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Freezer Burn: Bye, Jan

byejan

I think I may have given off the wrong impression yesterday, what with the whole “not voting” thing. No, I still believe voting benefits no one; what I mean is that I feel like I left y’all with the impression that I don’t care about electoral politics, which just isn’t true. Like I said twice in that last piece, I have made a small (tiny) living from complaining about politics – especially those of the electoral kind.

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TrevorHultner.com is currently under construction

Hello.

What you see before you is a blank website. A tabula rasa. I’ve decided to wipe the slate clean, and moving forward you’re going to start seeing more and better content here. I took a break, but that break lapsed into a year’s worth of nothing-doing. Relaxation turns into atrophy after a while, and I’d hate to waste away for comfort’s sake.

There were (in my humblest of opinions) a few okay articles here in the time that I’ve had this domain, and I still have them in my trash file. I may repost them. I have the entire old site backed up to an xml file which I’ve saved to Dropbox, so unless I manage to mess everything up in the next few months, that stuff will be with me forever.

Stay tuned here and elsewhere. I’m giving everything a facelift.

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Dear Olds: Apology Not Accepted

Frank Bruni penned what he believes is a heartfelt apology to millennials in Saturday’s New York Times. He acknowledges that the generations currently at the helm of power – the greatest generation, baby boomers, and (to a lesser extent, still) generation x – are responsible for a large part of anthropogenic climate change, the massive debt we’re shouldered with, and Car Talk getting to live forever on NPR while Tell Me More goes off the air (that last part wasn’t in Bruni’s article, but for goddamn serious).

He acknowledges that the reason the government has seemed to work solely in the interest of those who are poised to collect Social Security checks within the next five years is because that’s what’s actually happening. “Older Americans, who would be instantly affected by such a change, turn out more reliably than any other age group,” he writes. “Lawmakers are loath to cross them.”

Could it also be because, demographically speaking, lawmakers are them? When old, rich white men run the country, is it not possible that they’ll vote along generational lines, even when their parties don’t necessarily say, “vote for Old interests?”

Older generations have more time on their hands, they have more money, and they have a more immediate sense that the America – and the world – they once stood firmly on top of is slipping from their grasp. Meanwhile, millennials – who are characterized most often as taking cushy retail and service industry jobs while our proud, mid-20th-century-perfect-image-upholding manufacturing sector disappears – are working longer, harder and for less pay. Their biggest concern is surviving while chipping away at any of the numerous personal Everests attached to their ankles. Voting their interests barely shows up on the radar.

The biggest joke here is that millennials are on the other side of a conflict that the Olds set up years ago.

All I can remember is the tens of thousands of high school and college students who stormed the numerous University of California campuses in 2008 and 2009 in protest of the immediate 32 percent tuition increase that effectively shut out in-state students from getting an affordable education. All I can remember is that the only lesson that protest taught other universities is to tighten the screws slower, so now a semester at UCO costs nearly double what it did when I started, and I didn’t even notice until I took a look at my bursar from August 2010. All I can remember is the insistence from our parents that we go to college, we must get a degree, and the employers who reinforced that.

All I remember is the mockery that came from the Olds when stats started to come out showing that all these college educated kids were working at gas stations and restaurants because they couldn’t get jobs in their field. All I remember is hearing people laugh at us, because when we weren’t working two shifts at Applebee’s a night for $2 an hour and maybe some tips, we were taking selfies and suddenly we were self-absorbed, spoiled little dirtrags who were wasting our parent’s retirements because we were living in their basement (but fuck the fact that the price of living is so high, that’s not important).

Some of us, with tempers in less check than others, lashed back at this mockery; but for the most part, millennials have kept their fucking heads down and not said a goddamn word. You think we don’t notice what y’all are saying? You think we’re blissfully unaware of what’s happening? War, disease, famine – we see these headlines in the news at the same time as you – sooner, in fact, because we have a news ticker on our Tweetdecks – but we don’t dare say anything because y’all are so fucking puritanical and conservative that we’re still being treated like we’re at the kids’ table.

So you want us to vote against the largest demographic who votes – the fucking Olds – so that we finally, maybe, get to speak out for our own interests. You want us to vote for more Olds to pay us lip service while they rip our planet apart. We’re over here trying to make magic – trying to do alchemy using the charred remains of society as our catalyst for transmutation – and you want us to invest our scarce time and energy in a system built to screw us? Did Maureen Dowd pass you her weed?

To put it as succinctly as I can: fuck voting. Fuck your system that has brought nothing but horrors with it. Fuck your backhanded apologies and your continued lip service to your children. It’s disgusting.

We will continue to move through this world without you. We will, as Kevin Carson put it, make an exodus from your decaying institutions toward ones we create ourselves. In the meantime, take your apologies and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

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To Be A Feminist, Or Not To Be A Feminist? Thoughts On Social War

I am a feminist.

I’m not a “male feminist.” I’m not an “equalist,” or “egalitarian,” or even, such as it is, even just an “ally.” I identify, out of necessity, as a feminist.

I don’t write about feminism often because 1. I often don’t feel like I’m the most qualified person to do so, 2. I’m certainly not willing to take ground from other feminists who have devoted most of their waking moments to theory and praxis, and 3. because I tried the “dude feminism” thing for a little bit and as it’s been pointed out, one of the biggest traps that men trying to evangelize other men into feminism fall into is inadvertently recreating the same “man as protector” theme that basically has helped hold patriarchy up for thousands of years. I fell into that trap.

I still identify as a feminist, though. Because the world is a battlefield, as Jeremy Scahill pointed out, for different reasons, and I refuse to be on the side of the invaders. The social war that conservatives fear so greatly is in fact happening, and people are actually dying. Women are actually dying. And yes – by and large, men are the ones killing them. This is not a surprise – or even news – to anyone but men, it seems – Susan Brownmiller spent the entire first 20 pages of her book Against Our Will laying out the historically military roots of the war we’re currently embroiled in.

While recent events have illuminated just how dire the situation really is regarding the war on women, many people – many men – refuse to acknowledge that there’s something wrong. They point out Elliot Rodger’s history of mental illness, or wave off the stabbing murder of a 16-year-old girl on the day of her prom as an isolated incident.

This does go past Elliot Rodger. It goes past predatory “Pick Up Artistry” or Christian-persecution-complex mimicking “Men’s Rights Activism,” too, though those are certainly components of the wider problem. It goes past any act committed by a singular person. It is a systemic parasite, one of the many that attach themselves to the human race and sap individuals of their potential for flourishing.

Patriarchy influences us from day one. It informs our parents’ decisions to paint our nurseries blue or pink depending on our genitals, and what toys and clothes to buy us even when we can make the decisions ourselves. It informs our teachers on how to discipline and praise us, how to talk to our parents about us. It makes people shrug and say, “boys will be boys” when they get into a fight and scold girls for doing the same thing.

It simplifies complex relationships and drills incorrect preconceptions into people’s heads: “If I hold doors open for people, and I’m there for them, and I avail myself to them, then they’ll see me as a good person, and find me desirable, and I will be rewarded justly for my chivalrous behavior!” It even poisons those who try to eliminate it.

Lots of jokes have been made at the expense of the stereotypical fedora-wearing – excuse me, trilby-wearing – neckbearded “Nice Guy™” but I think most of us guys are kidding ourselves if we believe we haven’t exhibited the same behavior before. We by and large still conceive of women as an other, as a trophy, as an object to be protected from harm. It isn’t always apparent, because some of us – including those of us who identify as feminists – couch this objectification in good intentions. But it’s still there.

I have entirely selfish reasons for identifying as a feminist. I don’t want to see another friend harmed by a man. I don’t want to get another call or text at 2 AM from someone I know saying that they were sexually assaulted. I want my friends to lead lives where they don’t have to walk from their apartment to their car with keys gripped firmly between their ring and middle fingers. Or keep a baseball bat near their door or in their backpack. People shouldn’t need to be heavily armed to move freely in 2014 Oklahoma.

These are a lot of the same reasons I became an anarchist. Anarchism, unfortunately, is not – and has never been – immune to patriarchy, but its ideas of eliminating social hierarchies along with the institutional structures – capitalism and the state, namely – that allow them to exist fall very much in line with feminism’s goals. Anarchism speaks of a world where people won’t have to be afraid of the dark. That is, obviously, very appealing.

But anarchism, by itself, is not enough. It’s not enough to care about my friends and their safety and wellbeing. It isn’t even enough to want to smash patriarchy.

I have been struggling with a way to write about the rage and sadness I felt after hearing about Elliot Rodger’s actions, and then hearing and reading his words. I have been struggling over whether I should even write anything at all. But then I saw the #yesallwomen tag on Twitter, and the male-led backlash against it. I saw the #yesallmen tag spring to life, full of poison. I saw people who might very well have been caring and sensitive men turn into brutes in the space of a few seconds.

In reaction to women posting their stories of sexual abuse, job discrimination and social othering, men were posting about the time a girl didn’t show up to a date and how that made them sad. I read an article from a week before Elliot Rodger and #yesallwomen in the New York fucking Times about “cut-off culture,” and how the dude who wrote it experienced a break up and doesn’t understand why the woman who dumped him won’t take his calls.

How’s this, for #yesallwomen? A coworker of mine at the Center for a Stateless Society was recently told that the only reason she was brought on as an adviser and contributor was because we apparently collectively thought she was “pretty.” This same coworker regularly has campaigns mounted against her appearing on podcasts and television shows, at panels and conferences, and other blogs and news sites. Everything she writes garnishes Facebook threads hundreds of comments long decrying her as a terrible person, out to destroy “the Liberty Movement™” because she has the audacity to identify as a libertarian feminist.

There is a question that must at one point or another be answered by everyone. It’s a question that came up for me recently, in the aftermath of Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree in Isla Vista, CA and in the seemingly never-ending “debate” over whether libertarianism and feminism can coexist. I realized that the question I’m trying to answer isn’t over how to articulate the kind of antipathy I’m feeling. The question is much simpler:

“Which side are you on?”

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The Haul #1: “Ms. Marvel” Issue 4 and “Trees” Issue 1

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Welcome to “The Haul,” a semi-regular feature where I talk about the comics I’ve read in a given week. These posts will include, but won’t be limited to, discussion about themes, plot or art in a given comic. The comment section ideally will be used as a place to further the discussion and will be completely open, no matter how many times you call me a stupid idiot.

This week’s haul was a small one, as most of the comics I follow regularly came out last week and money’s a bit tight right now. I still did manage to pick up two issues of what I think are some of the most crucial comic books right now: Ms. Marvel, created by editor Sana Amanat, written by G. Willow Wilson, drawn by Adrian Alphona and colored by Ian Herring; and Trees, written by Warren Fucking Ellis and drawn by Jason Howard.

Ms. Marvel, Issue 4: “Past Curfew”

Cover of Ms. Marvel Issue 4 (May 2014) by Jamie McKelvie

Cover of Ms. Marvel Issue 4 (May 2014) without titles, by Jamie McKelvie

I’ll be totally up front here: Ms. Marvel – no, sorry, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel is the raison d’etre of my nascent comic book obsession. I started reading at Issue 2 (the first issue sold out and the second run hadn’t been printed yet), and I was immediately taken by the art style and also by how relatable Kamala Khan is. I certainly didn’t have a lot to go off, being a new comic fan and all, but Khan’s origin story seems to have its roots firmly placed in the experiences of most modern teenagers.

A big deal was (rightfully) made about Kamala being the first Muslim woman superhero, and her experiences as a Pakistani-American and as a young Muslim do shine through and shape her character throughout issues one and two; but she also writes fanfiction about the Avengers, hangs out at the Circle Q and sneaks out of her house to go to a party – where she’s immediately engulfed in what I later learned was Terrigen gas and bestowed powers by (in her hallucination) an Urdu-speaking Captain Marvel, Iron Man holding a winged sloth and Captain America reciting poetry.

I mean, come on. If this isn’t in any way interesting to you, then you probably suck.

So, skipping forward, Kamala has to learn how to deal with her new Inhuman powers, which involves saving a casually racist classmate from drowning, breaking the girl’s locker room and stopping a robbery at said Circle Q, while also figuring out her own identity. Unfortunately, at the end of Issue 3, Kamala gets  Read More