So my sweetie C. is going in for surgery tomorrow. She’s shit-scared of hospitals, uncertain of what the surgery means, and terrified.
I’ll be driving down to hold her hand in the hospital.
And the sole pleasant thing about this ugly turn of events is that this is a twinned decision. My wife Gini and I had a weekend planned together at home after a bunch of visits and travel, the long slow weekend where we’d curl up and reconnect. We’d both been looking forward to that.
Yet when C. texted me with her medical results, and it was clear that surgery was the only option for removal, I shared them with Gini. And she said, “Yes, of course you have to be down there. She’ll be terrified.”
That’s because our partners aren’t partners, but our friends.
This is a consistent pattern. When one of my sweeties was – and is – experiencing legal trouble with their visa to America, Gini kept asking what she could do to help reduce F’s anxiety about possibly having to leave the country. “Yes, of course we must help them.” When another sweetie needed some emergency supplies sent to her, Gini authorized the expenditure without a second thought – “Yes, of course she needs that, send it to her now.”
I should note that Gini is not dating any of these people. They’re my partners alone. Yet Gini’s had dinner with them, hung out, heard me talk about them. She cares.
And that goes both ways. When Gini’s partner wound up in the hospital, I asked her whether she needed to go to him. As it turns out, she didn’t; every partner is different, and her boyfriend was suitably stoic that he neither needed nor wanted hand-holding.
(For the record, when I had my heart attack, I told Gini to stay at her boyfriend’s place that night and catch up with me in the morning, there was nothing she could do in the ER except sleep shittily in a crappy bucket seat and the nurses were taking care of me. I panic about many things, but hospitals are not one of them; we all have our individual times when we need someone to hug us.)
But when her partner was in trouble, I said, “Yes, of course.” Just that the “of course” was Gini slightly spent more time texting him.
What I’m grateful for in our relationships is that we don’t endure each others’ partners, we embrace them.
And part of that is me changing my dating habits. I used to have a lot of churn in my love life, having torrid two-month relationships with scores of partners. Those partners were of varying levels of compatibility with me, and I wasn’t good at filtering out the good people whose needs just didn’t mesh with mine, so Gini was pleasant but she didn’t get attached. How could she? If she really liked someone, the average time I spent dating was about four months!
But as I’ve honed the concept of my polyamorous Justice League, my partners are much better suited for me; everyone I’ve been dating now, I’ve been seeing for at least a year. And Gini’s had time to see how they’re good for me, and to know them well enough to understand why I love them (even if she doesn’t necessarily have the time or inclination to date them herself), and so when something bad comes up….
Her natural reaction is “Yes, of course.”
I’ll be driving tonight to see C. And Gini and I have already rescheduled our reconnection date for next weekend, when hopefully we’ll see movies and snuggle and catch up.
But tomorrow, there’s someone who is terrified of doctors who’ll be in a cold hospital bed. And she’ll have her family there, and she’ll have her friends there.
She’ll also have me.
My friend Bill is now selling prints of his fantastic Valentine fan art. Which, if you’ll recall, looks like this:
I told him I didn’t think he’d sell that many prints, but he was free to do so. (I don’t get a dime; that’s beautiful art, so I told him he could keep the profits.) So there it is, gorgeous as always! Check it out if you wanna.
On Monday, I posted my essay “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake: A Gentle Talk With My Republican, Democrat, And Undecided Friends.” By this morning, it’s up to 24,000 Facebook “likes” in a viral politigasm.
Which is weird. I’ve gone viral before, most notably for my essays “Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Awesome Sex” and “Can I Buy You A Coffee?” And I’ve found that those who haven’t gone viral have the wrong impressions about how this works, so let’s bust a few impressions:
1) You Don’t Get Famous. The Essay Does.
The next day, I wrote a followup to the “For Fuck’s Sake” essay called “Why Your Presidential Protest Vote Is A Wretched Idea,” and as of now that essay’s got 170 likes on Facebook total.
That demonstrates that when you go viral, 99.9% of the people show up for that essay, read, and leave. Hardly anyone goes, “Oh, I’ll read what else this fellow had to say!” and proceeds to trawl your blog. You’re a one-stop entertainment, worthy because someone’s friends linked them there, and then you go.
It’s nice to have that level of attention for a while, but people tend to think, “Oh, you’re famous!” No. That essay has been widely read. I doubt most of its readers could pick me out of a lineup.
2) A Viral Post Doesn’t Sell Your Books.
You may note I have my three books for sale, and I didn’t notice any significant bump in sales on the Amazon sales rankings. (Well, okay, I saw a bump, but that’s because my book Flex is on sale for $2.99 this week.) Again, people liked what I had to say, but most of them ghosted afterwards. Which is normal. (And fine with me. I don’t write essays to sell books, as a rule.)
Now, sometimes, if a post blows up huge, you’ll get offers related to that post. When “Dear Daughter” passed half a million likes – still my high-water mark! – on the Good Men Project and the Huffington post, I got an agent asking me if I wanted to turn that essay into a book, because they had a publisher who’d expressed interest. I told them “No, but I have this novel” and they went, “Nah” and disappeared.
3) …But It Kinda Does.
If you’re looking to sell books, blogging is the long con.
See, when I published my webcomic “Home on the Strange,” I noticed a weird pattern: I’d have a huge hit, with 10,000 people linking to our Doctor-Who-As-Jesus strip or our alternate ending to Harry Potter, and then the next comic would be bare-bones normal in terms of traffic.
But the overall numbers kept creeping up.
Eventually, I came up with my “Pepsi machine” theory – which is to say that a fan is like a big, cumbersome Pepsi machine that you’re looking to tip over. Hardly anyone tips over a Pepsi machine in one muscular push. No, you gotta rock them, a little at a time, until eventually they sorta wobble over.
Likewise, most people – me included! – have established habits. I hit the same six webcomics every morning. Adding a new webcomic to my list? For no apparent reason, that seems like an effort. But if a webcomic keeps getting linked to by my friends, with each visit I’ll think, “Oh, I should come here more often!” and then I don’t.
Eventually, I accrete enough good will that all right, I’ll add this to my regular trawl, and suddenly I’m a fan.
Likewise, I have a lot of fans (comparative to the normal person, not at all comparative to a true celebrity), but they’ve all arrived in dribs and drabs; some liked Home on the Strange, others liked my essays, others liked my books. Most of them had to see me around a lot before they eventually started reading me regularly, for whatever definition of “regularly” counts.
I’m not going to have 24,000 fans tomorrow. But I’ll probably walk away from this with maybe fifty people who now read me regularly. Maybe five will read my book, maybe two will like it enough to recommend it to other people.
That’s actually a decent ratio.
Which is why I wouldn’t recommend this method if you don’t actually enjoy blogging. It works, but it’s like panning for gold; lots of time knee-deep in mud, a few flecks.
Better enjoy the outdoors.
4) Hardly Anyone Knows What Goes Viral.
There’s a couple of people who know how to go viral easily – I see Chuck Wendig churning out essays once a month that everyone seems to link to, and I go, “Man, even accounting for his larger audience, that guy knows how to connect.”
The rest of us have no idea what connects, or why.
Look. “Dear Daughter” was an angry essay I wrote in fifteen minutes on my lunch hour, and that writing will probably be referenced in my obituary. “For Fuck’s Sake” was a Sunday evening writing which I put a lot of thought into, but I’ve written a lot of thoughtful pieces and I still don’t quite know why that one took off.
I just write a lot, and about once every eighteen months, one catches fire. And I assure you, if I knew how to craft essays that consistently drew 24,000 Facebook “likes,” I would. Even now, I have no clue why that “For Fuck’s Sake” essay launched into the stratosphere versus my usual political rantings – it feels about the same to me, but it resonated with others.
Every so often on FetLife, some moe without an audience will get a wild hair up their ass, belligerently bumping chests with people who do have an audience to say, “Why don’tcha write an essay anonymously, HANH? Why don’tcha prove that it’s the WORDS that make you popular, but your AUDIENCE?”
Well, first off, why the fuck do you think my audience – such as it is – sticks around? Because I’m writing things they think are shitty? Come on.
But secondly, if you think “writing an essay” is “one shot, one kill,” then you’re wrong. I’ve written probably ten thousand essays. Of them, three have gone viral enough to spread across the Internet. The Venn diagram between “What I consider quality” and “What resonates with people” is a mystery indeed.
Oh, I’m confident that if I wrote a lot of essays under a pseudonym, I’d eventually regain my current levels of notoriety. But expecting one essay to be as popular as, say, “Dear Daughter”?
The only person who could say that is someone who doesn’t fucking write.
5) Your Reputation Sticks With You, Though.
As mentioned, maybe people couldn’t pick you out of a lineup, but they get a rough impression about who you are. There’s a lot of people who don’t read me who know that I’m loudly polyamorous and sex-positive, I’m left-of-center even though I’d like to be considered center, that I’m depressive and occasionally psychodramatic.
Lots of people really don’t like me for any of those.
So when I meet people at conventions, I sometimes have folks doing the stop-and-stare moment of “Do I want to talk to this asshole?” They have formed an opinion of me from my writings, and they do not like me. Sometimes they make excuses and GTFO.
Which is why I’m always baffled when people are like, “Oh, Ferrett just makes up shit to start controversy!” No, man. I get enough side-eye for the things I believe. There are real-world consequences to my writing, and as a dude with social anxiety I assure you I feel every one.
There are doubtlessly people who do start up controversies for “fun” – I’ve met them, scrappy assholes who want to start “a feud” to “get traffic” – and they’re usually people with small audiences. And I wonder whether they’re so enthused over these mock-fights because they’re never planning on going out in public where their rep is attached to their face. And after a couple of thoroughly faked essays, I wonder if they’ve lost any friends.
But me? I put my face and my books on these essays, because if one goes viral and I wind up getting shit on by a thousand people for some opinion I’ve opined, I want that shit to be from people I actually don’t like. I’ve got enthusiastic Trump supporters leaving insulting comments, but hey, I’m okay pissing off those people.
Like I said: most people can’t tell what’s going to be a hit or not. So pretending to be an asshole in the hopes that someone pays attention to you? Seems like small pay for idiotic work. You probably won’t go viral, but you’ll have real-life people who read you – if you have real-life people – believing you’re either a genuine asshole, or a manipulative fake asshole, and I’m not sure what’s worse.
You may think I’m an asshole, but at least it’s for things I believe.
If for some reason you have not read my book Flex – which features snortable magic drugs, a paperwork magician who turns his filing cabinet into an FBI hacking device, and a chubby videogamemancer who enjoys pegging – then you can get it at Barnes and Noble for $2.99 this week!
(NOTE: Amazon usually matches B&N’s prices, but I’m not checking there because B&N instigated this sale, and you should throw ’em the cash if you’ve got a Nook. But wherever you buy it is good.)
As an extra-special reminder, the finale to the ‘Mancer trilogy is coming out in six weeks, and you can preorder Fix. (In fact, if you want to support an author, you should always preorder their books.) If you’re a fan of the series, @Gaileyfrey Twitter-reviewed it last night, and she had this to say:
Y’all have read FLEX and FLUX right
Hell yeah you have, you love great speculative fiction
WELL FERRETT DID IT AGODDAMNGAIN with FIX
Here’s what I will tell you: BADASS SUPERMAGIC TWEEN GIRL ON A MISSION TO FIND HERSELF AND SAVE THE WORLD AND SAVE HER FAMILY
I’m just going to be over here changing how I write young characters because @ferretthimself RUINED IT by showing how BEST to write a tween
[grumping] like it wasn’t bad enough he schooled us all in worldbuilding now he’s gotta go and raise the bar for young female characters too
TL;DR: – @ferretthimself is a jerk – go preorder FIX immediately
I’ll be a jerk for that. So in short:
- If you haven’t read Flex yet, you can get ahead of the impending sequel at a cheap price by going to Barnes and Noble now.
- If you have read Flex and you want to know what happens to everybody in the series – because everyone gets an ending – then go pre-order Fix now.
Pop Quiz: What do you think when I say “President Bill Clinton”?
All right, your first thought is probably “the bawdy things you can do with a cigar.” (Ah, Billy.) But then your mind likely wanders to Clinton’s Presidential accomplishments; if you’re a conservative, you fret at all the damage he did, if you’re a liberal you think of the economic prosperity he wrought. Eight years in office is a long time.
Now: How many of you thought of Bill Clinton and thought, “He was elected because voters were sick of the two-party system?”
Ah, but that’s arguably true! People forget that Ross Perot was the third-party candidate in that election, acquiring 18.9% of the popular vote – more than any independent candidate in modern history. And while mostly Perot held relatively even support between conservatives and liberals, conventional wisdom is that Perot siphoned away votes away from Bush – the first Bush – to help tilt the race in Clinton’s favor.*
Did you remember that?
Or did you remember “EIGHT YEARS OF DEMOCRAT IN OFFICE”?
See, that’s the problem with Presidential protest voting. You think you’re sending a message, but the guy who wins the Presidency hears “I won, I get to do what I think is best.” The guy who loses maybe hears a message, but that guy lost. And after two years of President-in-office, all those Presidential protest votes evaporate in people’s memories to become, well, another Democrat or a Republican won.
Note that I’m saying Presidential protest votes. Because here’s the thing: if you want to make legitimate change in what is and has always been a corrupt system, placing a single vote in the ultimate winner-take-all race is the worst fucking idea ever.
You want to change that system because it’s corrupt or nonrepresentative or what-have-you? Well, there’s a sliding scale here:
Voting in Presidential races to change the two-party system? You might as well poop your vote onto toilet paper.
Voting in Congressional races? Better. You have a chance of being heard.
Voting in midterm Congressional races? Now you’re getting golden. Midterm races are where only the ancient and entrenched vote, and a fresh face showing up when there’s not the Presidential dog-and-pony-race has an actual chance at producing change.
Writing letters and emails to Congressmen while they’re still in office, telling them what you will or will not support? Oh, you’re approaching the beatifics now, my friends. The truth is that most corruption isn’t actually hidden. It’s out in the open. We all know how much the NRA is paying politicians, we know how much the Koch brothers are pouring into races. But no one cares. If you care, well, that’s one politician who has to worry about losing your vote.
Voting smartly for local candidates? Oh my God, that’s right, your state governor and mayor and other officials exist, and chances are really good a few hundred votes can make a difference. Hell, mayors have gotten flung out of office because some old fart didn’t like the way the trash collectors left their cans on the lawn and mounted a crusade, so if you want to make a change, hey, start here.
And the absolute thing that will guarantee a change insofar as any one person can make a change?
Volunteer. Get out there and canvas. Get the local politicians indebted to you. Get voters on your side.
That’s how you make a difference.
I’m not saying not to vote in the Presidential elections. I am saying that the Presidential elections are the accumulated corruption of literally the entire country funneled through an avalanche of votes, and if you think you can change the system by showing up once every four years and spending ten minutes standing in line, then fuck are you egotistic.
Look, if you’re a disenfranchised Democrat who was disappointed with what Obama could accomplish, let Samantha Bee remind you how the 2010 election – where you young spitfire Democrats didn’t show up – completely fucked Obama by ushering in a new tide of crazies:
If you think you’re “fighting corruption” and “sending a message” by one third-party vote in the biggest campaign ever and then going home for half a decade, you done fucked up. Because the government is not just the President – you may note Obama struggling to pass laws through a Congress who hates him. And that Congress, in turn, is beholden to politicians in their home states.
Want change? I support change. But I don’t support it through the weaksauce mechanism of a single Presidential vote. You’re not going to get Jill Stein or Gary Johnson elected – which isn’t to say you shouldn’t vote for them if you believe in their candidacy, because if that’s the case you should. But if you’re voting for someone else to “send a message” to Hillary and/or Trump, well, a lot of people sent messages care of Ross Perot and yet somehow that package never got forwarded.
You can’t get Jill Stein or Gary Johnson elected – but with hard work you do stand a reasonable chance of getting a third-party option onto your city council, or into the mayor’s office, which may demonstrate that your neither-Democratic-nor-Republican policies are effective, which is the only way you’re going to actually send a message for the necessity of a third party. You need to work from the ground up, paying attention when the news headlines are not shoved into your face daily, actively participating in democracy as opposed to passively sitting back and having CNN stuff you full of poll results.
The Presidential Election makes it easy to know what’s going on. But the elections that you can use to change the system in are small, undocumented, often overlooked. The corruption is endemic, but part of the reason that corruption is endemic is because people don’t bother to show up – at the ballot boxes, at the volunteer office, at their politician’s mailbox.
Corruption sails by because people like you aren’t watching.
So yeah. If you’re pissed off about how Bernie got screwed by the DNC, voting for someone else in one election is a positively dumb way to fix that complaint. Former Bernie staffers have rallied to create Brand New Congress, which has as its goal electing, well, a brand-new Congress. Volunteer for them, donate to them, do something other than dorking up the ballot box with your single vote and going back to Netflix.
Or if Bernie’s not your guy, there’s plenty of other options out there! Google them! Find the local levers of change and start tugging those fuckers. If you’re furious, use that rage productively. I want you to go make permanent alterations to the fabric of our society. I want you to fight corruption, and entrenched interests, and politicians who no longer give a crap about you.
But you will not do that with your crappy Presidential protest vote. You’ll have to put more skin in the game.
Good luck. Because I damn well hope you do.
* – Not that he needed much help, honestly. Bush was a weak candidate.
It’s hard to look at the headlines when you’re facepalming. But I see my Facebook feed alight with various opinions on the election, all of which are wrong – so rather than screaming OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE at all of you individually, let me pull you into the corner and have a brief but compassionate talk:
To My Moderate Conservative Friends:
This is a tough time for you. For years, I’ve said “The Republican party is saturated with racist jerks who’d like to raze the Constitution to the ground,” and you said, “No, no, that’s not who we are, we believe in firm laws and equality.”
Then you wake up to discover that your official candidate’s a guy who literally doesn’t know how many articles the Constitution has, and David Duke is so thrilled by Trump’s candidacy he’s come out of the woodwork. You’re not a racist – I wouldn’t be friends with you if you were – but you’re realizing that Trump is representing an ignorant, anti-science, pro-white wing of the party that you tried very hard to convince me didn’t exist.
Worse, those people you claimed didn’t exist (or were just background noise) are, in fact, dominant.
That is a moment for soul-searching. And from what I see, y’all are doing it. And I commend you for that. And a lot of you are refusing to vote for Trump, as is correct.
However, while you’re soul-searching, take a moment to reflect deeper.
Because the party elders tried very hard to convince you that all of your fellow Republicans were as upstanding as you were – because they knew you might leave the party if you actually understood a lot of the people who stood with you were racists waiting for an excuse to stand back up again. This uncomfortable dissonance you’re feeling right now is because they knowingly suckered you into believing that your reasonable concerns were what most Republicans felt – and now you’re seeing that yeah, maybe not all, but a lot of Republicans are pulling that lever out of nationalistic white pride and foreign hatred.
You’ve been suckered already. This is a fact. It’s not shameful unless you refuse to learn from it.
I’d like you to ponder the fact that a lot of your hatred of Hillary Clinton may come from the same people who misled you about your fellow voters.
You’re not obliged to like her, of course. But consider that much of your reflexive “NEVER HILLARY!” information came from the same sources that told you yes, all your fellow Republicans want is what you want. Consider that a lot of the scandals around Hillary come from a thirty-year, well-funded, unending campaign to turn up dirt on her, and that campaign stemmed from the guys who suckered you.
I’m not saying she’s great. (Oh boy am I gonna unload on her in a second.) But if you’re seething with reflexive Hillary Hatred after years of headlines, take a moment to remember who fed you those headlines, and the other things they were feeding you. Then reexamine that from a more sober point of view.
(And if you’re starting to type your frothing answer on WHY HILLARY IS THE DEVIL within five seconds of finishing this discussion, you have failed to ponder. Try again. Try harder.)
To My Liberal Friends Saying “There’s No Difference” Between Hillary and Trump:
There’s no delicate way to say this, but do me a favor:
Look down at your hands.
Yeah, every one of you who said that and looked down at your hands will have noticed that you’re white.
It’s pretty easy to claim there’s no difference when you’re not the one he’s targeting. I get that you’re mad, and it’s a legitimate anger; Hillary’s a prickly candidate.
But do you think the Supreme Court Justices that Trump will nominate – and he will nominate them – will make no difference in your lifestyle ten years down the line? (Go look up Antonin Scalia’s record, then ponder Trump’s statements of Our Beloved Scalia, then ponder what the court would rule with four of him on the team.)
Do you think that your LGBTQ friends will be treated the same in a Hillary-as-President world versus a Trump-as-President world?
Do you think that Hillary will respond exactly the same to Putin’s invasion of foreign countries, when Trump has said explicitly that he won’t?
Do you think police reform and Black Lives Matter will be exactly the same in a Trump world versus a Hillary one?
Sure. Get mad. Claim that Hillary’s an awful candidate. But saying “There’s no difference” is the most selfish kind of tantrum, the kind where you don’t get the candidate you want and you overlook the many and manifest differences between “Not good” and “apocalyptically awful.”
I know you wanted to vote for someone, but all too often we vote against someone to keep the Seventh Seal plugged nice and tight. And I’m trying to say this nicely, but your sputterings of “There’s no difference!” comes from the quiet white privilege where the only hardships you’ll deal with are the economic ones. A lot of people who don’t share your skin tone will suffer if Trump gets elected, and they’ll suffer in ways that a Hillary election will not cause.
There is a difference between the two of them. What you’re actually saying is, “I don’t want to choose between a terrible option and total annihilation.” I’m sympathetic.
But that is the choice on the table, at least in terms of electability, so stop saying there’s no difference. There is a difference. You just want all good choices, and you’re not getting that, so please. Wake the hell up.
To My Bernie-Loving Friends:
The leaked DNC mails are ugly, it’s true. But I have to wonder:
Have you guys ever watched a political campaign?
I suspect if you had leaked emails from the 2008 campaign, you’d find the DNC equally biased against Barack Obama, and people asking all sorts of ugly questions about how to handle his blackness. But we don’t. Why?
Well, because Putin didn’t want McCain elected as badly as he wants Trump in office. That’s the guy who leaked this stuff, at a time proven to be maximally damaging, and so when reading those emails you should get mad but you should also a) consider who wanted you mad and why, and b) wonder what the RNC emails would look like if they were leaked.
Because guys – this is how the sausage gets made. It’s ugly. It’s never pretty. They’re going to discuss voting blocks in ugly, reductive ways, and they’re going to figure out lines of attack, and yes the DNC absolutely needs reform…
But do you notice one thing?
Notice how Bernie never won the black vote?
You know, that black vote that’s literally the only thing holding Trump back right now?
Fact is, Bernie had the odds stacked against him, but he fucked up by not funding enough of his black outreach team, and bobbling easy questions on race. Yeah, I know you think he should have convinced the black vote, but the fact is that black voters have had a lot of guys promising vast change and then tossing them away once they got into office, and Bernie was unable to connect with them.
If Bernie had won the black vote, guess what? He’d be the damn nominee right now. And yes, he had some hurdles to overcome, but it’s like Gore vs Bush in Florida – yeah, the votes got miscounted, but if Gore hadn’t sold out to the right-wing and alienated the left then no hanging chad could have stopped him.
Say it with me, folks: Bernie fucked up. The odds were stacked against him, but he knew that black voters were key to the nomination – or should have – and he kept putting his foot in his mouth.
And Bernie is not an unassailable candidate right now anyway, and I wish y’all would stop saying that he is. Hillary went after him with kid gloves. And the Republicans stayed away from him because he was such a soft target that they were eager for him to get into office. If you thought Hillary was nasty, ponder ads saying that “BERNIE SANDERS WANTS UNDERAGED CHILDREN TO MOLEST EACH OTHER,” and yes, you think Trump would be afraid to go there if he wasn’t trying to siphon away your vote right now?
My point is that yes, the DNC did shitty things. But that’s all of politics, and your idea that it’s only the DNC that did something reprehensible is part of that conspiracy theory myopia you have. The RNC also does shitty things. Leaked emails from Bernie’s campaign would probably make him look terrible. Nobody looks good while debating how to get people to vote for them, and yes, this is awful, but it’s the kind of awful that’s so commonplace that experienced political operatives are going, “…okay, yeah, that’s how this works.”
Get mad! But don’t get mad as if this is a special thing that the DNC did because they are their own unique flavor of evil. Get mad because politics is shitty.
And then remember that Barack Obama likely had it just as bad in 2008 and he won. The system is rigged, but all systems are rigged, and you can win it with a flood of votes just like Trump did.
Unfortunately, Bernie didn’t, so stop talking about him like he was the unqualified best choice. The “Unqualified best choice” would have gotten the most votes in the end. (Which isn’t the only thing that would make a candidate the “unqualified best,” but it sure as fuck is the start.)
There’s reason Bernie is still choosing to go after Trump instead of Hillary, my friends. Examine that.
You fucking hired Wasserman less than four hours after she got kicked out of the DNC?
Are you even trying to look good, woman?
Jesus, I’m voting for you and that looks bad. Cut it the fuck out.
To My Enthusiastically-Voting-For-Trump Friends:
OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
(EDIT: And for all of those who’ve shown up to tell me how your protest vote in this election will “Send a message,” I wrote Why Your Presidential Protest Vote Is A Wretched Idea.)
(This essay was written to raise funds for @Catlaughing; FetLife user @ThoughtMonster donated, and as their topic chose “In Defense of the Fedora.” If you’d like me to write 500-750 words on the topic of your choice, there’s still two slots open; this one, I thought was interesting enough to cross-post to my Real Blog.)
The fedora has, unfortunately, become the stylistic choice of a generation of asshats. All those guys who absorb the pick-up artist manuals for women and proceed to use them to treat women as some sort of vending machine for sex, where you manipulate the controls until the sex comes sliding out?
They have decided that fedoras are The Bomb.
I wear fedoras. (Or, more accurately, fedoras and trilbies, since trilbies go better with my funny head shape, but sadly no one ever knows the difference but hat aficionados.) I wear them because I look damn good in them.
Without that hat, all you’d see would be a bald spot and a funny-shaped head. The hat helps give definition to my face. I wear it because it’s an assistant to a doughy physiognomy, which helps me to look prettier. I do not wear the hat because I wish to attract women with my blatant peacocking, but because it makes me feel good to wear a fedora.
Anyway, when I approach you, I promise I don’t have any pick-up lines ready, nor do I have a couple of negs ready to unload to undermine your self-esteem enough that you might be willing to sleep with me to impress me. I promise you I don’t work like that. I promise you not every asshole wearing a fedora thinks like that.
But my other promise is this: I promise not to get too upset if you lump me in with those clowns.
Look, how the hell would you have any way of knowing who I am? It’s not information that can be magically transmitted to you. No, all you have to judge me at first is by what I wear – and unfortunately, a lot of really irritating and slimy dudes have chosen, without even checking with me, to don the fedora as their outfit of choice.
Now, if you’ve run into enough of these bozos that you’ve come to associate me with them, well, it hurts… but I feel that a lot of my hurt should be directed at the people who are making me look bad. You have been, sadly, the victim of enough bad behavior from these fedora-wearing choads that I think it’s piling hurt on top of hurt to get pissy at you when yeah, five out of the last seven guys who had this outfit tried real hard to sleep with you. Maybe even tried to work you over, emotionally or physically, to get in your pants.
Me telling you, “You shouldn’t judge me by this hat that other assholes wear!” is, in fact, a way of saying, “You should lower your defense mechanisms for my convenience!” And if your hard-earned personal wisdom includes the direct experience that “Dudes in fedoras are likely to be creepsters,” well, then, I get why the shields went up.
Because I have my own biases! Me, I’m suspicious of old white guys in suits, because every time I see some asshole on television screwing over poor people, it’s some old white guy in a suit. I’m not saying it’s right to exclude white guys in suits from your parties because they might be self-centered Republicans, nor would it be right to pull them over in cars on suspicion of banking fraud just because they’re old, white, and driving a nice Maserati.
What I am saying that if your personal experience – and I stress “personal” experience, not as in “I’ve seen those bankers destroying our economy on NPR’s website!” experience – is that whenever you’ve seen some guy in a fedora, he’s been about to slobber all over you, I’m going to try not to take it personally when you initially respond to my behatted self with trepidation.
Yet at the same time, you have to realize there’s a balance between personal experience, media experience, and legitimate bias. Because somewhere, there’s a dude who got mugged three times by Hispanics, and now treats every Hispanic as a thief-in-waiting….
And then that guy told his story, which confirmed to someone else that “All Hispanics are thieves,” and then that guy told enough people so the cops started profiling Hispanics because shit, they’re gonna cause trouble, and then next thing you know there’s real legitimate discrimination.
It’s complex. I do not want to tell you to ignore the experience of your own senses to put you at risk of abuse by asshole pick-up artists in hats. But I do want to tell you, “If your assumptions about guys in fedoras comes mainly from reading articles that other people have written instead of actually talking to guys in fedoras,” well, keep in mind that you’re working with second-hand evidence, even if you trust the people who wrote those articles implicitly.
The people you trust implicitly have their own biases, and you’re at the biggest risk from importing them.
Because the way legitimate discrimination works is that people shorthand and amplify – “I got mugged by Hispanics” turns into “Hispanics mug everybody who looks like me” turns into an unquestioned assumption that guys who look a certain way (because not every Hispanic has the brown skin and the mustache and the cholo outfit) are all criminals and should be shunned.
The world is complex, so people make shortcuts. And the best way to fight those shortcuts is to recognize that the shortcut is not the person. If you choose not to talk to me because I look like some slimy MRA asshole, that’s fine, but then don’t conclude that I am a slimy MRA asshole. Don’t use a time when you didn’t interact with me at all to reinforce your personal experiences.
Because somewhere, a black guy in a sketchy neighborhood is walking past a white person’s car, and that person is mashing the “lock” button to protect themselves. And there’s two ways you can do that:
“I don’t know this guy’s motivation, but I’m not prepared to take the risk right now.”
“You see that guy? Total mugger. I just locked him out. God, this neighborhood is terrible.”
In the first, you acknowledge your own potential bias, keep a watch on it, and allow for the introduction of new data.
In the second, your bias has just confirmed itself, even though nothing actually happened.
For me personally, the fedora-bias isn’t a big whoop. Occasionally some feminist leaves a comment assuming that because I wear a fedora, I must be a Men’s Rights Advocate who sneers at consent – which proves that nobody’s free of stupidity. And it means that some women are less likely to sleep with me, but since I don’t see “getting fucked” as a right I was denied, but rather as an activity I am obliged to convince partners is as good for them as I’d like it to be for me, that’s no big loss.
And, you know, I believe the “Not all men” argument is insidious bullshit. Not all Waffle Houses are altars of food poisoning, but if you get sick enough times you start skipping Waffle House to go to Bob Evans. Not every Waffle House has to guarantee you diarrhea before you say, “You know, I’d rather not.” You should have a right to make your own decisions on what’s safe.
But at the same time, with every right comes a responsibility, and the responsibility for “choosing your own dangers” should be “recognizing the potential for internalizing other people’s misinformation and treating them as fact.”
You don’t have to hug every fedora-wearer. You don’t even have to be particularly nice to them.
You just have to go, “I don’t know, and I’m unwilling to take the risk, but that doesn’t mean I’m right.”
That is, I think, the best you can do in the real world.