To the People Saying We’ll Survive Trump

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Image Description: Crowd of people standing and a few are holding signs. One sign reads, “this is not okay,” and the other sign reads, “fear…” and the rest of the sign is unreadable.

[TW: discussions of, and references to racism, Islamophobia, colonization, xenophobia, racialized violence, transphobia and other queerphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, ableism, and various types of hate crimes and bigotry]

This is to all the people telling members of various disadvantaged and oppressed groups to “calm down,” that we all just need to “come together,” and that if conservatives “survived Obama,” we’ll “survive Trump:”

SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Do not fucking tell us to calm down. We’re entitled to feel however the hell we feel. Do not tone police our reaction to President Toddler Hitler-lite. You have no idea where we’re coming from, and you clearly are not bothering to try to understand our very precarious situation. You’re blinded by your own privilege, so shut it.

And don’t you dare tell us we need to come together with Trump and his supporters. We are not obligated to unite with people who hate us, are bigoted toward us, and who terrify us. Trump and his supporters don’t get to be raging xenophobic, misogynistic, racists for a year and a half and then expect everyone they hate to be all hunky-dory and just fall in line. Fuck that!

How hell do you not understand that asking a person of color to set aside their own rights and well-being to make peace with a white supremacist is a giant slap in the face? Or how expecting Muslims, immigrants, or refugees to forget about all the hate and discrimination they faced from Trump and his supporters for the sake of your personal comfort is just plain heartless? Or how simply asking the LGBTQIA+ community to overlook the fact that Mike Pence and many Trump supporters think it’s perfectly acceptable to torture the f*ggot out of queer kids may cause actual trauma? Seriously, where the hell do get off asking these things of people?

Do not tell us we’ll live or we’re overreacting, because here is a list of people who will literally not survive the Trump-Pence administration:
1. Black folx and other PoC who will face increased racialized violence from police and white p*wer groups.
2. Native North Americans and Indigenous people whose land, water, and other resources will be polluted and stolen by the government and corporations.
3. Latinx people who will be racially profiled by ICE, many of whome will be illegally detained in inhumane facilities.
4. Undocumented immigrants who will likely be hunted down, rounded up into concentrated areas (does this sound vaguely familiar?), and deported.
5. Muslims who will be stigmatized even further, face an increased threat of violent hate crimes, be racially profiled by law enforcement, and who may have to register as Muslims (you know, like Jewish people in pre World War II Germany).
6. Refugees who will not be granted asylum in the U.S. Refugees who are running for their lives and have no where to go.
7. People with mental illnesses, disabled folx, and those who otherwise depend on state assistance for lifesaving healthcare.
8. People with pre-existing health issues and anyone else that relies on the regulations set forth in the ACA to obtain lifesaving health insurance coverage.
9. Any person who needs, or will need, access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortions, STI testing, reproductive-related cancer screenings, etc.
10. Trans and genderqueer folx who need accessible, legal avenues to change the gender identity on their legal documents (birth certificates, passports, state-issued photo IDs, etc.)
11. LGBTQIA+ folx who need access to safe transitional housing, to mental healthcare, to legal protections for their civil rights, and who will face increased rates of hate crimes.

If you don’t believe me, check out the links below. There are reports of trans suicides, racial violence, and violence against Muslim women.

And do not compare our terror and protests of Trump’s presidency to people’s animosity toward President Obama. Most people were angry about Obama’s presidency because they were racist. A few people may have simply been upset their candidate didn’t win, but let’s be honest, most of them were just racist assholes.

Those of us freaking out about Trump aren’t doing so because we’re sore losers, or because we’re bigoted assholes who are scared of losing our privilege. We’re freaked out because we know we’re about to face a living nightmare of hate crimes, police violence, and a loss of civil rights. We’re not shitty because other people might take a few steps toward equity and social justice, thereby narrowing the gaps in our social hierarchy and reducing our own privilege. We’re shitty because we’re about to take a giant step backward.

So yeah, sit your damn ass down and shut the fuck up!
Preston, Dominic. “Reports claim ‘at least 8’ trans youth died by suicide after Trump’s win,” Pink News. Nov. 10, 2016. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/10/reports-claim-at-least-8-trans-youth-committed-suicide-after-trumps-win/

Boyer, Ashley. Facebook Post screenshot via Kat Blaque. Nov. 10, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/kat.blaque.5/posts/1218259301582221

@Toure. Tweet screenshot via Shaun King Facebook page. Nov. 11, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/shaunking/photos/a.799605230078397.1073741828.799539910084929/1195912750447641/?type=3&theater

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Female Viagra: Good, Bad, or in Between?

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A white prescription pill bottle with a pink pill next to it. TEXT READS: “Addyi (flibanserin) tablets 100 mg 30 tablets Attention Pharmacist: Dispense the accompanying Medication Guide to each patient.”

Last week a drug named flibanserin – brand name Addyi – was approved by the FDA ([U.S.] Food and Drug Administration). Normally people do not pay much attention to the mundane workings of the FDA. Flibanserin, however, has many people abuzz, especially women, since it is the very first drug approved to treat sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women; it is being hailed as the “female Viagra.” This is good news for women! Men’s ability to perform sexually and achieve orgasm has long been prioritized over women’s sexual performance and ability to achieve orgasm, both socially and medically. At last, women with sexual performance difficulties have the option of an FDA approved, libido boosting, prescription medication.

Many women and feminists are taking this as a sign that expression of female sexuality is becoming socially acceptable, that women should embrace their sexuality, and that strong sex drives in women are valid and healthy. I agree! I think this drug is long overdue. If there is medical research and federal funding designated to enhance men’s sexual experiences, the same should be done for women. It is about damn time societies began acknowledging the existence of women’s sex drives and stop teaching women to repress their sexual desires. Instead, female sexuality should be celebrated.

Yet at the same time I am rejoicing over this long deserved medical resource for women, I am also feeling a little apprehensive. I am concerned flibanserin will be used in ways that could further harm women. First, I believe I could easily be [mis]used as a band-aid for more serious physical or mental health issues. Sometimes, sexual performance problems are merely symptoms of more serious health conditions. The danger here is, due to patriarchal pressure placed on women to please men sexually, women may be encouraged, coerced, or even forced to take flibanserin by male partners who believe they are entitled to sex regardless of women’s well-being. Thus potentially serious illnesses could go undetected and untreated.

Medical professionals admit that reduced sex drive is sometimes caused by mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. Such mental health problems could go undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, if flibanserin is used as a band-aid for the symptom of poor sexual performance among women. People suffering from mental illnesses already tend to be dismissed, even in the medical community. If used unethically by healthcare providers, Flibanserin could end up masking existing mental illnesses in women.

Second, flibanserin could potentially serve as a tool to further control women’s sexuality and women’s bodies. Instead of creating a society where women are free to express their sexuality in whatever way they feel comfortable (which is how this drug should be used), flibanserin could actually be used to suppress women’s sexuality. This might seem counter-intuitive, but consider the following scenario: Rather than empowering women to experiment sexually, explore their sexuality on their own terms, or voice their sexual preferences to their partners, male partners, society at large, and even healthcare professionals may push flibanserin on women in order to “fix” female sexual performance in ways that benefit men. In other words, this drug could be used as an ON button. Male sexual entitlement could thus be satisfied via artificial enhancement of female libido. In such a scenario, women would not have greater sexual autonomy or higher quality sexual experiences. The patriarchal society – which includes patriarchal interpersonal relationships and a patriarchal healthcare system – would simply have “appeased” women’s sex drives in the hope of maintaining the sexually submissive position women currently occupy. (Please note, I am not saying all women play the submissive role in the bedroom. I am referring to the socio-sexual position of women relative to the socio-sexual position of men.)

Similarly, flibanserin could be [mis]used as a way of getting through sex that might not be emotionally, psychologically, or physically comfortable for someone. Failing to achieve orgasm is often a result of nothing more than bad sex. This can stem from lack of an emotional connection, lack of physical attraction, a past traumatic sexual experience, or poor technique on her partner’s end. While women should feel comfortable telling their male sexual partners that they aren’t enjoying the sex, that they don’t want to engage in sex at the moment, or that they want to stop the sex they are currently engaging in, this is often not the case. Many women do not feel comfortable saying these things, in part, due to the unwritten patriarchal rules of sex – i.e., that men are ultimately in control of sexual interactions. My concern here is, flibanserin might become a “quick-fix” to bad sex. If men can tell their female partners to just take a pill and get over it, medication becomes just one more tool to fulfill male sexual desires at the expense of women’s sexual autonomy. Granted, the problem of male sexual entitlement already exists, but a drug like flibanserin could potentially exacerbate it.

Third, I am concerned flibanserin will be suggested/prescribed to asexual women. The medical community largely fails to recognize asexuality as a valid sexual orientation or identity. People who are asexual are often assumed to be sexually defective; if they could just get their hormones in balance, their libido boosted, or find the “right partner” they would desire and enjoy sex just like the rest of us “normal,” “healthy” people. This way of thinking erases asexual identities and invalidates the experiences and feelings of asexual women.

To be clear, I am not opposed to flibanserin. In fact, I think it is about damn time women have access to a sexual performance enhancing drug. I think it can and will be used by women to improve their sex lives and make sex more enjoyable. I think flibanserin can and should be used to increase sexual pleasure for women, to help women experiment sexually, and to celebrate and normalize sexual appetites among women. However, I am also apprehensive about the potentially negative uses and effects of flibanserin. The existence of this drug is not a magic pill that will suddenly fix the inequitable socio-sexual power dynamic between men and women.

Jesus is not a Mental Health Professional

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IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Jesus sticking his head out of the “Psychiatric Help” stand from the Cartoon, Charlie Brown. TEXT READS: “Psychiatric help 5 cents. The Doctor is in.”

When I was a child, my father caught me with a bottle of Benadryl trying to kill myself. In fact, I attempted suicide several times as a child and teenager. Some people might judge me for those suicide attempts, assuming I was just a weak person who could not handle the big, scary world. But the truth was I had an untreated illness – depression – and just like all other illnesses depression is not something a person can simply get over. No, it needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. Unfortunately, my family did not exactly believe in mental health care, and so, nothing was done about the Benadryl incident.

My parents were extremely religious and they thought Jesus was the the answer to everything. Now, I am not faulting my parents for having religious beliefs; after all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The answer to my own mental health problem was, in their opinion, to “find Jesus” so he could heal my depression.

There is nothing wrong in using faith to help you through a difficult time, or even believing that some supernatural entity played a part in making you better. For many, faith is something to hold on to when everything else seems lost, and that faith may truly help depressed people find stable ground. Yet, that does not mean their faith negates the need for treatment. After all, even most religious people would go to the doctor if they had an infection. They do not believe their faith or their god(s) will keep their foot from falling off if it become gangrenous.

Why is it that people of faith so often discount mental health treatment? What makes mental illnesses vastly different from physical ones? Why can Jesus be a substitute for psychologists but not optometrists, oncologist, neurologists, or gynecologist? Why is it acceptable to seek professional medical help for strep throat or an impacted tooth but not for a mental illness like depression or schizophrenia?

Doctors (at least the ones who treat physical problems) are seen by the religious and non-religious alike. This is because, no matter how much faith a person might have in their god(s), deep down they know the deity they worship is not a medical professional. And although their faith might help them cope with their illness, they do not think refusing medical care is wise. It is time religious individuals and organizations take that same understanding to mental illness, because no matter how much you think Jesus loves you, he is not a mental health professional. And mental illness, like all other illnesses, must be treated by a professional.