An Open Letter to Angry, Sex-Fearing Feminists

*gently pats the seat beside her*

Come on in, get comfy – we’re gonna have a little chat.

No, that was not sarcasm. Come back. This is a good thing.

Recently, I read an article entitled ‘Whether you like it or not, pole dancing perpetuates sexism’ on Feminist Current. FakeFeminist, in order to fallistically silence through mockery any sort of rebuttal which didn’t recoil in horror at the mere mention of the possibility of causing arousal to another person, apparently made a bingo card of all the most common responses – pairing actual conversation starters with shallow insults, thereby ruining any sort of credibility by-association.


When “but it helped me heal” is a point of laughter/ disgrace, it’s time for a talking-to.

  1. Yes, skimpy clothing is required – sticking to the pole with your FUCKING FLESH is required in competitions (last I checked – I could be ill-informed). Being drunk helps – not only does it dull the pain of putting your entire body weight on the back of your knees/ inside of your thighs/ arm, the alcohol comes out in your sweat, making you even stickier, but that’s work, not Russia (I assume, but I’m Eurocentric, and all I know is drinking makes me warm; I digress). Dancers who wear stockings as a part of their aesthetic know the difference between Fishnet and Fencenet, because it might keep you from cracking your head open, one day.

Want to see Professional Gymnastics in Not-America? Watch this video, and tell me again how illegitimate of a sport pole dancing is still (by the way, there is a male category).

2. I’m already done with this; I’m not here to dissect… much.

I’m here to give an alternate perspective, maybe find some middle-ground.  look at the bottom of the column, again. Eye for an eye.

You know what causes Rape? LACK OF CONSENT.


When you try to take control of someone else’s arousal without their permission, what would you call that?

If someone uses their arousal as an excuse to violate you without your permission (because, let’s be honest, if people didn’t like being violated in a large enough group, ‘Safewords’ would not be a thing involved in what grown adults do to pass the time and invest thousands of dollars and hours into each year; I digress), what would you call that?

Yes, Feminists, Institutional Sexism, like Institutional Racism, is real:


Brock Turner and his Presiding Judge, the Red-Eye Nipple Pincher, Sexual Abuse in the Military – we have to quit treating sexual assault like an “oops”, specifically when it comes to white males. (By the way, white is a culture which currently holds institutional power, beige is one of a myriad of skin colors.) If someone steals a wallet or leaves a bruise, there is ‘proof’; when the assailant admits wrongdoing and begs to avoid punishment (which successfully happens), the person who was violated is put in a very awkward situation – “sorry, your tits and peace of mind are less valuable than the contents of a Leather Pouch”.

According to a poll by the Veteran’s Health Administration, at least One in Five Females in the Military admitted being victims of sexual abuse during their time of service. Now, the key word in that statement is ‘admitted’. In 2013, it was estimated that 60 – 65% of all sexual assaults go unreported. This means, adjusting for a trend of under-reporting of cases, that number is closer to One in Three.


Now, did I say anything, men who came here to hate just because the words ‘Angry’ and ‘Feminists’ were in the title of an article which doesn’t eviscerate the Movement, about sexual assaults only ever happening to women? Nope. This is a very interesting infographic from the Seattle Post, all the way back in 2004.

Look at the bottom left-hand bar of the above bar graph. In the Military, a group predominantly known for being anti-LGBT for years and years, using slurs specifically for this group in order to degrade as a part of mental training, women are STILL 4 TIMES as scared of their reputation being ruined than men, even though men are ten percent more likely to suffer feelings of shame, embarrassment, and self-blame.

In other words, even though more men feel guilty than women when they are assaulted, they still know they face little consequences to their day-to-day and career life because of it.

Many might not even consider such a possibility, certain anthropologists believing women are more likely to be sensitive to group dynamics as part of a survival mechanism ingrained in their biological makeup (which is why men are less likely to understand why you’re mad that bitch was nice to you – it’s called a ‘Backhanded Compliment’, look it up!!).

It would, though, wouldn’t it? Make you seem weak, like an easy target – “Successfully Raped.” It’s something I’ve been dealing with, in the wake of several molestations and a few penetrations, one of which may have been drugged, since I’ve never had a blackout or a hangover that badly in my life, that I can recall, and I’ve drunk a half a handle of UV Blue to myself once…

Ended puking on the toilet while singing ‘Dresden Dolls’, after which I stripped down of my own accord and got in the bathtub, so I’d feel better – yes, this is something I do when I’m drunk and feel safe.

Was alone with two men, was treated respectfully (was checked on to make sure I didn’t drown without incident, if you can believe it) and put to bed to sleep it off. They made it a point to be polite and as non-sexual as possible, even though I was not related to them.

I was lucky to be around who I was around, that night, and not someone else.

That’s the point of this article, I guess: Personal Responsibility.

Brock Turner does NOT represent the men who are maligned with false rape accusations from spiteful women who don’t understand the pain and suffering of an actual sexual assault victim, he represents only himself and his personal actions.

Brock Turner being sentenced lightly will not help the number of fathers whose children are in abusive environments, due to the state siding with their mothers arbitrarily, get them out of that situation any faster, protect four-year-olds from being pulled up by the neck with a belt and their 9-year-old sister from revealing on the origin of the bruises casually at dinner.

It is one thing to take into context the demographics of the victim/ perp and be aware of injustices upheld by those who hold positions of authority in conflict of interest (Blind Trust, anyone?), it is a completely different thing to successfully find out what it is about that person we can ban to make the threat of such a crime non-existent. I vote ‘ignorance’.

Oh, and, to quote Joss Whedon, “Looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex.” Please stop taking erections personally, they aren’t actually trouser snakes. If you can’t, then please consider learning self-defense, a la Bobby Hill, and make sure you use it appropriately, unlike Bobby Hill.

Until next time, Keep your Mind and Eyes Open!!


Adam Names Things, so He Can Sh*t on Them

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

-Book of Genesis

I’ve noticed quite the – frankly, boring – trend of looking at someone’s opinion, branding/ labeling them something, then going off on that label’s stereotype.

For example, I do not identify as a Feminist. I believe in Gender Equality because I, personally, identify as Gender Fluid. I acknowledge Rape Culture exists and is just as valid as male victims of domestic violence. Not only should women be paid equally as men for the same amount of work across the board, men should be given a fair chance in child custody cases – that’s REAL Gender Equality, and I think, no matter who I am or who people THINK I am, I should be treated the same as the CEO and the Janitor – no better, no worse. In a perfect world, I also wouldn’t be a hypocrite. I digress.

I can’t tell you HOW many people say I’m a Feminist for calling someone out for being sexist, then launching into issues that affect men as if that NEGATED women’s issues altogether – like you can’t get your period and diarrhea at the same time. Newsflash, Gentlemen – the refried beans can – and often do – come with Rojo Enchilada Sauce.

Why Some People Are Worried About the Executive Order

It is now currently legal in California for a “temporary” gun seizure order to be executed at your family’s discretion.

Families don’t fucking get along. They gossip about the black sheep. This is McCarthyism at its best.

This, of course, is not the recent event on everyone’s lips.

Now, keeping in mind how legislation works, how HIPPA might be exploited by future presidents, most likely a Republican WILL be elected to office eventually, that’s just how things go (we switch parties every so often), how are we calling for more mental health diagnoses while simultaneously decrying mental health care recipients as unfit for gun ownership?

If I go through the mental health care system and DON’T come out the other side fit to own a gun as a fully-functioning American Adult, I have a problem with that form of mental health care.

Most prescription medications, including psychiatric meds, are in clinical trials a month, tops, and NEVER in combination with another medication – yet millions of Americans have been on a cocktail of these drugs for YEARS.

Need I say more?



You know why Tamir Rice is dead?: A Self-Important White Chick’s Perspective

Someone has to fucking say it, might as well be me.

The caller said Tamir had what appeared to be a toy gun – he saw a child who needed someone to have a very serious discussion with them, but he was also kind of scared that might have been a real gun, and didn’t want to take any chances.

Dispatch either neglected to inform the responders of, or the responders ignored, the ‘toy’ part of the information given initially.

Without any hesitation, Loehmann shot young Tamir Rice because he allegedly believed that he was pointing the gun at him and his partner. Loehmann shot in spite of the person who dialed 9-1-1 telling them twice that the gun was “probably fake.” After they killed him, police inspected the gun to discover that it was an air soft pellet-gun, which is basically a toy.

The tragic incident was captured on surveillance video.

Responders respond, assessing the situation as one best handled A) without engaging the suspected gunman in conversation, and B) without giving medical treatment as soon as the suspect is down.

Juvenile female claiming to be sister, hysterical, pinned to ground while brother bleeds to death without said medical treatment, because that was what was safest for everyone in that moment…

Maybe it’s just me, but what the fuck would be the point of this decision? “Watch your little brother bleed to death, and remember to stay the fuck in line”? Did no one hear anything she was saying, or did they not care? She didn’t need assistance, she needed restraining. The boy didn’t need assistance, he needed to die.

…can’t imagine any other reason why that would have happened.

Suicidal white teen huddling in trash can ‘siced’ on by dog as part of the K9’s training exercises, implicating text messages affirm.

Here’s another:

Cop catches mother stealing eggs, has a food drive and delivers perishables to her home. And again, something similar.

Here’s another:

Border patrol agent kidnapped, raped, and sliced open the arms of a mother and her daughter – mother ran while agent was assaulting her daughter, to get help FROM OTHER AGENTS, who promptly busted in mid-stroke on that dude, and he gets up to off himself. The Mother and Daughter were taken to a hospital to care for their injuries.

What do all of these incidents have in common?

The person who perpetrated these acts had either extreme or no empathy for the person with whom they were dealing. We have both mob mentality/ community outreach and lone wolves/ individual Samaritans, once again indicating pretty much anything is neutral, it’s the intention behind the action/ usage of an object/ idea.

People HAVE prejudices – they have prejudices because ‘their brains’ and ‘survival’. I would like to think we have evolved past the need to rely on this, but I digress – I might actually be a generation ahead, due to how young my Gma/ Mother were when they had children. I digress and apologize, that was elitist of me to infer older generations are inferior in any way without recognizing the ways in which they are obviously superior… I was born about 200 – 300 years too late, myself.

Prejudices can be based on a number of different factors, and people from various backgrounds can be prejudiced against different things on a sliding spectrum of acceptance and rejection, which both can be advantageous to the prejudiced person (i.e.: choosing to apply to serve tables at a restaurants with higher clientele) and also not (refusing to let Viola become a manager and continually sexually harassing all the women, because it’s 1970-something and they can always just QUIT if they don’t like ‘playing with the big boys’… meaning the big boys play while the laundry lasses slave away in the washroom now known as ‘the cubicle with typewriter’. If you’re unaware, this is the plot of a movie-turned-musical starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda. The Tomlin/ Fonda wage issue is a whole ‘nother blog.

Awareness of prejudice may result in conscious choice of de-escalatory/ nurturing behavior, the old ‘honey than vinegar’ primal psychology. Is someone more likely to surrender to someone who has a gun drawn to them? Is someone more likely to shoot an armed man approaching them with or without weapon drawn?

What if his sister was standing with him when the cops pulled up? Would they both have been shot? Would they have assumed the girl was a hostage? What ways do prejudice inform your choices in how to talk to/ treat/ favor/ discredit people? Murder? Rape? Extortion? Theft? Sodomy? Thinking adulterous thoughts? At what point can you condemn another person to “whatever terrible fate may await them” without a second thought? Holding a gun-like object in public? A group of grown men killing a child, conspiring to sic a dog on one?

Let’s be reasonable – those people who committed what, by civilian standards, would be considered assault on another person, have names and should be held accountable – that’s the main issue here. “With great Power comes great responsibility”.

You know why the Ten Commandments are there to ‘keep us from going to hell’… what do you THINK are the consequences of Murder, Adultery, in the real world?

Fucking Vendettas. Possessively-justifiable violence.

“An eye for an eye“, or the law of retaliation, is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree, or in softer interpretations, the victim receives the [estimated] value of the injury in compensation.[1]

The principle is sometimes referred using the Latin term lex talionis or the law of talion. The English word talion (from the Latin talio [2]) means a retaliation authorized by law, in which the punishment corresponds in kind and degree to the injury.

“You killed my child.”

“You maimed my child.”

“You shot my child in the head because you were scared she would encourage women to get an education.”

I don’t think there should be equality. I think there should be Justice. We shouldn’t knock everyone down and pander to the lowest-common denominator, that does no one any good.

If I’m on a rope-pulling team, and it’s legal to do so in the rope-pulling rules, I want the fucking sweaty-palmed dude to wear gloves, I want us ALL to wear gloves, even though it will help some people significantly more than others. Conversely, if you CAN’T abide gloves, I don’t see the point in forcing someone to wear them when they’re already calloused up fine from YEARS of training, and adding a new element is going to throw them off completely?

I digress into allegory a lot.

The point is, BLM, The War on Terror, is it any WONDER it took dogs getting capped by some poor bastard who’s shoved onto frontlines until they have PTSD and who’s taught to anticipate instead of approach a situation with love and courage – what I have, firsthand, seen the ‘good ones’ do. Are there lost causes? YES, there certainly are people whose brains incline them towards psychopathic, non-empathetic behaviors. There are some who have this non-empathy, and use it, instead, to become proficient surgeons and make a whole bunch of money to keep themselves entertained based on the fact they’re allowed to carve people up “if they do it right”.

It takes all kinds – it’s being able to control your behavior which makes you a danger to society… or not. Law Enforcement’s main concern, in any community, ought to be Public Safety – that’s why they’re regularly seen patrolling at public events, when there are large crowds of people, like Parades and Festivals, in case little kids get lost and need to find and adult and shit. Public Service is not for everyone, nor should it be – it should be Elitist and it ought to strive for Excellence in Safety, Honor, Integrity, Vigilance… but I guess that’s my little fantasy world of Super People. I know how quick a stripper goes from bright and bubbly to disgusted and detached, I can only imagine what policework would do to the human soul.

Making a hard decision in the moment isn’t the same as PREMEDITATED action… knowing someone has a gun and choosing to shoot them and let them bleed out instead of communicating how to de-escalate the situation with the perp, your cohorts, or, not to mention, immediately responding to the injured party once the weapon was discovered to be a toy, that’s not excusable in any sense of the word. If you know you’re going to SHOOT immediately, call an ambulance right away, to be on the scene right after. If you’re going to hurt someone, make sure they make it to court.

“That’s what you get,” isn’t Justice; that’s callousness, that’s Color of Law, that’s deplorable, that’s criminal, and the fact of it being Criminal and involving victims IS worth being taken seriously in a Court of Law, regardless.

Then again, just like Ryan White, the further away someone is from a tragedy of social consciousness, the more willing they seem to help. I can’t speak for the cops or the victim’s families, I can only speak as an outsider watching this all unfold and trying to respond with as much empathy as possible.

What If CSPAN was, like, Reality Goverment Shows?

…yeah! And really, really, REALLY charismatic leaders, like Obama and Putin and Trudeau… they’re the stars!! They’re also in-shape, unlike Ted Kennedy, who only WISHES he had JFK’s (or, heck, even half of Bobby’s) chiseled features.

Where was I? Oh yeah!

We follow candidates around ‘behind the scenes’, with a live feed of the House/ Senate in a PIP on CSPAN 1 and 2 (following, of course, the two main candidates of each of the Two Parties, whom not voting for is ‘throwing your vote away’), which is easily expandable by switching over to CSPAN 3 or 4, which is also available on mobile phone.


It’s Like Following Someone Around a Store

Gun control.

We already have it in this country (America). People have to take concealed carry classes before they can purchase a handgun. In the state of Iowa, at least, those who have been convicted of a Domestic Assault or a Felony can no longer legally own firearms. If you order certain types of guns online, they must be delivered to a registered gun distributor and picked up following a background check, you can’t just “mail yourself assault weapons” like some people seem to think.

It’s not perfect – nothing is – but a Crime is a Crime. In this country’s legal system, you are (supposed to be) innocent until proven guilty. However, in the wake of so much violence, Australia has made a very clear stance about wanting to pressure the US into reigning their citizen’s rights in even more. Famously, Australia got rid of (allegedly) all their guns. Some people say it was great, other people bemoan lack of personal safety and an increase in burglaries/ muggings – it depends on who you ask. A lot of people who consider themselves “anti-wingnut” are calling for something similar in the US.

Here’s why that is a problem:

Someone walks into a store with deep-pocketed baggy pants on – Tripps, FUBU, pick your poison. The associates immediately notice and make it a point to follow them around. They might steal something, they might purchase all of their items, they might not find what they were looking for and leave without buying or stealing anything, or they might notice they’re being watched when none of the other customers are and be upset enough to cause a scene before they leave.

In this scenario, the person in the Tripps is seen as “guilty until proven innocent” – they are going to be followed until they leave the store, and only then will the associates deem that person someone they didn’t have to bother following. Does this mean every thief who comes into the store will be caught? Hell no… not by a longshot. However, we all know targeting certain individuals – otherwise known as ‘profiling’ – is a gross injustice to those who are profiled.

Yes, there is a reason the profile exists, but, when we’re talking about individual rights, there becomes individual violations of those rights. The right to dress however you want is not protected by the Constitution, as seen by the Tennessee ‘Fashion Police‘ (tl;dr: the women were charged with indecent exposure for wearing booty shorts and not having a change of clothes, a charge usually reserved for people who masturbate in front juveniles or otherwise get some sort of sexual gratification out of exposing their bare genitals to non-consenting parties). However, for the most part, people can choose to wear clothes with as many/ few or as shallow/ deep of pockets as they choose. Not every store they go into is going to treat them like a criminal for it, either.

Not all people calling for ‘better gun control’ are calling for something as drastic as an outright ban – I realize this, and those are not the arguments this article is attempting to address. The argument this article means to address is the argument of guns being inherently evil and needing to be burned in a fire or otherwise not allowed for people to keep or practice with as they see fit, so long as they adhere to certain guidelines, or sarcastically calling people “responsible gun owners” when they have been reported to be quite irresponsible. All you ‘pro-life, but not pro-gun-control’ chanters, listen up:

Accusing gun owners of being criminals simply by associating with guns, for being part of a community where gun safety and handling is taught at a young age, or for using the second amendment as a response to backlash at the fact that our gun laws aren’t tight enough because kids dying in the US is a tragedy while hospitals being blown to smithereens and children playing in the street are gunned down by drones are just collateral damage, shows a small-mindedness about the real issue.

Certain people just DGAF about anyone or anything – call them ‘crazy’, ‘desperate’, ‘psychopaths’, whatever you’d like to make yourself feel superior to “them”. Evil is a part of life, and there’s nothing that can be done to legislate it away. If anything, the more laws we have, the more loopholes we have for people to jump through or use to protect serial predators who happen to have places of authority or been born to/ be in the good graces of people who do.

We look at these gunmen as easy targets to vent our frustration on and, since most of them choose to take their own lives instead of waiting for the cops to take them out to Burger King (which Snopes says is false with a big red X, but, when you read through the text, it says “Dylann Roof was apprehended between 10 and 11 AM on 18 June 2015, and the circumstances under which he was provided with food from Burger King prior to his arraignment were not entirely clear
Roof hadn’t eaten in days, and the Shelby PD didn’t have the facilities to house him and provide him with meals while waiting for federal and Charleston authorities to arrive, so they had to dispatch someone to a nearby business to pick up some food for him…” it’s obvious the man had Burger King – it should be a yellow ‘Kind Of True’)
, we have to have some
way to feel in control of something which is essentially only controlled by a perpetrator.

People want answers, and to dismiss their feelings on the issue as irrelevant is wrong. To dismiss the pain and suffering of the victims and their loved ones is cruel and inhumane. However, using those feelings of pain and suffering to push through legislation à la the Patriot Act is just as disrespectful as invalidation, and not something we should ever repeat. At home or abroad, human life should be valued, honored, and revered by people of all walks of life.

Gilbert and Sullivan are Dead: On Cultural Appropriation, Whitewashing, and White Heartbreak

A lot of people don’t understand what the big deal is about performing ‘The Mikado’ in an historically accurate way (read: with white actors in Yellowface). There are two main schools of thought: The Completely Ignorant, and the Academically Ignorant. Now, no one has life lessons beamed straight into their brain – we’re all ignorant about things, at some point in our lives; some people, because of their culture or a personal preference, make it a point to stay ignorant.

For example, tying your shoes. Maybe you just stuck with Velcro all your life, and are starting to get made fun of – maybe you’re Amish or Quaker and only use buckles, because grommeting machines aren’t something you have just lying around (I just made that up). In other words, the amount of pressure to stay ignorant can vary. With that in-mind, let’s carry on.

The Completely Ignorant think ‘Appropriation’ is just a word made up to keep white people from having fun by expressing themselves how they always have before. These people see the condemnation of actions made with either malicious intent or out of learned habit, and think their heritage is being taken away from future generations. No one is injured by a word or a garment, everyone they can see is enjoying themselves – what’s the problem?

When I worked for a literary magazine, there was this really involving piece about a man who was his high school’s racist mascot 30 – 40 years ago. I wish I remembered the name of it, or if it ended up getting in. It was really well written, and it reminded me of the song, “I Sang Dixie“. The story touched on the dissonance felt by people whose worlds, whose prestige (albeit for the better) are being ripped away from them, and the legitimate (albeit less-sympathetic) heartbreak it causes.

Heroes are being rebranded as Perpetuators of Inequality and Injustice, and I believe that’s why we’re seeing so much acting out from these xenophobic ‘old white dudes’ – they’re afraid of being attacked as righteous anger is finally plain to see everywhere, instead of hidden away in private homes and certain parts of town. Now, it’s right on your Facebook feed every day, multiple times a day.

Appropriation is something people do because they have the privilege of pantomiming a culture without having to adopt those values and behaviors to survive. In other words, appropriation is the difference between Native American kids being forced to go to “white” schools and white kids running around the backyard using the hand bobbing over their mouths to make that “wah-wah-wah-wah” racist Indian sound.

Make The Mikado a Valley Girl Story, and it’s no longer appropriation, it’s an adaptation. If the story being about strict morals is SO important, then make it a 1950s conservative Catskills McCarthy-Era Blacklisting story – I digress, I’m no Dramaturge. But, seriously, WHY is doing an opera from 1885 so freaking important?

One commenter on the American Theatre Magazine Facebook post of the article ‘Keep Your Hands Off Of My Kimono, White People‘, brought up the importance of not whitewashing our history. Without relics like these being performed at least semi-regularly (and, of course, only in the hands of confirmed Gilbert and Sullivan Scholars), the Academically Ignorant insist the impact of racism towards people of color in Western Society will never resonate with white people. They can’t see it anymore, so it must not have existed in the first place, or at least not as bad as people make it out to seem.

I can’t completely disagree with this point; after all, having uncensored film of this travesty is important, for keeping the memory of our cultural trespasses alive. Until I was assigned August Wilson in theatre history, the word “Buck” meant nothing to me, in a racial context. The fact of these minstrel caricatures still being used in movies today (Hello, “White Girls”, “Big Momma’s House”…) without being recognized is definitely a legitimate fear – and that’s just one subgroup of POC.

If a clip is shown in an educational setting for the purposes of eliciting the shock and disgust of the students, in order to make them more aware, that’s good, because it is being used to expand social justice and awareness. If a Theatre Company chooses ‘The Mikado’ to fill their lineup, it’s completely insensitive and inappropriate, and no amount of hemming and hawing about production costs and ticket refunds is going to make it justifiable as a choice.

There is plenty of other material to perform in the public domain, not to mention the fact people workshop plays all the time – I just saw a children’s theatre production based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe last night, actually. If the kids can do it, you grown-ass motherfuckers can do it.

If there are white people who want to comment on historical white privilege, a good commentary on racism with an all-white cast (in my opinion) is the “1940’s Radio Hour” – it’s also a Musical, as well as a Christmas show. The casual racism in the advertising bits of the show speaks volumes about how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.