Blog / 2023 / The Creeping Fascism in My Town and the Depressive Donkey in My Heart

April 13, 2023

Last year, I moved to a beautiful little hamlet on the Delaware, a place where nylon rainbows wave from every other house and neighbors smile to acknowledge they’ve seen me around. In this tiny slice of liberal idyll, I’ve never been catcalled and I’ve never once been told to smile by a man as I walk through town.

Every human with breasts knows that this is a big deal, but, for those without, let me make it clear: the unrelenting onslaught of fatuous hatefulness in the form of comments from random men in the street is incredibly aggravating for many people with boobs. When you find a place where that’s vanishingly rare, it’s hard not to be charmed.

And charmed, I was—to begin with anyway. Because, although there’s a special degree of thoughtfulness in this town, its government comes up lacking in that department. Time and again, the town’s leadership displays an alarming complicity with religious institutions, both local and national.

For one thing, the City allows a religious company to publish its newsletter, because the company does it in exchange for ad revenue, instead of charging the town. Seems like a good deal, except that the printer’s URL appears on more than half the pages of these little booklets, implying that the City approves of the company. And the printer’s religion, which features prominently on its site, pours scads of money into lobbying state legislatures in order to curtail the rights of victims of child sexual abuse—a prudent use of funds when one’s faith is famous for protecting celebrants who molest kids by transferring known predators to new districts so that they can assault even more people. It’s weird to me that I have to spell this out, but that’s not the sort of group any reasonable person would want their local government to endorse.

What’s more, the City sponsors a couple of different kinds of god-centered celebrations—even working with extremists to do these events. I’ve had to stand by and watch while my cis male elected officials get chummy with cis male celebrants who would never shake my hand or the hands of any cis woman, trans person, or nonbinary individual.

This governmental cheerleading of extremist beliefs is not only icky, but also more than a little iffy when viewed in the context of the First Amendment.

Over the last six months, I’ve had conversations about the icky-iffy with lots of folx, and the response has been surprisingly mixed. In a town where street harassment has been essentially eradicated, I expected a near universal respect for every kind of human and for their right to not have their government promote religions that harm cis and trans women, queer people, and children. What I found was:

  1. A few people who are just as icked as I am.
  2. A bunch of residents who enjoy religious parties along with newsletters that are printed free of charge to the point where they’re not interested in how their government’s involvement with godly institutions is chipping away at the Constitution.
  3. One cis man who’s decided that I’m an anti-religion zealot and who is, as a result, doing what men have been doing for thousands of years when a person with breasts threatens the patriarchy. He’s badmouthing me around town, making it harder for me to feel comfortable speaking up, harder for me to make my living, and harder for me to exist.

My relief at no longer being harassed in the street is certainly being challenged by my disappointment at the City’s casual embrace of oppression and my fellow residents’ acceptance of their government’s icky-iffy. The fact is that this strange juxtaposition has forced me to acknowledge my inner Eeyore, the depressed donkey from Winnie the Pooh who’s known for saying: “it never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.”

making of Eeyore fan art
painting process

I know I come across very positive—an impression that I’ve struggled with before. But a big part of who I am is a sawdust-stuffed donkey who’s very sensitive to the world around her and who doesn’t like to pretend that everything’s okay when it’s really not.

I can’t count the number of times over the last few months that I’ve been told to let this go. I’ve started to realize that, when people tell me that, they’re being like everyone who’s ever told me I think too much. They’re saying I make them uncomfortable.

Through these conversations, I’ve learned that don’t need to let anything go—and certainly not my fight against the fascism that’s creeping into my peaceful, well-meaning community. I just need to stop talking with certain people about extremism, religious nationalism, and the patriarchy. I must accept that not everyone will appreciate my inner Eeyore and focus on finding those who do.

Progress Pride flag Eeyore holding a hammer, and, instead of saying “it never hurts to keep looking for sunshine,” he says “it never hurts to keep smashing the patriarchy.”
Gwenn Seemel
It Never Hurts to Keep Smashing the Patriarchy.
acrylic on paper
10 x 8 inches

The original Progress Pride Eeyore fan art piece is for sale for $200 plus shipping (and tax if you’re in New Jersey)—contact me if you’re interested. For prints and t-shirts with this design, go here in my print store!

If you’re interested in my feelings about faith more generally, check out:

  • this video about the one religious group I support wholeheartedly
  • this post which, among other things, explains what being godfree means to me
  • this Jesus portrait that I painted as commentary on one of the more terrifying forms of religious nationalism in the US
rainbow Eeyore
detail of It Never Hurts to Keep Smashing the Patriarchy.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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