The Woke Contrarian

I don't think I'm one of them either. I'm one of mine.

Drop out, Joe!

A second Trump presidency, which seems likelier by the minute, will be a disaster not just for the United States, but the world generally. He is a mendacious, corrupt, vile, felonious excuse for a human being who should never have been near the Oval Office in the first place. Any Republican presidency would be dangerous for marginalised people (do you think that the chillingly fascistic Project 2025 is just for Trump?), but Trump is his own brand of awful because of his cult following. (And this time around, there will be fewer safeguards, since he no longer has to face the voters as he did in 2020, and the Supreme Court has declared him immune from prosecution if they believe that he has performed “official acts.”)

And Joe Biden is going to hand Trump the election on a silver platter if he continues to stay in the race. States like New Jersey—yes, New Fucking Jersey—are in play. The swing states all seem to be going to Trump.

If Biden stays in the race, I will never forgive him. No matter what he did during his presidency, he will sully his legacy by letting his ego get in the way of preserving democracy.

Drop out, Joe! Only then can we dump Trump for good.

One of many reasons why I’m a socialist

(CW: mentions of child sexual abuse, altered states, suicide)

Two years ago, I had a major mental health crisis—a manic episode complete with psychosis, delusions and hallucinations—that blew my life apart. I impulsively quit my beloved job, thinking that I had billions of dollars reserved for me in Europe. Because of my paranoia, I made an ass of myself on social media, thinking that everyone was out to get me. My poor friends were confused and bewildered to see me acting so wildly out of character. At the height of the episode, I was involuntarily hospitalised for two weeks and gradually returned to my normal self thanks to a regimen of lithium and antipsychotics. I didn’t have much time to recover after being discharged: since I’d quit my job in haste, I needed to hustle to ensure my financial security. I took a job a few months later, with a title similar to my previous one, but wildly different responsibilities and expectations. Things went fine at first, but I’ve been struggling to keep up for the past year. That was the first time I’ve ever received a bad review—the grown-up equivalent of a D on a report card. I’m used to doing well at work.

What I really needed was a year away from full-time work to recover from the psychosis. I needed intense therapy to process both the trauma of the psychosis and all the other traumas I’ve undergone, especially child sexual abuse. I was not ready to go back to full-time work two summers ago. But because there was no other choice (other than being evicted and living in a shelter), I did it anyway, and my mental health has suffered for it. Later that year, I was a hair’s breadth away from ending my life.

Last year I was too paralysed to focus on my work as much as I should have, and I felt terrible for letting down the team. I would try to focus, but I kept freezing up. There were times that I was nearly catatonic, but I didn’t want to use up all my sick days—and sometimes I was too frozen even to ask to use them. And this year I had yet another manic episode—right after my dissociative amnesia lifted and I was flooded with a series of harrowing memories. (I’m not sure about all these memories, but there’s enough consistency between them and what I remember aboiut my later life that a lot of them add up.) And through it all, I was bumbling my way through work—and it showed in my boss’s feedback.

I hate being “the load” at work. Hate, hate, hate. It’s not about laziness; it’s about struggling to survive after experiencing one of the most catastrophic events in one’s earthly existence. I was battling autistic burnout, PTSD flashbacks, OCD compulsions, free-floating generalised anxiety and refractory bipolar depression. I feel so inadequate and useless, and it’s especially painful because I know what I’m capable of when I’m at my best. But I was in no condition to work full time in 2023.

There’s no good way for people to recover from mental health crises if they’re not rich. There’s no such thing as short-term disability outside workplace benefits. (I would have used disability leave at my old job if I were sane enough to tell I needed it, which I wasn’t—I thought I was the fucking Messiah, for god’s sake.) Social Security benefits are designed for people who can’t work at all, not people who can work but can’t find the right job, or who will be able to work again but can’t at the moment. The SSA would laugh at my application. Unemployment insurance, on the other hand, isn’t for people who are temporarily unable to work, since you’re supposed to be able to take a job immediately if you claim benefits. High-quality residential treatment, from which I would have greatly benefited, is for the well-heeled. Affordable housing is hard to get, especially where I live. (And don’t tell me to move somewhere with a lower cost of living—if you’re queer, trans and disabled, that’s often a bad idea. Bigoted politicians and no social services? No thanks.) If I didn’t push myself to get a job after discharge, I could have ended up homeless again if I were evicted, which would have just made my mental health problems worse. (Been there, done that, wouldn’t want to repeat it.) I didn’t get services from my state’s Department of Mental Health until I started this job.

In a socialist society, this would not have happened. I would have been able to get disability benefits as soon as I came out of that hospital. I wouldn’t have panicked about possible eviction while I was waiting for my rental assistance application to go through. I wouldn’t have been felt pressured to take a job that was mostly unrelated to what I studied in grad school. I would have been able to find work suited to my abilities and needs at the time. And, most importantly, I would have been able to do what I needed the most: recover. Instead of getting workplace D’s, I would have been able to rest until I could do A-quality work.

It’s socialism or barbarism.

OK, you’ve sold me on abolition

(CW: rape, murder, child abuse)

I was ambivalent before, mostly because of violent crimes like murder and rape. (Also, a lot of abolitionist writing is heavy-heavy-heavy on the jargon, which makes me grit my teeth even as I cheer the writers on.) But I’ve done more reading into what prison abolition actually means—it doesn’t just mean letting violent criminals walk around killing and assaulting people. It means providing the resources people need so that they never commit crimes in the first place. It’s a gradual process, not an immediate “let’s get rid of all the prisons” demand. It’s not incrementalist in the sense that it upholds current systems with piecemeal tweaks here and there; it’s a ground-up rethinking of how we prevent harm and move toward a better, safer society.

Abolition calls for accountability without using the prison system to punish and isolate, or simply “cancelling” or shunning the harm-doer. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to become BFFs with Bob the Axe Murderer (and especially not his victims’ relatives or friends). It means that you need a way to prevent Bob from becoming an axe murderer, or figuring out what he needs to put down the axe and become a functioning member of society again. And incarceration isn’t going to stop the violence; instead, it will just perpetuate the cycle.

I have read restorative- and transformative-justice stories about incestuous child molesters being rehabilitated. Hands-on parent–child sexual abuse is probably the most horrific thing I can think of—and I should know. I would be open to reconciling with my parents if they actually took responsibility for what they did. (I’ve never confronted them about the sexual abuse; I hadn’t contextualised the abuse when I was still in contact with them. But I knew about their emotional and physical abuse.) The problem is that they refuse to be accountable for their actions. Other survivors may not agree with me about reconciliation, and it’s not their job to. There’s a hotline, A Call for Change, designed to reach people either before or after they’ve abused their partners. ReSpec, operated by a former staff member at Feminist Frequency, is a monthly support and accountability group for people who have caused harm, whether that’s harassment, sexual assault, or something else. Circles of Support and Accountability surround recently released sex offenders and provide them with a community that makes them less likely to offend.There are organisations like Stop It Now! that provide confidential support to get people to stop using child sexual abuse material. These groups let people know what they’re doing is wrong before matters get worse, and there needs to be more of them.

People who cause harm may do so for complex reasons. Yes, even murderers, domestic abusers, and rapists. That doesn’t excuse their actions in the slightest; it just means that there are ways these crimes could have been intercepted without the involvement of police and prisons. We put a stop to rape when we teach people not to objectify each other and dispel the notion that people owe each other sex. We stop child abuse when we remind adults that kids are somebody and not something. We stop murder when we learn that we cannot take others’ lives to settle scores or remove obstacles. Prisons don’t teach any of those lessons, since policing and prisons themselves are violent. They lock people up, sometimes for life, instead of teaching them values.

I can understand the need for restorative justice in my own life. I’ve fucked up. I’ve never assaulted or murdered anyone. But I have said horrific, despicable, wildly out-of-character things I regret and can never take back because of untreated bipolar disorder (which can result in poor impulse control, grandiosity, and straight-up delusions and psychosis). These things haunt me to this very day, even though I don’t say anything destructive when I’m taking medication for my mood episodes. But even though I wasn’t in my right mind, the things I said still caused harm. They still ruptured relationships, either temporarily or permanently. They distorted the truth. They were cruel, distorted, vile. You could be possessed and swing around an axe without intending to hurt anyone, but an axe is still an axe. The blade still cuts.

Prison abolition teaches that “we are more than the worst things we’ve done.” And that’s why I’m an abolitionist.

More autism community frustrations

Back when I was on Twitter, I noticed autistic people who would say that anyone who identified as a highly sensitive person was actually autistic and expressing internalised ableism. You can be sensitive without being autistic. People who say they’re highly sensitive rather than autistic are just saying what’s true for them, not trying to dissociate themselves from the disability community.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


Offering undifferentiated instruction to students who are getting severely confused or bored to tears isn’t real “inclusion.”

Merely physically including students in a classroom isn’t real “inclusion,” especially if they get beaten up for being too different.

I support accessible and inclusive classrooms, but a lot of the talk about “inclusion” doesn’t support the real thing at all.

The unholy marriage of sexism and anti-intellectualism in the autism community (CW: rape/child sexual abuse)

I find it really fucking infuriating when highly intelligent autistic people attribute every single positive trait or ability of theirs to autism. Typically, these people are women or AFAB nonbinary, which gives it a weirdly sexist feel. Admittedly, this fury is personal and is connected to old, deep trauma.

(I’ve been talking about myself a lot more lately, mostly because I’ve been processing over three decades’ worth of trauma, and it’s inextricably tied to my beliefs.)

My father lived in a 1950s time warp, where women were supposed to be quiet, tidy, somewhat dull, subservient, mousy, and unambitious. The idea of having a loud, intelligent, brash, creative, dreamy, transmasculine child was anathema to him.

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Why the fuck do certain leftists love using “politic” as a singular?

“Anticapitalist politic.” “That’s not my politic.” “I support a politic of decolonial liberation.” Why not just call it “politics,” “view,” “viewpoint,” “stance,” or just plain “opinion”? Or just replace it with -ism, like “anticapitalism” or “anticolonialism.” “Politic” as a singular is weird jargon.

(As an aside, what is the deal with “praxis” instead of “practices” or merely “actions”? Or just dropping the word altogether, as with “politic,” and replacing it with -ism, -ation, -ity, or some other suffix? For example, “liberatory praxis” instead of “liberation.”)

Is this some subconscious desire to sound more educated or woke if they write and talk like this? I don’t think most of it is intentional, but it makes me want to gouge my eyes out every time I read it.


I want there to be more space for…

…leftists who are metaphysical idealists. Religious leftists. Leftists whose views come from their religion, not in spite of it. I hate that, at least for some, to be a socialist, you have to be a materialist. Nope, I tried that for a while. Materialism just doesn’t work for me as a way to understand the Universe, though I respect those who have made it work. As a grad school professor of mine said repeatedly, “Intelligent people disagree.” And I’m going to do that with the materialists.

Ambiguous activist argot

(CW: child sexual abuse, incest, and rape)

  1. Abolitionism or defunding the police. I’m no fan of prisons, policing, or psychiatric wards, but abolitionists need to be clear about what the alternatives are. People aren’t going to trust you if you think “restorative justice” is going to stop murderers, rapists, and child molesters. (I don’t think restorative justice would have stopped my paedophilic child-raping father from attacking me when I was a preschooler. There’s no restoring someone who destroys a child’s innocence.) Rapists, serial killers, and child molesters do not deserve to be in the community. Would you want Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Kaczynski, or Ted Bundy walking free to rape, murder, and torture more victims? I don’t, either. You need to present a solution for policing, forced psychiatric holds, and prisons that is free from logical holes and written in plain language. So far I haven’t seen anything of the sort, even though I’m sympathetic to their cause (with the exception of exceptionally violent criminals).
  2. Decolonial/decolonise. I’ve complained about this term before, since it’s often used to defend authoritarian groups and regimes like Hamas, the Taliban, and North Korea. But it’s ambiguous: do you mean creating systems that include peoples who were or are formerly imperial subjects? Or do you mean that you want to kill everyone who belongs to the coloniser’s ethnic group, regardless of their individual political beliefs (Hamas)? Or are you trying to establish a new form of ethnic supremacy to replace the previous one (North Korea)?
  3. Anticapitalism. What do you mean? Do you mean doing away with the market economy? Or private business? Or do you mean using barter instead of currency? For me, anticapitalism refers to socialist economic systems in which the general public (or a government representing the public) controls some or all of the means of production. Goods and services can be provided by governments, individuals, and unions, depending on the form of socialism. Socialism on its own doesn’t lead to equity (cases in point: USSR and my favourite whipping boy, North Korea).


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