Natasha Coulis
Ex-Mormon queer feminist trauma-informed single parent of four, writer, poet. Embracing complexity, unknowing, love.
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Apple bite and photography by E.H. Image by Natasha Coulis.

Are we ready to learn from our mistakes?

Trigger and content warning: This piece fleetingly mentions rape. It also discusses religious and community control behaviours.

Note: I use “wokeness,” “cancel culture,” and “The Church of Social Justice” interchangeably and as different from “social justice.” Keep reading for further explanation. Imagined audience are white social justice activists.

About eight years ago when I was 32, I sat in my new girlfriend’s kitchen and mused aloud how unfortunate it is that ducks get raped. Lots of animals do, but I didn’t yet know about barbed lion penises because animals kind of bore me unless they’re being gay. After I said…

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash, editing by Natasha Coulis

In the worthy quest to platform marginalized people

Note: My imagined audience here are social justice activists who regularly promote deplatforming straight cis white men indefinitely as a representation correction model

Sometimes when I am about to quote someone with a poetic, insightful, articulate, experienced thing to say, I ask myself if they are white and if they are a man and if so, I hesitate. I feel pressured to somehow find a similar sentiment or idea expressed by someone from a less visibly represented identity. I hear in my head the horde of online activists(?), …

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Original photography by Isabella Mendes, image editing by Natasha Coulis

Plus, a case study: Jay Manicom

Trigger warning: This piece of writing discusses sexual assault of children and adults, and describes an example of racist judgments towards Indigenous people.

There are unrepentant people who have done things so egregious that the harm is self-evident by naming their behaviour.

Jian Ghomeshi. Donald Trump. Brock Turner. Harvey Weinstein.

We know they did the things they did because multiple witnesses who didn’t know each other came forward at risk to themselves. (I’m oversimplifying here for brevity’s sake because I expect majority agreement and I dismiss any refutation as being silly.) They deny what they have done and therefore have…

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Author photo by author

To change people’s minds, you need to work with their belief system

When I was in my first philosophy class at university ten years ago most of my classmates were men. (Actually, I would argue they were boys. They all wore a uniform of fat skater sneakers, baggy jeans, hoodies, and ball caps. While I am adamant that we cannot accurately judge each other knowing only one or two things about our respective beliefs, a failsafe metric for judging someone’s manliness is this outfit.) (I kid.) (Mostly.)

The professor warned us that no one gets A+ grades in his class. I remember one or maybe two men scoffing in a joking way…

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Photo by David Todd McCarty on Unsplash

How to give up our treasured condescension to do good work

Reading notes: My intended audience is primarily straight, white, cis women but it may also apply to queer women. I’m speaking here of power dynamics and don’t believe it’s my place to speak to anyone but my peers.

Do we have the same beliefs? Let’s check:

I believe that demanding, manipulating, fighting, looting, and destroying property is a “punching up” strategy that can be morally employed by oppressed people.

I believe that tone policing people of colour is white supremacy. Telling people how to feel and how to respond about violence targeting them, about systemic oppressive inequality, is violent communication…

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@sunnysmng on Unsplash

Trading “success” for the good life

The pandemic hit my awareness shortly after my personal life blew apart by an effective divorce. We married ourselves via my children we co-parented for seven years and counting; joint finances; businesses we launched and shared; and mostly through the formal intention to marry each other as the loves of each other’s lives— best friends who could be plopped down together on any deserted island, never running out of things to talk or laugh about. But, our traumas were incompatible. I grew tired of trying to make our traumas accommodate each other. A beat later, she did too. …

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Your pastime of socially shaming people is dangerous

It is 4:30 am and I can’t sleep. I opened up Facebook to bore myself back to sleep but instead got riled up reading comments from people judging other people about Doing Coronavirus Wrong. I’m so tired of reading and hearing people judge and shame each other for how they cope in a pandemic, competing in an imaginary competition for Best, Smartest, Goodest, Most Socially Acceptable Person.

People are not wearing masks everywhere in public.

People are having a hard time parenting during quarantine while working.

People are going to beaches.

People are not standing exactly six feet behind other…

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Photo by Chi Pham on Unsplash. (Everyone would be happier if there were 12 more daffodils here. Call the bi-law officer.)

A call-to-action to judge less, assume the best of each other, and dare to have better conversations

There are generally two kinds of adults in the world: those with super dogmatic morals and ethics and those who graduated from their dogmatism with the ability to think for themselves and quickly pivot their position depending on the specifics of the scenario. James Fowler has a theory of faith that I think also describes thought evolution. You might be in Stage Three. I’m in Stage Five. You don’t understand me. I get it. I used to be you. I was still a good person (I was just a lot less nice to be around).

You said to me in…

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Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

In search of a career worth having at the end of the world

The world is ending, or so the current narrative goes, and I don’t know what to do with my life or what I want to be when I grow up. In about five months, I’ll be 40— the last possible moment to delay growing up.

I thought I was close to an answer seven years ago while working on my undergrad after 11 years of full-time parenting. After reading Rolling Stone’s Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, suddenly nothing I studied at university mattered. Especially not literary criticism. I could hardly concentrate. …

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Photo by Frederik Falinski on Unsplash

In the sleepiest part of night
all the insomniac fairies
paint the freckles upon her face and shoulders,
a blend of sunshine, gumption, melanin.
Whispering more Jane Austen
than is good for her into her ear,
they paint her hair with strawberries.

She will stand beneath an apple tree
three months from now,
a journal in her hand
of all she thinks she believes and is,
the tall grass shifting to her,
the sun washing sepias,
as the young man who loves her takes her photo,
tenderly repeating her name to himself.
She will smile all her best smiles.

On the drive home
she will glance through the photos.
She will find only frames of wrist,
a flash of auburn,
one blue eye.

Previously published in Fire in the Pasture by Peculiar Pages

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