Missouri GOP Chief: Registering Voters “Disgusting” and “Inappropriate”

By Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story:

The head of the Missouri Republican Party said Tuesday that efforts to register voters in Ferguson, Missouri, were “disgusting” and unhelpful.

“If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is,” Missouri RNC executive director Matt Wills told Breitbart News. “I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”

Wills was responding to reports that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other civil rights activists had set up voter registration booths following the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager who was killed by a Ferguson police officer.

Right. Because encouraging people who have been grossly mistreated by their government to take peaceful, legal action to change that government — that’s disgusting and inappropriate. But they’re also not supposed to protest loudly in the streets. So what are people supposed to do when they’ve been grossly mistreated by their government?

Oh, right. Nothing. They are supposed to do nothing. This is not their government, and they are not supposed to push for it to change in any way.

Just in case we needed any more evidence that the Republican Party is the party that is actively opposed to the very idea of democracy

Fuck you, Republican Party.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Michael Brown and Ferguson: My Greatest Fears for My Friends

Please note: This blog post has a different comment policy from my usual one. It appears at the end of the post.

I keep not writing about this. I keep saying to myself, “This isn’t a good day — I have a deadline; I’m traveling; I just got home from traveling.” I keep saying to myself, “I don’t know enough about it; I haven’t been following it closely enough; other people are already saying what I want to say about it, more eloquently and with better information.”

And I keep realizing that this is bullshit. I keep not writing about this because it’s painful. And that is a bullshit excuse. Any pain I might have about this is completely trivial. And it doesn’t matter that others have written about it. This is one of those times when it doesn’t matter if my voice is original. This is one of those times when being one more person saying, “This is not acceptable, I do not consent to this” is what matters.

*****

I keep thinking about the children in my life, and the young adults in my life. I keep thinking about what my fears are for most of them: global warming, gross economic disparity hand in hand with political corruption, loss of anything resembling privacy.

And then I think about the black male children in my life, and the young black men in my life. And I realize that my greatest fear for them is that they’ll get shot by a cop.

Howard University Mike Brown protest hands up don't shootMy greatest fear for them is that they will get into a car accident, go to a house for help, and get shot by a cop. My greatest fear is that they will pick up a BB gun in a Wal-Mart, and get shot by cops. My greatest fear is that they walk home from a convenience store with a bag of candy, and get shot by neighborhood watch. My greatest fear is that they will get into a fight on a train platform, get restrained face down on that platform, and get shot in the back by a cop. My greatest fear is that they will be walking in broad daylight, and get shot by a copsix times, when they have their hands in the air, and are pleading, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

Actually — that’s not even it. My greatest fear for the black male children in my life, and the young black men in my life, is that they’ll get shot by a cop — and will get no justice.

My greatest fear is that is that they’ll get shot by a cop, and that their body will be left in the street for hours. My greatest fear is that people protesting their death will be met with militarized police behaving like an occupying army — stalking the streets with drawn weapons, firing rubber bullets and tear gas, and screaming at them, “Bring it, all you fucking animals! Bring it!” My greatest fear is that reporters covering their death, and the protests against their death, will be arrested, and that cops will assault them and threaten them with macing or shooting.

My greatest fear is that they’ll get shot by a cop for the crime of existing while black, while elsewhere in the country, white people openly defy the law, threaten armed revolt against the government, and point guns at law enforcement officials — and the government fires no guns, fires no tear gas, and eventually retreats and concedes the ground.

My greatest fear is that, despite a well-documented pattern of unarmed black men getting shot by cops again and again and again, despite four unarmed black men being killed by cops in the last month alone, millions of people commenting on their death will contort themselves into hyper-skeptical pretzels trying to explain why their shooting had nothing to with race.

And my greatest fear is that nothing they do in their life will protect them from any this. My greatest fear is that they will play by every rule they’re told to play by — play sports, do volunteer work, get married, go to college — and that none of it will protect them.

A few days ago, a friend and colleague of mine — an African American woman with a young black son — was asking on Facebook where she should seek asylum. Canada? New Zealand? Sweden? No part of me even considered saying, “That’s ridiculous, the United States is as safe for you and your son as any place in the world.” I didn’t even ask her what she was talking about. I knew exactly what she was talking about.

Back when I was young and naive, I used to play a pointless game in my head of comparing and contrasting marginalizations. And when I was pondering homophobia, I would say to myself, “Well, there are certainly many ways that other bigotries are worse — but being gay is literally against the law. It’s never been literally against the law to be female, to be poor, to be black.”

I don’t say that anymore.

For all intents and purposes, it is against the law in the United States to be a young black man. To be a young black man in the United States is a crime — punishable by summary execution.


The comment policy on this post is the same as it was on my Trayvon Martin post: I am not willing to host a debate about this on my blog. I am willing to host many debates on my blog, about many issues. I am willing to make my blog into a place for people to express many ideas and opinions with which I passionately disagree. This is not one of those issues, and this is not one of those times. If you have anything at all to say about this that even remotely hints at implying that Michael Brown’s murder was justified or that the police response has been reasonable and proportionate — do not comment in my blog. Now, or ever. Do not read my blog. Do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Do not attend my talks. Do not buy my books. Get the fuck out of my life, now. Thank you.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

“When you tell us how to talk about religion, you are telling us how to discuss our abuse.”

Brilliant, must-read piece by Alex Gabriel, on how accomodationist one-policing in atheism amounts to telling victims of religious abuse how to speak about their abuse: To the atheist tone police: stop telling me how to discuss my abuse.

It is a form of privilege to be an atheist who’s never experienced religious abuse, as many of us have who are antagonistic.

It is privilege blindness to expect — without a clue what we’ve experienced or what it means to us — that we give up our self-expression so that you can form alliances with faith communities that deeply injured us.

It is tone-policing if when you’re not telling us to shut up about it, you’re telling us how to talk about it. How dare you tell us to be more respectful.

It is splaining if your answer when we detail histories of religious abuse is ‘Yes, but’ — or if you tell us we can’t blame religion for it since not all believers do the same. We know the details. You don’t.

It is gaslighting dismissing justified anger about widespread, structural religious abuse by telling us we’re bitter or hateful.

It’s civility politics implying our anger, bitterness or hatred is just as unacceptable, siding with the aggressor by prioritising believers’ feelings over ours on the false pretence of neutrality.

It’s respectability politics implying we need to earn an end to bigotry we face by getting on politely with believers, throwing those of us under the bus who can’t or won’t sing kumbaya.

It’s internalised bigotry shaming atheists for being stereotypical — smug, scornful and the rest — for letting the side down, instead of asserting our collective rights however we express ourselves.

It is victim-blaming to treat atheists who are stereotypical as a legitimate cause of anti-atheist bigotry or hatred.

It is tokenisation to impose on any individual the burden of representing atheists so our collective status can be judged by how they act.

And it is deeply, deeply problematic to cheer for snarky, confrontational firebrands of social justice who take on mass structures or beliefs that ruined their lives… then boo snarky, confrontational atheist firebrands off the stage who’ve survived religious abuse.

Read the rest.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Greta Speaking in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Amherst NY! (Plus Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO!)

UPDATE: The location of the Cincinnati event on September 16 has been changed, and it no longer involves a dinner thing. Details are below.

I have a mega-epic speaking tour coming up in the Midwest and East! I’ll be in Grand Rapids, MI; Farmington Hills, MI (near Detroit); Cleveland, OH; Amherst, NY; Akron, OH; Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH; and Indianapolis, IN.

Here are details about this tour, as well as my other upcoming speaking gigs — including Charlotte, NC; Sacramento, CA; and Springfield, MO. If you’re in any of these cities, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Grand Rapids, MI
DATE: Wednesday, September 10
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton St Grand Rapids, MI
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry – Michigan
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free and open to the public (suggested donation $5)
EVENT URL: http://www.cfimichigan.org/events/event/w-lecture-091014/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/751180984920178/

CITY: Farmington Hills, MI (near Detroit)
DATE: Thursday, September 11
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, 28611 W 12 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills, MI
HOSTS/SPONSORS: CFI – Michigan and the Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
EVENT URL: http://www.cfimichigan.org/events/event/se-lecture-091114/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/751180984920178/?ref=5

CITY: Cleveland, OH
DATE: Friday, September 12
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Mavis Winkles Irish Pub & Restaurant, 5005 Rockside Road, Cleveland, OH
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: CFI Community of Northeast Ohio
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/CFI-NEO/events/201063462/

CITY: Amherst, NY
DATE: Saturday, September 13
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: CFI – Transnational, 3965 Rensch Rd., Amherst, NY
(Across from the UB North Campus on Sweet Home Road. Plenty of free parking is available.)
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: CFI – Western New York
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free for members, $5.00 for non-members, open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/wny/events/greta_christina_coming_out_atheist/

CITY: Akron, OH
DATE: Sunday, September 14
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance at the University of Akron
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: TBA

CITY: Columbus, OH
DATE: Monday, September 15
TIME: 7:30 pm
LOCATION: Thompson Library, Room 165, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance at The Ohio State University
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: https://www.facebook.com/events/794817570559066/

CITY: Cincinnati, OH (actually in Newport, KY)
DATE: Tuesday, September 16
TIME: 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel, 668 W. 5th, Covington, KY (Texas room upstairs)
Now at Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, KY
(From the Parking Garage: Take the Gallery Building elevators to the Riverwalk Level. The CommunityCenter Suites are located opposite of GameWorks. We are in Suite B.)
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Tri-State Freethinkers
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/events/200713502/
NOTE: Dinner will be available at the meeting. (It is what pays for the room.) Please RSVP through the Meetup.
UPDATE: Because of the change in venue, dinner is no longer happening as part of this event.

CITY: Indianapolis, IN
DATE: Wednesday September 17
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Center for Inquiry – Indiana, 350 Canal Walk, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry – Indiana
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/indy/events/greta_christina/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bridgett “Bria” Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; Fred Edwords; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Jamie Kilstein, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Heina Dadabhoy, Amy Davis Roth (“Surly Any”), Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben “Sweatervest” Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, Sheree Renee Thomas, Kayley Whalen, Daniel Bier, Peggy Mason, Dr. David Gorski, Scott Clifton, JT Eberhard.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Greta Speaking This Weekend in Denver, Los Angeles, and Costa Mesa! Plus Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO!

I’m going to be speaking this weekend in Denver, Los Angeles, and Costa Mesa! in Denver I’ll be at the Colorado Secular Conference) — along with Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Mandisa Thomas, and many more awesome speakers — and I’ll be in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa with the CFI groups. Here are details about this and my other upcoming speaking gigs — including Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

colorado secular conference billboard

CITY: Denver, CO (Colorado Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday August 15 – Sunday August 17
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, Aurora, CO
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Colorado Coalition of Reason, with other local groups
TOPIC: Celebrating Secular Diversity
SUMMARY: Making organized atheism more diverse will help make our movement larger and stronger. And it’s also the right thing to do. What are some of the obstacles to diversity? What are some practical steps we can take to become more diverse? And why is this issue so important?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, Mandisa Thomas, Rebecca Hale, Steve Hill, Raúl Martínez, Mikey Weinstein, Amanda Metskas, August Brunsman, David Tamayo, and more.
COST: $35 – $175
EVENT URL: http://www.cosecularconference.org/

CITY: Los Angeles, CA
DATE: Sunday, August 17
TIME: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
LOCATION: Center for Inquiry-L.A., 4773 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry-L.A
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free for Friends of the Center: $8 for the public: $4 for students (with ID)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/la/events/coming_out_atheist/

CITY: Costa Mesa, CA
DATE: Sunday, August 17
TIME: 4:30 pm
LOCATION: Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. Costa Mesa, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry-L.A/Community of Orange County
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free for Friends of the Center: $8 for the public: $4 for students (with ID)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/oc/events/feed_your_brain_lecture_series1/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bria Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, JT Eberhard, and more.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

LGBT Americans Are “Significantly Less Religious” – And There’s Almost No Gender Difference

So this is interesting.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, LGBT Americans are less religious than straight Americans. Like, a lot less. Here are the numbers:

gallup poll lgbt americans less religious

If you can’t see that image: 24% of LGBT Americans are highly religious; 29% are moderately religious; and a whopping 47% are not religious.

I’ll say that again: 47% of LGBT Americans are not religious.

Almost half.

Compare that to non LGBT Americans. 41% of non LGBT Americans are highly religious; 29% are moderately religious; and 30% are not religious.

So there’s two things I want to pull out of this data.

heresy makes for progress women in secularism logoOne is the gender breakdown. One of the most consistent patterns in these religiosity polls — for Americans, anyway — is the gender difference, with women consistently polling as more religious than men. (That shows up in this poll as well. Among male non-LGBT Americans, 36% are highly religious; 28% are moderately religious; and 35% are not religious. Among female non-LGBT Americans, 45% are highly religious; 30% are moderately religious; and 25% are not religious.) Many ideas have been floated about why this is, from “women have more pressure on us to be religious” and “religion is one of the few spheres where women have power and influence” to assorted evo-pysch explanations arguing that women are just born that way.

I hope this survey puts the last nail in the coffin of the evo-psych explanations. Because among LGBT Americans, there is almost no gender difference in how religious we are. Among male LGBT Americans, 25% are highly religious; 26% are moderately religious; and 49% are not religious. Among female LGBT Americans, 24% are highly religious; 31% are moderately religious; and 46% are not religious. That’s a tiny, tiny difference. Whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it disappears among LGBT Americans. Unless you’re going to argue that queers are just born this way — that queer women’s brains are born radically different from straight women’s brains, in a way that somehow links sexual orientation and/or gender identity with religiosity — you now have to accept that whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it’s not inborn.

The other thing I want to pull out of this data: Almost half of LGBT Americans are not religious. So LGBT organizations need to wake the fuck up.

LGBT organizations that present LGBT people as religious in an attempt to make us seem mainstream and nice — and that throw LGBT atheists under the bus — need to wake the fuck up. LGBT organizations that bend over backwards to court interfaith alliances, while ignoring alliance-building with atheist organizations and communities, need to wake the fuck up. Major LGBT conferences that have approximately 764,906 sessions about religion, with three sessions about atheism, need to wake the fuck up.

rainbow_atheist_scarlet_letterI don’t know how many of those non-religious LGBT Americans are self-identified atheists, and how many are non-believers under some other name (humanist, agnostic, non-believer, etc.), and how many are “spiritual but not religious,” and how many just don’t think of themselves as religious but don’t give that a name because they don’t consider the issue to be very important. I’d like to see that data. And I don’t know why exactly we would be so much less religious than straight people: David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement, where I saw this data in the first place, has a pretty good analysis, as does Gallup itself. But however that data breaks down, the bottom line is clear, and it’s important: LGBT Americans are much, much less religious than straight Americans. Almost half of LGBT Americans are not religious. So LGBT organizations need to wake the fuck up.

We’re here. We’re queer. We don’t believe in God.

Get used to it.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Depression, and the “Throw Everything Against the Wall” Method of Care

Please note: I am not a doctor. I am not a therapist. I am not a mental health care professional, or indeed a health care professional of any kind. I’m just talking about myself here, and my own experiences. Also, please note that while the self-care techniques I’m talking about here can be an effective part of a treatment plan for depression, none of them is treatment all by itself, and none of them is a substitute for therapy, medication, or other medical care.

I wish I had something to say about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide. I don’t — nothing other than “Fuck, that’s awful, that’s so sad,” nothing that hasn’t been said by many other people better than I could say it. But a lot of people have been talking about depression in the last couple of days, and I have some stuff I’ve been wanting to write about that, so that’s where I’ll go.

partly open windowI’ve written before about one of the smartest pieces of advice I ever got about depression, one that’s become a cornerstone of my depression self-care — both when I’m in a depressive episode, and when I’m not and am working to stabilize and improve my mental health. I was talking with a friend about the horrible self-perpetuating nature of depression, and how the depression itself saps my motivation to do the things I need to do to take care of my depression, and what a fucked-up vicious circle this was. The advice I got was this: If I ever have a window in which I feel any motivation at all to do any form of self-care, I should do it. When I’m in the middle of a bad episode, those windows don’t open very often, so I should walk through them when they do. And even when I’m not having a bad episode, I don’t always feel motivated to do mental health self-care — but doing it whenever I do have the motivation makes my mental health more robust, and makes a relapse less likely.

Now, if you asked me which form of mental health care was most important, and which I would do first if one of those windows opened up, I could probably give you a roughly prioritized list. But a more accurate and honest answer to “which form of mental health care is most important?” would probably be: All of them. What works best for me is to do every form of effective mental health care I know of, as much as I have time and energy and money for. What works best for me is to throw everything I have against the wall, and hope that some of it sticks.

There’s a couple of reasons this works for me. For one thing, when a motivation window opens up, it’s often very specific. I don’t always get a general jolt of motivation to do anything at all that will alleviate my depression. Instead, I get a specific glimmer of motivation to meditate; to masturbate; to get dressed and go to the cafe; to take a long walk outside. So even though exercise is one of the highest priorities on my mental health care checklist, if I have a sudden glimmer of motivation to meditate, then I meditate. (I was actually at the gym the other day, feeling irritable and unfocused and spending as much time staring out the window as I was working out — so I quit my workout, and found a quiet-ish corner, and meditated instead. Totally the right decision. My brain needed the self-care that day more than my muscles did.)

paint splatter 2Throwing everything at the wall also gives me more options when I have more than one window of motivation. If I’m doing better, and I have a fair amount of motivation to do a fair amount of mental health care… well, I’m not going to meditate three times a day, or go to the gym three times a day. But I might meditate, and go to the gym, and go out to the cafe. And doing all three gets more care into my system.

And maybe most importantly: Throwing everything at the wall just makes my mental health recovery more robust, and more resilient. It gives it a broader, more solid foundation. I don’t always know what’s going to make me feel better, either immediately or in the longer term. But if I’m doing all of it, or as much of it as I can do, I’m playing the odds. I’m increasing my chances that one or more of the things will have an effect. If I throw everything I have at the wall, there’s a better chance that at least something will stick.

So here’s what I’m throwing against the wall.

Meds. I never blow this off. I take my meds every day.

Talk therapy. I never blow this off unless I’m sick. I sometimes have to schedule my therapy around my travel schedule, but if I have a therapy appointment in my calendar, I go unless I’m so sick I can’t think or talk.

(Note: According to what I’ve read, research shows that therapy plus meds is more effective on depression than either therapy alone or meds alone. Can anyone with more familiarity with the current research confirm or deny that?)

dumb-bellExercise. I try to take at least a 20 minute walk every day. I don’t always succeed, but I wind up doing this about 4-5 days a week. I also try to make my exercise more vigorous — going to the gym, dancing, taking a longer walk, something — 2-3 days a week. I don’t always succeed, but when I aim for this, I get more exercise than when I don’t.

Socializing. When I’m in the middle of a bad episode, or am teetering on the brink of one or pulling out of one, one thing I do if I can is make specific plans to see people. If I don’t have anything in my calendar, it’s all too easy to just stay home and stew in my own juices — but if I have a lunch date in my calendar, I almost never blow it off. And I know that seeing other people is one of the most important and powerful anti-depressants in my repertoire.

Leaving the house. When I’m in the middle of a bad episode, or am teetering on the brink of one or pulling out of one, I make it a priority to leave the house at least once every day. As a writer, it’s easy to just stay home in my bathrobe all day, and when I’m not having trouble with depression, that’s fine. But when I am having trouble, I make getting out of the house a priority. If for no other reason, it kills two birds with one stone: it gets me into the sunlight, and it gets me interacting with other people, even if it’s just a five-minute conversation with the barrista at the cafe. And working in a cafe, even if I’m just sitting alone at a table and not talking with anyone except to order more coffee, still feels less isolating than working at home alone.

Time outdoors, especially in the daytime. See above, re: leaving the house.

Meditating in urban environmentMeditating. My goal is to meditate every day. The reality is that I meditate about 5-6 days a week. It helps enormously.

Getting the right amount of sleep: not too much, not too little.

Sensual pleasures. Sex, masturbating, eating delicious healthy food, taking a long bath with bath scrubs, getting a manicure, getting a massage, taking the time to put together an outfit I enjoy… you get the drill. I try to do at least one of these every day. That’s a larger and somewhat complicated topic — there’s something weird about treating pleasure as medicine — but it helps, so I do it.

Writing. This is weirdly tricky: when my depression is bad, lots of extended time on the computer isn’t good for me. And when my depression is bad, it’s easy for writing time to turn into “dicking around for hours reading just one more thing on Facebook” time. But writing is activity, and writing gives my life purpose and meaning and forward direction, and writing gives my experience shape and cohesion, and writing makes me feel connected, and writing makes my brain feel better in ways and for reasons I can’t explain and don’t entirely understand.

That’s my mental health care toolkit. That’s what I’m throwing at the wall. What about you? If you experience depression, or have in the past — what’s in your mental health care toolkit? Do you have priorities among your tools, or do you prioritize whatever it is you have the motivation to do?



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Anger, Tone Policing, and Some Thoughts on Good Cop, Bad Cop

So what works better to change people’s minds? Calm, respectful, patient empathetic engagement that offers solutions and is open to compromise — or snarky, uncompromising anger?

I’m going to offer up a data point of one here — that data point being myself.

Back in 2010, I wrote a piece about body policing in popular culture, examining how celebrity gossip magazines give contradictory and impossible-to-follow messages about dieting and bodies, and how they applaud celebrities for staying rail-thin while at the same time gasping in horror about disordered eating. I titled the piece “Don’t Feed the Stars!: Celebrity Bodies and Gossip’s New Schizophrenia.”

I immediately got pushback on that title from more than one person, who complained that using the word “schizophrenia” as a pejorative was insulting to mentally ill people and contributed to their marginalization. One person in the conversation, Kit Whitfield, was very patient with me: they politely asked me to reconsider using the word; calmly explained why it was a problem; made it clear that they basically liked and respected me and just wanted to point out this one problem; stuck with me throughout several rounds of back-and-forth; and stuck with me even when I was getting snippy and defensive.

Sara K., on the other hand, just got angry — not only at my original post, but at my conversation with Kit. In a very snarky tone, she called me out on my privilege, and on how screwed-up it was for me to be telling a marginalized person how to talk about their marginalization with a privileged person. She made it clear that she basically liked and respected me, but she made it every bit as clear that she had lost some of that respect.

At the time, my reaction was to think, “Sara’s being a mean jerk! Kit is so awesome! It’s hard to hear people tell you you’re wrong, but it’s so much easier when they’re being nice and patient! Why can’t everyone be more like Kit?” (I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me. What can I say: I wasn’t as good at the social justice stuff back then.)

But in retrospect, it’s clear that both of these people were important in changing my mind.

I definitely valued Kit’s patience, their sympathy, their willingness to stay focused on the content and to overlook when I was getting impatient and snippy. But it was Sara who made me realize that this was important. It was Sara who made me realize that people were really being hurt by this — hurt enough to get angry, hurt about to get unpleasant with someone they basically liked and respected.

In the moment that this conversation was happening, I was getting that hot, defensive flush that you get when you’re doing something wrong and don’t want to admit it. You know — the Cognitive Dissonance Contortion Tango. So in the moment, of course I was happier with the person who was being all reassuring about how I wasn’t a bad person. But in order to take this seriously, I also needed the person who wasn’t reassuring me; who was forcing that cognitive dissonance on me; who was making me realize that I was not in fact being a good person, and that if I wanted to be a good person, I needed to change.

It took me a little while, but I am now being much more careful about using language that marginalizes the mentally ill. I am being much more careful about using words like “crazy” or “nuts” in a pejorative way, and about using words like “schizophrenic” to mean anything other than “having been diagnosed with the illness of schizophrenia.” And in fact, this conversation, and others like it, helped me accept the reality of my own mental illness. In realizing that my language was “other”-ing, and in working to not do that, I found it easier to not see mentally ill people as “other” — which made it easier to accept myself as one of them.

My point: “Good cop, bad cop” works.

Yes, in that hot, flushed moment when we’re doing the Cognitive Dissonance Tango, we respond more positively to the good cop. But that doesn’t mean the bad cop isn’t having an effect.

So when people are telling us things we don’t want to hear, the best reaction probably isn’t, “Why can’t you be nicer about it?” It’s an admission that we’ve lost the argument anyway: if all we can say is “You’d be more convincing if you were nicer,” and we’re not actually addressing their content, we might as well throw in the towel and not dig ourselves in deeper. (With our towel. Okay, I think I need to abandon that mixed metaphor.) But it’s also just not true. The good cops show us that we can be better people, and help show us how to do it. The bad cops show us that we’re screwing up at this “being a good person” thing, and they help show us exactly how. As uncomfortable as it is, we need both.

So belated thanks, to both Kit Whitfield and Sara K. I’m a better person now, thanks to you both.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11, Episode 11

sytycd logoAs regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.)

So the main thing I want to point out about this episode: This is the first episode, of the entire competition this season, in which a man was more naked than the woman in any performance.

There have been six episodes in this competition so far (not counting auditions, for reasons explained in the first post). In the significant majority of the performances, the women have been more naked than the men; there have been a handful of performances in which there has been rough nudity parity, and the women and men showed about the same amount of skin. But this is the first episode in which the man was more naked than the woman, in any performance.

The first one. All season.

I’m just sayin’, is all.

So here’s how it broke down this week. (Note for people who are following this nudity parity watch but are not watching the show itself: The reason you’re suddenly seeing new names and faces among the dancers is that the competitors are now dancing with All-Stars, performers from previous seasons, instead of with one another.)

sytycd s11e11 opening group numberOpening group routine, hip-hop
Women are more naked than men (women have bare arms, bare midriffs, V-neck necklines, three of five have bare thighs with opaque stockings, men have short sleeves).

sytycd s11e11 bridget brandonBridget and Brandon, Bollywood disco (yes, really)
Man is slightly more naked than woman, FOR THE ONLY TIME SO FAR IN ANY PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON (woman has bare midriff, one bare arm, bare back, long flowy skirt showing shins and sometimes spinning up to show more of legs, man is shirtless).

sytycd s11e11 tanisha ryanTanisha and Ryan, Argentine tango
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare back, mostly bare legs, very deep V-neck neckline, man is completely covered).

sytycd s11e11 emilio jasmineEmilio and Jasmine, hip-hop
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare back, bare midriff, bare sternum, bare sides down over hips — in fact, her entire torso is pretty much exposed except for her breasts and some straps to hold things in place here and there; man has short sleeves).

sytycd s11e11 valerie adeValerie and Ade, jazz
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare legs, I think a bare back although it might be illusion netting, man has short sleeves). Also, her front torso is largely clad in flesh tone fabric that gives the impression of nudity, including her breasts.

sytycd s11e11 rudy jennaRudy and Jenna, cha-cha
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare legs, bare back, bare midriff, bare sternum, man has bare arms, vest open to bare chest and midriff).

sytycd s11e11 jacque chehonJacque & Chehon, contemporary
Rough nudity parity (woman has bare arms, bare legs, man is shirtless). However, she has illusion netting giving the impression of nudity on much of her torso and back.

sytycd s11e11 ricky laurenRicky & Lauren, jazz
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare legs, deep neckline, slight keyhole under breasts, man has short sleeves).

sytycd s11e11 casey kathrynCasey & Kathryn, Broadway
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare back, deep scoop neckline, long skirt with slit that swirls up to show bare legs, man is completely covered).

sytycd s11e11 jessica twitchJessica & Twitch, hip-hop
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare legs, bare midriff, bare sternum, bare forearms, man has bare forearms).

sytycd s11e11 zack amyZack & Amy, contemporary
Woman is slightly more naked than man (woman has bare arms, long flowy sheer skirt that shows bare legs, bare sternum, largely bare midriff, man is shirtless).

sytycd s11e11 christina perry kathryn chehonKathryn & Chehon, backing Christina Perry song
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare back, long flowy sheer skirt that shows bare legs, deep V-neck neckline, he has bare arms, deep scoop neckline).



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11, Episode 10

sytycd logoAs regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.)

Sorry this post is so late, btw (this post documents the SYTYCD episode that aired on July 30 — the last couple of weeks have been a little, let’s say, challenging). I don’t have any particular analysis of this episode, except to note that the pattern that’s been consistent throughout this season has been an overwhelming lack of nudity parity between the male and female dancers, and this episode is no exception.

sytycd s11e10 opening group numberOpening group routine, contemporary
Women are more naked than men (women have bare arms, bare backs, long skirts with deep slits that mostly show bare legs, men have bare arms or short sleeves).

sytycd s11e10 bridget & emilioBridget & Emilio, jazz
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare midriff, low scoop neckline, largely bare back, he is comoletely covered). Also, her outfit is largely skin-tight, his outfit is a regular-fitting suit.

sytycd s11e10 tanisha rudyTanisha & Rudy, contemporary
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare back, deep V-neck, flowy skirt with a diagonal cut to hip that shows mostly bare legs, he has shirt unbuttoned to show chest and belly).

sytycd s11e10 jacque zackJacque & Zack, paso doble
Woman is more naked than man (she has lace stockings largely showing legs, bare shoulders, largely bare back, lacy sleeves partly showing arms, keyhole neckline, he is completely covered).

sytycd s11e10 emily teddyEmily & Teddy, Broadway
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare legs, bare back, bare upper arms, somewhat deep V-neck, he has bare forearms, shirt unbuttons to deep V-neck).

sytycd s11e10 jessica caseyJessica & Casey, contemporary
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, flowy slit skirt that mostly shows bare legs, bare upper back, largely bare sternum, he has short sleeves, slightly scooped neckline).

sytycd s11e10 carly sergeCarly & Serge, quick-step
Woman is more naked than man (she has bare arms, bare back, bare sides, partly bare midriff, deep V-neck, he is completely covered).

sytycd s11e10 valerie rickyValerie & Ricky, hip-hop
Rough nudity parity (both dancers are pretty much completely covered, she has a slight scoop neckline). However, her legs are covered with skin-tight tights, her arms are covered with skin-tight flesh-toned sleeves, he’s wearing regular-fitting trousers and shirt.

Note: The mini-group routines, solo routines, and guest routine can’t be used in a strict gender parity comparison. The mini-group routines weren’t like the couples routines where one man and one woman are put into the same performance by the same choreographer and presumably costumed by the same costume designer; I assume that the guest performers picked their own costumes; and as far as I know, the dancers pick their own costumes for the solo routines. But for the sake of completism, I’m documenting them anyway.

MINI-GROUP ROUTINES

sytycd s11e10 mini group womenMini-group routine 1, all women, contemporary
Bare backs, bare arms, long flowy slit skirt mostly showing bare legs, mostly deep V-necks or deep scoop necklines (all have some bareness of sternum/chest), some bare midriffs.

sytycd s11e10 mini group menMini-group routine 2, all men, contemporary
Bare chests and backs
Note: There was some interesting gender non-normativity in this routine, both in the dance style and in the costumes, which featured flowy skirt-like things, similar to skirts often worn by women in the contemporary routines. However, rather than having their legs bare underneath, their legs are covered.

GUEST ROUTINE: ACADEMY OF VILLAINS

sytycd s11e10 guest routine academy of villainsAcademy of Villains, hip-hop, mixed-gender
All dancers literally entirely covered, including masks.

SOLOS
(Sorry, I couldn’t find still images of the solo performances, but the video links should work)

Serge solo, Latin ballroom
Bare forearms

Carly solo, contemporary
Bare legs, bare arms, bare back, largely bare midriff, deep scoop neckline

Casey solo, contemporary
Bare arms, very deep scoop neckline

Emily, contemporary
Bare legs, lacy back and sleeves that are partly see-through

Teddy, hip-hop
Completely covered

Jessica, contemporary
Bare arms, mostly bare legs, bare upper back, bare sternum



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.