The Real GOP Position: “We support the passive extermination of people that we consider lazy or immoral.”

One of the things that really bothers me about the Right’s rhetoric on poverty is that it stops just one tiny step short of its true recommendation.

Fox News would have us believe that most people who receive some form of public assistance are  moochers. They are really just trailer park dilettantes, kicking back and enjoying barbecue potato chips that come from Uncle Sugar. Or they want us to believe that  the reason we have so many children in poverty is because we have so many slutty women out there just giving it away.

While I could not disagree more strongly with Fox’s assertions about the basic character of the people on public assistance, and I could produce reams of documentation to demonstrate how void their claims are of any factual merit, I have a different idea this time.

How about if for the sake of this one argument we all agree that laziness and immorality is why people are poor and need help. Okay, so then the question becomes what do we do with this group of slatternly and slutty people? Well, the lazy people would of course just get a job if we cut off their benefits, right?

Not so fast. Most people considered lazy have serious problems with attention, and they will never be good workers in menial jobs unless they receive medication and help. In other words, if a person is truly lazy, you cannot fix that character defect by placing him in fear of starving to death.

And what of those who refused to be “fixed.” Who about the people who just sit down and said, “No, I will not work that nasty abusive job flipping burgers.”  

And now what of the women who just keep reproducing. I am fairly sure that  there is a solution for that, but the GOP is doing its best to eliminate it. But let’s assume that all the truly needy people are needy because they are poor or because they are hypersexual.

Here is the tricky thing about people that are cut off from welfare and foodstamp roles. They don’t just disappear, at least not right away.  They try to congregate in little tent cities so they have some safety, but police tear those down. They try to feed themselves and their children dumpster diving, but there simply isn’t enough nutritional value for a large number of people to turn to dumpsters as their sole source of funds.

The question becomes what do you do with these people you have determined not to care for anymore. How close to starvation or death from exposure should we allow them to go?  

This is what we must ask ourselves: Are we really a country that will allow people to die, not because they have committed crimes, but because we find them lazy or a little over-sexed? Really, since when is laziness a capital offense?

Today I published an article in Role/Reboot called,  I Was A Lazy, Immoral Single Mother

I wrote it because I wanted to emphasize three things:

Shaming single mothers is a waste of time since we have enough self-loathing to cover the world in a nice thick goop of the black ink of shame. 

Second, we are not the people who we appear to be at our worst moments.

Third, there should be n test of deservedness when it comes to keeping Americans alive.

We are a great country, and it is high time that we start acting like it. Great countries do not let themselves swayed or be intimidated by the very wealthy. We build a good infrastructure; we take care of kids, and we do it all not in then hopes of making the other person better. We do it because that is what makes us good people and a great nation. 




Writing Is A Lot Like Orgasming

I have had a terrifically productive week. I have banged out four strong articles and made some great headway on my other writing.  You would think that this would be a cause for celebration.  But normally a week like this inspires self-castigation  and makes me a mental-health hypercondriac.

First I tell myself that if I worked this hard all the time, I could really make a difference in the world. Then I think about how my work comes in spurts and stops and wonder if I have just had a manic episode.

Today it finally struck me that this is all a part of the creative process. My articles do not just pop into my head and onto the page. My style of writing involves looking at things differently. It requires a lot of thinking. And thinking looks a lot like being lazy.

After my thinking, I tend to hit a point of frustration where I become absolutely certain that social justice causes need a different writer. Nothing I will ever say or do will make a difference. I also become convinced that I can’t write and that I am a failure as a person.

When the break-through finally comes, it is a flood. Suddenly things that I have had me stuck for weeks just slide out of my fingers and onto the page. I am almost in a frenzy, trying to get the words down before they escape me as they have for the past couple of weeks.

The reason that writing and other creative endeavors can look like being lazy or crazy is that creativity is a slow-cooker, not a microwave.

Writing is like having an orgasm. You have to let it come to you. Rather than straining and striving, you have to trust the process. People have been writing and having orgasms for ages, and you have to trust it. Some days it will come quickly, other days it will play hide and seek with you. But the process will take as much time as it will take.

Frustration is as much a part of the process as inspiration. Trying to rush it, trying to squeeze one out works as poorly for writing as it does for an orgasms.

Trust, breath and let it come to you.


Why I Reserve the Right to Be Flippant About My Abuse

Yesterday I got a very polite rejection note from a kind and good editor. The article, which I still hope to publish, tells the story of how my step-father abused me.

The editor said the same thing about this piece as she did when I wrote about turning in my youth pastor who was a serial child-molestor, “That is wild!” I never know how to handle such comments because to me they imply that each story of abuse in my personal biography is startling and unusual.

I also think that she was taken aback by the flippant tone of the piece. I called it, “How Purity Culture Turned Me Into My Step-Father’s Fluffer” For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “fluffer,” it was coined by the porn industry to describe a person who gets a man erect and ready for sex with another person.  In this case, my step-father was using me to get an erection so that he could have sex with my mother.

There are unwritten rules about how we talk about abuse, even if the person doing the writing or talking was the person who suffered it. I am not sure if I know all of the rules, but I am fairly sure that irreverence is one of the no-no’s.

One of my goals in writing about abuse is to decrease the stigma and allow victims to integrate it into their lives’ stories in much the same way as they would a serious accident, a fight with cancer, or divorce. There is nothing wrong with deeply dramatic stories about abuse that help others to understand the pain we have and are enduring, but sometimes I want to write something different.

I want to write articles in which the abuse that I have survived is just one of the many things that I get to laugh at.

I didn’t develop my sense of humor yesterday or after my life got better. I developed it when I was much younger, and I was struck by the utter ridiculousness of my life. I found my mother’s paranoia about being discovered funny, since supposedly I was the one who had done something wrong. When my mother threw out her back while beating me I laughed myself silly thinking, “For once this really does hurt you more than it hurts me.”

Humor, glibness and survival are all threads of the same rope for me. While I would never make fun of someone else’s abuse, I think that I should feel free to make fun of my own, and more importantly to make fun of my abusers. I think that I have earned the right to write stories where I get to call my step-father’s sexual abuse by any term that I want to use, without worrying about what some sanctimonious officer of the Word Police demands that I call it.

Of course I do not find other victims of abuse funny, nor would I ever suggest that abuse itself should be made light of. But abusers really are a ridiculous bunch of people, strutting around with their little napoleonic complexes trying to control something as complex and unpredictable as another person. The ridiculous stuff that comes out of their mouths is often funny, once you get over your queasiness.

And I suppose that  queasiness is really why it is hard for people to read glib or humorous accounts from victims. Most people can handle it when we talk about abuse in the ways that they have come to understand it – where it is tragic and above all, rare.

People are not ready to hear stories of how abuse has been part of someone’s every day life, for it to be so common that one person can have a dozen interesting or even humorous stories about the abuse they have experienced.

And yet it is necessary for me to integrate those stories into my self-narrative, the autobiography that I tell myself and others. And integration requires that apply to those stories the same  appreciation for the ridiculous that I bring to the rest of my life. I cannot look at my abuse through one set of glasses, and the rest of the world through another. I cannot see all of humanity as ridiculous except abusers. That would give them a special power that I do not want to grant them – the power of being a monster.

So, yes, I understand why it might make other people uncomfortable. I understand where they might find my stories “wild” or even incredible. But as the survivor of some pretty epic abuse, I get to tell my stories with as much humor, pathos, irreverence and craziness as I want.

My stories, my life, my words.