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Strange Overtones: My Mixed Mourning of David Bowie

Content Notice for Mentions of CSA Under the Cut

This morning, I awoke to news that I thought was a hoax. So did others. But no, it isn’t: David Bowie is dead, the cause being liver cancer (the disease wasn’t public knowledge). When the news was confirmed, I shed real tears. I am a hardcore Bowie fan. He taught me that camp was not only okay, or even awesome, but that it could be high art, a statement against the very shame so often levied against it. He taught me that reinvention wasn’t just for pretty cis girls like Madonna. He taught me that children’s movies could hold subversion of not only the obvious magic-pants kind — all hail The Area — but also of the political type.

The man, one who may have dabbled in not-quite-cishet culture and imagery but was actually straight, was integral to my eventual development into a genderqueer campy femme. I’d venture to say that he has had significant influence on many if not most of us who would call ourselves queer.

Yet, my grief is hardly straightforward, and felt punctuated by a non-Bowie song.

[Read more…]

One Intersectional Argument for Spoiler Warnings

man in old-timey black&white looks annoyed and says "Hey, c'mon, no Star Wars spoilers!", then, in the next panel, angrily says "Trigger warnings? Suck it up!"

Benny wrote a companion piece to this one about the positing of spoiler warnings against trigger warnings, too, but from a class perspective. I highly recommend you read it first, as the Geonosis — I mean genesis — of this post lies in his thoughts on this.

Isn’t it obnoxious when cis het white able male fans of a Certain Movie Franchise whine on and on about spoiler warnings, to the point where they take pledges and create browser extensions to avoid spoilers? Those same people, when they encounter anyone using something like a trigger warning or content notice, screech about their Freeze Peach. What hypocrites, am I right? Especially since studies say that being spoiled is no big deal, so anyone who cares isn’t being rational.

Well, sure, hypocrisy is annoying, and in this case, very much exists among the more privileged fanboys. But is characterizing every fan who would prefer to not be spoiled as an irrational, hypocritical cis het white able male at all helpful in a world that is already hell-bent on erasing fans who fall outside of those lines? Disdain towards spoiler warnings is frustrating to me for reasons that have to do with my background as a Muslim and my reality as the sort of fan who often gets overlooked. [Read more…]

From a Millenial: Well Actually, Chris Erksine

Jade Hawk is a certified bad-ass I am proud to call a friend. I got to know her through the comments on Skepchick and FtB, as well as in person at cons and via Facebook. She wrote a great response to that nonsense Chris Erksine post that made the rounds this weekend. Please note that he is not actually a Millenial, but we’re going to roll with his lie — I’m sorry, unfunny “joke” — in his article that he is a Snake Person. Enjoy!

Chris Erskine wrote a pledge-listicle to help the rest of his “fellow” millennials finally enter adulthood. Now, far be it for me to criticize a millennial so successful he managed to overcome such adversities as child-labor laws to get a major gig at the L.A. Times at the tender age of 9; but being a millennial I completely lack the ability to laugh at myself or to pick my battles, so I wrote my own pledge-listicle in response:

  • Well actually, we’re entitled to every single thing in the Declaration of Human Rights, enumerated in the many laws your generation is trying to kill off, and all the shit your generation promised in exchange for taking up the financial and psychological burden of finishing college.
  • Well actually, we will not give money to bigots and we will protest wherever they spew their bigotry under the guise of comedy.
  • Well actually, we will continue using digital devices during meals until meatspace people start providing as stimulating and as anxiety-free dinner conversation as the internet does.
  • Well actually, our sense of humor is already better than yours; for one, we are not the ones whining that people no longer find us funny.
  • Well actually, imposing that cultural and ableist norm on everyone is bullshit and maybe you should instead pledge to stop creepily staring at people and learn simple multitasking like talking to someone while looking at something else.
  • Well actually, we will not waste paper and stamp money to use an illegible writing style when a simple text will suffice.
  • Well actually, we’re already one of the most resourceful and creative generations [something Erskine himself admitted once], seeing as we have to use these skills to survive in the shitpile of a society you left us.
  • Well actually, smut is everything, especially since it makes conservative old people like you uncomfortable.
  • Well actually, it’s not this generation who has an odd aversion to learning people’s actual names instead of deadnaming, insisting people get “American” (read: anglophone) names, etc.
  • Well actually, it is quite beneath us to concede to the ridiculous demands of grumpy boomers who complain that our generation won’t take the harm you’ve done us quietly.
  • Well actually, we will take all the fucking liquor we want; it’s your generation’s fault many of us have to move back home in the first place, the least you can do is get us drunk for free.
  • Well actually, we will use crowd funding for everything your shitty exploitative economy won’t provide.
  • Well actually, we can manage our money better than you do, generation that wrecked the economy; how about you fuck right off about the amount of coffee we need to function in this clusterfuck you made?
  • Well actually, gift cards are the best kinds of gifts, right after cash and buys from Amazon wishlists; nobody fucking wants your incorrect guesswork.
  • Well actually, maybe you should learn how to text instead, and learn that face-to-face or voice convos are not in fact inherently better for everything, especially not things of life-changing significance.
  • Well actually, whenever you quote such tripe we will remind you that entertaining a thought and voicing it publicly are in fact separate things.
  • Well actually, I will not fuck up my mental health to conform to diurnal sleep-wake cycles for no fucking reason; besides, if we’re supposed to work and go to college and handwrite notes and not multitask and not crowdfund or use credit cards, there’s no fucking time to sleep anyway.
  • And cilantro is too a vegetable, except when it’s soap-flavored poison.

Why Are Those Polyamorists So Damn Preachy?

No discussion or mention of polyamory would be complete without a monogamous person chiding the polyamorous person to not be “preachy” about their “lifestyle choice.” There will often be an accompanying anecdote about how the monogamous person once met a polyamorous person who was very “pushy” with them. “I don’t care what you do in the bedroom,” the monogamous person will assert, “But I wish polyamorous people wouldn’t be so judge me for my choices when I don’t judge theirs.” Even articles ostensibly about non-monogamy do this.

Though I don’t doubt that monogamous people have had experiences that left them feeling judged, and it is a fact that there exist some rather smug-seeming polyamorous people, I don’t buy the idea that they are as common as monogamous people make them seem. Rather, it is more likely that monogamous people are picking up on and picking on polyamorous people in an absurdly disproportionate way.
[Read more…]

Preventing Abortions with Planned Parenthood

Years ago, at an atheist meeting, a Christian showed up, as was wont to happen every few months or so. I decided that I would take one for the team and fully engage him so that others could have the more nuanced conversations that drew most people to the meetings. Lucky for me (but not for him), his prepared topic of conversation for the time he had chosen to break bread with us baby-eaters was abortion.

He led not with a question, but with an assumption that we atheists tended to support reproductive rights. He wasn’t wrong (though of course there are some over-represented exceptions among atheists). I decided to ask him a question: “How many abortions have you prevented?”

My inquiry may have dumbfounded him for a while, but I was hardly exaggerating or lying. At the time, I was an unofficial guerrilla unwanted-pregnancy-preventer thanks to Planned Parenthood. [Read more…]

It’s Cruel for an Atheist to Pray with Their Dying Mother

Unsurprisingly given its content, a specific Postsecret entry has been addressed by several of my atheist colleagues over at Patheos.

PostSecret card of a hospital bed reading: "I don't believe in god / when I was 19 my mom was on her death bed and asked me to pray for her / I told her I couldn't because I would by [sic] lying / now she's gone forever, and I feel like I failed her as a daughter"

Hemant started the conversation, saying that he felt for the postcard’s creator and saw no way by which he could gain from refusing to pray. Matthew agreed, adding that he sees prayer as a supportive act. Galen contributed some very nuanced thoughts. The people with whom I find myself agreeing not only most but actually entirely wholeheartedly are Kaveh and Cassidy, although I might amend Kaveh’s answer from “Fuck no and fuck you” to “Fuck no and fuck this question” for reasons that are not dissimilar to those of Cassidy.

It is downright cruel for an out atheist to pray with a theist relative on their deathbed: Cruel to the relative, cruel to the atheist, cruel to anyone even marginally involved, and cruel to the non-religious in general. [Read more…]

Remember Who They Are

I fully accept that this will be too little, too late for some, and too much, too soon for others.

I will begin this with a doubled, modernized set of secular Serenity invocations: Noodly Lord grant me the serenity to accept that there are people I cannot change, the courage to change the people I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Noodly Lord grant me also the serenity to accept that bad-faith actors exist, the humility to recognize my good-faith critics, and the help I need to discern the difference.

Both of these, but especially the latter, directly reflect my Accountability Pledge, which I wrote a while back. I keep thinking about it as matter after matter arises within skepto-atheist circles. [Read more…]

Irvine No Longer Friendly to Religious Diversity

Sometimes, with all the intercommunity issues, I forget what we’re up against as secular Americans. I was reminded of it last night.

I attended the July 14th Irvine City Council meeting in which a proposed measure to add a display of In God We Trust to the council chambers was deliberated. Irvine is my hometown, the city in which I spent most of my life and where I was educated. Although it severely lacked in economic diversity and bred some of the classist views of which I’ve had to actively divest myself, as far as ethnic and worldview-based diversity and acceptance goes, it was a great place to grow up for a young hijab-wearing Muslim like the one I was. I wanted to speak against the addition of the motto.

No more is the Irvine I knew, it seems. Between Mayor Steven Choi’s heavy-handed Christianity, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway’s absurd insistence that Christianity was in need of tolerance from non-Christians, Councilmember Christina Shea’s rather dismal insinuations that atheism leads to child abuse, and the majority of the Councilmembers’ disingenuous insistence that “God” is a secular term (the notable exception being Councilmember Beth Krom, who showed great courage last night in standing up for church-state separation and secular inclusivity), I can’t say that I give the city quite as much credit that way anymore. [Read more…]

Search Term Round-Up #4: Dating & Sex + Religion & Race, Oh My~

Content notice for racism and sex and racist sex and sexual violence.

Inspired in no small part by the grand tradition of Captain Awkward.

racial preference is racism / dating preferences racist / are preferences racist / race preference dating / is having a preference racist

TL;DR answer to all of these: Sometimes.
Slightly longer answer: Saying “I’m attracted to [members of a particular racial/ethnic group]” is a faux-complimentary way of saying “All [members of a particular racial/ethnic group] look alike to me.”
Much longer answer: What Is Racist About Race-Based Dating Preferences

i’ve been fantasizing a bout girls in hijabs


Between weirdos on campus and at atheist meetups, I have a lot of personal not-good feelings about men who profess veil fetishes. [Read more…]