In response to Trump’s ‘shithole countries’ remark, let’s look at some stats.

Donald Trump doesn’t see the value in immigrants from “shithole” countries — but he couldn’t be more wrong.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the president who opened his campaign with a rant about Mexicans being rapists, railed against the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier, claimed that an Indiana-born judge should recuse himself from a Trump case because he’s “a Mexican,” blamed “both sides” for a woman killed by a white supremacist, called for the execution of five men of color for a crime they didn’t commit, and spent years speculating about whether or not the country’s first black president was actually born in America would say something so overtly racist … but that’s exactly what he did on Thursday, Jan. 11.

“Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?” Trump reportedly asked during a bipartisan meeting with senators on immigration. By “shithole countries,” he apparently meant Haiti, El Salvador, and the entire continent of Africa. According to the report, he thinks the U.S. should seek out immigrants from countries like Norway (i.e. white countries).  

While he’s tried to distance himself from the comments, it’s been confirmed by others in the room.

Trump met with members of Congress on Monday to discuss immigration. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The truth is that it really cannot be overstated how important immigrants are to the U.S., including — and perhaps especially — those from the countries Trump slurred.

A November 2017 report by New American Economy, a non-partisan organization for comprehensive immigration reform, sheds light on some of the contributions made by people in these countries. Focusing on immigrants from Sub-Saharan African nations, the group found the following:

  • In 2015, African immigrants earned $55.1 billion, contributing $10.1 billion in federal taxes and $4.7 billion in state and local taxes.
  • 73.4% of these immigrants are between the ages of 25 and 64. This is an age range many consider to be prime working years, in which people are most likely to have a net-positive effect on the economy. (In comparison, less than half of the U.S.-born population falls into this age bracket.)
  • There’s a big demand for health care workers, and it’s constantly growing. The report found that in 2015, there were more open positions in the health care industry than there were unemployed workers with relevant experience. Nearly 30% of African immigrants take up work in this field, providing some much-needed stability.
  • As of 2015, there were more than 90,000 African-born entrepreneurs in the U.S., creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of individuals.
  • 40% of African-born immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree, making them better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole.

New U.S. citizens attend a naturalization ceremony. Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

We have to ask ourselves who we are as a country — and who we want to be.

Looking to the Statue of Liberty, the very symbol of what so many of us were raised to believe about America, Trump’s own message is contradicted.

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!'”

Lady Liberty holds aloft her torch — a beacon of hope to immigrants everywhere. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

No, it doesn’t say anything about “shithole” countries, but it does advocate for the “tired,” the “poor,” the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” and of course, “the homeless, tempest-tost.”

When Trump says that other countries “aren’t sending their best” or suggests that Haitians “all have AIDS,” he’s betraying who we strive to be as a country.

At this moment in time, there is, sadly, nothing more antithetical to so-called “American values” than our own president.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/in-response-to-trump-s-shithole-countries-remark-let-s-look-at-some-stats

Bea Arthur gave big to homeless LGBTQ youth in her will. This is what came of it.

Back in 2009, Carl Siciliano wasn’t sure if his nonprofit was going to survive the throes of the Great Recession.

The Ali Forney Center, a group committed to helping homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, was on the brink of eviction. Between paying rent, payroll, and the critical services it provided to its youth, Siciliano, director of the center, had doubts Ali Forney could run much longer.

Carl Siciliano. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Then he got a phone call from the estate of Bea Arthur.

Arthur (“Maude,” “The Golden Girls”) had recently passed away. And Ali Forney was in her will.

It wasn’t necessarily shocking news — the late actor had been a supporter of the organization, giving donations to the group and using her one-woman show, “Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends,” to raise funds for the nonprofit’s work.

But Ali Forney, Siciliano learned, was at the top of her will’s list of charities.

Bea Arthur (right) attends the Emmys in 1987. Photo by Alan Light/Flickr.

Arthur left $300,000 to The Ali Forney Center.

In times as tough as they’d been, the donation was the buoy keeping Ali Forney afloat. “I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through the recession without that extraordinary gift,” Siciliano later blogged about the experience. “Bea Arthur truly meant it when she said she would do anything to help our kids.”

Siciliano stands with Skye Adrian, who has benefited from Ali Forney’s services. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Eight years after her death, the folks at Ali Forney can still remember how crucial Arthur’s generosity was when times were tough. They made sure her legacy of helping homeless LGBTQ youth will live on for decades to come.

In December 2017, Ali Forney opened its doors to its latest facility for homeless LGBTQ youth: the Bea Arthur Residence.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Nestled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the 18-bed residence will save and change lives, acting as a safe and nurturing environment for youth in transitional housing.

Image by Erin Law, courtesy of the Ali Forney Center.

It doesn’t look like your average shelter either — because it’s not.

Young people who stay at the Bea Arthur Residence enter a 24-month program aimed at giving them the tools they need to succeed on their own. They deserve every bit of help they can get too; most homeless LGBTQ youth were either kicked out by unaccepting parents or ran away from hostile home environments.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Homophobia and transphobia at home leaves far too many queer youth high and dry, and it shows in the numbers. While some estimates suggest about 7% of all youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. A disproportionate number of them are transgender and people of color too.

With warm beds, comfy sofas, and a kitchen to prepare meals, the residence provides an ideal space for young people to transition into stable, independent housing.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

They benefit from a range of programs provided through Ali Forney too, like job readiness and education, health screenings, and free legal services.

These programs are vital, and Arthur understood it.

“These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender,” Arthur once said.

“This organization really is saving lives.”

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

“I would do anything in my power to protect children who are discarded by their parents for being LGBT,” Arthur had said.

It’s a promise Arthur is still keeping long after she said her goodbyes.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/bea-arthur-gave-big-to-homeless-lgbtq-youth-in-her-will-this-is-what-came-of-it-2

15 real ways to thank black women for carrying the country on their backs.

After an intense, widely watched campaign, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s open seat in the U.S. Senate.

It’s the first time a Democrat has held the spot in more than 20 years, and the victory cost Republicans a desperately needed seat just as the fight to pass major items on the GOP’s agenda has become particularly heated.

Doug Jones’ win was huge for Alabama — and the nation too — but as the exit poll data has emerged, it’s very clear who pushed him over the line: black people, particularly black women. Nearly 97% of black women in Alabama voted for Jones. 97%!

After Jones’ victory, social media erupted with messages thanking black women for once again carrying the Democratic party to victory.

While black women are rarely anyone’s majority, we are united, consistent, and right on time. So come election night, we tend to be thanked profusely (then promptly forgotten about) or maligned, depending on how things turn out.

But Tuesday. Tuesday appeared to be our night:

But, hey, Steve’s got a point.

While gratitude is always welcome, and appreciated, if you really want to show your appreciation for black women, do something tangible. Put another way: Show us the money.

Thank-yous and handclap emojis won’t keep the lights on or help more people of color win elections. But you know what will? Cold hard cash.

Here are 15 ways to spend your money, power, time, and resources to thank black women for carrying the political load.

1. Support black women running for office.

Yard signs. Phone banks. Field work. And, most importantly, monetary donations. No black women running for office near you? No excuses. Consider contributing to Stacey Abrams, a black Democrat running for governor of Georgia.

2. Get serious about closing the wage gap.

You’ve likely heard the statistic that women earn 78 cents for dollar a man makes doing the same job. That’s white women. Black women earn about 64 cents for every dollar. Connect with and contribute to groups like the 78 Cents Project and the National Women’s Law Center, who work tirelessly to bring about change in this arena.

3. Push for fair districting and open, easy voter registration in your community.

Not only did black women in Alabama come through at the polls, they did it in spite of roadblocks put in place to disenfranchise them. Political gerrymandering, voter ID requirements, and early registration deadlines diminish the back vote. Get involved locally and on the national level with groups fighting for full voting rights for everyone. Jason Kander’s Let America Vote is a great place to start.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

4. Help fund and build a political pipeline filled with black women.

There are three black people currently serving in the U.S. Senate, including Kamala Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. We can and must do better, not just at the highest offices, but on city councils, school boards, and municipal positions. Groups like Higher Heights and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women work to promote the presence of black women in all levels of government.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

5. Stop asking black women to work for free.

All work, even emotional and psychological labor, has dignity and deserves compensation. If you’re online or in a meeting and are about to ask a black person you don’t know to teach you something, share their opinion on an issue “as a black person,” or ask them to explain why some other black person in the news did or didn’t do something: STOP. Or at least, offer to pay them for their time. (And if you really need it, consider reaching out to the white volunteers at White Nonsense Roundup to perform that emotional labor instead.)

6. Support a living wage and the Fight for $15.

You know what else shouldn’t come free? Physical labor. Even working full-time, someone earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) does not earn enough money to support themselves, let alone a small family. A living wage, $15/hour, would go a long way to pulling women of color working entry-level, retail, or food service positions out of poverty, and it could improve the health and education prospects for their children.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

7. Volunteer or fund “get out the vote” efforts and field campaigns in 2018.

One of Doug Jones’ keys to success was activating a large grassroots effort to reach out to communities of color — making calls, knocking on doors, putting billboards in neighborhoods often ignored. Some will (rightfully) argue he still could have done more and that the effort to get people of color involved in politics shouldn’t happen only every few years. To those people, I say: Please open your wallet or your calendar and help out. These efforts are effective, but they take time and do not come cheap.

8. Start a monthly donation to your local NAACP.

Guess who’s been doing work on the ground to mobilize black communities for a century? The NAACP. Find and fund your local unit or contribute at the national level. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting not just on political matters, but on education, civil rights, environmental justice, health care, and more.

NAACP national president and CEO Cornell Brooks joins the Rev. Joseph Darby and other local leaders for a news conference about the Charleston shooting. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

9. Listen to black women when we talk about the issues that keep us up at night — or the issues that will bring us to the voting booth.

Statistically, if you’re white in this country, you don’t have a lot of black friends to listen to. No excuses. Pick up a magazine like Essence, Black Enterprise, or Ebony. Read sites like The Root, The Grio, or Very Smart Brothas. Follow black women on Twitter. (I even made you a list.) Listen, read, take notes. The black women going to the polls are not voting to save white people or the country at large; they’re voting for what’s best for them and their families. Maybe it’s time someone asked what that looks like.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images.

10. Spend money at black-owned businesses.

Support black makers and entrepreneurs, authors and designers, particularly in black neighborhoods. Keeping these areas thriving and limiting gentrification will help boost black wealth; create a sense of history, place, and tradition; and keep black families together. Visit the National Black Chamber of Commerce to find black-owned businesses in your community.

11. Recruit, hire, retain, and promote black women at every level and in every industry.

Whether you’re a hiring manager or an entry-level employee, you can do your part to help black women succeed at the level they deserve. You can send job announcements to black career search accounts and hashtags run by black people like @ReignyDayJobs, @WritersofColor, or @BlackFreelance1. If you’re higher up in your role, ask leadership about their strategy to diversify at the senior level or what’s being done to make your workplace more inclusive.

12. Stop at nothing but full enfranchisement for former felons.

A law that’s more than a century old has allowed county registrars to deny the vote to thousands of former felons in Alabama, many of them black. In August, thousands of these people regained the right to vote, and many voted for the first time. Other states have not restored the vote to former felons, forever disenfranchising them well after they paid their debt to society. Find out the rules in your state and mobilize to help everyone get the right to vote.

13. Don’t sit idly by when black women are disparaged, ridiculed, or made to feel less than by powerful people and corporations.

Gabby Douglas was trying to win a gold medal and people were concerned about her hair. Leslie Jones had trolls bully her off the internet. Jemele Hill was attacked by the president of the United States. And don’t get me started on Dove. When things like this happen — to celebrities or regular black women in the media — speak up. Tell offenders (with your voice and wallet) that hating on black women is not OK.

Jemele Hill photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York.

14. Give a damn about the alarming mortality rate for black mothers.

Pregnancy and childbirth are claiming the lives of black women at a truly staggering rate. In Texas, black moms accounted for just over 11% of the births but more than 28% of pregnancy-related deaths. This is a national crisis no one is talking about. So talk about it, and ask what your doctors, nurses, and hospitals are doing to protect these vulnerable women and children.

15. Like a thing? Find a black woman doing it and put money in her pocket.

Do you like movies? Stream “Mudbound,” directed by Dee Rees. Are you a foodie? Buy a cookbook written by a black woman. (May I suggest this one?). Interested in space exploration? Read this awesome book by Mae Jemison. Whatever you enjoy, black women are already there and killing it. Find them and pay them for it.

Mary J. Blige and Dee Rees discuss their film “Mudbound.” Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

This country was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of black women.

And yet, we still haven’t received the respect, power, and resources we deserve. Thank-yous will never be enough. Money will never be enough. But if a grateful nation ever hopes to make it right, they’re a damn good place to start.

Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/15-real-ways-to-thank-black-women-for-carrying-the-country-on-their-backs

20 things Mike Pence did while you weren’t looking and why it matters.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

With the exception of an infamous trip to see Hamilton last November and a controversy about whether it’s OK to dine with women other than his wife, we’ve heard relatively little about Vice President Mike Pence since the election. In May, CNN even ran a story with the headline, “Mike Pence’s Disappearing Act.”

He’s a heartbeat away from the presidency and seems interested in following his own political ambitions beyond this administration, so what exactly has Mike Pence been up to lately? A lot, actually.

Here’s 20 things Mike Pence has done since taking office:

1. In January, Pence and others lobbied Trump to take hard-line positions on abortion, making good on some of his anti-choice campaign pledges.

Just days after taking office, Trump signed a slew of executive orders. Among them was the reinstatement of the so-called “Mexico City policy,” restricting foreign aid from going to groups that offer abortion services.

The Independent wrote about the decision to reinstate the policy, saying that pro-choice activists “feared [Trump] would reintroduce the policy as a gift to Vice President Mike Pence, known for his staunch opposition to abortion rights.”

2. Pence has led the charge to advance Trump’s policy agenda.

You may have seen him popping up on the Sunday morning political talk shows to push Trump’s agenda items. This has especially been the case when it’s an issue where Trump himself may not appear to have a total grasp of the policy being discussed, such as health care.

3. He’s been very vocal about supporting the use of tax dollars to fund religious schools.

Under the guise of “school choice,” Pence has been a long-time supporter of using tax dollars to fund charter schools and religious schools. As governor, Pence expanded Indiana’s charter school program and opted out of the nationwide “Common Core” standards. One of the side effects of Pence’s reign in Indiana was an uptick in the number of publicly funded schools teaching creationism. Pence, himself, hasn’t given a clear answer on whether he believes in evolution.

Trump was short on specifics about education policy during the campaign. In office, he’s rallying behind Pence’s ideas.

4. In January, Pence met with anti-abortion activists at the White House and delivered a speech at the annual March for Life.

During his address at the anti-choice march, Pence riled up the crowd with a pledge to “work with Congress to end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers,” along with promises to support Supreme Court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

5. Pence spent much of February selling the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as “mainstream.”

Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat on Jan. 31. Gorsuch, who had a record as a far-right, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ judge, would face an uphill climb. That’s where Pence came in.

Rather than nominate someone who could receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Trump picked Gorsuch, and Pence immediately began work urging Republican leaders in the Senate to blow up the filibuster. They eventually did, and Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10.

6. Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, the first time a vice president has done so on a cabinet pick.

In February, DeVos was under immense scrutiny from Democrats and moderate Republicans. The billionaire heiress had zero education-related qualifications to run the department, but she did have a history of donating to far-right causes and championing the use of public money to fund schools that would “advance God’s kingdom,” in line with Pence’s own views on education.

With Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voting against DeVos’ confirmation, the 50-50 vote went to Pence to break the tie. He voted to confirm her.

7. In May, Pence was named the head of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

This commission was established based on Trump’s unproven and unfounded claim that there was widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election. Pence was named commission chair, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair. Together, Pence and Kobach have begun making requests for extensive voter information from states, with many voting rights groups worried that the commission will lead to widespread voter suppression.

8. Pence invited anti-abortion activists to the White House to discuss how to merge their agenda with that of the administration.

On March 9, Pence met with anti-abortion activists to discuss what sort of provisions they would like to see in the American Health Care Act bill, later pitching it to conservative members of the House of Representatives.

9. Later that month, he would cast the tie-breaking vote to nullify an Obama-era rule allowing that Title X funds be used for family planning services.

In his eight years in office, Joe Biden never cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Pence, just months into the job, has broken four ties (confirming DeVos, the motion to proceed on blocking the Title X rule, the final vote on blocking the Title X rule, and the motion to proceed on the Senate’s health care bill).

Gutting the Title X rule is bad news, especially for low- and middle-income women across the country.

10. Pence has met with members of the financial industry and championed efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank consumer protections.

Shortly after taking office, Pence addressed the GOP retreat, promising to dismantle the legislation enacted in the aftermath of financial collapse and its “overbearing mandates.” In May, he spoke out in favor of Republican Rep. Hensarling’s (Texas) CHOICE Act, which would deregulate the financial markets once again.

11. In May, Pence addressed the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life” gala.

Touting the administration’s successes when it came to curtailing reproductive rights, Pence declared, “For the first time in a long time, America has an administration that’s filled top to bottom with people who stand without apology for life.”

To cheers, he would later promise to ensure that people receiving health care subsidies would not be able to purchase insurance coverage that includes access to abortion.

12. Pence played a role in urging Trump to sign a “religious liberty” executive order during a National Day of Prayer ceremony.

While the final order was viewed by many conservatives as simply being one step in the right direction and not everything they wanted, the move showed just how much pull the extremely religious vice president has over his boss.

13. Pence addressed the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on May 11.

The speech bolstered the administration’s narrative that Christians are the true victims of terrorism in the Middle East. The truth is that people of all faiths have been targeted by ISIS, and messages about how Christians are the most persecuted only help advance some of the inherent Islamophobia in actions such as the travel ban — which only helps ISIS.

14. At the University of Notre Dame, Pence delivered a fiery commencement address, targeting “political correctness.”

The idea that college campuses are suppressing freedom of speech is a popular talking point, especially among conservatives. Pence used his platform to stoke that fire, saying, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than the suppression of freedom of speech.”

15. In May, Pence started his own political action committee called the “Great America Committee.”

Marking another first for a sitting vice president, the formation of a PAC signals that maybe he has some larger political ambitions that go beyond the Trump administration and his role as VP. Coupled with outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying that he’d be on board with a Pence run in 2024, this is worth keeping an eye on.

16. In June, Pence was put in charge of U.S. space policy.

Pence, being someone who likely doesn’t really believe in that whole “evolution” thing and once claimed that “smoking doesn’t kill,” seems like an odd choice to dictate anything related to science. But that’s what President Trump did after signing an executive order bringing back the National Space Council.

It’s still unclear what sort of direction Pence will take, though he has made promises to put people on Mars.

17. He’s raised money for his own PAC and other political causes.

What’s the point of having a PAC if you’re not going to raise money for it, right? In July, The New York Times reported that Pence has been playing host to “a string of dinners held every few weeks at the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington,” courting “big donors and corporate executives.”

18. On June 23, Pence addressed Focus on the Family, a powerful anti-LGBTQ organization, for its 40th anniversary.

Speaking about the administration’s commitment to helping “persecuted people of faith” and protecting their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of “religious liberty,” Pence told the crowd, “This president believes that no American, no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life, and he has taken action to protect the expressions of faith by men and women across this nation.”

This is the same organization, mind you, that has called homosexuality “a particularly evil lie of Satan” and has called transgender people “mentally ill” and “like Cinderella in a fantasy world.”

19. As special elections have popped up across the country, Pence has been hitting the campaign trail in support of his fellow Republicans.

It’s not so surprising that Pence is getting out there. A little curious, however, is how little Trump has done comparatively — and how little coverage Pence’s presence has garnered. This once again shows Pence for the shrewd politician he is, able to help prop up other candidates. Trump, on the other hand, is mostly good at promoting one person: Trump.

20. Pence has been pressuring Congress to implement anti-transgender policies in the military.

Days before Trump tweeted that he was banning trans people from serving in the military, Foreign Policy reported that Pence was lobbying hard to fight back against trans inclusion in the military. Pence was reportedly putting pressure on members of Congress to hold the 2018 defense authorization bill hostage unless it included a rider barring funds being used on transition-related health care.

According to Politico, Trump was motivated to outright ban all trans people from the military for fear that the defense bill would stall and he wouldn’t receive the funding he requested for his wall. In the end, however, Pence got what he asked for and more. Though the Department of Defense is holding on implementing the tweeted policy until Trump formally submits a plan, it’s nearly a done deal.

This matters because Pence might not always be in the background.

It’s pretty clear that Pence’s political ambitions don’t end with being Trump’s vice president. With scandals rocking the White House on what seems like a daily basis — including calls for investigations and even some for Trump’s impeachment — it’s pretty important to take a long hard look at the man next in line for the position.

During the campaign, Pence’s extreme positions were largely whitewashed. His extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views were rarely talked about. As vice president, Pence has shown himself to be the man he’s always been: a smooth-talking politician with far-right social conservative views. So let’s keep a watchful eye on what he’s doing now because he might just be president one day.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/20-things-mike-pence-did-while-you-werent-looking-and-why-it-matters

Let’s break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators.

The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.

And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.

It’s no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial. All attempting to convey how they didn’t do what they’ve been accused of or that what they did do made sense to them in the moment. In some way, they’re the most revealing window into the personal, social, and cultural forces that enable their alleged misdeeds.

Excuses, ultimately, reflect our beliefs about what’s just and fair. Which raises some questions: Do any of them actually put the behavior in a context that makes it, in some distressing way, understandable? Do they ever work? And what does it say about us if we believe them?

Here are just some of the excuses we know they’ve tried:

1. I’m from a different era, and this strange, new culture is confusing to me.

To date, more than 50 women have accused Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior ranging from harassment to sexual coercion to rape. But lest “what he supposedly did” is coloring your impression of him, Weinstein wants you to remember he’s not an evil man: He’s just a recovering hippie!

“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Weinstein wrote in a statement. “That was the culture then.”

Harvey Weinstein. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images.

Of course. Who doesn’t remember the ’60s and ’70s? Flower power! Free love! Cornering women in a hotel room and trying to force them to watch you shower! Though the millions of other people who made it through those turbulent decades without harassing or abusing anyone — or threatening them if they told anyone and then hiring ex-spies to help cover it up — might remember those decades slightly differently, Weinstein simply refuses to let the swingin’ spirit die. No matter the decade, his behavior is less “groovy” and more “galling.”

Weinstein’s excuse depends on eliding two wildly different notions: (1) That America failed to take workplace harassment and sexual abuse seriously in the ’60s and ’70s, and (2) that it was OK back then — or perpetrated by anyone reared back then — as a result. While the first assertion is undeniable, the second is self-serving nonsense. Just because a behavior was ignored, tolerated, or even encouraged doesn’t make it remotely close to excusable.

2. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t ask!

Thus wrote comedian Louis C.K. in a widely praised (and widely derided) statement confirming a New York Times report that he had masturbated in front of almost half a dozen unwilling women.

“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is … true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

Some might argue C.K.’s approach forgoes the most critical part of consent: waiting for a response. Still others might assert that without getting a “yes” or a “no” back, there’s no point in asking at all. Viewed that way, C.K.’s logic is baffling at best, and it’s both miraculous and frightening that he somehow got to the age of 50 believing the world works like this.

More frightening still, scattered segments from C.K.’s TV show and various stand-up specials in which the comedian acknowledges viewing masturbation as a form of control or tool of revenge suggest that he did indeed know the effect his behavior had on others — and simply didn’t care.

3. The closet made me do it. Also, I was drunk.

Ah, alcohol. Absolver of all responsibility. Whether knocking over a glass vase, texting your roommates at 4 a.m., or sexually assaulting teenagers, some men apparently believe that acknowledging that you were blasted when it happened is a one-way express ticket to Forgiveness Town. That reportedly includes Kevin Spacey, who actor Anthony Rapp says drunkenly attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was 14.

“If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote in a statement responding contritely to the alleged incident. Since the story of Rapp’s accusation broke, over a dozen more accusers have come forward.

Kevin Spacey. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

To make matters worse for everyone but himself, Spacey used the space of his response to come out as a gay man — all but implying a connection between his alleged predation and his closeted sexuality. It reads as a desperate attempt to buy a modicum of sympathy at the cost of casting suspicion on millions of innocent LGBTQ Americans.

4. It’s just what guys do.

Donald Trump’s now-infamous comments about sexually assaulting women — “Grab ’em by the pussy” and “I moved on her like a bitch” — have largely disappeared down the memory hole, thanks to the steadily strengthening storm of scandals swirling around the now-president. Still, it’s tough to forget how the former reality show host became president in the first place: by managing to convince a depressing percentage of Americans that his unscripted admission was just a case of “boys being boys.”

“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement following the revelations.

Was it, though? On one hand, you’ve got the producers of “Access Hollywood,” who fired Billy Bush for merely participating in that very discussion; dozens professional athletes asserting that, no, that’s not at all what locker rooms are like; not to mention the dozens of women who have come forward and accused Trump of doing pretty much exactly what he described. On the other hand, you have the word of Donald Trump, a dude who lies constantly.

Tough call, I guess.  

5. I knew it was wrong, but no one complained, so how wrong could it have been?

“Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem,” journalist Mark Halperin said in a statement responding to allegations he had sexually harassed multiple women during his tenure at the network. “No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.”

Of course, Halperin “knew” that what he was doing was wrong in the same way that his victims likely “knew” that going to human resources to complain about their boss would get them sidelined, fired, or branded as a troublemaker. That power imbalance allows Halperin to attempt to have it both ways: pretending to take full responsibility of the allegations while slyly implying that the women he harassed share the blame for not speaking up sooner or louder.

6. I’m too old and infirm to be a threat, and it was a joke anyway.

George H.W. Bush. Photo by David J. Phillip – Pool/Getty Images.

After multiple women came forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them while posing for photos, the elder statesman did something few accused predators have the integrity to do: He admitted it.

Still, as drafted by his spokesperson, his statement-slash-confession seemed to carry more than a whiff of an implication that his victims were needlessly slandering a harmless, disabled, old American hero:

“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

And while it’s true that Bush is in his 90s and his arms aren’t as flexible as they used to be, a pat is different than a squeeze — and if someone squeezes your ass, you know. Not to mention, this explanation would appear to be contradicted by new reports that a less old and less infirm Bush was, apparently, no less inclined to grope the women (and girls, in some cases) standing next to him in photos.

7. I made them stars, and this is how they repay me?!

For some serial abusers, getting a woman her dream job apparently means assuming sexual ownership over her forever and always in exchange. Consider Roger Ailes, who reportedly made a series of unwelcome overtures to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, even repeatedly attempting to kiss her in his office. The excuse he gave, framed as a furious denial, attempts to marshal other, generous actions as evidence to why he couldn’t or wouldn’t have engaged in misconduct.

“I worked tirelessly to promote and advance [Megyn Kelly’s] career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself,” Ailes said. As is commonly the case, Kelly wasn’t close to alone in her accusations among the women hired by Ailes. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson launched her lawsuit against her ex-boss, more than 20 women have come forward with similar allegations.

For others, that imagined control extends to merely pretending to get women jobs. That was, allegedly, the longtime MO of director James Toback, who is accused of inviting over 200 women to professional meetings only to proposition and, occasionally, assault them once in private. Toback put his denial even more aggressively:

“The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c*cksucker or c*nt or both.”

8. I’m trying to be a good guy now, and I respect the hell out of women, so let’s just wipe the slate clean.

A popular excuse, especially among various left-of-center men of Hollywood and the media, mixes a nod to contrition with a subtle appeal to tribal loyalty: “I may have been a jerk once,” the argument goes, “But I’m on the right side of the issues that you care about.”

Here’s Casey Affleck’s response, who reportedly harassed multiple women on the set of “I’m Still Here”:  

“There’s really nothing I can do about [the allegations] other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”

Casey Affleck. Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

And here’s what Dustin Hoffman had to say after he was accused of making inappropriate and lewd comments to a production assistant during “Death of a Salesman”:

“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”

And here are Leon Weiseltier’s words, who allegedly harassed multiple women of a series of years as editor-in-chief of The New Republic:

“The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”

Whether that “reckoning” ever comes is often irrelevant to the alleged abuser. What matters is that enough people believe he’s an asset to whatever fight they’re fighting, leaving open the possibility that he’ll be rehabilitated by his community without having to lift a finger.

9. This is a political ploy by my enemies to ruin me.

Bill O’Reilly. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

When in doubt, blame those bastards in the opposition party for trying to tear you down.

“If you look at the totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job,” argued Bill O’Reilly, after reports surfaced that he settled an unknown sexual harassment claim for $32 million in addition to allegations that he harassed or abused a string of coworkers during his decade-plus at Fox News.

As a naked appeal to tribal loyalty, it’s a nefarious tactic but potentially a good deal more effective than, say, trying to shame your accusers by sharing the thank you notes they wrote you for some unrelated thing or outright blaming God — two things O’Reilly for real tried to do in the wake of allegations against him.

10. This is a political ploy by the media to get clicks and sell papers.

When in even more doubt, blame the fake news for whipping up people’s anger and impairing their “objectivity.”  

“Brett Ratner vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him, and we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims,” said the director’s spokesperson in a statement responding to allegations that Ratner had engaged in sexual misconduct on set.

Despite Ratner’s denial, actor Ellen Page followed up days later with a blistering Facebook post, accusing the director of outing her against her will with an unwelcome, sexually tinged comment. Ratner as of yet hasn’t respond to her claim, unmediated by the media such as it was.

11. It was the Russians!

George Takei. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

When in the most doubt, blame Vladimir Putin. As if the allegations against George Takei (which eerily paralleled a story Takei himself told Howard Stern several weeks earlier) weren’t upsetting enough, especially given Takei’s history of speaking out about the serious issue of sexual harassment, his response could not have been more bizarre:

“A friend sent me this. It is a chart of what Russian bots have been doing to amplify stories containing the allegations against me,” Takei wrote, after allegations that he had groped a fellow actor without his consent surfaced. “It’s clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear friends. I won’t succumb to that.”

12. But what about all the men who are falsely accused?

Of course, not all of those accused of harassment or abuse are guilty, though recent studies peg the incidence of false reports at between a mere 2% to 8%. But while the guilty category is larger by leaps and bounds, that inkling of doubt too often allows alleged harassers and predators to weasel their way into the former.

“No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing,” Woody Allen wrote in The New York Times after his daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually assaulting her in the pages of the same paper a week earlier.

When reached for comment on the on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Allen told the BBC he wished to avoid “a witch-hunt atmosphere” where “every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” It’s a frame that conflates workplace flirting (potentially harassing behavior in its own right) with Weinstein’s alleged pattern of coercion and assault or, perhaps, his own by association.

13. No comment, through a lawyer.

Rather than offer an excuse, which can be its own form of admission, some alleged abusers simply choose to say nothing and hope the accusation goes away. That’s what Bill Clinton did in response to claims that he raped then-nursing home operator Juanita Brodderick in a hotel after luring her there with the promise of a professional meeting. First, Clinton’s attorney called the allegations “absolutely false.” Later, Clinton himself doubled down.

“My counsel has made a statement about the … issue, and I have nothing to add to it,” the then-president told the Washington Post.

14. I’m a sick man.

Anthony Weiner. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession. Anthony Weiner did this after pleading guilty to “transferring obscene material to a minor.”

“This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom,” he said in court. “I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.”

“I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” he continued. “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.”

Weiner certainly isn’t the first prominent accused predator to claim to be broken. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab for sex addiction after allegations against him surfaced. Kevin Spacey did the same some weeks later. Weiner himself previously had done a stint at rehab. But while Weiner’s statement completely acknowledges the scope of his wrongdoing, it nonetheless contains an excuse. In some way, it implies that the former congressman’s sickness mitigates the harm his actions caused or, at the very least, absolves him of some of the blame.

It’s evidence that even the best, most clinical excuse is substandard at best.

Which is why the most reasonable excuse might just be:

15. I have no excuse.

On Nov. 1, former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes stepped down in the wake of allegations that he had harassed multiple women on the job. His acknowledgement was direct and, notably, didn’t offer an explanation for his behavior.

“I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

Apologizing unconditionally doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t restore the careers of the women Oreskes’ behavior likely sidelined, marginalized, or ended. And it doesn’t provide a quicker, smoother path to forgiveness. Doing so merely acknowledges what should by now be obvious.

When it comes to harassing or abusing the people who work for you, depend on you, admire you, or simply those who are around you, there is no excuse.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/lets-break-down-15-terrible-excuses-from-accused-sexual-harassers-and-predators

‘Matilda’ star Mara Wilson has a message for the LGBTQ community: Come out.

Before I ever spent hour upon hour with my nose buried in the pages of a “Harry Potter” book, there was “Matilda.”

I’ve always loved to read and have hauled too-big piles of books home from the library (although not in a red wagon, I will admit) more times than I can count. Plus, what 7-year-old budding queer femme doesn’t dream of discovering a secret superpower and running away from her loneliness into a beautiful world of friendship where she can play games and eat cookies all day long?

I mean, it always seemed like a pretty solid life choice to me. Matilda has followed me ever since childhood. And I’m not necessarily talking about the Danny DeVito movie or even the Roald Dahl book. I’m talking about Matilda herself; Matilda the person; Matilda Wormwood, the character made real by a young girl in a 98-minute-long movie I’d wager nearly every millennial (in the U.S., at least) has seen. I’m talking about Mara Wilson.

It felt like fate that Wilson and I would meet.

She went to college with one of my family members and, once I moved back to New York, kept showing up at various comedy events I attended around the city.

Then, in early 2017 —  after coming out publicly the previous summer  —  she became a Lambda Legal donor. These aren’t even all the connections we’ve had over the years. But ultimately, I knew that it was only a matter of time.

So when we sat down to talk last week, to say that I was excited might be an understatement. Little did I know just how much her own experience as a queer woman would mirror mine.

Wilson came out publicly as bi  —  although she now tends to prefer the label queer (“I like queer more than I like bisexual, but I have no problem with people calling me bisexual,” she says)  —  on Twitter in the wake of June 2016’s tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. At the time, she’d recently come out to most of her close friends and family (they took it well — her brother “did not even look up from his enchilada” when she told him, she tells me through laughter), and she felt that it was important as someone in the public eye to show solidarity with her community.

The news quickly went viral, spreading across social media and trending on Facebook. “I think that if you’re in a place of security and privilege  —  which I can admit that I am  —  it’s important for you to [come out],” she says. “I don’t see myself as anybody’s savior, but I’d rather it were me — who can afford therapy and afford this platform — getting harassed for being who I am than a young LGBTQ kid. I think it’s important.”

But the response to her news — while mostly supportive — was not entirely positive.

“I often wish that I hadn’t done it then because I got accused of taking advantage of a tragedy for personal attention,” she says. “Now, clearly I like attention, but I am not so callous as to make a tragedy about myself, my life and my story. That isn’t what I was going for.”

“A lot of people like to tell women — and especially queer women — that they are doing things for attention,” she adds. “And it is strange to me that the worst thing a woman can do is do something for attention.”

Wilson’s words resonated with me more than I can even fully describe. I’ve written about what it’s like to come out and be out as a queer femme woman before but have never really been able to put into words the intense anxiety surrounding the “attention stigma” that comes with having a non-monosexual identity.

See, a few things can happen when you come out as bi (or queer or pan or any of the many varied non-monosexual identities that exist), particularly as a woman.

The first is that folks don’t believe you. Another is that people ignore it. And a third is that a lot of assumptions are made about who you are and what you like.

But the theme underlying all of these reactions is attention. If someone doesn’t believe you, it’s because either they think that bisexuality doesn’t exist or that you’re confused, or they think that you’re saying you’re bi to get attention (frequently all of these thoughts occur synchronously).

If someone ignores it, it’s — again — because they likely believe you’re “doing it for the attention” and don’t want to give you the thing they think you’re seeking. And if someone begins to make assumptions about you, those assumptions are usually — surprise — that you like attention and are innately promiscuous.

“There’s definitely a stigma,” Wilson says. “One of the reasons I didn’t come out for a very long time was because I grew up hearing that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’ [which is not a term I would use]. I heard that all the time. I heard that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’ they were greedy, they were selfish and they caused drama. They were the worst. They wanted attention.”

There’s a lot here, but certainly the most interesting (to me, at least) thing about biphobia is the sexism, slut shaming, ableism and mental health stigma that is disguised within it.

“Throughout history, women and women-identified people have had to struggle to get any kind of power or control over their lives,” Wilson says. “And control is seen as a bad thing. It’s seen as being manipulative.”

“When you think of bisexuals, you think of villainy. You think of people using their sexuality to get what they want, using other people and hurting other people,” she adds. “Or just having a lot of sex, and … if you are ‘promiscuous,’ that is seen as being inherently a bad thing.”

Just think of Jenny from “The L Word,” Barbara from “Gotham,” Piper from “Orange Is the New Black,” and Monica from “Shameless.” The list goes on, and this is certainly not a trope limited to only women. But all of these fictional women hold the labels of evil, “crazy,” or promiscuous.

And that’s not even to wade into the deep stigmatized waters of being a person who is bisexual and not a woman. Though we didn’t talk much about it (as it is neither of our experiences) being transgender or gender-nonconforming obviously brings with it its own set of stigma, and similar  —  albeit similarly nuanced  —  stereotypes exist for male-identified people. As Wilson says, “People are punished for femininity or punished for sexuality.”

So how do we go about changing these media tropes? Wilson has some ideas.

“I think that, in the entertainment world, there need to be more bisexual characters for whom bisexuality is just kind of a common thing. It’s ‘so-and-so has red hair and they’re also bisexual,'” Wilson laughs. “That’s definitely something that I’ve tried to write into some of my more recent writing. We’ll see where that goes.”

“The Most Boring Bisexual You’ve Ever Met,” I joke with her. “Exactly!” she exclaims. “It’ll be like, ‘Me the other day, getting up and running on the treadmill, writing a little bit and going to CVS to pick up my prescriptions, and then binge-watching ‘Orphan Black’ because I love Tatiana Maslany so much.'”

“I’d like to see more male-identified people shown as bisexual,” she adds. “Because I think there’s still this belief that men can’t be, which just isn’t true.”

In the end, Wilson believes it’s all about respecting others  —  an issue the LGBTQ community at large has much experience with.

“Is it making somebody happy? Is it improving their life? Is it something that they enjoy? Is it a part of who they are? Yes? Then respect it,” she says. “You don’t need to understand something completely to be OK with it.”

Wilson and I spent about an hour talking, and I could’ve let it go on for so much longer. We joked about our celebrity crushes, chuckled together fake-writing scenes of “The Most Boring Bisexual You’ve Ever Met,” and gave each other advice for meeting other queer women. I’ll never forget that. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend. And in a way, I was.

This story first appeared on Lambda Legal and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/matilda-star-mara-wilson-has-a-message-for-the-lgbtq-community-come-out

Trans woman Danica Roem beat her anti-trans opponent by focusing on … roads. Seriously.

“To every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own … this one’s for you,” said Virginia delegate-elect Danica Roem during a fiery victory speech on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Roem is a transgender woman, but her gender identity is secondary to the main issue she campaigned on: fixing Route 28.

“That’s why I got in this race, because I’m fed up with the frickin’ road over in my home town,” she said to laughter and applause during the speech, calling on the state legislature to fix existing problems rather than creating new ones.

Roem’s election makes her the first out transgender person who will be elected and seated in a state legislature. Photo by Danica Roem for Delegate.

Roem used her speech to highlight the importance of focusing on unifying issues like infrastructure, ensuring teachers get fair pay, working to expand access to health care, and finding cost-effective solutions to local problems.

“This is the important stuff,” she told the crowd. “We can’t get lost in discrimination. We can’t get lost in BS. We can’t get lost tearing each other down.”

It’s that view, that it’s the government’s job to address issues of infrastructure and public health, that set her apart from her opponent, incumbent candidate Bob Marshall. Marshall, the self-described “chief homophobe” of Virginia, is perhaps best known for introducing a so-called “bathroom bill” designed to discriminate against trans people. Seeing a politician so obsessed with his anti-LGBTQ views have his seat won out from under him by a trans woman just feels … symbolic.

Oh yeah, did I mention Roem is also a singer in a heavy metal band?

Mailers sent out by her opponent’s campaign before the election warned that “[His] defeat would signal that holding these [anti-LGBTQ] principles is a detriment to being elected.”

Hopefully, Marshall is right about that. The people who represent us in government should represent all of us, and his defeat shows many voters aren’t willing to put up with elected officials who don’t see things that way.

In a recent interview on a right-wing radio show, Marshall showed his disdain for Roem and trans people, generally:

“It is not a civil right to masquerade your fantasies as reality. … I’ve drawn a line. I’m not leaving it, because I don’t make the laws of nature but I think I understand them, at least at this fundamental level. I never flunked biology, so I’m not going to call a man a woman, period.”

If a candidate wants to run on a platform of legislating trans people out of public existence or thinks it’s OK accuse their political opponents of defying the laws of nature, that should be detrimental to their odds of being elected.

We need more candidates like Roem whose political ambitions revolve around how best to help their constituents.

This country belongs to all of us. As Roem said in her victory speech (which is excellent, and you should watch it below) with all the intensity of a seasoned politician:

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify — and yeah, how you rock — that if you have good public policy ideas and you’re well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table because this is your America too.”

Just as it’s not enough for Democrats to simply run on being not-Trump, perhaps this is a sign that it’s not enough for Republicans to bank on voters hating the same groups as them. During the 2016 election, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ran hard on the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill only to come up short; Marshall did the same in his race against Roem.

Maybe, just maybe, empathy is winning out, and maybe people are coming to understand that the purpose of government isn’t to determine who to oppress, but how to help lift us all.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/trans-woman-danica-roem-beat-her-anti-trans-opponent-by-focusing-on-roads-seriously

The wildly simple reason Trump joking about Pence’s anti-LGBTQ views is not OK.

In the Oct. 23 issue of The New Yorker, it was reported that President Donald Trump likes to joke about Vice President Mike Pence’s long history of anti-LGBTQ views.

In Jane Mayer’s exquisite story “The Danger of President Pence,” a source shared that Trump likes to remind Pence who’s in charge and frequently mocks his commitment to religion (Pence is an evangelical Christian). Specifically, he jokes about Pence’s need to limit the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Here’s the excerpt from Mayer’s story (emphasis mine):

“Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. ‘You see?’ Trump asked Pence. ‘You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.’ When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, ‘Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!’

There’s nothing wrong with Pence being a man of faith. But when he hides behind it and uses it as justification for a series of policies and positions that threaten the livelihoods of many, many Americans, that’s dangerous. Furthermore, joking about someone hanging gay people wouldn’t be funny at a bus stop or in a locker room. To know Trump thought it would be appropriate to say in a meeting is the very definition of deplorable.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

To Trump, it seems that Pence’s backward, dangerous views on women’s health and LGBTQ people are not backward and dangerous, they’re punchlines.

But we are not punchlines.

We are human beings with dreams, goals, and families like everyone else. Yet, among two of the most powerful men in the country, one thinks gay couples cause “societal collapse” and the other apparently thinks that’s funny.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

We’re not laughing.

We’re not here for your amusement. We’re not to be used as some sort of perverse bargaining chip.

Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

People around the world, and here at home, are dying because of their gender or sexuality.

Did President Trump laugh when parents in Chechnya were told to murder their gay children before the government did? Did he slap the table and get happy tears in his eyes when he learned at least 23 transgender people have been murdered in 2017?

Did Vice President Pence hear the news of seven people in Egypt being arrested and jailed for raising a pride flag at a concert and think, “Serves them right”?

People gather at a vigil for slain transgender woman Islan Nettles in New York in 2013. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

When the administration turns its back on transgender kids and makes it harder for victims of sexual assault to come forward, that’s not humorous. That’s not holy. It’s cruel and it’s unforgivable.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

No, we’re not laughing. We are mobilizing.

We are speaking out. We are fighting for the equal rights and considerations we deserve.

Any person or party who views our health, our bodies, our lives as something to laugh about or something to be “prayed away” or changed is not a person or party who deserves our support.

We’ll see who’s laughing next November.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/the-wildly-simple-reason-trump-joking-about-pences-anti-lgbtq-views-is-not-ok

Nick Offerman’s thoughts on men crying are the perfect antidote to toxic masculinity.

Actor, author, and accomplished woodworker Nick Offerman had the best response to a question about emotions in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.

With his classically masculine roles (most notably Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”), handy skills, outdoorsmanship, and remarkable facial hair, many see Offerman as the very picture of classic manliness.

With that in mind, writer Sean Evans asked Offerman about the last time he cried.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival.  

Here’s Offerman’s applause-worthy response in full (emphasis added):

“I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It’s not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy. To answer your question, I recently saw Alicia Keys perform live. I’d never seen her before and the sheer golden, heavenly talent issuing from her and her singing instrument had both my wife and me in tears. What a gorgeous gift she has. Her voice is so great. And I had no shame [about crying.] If you live your life openly with your emotions, that’s a more manly stance than burying them.

BOOM! That’s the kind of thinking we need to dismantle toxic masculinity.

And apparently, the internet agrees. The quote was shared by Twitter user @TylerHuckabee and has already been retweeted more than 31,000 times in two days.

Offerman’s words are vital, especially for men and boys who are socialized  to  believe “boys don’t cry.”

Though it may seem like a different world, gender roles and expectations have changed very little in the past 30 years, and a bias against men crying — especially in public — persists.

“That crying is a sign of weakness and a reason for shame is a lesson most males learn by the time they reach adolescence,” wrote Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., for Psychology Today. “Whether by ‘swallowing tears’ or actively avoiding situations that might lead to crying, males actively suppress their emotions or express them in other ways that seem more suitable for their gender roles.”

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Actively suppressing tears can lead to other physical and emotional concerns. Stifling this natural response can temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure or heart rate since the body’s fight or flight response has to work overtime to figure out what’s happening.

Not to mention, crying is almost exclusively a human trait, and it’s one of our body’s built-in mechanisms for emotional release. It also reveals our capacity to have empathy for others. When we see a sad movie, learn good news, or as in Offerman’s case, witness a remarkable talent, our bodies react with emotional, empathetic tears. That’s not weakness (or “fake”) — that’s a physiological marvel.

So take it from Offerman, a multi-faceted, talented, emotional man: Let it allllllll out.

No matter your gender, having emotions or feelings so strong you’re moved to tears is nothing to be ashamed of. Offerman is right. We should never be afraid to have a good cry when the mood strikes — no matter what Ron Swanson says.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nick-offermans-thoughts-on-men-crying-are-the-perfect-antidote-to-toxic-masculinity

This anti-bullying PSA acts out online comments in real life. It’s an uncomfortable watch.

Bullying is just as wrong when it happens online as it is in person. So why does one seem to be so much more acceptable than the other?

A new anti-bullying campaign and PSA called “In Real Life,” spearheaded by Monica Lewinsky, takes actual insults people have said online and brings them into the physical world. While actors portray the bullies and their victims in the video, the reactions of unsuspecting onlookers are genuine.

A collection of actual insults people posted online that were acted out in person as part of the In Real Life PSA. Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

The PSA opens with a pleasant scene that quickly turns jarring. Two men are sitting together in a coffee shop, when a stranger walks up to their table. “Gay people are sick, and you should just kill yourselves!” he tells them.

This kind of interaction is not something you see that often in the real world (though it does happen). On the internet, however, that type of comment from a stranger isn’t just normal, it’s actually kind of tame.

Later in the video, a woman gets screamed at for being a “fat bitch” and a Muslim woman gets called a “terrorist.” In all of the scenarios, bystanders — who were not involved in the social experiment — look on with horror.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

A number of studies show why people who wouldn’t bully someone to their face feel emboldened to do it online.

Anonymity, the ability to say or do whatever you want with little or no consequence for your actions, plays a role, but it’s far from the only reason people engage in cyberbullying. The performative nature of online harassment also encourages others to pile on the target, whether they have a stake in the conversation or not. Mob mentality dictates that the more people go in on the target, the less any single person might feel responsible for negative outcomes. More than anything else, though, the barrier of the internet between bully and victim creates an empathy gap.

On the internet, regular people — your neighbors, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, and even family members — are all susceptible to becoming bullies, making it that much more important to think critically about the effects of our actions and behaviors online.

Screenshot from In Real Life/YouTube.

Online harassment is so much more than being “just the way the internet is.”

“One thing people don’t necessarily realize about being threatened or dog-piled online is how much it can undermine your real-world sense of safety,” author Sady Doyle explains in a Twitter direct message. Doyle has experienced escalating bullying and harassment online for years, especially during the 2016 election season, in response to her writing on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Threats of physical violence and stalking across online platforms became normal to Doyle. Once an influential Twitter user took aim at her, to win that account’s approval, their followers would engage in a game of one-upmanship harassment. Doyle began to worry more and more about how it would end. Scheduled book readings brought on a new sort of anxiety, as she feared that any of her online tormentors would be able to easily confront her in person. Thankfully, it never happened.

“I think that lost sense of safety is really what the impact is,” she writes. “There’s mental health stuff, obviously — anyone with a tendency to depression, which I have, will internalize certain mean comments and play them back in a low moment — but it’s mostly the realization that there are people out there that want to hurt you, or your loved ones, and that you can’t necessarily recognize those people on sight, that is so damaging.”

People shouldn’t have to live in fear, and that’s why campaigns like “In Real Life” are so important.

“It’s a stark and shocking mirror to people to rethink how we behave online versus the ways that we would behave in person,” Lewinsky told People magazine about the project.

Saying that while “there are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions” of insults that have been written about her online and in print, personal confrontations were much, much less common. “When you are with someone, when you see someone face to face, you are reminded of their humanity.”

Lewinsky’s powerful 2015 TED Talk on “The Price of Shame” helped establish her as a major voice in anti-bullying activism. Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images.

Unlike Doyle, you probably don’t have to worry about online harassers showing up at scheduled appearances, and unlike Lewinsky, you probably aren’t an internationally known political lightning rod of the late ’90s. Even so, the lessons contained in this video — not to say things online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, to remember that real people are on the receiving end of every online comment, and more — are applicable to all of us. Online bullying isn’t the exact same thing as the physical playground-style bullying we’ve heard about all of our lives, but its effects on the target’s sense of well-being is every bit as real.

Whether you’ve been the bully, the bullied, or just a bystander, there are lessons we can learn from this powerful PSA, which you can watch below.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-anti-bullying-psa-acts-out-online-comments-in-real-life-its-an-uncomfortable-watch