abuse of power comes as no surprise

cherry issue #010 ✧ argue with your mama

when i first set out to write about why i’m decentering cis het men, it was fueled by indignation. against my will — by virtue of being Black, lgbtq, and immersed in liberation and justice circles — i was mired in the fallout from dababy’s pigheaded comments at rolling loud.

once upon a time, jonathan kirk’s baby on baby was the soundtrack to my (hot girl) summer. alongside megan thee stallion’s fever, it was raucous fuel for working two jobs, freelancing, seizing the day, and seizing the night. i publicly lamented the electricity that charlotte drawls drew through my veins. done thirsting after the likes of adam driver and josh brolin, i salivated over dababy’s chic turtleneck and chain combination. (a real hood magneto.) i declared that i’d let this devilishly handsome capricorn man — if you’re familiar with tarot and astrology, you know this language is intentional1 — do bad things to me.

now, two years removed from thotting around the east coast and across the pond in baby pink nikes, i’m trying not to let those hot girl summer memories be soured by dababy’s rootless homophobia, perpetuation of stigma against hiv-positive people, shameless cavorting with abusers.2

it’s this feeling that drove me to outline why i’ve decentered cis het men in my life.

abuse of power comes as no surprise by jenny holzer (1983)

consistently, from to johnny depp (allegedly) to marilyn manson (allegedly) to dababy (very boisterously, online and irl), all the cis het men i’ve stanned for have disappointed me. nay, they’ve embarrassed me.

i’m not even going to go back and forth with the #notallmen rhetoric — not for free, not when i cut my political journalism teeth on that topic circa 2015. i’m simply talking about the fact that anytime i’ve felt warmth, perhaps lust. and good will toward human beings in this category, i’ve been burned.

and it’s not just dababy. it’s matt damon soliloquizing about how his daughter convinced him, in the year of our lord 2021, that using “faggot” as an non-lgbtq person is wrong. (baby boy, you should have saved that one for your therapist — not the sunday times.)

it’s michael che making jokes about simone biles’ sexual assault and blaming it on “hackers.” it’s the way andrew cuomo systematically used his position to twist and pervert the office of the governor to sexually harass 11 women, and create a culture were "sexual harassment and bullying [were] so pervasive that it [was] not only condoned but expected." [trigger warning: sexual harassment mention in the article]

it’s less prolonged, but equally disturbing moments, like my building security guard who felt the need to approach me late at night, waste my time with inanities, make me visibly uncomfortable, and put his hand on his shoulder. it’s being in an uber late at night, with an ardent r.kelly and bill cosby apologist at the wheel.

i didn’t want to keep up with dababy’s mess because, along with being triggered, i knew no repercussion would feel “good” enough. i didn’t feel vindicated when i heard that lollapalooza bumped him from the roster, or when governor’s ball and parklife and day n vegas and working families party followed suit.

cancel culture doesn’t work, y’all. (almost immediately, twitter hoteps caped for dababy and praised his goonish disdain for the lgbtq+ community, his valiant defense of Real Black Manhood™️.) the block is hot for a little bit. but the entertainment industry, which is firmly in the hands of other men, who also don’t want to unlearn their toxic behaviors, will always sneak these individuals back into song collabs, movie roles, roundtable interviews, and brand deals.

what we need is accountability. we need transformative justice, also known as restorative justice, for sexual assault survivors and perpetrators. more men in therapy. more conversations about toxic masculinity, because i know there’s so much hurt and trauma there that i’ll never understand. lgbtq+ history in public and private school curriculums — and yes, bayard rustin in the civil rights section, too.

consistently, it’s cis het men who have the audacity. to openly and casually destroy the lives of women, of queer people. they’ve got the audacity because they revel in entitlement. and that entitlement comes from a surely intoxicating blend of intersectional privileges.

i sat with this for a couple of weeks. talked to my friends about it, my partner. i then had a revelation on top of that.

i’m not just embarrassed by the way cis het men are comfortable with misogynoir, with violent homophobia and transphobia, and laughing at marginalized people’s pain. (especially men of color, who are looking for purchase in entangled systems of oppression.)

i’m resigned. i’m quite proud of the justice work that i’ve done, helping myself — as well as my community, friends, family, and strangers — unlearn harmful oppressive ideas and behaviors. that being said, this isn’t just about feminism.

this is about hurt.

i think daddy issues is such a trite, misogynistic term. it’s especially cringe when people tie it to daddy kink and powerplay. but fuck it: i have daddy issues. i have brother issues, uncle issues, lover issues, (best) guy friend issues, random man-on-the-street-cat-calling-me issues.

an excerpt from abuse of power comes as no surprise by jenny holzer (1983)

as a general rule, i’ve always led with empathy. i try to always see the best in people. and to my detriment, historically, i give people second and fifth and 17th chances.

and what do i get from the cis het men in my life instead? interactions with a talk-all-over-me aggressive undercurrent. a condescending, mansplaining element. the other shoe dropping and and the shoe is a heeled yves saint laurent boot with a pointed toe that says “i was using you for X, i don’t actually value Y, you’re just a means to Z end.”

and chile, the emotional repression. it’s like pulling teeth to get men to open up. and i’m not a dentist. ✧

recommended reading

reflecting on the rise of the hotep (miranda lovett)

jenny holzer talks about her nyc aids memorial (in conversation with phaidon)

pamela sneed’s funeral diva preserves the forgotten Black stories of the aids crisis (ashia ajani)

if you are masculine-presenting or grew up socialized into masculinity, what is the way the patriarchy enacts violence against you? i’ll go first (@notwildlin on tiktok)

1

capricorn is symbolized by a goat. this sign’s corresponding tarot card is the devil. in many incarnations, the devil is half-man, half-goat. both capricorn and the devil are marked by their stubbornness, their determination, their audacity. however, many spiritualists focus on how pulling the devil card symbolizes pessimism and operating with, for all intents and purposes, a scarcity mindset.

2

dababy is a mentee of 50 cent, and is publicly aligned with tory lanez and t.i. 50 cent has dunked on Black women for decades. lanez very unequivocally shot megan thee stallion, gaslighted her and then victim-blamed her, for the bullet he put in her foot. t.i. and tiny drugged and raped possibly dozens of Black women — something people had whispered about for years until metropolitan police depts finally came around to giving a damn because people were talking about on social media.