Sunday, August 1, 2010

But damn it, my thesaurus gives me paper cuts

When you said “crazy,” did you mean:



Without rhyme or reason?





Arguments arise over and over again in safe spaces for x group about how PC you ought to be with regards to y group. Did you know? If you’re a woman in a feminist space, that is your priority as a person. Thus, if someone is unable to talk about their recent moodiness, it’s completely cool to say “I’m so bipolar recently!” – right? It’s not like he or she said “I’m totally PMSing!” You are a woman and that is your identity and you can only be offended by one thing here where you stand and that is the patriarchy.

And I am not a woman. I am a person, just like all people in this world. My femaleness does not define me any more than my sexuality, my socioeconomic class, the color of my skin, or what my shrink thinks I can work on or through. And while different people may weight these things differently based on their experiences, it doesn’t detract from one very pivotal point: they are people too.

When I stand up and say that I should be held to the same work standards as men and non-binary gendered individuals, it’s because I can do it. They can do it because they are people, not because of their relative testosterone levels. And when I say I want to be making as much money as them for performing the same kind of work, it has nothing to do with my vagina. It’s because I’m a person, and the monetary value for my time is just as high as for the guy with the dick. And when I say I don’t want to hear you call something “nuts” when you really mean “convoluted,” it’s not because I personally have suffered from mood or anxiety disorders. It is because I am a person who is defined by others to be certain things that I cannot control, and you’re attaching additional negative connotation that I shouldn’t have to dispel. I am a person, remember? I have big, important, people things to do.

I am a bitch, the daughter to a couple of dirty immigrants who stole your job. I cried rape, and holy fuck am I crazy. How could I not be batshit insane? I told people about getting sexually assaulted and that guy told everyone I was a liar. Clearly I’m nuts. Nuts the way people without cognitive disruptions are when they don’t understand something that you take for granted as a truth.

I can’t tell people that I’ve spoken with a shrink because then I’ll get “that look.” It’s the one where you know they’ve bought into every myth about varying cognitive functioning. The “my brain is right; yours is wrong” look. And every slur, used however inappropriately, helps feed that mythos because people will invariably conflate the concepts. I’m not just "nuts" today because my neurotransmitters fire differently than yours, but today, I'm also "uneducated" and "unintelligent" because "nuts" apparently means that too.

But me? I am not just nuts. I am a person. But when I’m told I’m nuts, or bipolar, or ADD, or that people who aren’t liberal are “right-wing nutjobs” and that her moodiness is “bipolar” or that your overcaffeination is “ADD,” it cuts me. I live in a world where I interact with others and I (and my sentiments towards what defines that “I”) am not the only determinant of my identity.

My definition of my own personhood, however, determines how I go forth and interact with others. And at the very core, everyone is person just like me. And people do not like to be defined by loaded terminology, and they do not like to be hurt by blasé evaluations of what they should and should not find important. So when you go forth and call something “crazy” or “bitchy” or “ghetto” because you’re too intellectually lazy to run an internet search for words that describe what you really mean, remember that I am US-born and know that people have risked their lives for other USians to say what they want however they want to say it. But those same people risked their lives so that I can turn around and call you out for being the lazy sack of shit that you are.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman in business.

It seems like we automatically skip right there instead of talking about what it means to be a woman in business school.

Anyone who has done business either at the undergrad or graduate level can tell you about their ethics courses. Sure, they're there, but somehow the majority of the class is spent on what happened to the whistle blowers - the kids that got blacklisted for bringing to light ethical issues within the company. They're literally blacklisted. Many couldn't get jobs, and when they were finally employed, it was at salary levels far below what they were making before. ...Is that actually true? I don't know. At the very least, two of the biggest whistleblowers in recent history, Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom and Sherron Watkins of Enron (both women... huh.) are doing okay. Ms. Cooper has a consulting agency of her own, and Ms. Watkins does management consulting. Along with a third (female) whistleblower at the FBI, they were named Time magazine's people of the year in 02. (...through the fabulous source that is wikipedia).

Anyway, the point is this: you have the fear of god put in you when it comes to whistleblowing. They really make it seem as if whistleblowing is something you need to think through carefully. ... In reality, it should be obvious, right? Enron is defrauding... everyone. Maybe you should say something, you know?

This same fear of god is put into you with regards to talking back to anyone in a business setting. And while we're in school, it's for sure less intense than it should be at work, right? But we still have professors, and presidents of clubs that are connected, and networking events, and interviews. You're derided for being unprofessional for expressing your opinion, and so the obvious result is that you bite your tongue because you're going to graduate in debt, and if you can't get a job... (Thanks Obama, for making this a little less terrifying).

So what does it mean to be a feminist in business school?

It means I'm "unprofessional" if I speak up, and hate myself if I don't. One classmate discussed his Christian-based homophobia at length in the hallways, and what can I say? He gets to decide if I get into a club that is vital for my resume (trust me on this). Professors perpetually use the "he" pronoun. I'm shamed from talking about my male classmates grabbing my breasts and butt in public without my explicit consent.

So what does it mean to be a woman in business? Why am I even bothering, when I'm clearly having so much trouble with the social proprieties of B-school?

I'm so determined to break down these walls. And maybe it'll be okay for a woman to stand up and say, hey, it's not really professional to discuss how you look down upon teh gays and teh wimminz. And maybe I'll win that argument. It seems like it should be obvious. Like whistle blowing.

It should be.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Power of Language

Isn’t it funny how we imbue some words with such strength that the world goes apeshit when someone powerful utters one?

I’m not talking about hate speech. That I get. There are a number of psychological studies that show that words like the n-bomb and other fun words like the f-bomb are used to dehumanize people. This was especially true with Jews during our last big anti-Jew hurrah in the 1940s. You know how much easier it is to shoot some dumb kike in the back of the head than it is your neighborhood grocer, Joe? Or how much easier it is to send a six-digit number to a gas chamber than someone’s daughter?

No, I’m talking about the words you CAN’T say on television. I’m talking about the other “f-bomb.”


Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. Fuck your mom, fuck your brother, I love getting fucked, this bill is a huge fucking deal.

Sure, I understand the etiology is such that there are perhaps more eloquent ways to describe any given situation, especially in the work place. I’m pretty fucking educated and have mastered Google searches and Noah Webster’s less refined approach for finding an appropriate word. I’m also pretty awesome at right-clicking and using the Microsoft Word thesaurus. Yes, I am badass.


Healthcare reform is passing. Vice President Joe Biden succinctly put it best when he said, “This is a big fucking deal.”


Let’s take a moment to comment on healthcare reform. There are definite reasons to be on both sides of the debate. For the top 1% of the U.S. population by way of wealth, you can be pissed that your money is going to subsidize the poor individual’s healthcare. You’d be a fucking asshole, but you can be pissed. For anyone who has taken an econ class, though, the reason to be wary of healthcare reform is this: mandating healthcare might have adverse effects on competition. If it lowers prices significantly (which is obviously the end goal if the government is paying), then less revenue will be funneled to doctors and researchers who will thus have less incentive to do expensive studies that could cure cancer, AIDS, super-badass-AIDS, and anything that might burst into appearance going forward (the way viruses are wont to do). Why does it just not matter that portions of Europe and Canada are socialized and doing just fine? It’s because our competitive system exports knowledge to places where they can’t fund this research. Ask India how many of their top doctors studied in the US. Granted, I’m not a psychic: maybe we’ll be able to lower costs of inputs for researchers. Maybe med school will stop costing 300,000USD in 2010 dollars. Maybe. But history has shown us the severe economic deficiencies that occur when we stifle competitive practices.

Then there’s the other end of the debate. There are the infants that were born with super-expensive “pre-existing” conditions. There are the homeless people suffering from schizophrenia who assuredly can’t afford therapy or pills to adjust their neurotransmitters to function socially, whatever that may mean for them. You know, the shit we privileged-folk take for granted every day and chalk up to our personal ability to work hard rather than being born a white, straight, historically-abled, cissexual woman to European immigrants in Connecticut.

Apart from the debate, the horrifically ugly side of life in the US has reared its flamboyant head. Remember that I said there are two very realistic sides to this debate (and I’m sure I didn’t even cover a fraction of the relevant arguments). I honestly don’t have a position one way or another. I do think this:

I hated Bush with the fire of one thousand suns. I thought he watched “Wag the Dog” early in the administration and considered it an informational guide rather than a fictional movie. While I personally loved “Wag the Dog,” I didn’t so much like the real-life version that ended in soldiers raping Iraqi families nor other Bush failures like the whole cluster-fuck that is Gitmo, abstinence-only education (separation-of-church-and-state-say-what?), and pretty much every other fuck up that man made. I’m also pretty sure that moron just met a Haitian earthquake victim and wiped his hands on Clinton’s shirt. You know what I didn’t do, despite being in DC during his entire second term in office?

I definitely did not mail fake-anthrax-laced letters to any representatives, cut any politician’s gas lines, or use the REAL f-bomb and n-bomb against any Senators just because they voted for all of Bush’s bullshit policies.

So, I would like to second Biden. Healthcare reform is a BIG. FUCKING. DEAL. And not just for its intended social effects. Its unintended ramifications are just as big, just as important.
So why is it news that Biden said, “fuck”? Why, Biden is a rich, white guy with the second-whitest collar job in the land. Of course he should hold himself to higher standards! It’s only us lowly-folk who say words like “fuck” that only have punch because we tell everyone else they should.

And why have people already stopped talking about the n-bombs and f-bombs?

I don’t have an answer that I pray isn’t overly pessimistic. Most realistically, it’s because the dominant group in society, white men, have unilaterally decided that we’re collectively post-racial. They’ve decided that while the government’s role is to prevent discrimination, gay people aren’t a protected class, and thus no one cares if they can marry. And poor people? Really, they get what they deserve because they JUST DIDN’T WORK HARD ENOUGH (because obviously, monetary mobility is such a fact of life that most of our lawmakers have been poor at one point, right? …right?), so why should they be entitled to affordable health care?

Fuck is an easier word to tackle. We can chalk it up to Biden being tacky and inappropriate because really, it’s just so fucking common to talk like that. And Biden, he’s a role model. He can’t be common.

And the n-bomb and f-bomb? They mean something else. They can’t be blamed solely on the individual. Know why? Even though it’s up to the individual to choose his or her own language, words only gain oppressive powers in the context of society. You would use "colored" in some countries because it's not the same as calling someone a “Negro” or “colored” here in the US or a “kaffir” in South Africa.

So, CNN, MSNBC, and, well, probably not Fox News: do something. Become relevant. Because THIS is a big fucking deal.