I was in a meeting with Merissa Sherrill Lynn, Sheila Kirk and others, having been asked by the IFGE board to help rescue their 1995 Atlanta conference.
A big part of what I did in the meeting was what I always had to do, punch through assumptions and rationalizations to get to the point where we could consider the new. Death before rebirth.
When we came out of the meeting, Sheila’s partner pulled me aside. She was the only born female person in the room in one of her first meetings.
“I like you!” she told me with a big, bright smile. “You can say ‘Fuck You!’ in so many nice ways!”
As someone trained as a woman, she understood both the skill of being gracious, of not saying things that make others get defensive, and also the vital importance of calling bullshit out as bullshit.
Another born female partner of a transwoman warned me about going into the South.
“Those people,” she fumed, “will smile at you to your face and still take you down a peg.”
Yeah, well, that’s what I like about Southern Belles. They are sweet and gracious but they don’t really put up with bullshit. An iron fist in a lace glove, as it were.
I come from a long line of Southern psychotics
and an environment where madness is currency
and conversation is blood sport.
— Elizabeth Ashley
Even the British know how to call out bullshit without being profane. Decorum is valued, even as honesty is valued more. You may have to listen closely to get the message, but it is there.
This ability to say “Fuck You!” in a nice way is, to me, what keeps communication vibrant and engaging.
Newagers often tend to the sweet, the nice, the cloying in their attempts at healing. They believe that challenging the backstory someone brings, the highly crafted tale which rationalizes all their behaviour, is just rude. We need to be tender with people who are hurting.
For me, the knife that cuts to truth is the key to getting to healthy. We cannot move forward without removing the sick.
I believe that kindness often requires helping people let go of their armour and face their own challenges. If we don’t clear the bullshit, how will we ever find the jewels?
As a woman, someone who cared for the people around her, I didn’t want to make people shut down when I called them out. I learned to use humor, nuance and grace to tell challenging truths to their faces. In other words, I learned to say “Fuck You!” in very nice ways.
Too much sweet isn’t good for anyone. My coke addiction — the one to the sticky brown liquid — came because the balance of Coca-Cola is amazing, a real mix of flavours that made the stuff go down a treat.
If we can’t use the tangy to cleanse the palate, moving beyond simu-food to nuanced and challenging, then we are stuck in a hole where nobody can ever move beyond the cloying.
And I, personally, say “Fuck You!” to that.