On Sympathy for the Bullies: Our New Villains

^^to build on the HiredGoons/mt/WellThen ^^ I've been going back and forth on this the last few weeks too. Bullying & homophobia are such separate but inseparable issues, especially since sexual identity slurs get tossed around to break someone down as part of the bullying process, and kids--and adults--aren't called out on it the way they would be if they used a racial slur.

I was definitely a target growing up for being just weird. Not gay or special ed or poor, but Molly Ringwald in 16 candles level pathetic/weird into music & comics & literature & used big words weird kid. It fucking sucked. I still have to do a Lisa Simpson sarcasm-scan when I get a compliment, and even then I assume the person is just being polite. I thought my friend ditched me the other day instead of the obvious & true explanation of you put a bunch of hipsters on an island & you get a bunch of dead iphone batteries and shitty AT&T service...the text just hung for 45 minutes. I wanted to scream at all those people in that Times piece about how mean girls ostracism was around in the 80s. Just because the study of it is new doesn't mean the phenomenon is.

I think most people wouldn't care and a lot would be making fun of the Rutgers suicide if the room mate had tweeted "making out with a 'fat chick'" instead of 'dude,' and the police wouldn't take his d-bagginess so seriously...so, progress for LGBT rights?

BUT casual homophobia is still rampant and acceptable, and not just in the boonies. It's just worse/more noticeable/we prefer to notice it there. So the big difference I see, is I got called bitch and dyke and fag and slut (I wish! Those nerdy Adam Brody guys still like the mean girls), and there were definitely a few guys who would probably have tried to rape the freak to see if she was gay, (how that proves anything other than them being assholes, I don't know, but I knew the rumors; that said, if something had happened I might be a statistic too), but there's not really a derogatory term for weird girl that gets tossed around like 'gay' still does.

I live in San Francisco and hear/overhear it all the time by ADULTS, who should know better, unironically (is that any better/worse? different issue) saying, 'oh this is gay, let's do something else' or 'that looks gay.' And I'm generally in a super stereotypical nonprofit/creative/advocacy aging-out-of-hipsterism bubble. I have the parents who sat me and my friends down and told us why it was fucked up to use hateful language when we were 12, so I don't know why I still here it coming out of people in their late 20s/early 30s, but I do. Clearly I'm the weird girl still. But, seriously, I don't remember a time in my life not knowing gay people, and my friends started coming out in middle school, and that was in redneckia where the high school is still named after a confederate war soldier, and my northern school was more bigoted, so I don't know how anyone under 30 is so insensitive, but the majority are.

So I'm tired, hungover, procrastinating and inarticulate, but it's bullying on top of legal discrimination on top of this casual, socially normative bigotry. I could escape being smart or weird or sensitive or different or whatever, but I could escape into books, read Harriet the Spy, Are You there God... (seriously...where the fuck did these people get the idea that mean girls are new?) until I moved up to Catcher In the Rye and found Bikini Kill and knew I'd find a niche somewhere else, and most of these people would peak in high school. But I never thought of an adulthood where something wouldn't be open to me...it just wasn't a possibility.

So the rambling point is that, as much the myriad forms of bullying I endured sucked, for a smart middle class white girl, it seemed obvious that everything would be better as soon as I got to SF (or NYC or fill in your big city). I think the overall attempts to respond to bullying and its effects are one thing, but without a corollary effort to eradicate the bigoted language as well as policies, I don't see how there can be a significant decrease in suicides in the gay teens compared to the straight teens. I actually think "It Gets Better" is on the right track if it raises consciousness in the...idk..Today Show community, for lack of a micro target. People who watch the 6:00 news on tv but don't read the Times or obsess on blogs or whatever. Decent people who just don't think twice about calling their sons 'fag' for not playing football, or wouldn't think it was a big deal if their kids said gay all the time.

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 3:53 am 0

On Please Don't Leave Your Dead Bears At The Deli

Wait, did you miss this other California bear news? Apparently a woman is being charged with a misdemeanor for feeding bears.

Key points:
police put her "bear Shangri-la" under surveillance
"Her oafish friends were given names like Smiley, Goofy, Connie, Biggie and Wombat."
"She admitted to setting up a kiddy pool on her deck for wallowing, and fixing peanut butter sandwiches for her guests, sometimes mixing in glucosamine to ease the arthritis pain in older bears."


Posted on September 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm 0

On Wacky State Budget Mix-Up Fixed

Thanks for taking some of the heat off of California, I guess.

Posted on August 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm 0

On The Dementia Bonus: Football as Black Servitude

I don't agree that pro sports (or the military) are the only *conceivable* ways out of poverty. Those of us with vaginas have had to find other methods for years. Title IX passed the year my mom graduated college on a full academic scholarship, part of the condition of which was tutoring football players (making sure they passed). An avid football fan, she refuses to watch college ball to this day.

But even assuming that the only conceivable option is pro sports, there's still a matter of free will and personal responsibility. If a player graduates college he should have a skill set appropriate for entree into the middle class, barring this economic climate, etc. He should also have the decision making skills to do a cost-benefit analysis of the lucrative NFL contract and the potential for injury.

That said, it's a hell of a lot of money thrown at a 22 year old. But the brain damage is most severe among lineman, who are often cornfed midwesterners, as mentioned below, and begins long before they enter the NFL. It's not like these guys aren't sustaining head injuries from Pop Warner through college. And the guys who weren't quite good enough and also the guys who were nowhere near good enough are at risk for brain damage. Injuries that cause paralysis and death aren't uncommon at any level of the game, so the risk is pretty well known. Teenagers we'll never hear of are getting concussions every day. The brain injury problem is football, not the NFL.

Is it a complete fucking travesty that young men are graduating high school and college functionally illiterate and woefully unprepared for any workplace other than pro sports? Yes. Is there a big race element to that? Absolutely.

There are shitty teachers and administrators that let athletes get away with poor performance and bad behavior everywhere. That's compounded by the massive race and class divide in our education system.

There are also coaches that hold athletes to high academic (and conduct) standards, notably Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

I guess I'm thinking of Dexter Manley, the Redskins player. He was severely dyslexic and never learned how to read past a 2nd grade level, and was enabled for years and years, long before the NFL was a part of his life, including a scholarship to Oklahoma State with an ACT score of 6. But it's on him that he never asked for help, and to his credit that he finally did go to an adult literacy center when Theisman's leg snapped, and he realized he'd need a backup plan. But how many talented athletes, but nowhere near as talented as Manley, are disserviced by schools looking the other way when they can't complete coursework?

I guess that's my contribution to the rants...I guess George Carlin was right about football being the true American passtime.

Posted on August 12, 2010 at 3:02 am 0

On Awesome Furry Applies For Legal Name Change to "Boomer the Dog"

I think someone changed her name - yes a she - to Obi-Wan Kenobi...too lazy to google...wait, don't want to work:

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm 0

On Having an iPhone Doesn't Mean You're Necessarily a Slut

Was that lifetime partners? I prefer to think of myself as above average, not slutty...it fits with the whole not smug, just better vibe of my iphone-besotted city.

Posted on August 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm 0

On "Let Me In" Trailer Provokes, Assuages Suspicions

My parents were Hobbit purists or fanatics or whatever the right term is (just grateful to not be named Galadriel), and the cartoon Hobbit was not allowed in our house, although I clearly remember watching Blue Velvet at age 4 on our brand new VCR. So anyway, no warm feelings for singing Bagginses.

Posted on July 27, 2010 at 11:10 am 0

On Real America: Why Target Supports Tom Emmer

@Morbo Candidates still have campaign finance limitations, and every state is different. Citizens only applies to Federal campaigns, but state laws will probably be adjusted accordingly..there's already rumblings here in California from a new commissioner. California has more election laws than most states, and our campaign finance laws predate federal ones thanks to then-Secretary of State Jerry Brown, but my understanding is that most states follow federal guidelines with a much smaller contribution limit, whereas California actually has a higher limit for statewide campaigns, and more disclosure requirements, although corporations can do whatever the fuck they want..they just have to file the right paperwork.

Post-Citizens corporations can give unlimited amounts to PACs that campaign in direct support or opposition of candidates. Before they could only give to issues campaigns, so for candidates they could have a "concerned citizens" group or "taxpayers" committee to astroturf. The most well known federal one is Swiftboat Veterans for Truth..they could use as much money as they want to be anti-Kerry, but they couldn't come out and be pro-Bush.

Now they can be pro-Bush or pro this Emmer asshole, ad put as much money into it as they want...so look forward to your state's elections being as fun as California's.

Posted on July 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm 0

On Real America: Why Target Supports Tom Emmer

Agreed! Both Marin & SF Counties have stringent slow-growth & anti-big box laws. I don't know a ton about Marin's, but in SF, they're trying to go into the failed Sony Metreon at 4th and Mission and I think in the old Mervyn's on Geary, so on top of it, they're going to get around local laws by saying they're putting in affordable groceries & household goods in mixed-income, transit-oriented neighborhoods...which isn't untrue, but this makes me a lot less sympathetic. Ugh, dump a bunch of money into defeating eMeg, Target.

Posted on July 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm 0