Your politics are bad for business

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It’s broken! Fitbit bands and flex are done!

I’ve saved a ton of money this year. Want to know how? Conservative politics, sexism, and racism are keeping my dollars in the bank.

First, move to a red state, the cost of living is lower, you’ll save time on figuring out which of your friends and co-workers are “-ist”, because most of them will let you know. Stars and Bars first clue, then the racist, xenophobic, sexist posts on FB second clue, and then third the “ist” things they say to your face because they wrongly assume that  you’re hanging with them because you’re one of “the good ones” and “you’re cool.” *Side bar, I must admit that I do prefer all of the -ism’s southern fried, because it’s so damn efficient. I don’t have to spend years cultivating relationships only to find out how awful some of my so-called “liberal” friends are, it takes somewhere between five seconds to a few weeks to figure it out in the South.* So you don’t do brunch, or lunch, or anything with a lot of the people you know. You stay quiet for a myriad of reasons, personal safety being number one on my list . You stop eating out because the service is terrible if you’re black. You don’t waste your money on dating sites, because if you’re a black woman they’re a waste of time (this has nothing to do with my personal look or profile, it’s a statistical fact), no one is going to respond. You cut the cable cord because mainstream TV has become increasingly bland, and you don’t see positive images of yourself anywhere. You stop buying clothes because John Oliver got you woke, I’m tired of paying the pink tax, and I personally spend 90 percent of my time in spandex and my racing t-shirts anyway. My Fitbit broke, and I think long and hard about the factory workers in China before I decide to replace it,  and if I’m  supporting abusive or toxic working conditions.

Which brings me to how I choose to spend my fitness dollars, and the honest answer to my friends when they say, “Hey, you haven’t been to yoga in a while!” or “Why did you stop going to CrossFit?”

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I thought it was just the workout that did me in.

March 12, 2016,

I went to Battlefrog for my first real OCR. This was a test of my overall fitness and I failed miserably. The obstacle course was 8k. Running trails through water and woods, and over rough terrain, no problem. Obstacles that required total body strength and agility, more challenging, but I did them. Obstacles which required grip and pure upper body strength, total failure. I confess that I’ve never been able to do a single pull up, so hefting my heavy lower half up with my arms over twelve foot walls was impossible. I also accidentally did my penalty body builders in an ant hill (an 8 count bodybuilder is a military burpee–yes it’s worse than a regular burpee.)

I know my weaknesses and have sought self improvement, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to properly train in traditional white spaces. I failed because I’ve stopped going to Crossfit, and Yoga. Two activities that have helped me make tremendous gains in boosting my natural beastliness.

I love the physical challenge of CrossFit. My old gym is a local business and is run by two very knowledgeable and good coaches, who are also veterans. I would love to join and support their gym, but I can’t.

I was uncomfortable the first time I showed up, I got stared at a lot. Not a new feeling. I often am the only black woman in the room. I don’t like it, but I’m used to it. After a few sessions, the stares stopped and I got into the workouts. I love the challenge, and I lost my fear of lifting. I had wrongly assumed that lifting would make my already muscular body, even bulkier. I was wrong. I have leaned out considerably. I seriously considered joining the gym until I discovered that the non-profit that is tied to the gym is Concerned Veterans for America. CVA is ultra conservative group, who posts support for scary right wing politicians, which is actively trying to privatize the VA, and is funded by the Koch brothers. Those facts and the strange FB posts with the owner’s who spend their free time in small groups with automatic weapons “preparing” scares me. I can’t actively support this business if I know that my money is funding what I believe to be catastrophic for an already broken healthcare system, which I use.

I love what my Yoga practice does for both my body and my mind. The woman who owns my Yoga studio, offers a generous veteran’s discount, and I would love to support her local business, but I can’t.

 

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Ignorance and sweating with friends is bliss!

I was uncomfortable the first time I showed up…We’ve been over why already. After a few sessions I realized that the “Yogi’s” I share this space with are the worst version of stereotypical yoga enthusiasts ever! There isn’t enough space left in this post to go over the amount of awful that goes on in my studio. Just a few examples:

Overheard, two white men asked the new instructor who happens to be Asian, “Where did you practice before you came here?”
“To learn, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos.”
“Ooooh” snide “my yoga is more authentic than your yoga because I paid for it” tone and eye roll from the men.

From an instructor, “I just love yoga, but I don’t like what it is doing to my butt. I’m just not into that bubble butt look!”

In overcrowded class, “Hey, there’s an empty space right here!” Eye roll from lady who puts her mat right in front of the door to the studio which swings open and into her several times during practice, yet she refuses to move.

From an instructor telling a story that is supposed to be inspirational “….imagine that a young black man who wants to be known for his capability for change. How awesome is that? And if he can then…” She kept repeating that. The three brown yogi’s that night almost choked on our collective Ujjayi breath.

Running into the lady during a practice who skipped me in line at Staples, who looked at me like I was crazy when I asserted myself by saying “I’m next in line.” and rolled up to the register before her.

I’m starting to think that when we say “Namaste” we say “The light in me sees how dark you are!” When you have to take a Zanax before you go to yoga, it’s not worth it.

When I tell these stories to my friends. I get told how it’s not about race, or sex, or whatever. I get told that I’m being sensitive. I get told I should suck it up. The more I experience these things, and the less emphatic my friends are, the more money I save.

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Analogy time! One ant bite hurts. 40 of them will cripple you.

On a macro level, the more informed I become as a consumer, the less I want to consume. On a personal level; yoga (and I shouldn’t have to say this because yoga is supposed to be a holistic experience, and a lifesyle) you need to impart more social awareness in your customers, Crossfit your politics are bad for business.

I’m in full austerity mode America, so if I can’t appeal to the moral need to stop with all of the “-isms” then maybe when it starts to effect the economy you’ll get the message.

My Hillary Problem: Stop telling me why I don’t “like” her, I already know!

Trump or Clinton? Sanders would be my choice, and I’m not that enthusiastic about him as POTUS either, but I do empathize with him and his politics. Is there a special place in hell for me Ms. Albright? Or am I a silly millennial chasing after boys Ms. Steinem?

I declare I’m a Gen X woman who is supremely disappointed in Baby Boomer and Gen X feminists who have lost their damn minds by trying to “Femisplain” me into voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman. I find this theory of solidarity ridiculous, it’s like telling me that I should support Justice Thomas’ decisions just because we share the same skin color.

Rewind to 1999. I had the highest test scores coming out of my MOS school in the Marine Corps. The teachers of my class got together, “recalculated” the grade weighting of our tests and quizzes so mathematically I ended up with a class average hundredths of a point behind a man. I was upset for a minute. It was unfair, and I felt cheated. I said nothing, and I let it go.

I won! Wait, no I didn't. What do you mean I didn't win? #reallyfeelingtheBern
I won! Wait, no I didn’t. What do you mean I didn’t win? #reallyfeelingtheBern

I ran a 5k on February 20th, 2016. According to the race results, I had the fastest time in my age group. I was awarded the second place medal by the race organizers. Apparently a runner without a time chip was allowed to enter her time manually, and she claimed to have finished a few seconds ahead of me. I’m not sure if she did or not. I was upset for a minute. It was unfair, and I felt cheated. The purpose of having timing chips is to ensure that the race is fair, and normally runners without chips are not qualified for race awards. I said nothing, and I let it go. It was not the first time something like this has happened to me, nor will it be the last.

I feel like Bernie Sanders. He won the New Hampshire primary, but lost most of the delegates. Do you see where this post is going? These are micro parables, but pertinent. In 1999, I lost unfairly to a white male. In 2016, I lost unfairly to a white female. Should I be less upset sixteen years later that I lost to a woman?

“We’ve come a long way baby” screams the type of “feminist” I loathe.

I should like Hillary Clinton for president, but I don’t. I do support her foreign policy stance. I also think that she’s qualified to be our Commander in Chief. So what’s my problem?

I don’t like Hillary Clinton and for very good and rational reasons.

I’m uncomfortable with her campaign and the links between the Clinton foundation, and her rise to political power. The optics on her, and women of color are awful. Really Hillary, kicking a #blacklivesmatter protester out of a 500 dollar dinner? I don’t like her policies, she’s a right leaning centrist. Check your reproductive rights ladies, because Hillary’s stance on abortion “…safe, legal, and rare” sounds a lot like Texas right now. Her record as a senator is devoid of any real legislation that is favorable to the working class, women, or people of color. Her words of ending the wage gap ring hollow, there isn’t a lobby with deep enough pockets to make that happen…etc…etc… and double pumpkin spice etc…

I feel by electing Clinton we are signing up for a presidency that will preserve the status quo that I find untenable as an unapologetic feminist.

But wait, Hillary Clinton is a woman? So the irrational feminist in me should tow the line for historical precedence sake? Right? So totes wrong!
Hana Schank wrote in her Salon piece “My Gen X Hillary problem: I know why we don’t ‘like’ Clinton”:

“I suspect that the millennial women who are supporting Bernie may simply not have gotten to a place in life where they’ve experienced this kind of chronic, internalized, institutional sexism. In order for someone to ignore you at a senior level, you need be old enough to have reached that level, and most millenials aren’t quite there yet. They’re still where I was in my early 30s, hopeful that we’ve come through the other side to a post-sexist world. Because nothing says “sexism is dead” like a woman voting for Bernie.“

Is it just me? Or are feminists of a certain age starting to sound uber patronizing right about now? And I’m going to throw the privilege grenade at the scores of women like high-handed Hana, that refuse to look around, down, and up, from their particular small view of the “post-sexist” world. Women—the “we” referred to in the title— who firmly believe that feminism, and its ideals and implementation, began and ended with middle class white ladies and their moms (and grandma’s and great-grandma’s if we extend a shout-out to the suffrage age ladies.) Isn’t it ironic that women are starting to sound a lot like men, when they try to make an argument for Hillary? Or is it intentional that this “we” discounts the continued damaging experiences of young women, poor women, and women of color? You know those of us that couldn’t possibly have experienced “chronic, internalized, institutional sexism” because we haven’t reached the “senior level” of being a woman yet. Schank writes from a point of view that pretends that we don’t exist, or know our own minds, when it comes to our thinking about Hillary Clinton.

Besides my very rational reasons for not liking Hillary, reading a dozen or so think pieces about internalized sexism, has brought out another reason for me not to like her. I think I’ll call it “Trickle Down Feminism” and just like trickle down economics, it just doesn’t work. I know from the personal experience of being a veteran.

Back in 1999, as a young Marine I arrived to my duty station, as a radio repairman, a Lance Corporal (E-3.) I was one of three women in our shop. PFC E, was my (E-2) bestie from MOS school and Cpl Highlander (E-4.)

Cpl Highlander (not her real name, but she is a type of woman and part of an allegory, I’m taking liberties while I still can) was the “best” female Marine in our shop. She was also the only one, until PFC E and I showed up. She was the “best” because she did all of the admin tasks in the shop, was agreeable, and not particularly threatening to the forty other men in the shop. As a woman with some power (she outranked us,) she should’ve taken us under her wing and helped us to become better Marines, because thats what “we” as women in a male dominated field should do. Instead she spent most of her time trying to get the two of us thrown out of the Marine Corps.

She was threatened by two younger women (one black, one white) who were both measurably better than her professionally. She was right to feel threatened, it soon became apparent that she was really a middle of the road Marine. While a genius with the admin work, she couldn’t fix a radio, and she couldn’t run at all, or do any of the physical activities that are part of being a Marine. Instead of knowing herself and seeking self improvement (had she reached out she could’ve gotten better by running and training with two Marines who were passionate, and healthily competitive about being Marines) she spent her time and power charging two junior Marines with various crimes in order to make herself look better.

The Cpl Highlander philosophy was that there was only room for one woman in our shop. Fortunately for me, I picked up rank despite her efforts to burn me and I transferred out. Unfortunately for PFC E, she  almost bled out from the blood feud between her and Cpl Highlander. She persevered, but not without scars. She spent the better part of a year getting her rank stripped from her, and on barracks restriction.

Cpl Highlander was the type of woman I suspect Hillary Clinton is, and this is playing out on the campaign trail. Her smugness when dealing with other women “Why don’t you run for something, then?” her reply to a young women who asked her a valid question is just a politer version of Trump tossing protesters out of his rallies. A type of woman who believes in her entitlement, just because she’s outlasted all others. There is little in her record that suggests that she will be good for other women like her, and the record shows that her policies were/are devastating for women not like her.

Be warned from someone who knows what women do to other women to be “successful.” My immediate response to Ms. Albright’s question about that special place in hell for women was “I guess I’ll be there somewhere behind Hillary.” The way Clinton got up the ladder was not by being a liberal, or a feminist. In fact, she’s been relatively silent on most “woman’s issues.” She has her reasons, and I think one of them is that she doesn’t care about other women. In order for feminism to trickle down, I think you have to be a feminist to begin with. I don’t like Hillary because I know too many women like her, cis gendered but ideologically aligned with men.

Clinton has spent so much time and effort trying to prove that she is one of the good ole boys, that she just might be one.

Hillary Clinton will probably shatter the glass ceiling. American women look out for shards of glass that will cut you as she breaks the barrier. And then look up after to make sure she doesn’t pave over the hole she leaves with cement.