My Faves Are Problematic

Question:

Dear Bitches, 

Help! My favourite Canadian pop-punk band has been accused of sexually assaulting several women. I'm a woke feminist mom with tattoos, and gosh darn, I keep falling into these traps that say, "Oh it's just accusations," or, "This is just a rock 'n' roll lifestyle, why aren't other bands in trouble?" 

I know the choice should be simple, but I just can't help the waves of nostalgia that this band and the smell of Axe cologne give me. (Not to mention my many tattoos in their image that I still wear proudly on my skin!) It always reminds me of being a privileged, yet misunderstood, youth; one who was ready to rebel only slightly through mediocre music that pushed my dad's buttons just enough for him to know I'm ANGSTY, but not enough that cut off my allowance (a girl needs her Starbucks, ya know?) Help!

Sincerely, 

Kate Graves: a tattooed, music enthusiast stay-at-home mom 

Note:  Kate's full question (which may have been rhetorical) is up on CBC Opinions

Answer: 

Dear Kate, 

I know it's hard to keep that alternative rocker cred as you get older with baby in tow. But guess what? Standing by a shitty band, (hey, standing by a great band) is simply not okay when allegations about rape have happened. And sure, you can tell yourself, "They're just accusations," but then you would probably need to be a defence lawyer, because the only place that shitty excuse belongs is in the courtroom. In the real world, we believe survivors. We believe survivors when they met their rapist on Tinder, we believe survivors when they were a fan of their rapist's music, hell, we believe survivors when we're a fan of their rapist's music. 

You state that standing by your favourite band, "the soundtrack to your soul," as it were, does not make you a "traitor to women." Well, women aren't a country and as such, I suppose you aren't a traitor. But you're certainly not supporting women, not raising other women up, and not believing other women when you stand by a band that has had multiple allegations of sexual assault voiced against them. You write off these accusations violent crime as "objectifying women," and point out the fact that many other bands are in the same place. That's denial, plain and simple. It's excusing the continuation of sexual violence by men as a "boys will be boys," or "bands will be be bands," trope. 

You can do better, Kate. First, pick another band to sing the soundtrack to your soul. Try the Bad + Bitchy Spotify playlist to begin. I highly recommend digging deep into Fiona Apple if you're an angsty alternative gal like myself. Then, let Hedley go, with the dozens of other problematic faves we've let go recently, because you choose better. I bet you live a life with high standards of integrity otherwise. You are probably teaching your children not to lie, not to judge others by their appearance, and not to touch other people without their consent. So, ask the same of the people who who give so much credit to when it comes to shaping the soundtrack of your life.

You ask, "How can something that has always given me hope, courage, excitement, satisfaction and peace ever become something I'm ashamed of?" Ask every kid who grew up with Dr. Huxtable as their stand-in dad in the 80's that same question, and most of us will tell you, "You just let it go." You don't need to be ashamed for the actions of others, just as your life does not need to be ruined by these accusations.

You say, "In terms of allegations of rape: that is obviously an incredibly serious accusation. But right now, that's all it is: an accusation. Nevertheless, its effect has been to destroy the lives of members of the band, as well as the spirit of fans who have followed them throughout their entire careers. I can't tell you how frustrating it has been to watch: to wake up every day to a new headline in the media, to news that they've lost an opening act, lost their management, lost their spot on the radio — it just didn't slow down. To say it's sad isn't enough: it's devastating." 

That's a little dramatic, isn't it, Kate? Last time I checked, you don't wake up with night terrors, live with flashbacks, or have needed to retreat from family, work, school, and friends because of this. That's what survivors of sexual violence need to live with every single day. So get a hold of yourself, and demand better from your new favourites. If Hedley made your darkest days a little brighter, I promise there are many sunny skies ahead from bands that aren't sexually violent. 

 

Disappointed Daughter

Question:

Dear Bitches,

So listen, I’ve got wonderful father...who is the epitome of straight, white, male privilege. I have tried on numerous occasions to explain it to him but he inevitably lashes out in defence of (mostly) the “good guys”. Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because I am at a loss and I am reaching out to social justice minded people and asking for resources or any kind of help to aid in what is sure to be a long battle for me. Naturally, you were on my list!


I want to help fight the good fight by starting at home!
 

Best Regards,
A sincerely frustrated and disappointed daughter


Answer:

Dear Disappointed Daughter,

It is not alway easy to work across generations, and certainly not always easy to speak so directly to the people closest to us. But you’re absolutely right, the revolution starts by influencing those around you, whether family, friends or neighbours.  

Talking to family can be especially challenging. We all have complicated relationships with our families (whatever form they take). It is also hard to accept that the people who raised us arrived at such widely different conclusions, or choose not to confront their privilege. Not hard to imagine how that can leave us feeling lost, alone, and disenchanted.

There are a number of resources available to guide discussion about white privilege. Check out these resources for example: here, here and here, but here are few more of our ideas:

  1. An intersectional feminist journey does not happen over-night. It take a lot of work. It asks us to decolonize our minds, and to unlearn so much of what has been programmed into us. Don’t judge too harshly - it may take some longer than others to make the journey to accepting and unpacking their privilege, let alone for them to join us in our struggle as allies. Be patient, but don’t give up. When a family member uses an anti-migrant comment, for example, correct them. Correct the language, but focus on ideas and change. It is not about attacking their character.
  2. Ask them to unpack what they said. Think about how you would explain the idea to someone who has never been exposed to it; to a classroom of young people; in an ad campaign; in a media interview. With family it’s easy to lose our patience, to snap, to fight or worse yet to ignore the comment altogether and roll our eyes.
  3. You also have one key advantage when speaking to family. You know them. You know what they care about, what their passions are, what they are indifferent to, as well. You know what they respond to, and what makes them shut off. Use that knowledge to engage them in a way that will elicit the right response. For some people that means playing on their sense of compassion. For others it may be effective to speak to their faith-based understanding. For some it may be a strict moral framework.
  4. Don’t lose sight of the fact that our parents and family members are growing up too. We all are, always. No one is a finished product, everything is lifelong journey. And as children or daughters we forget that sometimes. We get frustrated with our parents because as kids we thought they had all the answers and turns out they're just as flawed as we are.
  5. Immerse yourself in feminist writing, stories of feminist journeys, and get to know the issues. The more you know, the better you will be able to communicate with other privileged folk in your circles. Being a feminist is a lifelong education, and that means challenging our own privileged assumptions. Not to mention that learning how other feminists came to be where they are can also inspire us.

Writers we’d recommend:

Our final piece of advice? Engaging with family can trigger childhood trauma, or can be emotionally taxing to varying degrees. Be sure to safeguard your own health and safety - if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.

We are like, never, ever, ever having kids. Like, ever.

Question:

Dear Bitches,

Does tuning my coworkers out when they talk about their kids make me a bad feminist? And beyond that, is it bad that whenever a coworker complains about their kids, I just yell back, "Hey man, you made a choice!" and walk away?

Sincerely, 

Not Your Mother's Mother

Answer:

Dear NYMM, 

It's pretty hard to get through your late 20's and early 30's (particularly as a cis woman) without hearing the question, "So... when are you having kids?" Most of us are evaluated cautiously by employers, who assume we'll be checking out for a year at some point soon, only to plague them with questions about top-ups and leave benefits. Parents and in-laws make hints ranging from the subtle to the brick-ish, and your friends are torn between wishing you infertility until they get to use the name you mentioned once that you liked, and begging you to join them in the community-based detention that is parenthood. 

So are you a bad feminist for tuning out the incessant banter about poopy diapers, snotty noses, charming "kids say anything!"-isms and the ongoing drama of where the soother is? Nah. That shit is boring, unless you're also going through that or are very emotionally attached to someone who is. But guess what else is boring? How great your kimchi fries were at that new expensive fusion place where they only take bookings after 11:00 pm, or how wasted you got at the bar this weekend. That's boring to people who care about if their little one is just "going through a phase," or if he has true Dahmer-like tendencies. 

Can we bridge this feminist divide? For sure we can. Strident feminists have already dipped a toe in the waters, with gender-reveal party twists that encourage genderless upbringings, or with spacial apparatus that allow cis men to breastfeed too. That's equality baby, and it's happening. We can also just respect the spaces and choices of the other folks around us, particularly the uteri of those people, which is really and truly none of anyone's damn business. Meet someone not drinking at a party and suspect due to their gender identity and age that it could be because they're knocked up? Don't ask. Notice a particularly round belly of a person in the mall? Don't touch. Hear someone throwing up in the stall next to you at work one morning? Ain't none of your damn business. 

It goes the other way too. Coworker shows up one morning particularly harried, and unloads the treachery of a toddler who has hidden their snow boot on you? Feign some empathy while you pour your coffee (imagine having to search for a snow boot the size of a small romance novel in your house? Horror. That doesn't even take into account it being hidden by a person with the imaginative capacity to invent who friendships in their mind). Next time someone complains about their teenage son's room, take it as an opportunity to fight the good fight of feminism and remind them about the expectations toxic masculinity place on young men. 

You aren't a bad feminist for being bored to tears by the stories of someone else's kid. But it seems that as a species, we feel the need to promote our procreation to those who have not procreated, in some twisted form of community building. So suck it up, pat them on the shoulder, and go out that night at 10:30 pm and spend $149.00 on kimchi fries and wine, because you can do whatever the fuck you want and they can't. 

The Next Bad + Bitchy

Question:

Dear Ladies of Bad + Bitchy Podcast, 

I really want to see what it takes to make podcast; one that is unapologetically real and honest. How can I set about doing this for the issues I care about?

Signed, 

DIY Bitch

Answer:

Dear DIY, 

Thank you so much for your support of our podcast! We're glad you like to tune in, and guess what? It's easier than you think to start your own podcast to make your voice heard. In fact, you can do it (almost) for free! (Well, not counting the cost of emotional labour and a whole lot of hustle.) 

I'm going to start with B+B's dream, which is a shameless plug for our Patreon but the true life dream for us bitches. We'd love to grow B+B into a media company that can have lots of these little pod-babies! We definitely love having a platform to share our thoughts, but we'd love a platform to lift other voices higher even more! So, for everyone else out there besides you, lovely DIY, please support us so that this dream can come true. 

Now the good part: how do you start a bad-ass podcast that keeps our leaders honest? Start by deciding what podcasts you like to listen to, and how they're structured. Like the way B+B is discussion based? Find a few friends you can work really closely and honestly with, start a Google Doc, and get talking. Maybe you're more of a One Feminist Show, and you want to be scripted, with focused content. Perhaps Lisa Ling is your she-ro, and you've got a hell of an interview technique. Choose someone each week to ask your questions to, and build the content from there. 

Next, you need equipment. You can go as low budget or high budget as you want. Your iPhone comes with a voice recorder on it. Take a deep breath, hit that red button, and go. Use online software to edit your content (some of it is even free). For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can get a good mic and editing software, and DIY at home. Finally, for a bit more money, you can look at renting podcast studios in your hometown and getting really professional. 

Bad + Bitchy was created from a Facebook message stream based on hot takes and angry rants. One day we just recorded it, instead of writing it. Our financial investment was minimal, but our time investment was huge. Did it pay off? Absolutely. A year later, we're bigger, bitchier, and more bad-ass than we ever imagined. 

In the end, all you really need is some great content, a quiet room, a recorder, and some hustle. 

If you make it happen- get in touch! We want to hear everything you create. 

A Pickle About Peterson

Question:

Dear Bitches,

I'm running into a recurring problem: Jordan B Peterson. It's not hard for me to see the guy is a grifter who makes a fortune on "triggering the libs" and appealing to alt-right trolls. As someone who tries to work against oppression and take a progressive approach to helping my community, I find he and his messages really conflict with trying to make our community and our country a better place for everyone. I've had an increasing amount of people in my extended social circle become Peterson fanboys. I try to explain to them the issues with his viewpoints, and the violence his messages have on various groups of people, but they think he's full of great self-help advice and make excuses for the terrible things he says about women, trans people, and any advocate for social justice.

I run in some fairly left circles and haven't ever had to deal with acquaintances falling in with a right-wing cult of personality like this. I don't expect everyone to share the same worldview as me, but I'm really troubled to see people I used to work with and friends-of-friends take up his beliefs and go further down a slope to the alt-right. I'm worried what will happen if his fanbase keeps building this momentum.

We're in a time where there are more and more demagogues like Peterson in the media. What can I do as a male ally to help people I know from taking up his ideology and moving into hateful prejudices? I'm willing to have difficult conversations with people, but I don't know how to get through to them with this. I'm also willing to cut toxic people from my life, but is that the right thing to do here? 

Signed: Ally With a Cause


Answer:

Dear Ally, 

Fucking Jordan Peterson. Unfortunately, he, like so many like him (Ann Coulter, Cassie Jaye of the Red Pill Fame, Donald Trump, etc) have realized that appealing to the lowest common denominator of society is not only generally easier than fighting the good fight, it's quite a bit more profitable too. 

These are the people who charge thousands of dollars for appearances, books, punditry, and more to simply spout the controversial beliefs of the right-leaners. People pay to read them, see them, or hear them, because they believe it "takes guts" to say out loud what a ton of racists and misogynists think, and since most people can't articulate offensive content whenever they feel like it, they pay to watch the few who can and pass it off as "supporting free speech." 

Fuck that. 

You have two options: Call them out, or call them in. I would suggest choosing your option based on how far gone someone is. If they truly believe people like Peterson are correct, and have held beliefs like his for a long time, they likely need to be called out. The public record is real, and the Internet is our friend in 2018. I don't want to get all medieval and suggest a public shaming, but if someone is violently racist or misogynistic, the public deserves to know, and so does their employer (especially if they're paid via public dollars.) Keep the receipts, and let people know what an asshole that person is. 

The second option is definitely better when it comes to furthering the conversation. Calling folks in is an options when you know they mean well, but they need some education. Think of this tactic for your friend who says, "Well, Christie Blatchford did kind of have a point," or "Peterson should have the right to say what he wants, even if I don't agree with it." Calling someone in is about education, coming from a place of love, and believing you can help them see the light. For these conversations, arm yourself with facts. To the friend that wonders about #metoo and due diligence, talk about how few sexual assaults are reported to the police (less than 10%), or how many allegations are false (less than 8%). To a friend who argues about the grammatical correctness of "they" as singular, remind them how often they actually use that term (as I just did, since I didn't know the gender of the person I'm speaking of.) Everyday Feminism has an awesome guide on how to call someone in, so read up on that and start challenging that oppression.