Calling People Out vs Calling Them In

One of the most common things people say to me when I call them out on harmful behavior or language is "you are looking to be offended" or "you just like to argue." These are hyper transparent straw man arguments, but outside of that, just think of this logically. Who in the fuck WANTS to be offended? I know someone is reading this and forcibly fake laughing to themselves and saying, "ha, um, A LOT of people" and the thing is no, it's not a lot of people. It's not even a noticeable enough amount of people that it is even a common occurrence. I can't speak for everyone that has ever been told this, but I can speak for myself. I in fact, do not enjoy being hurt. Being hurt fucking sucks. I don't like feeling less than. I don't enjoy being reminded that my existence isn't as important as the existence of others. I don't like being reminded that things can sometimes be harder for me based on nothing I've done and won't change no matter what I do. I actually really, really, fucking hate that that is a reality I have to live in. I hate it even more when I see someone I like, or someone I care about, saying or doing something ignorant to that reality. It's a really shitty feeling. It adds to the general isolation and hopelessness that living under oppression forces upon you. It makes you question who you can trust, who can you believe and who actually thinks of you as an equal or is actually thinking of you in a biased way they aren't sharing.

I hate arguing. When I come across a friend or colleague or acquaintance saying or doing something that I know I cannot ignore is racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, etc, the first feeling I have is, in fact, far from elation. I feel scared. I feel panicked. I feel sick. My first thought is FUCK. Not them. Why. Why are they saying this? Why are they doing this? Then I have to wrestle with whether or not I want to say something. Contrary to the folx who say to me that I am known for my "negativity" or "always starting shit," I actually DON'T say anything FAR MORE than I do. It's a lot to weigh. I have to decide if I want to test this friendship over advocating for myself or my allyship to people I've never met. Sometimes I am commit to the self harm, and endure the awkward moment without confrontation or correction out of the fear of losing a friend or the emotional exhaustion of starting a war of words with fragile and defensive folx ready to repeat to me the same stupid shit I've heard over and over. Often they throw in manipulative tactics that play on my fears, such as statements like "everyone hates this about you," or "everyone told me you were like this." It's an abusive tactic that feeds off of my need for community, socializing and just being liked. It makes me scared that no one will like me if I keep "being negative," also known as, speaking up. Once again, it's the fear of isolation. Their privilege is telling them to use it against me. Sometimes I am selfish, and if the comment or behavior is about a marginalized identity I don’t have, although every part of my brain is screaming, “THAT WAS FUCKED UP, SAY SOMETHING,” my privilege allows for me to ignore it because the pain is not so deep. I make a self-centered decision to avoid conflict for my own sanity, which again, is something my privilege of not identifying with the target group allows me to do.

Then there are the times I do say something. Whether out of anger, hurt, moral obligation or otherwise, I feel like I can’t let something just happen without anyone addressing it. I usually wait for a moment hoping it will be someone else, but most often, no one else speaks up. Then again, I weigh the outcome. What kind of hurtful shit will get thrown at me? Will I be told I am a horrible person that no one likes and can I handle that today? I usually know what I’m getting into with strangers. I want them to feel uncomfortable for speaking or behaving in a way that is harmful. I want it to no longer feel so carefree, common and normal to them to be transphobic, homophobic, racist, etc. If I don’t change their mind, I want to change their comfort level with the distribution of those thoughts and behaviors. With family and friends, it’s much harder. I have to decide if I am willing to never talk to this person again. If I am willing to have someone whose opinion I care about tell me I’m awful and no one likes me. Most of the time I choose to speak up to family and friends because I have the context of the person they are, the perhaps uninformed intent behind their hurtful impact. I assume maybe they will understand that I am just trying to make them aware they are being harmful because I know they don’t intend to, it’s just their privileges blocking their vision of the truth.

Sometimes they appreciate it, but they too can become fragile and defensive and decide I don’t care about them as a friend and in turn, no longer care about me as a friend. It all comes down to do you want a friend who will tell you about the spinach in your teeth? I get that it’s embarrassing and if you’re an insecure person like me, it can feel like someone who should be supporting you, choosing instead to point out your flaws. Also, those flaws are embarrassing in themselves, especially if a minute ago I was speaking confidently, blissfully unaware of those flaws. But the thing is, even if I didn’t see the spinach, everyone I talked to that day did. But more than something that is embarrassing, wouldn’t you want to know if you were hurting your friend? What if you were standing on your friend’s foot most of the time you were standing and talking with them and they didn’t tell you because they didn’t want you to feel bad or not talk to them anymore so instead they went out of their way making sure they didn’t stand so close to you or to wear steel toed boots or to stop crying after your talks? That would be ridiculous, right, because regardless of how or why your foot is on top of theirs pressing down on their skin and bones, you need to know about it in order to move it and to stop stepping on them in the future.

Metaphors aside, ultimately what I’m trying to say is that if this is something you catch yourself doing to a friend or stranger that lets you know your words or behavior is hurtful, think about what you’re actually angry about. Are you angry someone assumed you were meaning to hurt people? Because, with all fairness, not everyone has the context of your alleged “good person” status so they can just assume you don’t ever mean to be intentionally harmful. But what does intent chalk up to in this instance anyway? Whether something is hostilely racist or a racist micro aggression, it’s racism all the same. Both calling me a ‘spic’ and asking me if I want ‘hot sauce with that’ is reminding me that you think of me as an “other.” Not a default human, but a side character who is human, but with predetermined faults. It’s the difference between referring to a white man as “a man” and a man of color as “ a black man.” That language implies one thing, one is a person, one is a step down from a person. So consider who you are really mad at. Are you mad that someone told you that your behavior or words are hurtful because doing so is shitty, or are you embarrassed that you were hurting people without realizing it? Is it possible you’re really mad at yourself? Just something to ponder, before you choose accusations over accountability. Accountability literally never hurt anyone.

So what is the idea of “calling people in”? This really centers on making sure your message, aka your request for accountability is packaged in a way that the person receiving it does not feel bad. Unfortunately, this really isn’t possible. All change comes with challenge. To recognize our mistakes, we have to confront them and be accountable for what we’ve said and done. This is almost always painful because no one enjoys being wrong or hurting others. Feeling regret is a sign of empathy and empathy is actually a major part of taking genuine accountability because you actually have to care about what you’ve done and who you’ve hurt. I’ve been told over and over that I need to be considerate of white people when discussing their racist behavior. Consider how calling them racist or their behavior racist makes THEM FEEL. After all, you can catch more bees with honey. But consider that this stance suggests that the person you are confronting in no way should be made to feel uncomfortable for literally making you uncomfortable. Not only do you have to experience the initial hurt and dehumanization, BUT now you have to educate the person who hurt you and do so in a way they, themselves, are not feeling hurt. All this is, is once again, centering the feelings of the oppressor. Whoever has most privilege in this situation should be protected, for no reason other than, being forced to see the hidden rain clouds on an otherwise totally sunny day, ISN’T FAIR. Whenever someone tells you your behavior or language is harmful, don’t let your privilege convince you that you are entitled to only sunshine. Question your anger. Question your resentment. Question yourself. And if you said or did something with unintended consequences, don’t focus on the accidental nature of the harm, focus on the healing.

“Call Out Culture” is the new manipulative term for allyship. Just as “political correctness” is a stand-in gaslighting term for basically having human empathy and caring about people outside of yourself. Calling it something people can mock and suggest is silly, makes it easier to shame people into no longer caring about one another. Call Out Culture is advocating for ourselves and advocating for others. Suggesting that confronting harmful behavior or language is harmful, is exactly the kind of gaslighting manipulative language that abusers use to make their victims question themselves. It’s how oppression has taught us to oppress ourselves and oppress each other so the cycle never stops. I will not be shamed into silence. I will continue to call shitty behavior out when I see it and I encourage others to do the same to me. Self advocacy is hard. Allyship is uncomfortable. If all of it were easy, oppression wouldn’t be as successful as it’s been.

Comedy Summer Camp at MoPOP!


I’m SOOO excited to announce that I’ll be teaching stand-up comedy as part of a brand new comedy summer camp at MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) this summer! The camp is called Mic Drop and will be offering a two week course specializing in sketch, improv and stand-up! The camp is open to youth in grades 8-12, takes place at MoPOP and runs from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM Mon - Friday for the weeks of July 8th-12th & July 15th-19th. The last Friday of the camp will feature a performance by the students!

The registration fee is a bit pricey, but scholarships are available for reduced rates, just contact Education Specialist Natasha Ransom at


The Sad Misplaced Anger of the Misogynistic Male Nerd

All the recent coverage of the harassment of women working in the gaming industry makes me want to reiterate a point I made once in a profile I did on The Unicorn Files: Growing up as a someone who is disenfranchised as a QPOC living in a relatively right-wing country town, being a nerd was just one more thing that made me an outcast. As I got older, I found some comfort in finding fellow nerds who although white or heterosexual, could still understand what it's like to be treated as a less-than in society. There are many white, heterosexual cis-gendered male nerd friends of mine that are amazing human beings, but there is also an extreme amount of homophobia, racism and misogyny in nerd culture that at times can be even more prevalent than the bullshit espoused by the generic stereotype of the average fratty douche. 

Why? Because these nerds feel like they are nothing, they feel weak, unwanted, unimportant and oppressed in a world where they are ridiculed for not meeting the destructive standards that modern male masculinity requires, therefore they cling to the only thing that gives them the power and confidence they so desperately crave in the only societal systems that are still turned in their favor...racism, homophobia and patriarchy.  Having a hard time measuring up to the societal demands of masculinity? Don't worry! Just call a gay man a bunch of homophobic slurs! At least you're closer to the ultimate goal than that guy will ever be! Feeling inadequate stacked up against the racist stereotype of the aggressive black male? Don't worry! Just film yourself and your nerdy white friends pulling pranks in predominantly black communities where you provoke strangers on the street than mock them for their perceived aggressive responses! Easier yet, just call PoCs racist names online! That way you can remind them of systemic racism that will always make sure you are ahead in the game! Regularly rejected by the women you are attracted to? Don't worry! You can anonymously call them a cunt online to remind them of their place in society as second class citizens who exist to serve your sexual wants and needs! Not enough? Still don't worry! You can take out your frustrations by creating or playing the video games you love in which you are free to batter and murder women at will! After all, no matter how much you will never live up to the straight, male paradigm of the buff, handsome and confident hero, WOMEN WILL NEVER BE HEROES.

While all of these types of outrage morphed into oppressive behaviors are explored by these particular nerds, for now I'm focusing on sexism and the gamers who vehemently oppose any kind of feminist lens casting over what they consider "their" culture. The problem these nerds have with feminism is not that it threatens free speech as they often attempt to argue. Feminism and the fight for equality threatens their last avenue of dominance and perceived superiority. If women are seen as equals, they take away what these men see as their right to be above. Their birthright in the hierarchy of things. When people like Anita Sarkeesian criticize the inherent misogynist tropes in video games, these male nerds cannot cope. They view this from the perspective of a baby having his bottle taken away and being forced to share with his sister. Why shouldn't they be able to play a game in which they gain points for fondling a stripper behind the bouncer's back? Or beating a prostitute and throwing her into the trunk? It's JUST A GAME, they argue. You're right. It is just a game, but the want and need of a misogynist male gamer to do these tasks are 100% REAL. As is the time and effort that goes into creating these tasks digitally by game developers. That is frightening and it should be seen as such.

Misogynist male gamers scream, bemoan, belittle and disgustingly harass women who dare challenge their false sense of power. These men love the damsel in distress trope not because it's a great story telling technique, but because of the power it allows them to wield in a world where they secretly or not so secretly would give anything to be Johnny Football hero. In those terms, I get it.  I get it because as a QPOC, I know what it's like to feel powerless.  But that's just it. While these men have escapist fantasies where when they feel weak, they can still vicariously live through a digital world in which they are a fearless hero, as women our only perspective is to sit in a castle and wait to be rescued. In both the real world and the digital one, we are more often than not portrayed as weak, helpless objects that exist solely for the purpose of giving male characters a task, purpose or point advantage. How long must these disempowered male gamers depend on the suffering of others to feel invincible? And how can they not see they are repeating the same cycle of oppression that makes them long to feel powerful in the first place? As Anita Sarkeesian brilliantly points out in her "Tropes vs. Women in Videogames" web series:

 "The damsel in distress is not just a synonym for weak. Instead, it works by ripping away the power from female characters... distilled down to its essence, the plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female character for the power of male characters."

Feminism in any culture is NOT about the subjugation of men. You can point to the behavior of so-called "radicals" all you want just as there were so-called "radicals" associated with the Civil Rights movement. Feminism is about equality among the genders. It is democracy in replacement of a monarchy. These men want absolute power because they feel powerless. They fear sharing that power because they see it as being taken away from them all over again. To them, equality isn't about making everyone happy, it's about making them miserable. But this is a selfish perspective. Women crave power too in a world where we are powerless, but feminism is not working to dethrone you so women can rule the world in a oppressive matriarchy. Feminism is working to build a world where women are equals. Equality is the balance in power that serves everyone and it's desperately, desperately needed.

Top Ten Things That Have Scared Me And Made Me Scream At Work Causing My Supervisor To Rush In To Check If I'm Okay

10. The welcoming tone on my computer after turning it on and not realizing the sound was turned way up.

9. The doorbell.

8. One of those prank videos that makes you stare at the screen and has a ghoul ghost face jump at you and scream.

7. The phone ringing.

6. Leaning back too far in my office chair and thinking I was going to fall over.

5. A police siren.

4. A bee flying into my forehead.

3. My cell phone ringing.

2. Falling asleep at my desk and waking back up.

1. A bean from a burrito I was eating falling into my cleavage.

You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me

In the last 24 hours, a lot of my fellow Seattle comedians have been sharing stories about the time Robin Williams unexpectedly showed up to a comedy show at the Re-Bar. This was about 5 or 6 years ago or so when he was in town filming World's Greatest Dad or something else maybe, I'm not quite sure.  Either way, he strolled in and stole the show. It was a specially themed night celebrating the birthday of the headlining comedian, but as soon as Robin hit the stage, it was all about him. He effortlessly adlibbed an entire speech about the headliner that he never met in between interacting with the crowd and cracking jokes while pretending to work the front door. It was amazing and I had the pleasure of briefly speaking to him which was just saying a stupid joke which he sort of laughed at. Either way, I don't really want to tell that story. Instead I wanted to share a different more bizarre story how his career made my life better.

When I was a kid I lived in a house in Lewis County near the Chehalis river that flooded when the rain hit hard. One particular time when I was about 10 or 11, the flooding was fairly bad and rose up high enough it reached indoors so my whole family was forced to retreat to the upper floor of the house which was my bedroom. For two days we were stuck upstairs with little food, no electricity, bottled water and very little to entertain us. In order to go to the bathroom we had to pee in cups and throw it out of my bedroom window. My mom had grabbed our Aladdin cups from Burger King because they were big and plastic. What she didn't know was they also changed color in response to hot or cold liquid.

This of course means my only moments of joy in that depressing two day siege in which I knew our house and many of our belongings were being destroyed were the short moments of respite in which I could pee into my Aladdin cup which would change from blue to pink while I sang the part from the Genie's song "Friend Like Me" where Robin sings, "Mr. Aladdin sir, what will your pleasure be?" Yeah, I know. I'm gross. But it's just one of the bizarre and random ways Robin Williams has made me laugh in times of sadness. That house would go on to flood completely in my 20's, but luckily my family that was still living there at the time made it out okay. The house, however, did not and is now a piece of my childhood that is gone forever just like Robin Williams.

Rest in peace and thanks for all the happy thoughts. I only wish you had more of your own.

One Time This Guy Asked Me Out On A City Bus...

One time a guy asked me out on a city bus and I accepted because I was drunk, 21 years old, he seemed nice and he complimented my top. He asked me for my phone number and I gave it to him because I was drunk, 21 years old, had just gone through a bad break up, was lonely, he seemed nice and he complimented my top. He called me a few days later, revealed he was 38 and told me we should hang out at his place and "listen to tapes" he made.  Even though I was sufficiently creeped out, I didn't say anything because I was lonely, had just gone through a bad break up, he seemed nice and he told me I looked like a "cool, vegetarian chick."

I put on my black dress with a white sparrow in the front and my black heels to meet him for our date at the Capitol Theater in Olympia to watch Lord of the Rings. I got out of the car, walked over to him and noticed he was wearing a hemp necklace with a glass mushroom, a button up polyester shirt, wide leg jeans and tennis shoes. His hands were dirty, he was short and he smelled like weed. It occurred to me in that moment, Oh yeah...I don't HAVE to fuck this guy.

Just because he was nice to me and is into me, doesn't mean I HAVE to fuck him. Even if I was nice to him on the phone, nice to him in person and wore heels doesn't mean I owe him a blow job. I'm not into this guy. He is ugly, creepy and smells weird. Just because he seemed nice and 'had the nerve' to ask me out doesn't mean I owe him a date.  Especially if I don't want to go on said date. I wanted to turn him down at the time, but I didn't want to seem like a 'bitch' and I wanted to come off as someone who 'appreciated nice guys' since, you know, they don't get all the attention they should (so the world had been telling me). But FUCK that. This guy was yuck.  He was too old.  He ASKED ME OUT ON A BUS. I don't owe him SHIT.

So I walked up to him told him I was cancelling the date and got back in my car. This was one of the most important moments in my life when I finally realized I don't owe anyone anything.  Up to this point I had almost never turned down a date. Most of my previous boyfriends were people I had pitied. I should give them credit for being 'brave' enough for asking me out via a song about Star Wars he played on his guitar in front of THE WHOLE SCHOOL. He even called me Princess Leia and himself Chewbacca and how I should choose him over Han Solo! How shitty would I be to turn down this guy? He would CRY SO MUCH. I have had entire years long relationships solely based on a false sense of obligation. 

Well, NO MORE. I don't care how nice you think you are. You do not 'deserve' or have any 'right' to my body and my time. If I'm not into it, then I don't have to do it PERIOD and I don't care how 'bitchy' that is. I make my own decisions which included choosing not to fuck some dude that looked like Jake Busey that I would probably regret to this day. This became a huge step in my becoming the self-assured, opinionated adult I now am and I owe that largely to NOT having the image of Shasta McNasty's 'o-face' in my memory banks. Thank you, 21 year old me for making the BEST decisions (meaning this, not that Jager incident)!  

Unashamed To Be Fat

Belly out. Shorts on. Stretch marks visible. Turns out it's summer and I'll wear whatever I want.  #UnashamedToBeFat

Belly out. Shorts on. Stretch marks visible. Turns out it's summer and I'll wear whatever I want.  #UnashamedToBeFat

On July 9, The Daily Mail posted an article online by non-doctor, but "self confessed fattist" Linda Kelsey titled, "Why Are Today's Young Women So Unashamed To Be Fat?" The obvious attempt at a shocking subtitle read, "Horrified by the rolls of flesh she's witnessed on show this summer, Linda Kelsey takes no prisoners!" I'm not even going to get into it with that corny 'takes no prisoners' line. They're right. She doesn't arrest anyone, but not because she 'says it like it is,' but because she has no authority to do so. The majority of the article is about the overused 'obesity epidemic,' but specifically targeting women. Much of what Linda "Fattist" Kelsey argues surrounds her general disgust with overweight women being comfortable in their own skin. She even shares an example of witnessing a group of fat, young girls enjoying themselves on a summer vacation:

"One was wearing shockingly skimpy crochet shorts, as seen on size-zero models in adverts. But in this case, the shorts made it appear the wearer had an extra bottom hanging below the cut-off hemline.

Another girl wore white stretch leggings with a pattern of cellulite dimples showing through, accessorized with a super-sized sausage of overhanging belly.

Meanwhile, the third sported a cut-away vest top revealing the entire back of her pink bra, complete with chunky rolls of fat above, beneath and around the straps. To top it all, these three were - I kid you not - sharing a bag of crisps."

SHARING CRISPS, YOU GUYS (which actually makes me question the validity of this story since most big girls like me would totally have their own bag). Kelsey appears to have spent a bizarre amount of time analyzing the bodies of these women who apparently had the complete and total AUDACITY to feel as though they could leave their respective homes in clothes appropriate for hot weather, meet up together and have a good time. Their blissful unawareness of how much their appearances and seemingly "okayness" with them is upsetting Kelsey and really affecting her own day. She is not able to enjoy her sun and vacation with these "fatties" walking around and feeling assumedly good about themselves.

What Kelsey doesn't know is how these women ACTUALLY feel and in more ways then one. She does not know the actual health issues of these women, nor does she actually know whether or not they are happy with their bodies. She is assuming they are happy with they way they look simply because they are outside. Outside in the summer wearing summer clothes instead of baking themselves in sweats and oversized jackets or staying at home crying in the dark. So what is Kelsey's idea of an alternative to these women being outside in the sun in shorts and leggings? Should fat people only wear uncomfortably heavy clothing in public because they should worry that the very site of their flesh may upset other people? Should they only be allowed to enjoy the outdoors while jogging or some other form of physical activity so that judgmental strangers can be assured they are working on their "problem"?

This is sick and this author is sick. The term "fattist" is lazy attempt to make "insecure bully who is projecting their own issues upon other human beings because they don't want to suffer alone" sound intellectual. Kelsey states in the article her own diet and how she is strict with her intake and only allows herself and her son few treats to maintain a thin figure. Cool. If that makes her happy, good for her. Some people don't do that though. Some people eat what they want and are completely happy that those choices are evident on the body they live in. This is the root of the problem with fat shamers such as Kelsey. They are not worried about the health of others, they are angry that they must worry and we do not. They are people who fear becoming fat, have been fat or feel fat right now and can't stand that there are fat people in the world that seem care free. Don't you know you are disgusting!!?!?!? Aka, why are you happy after allowing yourself pleasures I restrict??? You are supposed to unhappy being fat!! That is why I work so hard to stay thin because fat should be unhappy!!! WHY CAN'T I HAVE MORE MCDONALDS??? The reason I know this, is because I was one of these people for a very long time.

I was fat as a kid and my mother was big too. She was extremely ashamed of her weight, often yo-yo dieting, even going on an extremely strict diet program that eventually caused her kidneys to fail. Her mother had been bulimic when the disease didn't even have a name. That sense of urgency to fit in and meet the norm fell upon my mother as well, who herself had grown up chubby and teased in school and by her family. The truly sad part about my life growing up in a small farming town as "Elicia Obecia" is that I look back and realize now that I WASN'T EVEN FAT. I mean, I was a little chubby kid. Chubbier than a lot of my friends and fellow classmates (many of whom were thin largely due to lack of food thanks to the poor area we lived in). But I wasn't huge. I wasn't obese. The constant teasing, an unsuccessful trip to fat camp, and even more ridicule later caused me to become anorexic at eight years old. EIGHT YEARS OLD. I didn't even know what anorexia was then. I just knew that a friend of mine taught me the best way to lose weight was to stop eating. She had learned it from her mother and found it was the easiest way to never get fat again. So she helped me through it, eventually teaching me how to eat only saltine crackers, cheese and soda once a day. Then just crackers and soda. Then just soda and water. Then just water. 

I instinctively learned ways to hide that I wasn't eating. I would chew food, pretend to cough and spit the chewed food into a napkin. I would arrange the food on my plate to look like I had eaten some of it. Sometimes I would take several large bites, then excuse myself to go to the bathroom and spit the food into the toilet. Eventually I lost 20 pounds. My family was very happy for me, but I was sick, tired and my stomach ALWAYS HURT. It was common place for me to visit the nurse's office most mornings for a cup of Alka Seltzer. So much so that my parents eventually bought me my own supply to keep in the nurse's cupboard. Because of my constant stomach pains, I began often fearing I would vomit in class which caused me to take several bathroom breaks throughout the day and left me feeling constantly anxious. My mom thought the anxiety and the fact my grades were slipping might be because I was unhappy at my school where I was often teased, so she transferred me to a different school where she was the principal and could watch over me more carefully. At my old school, it was easy for me to skip school lunch. Since we always ate in our classrooms, I would generally spend this time drawing, reading, chewing food and spitting it into my lunch bag which I eventually threw away. Since I mostly kept to myself, no one seemed to notice. At my new school, the kids were given school lunches and ate in a cafeteria together. This scared the hell out of me. I was sure I would be found out. The first time I sat with my class at lunch, I tried to give my lunch away to different students, one thing at a time. This worked the first day, but the second day one of the lunch monitors caught this and asked me why I wasn't eating my food. I burst into tears and was sent to the principal's office (aka, my mom's office). From then on I was allowed to eat lunch alone in her office which meant it often ended up in the trash. Ultimately I was found out by the school counselor who my mom forced me to see to discuss my vomiting anxiety after a particularly bad freak out in the gym. All the kids were making their own ice cream by rolling coffee cans with rock salt, crushed ice and ingredients back and forth to each other when the physical exertion of the rolling and the crippling, cold sweat anxiety of the onslaught of questions that would come my way when I refused to eat the ice cream caused me to pass out.  

Throughout high school I carried the fat stigma with me. Then during my junior year I managed to lose a considerable amount of weight thanks to a car accident that left me with a broken right ankle and some bad reactions to pain killers and medication that left me eating soup and drinking water. I maintained the weight loss and lost more out of high school once my relationship with my first serious boyfriend I met at 17 became more and more abusive. The verbal, became physical once out of our parent's supervision. He often chided me for my weight and cheated on me with thinner, whiter, women, reminding me of how much more attractive they were than me in between slaps to the face for unwanted comments which led to regular pushing matches and fist fights we had back and forth. I remained thin for most of my 20's between several failed relationships with different men and women, and a marriage and divorce. It was during this time that I learned I could maintain my weight through claiming a vegan diet which kept me eating very little and in small portions, sometimes aiding that weight loss with veggie broth cleanses and chocolate laxatives. It was during this time I begin to resent heavy people. How disgusting they were and how dare they feel happy at their fat size! And I KNOW because I used to be fat! It's not that hard to lose weight. I did it! Get off your ass and give a shit! I made some of the cruelest comments of my life during this time. I remember literally hating overweight people and feeling zero shame about openly admitting it.

Then I moved to Seattle, went through more chaos until eventually settling down with someone who I truly loved. I began to perform stand up comedy and my weight ballooned. This was a mixture of bad dieting decisions, drinking too much and feeling a bit depressed. I had never learned how to control my weight in a healthy way and I wasn't sure how to jump right back into eating normally since I never understood what that meant. I crash dieted at least once during this time, eating only kale, spinach and beans followed by obsessively working out. I worked out to video tapes when I woke up, when I got home from work and before I went to bed. It never felt like enough. I quickly lost 40 pounds in 3 months, but it never satisfied me. I was thinner, but I wasn't happy. I felt tired and unhappy and was constantly feeling like I wasn't doing enough. I SHOULD LOSE MORE WEIGHT, I constantly thought. I need to add more to my work outs. I need to eat less calories. I need to do more. Eventually this became too stressful and I gave up. My weight quickly ballooned over the years from 140 to 220. I am now the fattest I have ever been and it has been hard to love myself for an entirely new set of reasons. I remember a time when fat positive zines and magazine articles about loving your body made me laugh. Why would they settle? Why do they want to promote unhealthy and unattractive bodies? Now here I am. That thing I feared the most. Covered in stretch marks from a sudden weight gain and fearful of what my friends think. I have days where I struggle to leave my apartment. I struggle to feel like it's worth doing anything. Then summer comes and I am screaming inside. I can't wear these jeans. It's too hot to wear these jeans, but if I wear shorts outside people will be disgusted. They will see my stretch marks. They will think I'm ugly. And then I remind myself that beauty is not what defines me. It is MY LIFE. Do I want to stay this size? No, I don't. I'm not happy at this size, but right now I AM THIS SIZE. That won't go away tomorrow or next month or the month after that even as I try to teach myself how to eat and exercise in a healthy, non-obsessive way that will not hurt my mental well-being. I'm working on it, CONSTANTLY, but right now, I just want to feel like it's okay being me. I quiet the doubts, put on the shorts and head out. And then this woman Linda Kelsey writes this bullshit article and decides she should tell me every thing I already know. Everything I feared people would think. Every thing that makes it a CONSTANT STRUGGLE to just be okay, let alone, happy with existing in your own body.         

The true issue here is not that these women Kelsey referenced in her article she supposedly witnessed on vacation and chose to shame publicly for doing nothing else other than walking, talking, and eating some chips should be ashamed. Kelsey should be ashamed. For all she knows, those women (like myself) are struggling and working out, counting calories and being just as miserable as her (after all, they did SHARE the crisps). Maybe she caught them on a rare day off where they decided not to be consumed by the ever present worry about the perception of their size. Maybe they were laughing and enjoying themselves as a small respite in a world that tells them they are ugly, disgusting, and don't deserve to wear shorts. Maybe they were feeling this very same fear as they walked and talked and secretly hated themselves. Or maybe NONE OF THAT. Maybe they are just human beings on vacation who are happy to be alive. Either way, none of these scenarios affect Kelsey's life. Her vacation is not spoiled because some fat girls ate some chips in summer clothes. Among all the random obesity statistics and judgmental opinions about the unattractiveness of fat bodies espoused by Kelsey, she left out some incredibly important facts that I remind myself of every day: We, as women, whatever our size do not have to dress to please others. We are not wearing shorts in public to make people want to fuck us. We are wearing shorts because it's summer and IT'S FUCKING HOT OUTSIDE.      

The Language of Comedy

I know people say that words don't mean anything and that we 'empower' them by being hurt by them. Especially comedians.  I hear all the time the phrase, "no topic is off limits."  Everything/everyone is game.  And while I believe that is true for many performers and obviously a part of what stand-up has been and still is for some, I don't agree with this philosophy.  Words can be powerful, especially hateful ones.  Transphobic, homophobic, racist, misogynist, sexist words can and do hurt people.  The painful origin of these words does not come from the fault of the one hurt by them, but from the history surrounding them.  Each of us carry different experiences with these words, some painful, some not, or maybe no experiences at all and these things affect how we receive them.

Once I performed comedy at a liberal arts college and stayed after the show to participate in a Q&A with the students in attendance. A student asked me what it was like to be a female comedian. This lead into a long discussion, but in particular I brought up some comments I often heard from audience members and other comedians that really pissed me off.  One was when I have been told by people they like my style because I'm "not a girly girl." This terminology really bothers me, which I explained by sarcastically commenting, "I'm a girl, how much girlier do I need to be for you to recognize I'm a girl. I have a vagina, how much more feminine does my vagina need to be for you to consider me a woman?"  I considered this an off-hand comment at the time that came out of a sarcastic rant.  The students laughed and I was sort of proud of myself.  I really felt as though I had made a poignant statement that made people think about misogyny and the language of gender.  

Afterward some students approached me to give me praise and accolades about my stand-up performance, which was obviously awesome for me. Then, after uncomfortably waiting in my line of appraisal for some time, one student approached me, shook my hand and said, "I thought you were funny, but what you said about women and vaginas was really FUCKED UP." I was taken aback by this at the time. They continued, "As a trans person, that really hurt me because that is not how gender is defined for me. Some women have penises and some men have vaginas. You should think about the language you use before you hurt people."  This was extremely awkward for me at the time. Inside I was REELING.  I felt my defenses going up as angry retorts filled my brain, but I thanked them for their feedback and apologized if what I said was misinformed and hurtful.  They seemed to appreciate my response and thanked me for otherwise making them laugh and left.  Other students apologized and seemed embarrassed for this student's behavior.  They continued to praise my performance and my comments in the Q&A.  It didn't make me feel better.   

On the drive back home, I was angry. Why did this person have to yell at me?! I didn't mean any harm!!  I thought I was making a good point about sexist language!  Why can't I make that point?!  And why does some white teenager get to yell at ME about sensitivity?!  I thought all these things, a loud to my friends.  Then when I got home, I REALLY thought about it.  What was I SO mad about?  Why did I think they were rude for sticking up for themselves?  Then I realized, I wasn't mad at them, I was mad at myself.  I was embarrassed for being called out for not knowing something.  I was being so egotistical about the breaking up of a series of compliments with a moment of criticism that I was projecting all my insecurities on this person at once.  They were younger than me, so I was angry about being schooled by a younger person.  It's a huge fear of mine as I age that I am slowly becoming inconsequential and out of the cultural loop, so to have a much younger person tell me I didn't understand something, it made me feel old.  Also, I like to pride myself on being totally open and educated on transgendered issues.  It was embarrassing to know not only was I wrong, but I unknowingly contradicted everything I want to stand for in a public space and with ZERO awareness.  That's really embarrassing.  Most terrible, I hurt someone.  Someone who came to a comedy show to laugh and forget their troubles, and instead I made them feel bullied and marginalized.  I don't want to think I'm a bad person and those are the kind of things I do with my comedy, but that's exactly what I did.  Thus, the defenses.  

As a QPOC, I've experienced a lot of terrible shit in my life.  In this moment, I compared those struggles to that person. And why?  What does that accomplish?  Most importantly in my defensive tirade of personal excuses I failed to recognize the most important issue...I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE TRANSGENDER. Yet, here I was, thinking I knew more than a transgender person about what language is appropriate for them and what they should or should not be offended by.  Why did I think I would know more than they did???  The answer is I don't know.  I don't know anything about this...and that scared me.  I don't want to be ignorant of something.  Being confronted about my ignorance was humiliating, but worse off, I made the whole thing about me.  How they made ME feel by confronting ME like that.  How shitty I felt in that moment when it should have been about them and how I made a whole room of their peers laugh at their struggles and then feel obligated to apologize for their choice to bring it up.  This is fucking terrible.  This is not what I want my comedy to be and this is not the kind of person I want people to think I am.  

LANGUAGE MATTERS. In the same way a racial slur brings back a SLEW of painful memories for me and a reminder of the entire history of those words and what they have meant to people and how they have been used to hurt people. I was wrong and it's important to accept when you're wrong.  No matter how stupid, old, embarrassed, and ignorant it makes you feel.  Why do people fight so hard against progression and change?  Whatever pronoun a person prefers other people to use to address them, why not do it?  After all, we are talking about WHO THEY ARE.  Why should we not respect who people are?  It's like someone REFUSING to pronounce my name correctly after being corrected.  "I know I said ALISHA and your name is really pronounced A-LEE-SEA-AH, but your actual name is hard to pronounce and hard to remember.  I want to call you Alisha because it's easier for me."  It's ELICIA.  AH - LEE - SEA - AH.  And when you call me by any other name, you're not really talking to me.  So why not just respect people for who they are, respect that they know what is best for them, they know what they have experienced in their own lives and that they deserve to feel happy and safe just as much as you do?  The suffering of others is not worth your brief moment of convincing yourself you're right, especially since you are only lying to yourself in the long run.

As a comedian it's upsetting to be told you aren't funny.  More so, it's upsetting to know that someone came to your show and not only didn't laugh, but felt attacked.  Some comics would say you shouldn't kowtow to those that are overly "sensitive" and want everything to be "PC." We need freedom to explore our craft.  There is no way we can please everyone.  All of this, I understand, but at the same time, I can't expect I don't have to take responsibility for the things I say.  I made that comment and it made half of the room laugh, but one person felt gutted.  Not just offended.  GUTTED.  Harassed.  Laughed at.  Mocked.  How could that possibly be worth it?  And how do I know how many more people were hurt by that comment and maybe didn't say anything?  I know I can't please everyone and I know FOR SURE I am not funny to everyone that sees me perform, but what I can say for sure is my goal is to TRY to be.  I want you in the best case scenario to leave my show feeling happy.  I want to help you forget your troubles and laugh at mine.  The last thing I want is to create them for you.  If I do that, I have FAILED at my job and that is ANYTHING but funny.

The Bob River's Show

Here's a video clip from my interview this morning on The Bob Rivers Show! Expect Starbucks, nerd talk, too many coats, a shout out to Rat Queens, unnecessary disparaging comments about the towns I grew up in (sorry/not sorry, Adna), and extensive mentions of Lightning Bolton.  Enjoy! 

My New Subscription Service!

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I recently joined a new artist-centered subscription service through a local company called ZIIBRA.  The way it works is artists of all kinds (musicians, chefs, visual artists, etc) set up a page with examples of their work and a video greeting, then fans and supporters can choose to subscribe to those artists.  The subscription plans are all different depending on who the artist is.  If you so choose to subscribe to my page, you have three different super cheap monthly subscription options ($3, $5, or $10).  What you will receive in return from me depends on the subscription you chose, but if you sign up, each month you will receive different exclusive content such as a download of my podcast episode 24 hours before they're available on iTunes, free tickets to my shows, exclusive only for subscribers backstage videos from performances here, on the road or at festivals, a comedy show featuring myself and some friends AT YOUR HOUSE and more! I think this could be a really great way to meet new people and show you guys what a major idiot I am. Currently I've already got some backstage video content in the can from recent shows at The Neptune (Seattle), The Doug Fir Lounge (Portland) and the Fun House (Portland).  These will only be available to view for subscribers of this service! Check out my page and see if you're interested!

Top Ten Things I Will Do Once I Finally Patent My Plastic Gun-Shaped Reusable Tampon Applicator 'The Cooter Shooter' And Become A Billionaire:


1.  Stop buying all my jeans from Old Navy.  I will now be purchasing fat jeans from H&M.  My extravagance WILL KNOW NO BOUNDS.

2.  Start spending the extra $10 to order Thai delivery food instead of pizza sandwiches (Yes, I realize the level of decadence is reaching inhuman heights).

3.  Start buying Burt's Bee's facial tomato cleansing toner to pair with my tomato face bar and I won't even think of returning it, even if I barely use the bottle.

4.  Buy condiments for my fridge, SO MANY CONDIMENTS.  Some I don't even need like a jar of dill-flavored honey mustard, JUST IN CASE I think of dipping a piece of cheese in something other than stone ground.

5.  Probably get my expired IUD removed.

6.  Buy three copies of A League of Their Own on VHS, not for the movie, but for the charming video-only commercial of old ladies tossing around pasta bags like they're baseballs.  It's so goddamn charming.

7.  Buy three ponies.  One to ride, one to look at and one to talk to.  Scratch that, four ponies.

8.  Create a website that only displays GIFs of Pirates of the Carribean characters Jack Sparrow and Will Turner passionately embracing.  It will be my own personal Sodom and Gomorrah.
9.  Spearhead a campaign to force Pizza Hut to once again sell plastic hand puppets of beloved cartoon characters.  The first run will be a '90's Nostalgia' themed collection of a mixture of The Land Before Time and Eureeka's Castle.

10.  Buy Michael Chiklis, force him to dress up as the Thing and constantly follow me around for the sole purpose of saying "It's Clobbering Time" every time it's clobbering time.