so strange. I had my headphones in. No music playing, as usual. Just a condom against the world. A prophylactic to allow me to ignore people when it suited me. When men yelled things at me from cars or “mhm’d” their way past me on the street.

I listened to the muffled sounds of the world around me through the plug of my headphones. I could barely make out the sounds of birds in the trees at the park. The sound of my own footsteps seemed so far away.

I felt so fucking sad in that moment. Here I was, muting the world around me just so that I could create a barrier against harassment.

I took my headphones out.

I listened to the unfettered sound of the world around me and smiled.


I spend so much time trying to protect myself from harassment. Sometimes, in the summer, when it is too hot to cover my body entirely in cloth, I will stay inside until I have an escort. Other times I will wrap myself in jeans rather than a short skirt in order to avoid the possibility of leers and comments.

I refuse to wear sexy clothing when I am going to be taking public transportation.

At work, when people say weird or inappropriate things, I freeze.

I refuse to be this person any longer. I refuse to act as though I am afraid.

I have taken my headphones off.

I will wear my short skirts whenever I please.

And everyone at work had better be prepared for me to go full-on feminist killjoy on them when they tell me I should smile, or call me “sweetheart.”

I am officially done muting the beauty of the world around me and curating my behaviors in order to make it so that these jerks do not see the chinks in my armor.

I’ve had enough.

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Everyday Harassment: A Glimpse

Last night Frankie and I decided to go shopping. After the con, our cupboard was looking pretty bare. We have both been suffering from the lack of fruit in our diets. So we took Xena to the vet for her boosters, ate a quick “do not shop hungry” snack, and headed to Shop Rite.

When we got there, our cart quickly became laden with all manner of goodies. Because the “do not shop hungry” snack can only do so much and cherries were on sale and goldfish crackers are delicious, OK? Don’t judge us.

Ahem.

We got in line with our overburdened cart, Frankie taking up her customary position at the front end so as to better unload the cart onto the conveyor belt, while I stood at the rear.

As she unloaded, a 50-ish year old man came up behind me and addressed Frankie across the length of the cart.

Man: You work for forensics?
Frankie: Yea.
Man: That’s real good. I watch the forensic shows. That’s a good job. That’s real good.

The interaction went on like that for a bit. I, my hackles up for imminent harassment, did the usual body language of a person who doesn’t want to talk. I did not look at him except to give him one word answers. I smiled only briefly. I sent off as many “fuck right off” signals as possible.

They didn’t work.

After finishing talking to Frankie, he turned to me.

Man: Damn, ma, what’s your name?
Me, making direct eye contact and not smiling: I’m her wife, actually.

His eyes popped out of his head. He looked me up and down for a long moment, then turned to Frankie.

Man: You are so lucky. You never done a thing wrong. You made a good choice. She fine. Damn. She fine.
Frankie, glaring a little: Yea, I’m lucky. She’s great.

Now, back when I used to date men, before I figured out that was a terrible idea, the way these interactions would go is as follows.

Man: Says something to me.
Me: I’m with him.
Man: Aw, man, I’m so sorry, bro. I didn’t know. *vanishes*

But this guy knew that I was with a woman. So he kept telling Frankie things like the following.

Man: I would break my own neck to get up in that. I would leave my paycheck on the bed every Friday. Damn.

All while looking me up and down while I smiled beatifically at Frankie where she couldn’t see. I reached critical mass when he was standing behind me, mumbling to himself, and I could see Frankie’s rage muscle activate. It’s this little muscle in her jaw that clenches just before she loses her shit.

I moved to the other side of the cart.

Me: See what I deal with?
Frankie: Ugh. Yea. I wanted to punch him.
Me: Was he just staring at my ass the whole time he was behind me?
Frankie: Yea. And he kept making faces at me. I just glared at him until he left. What the fuck?

What the fuck, indeed.

I think it’s interesting to compare the way that I am treated now to the way that I was treated when I was in relationships with men. Most of the time, Frankie reads to ignorant assholes as male from a distance, so they don’t bother us. But in this case, he had already spoken with her and knew that she was female. I also used female pronouns to address her. With that leeway, he thought it was completely appropriate to linger around my ass and make lewd comments at me while trying to catch Frankie’s attention.

The funniest part of all of this is that he somehow thought that Frankie would join in his appreciation of me as some kind of object. Her lack of engagement with him on that score and her glaring reproach of him from her side of the shopping cart spoke volumes. Don’t ask my girlfriend to join you in reducing me to a sex object, men of the world. That’s not going to fly. I pick my partners better than that, nowadays.

Just another day in harassment paradise, kids. And people wonder why we need feminism.

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#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

I don’t even have the right words for this, I’m pretty sure. But I’m going to give it a shot. Here goes.

In the wake of the shooting in Charleston two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that anything could make me more sad. But the thing about racial violence is this: It never really lets up. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse or you couldn’t get any more sad or disheartened over the state of things, racial violence heaps on another serving of disgusting nonsensical hatred.

In the last ten days, 8 black churches have been burned in the Southern United States. The FBI is looking into arson as the cause of these fires. Two of the church fires have been blamed on falling branches and faulty wiring due to the turbulent weather that has been sweeping through the south this past week.

Honestly, I don’t know how you can look at what is going on here and see anything but retaliation. Any other month of almost any other year, I would be willing to see faulty wiring blamed as the cause for a fire in a church with a predominantly black congregation. But not this month. And not these churches.

Racists have a history of targeting black congregations as a place for violence. During the height of the civil rights movement, black churches were the main gathering places for large groups of African Americans. They served as meeting places and social settings as well as places of worship. More than that, before African Americans were granted the right to vote in elections, they were able to vote for officials in their churches. They were able to enact some kind of control over their personal political spheres without being overseen by the oppressive white majority.

The photo that I chose for my header image for this entry shows the Congress of Racial Equality and members of the All Souls Church marching in memory of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing victims on September 22, 1963. The bombing of that church occurred on the morning of Sunday, September 15th, 1963. Four members of the KKK planted sticks of dynamite beneath the front steps of the church. The explosion killed four children and wounded 22 other people.

In the 1990s, there was another spate of church burnings in the south.

The most recent racially motivated church burning on record occurred on the day that Obama was inaugurated as president.

Fifty-two years later, we are still dealing with this shit. And it’s not like it ever went away. It’s not even like the 60s were the first time a black church was ever targeted. Like the worship of the confederate flag, the burning of black churches emerged during the civil rights movement as a way to frighten black people back into what white supremacists considered to be “their place.”

Fifty-two years after the civil rights movement, I look at the news and see young women being manhandled by racist officers. I see a white man killing black people because he was rejected by black women. Churches being burned because, in the wake of a mass shooting in a church, the racist symbol that is the confederate flag finally came down from in front of courthouses and state buildings throughout the south.

I still can’t believe that the confederate flag was even flown for this long.

I am constantly baffled when I look at the news or talk to my friends and hear stories of racial violence and oppression. I keep hoping that things will get better. That the world will somehow wake up and say, in unison, “that’s enough.”

But I keep being disappointed. Sometimes it feels like the civil rights movement didn’t even happen. In a lot of ways, we are still living in 1950. The only difference is that racists today know not to use the N word.

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Radical Issues: An Interlude

This morning I read Rebecca Solnit’s “letter to my dismal allies on the US left.” So much in it resonated deeply with me. In it, she said:

Maybe it’s part of our country’s puritan heritage, of demonstrating one’s own purity and superiority rather than focusing on fixing problems or being compassionate. Maybe it comes from people who grew up in the mainstream and felt like the kid who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes, that there were naked lies, hypocrisies and corruptions in the system…

When you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, but that’s not a good reason to continue to pound down anything in the vicinity. Consider what needs to be raised up as well. Consider our powers, our victories, our possibilities; ask yourself just what you’re contributing, what kind of story you’re telling, and what kind you want to be telling.

So often I feel like we spend so much time as feminists and activists pointing out the nudity of our leaders and the systems that they put in place that we cannot enjoy our victories even for a moment.

A prime example for me came in the form of the SCOTUS decision on Friday regarding marriage equality in the US. You have to have known that it happened. The internet has been awash in rainbows ever since.

Anyway, about halfway through my day on Friday I noticed a vocal minority starting to talk about how there is a lot more work to do and how we need to turn our eyes to the future.

They’re not wrong.

But I couldn’t help the frustration that welled up in me. Can’t we just have ONE DAY? I thought. Can’t we just celebrate this culmination of so much blood, sweat and tears and then think about the rest of What Must Be Done tomorrow?

One of my biggest issues with being involved in social justice as a feminist is this constant nitpicking at everything that happens. I know that there are larger issues at stake. I know that we are not done fighting. I know that things are getting better in small increments that appear big when they suddenly have a cover story in the New York Times.

But sometimes I just want to celebrate without delving into the minutia of complications that suck the joy right out of a victory. Sometimes I just want to say “Hey, isn’t it great that SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality?” and have people respond with “Yes” rather than “Yes, but…”

I’m not an idiot. I don’t live with my head in the sand. I recognize the irony of Facebook plastering everyone’s profile pictures with rainbows while still not allowing trans folks to use their actual names on their profiles. I’m aware that the right to get married to my girlfriend does not mean that, in certain states, we can’t still be fired or evicted based on our relationship.

I know that. I know all of that and more. But it’s fucking exhausting to be reminded of it even at the height of something wonderful happening.

As Solnit said:

There is idealism somewhere under this pile of bile, the pernicious idealism that wants the world to be perfect and is disgruntled that it isn’t – and that it never will be. That’s why the perfect is the enemy of the good. Because, really, people, part of how we are going to thrive in this imperfect moment is through élan, esprit de corps, fierce hope and generous hearts.

We all want to live in a perfect world. We want to see things change for the better. But I think that being constantly on edge and constantly picking at people about the problems is not necessarily as healthy for ourselves or our causes as we would like it to be. When we are delivered a solid win like the one we had on Friday, I think it’s OK to let go and celebrate the victory for the moment and set the inevitable problems aside to analyze later.

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Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems

A while ago my favorite misogynist at work schlumped into the office at 8:15AM and began pontificating on the campaign to get women on 20s.

In the midst of his spiel on how ridiculous he found the whole idea, he stated that there would “first have to be a woman president.” Because apparently Ben Franklin was president? Who knew.

He also said that there hasn’t been a woman in America worthy of being on our money. At that point I was so angry that I had to leave the room. He joked as I was leaving that I was going to look up names. Bro, I don’t need to look up names. I can rattle off the names of women who have done plenty for this country without breaking a sweat.

Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sally Ride, Sacajawea, Zora Neale Hurston, Lucretia Mott, Sandra Day O’Connor, Dorthea Dix, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell, Grandma Moses, Margaret Sanger, Helen Keller, Georgia O’Keeffe, Amelia Aerhart, Dorothy Day, Grace Hopper, Abigail Adams, Maya Angelou. The list goes on, believe me.

This week, it has been announced that we will, in fact, be getting a woman on our money. I honestly cannot wait until he comes down here to complain about it. I have so many one-liners prepared, it’s insane.

“Guess the Treasury didn’t agree with you about the ‘worthiness’ of women, huh?”

“Are you going to boycott the $10 now?”

“Man, it must be hard to see centuries of privilege spin away into the ether. Do you need to sit down?”

It will not, however, be the $20, but rather the $10, that gets the makeover. Mostly because the $10 was the next in line to get a makeover in the next few years.

This brings up a couple of issues. First among which is that I’m not sure I want to see Alexander Hamilton replaced instead of Andrew Jackson. The Women On 20s group specifically targeted Jackson on the $20 in their campaign because of his controversial policies, namely the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the Trail of Tears. Jackson also favored silver and gold coins over paper money, making him an odd choice to put on American cash, in my opinion.

By contrast, Alexander Hamilton was the founder of the financial system of this country. He was our first Treasury Secretary and took the lead in establishing a national bank. He also died in a duel, which makes him super bad ass in my book.

I get that the $10 was the next up to be changed, but replacing Hamilton over Jackson doesn’t really make good sense to me.

The other big issue that I have is that they might not be removing Hamilton entirely from the $10. They might just move him to the back. Now, while I’m a huge fan of Hamilton and don’t think he should be replaced, I don’t really like the idea of putting a woman on the money only to have her be chaperoned on the bill by the guy who had the job before her. Do they need the guy to lend her credibility or something?

And honestly, as thrilled as I am to see women taking a place on money, I have to agree with Jessica Williams from the Daily Show. I would rather see us make the money we’re worth than grace currency that’s quickly becoming outdated.

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Spank a Feminist and see what happens: Twitter & MRAs

I wasn’t really that much of a Twitter person until recently. I don’t know what changed. Suddenly I just found myself using it more. I think it’s a cool platform for the most part, but I don’t live there. I do most of my socializing on Facebook and most of my ruminating on here.

Yesterday morning I woke up and found that the hashtag #SpankAFeminist was trending. I saw a couple of responses from feminists I know and automatically recognized that it was some MRA bullshit. So, I joined in.

Within a few minutes, my phone was blowing up with the pitter patter of little troll feet. These guys looked at my Twitter profile and asked me to define patriarchy. I responded with the link to Let Me Google That For You, because asking a person to define terms that you already damn well know – or could find out with a basic Google search – is just a way to make the conversation about nuanced little pieces of grammar rather than larger issues. If I tell you that the patriarchy is my favored enemy in my profile, you know what I’m talking about. And you can make all kinds of arguments based on the dictionary definition of patriarchy as meaning a government controlled by men, but the definition that I’m talking about is right there below it and your arguments are really about breaking me down so that you can tell me my points are invalid.

I’m not playing that fucking game with strangers on the internet. And as a friend said yesterday:

Of course, once I blocked them and moved on, there were other trolls accusing me of silencing the opposition and all that good garbage. Because they honestly think they’re entitled to my time and attention. Silly little trolls.

I did manage to get into a somewhat productive conversation with one person who approached me with a genuine question about my views on patriarchy. Of course, that did eventually degrade into him telling me personal anecdotes about false rape accusations and feminists not supporting men’s groups to help prevent suicide when I was on my way out the door to see a movie. Because anecdotal evidence is the best evidence? I don’t even know.

Anyway, it should be known that this hash tag didn’t just leap spontaneously into existence. It was launched by Dean Esmay, the MRA crowning jewel. In his article about why #SpankAFeminist should trend, Esmay said the following:

[A]ny time you meet a feminist, you should spank him or her until they cry. And do it every time they open their mouths to spew forth their hateful lies about standing for tolerance, inclusion, and equality, when there is no movement in the modern world that does more to fight against tolerance, inclusion, freedom, and equality than feminism. Not even real life fascists or communists can top them at this point.

So, couple of things.

First of all, equating a social movement to fascism and communism is way off the rails to begin with. As Godwin’s Law states, bringing those things into the conversation effectively ends the conversation. The fact that Esmay goes there in his announcement about this new hashtag is pretty telling.

Secondly, the people in this hashtag are trying to make the argument that this whole thing is a facetious rejoinder to the Kill All Men hashtag. I don’t think that comparison is apt at all. #KillAllMen is ironic misandry at it’s absolute finest. We are obviously not going to kill all men. We have no interest in killing all men. Esmay went ahead and quoted my Tweet yesterday as “further proof that all feminists are violent criminals” or some such nonsense. I blocked him without responding. But honestly, has there been some kind of madwoman running around cutting off the hands of men who dare to touch her ass without permission? Is there a womanhunt on the news? No. I’m joking. Calm your fucking tits, Esmay.

As far as #SpankAFeminist and #KillAllMen are concerned, the other issue with that comparison is that Esmay sounds 100% serious in his article about there being a “solution” in the idea of spanking feminists until they cry. And that shit is not OK. Describing feminism as “an intolerant, hateful, racist, anti-gay, misandrist, misogynist, gynocentric religion and hate movement” sounds pretty serious to me. Calling for violent reprisal against people who espouse it as a belief is not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s painting a group of people who have been systemically oppressed as a hate movement and calling for them to be silenced. And for a white man to do that as a member of the most privileged group on the planet is completely unacceptable.

This whole thing was my first time being involved in any kind of Twitter drama or attacks. I did not care for it. But I care even less for the legitimate attention being paid to Men’s Rights Activists and their movement. So I’m going to shout about that and take the heat rather than sit back and let them act like their disgusting venomous nonsense is at all acceptable.


 

As a post script, here is a beautiful poem by Shane Koyczan on trolls.

 

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Humanism ≠ Feminism

On Monday I went up to visit my parents. On the drive back to the train station, my mom told me that she’d had a super awkward conversation over dinner with old friends. The people she was eating dinner with brought up a guy they knew who had passed away in a car accident some years back. In the conversation, they remembered him being “a great guy” with a “great laugh.”

Mom brought the conversation to a screeching halt with two small sentences:

“Yea, such a great guy. You know he used to beat the hell out of his wife?”

After that, things got weird and awkward. Other people in the conversation called the woman in question “mouthy” and said that it wasn’t a coincidence that every man she’d been in a relationship with had beaten her. Mom cited repetition compulsion and that being “mouthy” (whatever that fucking means) is never an acceptable justification for abuse.

Mom felt super awkward about the conversation, but I was so proud of her! Feminist killjoy moments like that make me so happy I just have to Tweet about them.

When I told my mom that the conversation was an awesome feminist moment and how thrilled I was that she had opened up like that and corrected the other people in the conversation, her response was to say that she doesn’t “identify as feminist,” but rather as a “humanist.”

At which point I just wanted to put my head in my hands and rub my face with frustration.

I totally get where she’s coming from because I used to be her. I thought that feminism was too aggressive a movement for me to identify with. I didn’t want to lose friends over my association with some extremist viewpoint. I also thought that feminism was exclusive to women and didn’t want to exclude the men in my life from my primary operating belief system.

I had some serious learning and growing to do.

The first thing that I had to learn is that humanism is already it’s own thing. Humanism is chiefly the belief that humans have no need of supernatural powers to solve their problems. The American Humanist Association defines humanism as having numerous meanings depending on what exactly you are speaking about. Literary humanism differs from religious humanism, for example. They define Modern Humanism as:

“…a naturalistic philosophy that rejects all supernaturalism and relies primarily upon reason and science, democracy and human compassion.”

It should be noted that modern humanism grapples with whether or not it should be defined religiously or secularly. I, personally am a secular Humanist. I’m basically an atheist and I truly do believe that humans have the potential to rationally sort out their own problems. With that said, my humanism and my feminism are distinctly separate beliefs that inform one another.

My understanding of feminism was fundamentally changed when I re-framed it as a resistance to – and revolution against – the patriarchal ideals which inform our society. I realized that men were very much included in feminism when I learned about things like toxic masculinity and started to think about how the roles and responsibilities that we apply to the fantasy that is the gender binary hurt people all along the sex and gender spectrum.

My world was further opened when I found myself interacting with intersectional feminists and discovered that my feminism could include not only all genders and sexual identities, but also people of other races and other issues of social justice. Of course, this portion of my feminism meant I got called out a lot on my white feminism and my ignorance when it came to issues of trans inclusivity, which was incredibly awkward for me at the time.

The point of all of this is to say that feminism and humanism are not the same. But even more than that, feminism includes men and women and trans folk. It includes people of all colors, sizes and sexual identities. And if you meet someone who calls themselves a feminist and doesn’t actually include all of those things? Then they are not really feminists. Feminism is either intersectional or bullshit. One of those two things. But that is an issue for another blog.