The Things We Cannot Name

I’ve had a year where I see, finally, as if with new eyes, all the ways humans project the evil in themselves onto others.

I fear this awakening has come about courtesy of the Trump administration. Trump’s habit of accusing opponents of committing his own darkest crimes has become so standard as to almost be rote.  In fact, it’s gotten so bad now, that when he accuses an adversary of ________, I just interpret it as, “This just in: Donald Trump totally does  _______.”

So it’s gotten me thinking of the ways in which we place shame and blame on others, sometimes to the extent that we completely erase our own culpability. Here’s an example: we all know the word “whore” is the worst way you can insult a woman. But if prostitution is a terrible sin, surely using the services of a prostitute is even worse. A man who takes advantage of a woman’s poverty and desperation? To have sex with her when she would otherwise be unwilling? Doesn’t that make him the absolute scum of the earth?

Doesn’t it make him not just sleazy, but also (apparently) so repulsive that no woman is willing to have sex with him freely? Surely, this combination of World’s Biggest Loser and World’s Ickiest Scumbag must be the lowest insult in the English language.

Except, it’s not. There is a word that describes it — “john” — but it just means “customer.” It’s not even an insult. It’s just a fact.

No word in the english language exists to mean, “A degraded, filthy and disgusting man who hijacks vulnerable women’s desperation to obtain unwilling traumatizing sex.” No. We have put the entire shame of this degrading experience onto the woman, who is the more helpless one in the scenario to boot. The man gets away scott-free.

By contrast, when it comes to drugs, we realize calling someone a junkie might be insulting, but calling someone a drug pusher is worse. A junkie is wretched and pitiable. A pusher is someone who ruins peoples’ lives for his own profit. One fell into degradation; the other one stood behind him and pushed.

What about when men use gross words to describe women’s genitalia? They’re not the guys who don’t care. It’s not gay men saying all those words, all the time. It’s the kinds of men who are talking about, and obsessing about, women’s genitalia. Their idee fixe. And for so many men, that thing they want most in their lives, the thing they pine for, crave, and that brings them closest to a sense of completeness is also the thing they insult, degrade, spew vile at.

In a sense, what they are really saying is, “I am obsessed with sex and that makes me so  ashamed of myself.” Then they put the shame on the object of that obsession, rather than on the one who is obsessed.

What if we put the root meaning of all insults back on the person who spoke them?

When Donald Trump insults the intelligence and humanity of others, what if we took it to mean, “I am deeply insecure and utterly unbalanced and ungrounded and unloved, and I literally have no way to get my bearings in life other than the degradation of others?”

When a man says, “Women should not be in my field of study, because women aren’t as smart as men,” what if we addressed his true message, which is, “I am afraid that I am not smart?” “I am excluding the majority of the human race from the ranks of the competition, because maybe then I’ll have a chance at success?”

Here are some other examples of projection that we as a society don’t really talk about:

The phrase: “Black people are lazy”

Said by White People, Who Literally Sailed to Another Country and Kidnapped People to Work for Them for Free Instead of Doing the Work Themselves

The word(s): You’re weak! You’re a Pussy!  and  He’s strong and tough! He’s got Balls!

Said by a group (men) whose very sensitive genitals will leave them helplessly writhing in pain at the slightest bump; said about another group (women) who genitals are able to give birth.

If anything in the entire world is tough, it’s pussies.

If anything in the entire world is fragile and weak and sensitive, it’s balls.

The phrase: Jews are greedy

Said by anti-semites who like to murder people and take all their stuff.

I wish it weren’t this simple. I wish the entire world’s geopolitical, societal, and community structures were not basically a grown-up version of “I know you are, but what am I?”

Alas, I fear it may just be so.






You Go, Girl

Every few weeks, the Trump administration will nominate someone absolutely appalling for something. Sometimes it’s a woman. And then we protest and they say, Well that’s not feminist of you.

Next up: Shelob the Giant Spider for Secretary of Treasury. “What? She’s a Strong Woman!”


Boise has a place called the “Plantation Country Club.” As if “Country Club” was not enough of a racially loaded term, they were just like, “yes but let’s add the word ‘Plantation’ in front of it, even though we weren’t even part of the Confederacy.”

Problematic Naming Conventions


I only started watching Dr. Who as an adult, and that’s when I realized belatedly that the way my high school boyfriend interacted with me was based entirely on his understanding of the Doctor-Companion relationship.

Relationship by Scarf

Suspected Children’s Detention Centers

Click on a site to see more information, including link to source used.

RED = site or foster care facility with a known street address

ORANGE = site is known or suspected in a city. Street address unknown.

GREEN = proposed sites

<!> = sites where abuse has been alleged,


Please leave a comment on this page if you have changes or updates. I moderate comments so they won’t show up right away. Please indicate whether you want me to publish your comment or just use the information and keep your comment confidential.


One Hour a day to fight Nazis

Like you, I’m sure, I am completely heartbroken and overwhelmed by everything that’s been happening. So I am trying a new thing: just spend one hour a day thinking about Nazis. And instead of spending that hour scrolling helplessly through social media until I want to tear my insides out, I will spend that hour doing some sort of direction action, no matter how small.

Today, I’m spending my hour consolidating information on resources and action plans. Perhaps tomorrow, some of you can spend your hour following through:

Direct Economic Action

Twitter has some great resources and ideas. Folks are identifying the contractors involved in this travesty. Once contractors are identified, we can contact them. We can contact our mutual funds and pension plans and other large corporations we have contact with, and ask them to divest:

MVM Inc. is separating parents from their children. Here is a link to their latest job posting,

Company Overview of MVM, Inc. and Contact Info:



GDMS, AbbottGlobal



General Dynamics

 2. Political Action

Call your RED STATE senators and tell them to support S.3036, a bill to keep families together. So far ALL DEMOCRATIC SENATORS have gotten in line to support it.

3. Donate





Go downstairs. Someone’s using the laundry machine. Back up two flights of stairs.

Downstairs. Machine eats my quarters. Back up two flights of stairs.

Downstairs. Crap. I forgot my detergent. Back up two flights of stairs.

Downstairs. Put In My *&%&^% laundry. Back up two flights of stairs.

Normal People: “I did leg day at the gym!”

Me: “When I want to work out I do my laundry.”

5 Classical Music Grants

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to live in a city that had a library for research on Foundations and Grants.

I found the old research I’d compiled, and I thought I would write a few articles to help connect folks in the arts to grants that might be relevant. Here’s my first article, on grants for singers.


Sullivan Foundation

The Foundation holds auditions every year in New York, and gives generous cash awards to gifted young singers in the early stages of professional careers. 2016 winners received $12,000 awards and for the next five years may apply for additional Role Preparation Grants to support musical, dramatic, vocal, and language coaching for new professional engagements. In addition, seven singers received $5,000 Career Development Awards.

WolfTrap Summer Home for Rising Stars

Wolf Trap Opera  fosters the next generation of artistic, administrative, and production leaders through fellowships and internships. Without the contributions of these talented fellows and interns, the company could not present exceptional performances at 2 different venues in just a 3-month period each summer.

Koussevitsky Grants for Composers

The Foundation considers applications from performing organizations from any country for the joint commissioning of composers of all nationalities.

BMI Student Composer Awards

The BMI Student Composer Awards is an annual competition open to young composers engaged in the study of classical music. Our oldest awards program in any genre, the competition has a prestigious history of discovering and encouraging many of today’s most prominent and talented young composers.

BMI Pete Carpenter Fellowship

The Pete Carpenter Fellowship is an annual, competitive residency for aspiring film, television, and video game composers. The program awards a $2,000 stipend for four to five weeks of intensive, in-studio mentorship with established composers in Los Angeles, and also offers the opportunity to consult with other distinguished leaders in the entertainment industry.