Minneapolis punks jimmy and bryan answer Razorcake readers’ concerns in Dear ACABby, an advice column for the rest of us. This time, they talk about the pitfalls of online social mores and the anxiety of entering a new career. If you’ve got a problem you’d like Dear ACABby to have a go at, you can email them at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you here at razorcake.org.
somebody posted “WHAT DO WE CALL FEMALE HOSSES” in my favorite group on facebook BAD TO THE BONE TRUCKERS WHO GIVE NO DAMNS AND SHITS and i replied “LIZERD” because i was trying to roleplay. i got banned for implying that all women are sex workers. This was not my intention. did i fuck up? if so, how can i avoid fucking up in the future?
It sucks that you got banned without being able to talk to anyone about what happened! It can be so hard to know what’s funny to begin with, especially online where tone is often lost and people are quick to the keyboard and not so quick to stop and think. With so many groups on Facebook dedicated to roleplaying obtuse, funny, and just plain weird characters—from clueless baby boomers to an ant colony complete with a queen—assuming that was the case in BAD TO THE BONE TRUCKERS, it certainly wasn’t a crime.
As per your joke in particular, it might not be the most tasteful, but we still think it’s pretty funny. Of course it would be fucked up to say that all women are sex workers, but that seems to us like quite a leap from what you said, particularly given the group’s context. There’s a huge tendency online to exaggerate the effects of any given statement, acting as if every individual—by speaking online in the public sphere of the internet—is responsible for the weight of all social justice discourse all the time, to the point that micro-offenses like this come to stand in for meaningful discourse about the language and oppression are intertwined. Your joke, while it does play into certain stereotypes about gender, seems pretty straightforwardly ironic and dependent on the very specific setting of the group, making fun of those exact stereotypes, and isn’t really perpetuating any harm. Added to how easy it is for tone, familiarity, and irony to be lost on the internet, it seems like you trucked into the perfect storm on this one. In the future, it might be good to double-check the group rules before posting and keep a keen eye on the kinds of things others post in the group just to be on the safe side—it’s much easier to get banned than the reverse!
If you haven’t reached out to the admins of the group, it might be worth it to try to explain what happened. Maybe you can say sorry and get back to honking your big horn! If not, there’s always www.singletruckers.com for those highway blues…
jimmy & bryan
I’m Tired of Care Labor
I got my degree in Social Studies Education in 2015. My goal was to teach leftist history in public schools, but coming out as trans made me very scared to teach in public schools.
For the next 6 years, I’ve worked as an infant/toddler teacher at a childcare center. I thought it was my life’s calling. I loved it. And I was good at it. I even helped to push a unionizing vote through (and we won!). But the pay ceiling is so low. The demands are so high. And although my school claimed to champion “social justice,” I was fired when they found my SW account.
Which at the time was fine, because I’m now nannying for a family that is such an upgrade.
I want a change. I want to be a trade welder. And my plan is to go to school in the fall.
But I'm scared to change fields. What if I fail? What if the transphobia is too much to handle? What will I do in the meantime to support myself?
Anxious of Change
Hi Anxious of Change,
Start by taking a second to recognize your resilience here—you’ve already gone through some pretty big life changes that let on that you’re no stranger to toughing it out in the face of adversity. That’s not to minimize the problem at hand, though: navigating being trans in the workplace is challenging enough before adding the stress of changing fields entirely, particularly starting in a field that has a reputation for being a boys’ club. Even with the many advances made in the last five years or so, transphobia is rampant in every field, and where it’s not rampant, it’s certainly not absent entirely, either. Your anxiety is totally understandable—it’d be more surprising if you weren’t feeling some trepidation. If cis dudes had to face half the shit trans people often do just to live day-to-day, there’d probably be a fraction of a percent of the shitty bosses and CEOs there are now (wishful thinking, I know…).
As per failure, we won’t tell you you won’t fail. But what we will say is that even just looking at the short timeline you’ve given us, that it seems like you’re damn good at sticking it out and advocating for yourself and others. Long story short? We think you’ve got what it takes. Any “failure” in this respect is not a reflection on anything to do with your character, and you know as well as we that there are barriers already in place making it more difficult for you to break into the field.
It doesn’t fall just to you to make it happen, either: check out your school’s resources for LGBTQIA/trans students. Even if they’re not specific to the welding program, getting in touch with folks in the know at your particular school can help connect you to other queer students, knowledgeable staff, and hopefully provide a support network to help you navigate any problems that may arise. Most schools these days have at least some kind of protections in place for trans students—and people there to help you make sure they’re working—and other students can be a great resource for sharing the crucial hot goss about who’s who and what’s what. You’ve already helped unionize one workplace, so you probably already know just how important solidarity and connections are in this context.
If it does become a toxic environment, it’s NOT on you. You can always try something new again: there are about as many paths to go down in this world as there are people, and you never know where you might find you fit. Of course we hope that welding works out for you, but it’s worth the reminder that there’s a whole world out there and you’re never locked in for good if you don’t want to be.
For now, give yourself a little more credit, and try not to let anxiety stop you from pursuing something that’s clearly important to you. With a good support system and a little hard work, we think (and hope) you’ll be alright!
Take good care,
jimmy & bryan
jimmy & bryan are two Minneapolis punks trying to figure out how to stick together in the long Minnesota winter. You can send them your advice inquiries at [email protected] and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.