Zen & the Art of being a Hypocritical Asshole:
I would love nothing more, truly, than to allow this to be published with my name proudly attached at the top, or the bottom, or anywhere here at all. Yet, it strikes me that this course of action would be unwise, unrealistic, and, moreover, impractical. Now, more than ever in the Age of the Internet, we are forced to be practical in all that we do and never once, even for a moment, may we forget or neglect the fact that we are all beholden to our masters (those who control the keys to the trajectory of our lives).
It matters, sadly, whom we allow ourselves to be for the public; I disagree fundamentally that this is or should be the de facto standard of how we live our lives, because I yearn for a world in which we are permitted to be ourselves for the public if we so choose. This is what I most want in life, but subterfuge ever remains the name of the game and that pains me. But such is the nature of challenging the status quo: Never, ever, ever do it lightly. Ever.
And so I hide behind the screen and hope that my words, woefully inadequate though they may be, shall be enough.
There are a number of points I would like to draw upon, experiences I faced personally, as well as pertinent facts and thoughts that I wish to invoke and add to this incredibly disturbing and painful conversation. Listen up: This is important.
And it pains me to realize and recognize that not one single faculty member that I know will have the luxury of speaking up, either. I, for one, was already politely invited to NOPE right the fuck off when the principal, Sister Joan, learned that I had signed a petition claiming that I did not consider embryos to be magical baby seeds (love that phrase, it’s excellent). Despite the sure knowledge that while most, but not all, of the student body and faculty are themselves Catholic, despite the almost guaranteed reality that more than one woman who has walked those hallowed halls has herself had to face the very painful decision to contemplate, and then undergo, an abortion, possibly at the hands of a sexual assault experience or perhaps simply as a devastating medical necessity. These women exist, they have (silenced) voices, and they deserve better than this. More than anyone else afflicted by the callousness of the Gavin Aherns of the world, more than we all should reject and be exceedingly and vociferously vocal in our disappointment and our concern, these women need champions among us all. Particularly those of us with a little spare room on our shoulders (more to come on this heart-wrenching story in a later post) to aid them in their journey and their efforts to heal themselves. Their work is not done, their work is never done, and to that end I hope this may serve as a call-to-arms to my fellow incredible women, particularly the alumni, to help those among us in need, who have been abused, who have been hurt, who are struggling and whose hands we must and should hold. Let us hold their hands; we all will benefit greatly in so doing.
Image via The Oatmeal
What I’m saying is that you should believe them when they say that all they want to do is foster open dialogue in the face of controversy.
Who loves orange soda? Kel loves orange soda!
Not four or five days after watching, with my incredibly liberally and respectably open-minded father, John Oliver’s heartbreaking, and to the rational mind, disturbing, exploration of the abysmal (lack of) comprehensive sexual education in these United States of America, this happens across my feed. My jaw dropped in a way that will almost certainly dismay the husband who evidently already saw it, for he is not appearing over the horizon on his white steed to sweep me away to blissful motherhood where I would have certainly wiled away the hours in abject contemplation of his radiant visage as, barefoot and pregnant as god so lovingly intended, I dreamily rinsed the soap suds away from last night’s casserole dish before turning, oh so tenderly, to re-swaddle our newborn.
Who loves orange soda? Kel loves orange soda!! I DO I DO I DO I DO I DOOO-OOOOO!!!!!
If you cannot watch that link right now, bookmark it and do not even contemplate missing it. The statistics and the stories relayed are so horrifying and so disheartening. It simply staggers me that, despite my being a native-Arizonan (we aren’t exactly known on the national scale for our forward-thinking, progressive mindsets in these here parts), I somehow managed to attend grades 5-8 with a complete and comprehensive, single-gender sexual education. Complete with a primer for the 4th graders (boys were playing football or something idk) about how, soon, the majority of us who had not yet started menstruating had something so super fun to look forward to!
Always with the Dad jokes with this one.
Little did I understand at the tender age of ten just what a rarity I had been privileged to partake in. We had the course every year of my middle school career, complete with the hokey 80s videos (fortunately nothing quite as remarkable as what Jonathan Banks tried to sell us back in the day, or not that I can recall at any rate–by the way, incredible that LWT scored his cameo for their promotional video). And while I would certainly never advocate for a continued reliance on these out-of-date depictions, can we all please at least admit that abstinence only sex-education is a dismal fucking failure, can we please move on? I’m. begging. here.
Whelp, I’m menstruating! Who’s ready for cosmic bowling!?
But the sign said, “Insert here!”
But in an age where sex-positivity is simultaneously embraced and called into question, when as a millennial my mother complains to me, on Mother’s Day of all the fucking times, about how my “universalist” mentality is so fucking problematic (the details escape me, as Ihad to escape the table and run off to the bathroom lest I fling food in her face), in a world where trigger warnings are blamed for causing more harm than good and even my lefty Irish professor whinged once about how it’s the liberal students, actually, who are ruining the educational process with their constant demands not to be “pushed” into “doing things they don’t want to do” or which “may actually fucking be harmful to them;” ahem. I, for one, am completely fucking cognizant that we must be careful which boundaries we push, where and how far and at what speed. Because no, these limitations were not meant to be hard-and-fast, and I am not so naïve that I fail to recognize that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to game the system when they can conceivably get away with it, or perhaps gamble that they can. And furthermore, pain can result in growth and change and positive development; this is the reason we do and should attend university. It was never supposed to be about simply learning a craft in order to earn more moniez for that gold-plated boat or whatever the feck we were told to want next. That is what trade schools are for, and we are quite fortunate that they are there for us, too. But university was always supposed to be about learning reasoned, critical thinking in response to new experiences and new material, presented by someone who then allows you to engage honestly and openly with the dialogue that you engender with your peers.
The epitome of liberal elitism; you can practically see the Ivory Tower around them.
Yeah, go ahead and call me naïve all you want. I refuse to entertain the notion that my “universalism” or whatever the hell she was driving at is the actual problem underpinning literally everything that is wrong with our society, and frequently Western culture in particular. We are aggressive, we are often violent, we are often sociopathic and neurotic and we frequently dismiss the silly notion that someone else might have a different and/or better concept of how something should be perceived or attended to or addressed. And all of this is quite wrong. Each and every person matters, each and every person deserves a chance, and each and every single one of us is bound and beholden to every single other one of us simply by virtue of our shared humanity and our shared planet. There isn’t realistically any other way in which this can work, and we ought to be quite skeptical of anyone who suggests that this is untrue.
This may be delving into the root of why the story of racist pamphlets being bandied about among 9th graders at a single private school in Arizona is so troubling and so enraging to me on such a fundamental, gut-destroying level. We were not only led to believe that Christ’s message of acceptance and love were the very underpinning of our educational program and vocational experiences, we were further sold a bill of goods about how Xavier College Preparatory is training the young women of the future to be able to take the world by storm.
This is the Mission Statement they profess to ascribe to:
Xavier College Preparatory is a Catholic community that strives to prepare young women with the knowledge, skills, and integrity to meet the challenges of a changing global society in a positive and productive manner.
And directly beneath that we can find the Philosophy purportedly guiding them like a beacon in the darkness:
We, the community of Xavier College Preparatory, are committed to a belief in God according to the tenets of the Catholic faith enlightened by the Second Vatican Council. In that spirit, we believe in providing opportunities for all to contribute to the community of faith.
We fully believe in the ideals of democracy, integrity, tolerance, and respect in harmony with the love of God, of self, and humankind, and we affirm the fundamental roles of parents and families as primary instruments of faith and education.
We also believe in conscientiously reviewing and improving our college preparatory curriculum, educational goals, and performance objectives, in order to sustain a learning process that encourages personal growth, faith development and community involvement for the young women entrusted to our care.
Straight from the mouths of babes.
My fellow sisters-in-disbelief will almost certainly get a chuckle at my little joke: One of our hymns during monthly mass featured the lyrics, “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my Path.” And yet, I fear I shall have to beg a bit of understanding about how the institution I proudly sought and attended for its educational excellence is in the position of claiming that it upholds its god-given duty to build the women leaders-of-tomorrow, and yet with its other hand firmly behind its back is holding shut the door of discussion and progress. Here was the terse statement they provided in response to the initial allegations:
Xavier College Preparatory is a Roman Catholic educational institution, fully committed to a belief in God according to the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith. That faith forms the very foundation of the mission: “to prepare young women with the knowledge, skills, and integrity to meet the challenges of a changing global society in a positive and productive manner.” Without our commitment to our faith, we cannot hope to achieve this vital Catholic mission.
As an educational institution, Xavier recognizes that certain issues may be the subject of vigorous intellectual, spiritual, and moral debate. We encourage our faculty and students to explore these often controversial issues, and to participate in this healthy and constructive process as Xavier strives to educate students not only academically, but also spiritually and morally within the context of our faith.
Among the most important, most fundamental spiritual and moral truths that Xavier imparts to its students is respect for the sanctity of human life, in all forms and at all stages. We teach our students to care for human life, to defend human life, and to speak out about the sanctity of every human life wherever it is threatened, from the first moment of conception until natural death.
We acknowledge the emotions that discussion on such matters can often evoke, and recognize that disagreements may result, even among members of the Xavier community. Nevertheless, Xavier will not allow the threat of controversy to intimidate our teachers, counselors, and administrators from discussing these important controversial issues, nor silence us in our duty to impart the values of our faith to the young women entrusted to our care.
So naturally only pro-life sites are carrying the entire response, but I’m out of options; don’t click if you do not wish to drive traffic to these sites.
Do not sit there and try to sell me on the notion that you are “encouraging” faculty and students “to explore these often controversial issues,” because you are not. You are not “speak[ing] out about the sanctity of every human life” when you not only permit, but then defend, the distribution of unsubstantiated claims about a supposed link between abortion and race which has no basis in reality, and worse, you pass it out to students of different ethnicities. I cannot begin to fathom the hurt and the horror the few students of non-Caucasian descent felt to be handed something so bigoted; it is one thing to bring it up in conversation, discuss it as a claim that some researchers believe and which Mr. Ahern certainly has every right to buy into—albeit not, however, without the corresponding citations lacking in the document in question which does nothing to back up its rather wild assertions. Openly fostering dialogue on “these important controversial issues” does not mean pretending that these thoughts are not out there, it means not handing out bigoted propaganda which may seriously upset your students in order to make a point. Have a fucking powerpoint for that shit, and point students in the direction of where to look for further research! By all means have the fucking discussion, but don’t thrust nasty items like that vile document into a young woman’s hands, tell her it is absolutely true, and then claim “hey free speech man it’s a private school!” when there’s backlash because people think that sort of thing is hateful and inappropriate.
I know the conservatives are rolling their eyes at just another stupid lefty deeming anything she doesn’t like as “hateful,” that stupid pro-life news site referenced above with XCP’s response was peppered with comments claiming exactly that. But what you fail to realize is the fact that while yes, you are entitled to free speech and the government cannot shut you down over it, this does not give you the freedom to be an asshole. And anyone who thinks it is okay to spread information like that in such an inflammatory way and try to pass it off has “delving into controversy” is just. an. asshole.
As I search for my end game
I think, Trumpette, that this must be where I leave you for now. I hope I’ve given you some interesting things to think about and I look forward to delving into my next post. Please comment freely and enjoy the debate! But know that I do not tolerate trolling and will shut it down if people try to derail. Because it’s my blog and my rules. You’ve been warned, Trolls!