I had a great day of writing today! I am at 42,000+ words. Almost done with NaNoWriMo! Wheee!
After my head explosion of being accused of writing porn in my Work In Progress, In the Bushes, my youngest daughter (who is in her thirties in case you were wondering) suggested I write an Introduction to the book to explain the sexual nature and how I will be using the vernacular of the time which is very different than that of today.
I was able to put on paper what has been in my thoughts for a long while.
However, as I wrote, I found I needed something to introduce the Introduction and came up with this.
Leave your Political and Social Correctness at the door! This entire book is politically and socially incorrect. Every word. Every theme. Every story. All of it. Completely and totally un-PC and socially incorrect. It will be helpful if you could adopt a No Offense Taken attitude. If you cannot, you might want to get a refund on your purchase now. You have been forewarned.
I cannot tell you how satisfying it was to say these things as if I were talking to the reader.
Do other writers have to do this, too? I have never seen anything like it yet, but I don’t read a lot of controversial books.
What would you do if you saw this in a book?
Boy, do I feel better.
Sometimes kids are so freakin’ wise. Thanks, baby girl!.
As I recommence writing, I’m finding myself against a roadblock I have tried to overcome for 50 years as a writer of personal thoughts and feelings. As well as my strong opinions and yes, even judgements.
My topics are controversial in many arenas and in many individuals’ beliefs.
I have written about midwifery since 1983 and if birth wasn’t meant to be controversial, it sure is now. I am writing about my time as a midwife, not fully formed yet, but it is taking shape.
I’m writing about the gay life I was a part of immediately pre- and post-AIDS. If gay sex causing AIDS (yes, I know, a virus causes it. You know exactly what I mean. See? Already justifying myself?! Argh!) isn’t controversial, nothing else in the world is.
I’m writing, with full permission, about my former partner of 28 years’ transition from female to male. Our private choice to separate after his transition is an extremely volatile topic today.
The last book I have started that came to me in a dream, fully-formed and has not vanished yet, is a midwifery thriller. It’s going to be a great read when it is finished.
I have been censored and edited by those around me, and many not even near me, for decades. I must have the thinnest skin of any writer in the world because I cower to the criticism. Even here in this blog, when I wrote about being a midwife to migrant women, I shrunk and hid the post because one person… ONE PERSON… spewed hate all over me. What I wimp I am.
I stopped writing about my kids because their father told me to stop.
I stopped writing about the inner workings of home birth midwifery because I was ostracized from my community for being a whistleblower.
I’ve edited articles, posts, notes on napkins, all with the fear of being judged.
As I write this, I am bracing myself for hate and vitriol, but I am a different woman now. I am a crone. I am in that place where I really do not give one fuck what anyone else thinks. They can’t take away my kids. They can’t take away my career/life’s calling. They can kill me, but my words will still exist.
I can finally see the extreme anger and hate from people as it swirls around them in all aspects of their lives. They believe they walk pristinely on the earth, their thoughts pure and hearts open. But I can see the truth. When they open their mouths, the bees fly out. The wild buzzing, stinging, hungry bees looking to feast on the pollen of vulnerable flowers.
I’ve taught my children and many others how to put up heart shields so the energy is exchanged at will instead of allowing energy vampires to attack the tender-hearted. It’s time I re-build my own shield.
Thank You, Elizabeth Gilbert
I am listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for the fifth time and on this read, something jumped out and bit me hard in my vulnerability. How I missed it four other times is beyond me.
As she speaks about the self-censoring in order to fend off critics, she has a fabulous response to those who dare open their mouths to pass judgment thinking their positions are The Correct and Only Position That Counts.
To paraphrase Ms. Gilbert, “Don’t like mine? Go write your own fucking book.”
I’ve been on the periphery of the NaNoWriMo community since 2018. I have never really found “my crew.” So as I was trying to “find my crew” in the LGBTQIA+ group, preparing for Camp NaNoWriMoin April 2022, I thought I would try to find others who were of like minds.
“Old Femme Dyke Looking for Other Old Homos (Most Un-PC Thread Ever)
“taking a big deep breath
“I’m a 60+ year old femme dyke and am writing a semi-autobiographical novel about the years between 1978 and 1988, immediately pre- and post-AIDS. It’s mostly uplifting – filled with fun and joy, sex and way too many drugs, and includes a road trip (of course).
“I’m keeping the vernacular of the time, hence wanting to talk to others who were in the discos – the glory holes, the bath houses, etc. – during those years. I was a fag hag who lived with groups of gay men, so was privy to their sexual lives. While graphic sex isn’t the driving factor of what I’m writing, it is definitely the undercurrent throughout. (And I am not wanting to have sexual discussions here!)
“Adding another layer, I was coming out as a femme lesbian in a world filled with androgynous women. Drag Queens were my sister-friends. Trans folks were rare, so have bit parts in the book. (One of the hundreds of Un-PC things being written.)
“I am also wanting companionship as I recall those who died without hope and without their families.
“Gads, this is complicated. Anyone?”
Reply from the Moderators
Intro to automated one:
“This is an automated message from NaNoWriMo to let you know that your post was hidden.”
That was boring.
Highlights of the individualized email:
“Your post has been hidden because of the language of your title and in the body of your post.”
“… inflammatory words.”
“… you are part of the community”
“… you have every right to reclaim that word …”
“… we support the community reclaiming those words …”
“… seeing these words can still be triggering …”
“Thank you for understanding.”
“Well, ‘understanding’ is probably not the word I would use, (name removed), but since I have no choice in the matter, that pretty much is the end of it.
“You and I both know that ‘inflammatory’ words are in the eyes and ears of the beholder. These words are not inflammatory to me at all, never have been, even in the cruelest and most volatile of years.
“It’s certainly going to be interesting to see this book in the hands of the public some day. I better build my walls of armor now.
“This reminds me of the 1978 book called Faggots by Larry Kramer (I encourage you to look it up) when the gay community went berserk with his disclosing what they wanted to keep hidden. I can relate!
“Instead of feeling thwarted, I am empowered to move forward faster.
“Thanks for the sword!
Where Do I Belong?
I called my former partner, my Beloved Zack, to ask, “Where do I belong if I don’t belong with my tribe?” He was so kind and said, quite emphatically, “NOT IN THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY!”
He recounted a discussion at a Transman meeting after his phalloplasty and they were talking about penises in general and someone stood and said “My girlfriend” (who was sitting in the meeting of transmen), “is triggered by the word ‘penis'” and expected the discussion to stop. Zack told the guy to take care of his girlfriend by ushering her outside if she did not take care of herself by removing herself from the transmen meeting.
That was the last Trans meeting Zack went to.
Again, Where Do I Belong?
So, am I so old that I really do not even belong in the gay community anymore? What about my feelings of ostracization and feelings of experiencing ageism?
I have marched and written reams of articles fighting for lesbian rights, gay rights, lesbian mothers’ rights, gays in the military, gay marriages … I’ve spoken on local and national TV news programs … and now I am marginalized? Now my own experiences are moot because I am old?
Now I am not needed because those rights have been won and it was so long ago, the fight doesn’t even matter anymore? Because no one alive in these groups remembers the people who fought for them?
I FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHTS THEY HAVE TODAY!
Who the fuck did they think won these rights for them?
Now I am not needed because I am not PC? Because my words don’t “fit” with the younger mindsets? Because the vernacular changed while I was out fighting for their rights?
Where Are My People?
Zack told me to find an older group of liberal straight writers to work with. I have no idea where they are, but will begin a search. (Thank you, Google!)
I have about 80,000 things to say about the First Amendment & Free Speech right now. My fingers cannot keep up with the flow of words in my head. I’ve started several posts about Free Speech & Freedom of the Press because of the crap #45 is doing, but just as I get into the meat of the writing, he does something else that requires revision or scrapping it and starting all over again.
I am determined to get this one out!
Is Hate Speech Protected?
There is a pervasive belief that Hate Speech is not included under the Free Speech umbrella. It actually, absolutely, is.
What is not included are words that incite violence… a thin, often controversial, court-examined difference.
“But while the Constitution gives latitude to hate speech and offensive rhetoric, court decisions in the last century have carved out notable — though narrow — exceptions to free speech guarantees and authorized prosecution for language deemed to fall out of bounds.
“Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against those protections, regardless of a person’s race or religion. So do personal, face-to-face comments meant to incite imminent lawlessness, such as a riot.”
I don’t even need to say his last name, this person has been in the news enough times in the last few days that you know exactly who I mean.
Milo created a great deal of controversy regarding his hateful words hurled at Jews, the LGBTQ community (especially transgender folks), Muslims, liberals, Blacks, women… pretty much anyone that isn’t a straight American White Republican male.
Despite so many finding his beliefs repulsive, a significant number of others clearly find him entertaining, welcoming (and embracing) his vitriol.
But even this vile caricature stumbled over the line of common decency (and you know it had to be really bad if the alt-right kicked him to the curb!). His book deal and his speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference were cancelled, followed by his making the decision to quit the Fake News organization Breitbart. If you need more information, Google his name and “Free Speech” and a bazillion sites will come up for you.
Even in our politically-correct, ultra-sensitive-to-verbiage times, folks have every right to express their feelings and beliefs about others, even the nasty ones, but only if they don’t trigger violence. Absolutely a paper-thin difference at times, right?
We are, most assuredly, in for a lot more hate speech as the president uses his pen to limit the abundance of rights and privileges we had gotten used to with President Obama.
The ultimate question is: Which side has the most anger?
And now I move on to #45 trying to strangle our First Amendment freedoms.
(For some amazingly strange reason, this post cannot be formatted correctly, no matter if I work in WYSIWYG or HTML; I have tried for 2 days to fix it, to no avail. I apologize for the bizarre lack of paragraph breaks/doubling of paragraph breaks.)
I have a theory (that has surely already been discussed in other places) that the new administration has an entire strategy to create as much turmoil as possible, knowing there would be protests (because the Women’s March on Washington was planned well in advance of the Inauguration), then seeing even more protests with each Executive Order, their idea took on greater and greater maniacal glee.
You learn activism by doing it, they said. One of the main obstacles to activism is the idea that you have to be an expert to do it —
Because there are so many causes to fight, it can be challenging to protest everything one feels strongly about. Surely, the administration is having a field day cheering that fact.
I see people in my own life swirling around, grasping at causes willy-nilly, protesting 1 one day and another, 2 days later. This frenetic energy cannot possibly be maintained. Speaking up, living in crisis mode, changing one’s life patterns, even for a short time can exhaust someone, causing Outrage Fatigue.
Every morning, we wake up to a fresh Trumpian outrage, as the orange one’s fat little thumbs have tapped out the latest vitriol via Twitter before we lift our weary heads off of the keyboards we fell asleep on because we were up past midnight planning how to block his Cabinet, or save ACA, or get to Burr and Tillis, or, respond to Russian hacking. Is it any wonder that some of us are experiencing outrage fatigue?
As the Day of His Ascendence (formerly known as Inauguration Day) approaches, the more the sense of impending doom and inevitability grows. After the election, outrage and disbelief propelled many into passionate, but ultimately quixotic pursuits. Flipping the electors. The Jill Stein recount. As those prospects faded away, and the names and hideous bios of Trump’s Cabinet appointees came out, many geared up to protest and block that odious pack of cronies, capitalists, and cranks from running the country. Lists of committees were drawn up, scripts written, action plans mobilized. The GOP then ganged up on ACA, as Trump fanned the flames. No, no, protest that! many online cried. Russian allegations exploded; Trump kept tweeting. Crooked media! Overrated Streep! All-talk John Lewis!
As sure as I am sitting here, the White House and even much of Congress are devising ways to wreak havoc on America and betting “libtards” will be out en masse protesting within a couple of hours. They are counting on it. So far, we are not disappointing them.
But with the passage of time, people become numb and mute, collapsing with exhaustion, creating an open, wide and clear, path for the “president’s” coup to complete itself. (AndI do believe we are in the middle of a coup!)
Long-time protesters each speak about outrage fatigue, previously called burnout, in their stories. ACT UP(AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) movement and even the LGBT(QAI+) (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, Intersex, etc.) all find themselves teaching younger generations how to avoid the outrage fatigue that comes with long battles, ones we are surely just beginning with this “president.”
What I Can Do!
I have Bipolar Disorder and struggle with depression and must be hyper-vigilant to not become overwhelmed with sadness and pain, something that’s been quite a challenge the last 6 months or so, increasing each day. I’m also physically disabled, unable to go out into the streets to protest.
But I can write.
Since the Inauguration, I have been sitting back and pondering… considering what cause resonated most with me, which one I would be most effective battling.
What bubbled to the top was Censorship.
As a writer/blogger, I’ve been censored several times, from Blogger slamming my blog shut for having nude women (giving birth and breastfeeding!) to my midwifery licensing organization strong-arming me to “edit” one of the most important blog posts I’ve ever written. (I did and deleted the original, something that still brings tears 9 years later.)
Government censorship has always made me crazy, but it’s been over there… you know, in other countries.
Until this “president” brought it front and center in the United States.
I could enumerate so many examples, but the loudest and most obnoxious recently came from “president steve bannon” when, on January 26, 2017, in the New York Times, he said:
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while….”
You can imagine the response.
From shock to hysterical laughter, CNN’s Jake Tapper gave the best answer of all; an emphatic, “NO.”
My Strategy to Avoid Outrage Fatigue
I have chosen to focus on that one strength of mine… writing… and the topic that most resonates… Censorship.
This way, I will be able to pace myself. During the couple of weeks with this new strategy, I’m finding myself able to see-and-toss the non-censorship posts, news pieces and videos, but am seeing, quickly and clearly, the pieces that relate to me specifically. This prevents news overload, which pulls me down towards depression. It is, sometimes, challenging to ignore the information on the periphery, but as I do, I find myself more and more at peace.
By focusing on my life-long writing skills as my major protesting mechanism, I am able to keep my interest level high and will have long-term focus on the censorship issue.
One last strategy is for me to connect with other writers, especially those who focus on censorship. Companionship fosters support and support can manifest in many ways including encouragement, reminders of the mission at hand and backing each other up when conflict gets nasty.
I’m hoping that as I send this out over the airwaves, it will find other like-minded people, but especially writers. I could use the support and suspect you could, too.
Yesterday was the magnificent Women’s March on Washington as well as the other Marches all over the world. It was magical seeing so many people coming together.
How could the White House ignore these massive protests that clearly out-attended the Inauguration the day before?
Finally, in the late afternoon, that #NotMyPresident did tweet a sarcastic comment, but he eventually sent Sean Spicer to the Press Room in the evening to, not so nicely, counter the Press’ reports of how much larger the Protests were compared to the Inauguration the day before. He was quite nasty about it.
Of course, Spicer was freakin’ wrong on the numbers attending the two events. Really, really wrong. So when that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to #NotMyPresident, went on Meet the Presstoday, Chuck Todd pressed her about the clear lies Spicer had said the night before.
Gaslighting From On High
Asked on “Meet the Press” why Spicer used his first appearance before the press to dispute a minimal issue like the inauguration crowd size, and why he used falsehoods to do so, Conway pushed back.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” she told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“Alternative facts.” Um, untruths? LIES!?
The people at the top of our government and their support folks think we are stupid fools who cannot tell the difference between the truths and lies.
(And they get that belief because their supportive base IS that stupid and bought every bullshit remark they made during the campaign. I swear they are sleepwalking.)
The behavior being exhibited is called Gaslighting, “a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
So, Spicer speaking emphatically and not allowing questions after the Press Conference was supposed to shut down any doubt in everyone’s minds.
It’s baffling they think we are going to join in their delusional reality. And what is really hilarious/sad is they believe these “alternative” realities themselves! Is there no source that is to be believed that counters their belief system?
I have many stories about me and censorship. They will unfold in time.
Yesterday, in my Facebook Memories, came this amazing post I wrote on August 2, 2010. It begs to be shared here.
Open Season: you have been warned
The Internet has no walls.
It pays to remember that. While I am meticulously careful to not talk about clients on-line or in articles/posts without their permission, there is a whole different set of rules when reading through the Internet’s public domain.
Therefore, I am serving notice: If you write something publicly, whether in a blog, in a comment in a blog, in a comment to a newspaper or magazine article, in a comment to someone’s post… my spring boarding off of it is fair game. IF YOU DO NOT WANT ME OR ANYONE ELSE TO WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR WORDS, MAKE YOUR BLOG PRIVATE.
If you are in Facebook with me, I might just use the context of what you are saying, without using your name, when I write something to be seen publicly. I will not quote or reveal discussions in private chats, Skype sessions (without okay) or in private emails. If you have friends that comment to something said in Facebook, their context is also fair game. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THIS, UNFRIEND ME NOW.
Note to public figures (and you know who you are): You and your words, wherever they are, are fair game. I grudgingly agreed to ignore one very important comment made in Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I WILL NOT DO SO AGAIN. If your words come over my Newsfeed, you and your words may very well be written about. If I find them randomly over the Internet, they are also fair game.
Netiquette continues evolving and I do try to keep up on the legalities and ethics of writing on the Internet. There seems to be confusion lately about a writer’s boundaries, some thinking it should be here and others agreeing it can be way over there. I am laying out my boundaries so there is no longer any confusion when it comes to my writing.
The Washington Post relayed the information from a CDC & Trump Administration meeting Thursday night, December 14, 2017 that when the CDC presents their upcoming budget paperwork, they are forbidden to use the above 7 words.
I thought this was fake, ran to Snopes… nope. It is real. Checked Twitter. Real. Checked valid news agencies. Real.
I’m shaking I’m so angry… and even scared… of what this administration is doing to our democracy. By forbidding words, it is no longer a democracy.
Democracy has been dying since Trump took office.
“Treating science as a matter of opinion rather than an objective, evidence-based reality appears to have become a hallmark of the Trump administration, particularly when it comes to climate change. So, too, is scrubbing certain words and information from discussions, documents and websites that don’t fit with Donald Trump’s vision. The Department of Health and Human Services has dropped information on its website about LGBTQ individuals.”
This edict is one of the most terrifying things that have happened and are surely not the last we will see.
We cannot sit quietly and let this happen. I know many many people have been out protesting, but we have to find another way to be heard.
I have been on the Internet since 1995, although I am hardly a geek or adept at the goings on behind the scenes. However, listening to these lawyers (surely, quite well-paid) not explain what happened with the “Russian propaganda group called Internet Research Agency that created a conflict….” within the Americans reading their content, terrified me.
I loved Facebook. For 9 years. People left during the election and I was flabbergasted how anyone could leave, especially during such an important time. At times I pulled back from the more political groups I followed, but generally, I was present throughout the election experience.
Until now, I’d never considered leaving Facebook, but as the information has begun unfolding about how Russia infiltrated Facebook, some of which it seems they even knew about, I began getting uncomfortable there. I closed my Navelgazing Midwife FB Page, seeing small seeds of political discontent there, whittled my Facebook Friends down to 50 from over 400 at one point, but still, these past weeks, I began squirming more.
As a writer, the Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech are enormously important to me. I’ve had a hard time watching as far-right speakers (that have not incited violence) refused a place to speak and share their thoughts. Do I wish they would shut up and go away? Absolutely. But, they are Americans, too, and deserve to add their voices to the discourse.
But that isn’t the same as having to endure propaganda from inside or outside our country.
I can be pretty discerning, especially when it comes to medical or scientific data. But, I have always been easily swayed with some arguments. I’ll lean one way hearing one side, feeling sure that is the right path. Then, I’ll hear the other side and re-think my whole belief system based on that information.
I am really vulnerable to slick talkers and those with psychological skills I cannot recognize or counter. I try to stay away from these arguments, but during the election (and especially now), it is impossible to do. I have said several times recently: I love my Echo Chamber. I simply cannot process the other side’s views without a near breakdown of my values and beliefs.
I’m not sure if it’s a mental illness in me that makes me so vulnerable or if others are like that, too. Knowing it, though, whatever the cause, I had to make a move to protect my mind and heart.
Stepping Away from Facebook
So, I deactivated my Facebook account with a message to them stating my concern about their lack of Internet safety. Not sure if I will ever go back, but certainly not before massive changes have occurred to protect my spaces there from the propaganda that lured so many of my former friends.
I will write instead of perusing the Trending topics, saving that for Twitter, which I am still debating about leaving. I need to write. I have so many things I want to say.
Hopefully, without Facebook, I will find the time to do just that.
One book about the Qur’an, pictured above, said “bullsh*t hatred cover to cover” with a swastika drawn below it written on the title page of the book. Neal said other books in the same library section were also defaced. She wrote in her post to urge readers to speak out against hatred and intolerance.
“Evanstonians like to think we are safe in a bubble of tolerance, but none of us can afford to pretend that we are not affected by the hatred that surrounds us now,” she said. “None of us can afford to sit this out, to hope it goes away, and leaves us untouched. Whatever your politics, if this kind of hatred and intolerance disgusts you, speak out today.”
It might seem a stretch, if not ridiculously impossible, for this one defacing act to have anything to do with Censorship and the end of the Free Press, but I promise, it absolutely is just the beginning of the encroachment of the boot heels of those-soon-to-be-in-power onto the fingers of the writers of, not only books, newspapers and magazines, but also on the keyboards of little blogs like this one… all because we/I dare to question the status quo.
Their goal of erasure of conflicting opinions has begun.