Episode 35: No Escape
In this episode, Elizabeth and Flourish discuss how different people use fandom to deal with trauma, grief and overwhelming feelings. …Oh, who are we kidding? In this episode, Elizabeth and Flourish talk about the US Presidential election, how mad they are, how sad they are, how much they’re not participating in fandom right now, and what they can do to change things. We’ll get back to fandom soon. Maybe.
[00:03:39] Paul Ryan: “Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government.” Glad to know he still hates Donald Trump so much.
[00:08:15] “Bread and Roses”.
[00:13:32] Here’s the Gothamist article about the attack. If you’re in the area: If any New Yorkers see a 5’6” white male, mid-30s to early 40s, short sandy-colored hair, getting in or out of a white BMW (which is a rare car), please try to snap a picture of his plates and send the pic to us; we’ll pass it along to the victims, who are trying to identify the attacker.
[00:27:39] Interstitial music is “I Want To Destroy Something Beautiful” by Josh Woodward.
[00:38:05] Here’s voter turnout demographics from Pew.
[00:39:33] Flourish is talking about SURJ, Showing Up For Racial Justice.
[00:42:21] Flourish is going to retry and just send the letter directly to the Clinton Foundation, assuming it’ll be correctly routed from there: 1271 Avenue of the Americas 42nd Floor New York, NY 10020.
[00:49:23] Outro music is “I Want To Destroy Something Beautiful” by Josh Woodward.
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Minkel: [super depressed] Hi, Flourish.
FK: Ohhh! And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for and about the dystopian hellscape we now live in, and also fandom.
ELM: Mostly the former.
FK: This episode is Episode 35, and we’re calling it “No Escape,” [ELM laughs] because that’s where we’re at in our lives right now.
ELM: Well OK OK, we initially decided to call it that because we were, like, gonna talk about how some people use fandom as an escape in times of strife, and I remember, I even feel like after the election we’d even suggested this idea.
ELM: As the days have dragged on, I don’t even know if I can discuss that. We can talk about it as a concept. But…
ELM: There’s no escape.
FK: Yeah, it’s interesting. This is a new experience for me because I only have just begun to start even remotely being able to consider the possibility of touching fanfiction, whereas when the Boston Marathon bombings happened and a campus policeman was shot directly outside the building I teach in, and I was locked in my house for 24 hours fearing that I would be bombed to death, then, I could still read fanfiction and did and it made me feel better and it’s not working right now. So.
ELM: I…I can’t believe that you were reading fanfiction during that. But that’s, you do you…that’s fine…
FK: I was on Twitter also but there was a moment where I was just like, “You know what, I’m listening to a police scanner, I’m on Twitter, nothing is helping me feel better, there’s literally nothing I can do, so why don’t I just drink a beer and try and read my favorite fic and pretend that nothing’s happening because I literally cannot impact anything from sitting on my couch.”
ELM: Right. I guess those are both moments of trauma, but they also do feel a little apples and oranges in the sense that the overwhelmingness of the entire…I’m not saying that it’s the most, that it’s not extraordinarily terrifying, but it was a single protracted incident where you could literally not control anything and you knew it was going to end one way or another—
ELM: —probably within like a day, right?
FK: [laughs] It’s so true. You knew that something was going to happen and it was localized in a certain sense. I knew that the only people I had to worry about, pretty much, were the people who were right there in Boston, and I knew that it was…yeah. And it felt like there was togetherness happening, weirdly, and…but not now.
ELM: Well, I feel some togetherness with people I agree with…does that count?
FK: I…yeah…I think it counts. I don’t know. I think that one thing that you really put your finger on was the sense of uncertainty, right? Because right now we don’t know what is in store. There’s signs of different things, but we could be looking at anything from a standard issue kleptocracy combined with a Republican congress that is not going to bow to Trump’s worst impulses, or we could be looking at something all the way to “Welcome to the Weimar Republic.”
ELM: Right. And we’re recording this Tuesday morning, and I just sent you the picture of every chair in the Republican Congressional conference room with a Make America Great hat, and Paul Ryan’s tweet about how it was a new dawn of the unified Republican party. So I’m kinda leaning on the latter end of that spectrum! That’s fine. Don’t worry. Fine.
FK: Yeah. Yeah.
ELM: For context we recorded this originally on Sunday and I’m gonna throw Flourish right under that bus—
FK: It was completely my fault.
ELM: She's a dumbass, she let me down almost as much as the American people by not turning her microphone on.
FK: My mic was—OK. There were mics on. There were three mics that were all on at the same time. [ELM laughs] However, the right one was not on, connecting to the recording, so…in summary…yes. I am a shitheel.
FK: But the good news is this had given us, you know, two more days in which to see the breakdown of our republic and get more perspective.
ELM: You think we have more perspective now than we did Sunday evening?
FK: Well, I have the perspective that Steve Bannon is a thing.
FK: We didn’t know that on Sunday evening.
ELM: Great! Even more good news.
FK: Yeah, it’s kinda hard. I don’t know. I’ve been trying to reserve feelings about this but I really definitely came out of the election feeling like, I know that in time fandom will come back, I hope it will for me, but like…and at least I managed to, like, touch a fic and touch something remotely fannish now, but like…I don’t know. It’s hard.
ELM: I don’t know. I think part of the problem is, when we recorded on Sunday it actually got really really depressing cause we talked about other traumatic events including the Boston Marathon, the lockdown, and I was talking about how I never use fanfic in times of great personal strife. And I was talking about when my best friend was killed, and I don’t know if I talked about it then, but I don’t know if you knew that I was, I spent some time in a mental hospital.
FK: No, I didn’t.
ELM: When I was 18. And I didn’t, I had nothing to do with fandom and fanfiction then. Obviously since I’ve been a lurker for so long it’s not like I had a network of fannish friends or anything, but during that time, it’s funny. I actually remember in the hospital, my roommate, she was a nightmare. She was part of the reason why I was like, “No no no, I am going to sort this out.” [FK laughs] It’s actually, I’ve heard this story from a lot of people in this situation, you get to this extreme place and you’re like, “Oh boy. Wait a second. No no no.”
FK: This is not gonna be where I am for the rest of…
ELM: This is, this woman, this was her fifteenth stay in the hospital and she had a horrific, raped by her uncle when she was nine and got pregnant when she was twelve and jumped out of a second story foster care window. She was telling me this whole story and I’m just sitting there like “...okay…” But she, I don’t need to be mean about her life situation, but I really do feel like she had come to the hospital that time for an escape. And I remember it was the fall of 2003 and she was reading The Order of the Phoenix. And she was just ignoring everything they said. You’re supposed to go to all these meetings and stuff and she was just like…
ELM: And she just sat there and read The Order of the Phoenix. And I remember envying literally nothing else about her, and envying that, that this was a book that two months prior had meant so much to me and I couldn’t even imagine asking to borrow it, sitting there and reading it again. I couldn’t imagine getting lost in that world at that moment when I was feeling so much, you know, so much pain on a personal level. And that’s interesting. It’s interesting that I could even process that, feeling jealous about her ability to escape, especially into something that I was very very actively fannish in.
I was talking to someone yesterday on Twitter and they were saying that, they were asking a question for a fic they’re writing. And I responded and they were like, “You’ll appreciate this. I’m writing fanfiction for NaNoWriMo.” Which I had been doing until November 8th. And I was actually running behind where I should have been on schedule because I was too anxious when the polls started tanking the week before. And the person I was talking to was saying, I was like, “Oh, I had to abandon mine, there’s no way I can think about that, I’m really jealous that you can focus on this.” And they were like, “I decided this was mine and he’s not gonna take my words away from me. Words are my thing.” And I really admired that, and I wish that I had that in me. But I don’t think I do.
FK: Yeah, I've been trying to think about that. I've got two projects that are, one of which is the one, that One Direction fic I keep not editing, and it’s funny because last night I was staying awake worrying and I kinda had a breakthrough about what I needed to do to fix it, and I was like, “Am I gonna spend time on this?” And I'm not sure whether I will or I won’t. I don’t know. That’s a perspective that I admire and appreciate, but I don’t know, it’s hard to fathom.
ELM: It also sort of feels like…I think that people say, “Oh, we need stories more than ever, we need escape,” I…it’s hard, it’s very hard to feel like it’s not a waste of time. Because, well, what does it matter? We’re gonna sit here writing stories about, you know, sure, very political stories, great analogies, I have been simultaneously very defensive about people shitting all over people using Harry Potter metaphors but also a little side-eye-y…I saw one Tweet that was, like, cause you know Newt Gingrich said he wanted to reconvene the House Unamerican Activities Committee, and someone was like, “That sounds like Harry Potter language!” And it’s like. Guys. [FK laughs] Guys.
FK: I will say, though, if you wanted to compare somebody to Umbridge, then Newt Gingrich would be a good person.
ELM: I think that's a sloppy Harry Potter comparison, Flourish.
FK: I’m just thinking facially. He’s sort of toad-like.
ELM: He is toad-faced.
FK: That’s all.
ELM: He’s not a turtle like Mitch McConnell.
FK: He’s not a turtle. [laughs]
ELM: I have a British houseguest right now and we were talking about this yesterday, but I genuinely do compare Teresa May to Umbridge in the sense of…I don’t know how much of this you follow, but she basically just sat back and watched everyone stab each other in the back and then just went like, “hem hem.” And stepped up into power. Just a little bit more, I don’t know, I don’t think Teresa May would be so evil to have a pink office covered in cat plates. Something about that is genuinely terrifying to me. I don’t know. And I’m sitting next to my cat, this is not an anti-cat thing.
FK: [laughs] And I love pink, so…
ELM: Yeah, don’t worry about it.
FK: It’s not either pink or cats, it’s the combination.
ELM: Something that is terrifying. Anyway, a lot of people are like, “Read a different book! Use any other book to make an analogy for this!” And it’s like, well, Alanna Bennett was tweeting about it. She was like, “So, this author sits down and puts a shitload of political analogies,” I shouldn’t say shitload, but “fills her books with lots of political analogies, and you’re now gonna get mad at people for trying to draw those connections?”
FK: Really? Yeah.
ELM: All these books are full of, they’re not just, they’re observations on human nature and they’re also founded in our history. And anyone who is downplaying connections that people are trying to make with historical events, or downplaying connections people are trying to make with books or other media where things get really fucking bad, what’s your problem, bro? Honestly. Is it so hard for you to admit to yourself? Probably yeah. That these things happen for a reason, people write about them for a reason. You know?
ELM: I don’t know. It’s a little frustrating, slash super frustrating.
FK: Yeah. I agree with you on all of that. One of the things fiction does is give us people to emulate and while I think that’s really good in the sense that I can be inspired by hearing about, you know, reading Harry Potter and thinking about the difficulty of resistance or imagining myself as a member of Dumbledore’s Army or whatever it is, the reality is that most of what has to happen isn’t glamorous. So we can say, and it has bothered me a little bit, people being like “join the resistance!” on Twitter. It’s like, well, that’s great, that’s a good, that’s OK, that’s a good thing to say, but the form that “joining the resistance” needs to take is putting your elected representatives in your cell phone contacts, you know? Is going out there and working with other people, making connections in your community so that if things get bad you can help them, right. It’s not sexy. It’s more along the lines of, like…
ELM: Yeah, but the one thing I also think that we can do beyond…I guess I take a slightly more global view than a lot of my friends, especially because I have so many British friends, especially who are political journalists. I see a short-term problem and I see a long-term problem, and I think a lot of people I know are talking about middle-term problems, like “Oh, mid terms, blah blah blah.” The short-term problem is that people I know are being harassed and assaulted in the street right now. The short-term problem is—wait, Flourish, do you know this person, five blocks from my house, the woman who’s—
FK: Yes, I know—
ELM: —a woman who was saying negative things about Trump in a restaurant in Brooklyn on Saturday, she was punched in the face! And the man shouted “You don’t know who I am” and ran out of the restaurant!
FK: It is the girlfriend of a friend of mine who got punched in the face at that restaurant in Brooklyn.
ELM: So five blocks from there, like, a triangle of that restaurant and this bar I went to the weekend before the election, this guy started shouting at me because I was talking with my friend, I don’t think particularly loudly, about how frustrated I was with the media, it was in the in-between period between Comey saying “Oh my God, oh my God” and Comey saying “never mind!” Which I will never forgive him for, and genuinely think that had an effect on the election. And this guy said, “Hey, are you in the media?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And then he started, he went off at me and started shouting about how evil Hillary was and how Donald Trump hadn’t done anything wrong and the media was demonizing him, and I’m just sitting here and this is like, Brooklyn.
And this is not, I don’t think we should, I think people in Brooklyn tend to feel like “Well, there’s down there,” you know, down in the bottom of the borough where, you know, people I’m related to live, my racist Italian second cousins or whatever. And we like to think we live in an enlightened Brooklyn. And he just started hollering at me, and I was like, “I don't think Donald Trump has done nothing. And I think that you’re dismissing the allegations of sexual assault, it’s very offensive to me,” and he started shouting at me. My friend did nothing. He just sat there and watched us. And the bartender came over and said “Are you OK?” And I said “This man’s harassing me.” And he very quietly but very forcefully kicked him out.
FK: Great job bartender!
ELM: And the bartender gave me a drink and told me I hope you come back here, and I don’t even know if he was paying attention to the thing, I just think he saw a man shouting at a woman and he doesn’t want to make women feel unsafe in his bar, you know.
FK: Still, God bless.
ELM: Yeah, right? So for all we know, it could be the same guy going around getting mad. But it’s probably not. There’s 25% of this borough voted for him. In the long term view, I think that this is not politics as usual. I think that something that we can do that’s very concrete is to make sure that every single person we know agrees that this is not normal. That our friends particularly, I’m fighting with mostly white straight male friends on Facebook, people I know from college or high school, who voted for Hillary, didn’t really like her, and now seem really obsessed with how we can win back the white working class which I think is a completely, it’s a narrative that works to normalize a lot of the hatred that’s going on right now. If we just sit here and say, you know yesterday they were talking about how the Democrats think maybe they pushed too hard on inclusivity. And it’s like—did you see this?
FK: That’s the bedrock of the party!
ELM: It was in the Times. They were saying pluralism is wrong…
FK: That is, that is…that is the bedrock of the party.
ELM: That this was a reaction of people who genuinely, they don’t like PC culture, and every woman I know, every person of color I know, every queer person I know, is sitting here being like, “I’m sorry, excuse me?” You know? So we’re gonna throw all of us under the bus and bend over backwards to some angry white working class men and that’s also a fraught probably mythological narrative…anyway, sorry.
FK: No no no, it’s OK, but I think there’s the other thing on this, which is I also see people being very party-centric about this and I think that that’s important in that I think that the Democratic party, I agree with a lot of their platform and think that they genuinely represent a better perspective, but there’s also people who I've personally been talking to who made a third party vote, a couple of them for Gary Johnson or for somebody like him, who now are—by the way, who are Republicans, registered Republicans—
ELM: Oh, all right, all right, that makes me feel a little better.
FK: Yeah, who are equally—
ELM: I’m sorry, if you are a liberal and you voted third party, go fuck yourself.
FK: Yeah, these are—
ELM: I imagine you’ve stopped listening to this podcast if that’s true.
FK: I’m thinking of a couple of people in deep red states in particular who knew that they were making, you know, a protest vote, that it wasn’t gonna…
ELM: They couldn’t vote for the Democrat but they didn’t wanna vote for Trump.
FK: Yeah, they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, they really didn’t want to vote for Trump and they knew it wouldn’t make a difference either way, which I respect more, although I wish that they had voted for Hillary, and I think they do too, at this stage.
ELM: Probably wouldn’t have made a difference for them, but.
FK: Yeah. But speaking to them and seeing that they also are very clear that this is not politics as usual, I think that that’s one of the real reasons that the “win over the white working class” conversation is flawed and wrong. It’s because I think that that’s not the…we don’t get there by going back. We don’t get there by not being pluralist. The people who, there are people who are interested in pluralism on the conservative side also, actually. You know what I mean? These people obviously exist because I’ve had several of them speaking to me recently who do not believe in that, and don’t want to go there, and would in fact be turned off by the Democratic side, not to mention that it’s wrong. You know what I mean? …we shouldn’t get into this level of analysis on this podcast.
ELM: Wait wait wait, not to be too political, go back. I want to go back to something we talked about 10 minutes ago. I distracted myself by saying that hate crimes were happening right now, that’s short-term. Long-term is that genuinely, if you don’t think there is even a remote chance that this is 1913 or 1936 or 32 or whatever fucking year we’re gonna use, the rise of the Nazis, like, great. There were lots and lots of people who didn’t, in both of those instances, didn’t think it was that year when in fact…you know what I mean? Part of the reason those things happen is there were a shitload of people who were like, “Oh no no no no. That would never happen.” Or “This war’ll be over by Christmas.” Guys. Let’s be real here.
FK: Yeah, let’s. It’s…
ELM: Prepare for the, Brian Beutler wrote in the New Republic, we need to treat this like a Category 5 hurricane. And if it gets downgraded, then great, all you did was just board up your windows. But if you do it in reverse, your house is gonna get fucking destroyed and you’re gonna die. So let’s just, I think that’s a better plan. But, before that, I was gonna say that I think that one thing, I think that’s a very good point, I think that the stories that we use where people fight against fascism or dystopias or the bad guy, however we wanna describe it, I think the problem with a lot of them and the problem with Harry Potter or Captain America or any of them, is just look at—all right, take Harry Potter. We can talk all about “Oh, there’s Dumbledore’s Army,” resistance, blah blah. Look at what happens for most of that book! Look at what happens from the second that we get the Ministry involved. They totally fuckin’ normalize it. You know? The Death Eaters take over the Ministry and look how many people are complicit.
ELM: And so we wanna pat ourselves on the back and say “Oh, I woulda been Harry Potter, I would have fought him,” but that’s not the way it works. That’s, never has that been the way it works.
FK: Not to mention that for most of the last book when everybody complains about the boring camping scenes, I’m sorry, most of resistance is the boring camping scenes. [ELM laughs] It is!
FK: That is fundamentally, it’s both those things.
ELM: Even, I'm thinking about Torchwood. I love Torchwood, and they make a really good point that’s actually a critique of Doctor Who. You haven’t seen Torchwood have you?
FK: I have seen Torchwood.
ELM: So do you remember in the end of “Children of Earth,” this is not a huge spoiler, but “Children of Earth” is I think when the show is actually good, and not just enjoyable and great fodder for fanfiction. [FK laughs] It’s the third season, it was a five-day miniseries, essentially, in which these aliens come to earth and they’re demanding 10% of the world’s children. And they’re merciless. And they can kill. And they’re…it’s creepy, and they communicate through the children, and you find out that they just want them because they use them like a drug so then you’re like, “These are psychopathic creatures,” right. There’s no rational reason why they want this.
Just FYI to everyone it just started raining miserably so in case you’re wondering what that sound is.
FK: Yeah it’s been raining this whole time but now it’s worse, so.
ELM: We’re not gonna stop recording. But. So, there’s a scene in the very very, the opening scene of the last episode, when—is it a spoiler to say that possibly your favorite character has been killed and you’re feeling like you wanna die? And one of the protagonists is recording herself, do you remember this scene?
ELM: And she’s talking into the camera and she’s saying, you know, “Sometimes I think about the Doctor,” anyone who hasn’t seen Doctor Who, the Doctor often comes to Earth to say today. And it’s often things like this where people voted for Saxon, they make horrible decisions, and one human has to save the world, or one time lord. And she’s like “Sometimes I think about all those times in history when the Doctor didn’t come. All those atrocities that he didn’t fix.” And she said, “I think that’s cause he looks at this planet in shame.” He’s like, you’re not worth fixing. But I think it was also a good critique of the show itself, the idea that…we can do these horrible things, we can vote Saxon in, you know. We can commit atrocities. And he’s just gonna show up and just be like “I’ll fix it for you”? That’s not the way. We don’t deserve that. And I think a lot of our media suggests that we do, and I think it’s wishful thinking.
FK: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I had a bunch of people say to me that I was, immediately after the election…I think everybody should do for self-care what they need to do to get them through the day, what they need to get them through life, but I think they also have to, there’s a point at which self-care can become self indulgent. And maybe that’s rude and awful to say. But there is. There genuinely is. And I guess at one point a bunch of people said “You're catastrophizing! Why are you worried about government surveillance. Why are you saying, put together an emergency kit, why are you saying all this, do you really think that Trump supporters are gonna storm your house?” No, I do not think Trump supporters are gonna storm my house, but the fact is that we don’t know what's going to happen. There’s more uncertainty than ever before and we need to take that seriously and like adults and that means taking responsibility for everything we can control about ourselves. And sometimes we’re in situations that we can’t control things, and that’s OK, but this is not one of those situations. There’s a lot of stuff we can do.
I don’t know, I guess I’m one of those people who really likes books that involve, like, people surviving in the wild and whatever else. I’m one of those horrible people. One of my favorite books when I was a kid was this book which I later found out was Objectivist propaganda called The Girl Who Owned A City. And—
ELM: You're responsible for Trump, Flourish, you read Objectivist propaganda.
FK: I’m totally responsible for…well, it’s really funny because the book is actually, I highly recommend it to people because here’s the good news: Objectivists are terrible writers, so you read the book and it’s like, it’s a really gripping book, everybody over the age of 12 dies, and there’s this girl who’s just turned 12 and she organizes everybody into—
ELM: What’s the name of this book?
FK: The Girl Who Owned A City.
FK: So she organizes her friends and she figures it out and it’s all this very, “OK, we need to think about these things. Where can we get food? How can we restart agriculture? Who’s gonna learn to be a midwife because that’s gonna need to happen? Where can we move to a safe place where the gangs of roving 12-year-old boys who want to kill us because now it’s Lord of the Flies time, how do we keep ourselves safe?” So it’s this great book and then every once in awhile she’ll go into a rant about taxes, and you can just skip it. Cause it’s like two pages of just a rant about Objectivism. And it’s delightful. You can just literally razor those pages out of the book. And it’s gone. [laughs]
ELM: That’s so funny.
FK: So that’s the kind of fiction that I guess, not in the sense of, I don’t think the world’s gonna end tomorrow, but I do think the world’s gonna end in slow motion, and there’s a lot of things that we can do in that slow motion to make it less terrible.
ELM: You know, when I realized that we had to re-record this episode, I was like “Well, we were really fucking grim on Sunday night, so maybe this will be slightly better.” But now I think it’s actually worse.
FK: I think it is worse. I think we sound happier in our voices…
ELM: We genuinely sounded like we were gonna throw ourselves off a bridge on Sunday night. Fine.
FK: Yeah. I don’t know what to say.
ELM: OK. So when we recorded the first episode, we spent the second half talking about Hillary which I would like to do again, just because I, I’m additionally angry that I feel like most of the men in my life—not all, but some—I think that everyone has been focusing on the fact that Trump won, and I think people have been very very dismissive of the fact that a lot of women genuinely loved this candidate and are grieving her loss. I don’t, I’m also angry that we haven’t been given the space to feel devastated by this, you know? One of my friends, no offense to him, but I mentioned it offhand on Thursday and he was like “Oh, I completely forgot about the whole almost had a woman President thing.” And I was like “Cool! There’s literally no way I could forget that.” So…yeah. So I’m wondering if we should take a break and then maybe try to have that conversation again and not get so mad this time?
FK: OK, let’s do it.
FK: All right, we’re back and we’re gonna be talking about Hillary. And Hillary losing. And you know before we took the break, you were saying that you could never forget that we almost had a woman President, and although I have great understanding and sympathy for some women of color I know who say “I don’t feel that way about it,” and I know why they don’t feel that way, but I do. You know? I also do, like you. And it’s really…it is really hard. I found it hard to express to men even right in the short period of time after, how this felt to me like a referendum on what I can do or be. And I think a lot of people felt that way.
ELM: I feel that way.
FK: Not just because of HIllary but because of everything in it.
ELM: Probably because of the reaction too. I have male friends that I can’t trust anymore based on their reactions. One of my closest friends, I don’t trust him anymore. In the few days after the election I heard from a few women of color who said this. And on multiple levels, I can understand exactly why you wouldn’t feel safe based on someone's reaction. I tweeted about this over the weekend, I said I think that race and immigration in particular were the main players in this decision, but this has also been a really great reminder of how much people really fuckin’ hate women. And not just the fact that I know that a lot of these people are voting against Hillary, it’s the fact that so many men I know cannot acknowledge that systemic, unrelenting misogyny over the course of her entire career played into that. They’re like, “She was a bad candidate, no one liked her.” It’s like, “Well first of all, millions of people liked her and you made us feel so shitty and sometimes made us feel so unsafe that we had to create a fuckin’ secret group so we could talk to each other.”
FK: It’s true.
ELM: And what does that say about you? And you’re gonna sit here and sneer and blame this on her when you did literally nothing to help this, you know. You made these fucking jokes about “Oh, she’s the only person standing between us and the apocalypse” and you sat there and sneered and said “I guess I’ll vote for her even though she’s the lesser of two evils,” and you’re gonna sit here and say that a campaign…see, I’m mad again, I’m so mad.
FK: You’re so mad. I have to say—
ELM: SO MAD.
FK: One of the things about this episode is it’s illustrating the difference in our personalities because you are just so mad you’re ready to fight anyone—
ELM: NO NO LET ME GO!
FK: And I’m like, “And now I have all of my congresspeople in my phone, and I’ve done a write in campaign…”
ELM: FLOURISH I’M SO MAD DON'T CUT ME OFF. I’M JUST—I DON’T THINK, you know people are gonna sit here like “It’s just her, it’s not women.” I’m sorry, one of the main campaign slogans of this monster was “Trump that bitch.” We all had to sit here and listen to the fucking RNC and Chris Christie saying “What are her crimes? How do we find her?” And they chanted “GUILTY” like it was the fucking Crucible and I don’t think there are many men I know, white men in particular, straight white men especially, who don’t know how genuinely terrifying that feels. And they’re gonna sit here and say “Oh, just didn’t connect to the white working class men.” Like, shut the fuck up. Honestly. I’m furious about this. And you’re gonna find every way you can to blame her when sure, maybe she was a bad candidate because people fucking hate women.
FK: That’s the thing that really is, that’s the thing that’s really frustrating to me is I feel like people say she’s—exactly. People say she’s a bad candidate but they’re failing to recognize that the entire reason she’s a bad candidate is because of misogyny. Not that she’s perfect, she’s not perfect and I’m far from the person to say that she’s perfect, I disagree with many of her policies and I think that there are many aspects even of her personality that I wish were different. I wish she were less secretive. But you know what? It’s not as though there's ever been a candidate. Barack Obama quote “I will close Guantanamo Bay” included.
ELM: He’s got like 65 days to do it. Get on with it, Barry!
FK: By the way, also campaigned not supporting gay marriage. And yet I put that aside. I put that aside because I knew that he was an inspirational person who was going to be positive and I said OK. Fine. I’m just gonna put a pin in that one. So you know what? Put on your big boy pants, men, because this is, this is not only your fault, white women also voted for Trump, maybe I should say “Put on your big boy pants, misogynists,” because this is your fault if you did not recognize that.
ELM: Oh Flourish, real women don’t wear pants, what are you talking about? [FK laughs] My husband won’t let me wear pants!
FK: The other thing that really has come out for me in the wake of the election has been how many people I’ve seen who I thought maybe were…who I believed were being thoughtful about it who since have refused to see things like Bannon, things like Pence being put in charge of all domestic policy for the administration, who have refused to even look at that, right. People who told me “Well, I don’t like many things about Trump but at least he supports queer rights.” You know? And I go well…but Pence!
ELM: Who are these people who are, how can you think that? How?
FK: I don’t know, and it’s become clear to me that…I don’t know what's going on with them but in some cases it seems just like, I am Queen let’s-reach-out-across-the-divide, but there are people who I’m just like, “I don’t know how I can, if you don’t see how this is a problem.” If you can’t step that far into empathy with me. I can step pretty far into empathy with you! But if you can’t make that back, then I don’t know, you know? I just don’t know, and that makes me really sad, because that feels hopeless to me. Wow! We said we were gonna get less depressing and angry this time!
ELM: And I shouted. I’ll shout again! No, let’s go back to talking about Hillary and how much we love her.
FK: We love her so much.
ELM: So I haven’t watched her concession speech yet cause I’m not willing to cry again. You saw this meme that I love so much that I sent to you, this was the four stages of women and the election?
FK: Yes! The final one is… [laughs]
ELM: So it goes Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And Tuesday is Alice falling down a rabbit hole looking like “WHAT?” Wednesday is, I don’t remember who it was but it’s someone just sitting on a bed weeping. Looks like Jodie Foster or something. Thursday [laughs] some woman, some woman sitting at a bar looking just like dead inside. Drinking a Scotch and smoking in a dark bar, just being like [sighs deeply]. Then Friday’s a picture of Furiosa.
FK: So true. Imperator Furiosa.
ELM: Imperator Furiosa, just sitting in her vehicle just looking like, “Burn it all down.” [both laugh] And I was saying, my joke has been that I reached Friday at like 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
FK: Yeah, because you were at the Javitz Center, so for you it was entirely compressed, right? I was just holed up in my apartment not seeing anybody, and just feeling dead, but you were like “How in the world.”
ELM: All right, you want me to tell you about my experiences at the Javitz Center, all right. I was joking about this. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Javitz Center was where Hillary was throwing her election night party. Which I was trying to superstitiously not call a victory party, and…of course I’m superstitious, I lost two of my Nerds for Her buttons over the course of the last three weeks, so that was it, that sealed the election, I’m very Italian, we love superstition. That’s fine, that’s fine.
FK: [laughs] This is by the way, can I just say given that I’m of German extraction, you’re of Italian extraction, we’re also completely embodying the stereotypes of our peoples right now.
ELM: I’m also of German extraction! I’m half—I know I always talk about my half Italian, I’m half Italian, half German.
FK: Yeah, I’m really more English than German so.
ELM: If any Japanese person wants to marry me, I always joke, we’d have all the Axis powers.
FK: [laughing] The complete Axis powers!
ELM: It’s fine! Um. No. We shouldn’t do that. I have no Italian pride right now because I am sure that Italian Americans voted 98% for Trump because we’re a garbage people who seem to have forgotten when they slammed the immigration doors on us and we all got in literally one year before, but that’s fine. Don’t worry about it.
FK: It’s so sad how this is like, having us…I’m like, “Let me find some way that I can feel good about…white women…nah.”
FK: White women…naw…white people in general…nah…well Millennials, OK, hey! I’m not yet 30, people under 30 voted against Trump! Oh let’s look…Mormons. Mormons did not vote against Trump but they voted less for Trump than anybody else thought they would. [laughs]
ELM: Go back Flourish, white Millennials voted for Trump 48–43.
FK: I know! I’m like, “white Millennials no, but if I just associate myself with Millennials…”
ELM: I think our struggle to, I saw this NPR article yesterday that was an interview with some Millennials, they were like, “Oh, I just didn’t really like either of them and I kinda regret that now.” I was like, “I will come to your college campus and punch you in the face.” I know I’m supposed to be condemning violence…
FK: Do not, don’t do that! [laughs]
ELM: That’s why I’ve been using a lot of rage, I’ve been using the F-word a lot, so I shared that one with—FUCK YOU PEOPLE. Because like, and then there was this woman, she was like “I voted for Hillary but I didn’t really like her, I think she should have done maybe more talk shows so she could relate to us.” And I was like, “I’m going to murder you.”
FK: You’re not. For anybody listening to this, Elizabeth is not going to literally murder anybody. This is a metaphorical murder.
ELM: So Millennials, you really let me down, Millennials of color, you probably didn’t let me down, just based on the numbers, white Millennials, I think a lot of you are in the alt-right, so.
ELM: So think about that, think about every douchenozzle you went to college with, if you…I honestly genuinely don’t believe anyone who listens to this podcast voted for Trump, because I don’t know how you could sit through us talking.
FK: How could you deal.
ELM: Weeping, talking so positively about Hillary…I don’t know. I imagine some people who listen to this may not have voted. And…fuck you.
FK: Yeah, you’re on our shit list. I guess one thing that I would—
ELM: Wait, I feel like I cut myself off from a point, though. Do you remember what it was? Before I started trashing Italians?
FK: I have no idea what it was, I’m sorry. I think I cut you off because I made a joke about how we were embodying our, you know, fictional racial heritage which doesn’t really exist because [breathes in] I don’t know, it’s all bullshit. Stereotypes and that.
ELM: I have no idea.
FK: OK. But what I was, the thing that I think that this has really highlighted for me is the best things that we can do are building those small interactions in our neighborhoods with people that we potentially can know, you know what I mean?
ELM: I don’t know, yeah, sure, everyone should do that…but I already do that. Everyone at my coffee shop knows me, everyone at my laundromat knows me, and we smile and have conversations, and I’m gonna keep…it’s hard for me to do that, cause I don’t wanna go around smiling at people being like “HOW YOU DOIN’” cause they’re gonna think I voted for Trump if I’m too excited!
FK: I mean more things, things more like getting involved in local chapters of organizations, like—you know there’s a couple of organizations that organize white people for racial justice that are not weird, you know, there’s a really big meeting going on tonight that I’m not going to cause it’s gonna be giant and I was like “I’m gonna go to a later one.”
ELM: I saw this, near my house.
FK: Yeah, near your house. There’s more than 500 people RSVPed so I was like “Maybe…”
ELM: To someone’s house.
FK: They’re probably gonna split into a couple of groups, so I’m probably gonna go when it’s smaller. Doing things like that. I don’t mean just making friends in your community like saying hi, I mean like—
ELM: I think that’s important too.
FK: What locally can you physically, if there is a mosque in your community, can you call them and see if they have a food bank or something you can volunteer at, so that’s reaching out across those lines.
ELM: Or a synagogue as well because people are painting swastikas in the streets of New York City right now. So that’s great.
FK: Right, or whatever else it is. So.
ELM: Like, honestly. No, really, this is one of the things that’s scariest to me. The fact that people are painting swastikas in the streets of New York. Also I have friends who live in the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts where I went to school, which is literally the most liberal place in the history of Man. It’s like, Northampton is like 115% lesbians. So it’s like…
FK: [laughs] It’s so true.
ELM: No, genuinely it’s something like 2/3 of all people in Northampton are lesbians. So like…it always has felt…I actually, I don’t want to say that because I know that it’s actually not a very racially tolerant place, but in terms of, and you know…there are reports of, like, while I was in school, which was 10 years ago, I know that there was an Asian student who was waiting for the bus at my college and some people drove by and started shouting racist abuse at them. So it’s like, I’m not gonna sit here and say it’s some utopia, cause it’s clearly not. But people defaced the mountain that, the most famous mountain in the area, and were writing like, anti-queer slurs, certain words that I think you probably know, they were writing the N-word, you know, and they wrote “Trump 2016.” And the fact that swastikas on the street in New York City, anti-queer slurs on a mountain in Lesbian Valley…I know that these people are probably in the minority, the 115% lesbian town, and there’s probably a few resentful people, but that’s still scary! You know?
ELM: So I don’t know. I don’t know. Great. I, this was supposed to be about Hillary and again I turned it into terrifying rants about hate crimes, so that’s fine.
FK: Well… [laughs] And then worst of all we’re running out of time, so…
ELM: Five minutes? Let’s talk about Hillary that we love.
ELM: OK, thank you to…you wrote a thank you note to Hillary, I haven’t done it yet but I’m planning on it.
FK: Mine actually got returned, so I’m going to…
ELM: Oh really?
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, I used the New York City PO box for her office, I don’t know why, maybe it’s getting too much mail, I don’t know, but I’m gonna try sending to a different one of her offices, there’s a bunch, so.
ELM: Can you send it to the Clinton Foundation?
FK: That’s a good idea.
ELM: Oh hey, silver lining: the Clinton Foundation doesn’t have to suspend operations. I know if you watch Fox News you probably think they are the most evil organization in the history of Man, but in fact they are responsible for an extraordinary amount of good, so…that’s positive.
FK: And you know, whatever else happens, I guess, as sad as I am about the fact that I feel like this campaign showed me the limitations of what women can do, genuinely, I’m really grateful to Hillary Clinton for being such complete fighter, for having so much grit, for standing out there and for, you know, I feel a little bit like…I don’t know. I just, I really hope that in those respects I can emulate her. You know?
ELM: Yeah. It’s so hard, though, because it’s like…you can work that hard and you’re still gonna literally glass ceiling.
FK: Yeah, but…
ELM: You know? I don’t know. It’s still, it’s still…
FK: But it’s better than not doing it, you know what I mean?
ELM: It’s not just, it’s not just the fact that, it’s not just the fact that she lost, it’s the fact that some people I know refuse to admit that it had anything to do with sexism. That’s the thing that irked me the most. Just in the same way of everyone denying that it had anything to do with racism.
ELM: And these are people on the left. These are people who say their politics are left of mine. And I don’t know what that means, you know? Because if you can’t see sexism, if you can’t see racism, and you say that you’re more liberal than me, that doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.
ELM: If you can’t see that statements like “fixing economic inequality will fix sexism and will fix racism” and if you can’t see how those two things are deeply intertwined, then I don’t genuinely believe that, I don’t know what liberal means anymore. I don’t know what the left is.
FK: You know, it’s funny because we’re supposed to be talking about how much we loved Hillary right now and there you go again.
ELM: I’M JUST MAD. I’M SO MAD AT EVERYONE. Oh, sorry Orlando! Sorry.
FK: Oh no, she scared her cat because she’s so mad!
ELM: Orlando, Orlando was born in August 2009. She’s only ever known an Obama presidency. She really relates to him, she really loves him.
FK: Poor Orlando.
ELM: Now she lives in Trump’s America.
FK: What will a little cat do?
ELM: She’s probably just gonna keep doin’ her thing, you know.
FK: Batting at birds—
ELM: Running around.
FK: —when she sees them through the window.
ELM: A SQUIRREL jumped from the fire escape TO the window yesterday. Like climbed the fuck up. It was actually, it brought me a variety of emotions that I…I haven’t really had the opportunity to have 10 seconds of distraction, and that was just, I was like “WOO!” you know?
ELM: Action in this apartment! Fine, that’s fine. Anyway. Hillary. I love Hillary and I am not going to let any of these douchebags who wanna blame everything on her get away with it.
ELM: I’m not going to let anyone deny the sexism that she fought against and I’m not gonna let anyone say that she wasn’t incredibly strong, the strongest, one of the strongest women in history.
ELM: Can you imagine? This is the thing about second wave feminists that I think that we like to forget in our attempt to correct their mistakes, which I think are genuine, like, I think there’s progress, in the same way the first wave feminists, who were massively problematic, and I think we can’t deny their work. We can critique them while still acknowledging what they did. The second wave feminists, or the first wave feminists, were militant. They were like “We don’t care. We’re going to literally fight you.” And the second wave feminists dealt with so much bullshit, you know? And didn’t give up and maybe some of them didn’t get as far as we thought, but they…you know? They still kept going! And they’re still there and they’re still talking and they haven’t let it destroy them! And so those are the things that we should take from them. And I hope that, I hope that she knows. And I’m gonna cry. [starts crying] That’s why it’s easier to get mad.
ELM: Cause I genuinely love her and people just, people have mocked that at every step of the way. And I know so many women who do, and even when I was trying to convince people to vote for her I had to couch it in all the ways that I thought they wanted to hear, that… [sniffles] “Well, I know you don’t find her that likeable.” But I genuinely like her…and I don’t know. It’s just really hard.
ELM: So. So thanks Hillary.
ELM: [laughs through tears] OK. We should wrap up but this podcast is a little bit in flux I think because our lives are so in flux.
FK: Yeah. But for now we're keeping on, and we'll see what happens in two weeks, I guess, is the bottom line.
ELM: I wonder, it’s a question of whether we’ll be ready to say we’re allowed to give 10-15% of our brains over to distraction, I feel like. That question is an open one to me, but we had talked about going to see Fantastic Beasts and I would still like to see it, so maybe we’ll still do that, but it remains to be seen how much we’re gonna wanna linger in the details of that when everything else is so bad.
FK: I guess, yeah. And I guess we can’t make any real decisions about anything, so…
ELM: It's hard to say but I think that, I will say for me and I don’t know if you agree with this, I want to say that we’re gonna continue this podcast, but I also am not willing to keep fiddling while Rome burns.
ELM: And I think that we need to, you know, to wait…in that regard, I believe we need to wait and see. In every other regard, no, stop saying wait and see.
FK: [laughs] It’s true.
ELM: OK, great! I yelled, I cried, I laughed…all the emotions!
FK: I went, I went on a rant about a book that’s Objectivist propaganda.
ELM: Flourish, Flourish, I want to let you know that I also value and appreciate you and I love you and knowing that you feel the same way about Hillary has been very valuable to me. [starts laughing] You’re amazing.
FK: [crying and laughing at once] YOU LITTLE FUCKER you were like “I’m crying I need to make you cry now too!” Elizabeth I am [dissolves] Goddamn you know that I feel that way also but I’m gonna Goddamn hang up on you if you make me cry! [obviously actually crying right now]
ELM: I just want everyone who listens who has expressed the same feeling to know we feel that way about you.
FK: That’s true.
ELM: And, um, we’re just gonna keep being here for each other. So. So yeah. That’s it.
FK: I’ll talk to you later, Elizabeth.
ELM: [cry-laughing] K, bye Flourish.
FK & ELM: Fansplaining is brought to you by a lot of Patreon supporters and particularly earlgreytea68, Lindsay Smith, Elliot Byrom, Christopher Dwyer, Chloe-Leonna Steele, Clare Muston, Christian Gossett, Menlo Steve, AR, Katherine Lynn, Clare Mulligan, Heidi Tandy, Megan C., an anonymous patron, Maria Temming, Anne Jamison, Jay Bushman, Lucas Medeiros, Bradlea Raga-Barone, Jules Chatelain, Jenna Hale,Georgina, Goodwin, Amelia Harvey, and in honor of One Direction! The opinions expressed in this podcast are not those of Chimera Media Group, Chaotic Good, or our clients, or employers, or anyone’s except our own. This week’s Creative Commons licensed music is by Josh Woodward. Find him at Joshwoodward.com.