Author Archives: Amethyst

About Amethyst

I like writing, feminism, computer RPGs and changing my hair color. I say 'fuck' a lot, and I hate being shushed.

Charity of the Month: Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

As expected,  once again Americans are in danger of having their access to healthcare stripped away from them. And in addition to the massive pile of garbage that is the AHCA, That Man would also really like to cut federal funds to Planned Parenthood, making it even more difficult for women to access vital healthcare, including preventative care such as cancer screenings. (And, yes, abortions. But also contraception, which totally reduces the need for abortions!)

Therefore, this month I’m supporting Planned Parenthood, which I realise is a large and well-known organisation and goes against my intention to try and help smaller, lesser-known charities. But the work that Planned Parenthood does is extremely important, greatly needed, and constantly under threat. I’ve used their services myself; at the time they were pretty much my only option, and I was so relieved and grateful that the option was there. So to balance things out and give back locally, I’m narrowing it down a bit and donating to Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, which serves the area in and around my hometown in Washington state, including the clinic I used to visit.

I mean, if you’re down with grabbing America by the pussy, you might as well support keeping that pussy healthy, right?

Right, Mr President?

Charity of the Month: the International Rescue Committee

Earlier this month, That Man – he of the big heart, the biggest heart you ever saw, it’s amazing – was apparently so moved by images of Syrian children in crisis that he decided to bomb the shit out of an airfield. Meanwhile, thousands of Syrian refugees are told, by that very same ‘big-hearted’ man, that they aren’t welcome in America. So I guess all those other Syrian children arriving at our airports can fuck off then, because obviously they might be ISIS. Big-heartedness only goes so far.

This month I’m supporting the International Rescue Committee. This organisation is doing a lot of important work to help people affected by the war in Syria, including supporting newly-arrived refugees in the US and other countries. The organisation’s work also has a particular focus on the needs of women and girls, which as you may know is an issue dear to my own pussyhat-pink feminist heart.

Please support them if you can!

Charity of the Month: NAFC

Something I’ve decided to do, as part of my own personal #Resistance, is pick a charity each month which supports people who That Man and his administration are gleefully trying to fuck over, and donate to it. I aim to do this for as long as That Man is in office, and I hope that by sharing this with my small audience (hi, friends/family/random feminist haters!) it may encourage others to do the same, if they can.

This month, as the GOP does its best to make good on the promise to take away health insurance from millions of Americans, I’m choosing to support the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

Even if the Republicans’ deplorable ‘healthcare’ plan doesn’t go through, rest assured they will keep trying, and even now there are still many Americans with little or no access to affordable healthcare. Whilst researching healthcare charities I came across so many depressing and upsetting stories of desperate people who can’t see a doctor; of people who live every day in pain because they can’t get whatever it is looked at; of people who can no longer eat solid food because several of their teeth are rotting and they haven’t seen a dentist in years; of people who can’t just go to the Emergency Room because they need, like, fucking chemotherapy and you can’t get that at the fucking ER. And on it goes.

This is a black and white issue to me. Either you believe access to healthcare – for *everyone* – is a basic human right, or you believe it’s a luxury, a privilege only for those who can afford it. I believe it’s the former. And I think what’s happening – and what will happen if this despicable bill becomes law – in America with regards to healthcare is evil and wrong. People will die because of this, and That Man does not give even half of one fuck.

So anyway, before I totally Hulk out, please support the NAFC – Charity of the Month for March!

Previous Charities of the Month:

American Civil Liberties Union

Trans Lifeline

Inauguration Day

Well, here we are.

As this week has worn on, slowly yet all too quickly moving towards this inevitable day, I’ve found myself feeling more and more agitated and irritable, with the occasional wave of sadness, coming on suddenly and then just as swiftly abating. But mostly I’ve felt angry and exasperated. As I write this, That Man is not even president yet and I’ve already had enough of his incompetent and corrupt administration; and of his ridiculously inept and inappropriate cabinet choices; and of hilarious ‘Grab America By The Pussy’ t-shirts being sold in chain stores; and of countless think pieces imploring me to give That Man a chance, to empathise with those poor, misunderstood souls who voted for him; and of the gobsmacked Trump voters now coming out of the woodwork to announce that – oops – despite all the evidence that he was a lying, sexist, dangerously unqualified shitbag who doesn’t actually care about them, they were fooled into voting for a lying, sexist, dangerously unqualified shitbag who doesn’t actually care about them, and they totally regret it now! But it’s too late. Here we are.

This morning, in an insignificant-yet-still-meaningful-to-me act of personal protest, I decided to change my Facebook profile picture to one of Hillary Clinton. (No. I will not ‘get over it’.) I scrolled through the images on my phone, unable to choose. Then the gut-punch sadness came again, the realisation, the knowing that this could have been our president. Should have been our president. But she never will be. I put my phone down and wiped my eyes. Then I picked it up again and selected a photo. She gazes up and to the left, looking clear-eyed and confident and powerful. An American flag hangs in the background. This is my president.

gty_hillary_clinton_hb_160309_16x9_992

Tomorrow I’ll go to London to take part in the Women’s March.

What happens after remains uncertain.

 

The Letter I Sent to Hillary Clinton (Minus the Awesome Photo)

Hillary Clinton

Dear Secretary Clinton,

There is a part of me that is reasonably certain you’ll never read this. You are a busy woman, and I’m sure that countless others write to you every day – I’m just another of many. But there is also a bigger part of me that believes you actually will read this, because I think that’s the kind of person you are. You listen to people. You care. You’re willing to take the time. This is one of the many things that I admire about you.

I’m writing this as a woman who has always had feminist inklings, but only acquired the self-knowledge and confidence to call herself a feminist in her twenties (I took an introductory Women’s Studies course as an elective one summer and never looked back); as a woman who was too young and self-absorbed to notice how amazingly badass you were as First Lady, how you didn’t want to bake the fucking cookies (I’m sorry, I swear a lot), how you unabashedly insisted on being involved, making good on your husband’s promise that we’d get ‘two presidents for the price of one’, how you fought to give us universal healthcare – an issue that is still very important to me (I’m lucky enough to live in a country with universal healthcare now). I’m writing this as a woman who knows how hard it must have been for you to relinquish your name; as a woman subjected to the everyday misogyny that all women must endure, who knows the frustration and pain and – at times – fear that goes along with not being taken seriously, not being believed, not being seen as a full person, and who knows that you, by virtue of being who you are, have endured so much more than I can even imagine and could never, ever endure; as a woman for whom ‘women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights’ is such a simple and undeniable truth, and can’t comprehend how this can be seen as provocative or controversial; as a woman who has waited 37 years to see that glass ceiling shatter, to see an intelligent, capable, qualified and fearlessly feminist woman elected to our country’s highest office, and was so happy and excited to be this close, on the brink of witnessing history (I even planned to commemorate the event by getting a Suffragette-themed tattoo), and for that woman to be you; as a devastated and heartbroken supporter.

I know you don’t need me to tell you how great and inspiring you are. I can’t imagine you’d pull yourself out of bed every day to face all the shit you know you’re going to face if you didn’t, at the very least, have confidence in yourself. But I also know that if your defeat by that man is as devastating and heartbreaking as it is for me, and for so many other women I know, then it must be so much worse for you. Because you wanted to make America better. Because you did the hard work. You’ve been doing the hard work all of your life, and at the moment when all that hard work should have finally, finally paid off it was instead pulverised and swept away not only by that man, but by half of the voting public. I cried great, heaving sobs as I watched your concession speech, all the while marvelling at how poised you were, how you managed to keep it together whilst you must have been feeling so much pain and disappointment and anger. But that’s another thing I admire about you. Some people call it being ‘cold’ or ‘robotic’ or some other idiotic descriptor rooted in misogyny, but I see it as bravery, as steely resolve.

And it’s bullshit that you have to be brave, that you can’t get upset or cry or raise your voice or give the concession speech that I would’ve liked to give on your behalf, which would have been filled with a lot of swear words and incredulity and blood-vessel-bursting-tears-and-mascara-smeared rage. I should probably not run for president. But of course you had the grace and dignity not to do that, and to instead use the opportunity to reassure all the women and little girls (and the little girls still living and hoping within us) who were watching that we are people and we matter, to lift us up in our time of great sadness and despair.

So I wanted to tell you that I and millions of other women believed in you and enthusiastically supported you. That we are in turn honored to have had you as our champion. And I wanted to thank you for taking up that banner for us, for shouldering the burden of the last quarter-century of personal attacks and witch hunts, for continuing to get up and dust yourself off and put on your armor and go to work for us. Thank you for clearing a path. Thank you for standing up to that man, that bully, that racist, sexist demagogue – you deserved an infinitely better opponent, and I know you would have stood up to him too. Thank you for not settling, for unashamedly seeking power, for always striving for more – not just for yourself but on behalf of all women. Thank you for making pantsuits a fashion statement. Thank you for being a fucking boss. Thank you for getting this far. We still have so much further to go, so much more work to do, but you have made it a little easier now and shown us that it can be done. Thank you for helping me to believe that I might not have to wait another 37 years for us to get there. I still want to get that tattoo.

 

From one Nasty Woman to another,

~Amethyst

 

In Which I Temporarily Dispense with Politics and Wax Poetic about Billy Idol

A week or so ago, my husband and I were talking about misheard lyrics, which made me think of the Billy Idol song ‘Eyes Without a Face’. There’s a bit during the chorus where, until quite recently, I thought the female backup singers were saying, ‘precious [something] eyes’, but is in fact ‘les yeux sans visage’, or ‘eyes without a face’ in French. Fucking duh. My husband hadn’t heard of the song, so my lame anecdote didn’t really resonate, but it did give me an excuse to queue up the video for him on YouTube, enticing him with promises of sexy ladies smacking their fishnet stocking’ed asses in time with the drum beats. Which did not disappoint. And which brings me to today, having spent the last several days falling down YouTube rabbit holes and reacquainting myself with the Idol oeuvre, my latent crush re-ignited.

I’ve written that David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King was ‘my first celebrity crush’, but that isn’t entirely accurate. Bowie/Jareth was the first time that I looked at someone and felt something akin to sexual desire, though at 7 years old I didn’t have the language to describe it or even really understand what ‘sexual desire’ was. But a year or two before that profound revelation, there was Billy Idol. I was 5 or 6 years old, MTV was still pretty new, and his videos for ‘Dancing With Myself’ and ‘White Wedding’ were on all the time. I thought his songs were awesome, I liked the way he went ‘YOW!’ and he was really, really cute.

2603898379Phwoaaaar!

 

I still quite clearly remember coming home from kindergarten one day and my mom –  knowing how excited I would be – saying to me, ‘Guess what your dad bought? A Billy Idol album!’ It was Rebel Yell, and I played the fuck out of that record. I danced around our living room (alone, obvs) pretending I was in music videos with him. I imagined he was my boyfriend and he’d written all the songs for me. When he sang, ‘Yes, I almost died on the Blue Highway,’ I thought of how horrible that would be and how sad it would make me, and I imagined myself leaning over him amid the wreckage and stroking his spiky blond hair. Poor me. Poor almost-dead Billy. It was all pretty innocent, which is sort of ironic considering Billy Idol was basically all about sex. (One can debate whether or not a 6-year-old girl should’ve even been listening to an album containing lyrics like ‘You see and feel my sex attack’, on a song called ‘Flesh For Fantasy’ no less, but it was the 80s and parenting was a lot more laissez-faire back then. And in any case, most of the sex stuff went over my head anyway.)

I eventually grew out of my hardcore Billy Idol phase – mostly by virtue of simply becoming aware of other musicians – but, as is often the case with one’s first love, I’ve always had a soft spot for him, and will crank that shit up anytime he comes on the radio or the TV.

The day after I introduced my husband to the radical 80s awesomeness that is the ‘Eyes Without a Face’ video, I decided to listen to Rebel Yell again. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually properly listened to it, but it had to have been at least 25 years or more. I found the album in its entirety on YouTube, and just looking at that iconic red-tinted cover brought back a wave of memories and vivid imagery. My dad’s boxy, silver stereo system. The gentle clicking sound the turntable’s PLAY button made when you pressed down on it. The pea soup green carpet in our basement, where I’d spent so many hours as a child listening to my dad’s records. The names of the more obscure tracks were still familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite remember what they sounded like (though as soon as I heard the first few bars, they all came flooding back to me). I expected the next 38 minutes to be a nice, nostalgic hunk of cheese. And it was. Rebel Yell is very much of its time; no one is going to mistake it for something that came out last year. But it was also more than that. Because Rebel Yell is a really good album. And not in an ironic, so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, but an honest-to-god good album. Some tracks are obviously better than others (I’ve never liked ‘Crank Call’ all that much), but none of them are actually bad. The track order works. There’s no filler. Each song is kinda stylistically different, but the album doesn’t feel incohesive. I know you’re laughing at me. But seriously, listen to it:

 

 

Everyone knows that the title track is awesome, and the perfect way to start the album, but the slinky bass line of ‘Daytime Drama’ is groovy as hell. ‘Eyes Without a Face’ is a nice ballad and all, but that bit in the middle where it rocks out (and features the ass-smacking fishnet ladies in the video) just makes it 100% better. I’ve always loved the anthemic ‘Blue Highway’, and ‘(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows’ could almost be mistaken for a Joy Division song. ‘Catch My Fall’ has fucking saxophone in it and still manages to sound cool. But it also has a nonsensical music video – which I never saw as a child – featuring Billy as post-apocalyptic Darth Maul *and* a shower scene.

 

Just skip to 2:45 and thank me later.

 

And I haven’t even mentioned Steve Stevens yet. That dude is a goddamn windmilling meedly-meedly guitar hero. Go listen to his solo in ‘Rebel Yell’ again (and that awesome laser gun sound he makes) if you don’t believe me.

It’s not every day that I go back and revisit something that I loved as a child and thought was good, and realise that it actually is really good. Six-year-old me was often lonely, and felt awkward, and lived inside her own head, and was certainly never cool, but with Billy Idol she was on to something. My younger self liked some embarrassing shit – C&C Music Factory, The Simpsons Sing The Blues and fucking Nelson to name but a few – but none of that matters, because Billy Idol is cool, and in 1984 I knew it. And Rebel Yell – my first real favorite album, a piece of art that was so dear to me so long ago – is a worthy relic of that time.

I didn’t walk down the aisle to ‘White Wedding’ when I got married like I’d always said I would do. I don’t think we even played it at the reception. But a few years before, at my sister’s bachelorette party, I and the other bridesmaids sang it to her at karaoke. I curled up my lip and pumped my fist and ‘YEOW!’ed with all the heart and swagger I could muster. It was my little gift to her; Billy Idol had always been my thing, my imaginary 80s boyfriend, but it was her night, and her wedding, and I wanted her to have him.

1692… 1939… 2016

This isn’t funny anymore.

I mean, it hasn’t been funny for a while now, but it really really isn’t funny anymore.

I don’t give very much of a fuck that Melania Trump – or whoever wrote her speech – plagiarised Michelle Obama. It’s sort of amusing  and not terribly surprising and is easy to mock and make into a meme, but it also seems to be casting a rather large shadow over that mob who was gleefully baying for the blood of the opposing party’s nominee.

I can’t watch the GOP Convention, can’t listen to the hateful bile that passes for ‘speeches’.

I can’t help but feel a chill crawl up my spine when I hear Chris Christie call Donald Trump a good and caring person. (Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.)

I can’t hear the chanting of ‘Lock her up!’ and the shouts of ‘Guilty!’ without feeling a bit sick to my stomach.

This could be the GOP Convention’s official song. If they were cool enough to be into Radiohead.

 

I can’t watch with ironic detachment as they collectively demonise a woman who I very much admire, and who I believe really is a good and caring person who wants to make our country better, unlike the bigoted, belligerent, sexist, ridiculously unfit and unqualified demagogue who opposes her.

I can’t just roll my eyes and shake my head and make smug jokes. This isn’t Clint Eastwood making conversation with a chair. This isn’t your typical Republican claptrap about family values and Reagan worship. I’ve seen Triumph of the Will, and this is some serious Leni Riefenstahl shit.

I can’t believe that Ted Fucking Cruz is the lone voice of reason here. (I don’t like Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz’s own children don’t appear to like Ted Cruz. But give the guy a point for stading up there amid jeers and boos and refusing to endorse the Trumpster whilst everyone else just rolls over and falls in line.)

What I see and hear shocks and saddens me. And I can’t take it.

I’m not merely afraid for my country. I’m increasingly growing afraid of my country. It’s a country I hardly recognise, and one that I’d never go back to. It’s a country I’m ashamed of. I can deal with being embarrassed by America – we’re a people who will put our flag on any and every article of clothing and wear it unironically, because that’s just how we roll, and that will never not be embarrassing. But being ashamed is harder. This isn’t me. This isn’t where I come from. This isn’t my America. To say, ‘I want my country back!’ has become so commonplace now that it’s virtually meaningless. But… I want my country back, and not only that, I want it to continue moving forward and changing and growing into the more equal and progressive place I hope it can be, the place I think it was slowly starting to become before Trump made bigotry and sexism great again, and brought the ugly underside of America to the fore and into the spotlight.

I’m not one for blind and unwavering patriotism or American exceptionalism. Despite what I grew up being taught and how much Americans like to say it, I know that America is not The Greatest Country in the World, nor did we invent Freedom. Like any country, it has its faults, some of which are unfortunately rather glaring. But it is also a great and influential country, one that others look to as an example. A country that still gives people hope. A country I want desperately to be able to defend. Because I believe that on the whole Americans are good and decent and kind. I believe in our boundless optimism and our desire to go further and do better. I believe that if we keep trying and fight hard, there might one day actually be liberty and justice for all, because deep down we really do mean it. I believe that in the end all of the things I love about America and its people will come together and ensure that Trump’s unique brand of awfulness doesn’t win. I believe the America I know is still there underneath the layer of extremist right-wing sludge. I believe we can come back from this. I have to believe that. The alternative is too much to bear.

Then maybe we can go back to laughing. Because ‘binders full of women’ is funny.