And Eczema, which is not exactly an autoimmune condition but is allegedly related, and which in my case also got worse after the vaccines and further worse after Covid, but hell maybe it’s because I’m just getting old:
Dave was hella funny and brilliantly creative and kinda nuts, with a good heart that just stopped January 11, 2024. We both had comic strips in the Daily Illini in the late 1980’s; his, “Bob ‘n’ Dave,” was clever, hilarious, gonzo, and unpretentiously deep. Much later, as the Duke of Uke, he made “Spider Suite” which I used in my film Seder-Masochism. His was the absolutely perfect voice of Death, and if there is an afterlife I hope he’s simultaneously entertaining and scaring the pants off any souls he meets.
I flew again with Corinna to Ireland, to visit our friend Alasdair who had been recently diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. This was my first trip ever to that country, and I feared my last time ever to see Alasdair. (SPOILER ALERT: Alasdair didn’t die. His immunotherapy treatments appear to be wildly successful and there’s a good chance that whatever kills him eventually won’t be cancer.)
I began production of my coolest merch item ever, Apocalypse Animated Lenticular Cards. These were very costly to print, so I crowdfunded some of the expense, this time through GiveSendGo because they supposedly don’t cancel artists. It’s a Christian platform so I did get a call from them later offering to pray for me and my project. As long as the so-called secular world is high on canceling, I’ll take any prayers I can get.
I returned to IndieGoGo with a campaign for Compliance Comix, which is just Agents of HAG (which they canceled) minus the words and pictures. Much to my surprise they didn’t cancel this campaign, so I actually printed them.
I embarked on the GENDER WARS Playing Cards. Once I committed to this project, the drawings just flew out of me. Meanwhile I made travel arrangements for events in New York City, Scotland, and Ireland. I may have been cancelled in January, but things were looking up.
On March 21 I came down with Covid. “Good timing,” I thought, “I have more than a month for this to pass before my travel starts. Better now than later!”
I then proceeded to have fevers over 103°F and was pretty much confined to bed for 4+ weeks.
Every day, I thought, this might be the day I start to feel better. Every day I continued to be very sick. I could walk from my bed to the bathroom and back. Occasionally I could walk to the kitchen. One time I tried to empty the dishwasher but it made my heart race. I occasionally tried walking, and struggled to the end of my driveway and back. I’ve been very sick before, but Covid was something else. It just pinned me down and didn’t let up.
On good days I could sit at my drawing table and work on the remaining GENDER WARS cards, which I was keen to finish. Somehow, I did.
On May 2nd I left my house for the first time since getting sick, to attend a party. I was back to bed the next day. The following day I rode my bike. May was mostly one day semi-normal, one day back in bed. Eventually I returned to almost normal, except for my resting body temperature, which stayed a full 1.5°F higher than it was before. My GP was utterly incurious about it.
I finally made a proper e-store for the Apocalypse Animated and GENDER WARS cards and other merch. Long overdue!
My Mom began preparations for moving from the house we’d shared for 7 years, to an “Independent Living” apartment at the local Geezer Place. After a very brief search for a housemate, my friend J was eager to move in in August.
I rode my bikes frequently and gently. I avoided overexertion, as that can cause the dreaded Long Covid. My rides got longer as I got healthier, and finally I rode my first Imperial Century of the year, 100 miles. It felt great.
I returned to my usual summer occupation, long bike rides and recovery. Corinna and I flew to Denver for the ICONS summit July 21-22, one of the best conferences I ever attended. I was really inspired and encouraged by the badass female athletes and their supporters.
My sister and her husband visited Urbana to help my Mom move. My supposed future housemate J backed out of moving in at the last minute, leaving me with a bunch of problems and significantly less trust in other people. My Mom moved successfully and her new apartment is so nice I’d love to live there myself, but I can’t afford it.
I had some minor digestive health issues, not really unusual.
I got to test ride a fancy AZUB trike with battery assist!
I finally furnished my Mom’s former side of the house, which had been eerily empty since her departure. I hung my handmade art quilts around the space and suddenly it became pleasant and beautiful.
I had my first AirBnB guests in the Quilt Suite. I rather enjoy being an occasionalinnkeeper. If you’d like to stay here please email me directly for a better rate:
I tried some elimination diets in hopes of discovering what was causing my digestive troubles. I ate no wheat for a couple weeks. I avoided dairy. I avoided chocolate. I could not find the culprit before I flew to Houston, TX to marry MK Fain and Alex Gleason. I’m seldom even invited to weddings, due to my bad attitude and unromantic nature, but these two wanted me to officiate their ceremony! It was a pleasure and an honor.
Then I flew to Denver and hung out with my friend Lisa, who made this amusing little short about Menopausal Woman.
Still in Denver, I attended the Genspect conference shortly thereafter. It was fun, intense, and socially overstimulating, but worth it to see all these people I knew from online in 3-D/360°. I flew home after 11 days of travel.
Also after Genspect, the so-called Gender Critical movement blew apart, due to what’s now called AGPgate. I had planned on making a 2024 edition of GENDER WARS cards, but the illiberal behavior of my former compatriots put me off. I’m still not sure if I’ll make that deck or not. Regardless, I have other things to occupy my time and attention, because I finally visited a doctor to discuss my not-resolving digestive issues.
“Your symptoms could be colon cancer. I’m not saying you HAVE colon cancer. But you’ll have to get a colonoscopy.” So I was referred to a GI specialist, which usually takes months, but there was a cancelation so it only took days. I had my blood tested and my poop tested and a colonoscopy was scheduled, which would have taken months but — miracle! — there was a cancelation so that too only took days. I was soon diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and have been on the rollercoaster of “acceptance” ever since. A follow-up with another specialist determined my case is moderate-to-severe, its only redeeming quality that it’s of such recent onset I may escape bad scarring if treatment (monthly hospital-administered infusions of a “biologic” drug called Skyrizi) puts it in remission. My infusions still aren’t scheduled because we’re waiting for “prior authorization” from my insurance. Meanwhile I’m on a low-fiber diet, which as a formerly-healthy vegetarian is bizarre. My attention is consumed reading Crohn’s disease forums, trying to guess what foods might ruin my guts, and getting to know my new masticating juicer that arrived a few days ago (so far, so good). I’m pretty confident my Crohn’s was triggered by Covid, as that is a Thing; I call it Covid Reactive Autoimmune Pathology, or CRAP. It might explain why my temperature has been elevated since my Covid Spring.
On the bright side, I’m receiving lots of love and support, for which I feel much gratitude.
I neither regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. As we stumble into 2024, I feel mostly curiosity. Whatever happens in the next 12 months, one thing is for certain: more will be revealed!
IndieGoGo just canceled Agents of H.A.G, my first comic book in 30 years, AFTER the campaign successfully ended with 150% of goal. I already ordered books from the printer. Now all the money, all the orders, gone. No appeal, just gone.
Back when I was originally TERFened, I shared “If A Person Has A Penis He’s A Man” by Connie Bryson. I did not write those lyrics, and never claimed I did, but outrage compromises reading comprehension, so it’s been incorrectly attributed to me. Including by the man who wrote the letter below, whose identity I have concealed.
If you stand up for anything, ever, expect this type of “support” from friends, family and loved ones. (Of course this is why few people stand up for anything.)
Nov 7, 2018
I saw your post on Facebook this morning regarding whether you should post certain material that might feel risky, especially in light of the trans stuff. I’m not an artist and therefore I don’t–I can’t–have the same passion for needing to present art that you do. I can’t relate to that. But I think I understand something that I think got you to this place.
As an artist, you surely know that once you put your art out there, you can’t control how it is interpreted. When you wrote the poem with “If a person has a penis, it’s a man,” I don’t think you had any understanding of how it would be received. (Raedacted) and I had the same reaction to it: “What’s the point of this? Does she not understand that it looks like she is taunting a community of people? Why is she doing this?” Whether you were correct or not isn’t the point. What your intent was isn’t the point. The point is that the form which you chose in order to make your point made you look like a bully to a lot of people. It looked like taunting.
Since the poem was posted, you have been mistreated. I find the way you have been treated to be appalling. Deplatforming is beyond ugly. So, what to do?
I’ve asked myself what advice I could give you. I’ve felt like my advice wouldn’t matter to you. I thought about that when I was in (Redacted) this summer and I came to the conclusion that you wouldn’t listen to me or tell me I was wrong so I left it alone. The way you were choosing to express yourself made me feel like all I could do is upset you further. It may be that this email will indeed upset you further, but now I feel like I really should write given the level of despair you have been expressing publicly.
What I think would have helped after initial complaints about your poem would have been to write a post in every social media outlet you use, including your blog, including Facebok, saying something like:
“I realize that the poem I wrote came across in a very poor way. I did not mean to write something that offended so many. I meant to engage in a constructive discussion, but I now understand that it came across as mean-spirited and taunting. While that was not my intention, I apologize to those who were offended. It is never my intent to cause pain with my words.”
Leave it at that. Explaining yourself further may pour salt in wounds. An unconditional apology even if you are right is sometimes the best way to ameliorate pain.
A quick analogy… Consider the racist politician who panders by saying, “I have lots of black friends.” A black person may interpret that as, “We have been insulted and now I am told that we shouldn’t be insulted because that person knows a small number of us? What kind of person does that? That person has no idea what I live with. That person does not understand my world.”
Instead of apologizing for the poem, you doubled down, tripled down, and much more, by insisting that what you wrote wasn’t wrong, implying it shouldn’t offend people. It may have been made even worse by saying, “I have lots of trans friends.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that there are trans people who feel that you continue to pour salt into their wounds.
It was not your intent. But you now have a significant perception problem.
I don’t read every one of your blog entries or see every one of your Facebook posts. Maybe you have apologized for the poem in an unconditional manner. Maybe you no longer try to justify your poem. If so, that is probably the best you can do. It may be that, near-term, you are going to be stuck with the backlash. Even with an unconditional apology, there will be people who say, “She’s only saying that because we hurt her and she wants her film to do better.” I wouldn’t expect overnight improvement in perception. It’s going to take a while.
Again, there is no excuse for how you have been treated. It’s horrifying. That said, my advice, which you can discard if you disagree with me, is to stop doubling down on the poem, to issue that sincere apology, and do not tie that apology to any expected behavior by others. After that be very, very careful about how people may interpret your future words. It may be best simply not to engage the trans group even if you want to. Just ask the question, “What’s the upside?”
A year or two ago my friendBrewster Kahle told me he had been asking people, “when is the last time you read a book? Cover to cover?” Predictably, the answers were discouraging. In the age of the Internet, people still talk about books, praise books, and condemn books; but actually reading books is rare.
When I first heard of feminist authorAndrea Dworkin, in the early 1990’s, I was told she said all heterosexual sex is rape. In popular discourse, “het sex is rape” was considered the gist of her work.
Well, I could easily form an opinion about that, and I did. Of course all heterosexual sex isn’t rape! What a dumb idea. I didn’t have to read any books to know that! So I didn’t.
It was a few decades before I finally read Dworkin’sIntercourse. I had been seeing endless condemnations of “TERF”s – “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists” – online, and was constantly admonished to “educate myself” because I had asserted that transwomen are male. Since I had spent my 20’s and 30’s immersed inSan Francisco Sex-Positive and Kink and LGBT culture, and therefore had known many transwomen (including a few lovers), I wondered where my education was lacking. I was well versed in Queer Theory, but I realized then I had never actually read one of these “radical feminists.”
And so I learned Dworkin never wrote “all heterosexual intercourse is rape.” Her thoughts about sex were a lot more nuanced. I was surprised by how passionately and sensitively she wrote about it; clearly she was heterosexual, in spite of (or along with) declaring herself a Political Lesbian in her activist years. I was also persuaded by many of her other radical feminist ideas. Dworkin had been unfairly maligned, and because I fell for it, I had missed out.
I am part of the moderation team ofSpinster, a woman-centered, radical-feminist-leaning social media platform founded half a year ago, in August 2019. A few weeks after our small team had formed, one of the moderators started denouncing Lesbian Feminist authorSheila Jeffreys, and publicly wishing her harm. She explained it was because Jeffreys advocated Political Lesbianism. A young lesbian, this mod considered Political Lesbianism lesbophobic, homophobic, and dangerous. As far as she was concerned, Jeffreys said sexual orientation is a choice, making her no different from fundamentalist Christians and conversion therapy advocates.
Well, I could easily form an opinion about that, and I did. Of course sexual orientation isn’t a choice! What a dumb idea. I didn’t have to read any books to know that!
Over the next couple days, the young moderator accused Spinster’s founders, other mods, and many of its members of “lesbophobia.” If one doesn’t vocally condemn Jeffreys and Political Lesbianism, the logic went, one supports it, and therefore hates lesbians. She was joined by others, and a rift formed, with some Spinster users canceling their accounts in protest.
Time has taught me to be skeptical of the condemnation of authors and their ideas, so it was only a few weeks before I read Jeffrey’sThe Lesbian Heresy. Just as Dworkin never said all het sex is rape, Jeffreys never said sexual orientation is a choice. I was especially surprised – and moved – that so much of The Lesbian Heresy was about the very same Sex-Positive and Kink and LGBT worlds I had been immersed in in my youth. Jeffreys helped me piece together events of the 1980’s and 90’s I had never connected; connections that help explain the condemnation of Andrea Dworkin, the replacement of Radical Feminism with Liberal Feminism, the academic acceptance and promotion of porn, and the near extinction of Lesbian Feminism.
That left me with a different understanding of Political Lesbianism and the movement from whence it arose, Lesbian Feminism. I could not in good faith condemn it. I recommended The Lesbian Heresy on Spinster, where arguments about Political Lesbianism rage on. As far as I know, no one condemning it has actually read The Lesbian Heresy; and by the logic of Social Media, or social groups in general, they don’t have to, because the issue has already been summarized for them as Political Lesbianism = Sexual Orientation Is A Choice = Homophobia.
The fact that I had read and was recommending a book angered some women even more. “Oh she read a book and now she’s straightsplaining lesbianism to lesbians!” I was surprised to be resented for reading, and wanting to discuss, a Lesbian Feminist book. I am surprised that Sheila Jeffreys, as lesbian as any lesbian who ever lesbianed, and an excellent writer to boot, is so maligned by women who haven’t actually read her words.
I am open to nuanced arguments, but those don’t happen on social media. Everything gets distilled into soundbites, phrases like “born that way” and “trans women are women!” These thought-terminating memes are effective political cudgels, but anathema to understanding reality. Good books are the opposite.
There are also bad books. I recently read one called The 57 Bus, which resembles an extended Tumblr. But even it was more nuanced than online discourse. I read it for a nonfiction book group I’m part of. I found it agonizingly sexist, and it made me angry; I read it anyway, because I am a grown-up and capable of reading things I disagree with. And it wasn’t completely without merit: it discusses some important issues, in spite of being spun for a target market of white Liberal virtue-signalers. Reading the whole book allowed me to make reasoned arguments, and better understand the intellectual pablum that is the main diet of schools right now.
Some books are overlong. Some books contain important information, but are poorly written. We can’t read everything, certainly not every book that is recommended to us.
But perhaps we can acknowledge that Internet memes, denunciations, and simple summaries of entire books might be missing a world of nuance.
I recently recommended Lierre Keith’s book The Vegetarian Myth to a couple vegan friends, because they told me they’d never heard even one reasonable argument in favor of carnivorism. I personally don’t eat birds or mammals, and I very much appreciate vegans, and I don’t want to convert anyone; but The Vegetarian Myth makes compelling arguments, and expanded my ideas about eating, life, death, and my own motivations for eschewing meat. (The book had no effect on my dietary choices, proving that it is possible to appreciate arguments without capitulating to them.) Still, my friends refuse to read it because they are certain they already have already heard anything it could contain, plus they read a Wikipedia summary which was easy to condemn.They told me they won’t read the book, but invited me to sum it up for them in a sentence or two. I said I’d try.
But I can’t. The reason good books exist is some things can’t be summed up in a sentence. Or even a paragraph. Or even an entire blog post.
I used to pride myself on being able to distill complex ideas into simple one-liners, an essential skill for a cartoonist. Refining messages into easily digestible memes is a crucial tool of propaganda and advertising, and I’ve employed my talents in many an ideological battle. Increasingly, though, I don’t want to do battle. I just want to have a conversation. I am lonely, I am tired, and I want to discuss the world, not argue you into compliance, or dazzle you with my clever memes.