Archive for January, 2012

I wrote something about trans people on the internet! You can read it, if you want to!

Why I’m Not Saying “Tr*nny” And I’d Like It If You Guys Didn’t Either, Please

I just wrote a post for Original Plumbing, and it occurs to me that I should probably start linking to those on here!  I do so on Twitter, but not all of you follow me on there, so here you go.

This post is about slurs, reclamation, transmisogyny, and why trans men should stop using the word “tr*nny.”

Please Call Your Legislator About SOPA

I’m sure you’ve heard of SOPA, and I’m sure you’ve heard that plenty of people who know what they’re talking about would like SOPA not to pass.


Here is a simple one page description of why this bill is not an effective or useful piece of legislation.  It also describes, more importantly, how easy SOPA would be for corporations to abuse.


If you’re from the US, please call your legislators.

An Open Letter to an Amalgamation of the Straight Women I Love

(Note: This post is the first in a new feature on my blog, Love Letters.  This is more art-oriented stuff, as opposed to the strictly analytical work you can usually find on my blog.  I’m sorry if that’s not your kind of thing, but if it is–here you go!)

Dear Amalgamation,

I love you.  I adore you.  I cherish the bond we share.  All stereotypes of fags and hags aside, the relationship between us is special.  In this patriarchal world, a woman who loves men and a man who loves men share an understanding tempered by difference. It’s a beautiful unnameable thing.

Back when I thought I was straight, we slept together, and when I told you who I really loved, you stuck around because you knew that I loved you–and not platonically, because you read The Symposium with me in the ninth grade when it was the only book on gay love I could find, and you know that isn’t what “platonic” means.

You encouraged me to hit on the beautiful boy in the blue dress outside of my first Rocky Horror screening.  (I was wearing a Boy Scout shirt.  I got his number but I was too scared to call.)

You defended me from the older skeezy queer at the coffee shop who wouldn’t stop asking if I had somewhere to stay that night.  You taught me how to smoke weed from a piece.

Your dad offered me reimbursement in check form to buy you soup.  I owe you half a sandwich at the moment.  You are my fake sister but one day you’re going to meet my real ones and make friends with them too.

You are Jewish and so you could hang out with me on Christmas without it being weird with your family. You are black and you told me stories about being the only black girl in your Orange County high school, while we ate squash curry on the kitchen floor of the college co-op.  You are white and we had our first experience working through our bullshit together in the ninth grade World History class where we knew the whole story was not being told.  You are white and you grew up in a trailer park and every Christmas you eat what your mother ate after her excommunication.  You are Latina and we call each other “esposito” and “esposita,” which creeps out other people’s moms completely, and once we sat for an hour on someone else’s lawn and you talked about how a boy kept waffling.  He was a really cute boy.

You got sent to rehab and we couldn’t talk for two years but I think you’re okay now.

A bunch of your friends got sent to rehab and you still call one of them “Bob the drug dealer,” which is not his real name.

You never do drugs and one time I had to send you a sharp Facebook message about being judgmental.

Your mom thinks I’m dating you.

Your mom thinks I’m dating your brother.

Your mom thinks I have a crush on your dad.

I do have a crush on your dad.

Your dad thinks I have a crush on your mom?  I have no idea how this happened.

I wrote the foreword to your first chapbook and you’re really embarrassed about it now because some of it is really bad.  The thing is, some of it is also really good.  My foreword is bad though.  You and I had the same poetry teachers and I decided to marry you because you ended a poem with the line, “How can I be this fortunate?” and it was tenth grade and who writes a poem about being fortunate in tenth grade?

You don’t get along with my queer male best friend.  Does this mean something?

If this were the mid-twentieth century–and you know that I keep calling you the Harper Lee to my Truman Capote, so sometimes I think it is the mid-twentieth century–I’d want to have a marriage of convenience with you, ideally finding a man who swung both ways for us to share and cuddle with while the kids watched Howdy-Doody.  Everyone in the neighborhood would know.  We’d move to New York.  I would find a way to sleep with Frank O’Hara and you’d find a way to sleep with Kenneth Koch, or maybe you’d have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles.  Or maybe I’d have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles.  Come to think of it, there is still time for both of us to have an orientation-defying experience with Eileen Myles.  Please call her for me.

I stole your copy of that book on Lord Byron, Greek love, and homophobia in 1800s Britain.  It was in the eleventh grade.  I still haven’t read it and I’m sorry.  Your mom and dad used to run a Rocky Horror shadowcast, but you’ve never been in the show.  You used to be good at pretending to cry and then laugh and then cry.

I love you because we both know our people need one another.  I love you because you tell me I’m pretty and I tell you you’re pretty and we are both actually very pretty.  I love you because of all your help writing In Cold Blood and because you definitely wrote To Kill a Mockingbird all by yourself and Dil is a very flattering portrait.  I love you because you make being in love with men who do not love us a fun experience.

I will buy you the morning after pill and I will pretend to be your boyfriend at the abortion clinic.  You will hold my hand when the movie about Westboro Baptist plays at the Museum of Tolerance trip and you will pretend to be my girlfriend at the Habitat for Humanity dance in Lynchburg, VA.

When you’re silenced by sexism, I will speak up for you knowing that I will be taken more seriously because I am not a woman, and knowing that that’s fucked up.  When I’m silenced by queerphobia, you will speak up for me knowing that you will be taken more seriously because you’re not queer, and knowing that that’s fucked up.

We are loving each other through a mutual constant promise not to wield our privilege over one another.  I will not be a man to you.  You will not be straight to me.

When your other gay friends say “Bitch!” affectionately I will tell them to shut the fuck up unless you like it.

When your other gay friends say “You big slut!” affectionately I will tell them to shut the fuck up unless you like it.

When your other gay friends say “Whore!” or “Bitch!” or any other slur associated with women I will say, “Would you like to think about that word’s history?”

When your other gay friends think they have the right to make derisive comments about your body–or any woman’s body!–just because they don’t want to have sex with that body, I will spill my drink on them on purpose.  I promise to make it look like an accident.

You’re coming to see me today!

You’re back in Orange County, trying to resist your family’s efforts to enculturate you.

You’re on a bus to see my boyfriend in a far away city because you love him as much as I do.

You remind me of Nancy Mitford but only as much as is nice.  Fortunately I don’t remind myself of Evelyn Waugh except when I’m overcaffeinated.

I promise never to forget that what we have is special.



New Features, Formal Constraints, & Faiz Achmed Faiz

I’m going to be introducing regular features to Super Mattachine–I have two specific ones in mind.  I’m doing this for a few reasons.  Firstly, I’m looking for a way to add more structure to my work on this blog.  I enjoy writing about whatever I think of that day and can provide a helpful critique of or comment on, but there ought to be more to it. This is a practical matter: I want readers to know what they’re bound to get, as opposed to being at the mercy of my disparate political stream of consciousness.


The second reason is a creative issue.  I’m about to sound a little annoying and college-student-who-thinks-he-is-a-writer; I’m sorry about that.  I have tried very hard but unfortunately I am a college student who thinks he is a writer.  As a writer–oh no, it’s happening!–I swear by the notion of the formal constraint.  Almost all my favorite poets either write in form or have such a developed understanding of form that their free verse creates its own forms.  (Maybe someday I will go on and on about this in this space.)  Good writing is hard to do with just a blank page.  It is easier, and you are more likely to produce better work, if you have a formal of some sort to work from.  That can be as simple as a sort of genre, like an elegy or a political polemic, or as demanding as writing an entire novel without the letter E.


With those things in mind, I’m introducing two regular features to this blog: Love Letters and Conversations.


The love letter is one of my favorite forms; I like telling people what I like about them in specific ways.  I think the love letter is also useful politically.  The great poet Faiz Achmed Faiz wrote political ghazals–that’s an Arabic poetic form of longing, often addressed to a lover or to Allah.  He made the addressee of these ghazals not just the “you” of the lover or of Allah, but a sociopolitical you.  The lover Faiz longs for in his poems can be justice, it can be truth, it can be a precolonial world, it can be the hidden spirit of the Pakistani people.  Talking to these political entities as though they’re lovers brings out something in Faiz’s poetry that makes you long to make a better world.  They do just what good love letters do: bring out what you’ve always needed to tell someone that you never did.  Not only do you tell them what you love about them, you tell them what needs to change in your relationship for you to continue being happily in love.  Or go back to being happily in love. Or be happily in love ever.


So I have a love letter in the works already.  It’s addressed to the straight women in my life.  (I’m a believer in the wonder of the hag, although I do not like the term “fag hag.”)  Hopefully I’ll be able to one day write something that is as good as whatever Faiz Achmed Fez used to fingerpaint as a toddler.  But that will take a long time.  In fact, you should not read my blog and instead go read the complete works of Faiz Achmed Faiz.  I will not be offended if this is what you choose to do with your time.


The second feature I want to introduce is Conversations.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of Two Important People In Conversation.  I’m not important, but I do like conversations, and really this is just an excuse for me to introduce you to friends of mine who are also activists and/or artists in my community and whose ideas I think are valuable.  I think better when I have someone who isn’t in my head to talk to, and I obviously only have one perspective and set of privileged and oppressed identities.


The first of these will feature the brilliant Chungyen Chang, an Asian American feminist poet trans woman writer human being whom I admire so much.  Right now Chungyen runs From One Survivor to Another, the blog I just linked you to, where she analyzes sexual abuse, difference, and oppression with finesse and also sometimes pictures of cute animals.  We’re probably going to talk about abuse and survival as it relates to social justice, but it’s up in the air at the moment.  When it goes live, I promise it will be interesting.


I’m not holding myself to a strict schedule on these features, but there will be at least one of each every month.  Probably more, but that’s the bare minimum.


That’s the news!  You can expect the first Love Letter to be posted tomorrow.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t get your pronouns right!” Yes, you can. You just won’t.

(ATTN: This is a rare post directed at cis people. Gee.)

It happens all the time.  Mostly with cis people, but with some trans people too.  Someone gets a pronoun wrong.  Sometimes it’s a binary pronoun (that is, he or she) and sometimes it’s a non-binary pronoun, like they, zie, or ey.  And guess what?  If you get a pronoun wrong, even if it was an honest mistake, it is your fault.  It is a big deal.  It is an example of cissexism.  It is an example of linguistic violence.

In fact, it is an example of your cissexism.  Because you’re cissexist.  The first step is admitting that you have a problem, and just like admitting that you’re an addict, it is hard to do.  And just like admitting that you’re an addict, it is brave.  And indispensable!  Or you’ll hit your rock bottom, and that trans person you keep mispronouning?  You will make them cry, or you trigger a panic attack for them, or the worst case scenario will happen, and you will lose them.  I hope you value them enough to want these things not to happen.

I don’t care if you knew them before they came out.  I don’t care if this is the first trans person you’ve ever encountered.  I don’t care how long you knew them before they came out.  I don’t care if you knew and loved them intimately as your son, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, niece, nephew, brother, sister, grandaughter, grandson, pageant queen, best man, bridesmaid, courtesan, madam, maestro, personal wizard, midwife, or cigarette girl.  That’s really important, but right now it isn’t relevant.

“But it’s not my fault!”  I hear you cry.  “I’m not cissexist!  I’m just adjusting!  I need time and practice!”

Well, you’re partly right.  You need time and practice to learn how not to be cissexist!

We all have cissexism to work through.  For trans people it’s internalized, but I think it’s easier for us to work through ours because cissexism hurts us.  But it’s designed to make cis people’s lives easier and better, so for cis people it’s harder to get over.  It’s just so much comfier to stay cissexist!  Of course, one of the central tenets of cissexism is that cissexism doesn’t exist, so it’s even comfier to stay cissexist and pretend you aren’t.

A lot of cissexism is unconscious.  So you can totally accept this trans person’s transition intellectually, politically, and every other way, but clearly, you still have some stuff to work on.   If you value this trans person, you need to make that work a priority.

The reason you aren’t able to get this trans person’s pronouns right is that you haven’t worked through your cissexism.  Maybe it’s that they don’t look like a cis man or a cis woman.  Maybe they don’t sound like one.  Maybe they don’t have conventional male or female interests.  Maybe it’s that they’re non-binary, and you don’t know how to negotiate having someone in your life who isn’t a man or a woman at all.

I once had a long conversation with a highly educated cis man about pronouns.  I know him to be absolutely brilliant.  He was an official at a school.  He told me that I had to understand, that the cis people (everyone else) at my school couldn’t get my pronouns right because I wasn’t “masculine” enough for them to associate male pronouns with me. As I do now, I dressed like a cute gay boy.  As I do now, I gesticulated often and acknowledged the fact that I was capable of bending my wrists and hips.  I talked openly about my interests in dance, poetry, and cute boys.

He acknowledged that this was fucked as hell, albeit in nicer language, because he was at least gender-positive enough to believe that men shouldn’t have to like football and beer and women shouldn’t have to like pink dresses and fluffy bunnies.  But instead of attempting to educate these people–which he could have done, as he was in a position of extremely high authority–he asked me to accept their sexist, homophobic, and cissexist perspective on gender.  I was the one who needed to change, not them, although he openly acknowledged that they were wrong.  During this conversation, I was in tears, because I was having regular panic attacks during the school day.  They were happening because of persistent and unapologetic mispronouning.  (Keep in mind, I was a sixteen-year-old kid.  Sixteen-year-olds are not known for their emotional maturity, and we shouldn’t ask them to be as mature as or more mature than adults.)

Why am I telling you about this guy?  Because he’s one of the smartest people I know and he was completely unable to recognize and own his cissexism.  Or, in more common terms: He refused to take responsibility for his actions.

This shouldn’t happen to anyone.  (It especially shouldn’t happen to a kid, and it especially shouldn’t come from authority figures, and it should never be this pervasive a problem in a learning institution.  But that’s another post altogether!  And one I’ll someday make, I promise.)  In this example, it was happening throughout an entire institution, but it’s most commonly a problem in basic personal relationships.  Parent and child.  Friends.  Uncle and niece. Cousins. Romantic partners. Employees and bosses, or employees and clients.

When I came to college, an environment where cis people were actively questioning their privilege, this treatment decreased dramatically.  It was not perfect, but there was an understanding that pronoun fuck ups were a big deal and sprung from a larger system of oppression.  My panic attacks due to pronoun misuse stopped completely.  I felt safe.  My mental health took a dramatic turn for the better.

When I say that pronoun misuse is often unapologetic, I don’t mean that people don’t usually say, “I’m sorry.”  They do.  But you know what?  “I’m sorry” is meaningless unless it actually means, “I will work not to do that again.”  People said, “I’m sorry,” but they followed it up with, “I don’t mean to do it!” or “But I totally support you!”  And then they did it again the next day.  Or the next hour.  Or the next sentence.

Yes, you meant to do it.  And no, you don’t support me.  If you didn’t mean to do it, you would do the work necessary not to do it.  There are cis people who don’t do it.  If you supported me, you would do that work.

You need to take responsibility for your actions.  More concisely: own your shit.  This is a basic tenet of life.  This came up a lot in the preschool I used to teach in.  Why haven’t you learned it yet?

If a cis person mispronouns me and tries to explain why it’s not their fault, I want to cry, and then I laugh in their face.  As gently as I can, I tell them it is their fault and that it is not okay.  I am upset with them, and I have the right to be.  I am sometimes triggered by these encounters because of how unapologetically cissexist they are.

If a cis person mispronouns me, apologizes, knows it’s a big deal, and owns the fact that they fucked up and have cissexism to work through, I smile.  I tell them that yeah, it’s a big deal, but it is not the end of the world, and we can still be friends.  I mean it.  I am rarely triggered by these encounters.

This matter of mispronouning brings up all kinds of questions about intentionality.  I don’t want to unpack that concept here, because it is a huge one–and, not coincidentally, one I learned about from the teacher I told you about earlier in this post.  What are your “intentions” and are they relevant here?  If your true intention was to support my gender identity in every way you could, you would do the work necessary for you to use the correct pronouns.  I know because I’ve had to do work to use correct pronouns for people in my life!

That’s right, I have mispronouned people.  I will again. I’m still adjusting to using non-binary pronouns like zie and ey, but I’ll get there.  (It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions.)  I mispronouned someone on Twitter yesterday–although I think I deleted the tweet fast enough that no one saw.

The work we need to do to get pronouns right is different for everyone.  For some of us it’s reading.  For some of us it’s a couple long talks with a trans-positive person who’s comfortable educating us.  (The “comfortable educating us” part is extremely important.)  For some of us it is time–but it is unacceptable for it to be too much time.

It really is like addiction–if you get sober after ten years, that’s great.  Congratulations!  But after five years would have been better.  And one year would have been better still.  Personally, if someone misgenders me consistent, I cut off all contact after three months in which the behavior persists.  This is a matter of my mental health, and I cannot afford to jeopardize that for you.  Again, this is just what I do, and different things may work for others, but this works for me.

Do whatever work you need to do to. It may take a while to figure how what work that is, but hey.  It’s important.

Recognize that you need to start this work now.  Today.  Immediately.  Recognize that every day you go without doing this work, you are hurting the trans person in your life.  Now do it.

Take responsibility.  Behave like a grown-up.  This is a way to be kind and compassionate.  This is a way to keep a person from being in pain.  This is a way to be one of the good guys.  Do it.

Once you do, things will be better.  You can never undo what you’ve done, but you can fix a lot of the damage you’ve created.  For example, the guy I talked about earlier in in this blog is now a friend of mine.  He did the work.  Now, it isn’t perfect, because nothing is ever perfect, but it is totally ok.  It will be for you if you do your work.

Give me (and by me I mean the cause of trans liberation) a present for my birthday!

I’m twenty today!  When I was a little kid I used to say twenty was when I’d be a grown-up, so according to eight-year-old Stephen, I am now an adult.  I share this birthday with gender warrior Goblin King David Bowie and sex-positive warrior and inventor of the striptease Gypsy Rose Lee.  (Also, Stephen Hawking! And the guy who wrote the words to Mexico’s national anthem!)  It is also the date of an unsuccessful slave rebellion (1811), the only day in America’s history we’ve ever had zero national debt (1835), and the day Bush signed No Child Left Behind (vomit).

I don’t want a lot for my birthday, internet. I just want the end of oppression in all its forms.  I’d like that to start with giving gifts to people close to my heart who are doing good and important work.

As a birthday present to me, please donate to Trans Youth Family Allies today.  They save the lives of gender-variant children.  I’m not exaggerating; I have absolutely no doubt that without the work TYFA does for their kids, plenty of those kids wouldn’t be alive.  They save trans kids from bullying and harassing, both from their peers and from adults, sometimes even from authority figures like teachers.  They save trans kids by getting them the medical care they need.  They are doing some of the most important work I can think of.  (They also have a store, by the way, if you long for some TYFA-themed boxers, which, I’ll be real with you, I kind of do.)  You can sign up for a monthly donation at a fixed rate if you want, or you can do a one-time donation.  I highly recommend the monthly!

But you always love the guest at the birthday party more who gives two gifts, right?  You’re a little bit nicer to them the whole party because you can see that two gifts are wrapped in the same paper with a note from them on top.  That’s why you should also donate to my friend Kevyn’s top surgery fund.  Kevyn is an activist.  We co-run an organization at our college; zie co-runs The Circle, an organization focused on getting resources to trans folks, with Ira Gray, and really zie is just a lovely sweet person who deserves health care.  It would be a big present to me if you could help hir get that.

Nineteen was a weird as hell year, man.  I mean, to begin with, there are people reading this thing now, whereas before it was like, folks from my community who knew me because I did activist stuff there and read my poetry at readings and shit.  (I’m definitely a real writer; did you see that last sentence?)  But now you’re all reading this, and I feel a responsibility towards you because of that.  I’m trying hard to produce quality posts only and not to be too silly on Twitter.  I hope I’m doing a good job.  If I’m not, let me know.

Libra Tampons, Work It, and Why Oppression Makes For Bad Comedy

If you’re the kind of person who reads my blog, you’ve probably heard about the two transphobic media controversies du’jour.  There’s the ABC sitcom Work It and there’s the new ad from Libra tampons.  If not, here are the Spark Notes:

Work It is a men’s rights fantasy about how two straight cis guys dress up like women in order to get jobs in a world where no one thinks of the poor men.  I know, you’re excited already, seeing as there’s plenty of opportunities for cissexism, misogyny, and all kinds of bullshit in there.

The new ad from Libra features a trans woman and a cis woman in a women’s bathroom, competing over who’s the “real” woman.  The cis woman wins by pulling out her pack of tampons.  Because firstly, women always compete over who is better!  Sisterhood is a myth!  There’s some good old-fashioned patriarchal thinking.  And of course, the ultimate determinant of gender is biology.  If you have a vagina, and you bleed from it, you’re a woman.  If not, you’re a man.

So obviously, activists and other folks who dislike evil stuff have recently been protesting these two pieces of media.  I’d like to point out something that hasn’t been talked about much yet: Neither of these things achieve their goal. Their goal is to be funny, and they aren’t funny.  In fact, oppressive humor is almost never funny.  Why’s that?

Chevy Chase once said, “A laugh is a surprise.”  And you know who agreed with him?  Aristotle, who wrote that “The secret to humor is surprise.”  Humor shocks us for a minute, pulling us out of what we’ve always assumed to be true.  What’s funny is what’s subversive, what gives us that moment of cathartic laughter.

Why do you think Monty Python’s so hilarious?  Take the sketch “Ministry of Silly Walks.” We’ve got this idea in our culture that government officials are men who know what’s going on, reasonable upstanding guys who behave seriously.  What’s so funny about “Silly Walks,” ultimately, is that it pokes fun at that assumption that the government are doing important, serious things–instead, they’re just John Cleese doing really bizarre movements.

Here’s another example: one of my favorite jokes from The Simpsons.  At one point in “Treehouse of Horror VIII,” Mayor Quimby is trying to mend the political harm to his career that he’s caused by using racial slurs.  We’ve watched these kind of speeches a million times in real life, where a politician says something ridiculously racist and then tries to win back public support.  It never varies: they try to smooth things over while never actually taking responsibility for their racism or the harmfulness of the ideas they’ve shown themselves to hold.  But instead of being tactful in his apology, Quimby just straight up says what we can always tell those politicians are thinking: “I stand by all my ethnic slurs.” It’s one of the best lines from the episode and certainly one of the most quoted, in my own household and, from the looks of it, in Simpsons fangroups online.  It’s funny because it shows us what structures have been put in place in political discourse to distract us from the truth–that our politicians really do stand by all their ethnic slurs!

Even better, let’s take another example from The Simpsons, one that’s actually about the gender essentialism that Work It and the Libra ad try to make jokes about. At one point in “New Kid on the Block,” Homer’s talking to Bart, trying to tell him about women.  So he says this:

Son, a woman is a lot like a… a refrigerator! They’re about six feet tall, 300 pounds. They make ice, and… um… Oh, wait a minute. Actually, a woman is more like a beer. They smell good, they look good, you’d step over your own mother just to get one! But you can’t stop at one. You wanna drink another woman! So I says yeah, if you want that money come and find it, cuz I don’t know where it is you baloney! You make me wanna wretch!

The joke is obvious: Homer can’t tell Bart what women are, because women are a diverse group of people and you can’t be essentialist in describing all of them at once!  Only a fool would try to do that, and Homer proves himself a fool in this line, where he starts out trying to explain gender, and finishes up seeming like he’s in some kind of 1930s mob film.  The message is clear: any attempt to essentialize femaleness is going to end up sounding bizarre and stupid, just the way Homer does here.

That’s what Work It and this ad for Libra fail to do.  They don’t critique people’s basic assumptions.  They rely entirely on tired old ideas.  “Men are different from women!  Ahahahaha!” and “Trans women think they’re really female!  Hilarious!”  They don’t have one jot of respect for their audience.

Forgive me if I don’t quote too many jokes from Work It the way I have from you know, actually funny shows.  It’s pretty painful to watch.  I mean, in the trailer alone you have misogynistic chestnuts like, “Women are taking over the workforce!” and cissexist bullshit like the line, spoken by a cis woman to one of the crossdressing men, “Did [your husband] leave you for someone smaller?”  At one point one character, in order to pass as a woman, has to throw away his subway sandwich and eat only lettuce, because obviously women never eat subway sandwiches and are delicate flowers who don’t need calories.  The whole thing is just dumb and faintly embarrassing.

Obviously, don’t tune into Work It.  You’ll be boycotting a sexist, transmisogynistic show, and you’ll be saving yourself time that I myself am never going to get back.  (I believe you really ought to see something before critiquing it.  I’m kind of regretting that decision.  Life is too short to watch this show.)

Don’t buy Libra tampons either.  What a bore that commercial is.  What a vile vile cis supremacist bore.

I’ll leave you with my favorite comedian of all time, Peter Cook, riffing on the English class system: