Mansplaining Poetry

Yesterday a friend of mine posted a poem written by her best friend. I read it. It was about god and religion, and it seemed to be separating god from any specific religion. It said god wasn’t Jewish in a temple, Muslim in a mosque, etc. Not very long. All well and good. So I said it was nice but seemed more deist to me than atheist. (Sure, I’m an atheist, but I made no value judgement about that). I thought this was an innocent observation. After my friend and I exchanged a couple comments (she disagreed with me, based on knowing her friend’s intentions, but people don’t necessarily write what they intend or say what they mean), her best friend chimed in, “I see the mansplainers are up early this morning!” This was apropos of nothing. I made what I thought were innocuous rational statements about the poem, and now the poet was suddenly attacking me personally. Without making any effort to address the content. As is my habit when this happens, I questioned why she was answering substantive analysis with a personal attack. No answer. I then noted that it seemed to be my reward for trying to be nice to her. A few weeks ago, I’d sent her a friend request and emailed her an apology for a scuffle we got in a few years ago (unrelated to sexism). No response, but of course no good deed goes unpunished. Both of these women had planned to come to Seattle last month for a Bernie Sanders rally I was attending, and I’d been looking forward to seeing my friend and finally meeting her best friend, but they didn’t make it.

Now: the salt in the wound–I did a lot of feminist activism in college. I was the most prominent male feminist at my college. I was an officer in NARAL, served on the Women’s Task Force and Committee on the Status of Women where I helped write a stronger sexual assault policy, I minored in Women’s Studies when no other male was in the department, and I was the first guy invited to live in the Women’s House (I stupidly declined). It seemed pretty clear that I wasn’t doing all this for my own social benefit, because I not only didn’t have a girlfriend or dates; I think I only asked out one of the women I knew from feminist activism in 4 years. If anything, the prevailing assumption was that I was gay; people were surprised when they found out I was straight. There’s even evidence to suggest feminism hurts straight men in dating as sexism is still the norm and very much in demand–which deeply disillusions me.

I continued some of this work in DC. My boss was a congressional leader on domestic violence. My last job in DC was at a women’s organization, where I was the first man ever to work for them in DC and lobby for them. I worked on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, marshalling similar groups to mobilize in support of it. I also worked on pay inequity, abortion rights, birth control access, child care, paid family/medical leave, poverty, Social Security…various issues that disproportionately affect women, which was the whole reason we got involved in them.

So I actually have more of a history in feminism than most men AND women, except that I’ve regrettably never been a woman, and I definitely feel like I pay the price for it without getting appreciated or whatever. (People seem to think I’m crazy, but if one goal is to get men to be more egalitarian, wouldn’t it make sense for women to favor feminist men over sexist ones, all else being equal? That doesn’t mean entitled to dates or sex or whatever nonsense people want to accuse me of saying, just that it’s often wise to reward what you want and punish what you don’t.) But none of that matters. Its total value is 0. Make one substantive point about one poem that the author doesn’t like, and BAM!–they can just throw an easy charge like mansplaining at you on the sole basis of…gender. Apparently the more strident/less informed feminists have come full circle; their mothers worked hard to refute the notion that biology is destiny, only to have our generation resurrect it with gusto. It’s enough to make you give up on working for just ideals and just be selfish. As a 12th grade friend said once, if you’re going to be punished for the crime anyway, why not commit it? 😦 People suck.

April 19, 2016

I saw my therapist today, which was kind of frustrating. We don’t know when I’ll get in to see a new psychiatrist at one place or another, so we don’t know how long I’ll keep coming in. I don’t think she really grasps how impossible and torturous it is for someone in my position to try to date. I’m not sure she appreciates how demeaning and soul-crushing dating is for straight men in general, let alone how futile and hopeless it is for a short, feminist, non-drinker without the ego of Donald Trump. She was confused that I want social skills/non-verbal communication training for dating yet am certain it will be just as hopeless and maddening if I had those skills. I can only go for an hour every two weeks, and they won’t communicate outside sessions except for scheduling, so I gathered all kinds of relevant materials around dating and printed out a bunch to bring her. In them was covered most of what she didn’t understand or asked about, but of course she only asked if there was a particular one I wanted to discuss and made no commitment to read them outside session. I have far too much knowledge and experience to impart over years of sessions in person, and I despise having to start over telling my life story to someone new who may be helpful or harmful. But then you assemble everything and give it to them in one packet, and they don’t read it. I told her that was only the A-F files, and I wondered if I should compile a binder divided into sections. Like extemporaneous debate.
Then I went downtown on the same fare to get lunch in a double points promotion. I only got single points, and only after I stopped someone and had them check. :/
I stopped at the bank to trade $4 in bills for four dollar coins. I got Adams, Quincy Adams, Lincoln, and a Susan B. Anthony. They always ask for your card now just to get change, and they claim it’s federal law. #AreWeSafeYet? 
The weather looks like it will cool back toward normal before summer, so I went ahead and shopped for a new pair of jeans. I had a credit at the Gap; otherwise I don’t shop there. The ones I got are ok, but it frustrates me how the shapes aren’t designed for real human bodies, the size increments make little sense. They only come in waist sizes of even numbers of inches, unless you’re lucky enough to be 31″ or 33″. This might make sense if we used centimeters, and the employee agreed. So nothing ever fits quite right, and I’ve learned to get the next size down and have them stretch with time. I keep two pairs of jeans in rotation and buy one a year. 
I picked up meds at Target (which between their takeover by CVS and my moving to Rainier Beach, I think is coming to an end), and got a couple things including a birthday card for my crazy racist grandpa who’ll be 95 Saturday. I send a paper card so it’s harder for him to respond. With my food stamp allotment gone, I’m about to run out.
Then I needed to beat the heat, so I used the best air-conditioned place I’ve found in Seattle: the train. I rode up to UW, down to the airport, and home to Columbia City. Several pretty girls on the trains, and some cute dogs. I don’t dare talk to the girls though. I listened to a chunk of Jon Meacham’s biography of George H. W. Bush. By the time I got off, it was down from 81 to a comfortable 73. I decided to hit PCC for a snack and was stopped by a guy asking for money. I may write more on that separately. I gave him the 4 dollar coins. 
Not done today: paperwork for intake session at new mental health clinic, call disability law firm to ask how to fill out latest SSDI paperwork, any progress on my late night transit article for TRU, schedule shoulder MRI (PT is over for now unless insurance approves more), check on apartment inspection/move-in date and food stamp restoration. I rode the 9 (which won’t be possible after September), 8, and Link.

General Update

APARTMENT:
I went back to SHA. She’s submitting my file today and expects me to be approved. She said it might happen Friday. It’s a 2nd floor unit, and it has a dishwasher (hooray!). I’ll have to see later about getting a ham radio antenna outside. The rent is 30% of your income, updated annually. You also pay electric. The deposit is $300. She’s being extra cautious because of the way the feds pore over everything. Their check on me had temp agencies I worked for in college and the address where I first lived with a friend outside DC for two months in 1999-2000.

SHOULDER:
The x-ray results were done right after I got them March 30th, but I only got them yesterday. They say everything is normal. I gave a copy to my physical therapist and got a doctor to request an MRI. She said they’ll want the PT notes, so my therapist is submitting them. They really make it hard to get an MRI and strongly discourage it. But my therapist thinks I have a cartilage issue, for which they might have to do a “manipulation under anesthesia”. You get *general* anesthetic, and they move your arm all around to force it back to its proper range of motion, breaking up the cartilage. Then you have more aggressive physical therapy. I’ve had general anesthesia once before and don’t look forward to the vomiting. (Why is my phone correcting physical to phytoplankton?)

FOOD STAMPS:
I finally got a form from DSHS, and my therapist filled it out to say I’m disabled. I need to scan and submit it.

MENTAL HEALTH CARE:
My new home clinic referred me to a separate place for medication management; they don’t do it there. This is part of the stigma of mental health and illness–why should it be done at a separate facility in a different network? No other body part gets separated out like that. I have lots more paperwork to fill out then a 2 hour intake. Hopefully I can get them to prescribe klonopin; apparently many Medicaid mental health places won’t. If I get med management there, they’ll want me to switch my therapy there too, but I’m pretty sure you still get just one hour every two weeks, which is definitely less than I need. The doctor I saw showed me that I’m listed as “medically complicated” in their system.

TRANSIT:
I’m behind on writing an article on late night transit service. I do have at least one rider who works late and is willing to talk with me about it. I also got a short email reply from the venerable Jarrett Walker.

Indirectly and unexpectedly, I got one of the ORCA cards being given to people who live near the new U Link stations. It’s good for free trips through the 13th. I start dog sitting in Burien Friday though.

HAM RADIO:
I really badly want to get back on the air already. The guy with a spare radio to loan me should have it back now, but I haven’t heard. I could use my client’s car to pick it up from Burien which is slightly closer. I go to the Spark Museum in Bellingham tomorrow. Weather-wise, it should be a good day to go north. I have to wake up at 4:45am, and take a couple Whatcom bus schedules with me.

I have to get my hat back from my last clients and may have a free movie to see tonight. I’m at Top Pot now. It’s not what I should eat, but food is the one human need I can control.