Friday, December 2, 2016

Emily's Handy Guide to How I Generally Respond When People React Badly to My Presence in Women's Public Restrooms

1. Them: "Oh my God it's A MAN!" Me: "Oh my God a MAN where?! WHERE?!" *jumps, squeals as though running from a spider, makes a scene until they leave/leave me alone*

2. Them: *does a double take at the sign on the door after seeing me at the sink* Me: *dramatically stares at own body, then back at them, then around the room, then gets stone cold calm and leaves while making unbroken eye contact*

3. Them: "What the fuck?! Get OUT you're not supposed to be in here!" Me: "Oh my God I'm so sorry is this the restroom for assholes? I'll show myself out."

4. Them: *sees me at sink, runs back outside and tells/yells at someone about there being a man in the restroom* Me: *calmly finishes washing hands, checks self out in mirror, strolls out of there and makes meaningful eye contact with them, possibly also winks*

5. Them: *actually does something threatening/violent* Me: "Hi hello yes you don't get to police who you think belongs in this restroom, may I please introduce you to my friend the ACLU."

6. Them: *is startled for a moment, then realizes their mistake and smiles bashfully* Me: "It's cool, have a good day." *bows and/or curtsies and disappears into a puff of glitter and smoke*

(take care of yourselves/do what you need to do to stay safe and healthy, babes) xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mail Call #10: Trumpocalypse

It's been a weird, depressing week. I can only imagine it's going to get even more weird and depressing going forward into a Trump presidency (ugh, why are you making me write that, America?!). The email responses to my last MJS column - my initial response to the election results - certainly seem to back up that assessment.

Here's a Greatest Hits:
The Constitution won with Trump's election, even though I am not a fan of the man. Liberalism lost because it discriminates against any opposition to their views and agenda. Especially white Christians. You liberals believe white Christians vote on color and racism. If you knew any of us, you would know it is about policy, not skin color. Maybe people of color will finally realize why not try a Republican. Democrats sure talk a good story but have never helped us or respected us. Your young, hopefully you can be more objective in your future!
What do you say, people of color who overwhelmingly voted against Donald Trump? Why not try a Republican/demagogue? Here's another one:
When Barack Obama won two terms for the Presidency there were few, if any, protests from conservatives. Yet now there is hatred and protests across the country against Donald Trump's election. It's been said that liberals don't know how to lose graciously. I love the Packers, but if they don't win another game this season it won't bother me that much, because the real Super Bowl was November 8th and the conservatives won. Long live Democracy and America.
Conservatives didn't protest? Actually, they did. And then they went to town demonizing Obama, accusing him of being a Marxist Kenyan usurper, hanging him in effigy, and blocking him at every turn in Congress, even going so far as refusing to do their basic duty and allow a vote on his final Supreme Court nominee. The list goes on. But tell me again how y'all accepted Obama's presidency with graciousness. And then compare the election of an openly racist demagogue with a fucking Packers game.

This was a nice letter [sic]:
The citizens of this country have finally stood up to slime like you!You lazy bitches who NEVER worked a day in you life are about to be put back in your RAT holes where you belong! You and others like you have turned the democrat party into a cesspool of perverts,degenerates, and illegals! Hopefully you will be relegated to your place in history with the other EXTINCT vermin!
Hey, I like my party of perverts, degenerates, and "illegals" (i.e. human beings from various walks of life who are looking for a better life). And I've held jobs since I was 15, but that's neither here nor there, since I am apparently a lazy rat bitch (rats make good pets, FYI).
Try and get over the results of this election. I understand how Obama won the 1st time, but the 2nd time threw me for a loop because his 1st term was a failure. So is his 2nd term. But we didn't take to the streets and riot.

Americans are starved for leadership since there has been a shortage for the last 8 yrs.What Trump said over a decade ago about women does not diminish his ability to be a leader. I have heard worse in the breakroom of where I work.........from the women.

In fact, I bet you used a similar phrase at some point in your life.
Uh, no, no I have not.
A friend of mine made me aware of a article you wrote called feels like the sky is falling. I will make this short and sweet, get your head out of your ass and write a article about the rioting being done and hate crimes being done by your party the DEMOCRAPS. 1 of the many reasons i don't read the this rag the MILWAUKEE URINAL. Your a typical LIBTARD living in your own blind little world. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN BITCH! GET OVER IT! I think your a woman, sorta hard to tell from your picture. Good day LIB! 4 years from now you will be a conservative, oh i take that back, you will still be in denial!
He seems nice.

I'll end it on this note (though I got plenty of other...entertaining...letters). This one really caught my interest. I think this gets more at the root of the disconnect in how a lot of white voters approached the election. I won't dismiss the author's feelings outright, though I still think they're based in a very privileged/white POV and experience of America. The pain and fear expressed here are real, I've no doubt. But the blame is, I think, utterly misplaced. So how do we go about addressing that in an effective way?
The people who are protesting and rioting in the streets over the election are providing positive proof that we did it right. Or at least as right as was possible.

Sure, Mr. Trump is a shining example of what we don't want in our president. I voted for him because there was no other choice. No good Republicans were left; even Bernie would have been better (a bit screwy, but probably harmless). Vote for the Bride of Satan? Never! I have read that she was kicked off the Watergate legal team in the 1980's for self-serving unethical behavior, and I would say she has gone downhill from that ever since.

The people who have been the backbone of America for generations are desperate. We (factory workers, farmers, etc.), hard workers all our lives, have watched America die for fifty years. If we passed laws they were overturned by liberal judges or simply ignored. Laws to keep out criminals (anyone who crosses the Rio Grande without papers is a criminal) are not enforced. Our jobs were sent to China or given to illegals. We were (are) ignored.

We might not be able to return our country to greatness, as Mr. Trump wants. It is probably too late for that. But maybe we can reverse things for a bit, slow down America's death spiral. Like a cancer patient being offered dangerous surgery that won't cure him but might give him some extra time (four years?).

We simply voted for Trump because we felt we had no other choice. There is a good chance that we will fail quickly, but he is simply the only hope we have left.
I mean, how do you show someone who thinks Trump is "the only hope we have left" that he and his ilk represent a very real and present danger to them? White folks, we have a lot of work to do on our own people. And it's going to take enormous reserves of compassion, and a willingness to get out of our own bubbles to talk to/get to know people from all walks of life. The emotional (and physical) labor of talking about how race and class impact our country and day-to-day lives has too long fallen on the shoulders of people of color / those actively and often violently oppressed by the status quo. We need to step the fuck up.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Mail Call #9: Michelle Litjens says hello

I am thrilled to report that none other than former state rep Michelle Litjens wrote a letter to the editor in response to my recent column making the case for why we need more women in politics, tying it to legislation over women's health and reproductive rights. Litjens, if you don't remember, was part of the Republican controlled Legislature that passed Act 10 (the extreme, anti-union measure that prompted months of protest in the state), as well as being a hardcore anti-choice, pro-gun advocate. So the ideological bent of her letter should make a bit more sense, in that context. I appreciate that she took time to respond, so I've done the same (in bold, below):

In response to Emily Mills’ article on Oct. 23, “Needed: More women in politics,” while she is absolutely correct about that statement she is completely wrong about others (Crossroads).
We do need more women in politics. When I served in the Legislature, women were less than a quarter of the representatives. But I am unaware of any “institutional and systemic barriers” to women running for office. In fact, the common saying is true: “When women run, women win.” That's just...not a factual statement. Lots of women lose their races. I'm not even say they always lose because of sexism, but to claim that women always win when they run just doesn't make any damn sense. Also, just because you, a single human being, are "not aware" of certain things does not mean those don't exist. This is a fairly straight-forward concept for most.
Women are less likely to run for office because of lifestyle choices candidates are forced to make every day. Will a candidate attend a pancake breakfast, church picnic, fall festival or his or her kid’s basketball game? This choice is easier for a man to make than a woman. Not because society says so, but because women say so. She lost me here. This makes no actual sense. Is she arguing that men have an easier time putting work before their family? I'm honestly not even sure, this statement is so convoluted. Regardless of the details, though, those "choices candidates are forced to make every day" and how men vs. women respond to them is very much tied up in those aforementioned institutional and systemic barriers--a culture that demands completely different levels of accountability from for mothers vs fathers, pays women less for their work, etc.
My exception to Mills’ article is her comments about third-term abortions. It isn’t true that “hardcore anti-abortion activists continue to spout harmful lies” about third-term abortions. Maybe Mills was unaware that abortionist Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Aaaand PIVOT.
In the grand jury’s report, Gosnell didn’t call it murder, he called it “ensuring fetal demise.” And how did he accomplish this demise? The jury wrote, “The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that ‘snipping.’ ” Kermit Gosnell's case is an aberration, and does not reflect anything remotely close to medical best practices in terms of abortion procedure and women's health. He was (rightfully) punished for gross malpractice. What he was doing is already illegal even with the protections provided by Roe v. Wade. And it was a single case. Litjens has long been an advocate for doing away with abortion rights, and during her time in the Legislature sponsored bills that significantly chipped away at (especially rural) women's right to access comprehensive and scientifically-based reproductive care.
Please, Ms. Mills, don’t patronize me by saying we need more women in politics because we need more abortion proponents (it was men who upheld Roe vs. Wade). We need more women in office because women bring a different thought process to the room. We contribute ideas during bill draftings that men just don’t think about because of our differing life experiences. She makes my argument for me. Though I do believe the debate over reproductive rights and women's health would be very, very different had women been at the table all along, I also don't for a moment believe all women think exactly alike on that, or any, issue. But Litjens and I are in agreement that we need more women in office because women bring a different thought process and set of experiences to the room.
Elected women are valued for far more than just their reproductive rights. And, I might also remind Mills, that many of us women would end that reproductive right at birth control.
Michelle Litjens
Former state representative
56th District, 2011-’12
Again, my biggest takeaway here is that Michelle is willfully ignorant of the fact that even she is the product of systemic sexism. It's a little easier when you're a right-leaning white woman, of course, but even then I'm not keen to drive wedges between people who should be fighting to lift each other up over an oppressive system that hurts us all. The first step is learning that we all have different experiences and outlooks, and that just because you personally have not experienced something doesn't invalidate that experience for someone else. And that just because you, personally, would not make a certain decision--doesn't give you the right to dictate whether or not it might be the right thing for someone else.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mail Call #8: Men would like me to think about Bill Clinton

Catching up with emails in response to my recent article about Trump and rape culture. SO MANY men, all saying the exact same damn thing, like broken, paternalistic mandroids:

Emily not once did you mention Bill Clinton in your article? Something to think about.
I was reading your column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the treatment of woman at the hands of rich and powerful men and I notice something that was conspicuously absent. There wasn’t any mention of former president Bill Clinton.
Didn't see Bill Clintons name even once in your column. It's really sad that liberal journalists can bring themselves to cover an issue from both sides.
...there are a lot of people who can't tell the difference between reporters and opinion columnists, y'all.

These entries go on, and on.

Let me put this simply:
  1. Bill Clinton is not currently running for president. Trump is.
  2. Trump is on tape bragging about committing sexual assault.
  3. Hillary Clinton is not personally responsible for any crimes her husband may have committed.
I will end on this incredibly on-point post made by a friend of a friend, because it should be the most important take away from all of this:

Liberal friends: you know what's not cool? Posting a link to allegations of rape against Trump and then trying to demonize Juanita Broaddrick et al for allegations against Bill Clinton. You're not forensic investigators. You're not gonna blow holes in decades-old rape cases, and you damn well shouldn't be trying.
Conservative friends: you know what's not cool? Defending Trump's harassment and rape and misogyny by pointing out someone else did those things, too. That doesn't make it ok! Two people doing rape just means both people are horrible! Also unfair: making Hillary culpable for all of her husband's sins. She certainly has things to answer for, but she didn't rape anybody. Keep that in mind, please.
Oh, are there inconsistencies in someone's story? Yeah, I bet if you ask me about my rape you'll find inconsistencies in mine; it was years ago and, you know, traumatic. Do these accusers have something to gain? Maybe, but I can tell you as a fact that they probably suffer a lot more than they gain by making up stories like this; look at the way all these women have been dragged through the mud for decades. Rape has a false reporting rate of about 4%, just like most other crimes. While it's possible these stories are made up, it's very very very likely that they are not, especially when so many women have come forward.
Listen up, y'all: WE DON'T GET TO PICK WHICH VICTIMS WE BELIEVE BY WHICH CANDIDATE THEY SUPPORT. If you want justice for rape victims (and you damn well better) then you need to accept that even someone you support might be a horrible person, even if this fact makes your decision making suddenly very morally fraught and messy.
So if you are outraged about Trump or Bill Clinton, that's good! It's good to be outraged about people who molest, demean, assault, and otherwise abuse others. But don't act like your opponent's accusers are all telling the truth while the ones accusing your team are all liars. Every victim deserves justice.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mail Call #7: Trumping Reason (or coherence)

Trump supporters continue to spout confusing word salads at me. I think this person is anti-clean water and voting because of abortion? Or something? You decide:

It is amazing how progressives pick and choose among 'human rights'.  Finding from the right to life a right to feticide.  Finding a right to vote.  Finding a right to my environment's clean water.

Finding, from the right to life, a right to defense of life but not the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Truly Meme Magic.  The Alternative Right is right.  TRUMP 2016

On a more positive note, I've gotten a much higher than normal volume of positive email responses to my column about the Clinton/Trump debate, largely from women, and specifically largely from older women who express how much relief and righteousness they felt at seeing what they've been experiencing their whole lives put into words. I find this incredibly humbling and gratifying, but also infuriating that so many women have had to suffer these indignities in relative silence for so damn long.

No. Fucking. More.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mail Call #6: The Eloquence of Trump Supporters

I don't even know. I'm not even sure which of my columns this was in response to:
Don, Ron, and Mike Trump Hillary, Russ and Little Tommy Nelson! Defend your sick candidate and spin some more lies! Really tired of the Limousine Liberals. the super rich hypocrites on the left! We don't care about how much money Trump has or had, we care about our country getting back to some kind of normal and stopping this social engineering and corruption of our young! Who's the Hillary body double? Unreal how they're trying to snooker the great masses who can't read beyond social media headlines. Signed by One of the Deplorables and wearing it proudly...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mail Call #5: Pro-plagiarism!

Another week, another logically incoherent email response to a column. Today's installment comes in reply to my recent piece on the Republican National Convention garbage fire.
Emil (you were Emil before you became Emily, right) You seem to have a problem with the passage that Melanie Trump used from michelle obama’s speech which was written by others by the way. Would you have preferred her to use the words that she (obama) uttered in another a speech, “ this is the first time in my life I am proud to be an American”. Ya she said that. Quite sure she wrote that herself. Possible help from barry . You could have written, thank god she (Melanie) didn’t use the words “this is the first time in my life I am proud to be an American’ The fact is Melanie Trump is very proud to be an American all of the time. I guess michelle obama is occasionally when it suits her purpose . Hey, keep up the quality freelance writing in Madison. “The peoples republic of Madison”

Enjoy your rigged convention That would be a great topic for next Sunday’s freelance writing

does “freelance writing” mean they won’t pay you for your efforts???
I'd like to note that I find no insult in being "accused" of being transgender (I am not), and if you open your letter with such a random and transphobic remark, you've effectively ceded your ability to actually win the argument. Of course, folks like this don't really care about changing anyone's mind. They just want to continue feeling superior in their own minds, without having to actually reflect on and analyze what they're spouting. Because the rest of this letter is a totally weird mishmash that, I think, is trying to excuse Melania Trump's (or her speech writer's) plagiarism because at least she used the positive parts of Michelle Obama's speech and not a taken-out-of-context and frequently misunderstood bit from another of her speeches from years ago.
Or something. Who knows anymore. 

I also enjoy the bit where this person seems to utterly misunderstand what the term "freelance" means.
The Lost Albatross