Privilege 102

My various Facebook groups have been blowing up with intersectional discourse, and I am HERE FOR IT.  I’m really excited that people are stepping up and putting themselves out there.  Not surprisingly, I am also seeing a lot of responses from white women that mirror the general responses people have to white privilege and intersectionality.  Today I’m going to talk more about the nuances of privilege and go through some of the responses you will get if you engage in these discussions.

Disclaimer: I am a white woman and I’m trying to be an ally but I do not know everything.  All I can do is listen and learn, and if you disagree with anything I say, please engage with me.  I am here to learn and I acknowledge I do not have all the answers.  I’m ready to do the work.

On that note, let’s dive in.  We previously discussed privilege a little bit here.  Feel free to check out that post for a high-level view of privilege.  Today we’re going a little deeper.  Before I start, I want to shout out to Saroful, from Crossknit.wordpress.com.  She has an incredibly helpful post, available here, which is also a great place to start.

What is “Privilege?”

Privilege, in this context, is about the way that society provides certain advantages to people based on a variety of factors that are outside of that individual’s control, such as race and sex.  It’s not about how you feel on the inside, but about how society treats you based on external factors.

We all come into the world with a set of traits that are out of our control.  I did not ask to be born as a white woman, but here I am.  I also did not ask to be born into a middle-class/upper-middle class family with two parents still together, who very much valued education.  Those factors provide me with certain privileges in how society treats me.

It’s not just race or sex, either.  This graphic provides more nuance:

chart

This can get pretty complicated, but I like to think of privilege as the following: I am privileged because I have the option to speak out, or I have the option to live my life.  I get to choose to be an activist, or I can say, not today, today I am focusing on myself.  Those can be separate things for me.  People without my privilege do not have that option.  They are the ones fighting every day to end violence against the black community because their brothers and sisters are dying.  They are the ones battling hypothermia to stop a pipeline being built over their sacred ground.  They are the ones who do not have access to clean drinking water in Flint, Michigan.  These are the dramatic examples, but they’re real.

There are thousands of ways my privilege makes life easier for me than it does for others who are on the bottom half of the graphic I posted above.  I previously discussed a few of those in my post on White Privilege, but here are a few more examples from my own life:

  • I am given the benefit of the doubt in the classroom and am trusted whenever something goes wrong, like my assignment is late.  Teachers do not look at me as a potential trouble-maker and value my opinion.
  • I walk down the street without fear of police bothering me.  I see them on my walk to my office building in River North almost every morning, and they are stationed there to protect me.
  • I do not know anyone who has ever been the victim of gang violence.  Unless I choose otherwise, I can spend my entire day not thinking about violence happening mere miles away from where I live and work.
  • I can afford access to reproductive healthcare without Planned Parenthood.  Even if I needed to travel to another state, I have the means and network to do so.
  • I can live my days without worrying about ever being homeless.  Even if I encounter a change in circumstance, I have parents who would welcome me into their home and would support me.
  • I never have to think about which bathroom I should use.  There is always a women’s bathroom available to me and I never feel like I don’t belong there.

If you start thinking about what privilege means to you, you will inevitably come up with countless examples of the way your privilege, whatever that might be, makes your life easier.

What is “Intersectionality?”

Intersectionality is how your different social identities overlap.  None of us are just one thing, and it is likely that you are advantaged, and disadvantaged, in various ways.  For example, I am white and heterosexual, which places me solidly above the line in the graphic above.  However, I am also a Jewish woman, and because of that, I encounter various obstacles and barriers in my life.  We all come to the table with different privileges and different disadvantages.  That’s what intersectionality is.  Each of us occupy a different place in society, and being an ally is doing what you can to support the people and communities around you who don’t have your level of privilege.

Concepts to Embrace

Talking about privilege is really hard.  It’s hard because it requires you to own the fact that you have advantages in life that you cannot escape.  It can make you feel guilty.  Why do you get the privileges and others don’t?  It can also make you feel angry.  You didn’t ask for these things, so why does it feel like you are being blamed for having them?

It is essential to understand that experiences with privilege go both ways.  You cannot help that you were born with your characteristics, just like others cannot help they were born with their characteristics.  It’s a total crapshoot.  To be an ally, you need to overcome the awkwardness and guilt that comes from existing in a position of power that you did not request, and work on understanding how others with less privilege have been experiencing the world.

It is impossible to fully understand what the world looks and feels like from another’s perspective.  The work is never done.  It literally is a journey and can never be a destination.  You need to listen to those around you, especially your black and brown brothers and sisters.  If they are telling you what they have experienced, it is up to you to hear that.  We do not come to this discussion on an equal playing field, and it is not a discussion occurring in a vacuum.  This isn’t a debate about which deep dish pizza is better, where everyone can have an equally valuable opinion.  This is a space for you to hear what people around you are saying and to learn from that.

What Does that Mean In Practice?

Practicing allyship is lifelong and multifaceted.  Here are a few things you can do to start:

  • Put yourself in a position to be exposed to people who are different than you are.  Follow activists on Facebook and Twitter.  Here are a few individuals who are teaching me, along with thousands, every single day:  Luvvie Ajayi, Shaun King, Iljeoma Oluo, Jamil Smith, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Hend Amry, Preston Mitchum, Bree Newsome, Amanda Seales, and Franchesca Ramsey, to name a few.  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and take it all in.
  • Start engaging people in the spaces you are already in.  There are a lot of discussions happening right now about whether the Women’s March was inclusive.  If you feel comfortable, start talking with other white women who are saying things that you think are coming from a place of privilege.  Too often we drop the ball and leave it for our Women of Color (“WOC”) sisters to deal with.  Lift their burden and start doing the work yourself.
  • Don’t limit yourself to online interactions.  Go to a Black Lives Matter rally.  Show up to protest the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.  There are a ton of community events being held all the time.  Showing Up for Racial Justice (“SURJ”) is a great group for allies.  Their Facebook page is here and they have a ton of upcoming events.
  • Do your own work.  Don’t come to the conversation expecting others to do the work for you.  For example, I am explaining privilege and intersectionality to you right now.  You can also Google those things and start reading.  Do the groundwork on your own before you start asking WOC to do it for you.  Don’t enter a conversation and ask what you can do to be a good ally.  Read about it, think about it, and engage once you’ve taken those first steps.

Know that I am doing this work with you.  I have been complacent on these issues, safe in my own privilege, and the election of Donald Trump has jolted me out of that complacency.  I can no longer stand by and watch, so I am doing the work right along with you.

Common White Responses

If you start to engage in these discussions, even as a bystander, you begin to see familiar responses, from white women in particular.  I am going to go through some of what I have seen in the past few days, along with potential responses to those comments.  You might also be having some of these thoughts, which is part of the process of recognizing your own privilege.  Hopefully this will be helpful to you, either personally or as you engage with others.

You can’t group all white women together.  I personally am not racist.

As a general rule, if a conversation is happening and you are not the subject of said conversation, do not hijack that conversation and make it about you.  For example, if someone told you that they were at one of the marches and observed that white women did not cheer as loudly for Black Lives Matter as they did for other issues, do not take it upon yourself to respond that you, in fact, did cheer for Black Lives Matter.  The point is not about you personally.  It’s about someone’s experience and what they observed.

To respond to this rhetoric, point out to the person making the statement that it was not meant to be about that person individually, but rather about a group as a whole.  Explain that it is not enough to personally act one way.  We need to recognize that as a group, white women have not been there for our sisters, and the point of the conversation is to move it towards action and getting white women to stand with our sisters in the future.  If you’re there individually, great.  Take one step further and get others to join you.

I don’t appreciate being criticized when I was trying to help.  Criticizing people is not the way to win them over.

I get it, it doesn’t feel good to do something you thought was great, only to be told the ways you could have done an even better job.  First, it’s important to understand that it is not the job of people who are different than you to win you over.  If you care about understanding, you should be listening to what they say, even they’re not giving you the praise you think you deserve.

Second, I see a lot of this response when the person doing the “criticizing” was merely saying something along the lines of how we need to focus more on inclusivity in the future.  That is not an insult.  Have you heard about white fragility?  If not, now is the time to get educated.  White people, myself included, don’t like to talk about race.  That makes conversations about race uncomfortable.  For some of us, these conversations are so uncomfortable that we are unable to tolerate racial stress.  Whole article on white fragility available here.  It’s important to be cognizant of that when getting into conversations about race.  If you find yourself feeling defensive, sit with it and ask yourself why you feel that way before lashing out.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, you do not deserve a prize for doing the right thing.  It’s expected of you.  Your sisters have been busting their asses for centuries trying to make this world better for their communities, and just because you are now interested in getting involved does not get you a special seat at the table.

This talk is divisive.  We should be focusing on how to come together.

This is where intersectionality plays a huge role.  We all have different things we care about and different priority levels we place on those things depending on where we are in society.  Just because you may feel that discussing the speakers at the march or the different signs people were holding is a “detail,” it might be the most important aspect of an event for someone else.

There is no one feminism, and if you think that there is,  you’re probably thinking about white feminism (getting equal pay in the workplace, for example).  We don’t all agree because we all have different priorities.  The point of having these conversations is not to extrapolate all the things we care about until we can find one common denominator that unites us all.  The point is to learn from each other and realize that other people’s perspectives are valid and deserve to be heard.  Listening and standing with each other is the uniting factor, not whether we all agree on a specific outcome.

I hear your opinion, but why doesn’t my opinion matter?  Who gets to say which opinion matters?

If you are white and trying to engage someone on privilege or race, it’s pretty safe to say that you are not the arbiter of whose opinion matters.  If someone tells you they did not feel included or feel that white women as a group did not show up for them, it’s not responsive to say that you feel otherwise.  You should listen to lived experiences.

Like I said earlier, this is not an argument that occurs in a vacuum.  It’s not two people debating something based on opinion.  It’s people having a conversation about how they feel.  When in doubt, listen!

We shouldn’t shame people for trying.  Any action helps.

I don’t want to discourage people from action.  Action helps, but don’t you want your actions to actually benefit the people you say you care about?  If a WOC tells you that she felt excluded by an event, what good does it do to say that you had good intentions?  We should want to do better, and focusing on how any criticism is somehow shameful gets us nowhere.

We’ve come a long way on the march to progress, and we’re now at the point where the details matter.  We’re no longer talking about whether women have the right to vote – we’re talking about voter access and voter suppression.  We are no longer talking about whether women should be in the workplace – we’re talking about promotion and mentoring and getting women into corner offices.   As we move past those big targets, it’s no longer enough to say we tried to include our sisters, or that our intentions were good.  We need to start focusing on the actual impact of our actions.

This is just a start, but hopefully it will be a good start.  Get out there and start engaging!

Madonna vs. Whore

Sorry for the delay, all.  It’s hard to blog about reality television when all I can think about is the inauguration and the corresponding march, but I do think it’s important to take care of yourself, and Mondays have become therapeutic.  A nice little escapism so I can disconnect my brain.  That being said….

We’re in the first few weeks of Bachelorland, which means we see more of the women than we see of Nick.  That will change, but we’re already being treated to a very sex-heavy season.  As I already discussed, Nick has a history in this department.  His prior stints on the Bachelorette have centered around sex, whether it is him spilling the beans on the after show with Andi, or sleeping with the Kaitlyn weeks before the Fantasy Suites.

This season seems to be no different.  First, we have Liz.

liz-limo

Guys, I don’t know if you know this, but Liz and Nick had sex.  That’s right, sex.  They met at Jade and Tanner’s wedding, and it was a one-night stand.  Nick asked for her number, she declined to give it to him, and they went their separate ways.  Liz did not try and contact Nick at all until she showed up on his show.

She mentions this more than once, although I have a sneaking suspicion that this was due to editing.

liz-bathing-suit

In a twist of producer-driven fate, Liz decides to tell Christen, the resident virgin, that she had a one-night stand with Nick.

liz-christen

Christen spills the beans to Nick.  Apparently editing may have also played a role in how we saw that conversation go down:

Nick feels the need to fess up to the women, who I think handled this all pretty well.   I think it would have been a bigger issue if Nick had kept Liz around.  Then their relationship may have been a threat to the other girls in the house.  But by the time they were privvy to the skivvy, Liz was long gone.  Everyone knows that Nick has had sex before.  So despite ample promos on this issue, it fell a little flat.

However, the sex-talk with Liz just sets the context for our resident villain, Corinne.

Corinne is only 24 years old and it shows.  And that’s not to slam the younger women on the show.  Some of them, like 23-year-old Taylor, are surprisingly mature.  But Corinne appears to view progress in a relationship as solely physical progress.

Case in point:

bride

Corinne was feeling self-confident in her bikini until another contestant showed up topless (note – this is usually not an enviable costume on this franchise:

brittany

Which leads to pity party #1:

drink

The girls started to notice when Corinne then proceeded to go into the pull, take her top off, and have Nick hold her breasts in front of everyone.  She then got the extra time with Nick, and then received the group date rose.

Which led smart young women to say things like this:

lacy

NOOOOO.  This is NOT what I want to see from this season of The Bachelor!  You do NOT need your top off to get a rose, but unfortunately Nick did the producers’ work for them by giving Corinne the group rose.  He had to know it would cause a stir with the ladies.

Unfortunately, it has now become the Corinne show, with the rest of the house turned against her.  Corinne hasn’t been helping her case.  She flaunts her sexuality every chance she gets:

coat

wc

castle-2

The one time Corinne has felt uncomfortable in this process is when she was on the Backstreet Boys date.  She clearly did not like the dancing portion:

dancing

And as such, had a mini-meltdown:

pretty

Pretty is SO MUCH MORE than being scantily clad and acting sexually.  I think Corinne has a lot of growing to do in her understanding of what makes a successful partnership.

That being said, I caution how we treat Corinne.  This conversation is inches away from the Madonna v. Whore dichotomy that women have struggled with for far too long.  You don’t have to be one thing to be pretty or attractive or find a life partner.  Flaunting your sexuality is not a crime, especially when it’s done with agency and ownership.

Take Vanessa, who seems to be loved by all (myself included).  She wore a tiny body-con dress to her dinner with Nick.

vanessa

Get it girl!  She also spent the date talking about substantive topics like work and family, and appears to have the best connection to Nick by far.  Please note that she also vomited, multiple times, on their date and Nick still dug her!

bag

It’s not about whether you are smart or sexy or funny or kind.  Women can be all of the above in so many different ways.  I hope we can move away from this trope that taking your clothes off first means you get the guy, but with the promos this week I’m not sure we’re in luck.

As always, my top ladies:

  1. Vanessa.  Girl rocked it this week, and it’s the only real connection I’ve seen this far.  I really appreciate her joyfulness, her maturity, and how she interacts with the other women.  She’s my pick for the final rose.
  2. Rachel.  YESSS we finally got to see Rachel.  Vanessa may be my pick for Nick, but Rachel is my pick for friend.  She killed it on the group date and I was happy to see her relationship with Nick had not skipped a beat, despite not getting a date last week.

Ok, that’s really it for me right now.  I just don’t see a connection with the other ladies yet.  But here are some additional thoughts:

  • Danielle L. seems like she is Nick’s type to a “t,” and she also got extra time with him this week.  However, I find her to be very guarded.  Her interviews are all platitudes, and I haven’t seen her say anything interesting about herself.  I can’t even tell if she’s into Nick.  I don’t think she’s going anywhere, but I don’t see her as top 3.
  • Danielle M.  I freaking love Danielle M. and want her entire wardrobe and want to be her friend.  But I don’t think she is Nick’s type physically (he seems to have a thing for brunettes), and she is very understated, while Nick seems to go for the more overtly strong personality.
  • Raven.  I think Raven is our dark horse.  She’s been getting substantive screen time that shows her back story, and I am digging her honesty and laid back approach.  She’s Nick’s type and fits the criteria for women who do well on the show (except for the part about being from a tiny town in Arkansas).  Keeping my eye on her.

Final thought:

  • Keep Alexis on for as long as possible please.  I do not see a connection between her and Nick, but she gives us gems like this many times over:

move

 

White Privilege

Day 2 folks, time to do the work.  I’m jumping in with a big one.  Yesterday was amazing and I loved being part of it.  I saw many women who had never protested before putting themselves out there and taking their first activist steps, which was beautiful.  But it’s important to remember that this is just a first step.

There’s an image that has been making the rounds on the internet.

white-women

This is a great photo that encapsulates a very important point that allowed white women to vote for a man who has espoused sexist, racist, and ignorant views.  A huge part of the ability to make that choice comes from the privilege that white women have in society.

White privilege is an uncomfortable concept because it’s difficult to accept that it applies regardless of how you feel on the inside.  Privilege doesn’t care if you’re not racist.  Privilege doesn’t even care if you’re an activist or an ally.  Privilege is based on the way you look and the way society treats you based on those looks.

I first learned of the concept of privilege when I was a freshman in college.  It abhorred me.  I didn’t ask to be born as a white woman.  I wanted to give it away, get rid of the privilege.  But you can’t do that.  And really, saying that you want to is disingenuous.  Privilege makes life easier.  That’s the entire point.

There are a few pieces of literature I read during that time period that literally blew my mind.  One is “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” by Peggy McIntosh.  Please read it, and sit with it.  If it makes you uncomfortable or defensive, sit with that too.  If you don’t believe that privilege exists, here are the ways that I see and experience privilege in my own life.

I’ll start with male privilege.

  • Males do not have to fear for their safety when they walk alone.  They can spend time thinking about whatever they want, while I think about how I will escape a potential attack.
  • Men can wake up and get out the door in 15 minutes.  I cannot.  I will be penalized at work, subconsciously or consciously, if I do not do my hair and wear makeup.
  • Men can wear comfortable clothing to work.  I need to wear heels to appear taller.
  • Men are not looked at as someone who might get pregnant at any moment.  Their bodies are not ogled, their beverage choices are not monitored, and their co-workers do not worry they might be unable to complete an assignment due to pregnancy.
  • If a male becomes a father, he does not need to stay home to feed the baby for the first few months of its life.  He is not criticized for working when the baby is young.  He does not have to interrupt his career to have a baby.
  • Men do not have to worry about being groped, manhandled, or cat-called in public spaces.  They don’t need to watch their drinks in a bar.  They don’t even have to think about these things.  Men can spend that time thinking about whatever they want, while I worry about my safety.
  • Men do not need to police their tone and speech in the same way women do.  They can be forceful and they will never be called a bitch.  They can ask for opportunities – in fact, they are more likely to be given these opportunities – and they will not be viewed as bossy or aggressive.

Any of that ring true to you?  That’s what privilege is.  Men didn’t ask for the privileges but they get them anyway.  They cannot give them to you even if they wanted to.  Now let’s talk about race.

As a white woman:

  • When I need to find a band-aid, it’s easy to find one in my own skin color.  In fact, they’re all in my skin color.
  • When I get pulled over by the police, I get the benefit of the doubt.  It is unlikely the police will harm me.  I can look at police and believe that they exist to protect me, not to protect others from me.
  • Signs around me are in my native language.
  • I can work with people who look like me, and spend my days with people who look like me.  I am comfortable at work and do not feel like I am looked at differently.
  • My opinion is generally my own.  I do not speak for all white people, and I do not have to live with the responsibility that my words might be taken to apply to others.
  • I can walk into any hair salon and someone will know what to do with my hair.
  • I will not be denied housing, shown a different property, or given different rates based on how I look.  Brokers and real estate agents have no reason to distrust me.
  • I can feel secure in my accomplishments because no one looks at me and thinks I am there as the product of affirmative action.  No one thinks I took someone else’s place, either at school or at work.

You cannot underestimate the impact of privilege.  These lists are not exhaustive, and were just things that come to mind easily.

It does not matter if you did not ask for these privileges.  You cannot change the fact that they exist, just as people who are not in positions of power cannot change what they look like.  Everyone has different privileges, and the different things we bring to the table lead to our intersectionality.

White women have let our black and brown sisters down time and time again.  We pushed them out of the suffrage movement.  We sacrificed their civil rights for our own advancement.  We ask them to show up and fight for us, but we have not shown up or fought for them.  They showed up.  Only 4% of black women voted for Trump.  A staggering 53% of white women voted for Trump.  Where were we a few months ago?  Complacent?  Disillusioned because of leaked emails?  Were we lazy?

It does not matter if you were there.  Our demographic was not there.  The fact that you voted for Hillary did not mean that our demographic voted for Hillary, and we did not win the election.  We have an obligation to show up for our sisters who have been showing up for us for decades.

Let’s quote Spiderman.  With power comes great responsibility.  Privilege is power, and we have a responsibility to use that privilege.  I stand with my sisters and am working on being an ally every day.  If you are interested in being an ally, start doing the work.  Sit with the concept of privilege and let it make you uncomfortable.  Start getting active, even if it’s not the cause that affects you directly.  If you want to learn more about being an ally, ask your friends who are already doing the work.  Do not burden your black and brown sisters or make them explain things to you.  They have enough on their plates, and it’s our responsibility to show up for them.  We’re all in this together, and it’s time we start taking responsibility and acting like it.  I don’t have all the answers and I’m working through it every day, but I’m happy to work through it with you.

One more thing.  It’s not enough to sit back and let things happen around us anymore.  We cannot be complacent.  Complacency got us here, and we won’t stand for it anymore.  The millions of women who took to the streets yesterday made that very clear.  Be an active ally, not a passive bystander.  We all lose when we let injustice happen on our watch.

blm-march

Damn straight.

Why I March

Today I had the privilege in participating in the Women’s March in Chicago.  To the protesters of Chicago, it was an honor to march with you.

It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to be part of the 250,000+ in Chicago, and the 1,000,000+ in the world who showed up today to speak out, but I’ll try.

It was peaceful.  It was filled with families spanning generations.  Daughters, mothers, and grandmothers marched together, hand in hand with their brothers and partners.  We moved for the strollers, we gave balloons to the kids, and we kept the chants clean.  I did not see one person push or shove, not one piece of property destroyed, not even one person littering.  This protest was built on respect and unity.

It was smart, inventive, and heartfelt.  I was so impressed with the effort people put into their signs and outfits.  Little girls were dressed as superheroes, women were dressed as Rosie the Riveter, and we even had our own Lady Liberty.

 

It was fun!  We danced, we sang, and made new friends.  We took pictures of slogans that were particularly thoughtful or moving and shared those pictures with our friends.  We talked about what we do next and how to keep this momentum.

It was very pink, and very diverse.  I looked across the crowd during the inauguration yesterday and I saw a sea of white.  Today we had a sea of color and gender, and it was beautiful.

Tomorrow we continue this fight, but today I remember Why I March:

  • I march to speak my truth.
  • I march to protect and promote access to reproductive health care for people in Illinois and neighboring states.
  • I march to protect our children from negative policies built on hate and distrust.
  • I march to stand with my sisters and brothers of color.
  • I march to stand with my indigenous sisters and brothers.
  • I march to stand with my Latina sisters and brothers.
  • I march to stand with immigrants, who now feel unsafe in their own homes.
  • I march to support the LGBTQ community and to make it clear that they are welcome wherever I am.
  • I march to support the women who felt they did not need to march today.  I march for you too.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the arc of justice is long, but it bends towards justice.  We cannot take the progress we have made thus far for granted, and we are the change that creates the movement.

I stand with you, as you have stood with me.  I’m not going anywhere.

Resist the Beginnings. Consider the End.

I have been told that it is counterproductive to liken our current situation to Nazi Germany.  I have been told that it weakens my arguments and statements, that it makes me seem emotional, irrational.  I’ve even said those words to others before.  In an argument, when someone brought up Nazi Germany, it seemed like a fallacy, a stretch.  It’s actually called Godwin’s Law – as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches – that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler.  How can you compare our world a world that allowed the slaughter of millions?  Not here, not now.

The problem is, it’s impossible to see the end when you’re at the beginning.  We have no idea how this story ends.  People in Germany in the 1930s didn’t know either.  But we do have one benefit on our side.  We have the benefit of history, and we can speak now, speak often, speak loudly.

Soon after the election, I read an excerpt from a book called They Thought They Were Free.  This book was first published in 1955.  The book is a collection of interviews with ten German individuals who lived in Germany during WWII and participated in the Nazi movement.

Here’s part of that excerpt, from a chapter titled “But Then It Was Too Late:”

“The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway… Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

“How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

“You see, one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

“In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’  And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

“But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

“Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”

This is a punch to the gut.  This one hits close to home.  This is the reason I wanted to start blogging about politics.

Do you know what I see right now?  I see our President-elect revoking the press credentials of the Washington Post during the election, calling the publication “inaccurate” and “dishonest.”  I see our President-elect conflating “fake news” with anything he dislikes in an effort to decrease the credibility of publications that criticize him:

I see our President refusing to answer questions from CNN because now, CNN is fake news:

I see our President-elect shutting the media out from its traditional watchdog status.   Priebus, Trump’s Chief of Staff, just told Variety that they the administration is considering ending the daily press briefings, which have been a tradition since Eisenhower’s administration.  Yesterday, Trump held his first press conference since July 27, 2016 (wherein he asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails via hacking).

The press conference was a long time in the making.  Trump had previously canceled a press conference in which he promised to share his plan to remove all conflicts of interest.  This was not the first time Trump had promised to share something and then reneged on that promise.  Mother Jones has an excellent collection here.
During that press conference, in the face of heavy questioning, Trump finally acknowledged that Russia hacked U.S. intelligence.  However, he lauded what the Russians found, stating:

“But remember this: We talk about the hacking and hacking’s bad and it shouldn’t be done. But look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking.

That Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it? That’s a horrible thing. That’s a horrible thing.”  Read the full transcript of the press conference here.

I see our President-elect slamming comedians who portray him negatively.

Just a sample of what our President-elect has in store for us.

Are you scared?  I am.  Who knows what the end here is.  I don’t, and I am not saying that it will end in internment or genocide, like Nazi Germany.  I have no idea how this will play out, but I will not let uncertainty or timidity stop me from speaking.  Speak loudly, speak often, and stay informed.  Be the canary in the coal mine.  I pray that I really am an alarmist.  I pray that this is all for naught, but nothing our President-elect has done so far has proven otherwise.  I am taking him at his word and pledging to stand up to it, even if it starts small.  Resist the beginnings.  Consider the end.

Our “Controversial” Bachelor

According to Chris Harrison, Nick is the “most controversial bachelor ever.”  We all know Chris can veer towards hyperbole, but Nick is definitely different than previous leads.  We’re going to take a little trip down memory lane and look at Nick’s numerous experiences with this franchise.

Before I start, can I just say that I am so pumped for this season?  I found myself liking most of the women, even Shark girl!  She was a breath of fresh air and totally made me laugh.  There are a lot of women I don’t think will be right for Nick, but I was really impressed with how they respected each other (mostly) and how mature they seemed, even with some of the younger contestants.  Taylor, for example, is tied for the youngest contestant at 23, and I thought her commentary was really funny.  Not what I was expecting from Forever 21 girl!

So who is this man that these awesome women will all be falling in love with?

Nick Viall!  Nick is 36 and up until he became a reality-star, was based in the Midwest.  He originally hailed from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and worked as a software salesman at Salesforce in Chicago.  As most of you probably know, I live in Chicago and was on the active lookout for Nick when he was first on Andi’s season.  Never saw him around town.  He’s my white whale.

Little did I know that he had picked up and moved to L.A. to become a model?  I think?  He used to give us pictures like this:

And now he gives us pictures like this:

So it’s fair to say he’s had a bit of a career shift since his journey started.

It all began with Andi.

Nick was a contestant on Andi’s season of the Bachelorette.  Andi, one of my favorite bachelorettes, was a smart, beautiful lawyer from Atlanta.  She gave Nick the first impression rose:

Which put a target on Nick’s back and was the impetus of Nick’s persona as “controversial” or “cocky.”  When a contestant asked Nick if he thought he was a frontrunner, Nick said “Eh, probably.”  Nick was criticized as being strategic because he’s watched prior seasons and knows when the lead will be making big cuts to the contestants.  He also snuck out to visit Andi, solidifying Nick’s role as the villain.  Villain-lite, because he really wasn’t that bad, but Andi’s season was lacking in any other villain so Nick had a role to fill.

Nick made it to the final two, but Andi broke up with him before he got a chance to propose.  Nick did not take his lying down.  In perhaps his most obvious “villain” move, he called Andi out for having sex with him in the Fantasy Suite during the After the Final Rose taping:

Rough.  I’m actually a pretty big Nick fan, but this was incredibly uncomfortable to watch.  I agree with Andi, a little below the belt (wink, wink).

So Nick leaves in disgrace.  He spends some time licking his wounds and getting acquainted with other Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants, including the lovable Kaitlyn Bristowe, who got the boot from Farmer Chris!  Apparently the two struck up an online flirtation that never came to fruition, and Nick was too intrigued to just let this lady go.

He showed up to Kaitlyn’s season at Episode 5.  That is late.  Really late.  The men had already started traveling, and Kaitlyn had already sent half the guys home!  I don’t blame the guys for getting a little ruffled by Nick’s appearance, but they seemed to keep their cool, generally speaking.

Until Nick made another sex faux pas and slept with the lead weeks before the Fantasy Suites.

Making waves yet again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a ring this time either, and Nick was sent home just as he was about to propose.

At this point, things did not look good for Nick.  He had lost on the Bachelorette, twice, and hadn’t made too many friends in the process.  So he took to Paradise, the place where broken reality contestants go to shine up their images for those Instagram endorsements.

nick-bip

Nick did well in Paradise.  He got to face down resident alpha male Josh (Andi’s ex-fiance), which was a good look for him because Josh portrayed the emotional range of a caveman during his stint on the show.  Not only did Nick escape unscathed, but he managed to build up a fair amount of goodwill.  He was friends with most of the women, and pursued Jen, who was gorgeous, intelligent, and friends with most, if not all, the other contestants.

jen-nick-viall-bachelor-in-paradise-rose-ceremony

Something that all the Bachelor intros seem to gloss over is that Nick dumped Jen in Paradise.  This was not another story where Nick was the runner-up, the always-bridesmaid never bride.  I don’t blame him for it – they live on separate coasts and had only known each other a few weeks – but let’s not feel too sorry for Nick.  In an unexpected twist of fate, he got the best gig of all – BACHELOR.

To say the casting was a surprise is an understatement.  In the past, spin-off shows like Bachelor in Paradise were considered “below” the standards of leads.  That’s why you haven’t seen a lead go on the show, even though the leads are certainly friends with most of the contestants (and the majority are, in fact, single at this point).  Even having Josh, who was the “winner” of Andi’s season, on Paradise seemed like a huge boon for ABC.

And here we are, with the “most controversial” Bachelor of all time.  For what it’s worth, I think it’s great that we have someone like Nick as the Bachelor.  He’s been through this before and he knows how to play the game, but he also is analytic, independent, and kind.  I think he’ll do a great job.  Query if he is there for the right reasons (I will mistrust anyone who starts a modeling career in LA in their mid-30s) but I do think he’ll give us a good season.

He’s already made some excellent choices with his first impression rose.  Rachel is my girl, and I’m so glad Nick agrees!  My favorite part of their interaction was when Nick was asking Rachel about her job as a criminal. defense. attorney. and asked whether she was good at it.  She owned it (in a graceful way) and replied that she thinks she’s pretty great at it!  It was so refreshing to see a contestant on this show proudly announce her accomplishments.

rachel

Yes you did, girl!  Matches your dress 🙂

I have high hopes for the rest of the season!  My women haven’t changed much from last week, but I’m adding one in:

  1. Rachel.  Already noted.  Top of my list.
  2. Vanessa.  I really liked her intro video and the interactions the two had during the night.  She also seemed to take everything in stride, especially when she did not get the First Impression Rose (unlike Corinne, another story).
  3. Danielle M.  It was so clear how much Danielle loves her job, which I think might be really attractive to Nick.  I loved Danielle’s style.  I’m a little concerned she is too soft-spoken for Nick, but I still think she’ll go far.
  4. Danielle L.  This girl is smoking!  It was clear she and Nick hit it off and had some chemistry.  Danielle also seems to have her wits about her and kept her cool throughout the night.  Also, she had the coveted spot of being shown as first out of the limo, which is a producer note that she’s someone worth watching.

Here Come the Women!

A spark of light in these dark times!  ABC has released the contestants and it looks like we’re in for an entertaining season, as always.  Let’s see what’s in store for us.  In alphabetical order, as always:

Alexis

alexis

Alex is 23 and she has the honor of being the first woman of many to affiliate herself with dolphins.  Something’s in the water this season (get it?) and Alexis is an “aspiring dolphin trainer.”  The rest of her questionnaire is pretty boring and is a continuation on the water theme.  Her favorite animal is a dolphin.  Her favorite movie is Titanic.  She would be the Little Mermaid if she could.  Nothing against Alexis, but I don’t see her going anywhere.  Except for SEA WORLD!

Angela

angela

Angela is a 26-year-old model from South Carolina who also likes dolphins.  She seems really into her family, and good for her.  Under my rubric of who generally wins these shows (check it out here), she’s not doing too great.  She’s not too young – it’s all relative on this show – but she’s not from one of the popular cities for winners, and model doesn’t tend to get you too far, unless you’re Courtney Robinson.

Astrid

astrid

Third brunette in a row!  Yes, this is a theme this season, and I’m already predicting a brunette winner.  Digging the alternative name, at least it’s not Ashleigh.  It ends there.  She too likes dolphins and wants to be The Little Mermaid.  I can’t with these women.  Astrid is 26 and works as a plastic surgery office manager and her worst fears are dying alone and getting old and wrinkly.  Something makes me think she’ll be taking advantage of her employee discount.

Briana

briana

Now we’re talking!  Briana is a 28-year-old surgical nurse who is 5’4.  Check, check, check.  She’s from Salt Lake City, which would be a bit of an anomaly but could go over just fine.  Unfortunately, she also likes dolphins and wants to be The Little Mermaid.  Sorry Briana, there can be only one Ariel in the house.  Who shall survive?

Brittany

brittany

I like Brittany.  I like her necklace, I like the color of her shirt and that she went with racer-back instead of low-cut.  Brittany is a 26-year-old travel nurse (I do not know what that is but it sounds cool), from Santa Monica, and she’s 5’2.  She also says nothing about dolphins or mermaids on her questionnaire, so HUGE POINTS TO BRITTANY.  My only concern is that her hair is too short (oh my god I can’t believe I’m typing this as if it’s a real concern but such is life).  Winners have long hair.  Like a mermaid.

Christen

christen

Christen has some crazy eyes.  She’s a 25-year-old wedding videographer based out of Tulsa, OK.  She really got into the questionnaire and I’m tired from just reading her answers.  If she could break the law, she would hide in a closet in the White House for MONTHS just to see what goes on behind the scenes.  She wants to be a “wild mustang” so she can run free.  My eyes are on her for some interesting conversations and hopefully DRAMA.

Corinne

corinne

Corinne is our first blonde and I cannot believe we had to get to the Cs before we got one.  Look at that mermaid hair!  Corinne is tiny and young.  She’s only 5’1 and she’s only 24 and she’s a business owner from Miami.  I actually like Corinne but I think 24 is too young for Nick, who is 36, and I think Nick likes brunettes.

Danielle L.

danielle-l

Keeping Danielle L. at the top of my list for at least an interesting contestant.  She has perfect Bachelor hair.  She’s 27, owns her own business, and lives in L.A.  She likes Chrissy Teigen and so do I.  My one strike against her is that she puts Love Languages as her favorite book.  I don’t want to hear more about words of affirmation, I got my fill with JoJo thank you very much.

Danielle M.

danielle-m

Guys, I already love Danielle M. and I’m so worried that this is the wrong place for her.  She’s 31, so she’s actually age-appropriate for our Bachelor.  She’s a neonatal nurse who moved to Nashville after her fiance passed away.  She is too tall and cool and pretty to be on this show and I do not want the producers to co-opt her tragedy into a short-lived story line.  Fingers crossed for you Danielle M.

Dominique

dominique

Dominique is our first black contestant and she’s so pretty!  She’s also pretty young at 25, and is a server in L.A.  I know it’s not fair to judge someone on a stupid questionnaire, but that is literally the purpose of this post, and I’m just not seeing too much substance in her answers.  She wants to have a meal with her grandfather, Jesus, and … Leonardo DiCaprio.  And they’d be eating Chipotle, which she makes sure to mention more than once.  She looks pretty and fun and I hope she sticks around and makes best friends, but I don’t see her winning the Bachelor’s heart.

Elizabeth (“Liz”)

liz

Oh I like Liz too.  She’s a 29-year-old doula based in Las Vegas, and her answers are interesting.  She seems a little granola.  One of the things she can’t live without is coconut oil.  Is that still a thing?  What do you use it for?  Her guilty pleasure is pretty gross.  She can’t stop picking her nose when she’s in her car.  She seems a little whackadoo and I’m all in.

Elizabeth

elizabeth

Elizabeth is just fine.  She’s a little young at 24.  She’s a marketing manager in Dallas, which is a hotspot for winners/runner-ups.  She’s got long hair.  I think I need to see her move around and speak before I can get a handle on her.  Maybe.

Hailey

hailey

Hailey seems really interesting as a person, but she’s a no for me on this season.  She’s only 23 and she has short hair.  But she’s from Vancouver, B.C., which is a super cool spot and does well on this show, and she’s a photographer.  She seems really independent.  I kind of want to follow her on Instagram just to see what she’s up to.

Ida Marie

ida-marie

Poor Ida Marie.  She really got in over her head with this questionnaire.  She was unable to name a single book or author that she liked.  Not one.  Her favorite snack is Cheetos with a pickle.  I’m not even sure what that’s about.  She’s super cute and super young (23) and I see her getting along famously with the twins in Paradise.

Jaimi

jaimi

Jaimi seems like such a bad ass.  She’s a 28-year-old chef from New Orleans, and everyone knows New Orleans has the best food. She’s got some good substance in her answers, and she says she might be able to bench press her date!  I hope she doesn’t do that with Nick.  I don’t think it will go over well in such a hyper-gendered setting.  Jaimi might be too cool for all of this.

Jasmine B.

jasmine-b

There are two black Jasmines this season.  Like seriously ABC?  Do we need to aim for name diversity next?  Jasmine B. is super cute and she’s a flight attendant, which is a famously “sexy” job that shows she is very adventurous, I’m sure.  She’s only 25 and she’s from Tacoma, WA.  Not sure why she didn’t just say Seattle, but whatever.  I’m a little concerned about this comment: “Do you prefer a man who wants to be pursued or a man who pursues you and why? A man who pursues me. I don’t usually chase men.”  That’s not how this works, Jasmine B.

Jasmine G.

jasmine-g

Jasmine #2!  Very different than Jasmine #1.  This Jasmine is a pro-basketball dancer who is 29 and from San Francisco.  I actually like everything about her profile except for her love for Guy Fieri, who is just the worst.  I like Triple D as much as the next person but I do not like Guy.  Anyway, if I had to pick between the two Jasmines I think I’d go with flight-attendant Jasmine because that job is a more palatable than dancer.

Josephine

josephine

There’s a lot going on with Josephine.  The bare-shoulder top with lace, the choker, the dramatic hair, the makeup.  She’s a 24-year-old unemployed nurse, which doesn’t scream “CATCH” but maybe she’ll surprise us.  Doubt it.

Kristina

kristina

Kristina is young, 24, and is from Lexington, KY.  She’s a dental hygienist, which is a good profession for this show, and is also only 5’2, which I think is a positive for Nick.  Plus she’s brunette and has the long hair going for her.  Her answers to her quiz are somewhat unique (she’d like to be Fiona from Shrek, so at least it’s a different fairytale).  She seems a little boring and a little young, and I’m worried about the location.  I’m thinking middle of the pack.

Lacey

lacey

Lacy is a 25-year-old digital marketing manager from Manhattan.  She seems sweet.  Women from NYC never do so well on this show.  Nick might be the bachelor to prove us wrong on this, and I’d love to be proven wrong, but I’m not feeling it for Lacey.  She seems like she’ll be good friends with the rest of the girls but not hit it off romantically with Nick.

Lauren

lauren

I’m into Lauren.  She’s 30, she’s a law school graduate (although I wonder what that means, hopefully she just graduated and is not just unemployed), and she’s super cute.  She’s from Naples, FL, which is not a huge source of winners but we’ve had a few in the past (Vienna?).  Ugh she also likes dolphins, which is just annoying, but I like Lauren and I think she could be good this season.

Michelle

michelle

Michelle is super cute, and super young.  She’s 24 and a food truck owner in LA.  She seems really adventurous and fun, and I think she’ll be living up the international travel if she gets that far.  I think she IS there to make friends, and not so much there to meet a husband.  Which is fine, because she is 24.

Olivia

olivia

Olivia is interesting.  She’s 25 and from Anchorage, AK, which is maybe a first for this franchise?  She was the kicker for her high school’s male football team, which is pretty badass, but she likes Nicholas Sparks, is afraid of spiders and not finding love, and broke down in tears to the point of not being able to finish a speech when she was the maid of honor.  I think we’ll be seeing the waterworks from Olivia this season.

Rachel

rachel

Oh Rachel, this is a woman after my heart.  She’s the person I want Nick to pick.  She’s a lawyer in Dallas and she’s 31.  She’s the right age for Nick, she has a career, and Dallas has been a good source for winners/leads for this show.  She’s the right height at 5’4, and she’s beautiful!  Her questionnaire answers are spot-on.  I want Rachel to go far, I want her to win.  She would be the first black contestant to break the top 4.  Fingers crossed we get there.

Raven

raven

It’s hard to imagine Raven and Rachel in the same room, let alone dating the same man.  Raven is 25, from Hoxie, Arkansas (not sure where that is), and is a fashion boutique owner.  She seems like a ball of fun.  Here’s a verbatim quote from her: Do you have a fear of aging, and are you doing anything to prevent it? No! Oh, I’m sure I’ll use cosmetic procedures to my advantage, but tastefully done.  Hey, at least she’s honest!  I can see her sticking around as an interesting character, but I do not see Nick ending up with her.

Sarah

sarah

Sarah seems like a sweetheart.  She’s 26, lives in Newport Beach, CA, and is a grade school teacher. She seems like a romantic, too.  She loves quite flowers and a Walk to Remember.  Is she too sweet?  I see Nick with someone who has more of an edge.  I bet Sarah will make lots of friends though, and maybe even get herself a ticket to Paradise.

Susannah

susannah

Susannah is really cute and has great hair.  Susannah says her greatest achievement so far in her 26 years on this planet is flying to Europe on a whim.  Oh, and she also loves The Little Mermaid.  Did they plan this?  They must have.

Taylortaylor

Taylor is so young!  She’s only 23.  She’s from Seattle, which makes sense because I grew up in Seattle and everyone was named Taylor.  Girls and boys.  Two of them dated for awhile in high school.  That was cute.  Her favorite “clothing designer” is Forever 21.  Forever 21 is not a clothing designer, but it almost seems unfair to ask a 23-year-old this question because she has been in the workforce for what, two years max?  She probably just started getting a paycheck last year.  I just can’t see Nick with someone this young.  That’s a 13-year difference, and it’s a pretty big one.

Vanessa

vanessa

Vanessa kind of looks like Andi, no?  And she’s from Canada, so like Kaitlyn!  Maybe she’s the perfect combination!  In addition to being very pretty, Vanessa is 29 and a special education teacher.  She’s under 5’4 and has perfect Bachelor hair.  I can’t tell too much about her from her profile, other than family being important to her.  I like her.

Whitney

whitney

Whitney looks like a model but she’s actually a pilates instructor.  I think she’s secretly a model, or wants to be, because she’d choose to be Gisele for the day.  She’s scared of horses, which could lead to some interesting dates.  Maybe it’s because I’m at the end of the women, but I’m not feeling Whitney.  Maybe for Paradise.

Conclusions

This is the most diverse group of women I’ve ever seen for the Bachelor, and I think that is awesome.  I also think Nick has the potential to be a bit of a wild card bachelor.  I can’t tell how he’s going to go.  From past experiences of his on the show, he has gravitated towards smart, funny, and strong women, even during his time in Paradise.  That makes me hopeful that he’ll weed out the 20-somethings who love dolphins and focus on a few of the women who will likely be a better long-term fit for this 36-year-old.  I’m not going to rank the top four yet, but here are the women I hope Nick gives these women a chance:

  1. Rachel.  She’s got it going on, and I have a feeling Nick will be ok with a strong, professional woman.
  2. Danielle M.  This woman is gorgeous, accomplished, and hopefully is in a place to find love.
  3. Vanessa.  I’m a fan.  She seems sweet, genuine, and grounded.  Hopefully she also has a sense o humor and we’re golden!

Let the games begin!