I feel a bit cantankerous lately, and extremely worn. I’m more than a little grumpy that a sexual predator, tax evader and tangled business man will be sworn into office soon. I’m grumpy that many people don’t see it as a bipartisan issue that our political system was meddled with by said man’s “buddy” over in Russia. I’m sick of the bro culture that demeans the legitimacy of women’s anxiety over becoming even less equal in the eyes of the world now.
I am tired of straight white men ‘splaining to me via “actually” commentary on my social media feed that talking of privilege is akin to racism. BTW, it’s not like racism or sexism. Some groups have a history of being murdered, raped, taken advantage of and harassed. You can be poor and still have the privilege of being straight, white, male or all.
You know what, I’m also tired of explaining privilege to people who want to ignore it. Yeah, it's fucking uncomfortable to empathize with others, and people don’t want to do it. That's what it comes down to, I think. I’m heartsick about the thousands of people who are dying for seemingly no reason.
I’m more than a little annoyed by bigotry stemming from fear propagated by men like the president-elect that might create the same kind of hatred that's killing thousands in another part of the world. I'm worried our country will go backwards, that Trump really will "Make America Great Again" for the rich, the straight, the white, the men, and everyone else will be left to eat the scraps, or hide who they are.
I’m tired of people I love not acting, voting and giving out of love but out of fear created by those who don’t care about them--the small business owners, women, poor, struggling with disease. They will suffer under the thumbs of men who’ve made millions off others. And they will be the makers of their own suffering.
I’m tired of agents, publishers and readers treating me with less respect than my male counterparts, even when I’ve proven my worth as a writer who has won the respect of the Indie community. I’m sick of the men who stop by the booths at the cons where I sell my books saying things like, “I didn’t know you could write fantasy and sci-fi and also be so hot. You don’t often see that!”
Fuck off, dude. I'm selling books not my body and you have no right to oggle me. Does it make it funny that my books deamonize men like you? You'll never know, since you're not here for my wit.
I’m sick of being catcalled or told I shouldn’t be walking by myself at night. I do it anyway, my head held high, but I’m tired of the fear, of the way I clutch my keys and weave them through my knuckles in case I have to fight for being a woman walking to her car. I'm sick of the old fear that I can't trust men that look like the man who harassed me, ignored my say.
I shaved my head, let a social norm fall at my feet, felt the breeze on my scalp, and felt a little better. I let go of the idea that I had to be what other people wanted.
If I’m not traditionally attractive, my life will be easier. But it’s not. I now have the burden of explaining to others why I did away with a part of me people thought sexy. It was unconsious. It was mourning. It was comfort. It was my decision and it shouldn't be a big deal. I don’t want to be sex-y. I cannot wait for people to not relate the word sex to me.
I realize that’s anomalous. We, women, are supposed to be concerned with that, aren’t we? It’s everything and the only thing we are encouraged to do. I don’t give a fuck if you think I’m sexy. I don’t give a fuck if you think I’m not. Stop googling me with your nasty comments. Stop telling me you like how I look, men I don't know. I'm not here for your approval. If you're not my friend, I don't give a shit what you think of me.
If you are a friend who supports me, I’m not talking about you. I teasure your love, the fact that you want to lift me up.
I’m talking about the hundreds of men who harass me online and in person. Who do not know me, but ogle me. Fuck off. I hoped maybe my hair said that now, so I wouldn’t have to, but I was wrong to hope.
Two men, strangers, stopped me to tell me I was gorgeous, that my hair probably just got in the way off what I had underneath. And I was surprised by the hostility rising up in me. I said nothing because I couldn’t think of what to say.
I am not safe. I am not safe. I’m not safe from comments, from expectations, from notice, from the baggage of being the me with a vagina.
When I was young, I always thought boys had all the fun, so I hung out with them and roughed around. When I was older, I thought white boys were the only heroes because my books and textbooks were filled to the brim with them.
As I got older, I started to realize that my history was spotty, had so many holes, failed to remember the people of color, the women, the culturally and religiously diverse. When I found these places, these friendlier spaces I consumed them.
Now I am inundated by men and women disparaging the diversity that is slowly creeping in on our books, as though it is a terrible thing for other people to have a hero that looks like them. And I can’t fathom why.
If God is love and you want to represent love, how do you act? Do you get angry over power, scramble around like a mizer, as if he won't provide? Do you even remember the love that said you should give everything you have to others. I don't recall seeing a verse in which Jesus said, "Blessed are the ones who make money, who are born into wealth, who are the representatives of social norms." Is that what your church tells you is love? Do you know? Do you care?
Instead of pretending that you are acting out of faith, please know that those who propogate the lies that wealth is won with hard work only are faithless.
It gets so hard to write when you know it will just be a fight, a series of arguments against a brick wall. And I wonder how we got any rights at all, when it’s such an uphill battle against those in power and those duped or oppressed. May we all find a little rest soon. I know I need a little rest.
H.M. Jones is an author who advocates for women and mental health awarness. As an English instructor at NWIC, she advocates for skepticism and research skills that don't start with Google. She is a speculative fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, poetry and magical realsim author. She has a lot of books because she doesn't believe in shutting off her brain.
She's on Twitter @HMJonesWrites, Google+, and Facebook.
I don't get offended easily. I am the first person to call myself crazy or nuts, and I know a lot of people would push against that, especially people with diagnosed mental health disorders, like myself.
But I am mentally ill and sometimes I think and do things that are beyond abnormal, yes, even crazy. I laugh at myself so that I don't beat myself up. Yes, it's that kind of thing. Because I spend a lot of time feeling frustrated that my brain sucks.
I feel guilty when I overreact in situations that don't call for a huge reaction, and I do it often because I'm bi-polar and no matter how hard I try to manage sometimes I fail. But I didn't realize how equally bad I feel when I'm not enraged for my highs (rare, I'm usually angry when I'm manic), but am, instead, very energetic and, yes, super productive. Yes, I even feel guilty about productivity. It's pretty unproductive to do so.
It was Nanowrimo this month and I won. I usually do. For whatever reason, I'm often manic during this time of year, a time of year when many other people with mood disorders are depressed. And when I'm manic, I write so much my joints in my fingers hurt and my eyes strain to read the words that fly from my head. I can write four stories at once, all open at different points, and switch between them when I get bored of one. And please believe me, at this point, when I say I am not bragging. I feel like I can't stop when I start, and if I am interrupted I have to physically keep myself from lashing out.
It changes things at home, too. My house gets cleaned, my children are entertained, I can go running without easily tiring, and I can stay up until 2 a.m. editing photos. My son and daughter will want me to sit and play, but it is painful for me to sit instead of stand or type or clean or update my websites.
I have a lot of writer friends who've said they wished they had my manic stamina. And I'm not offended by that. It happens to help me write, submit and repeat quite a lot. I understand the urge to want to get more out of the time we have. And I'm not unhappy that I get stuff out.
But I was actually really relieved when one of my writer friends looked at me and said, "That sounds rough. You get a lot done, but I don't think I'd want that." It meant a lot to me that he empathized with the bags under my eyes, the way I couldn't stop pacing, the nervous energy I couldn't contain.
It's not the worst problem in the world, but it's not paradise. I don't sleep much, my metabolism is all mesed up and I'm pretty irritable at that time. There are other uncomfortable side effects I won't get into, too, that makes life for a couple weeks near unbearable.
However, I made it through Nano again. I'm coming on another deadline for a different book, which I am almost done with, and a short story that I'm making headway on. But I'm starting to feel the decline of my energy and it's a relief. I might not finish one of the things I'm working on, but at least I'll sleep.
So I refuse to feel bad, this time, about writing enough to get me a neat little certificate and graphics, plus a few writerly perks. I decided to be fine with it. I did something cool. I almost finished an entire book in one month. It's not done, and, because I'm still manic, that really bothers me.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.