Saturday, September 1, 2012

Elizabeth Vom Marlowe, SJW

Elizabeth Vom Marlowe's very expensive private schools are Reed College and Bryn Mawr. Her life, however, is unusual for a social justice warrior. From Vom Marlowe - Racism isn't classism:
My dad is upperclass and grew up upper-middle class. Typical Chicago suburb boy. He went to college, worked for a relative on his summers off, making huge sums. Got a job straight of college and worked his way up the corporate ladder.

My mom grew up lower class. Lower, urban, working class Catholic, to be exact...

During my parents’ marriage, my family was mostly middle class. We had a house and car, dogs and bikes, and clothes and privilege...

Then they divorced. And what a divorce it was. I hope it comes as no shock to anyone here that my mom and I tumbled down the class ladder to solid lower, working class. In fact, we were piss poor. During my first year of college, my family’s combined yearly income was six thousand dollars (for myself, my mom, and my brother). My father’s disposable play-money income was nine thousand dollars a month. Not mortgage, car payment, insurance, no. Play money. He was making high-six and low seven figure income in that era, salarywise, not including stock options or assorted benefits.

I’m still not sure how my family managed those years. As example of my poverty credentials: our car was up on blocks in the back yard. We traded work for government cheese from a friend.
After she and her friends speculated wildly about my life, I wrote the first draft of "looking at a few of my critics", which included "There’s vom_marlowe , whose grandmother and mine (on my father’s side) could share hardship stories, but whose college cost $30,000, so if that came from family, vom_marlowe is, at least, as privileged as I was."

From Vom Marlowe - Fucking Will Shetterly Insults Me and My Family:
For the fucking RECORD, I come from a mixed class background.  My father was middle class.  My mother was lower-class shit poor.  My mother did not have her own underwear or clothes or bed or room, but shared with her (nine other) siblings.  My parents divorced and I lived with my mother.  My father was not legally obligated to support me by the results of the divorce agreement and because he is an asshole, he DID NOT...
My first year of college, my family's entire household income was six thousand dollars.  ...  I used some of my school loan book money to buy groceries for my mother because she did not have any food in the house.  
When I was in college, yes, that super duper expensive college Mr Fucking Will Shetterly, I had one pair of underwear that I washed out every night before I went to bed, and if I forgot, then I wore it anyway.  And if it didn't dry, I wore it wet.  

When we lived in the duplex, we had rats.  The landlord didn't care.  The city didn't care.  You want to know how to get rid of rats if you have no money?  Mix chlorine bleach and ammonia together and pour it down their holes.  Of course, it creates a deadly gas, but hey.  You do what you gotta do.  That's the kind of life I led.  

That's lower class.
Social Justice Warriors have a few sayings that I like so much I wish they would practice them. One is "Don't play Oppression Olympics."

Until I was eleven, I shared a cinderblock room in a former motel unit with my brother and sister, and cleaned dog pens before and after school—I still remember the smell and weight of a wheelbarrow full of fresh dog shit, and how my hands got numb on cold mornings, and how the bugs swarmed around me on warm ones. I got my clothes second-hand from Goodwill. I loved school because the cafeteria served real milk instead of powdered milk. Our second-hand fridge—almost everything we had was bought used—rarely had cheese in it; it had "cheese food" or "cheese product"—I can't remember the exact name, but I remember it made Velveeta a luxury.

Then I went to Choate, one of the most elite schools in the nation. Choate and my college years were covered by money that my grandfather got late in his life—he was a small town druggist who invested in a local business that boomed. My living expenses were covered, so long as I lived and ate on campus, but I had to work for spending money. That was when I added writerly jobs to my resume like washing dishes at Howard Johnson's.

Vom Marlowe's idea of "lower-class shit poor" is how you would characterize being poor if you went there from a comfortable life and had a father who could've made your life better, but didn't.

Otherwise, that's just life. I grew up sharing my clothes and a room, like my dad, who grew up on a small farm and shared his clothes and a room. Vom Marlowe's obsession with owning underwear is weird if you grew up sharing clothes; if your underwear was washed, why do you care who has worn it?

As for rats and mice, we used cheap wooden traps. The results are ugly, but effective.

Vom Marlowe's friends have enormous sympathy for her because they can imagine the horror of falling from comfort. But for the millions of people born into poverty whose circumstances never improved? Well, social justice warriors have a lot to say about race and gender, but poverty isn't high on their agenda.

P.S. Really, please don't play oppression olympics. The question isn't who has suffered most. The question is who has the right solution. Or even has a solution. Socialists want to share the wealth. Social justice warriors? If they want anything more than for people to shut up while they rant, I've missed it.

All that said, I really do feel sorry for Vom Marlowe. Moving down the class system has to be especially hard when you're young, and it sounds like she's completely right to call her upperclass father an asshole.