Tag Archives: feminism

A Quick Explanation of Brazile’s DNC Bombshell and it’s Apathetic Implications for the Future of Truth

Last week, Bernie supporters, DemExiters, and the remaining disillusioned Dems have had our beliefs proven by Donna Brazile’s recent book that finally reveals that the DNC rigged the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Most of my compatriots who fall into the aforementioned categories have known that the DNC was not on our side since 2015, so Brazile’s claims aren’t necessarily news to us. However, it is a bit satisfying that our truth has been recognized as such, and that we aren’t the un-American, conspiracy theorists, election-sabotagers that the Democratic Party has made us out to be. I personally have not rejoiced over Brazile’s admittance, although I am grateful for it, because I think the Democratic PR Machine is working right now to dissolve this mess and replace it with their rallying cry of “We did nothing wrong!”. This post is to hopefully help people understand what happened, so that the truth is a bit harder to sweep under the rug.

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Key Players

Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC): 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary loser to Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate loser to Republican challenger, Donald Trump. Since her loss, she has been spending her time promoting her book, “What Happened”, which details the 16 reasons why she lost the election (none of the reasons have to do with her or her campaign, fyi).

Democratic National Committee (DNC): is the organization  that runs the Democrat Party. They help figure out who to run, craft the party’s platform, and create campaigns to get Democrats to win unilaterally across local, state, and national races. It’s main purpose is to raise money and then use this to best strategize ways to get their candidates to win. When people want to donate money to the Democratic party, the DNC is the beneficiary.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DWS): She was one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides for her 2008 campaign. She became the chair of the DNC in 2011, where she took Tim Kane’s position, who would later be HRC’s 2016 running mate. She resigned from the DNC in 2016 after emails were published that showed her preference towards HRC during the campaign, among other allegations. She was a close friend to HRC, and didn’t resign herself from the DNC during HRC’s 2016 run, which is pretty unethical considering the chair is supposed to be unbiased. I mean, how can you be unbiased when one of your BFFs, and someone who would give you a top job in her administration, is running for president? For further reading, see this post from 2015 where I was first critical about DWS’ bias for HRC and the lack of Primary Democratic Debates between HRC and Sanders.

Donna Brazile: Took over as interim chair of the DNC in 2016, when DWS resigned, until Feb 2017 when Tom Perez was voted in as chair. Her book, “Hacks“, which this article is based on, comes out November 7th.

Hillary for America (HFA): Hillary Clinton’s official presidential organized campaign.  Under FEC rules, the maximum individual contribution allowed to any candidate is $2,700.

Hillary Victory Fund (HVF): Hillary’s Super PAC- if an individual exhausted the maximum contribution to HFA, they could give an additional $353,400 to this PAC in support of HRC.  In 2016 they raised $529,943,912.

Brazile’s book talks about a conversation she had with Gary Gensler, Hillary’s Chief Financial Officer, when she took over the DNC in the summer of 2016.  He explained to her that in 2015, the DNC, under DWS’s rule, contracted an agreement known as “The Joint Fundraising Agreement between the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America”. Apparently, the DNC was in debt in 2015 due to Obama’s campaign, and DWS was a shitty fundraiser and manager.  Under this agreement, HRC would pay off the DNC’s 2 million dollar debt (which is kind of measly, right?) in exchange for having control over the Democratic Party’s finances, strategy, and all of the money raised. Anything that happened within the DNC and the decisions about everything from operations to messaging of the Democratic Party had to go through Hillary. HRC had control of the entire party, ultimately halting any potential support from the party to go towards Sanders. Brazile writes, “The campaign had the DNC on life support, allocating money each month to meet its basic expenses, while using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse”. 

Brazlie’s book is the proof that all of us who dared to question HRC and the DNC had waited for: that Bernie Sanders’s chance at winning the 2016 primary was doomed from the start due to the pro-HRC biased messaging and spending disseminated throughout the US by the Democratic Machine (DNC), which had HRC at the helm. The question is, now that our beliefs have been confirmed, will anyone who refused to believe that HRC or the party did anything wrong acknowledge and accept this new reality? Sadly, I have my doubts. I believe that the DNC and HRC manipulated messaging and took advantage of creating and promoting identity politics which lead to the formation of the current militant group of anti-Trumpers/HRC lovers, who shun and shame any thought that is outside of the Democratic box. The HRC “Feminist” Facebook Moms, who identify and exploit the message that they were wronged due to no fault of their own, most likely aren’t willing to open their ears to Brazile’s truth, let alone accept it. And that’s the problem. Even though the truth is out there, even though it’s been clear that the deck was stacked since 2015, too many people aren’t willing to accept that their golden calf was actually a serpent  who cares nothing of truth, virtue, dignity, fairness, or the democratic process from inception.

Again, I sadly don’t expect much to happen from this news. I hope it helps persuade people to question the Almighty Democratic Doctrine, but my faith in this is pretty low. I guess all we can do is continue to strive for truth and hope others eventually recognize that the truth is more important than being right.

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I used Brazile’s book excerpt and the actual Joint-Fundraising Agreement as the main sources for this article.

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#METOO and Challenging the Patriarchy

I recently broke my number one rule about social media usage: don’t engage with people who aren’t willing to hear a different point of view. I took this stance about a year and a half ago and it’s been pretty beneficial to my mental health. I often see things posted on social media that irk me because I believe them not to be true, but I need to step back and recognize that the poster believes what they posted and that’s okay. Unless someone is soliciting feedback, I won’t engage, so most the time I brush off stupid facebook posts as just that- stupid. Now listen, I love talking about things I’m passionate about, and a large part of my interests are all things intersectional-feminism. I love engaging in real discussion IRL (this is one of the reasons why I miss graduate school so much), or as a proxy I will respond to comments on my blog or to direct messages, but these occurrences are few and far between lately. My practice of not engaging with people on Facebook has strengthened my own beliefs and values because I take the time to learn as much as I can about an issue so that I can write a cohesive and well thought-out blog post. Another one of my digital media rules is to write my blog with the only expectation being that it is self-serving to me. If other people read it, that’s way super cool, but the point of my blog is for my own catharsis, a placeholder for the discussions I often don’t get to have face to face.

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What a gross fat f*ck

So lately, all this stuff about Harvey Weinstein and the the #metoo campaign has got me a little bit optimistic because I think this is perfect timing to push for real pro-feminist measures, like Affirmative Consent. I know some people (mostly men from my observations) found all the #metoo posts surprising, but I think most women were pretty chill about it, since sexual harassment is part of the woman experience. I think the #metoo campaign has been pretty successful in getting the conversation really rolling, and opening up a lot of people’s eyes to the enormity that is sexual harassment and misogyny behavior.

This brings me to the stupid Facebook comment-discussion I had. Basically, the person was saying that if the victims of Weinstein knew about his predatory behavior than why did they choose to go to his hotel rooms? I tried to explain my understanding of what this might feel like, based on my own worldview and experiences as a woman. I tried explaining to this person that there still continues to exist a hierarchy in male/female relationships, not in all arenas, thank God, but in many areas and aspects of life. It’s sad and antiquated, but unfortunately they exist. I tried explaining how I could imagine that this power relationship probably continues to exist in Hollywood culture (just as these abuses are able to exist in any closed system that is self-serving), as it’s been passed down from generations before. Women still do not have equal power in a lot of institutions and systems, and Hollywood seems to be one..Weinstein’s behavior was normalized by never being questioned, and therefore it was validated and allowed to continue. Weinstein’s victims probably experienced cognitive dissonance when they were walking to the hotel room, but they were in the weaker position in this power imbalance where saying no had worse consequence than being coerced into sex.

I related this to my own experiences of dealing with this imbalance in male-female relationships. When I was 19, I worked full time in the service industry where the assistant manager was a creep. This assistant manager used to make offhand comments and would buy our uniform blouses a size too small. I would be as cold-shouldered as possible towards this man, but I watched many other female co-workers put up with him constantly making innuendos, hitting on them, commenting on their bodies, etc. I couldn’t stand up to him, because I needed my job, and I was in a work-culture where this behavior was tolerated. He made my schedule and I worked basically the same hours as he did, so had I tried to stand up, I knew there would probably be retaliation. I knew that it was wrong that I had to put up with this behavior, but I also knew that it was normalized and if I wanted to keep my job or at least keep my job as stress free as possible, then it would be best that I keep my mouth shut. Happy ending: he was eventually fired for other reasons. But here’s a takeaway: I didn’t even really realize that this was that big of a deal. Because it was totally normal and I had experienced instances like this before in my short life then, and I have continued to experience power inequalities over the next decade.

The person I had the facebook disagreement seemed to be most offended when I insinuated that he was victim blaming. He said that we don’t leave our cars unlocked in shady neighborhoods and then expect people to be shocked or feel bad for us when our car is stolen, and therefore we shouldn’t be shocked or feel bad for the women who went willingly to Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room since they knew his reputation. I explained to this person that I could understand his frustration about this seemingly double standard of accountability. Then I let my emotions get the best of me, and told him that I could understand how it’s hard to not blame the victim in these situations. I knew that this would stir the pot, but I felt it necessary to call out what his argument deduced to. The is a difference in these two examples based on their context- one exists without a power dynamic, one exists within a power dynamic. The problem isn’t Weinstein in this case, it is the SYSTEM that supports and normalizes this behavior which is the larger, overarching perpetrator. Patriarchy is the real problem, and even though these women knew about Weinstein’s reputation, they were still in a system that enabled such coercion.

See, this is the intersection that I care about in this whole thing. It’s not the sensationalism that there are so many abuses in Hollywood against those in lowered powered positions, which is horrific in itself, it’s the fact that we live in a Patriarchal society where such abuses of power can take place. Calling out abusers can be extremely empowering for victims, which is why I think the #metoo campaign has been so successful. Sadly though, acknowledging that sexual abuse is rampant will not change its pervasiveness if we continue to live passively in this system that supports inherited power relations between genders.

Our entire world history is a patriarchal one, and we’ve only just began to shift the locus of control on the continuum of power towards a more balanced society. Women haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet. Too often I observe areas where we are stuck in ingrained ways of thinking, and the solution is to reexamine these beliefs! Moving from a Patriarchal society to a more inclusive and intersectionally just one is going to take work, and it is going to take the type of momentum that the #metoo campaign had 100 times over. We have to reexamine how our society understands our own values, and then change our beliefs and behaviors based on these principles. And guys, we can do it. If we can all begin to envision a world where gender hierarchy doesn’t exist, then we can have a world where gender hierarchy doesn’t exist.

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Healthcare is Confusing Part III: The Uninsured and Serious and Terminal Illness

So, this is one of those mega questions that I think all of our discussions about how we pay for and organize healthcare should boil down to: How does someone who is uninsured pay for treatment for serious, progressive or terminal illness? Guys, this shouldn’t be a hard question. The answer should reflect the value and theoretical framework that our healthcare infrastructure is based on. But, no surprise here, this is not the case in America. Our currently healthcare system is not based on valuing health, but on valuing profit. American healthcare is concerned more about money made than lives saved, and the answer to this question isn’t easy or simple.

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I mean, it’s not that crazy of a premise these days. 

I’m a social worker at a free clinic for those who are working but are uninsured or underinsured. Rita (not her real name) came into my office a month ago. She had short, gelled and spikey brown hair, stood about 5’4” and couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds. She was wearing short sleeves that showed off her barbed wire tattoo around her right bicep and a faded rose on her left arm. She didn’t have an ounce of fat on her, and looked closer to 25 than her actual age of 45, with the exception of her tired eyes. She was the assistant manager of a local 24-hour gas station and once refused to give up her drawer to a man who was robbing the store. This didn’t surprise me.  Rita reminded me of a few tough women I’ve known in my life, a few women who have been through some real hardships in life, and I immediately liked her- I immediately cared about her.

As soon as she sat down, Rita warned me that she was “a bitch”, and started to tell me about herself. She just moved back to the city a year ago after spending the past five years with an abusive boyfriend, living in a trailer park in rural Pennsyltucky. Once she got the courage to leave, she moved into an apartment in a housing project that her elderly mother and deteriorating aunt lived in so that she could help take care of them. She loved her job as the assistant manager, especially finding and firing the “scumbag thieves” who stole from the store during their shift.

Rita’s gynecologist, who is a volunteer at our clinic referred her to me. “I found out two days ago have cervical cancer and I don’t have insurance”. My heart dropped. I asked her how she was dealing with this news, which she replied that she couldn’t do anything but keep up her normal routine. She hadn’t told the few people she had in her life- her aunt, mother, and co-workers, and wasn’t planning on telling them anytime soon. She had no support group and was trying to figure out what to do on her own. She explained further that she didn’t have insurance from her job- she started as part time and once she moved to full time status they never offered her health insurance. She would be able to enroll in two months when her job offered open enrollment, but even then, the actual coverage wouldn’t start until January 2018. The cancer was progressing fast and her doctor needed to start treatment now.

I didn’t know what to tell her. I knew she made too much to qualify for Medicaid, but I didn’t want to discourage her. I told her to go home and I would call her as soon as I could with a solution. The truth was that I had no idea what the solution would be and was overwhelmed thinking about how this woman who was so full of life was going to die because she couldn’t afford stupid insurance.

Luckily, the answer in this case scenario came easily enough. Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program contracts with The Healthy Women Program which offers a medical assistance to women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. The paper work was simple enough- send in 2016’s tax filings, proof of income for this year, and proof of the cancer. I made phone calls all day, and by 5:00 I was able to tell Rita that I had begun her application for medical assistance. I spoke with a representative from the managed care company, who The Healthy Women Program sub-contracts, after I filled out her application and was informed that the processing time would be 5-10 business days. I spent the next day completing the application for Rita, getting all of her paperwork in check, and pestering the Healthy Women Program to send the final application to the County Assistance Office for final approval. I checked in with Rita throughout all of this, and she was a fucking warrior. The weekend went by and Monday morning, Rita told me that her doctor informed her that she was going to need to get a procedure done ASAP and start treatment for the cancer- apparently, the cancer was worse than they originally thought. When I got off the phone with Rita, I got in my car and drove to the County Assistance Office to see what was going on with her application since no one had returned my phone calls. Luckily, I was able to speak with a reluctantly kind case worker and I pleaded for her to expedite Rita’s application. The case worker told me that they didn’t expedite any applications and she couldn’t talk to me at all about Rita’s application due to confidentiality, however the caseworker asked me for Rita’s phone number and called her right there to finish the application process. This caseworker didn’t have to do this, and I am so grateful that she listened to my pleas.

Rita was able to get medical assistance and started treatment by the end of the week. I’ve been keeping in touch with her, and she’s still working even though she’s really tired. She’s going to take FMLA, but wants to wait until she absolutely needs it. The cancer is progressing, but she’s not letting this get her down. I keep telling her that she’s a warrior, and she ends each phone call with thanking me for saving her life. I don’t know if Rita is going to live, but I’m so grateful that she was able to get treatment- it’s the happiest ending I could realistically picture of this scenario.

This wouldn’t have been a happy ending if Rita had a different type of cancer or any other serious or terminal illness. There wouldn’t have been a happy ending if Rita lived in a different state that didn’t have a program like the Healthy Women Program. Not to toot my own horn, but Rita was lucky to be referred to me- had she not had someone who was familiar with the confusing systems of American healthcare, and someone who would advocate for her, I guarantee her application wouldn’t have been processed so quickly. Rita got lucky that there was a program that could help her, and see, that’s the problem right there. No one should have to be “lucky” enough that their progressive illness is one of the few that is covered by specialized, state-administered, programs. Someone who is diagnosed with cervical cancer in Arkansas should be able to receive the same healthcare as a person who is diagnosed in Pennsylvania. People who are dying should automatically be eligible for medical assistance and obtaining this assistance shouldn’t be as complicated as it is now.

So, what is the answer to what happens to people who are uninsured and are diagnosed with a serious, progressive illness? There’s a small chance that there may be a specialized program to help pay for their specific illness. There’s also a small chance that they will be picked as out of thousands of other applications for a scholarship, grant, or charity care from large non-profits and foundations. There’s also a small chance that magic Jesus is gonna skateboard down from the heavens to lay hands and miraculously cure the person immediately. The more likely answer is that they person suffers and then dies. People who are uninsured are already unhealthier than those who are insured. Poor people are at a higher risk for serious illness than the middle class. People who are uninsured aren’t able to access preventative care, and thus will more likely have poor and deteriorating health. This is all such a bummer and such a fucking problem. This is the huge question that should be answered based on a collective value, but there are very few people of power who will admit that America healthcare values money over health. I don’t know what the answer is, and I pray that I don’t have to help anyone else in Rita’s situation who isn’t as lucky as she, but I know that I will, and that that patient is on their way.

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Healthcare is Confusing I: Medicaid 101

By far, one of my least favorite policy areas, one that I knew very little about until recently, one that I am only now really putting the time and effort in to understanding, is Healthcare. A little under a month ago I started my first post-graduation job and am now gainfully employed as the social worker/social care coordinator at a free clinic in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Thank you sweet, sweet universe for this job, I was getting a little nervous there for a while.

So, as it happens, when I graduated I was pretty positive that I didn’t want to be a medical social worker. I am overwhelmed by understanding my own chronic medical issues, I have some anxiety about hospitals, I hate, hate, hate blood (vasovagal syncoper here) and most bodily functions, and healthcare in general is fucking confusing and difficult to understand and navigate. BUT HOW THE UNIVERSE HAS A SUPREME SENSE OF HUMOR and here I am, the new social worker for a free clinic that only has like 5 people on payroll, but a reliable cohort of volunteer doctors, dentists, hygienists, nurses, and receptionists (but if you wanna volunteer, we need you). I actually love working at this clinic so far, even though it can be a little scary to think that we’re one of the only places that is available to working people who don’t have insurance. Luzerne County has a population of about 318,500 with an uninsured rate hovering around 14%... which means that about 44,600 people are uninsured in the county. That’s a lot of people who can’t get sick.

And within the short three and a half weeks that I’ve been employed, I have had meaningful experiences helping people see a dentist when their faces are writhed with pain from a toothache, the kind of pain that has kept them from sleeping over the past week, and I’ve gotten to help them get rid of some of the anxiety they’ve been plagued with not knowing how they would get help for their tooth without having health insurance.  I just started working with a woman from a religious sect that emphasizes the importance of motherhood, and she has been having fertility issues. I am determined to help her find a way for fertility treatments, even if she and her husband are at the 200% of federal poverty levels (PS: Here’s a spreadsheet of resources I’ve been putting together concerning fertility scholarships and information) So far, this seems like the job that I’m supposed to be at.

Anywho, I joined the mostly defunct Vox Weed’s Book Club, and the first book was “An American Sickness”. I read this May-June, and it really opened my eyes to the atrocities that have been able to take place under the guise of “better treatment”, when in all reality these treatments are overpriced and often unnecessary. Healthcare costs has become a burden to many, many people, including myself, so I figured now is the best time to really explore and learn as much as I can about the Healthcare Policy in the USofA. I meant to have this post out a few weeks ago when all the hubbub was happening in the Senate, but alas, life has been freaking busy lately. I figured though that it’d might be helpful if I did a little series on healthcare related stuff, since I’ve taken on the task of learning as much as I can about all things Healthcare. So hopefully this is helpful.

SO I thought I’d start with explaining Medicaid, what it is and what it does, and what the healthcare bills that were floating around would have done to these programs that legit keep people alive everyday.

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“So Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we can’t help you because PA no longer covers pregnant women under Medicaid, but I can show you some helpful DIY blogs that can show you how to deliver your baby yourself”

  • All of the healthcare bills were an assault on Medicaid. Well, Chelsea, what exactly is Medicaid? Is it the same as Medicare? Or like, isn’t it kind of like Medicare? Or wait, isn’t Medicaid actually a part of Medicare?
    • Guys, no. And listen: I didn’t know any of this shit until very, very recently. This shit is complicated to learn about and its freaking boring. BUT THIS SHIT IS IMPORTANT. Okay soooo Medicaid is a FEDERAL program ADMINISTERED by STATES. So, what this means is that Medicaid gets money from the FEDERAL government (when we pay federal taxes, most of our money goes to building bombs, some of it goes to helping sick people by way of Medicaid). So how Medicaid’s financing structure is set up now is in a way that it can respond to need of the states (ie: say, one state coughPENNSYLVANIAcough has a growing elderly population- Medicaid responds to this need by allocating more money to cover the costs of taking care of the people who need nursing homes so we don’t have to worry about Nana dying alone on the street in the gutter).
  • OK- so who gets Medicaid? Back in the day, Medicaid was called Medical Assistance. I wish It was still known as MA because that would be way helpful for people learning the difference between Medicaid and Medicare, two terms that only differ by 2 letters. ANYWAYS. Medicaid differs by states in who they cover (this is what I mean when I say that it’s ADMINISTERED BY THE STATE), but it has to cover some percentage of low income people, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly in some capacity. This is a federal rule that all Medicaid programs have to subscribe to (what I mean when I say it’s a federal program). Ok. Moving on. You know when you hear about “states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA”? That actually translates to “States that widened the eligibility so more people could be covered”. So basically, how Medicaid is intended, is to help the most vulnerable of our society when they are in need of medical assistance. There is federal oversight, and states can decide on whether or not they want to expand who they cover.
  • What the healthcare bills proposed is that Medicaid could be covered under a block grant given to a state. A block grant is a set amount of money given to a state by the federal government and then the state uses it to administer a program. Congress would figure out how much money to give to each state. How they figure out this amount or what they will base it on is unclear. This is a problem in itself, because if there is a finite amount of money, then there is going to be difficulties deciding who will be eligible for coverage. Or, if the federal government says that states still have to cover the same people, the cost of their services will either need to have a lower reimbursement rate (fat chance), which will cause less doctors to take Medicaid, and cause a higher case load for those that are willing to take the lower reimbursement. Or, like I mentioned, States might just change who is eligible for health insurance (Medicaid) and figure out who’s life is more “valuable” (aka, cheaper to cover). For example, states will have to choose between situations like covering a 19 year old with cerebral palsy who is born to a single mother who makes $15,080 a year as a housekeeper at the local Hilton (that’s the current salary of someone who makes the federal minimum wage, working 40 hours a week, for 52 weeks, with no vacation, before taxes, and before other expenses) or the 87 year old woman with dementia, who needs 24 hour nursing care, who’s loved ones and family has all died off. These are the legit questions that we’re going to have to ask ourselves. It’s really fucked up, yo.

                Even though the bills seem currently dead (thank you, Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain for having a sliver of integrity and belief in bipartisan democracy) we know that nothing in the Trump administration is ever actually dead. Staying informed about the actual policies is what is the most important right now, and I hope that this helped demystify at least a little bit about Medicaid and the need to protect from block grants.

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Open Letter to Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department

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Dear Captain Clark, Officer Godlewski, Patrolman Capparell, and the entire Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department,

I am very concerned about your lack of understanding of why posting a picture of a clothed man asking a topless woman, who is hiding her breasts with her hands, for a high five is in poor taste. I am worried about the character of the police force in Wilkes-Barre Township and am in disgust that by all accounts of the media’s reporting on this, that the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department refuses to recognize why this type of behavior is unacceptable. I am shocked that you refuse to take in mind how sexually abused victims in your township feel and how their reluctance to report abuse is potentially heightened because of your inability to empathize.

It is not a matter of being “offended” by the meme. It’s a matter of missing the point of why posting the picture in the first place was wrong. It’s a matter of balking at people who disagree and instead of listening to why people are “offended”, offering up only other distasteful and dismissive responses to legitimate concerns. It’s a matter of not recognizing that there already exists a hierarchical relationship between victims and police officers, especially victims of abuse and police officers, that creates burdens to people seeking help.

Police officers are on the front lines in times of crisis and have the heavy and respected responsibility of helping those in vulnerable situations. Rape victims, sexual assault victims, child sexual abuse victims, these are all the types of people who need the services of police officers. Officer Godlewski mentioned in the Citizen Voice article that Facebook may be acting like a deterrent for criminals to commit crimes because they don’t want their faces plastered all over the internet. Well, the content you have been posting recently also acts as a deterrent for a different population, as now I, along with many other people I know and social service providers, do not feel comfortable around or referring abused clients to the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Force. I feel less safe around Wilkes-Barre Township Police Officers.

Your defense that you are not always going to please everyone and that the department’s utilization of social media is an opportunity to humanize the force is, in all actuality, extremely depressing and discouraging. The message you send online is that the Wilkes-Barre Police Department is a frathouse of sexist, chauvinistic, “good ole boys”. Your lack of willingness to listen to the people who saw the meme and expressed their concern is disturbing for the fact that you are police officers- you are the men and women who are supposed to help victims! Not help contribute to stigmatizing sexual assault and abuse victims!!!

I recognize that you have by far one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and I am grateful for your service. Police officers are real life heroes. However, your police force recently has significantly change my opinion about the motivation of police officers and their understanding of victims’ issues. The worst part is, I have a feeling that you will read and ignore this letter or mock it, and won’t take responsibility for your actions. Your lack of apology and dismissiveness towards the situation speaks louder than any social media post.

 

Sincerely,

Chelsea T. Collins

Throop, PA

chelseataylorcollins@gmail.com

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i’m not trying to be sexy, i’m trying to not be sweaty.

This is inspired by a girlfriend of mine who commented on my “booty shorts” when I thought I was just wearing normal shorts…  Reflecting back now, it does help explain the dirty looks I received from the waitresses at the restaurant under her apartment when I was just innocently trying to pick up my take-out.

OKAY. CONFESSION TIME.  I love clothes. I’ve always loved dressing up and having my own style. When I was a little girl, my dad let me dress myself as soon as I could pick out an entire outfit, and I have pictures of myself in these carefully curated outfits- one that comes to mind is 7 year old me, wearing a pink and white dress, with one pink and one white shoe and matching alternating color socks.  I am still proud that I made all of my high school formal dresses (the best was Junior Semi when my dress was made out of a Twister mat) and wish I still had the duct tape skirt I made in 7th grade. I have always preferred thrift stores and the majority of my outfits are from where I like to call, Salvation Armani.  The tradition that signifies the beginning of spring and that I look forward to all winter long is rescuing my summer clothes from the dark, cold, lonely attic and welcoming them back into my wardrobe. Summer clothes are my favorite, and I’ll take floral flock over flannels any day.

Over the past few years, as I’ve been making the migration from the Junior’s section to Women’s, I’ve found myself in some predicaments over how to dress in the summertime. It is becoming harder and harder to find something to wear that you feel cute, comfortable, and conservative in (when I want to dress conservatively). I honestly think that new lines of shorts, dresses, and skirts get slightly shorter every year. There is little compromise between feeling comfortable wearing the same pair of shorts out in public and comfortable wearing them in 90 degree weather. Case in point: Right now, as I type this out, sitting in an air-conditioned coffee shop to gain a little reprieve from the 92-degree day outside, I keep catching myself subconsciously tugging at my cut-off, mom-approved, high-waisted Levi shorts, trying to pull them down a little bit closer to my knee cap. I’m not wearing these shorts to be sexy. I’m not wearing these shorts for people to look at me. I’m not wearing these shorts to show off the tattoos on my legs. I’m wearing these shorts because it is fucking 92 degrees. That’s it.

venn diagram of shorts

There are hardly any summer shorts/skirts/dresses that are both cute and will make you feel both socially and physically comfortable.

So, I guess one solution would be to buy up a few sizes so that the short will extend a whooping half inch further down my leg, but I don’t really want to do that. All I want is to wear clothes I feel good in and that fit so that I am physically comfortable. Unfortunately, I don’t see affordable women’s clothing lines helping create a trend of extending the length of shorts and skirts anytime soon. The other solution is to exclusively wear longer skirts and dresses to try and stay cooler on hot days. Listen, I’d rather wear a dress than shorts or pants in almost every situation, however a mid-length dress or skirt isn’t going to keep you as cool as shorts will. Plus, it’s way more comfortable to wear a pair of shorts than a dress when I want to go for a bike ride or walk at Nay Aug Park with my dog.

 

IMG_2046

The shorts I’m wearing right now still make me feel self-conscious that they are too short even though they’re ugly af.

 

The ultimate solution, the solution that would actually fix everything, would be to figure out a way for society to stop sexualizing women for trying to stay cool during the hot summer months. I wish there was a magic way to unsexualize all women’s summer fashion and teach people that the girl wearing the short lavender dress isn’t a slut or trying to show off her body,  but instead is just trying to wear something she feels good about- both temperature-wise and self-esteem wise. And we gotta educate other people, especially our boys and men, about this. Because it’s easy to think that a girl is dressing a certain way for one reason, when the reality is totally different.

And ladies, it’s okay to wear short-short booty shorts on purpose. It’s okay to wear a short dress because it makes you feel sexy. I just wish our culture could shift the immediate assumption that a woman is wearing shorts on purpose to show off her body, and instead replace that thought with recognizing that she’s probably just trying to beat the heat because its 92 degrees out. I mean, at least for me, it’s not that I’m trying to be sexy, I’m just trying to not be so fucking sweaty.

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Social Media Isn’t Real (And That’s Okay).

Two quick reminders: Social media isn’t real and I write this blog from a female feminist perspective. My views may be completely off the wall compared with yours (isn’t that cool?!), and whatever the next few paragraphs say, they are no means an attack on anyone I personally know- I feel we can all relate to this shit, na’mean?

i like you more than the instagram you

This is probably true, unless ur a garbage person in real life but super sweet online.

So recently, a few people have commented on pictures of me and my finance on social media, saying things along the line of “perfect couple” or whatever. And I’m not gonna lie, that attention is kind of a nice feeling, but nonetheless I’ve been really, really taken back by these statements. Because a picture alone cannot tell you much about our relationship. I’m not saying that my relationship with my partner is bad or anything like that, but it’s definitely not “perfect”, and I don’t want people thinking that about us, because, well, it’s not true! Also, just real quick: no one’s relationship is perfect.

I know a lot of people have been feeling less-than lately because of internet culture, and I just want to reiterate that social media is not real, and perceive people’s “realness” based on their social media persona can be super toxic, yo. What we see online of people is just part of their cultivated digital personality. Ok, wait a minute. Let me back up real quick. What we see online is of real shit, but the meaning we infer from it is not real. I like social media. I get to see pictures of my friends kids, of my family that lives far away, and just funny shit that my friends post. However, thinking that these pictures are actually a true, complete representation of these people’s lives is way misleading.

Yo, you wanna know the real kicker is? It’s that our feeling of less-than in comparison to someone else’s social media life actually has everything to do with our own perceived inadequacy. Feeling envious of anything or anyone is totally based in how we feel about ourselves, right? We can’t be envious unless we are comparing ourselves to someone else, and if we feel shitty about ourselves in the first place, than jealousy is gonna come around a lot quicker. It sucks that social media makes people think that their lives have to be a certain way because their “friends” lives look that way. Also, this is a pretty big realization that I had to learn the hard way, through years of being jealous (including being jealous of people online). I totally was in the camp of “I suck at life because my house is always messy, I don’t know how to be super crafty/good at makeup/athletic/rich/someone who travels a lot/insert whatever here, plus I have split ends and acne on my face”. It wasn’t until I learned that it is freaking impossible to compare my true, authentic personality to anyone else’s, that I started to feel better about my less than perfect life. We are all unique, and that’s a freaking wonderful, crazy, amazing thing! If my house was spotless, and super beautifully decorated from shit I made, and if I went surfing every weekend after having a brunch of grass-fed grass, well… I probably wouldn’t be super thrilled because that’s not being authentic to myself! It honestly took me basically my whole life to understand this- that there is no reason to compare myself to anyone else because it’s comparing apples and anti-freeze. We’re all different and that’s dope.

Ok, ok ok, I’m being a little overzealous. I totally still get jealous sometimes. I look at people’s Instagram posts and that thought will come in my head- the “I’m not worthy” thought. The thing is now I have a following thought that is, “oh shit, social media can’t communicate what the real truth is behind this picture, and this person strategically picked this photo to post”. ALSO, I don’t know what your motive was for posting that photo, just like you don’t know what my motive was for posting another picture of my dog (it’s because my dog is the fucking cutest and I want the world to know).

And also- it’s totally okay to post whatever the fuck you want. Who gives a shit. And if you post something like a selfie because you are feeling shitty, and want some superficial attention- dude, that’s okay. Or maybe you’re really feeling yourself and that’s why you post a selfie. Dude, do you. Sometimes, when I’m down, I’ll take a selfie and filter the fuck out of it because it makes me feel better. But here’s the deal- it’s still not real, and once we all start realizing that about social media, I bet you $5 that a lot of people will start to feel better about their lives. I think social media can be a really great thing. We just have to keep in mind that it’s not real before actual, real emotions develop in response.

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A Quick Explanation of “Cuck”

First off- googling “‘cuck’ sucks” is nsfw. i learned that the hard way.

cuck robot

it’s just a fucking dumb word for dumb people

Okay. So the word “cuck” (short for “cuckservative”) has been floating around the internet for the past year. Or, at least, I only started noticing it in the past year and it was pretty much reserved to the subreddits of /r/pol and /r/thedonald until a few months ago. Recently, I’ve been seeing “cuck” used as an insult, or to insinuate an insult, on more mainstream internet platforms like Facebook and I’ve also heard it used IRL, pronounced in a bunch of different ways.

I’ve been interested in the etymology of the word “cuck” for a while now, especially because of the alt-right implications, and finally devoted a few hours of a stormy Sunday afternoon to dig in. And boy, oh boy, what a mess I found.

So, I’ve always associated “cuck” with the alt-right. Now listen, my knowledge of the alt right is limited to grabya-headlines about Richard Spencer getting punched in the face and from Chapo Trap House’s explanation of  things like Alpha-males and their riveting reading series of people like Mike Cernovich. If I had to describe the alt-right, I’d say they are a loosely organized far-right group, majorly male, and who aim for a society that furthers oppressive patriarchy for capitalistic gains that is ultimately rooted in hate/fear. Their values revolve around preserving the white man’s race, so hello racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and all the other different ways to categorize hating one group of people that are not white.

Okay, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to “cuck”. The word itself sounds like a bad word. It starts off with that hard c sound (see: the same sound in the beginning of “cunt”), and ends in the hard “ck” (see: the same sound at the end of “cock”). The mere pronunciation sounds like words that we already deem as offensive. What my mind first went to when I read “cuck” for the first times online was the sound a chicken would make- cuck cuck cuck! You know, like cucking. Turns out, I was kind of right. “Cuck” is a derivative from “cuckoo bird”… and “cuck” is a shortened form of “cuckold”… and a “cuckold”, by the definition of dictionary.com, is a husband to an unfaithful wife…Okay, wait, what? Okay, okay, okay, let’s recap- The cuckoo bird, which is a bird depicted as “crazy” in many different folklores from around the world, is the root term for “cuckold”, who is the husband of a wife that has sex with other men, which is the root for “cuck”, which is the insult that this whole blog post is about.

So apparently, cuckold is also a porn genre… I’m not well versed in porn genres, but cuckold porn seems to take different forms, all involving a man’s wife having sex. Apparently, a lot of cuckold porn includes the unfaithful white wife sleeping with a black man, which relates back to the inherent racism that exists in the alt-right. Some men in online communities have even professed that they are proud cuckolds- they enjoy watching their wife have sex with another person. So, this is where I am confused- this isn’t really that crazy of a fetish, right? It’s not really all that taboo at all. So here I think is where the alt-right tried to morph this term into an insult. When the alt-right uses “cuck” or “cuckservative” they are calling out men who don’t subscribe to their creed as weak. “These cucks can’t even take charge of their life enough to keep their wives from cheating!” The alt-right are simply appealing to men’s vulnerability about masculinity . “Cuck” is aimed specifically to offend men- to question their masculinity… because a cheating wife is emasculating (in the alt-right’s opinion). I hope that the men I know have a strong enough sense of self and understanding of human relationships that they wouldn’t feel less masculine because their wife was unfaithful. It also is in the favor of the alt-right that “cuck” has a harsh pronunciation and sounds like an offensive word.

For cuckold to exist, a power hierarchy in genders must exist- The implication of the alt-right’s definition of cuck is based on the idea that men should be stronger than women, that they should keep their women in line, and that they should be manly enough to control their life. They try to make the association between cuck and lack of autonomy, and this bias is completely sexist. The idea that a husbands wife is cheating on him with a black man, well that is just unacceptable, the worst-of-the-worst, in the alt-right’s eye! Ugh, what a bunch of sexist and racist fearful little boys.

The evolution of this word is interesting because of its rapid spread throughout online political culture and it’s ambiguous pejorative use.  Any man who is not an alt-right pledgee, is by default a cuck (and therefore a beta, but that’s a whole different blog post).  If the alt-right was actively trying to recruit members, then they would need to rethink their messaging- “cuck” doesn’t pacify men any more than the word “bitch” or “pussy” does. But, I don’t think the alt-right is actively trying to recruit members. Sure, they allow for prospective members to come to them, but they aren’t necessarily marketing themselves in the mainstream. So that’s actually really comforting, because the alt-right doesn’t have nearly as much power as the internet will lead you to believe. They are simply a group of men, who sit behind computer screens, and believe that they are genetically better than non-white men, and that their genetic traits need to be preserved.

I feel like “cuckservative” or “cuck” is just a really dumb and lazy insult. I mean, “cuck” in itself has no real meaning. At least “pussy” has a meaning.  As far as “pussy”‘s etymology, I wonder what came first- the vagina or the insult? Who knows.  I guess where insults come from doesn’t really matter, but my money’s on vagina (my theory is “pussycat” being used as a sexual innuendo dating back to like the Elvis days).

Alright. So what would I want someone to get from this blog post? That the word “cuck” is stupid, and it shouldn’t be given any greater power than the measly muscles it already has. “Cuck” exists in the alt-right universe, and we don’t need to acknowledge that realm of the digital milieu if we don’t want to. Using the word “cuck” just associates you with the alt-right losers and honestly has no real meaning other than the meaning that we give to it.

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anxiety, insecurities, and sunshine

Thank you, sweet universe, for giving us hope in the form of such a beautifully sweet spring day! Ahhhh, I’m so grateful that it’s nice out and jeez louise, how powerful a change in weather can be to our psyche.

flowers are a'bloomin', there's hope, y'all!

flowering bush is a’ bloomin! there’s hope, y’all!

That past few weeks have been really hard. I feel like I’ve been tirelessly running the final stretch, for like a whileeee now, and I thought that the finish line might have evaporated…but, …hey! today the sun shined! What a good, glorious thing! I don’t want to get too personal, but I’ve been really stressed lately (hello final semester of grad school! hello not knowing what the future will bring!), and I allowed myself to get tired. I stopped trying to proactively find good things in my life. Everything bad and cold and stressful seemed to be snowballing in my life, but maybe, if it gets warmer, these things will melt away; that life can be good. I know this much: the future will not be better, if I am not better. If I am better, the future will be better. Better said then done, am aright,? 😉

When I worry about things, I sometimes let these worries (see: self-hatred, negative thoughts) get the best of me. I get anxious and I bring that anxiety-fear with me and it can make me really uncomfortable, especially in social situations, (sometimes I’ll apt to duck out of social things because of this anxiety, whatcha know ’bout dat?). But you know what helps me to feel better, what helps me to experience life in a more loving way? When I don’t worry about things in the first place. I’m not saying to suddenly stop worrying about your life, but I urge you to try to worry less about things. It’s hard to be totally fearless, but life is way better when you at least try to inch away from the fear-end on the life continuum. And I know, I know, who am I to say “worry less, your life will be better!”. I don’t know your struggles, I don’t know how heavy your heart is. My experience in life is different than your’s, so there’s no way that we’ll ever be able to comprehend exactly what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. I’ll never be able to see out of your eyes, to know what it feels like to hug your mom, to experience your life. Our own experience of life is totally subjective. So, I don’t know. But I promise, just try to not be so mean to yourself about the things you don’t like about yourself and you’ll feel better, a little better, at least.  I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try.

So where does anxiety come from? I think it comes from our insecurities… and insecurities are ugh, so painful, right? It sucks to think about them, they make us feel sad, especially when we dwell and ruminate on them.  So how can we shed the things we don’t like about ourselves? How can we rid ourselves from the things that we can’t think positively about in ourselves? First, we need to recognize their existence. I know what mine are and where they have come from (hello, being called ugly in freaking elementary school; hello, not getting into my first choice college), but figuring this out for yourself might take a little bit of time. (And if you have trauma in your life or childhood, you should process your feelings with a counselor or therapist or even a trusting friend, if that’s at all a possibility. Just ‘cause trauma can really fuck up cognitive development and processing. Dealing with deep deep sludge takes time to really deal with- to really accept. It’s not easy, no matter how far removed you may be from your past.)

So once you recognize what your insecurities are, you can start to change your perception. Once you get rid of those insecurities, you start to let go of your ego. Ego is hard to define. I don’t mean ego as in confidence or over-confidence, I mean it more as like the onion layer analogy. I like to think about ego as a shell made of fear which surrounds us, and the more you grow in this shell, the harder it is to believe that it can be shed. It can become like a second skin, and won’t let any good things in or negative feelings and anxieties out, unless we consciously work to chip away at it.

Dude, none of this is easy. It’s really hard. I’m just figuring out this shit. And I’m so used to not dealing with feelings and letting my ego overpower me. I’ve spent so much of my life constantly worried about what other people think about me, but once I started to understand that life is life, and my insecurities aren’t making my time on this earth any more enjoyable, I was able to become a little more fearless and a little more loving. I still think about what other people think about me, but not nearly as much as I have for almost my entire life. And that’s progress, and that’s good. So I urge you to try and be a little tiny bit more loving toward yourself today so you can break off a little bit of that ego shell and let some sunshine in.

 

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The Beautiful Gift of Being Wrong

Holy fuck, 2017 is a lot crazier than ever expected. Our American government has become a futurist fuckery  that has a lot of people deep breathing in paper bags as we gather speed racing towards this universal feeling of annihilation anxiety. Life is way crazy right now and I think a lot of people I know out there are getting a bit worn out fighting the good fight, trying to stay woke and helping others to wake up. I know I am. It’s hard to stay motivated to keep learning, to keep helping, to keep loving, when reality is out of whack and it seems like society has given up on hope and change. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, AM I RIGHT OR WHAT?

For real though, what a time to be alive. Our grandchildren will most likely question us about what it was like living through “The Great Global Unrest” or whatever colloquial name history deems our current experience. We are living at a point in time where technology is advancing at an exponential rate and where the means of digital information has given us a tool to connect and learn and experience life in a whole different way than ever even imagined, but also a tool that often acts as the gateway to mass confusion, panic, and negativity.

So, what can we do about all the garbage out there, floating and polluting the digital airwaves? How do we deal with people who seem to get off to making life worse for others? How do we interact with those who challenge our perspective?

yeah right, if i give him my hard earned cash he'll spend it on dope, so naw, fuck him.

Jeez, get a look at this guy. Like I’m gonna give my hard earned cash when he’ll just buy dope. Naw, I’ve been conditioned to believe this, so, fuck you dude. 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that people are reactionary by nature, and people are often irrational. Why do we automatically scoff off the homeless man asking for spare change? “How dare he ask for the dollars in my wallet that I worked 50 hours a week for, when he’ll just buy booze and drugs? I have my own to take care of! He isn’t worthy of my charity!” This is an example of a reactionary response, and I believe we’ve been pretty conditioned to think this way (not specifically about the homeless man example, but in general). God forgive we see this homeless man as an individual man, and not as a representative of how we have grown to think about homeless people. Conditioned societal experience often blocks us from questioning situations or thoughts which will hold us back from developing greater understandings of everything in our life and to default on our reactionary way of thinking.

I believe that we must constantly question ourselves and our own views on life in a Socratic way. We gotta check ourselves, and make sure that some of that smelly trash water negativity hasn’t oozed into our way of thinking and is blocking us from seeing the reality of life. We can’t rest on our laurels and believe that all we know is right. WE MUST BE OKAY WITH BEING WRONG.

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had in my life was about whether or not the melting of polar icecaps raises water levels. It ended up turning into a screaming match and is one of my memories that I look back at with real, deep shame and embarrassment. A lot of other repressed emotions came out in that argument, and the whole ordeal was an example of great humanistic irrationality. However, at the end I conceded that I was wrong, or at least had the potential to be wrong, and the argument ended. Admitting I was wrong wasn’t embarrassing, in fact, it was liberating! By admitting I was wrong, or that there may be a flaw in my understanding, I killed the discomfort that the argument made me feel. Holy Smokes! What an important lesson from a seemingly minor event! So, when we’re out there, fighting the good fight, getting really worked up about something we believe in, maybe it’s important to step back and ask, “is there potential for a flaw in my thinking here?” and “am I discussing my point in the most loving and kind way possible?”. I think these are really questions to practice asking yourself. Not only will it help you gain a little peace and objectivity, but will also help you strengthen your own understanding about the issue at hand and possibly experience a little deeper connection with your core values of life.

polar ice cap

i still have no clue what happens when the polar ice caps melt

When you realize that you are wrong about something, or that your understanding of an issue needs to change to be congruent with your overall understanding of life, it is not a defeat, but a ginormous win for all of the universe! The prize is a deeper understanding of the issue! Admitting you are wrong or some negative aspect of yourself needs to change is the pickaxe that chips away of that protective ego that makes us assholes in the first place. Relish in being wrong and in the celebrate the act of continuous learning! I really truly believe that the only way we are going to get through the next four years is with a gracious heart and examination of self, which will take a lot of concentration and commitment, but is far from an impossibility.

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