On Al Franken

Al_Franken,_official_portrait,_114th_CongressI’m not at work today– I woke up with my head swimming like crazy, a condition that, seven hours later, hasn’t really gotten any better– and I probably ought to be doing something, anything other than sitting in front of a screen.  But seeing as how things like walking around or moving in general aren’t exactly easy at the moment (the decision to call in was made moments after realizing I needed to sit down for my morning piss, and then needing to take a second to not pass out after I did) I’ll just write a shorter version of the post I had in my head anyway because staring off into space until bedtime doesn’t sound super exciting.

So, yeah: screw Al Franken.

I really could make that the entire post, and be done with it, honestly.  There’s been a lot of yammering in Democratic circles over the last couple of weeks– I am paying no attention to what the other side thinks, because fuck them– about whether Franken resigning after multiple credible accusations of sexual harassment, at least some of which Franken admitted to, was going to be a Good Thing for the party or not.  Franken, if nothing else, is at least a reliable vote in the Senate for Our Stuff, and has managed for the most part to buck the trend of former-entertainers-turned-politicians being useless buffoons.  I myself tossed the idea of him running for President around a couple of times,  an idea that I’ve mostly shot down because I’m really dead tired of voting for white men for President and don’t want to do it anymore.

And I dunno.  Maybe I’d feel different– I suspect not, but maybe– if Franken was from a state that didn’t have a Democratic Governor, and maybe I’d feel different if the current lead candidate to replace him wasn’t a woman.  But the idea of keeping a predator in the Senate because he’s currently useful to us is not a look I’m especially happy with.  Oh, you don’t like the word “predator”?  Too fucking bad.  Dude shoulda kept his goddamn hands to himself.  It is actually not hard to not grope people.  In fact, not groping people is easier than groping people!  There’s less to do!

“But the Republicans aren’t about to ask the shitgibbon to resign!  And they’re voting for a pedophile for the Senate right now!”

So?  Fuck them.  They’re assholes, every last one of them, and I don’t want to be like them.  I want every single one of these sex-assaulting shits removed from whatever public role they hold, and I want each and every single fucking one of them replaced in whatever positions they held by women.  And honestly, I’ve seen a few prominent feminists on Twitter posit that they aren’t especially chafed by the idea that a few genuinely innocent men might get caught up in this, and I’m starting to come around to their side of things.  Blow the whole shit up and start over.  I don’t care if Franken gets tossed to the wayside in the process.  Motherfucker shoulda kept his hands to hisgoddamnself.  He didn’t.  Bye, Felicia.

And now my head’s swimming again, so I’m going to go back to lying around and not doing anything.  If anybody else gets busted for sex assault while I’m gone, assume I want them done and dusted and don’t bother telling me about it, OK?  Cool.

A simple request

Could every man who is about to be driven from his job because of his history as a rapist and/or sexual harasser– and you fuckers know who you are— just do us all a favor and resign from your jobs and disappear off of the face of the earth now, without further ado and/or drama?  You fuckers are over, and the world’s about to be better for it.  Go join the fucking dinosaurs in the tar pits.

Thanks.

In which this shit is not normal

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So this is a thing that I just did.  And I’d like to pretend that it’s a thing that I just did for the first time, but the fact is it’s a thing that I do all the time, and it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with me in my brain-parts and I probably ought to be put somewhere where either I can’t get at society or society can’t get at me.  Your choice which.

It was a long day at work today.  Not a bad day, necessarily, but a long one, and I’ll trust you know the difference.  For two days in a row now the pattern has been thus: a morning full of self-directed cleaning/organizing/repricing sorts of tasks, with few customers, then my lunch arrives, then three hours of screaming madness, during which I am unable to find even the couple of minutes necessary to eat my lunch– and as someone who doesn’t take lunch breaks and before being at this job was a teacher I can assure you I eat my lunch at lightning speed, and then several hours of wondering where the fuck everyone went.  Today had the added bonus of there only being two of us in a store that has, oh, I dunno, sixty thousand square feet of floor space.

On the way home from work, listening to music, the chewing gum analogy frequently used by abstinence advocates just happened to float through my head for some reason.  I’m not a teacher anymore, I never once taught sex ed when I was teaching, and I’ve never actually had anyone attempt to instruct kids in this way when I was in a classroom.  And yet one minute after this idea floated in my head I found myself, still alone in the car, in a very loud argument with no one at all as if there was someone in my car who was attempting to convince schoolchildren that fucking before marriage was the same thing as chewing used gum.

Very very loud.

And there was no one there with me at all.

I mean, I won the argument, but at one point I let loose a primal howl of suppressed rage and stress that was at sufficient volume that the people in the car next to me at the stoplight heard it.

This happens more often than I’d care to admit.  I mean, it’s not always about abstinence education, right?  But I get into arguments with imaginary assholes in the car on the way home from work.  Loud.  Arguments.

Send help, please.

 

Two more brief book reviewlets

Today is super exciting.  It is Friday, and yet I am home with my wife and son, who I get to spend an entire day with, and none of the three of us have to go to work or school!  Friday is always one of my days off, the boy is out because his school is doing parent/teacher conferences today (ours was last night; I was gratified to learn that, insofar as such things exist at my kid’s school, he’s in the high reading group) and my wife took the day off because my wife never takes days off and as it turns out if she doesn’t take every Friday off for the rest of the year she’s going to lose a lot of vacation days for no good reason.  So we’re all home!  I got up and had a cup of coffee and now I don’t need to hustle to get to work!

It’s exciting.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot in the last couple of days and there are more books I want you to know about:


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First, let’s talk about Corey J. White’s Killing Gravity, a book billed as book one of the “Voidwitch Saga,” which is awesome because my main takeaway from this little novella is that I want a lot more of it.  Tor has absolutely been killing it with their novella imprint; these are short books but I have most of a bookshelf dedicated to them already and I’m getting to the point where if I find out a new one is out I buy it instantly without further investigation.  I’ve never done that with an imprint before.

Anyway, Killing Gravity is compared to Firefly on the cover but I don’t find that to be an especially apt comparison; I think for most people what they look for in a Firefly lookalike is the sense of humor and this book is emphatically not funny.  It’s a 160-page exercise in tone and badassery and gene modification and bioimplants and psychic assassins and shadowy corporations and lots and lots of psychokinetic murder and oh there’s also sort of a flying squirrel?  But it’s not funny.  That’s not a complaint; most books don’t have to be funny to be good, but you do have to be funny to remind someone of Firefly.   The prose is a particular standout here; this is one of those books where it’s so distinctively written that it almost doesn’t matter what it’s about– the writing is that good– but it’s an awesome setting and a cool story too and I really want to see more of it.  (EDIT:  March of 2018!)


518d7K+AT4LThe second book I just read this morning, and will almost certainly take you less than an hour to get through cover to cover.  You Have the Right to Remain Innocent isn’t so much a good book as an important one.

The premise of the book’s pretty damn straightforward, and the author isn’t especially subtle about making the point over and over again: don’t talk to cops.  Don’t talk to cops, don’t talk to cops, don’t talk to cops.  Don’t talk to cops if you’re innocent, don’t talk to cops if you’re guilty, don’t talk to cops at all unless you have your lawyer sitting right next to you, in which case your lawyer will tell you not to talk to the cops, or unless you’re telling the cops clearly and unambiguously that you will say not one word until that lawyer is sitting next to you.

Sounds pretty simple, right?  That’s not really a book all by itself, but this is America and folks need to be constantly reminded of simple shit like this, so the book is full of examples of the cops and prosecutors fucking innocent people over who were stupid enough to “head down to the station to get things cleared up” and ended up in jail for crimes they didn’t commit.

Don’t talk to cops.  If that statement isn’t obvious to you, read the book a couple of times until it sinks in.

#metoo and me

So a friend of mine, a friend who will likely see this, so it’s not as if it’s behind her back, posted this on Facebook the other day.  Forgive all the blurriness:

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And here’s the thing: yeah.  It does.  It makes me uncomfortable.  The notion– a notion I believe without the remotest qualification, by the way– that literally every woman I know has experienced sexual harassment makes me profoundly uncomfortable.  Hell, uncomfortable’s not even the word, although it’s part of it.  There’s a fair degree of fucking rage in there too, for example.

And no, I didn’t “like” the post.  In fact if I have hit Like (I don’t use any of the other options, ever; don’t ask me why) on any posts associated with the #metoo hashtag, I don’t remember doing it– and I’m pretty certain there aren’t any.

I hit Like on her post and then deleted it.  Wrote a comment, and then deleted that too, and then spent the next couple of days fighting off this post.  The reason I haven’t interacted with any of these posts online isn’t because of some feeling of discomfort or shame, is the thing.  I haven’t because none of this is about me, and I feel like it’s pointless at best and empty virtue-signaling at worst for me to interact with a thing that isn’t supposed to be about me in specific or men in general.

So, yeah.  All of them.  #allofthem, if you prefer.


I’ve spent the last few days– longer than that, really, but it’s come to a head in the last few days– thinking a lot about my own actions as a cishet guy throughout my life.  And in a lot of ways I’ve been resisting the temptation to paint myself as one of the good guys.  I’ve never raped anyone, obviously.  (Is it obvious?  Probably flattering myself.)

But there was that one time, with that one woman, where she indicated her lack of consent to a certain action at the literal last possible moment, and it’s haunted me ever since.  When I say last possible moment, I’m not exaggerating, not by a millisecond or a fraction of an inch.  I didn’t go any further– of course I didn’t– but my first immediate visceral reaction was wait what the fuck are you kidding and I don’t know how much of that reaction got through to her.

I’ve never catcalled anyone, not once.  Never hassled a woman in a bar, never got angry with anyone because they wouldn’t give me a phone number or something like that.

(I have what I’m pretty sure is a funny story about accidentally approaching the wrong woman in a bar who I thought was one of my friends; maybe I’ll tell it sometime.  It’s not for this post.)

But I had years– years— where I bought into the idea of the friendzone, and where the idea of just telling a woman that I was interested in her and thought we should go out/make out/fuck each other senseless was pure anathema.  No, she (whichever she was at the time) was gonna figure it out sooner or later and fall into my arms.  I was a Nice Guy.  Sooner or later she’ll figure out that all the guys she dates are assholes and I’m right here, all not being an asshole and shit.

I can think of some moments, some interactions that make me cringe right now, honestly.  I’m pretty sure there were times when I was being creepy as fuck and didn’t even realize it.  There are others where I know I was being creepy as fuck and I regret the hell out of them.  Some of them probably involved the woman who originally triggered this post, honestly; we have a bit of history together, not all of which I’m proud of.

(True fact: the first time I kissed the woman who eventually married me, we were sitting at a table in a diner and I literally said “Let’s go make out in the parking lot,” and it worked.  Sooner or later I broke past the idea that doing nothing would get me somewhere.  That said, if that line doesn’t work?  Possible eew.)

I remember one time in high school when a bunch of us– too many to fit in the car– were all going somewhere, and one of the girls decided she was going to sit in my lap.  I put both my hands in my lap, palms-up.  She shrugged and did it anyway, probably knowing that having both hands on her ass would make me twice as uncomfortable as it was making her and that it wouldn’t last more than a moment, which it didn’t.

I still remember that.  I wonder if she does.

(I was gonna say “I’ve never groped anyone who didn’t want me to,” which is what reminded me of that story.)

I remember a week– one very, very weird week in middle school– where for some reason everyone, boys and girls, were all going around trying to yank each others’ shorts off.  By the end of the week everyone had their belts on so tight or their pants laced so tight that I suspect some of us were cutting off our circulation.  I was on both sides of that little game.  But I can’t say I’ve never tried to take anyone’s clothes off who didn’t want me to, either.  I still remember the two girls I targeted; I know one of them took a swipe at me at one point too, although I don’t know who was first.  I don’t remember what the other one thought about it.

(God, I’m glad my middle schoolers never had that bug hit.  I can’t imagine what the teachers were thinking.)


I don’t know that I have a single, overarching point to all this.  Okay, yeah, there’s obviously an element of the confessional here but that’s not the entire point.  I have contributed to this culture of rape and harassment, or at least participated in it, and the fact that I’ve learned (tried to learn) to be better in recent years doesn’t affect the facts of who I was and what I did, even if I can point to any number of men who were maybe worse.

You don’t stop rape, or sexual harassment, by controlling women.  You stop rape and sexual harassment by insisting that men learn to be better.  One of my most important jobs right now is to raise my son to be better than me.

Maybe men need a #metoo hashtag.  Or an #allofus hashtag, because right now, it is all of us.  We’ve all contributed to this.

Or maybe we could just stop, and fucking listen, which was what the point of the hashtag was in the first place, and try to learn to get better.

Maybe.