Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I'm not dead, I'm enraged

You know what? This “Wikileaks founder arrested for rape” shit has me pissed the fuck off.

Wanna know why?

Because we live in a world where rape is not taken seriously by any justice system in any country I can think of. When the fucking New York Times dismisses suggestions that the aggressive pursuit of these charges against Assange is connected with Wikileaks by saying there is “no public evidence” of this fact, I just want to hand them the long list of cases in just the last two years of famous men being either acquitted of rape charges in which there is more than enough evidence for conviction or not even seeing the inside of a fucking courtroom despite mountains of evidence against them. That’s your fucking public evidence. The simple fact that NO JUSTICE SYSTEM I KNOW OF GIVES TWO SHITS ABOUT PROSECUTING RAPE CASES.

This is not to say that he is innocent or that these accusations are baseless. Frankly, find me one famous man that hasn’t done something that can be classified as some type of sexual assault and I’ll find you a rich white American hetero cis-dude that got where he is through proper use of his bootstraps. Lets just say, we are talking extremely rare cases here, since men in US and other “Western” cultures (indicating them only because they are the cultures I live with and I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on any others) are taught that their sexuality is supposed to be predatory. I totally believe that he is capable of doing what he is accused of.

HOWEVER. This does not change the fact that the only reason I can see any court in the US or in Europe going after him is because they can’t shut him up any other way. They aren’t aggressively going after him because they care about rape victims and survivors. They are going after him because they have no other legal means of shutting him up. Its a fucking insult to every single rape survivor that has been told by police that they are a liar, or was forced to recant when their rapist was a person of some social import, or was facing being questioned in court on the witness stand by their fucking rapist, or committed suicide because of the way their peers treated them for reporting their rapes.

This is a fucking insult to every rape survivor out there that knows, deep in hir gut, that zie can never expect justice. Because no one cares about what happened to hir until it is politically expedient to care.

This is a fucking insult because instead of being valued as human beings, survivors are just used again by the state to help cover their own asses.

GOD I fucking hate the world right now.

ETA: If you are here to argue with me about rape statistics and claim that women "constantly" lie about rape, either back it up or get deleted. No, citing the Duke rape case doesn't count. If I can disprove your comment with a cursory glance at actual crime stats, from an actual law enforcement group, then expect your comment to go bye-bye. Because I do have a life that doesn't include catering to your ignorant bullshit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why not?

(Image descrpition: A baby primate of the gold/orange and very furry variety [anyone that knows the exact name feel free to let me know!] clinging to an adult. Looks like the Firey's in The Labyrinth, hence the caption reads "Shake Mah pritty lil head, Tap mah pritty lil feet")

As inspired by Ouyang Dan, I present my first Monday Random Ten.

Who knows? maybe it will get me posting regularly again. :D
This list might end up being a bit Ani heavy, as I am a squealing fangirl. I'm not the biggest fan of how she tends to go all gender essentialist regarding her definition of women as "menstruating and fertile" but that being said, anyone who can write a song using the word "patriarchy" gets a good mark from me. Kind of like how I admire Type-O Negative ::sniff:: for being able to work the word "Nosferatu" into a song without being utterly ridiculous

1-Little Plastic Castle~Ani Difranco
2-L'Innocent~"Kooza" from Cirque du Soleil
3-Simple and Clean(techno remix)~theme from Kingdom Hearts
5-Captain Ward~Tempest
6-20th Century Boy~Placebo (covering T.Rex)
7-Walk on the Moon~Great Big Sea
8-Its Oh So Quiet~Bjork
9-Before I'm Dead~Kidney Thieves
10-Stars and Stripes~K.M.F.D.M

I wanted to find video of Tempest performing "Captain Ward" but all I could find was a recording with a picture of the album cover:

Lyrics: (Note- this song is based on a Scottish folk song. The lyrics as recorded for the original are not the lryics used in this version, but I can't find an exact transcript and I can't hear the words well enough to produce one that isn't line after line of "indecipherable." So, my apologies for a lack of accurate lyrics on this.

Come all ye jolly mariners

That love to tak' a dram

Which go an' seek for Captain Ward

That o'er the seas did come.

He wrote a letter to his king

On the eleventh o' July,

To see if he wad accept o' him

For his jovial company.

"Oh na, oh na," says the king,

"Such things they canna be,

They tell me ye are a robber,

A robber on the sea."

He has built a bonnie ship,

An' sent her to the sea,

Wi' fower an' twenty mariners

To guard his bonnie ship wi'.

They sailed up an' they sailed doon,

Sae stately, blythe, an' free,

Till they spied the king's high Reindeer

Like a leviathan on the sea.

"Why lie ye here, ye tinker,

Ye silly coordly thief?

Why lie ye here, ye tinker,

An' hold oor king in grief?"

They fought from one in the morning

Till it was six at night,

Until the king's high Reindeer

Was forced to tak' her flight.

"Gang hame, gang hame, ye tinkers.

Tell ye your king fae me

Though he reign king upon good dry land,

I will reign king upon the sea."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I stink. Fucking get over it.

(Note: If you arrived here from Spearhead, welcome. Please be polite to others, and if all you get out of my story here and the stories of physical assault in the comment thread is "heh heh heh stupid feminazis," then I encourage you to check your moral compass and try to find something resembling empathy. If you can't or won't treat others humanely, then I encourage you, kindly, to shove off back to whatever rock you crawled out from under because you sure as shit are not welcome here. -The Management)

I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder about societal expectations for body odor.

I don’t wear antiperspirant or most artificial perfumed deodorants. I stopped wearing them five years ago when I stopped shaving my pits. Originally, my decision came from the recent loss of a dear family member who had died from her second round with breast cancer at the age of 32. She was 27 when she received her initial diagnosis. By the time she died, her doctors had performed two mastectomies and removed the lymph nodes from her left arm. I decided that I was reducing as many of my risks for cancer as I had control over considering the world we live in, including no longer purposely shoving chemicals into my lymph nodes to stop them from doing what they are designed to do.

When I made that decision, I lost a few friends because they found my choice “judgmental” of them, and I lost a lover of two years because he found my scent “disgusting.” A year, two years before this, those losses would have devastated me. But that year, my cousin being gone gave me a clarity that until then, I had not known was possible. In my clarity, I had one, exceedingly calm reaction.

Fuck them. If this is a deal breaker, consider the deal fucking smashed to itty bitty fucking pieces.

It was then that I began to truly see how USians and others to whom we have exported the damaging parts of our culture are expected to remove ourselves so completely from the basic biological processes of the human body. Especially if its a process that is highly gendered, like how we freak the fuck out over menstrual blood, or how men smelling like sweat is mostly okay, but MAUDE FUCKING FORBID that a woman smell like anything other than “Orchid Pussy Breeze,” or how “real” men are hairy and “real” women are bald from the eyebrows down (but they have to be that way BY “CHOICE” and conscious action, cause if they have a medical condition that causes them to lose their hair, well, thats just icky.) The processes exist for a reason, they have a purpose in the grand scheme of species function. But we are expected to do everything we can to escape those processes in very specific ways. We are expected to smell like chemicals instead of like our own bodies. We are expected to silence those cues from our bodies because they are coded as “offensive” to others even when we don’t find them offensive at all.

Lip service is given to the idea that we can “opt out” of these things, but the prevailing message when we do so is that we are lazy, unhygienic (this one really gets me. I’m unhygienic for not stripping all the fucking hair from my genitalia except what is the purpose of that hair? TO KEEP FUCKING DIRT OUT OF MY GODDAMN MUCOUS MEMBRANES! SO WHICH IS MORE HYGIENIC FUCKERS!?), dirty, and don’t deserve to be treated like people. I, and others that I know, have actually experienced direct action from employers because we refused to wear deodorant or shave either legs or armpits. I have been told “thats just how the world works” (which is a phrase that I loathe with every fiber of my being) with zero ZERO ZERO acknowledgment or awareness that this is just one fucked up corner of the world and that this shit doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

And how does this mindset translate into even worse judgments on those people who are left to the fringes or completely outside this concept of “humanity” due to not having time or access to luxuries like clean running water for drinking and bathing, or deodorants, or razors? People who have to focus on basic fucking survival, which shaving and perfuming are not? What about people who are fucking allergic to perfumes and artificial scents? Are they supposed to just grin and bear it because the idea that humans are just another animal offends your delicate fucking sensibilities?

I may “stink,” but at least I smell like myself, and not some mega corporation’s marketing team’s idea of what I should smell like.

(cross posted to my tumblr and a few other places, so if you see this twice, I apologize in advance.)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Where I Stand

I am an American Jew. Part of why I ignored that part of me for a very long time is because I hated the occupation of Palestine and I didn’t want to be associated with it at all.

It took me years to realize that running from it was not possible and that I had a responsibility to stand up and say “you don’t do this for me.”

I cannot remember a single military action taken by the Israeli government during my lifetime that i agreed with. All the ones I can remember just make me angry and sick, because the widespread disrespect of basic human rights is something that I cannot reconcile within myself and when there is a claim that it was done to protect me, well…thats even worse.

I understand the passion that so many Jews have for having a “place for us.” I understand the feeling of being attacked and outnumbered. I do. I am only here because my great grandmother saw the writing on the wall and worked her ass off to get as many of her family members out of Poland as she could before getting out became no longer possible. Without her tenacity, I would not exist. When people talk about the Holocaust, show pictures, records…the weight of “I came that close to never happening” is tremendous. I look at pictures on records written in German of people that look just like me and my sisters who were killed before they even hit their 20’s. I still deal with ignorant shit from privileged assholes who think that the word “kike” can be used in my presence without repercussions simply because I am not religious.

That grandmother was also the one who taught her children that no one should suffer as her family that did not escape suffered. She did what she could to reign in and focus the anger of her children at how they were treated by Christians in the US, and what they saw happen to their people in Europe. She taught them (and they taught us) that we have a responsibility, in the name of the dead, to demand justice for all people.

Attacking supply ships is not justice. Creating permanent refugee camps is not justice. Choking off basic supplies necessary for survival is not justice. Taking someone’s home is not justice. Advocating genocide is not justice. Any system of ethics that finds a way to justify these actions and consider them righteous is sick and needs healing or amputation. I cannot support those actions or any government that partakes of them, especially not with the spirit of my grandmother behind me and the knowledge of the debt that I gladly owe her.

I don't hate Israel, and I don't hate my own Jewish identity. I also don't think that "shoot first and ask questions later" is viable public or foreign policy, and I do not appreciate it being done in my name or the name of my family.

If we are God’s chosen people…maybe its time Zie chose someone else.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cirilia Baltazar Cruz reunited with her child!

Back in July of 2009

The original report from Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance
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.

I reprinted a piece by Zuky at the time as well.

Well, on February 22, 2010, the Native American Times reported:

A Mexican immigrant walked out of the Gartin Justice Building on Friday holding the daughter who had been taken from her by state officials in 2008, when advocates say she was accused of being an unfit mother because she doesn’t speak English.

Cirila Balthazar Cruz and her 1-year-old child, Ruby, were surrounded by Southern Poverty Law Center officials as they left. None of them would discuss details of the case, citing the confidentiality of Youth Court proceedings.

Because the records in the case are sealed, it is unclear what reason the state used to take custody of the child. However, immigrant advocates have said the child was taken because Cruz was an illegal immigrant and did not speak English.

“This is a very happy day for us,” SPLC legal director Mary Bauer told The Associated Press. “That is her baby.”

Friday’s proceeding before Special Judge Billy Bridges may not be the end of the case, which has led to a memorandum of understanding between Mississippi and the Mexican government and drawn the attention of immigration advocates nationwide.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Important Lesson, you assholes

Welcome to class! Sit down, shut up and listen.

Today's lesson, what the right to free speech in the US means and what it does not.

Some of what it means:
It is what prevents the US Government restricting speech that critisizes it. It also prevents the state from dictating that only specific points of view be presented publicly.

What it definitely does not mean:
That you have the right to say whatever you want with ZERO social consequences or critisism.

If your first reaction to "what you said was offensive, hurt me and/or replicates and supports systems of oppression that negatively impacts my existence" is "...but what about ME!? And my right to FREE SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!?" then I will likely be exercising my right to free speech to make sure that you know what a douche bucket you are.

Cause you are right. It is a free country. You are as free to be an asshole as I am to point out your assholery to both you and anyone else who cares to listen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dream a Little Dream For Me

I love my family (though it is a complicated love.)

Some of them are a little...I'm not sure I have a good word for it.

They have this dianetics-esque concept of positive thinking as a spiritual/physical and mental health practice, which on the surface I have no real problem with. When it comes to faith, spirituality, religion, what-have-you, I have one simple rule: If it doesn't oppress anyone, and you don't push me (or anyone preferably) to convert, then its cool.

On first blush, this positive energy, rebirther thing has a lot going for it: it it means being conscious of your breathing, of your feelings, of your actions, your reactions and their source. Most people involved in this are all about taking personal responsibility for the things that happen to you and your reactions to it. It can be a great motivator for changing your own life. The snag comes in when the benefits of this perspective are discussed. Apparently, good health is all about having the right attitude and that any other factor is irrelevant. If you can "positive attitude" your way into good health, then any health problems you have are because you chose them.

For the sake of clarity, this concept is not usually stated so harshly, or so clearly. The basic idea is that our thoughts create our reality, right? So if we accept as inevitable a family history of heart disease, then we create the possibility of it existing for us. Conversely, if we were to not accept it, then it won't happen to us. Everything exists because we manifest it.

I'm sure the issue with this is obvious to a good many people who may be reading this, but just in case it isn't...

I'll start with the softer issues present here.

First, I want to be absolutely clear: I agree that if we assume that something is going to go wrong, then that will cloud our perception of events and the going wrong will be all that we notice, no matter what else is happening. I agree that perception, in one sense, creates reality insomuch as it dictates what we see in our reality. Two people watching a sunrise on a beach will, given exactly the same materials, will paint two completely different pictures of that sunrise. This does not change the sunrise itself.

I do not agree that we create reality out of whole cloth merely by imagining it or allowing the possibility to enter our minds. There is an egotistical hubris to the idea that I find distasteful and incongruous with the image of "one-ness" that the people espousing it would like to present.

The big problem, though, the huge mother-whammy of a problem with this idea is the implication that if you have problems, any problems in any form, its because you didn't think positively enough or because you allowed it to become real. The denial of the fact that sometimes shit just happens and the insistence on there being a "why." And of course the assumptive standard of "good" v "bad" in this framework posits ideas of health that are formulated by a larger oppressive culture that excludes certain types of bodies as not good enough, or real enough.

Besides watching my uncle ignore his health because breathing will make heart problems that run in the family just go away, I find the implied blame for "poor" health to be ablist and privileged in the extreme, and like a great deal of privileged crap, it comes with the best intentions.

What I don't understand about this is the incessant desire to ignore the oppressive structures of society and instead turn everything into a personal choice. Who would choose oppression? Why on the world would someone decide to be oppressed? If ending these things were as simple as making an active choice, then why hasn't the entire kyriarchy come apart at the seams? I mean, there are tons of people who would do anything to not have to wake up and keep struggling to survive and be counted. Why is your positive thinking enough to save you, and theirs isn't? Oh yeah, sunrises.

Your privileged ability to ignore oppression doesn't make it cease to exist, just like not painting the sunrise won't stop it from happening. Its just one more way to pretend like you created everything you have instead of benefiting from someone else's oppression. One more way to absolve yourself of responsibility for participating in an unjust system.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I love the smell of privilege in the morning

In a work discussion about shaking hands with customers, a co-worker of mine (lets call him "Duke") complained about respecting cultures that frown on touching. There was also a bit of flailing about "sue-happy" people and "OMG, I might get accused of sexual harassment and that would be the worstest-worst thing that could ever happen to meeeeeee! Whatever would I doooooooooo!" "Why don't they respect MY culture!" blah blah blah...oppressions of white cis US males...blah blah blah..."oversensitive women"...blah blah.."respect mah authoritah"...blah..."and by authoritah I mean my white cis penis." blah.

My favorite definition of "oppression" is the one that ACTUALLY means "I'm not the center of the universe?! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! NO FAIR!

Your culture is DOM-I-NANT, asshole. And that is a global dominance, for the record. Thanks to advertising, globalization, colonialism and imperialism, the entire world is aware of your culture. It is so pervasive that you don't even have to be aware that you have one in the first place. You can blithely assume that your culture is globally understood as "just how it is." You can even ignore the the ways in which your concept of "American" culture excludes anyone in America who isn't EXACTLY LIKE YOU, and it would be no skin of your nose.

Also, beyond cultural differences, some people just don't like being touched. In my experience, they are people who tend to have bodies that are constructed in your precious white, het, cis male-dominated culture as public property by virtue of not being white, and/or het and/or cis and/or male. Ever been groped in public, Duke? Ever had unwanted touching of your genitals? Ever been threatened with physical violence for resisting? Ever been attacked violently for not meeting expected standards of what your body "should" be? Ever been told that violations of your body, be they groping, rape, assault and/or attempted/completed murder were justified because of your precious...fucking...culture?


Yeah, didn't think so.

You know what is also no skin off your nose? Not being an asshole. Its amazing how much time you'll save! You could take a poetry class!
Or you could use that time to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and try to gain a little bit of awareness of how those of us not like you experience your culture.

Now Duke (and anyone like you who might read this,) you may be at this point, "Its just a handshake! Jeez! Its a sign of respect, and its not like I force it on anyone!" While it is likely true that you actually believe this, your argument that respecting someone else's boundaries is oppressive to you necessitates you forcing it on someone. Yes, it is just a handshake to you.

It isn't the handshake that is the problem.

Its your attitude, your entitlement and your arrogant blindness.

That is the point, and the problem.

Friday, March 05, 2010


There is no such thing as an objective fairness in this universe. I am not required to adhere to your idea of fairness, especially when your idea of fairness does not include the perspectives of the more marginalized in our society.

You don't find me fair?


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just cause you don't notice doesn't mean its not there

I don't have high expectations for the internet. I really don't. So don't think that I am demanding anything from beside making me giggle. I'm not. I'm merely pointing out the ubiquity of this type of thing.

What type of thing, you ask?

The "Everyone can relate to masculine characters, therefore no one else is necessary" type of thing.

At this point, I'm used to the occasional misogyny, the homophobia, transphobia and US centrism of this website, but this got under my skin. For those who can't or won't follow the link, its a list of the "Top 10 Most Disastrous Saturday Morning Cartoon Adaptations." Most of them, I agree, are fairly crappy cartoons in general, and are even worse adaptations. However, was including She-Ra as an adaptation of He-Man and calling it atrocious because girls (trans and cis) can relate perfectly well to the hyper-masculine, Freudian-emasculation-fear-driven He-Man and besides, Bo is clearly gay, truly necessary?

Fucking hell. How much of a clearer picture of "cis-man/hyper-masculinity as default" do you need?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Know Your Context Before You Assume You are Helping

I debated posting pictures of Haiti post-quake here, but I decided that it was too easy for something like that to verge into pain porn, and I'm uncomfortable with the context of something like that. All too often, disasters in places like Haiti are given an uneven treatment that buys into a "3rd world tragedy" narrative that I do not wish to participate in. It is too important that we acknowledge not just this event and the effect it has had, but how it was able to happen in the first place.

With everything circling regarding Haiti and the earthquake plus drawn out aftershocks that have further hamstrung an already impoverished nation, several things must be kept in mind.

The first is that severe poverty creates exponential vulnerability to natural disasters like this. From Meloukhia:

So, we had an earthquake here on Sunday, a 6.5. It was a little bigger than the little quakes we get now and then, so it attracted some attention. Notably, no lives were lost, and the most serious injury was a broken hip.

And then, yesterday, a 7.0 in Haiti.

And, already, the headlines, all along the lines of “what happened in Haiti could happen here!”

And, here’s the thing.

No. It can’t...

...Yes, a 7.0 earthquake here would cause damage. But nothing on the level of what happened in Haiti. Nothing. And, you know, I think that’s something we should be thinking about; what happened in Haiti didn’t happen because there was an earthquake. It happened because Haiti’s infrastructure is shot.

The second thing that we must remember is that Haiti is not poor by chance, accident, "act of God" (and for the record, the only reason why I wish there was a God is so that assholes like Pat Robertson got a chance to actually meet him and get a holy fucking smack-down. If the context seems to be missing, just Google. I am not bringing poison like that into this space), or by the actions of Haitian people. They are intentionally kept poor as a punishment for being the first successful black rebellion against colonial European powers. France made them pay reparations for property lost dues to the slaves saying "Fuck this, and fuck you!" They have been hit by a debt that that is designed to keep them in perpetual servitude to more powerful countries, and the US specifically has stepped in a fucked with their politics on more than one occasion. This is not difficult information to find, but you can start here and here.

Third, because of this information, be careful how you help to make sure that you are ACTUALLY helping. Pick your charities and what you ask for carefully, considering many out there don't have good histories regarding impoverished people of color, many out there will use this tragedy as a perfect opportunity for obnoxious moralizing, or are just straight up frauds. There is also guaranteed to be a great deal of "shopping cart" activism (ex: Livestrong braclets, "Save the Ta Tas" t-shirts, etc.) I recommend Doctors Without Borders and Yele. (Thanks to meloukhia, kai_zuky and others for the links via Twitter.)