The New York Times is soliciting opinions about the Kavanaugh confirmation. I had *a lot* of things to say. Posted below are my answers as I submitted them to the Times, typos and all. I won’t post the questions themselves because you can you find them at the survey here.

Before you decide whether or not to participate it’s worth noting that they want your picture, a brief bio, and permission to use it. 

Let me begin with a couple of things: I have a PhD in American Studies from Purdue University. My dissertation, “Virgin Land: Young Women and Sexual Citizenship in the Contemporary United States” is about the mutually constitutive medical and legal discourses that shape the way we think about and understand virginity in the United States. It turns out, if you want to understand virginity you have to know a lot about rape (it has to do with raptus, or rape, being a category of property crime in English common law–happy to explain in more detail if you like). Moreover, if you want to understand virginity in the contemporary United States then it is imperative to understand the increasing political role of Christian Nationalist organizations (a subject I’ve written about previously for Ms. Magazine). I’ve spent the better part of the past decade teaching feminist sexuality studies. All of that is to say that I am, perhaps, more knowledgable about the statistics in cases like this than is normal? I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (and I’m very curious as to why you used his title but not hers in the phrasing of this question). I believe her for several reasons. First, because it is well known that false accusers, regardless of their sex, have an identifiable psychological and behavioral profile which Dr. Blasey Ford did not fit. In fact, the failure of news outlets to report this key fact in their coverage indicates that they are either lacking in the basic research skills it would take to uncover this information, uninterested in accuracy, or complicit in the demonization of Dr. Blasey-Ford. Second, Judge Kavanaugh’s account of the described incident was consistent with the profile of someone who is lying. He claimed he had calendars showing he didn’t go to the type of party described but his calendars did show precisely that. He purposely obscured facts, like the testimony of people who were purported to be there, and used the evasive tactic known as “derailing” to avoid questions when he had no other route.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of David and Bathsheba in the book of Samuel. To punish David for his killing Uriah God killed the first-born son of David and Bathsheba after 7 days. While the baby was alive David was inconsolable. He did all the mourning things appropriate in his culture. On the day that the baby died David ended his morning. When his flummoxed servants asked him why he said that he mourned to show contrition while the babe was alive thinking that perhaps God would see his contrition and spare the babe’s life. After the babe was dead so was hope so there was no longer any need for mourning as God had made his decision. I did just about everything I knew how to do while the confirmation was dragging on. I called my representatives. I urged my friends to call theirs. I followed the news exhaustively. Now he’s confirmed which makes the battle for women’s rights in this country harder but there is no time for mourning. It’s time to focus on the midterms now and hope to God we can make a difference there. If we can’t things will be very dire. Kavanaugh, as was made abundantly apparent in his behavior throughout his hearings, not to mention his judicial record, doesn’t really see women as people. He exhibits all the characteristics of Christian Nationalist like Mike Pence. What I don’t think many people realize is that The Handmaid Tale is, absolutely, a world Mike Pence wants to live in. In fact, The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t as extreme as Pence is. Kavanaugh is, if not an ideological twin, a willing judiciary accomplice. I think everyone in this country should be terrified about the fact that we know have Christian Nationalists in powerful positions in all three branches of government. So many women will die. They will die of botched back alley abortions. They will die in prison for trying to get those abortions or for miscarrying (something Mike Pence actually did in Indiana–I lived there at the time). They will die from the lack of maternal healthcare because the US is the only OECD nation in which maternal mortality rates are increasing. Over 500 women die every year from complications of pregnancy and over 60% of those deaths are preventable. 500 women may not seem like a lot out of the amount of women who successfully deliver every year but it feels like a lot to their families–and it’s especially galling that it’s so unnecessary. The cuts to social programs that the GOP envisions, combined with the crackdown on women’s reproductive rights likely to be pursued by Kavanaugh whenever possible (because, after all, that’s what he’s done in his judicial career so far) means that so many more women and children are going to die unnecessary deaths. It makes me sick. I’ve been so, so tired since this started. But, again, the time for mourning is over. We keep fighting.

 

Ah, this old chestnut. I think there’s a bit of a fallacy in your question. I would take a panel stocked with Patrick Leahys and Cory Bookers over one filled with Susan Collins’ any day for any case. The idea that women will, inherently, support other women is (1) demonstrably wrong and (2) based on the idea that all women have a common experience from which to draw from. They don’t. Our lives are intersectional. There are a lot of white women who don’t do anything about institutional racism because it benefits them (I believe 53% of them voted for Trump in the 2016 election). There were vocal women opponents to women’s suffrage and there were and are vocal women opponents to almost every political gain that women have made in this country. I’m sure the New York Times has a few pieces about Phyllis Schlafley’s anti-ERA campaign it could reference. There’s so much work to draw from here–bell hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw, Nancy Hartsock, Patricia Hill Collins, Susan Harding. Essentially, to have an identity is not enough. It is important to have a political consciousness rooted in that identity to make change. I think the question “how important is it to have more of [group] in public office” is misleading. The question ought to be, “How do we remove barriers for marginalized groups to participate in democratic government?” Because that’s the heart of the issue is. It’s not enough to talk about who is in the room–we also need to talk about how and why they got there. Trump won the election because of the electoral college which disproportionately favors rural, predominately white areas. Folks who can’t take time off of work for fear of getting fired so they don’t make it to the polls, folks who don’t have a reliable vehicle to make it to the polls, folks who don’t have the $90 on hand it takes to get a driver’s license (which is what it recently cost me in WA and was necessary to register), folks who live in rural areas where county services have been slashed due to budget cuts and polling places (or places to register) are few and far between or have odd hours, felons who don’t know or have the time or the money to pursue their re-enfranchisement–all of these are citizens who don’t vote but absolutely should. Simple policies such as automatic enrollment, letting prisoners vote, and making the day we vote a national holiday would enable these folks, often poor and often of color, to vote for who they want to be in the room which would change the dynamics of who is in the room. This hasn’t even begun to talk about corporate money in politics which is a whole separate issue. Again, don’t distract folks with “should we get more women in the room” but look at the real, hard issues of what institutional and structural barriers there are to actual democracy taking place–that’s the kind of journalism I subscribed to the New York Times for in the first place.

They wanted a second Civil War which, what can you say to that? With all the lessons of history at our fingertips, to want such a thing . . . They had guns and they had hate and they thought that was all they needed to win a war.

But hate is not a superpower so much as it is a cause for indigestion and guns, well, guns can do a lot of things: stop a threat, destroy a lock, start a race. There are also things guns can’t do: slake your thirst, prevent your baby from getting the measles, hold up a bridge.

They sent us their list of demands:

“Give us the Muslims, the abortion providers, the “illegals.” Give us the un-Christian and the non-white. Give us the polyglots and the alphabet identities.”

We said, “No.”

They assembled. They turned leftover fireworks into missiles that could do some real harm at a close enough range.

We asked them to lay down their arms, to talk with us. Surely we could come to an understanding?

They began their march. They loaded big trucks with big men holding big guns. They headed our way.

We asked them not to make us do this. Was this really what they wanted?

They said they wanted our blood.

We sighed. We wept. We turned away.

Before they ever got to us they started turning on each other for food, water, perceived slights, real slights, and who knows what else. We don’t know whether or not they kept many records but if they did we haven’t found them. It wasn’t just their violence that took them out. It was bridge collapses and maternal mortality. It was hospitals that were willing to serve the passing militias but didn’t have anything to offer after being raided for opioids in the chaos days.

In their cities, where they had left their elders, their women, their children, the infrastructure slowly but surely crumbled. Water stopped being treated. In some cases, it stopped running altogether. Waste was not collected. Those receiving food assistance no longer got their meals. Those receiving medical assistance were now largely on their own.

By the time they reached our borders, surrounded our cities, barricaded our highways, their situation was desperate.

Our cities were built to be sanctuaries and we invited them in for food and water, for medicine and healing, if only they would lay down their weapons and cease their senseless violence.

Instead, they set up a siege around our perimeters as best they could. Our cities didn’t have walls for them to aim their weapons at but they made threatening displays all the same.

We watched them die slowly, so slowly. We offered help until the end, but they would not take it. Better to die, they said, than take help from the likes of us.

We buried their dead and rebuilt their cities.

Today is not a day of celebration.

It is our day of mourning, our national advent, for all the senseless deaths of the Second Civil War.

Hello, Friends.

It’s been a long time, I know.

Life has been busy and good and I’ve been away.

I’m cleaning out my house and finding scraps of paper with notes scribbled on them. Most of them go straight to the recycle bin but I found this one that I wanted to preserve. However, in lieu of packing up a single piece of paper and losing it (again) I thought I would share the content here. I hope you enjoy.

If I were a superhero my name would be Justice

and my sword would be Mercy.

Double-edged and swift,

She bites deeply out of those who seek me.

If I were a superhero my name would be Justice

and I would stand at the edge of sight.

Far enough away that you couldn’t believe.

But close enough that you would hope.

I’m currently in the process of writing a four-part series about problems with the neo-liberal university. If you’re interested, you can check out the start of the series here.

Monday was the first day of the spring semester, my last at my current institution, and it was so overwhelmingly good that I felt it necessary to add a post to this series about the one thing you can get in academia that you can’t get anywhere else: Students.

I woke up Monday morning excited that three of my brightest students from last semester had enrolled in a class of mine this semester. I was already looking forward to another semester of working with them–pushing them and being pushed by them–to grow as scholars and people. It was a delight to see their smiling faces in my morning class.

Immediately after this class, I met with the student I’m doing a directed reading with and had a lively conversation about infrastructure and government at local, state, and national levels.

But the most unexpected joy was in my afternoon class where I saw a student who had taken my public speaking course two years ago. I had her when she was a Freshmen and hadn’t quite settled on a major. I assumed she was now a Poli-Sci major or minor and needed this course. However, after class, she told me that she had seen my name next to a list of Spring courses in the Poli-Sci department when taking a sample LSAT and signed up for my class immediately.

I thought my teacher heart could not be happier but I was wrong. Another student came up and apologized for coming in late. She had gotten her Monday and Tuesday schedule confused and thought she was coming to a completely different class that started at 3 instead of 2:30. However, after sitting through a description of the course she asked if she could be signed in. My teacher heart grew three sizes.

Then I really thought my teacher heart couldn’t get any larger and, again, I was wrong. I stopped by to have a conversation with the best department head on campus, who just happens to be my teaching mentor, and she shared a story with me. A student she advises had a class after mine last semester. Apparently, for the whole semester, this student sat outside my classroom listening in while waiting for her class in the next hour. The student liked it so much she wanted to take it but it didn’t fit into her schedule. Apparently, she was delighted to find that I am the TA for one of the classes she did sign up for.

I share this because I am so overwhelmed by gratitude and joy and I don’t believe in keeping those emotions to myself.

I share this as an installment of my Apples series because the core of my criticism in that series is a university that has forgotten its students. Sure, they have new buildings with the latest technology but those resources are being developed at the expense of the type of resources that cultivate good teachers. This week has reminded me how important good teachers can be to students and how incredibly important they have always been to me. I am deeply honored that a few students on this campus would put me in that category.

Lastly, I share this story because too often I see and hear people denigrating teachers. What I mean is, there is too much literature in academic circles that purports to be wise by making fun of academics who also love to teach; who devote substantial amounts of labor, especially emotional labor, to becoming better teachers. Of course research is important, but the way that many people learn about solid scholarly research is through good teachers. Good teachers help students care about issues and about credible sources. Without good teachers there is, quite frankly, no audience for good research. So, I share this story of a week in which my teacher heart has been repeatedly filled to bursting to let you know, if you love teaching, that you are probably making a difference in ways you are not even aware of. Keep on being awesome and teach your heart out.

 

 

I am, in the words of my 18 year-old niece, a “wimp-nugget.” I get woozy when people talk about health problems, from complications of pregnancy to anything having to do with blood. I have a cyst at the base of my middle finger and I’m avoiding talking to my doctor about it because every time I say the word “cyst” out loud I get queasy and need to lie down with cool cloth on my forehead.

Unsurprisingly, I am also not much for fictional horror from creepy pasta to film.

However, two of my closest friends happen to LOVE horror. One of those friends is the amazing Paula D. Ashe. If you like horror you should absolutely check out Paula’s work because it is high caliber stuff. She occasionally shares pieces in progress on her Facebook page and I hate it because they are so good that I have to read them but I. Don’t. Want. To. because they worm their way into my brain and stay there. That’s just what good stories do though. Sigh.

As a wimp-nugget, I spend a considerable amount of time wondering why the people I’m closest to love horror so much when I can’t even make my way through “Supernatural.”

Enter, footnote 17 from Chapter 5 of my dissertation:

One story shared in the Homeschooling and Racism forum noted her family was friends with a family of self-identified theonomists who believed in biblical slavery and were trying to recruit people (of color?) to enter a slave and master relationship with them. If this sounds like a veiled reference to a BDSM lifestyle all I can say is that there is a fascinating dissertation to be written on the un-selfconscious parallels between the authoritarian structure of Christian Patriarchy and the power play of BDSM communities. The difference is that BDSM communities are sticklers for clear consent which is rendered meaningless in the Christian Patriarchy framework where women, children, and people of color are not considered quite close enough to God to really have the ability to consent or dissent.

This is the moment I realized: Some of my best friends are horror writers because I am a horror writer aka a gender and sexuality historian.

This post is the first in a series.

Have you ever seen an apple tree get sick?

When I was a girl I spent summer days with my grandfather on the piece of property he called “the farm.” At some point in my childhood, the farm had a cherry tree, a peach tree, a plum tree, a grape arbor, black walnuts, raspberries, and apples (McIntosh-his favorite). The cherry tree got sick, turned into a truly impressive ant colony, and had to be cut down. The peach tree was blown over in an epic windstorm leaving a giant hole which I can’t remember how we filled.

When my grandfather started to get sick we made the decision to cut down the rows of raspberries which were my favorite but, without constant care, become a terrible weed.

As he got sicker he was less and less able to take care of the property. The walnuts, the plums, and the grapes seemed to be more or less self-sustaining, but the apples got sick from lack of care.

In the fall, the boughs were so heavy with apples that they touched the ground.

When my grandfather was well we would pick the apples. He would attach the peeler-corer to the kitchen counter and I would spin the crank creating one long ribbon of apple peel. We would make applesauce and grandpa’s original apple pie recipe (the secret ingredient is cranberry jelly). Even so, there were still too many apples and we would give them away. Some went to my stepdad who made his own applesauce recipe (the secret is Red Hots).

In the years after my grandfather got sick, it wasn’t so much that there was no one to pick the apples, but that there was nothing to do with them. Even that isn’t quite accurate. It’s not that we weren’t capable of making apple pies and applesauce without my grandfather; it’s just that the joy had gone out of it somehow.

The apples remained unpicked. The trees remained un-pruned. The bows bent with their heavy loads and the birds feasted on the unexpected bounty.

In the intervening years between when my grandfather got sick and when we sold the farm the quality of the apples went down as their quantity went up. The heavy loads of apples broke some of the branches and the trees got sicker and sicker.

As I walk around my campus those trees come to mind because, like those trees, my university is dying, slowly, from want of pruning and lack of leadership.

In the past three years, my university has built new buildings for a leadership center, the honors college, an honors college dorm, an active learning center, and the Bechtel Innovation Design Center (whatever that is). Meanwhile, older campus spaces, like the union, have made room for Amazon. Oh, and my university bought Kaplan. We also have a two billion dollar endowment. If money and new buildings were signs of health then my university would be robust.

The idea that unfettered growth is a symbol of unmitigated health is a peculiarly capitalistic idea. It is, in fact, the inherent flaw in capitalism because life tends towards balance–day and night, birth and death, growth and pruning, the second law of thermodynamics–any system dependent on sustained imbalance cannot be maintained without immense damage to its ecosystem. More succinctly,

Capitalism as Cancer

So, then, what happens when you put an evangelical-free-market-Koch-brother-sympathizing-public-school-killing former governor in charge of a land-grant university?

Unsurprisingly, the university starts to grow at an unnatural, unsustainable, unhealthy rate. The overabundance may have its own beauty, like those apple boughs so full of fruit they kissed the earth, but it is that sometimes poetic beauty that can be found in death which is wholly different from, and unmistakable for, the beauty of robust life in a balanced system.

For the past two years, my university has had record-breaking enrollment and you would think that, with so many new students coming to campus and filling seats for required classes, that there would also be record-breaking hiring of new faculty and record-breaking enrollment of graduate students, but this is not so. The number of faculty, at least in my college, has stayed steady while the Dean has initiated measures to curtail graduate student enrollment in some of our most highly ranked programs which, coincidentally, happen to be the programs that teach courses previously thought to be essential to a college education like, I don’t know, critical reading and argumentative writing.

My university is a land-grant meaning that our mission is/was/ought to be, “to teach agriculture, military tactics, and the mechanic arts as well as classical studies so members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education.” (Source here.)

It’s that last part that’s dying, the “classical studies so members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education.” When you think of the university as either a state-funded R&D program or a very complicated jobs training program then you don’t really need to teach everyone critical thinking or writing, let alone history, or, god forbid, cultural studies. After all, those things aren’t necessary for the majority of the working classes. They aren’t necessary to carry out orders for a minimum wage. Those are things the bosses need–and not even all of them–just the ones at the top. As the university shifts from a place where the “working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education” to a job-training program the quantity of students may go up but the quality of thinkers decreases.

Because the current university administration (“leadership” isn’t really an applicable word for the first person to jump off of the bridge) views this institution as a place to get job training rather than education (and, just as a reminder, those things are very different) they’ve introduced several new measures such as Degree in Three which, despite its tagline, is almost certainly a compromised education in the same way that once-a-week night classes never actually cover the same amount of material as traditional classes. They’ve also introduced the Back a Boiler program which, despite the layers of PR it’s coated in, is indistinguishable from indentured servitude.

Despite the profusion of buildings somehow associated with the word “leadership” programs like Degree in Three and Back a Boiler are not focused on creating leaders but on workers.

Not surprisingly, the past several years have also seen the university announce a number of business partnerships from the aforementioned purchase of degree-mill Kaplan to partnerships with Eli Lily and others.

These are the birds feasting on the rotten apples of a dying tree.

The university administration touts these initiatives and partnerships as signs of health and I think there is a genuine belief in the upper echelons that these partnerships will save the university (which wasn’t in danger until it was knowingly put in crisis so that these measures could be initiated but other people have said that much better). What they don’t seem to realize, or remember, or care about, is that when the tree dies and the apples are gone the birds will find somewhere else to feed and all that will be left is a university that died from lack of pruning.

 

 

Over the second half of the semester I had my Women, Politics, and Public Policy students write a feminist party platform responding to the issues we covered each week. Below are the platforms each team created with minimal editing for clarity.

Team Wonder’s Platform–Named for the Natalie Wonder song “Wonder”

We would like to create a platform centered around adaptability within society. When we talked about resiliency versus strength, we thought that something that was very important to create a strong platform was the ability to adapt with evolving ideas. As the ideas that propagate through society advance, our platform should be able to meet those needs.

When discussing specific policies we’d work to enact, we focused a lot on the police and improvements that can be made within that system. We were in a general consensus that some form of law enforcement is necessary, however we have ideas to maintain high accountability standards. We would like to have an external community review board to preside over all cases involving potential officer misconduct. In addition, we think the decriminalization of most non-violent acts would be a moral and fiscally responsible adjustment. In order to protect the rights of those convicted, for-profit prison systems would be removed. Finally, we would change the system to be more rehabilitative focused such that we rely more on mental health care and preventative measures as opposed to the current inhumane conditions found in prisons (solitary confinement, slave labor, brutalization, etc.).

As our final declaration, we would like to arrest Rose from Titanic because Jack totally could’ve fit on the door and she is therefore a murderer.

Team Scratch and Win–Named because they never seemed to be talking about class but always had the best answers when asked a question

Ethic: Safety

Philosophy statement: fundamental equity accounting for the intersectionality of all persons

Education:

  • Key part of platform
  • Maintain a liberal view on education, meaning that change is necessary to keep education relevant and correct
  • Must educate younger generations about the struggles faced by oppressed groups and how to fight this oppression
  • Ensure that education contains proven fact and not unsupported theory
  • Make comprehensive sex education a part of every curriculum

War:

  • An example of toxic masculinity
  • Hurts both men and women
  • Promotes a violent culture and idealizes the strength and violence of masculinity
  • Party is vehemently against offensive war tactics
  • A militaristic culture that permeates everyday society can encourage a conformative, hyper-conservative culture

Welfare:

  • Food security for all is paramount
  • Legislation ideas
    • Subsidize stores to provide cheaper, healthier food
    • Tax unhealthy foods
    • Incentivize development of cheaper, healthier food
    • Move wasted food to food pantries and public schools
    • Package in Farm Bill, advertise as “Work-fare”

Civil Rights:

  • Allow free speech as Constitution currently does, but with modifications
    • “Yelling Fire in a Movie Theater” Bill – any purposely falsified information disseminated in any way using public funds or other resources/capital is not protected under free speech
    • Because we are pro-net neutrality (turn internet from club good into common good), we consider the internet a public good, the internet is not protected under free speech
      • Data collected for security, but illegal to sell data to private companies

Team Model U.N.–Named because of the amount of debate they engaged in

  1. Pink Tax
    1. We believe that all women should not be taxed for mandatory products that are needed in their daily lives. Allowing these products to be tax free would help tremendously in equality.
  1. Feminine Care Products in the Military
    1. Fem care products should be given to women service members, just like products like Viagra are given to men. But as you can see, Viagra isn’t needed for their daily lived, femcare products ARE needed in a women’s daily life.
  1. Gender Gap Wage
    1. Currently women make 79 cents to every dollar men make. This is ludicrous because these women work diligently to make a living for themselves and almost always are doing the same work, if not more, than men. We need to keep looking to close the gap of pay between men and women in our country.
  1. Reproductive Rights
    1. Ensuring that all women have the rights to reproductive justice is crucial.
      1. For example, there is no required paid family leave in the United States, which is the only country besides Cuba that doesn’t have that. We NEED to require companies to provide paid maternity and paternity leave so that families have this opportunity.
      2. We also need to work on educating doctors on for maternity complications in and after birth. The US has the highest maternal mortality rate in developed countries and that needs to go down. With all the technology and resources we have it should never be that high.
  1. Ensuring that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act)
    1. This legislation would end job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual harassment is becoming more common and with the house and senate continually and we need to work on rallying our representatives to pass this.

Team Themyscira–Named because they were the only all female team

The core of the party is the social, economic and political equality of all genders. There is no discrimination of any inequities and/or privileges, and inclusiveness is a valued tenet of the party. This party comes from a place of advocacy for policy, people, and country.

Country

Barriers to enter the military will not be based on gender or sexuality. Rape will not be tolerated as a weapon of war, whether it is used on or off the battlefield. Sexual assault will be addressed thoroughly in basic training.

Policy

Change food stamps system to a case by case process. To create a government funded food pantry system , to replace the food stamps program in specific areas. Account for children.

Prisons systems

In order to create a better future for the prison system, we need to de-privatize prisons and create a committee be appointed to improve the prisons. Put more programs for mental health care in place.

Team Fortitude–Because many of the team members exhibited great fortitude over the course of the semester

Ethic: Efficiency and Transparency

  • Women on food stamps should have access to better foods. This is achieved by changing the taxes on healthy foods versus fast food.
  • Greater background checks to protect people from unsuitable gun owners.
  • Condensing government agencies to be more beneficial for the people and removing wasted funds.
  • Better Sex Education in schools that talk about all the aspects of sex and not just abstinence.

The following is a direct transcript of a text conversation I had with my 18-year-old niece, otherwise known as “the 18 y.o.” I hope it brings you a measure of levity in these dark times.

Warning: This conversation will only make sense if you have watched the Disney Channel original cartoon Kim Possible. If you haven’t watched it you should. Like, now. I’ll wait. 

The 18 y.o.: You never answer when I call you.

Me: That’s because I’m always on the bus and couldn’t hear you if I answered. I’ll call when I get home.

The 18 y.o.: Ok . . . I’M WATCHING YOU.

Me: lol.

The 18 y.o.: I’m KP. I see everything.

Me: Can I be Wade?

The 18 y.o.: Um, no, because Wade always answers the phone.

Me: Wow. Burn. I really set myself up for that one. Rufus?

The 18 y.o.: Are you tiny and hairless?

Me: I’m one of those things. Although, as mammals, I don’t know if naked mole rats are truly hairless.

The 18 y.o.: They aren’t. They have tiny hairs that are so blonde you can’t see them.

 

There was a man in the land of Alabama whose name was Roy, and that man was blameless in his own sight, for he had been a Christian all his life. Roy sought to serve the Lord through the law in all ways.

Roy had served the Lord through law for dozens of years, and had hundreds of speaking dates at Evangelical churches and conventions outside of his own land of Alabama. As Roy’s fame and notoriety grew so did his ambitions and he set his eyes on a higher office which would allow him to serve the Lord more than he had in the past.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?”

Satan answered the Lord and said “Alabama. You’ve got to check out this guy named Roy Moore. He thinks he’s your most devout servant and people from many lands believe him.”

And the Lord said, “What the fuck?! Satan, you are my accuser, charged with putting obstacles in the way of those who oppose my will. His history is in your hand–use it as you will.”

So Satan went were angels always go when they need to get something done on Earth in a timely manner: to a strong woman. Lo, Leigh Corfman came forward and told the story of how Roy Moore pursued her, drove her into the woods, and molested her when she was 14 and he was 32. Other brave women began to step up to say that Roy had also pursued them when they were still girls and Roy was in his thirties.

Roy gathered at the gates with his friends where he said, “I probably didn’t do any of that.”

And Roy’s friend Jim said, “Even if you did the Virgin Mary was 14ish when she conceived Jesus so there’s biblical precedent. You didn’t do anything wrong.

And Roy’s Christian friend Ben said, “Roy is the finest man I’ve ever known.”

And other evangelical friends of Roy said, “It’s a really hard call.”

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From Alabama.”

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you dealt with Roy Moore?”

And Satan coughed.

“What was that?” asked the Lord.

“Several brave women have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault when they were minors,” Satan replied.

“Bless them,” said the Lord, “And so Roy Moore should be begging me for forgiveness from a jail cell sometime soon?” The Lord was well satisfied.

And Satan coughed.

“What’s that?” asked the Lord, “Surely he has been condemned by the highest office in the land?”

Satan blushed while he mumbled, “Not exactly.”

“But my people!” boomed the Lord, “Surely my people have condemned Moore and are seeking his incarceration even now?”

And Satan looked at the floor.

“Tell me what my people are doing to fight this injustice in my name!” the Lord demanded.

So Satan told the Lord about his people Jim and Ben and others who were defending Moore’s behavior.

“Is anyone opposing Roy Moore and his vile behavior?” asked the Lord.

And Satan coughed.

“Out with it!” barked the Lord.

“Well, uh, my people are,” Satan said.

After the Lord had spoken these words to Satan, the Lord said to the people who called themselves Evangelicals, “My anger burns against you and against your friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right. The church of my adversary, Satan, has sorely tested you and you have been found wanting. Go and make offerings to domestic violence shelters, to single mothers, to victims of abuse. Offer your votes for policies that protect the vulnerable, including women and girls. Offer your taxes for social programs that support the vulnerable so no one has to stay with an abusive partner. Do all of this and if the women and the girls you have harmed through misuse of my name pray for you then I will accept their prayers and not deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken what is right.”

Beloved,

There are so many thoughts and things I’ve been wanting to share with you lately and I feel a deep sense of irony that *this* is the post so compelling I cannot not write it.

This is a post about assholes.

A friend of mine recently purchased The Asshole Survival Guide and I’ve been fascinated with it since she first mentioned it.  I read this interview with the author recently. Aside from the weird bit at the end which is, perhaps, a little asshole-ish, it’s a good interview. I’m particularly interested in the author’s definition of who/what an asshole is:

There are a lot of academic definitions, but here’s how I define it: An asshole is someone who leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.

People that make you feel like dirt.

These people are, undoubtedly, a problem, but I’ve found myself thinking about someone we might call the meta-asshole. This person doesn’t make you feel like dirt–they just don’t make you feel seen at all. I’ve had to deal with a surfeit of these types lately: people who, theoretically, are supposed to make your life easier and don’t.

I feel much more devastated after interactions with these folks than with certified assholes. The reason, I think, is because I’m pretty good at not giving a f*ck when it comes to dealing with assholes. I’m not at all good at not giving a f*ck when it comes to dealing with meta-assholes. I spend all day, and sometimes several days, wondering if I’m crazy or if I’m the only one or just trying to figure out what the hell happened.

Part of the complication of the meta-asshole, that thing that keeps me from just saying “f*ck it” all together is that the meta-asshole so often has genuinely good intentions and is doing their best. They actually want to help, and think they are helping, even when they aren’t. Unlike the certified asshole who wants to sabotage you, to make you feel bad, the meta-asshole wants to see you succeed but can’t be bothered to pay enough attention to understand that maybe, just maybe, your path to success doesn’t look like what they think it should look like.

It’s not a surprise that the author of this book is an academic. Academic work places do often breed assholery because egregious social behavior is written off as academic awkwardness (all academics are socially awkward, obvi) or, more obscenely, as *genius.* (It needs to be noted that bad behavior only gets written off as awkwardness or the cost of genius for men. Women don’t have this luxury.) Dealing with academic assholes day-in and day-out has made me want to write a book about assholes before.

But, beloved, I have a problem.

What on earth do we do about the meta-asshole? That person who is supposed to support you and just–doesn’t. They don’t want to see you fail but they won’t stir to help you succeed. Honestly, I’ve tried just not giving a f*ck with these folks and it doesn’t work. Instead of taking the wind out of their sails, which it does with the certified assholes, it simply reinstates their existing notion that they really don’t need to help you anyway because you don’t care.