Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

Doing Boycotts Right

Boycott

Got boycott fatigue? I know I do.

Look: boycotts work. At least some of the time. Bill O’Reilly is still off the air (mostly). And witness the success of Sleeping Giants.

The thing is, it can be really hard to keep up with everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting (check out the list at #GrabYourWallet and Grab-Your-Wallet if you don’t believe me). And the proliferation of boycotts has made them less effective, since we can’t all remember everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting, or why.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to boycott everything that might have any connection to anyone or anything that’s objectionable, because no one’s hands are completely clean.

“These goods are sustainably produced, but has the company achieved pay equity?”

“This firm has done a great job of promoting diverse leadership, but they also do business with Israel.”

“I heard I should boycott products with palm oil, because the farming practices are bad for orangutans, but it’s IN EVERYTHING.”

“Georgia’s trying to legislate a draconian abortion ban, and we were all down with boycotting North Carolina over its anti-trans bathroom bill, but Stacey Abrams says not to, so I don’t know what to do.”

Boycotts: whatever you’re doing, you’re probably doing it wrong.

My spouse has come up with a pretty solid framework: focus on institutions more than individuals, and on objectionable behavior that’s made part of company policy, not just that someone involved with the company happens to believe.

It’s Chick-fil-A versus Home Depot.

Chick-fil-A is run by a homophobe. Home Depot’s retired co-founder supports TrumPutin. Both are bad.

But Chick-fil-A gives money at the corporate foundation level to funding anti-LGBT work. Bernie Marcus is no longer at Home Depot and has given money personally to TrumPutin-supporting PACs.

Spouse’s position? No Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but yes to getting tools at Home Depot. Which makes sense to me.

(Relatedly, I remember when we were SUPPOSED to go to Home Depot rather than Lowe’s because Lowe’s personnel policies were anti-LGBT, while Home Depot’s were LGBT-friendly. Or you can skip them both in favor of your locally-owned neighborhood hardware store. But I digress.)

(Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Chick-fil-A boycott seems to have backfired.)

Image found here (and it’s worth clicking the link, because the writer raises some additional good points on the efficacy, or lack thereof, of boycotts).

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Do Something Just For You

SelfCareIsntSelfish

This is your periodic self-care reminder.

Every time the news cycle clicks into a higher gear, I think: “This is it. It can’t get crazier than this.” And yet, invariably, a few days or a week later, it does.

The impeachment inquiry is moving along and TrumPutin can’t seem to help telling on himself. I don’t know about you, but I have that anxious feeling that if I turn away from the news for a hot second, he’ll declare war on France or some shit.

State elections are fast approaching in Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and many of us have been PUTTING IN THE WORK to #FlipVABlue and, well, do the best we can in those deep South states.

We’ve just gotten through the hottest September on record in many places in the US, passing the previous record which was set at least here in the Mid-Atlantic, a mere three years ago.

Plus back to school.

Plus the approaching pagan High Holidays.

Plus plus plus.

(In my case, a raft of deliverables hitting for two big clients, upcoming travel, trying to keep boxing without re-injuring my still healing elbow, dealing with an invasion of ants, all my major volunteer commitments ramping up – it’s that time of year – and four webinars to deliver in less than a month. Oh, and I’m behind schedule on my next whitepaper. And I need to get the Samhain decorations out. Thank the Goddess the weather broke.)

Stop.

Breathe.

Put down Twitter.

Turn off MSNBC.

What are you going to do this weekend just for yourself?

Sure, you’re still going to write your daily five postcards to voters, and go to the kids’ soccer game, and bake cupcakes for the Parent-Teacher-Student Association fundraiser, and do the laundry, and plan meals for the week and go to the grocery store, and call your brother.

But what are you going to do just for you?

Women are taught to put everyone else’s needs first, to take responsibility for everything, to manage everyone, and to put ourselves last. We’re socialized that attending to our own needs is selfish. We do too much, we give too much, and we’re punished for even trying to keep a little bit back for ourselves.

Well, fuck that.

In between my coffee meeting with a colleague who has questions about how to run a Mastermind group and hosting my circle for another night of political magic and the monthly local Democratic party officers meeting and boxing classes and the grocery store and battling the ants, I plan to have a late lunch with some dear friends, finish reading The Girl With All The Gifts, and (hopefully) watch my team win Sunday afternoon.

Tell me what you’re planning to do just for you this weekend in the comments.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Of Shiny Objects and Hard Work

DiscoBall

We got what we wanted. The impeachment inquiry has started.

TrumPutin finally did something that was egregious enough, public enough, and simple enough to understand to give cover to swing district freshmen Members of Congress, which opened the door for Nancy Pelosi to move forward.

“Why didn’t she do it when I wanted her to?”

Remember, her motto is: “Just win, baby.”

She wasn’t going to do anything that put those red-to-blue first-term Representatives at significant risk of losing their seats – and the Dems of losing the House majority.

“Why didn’t she do it in response to X, Y, or Z other TrumPutin law breaking?”

Because TrumPutin-appointed judges are blocking access to and release of documents and information most of those other probes need in order to prove their cases.

Relatedly, this is why a bunch of us were yelling about the courts in 2015 and 2016. So thanks a lot, people who sat that one out or voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson.

But – and this is an important but – it’s HIGHLY unlikely that #MoscowMitch’s Senate will convict and remove TrumPutin from office, and even if they do, we get President Pence, who may be more electable in 2020.

So don’t get distracted – this isn’t the magical single thing that’s going to fix everything. That magical single thing doesn’t exist, no matter how much we all want it to.

Keep registering voters, donating to candidates, writing GOTV postcards to voters, urging women to run for office at all levels, looking into running for office yourself, attending your local civic association and city council meetings, phone banking, text banking, canvassing, calling your Senators and Representative, attending marches and protests, organizing in your local community, and working every day to actualize the world you want to live in. And cling to the vision of the world you want to see with all your might.

When do we get to rest?

Never again – that’s what’s fucked us up in the Obama years. We all got complacent and lazy.

Don’t get distracted by shiny, shiny impeachment. Keep doing the work.

Image found on Medium.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

#ClimateStrike

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 2.13.11 PM

Today marks the beginning of a week of climate activism.

Envisioned – and then made real – by activist and hera Greta Thunberg, young people are striking, blockading,and engaging in other forms of activism in various cities and locations around the world over the next week.

What do they want?

As Thunberg said in her testimony before Congress earlier this week: “I don’t want you to listen to me – I want you to listen to the scientists…And then I want you to take real action.”

(And she is living with integrity, even when it significantly inconveniences her.)

Make no mistake – the youth are leading this movement.

How can we adults best support them?

The UK Student Climate Network offers a five point guide:

  1. For those who have children, enable them to participate.
  2. Encourage your local school(s) to support students’ participation.
  3. Let local media know you support the movement.
  4. Center the voices of the young people who are leading the movement (aka, don’t try to take over).
  5. Take direct action yourself.

The site offers further details as to how you go about all of the above.

350.org has additional suggestions:

  1. Participate as an ally! (Again, center the voices of the LEADERS of the movement, and that’s not us, fellow grown ups.)
  2. Spread the word on social media.
  3. Organize in your community.

Again, the site offers further details as to how you go about all of the above.

In the era of TrumPutin, everything feels like an emergency all the time – that’s part of his con – but this truly is an emergency of global scale and the window for us to do ANYTHING to ameliorate the coming disaster is rapidly closing. Many of us will be in the Summerlands before things get really dire, but these young warriors will not, and we owe it to them to do everything in our power to support them.

(The above video is merely a short snippet of Thunberg’s testimony. The hearing lasted for two hours, and you can get the video of the whole thing here.)

Image from the Global Climate Strike website.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Fall Is Coming!

fall

Although the equinox is still a week away, my favorite season is just about upon us. The days are noticeably shorter than they were even a few weeks ago. The leaves are just starting to turn. We still experience hot days (very hot, in fact, just yesterday), but when they hit, you know it’s only going to be a day – or two at the most – of closing up the house and turning the AC back on.

And much as I will miss the summer profusion of flowers (and hummingbirds and bees and other pollinators) in my garden, and in-season stone fruits and berries, and it staying light past 8:30 at night, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time of year.

  • I love the monarchs that come through and enjoy my lantana flowers on their way to Mexico.
  • I love the way my garden looks as it starts to die back. And I love the snug feeling when I put it to bed for the year after the first frost.
  • I love swapping out the hummingbird feeder (after they’ve finished their migration) in favor of the suet cage, and welcoming a whole new group of feathered friends.
  • I love having the windows open, especially as we start enjoying cool nights – and the way the kitties are extra snuggly at night when that happens.
  • I love making the transition from linen sheets and cotton coverlet to flannel sheets and down comforter.
  • I love looking forward to baking (I still bake during the summer, but it’s more of a chore and no one enjoys the hot kitchen).
  • I love the cessation of crushing humidity and the return of crisp, clear, blue-skyed days.
  • I love the return of apples, and citrus fruits, and pomegranates, and orange-fleshed, hard-shelled squash.
  • I love not having to consider “exactly how sweaty am I likely to get?” first when choosing what to wear.
  • I love switching from iced coffee and tea to hot coffee and tea (although to be fair, by spring, I love the reverse process just as much).
  • I GO CRAZY for Halloween/Samhain (both the secular and religious holidays). Carved pumpkins and tons of candy for the hordes of trick-or-treaters we get and impressive/excessive decorations and costumes for myself and my spouse and ancestor altars and feeling the veils grow downright wispy.
  • I love curling up with a good book, a cup of tea, and a cat or two on the first cold, rainy day.
  • I love the first fire of the season. (When we bought our house almost 19 years ago, a working fireplace was on the “nice to have” list, both of us having grown up with them. We were wrong – it’s a “need to have.” Fortunately, this house has one.)
  • I love the inward turn, the assessing of the harvest, the introspection this season brings.

What are you mostly looking forward to, as we turn the wheel?

(Yes, I know the Dem debate was last night, and I watched it, but I needed a break from heavy topics. Although it’s past time for Andrew Yang to drop out, and I really wish Beto and Buttigieg would focus on something like Senate or governor.)

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Cui Bono?

SteinemDavis

One of the most useful concepts Hecate has introduced me to over the many years of our friendship (and there have been MANY, both of concepts and of years) is to be continually asking: Cui bono? It’s a legal concept, asking who stands to benefit from a crime, thus potentially helping you figure out who might have been the one who committed the crime in the first place.

We on the left need to be asking ourselves this ALL THE TIME.

The left has a long history of purity culture – if you’re not perfect on EVERYTHING, you’re trash – and I’ve noticed what seems to be an accelerating trend, exacerbated by social media, to “cancel” everyone who makes a misstep, no matter how unintentional or inconsequential. In other words, to turn us all against people who would – and should – be natural allies.

Online activists invest hours, days, weeks bitching about “Bernie Bro” David Sirota or “sexist” Talbert Swan or “white feminist” Alyssa Milano or even just some poor normal person who’s demonstrated that s/he’s less than fully “woke” on some issue – and, just to be clear, I’m not trying to argue that all of the above haven’t made mistakes, serious ones – but I’m worried we’re losing the thread.

So the question becomes: Cui bono?

Hint: it’s not the left, or progressive legislation, or the Democrats’ electoral chances in 2020 and beyond, or, ultimately, our ability to continue to function as a society.

We all know Russia interfered in our elections in 2016 in favor of Donald Trump. And some of it was obvious, chest-beating, “rah rah Trump” garbage. But a lot of it was much more subtle than that, exploiting existing and well-known divisions in our society (which they’ve been doing for almost 100 years, and again, I’m not saying they didn’t correctly identify some very large structural injustices) and the left’s well-known purity culture to turn us against each other. And they’re still doing it. Right now, today, in your – and my – social media feeds. Which we then accelerate through our increasingly destructive “call out” culture.

So there’s a video of a random man being terrible to a woman – or a random christian being terrible to a Muslim (or, equally likely, a Sikh who they’ve misidentified) – or a random straight person being terrible to an LGBTQ person – or a random white person being terrible to a black person. And we all share it a million times and express our outrage and talk very righteously about our awful, broken, misogynist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist society.

Cui bono?

I get to express my Very Correct Positions and get affirmation from other holders of Very Correct Positions (assuming, of course, I didn’t happen to miss one, in which case I’ll probably be called out for not caring enough about the issue related to whichever one I missed). Likes. Faves. Retweets. More followers. Ego boost.

But in the meantime, just like watching the “if it bleeds, it leads” local news causes people to DRAMATICALLY over-estimate the actual rate of violent crime in their area (and their own likelihood of becoming a victim), we become increasingly suspicious of and angry at our fellow citizens. We trust each other less and less, and that cancer spreads to our institutions.

Just like Vladimir Putin and his puppet in the White House want.

Again, I’m not talking about issues of structural problems (like, for instance, racial and gendered pay disparities) or issues of power (like, for instance, ICE running concentration camps on our southern border) or issues of actual harm (like, for instance, DeAndre Harris being beaten by a mob of white neo-Nazis or Heather Heyer being run over and murdered by James Alex Fields in Charlottesville).

I’m talking about the fact that regular people of all stripes are intentionally and unintentionally mean to each other every day. I’m talking about the fact that even “right-on” people get it wrong sometimes. I’m talking about the fact that it can be easy to miss the latest subtle shift in the Very Correct Position. I’m talking about the fact that people – and the ways we look at the world – evolve over time.

What if, instead of “calling out” and contributing to a constantly-spiraling culture of outrage, we “called in”?

To quote a recent article in the Times by one of the creators of the reproductive justice framework, long time activist Loretta Ross:

I wonder if contemporary social movements have absorbed the most useful lessons from the past about how to hold each other accountable while doing extremely difficult and risky social justice work.

Or even more pointedly:

Are we evolving or devolving in our ability to handle conflicts?

Ross quotes Patrisse Khan-Cullors, who is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. In her book How We Fight White Supremacy, Khan-Cullors writes:

People don’t understand that organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out…

Ross goes on to write:

Similarly problematic is the “cancel culture,” where people attempt to expunge anyone with whom they do not perfectly agree, rather than remain focused on those who profit from discrimination and injustice.

Indeed. Cui bono?

Ross exhorts us to start calling-in, rather than calling-out.

Calling-in is simply a call-out done with love.

There’s a well-known concept in management: If you want to be successful in developing your team, praise in public, correct in private. Having spent many years managing people before launching my own solo business, I can confirm that this works, and works well. Not only do you have much greater success actually fixing whatever problem you’ve identified, this improves the overall performance of the entire team and engenders trust.

So maybe the next time you see a video of some private citizen of (dominant group) being mean to some private citizen of (non-dominant group), the next time Kevin Hart gets tapped to host an awards ceremony and someone brings up some old homophobic jokes he already apologized for, the next time Alyssa Milano proposes going all Lysistrata, the next time a Democratic political candidate doesn’t pass your personal purity test, before proudly displaying your Very Correct Positions online, stop for minute, think, and ask yourself:

  • What am I really trying to accomplish, in a larger sense?
  • What will drawing additional attention to The Outrage Of The Day (or Minute) accomplish?
  • Will my Very Correct Call-Out help or hurt my longer-term goals?
  • Who benefits from me adding one more log to the perpetual-cycle-of-outrage fire?

Want a great example of what calling-in, acting from a place of love, and keeping a laser-focus on the real, important, long term goals that matter looks like? Check out Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race.

(Oh – and have you ever wondered where the whole “white feminism” thing originated? It appears it may have been men who were part of the Wounded Knee Defense Committee in the early 1970s who were hostile to the feminist movement, didn’t like the idea of cross-racial women’s solidarity, and so worked to drive a wedge. Cui bono? Men in “the movement” who wanted the chicks to shut up, make the coffee, make the copies, and stay on their backs. Receipts. The history – and present – of white feminism has real problems with intersectionality (not just around race but also around class and sexual orientation and other axes of difference), but for every Elizabeth Cady Stanton, there was a Lucy Stone. For every Betty Friedan, there was a Gloria Steinem. Who benefits from dividing women against each other, from exploiting differences, from encouraging us not to try to trust each other or work together across lines of race and class and religion and national origin and sexual orientation? Not us.)

Image found on Pinterest.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Celebrating Labor

Rosie

(I know I re-up this post every year at this time, but that’s because it’s IMPORTANT!)

As we go into this last weekend of summer, it’s a great time to gather friends and family for parties and cookouts – and this weekend I’ll be doing some of both – but it’s ALSO a great time to remember what we’re celebrating with our Labor Day holiday: honoring labor and trade organizations, and having a party for workers and their families.

Not consumers, workers.

We are more than consumers – we’re citizens and workers. This day is for us!

The next time you enjoy things like:

  • An 8-hour workday
  • Paid overtime
  • A weekend

Or think about the fact that your seven year old is not expected (or allowed) to get a job, that we do have a minimum wage (although it desperately needs to be raised), or that if you get injured on the job, you’re owed compensation, remember: that’s all thanks to labor unions.

And did you know that WOMEN formed the first labor union in the US?  Women textile workers in Lowell, MA formed the first union 50 years before Samuel Gompers founded the AFL.

The union movement has been on the decline since its peak in the mid-1960s, with Republican-promoted “right to work” laws encroaching on more and more states and increasing numbers of gig workers who have NO formal protections. But unions still remain powerful guardians of workers’ rights and interests, protecting us from being at the mercy of management, whose only real goal is to make the widget a little cheaper and sell it for a little more, squeezing as much profit as possible out of every step along the way, including the workers.

Unions protect workers’ wages and ensure high quality benefits packages via contracts, help promote equal pay for equal work, allow workers to exercise the power of collective bargaining, ensure that people aren’t fired for no good reason, promote workplace safety standards, encourage civic engagement, and provide a bulwark against the whims of the owners.

As the Economic Policy Institute’s excellent research paper on this subject points out: “Unions are essential to a fair economy and a vibrant democracy.”

So enjoy your cookout and beer and relaxing with your posse on the last weekend of summer – I know I will – but don’t forget to take a few minutes to think about what we’re actually celebrating this weekend.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.