Wait, what's happening?

The blog is getting a facelift, which means that I won't be adding new posts HERE until the new site is built. Probably a few weeks.


behold
the new blog header
probably
Wait, but why?

Why the facelift?

I mean. I don't think I need to answer that question for you.

The original site wasn't built for ease of navigation. When I built that site, my average readership was about 70 people per post (Hi, mom!). Today, it's more like 20,000 because like that crying kid in Homeward Bound and Shadow the flinty old man dog, WE FOUND EACH OTHER AGAINST ALL ODDS! And because I love you, you can pick if you want to be the crying kid or the flinty old man dog.

The mobile experience is... clunky, if I'm being kind.

And honestly, it's just time for a refresh. 

Or, sorry, were you asking why no new posts?

Because I have to transfer all the old posts to the new site so it can be built out, and after I do that transfer it doesn't make sense for me to keep creating new content HERE. 

But... but... but... are you just going to disappear?

Oh hell no! 

You know I never shut up, boo boo! I love producing sweet, salty, gamey content for you. This blog page will continue to exist until the new page is built and we re-route it. So you can go deep into the archives and go nuts. I'll probably share some classic #tbt posts.

And here's what's going to happen: 

Look for daily micro-posts on the FB page.

If you haven't already liked/followed that page, please do that TODAY so you don't miss my first micro-post! 

I'll also be cross-posting on Instagram.

So like/follow me on Insta if you prefer that to FB.

And you can always reach out to me via email!


Thanks for being kickass listeners, readers, commenters, giffers, LOLers, angry-facers, and sharers! 

Much love, and I'll see you over on FB & Insta. 

xo

Katie


This is my work.
If you found this post valuable
support my work through Patreon 
or PayPal

Follow KatyKatiKate on Facebook & Twitter & Instagram

Get an email when I post something new

I don't make a dime.
100% of proceeds go to anti-sexual violence organizations

... AND CHECK OUT MY PODCAST
with Ronit Feinglass Plank
and Larj Media

We talk a lot about toxic masculinity.



It seems like people are starting to confound the meaning of the term. And I think they're doing it on purpose. Talking to you, trolls of 4chan.

"Oh, so you're saying that masculinity is TOXIC," they say. "That's SEXIST against MEN," they say. "MAN-HATING C**T," they say. And I don't abide that kind of dehumanizing talk. Call me what you will, but I am not a YOUNG MALE HORSE.

colt
it's a colt
wait what were you thinking

To them I say, STOP BEING WILLFULLY OBTUSE CHAD.

If I said, "Woah, that's a rabid prairie dog," would you intentionally misunderstand me and yell at me for being a dingbat who thinks that ALL prairie dogs are rabid?

I didn't say that, bro.

When I refer to "toxic masculinity," I'm not labeling all masculinity as toxic. Just like when I say, "Oh shit, there's a rabid prairie dog coming at you," I'm not saying that all prairie dogs are rabid.

Also, if there were a rabid prairie dog bearing down on your ankle, would you rather I shout out the foamy little fucker, or announce that:

"There are SURELY non-rabid prairie dogs in this area! Scores of them! I once dated SUCH a non-rabid prairie dog. We still email sometimes."

we heard you alan
#notallprairiedogs

But I am saying that some prairie dogs are clearly foaming at the mouth, and something could be spreading through the colony, and sometimes you can't tell the sick ones just by looking at them.

So LISTEN UP:



No, not all masculinity is toxic.

But yes, some is. And when I talk about toxic masculinity, I'm not talking about your beard or your necktie, unless your necktie tried to feel me up or your beard punched a guy because it was sad and didn't know what else to do with sad feelings.

When I talk about toxic masculinity, I'm talking about:
  • Repression of feelings like sadness, fear, insecurity, and the related behaviors like crying, hiding, or talking about feelings. Ex: "Boys don't cry! Be a man!"
  • Overexpression of anger through behaviors that are violent, erratic, and intended to dominate. Ex: "What'd you say? You can't talk to me like that! (Punch.)"
  • Need to be strong, dominant, and alpha, and ensuing fear of expressing "weakening" feelings or behaviors like affection, vulnerability, tenderness, kindness, gentleness, grief. Ex: "My wife just had a baby. Whatever, let's close the deal.
  • Sexual entitlement and violence. Ex: "You know you want this."
  • Transference of responsibility for feelings, actions, and consequences to women. Ex: "You just made me so mad."
  • Mocking or rejecting men who do not adhere to these "dominant," "alpha male" standards of behavior. Ex: "Don't be a fag, Mike. Hey everybody look at Mike, he's all butthurt like a little girl."
  • Extreme fragility, because his sense of self is dependent on the idea that he is dominant rather than the idea that he is inherently valuable just for being who he is, therefore his worth is challenged by every situational shift and must be constantly reasserted.
  • Passing on these behaviors and attitudes to their kids. Devastatingly.


A real-life example:

About a month ago, I heard a grandpa at the climbing gym tell his 5-year-old grandson, who had just fallen off a wall while bouldering and knocked his chin on a hold on the way down: "B-N-E-C! B-N-E-C! You remember what that means?"

The little boy held his hiccuping breath and tried to hide his tears as he nodded.

"Well, what does it mean?"

The little boy recited in a shaking voice, "Boys never ever cry."

The grandpa nodded and gave the boy's shoulder a good shake, not a violent shake, just a "Good man, snap out of it," shake, and sent him off to do some push-ups.

Of course, because I'm me, I tore my face open, howled at the moon as a Feminist Werewolf, and then went over to the little boy with my own son.

"I saw what happened," I said quietly, casually. "You fell off the wall and bumped your chin. I bet that really hurt."

The little boy nodded.

"You know, I remember one time my husband, Chicken's daddy, he fell down and bumped his knee, and you know what? He cried. Chicken's grown-up tough daddy, he cried because it hurt to bump his knee, and that's what people do when they're hurt. They cry and feel sad or scared, everybody does. Boys, girls, grown-up men and women, everybody."

Listen, I know that might sound a little heavy-handed but consider the fact that my first draft script went something like this:

You know what, kid?
Fuck that guy.
Yeah, I said it.
He's emotionally constipated and he's probably gonna die real soon.

Walk with me into the future, my child.
There is nothing wrong with you, your feelings, or your tears.
There is no reason to fight with your body.
You are perfect exactly as you are.
Your feelings will not hurt you, and they can't break anything. Feel them. 
Fuck your grandpa. 
And fuck your daddy, too, if he talks like your grandpa.


Toxic masculinity feels like it's everywhere - on the bus, on your Twitter, on the news, in your kids' cartoons, at the dinner table, at the g-d climbing gym for rockin' tots.

We spend a lot of time trying to identify toxic masculinity out loud, because we're praying that awareness will make a difference. We hope that awareness is the problem. We hope that all you need is a heads-up.

That you could be aware and willfully poisoning the air we breathe is not an alternative that we want to consider, not when you're our fathers, friends, and sons.

So we say, sometimes gently, sometimes furiously, "LOOK! Right there! There it is! The thing that we keep talking about that hurts everyone and is the root of so many devastating wounds!"

We spend a lot of time identifying what toxic masculinity looks, sounds, and feels like. And let me tell you, it's SUPER rewarding and SO MUCH FUN!

my uncle just told my boyfriend
that he's "so gay"
because he offered to rub my back
where i'm sore from having cramps
omg omg omg
i can't wait to tell him
that's homophobic toxic masculinityyyyyyyyy
here at grammy and pop-pop's 50th wedding anniversary party

squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


Like, remember the last time you popped a zit that was like right on your nostril, in the hot zone of face agony? Remember the last time you found yourself at the crossroads of "allow this festering sore to linger because you know how much it's going to hurt" or "lance it with shaking hands in eye-watering agony because you know that's the only way it'll heal"? SO FUN, RIGHT?

Anyway. 
I don't want to talk about toxic masculinity right now. Seriously, I'm tired.

Today, I want to talk about nontoxic masculinity,
which exists, too!
YOU CAN EVEN CHOOSE IT!


shout out to
geeks gone wild
for the meme

I want to talk about role models for the next generation of young male feminists.

These are role models who NOT ONLY would never tell a little boy to stop crying, but who would turn to that grandpa and instead of punching him in the face to prove their dominance, they'd say, tenderly, "Who hurt you, Frank? You're safe now. They can't hurt you anymore."

They're strong. They're brave. They're kind. They cry.  They are...


Nontoxic Masculine Role Models!


1. Terry Crews/Terry from Brooklyn 99


Masculine...



This man is a mountain of dancing muscle wrapped in brown skin and a shaved head. He looks like someone's "Ultimate Tough Guy" drawing came to life. He puts the m, a, s, c, u, l, i, n, and e in masculine. His character on Brooklyn 99 is ripped, shredded, and doesn't take shit. He's a boss.

... But Nontoxic!

He's not violent. Terry (the character) is fearful of violence and isn't afraid to express that fear. He's sweet. And gentle. He shows love, affection, vulnerability. He's into his family and farmer's markets.



And Terry Crews (the man) himself has trusted us with a story of his own sexual assault. Talk about strong. Talk about brave. Talk about vulnerable. Talk about empathetic. Talk about emotional availability.



IMPORTANT NOTE:

There's an argument to be made that the reason that Terry (the character) has the luxury of being open about his penchant for vulnerability, yogurt, and farmer's markets because he's physically imposing and carries a hypermasculine appearance. Nobody is about to bully this guy.

But you know what? I think that Terry (the character) creates an even greater expectation of what we'd consider to be "masculine" qualities and behavior BECAUSE of his super macho appearance, and the fact that he's a person of color. So he is flying in the face of a pretty strong wind when he builds his daughter's doll house in the evidence room and pops the top on his strawberry yog'.

And Terry (the man) is flying in the face of the same strong wind when he comes forward about his own sexual assault, challenges power structures that want him to remain silent, and admits feeling small, feeling afraid, feeling dominated.



2. The Queer Eye Crew

Masculine...



These guys are physically fit, very strong, healthy, sexually expressive, and socially confident. They travel in a bro posse and Bobby Berk rebuilds entire suburban homes in like 20 minutes, nbd.

... But Nontoxic! 

They're also empathetic, physically affectionate, emotionally available and vulnerable, supportive, verbally kind and tender in a way that risks something. 




When they express their love or support for the men they're making over, they're risking being rejected, and they do it anyway. It's incredibly beautiful to see. 

They're also silly! And affectionate with each other! 



When was the last time you saw bros snuggling on the couch? Do you think it's because men don't want snugs? 

No fucking way. 

Everyone wants snugs. You know how I know? Because bros snug their dogs but they're scared to snug their friends. All this to say these guys are MASCULINE and also THEY GET SNUGS! It's 2018 and ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU, CHAD!

IMPORTANT NOTE:

When it comes to toxic masculinity's impact on the LGBTQIA+ community, I am not a primary source. Certainly, there are unique iterations of toxic masculinity that particularly affect queer communities, and while I can't speak to that, Jeff Leavell did in Vice and it is WORTH YOUR TIME.


3. Lin-Manuel Miranda

Masculine...




Rich, powerful, successful, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a rapper from NYC, a father of two, and a certified fucking genius.

also he raps about sportsball


... But Nontoxic!

Dude, you can't FIND a clip or a tweet of this guy not feeling ALL the feelings. He cries more than I do. Well, that's not hard to do. But he cries more than Ryan does, and that's a high hurdle.



He's emotionally accessible, loving, inclusive, positive, gentle, creative.



He sings and dances. He tweets about his wife and kids with so much tenderness. His family is a source of joy and humor, but is never his punchline.



4. Chris Evans/Captain America


Masculine...

I mean:


I just...


Right???

sweet baby jesus


... But Nontoxic!

Captain America is a principled, sensitive, deeply empathetic former dweeb whose years of experience on the bottom of other people's shoes has given him the ability to use respect and kindness as a means of human connection rather than social currency to purchase his own domination.

Chris Evans recently spoke to an interviewer about playing a total fucking dick in a show on Broadway, and he did exactly what the fuck a nontoxic masculine ally should do: acknowledge that it's hard to learn, but emphasize the importance of shutting the hell up when it's not your turn to talk.


the new york times

There are so many more, you guys. So many more.

Mr. Rogers. Barack Obama. The coach from Friday Night Lights. I'm planting a flag in the ground for Bob Newby from Stranger Things, who was courageous and smart, and also a kind nerd who learned to love himself without needing social dominance to do so.

All I'm saying is this: Guys, you don't have to look to pro athletes who beat up their wives and girlfriends. You don't have to admire homophobes and you don't have to follow your grandpa's fucking rules anymore.

It's 2018!
Come with me into the future,
where the expression "like a man,"
 doesn't mean hard, violent, stony, carnivorous. 

Join Terry, Lin, the guys of Queer Eye, Chris, and so many others, and be a man who is strong, brave, kind, good, sweet, gentle, sad, weepy, fearful. Be a human, is what I'm saying. Your full humanity is available to you. Right now.

The best news? The very best news of all? Is that your masculinity already is strong, brave, kind, good, sweet, gentle, sad, weepy, fearful. Your identity as a man is inextricably linked to the full breadth of your human experience. You just have to we willing to let yourself stretch out again.

Your worth isn't dependent on being stronger than everyone else in the room. Your worth doesn't care about context. It doesn't care about competition. Your worth is untouchable by other people. You're the person who decides its volume, its integrity. And it's been there since you were born and it'll be there when you gather your grandson in your arms and say, "It's okay to cry, babe. I cry, too."

And then I'll start crying... and then you'll cry harder...

like a man

Choose nontoxic masculinity.  It exists. Some pretty kickass guys are rocking it really hard, and right in front of you.

THAT WAS A TEST. Did you make the obvious joke to relieve your discomfort? Do you understand now that joke is rooted in your own fear of losing a sense of your own worth if we expand the definition of masculinity to include all kinds of guys?

OK! So. Keep working on it.

That's your homework. It's due yesterday.



This is my work.
If you found this post valuable
support my work through Patreon 
or PayPal

Follow KatyKatiKate on Facebook & Twitter

Get an email when I post something new

I don't make a dime.
100% of proceeds go to anti-sexual violence organizations

... AND CHECK OUT MY PODCAST
with Ronit Feinglass Plank

FYI:

I'm calling her Stormy Daniels because that's her name. She picked it. 

She is an adult who chose a name for her work. I don't think using the name she chose is slut-shaming because I don't think Stormy Daniels is a slut. But if I avoided using the name she chose for her public life, I would be demonstrating my distaste for the work she does under that name. 

I'd be letting her know that when she is Stephanie, she's a woman I can respect and support. But when she's Stormy... ew, no. And that's not the case.

I respect and support Stephanie the mom, Stormy the adult film actress, and everyone in between, and I believe that if she didn't want to go by "Stormy Daniels" anymore, she wouldn't.

So about Stormy Daniels.


Real talk, it took me a long time to give a shit about this story.


Breaking News!
Trump fucked a porn star
while Melania was home with a new baby.

And...?

You're expecting me to be...
what, exactly? 

Yo, it's 2018 and the resistance is being led by a high school debate team from Florida, so you have to come at me with more than "Trump's a Dirtbag, Exhibit #7,491" to get anything out of me but the dead eyes that you usually find gazing out from the grizzled faces of seasoned Bachelor producers.

alright kid
so

(sigh)

this is the scene when
Michelle A.
takes Duncan for a hike
and reveals that she's
not a dog person
and then
Duncan is going to tell her
that he is a dog person
and

(sigh)

and we're on runner duty.

just keep an eye out for sequins
they flare up in the sun
can't miss em

we can't let em get to the highway

Obviously, Trump cheated! Obviously, he paid her to keep quiet about it! AND???



I'm saving my wad for the day Mueller drops a word that starts with a "t" and ends with a "reason," and I can't find a square inch of heart space to care about who this dirtbag fucked consensually years ago.

To be honest, I still don't care about the cheating story, or
the Trump's-a-dirtbag scoop that was hot 10 years ago
and isn't reheating all that well.

But I have started to care about Stormy's story.

Stormy was offered up to me as a piece of evidence against Trump's character, which is the slowest horse to leave the barn since the history of horses or barns. I confess, the first 6 times through this news cycle, I read:

Donald Trump cheated with a porn star!

And I thought:

No shit, Sherlock.
I don't need any more evidence that Trump's a piece of shit.

And what I didn't consider, not until I watched 60 Minutes, was:

Stormy Daniels isn't a piece of evidence
or a piece of shit,
or the piece of ass that defines a piece of shit.

She has a life, a career, and a family. 

And she's a person, as well as a porn star.

I adjusted the aperture on my media consumption. I refocused. I've started to find the story of Stormy really, really interesting. Important. Revelatory, even.

I care about this story, and I think you should too. Here's why.


1. Have you watched the 60 Minutes interview? 
Stormy forgot to bring fucks to give and it was amazing.

If you put "faith in yourself," "honesty without armor," and "zero fucks to give" into a blender with the ice that runs in the veins of a mother whose child has been threatened by a bully, then you'll pour out a tall, frosty glass of Stormy Daniels on 60 Minutes.

It's not sweet, but it's strong.

It's so rare to see someone speaking publicly without guard or sales pitch, without getting the sense that they're putting on a show.

Every time Stormy Daniels said, "yes," or "no," to Anderson Cooper's blunt questions - Did you have sex with him again? No. Did he want to? Yes. - I saw a woman who felt no obligation to say more than was asked of her, no need to explain herself, no fear of being exactly who she was on national television and forevermore on the Internet.


2. Stormy Daniels spanked Donald Trump.

So! I always thought, the way the spanking was covered, that Trump asked Daniels to spank him with a copy of Forbes.

But no! As it turns out, Stormy Daniels asked Trump to hand over the magazine so he'd stop bragging about himself. Then she told him to turn around and drop his pants, and then she spanked his ass with his own face.

WHICH IS SO MUCH BETTER!

If he'd initiated the spank, it would have been a gross and cliche exercise in ego and sexual domination.

But because she initiated it, it's a shocking and fabulous way to humble a guy who thinks he's untouchable.

"Oh yeah? You're on a magazine? 
You know what I think about that?

I think I'm going to take this piece of tangible evidence of your own god myth, roll it up, and use it to remind you that you're still just a little boy.

Oh also, I totally understand that the only reason I'm here is to enhance the aforementioned god myth with my beauty and sexuality, so I'm just going to take control of that narrative and show you that I see how you're getting off on your own image."

#BareAssedBombast



3. Stormy Daniels is not a victim, but she wasn't into it
and she's saying out loud a mental conversation that a lot of women have had.

Stormy Daniels is not a victim. She said, specifically, that she doesn't want to be integrated into the metoo movement because she doesn't want to risk blurring lines for other survivors of assault.

She went to the room. She hilariously spanked him with his own face (see point 2).

She hung out, had dinner and conversation. He told her she was different, and that she reminded him of Ivanka.



Then she went to the bathroom and when she came out, she saw Donald Trump sitting on the bed, waiting for her.

"Perched," she said. And she embodied him for a second and sweet sassy molassy, I could totally see him.



I wanted to laugh, and Stormy did too.

Then she said to Anderson Cooper:

I realized exactly what I'd gotten myself into. 

I was like, (sigh), here we go. 

And I just felt like maybe it was sort of I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone's room alone. 

And I just heard the voice in my head, well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this. 


I don't care for some of the narratives that I've been reading that say she IS part of the #metoo movement, she just doesn't know it because of her internalized misogyny.

Nah. She's not too dumb to understand what happened in and around her own body while she was conscious. She gets to feel her own feelings and remember her own memories and she was fucking there, so as much as it pains me to use this pun, her experiences... trump


... your opinions.

I felt a deep pang of understanding when I heard Stormy's description of her thoughts when she came out of the bathroom and knew what she was expected to do to that

I recognize that voice in her head.
It's talked to me a number of times, too.
When I'd made a bad decision, put myself in a bad situation, it told me that I deserved what was coming. I still believe it.

I don't believe she was assaulted, but I do believe she found herself in the common and shitty situation of buying her way out of discomfort by swallowing some unwanted sex. Hopefully as quickly as possible.

She's very clear that she didn't want to have sex with him but that she kept her feelings private. She didn't say no. This was not a criminal act. Which doesn't make it right.

It doesn't have to be criminal sex to be hurtful sex. And it doesn't have to happen at gunpoint to be coercive. 

All it has to be is a man and a woman alone in a room, because that man and that woman each carry the voices of the world that raised them, inside their heads, into that room.

He brought in the chorus of Forbes readers who sang odes to him, the king of the world. She brought in a different congress of voices. The ones that have been telling her for her whole life that the most valuable thing about her is her ability to catch a dick, and that the safest thing to do is stay valuable.

I said it before and I'll say it again: We are all socialized. And if we think that these kinds of sex encounters sound both normal and awful, then we need to take a hard look at how we approach sex, desire, consent, and shame. 

I respect that she chose to have sex, willingly albeit uncomfortably and with zero sexual appetite for her partner. 

That's her choice, and it was a reasonable one under the circumstances.

I wish it wasn't so fucking reasonable.



4. Stormy Daniels is not ashamed.

She has accepted the increased professional opportunities and increased compensation that came along with her increased notoreity as the Trump scandal blossomed into the "Prez boned porn star" narrative that we all know and loathe.

BTW, anyone who's mad at her for "selling Trump's story," needs to stop, recalibrate, and listen: she sold her own story, which is hers to tell, sell, and share in any way that feels right, fun, hilarious, profitable, or just to HER. I can't tell you how many female memoirists I know who struggle with the idea that they actually own their stories, that they have the right to talk about the things that have happened to them.

Stormy Daniels is a successful businesswoman;
she has the audacity to be 
savvy, profitable, proud of her career,
and a sex worker,
all at the same time.

Holy balls, no wonder people be losing their shit on her. She's not playing by any of the rules that we've all agreed to uphold but not really examine.

You're a sex worker? You should be ashamed.
You're not ashamed? You must be stupid.
You're a smart businesswoman? You must be professionally unsuccessful.
You're successful? You must be a whore.
You're not a whore? THEN WHAT ARE YOU?

I understood from a young age that sex was both treacherous and powerful, dirty and valuable, a source of shame and a source of pride.

It didn't make sense to me then, and it's not much better now, the fact that I held this item of tremendous value, but that I could only trade it on someone else's terms. 

If I use sex to my advantage, I am a honey pot, a man-eater, a manipulative slut. A prostitute.

If I let you use my sex to your advantage, I am... what? A good girl if you're nice. A dumb girl if you're not.

If I don't use sex at all, I am a prude, or worse, invisible. Or worst of all, playing hard to get, the fox in the hunt.

I get so angry when I think about this messaging - you're only worth your weight in desire you inspire in the men around you - and then how we punish and shame women who say, "okay." Some women accept that value or even dare to set their own price, whether that's through careers in sex work that are born of personal interest in the field, or whether that's because literally every other avenue of self-support has been closed. Those women get shamed, ostracized, and arrested.

When you tell a woman that her sex is her best thing, and then strip away every other way to take care of herself, what do you think she's going to start selling to survive? PS, everyone see The Florida Project.

But I digress. That's not who Stormy is.

The truth is that we don't know very much about her, and most of what we know can best be defined by what she is not. She is not a whore. She is not a victim. She is not ashamed. She is not stupid.

I think about all the ways this woman has weathered the same... storms



... that so many of the rest of us have, but in public, and with the firepower of celebrity and wealth and shadowy political machinery behind the threats and incentives.

Who here has heard that voice in their heads, saying, "Well, you brought this on yourself. You deserve what's about to happen, dummy."

Who here has felt the threat of a bully who's scared: stay quiet or lose big?

Who here has been assaulted with shame for having sex, for enjoying sex, for getting something out of sex that we're not supposed to, if we're good?

Who's been rewarded for silence, for being nice, for being discreet, for being a team player?

Who has been used as a prop in someone else's life story?

Who here has felt like they don't have the right to tell their own stories because it might hurt someone else's feelings?

And today, right now, in this moment when we all decided that it was time to start listening to women,
who here has forgotten all her fucks to give?

Who's ready to be honest and unarmored, unashamed?

Who's ready to tell her story, not sorry if people see the value of her story and her telling?

The Stormy Daniels story matters, but not because of what she shows us about Trump. She isn't his ketchup. She's her own damn steak.

Her story matters because she matters.

And her story could be ours, with names changed, and we matter, too. So I say thee yea, Stormy Daniels. Keep talking. Keep working. I'm listening.

_ _ _


If you liked this post and want to read something along the same lines, here's a piece about an ugly-ass shirt I had to wear when I violated dress code in middle school... and it goes a little something like this: 


_ _ _


This is my work.
If you found this post valuable
support my work through Patreon 
or PayPal

Follow KatyKatiKate on Facebook & Twitter

Get an email when I post something new

I don't make a dime.
100% of proceeds go to anti-sexual violence organizations

... AND CHECK OUT MY PODCAST
with Ronit Feinglass Plank
I've got a thing to say about digital blackface and if it costs me your readership then I'm real sorry to see you go. 

But I hope it won't.  I hope you'll hear me out.

I first heard about "digital blackface" in an anti-racism Facebook group that's run by women of color. 



A member posted an article about how it's appropriative of white people to use these gifs of black people, especially gifs that show those people in heightened emotional states. It's really shitty for white people to use black culture to look cool, wear our cherry-picked elements of blackness that we can then discard to move through the world as the privileged race.



Confession #1:

I kinda rolled my eyes. 




I was like, "But really? Digital blackface. Really."

Not because I didn't believe in the power of systemic racism, but because I didn't really believe in the power of gifs. Up to that point, the only way I knew to be morally questionable in gif form was to pronounce it "jiff."

But because I'd been in this group for long enough, instead of posting, "(eyeroll) But really?" I waited. I thought about the article. I read it again. 

I read the comments from other women of color in the group, people that I'd come to know and respect and care about. People whose babies had been born since I'd met them. People whose hobbies I knew. 

Friends.

They talked about digital blackface with the same "yeah duh" certainty that they talked about being followed in stores and side-eyed at restaurants. It wasn't theoretical to them and it definitely wasn't news.

I felt like a tourist in a city I thought I'd started to understand. Like I'd just come around a corner into a plaza that I'd walked through a hundred times and just now noticed that the ground was paved with gravestones.

My mind was blown.

Fuck me sideways, had I really been upholding white supremacy with my GIFS?



Confession #2: 

I felt guilty.

 And under the guilt, or maybe on top of it,
I felt angry at the article that had made me feel guilty. 

Oh! Also embarrassed.
It was a cocktail 
of all of my local bakery's favorite feelings that I have.


I was a nice person, but I was (and continue to be) as white as an Irish ass and had used a metric butt-ton of gifs of black people. 

Holy shit, that one of Angela Bassett from Waiting to Exhale? In her slinky nightgown walking away from the car on fire? Sexy and powerful and female and furious and every single flick of her fingers on. fucking. purpose? That gif was my #lifegoals. I used that gif, like, even when it was not at all appropriate to use it. 

Mom: Today is Granddad's birthday!
Me: ANGELA BASSETT SETTING SHIT ON FIRE

Ryan: Do you need me to pick up anything from Target?
Me: ANGELA BASSETT SETTING SHIT ON FIRE

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. I'm sorry. I hate this. I just liked the gifs.



I was a nice person, but apparently, the text of a single article read on my iPhone while I sat on the toilet (I mean, I don't actually remember, but probably) turned me into a cultural appropriator, which was tantamount to being a racist. (Of course, the article didn't turn me into anything.) (Of course, it just turned the light on.)

It doesn't feel good to get corrected. Not when you're a grown-ass woman. Just ask my husband how it goes when he needs to remind me of something I've forgotten. 

And this one felt really shitty. I think because, for me at least, this wasn't an element of racism that I could share with generations past. This was me, my friends, and our kids sowing the next row. This is new technology, and we have already fucked up and brought our shit into it. 

It's hard to confront all of the ways that I'm still unaware of how I just walk on people, take what I want from people, refuse to listen to them when they say, "Hey, that's mine."




Confession #3

I stopped using gifs of black people immediately
but I did not share the digital blackface article
on my personal FB page
or my KatyKatiKate FB page
or anywhere else.

I chickened out. I'd had a gut reaction of incredulity; what would my family and friends think? 

I felt the impulse to ridicule, reject, minimize everything these articles say. I was scared my loved ones would do the same.

It's so easy to say, "You don't understand, I'm using these gifs because I relate to them and admire these people and these performances!"

So easy to say, "It's not racist! It's just entertainment!"

And there are so many things that are easy to say, that even feel "right" to us, people who have never really been told to keep their mitts off other people's cultures. People who live on stolen land. Yep. We do. We are OG thieves and bandits. America's genesis begins with expulsion from the garden, and since we got to write the story we made ourselves God.

My hope is that by sharing how I felt and thought as I negotiated this process in my mind, you'll see that I'm not an AMAZING person who is WISE and KIND and GOOD, just a regular person who quietly picked a side and is talking about it now.

I'm nervous because I don't know if it's going to cost me social capital among my mostly white readers to ask them to question their use of gifs that feature people of color.

I'm scared you're going to think I'm preaching at you. 

I'm scared you're going to roll your eyes at me, like I did at first, and I'm scared you won't wait before you say "But really?"

I'm scared that I'm going to find out that you're not willing to just pick a different fucking gif, and I hoped that we all would be willing to hear each other out here.



Confession #4

FUCK IT
It's time to explain some shit and there's no way it's not going to taste like medicine.
#SorryNotSorry
#ThisIsHowIRespectYou
This is important to my friends and it's important to me.


Don't you feel racist for only choosing gifs in your own race? Isn't that like segregation?

No, I feel racist for telling people of color that they're wrong about their experiences and feelings. 

Segregation is a system that keeps our white kids in better-funded schools. Respecting other cultures isn't segregation, and adopting elements of other cultures into your life to serve your own purposes isn't integration.


But how am I supposed to express myself without Nene?

Life finds a way. I believe in you.


But these performers created these performances to be shared! What's so wrong with sharing them?

Beyonce created Lemonade and if she didn't want that shot of her smashing the car window to go #ForeverViral she probably shouldn't have been anointed by the goddess and also she probably should've gone with a dress that wasn't LITERALLY EVERYTHING. Right? She wants us to share it. Right?

Sure! The question isn't whether you should consume Beyonce's music and media. If you like it, you should buy it from her! Hell yes! Getcha some! 

The question is how you use a gif that, taken out of the context of the beautifully human and complex Lemonade album, shows us 3 seconds of an angry black woman smashing a car window. 



Sure, we all know it's Beyonce, but that gif reduces her to a stereotype, one that we're all familiar with and one that already lives in our brains. We already know "that kind of woman," so that gif reinforces a belief that we all already hold, one that many of us are trying to release, weed out, or at the very least, for the love of God, SEE. Seriously, that's step one. We're in remedial catch-up racism 101 here.

Black people jumping for joy, side-eyeing savagely, strong women kicking ass, or throwing such deep shade you get goosebumps - all of these gifs may be part of performances or careers that you respect, but when you take them out of context they become bite-sized stereotypical fertilizer packets for the shit that's been planted in our brains since day one. 

By the way, those stereotypes shape the lens through which you and I see black people: Because we use these stereotypes to understand "kinds of people," I'm inclined to use that shorthand to categorize the people I meet into types rather than fucking humans. Black women can't express anger without risking becoming THAT woman, scary and irrational and volcanic. They can't express joy without being "disruptive" or "sassy," and they can't express empathy without becoming my own personal Oprah. I wish it weren't as awful as that, but it is. Think about how much fucking work these people are doing to moderate themselves, squeeze themselves into what we can see as an acceptable kind of person. 

What if you had a Chad you were casually dating who always used gifs of women doing stereotypical girl things in order to express himself:

You: How was your day?
Him: 




You: Run tomorrow?
Him: 


You: OK, whatever.
Him: 


Are you getting a sense for how he sees women? That shit would piss you off, right??? I'm irked and I invented him and picked these gifs.

Put it this way: When you text a gif of yourself as Rihanna you cast yourself in that virtual conversation as a fierce, sexy black woman. 

But you don't have to walk down the street as that woman. You don't have to defend yourself against assaults as that woman. You don't have to negotiate the societal expectation that a woman who looks like Rihanna is DTF. You don't have to take your race, age, and appearance into account when interacting with white women, white men, black women, black men.

You got to wear her like a costume for 10 seconds, and then you got to take her off and you never had to pay the human cost for that 3-second snapshot of sexy side-eye.



So you're saying I can't EVER use ANY gif of ANY black person?

Listen, you're a grown-ass person (or at least you better be because I use lots of swears) and you get to make your own gif choices.

What I will ask you to do, and what these other writers have asked readers to do, is ask yourself WHY you're drawn to these particular gifs? What does the black expression of the feeling give you that a white expression doesn't?

And notice the connection between the gifs you're drawn to and the stereotypes that inhibit the lives and happiness of real people.

Does it make you feel cool or funny or tough to use those gifs? How much of your feelings are born in your ability to try on blackness as an adorable novelty, and then take it off when it's convenient for you to be white again? Like, everywhere else but in that thread on Twitter?

I had to notice how much I needed these expressions of extreme emotion to come through black bodies. Why? Why??? Why did I need black women to feel my feelings for me??? 

And is that something I do in life as well as in gifs? 

Because here's the kicker, folks: our conversations ALL happen in real life. They happen with real people. And they impact real people in the real fucking world.

And final thought: white people don't get to tell black people what's racist, any more than Chad gets to tell his lady friends what's sexist, any more than the mugger who stole my wallet gets to tell me that I'm obviously totally okay with this.

Alright.

That's what I had to say.

Thanks for hearing me out.


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