The question I have spent more time thinking about over the course of my life than just about any other question is, “Why are people so fucked up?”
Why are they rude and condescending and controlling and dismissive and disrespectful? Why are they manipulative and dishonest and abusive?
The answer I have come up with is not very helpful because it kind of just circles back to the original question. Insecurity. Why are people so fucked up? Because they’re insecure. Okay then so why are they so insecure? Because they grew up in a fucked-up home. Okay then why were their parents fucked-up? And so on.
One trait I’ve noticed about fucked-up people is the extreme emotional attachment to their beliefs and opinions, but there’s more to it also. It’s almost like an extreme emotional attachment to being “right.” Like there is something so incredibly threatening about being “wrong” sometimes that they have to get all pissed and start calling names. Why is it so hard to admit that you’re wrong or that you might be? Or at least to admit that it’s okay for someone to believe something different than you. The amateur psychologist in me wants to make the amateur diagnosis of narcissism, but being an amateur, take that with several grains of salt.
Before I continue, let me just say that I fully admit to having been the “fucked-up person” in many situations over the course of my life. I think those situations have decreased though, since I’ve become more secure within myself.
And also just let me say that there are extreme situations where this does not really apply. For instance, with white supremacists and Nazis who are very emotionally attached to the opinion that brown people and gay people shouldn’t even exist. One cannot blame anyone for being very emotionally attached to the opinion that white supremacy as an entire phenomenon should not exist and that the people who are white supremacists and Nazis are most definitely, morally, empirically wrong.
But there is plenty of grey area in-between. Like, who are you backing in the Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren? I’m only using this example because it’s something I’ve seen play out before my very eyes.
On social media, of course. But, still . . .
So, this one dude says that he is backing Elizabeth Warren because her policies are very similar to Bernie’s, because he thinks she can beat Trump, and because she’s a woman. Nothing terribly heightened or emotional about his rhetoric at all.
Almost immediately, there is someone replying to him who does not say anything substantive about policy or even political strategy, but instead calls Warren a “shill for the DNC” and calls the one dude “ignorant” and accuses him of not being a “real progressive.” Although mild by some standards, this is nonetheless an emotionally charged response to a reasoned, logical statement. And of course, the comments devolve from there with the epithets of “neoliberal” and “troll” being bandied about and so everyone just quits the conversation in a huff and goes back to their respective corners all offended. Basically because someone was so threatened by someone else not backing the candidate she was backing that she had to start calling names. We see things like this all the time. We may even participate in such exchanges. But, why? Why is this necessary? And what good does it do us?
Obviously, sometimes, the answer is that one of these people is a legit troll. But not always. And it can be hard to tell.
For the record, I am a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter. I was in 2016, and I still am now. Had I responded to this one dude, which I did not because the comments had already gone so far down the shitter there was no way I was gonna be able to fish them out, but if I had, I would have said that I think Bernie is the better candidate because he is the only one who fundamentally calls into question the philosophical underpinnings of our entire system. Elizabeth Warren does not call herself a “Socialist,” which some seem to think is a smart political move just because everyone has this fucking irrational fear of the word “Socialism,” (which I also happen to think is total bull shit. But, I’ll deal with that in another post.)
But, that’s what Bernie does when he says he’s a “Socialist.” He says that our entire system is built upon a number of false premises that are long overdue for an overhaul and a rethinking. He says that our system is based on false beliefs and false assumptions that have not been borne out in real life and that desperately need to be questioned and looked at. That’s what Bernie manages to do with just that one, little word. By calling herself a “Capitalist,” Elizabeth Warren fails to do this.
I also don’t buy the “we need a woman” thing. First of all, I am a woman, and if I were running for any elected office, I would not want people voting for me just because of my gender. I would want them voting for me because of my vision, my policies, and my honesty. You know, things that have nothing to do with the reproductive organs I was born with. I’ve also noticed that it is often men going around spouting the “we need a woman” thing. Maybe that springs from an insecurity about their feminist cred? I don’t know. What I do know is that I give a shit way more about a candidate advocating for policies that will be the most beneficial for women than I do about whether or not that candidate happens to be a woman. And as far as little girls “needing” to see a female president, I was a little girl once, and I definitely did not “need” to see a woman president to understand that a woman was just as capable of doing the job as any man. The people who I think “need” to see a female president are little boys, actually.
Anyway, this is just one example of people getting way more pissed off at each other than was necessary or helpful.
And I have nothing against anger, either. It’s just an emotion, and it can be very helpful and motivating when used responsibly. The problem, though, is that for some people, including myself, anger is almost addictive. It gets to the point where it controls you instead of the other way around. And this is where it gets really dangerous, because this is where others can use your anger for their benefit. If you get super pissed-off about every meme you see, every opinion piece that expresses the opposite of your opinion, every person who is backing a different candidate, or even every person who calls you a name on social media and so you retaliate and call them names back, that’s when you become super easy to manipulate. So you get all pissed, the conversation ends, and we stop talking to each other like human beings. This is why “our country is so divided.” (I’m really getting sick of hearing that phrase.)
All I can tell you is what I have tried to do so as not to get sucked into bull-shit drama online or in real life. I’ve tried to recognize when someone is trying to piss me off, and to not give them the satisfaction of having succeeded, and also to calmly respond in a way that both de-escalates and calls them out on their emotional manipulation. And I try to save the anger and vitriol for people who really and truly deserve it, like white supremacists, Nazis, and Donald Trump.
Of course, none of this really even begins to answer my essential question, “Why are people so fucked up?” But having control of my own anger has gone a long way toward helping me to no longer be one of those fucked-up people. For whatever that’s worth.
In all sincerity, I want this blog, in addition to being a snarky indictment of far-right extremism, to be a place where womyn can find some validation, healing, and support, particularly womyn who, like me, are opinionated, decidedly leftist, and have been through some shit in their lives. I want it to be a place at the intersection of the personal and the political, where we can see how the personal and the political connect, and where we can figure out what the fuck to do about all of this. That’s why, today, I am taking up the admittedly distasteful topic of assholes. In the figurative sense, of course.
Because seriously though, this needs to be addressed. We’ve all known more than our fair share of assholes. Some of those assholes are our relatives, co-workers, and bosses. Some may even be our friends, or partners.
Connotation is way more than half of meaning, so let’s start with one of the major connotations of the word “asshole.” It’s used to refer to men, right? I’m not sure that I have ever heard a womyn called an “asshole.” Although, calling a man a “bitch” is common place now. And of course, using a term that specifies females for the purpose of disparaging a man automatically impugns that man’s masculinity, which is fucked-up and sexist to begin with. As if being a womyn is a bad thing.
The politics of the word “bitch” are something I think we are probably all well aware of.
But, the dictionary definition of “asshole” doesn’t specify gender at all. Yet, I only ever hear it being used to refer to men. Why?
Not that I want the word to be equally applied to womyn. I certainly don’t. I mean, who wants to be an asshole?
But like “art” and “pornography,” the word “asshole” can be difficult to define. We may not be able to tell you exactly what makes someone an asshole, but we know one when we see one.
And sure, everyone has their assholish moments. If you snap at someone in a moment of high stress, if you get pissed and yell at someone for something that was legitimately rude or hurtful or fucked-up, if you are rude in the course of standing up for yourself against an honest-to-goodness bully, then you are not, categorically, an asshole. However, if your default setting, your go-to behavior, is to be rude, pushy, loud, domineering, selfish, intolerant, and cruel, then yeah, you qualify.
I’m not trying to be gross here, but if we push the analogy to its logical end, an “asshole” is someone who shits all over everything.
And the power to shit all over something is a considerable power to hold over that other entity, is it not?
Remind me again of what kind of cultural power structure wields its power so abusively over others? What is that called again? Oh yeah! Patriarchy. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
I’m not going to dig into the many other connotations of “asshole” right now. I have a more important question. We’ve established, more or less, that “asshole” is a connotatively gendered term used to refer to men, right? So then, does the concentration of men who are assholes increase, decrease, or change at all as we move along the ideological continuum? Are there more right-wing assholes than left-wing assholes? More left-wing assholes than right-wing assholes? I’d like to think that there are fewer men on the left who are assholes, but my own personal experience kind of contradicts that. Or maybe there are fewer, but “fewer” than what? Like 99.9%? That ain’t saying much.
But, here’s the thing that I think is at the root of a lot of our problems right now. I’m sure you’ve had the experience where you’re with a bunch of friends, and maybe they’re a group that you are kind of on the periphery of, but there is always one dude in the group who is just a complete asshole. So, you mention this when you’re with another member of that group, alone, away from everyone else. You say something to the effect that this dude who always hangs out is a real asshole and you don’t like him much and he’s been kind of a dick to you. And this other not-so-peripheral friend says, “Oh, yeah, that’s just the way he is.”
“That’s just the way he is.” As if this is an acceptable thing. As if it’s cool that this dude is an asshole, and we’re not going to stop hanging out with him just because he’s an asshole, ya know?
I’m all about accepting people for who they are, but there’s gotta be a limit.
If there isn’t a limit, I would argue, that’s how you get Donald Trump as the president. It has taken millions of people over the course of years and years being like, “Oh, well, ya know, that’s just Donald being Donald. We don’t like it, but that’s just the way he is. What are ya gonna do?”
No! Fuck that shit! It’s bull shit! He’s an asshole! And that is not okay! It’s not! It means there is something wrong with him, be it mental illness or just a fucked-up, abusive attitude, but something is seriously wrong!
It is not okay to be disrespectful, to disregard the feelings, thoughts, and opinions of others. It is not okay to be rude. It is not okay to put your selfish needs and desires over and above everyone else’s. It is not okay to intentionally inflict pain and suffering on someone else, to torment them, to bully them, to harass them, to wield your fucked-up power over them. It’s not okay and we need to stop accepting it as “just the way he is.” No matter who “he” may be.
It’s up to us, sisters! Do not suffer an asshole. Do not. Do not allow an asshole to get away with being an asshole. Call him what he is.
Stay safe. If you can’t safely call out the asshole, then don’t call him out. But, if you can do so safely, do it.
But, the next time you’re with friends or family and someone excuses another’s assholishness by saying “that’s just the way he is,” I want you to say loudly and emphatically, “Fuck that! Fuck that! Fuck that!” Because it’s bull shit.
I am not hip. I know this. I’m not ashamed.
I don’t know what all the emojis mean. Nor do I really care.
I don’t use the word “woke,” nor do I call people “basic,” nor do I use the word “adult” as a verb.
I have no idea what Desus & Mero are talking about probably about 25% of the time.
I still firmly believe in punctuation. And capitalization.
I would rather spell out the entire words “as fuck.” And “motherfucker.”
I have no social media apps on my phone. And my phone sucks, by the way.
I did not watch Game of Thrones, nor am I particularly proud of having not watched it.
I don’t listen to Cardi B. Although I would, if someone played her for me. I also don’t listen to underground, lo-fi hip-hop. Although, I’d listen to that, too. If . . .
And, I don’t know, maybe that’s not even what the kids are listening to these days anymore. I don’t even need to know.
I’m still on Facebook, but not yet on Instagram.
I still have a hotmail address, and I do skim the MSN homepage when I log out of it.
I still like to wear “boot-cut” jeans. Because bell-bottoms by any name are fucking sweet!
I don’t go around loudly proclaiming myself to be a member of any particular generation. Although, I am well aware of what my generation is. We just don’t talk about that shit. Because it’s pointless. It accomplishes nothing. It’s just another stereotype.
I am not hip. And that’s okay. Because I couldn’t give two flying fucks about that.
And that’s the one beautiful thing about getting older, my children, and it’s the one thing they don’t tell you about when you’re young. Getting older means giving less and less and less of a flying fuck about any goddamn thing. Except the things that are really important. If you stop caring about those things, then you’re just an asshole.
This blog will not always be overtly political.
The personal is political. I firmly believe that.
So, I’d just like to say, on a very deep, personal level, I am in love with this place. Seriously. Like my emotions about this place run deeper than my emotions for many of the people in my life. My commitment to this place is greater than my commitment to many of the people in my life.
Is that fucked-up?
I first came here when I was 20 years old, in 1992. I lived here for about four years, on and off. It was easier to do that back then. It still wasn’t “easy.” It was just “easier.” I worked two or three minimum wage jobs at a time, lived with multiple roommates, and struggled to save up enough money to make it through the off-season. But, it was worth it to me to wake up every morning, look out the window, and see this beautiful place that I was, and still am, in love with.
I am extremely privileged that I ever got to live here at all. I am extremely privileged that I get to go back and visit. And it’s pretty fucked-up that people less privileged than I don’t get to experience this.
But, what is also fucked-up is that people who are equally as privileged as I am can’t pull off living here anymore. Not really. It was hard enough to even come back for a visit, and I only live a three hour drive away. You cannot get a hotel room for under about $200/ night. Maybe $150, if you’re lucky. Camping was cheap, but pretty competitive. I guess going during the Xmas of the summer didn’t help. Town was busy as fuck.
That’s the thing, though. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the cliche goes.
It has always been difficult, at least for the past 30 years, for someone who works here – – cooking, cleaning condos, washing dishes, running ski lifts, tending bar – – to actually afford to live here. If you can do construction work or plumbing, it’s a little easier.
If you have a trust fund, then it’s definitely easier. This has always been true, and it just gets more true all the time. It’s hard to find a long-term rental, sure, but as long as you can afford the $2000 a month for it, you can snag one up eventually, if you’re on top of it. Maybe get a roommate or two, or Airbnb your spare bedroom. Get some part-time slacker job. Life’ll be one big party. Until your trust fund money starts to run out.
I’ve never had a trust fund, so I don’t really know.
This place has always been a magnet for rich, white Texans. And there has always been some local animosity around this. Because what do the rich, white Texans do? They buy up houses and condos for $500,000, $1,000,000, $2,000,000. And then they only use them for maybe two months out of the year, and the rest of the time the places sit empty, or get rented out on a short-term, “vacation rental” basis for $500 -$1,000 a night. Or, these days, they also get Airbnb’d. So, not only is a property sold for more than any local can afford to pay, but even the possibility of it being a long-term rental is removed entirely, and it’s only rented to other rich, white Texans who can afford to pay $500/ night for a vacation rental. And because there are fewer long-term rentals, the price of rent for the people who actually work here goes through the fucking roof.
But, without these rich, white Texans, this place would not have an economy at all. Or, so they tell us.
This whole vicious cycle is starting to backfire a little, though. While walking around downtown, I saw “Help Wanted” signs on no fewer than three different businesses. In the middle of July. The busiest part of the summer. This never would have been the case back in the day, so why is it now? Because workers can’t afford to live here. Duh.
This place has endured wave upon wave of human conquest, rich, white Texans only being the most recent. The Indigenous Ute were only here in the summer. Who would stay up here in the winter, given a choice? Crazy white people, that’s who. Coal and silver miners. They hung on up here through decade after decade of boom and bust. Even after the ski area opened and all those hippies showed up.
Most of the hippies were white, middle to upper-middle class, and college educated, of course.
The circumstance this place finds itself in today is kind of the inevitable culmination of the reign of the hippies, really. Because what’s the one thing that can be said for pretty much all old hippies? Eventually, they sell out, and they buy in.
But, there has also always been a local snobbery of sorts at work here. It’s the attitude of, “Well, now that I’m here, I don’t want anyone else moving here! They’ll just ruin the place!” It’s the attitude of just squeaking in and then wanting to lock the door behind you. This attitude shows up in a great many different circumstances, some of them transparently racist, or classist. But, what if the people who you think shouldn’t be here are the rich, white Texans? Then what?
Still, there are more and more people coming here all the time. Some of them want to live here, some of them just want to visit. But, it’s more and more and more people all the time. And facts are facts. The sheer number of people who come here are straining the infrastructure and putting added stress on the ecosystem. They shit all over the place. In places where they should not be shitting. They drive all over the place instead of using the really very easy and convenient public transportation system. They camp in places where they should not be camping. They leave their trash behind. They carve their initials into trees and rocks. They do stupid shit. They climb places they shouldn’t be climbing, or hike places they shouldn’t be hiking, and then Search & Rescue has to be sent out after their asses. This is a real problem. And if, whenever this very real issue is raised, you hear someone accuse the person bringing it up of being “privileged” and engaging in “gate-keeping,” just know that the person making this accusation is part of the problem.
Sure, come to the most beautiful place on earth! Come to the place I’m in love with! I’m not jealous or possessive. And, I don’t give a rat’s ass what color your skin is or what language you speak, just don’t do stupid shit and fuck the place up. This includes building new roads that cut through previously unfucked-with forests and then putting a big fucking fence around your 500,000 square foot home so no one can “trespass” on what is now “your” 50 acres. So, yes, this includes you, rich, white Texans! You fuck this place up worse than damn near anyone.
I’m not going to tell you where this place is, exactly. I’m sure you can figure it out, if you try. But it doesn’t really matter. Because every beautiful, quaint little resort town in the mountains of Colorado, or any other state, is going through the same thing. Maybe the rich, white people aren’t from Texas. Maybe they’re from California or New York. But, they do the same thing everywhere they go – – they make it too expensive for anyone else to live there – – they build huge “estate properties” way out in the woods and start gated communities on the sides of mountains. They proliferate some of the most environmentally irresponsible development there is. They drive up home prices and rental prices so the people who work there can’t live there. This is nothing new. And it sure ain’t getting any better.
So, what can be done, then? The rich, white Texans are here. They ain’t going anywhere.
All the rest of us can do is try to maintain a presence. A public, weird, maybe even obnoxious presence. That’s why I’m calling on all people of color, all English speakers of other languages; all artists, musicians, jugglers, hula-hoopers, circus freaks; all activists, environmental and otherwise; all labor organizers; all working-class schmoes; come up to the mountains! Come up to the expensive resort town! It won’t be easy, but you can do it! I mean, don’t be idiots. Don’t litter, or start forest fires. Follow the rules and learn how to shit in the woods properly. If you pack it in, pack it out. But, come on up! Make your presence known. Play your guitar out on the street, or in the park. Set up your easel and paint! Shit, paint a mural, if you want. Protest outside the real estate office that sells the million dollar homes way out in the woods! Go to city council meetings and speak up for affordable housing projects. Speak out against the latest estate property development. Speak out against Airbnb. Move here, if you can. Get a job as a plumber, electrician, or a dishwasher, even. Live out in the woods in a tent if you have to. You can legally camp on Forest Service land for 14 days in one spot. Tread lightly, though. Leave no trace. Clean up after yourself and don’t fuck the place up. But, goddamn! Something has got to be done to make these rich, white Texans feel less comfortable here.
Socialism is not the same thing as authoritarianism.
Marijuana is not a “gateway drug.”
Religion is not the same thing as spirituality.
Gender is not the same thing as sex.
Criticism is not the same thing as hatred.
Strength is not the same thing as cruelty or intimidation.
Money is not the same thing as speech.
Corporations are not people.
Unity is not the same thing as obedience or conformity.
Disagreement is not the same thing as disrespect.
Truth is not the same thing as fact, but it should be at least based on them. If it is not, then it is a lie.
Words are not the same things as their meanings. They are just letters on a page. Humans assign them their meanings. The power-mad, the greedy, the manipulators among us understand this.
When you use words in contexts where you don’t really mean them, or when you use them to mean something other than what they actually mean, that is when they become meaningless, and I can no longer trust anything you say.
The English language is complex. Words have many meanings, both denotative and connotative. When you insist that words mean only one thing – the one connotation that you have in your head – the one connotation you want me to have in my head – you are making them less meaningful. You are denying reality. You are attempting to control meaning, and thus reality. This is fucked up, and I will not stand for it.
Have it seated in a place of honor, ready to pick up and wave in the air at a moment’s notice! You never know. There might be some libtards in the parade. Be prepared to show them who’s boss!
He was too quick for me to get a picture of, the little bugger, but it’s very important to have a little old man on a bright yellow motorcycle with stickers all over it saying “REAL MEN LOVE JESUS” at the front of your parade. Otherwise, how are all these fruitcake, non-Christian fairies supposed to know that not accepting Jesus Christ as your savior makes you one of the most evil, vile creatures known to us Jesus-loving macho-men – – a woman! Or, a homo, I guess.
Make sure you wear your loudest, tacky-est, most obnoxious star-spangled red-white-and-blue clothes to the parade. But, if you don’t have anything quite obnoxious enough, just find the nearest American flag and drape it around your shoulder!
Your parade should be mostly big, loud, gas-guzzling motorized vehicles, but if your little town doesn’t have any military tanks to parade down main street, the next best thing is, you guessed it, Monster Trucks!
America would not be what it is today without war, and lots of it. So why not remind the world again that you could kick its ass any time by making your parade mostly about thanking our veterans and active military for their service at every chance you get. Ideally, about three-quarters of your parade should be thanking our Military. This has the added benefit of letting any non-military-serving, anti-war pansies feel like the unpatriotic scum that they are – – AND letting them know that you could kick their specific asses at any time, too. If there’s one thing that makes America great, it’s war. And that’s what 4th of July is all about!
You also need a “TRUMP 2020” flag carried on horseback! 4th of July is not for everyone, and it’s specifically not for libtards who don’t support the re-election of our divinely appointed dear leader, Donald Trump. Make them feel as unwelcome and outnumbered as you possibly can! And make sure to order your Trump 2024 flag before it’s too late!
In addition to your parade consisting mostly of big, loud trucks, you should also have about 20-30 ATVs. The more, the better. If God wanted us to enjoy nature just by hiking, why dd He invent ATVs? And even with Trump’s inspired “Energy Dominance” policy, there are still some places where the libs won’t let you drill for oil. Make up for this by insisting that you be able to drive loud, fossil fuel burning, little animal crushing, cryptobiotic soil destroying ATVs everywhere. What’s more American than that?
You cannot have too many Monster Trucks! I cannot stress this enough. How else are you supposed to let everyone know that you could mow down their little enviro-libtard-pansy-homo-heathen asses if you wanted to? And how else are you supposed to let everyone know how big your dick is?
They should mostly be old, white people, too.
And preferably, they should all be part of a far-right-wing group of Constitutional originalists.
Because we all know America was at its Greatest in the 1790’s, am I right? Any amendments beyond the Bill of Rights are just superfluous fluff for a bunch of snowflake cry-babies. Who needs ’em!
No matter how hard you try to make them feel intimidated, outnumbered, and unwelcome, there are bound to be a few Jesus-hating, libtard fags in your parade. While you don’t have to boo, hiss, and openly jeer at them, although this is highly encouraged, please feel free to giggle and snort conspiratorially with your friends and family members while their one very small truck and all of five marchers go by with their laughable little sign exhorting people to READ, of all things! HaHa! READ?? Are they fucking serious?
And what word is easier to make people scared of than “Socialism?” There’s already been about 80 years of work put into this, so your job should be easy. Make it very clear to all of the old, white, middle class and upper middle class people at your parade that Socialism doesn’t mean expanding the rights and power of all people, but that it means taking away their rights and power and giving them to some Arab-Mexican-libtard-homo-enviro-fags instead. This oughta scare the shit out them!
In conclusion, if you want to Make America Great Again next 4th of July, put lots of big, fossil fuel burning trucks in your parade, continually remind everyone that wars are awesome and that if you are not in the Military you don’t deserve any thanks, make a point of insulting all non-Christians, and most importantly, make sure to scare the shit out of everyone! But especially, make sure they are scared of the word “Socialism!” ‘Cuz that’s what makes a country truly great: Fear. I think some famous dude once said something like that. “It is better to be feared than loved.” Or something like that. Who said that again? Anyway, Happy 4th of July! And MAGA, bitches!!