ew is it political

Have you ever been to a high-level feminist debate? I went to a great one this week. If Jill Soloway’s book tour is hitting your town and you can snag a ticket, I highly recommend. Part variety show, part salon, all the evening needed was a churro stand to reach full transcendence. Morgan Parker and Nicole Georges joined Hannah Gadsby (gasp, I know), Faith Soloway, and Jill Soloway for a sort of non-debate between largely like-minded feminists. It’s refreshing AF to see a stage full of people talking about issues that are normally confined to eyerolls between friends and whispers in the wings.

The first question of the conversation:

Is the state of the world such that it’s not worth your time to make any art that isn’t explicitly political?

Hmmmm.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that question, as a person who makes content that most people would call explicitly political. This blog used to be about my family, which was a whole lot more satisfying, more fun to write, and more fun to read. The content warnings on posts about my sons would have looked like this:

CW: Extensive mentions of posterior swimsuit areas (Buster is in a “butt” phase. Legit asked me for “mac and cheesebutt” for lunch.)

CW: Projectile expulsion of bodily fluids (GET YOUR FLU SHOTS PEOPLE)

Sadly, those are simply not the posts I’m writing right now. The last 20 or so posts have explicitly dealt with the political and social landscape of our contemporary United States, through the lens of a white cishet feminist striving for intersectionality. Sounds pretty effing political, right?

Okay, but can I just tell you something?

I don’t think of this blog as political.
This blog is where I write about my life.

This is just my life. Every post I ever write is about something I experienced either externally or internally: something someone said or did, or the thoughts that came into existence after they said or did it. I mean, that’s it. For example:

a) Hello I am Katie. I am a person sitting at a table. I am wearing Costco socks. I am watching a confirmation hearing.

b) I feel rage as I listen to people talk about a woman as if she’s too stupid to remember her own life. I remember when people talked about me like that. I ask myself if other people might have this feeling too, and if they might want to talk about it. I guess they might.

c) I write my feeling down. I spell-check it. I add gifs.

d) I click “publish.”

e) I become political.

If my life is political, I sure didn’t make it that way. I would fucking love to never talk about politics again. The problem is that if I talk about my life, I’ll eventually talk about sexual violence, an issue has been politicized by the sexual assaulter in chief. And if I talk about my friends, many of whom are people of color, I’ll eventually talk about trying to learn to recognize and address my own racism so that I can hurt my friends less. And that issue is political because of centuries of legislative barriers to the equity of people of color.

And when I write about the people I love who are trans and nonbinary, that fucking issue has been goddamn politicized by Papa Pence and his pants-shitting crew of pasty monsters whom I always imagine as the ghosts in Pac-Man, except instead of gobbling up little flashing lights they’re gobbling up the human rights of people who, honestly, swear to God, I fucking PROMISE YOU, have never and will never TAKE ANYTHING FROM THEM.

Pence going after trans and nonbinary people makes about as much sense
as me fixating, Cap’n Ahab-style, on what “Great Clips” stylists eat for lunch.

Like, but why, babe? I could do literally anything else that isn’t that.

What Tracy from Great Clips does with her time? NO EFFECT ON MY DAY. What if Tracy decides to eat a fucking sandwich for lunch? I HAVE NO IDEA THAT HAPPENED. She didn’t eat MY sandwich. She ate her own sandwich! Turns out, that’s not a fucking catastrophe.

What if Tracy is eating her sandwich in the same coffee shop where I’m getting a drink? Whaddya know, my coffee purchase can proceed entirely unmolested by a person eating a sandwich.

Stick with me on this because I’m about to Matrix you: Two people can each live their own lives, and those lives will probably never conflict with each other unless I put my backpack on the last empty seat on the bus and Tracy asks me to move it so she can sit, or I choose to assert some kind of bizarre ownership over Tracy’s lunch.

But say I did deeply care about Tracy’s sandwich lunches. I start trying to limit the sale of sandwiches to Great Clips stylists. I start collecting signatures for a petition to get an initiative on the ballot: R-1472: Great Clips Stylists Must Not Eat Sandwiches, For the Public Good. Who knows what kind of hair-borne diseases these people are carrying into our Jimmy John’s? THINK OF YOUR CHILDREN.

When I do that, I’ll piss Tracy and her friends off. They might ask, “But, like, why babe? You could do literally anything else, tho.”

They might need to engage the help of a representative of some kind, perhaps an attorney or a lawmaker or the advocacy group #Sandwiches4Stylists. They will have to respond to my dork-ass petition which of course got the requisite number of signatures even though it’s a fucking stupid waste of time. They might get scared when they discover how many people feel strongly about what they eat for lunch.

They’ll start a hashtag-based grassroots movement of solidarity for the right of Great Clips stylists to eat whatever the fuck they want, at which point I’ll be like “TRACY, GROW UP AND STOP POLITICIZING YOUR SANDWICHES.”

 aka WHY’D YOU KICK THE BALL TRACY STOP KICKING THE FUCKING BALL I  KNOW  YOU’RE A SOCCER PLAYER STOP PLAYING IDENTITY SOCCER YA SNOWFLAKE

aka
WHY’D YOU KICK THE BALL TRACY
STOP KICKING THE FUCKING BALL
I KNOW YOU’RE A SOCCER PLAYER
STOP PLAYING IDENTITY SOCCER
YA SNOWFLAKE

Dude, what you’re calling “political” is just a life that has been touched and shaped by the restrictions and affronts OF POLITICS, which we should call by its full name, which is “What Chad thinks I should be allowed to do.” When you pass laws about what I’m allowed to do, that’s good governance, but when I engage with that legislation to oppose it on my own behalf, I’m getting political, which is a dog-whistle for politically-correct, which is a dog-whistle for you’re annoying shut up.

I get real antsy around the label of “political” on any piece of art that isn’t a literal portrait of George Washington and/or a sculpture of the National Mall made of marshmallow fluff and white dog turds.

Seems to me that labeling a piece of art as “political” is a bulletproof way to give people permission to ignore it instead of engage with it, or engage with it theoretically rather than intimately.

“Art” spans the entire breadth of possible experiences both real and imagined. A piece of art might exist to challenge you, or it might exist to scare you or make you uncomfortable, or it might exist to be beautiful or strange or funny or loving.

But one thing that all art has in common is that it was made by an artist who is a person, not a Twitter bot, and the artist made that art in order to connect with you. My blog is only political because I’m sharing my life with you, and the shape of my life is defined by limits imposed by political power. Think of me as the city of New Orleans: colorful and bizarre and dirty and fascinating, and surrounded by water on all sides. New Orleans might party, but it never forgets sea level.

Tracy’s sandwich wasn’t political until I decided to try to make it illegal. Before I butted in, it was just food. It was just a person eating, which is a thing everyone needs to do to exist.

(So is using the bathroom and falling in love and building your own family, your own way. In case you were gonna be a dick about those things, just don’t.)

Wait, what were we talking about?

Oh right:

Is the state of the world such that it’s not worth your time to make any art that isn’t explicitly political?

Short answer:

When a person speaks and exists at a time and in a place in which laws have been written to make them silent and small, it turns out that no matter what that person is saying, that shit is political.

My Post (31).jpg

Don’t let that label scare you off. Keep telling your stories and bringing your A-game. Keep engaging with artists who are, quick reminder, just people showing you their lives.

The state of the world is such that it needs human voices creating art that connects us.


 this millennial is way too proud of herself for this

this millennial is way too proud of herself for this


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 ohmygoshyouaresostrong

ohmygoshyouaresostrong