Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teaspoons! Action needed: Trans-inclusive ENDA introduced

From Monica at Transgriot:

“Today marks a critical milestone for our community and our country. Introduction of this important legislation signals the beginning of the end of a long-fought battle. For decades, a majority of people in this country have supported protecting their friends, family and neighbors from discrimination. Congress must act, at long last, this year." Rea Carey Executive Director, The Task Force

The day the transgender community has anxiously been awaiting this session has finally arrived. A trans inclusive ENDA was introduced in the House today by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) with bipartisan support.

The lead sponsors of the measure are Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

I'm waiting for the text of the bill to appear on THOMAS, but what ENDA will do if passed and signed into law is would prohibit and protect TBLG peeps against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity

The introduction of the bill is the easy part. We will now have to fight the lies of the Religious Reich, the GOP, Faux News, the conservative movement, and their negro sellouts in the Lo Impact Misleadership Coalition (the negro sellout version of the Traditional Values Coalition), their sheeple, and apathetic people in our own ranks.

You can do your part to pass this important legislation. Call, write or visit with your legislators in Washington DC if possible or back home during the August recess.

We need as Dr. Jillian T. Weiss calls it, a T-storm on this.

While there are rumors of shaky CBC support, I visited various offices of Congressional Black Caucus members and I was told by chiefs of staff and two congressmembers themselves they don't want a repeat of the 2007 ENDA fiasco.

I find those rumors specious and questionable, given that only one member voted against ENDA in '07, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and also voted against this year's hate crimes bill. Hope the Black GLBT peeps in Alabama remember that when his azz is running in the Dem primary for governor next year.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) voted against it in '07 because it wasn't trans inclusive.

The CBC is also chaired by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who has been a consistent supporter of trans inclusion and the GLBT community.

Just in case the rumors are true that CBC is squishy, those of you who live in the districts of CBC congressmembers definitely need to call them ASAP, especially if that member has a large homophobic predominately Black megachurch in it. The Hi Impact ministers like Bishop Hater (oops Harry) Jackson have already received their marching orders from Massa Lou Sheldon to kill it.

So people, open those e-mail programs, and get those telephone dialing fingers ready to roll. We have work to do and a bill to pass.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I hate my conscience

Reading this article by Renee of Womanist Musings made me really uncomfortable. That isn't unusual. Renee speaks her truth and does so bluntly. Her truth includes intense criticism of things that I get to take for granted, and if you can stay comfortable in a situation where your privilege is challenged, then you are doin' it wrong.

This is different.

In her article, she makes the point that prison rape is still rape and is still a crime and is still a violation of basic bodily integrity.

As far as my morals and my social/political positions, I agree completely.

But there is a twisted little worm in my gut that doesn't. An angry, scarred and vengeful part of me. I think of the people who are in prison for violating the bodily integrity of others, rapists...murderers...I think about the people they have hurt, and a part of me wants them to fucking suffer the pain they have inflicted on others. Yes, I realize they are still people, despite their actions...but why do they get the rights that they violated in others? Why do they get to live a life without that pain, fear and scars?

The logical part of me usually pipes up around here to remind me that revenge fantasies are not constructive, and to point out that I can't hope to help bring an end to rape culture and still tolerate it happening. How can I hope to help deconstruct this concept of shame in being penetrated, the power dynamics that create the current societal attitude toward rape, if I still, personally consider it a just punishment for a rapist? How will that accomplish anything besides continuing to reinforce the messages that excuse rape to begin with? It also points out to me that most justice systems are flawed enough that there is not always a certainty that the person in prison for the crime actually committed it.

These are not easy standards to live up to, and I can see just how far this seeps into our minds. Its what happens when you are soaked in rape culture for the whole of your existence, and if we want that to end, we have to be able to admit that we are a part of it as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

its all so clear!

The reason why all these conservative douche-canoes keep flailing about in an effort to keep queers from being treated like full citizens:

They are afraid of us.

We show them up for what they are, frauds, liars and weak human beings. They can keep lying to themselves about how they are doing everything right because there is no other basis for comparison, but since we show that love can look many ways and still be a positive thing, we put lie to their ideas and their very lives. They don't like options for all because they hate their own decisions and resent their own lack of options.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is your world...

And we have another one for the "You have got to be FUCKING KIDDING ME" file.

Who thought this was a good idea? Which scumbag came up with it? WHO SUES A 14 YEAR OLD BECAUSE THEY WERE FORCED TO WORK IN THE SEX INDUSTRY!?

For the same of full disclosure, I have not a damn thing wrong with sex work of any kind, provided that all involved are consenting adults. And in the case of a strip club, as the group doing the hiring, it is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to make sure their employees all fit the LEGAL FUCKING REQUIREMENTS TO WORK!

You do NOT get to sue a sexually abused CHILD because you were too fucking dumb or lazy to do your fucking job!

I hope a judge verbally beats the crap out of you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

But...We ALWAYS Know better! Don't We?

I saw a news bulletin on Twitter (oh Twitter, source of evil and loss of daily productivity ::shakes fist at sky::) that stated:

@BreakingNews: AP: Nicolas Sarkozy says France "cannot accept" that women are forced to wear full-body burqas.

And my hackles went up. My hackles always go up when I hear someone from a Western country who is not Muslim and/or is not obviously familiar with Muslim culture make comments about veiling, but when it is the head of state of a state that is not exactly the most tolerant of the practice, regardless of why it is occurring, my hackles go beyond up. They scurry off to get coffee and a shower before running to their part-time job as props in a were-wolf movie.

After poking around in my feeling of "Oh NO he didn't!" I finally got to the root of what was bothering me about the statement, I mean, besides my over-inflated sense of indignation.

When was the last time Mr. Sarkozy made a decisive public statement about the sexism that allowed him better access to the presidency of France? Oh wait...he has been too busy reinforcing the othering of Muslims and immigrants when they said they wanted to be treated equally.

It never seems to me that Western men who talk about the human rights abuses that women in some Muslim countries face are really all that sincere. There seems to be a tone of "oh those backwards brown people" that permeates the discussion on a very base level, but mostly what bothers me is the focus on what women are wearing. Why is it that whenever I hear about Western men decrying how women are treated in "those" places, it almost always ties back to the attitude of women being seen but not heard. Who cares if she chose to cover or not? We can't see her tits or ass! Isn't that what women are for? What about the rights of men to sexually objectify every woman they come across?

I did have a friend suggest to me that this may reflect a difference in collective v. individualist values, but again, considering France in general and Mr. Sarkozy in particular only seem interested in the choices of Muslim women if they are the choices that allow for the women to be fully on display, I find that perspective not only a hard sell, it makes me think of this bridge some guy once tried to get me to buy. It did seem kinda too good to be true...

It seems, like so many other men out there, that Mr. Sarkozy, and France itself apparently, cannot accept the idea of women who choose not to be sexually available and in the public eye. Congrats to Mr. Sarkozy on being the same shit, just a different day.

(For more on related issues please see my ongoing Veiled Contempt series: Veiled Contempt - Introduction (aka The "Why I Opened This Can o' Worms" Edition), Part One: "Hijab" (aka "The Mythnomers and Impervections" edition), and Part Two: "Hijab"(aka "The Fashion Statement That Isn't, Or Is It?" edition))

Monday, June 22, 2009


h/t to The Jaded Hippy

vis flip flopping joy

Request for Action from the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA):

Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.

The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.

The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:

* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”

Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.

The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.

Meanwhile, there is word in the Gulf Coast community that the “parents to be,” have already had a baby shower celebrating the “blessed arrival” of this STOLEN child!


If you believe this is unjust and outrageous and goes against all moral and religious beliefs and values, please call or write to the presiding Judge and the MS Department of Human Services to STOP this ILLEGAL ADOPTION! Stealing US born babies from immigrant parents is a growing epidemic in the United States. Many Latino parents have lost their children this way!

Honorable Judge Sharon Sigalas
Youth Justice Court of Jackson County
4903 Telephone Rd.
Pascagoula, MS 39567

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Call (601)359-4499 and ask for Barbara Proctor

For more information please call MIRA at: (601) 968-5182

MIRA Organizing Coordinator
Victoria Cintra at (228) 234-1697 or Organizer Socorro Leos at(228) 731-0831

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seriously Still Don't Get It

I will admit that while I have identified myself as a feminist from a very young age (I had pro-choice buttons on my backpack in middle school {yeah I was a trouble maker, how did you know?}) I really didn't get too into the community and any kind of activism until much later, like, college. I worked with the Women's Program at the American Friend's Service Committee as a co-op in my sophomore year of college. I learned a great deal there that I hadn't known before, and I'll admit, there were only two women (out of five) in the office who were under the age of thirty at the time, myself and the other volunteer intern. Even the two of us were radically different in age, I being an undergrad and her almost finished grad school.

One thing I didn't learn about was the weird age/generation/wave schism that rears its head in the feminist blogosphere pretty regularly.
(Note: I noticed some icky framing of race issues in this linked article, Suzie essentially saying that since there have been women of color in power positions at NOW, that arguing for a woman of color to get the presidency of said organization is not a valid argument. Frankly, it doesn't surprise me, which is almost sadder than the fact that she didn't realize she said it. I hate expecting this shit from other white feminists. I really do.)

I find this entire discussion to be singularly odd, and particularly unhelpful and not constructive in the least.

It seems to mostly take form as a discussion about "second-wave" feminism and "third-wave" feminism, and the Perpetual Battle For The Mantle Of Feminist Leadership of the two incarnations. It almost always comes down to older women v. younger women, with a fairly arbitrary divide over who is considered "older" or "younger." Now me, I was not aware that I was part of a movement and the follower of a philosophy that required me to find a label and snuggle down in my little box with it.

I know there are issues with the movement and hierarchies within it. I criticize them myself, and some of the greatest activist voices I know of are regular critics of those flaws. That is part of the liberation process. No anti-oppression group/organization/philosophy is born whole from the head of Zeus as a perfect entity. Any group we form as people living within a kyriarchical society is going to contain echoes of said kyriarchy. When it is all you know, and you have been soaking in it for the whole of your existence, then the unconscious part of it, the things that don't personally hurt you, will carry over until you recognize and deal with them. That is one of the biggest functions of privilege. How the member of that group and those it purports to serve deal with that is a measure of many things.

I continue to own the label of "Feminist" because I feel it is my job as a relatively privileged person, to work to improve the movement. Its a tough job, and all I can find the energy to focus on is the issues of how race, transphobia, and heteronormativity still inform so much feminist discourse. I don't have time to even work on anything else and I have less to do in many ways than some of the other people I have met who do more.

So why do so many feminists make the whole "second-wave" v. "third-wave" issue so huge? With all the shit we have to work on in our own movement, is it really necessary to have a generation gap with economically, racially and gender privileged people on each side stomping their foot about how "no one understands me!" when people of color, trans*people, poor people, and every permutation in between of possible intersections of those and other ignored groups in this movement are still sitting outside the glass dome?

My understanding of these labels is that they are used in a historical context to help differentiate the goals of certain generations of anti-oppression movements. I dislike them being used at all because they are limiting in the extreme. I thought this whole thing was about rejecting the labels used to reduce us and our work. Was I wrong? Or are you?

Y'all can fight each other, but I have shit to do, like fucking try to fix things in this world. Any time you want to stop navel gazing and complaining about how you deserve respect from someone you haven't earned it from, and stop making it about you, I'll be over here with the rest of us pulling your load for you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

That's SENATOR Bitch To You

I love Senator Barbara Boxer. I love her with all of my shriveled, wasted, cat-loving feminist heart.

Senator Barbara Boxer: Well, why has it been delayed?

Brigadier General Michael Walsh: Uh, ma'am, at the LACPR—

Boxer: You know, do me a favor, could you say "Senator" instead of "ma'am"? It's just a thing—

Walsh: Yes, Senator.

Boxer: —I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it. [giggles and mumbling in background] Yes, thank you.

Walsh: Yes, Senator.

Apparently though, asking to be addressed by a title that you have earned is completely unconscionable if you happen to be of the female persuasion. Liss puts it beautifully:

The visceral reactions to this in various threads have been extremely informative. Echidne calls her post (recommended reading) "Senator Cuntface," an epithet she snagged from the YouTube comments on this video. Along with every other variation on "Senator + Misogynist Slur," I've seen her called "Barb," "Barbara," "Mrs. Boxer," "Senator Dirtbag," "Madame Dingbat," and dozens of other monikers that are not Senator Boxer—which illustrates precisely why a woman in her position might insist on being called by her proper title: Because not using it is often a sign of deliberate disrespect.

Ultimately, the exchange was nothing more than a woman politely asking a man to treat her respectfully, and that man politely agreeing to do so. There's absolutely nothing controversial about it, aside from the fact that it still drives lots of people bonkers to see a woman stand up for herself in public and demand the respect she's earned.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Veiled Contempt-Part two : "Hijab" (aka The "Fashion Statement That Isn't, Or Is It?" edition)

Holy crap I let this sit waaaaaay too long. Well, I have put my intarwebs boots back on and Am ready to slog back into the fray.

Okay, in part one we addressed the myths that seems to surround the concept of hijab in the west and laid out some basic definitions.

Here is where we get to the fun part.

On to the analysis!

The mentality behind veiling that is forced on women (or that they are "strongly encouraged to"{read:shamed into} participate in) is the same mentality of American or European women being judged or shamed because of what they are wearing.

That's right, I said the same.

"But Dori!" someone is sure to cry, "We are CIVILIZED!"

Excuse me...

::runs to a corner and starts laughing hysterically::

Okay, you want to believe that, we can go ahead from there. Just keep in mind that we live in a culture (and by "we" I mean mainly the US and Canada, potentially the UK, the EU and Australia as well) that needs an AD CAMPAIGN to explain to the general public that a woman doesn't get raped because of what she is wearing. We live in a culture where we are aggressively marketed clothing that is uncomfortable, impractical and damaging to our health because it makes us look "attractive." And to add insult to injury, that shit is expensive to boot! How many jokes are there in mass media about how a woman dresses and what that says about her likes, dislikes, sexual prowess, sexual preference and gender identity? How many fucking reality make-over shows do we have that focus primarily on making sure that women "dress appropriately" for their age and for public consumption? If a woman on one of those shows is young and refuses to dress like a sex-pot, they take away her sweatpants and t-shirts and force her to buy "appropriate" clothes. If shes old and dresses as if she still sees herself as sexy (how dare she! doesn't she know that you are supposed to turn in your vagina and libido once you hit 40?) then they take away her mini skirts and camis to be replaced with more "modest" attire. And if shes either of those things but also fat? Fucking forget about it. AND WE WATCH THIS SHIT FOR FUN! Yeah, that's "civilized." And I'm the motherfucking Easter bunny.

This section is short and sweet really.

The point of this tirade?
Women, their bodies, and how those bodies are clothed or unclothed, is something that is echoed across societies, cultures, politics and religions. Women's dress and what that implies about the culture they are in is used regularly by those in power as example of the civic body.

Pretending that we are "better" or "more advanced" because we have cultural mores that demand that women be less clothed and more publicly accessible as sex objects is absurdness made reality.