Under My Skin

Well, it happened again. A younger white cis man didn’t like what I said, or perhaps that I had the temerity to say it, and he insulted me. That’s a frequent pattern in Pittsburgh politics. The only thing that has changed over 15 years of blogging is that I have grown older while the age demographic of white cis men who tear me down has remained pretty consistent – any guesses? I should probably comb through my social media connections and do something about it.

I’m not concerned with his good opinion of me, but he did get me thinking about the things that really get under my skin, large and small. Here is what you might consider ammunition.

  1. The word ‘shitty’ – in my childhood, an adult caretaker would say this long drawn out version of ‘shhhhiiiiiittttt’ before losing their proverbial shit on us kids. For some reason that has created an aversion to the word ‘shitty’ but not ‘shit’ proper. As I continue with my trauma processing work, perhaps I’ll realize why. But for now, if you want to make me physically uncomfortable, drop ‘shitty’ into the conversation. (Laura says this all of the time so you’d think I’d be immune by now …)
  2. The word ‘trash’ to describe human beings – again, this is probably tied to growing up in a poor, chaotic household. To me, ‘trash’ is a word that describes objects that are disposable, unwanted, and/or gross. Debris that clutters our lives. Using ‘trash’ as an descriptive term for ideas, beliefs, values, and what not is uncomfortable. Using ‘trash’ to describe human beings as in “that neighbor of mine is trash” is just lazy. And mean-spirited. If you tell me writing is trash, I am not bothered because my writing is not a human being. Trash seems to be very trendy these days, especially among progressives. I read a quote earlier this week from a progressive who would be horrified if I used the term ‘white trash’ to describe poor white folks. I just don’t understand – is it an attempt to reclaim the word?
  3. Being patronized – I dislike when people gush about my blogging or advocacy work, etc. It is too much attention and feels like overkill. Same thing when people tell me they love me. too often – ugghh. At some point that becomes about their needs, not mine.  On the flip side, comments that dismiss my accomplishments or my intentions also irritate me, not because I internalize them but because they reflect a general attitude that erases people’s achievements, performance, and capabilities. I cannot Julie Sugarbaker my way out of those exchanges, so I just leave.
  4. No means no – I don’t owe anyone a conversation completed to their satisfaction. If I walk away, if I say I don’t want to discuss it, if I ask you not to contact me, I mean it. And when the “I need you to hear me” email pops up in my inbox, I won’t engage you until you acknowledge that is a mansplaining thing to do and apologize. I have been harassed ad nauseam online by two different white cis men and just won’t tolerate it again in any form.

None of this is rocket science, right? These are my peccadillos, some small and others quite serious. But you also don’t owe me anything either. I’d like to think you would opt for respect and decency versus the choices most adults in my childhood made, but those adults have taught me to let my expectations go.

And you do not have to read this blog. It isn’t a media site where I abuse my publishing power. It is simply my site that I pay for monthly and share information I think is relevant. I have always encouraged folks to start their own blogs, whether formal or microblogging on social media.


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