no dave i will not make out with you

You're gonna have a lot of imperfect allies, 

Dave Chappelle said in a confiding, grandfatherly voice, near the end of a bit on women and sexual assault in The Bird Revelation.

As if I'd asked him, "Papa, will I have any imperfect allies?" And this was his response.

The people in the front rows of the comedy club, those whose faces I could see, looked thoughtful and attentive, worshipful even. They were, after all, less than 5 feet from Dave Chappelle, a very famous and funny man who notoriously walked away from many millions of dollars because his scruples were worth more than that.

It was so easy to imagine myself with the exact same look on my face. If I'd been there that night, I'd have dressed up, paid for tickets, made arrangements for a babysitter, reservations for an early dinner, a bottle of wine. I would have thoroughly prepared myself to have a good time. If I'd been there, the content of Chappelle's actual set would have been kind of incidental; I don't expect audience members at live events to listen with skepticism or even perspective. They are there for fun, and fun is fine.

If I'd been there, warmed by the edge of a legend's spotlight, I probably would have been dazzled into agreement, too.

But I wasn't.

I was here, watching The Bird Revelation in my kitchen, wearing thick socks and folding size 4T boxer briefs on New Year's Eve. And because I was far, far away from that spotlight, I could say, "WHAT THE EVER-LOVING FUCK, DAVE."

My husband looked at me in that way he does:

You're mad but I'm not sure why. I'm actually a little scared because I was about to say "That's a good point," but you look super angry. So I'm just going to hold very still and wait for you to unpack the bullshit suitcase that has just been delivered.

So this is what I told him.

You're gonna have a lot of imperfect allies.



You know what that line reminds me of? In middle school when you'd be talking to someone, and then they'd say really loud, "NO KATIE I WILL NOT MAKE OUT WITH YOU."

But I didn't say that I want to make out with you! 

But hey guess what, that doesn't matter anymore.

His rebuttal of my imaginary proposition is a back-handed way of putting words in my mouth and then embarrassing me for them. It's how he gaslights me into feeling like I'm silly and wrong to have done something that I never fucking did.

Like, what if I just walked up to Dave and said,

You have to always wash your hands 
AND your cutting board 
after you handle raw meat. 
No, listen, EVERY TIME. 
That's how people get sick, Dave.

HOLY SHIT, did Dave just poison a bunch of people with raw chicken juice?

Nope, but I sure made it sound like he did.

I hate that he's making an assertion as if it's negating a stated demand, when the reality is that NOBODY IS LOOKING FOR A PERFECT FUCKING ALLY.

We know that all allies are imperfect. 

Allies aren't born allies. Allyship is learned, and learning is a process.

You're either the oppressed or the oppressor, and if you decide to unlearn oppressing other people, if you decide to surrender your right to oppress so you can purchase someone else's right to dignity and equality, it takes a long fucking time to unlearn the person you've always been, and you keep hurting a lot of people along the way.

And we know, just like Dave knows, that if we wait for oppressors to become perfect people and stop hurting us just because they feel like being nice today, we are going to die with #MeToo on our lips.

But it does nobody any good to be NICE 
to people who are SHITTING on them.

If you smile through a face full of shit,
it just maintains the shitter-shittee dynamic
and I'd like to be done with that now.

He says, you want us on your side. He says, don't scare us. He says, fear doesn't make a lasting peace.

Chappelle suggests that any criticism of a potential ally is a full-on rejection of that entire human. And that is both 5th-grade malarkey, and a great way to explode the entire fucking conversation.

If you fuck up and do something shitty, you can still be an ally.

If you kind of believe that women are worse drivers than men, you can still be an ally.

But if you cannot humbly hear criticism, you cannot be an ally.

(You also cannot be in the arts, a career, or a healthy relationship of any kind, to be honest.)

If you would rather hear me say "Thank you," with a face full of your shit than hear me say "You shit on me," then I reject you. Grow up.

If you're so fucking delicate that you can't hear, "Listen, that apology wasn't real and you need to do better," then I reject you. Get tougher.

If you meet an honest criticism by demanding that I take your shitty apology and be grateful for it because hey, I'm just alienating nice guys with that kind of bitchy attitude, then I fucking reject you. I already have two little boys to raise. My mom card is full.

It is not mean when someone points out the mean shit that YOU DID. Just like it's not mean of a wife to tell her husband, "Your drinking is out of control and I'm not going to stand by and watch this happen. I want you to get help."

You wouldn't just wait for a lifelong drug addict to quit cold-turkey because one day he decided he loves you more than drugs. That's not how the state of addiction fucking works. It's not how the state of oppression works, either.

You have to be able to hear the people you love and respect when they say, "I love you too much to let you be this person. I respect myself too much to sit in the car that you're driving the exact wrong direction." That's not mean. That's true.

If you do something unacceptable,
other people have the right to not accept it.

If you do something unacceptable,
you may face consequences,
including the consequence of me
correctly identifying your action as

Is that scary? Of course it is. You're feeling social vulnerability. Welcome to the party, pal.

OH and BY THE WAY! Chappelle is a black man who has faced a lot of oppression that I will never understand.

In the way that he's overstepping as a man telling women how to move their movement forward, I am also overstepping as a white person rejecting the voice of a black person on issues of social justice.

It's fucking complicated and sticky and I might be fucking wrong here.

All this to say, I AM WORKING ON THIS TOO. I'm scared and fucking up and trying to grow up and do better too.

But guess what. Being scared isn't being dead. Being scared isn't the end unless you run away. Please don't run away. Stay. Be scared with us. Staying is huge.

Getting scared is the beginning of understanding and progress. We are evolving, and in evolution we have to keep pushing forward.

We are evolving. 
And when a caterpillar grows wings
that shit is fucking uncomfortable. 

I ask myself these questions all the time:

"Is it fair to call out his bullshit? Should I be nicer to him? Don't we need him on our side? I don't want to scare him away, right?"

And then I say to myself, no.

If my unconditional sweetness is a necessary additive to the magic potion that turns my allies into empathetic people, then I don't want them. I refuse to be the kindness drip that hangs on their empathy IV for the rest of our lives.

Because if I buy into the idea 
that my niceness can save them, 
then I have to also buy into the idea 
that my roughness can debase them.

And I am not about to sign that deal. Your feelings and actions are yours, hoss.

I abstain from transactional allyship that only lasts as long as I keep paying for you. If I have to buy you, you're not worth what I'll have to pay.

I refuse to fake a gratitude orgasm 
so guys think they know how to please us.

I won't send these guys out into the world with a false sense of confidence, so they can clumsily fuck over someone else and then wonder why she's not pleased as punch.

It's like Chad writing an IOU and expecting me to cash it to pay the rent. No, man, that's not how this shit works. You need to come up out of your pocket with some real fucking currency before I can buy anything with it.

It has to cost you something 
if it's going to buy anything.

Or imagine this conversation with your boss on payday:

"Hi Katie, I intended to pay you this money because I am a good person."


"You're not going to agree that I'm a nice person?"

"Oh, yeah, you seem like a really nice person."

"Thank you. OK, that's all."

"Wait... but I still need my paycheck."


"I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be... It's just, you called me in here and then told me that you're nice, but didn't give me my paycheck, and it's almost the first of the month..."

"Okay, Katie. I don't know what you want from me. It's like I can't do anything right."

"Well, all I really need is my pay--"

"But let me say it again: I intended to pay you the money that you're owed for your work. I was trying to pay you for your work, because I understand how important it is for a person to get paid for work, and because I myself have not been paid for my work, in my traumatic childhood that I don't want to talk about. So you see I understand how you feel."

"Thank you for sharing that information about your good intentions and your past pain. I'm sorry to hear that happened to you, and it seems like you should understand that intentions don't pay my bills."

"It seems like a person who wants to get paid for her work should be a little nicer to her boss."

"Um, well, but no matter how nice you think I am, I still work here, so..."

"Well that kind of attitude doesn't get paychecks."


That's fucked up, right? People shouldn't have to perform this humiliating emotional backbend just to get rightfully paid for their work, right? They're human employees in a workplace; compensation isn't contingent on how nicely they ask for their check, or how much they kiss the boss's ass.

So Dave, stop telling me to accept a teaspoon of humanity and pretend to be stuffed.

Stop telling me that a nod toward wokeness is the same as actual empathy.

Stop telling me that I should be grateful that the cannibal is eating me with a knife and fork this time, instead of with his bare hands.

Stop being mad at us for not faking our feminist orgasms, and start thanking us for helping you get better at something you say you want to master. We want you to master it, too! That's why we're not lying to you.

You don't deserve a gold medal for showing up to the marathon in running shoes. You have to run 26.2 miles for that shit, and every step will cost you something. That's how you'll know it matters.

If you're not strong enough to hear that about your own involvement in this process, then I reject you as an ally. If I have to work 300% harder to dilute the truth so it doesn't scare you away, then I don't need you on the fucking team.


So that's what I told my husband when Dave Chappelle told me to stop looking for perfect allies.

And that's what we like to call

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