Problematic Faves

Dear Mommy,

What are ways to navigate loving celebrities that sometimes do shitty things?

Hi, friend. I believe you are referring to what we in the 2010’s call PROBLEMATIC FAVES. UGH. Allow me to define our terms: a problematic fave is a singer/actor/writer/other sort of media-maker/celebrity that you love OR a fictional character that you love who does or says something hurtful or oppressive. Problematic is sort of a blanket term for actions that are racist, sexist, homophobic or uphold other oppressive power structures. Media has always been problematic because humans have always been problematic, and with the advent of social media we can now read, hear, and see every problematic thing that our favorite creators of media are thinking all the time! I love it! It’s truly good for the soul.

First, I want to tell you that it’s okay to consume problematic media because, uh…that’s pretty much all there is. You’d be hard pressed to find a celebrity (or PERSON) that never says anything sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, ableist, transphobic, etc. etc. etc. Ditto TV shows. Ditto movies. Ditto every type of media you could consume. It’s nearly impossible to avoid problematic faves. What matters is not that you have them, it’s how you respond to them. There are lots of ways to navigate this particular part of our twenty-first century lives. Some, in my humble opinion, are better than others. Give me the pleasure of your company as we explore them.

One thing you can do is decide it’s stupid to pay attention to things like structures of oppression and that people who do and claim to be hurt by them are too-sensitive crybabies who are trying to be offended by stuff (like that’s a thing). I don’t recommend this course of action, because it makes you an oppressive asshole! I’m not here to tell you what to do and what you need to pay attention to, but I will tell you that you DO NOT get to decide what is worth being offended by, what oppression looks like to people, and what people should or shouldn’t be hurt by. You have no say in what is worthy of tears and attention for other people.

I can understand this reaction initially, especially when it’s someone you REALLY love being called out. There can be an instant shame reaction, like, “Wait…I like that thing/person and they did a bad thing. Am I bad?” Then that feeling of shame can lead to hyper-defensiveness that serves only to convince yourself that you are not bad. You say to yourself, and everyone who will listen, “NO THIS IS STUPID. THIS THING PERSON SAID/DID IS NOT BAD, EVERYONE ELSE IS TOO SENSITIVE. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS KILLING MEEEE,” and that becomes your viewpoint, and the sole purpose of it is to prove to yourself that you aren’t a bad person. You aren’t trying to learn anything new, you aren’t trying to understand the world, you aren’t flexing your empathy muscle at all, you are just self-absorbed and boring. And to you I say, “Peace.”

If you are a white person and the celeb/artist/media-maker in question did something racist, another thing you can do is call it out with outrage very publicly, and continue to insult the celeb in question whenever they are brought up, as a means of distancing yourself from racist behavior. Definitely make sure that your outrage seems real enough that people believe you have never done anything racist in your life. Definitely act like you have no understanding of this person’s racist actions because you have never thought or done a racist thing before you educated yourself about the history of race in our country and the current systems of oppression that continue to perpetuate racism.

My sarcasm above is not to express that you can’t be upset as a white person when a celebrity does or says something racist, that you can’t be angry or disappointed in the celebrity in question, that you can’t post to Facebook like, “Please stop fucking up, people I love!!!” Just don’t use your outrage to position yourself as someone who can’t understand how anyone could ever do or say a racist thing because you are the ultimate non-racist white person. This reaction, again, is just aaaaaall about you. You are not, again, trying to learn anything new, you aren’t trying to understand the world, you aren’t flexing your empathy muscle at all.

So, how do you respond to a problematic fave in a way that allows for learning new things, gaining understanding of the world, and flexing your empathy muscle? Let’s go through some scenarios and break it down into steps.

I think there are levels to problematic faves. One level is when your fave says a problematic thing in an interview, posts an offensive picture to social media, or it is written into a tv show/song/essay you love. For example, I’m watching my favorite television show and there is a scene that is so problematic that I shudder. Or I’m cruising the web and see that one of my favorite pop singers has just said the most eye-rollingly ignorant thing on Twitter. Or I’m reading an interview with an actor I am crushing on haaaard and they say something sexist and I slam my head to the desk. It happens to us all! The first step, when this happens (and it will), is to LEARN. Read some reactions on the old Twitter machine or anywhere on social media. It’s almost impossible not to be able to find reactions somewhere, just google the damn thing! Reading people’s reactions helps me learn what, exactly, was problematic about the thing. Sometimes people’s reactions teach me that something is racist/sexist/ableist/etc. and I had no idea before! Cool, thanks! But what if it’s something you have *gasp* said/thought/done before? Oh, shit! Well, you have now been taught, and you can make amends however you see fit. Amends can take the form of apologizing to a specific person you now know you have hurt, mailing an apology letter addressed to THE COSMOS, or just privately saying, “I have learned, I know better now. I am sorry and I forgive myself,” and starting the day anew. You can now put this all in your metaphorical brain desktop folder titled “ANOTHER WAY TO NOT PERPETUATE OPPRESSION.”

There have been times where I’ve been like, “Really? That’s racist? I just…don’t see…how it’s racist.” Duh I don’t see how – I’m white! Which brings me to my next step, which I will just call TRUST. If you are white and a person of color is saying something is racist, TRUST. If you are a cisgender person and a transgender person is saying something is transphobic, TRUST. If you are a man and a woman is saying something is sexist, TRUST. On and on and on… BUT WHAT IF YOU LIKE…DON’T AGREE? Who cares? We have just established that you do not possess the identity (or identities) that are affected by the remark/show/song so, please, I beg you…get over yourself! Seriously, I say that with love and the full knowledge that getting over yourself is extremely hard. Repeat these two sentences as much as you have to, until you have internalized them: am not an expert on everything. I am not an expert on other people’s experience. You may have been brought up believing you are, but I am here to tell you that you. are. not. Still don’t understand? A cool thought here may be, “I cannot see how this is racist, I really can’t, but I can recognize at the same time that I do not possess all knowledge of racism, so I am going to TRUST.” How does that harm you? (It doesn’t)

So, what if you do belong to the identity that is affected? Sometimes celebs say supposedly sexist things and I am the demographic that is supposedly affected. I follow my first step (it is LEARN, in case you forgot) and I’m still like, “I don’t see how that’s sexist.” Well…maybe it isn’t to me. Where is the decree that women all have to believe and be affected by the same things? Hint: that decree does not exist because we, as women (and people), contain MUL-TI-TUDES, duh. Within any identity/demographic/SELFHOOD you will find people who are incredibly…multitudinous, AKA we ALL are vast and incredible creatures with different experiences, hang-ups, loves, tastes, triggers, traumas, INFINITE GORGEOUS VARIATIONS. The appropriate thought, then, is, “I do not find that this personally affects me, but I recognize that it affects this person. Respect.” Wow, that’s it. Isn’t that sort of a…relief?

So, what if your problematic fave apologizes and you think they have really learned something from the ordeal? That’s tight! Good for you! But what if other people don’t think the apology was adequate? That’s tight! Good for them! Hello, multitudinous? Engage in a good-hearted debate with that person if you are both willing. Maybe one of you will convince the other! Nothing wrong with that! But if not, allow that you may never agree on that particular issue and move on! Allow that we are all from different experiences and, say it with me, YOU ARE NOT THE EXPERT ON EVERYTHING.

So, what about the other level of problematic faves? Like, what about when you find out a celeb you love(d) has done something unforgivable, whatever that means for you. A celebrity charged with domestic violence. A celebrity who molested his children. A celebrity accused of one, or multiple, rapes. A celebrity who goes on a terrifying and racist rant. BUM-DUM-DUM… (a drum roll, I think?) here come our final steps: SET BOUNDARIES and RESPECT OTHER’S BOUNDARIES. We all have the absolute right to set our own boundaries. Sometimes we know exactly what our boundaries are and we see something in our favorite TV show that crosses them and we hit that power button like, “Fuck no, never again.” Or we hear our favorite director from childhood is an abuser and we decide that we will never see another movie of his. Sometimes our boundaries surprise us and we think, “Wow, I didn’t know that thing made me feel uncomfortable/unsafe.” Whatever they may be, go ahead and SET BOUNDARIES. Set whatever boundaries feel right to you. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY ALLOWED TO STOP WATCHING, READING, LISTENING TO, FOLLOWING ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE OR UNSAFE OR AFFECTS YOU NEGATIVELY IN ANY WAY. No matter what anyone says. Whether or not your friends agree. Whether or not you can say what it is that makes you feel that way. Even if you think it’s tiny. And I’m not here to tell you what you can’t do, but I will say that if this trash person’s media means a lot to you, as it often can, and you just can’t imagine not being able to consume their art again, and it doesn’t make you feel icky as all hell deep inside, THAT IS OKAY TOO. Seriously, you get to decide. Sometimes people can separate a person’s art from who they really are, sometimes people can’t. Multitudes, etc. BOTH ARE VALID, as long as you aren’t an asshole about it and you RESPECT OTHER’S BOUNDARIES. Sometimes I think about potential conflicts in my head as conversations. Here is one where a person is given an opportunity to respect another’s boundaries:

Person 1: “OMG, did you watch Chicken Wings the TV Show [TV show I made up] last night?”

Person 2: “I didn’t. I stopped watching that show because the creator said some really racist things and I don’t want to support it.”

Person 1: “Ugh, I know. I really love Chicken Wings the TV Show and that really bums me out! I think I’m going to continue to watch it, but I can totally see how you don’t want to. I won’t bring it up around you again!”

*Person 1 and Person 2 hug*

Obviously that is not how a real conversation goes down. Maybe Person 2 convinces Person 1 not to watch the show. Maybe Person 2 argues and argues with Person 1 about the Emmy award-winning Chicken Wings the TV Show hoping Person 1 will stop supporting the show, but Person 1 will not budge. All these scenarios can happen while boundaries are still being respected. That is tight!

What if a problematic fave really crosses a boundary with you personally but you don’t want to give up their art forever and ever? You can totally do this, but it may ease your conscious to set up some personal guidelines or smaller boundaries. Here’s an example from my own life:

A lot of Woody Allen’s movies mean a great deal to me. I grew up watching them. They were formative for me. (Totally awesome if you didn’t, totally awesome if you hate them all.) After I found out that Woody Allen sexually abused his daughter, I have not been able to watch his movies, but I might one day. Here are the guidelines I have set for myself: I am not going to give that asshole’s art any publicity. I’m not going to talk his movies up on the web and I am not going to post pleasing stills from them on tumblr or whatever. And I am not going to give that asshole’s art any more money. I will not buy a ticket to see his movies at a movie theater. I will not buy a new DVD copy from the store. Maybe one day I’ll watch a pirated copy of Annie Hall, or maybe I’ll decide that I can’t separate the man and his actions from his movies. Both are okay.

Those are my personal guidelines for extremely problematic faves. You don’t have to follow them. Sometimes I don’t. We all screw up sometimes! But I find it helps to have a general idea of what my boundaries and guidelines are. I also find that it’s a lot easier to not support certain problematic celebs if they weren’t formative for me, and I’ll bet that’s true for a lot of people. We are all doing what we can. When someone whose art is meaningful for you fucks up in a really bad way, it can be so confusing. It can feel really bad. “But what does it mean about ME?!” I scream to the heavens any time I can’t bring myself to give up on an extremely problematic fave. I still don’t know! But I think that as long as I’m learning, reflecting, and respecting other people’s opinions and feelings, and as long as I do whatever I can to be able to look at myself in the mirror and metaphorically chuck myself on the chin and say, “Look how you’ve grown, kid,” and beam with pride, well…I’m doing okay. And I don’t think enjoying problematic media in the privacy of my own home should necessarily interfere with my ability to do that. Do you disagree? That’s awesome – infinite gorgeous variations, remember? I disagree with you, but I respect the hell out of you.

In the end, celebrities are people just like we are people. Some people may believe celebrities have more of a responsibility than we do to not fuck up super bad because they have an influence on a greater number of people. That may be true. But I think it would do us all some good if we stopped looking to celebrities and makers of art to be great thinkers or great people. Like just because someone’s vocal chords can make beautiful sounds they are supposed to be a good person? Seems weird to me. Not to say that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the messed up shit they do, not at all – just that we will be continually disappointed if we lift certain people up as shining examples of personhood just because they are talented or beautiful. The art people make does not necessarily reflect the person they are, just like the art you choose to consume doesn’t necessarily reflect who you are. But how you react to it can! Remember to always attempt to LEARN whatever you can from a situation. Remember to TRUST that, when someone say something hurts them, it does. Remember to SET BOUNDARIES that feel right to you, that make you feel safe, that make you feel comfortable. Remember to RESPECT OTHER’S BOUNDARIES by believing they know what is best for them and not trying to convince them otherwise. Just the fact that you are asking this question gives me such hope for you. Go forth and, as an old coworker of mine once said, “Fuck up, learn from it, rinse, repeat, try again.” Good luck, baby.

Love, Mommy

Pardon Me If This Blows You Out Of The Water, But You Cannot Contain Me

Dear Mommy,

I am a woman and I am fat and I hate my body. I try so hard to feel positive about my body, to feel confident, and to forget everything I’ve been told about it, but all I can do is obsess about how much I hate it, which also makes me hate myself. How can I feel better about my body?

Hi, my love.

I have a fat body. Isn’t it so funny that typing those words out for other people to see fills me with palpable dread, especially at the thought that people who know me in real life will read them? Even though everyone who has ever seen me has seen that I have a fat body? I think part of it comes from the fact that I don’t have very many friends that have bodies like mine, and I don’t see many positive images in media of people that have bodies like mine. Being fat and happy, fat and comfortable, fat and beautiful, fat and visible, fat and unashamed, are not archetypes widely available to me, which makes even the act of naming my body as fat very scary. Every time I go to the park or a show or a party or any other place where people my age gather, I scan the crowd trying to find people that have bodies like mine. Where are they? Are they all gathering somewhere else? Are they all indoors? Should I be indoors?

Some of the fear comes from the fact that I’m supposed to be trying as hard as I can to not have a fat body, but I don’t. I never try to actively lose weight and that makes me feel like a failure. I don’t do it mostly because, when faced with the idea of counting calories or figuring out an exercise plan geared toward dropping pounds, I always think of so many other, better, more interesting things I could be doing. There’s also an ornery side to me that is pissed off that there is some unknown entity out there trying to dictate what is beautiful and what I should look like and what health means and I refuse to buy in. But that doesn’t mean I don’t dream of losing weight, that it doesn’t enter my mind multiple times every single day, that I haven’t wasted hours of days, years of my life, wishing it would happen.

I don’t know if people who aren’t fat realize how much of a BATTLE being fat is, every single day. Especially especially especially if you are a fat woman. I have felt shame because I couldn’t starve myself enough to lose weight. It made me feel like I had weak character. I have concocted elaborate fantasies in which I am in a terrible accident and enter into a coma, which would mean I could not eat, which would mean I would lose weight. Can you believe that? Can you believe that I have wished very extreme harm on my body in the name of being thinner? I bet you can. When I was a teenager, I took pictures of the parts of my body that I hated the most and printed them out from my family’s home computer. I kept them in my bottom desk drawer and I would look at them to remind myself not to eat. I have harmed my body because I hated it.

I grew up knowing I was supposed to be looked at, and if you are a woman you probably did too. I know that’s some well-tread territory for a lot of us, but it’s still in me all the time and still worth talking about. No one took me, no one took most girls, aside and said, “Follow your dreams! But always remember that your main purpose in life is to be gazed upon by men. Let that be a part of everything you do. Let that seep in and become as fundamental to your functioning as the blood in your veins! As natural as breathing!” No one said this explicitly, and no one person even did this but, like, I knew. I knew then and I still know, even though I would desperately like to know better. It would be so great if naming this thing would make it go away, but it doesn’t. I’ve had it pinned down, I’ve had it named, for years now yet I still crumble under the weight of the gaze that is disgusted by me. As women, the gaze is rarely pleased with us for a million different reasons. We are all walking that path together, and I’m always gonna tell you that your body is holy and, yes, I will bow down to it. You just have to ask. But if you are woman who is fat, a woman like me, the gaze is actively DISGUSTED by you. You can’t imagine how much it fucks you up to know the gaze does not approve in such a fundamental way, unless you can imagine it. Unless you are living it.

I think we all know that this pair of eyes is bigger than any one’s actual pair of eyes, and that it’s not really a pair of eyes at all. (So how the fuck is it looking at us?) But this pair of eyes that isn’t a real pair of eyes does affect the way people with real pairs of eyes view my body. And if you are a fat person, a fat woman especially, you learn very early that people hate what your body looks like. People hate what my body looks like! Would you like to know how I know that people hate what my body looks like?

A SHORT LIST TO ILLUSTRATE HOW I KNOW THAT PEOPLE HATE WHAT MY BODY LOOKS LIKE

  • At an old job of mine, my favorite coworker approaches me and says, with no prompting, “You want to know something embarrassing? When I was a kid I had to wear [she kinda whispered at this point] plus size jeans.” “I WEAR PLUS SIZE JEANS NOW SHOULD I BE EMBARRASSED? JUST KIDDING, I DON’T EVEN WEAR JEANS CAUSE THEY DON’T FIT ME! SHOULD I BE DEAD?” is how I respond, later that night in my bed, in my mind, replaying the incident for the 600th time.
  • A close friend says to me, “I hate when fat people leave the house in sweat pants or pajamas. Just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you get to stop trying.” “Hmmmmmm,” I say as my entire being splatters onto the windshield of her car.
  • In middle and high school, the phrase “I love ___ like a fat kid loves cake” becomes popular. I hear it over and over, over and over, over and over again. Like a fat kid loves cake. Like a fat kid loves cake. Like. a. fat. kid. loves. cake.
  • In high school, a boy at a party asks me to follow him downstairs. “You’re fat,” he tells me. “Okay,” I say. “I’m going to kiss you now,” he says. When I refuse, he calls me a piece of shit four times. Was I a piece of shit because I, the fat girl, was not grateful for his attention?
  • The thin, beautiful manager at my first college job loves cookies. My other manager brings cookies to every meeting. “Are you trying to make me fat?!” she cries. Everyone’s uproarious laughter borders on outrageous. Aside from wounding me deeply, it just…isn’t that funny.
  • I am walking on the street one evening a few years ago. Two men sitting outside a bar are, presumably, trying to find a woman for one of them to date. “Why don’t you date her?” One of them says as I walk by. “Yeah, maybe if you gouged out my eyes first,” replies the other. I have to keep living as a human being after that. I don’t get to burst into a beautiful cloud of dust and transcend this painful plane of existence.

These are a few examples. I had many more to choose from. I’ve forgotten more than you’ll ever know about how much people hate, are disgusted by, and dehumanize fat women. Unless you are also a fat woman. Then we’ve both forgotten more than they’ll ever know.

Which brings me to your question. “How can I feel better about my body?” Oh my god. You sweet, incredible, powerful, and smart child of god (whatever that is). I wish so, so badly I could tell you. I wish I knew. I am sitting here, writing this, begging the world to send me the answer, because you deserve to know. It has never helped me to look in the mirror and say, “You are beautiful.” It has never helped me to write myself affirmations. That advice has always felt so puny to me. In fact, very little has ever helped me feel better about my body. Almost nothing. But I can think of two things.

The first is seeking out the stories of other fat women. Nothing, nothing, nothing helps like feeling less alone. A huge, giant recommendation is Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Holy shit, I’ve never felt so known. I’ve never felt so healed. Women create such beautiful, incredible things. It takes my breath away, I am BREATHLESS as I type this to you. Find them find them find them! Women will save you, they will pull you out of the water to breathe the freshest air.

The second thing is…writing this. Did you know you can write out the scariest shit in the world and share it with the people you love and you will still be alive? Maybe even a little bit lighter in the heart? Did you know there is nothing more powerful than saying to the world, “Pardon me if this blows you out of the water, but you cannot contain me. You are not allowed to bind me with your notions of what is appropriate to feel, to talk about, to experience. You cannot contain me. I am uncontainable! I am allowed to talk about what scares me, and what scares you. I am allowed to roll up my sleeves and lay my scars bare for all to see.” Write it all out, sister. You don’t have to share it, just get it out. That voice that tells you that you are unlovable, unfuckable, disgusting, inhuman, worthless, powerless? That. Is. Not. Your. Voice. That is the voice of demons. You are not a demon, you are a glorious human being so take a fucking pen to paper or a finger to keyboard or a paintbrush to canvas or a gluestick to magazine cutout or a guitar pick to guitar and tell your fucking story, girl. Find your human voice. How can you feel better about your body? It starts with looking at your demons right in the motherfucking eyes and daring them to murder you in cold blood and finding out that they can’t do that when you’re looking at them right in the eyes. Fuck you demons, you cannot contain us.

Love, Mommy

A Chain Of Support And Love And Reaching Out

Dear Mommy,

My friend is going through a really difficult situation involving life, death, and cancer. How can I support him and be there for him?

Wow. I’m so sorry that you and your friend are going through this. In situations like this, words can be so meaningless. I don’t have the skill or knowledge or, frankly, the desire to write about death and provide insight into its meaning and how it affects us. All I can say is that it’s just fucking shitty. To be alive and know that one day we and the people we love won’t be anymore. Life makes you love people and then it takes them away, and eventually you, too. You and your friend are in the thick of it, right there in the middle of what makes life horrifying and worth living. You are absolutely not the first and definitely not the last. If you want, let it comfort you that literally all of us will weather this storm, too. We are here by your side.

As far as supporting your friend through life-threatening illness, there is only one thing I can think to do: ask him how he wants to be supported through life-threatening illness. People tend to comfort people how they themselves like to be comforted, but we all need different things and we have not necessarily been taught to ask for them. Help him ask for them! Maybe he’d like you to keep things light when you hang out, maybe he wants you to witness his fear, maybe he wants to be held when he cries, maybe he’d rather not be touched. Maybe he wants you to listen to him silently, maybe he wants advice and comfort. Maybe he doesn’t want to talk about it at all. Maybe he wants a combination of these different things at different times, and it’s up to you to make him feel comfortable asking for them. You need to understand that the way he wants to deal with this is not up to you, and any way he wants to cope is valid. You need to admit that you do not know, and ask him. And if he doesn’t know, maybe you can figure it out together through trial and error. It can, and should be, an ever-evolving conversation.

I’d also like to say that while this situation is and definitely should be about your friend, you are also affected by it. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can to take care of you through all of this. Secondary traumatic stress is very real, and you cannot be a help to your friend if you are being stretched to your breaking point. Be there for your friend as much as you can, but remember that you are NOT selfish for taking care of yourself too. Understand that you don’t have to be available for him 24 hours a day, whether that means not responding to a text from him for a little while or setting boundaries for how long or often you hang out. Treat yourself like you are treating your friend, and turn to other friends in your life for support. Things can go on that way forever – a chain of support and love and reaching out.

Good luck, to both of you.

Love, Mommy

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Dear Mommy,

I work in a very sexist industry, and I try my very best to help lift other women up, but I am routinely cut down and condescended to by other women. It drives me crazy and it PISSES ME OFF. How do I support the fellow women in my industry, even when they’re being nasty?

Hello, my love. This is such a hard situation! First, I want to commend you on your mission to lift up other women. That is so powerful and radical! And sexism is so fucked up! One of the ways that it works so insidiously is by worming its way into our own bodies and minds, using its poison to turn us against ourselves and other women. We are continually given the message that there is only room for a certain, very small, amount of women at the top and the only way to make it in this “man’s world” (ew) is to put each other down. I commend you for doing the hard work it takes to rise above that deeply entrenched SHIT. Not everyone has, and some people never will. This could explain a lot of what’s going through these other women’s minds when they’re cutting you down. Of course, who knows, they could also just be mean. This is possible because people are sometimes mean and, well, women are people.

One thing I’ve learned in my relatively short life (some wise old people say this too though, ok?) Is that communication is always key to pretty much everything. You will never be able to control what other people do, no matter how hard you try, but if there are specific women at your work that are perpetuating this crappiness, try opening a dialogue. Say exactly what you told me! “Hey, I’ve found our workplace (AND ENTIRE CULTURE) to be really sexist and it bums me out. I feel encouraged to see the women I work with as competition. I’m trying really hard to combat that by lifting up other women. I want to have your back, but I feel like you don’t have mine. Can we talk about that?” It is possible that they’ve literally never thought about it that way before. This conversation could break down walls and be really healing for both you! Or maybe nothing will happen. Either way, you did your best and that’s all you can ask of yourself. At worst, you’ll become known as “that woman at work who has my back even though I don’t have hers.” There are waaaay worse people to be! If you work in an industry where the people you work with are constantly changing, you may have to have this conversation over and over again. If that thought exhausts you already, remember that you don’t have to fight sexism each and every day. You can’t, it would be too draining. Sometimes you need a break, so let yourself take one when you need it. And some women are never going to have your back, some women are going to keep pissing you off and putting you down.

I want to leave you with something to mull over. It’s an idea we should try to explore to its farthest reaches. It may make things harder for you, but it could also liberate you! Here it is: you don’t get to choose which women deserve to be lifted up, because we all do. Internalize that instead, and make a commitment to lift up all women, regardless of their race, temperament, class, interests, style, ANYTHING – even how much they piss you off. Don’t worry, no one is saying you have to do it all single-handedly. You won’t be able to, so don’t even try. But do what you can. It sounds like you already are. I’m so proud of you.

Love, Mommy