Shake It Out: The MRA Hate Movement and a Word on Radical Fauxminism, too!

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me, ohh.    
Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”

So last Thursday I published what may well have been the most controversial piece I’ve ever blogged. No, not the one where I advocated that armed revolution may someday be necessary to preserve basic reproductive rights, or the one where I talked about debatable mental health procedures. No, the issue of controversy was pointing out the hateful activities of a hate group. Yeah, really. And then the Reddit MRA hate-hive got ahold of it, and I just wanted to cry.

My first impulse was to hang up my spurs, say F it all, and go out in a blaze of glory. After all, that’s what I did last time when a notorious trans woman MRA called out the Man Klux Klan at my blog and set them upon trying to doxx me. But you know what? This time, I’m not going anywhere, because running is exactly what pro-patriarchy hate groups like MRAs, radical fauxminists, and fundamentalist white Christianity expect us to do. There’s no sense in it, no win in it. Similarly, the pushback that the post got from inside ‘trans community’ reveals some things about our priorities that I think we need to talk about and stop running from or slapping labels on, and that we need to make some difficult decisions about the direction of trans community in light of a number of recent scandals and setbacks that seem to plague the discourse and how that affects the lives of real trans people who ‘trans community’ continues to resolutely ignore or even harm.

If I’m going out, I’m going out swinging. If I’m gonna run into walls, I’m going to do it at full speed. So here we are and here’s part 2 about MRAs, and a bit about the allegation that I said anything about disregarding radical fauxminists. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. Please accept my apologies in advance for how beastly long this post is going to be, as yet another Starbucks to Denny’s to Starbucks assembly line and hours awake produced this.

So about the MRA(sshole) types and their GamerGate whining auxiliary, it’s time to stand up. We’ve let MRAs control the discourse about their presence for far too long hoping really hard that they’ll just go away, and frankly that allows the hatred of the Man Klux Klan to do what it does best: harm the people it hates the most. You know, like sex workers, trans women, women of color, and…well, let’s just say the word “women” keeps coming up. There’s a reason for that: for too long the seething hatred of women, along with the white supremacy, ableism, and transmisogyny, of the “Men’s Rights Movement” has been given a free pass, not just by trans people but by the vast majority of people out there who are decent enough not to belong to a hate movement. The comments that I approved to my last post were bad enough: the ones I didn’t approve were even worse. These are people who stand for and exemplify the Men’s Rights Bowel Movement at its finest.

It’s time to fight back outside the academic sphere, for example. There’s been quite a few papers on the negative impact on society advanced by the MRBM (they didn’t like being called a hate movement, and as much as I don’t want to associate them with something biologically necessary like taking a dump, they are basically fecal matter, so there you go) and that’s great and all, but theory has a place and a time and neither of them really helps us here. So it’s time to name and shame MRAs just like you would their predecessors, Klansmen. The only way we got anywhere with the Klan was to identify its members, and that’s the only way to get anywhere with the Man Klux Klan. When they harass you, identify, name, and shame.

Now, I know precisely what this will be accused of: “doxxing.” (You know, the same thing GamerGate does and then claims not to do as it’s caught doing it.) Unfortunately, “doxxing” has a meaning, and it doesn’t mean identifying people who send you threats or engage in  hate speech toward you. And by “hate speech”, I don’t mean that someone made you feel uncomfortable, I mean things like rants laden with “bitch” and similar. It’s not a restraint of “free speech” either while we’re at it. See, you can say what you want, but actions have consequences, and within those actions are the consequence that hatred of minorities is repugnant. Everyone from Antonin Scalia down to Antoine at the corner shop agrees that there’s a point where what you say has consequences. As an example, if I tell Antoine I have carnal knowledge of his mother, he’s probably going to be unhappy.  Actions and language have consequences, and when they cross lines, those consequences are appropriate. So guess what, MRAs and GooberGrapers? The reckoning is that we need to no longer idly stand by and accept your bullying in silence based on the ideal that your hate activities take place in the dark, and further that it’s time to start infiltrating the Man Klux Klan to destroy it from within. The claim that there’s no real organized MRBM activity is a complete lie, much as it’s not shocking to see MRAs lie. For example, here’s a meetup in Alexandria, VA. Or if you’re in or near Edmonton, Alberta, there’s always Men’s Rights Edmonton. There’s also a message board or four out there, but I’ll decline to link to them…don’t worry, MRAs, we’ve infiltrated those already.

Just like it took decent upstanding citizens infiltrating the Klan, not legal action, to bring them to their knees, the same can be accomplished with the MRBM. There’s many decent white men out there who fit what the MRBM wants, and this is a call to action to those men to identify the hate within their communities, to stand up for your friends and family are  Now, let’s be real: don’t go after some random dude who’s frustrated with women, we need to concentrate on actual threats, like anti-repro-rights protests that MRAs have planned…it’d be useful to know the location for counter-protests, for example. And if someone’s talking about equitable divorce that’s actually, you know, equitable, it’s not report-worthy. Don’t harm the misled, work to identify the ringleaders and the people involved with doing actual harm as part of their mission. Do take note of what companies and such are involved with sponsorship, who runs ads on MRA sites, etc. Keep track of who’s responsible for organized harassment, identify Grand Wizards…er, I mean leaders, and shine some light on the cockroaches. (And no, MRAssholes, I’m not calling men cockroaches, I’m calling hateful white men who freely choose hate cockroaches. You have made the free choice to join and participate in a hate mob, so…actually, that might be insulting cockroaches.)

“But they’ll get revenge!” Honey, they already are getting revenge. The MRA-centered sham ‘consumer revolt’ that is GamerGate is actively harassing women and minorities in gaming as what it’s admitted is a recruiting event. A recent post of one of my blog entries on Reddit’s MRBM forum of choice for misogynist onanism, /r/mensrights even got a couple of approvals of GamerGate padding the MRBM’s membership. (It also included lots of avoiding gender pronouns, misinformed-or-maybe-plain-ol-bullshit statements about trans women. Ah, MRAs, the same people who claim to be our ‘allies’ as long as we agree to be morally mandated out of existence…) Just like the Klan pandered to the white moderate in bad times, the MRBM panders to a gross stereotype of what gamers are, and now is discovering that most gamers don’t meet that stereotype…oh and that a lot of guys who do are decent human beings with no desire to be involved in a hate mob. All that GamerGate consists of is organized MRA harassment under color of being about “ethics in gaming.” Just like in Dragon’s Lairyou can make decisions that lure you into a trap much later in the game, akin to that goddamn sliding floor in “Tomb of Horrors.” At this point, GamerGate has dropped to being about harassment of women and minorities and occasionally complaining that Gawker Media exists. GamerGate’s targets ate identical to the MRBM’s, and their strategies of harassment are identical. Paul Elam endorses violence against women, GamerGate makes death treats against women.

One thing, though, MRBM: most of the comments complained about my linking to David Futrelle’s “We Hunted The Mammoth”, which is a site that screenshots and reproduces actual MRAsshole quotes. Why the righteous anger at the words that your own hate movement endorses being reproduced? Why these constant vague accusations that Futrelle is doing something wrong? I mean, the one definite thing MRBM members have had to say is that Mr. Futrelle is “fat.” That’s really adult, MRBM. I’m curious if, without resorting to misogyny, an MRBM member can attempt to explain what these alleged wrongdoings are.

As for the radical fauxminists, there’s been a number of completely false assertions about my last piece. The fact that MRAs have taken over the #1 slot doesn’t mean to stop paying attention to radical fauxminists, who some of you identify as “T*RFs” and others identify as “gender-critical”, their hatred, or the damage they do to all womankind, but especially to trans women, disabled women, and women of color. Hmm, interesting that the radfaux hates the same people as the MRA…and if you’re telling me I’m going easy on these people, consider my background. I don’t use the acronym to refer to gendercrits/radfauxs anymore, but I still feel exactly the same about their hate, and I feel the same about the monoculture that “trans community” displays and its obsession with whiteness and uniformity as playing into the radfaux narrative.

So have you ever taken cod liver oil? This is gonna be cod liver oil. Keeps you healthy in the dark months, tastes completely horrible. The monoculture of “trans community” isn’t changing. I’ve been asking nicely for 3 bloody years now, and we still have the same failure-laden white masters who serve us poorly. People who mismanage our activism like Gwen Smith, Allison Woolbert, and their ilk are actively harming trans women by promoting a monoculture, refusing to allow discussion of race, and attacking trans women they consider “lesser” who don’t fall in line with their white safety-respectability politics precisely. There’s no discussion of race on the official TDoR site again why? And we get criticized for the whiteness of the community by who? That’s right, the radfauxs that hate us. Maybe letting in trans women of color without attacking us as Ms. Woolbert was notorious for doing would help. In fact, maybe it’s time for an entirely new paradigm about inclusiveness, but that’s fodder for another post, another day. There’s only so much cod liver oil you can take at once, you know…but just as an aside, what does “trans community” have to lose in ostracizing fewer people? Why do the tragic suicides of younger white trans women attract attention (as long as they’re not sex workers, in which case they’re ignored, which is ghastly) but the violence toward trans women of color, both self-inflicted and inflicted by others, gets one day a year? This spins around in my mind like homey’s rims, that is.

But this is the meat of the matter: the term “T*RF” has become massively overused and has become completely misused. The failure of Brianna Wu to back a fundraiser recently got her labeled a “TE*F.” Unfortunately, as a way of dealing with disagreement, “TE*F” is the wrong tack to take and in fact absolutely marauds the original intent of the term. As much as some of you torch me in effigy for not using that term (and have even called me a “T*RF”), the term has become greatly overused, and in its overuse has lost meaning for dealing with pro-patriarchy anti-woman feminists who work to do other women active harm like Bess Hungerford, Cathy Brennan, Janice Raymond, Lierre Keith, et al who deserve such a term as they’re shamelessly transexterminationist. There’s a difference between casual transmisogyny and active, harmful transmisogyny; the same goes for casual racism/active racism, harming sex workers through error against working actively to harm them, etc.

And here’s where we can’t take our eyes off the prize: the radical fauxminist is no less of a threat than the Misogyny Reinforcing Asshole, since they fight for the same thing (paaaaaaatriarchy) through different avenues. If the prior evidence wasn’t enough, they’re even turning on basic reproductive rights in the modern era. Just like Dr. Raymond’s paranoid anti-RU486 screed set back abortion rights in the US, Ms. Brennan has taken to showing her true right-wing colors in working with the Pacific Justice Institute and calling a Black gynecologist a “violent abortionist” on Twitter. I guess the more patriarchal sellouts change, the more they stay the same? The T*RF, so-called, is hell-bent on helping the patriarchy do what it does best: divide and conquer women, and then reinforce that some women are more “equal” than others. What ever happened to the radical notion that women are people? Ah, well, in radfauxlandia, only women who behave the way the radfaux wants are people, and coincidentally the radfaux enforces white patriarchy while expecting to be exempt from that themselves. It’s just like when cops expect to be exempt from the law…

That said, it might be time to start looking at the long view rather than the short one in that a disagreement with a cis woman (or a trans woman who doesn’t meet impossible purity standards) does not make one a “T*RF.” The term had a pretty distinct meaning in identifying war criminals like Hungerford or Keith who generally work behind the scenes to reinforce an animus against certain kinds of women…they both are the epitome of where this term comes from: the idea that in the name of supporting patriarchy under the false flag of “feminism” that they get to attack some women on behalf of patriarchy. When the term is used to describe a disagreement, it loses its force. I’m not saying you can’t use TE*F, but I’m going to decline to do so personally. I refuse to cede the moral high ground of feminism to women who aid and abet patriarchy, and I similarly believe radical fauxminist is a more accurate term for what they are. Again, you’re welcome to say that acronym and I’m not judging you, but think about what the reason for using it is. Think about how bad the Brennans and the Germaine Greers are to anyone who doesn’t fit their predestination concept of self under the guise of ‘feminism’ as they pad the pockets of white men.

Now, this obviously does feminism a disservice. And no matter what the whiny man babies of /r/mensrights and the brigading commenters they send here tell me I know about feminism, I know a little bit about the history and structure of the feminist movement…hell, I had a semester of that from  Dr. Raymond herself. I know that mainstream feminism isn’t actively transmisogynist, but it messes up, and there are obvious criticisms of feminism that I don’t really have the space to discuss, but frequently those within ‘trans community’ who oppose feminism do so based on the actions of the radical fauxminist/T*RF as well as the mainstream/liberal feminist who may not be intentionally harmful in the same way as a radical fauxminist. But we have what’s best called an “interlocking failure” here, where multiple elements present an opportunity for oppression to buddy up, and unfortunately one of the things the most virulent radical fauxminists use to harm trans women is the allegation that we’re all white and have one single set of experiences. And, well, when you consider ‘acceptable’ narratives, that’s about it; one of the going frustrations I’ve had in this and my previous blog alike is that there is little flexibility about these “acceptable” narratives, a choice by our community leaders to literally play into the hate of the radical fauxminist. We have to change what’s “acceptable” from within, and I don’t know how to do that, but we have to figure something out if we want liberation and equality.

We have to fight this battle on all fronts. And I know GamerGate may seem like a hackneyed comparison, but it actually is pretty appropriate: the solution to all matters of patriarchy is to decline to allow patriarchal operatives to control the discourse to the best of our ability, to watch for and name and shame harassment and violence (and in trans community that includes structural violence like exclusion or ostracism based on body type or disability), and to make it clear that we need the backing of allies.

But no, at no point did I say to ease up off radical fauxminists or to stop paying attention to them. I think we do need to be more strict about identifying them, as well as radfaux-influenced legislation and policymaking, but we also need to do the same when it comes to watching out for Men’s Rights Bowel Movement types attempting to gain traction in the public sphere. Curating the battles that we fight is central to both defeating patriarchy, making sure that people who commit active and passive violence against us are responsible socially, and also to fighting the activism burnout that seems to plague queer activism generally and trans activism in specific. Because you know what? This is more important than about me, this is more important than what someone thinks of Erica, because liberation means sometimes you break some eggs. I don’t really care about a popularity contest anymore, but as my very first blog post put it, I want us to be strong and free.

Good? Now let’s get in the game.  Sing us out, Florence.

I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn… “Shake It Out”

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We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now: MRAs are the Top Transmisogynists

content warning for harassment, violence, massive misogyny, and that some of the links are to MRA sites. please use an anonymizer to visit MRA sites if you have concerns for your safety. thanks! 

It’s good to be #1. For example, the Oregon Ducks are about to be the National Champions of college football…quack quack! The ubiquity of Starbucks may be fuel for satire, but at the same time it’s a consistent coffee experience where you know what you’re getting from one side of the world to the other, and I am in fact sitting in a Starbucks writing this post. A #1 hit cements you as an artist who will at least be notable for being #1, even if you were the Starland Vocal Band. And, well, #1 means that you’re the top. In High Fidelity, John Cusack identified as being the “number one lover-man in (his) particular postal district.” But #1 can mean bad things, too. For example, in the 1980s, an actor named Ronald Reagan arose to run the US, and the Dead Kennedys, who tragically never had a #1 hit, had to adapt their song about the Fear of a (Jerry) Brown President, “California Uber Alles”, to talk about the actual bigger problem they had now.

We’ve got a bigger problem now, and that bigger problem is the so-called “Men’s Rights” movement, better described as the Misogynist Rights Hate Movement (hereafter MRHM) and their adherents declaring war on trans women. It’s nothing new, as MRA(sshole) leaders like Paul Elam and Mike Cernovich have been spewing transmisogyny in specific along with their usual white supremacist misogynist MRA drivel, but the rise of MRA recruiting through GamerGate has changed the game entirely, and the fact that this MRA hate mob has stressed harassment of trans women is a sign of the new priorities of the MRHM, and the attempt to blame this harassment on “gamer culture” is typical of the MRHM’s work to try to shift blame. After all, misogynist pig Elliott Roger’s killing spree was handwaved away by MRHM members, and the MRHM has worked hard to denigrate the agency of disabled people since they are, after all, a hate mob.

I can go into the reprehensible actions of GamerGate again, but I wrote a post on this already. Nothing’s changed since November, other than Gators rushing to the defense of child porn, since that’s what MRAs do…and even more harassment, because that’s what hate mobs do. I mean, we’ve established that GamerGate is an MRA-linked hate mob, and even if there’s a few people in GamerGate who aren’t MRAs, let’s consider where there’s significant overlap between what the MRHM stands for and what GamerGate stands for.  GamerGate has erupted in defense of the child porn-laden board called 8chan; noted MRA leader Warren Farrell advocated for the normalization and legalization of incest, definitely a form of child sexual abuse, in 1977. So child sexual abuse is cool with MRAs and GamerGate alike. So if child sexual abuse wasn’t enough, there’s the issue of harassment, a core strategy of GamerGate’s campaign to intimidate women in gaming. A member of notorious hate-hive Men’s Rights Edmonton (who has been identified as a leader, but because of the KKK…er, MRHM’s extreme secrecy it’s impossible to verify this, of course) has advocated harassment of, as well as violence against, women participating in a Slut Walk. While GamerGate has had issues with advocating violence as well, the harassment that is central to GamerGate is generally more persistent in being annoying to cause psychological damage.  But let’s be real here: neither GamerGate nor the MRHM has condemned individual actions of harassment perpetrated by their respective hate mobs, often expecting credit for broad pronouncements about harassment but failing to condemn incidents when they happen. And then there’s an admitted MRA themselves admitting that GamerGate is really about recruitment…the “Men’s Rights” Reddit tried to delete this, but this is why you log URLs on Reddit…if you have the URL, it’s forever, and even when a hate group tries to cover their tracks, they leave proof behind.

So we’ve got the misogyny linked up between GamerGate and the MRHM and MRAs themselves admitting that GamerGate is all about the MRAs, baby…let’s talk about transmisogyny and why we have this bigger problem. I’m by no means excusing radical fauxminists (often referred to by a misnomer acronym that rhymes with “serf” that I decline to use) or white religious fundamentalists for their work to oppress trans women, but the “Men’s Rights” hate movement has grown into a bigger threat than anything else. And, well, when it comes to bizarre obsessions with trans women, you can line up the hate-hive that is Reddit’s “men’s rights” community’s strange and creepy obsession with trans women’s bodies with the obsession GamerGate has with harassing trans women, much less implying that women whose gender identity is none of their business may be trans and that that somehow justifies GamerGate’s harassment of them. While we’re at it, the idea that the existence of a trans woman provokes violence and revulsion is an old, tired MRA chestnut, identical to the complaint of other pro-patriarchy activists like radical fauxminists. In fact, MRHM Grand Wizard/Messiah W. F. Price said as much in complaining about the presence of trans women in a bar…or something, you never can really tell with WC Price what he’s on about other than that women exist outside the house and that’s bad in his eyes. And yet GamerGate engages in the same behavior, going so far as to engage in SWATting, a violent activity, against Grace Lynn, where the harassers sent a SWAT team to her former residence and endangered lives, and encouraging mail-based harassment of Twitter user srhbutts, one of the most eloquent and tireless responders to GamerGate misogynist harassment. So if GamerGate isn’t an MRA project, why do their tactics, harassment, misogyny, and transmisogyny all line up perfectly?

Well, you know what the answer is to this question: GamerGate is nothing more than MRAs trying to expand their numbers for their white supremacist misogynist hate mob, and this is why we’ve got a bigger problem now. See, we’ve laughed off MRAs as being misogynist jerks with no power, and to a certain degree despite the transexterminationist nature of MRHM rhetoric and leadership, just ignored them. Similarly, with GamerGate, we’ve allowed GamerGate to determine the tenor of all discussion, and as a result MRHM dominance of this discussion is happening. We have to change our tack in dealing with the MRHM as women in general and as trans women in specific, as the MRHM depends on all the typical tactics of the patriarchy it serves so tirelessly. Things like tone policing anger at GamerGate/MRA harassment when anger is honestly how some people will respond to harassment that is highly personalized and designed to cause harm, or claiming the moral high ground about “doxxing” when online harassers are rightfully named and shamed. See, the thing about freedom of speech is that you well have it, but when you harm people, there are social consequences, and when you threaten people, there are legal consequences. The whole “screaming fire in a crowded theatre” thing is actually not just outdated, but also has a number of strings attached and is a paraphrase of Justice Holmes anyways.

When you harass someone, harassment has consequences. So yes, we need to name and shame people who harass, and we need to fight MRA lies with reality, truth, and, yes, feminism. Being an MRA is not a political choice, it’s the decision to consciously be a white supremacist, misogynist, and transmisogynist asshole. If you choose to enable MRAs, you’re choosing to go along with that even if you claim not to be one, and their blood’s on your hands, too. If you’re the shamelessly hateful thing that is a trans woman MRA, why?  You’re siding with people who want to morally mandate us out of existence, just like Janice Raymond…in fact, Paul Elam’s rhetoric on trans women is nigh-identical to Dr. Raymond. The difference is this: radical fauxminists like Raymond, Cathy Brennan, etc. are a tiny minority in feminism. They’re women who, to satisfy patriarchal masters, punched down on other woman for personal gain. Partnership in a law firm that bullies on behalf of subprime and payday lenders for Brennan, and tenure in the faculty of the University of Massachusetts for Dr. Raymond at a time that UMass/Amherst had a “98%” white and male tenured faculty, at least if Dr. Raymond’s comments in class were to be believed. Radical fauxminism is a tiny chunk of feminism, and I think radical fauxminists are no feminists at all, as putting your hate in a “feminist” wrapper doesn’t make it feminist. I can claim that I’m the Queen of England all that I want, but absent the bona fides, I’m not Elizabeth II, Regina.

And yet mainstream MRHM theology calls for us to be considered oppressed men, or eliminated entirely. How does this make any sense? Why do we tolerate this? Transadvocate has “TE*F Week” but when you comment asking about why similar focus isn’t paid to MRAs, the comment doesn’t pass approval, and nobody stands up against the MRHM in the mainstream of the trans community. We have “STOP TE*FS!!!!!” groups on Facebook, but not groups about the other pro-patriarchy hate groups like MRAs. The laser-like focus on “TE*Fs” is coming at the detriment of all the other people who want to eliminate or harm us, and there’s a whole hell of a lot more mainstream MRAs whose theology calls for our destruction or harm than the small handful of radical fauxminists…mainstream third-wave feminism, what GamerGate whines its pants off about, is not actively transmisogynist, whereas MRAs are just that.  Our focus has to change, and we’re well overdue for a change. See, patriarchy is like the Lernaean Hydra: you can’t cut off just one head, you have to cut off all the heads or the hydra lives on. And, well, when  considering who actively works to harm trans women, we have the HBSers who harm from within, the aforementioned radical fauxminists aka TE*Fs, the “Men’s Rights” Klan, and fundamentalist religion, generally concentrated in white Southern Baptist fundamentalism. All these heads have to be dealt with, and hoping that ignoring the MRHM will make it go away has clearly failed now that the MRHM has acquired more members, and now we have the aforementioned bigger problem…a larger number of people willing to engage in the misogynist, white supremacist, transmisogynist harassment and hatred that the “Men’s Rights” movement stands for.

We can’t sit here and twiddle our thumbs anymore. The seething hatred of Paul Elam, W.F. Price, and Mike Cernovich, all MRA Messiahs who preach their hate theology about women, especially women of color and trans women, is what this army is willing to follow. We have to change, we have to respond, we have to be willing to say “no” to MRA demands (and we know how much MRAs hate hearing women say “no”), and we have to be supported by the vast majority of decent human beings out there who haven’t embraced MRA hate theology under the thinnest veneer of claims that it’s about “ethics in games journalism.” The MRAs are our #1 threat now, and we need to stop knuckling under.

As for what to do, and more ties between MRA hate theology and radical fauxminist hate theology, tune in next week, I’m close to 2000 words and Starbucks morphed into Denny’s when writing this…and my Moons over My Hammy beckons.

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Your Suit, Your Self: how gender-based double standards harm otherwise-oppressed women in the workplace

Let’s get it out of the way: Yes, I’m “too stupid to code”, and that’s a personal failing I have to own and deal with. I understand tech companies do offer a wider range of acceptable clothing options, and as I’ve worked for a couple before they stopped doing any HR, technical writing, accounting, etc. in house and focused on being CODE BRO CODE BRO CODE BRO, I know what that world’s like. I miss it involving those of us who are “too stupid to code.” So when someone claims I’m an attention-seeking asshole for not working in tech, there’s your response: tech got rid of jobs for people like me, and as one of my loudest detractors put it, I’m “too stupid to code.” Such is life.

I’m looking for something a little more permanent than my current endless loop of contract jobs, which pay the bills to a point but I’m month to month desperately trying to swing rent. I make it most of the time, but with a lot of strange hours and weird jobs that don’t always play to my strengths but do often tire me out. I’m not complaining, mind, as I’m surviving, but it is not the organized, settled life I’d rather have.

This means…job interviews. Lots and lots of job interviews. So many job interviews. Yes, I’m a team player! Yes, I’m totally committed to (whatever). Yes, I’m available in 3 weeks! Yes, I can pass a drug test…uh, good thing gin doesn’t show up on drug tests. Yes, I have a car, but I can get to work regardless! Yes, yes, yes, yes. I haven’t said “yes” this many times since the Free Unicorn Hugs And Money booth came by at the county fair. Now, job interviews are weird when you’re fat, weirder when you’re disabled, and weirder-er when you have the shit self-image that has been so kindly assisted by patriarchy and pro-patriarchy shitstains like HBSers. Fun fact: most of the shit I get from the public is for being disabled. It’s almost always from white guys. In trans space, it’s HBSers and new trans separatists of the white variety who are busy calling me a dude or claiming disability makes me dangerous. (These are the same people who split hairs endlessly about whether or not I’m allowed to call myself trans. So confusing!) So I really have no earthly idea what someone sees when they see me, and I’m not gonna lie that I’m terrified that it’s some jumbled mess of mess.

Now let’s be real here: getting taken seriously in the world of employment, especially outside tech, requires passing for cis or close enough to it for many people, and if you have other vectors of oppression going on like being disabled, it’s pretty much required. Hell, our own “trans community” can’t seem to hack the existence of disabled trans people, so let’s not get up into the realities of how that works looking for work. I also have the fun of being of indiscriminate racial origin to add to that, though that’s a wildcard as to whether it harms or helps you. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but “pass or die” is still applicable to job interviews in the modern neo-liberal American empire in decline. Nondiscrimination laws won’t do shit for you when you can’t afford to sue or live in a community where you wouldn’t be able to sue, and the frequently trafficked stereotype of the litigious trans woman would absolutely play into how well that would work anyways.

So the reality here is: I don’t know how to dress for a real-world job that is appropriate, that won’t be overdressed or worse get me seen as a perv because some cis people have some wacky presumption we wear business suits for kicks, that won’t be too business casual in a world where “business casual” keeps changing, etc.  A job interview is a goddamn minefield, and the standards that apply to my cis female friends may well work for them, but I have to show greater caution. Similarly, asking people who work in tech who can wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to the office and don’t have to wonder what piercings will or won’t make you not “qualified” to do a job won’t help because their insight has nothing to do with trying to get a job outside tech. Which, as we’ve discussed, has become an outsourced coder-bro paradise that’s as white and male as humanly possible.  Outsourcing keeps the tech industry as white and mostly-male as humanly possible, as the people whose coding skills are “good enough” are overwhelmingly, you guessed it, white and male. It has nothing to do with skill or your portfolio, it has to do with the same old white boys’ club that ran Corporate America 30 years ago. On the first go-round of the tech industry, support staff weren’t outsourced, and then 9/11 happened, the dot-com bubble dot-bombed, and the resurrection of the tech industry in the 00s was built on outsourcing everything but the white guys. Same old country club bullshit, same old keeping it white and male. Yes, there’s more female coders, and that’s a yay, but many companies don’t do much besides tokenism, and when you’ve outsourced all the other work, you get what you got now.

So I don’t know what to do. Where will the double standard land? I don’t generally have to worry about ‘passing’ for cis, but I can’t ‘pass’ for abled at all (again, a fact, not intended to elicit pity, because fuck pity) and most of the visibly disabled people I know don’t work. I have to work, I don’t have a choice. So what do I do? Wear a suit to an interview, be overdressed, and possibly seen as a perv? Come properly Business Casual and hope that’s not too underdressed? It’s a mess, and it makes it exceedingly hard to know how I’m supposed to act and react when presented with a corporate environment I don’t know.

I think that this is just another double standard which has no necessity nor basis in reality but is designed to maintain the downward post-9/11 vector of women in the American workplace. The US had been sliding to the right slowly since the 80s, but the misogyny of “security culture” America has been unnerving, and where there’s misogyny, there’s always ancillary oppression that hurts women who are otherwise oppressed even worse. Many women have been pressured out of the workforce in ways that we were told had gone by the wayside in the 70s, and the idea that women have a proper “place” in the workplace has arisen anew. If you don’t think the bro culture hell that is tech is a microcosm of this, you’re clearly smoking something much better than I have. “Meritocracy” when it only benefits white men isn’t a meritocracy at all, it’s the same old same old.

And then there’s the perception of disabled women seeking work. I’ve been asked by people what it’s like not having to work because there is a common belief that all disabled people are just given money, and I’ve dealt with people calling me a “scrounger” or worse knowing nothing whatsoever about my life other than what they could conclude by looking at me. Yes, it’s fairly obvious I’m disabled, thats pretty simple, but what’s not obvious is that not all disabled people have the same circumstances and realities in their lives. So not only is the pay gap not narrowing for women in the workplace anywhere near fast enough to achieve equality, the pay gap affects disabled women and women of color even more. Incidentally, this is support for one of the assertions I make, namely that MRAssholes are white supremacists: the people trying to handwave and justify away the pay gap and who claim it doesn’t exist are not just misogynists (the common bond of the Misogynist Rights Hate Movement) but also racists, ableists, and transmisogynists to boot, not just in the transexterminationist hate screeds their Grand Wizards post but also in that they actively support paying women less, which means paying women of color or disabled women MUCH less. The patriarchy never has your back, women.

But you know what the patriarchy loves? Double standards. When double standards exist, they complicate a decision as simple as what to wear.  These double standards mean I never know the right answer when all the possibilities are somehow wrong, and the reality is that if only women are policed that stringently, it’s complicity in misogyny. So when a lady appears slightly overdressed or underdressed to an interview, why not focus on her qualifications and not the threads she’s wearing?