Tag Archives: activism

Life Post-Rapture

21 May

The internets have been all a-twitter with the news of the upcoming rapture, and by golly it is here! Today is the day! Sell your possessions! Quit your job! Donate all of your money to charity (or broke graduate students… hint, hint). Make sure you find your pet a new home, and say a little prayer for all the blasphemers out there who doubted that the day had come.

In all seriousness, this rapture has been everywhere! From New York City subways to Madison Wisconsin, the believers in the rapture have been working really hard to make sure everyone knows it’s coming. I appreciate that, I like to have a little forwarning when the shiznat is about to hit the fan of revelation. I’ve also been enjoying the advice of Best Roof Talk Ever as they count down the days to the rapture and help me understand what it coming.

In these wee small hours of the rapture morning, a friend asked me what I planned to do when I was left behind without my family. I had a few responses that I didn’t even realize existed, and they gave me pause.

1. I wouldn’t actually be alone, because most of my friends and a good chunk of my family would be here, too, so it wouldn’t be so bad. Plus, I’d pretty much know my grandmother was in heaven, instead of trying to sleep on a painful hip. That seems like a pretty big improvement. Although it would be too bad that my great aunt just spent all that money getting lasik, not that it would matter, once she was with Jesus.

2. I would open my bakery. My three co-founders consist of an atheist, a pagan methodist and her husband, so I’m pretty sure we’ll all still be around and maybe we can luck out and inherit the money to start a new business from a distant relative, or something. Plus, with all the people gone, the unemployment rate is bound to drop since there will be so many job openings. Hell, the rapture may just be the answer to the recession. The newly revived job market will be the perfect environment to start Mo’ Butter Less Problems, our bakery where every treat is named after a literary character. Some months will even have themes! July will be Harry Potter, and October reserved for vampires (but not, obviously, those stupid twilight books). If you’re still around after the rapture, you should look us up in about six months. That’s Mo’ Butter, Less Problems. Perhaps our tagline could be “Making Life After Rapture Sweet!” or, “Life after the rapture sure tastes sweet!” I see plenty of possibilities.

3. Revel in the new political, social, and spiritual American landscape. I try to imagine the country without right-wing Christian tea-party-ers, evangelicals, and political conservatives, and a tear of happiness springs to my eye. I would start community organizing to make sure Texas went back to being blue, now that the Bible belt was rid of a majority of its residents. I would encourage multiple parties to bring more diversity into local, state, and national elections, now that the people who kept trampling all OVER my rights were happily situated with Jesus. I would start compiling a list for Barack Obama, who I’m pretty sure would still be hanging out, full of suggestions for nominations to the newly-opened seats on the Supreme Court. All of my suggestions, of course, would be progressive, pro-choice nominees. I would be a part of a wave of taking back our reproductive freedoms, as states like South Dakota and Mississippi increased the number of clinics offering family planning and abortion services to a number able to serve the entire state community without causing undue hardship on any population within their borders. I would encourage young women to take over the property space of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in their neighborhoods and turn them into environments for positive conversations about being a young woman in this new American society, and I would tell them explicitly that the future was, actually, theirs to shape.

I know that this rapture is a really fringe kind of thing, and so most of the things I talk about here are pretty ridiculous to base on this one seriously unfounded marginal idea. But the thing that really struck me was how big my dreams kept getting when I thought about what could be. A professor once told me that there can be no change if we aren’t brave enough to envision the kind of future we want for whatever cause it is we’re currently fighting for. It’s strange, but the rapture has allowed me to start to envision the kind of world I want for myself, my family, and my friends, and I hope I can carry that kind of strength in vision and optimism forward into the far harsher reality of our current situation in the country and around the world.

And I just wonder… what would you do?

-me

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who doesn’t like adele? the point of tumblr, and other thoughts.

18 Apr

So basically, Alyssa is the goddess of all things social and networked, except not that movie because she’s too cool for that, and so now she has me on tumblr. It isn’t her fault, she’s just never set a trend I didn’t want to follow. If you are interested, which you don’t have to be, you can check it out. feminismisprettycool.tumblr.com 

As for the big, “but what IS tumblr” question, I still don’t really have an answer, except its kind of like posting links to things on facebook, maybe? Or like a blog without the necessity of putting words there. I feel like it’s especially useful for those who have many internet interests and like to share them. I tried to give mine  theme, so I’d spend more time focusing my internet browsing on feminist things, and I’d say that has worked about 50% of the time, all the time.

Adele. I feel like there should be some little twittering birds flying out of something vintage an iridescent whenever I say her name or think of her music. She is just so fabulous. Her voice is amazing, her songs cut right to the core of the experience of life and love, and I just want to listen to 21 on loop all day, every day. Yes, she has replaced Ke$ha. (In my earbuds, but not in my heart.) I’ll just throw the one AMAZING, FANTASTIC, MINDBLOWING live performance up here and if that doesn’t convinced you (as if you needed convincing) I am pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore.

Now on to a topic de rigueur. Microaggressions. Everyone is talking about them. The folks at the Rutgers Vagina Monologues were talking about them, bitch is blogging about them, so is feministing, and there’s even a (you guessed it!) tumblr devoted to them. Really, the tumblr started it all (as you’ll see if you check on the blogs on bitch and feministing). What is a microaggression, you might ask?

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” (From “Microaggressions in Everyday Life” by Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D., and David Rivera, M.S.)

I also think the microaggressions tumblr puts it pretty succinctly:

“Power, privilege, and everyday life.”

Originally, microaggressions were used to describe a specifically racialized experience. Through the tumblr, the creators seek to expand this understanding to include all experiences of microaggressions, whether they deal with race, gender, class, ability, or any other identity or status. Our everyday lived experiences are rife with examples, and when we bring them up, we are all too often met with admonishments about taking things “too seriously.” What is great about the work of all of these people are doing to bring microaggressions to the forefront is that it frees us from our self-doubt: we are not taking something “too seriously,” it is serious. We get so entangled in the requisite laughter that is supposed to meet these incidents, it becomes impossible to call anyone out, much less to address the real feelings we may have in response to them and the serious societal consequences of letting them slide.

I am going to give an example of an interaction from my life. It happened before I learned about the term, and my indignance took a few days of simmering in the back of my brain to find a voice, but after hearing about microaggressions I realize this is tied up in all of it. The example may at first seem kind of roundabout, but bear with me. Okie doke?

A friend of mine was commenting on my inability to take racist and sexist jokes, which was keeping me from socializing with a specific group of people who, I am sure, are completely fine in general, but I am no longer at the point in my life where I can laugh racism and sexism off and continue to have a good time. I’m sure some of you understand where I’m coming from. Our conversation continued, and eventually came to this point:

“You just have to laugh it off. Like, when I am walking down the street at night and a white lady clutches her purse and looks all scared, it just makes me laugh. You know?”

For purely contextual purposes, I think its important to mention that my friend is a young black man. Other than the fact that my feminism makes it difficult for me to not take any prejudice seriously, I couldn’t find the words to explain to my friend in that moment why his words were so unsettling. The next day, the thoughts popped into my head, like some little hidden social justice debater part of my brain had been mulling it over without my knowledge all night: It frustrated me, because it just wasn’t funny. Young black men have statistically higher chances of going to prison, and when trying to find employment, young black men with no criminal record are less likely to get a job than their white counterparts who do have criminal records. An expectation of violence breeds higher rates of conviction and incarceration, and lower levels of employment, and higher levels of poverty. That woman who walked by him at night and clutched her purse is endemic of a larger societal prejudice that has real impacts on the lived experiences of people. This  is why microaggressions matter.

I’m really happy they’re getting some attention, and I hope this becomes a word as well-worn as “intersectionality” in our feminist and general circles in life.

I really need to get off this damn computer and sleep, I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to start blogging at one in the morning and I completely and totally blame my friend Kendra, but I have one more little teeny tiny thing to add. Remember when I wrote that really, really angry (and rightfully so) post about cat calling and street harassment? You might recall it from last semester. Anywho, I almost jumped for joy when I found out that Mandy Van Deven, one of the authors of Hey Shorty! A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets (on sale from the awesome feminist press) and all around badass, is doing a short blog series on street harassment for bitch! I am so. freaking. excited.

Until next time…

-G

 

 

 

 

 

So you want to be “pro-life”

20 Feb

Do you?

I need to throw this disclaimer out there to anyone who is reading this: I am so, incredibly, totally pissed.

When I was in high school, my friends and I decided to do a history fair project on Roe v. Wade. Up until that day, I had very specific beliefs about abortion. I was a practicing Methodist who was very involved in the church, and that had a lot to do with it. Plus, I was a little self-righteous middle class white teenage girl who thought she knew absolutely everything. I believed that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity, because I honestly believed that you should only have sex if you were ready to deal with the consequences. Obviously, I didn’t get out much. Then we went and interviewed Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, and my entire perspective on abortion changed.

The truth, that I did not honestly know, is that before abortion was legal, women got abortions anyways. And they didn’t always survive. The OB/GYNs and the emergency room physicians told Weddington that women showed up at hospitals every day infected, hurting, and dying from illegal abortions. Some illegal abortion providers sexually assaulted the women they came to help. Some women took pills full of toxic chemicals, or shoved knitting needles and hangars up their vaginas in order to end their pregnancies. Some women, like a girl named Sophie that Sarah told us about, were able to procure safe illegal abortions, but then, because those providing them were not always trained doctors, were given false and misleading aftercare information that led to infections and, in Sophie’s case, death. After learning the lengths that women would go to, even my relatively conservative Christian morals could not stand in the way of my concern for women’s lives.

Now, my opinions have changed. I do not believe that anyone should be denied the right to any family planning services, including abortion. I am a self-identifying sex positive pro-choice feminist, and I would not have it any other way. I don’t think sex is just for procreation. If it was, relationships, and life, would be much less fun. Also, I don’t believe that abortion has to be a life-altering decision, or one that is emotionally devastating. I validate and affirm all experiences of women who have abortions, and I have no expectations of how they will or should feel. It is their own personal decision, and that is how it should stay.

Since the conservative Republican majority has taken over, there have been multiple assaults at state and national levels against women’s rights to choose. Of course, these assaults, especially the recent vote in the house to defund Title X and, therefore, Planned Parenthood, are not only on abortion services. It is a valid point to bring up the plethora of other services that Planned Parenthood provides in cities across the country to the poorer citizens in those communities. These include HIV testing, breast cancer screenings, and annual pap smears, to name only a small few. You can check out the Planned Parenthood website for more information on the wide variety of reproductive health services they provide.

But, you know what? There is a reason that none of the republicans are standing up in Congress saying, “We don’t want to fund breast cancer screenings!” You want to know why? Because this is not about all of those other services. This is specifically about abortion. So I’m taking them to the mat. I refuse to tip toe around this issue. I believe it is my right to have access to safe and legal abortions and to have health insurance that allows me to pay for them, whether that is private or state funded. I don’t care if you are Catholic or some other form of conservative and you think that this little sack of cells is more important than my life and my decisions. I simply don’t care. I will not force you to abort your fetus or to take birth control if those don’t fit into your life plans, so why do you feel that you have the right to make those decisions for my life? The thing is, you don’t. And for far too long we have been too afraid of the controversy to come out and say these kinds of things. We have hidden behind things like Obama’s statment, “No-one is pro-abortion,” and arguments that shy away from coming face to face with the anti-choice rhetoric that focuses on the rights of the fetus. So here I am, telling all of you anti-choicers out there, I am pro-abortion. I am pro women having access to every level of family planning that allows them to live their lives as they see fit. Further, I believe that women have the capacity to make that choice. Yes, all women. I am not going to take back that statement. For too long we have let things like 24 hour waiting policies and mandatory sonograms slide because we are afraid of the public reaction to our views. I am not afraid anymore. I can see that the writing is, in fact, on the wall and that they anti-life people have left behind any attempts they ever made to be objective. If they aren’t being objective, why do I have to be? Your policies don’t have anything to do with protecting women. As a matter of fact, they put women at risk. By limiting the funding available for places like Planned Parenthood and the ability of women with health insurance through the government to have their abortions covered, the women who are most directly impacted are already poor. Do you really think the best idea is to force, through your legislation that implies that you do not trust women’s abilities to make this decision, these women to have an even greater financial burden? Why is a fetus so much more important than a child? I don’t see you rushing out to implement national child care. As soon as that fetus hits air and becomes a living, breathing, being, your lobbying no longer protects her. The idea of a 24 hour waiting period is offensive and preposterous. Are you implying that the woman making this decision didn’t already spend 24 hours thinking about this decision? Further, you assume that all women have the ability to take 24 hours after getting to a clinic to wait to have an abortion. Again, this puts the burden on poor women and women in rural areas; two realities that all too often coincide.

I respect your right to make decisions regarding your own body, but my respect stops there.

When I called my father on Friday in a tizzy because the House had just passed the bill to defund Title X, he told me that it was “just politics” and that people had “voted for these representatives.” This was infuriating for multiple reasons. I did not vote for any of these people, which was the first. Second, this is not just politics. None of this is “just politics.” Politics are never “just politics.” I also had this feeling that I could not articulate at the time, that if he had a uterus, he would not have been telling me to calm down. “Entitlement programs,” he told me, “are always the first to go.” Maybe that is the recent historical reality, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it happen without a fight.

I am throwing down the gauntlet and pointing the blame at everyone who voted in this conservative House. Hopefully the Senate will stop this bill. I already called the offices of both of my senators and have their aids a piece of my mind. But, just because the bill stops doesn’t mean the fight is over. This passing in the House should be a wake-up call to everyone who has been blissfully unaware of the precarity of our rights to reproductive justice in this country. It isn’t time to sit back and watch politics play out, like my father suggested. It’s time to take notice and demand that the voices of a few self-righteous fundamentalist Christians aren’t the only ones being heard.

Be on the lookout for deeper policy analysis coming out of this blog in the next few weeks.

There is a rally in NYC at Foley Square on the 26th of February in support of Planned Parenthood and against all of this ridiculous anti-choice legislation. It is from 1-3. You should be there.

-me

Thought of the Day

24 Jan

This post should be short, as I’m using it to actively procrastinate (or, maybe not: is it still procrastination if you are working through information you are in the middle of reading?). Nevertheless, here is the framing of this thought: I am currently wading through a few hundred pages of reading for the week. I’ve gotten through my readings on gender and human rights and inequality, poverty and gender, but now I have come to my readings for feminist knowledge production. I could probably go on for endless paragraphs even about what that name means, but the point is, I’m reading the first chapter of Feminist Research in Theory and Practice and am in the middle of the section about language. Many theorists argue that, while talking about knowledge and knowledge production, especially from a feminist perspective, you must consider language as the creator of reality. Language is determined by those with access to power and authoritative knowledge, these barriers are designated by those with the most cultural control, and historicall in a Western sense, those people have been men. Specifically, white, upper class men. There are arguments about whether language is or should be presented as the sole motivator in the constitution of reality, I don’t want to get into that.

Right now, the author is discussing political correctness and its effects on language and on the work of feminists to subvert masculinist language and discourse. If “politially correct” is the concept that enourages gender-neutral terms for occupations and pronouns as well as the political catechrises and reappropriation of words previously connotated derogatory, then a culture that rebels against politcal correctness is likely to reject and ridicule these attempts. Further, through manipulation of language over time, words like spinster (originally referring to a woman who worked with a spindle. These women just happened to enjoy a higher than normal standard of living for women, by the by) and gossip (originally meaning a friend who was there for the birth of a child and would take on the role of godparent) have turned into deragatory terms that are mainly targeted at women. And, when used in reference to men, have a doubly damning impact of also feminizing the one in question. Like these words, “feminism” is now out of vogue. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me why, if it has such a negative connotation, don’t I just pick another word? When I mention that some people have negative reactions to the word, the most common response is almost accusatory, like I am asking for this response because I already know that feminism is the other “f-word” and that people don’t like feminists, in general. I don’t like anyone accusing anybody of “asking for it,” in general, but in this particular instance it is so difficult to explain that even claiming the word “feminist” is, in itself a feminist act. In the article I’m reading, a UK women’s magazine printed this sentiment: “feminism: we still need it but we want a new name for it.” This, reflecting on all of the reading about language preceding it, led me to this question: Why are only the subversive uses of language asked to change? Why would anyone feel it is alright to ask an entire movement to change it’s name because of an unfounded, sexist, and misogynist backlash against its very foundation? I will not accede to the demands of masculinist culture and change my stance, and I will not choose a different word based on the manipulation of a patriarchal society. Feminism is about calling out inequality and demanding that the patriarchy end, so why on earth would you ask me to appease this demand of The Man, which attempts to discolor “feminism” and mold it into a dirty, shameful word?

I will not be your bubblegum feminist to make you feel more at ease with me, and I will not pick from your “more acceptable” terms to desribe what I am. I am a feminist. This means, inherently, that I’m dedicated to the reorganization of society and a rejection of current hierarchies and patterns of oppression.

Deal with it.

In Sisterhood and Solidarity,

Me

What! It’s Blog For Choice Day! You don’t say!

21 Jan

i like blogging. i like choice. way to go, NARAL, putting them together!

Well, hello y’all! All righty. Let’s just dive in, shall we? Today is Blog for Choice Day, as feministing.com alerted me in the fleeting last minutes of my afternoon at work. “But, why today?” you might ask, and that is a relatively understandable question. Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, lovely readers, and that is why today is BFCD.

I know, I know, the a-word isn’t something people generally bring up in polite company, but let’s be frank. I stopped paying attention to socially-enforced norms of politeness about three years ago, and so far so good. I do acknowledge the complexity of this issue, but only culturally. Let me explain. In other developed countries, and in the time before Roe v. Wade, abortion was not the a-word. It’s just something women sometimes have to do, and that is how it was treated. (For first-hand accounts of this, you should definitely check out Jennifer Baumgardner’s work in I Had An Abortion, also available in book form and as a t-shirt). For a fictional, but still incredibly honest, look at abortion across generations, you can check out Cher’s incredible film If These Walls Could Talk. (Just be sure you have a hanky, because the three main characters are making incredibly difficult life decisions.) My point is that in the contemporary American political landscape, the movement many refer to as “pro-life” (but I prefer to call “anti-choice”) wasn’t organized and visible in the way we see it now until after Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. So, I accept that our political landscape has created a controversial topic out of what was, once, just something women sometimes had to do, and in observance of that I acknowledge that some readers will still see this topic as something incredibly polarizing and about everything but the everyday realities of women’s lives and their ability to make decisions about their bodies.

See, this is the part of the conversation that gets lost in the rapid-fire political arena, where talking heads try to address philosophical, political, and economic issues about abortion while completely silencing the voices of the women who are actually experiencing the reality of abortion in their lives. Why is that, I wonder? I hate to fall back on the “damn the patriarchy!” trope, but when something that is, at its base, a question of the ability of women to make their own choices about their bodies, doesn’t the “damn the patriarchy!” argument seem to hold a little more water?

I know many people who are personally “pro-life” because of their own experiences and history or because of religious beliefs, and I encourage them to have their own opinions and to make their own decisions about their lives. Just because I have the right to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that I will do it if it is in opposition to my own beliefs. However, in a country as multifaceted and varied as ours, attempting to change women’s access to abortion based on the conservative religious views of only one group of people seems completely irresponsible, wrong, and morally imperialist.

Are any of you familiar with this symbol?

no more coat hangers!

If yes, then you already know the answer to my “what do you think it means?” question. Some people are familiar enough with it to know it has something to do with the women’s movement. Others are so far removed from the realities that caused this to become a symbol they have made such assumptions as, “what do they have against wire hangers?” Here’s the skinny, folks. When abortion was not legal, women had them anyway. To assume that just by reducing access through legislation one will stop women from having abortions completely disregards the reality of women before Roe v. Wade was passed. Women were having unhygienic operations, sometimes on their kitchen tables, meeting men who did, on occasion, assault them as part of the procedure in order to procure abortions. One self-remedy, along with dangerous and life-threatening herbal remedies, was to use a wire hanger. I’ll leave it to you to determine how that worked. Just think about it for a second, it will come to you. Women were coming into emergency wings at hospitals daily, suffering from infections and other complications due to the unsanitary and unregulated nature of abortion pre-Roe. Women were, quite literally, dying to have abortions. This is in America, a “developed” nation, and only forty years ago.

After W made nominations to the Supreme Court, the concept of overturning Roe v. Wade received a lot of airtime, both from pro- and anti- choice camps. Jennifer Baumgardner makes an incredibly astute observation, as she points out that a country without legal access to abortion would not be all that different from the reality of many women today. There has been so much legislation passed to reduce access to abortion services, and the political climate in many states has reduced clinics providing the procedure to, in some cases, only one in the entire state. This, combined with such policies as the 24-hour waiting period, creates what adds up to be, realistically, a country where women do not have access to abortions.

There is a new law that the GOP plans to bring into the House in the new session, HR-3, or the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Not only do I find this preposterous and offensive, but I’m also a little confused about the idea that we can choose where our tax dollars go according to our own religious and moral beliefs. For example, can I, a crazy feminazi, earmark all of my taxes to only support abortion services and comprehensive sex education? I also wonder how the GOP would feel about a “No Taxpayer Funding for War Act,” which I think would receive just as much moral support, though perhaps, since it isn’t just effecting a “special interest group,” people would find it less realistic.

I realize this post may have been a little all over the place, but it was my attempt at blogging for choice. I am a firm believer that women are fully capable of making decisions, even ones as heavy as accepting, and using, our control as the ones with the uteri over life. I don’t think that this decision is necessarily an easy one, but I also do not find fault with the women for whom it was not difficult. Abortion is a personal, not public, decision, as ruled by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, and I regard it as such. I do not believe in limiting access to or funding for abortion, because history has shown us how dire the consequences can be. I would never, ever force someone to abort their fetus, but I demand that same respect should I or anyone else decide not to carry that little sack of cells to term. I am pro-choice, and I’m proud to be.

In Sisterhood and Solidarity,

me

Back to school. Mixed emotions on that count.

19 Jan

You’ll be able to tell that I’m back at school because of this post. It’s a continuation of something I was marinating on over the break after a conversation with someone who will remain nameless to protect his honor. We were talking about what we were going to do after school, and I asked him if he still wanted to pursue the field he’d mentioned previously. This field had to do with illegal immigration. I’ve been hoping he’d come around, stop listening to Rush Limbaugh, and join the sane, but no. He came back with “that’s where I’m still conservative!” and proceeded to talk about how illegal immigrants “take advantage” of this country because they don’t pay taxes blah, blah, blah.

And, you see, when people start talking like this I lapse back into this problem. Mainly, I become so confused by their thought process that I cannot form sentences that make any sense further than, “I can’t believe you!” My thought process about this issue goes something like this: How can you possibly accuse a community of taking advantage of the system when they are the most vulnerable and precarious population in the nation? They are the most exploited, and you are accusing them of exploiting you? Are you kidding me right now? Of all the people you could be pissed at, all of the groups you could blame, you pick them. The ones without rights. Seriously? And what completely baffles me is that these same people who say that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the United States by not paying taxes or whatever are the exact people who don’t want to tax the most wealthy Americans. Really? Are you kidding me? You want to take out all of your anger and fear on this population, you want to build a wall?

As you can see, I lose all capacity to have a conversation and devolve into accusing them of being stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. This doesn’t accomplish anything, because I know this dude personally and I know he isn’t stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. We’re actually pretty good friends. So here’s where I realize that I can’t even understand their thought processes, because where I operate from a sense of social justice and human rights and almost always come down on the side of those who have the least and are the most exploited, other people think about things like taxes. Granted, their thoughts on taxes are (most likely) baseless, I mean look at their source, but still, their arguments are based on things like economics instead of basic human dignity. So I’m starting to realize that, if I ever want to change any minds, I have to change my own. If I can’t communicate in a language they understand, we’ll just sit and yell at each other forever while real, valid, living people are being overlooked in a political battle that directly effects them.

This brings me to class today. We’re talking about poverty and inequality, and I’m really excited because my teacher is an economist. She’s basically a badass. Yes, she actually is. She connects economics and human rights/social justice/grassroots activism all the time. It’s her job! I am pretty positive that if anyone can help me understand how to have the economics conversation, it’s her. Then we watch this documentary that everyone should see called Life and Debt. It’s about Jamaica, the IMF, the World Bank, and the living conditions of the people on the island. It also implicates tourists who come to the island and ignore the devastation, just like I’ve done on cruises to Mexico. Then, I had one of those moments.

By “those moments” I mean that second where… well, you know that saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well, its like you’ve been looking, staring, really concentrating on this one tree, or this one patch of trees, or whatever, and then suddenly you zoom back. Not just to the forest, but to the whole region. The entire living planet ecosystem. Just zoom straight out. And from far away, you can see all of the different forests. You know, the Forest of Poverty, the Forest of Climate Change, all of those forests. And suddenly from your zoomed out position, you channel The Doctor. Well, on a small scale. One of The Doctor’s things is that he’s aware of all of time happening at once. So here you are, staring at all of the forests, but you can also see forward and backward in history. So, now, you have the Forest of Climate Change, the Forest of Poverty, etc, and all around them, acting on them, you see things like Colonlialism and Racism and Capitalism and Greed. And suddenly you’re like, whoa, I thought all of these were separate forests and forces, but really they’re all here. I’m just saying, I had a moment in class where my brain zoomed back. The farmers in Jamaica can’t sell their produce in local grocery stores, because they can’t compete with the prices of the imported goods from all of the countries they previously had trade barriers against until the IMF told them to take down the barriers and integrate. Of course, the taking down of trade barriers only applied to this poor country, and not the other countries with so much money they can subsidize their goods down to such a low price even with the cost of exporting it to Jamaica. And then you think about how much fuel and pollution comes from taking food from one place, processing it, packaging it, and shipping it from one country to another all around the world. And now you think, today, when we’re all so concerned about climate change and pollution and global warming and green industry, firms from rich countries are competing to export goods across the world?

Do you see what I mean? And then I feel like I’m just this little leaf, or something, floating on a current in the middle of all of this shit. It existed before I was a leaf, and all of the forces acting on me are so, so huge. I’m just being pulled along by this epically intricate and massive system of currents. And it’s just a little overwhelming.

But at least I’ve got The Doctor to keep me warm! He’s the best humanist ever. And sometimes you just need someone, even a fictional character, to tell you humans are good.

SOTP: “Chances Are” by Garrett Hedlund

In sisterhood and solidarity,

me

“What’s up, girl?” [insert leering college boy here]

10 Oct

Let me take you to this moment that seems to have put me over the edge. I’m walking across the street on this gorgeous fall day, after being pretty productive at Starbucks, and I have this awesome song by Elton John stuck in my head:

My Father’s Gun by Elton John

And then, as I’m almost to the corner, someone from a car waiting to turn right leans out of their window and yells, “what’s up, girl?” before the car turns and speeds away. I am left feeling publicly humiliated as people walk by, knowing they heard what I heard, that they just saw my privacy violated. And I got so, intensely angry.

You want to know what’s up? I’ll tell you what’s up, motherfucker.

I have been a self-identified, conscious feminist for over two years now, and I’ve been steeping in gender and feminist theory since September 1st. Over the last seven weeks or so, I’ve been hollered, catcalled, and honked at more times than I was my entire life in Texas. You are really pissing me off with your entitlement to comment on my body. No, it isn’t a compliment. It doesn’t make me feel pretty, and if you actually were honest about your motivations I am damn sure they aren’t that pure. You take away my privacy, and you turn me into something that exists for your gaze. You make me feel like my body is not my own. Does that sound like a compliment to you? Besides, do you think my self esteem is so non-existent that it necessitates you vocalizing your attraction to make me feel good about myself? News flash, it doesn’t. It makes me feel violated, humiliated, and really fucking pissed. I would sincerely like it if you would go fuck yourself and then read some Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, or Gloria Anzaldua and then we can talk.

I don’t understand how men can still feel that they have this inherent right to comment on women’s appearance, and to consistently claim that women should take it as a “compliment,”when so many women’s organizations are now vocally expressing that it does just the opposite. The Hollaback Project, a US-based organization, started because women wanted to be able to do something to combat this feeling of humiliation by turning it back onto their harassers. Women take pictures of their harassers on their phones, and then send them in with a description of the incident and the location. This serves two purposes: to create space for empowerment and agency, and to create a supportive network of information to help women avoid spaces where they are more likely to encounter street harassment. It is also a space to share stories, information, and general experiences through the forms of comments and even youtube videos.

These organizations aren’t just popping up in the United States. They exist all over the world. In India, the Blank Noise project was developed to work against ‘eve teasing,’ the colloquial term for all kinds of street harassment, including physical contact. They want the public to know that “I Never Ask For It.” In Egypt, the HarassMap attempts to address the multiple facets of this problem by encouraging individuals to send in information about harassment, which is then put on a map. HarassMap then sends information to the individual to let them know about counseling and other services in their area, and also how to make a police report. The reports from women are compiled into statistics of street harassment, which are then given to police and local governmental officials to aid their combating this problem from a governmental standpoint. The areas with the most street harassment then are targeted by increased community organizing around the issue.

So, sir, now that you know what the fuck is up, I would hope that you would be wondering why so many women all over the world are responding in this way if what you’re doing is really to make us feel good. Then the next logical conclusion is that, good lord, who knew, but it doesn’t. It is harassment. And it needs to stop. You may call me dramatic for my next statement, but that’s OK, because I’ll call you an oppressor and part of the problem. Not only is street harassment a part of the reiteration of gendered inequality and hierarchies, it contributes to the constant reconstitution of our rape culture reality. If men are encouraged to see women’s bodies as there for their enjoyment, and then feel no chagrin in voicing their approval, how much of a leap is this to rape and sexual assault? Some people ask, “how can men feel it is OK to violate women in such a way?” when talking about sexual assault and rape, but those same people will tell you that you should just take street harassment in the form of inappropriately sexual language, catcalls, honks, and other comments as “compliments.” It isn’t complimentary for someone to force their sexual desire of your body onto you, in any way, shape or form.

So, in conclusion, you rude ass motherfucker, not only are you lewd and ignorant of the impact of your actions, but you are also contributing to the constant approval of gender inequality and violence by continuing to make comments like the one you made today. And that’s what’s up.