Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bible's case for gay marriage

There's nothing I like better than poking holes in religious conservative arguments.

Thanks Newsweek.

Gay Marriage: Our Mutual Joy

About why gay marriage is not spoken against specificially by the Bible, and in fact, argues for it.
Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument). Common prayers and rituals reflect our common practice: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer describes the participants in a marriage as "the man and the woman." But common practice changes—and for the better, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers (and in Leviticus, for men who have sex with men, for that matter). It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.

Love that quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. I just keep repeating that to myself when thinking of social change.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gay adoption ban violates FL's equal protection guarantees

Florida Judge Rules Against the Gay Adoption Ban

NPR's All Things Considered, November 25, 2008 ·
A Miami judge ruled Tuesday that there is no rational, scientific or moral reason that sexual orientation should be a barrier to adopting children, finalizing the adoption of two siblings by their gay foster father.

It saddens me that we need a judge to emphasize that statement above. It is a good thing, of course, but it is a real shame that we can't realize that humans are humans, sexuality is a spectrum, and who you love and are attracted to is just one piece of who we all are.

Also, the dad looks a little like Skinner from The X Files

He's Not Black

He's Not Black

By Marie AranaSunday, November 30, 2008; Page B01 The Washington Post

He is also half white.
Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president-elect is not black.

To me, as to increasing numbers of mixed-race people, Barack Obama is not our first black president. He is our first biracial, bicultural president. He is more than the personification of African American achievement. He is a bridge between races, a living symbol of tolerance, a signal that strict racial categories must go.

The article discusses the complicated nature of race and how even in a historical event like this last presidential race, we still manage to look at race in strictly bilateral terms.

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Two Dads

I don't know where this is originally from, but I found it on Lavender Lines

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So many are killed just because of their gender identity

Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20, 2008
Richmond Friends Meeting House
4500 Kensington Avenue
7:00pm til 9:00pm


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Night

Since An OC Girl came looking for my post-election reaction, I felt compelled to post.

It's hard to sum up how powerful last night felt. There's something to be said for being in a huge room full of people on the cusp of history who all share your excitement, nervousness, wonder, and glee. It was truly amazing to be jumping up and down in 3 inch stiletto boots that I'd had on since 13 hours before and hugging everyone in sight, screaming at the top of my lungs, first as CNN called Virginia and then shortly after as they announced the entire race. I don't think any of us were expecting it to be decided so fast, and then BAM, McCain made his concession speech. Compared to the last two elections, when we all went to bed wondering what was going to happen, it was unexpected to have what could be considered a landslide. I don't think any of us expected that.

For me, the presidential race could be boiled down to an essential issue--who was truly speaking to ALL Americans. TV and commentary last night and today all piled onto that issue, and I'm not sure why all of a sudden they seem to realize that's what the race was about, but I'm glad. For once, a candidate was really bringing people of diverse backgrounds together. All you had to do was look at an Obama rally vs a McCain rally to see this. The stark whiteness of McCain's crowd spoke for itself. The crowd last night at the DPVA party was equally as telling. College kids, greying couples, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, straight. All people who got it. That this really was about history, for more reasons than just the first black President. I don't think most unenlightened white people were able to grasp what it means for people to feel like they are finally being heard, that their voice is being represented. Delegate Jennifer McClellan of Richmond noted that Virginia hadn't voted Democratic since the Civil Rights Movement. A fellow supporter last night commented that the electoral map looked like the civil war, with blue in the North and red in the South. The 60's was not that long ago, yet it seems eons away culturally. I hope Americans are finally as surprised and disgusted as I am to realize that we haven't come as far as we think. This election proves otherwise. The world was watching us, and don't you wonder what they think now? Isn't it funny that most other developed nations, even those not as diverse as ours, have been far more progressive in their politics for far longer? Do you think they congratulate us, welcome us to their world stage, or do you think they are shaking their heads at their poor, slow-to-catch-on ally?

And isn't it terrible, that as Obama came to the podium to give his victory speech, that a uneasy feeling in my gut worried about something terrible happening to him at this pivotal point? That I had to even worry about the possibility. That others in the room hushed to hear him and thought their own private dark thoughts. That the sound of the helicopter in the background was hopefully a good thing.

So today is another day, just like every other day. My day-to-day has not changed. But let us not doubt Margaret Mead in that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Yes We Can

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Step outside of your privilege for just a second please

It can be difficult for me to express articulate arguments when I get so worked up about the subject matter. When something is so important, you want to get it right, you want to convince people why it's important. Notice I didn't say convince people to change their minds. I don't think we all have to agree but some people certainly need more education, more perspective, and a different paradigm about certain things. We should not be afraid to speak up, to argue til we are blue in the face, to make a scene. If something necessitates questioning and action then keep talking, keep fighting, keep getting doors shut in your face, harsh words thrown at you.

I notice often that people have such difficulty stepping outside of their privilege, out of what they know to be. This is especially true of those whose privilege is the majority--namely, moneyed, white men. What bothers me is that someone of this privilege cannot comprehend that perhaps the reason that this particular election is so frenzied, that there is all this talk about change, and that there is more turnout all around is that for once, there is a candidate who is speaking to their issues. Someone who looks like them. Someone who could represent them. Let's discuss the terms Us and Them for a minute. The majority considers any other, them, and I speak not just in numbers, because a minority is not just a minority because it is small, but because it lacks power and influence. It is easy to group others into one lump when you do not understand them. This is why stereotyping is so frequent, so convenient. It allows us a frame of reference to begin to comprehend an other.

I am a sociologist. I can spot socialization, I can spot social pressure. I know movements when I see them. We are what we are taught, how we grew up, what we've experienced. This influence cannot be discounted. There are larger social forces acting upon us constantly. We are not always independent actors. Not everyone thinks like a sociologist. If it isn't your reality, then you don't look behind the curtain to ask why. If your reality is comfortable, you don't consider how it got to be that way, if it is inherently good or fair. Why would you? You like it the way it is. For all this talk of change, society and people are not quick to change. It was only 50 years ago we hunted people down and ostracized them for supporting an economic and political model that was in the minority. In America. In the melting pot. In the country that embraces free speech and dissent and the freedom to question government. Twinges of McCarthyism are resurfacing even now. We have learned nothing.

Everybody has a story. The American dream is talked about a lot. But somehow, the real meaning of the American dream was lost. That "real America" became a catchphrase, one that applied only to certain kinds of people. People of certain races, religions, occupations, parts of the country. We have become adept at putting our heads in the sand and living in our own terrariums. When did we become an America that really only cares about ourselves? When did sharing in things like wealth, resources, education, and privilege become a dirty word? When did those who want to do well for themselves decide that meant they had to at the cost of others?

I will continue to speak up, to champion the unpopular ideas, to dissent, to stand up for justice. I will continue to fight because the cause is worthy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Church and State

Sigh. I am so fired up by everything anymore. It is stressful. It's frustrating seeing hate and injustice and religion-pushing and stupidity and hypocrites over and over and not feeling like anything is changing.

And this is just ridiculous. Especially the commenters:
Virginia Pharmacy Caters to Pro-Life Customers

I cannot stand the argument that people who receive their life direction from God get to live by different standards than the rest of the world, most of whom DO NOT SHARE their position. When you live in a world with many other people who are different from you, you have to have separate spheres for public policy and legislation versus religion and home life. This is a John Rawls principle that is the simplest answer I've seen to these kinds of arguments. Rawls argued that a narrow definition of public reason was necessary for the sake of achieving agreement in a pluralistic society.

He also argues that since many people have differing doctrines that are understood to be reasonable, those who insist in the public forum on acting solely on what they believe (and that others don't) are being unreasonable. Therefore, in a public sphere, this concept of the reasonable then displaces that of moral truth. Rawls states, "Once we accept the fact that reasonable pluralism is a permanent condition of public culture under free institutions, the idea of the reasonable is more suitable as part of the basis of public justification" (Source)

This is not so different from our constitutional (though eroding) separation of church and state. It is fine for you to have a faith that makes you live your life a certain way. But when that way is incompatible with all the other freedoms and basic rights of others, then you don't get to push that way of life on others.

I think I'm going to start going back and re-reading my philosophy and political and religious liberalism books from college. I miss this kind of learning, this kind of discussion.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama in Richmond

View the live feed of Obama's rally in Richmond today here

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

UR hosts Mayoral Debate

The University of Richmond will host a debate among the five candidates for mayor of Richmond Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in Tyler Haynes Commons, Alice Haynes Room. The debate is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow.

Questioners will represent local media, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Centro, Style Weekly, WWBT TV-12 and the university's student newspaper, The Collegian. Audience members may submit questions, which moderator Dan Palazzolo, professor of political science, will ask as time permits.

All five candidates for Richmond mayor—Paul Goldman, Robert J. Grey Jr., Dwight C. Jones, William J. Pantele and Lawrence Williams—have agreed to participate.

University sponsors of the debate include the Office of the President, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Richmond School of Law, Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and the Center for Government and Policy.

For more information, call (804) 289-8056.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Celebrity do-gooding

Brad Pitt stands up for LGBT

from Below the Belt

This is not a normal human

Jezebel, in its popular, Photoshop of Horrors, illustrates how much photoshopping can change what a person looks like. Just looking at this ad, you wouldn't necessarily notice anything odd about Britney Spears.But at closer look, you realize that her wrists and ankles are impossibly thin. Her legs are unnaturally long. Her waist has been shrunken.

Have a comparison between the photoshopped version on the left and a regular photo of Britney on the right. See?

These kind of images, this kind of ultra-distorted photoshopping, affects us all. When we don't realize that the images we see every day are not actual reflections of reality, we assume them to be truth. So even though we may have an idea that some photos are generally photoshopped, at casual glance, our brain is not picking up on the fact that her ankles are not normal. All we see is a thin, tanned, perfect model. And we set that image as normal, as regular, when in fact, NO ONE is shaped that way. This is so harmful, not only for women and their own body image, but for men, who will expect women to look this way, even if only subconsciously.
I think many have noted that this issue is serious, and even unacceptable, but what can be done about it? What has to happen for magazines and photo editors to stop making cartoons out of humans? I can understand that a magazine wants the best possible version of their models, but this isn't removing red eyes and stray hairs--this is creating fiction.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Presidential Policy Advisers at UR today

Environmental policy advisers to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain will discuss their candidate's proposals Oct. 1 at the University of Richmond School of Law.

The 12:15 p.m. program will beheld in the Moot Court Room and is free and open to the public. Noah M. Sachs , assistant professor of law, will moderate. He serves as faculty director of the law school's Merhige Center for Environmental Studies . The event is co-sponsored by the Jepson School of Leadership Studies . The interactive session will begin with opening remarks from each campaign, followed by questions from the audience. For more information, contact Kris Henderson at (804) 289-8186, or see this release

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reusable bags aren't really all that "green"

I'm really not surprised to hear that those hipster-trendy reusable shopping bags are not actually that "green". The WSJ article here explains more about why.
"If you don't reuse them, you're actually worse off by taking one of them," says Bob Lilienfeld, author of the Use Less Stuff Report, an online newsletter about waste prevention. And because many of the bags are made from heavier material, they're also likely to sit longer in landfills than their thinner, disposable cousins, according to Ned Thomas, who heads the department of material science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What about you, readers? Do you use those reusable bags or do you reuse your current bags? My thing is, I reuse all of my plastic grocery bags again in my house for trash bags and for scooping out cat litter. I reuse the paper bags for recycling because they won't let you put recyclables out in plastic bags and won't give large apt buildings reusable plastic bins (nor will a huge bin fit in my tiny Fan kitchen). Most of the cloth or remade totes are not large enough to hold what a normal bag would anyway, and I'd need several of them for a large grocery trip.

More than 6000

I snicker at this blog I found, that illustrates for us things that have more people than Sarah Palin's town.

My favorite so far is this (emphasis mine):

On July 25th of this year, more people than the population of the town of Wasilla, AK showed up to see Miley Cyrus sing in concert on Good Morning America in New York City. Approximately 7,000 people attended the festivities, proving that 15 year old star of “Hannah Montana” fame has a larger draw than Ms. Palin’s home town.

And we can't forget of course, our very own mob stampede right here in Henrico, VA

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Richmond Mayoral Forum

I know I still have no idea who I want to vote for. I'll definitely be here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's not feminism

Thank you Jezebel, again, for articulating to the masses one of my most fervent arguments about selling your body/feminism/capitalism.

Jezebel writer Jessica, wrote to clarify her thoughts about a previous post regarding a woman auctioning off her virginity on Ebay, that I blogged about here. Jessica disagreed with many of the commenters on that article who seemed offended that Jezebel seemed to be attacking the women's free expression of her sex. Again, most people seem to be missing the point, as Jessica illustrates below (emphasis mine):
It was about pointing out the absurdity of the situation: a woman is hijacking the language of feminism to justify selling her body. I'm not saying it should be illegal, nor am I saying that she should be burned at the stake or something. My point is more that by buying into a system that values women exclusively for their sexual attractiveness does women as a whole no favors. Even if a woman makes boatloads of money exploiting that system, that doesn't make it an intrinsically feminist act, nor is it subverting that system. It's just making money.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does

This Onion article , excerpted below, pokes fun at the idea that suddenly, everything is "empowering" to women. Shoes, granola, tshirts, gaining weight and "woo-ing" are all considered. I think "selling your body for sex" and "pretending that Sarah Palin is a feminist" should also be a part of this article. Also, since when do the ends always justify the means?

Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does

Barbara Klein, professor of women's studies at Oberlin College weighs in:

"Unlike traditional, phallocentric energy bars, whose chocolate, soy protein, nuts, and granola ignored the special health and nutritional needs of women, their new, female-oriented counterparts like Luna are ideally balanced with a more suitable amount of chocolate, soy protein, nuts, and granola,"Klein said.

Whereas early feminists campaigned tirelessly for improved health care and safe, legal access to abortion, often against a backdrop of public indifference or hostility, today's feminist asserts control over her biological destiny by wearing a baby-doll T-shirt with the word "Hoochie" spelled in glitter.

"Not every woman can become a physicist or lobby to stop a foundry from dumping dangerous metals into the creek her children swim in," Klein said. "Although these actions are incredible, they marginalize the majority of women who are unable to, or just don't particularly care to, achieve such things. Fortunately for the less impressive among us, a new strain of feminism has emerged..."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Latent Sexism


I love that the Jezebel writers all think so similarly to me.

Text from Jezebel article by writer Megan(emphasis mine):
The New York Times has an article today about how the Obama camp is going to "dispatch" Hillary Clinton and other female surrogates to counter the McCain-Palin efforts to reach out to women. It's your sort of run-of-the-mill story about campaign tactics until someone far more awake than me — specifically, Melissa McEwan of Shakesville — points out the subtle sexism of how the Times describes the Obama-Hillary relationship.

The Times says:
Senator Barack Obama will increasingly lean on prominent Democratic women to undercut Gov. Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain, dispatching Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to Florida on Monday and bolstering his plan to deploy female surrogates to battleground states, Obama advisers said Thursday.

As Melissa points out, it's pretty hard to imagine anyone "dispatching" Hillary Clinton anywhere, let alone the imagery of Obama "deploying" legions of female foot soldiers out to do battle. She suggests the following phrasing:

Prominent Democratic women will be providing Senator Barack Obama with key support next week, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Florida and other notable female players will make appearances in battleground states to undercut Gov. Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain, Obama advisors said Thursday.

That's the difficulty with sexism most of the time — it's rarely the super-obvious kind. It always creeps in, leaving a few strands behind in a conversation or an article and slips away again, leaving you feeling slightly heavier without really knowing what's wrong. It's just so ingrained in our culture and in our way of looking at the world that it's hard to even tease out, let alone notice with any alacrity.

Using Celebrity

Do you ever notice how the least memorable cast members of The Real World, with the least-developed story lines, end up being the ones who tour the country giving talks about subjects we're not exactly sure why they're qualified to speak on?

For instance, Jose, from the Key West cast. Remember him? Yeah, me neither. He's coming to a local community college to speak about bipartisanship and the upcoming election. Now while I think its fantastic that community college students have the opportunity to hear and discuss this historic presidential race, why would the not-really-famous-and-who-is-he-again? Real Worlder Jose be the best person to be speaking about this?

I get that to attract a youthful audience, organizers want to present someone who comes from youth culture. But The Real World? Do today's college kids even watch that? If they brought in someone actually famous from that series, a loyal watcher from my generation would be more likely to jump at the chance to see them than today's Millennials.

Friday, September 05, 2008

On McCain's speech

I thought John McCain gave a fantastic speech last night. He has an extremely compelling and sympathetic personal story. He was tortured as a prisoner of war, and returned not bitter and even more willing to serve his country. These are part of what make him who he is, and he should be commended for those things. The video preceding his speech was very moving, as were his stories about his POW time. But having a great story, a sad story, does not a presidential candidate make.

I think John McCain made a lot of really good points last night, and was inspiring with all his talk of serving a cause greater than one's self, helping others, looking for alternative forms of energy, making real change, etc. I even think he really believes those things himself. He is a smart, experienced politician. I think we can all agree on that. The problem I have is that the majority of his Republican party do not also share the same thoughts that he expressed last night. Serve a cause greater than one self? That's a Democratic tenet!

The problem I have is that his followers, his voters, and those in Congress DO NOT adhere to the ideals he expressed last night. If they did, they'd be Democrats! Republicans are the ones not allowing gays and women equal rights, not helping out their fellow citizens in time of need. The ones who are not thinking about the global economy, that Americans are not the only country on the planet. The ones who act first and think about our international impact later.

I laud McCain for his speech, his ideas. He seems like he really does want to make a difference. I think he already has. His party does not follow all those beliefs though, and that's a problem. Call him a maverick--the term is getting a bit overused, but it's probably true. He does have crossover views--which I think is important. The right wing is just not going to do all those things, as they've shown throughout history that they do not.

I also have a problem with the utter lack of diversity in the audience at the RNC. I think the visual picture screams loud and clear who the party is really representing. A conservative friend of mine agreed and even joked "I know! It's like a Klan meeting." While I appreciate that he also sees the disparity, I'm not sure that joking about Klan meetings is really the way to show your understanding. I think it is just a shame that so many of those who identify as working class seem to think that this is the party for them.

It does seem as though McCain is getting painted as the guy with the good story. The hero. Full of character. These are good things, but I want policy, plans, details, issues. If voters only vote for who has the stronger character, what does that get us?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

First they came...

I was reminded of the importance of this poem today and for every day we don't speak up for the wrongs done against others. For every day we take our own privilege for granted--whether that be the privilege of being white, educated, upper class, male, or American.

The version inscribed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. reads:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

(poem source)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Definition of hypocrites

What the hell is Joe Lieberman doing speaking at the Republican National Convention? Yes, he's an Independent, but he was the VP pick in the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket, ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, and he caucuses with Democrats. Someone explain this to me.

Also, I'm sure you've heard by now the talk about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's pregnant, teenage daughter. The Republicans are all upset that the "liberal" media is unfairly calling attention to it, attacking her, etc, etc. The line below from this Reuters article pointed out exactly for me why Repubs are so good at being hypocrites:
McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace criticized "hateful" slurs and innuendoes in the liberal blogosphere. "I think the private life of a 17-year-old child ... is something that was being used as a political weapon by liberal bloggers and advocates of Democratic and liberal causes," she said on Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Now you KNOW that if this had been Joe Biden's 17-year-old pregnant daughter, the right wingers would be all, TEH SIN, where are the PARENTS? HOW irresponsible! OMG, she is having TEH SEX. And would be calling him a bad parent for allowing his child to have sex. I cannot get over the fact that the Repubs are suddenly okay with a 17-year-old having the right to have sex in her private life and using the right to PRIVACY (reproductive rights argument, anyone?) as reason that the liberals are attacking unecessarily and should leave her and Palin alone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If You Are Not Outraged, You Are Not Paying Attention

The title is one of my favorite bumper-sticker messages. It is so simple, yet so to the point. It also leads me to my post today, information that comes to me courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign. From their email:

Former Senator Jesse Helms, the notorious author of dozens of measures attacking GLBT and HIV-positive people during his years in the Senate, died on July 4. Unfortunately, the legacy of discrimination against HIV-positive people he helped to create lives on in a law that bars nearly every foreign person with HIV from entering the United States. That's right – with very few exceptions, an HIV positive individual cannot come to the United States for any reason, be it to visit, work, study or become a legal resident.

Because of stigma alone, HIV is the only medical condition codified in U.S. law as a basis for inadmissibility for short-term travel and immigration – the admissibility of persons with all other communicable diseases is at the discretion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

But you can do something about it. Click here to send an email to your senators asking them to support Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Smith (R-OR) in repealing this discriminatory law.


In other news, the Bush administration continues to chip away at issues that are important to all humans. They are about to release a rule that will make it possible for federal funding that is specifically designed to prevent unintended pregnancy and promote reproductive health to now be used for anything but that.

The rule would also require entities that receive family planning funding, like Planned Parenthood, to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. Between deceptive "crisis pregnancy centers" delivering woefully incomplete care and legitimate health centers with extremely limited funding, hundreds of thousands of women are at enormous risk.

You can go here to add your input to a massive public outcry being organized by Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Truthfully, I've been burnt out on activism. I'm tired of saying the same thing and not getting heard or brushed off. An activist can only fight the good fight for so long without facing bouts of disillusionment. The political race has made me feel this way. Never before have I been so upset about certain things, but utterly unable to eloquently describe my position.

Politics is not always right v. wrong (not that anything is that simple, but usually there are big pros and cons to issues). Political races aren't always as obvious as glaring human rights violations. I don't have a passion for politics necessarily. I care much more about the issues than the process or the candidates. This unique and close-running presidential race has brought out fiery support on all sides, and good for it! But it makes me truly disheartened when I feel like I'm fighting my fellow Democrats.

This video below is just one example of what I've been trying to say. It is for everyone who keeps claiming that sexism doesn't exist, or isn't really a big deal. But you know what, the people who think that can't see it even when it's right there, because they don't want to see it. They're so blinded by their own entitlement and "that's just the way it is" that they just can't see it. So this isn't for them. It's for me, and others who notice this too, in the hopes that if we talk about it enough, perhaps some real change can be made. That's what anyone trying to make big change can hope for.

I'm also really tired of my thread on sexism being hijacked by people saying "but what about all the racism?" This particular post is not about racism. Certainly racism deserves discussion all on its own, but this is not a post about sexism v. racism. It isn't just one or the other. My bringing attention to the rampant, latent, sexism does not somehow detract from the obvious or latent racism. Precisely my point is that misogyny in this country and world are far more hidden and layered than racism and needs pointing out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Food Rationing?

Apparently there is a Matzo shortage. You'll be happy to know that our friendly neighborhood Carytown Kroger has a table with the product prominently displayed near the checkouts. In related news, the radio this morning told me there is food rationing happening in the Northeast and the West for items like rice and flour and some others. I don't really understand this, and there were no details. I don't want to get all DOOM AND GLOOM RECESSION ZOMG, THE WORLD IS ENDING, but are we really getting to the point of food rationing? Gas prices at $4, we're running out of oil, food prices are up, the world hates us, etc. Have we really just had our heads up our asses all this time? Should we be surprised at some of these things? I know for many of my generation, the idea of food rationing is just inconceivable. We've never known a world when things weren't plentiful. Last night at the grocery store, there were slim pick-ins. The banana section was completely empty and there was some note about there being a problem somewhere. Should we be expecting this more and more? Or is this just a series of isolated incidents?

Friday, March 21, 2008

David vs Goliath

You go, Baristas
Starbucks Ordered to Pay Back Tips

I have been a barista since I was 13. I've worked at Starbucks and at independents. I have a lot of respect and love for Starbucks. When I worked there, Shift Supervisors were not allowed tips, and I assumed that was SBUX policy. Apparently, according to the article, it's also a state law in some states regarding supervisors and tips. Good for the front lines for fighting it and winning.

Starbucks is great because they give you health and dental insurance for cheap if you work 20 hours a week. There are only a handful of large companies who do that. That's why I worked there when my non profit jobs were part-time. Sadly, the wages ARE low, so every bit of the tips helps.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Glorified Life of a Call Girl

I am so angry about this article. The more I read, the angrier I got. I'm not sure I can put into words how bad an idea this whole thing is. Every time a sex scandal involving "escorts" comes up in the news, the media goes on a whole run of glorifying and giving fame to the idea of prostitution as if it's commonplace, as if it's just another job, as if it's not extremely telling of how strong the patriarchy is that things like this still exist.

Did I mention I was angry? Women like this one are delusional. They are setting a terrible, law-breaking, unsafe, misogynistic, degrading example for women, girls, and everyone else.

The article is here.

This woman, who says that Pretty Woman is a the world's best fairy tale, who tells of a fellow sex class women who "lived happily ever after with a client". She's in the news, she's got a book deal. Somehow, she's more legit because she went to jail for a laughable 26 days (“Three more days than Paris Hilton!” she says, as if it's a thing of pride.)

When asked if the movie Pretty Woman is realistic, she replies:
It actually happens. There was a girl I knew who worked for the agency, who had a booking with a client, went on a date. They fell in love, and he whisked her off to London. They have a house in London, a house in Paris and a house in New York, and they’re getting married. Isn’t that great?

I'm sure this now-married woman is an equal partner in this sham of a marriage. What do you tell people who ask how you met? And if you have children? What kind of message are you sending? How many other women who are a part of the sex class get book deals and fame and get to rave about how this wonderful job of theirs allowed them to fall in love, buy Manolos, and travel the world?

Please tell me that someone besides me sees the utter bullshit in this presentation of how to sell your body to skeezy men and live the life of a fairy tale.

This woman even claims that she probably saved some marriages, since men who wanted to cheat would see her instead of sleeping with their secretary. Look at what she says:
A lot of the married guys, one of the things I used to believe at the time was that I was actually doing a service for these guys, because rather than having an affair with their secretary and potentially ruining their lives, they would come see me, satisfy their needs physically and some of the companionship they wanted — going on a date, having fun, relaxing — and being able to sustain their marriage. Apparently that’s what some people need.

What some people need is to cheat? To think so little of womankind and of the person they chose to marry to have sex with someone for money? That's calculated cheating. That's not a "whoops I drank too much and went home with that girl at the bar." That's a man who has learned that his position in a patriarchy allows him to have a woman on-call for sex and to patronizingly spend time with him and make him feel important as a result of his money and his gender.

I can believe that women who are in bad situations will justify a lot of things, and will make themselves believe whatever they need to believe to survive, but in this woman's case, I think she truly believes these things are true. That she wasn't selling her body and her dignity for the enjoyment of rich, despicable men.

Now before anyone jumps on me and says, "But what about the women? Have you no sympathy for them?" I do. These women, fame or not, are still prostitutes, and are not in a good place. I'd hope that this press would call attention to the fact that most of these women are exploited, and perhaps some change could come from it. Women do not choose to become prostitutes because they feel like they have options. It is not an ambition. It is for the lowest, poorest class of women, those who feel they have no other choice. My point has always been, until we have an equal society, there is nothing empowering about prostitution. It is not something we should be lauding. It is not a desirable part of society.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Oh Jezebel

I recently started reading a blog called Jezebel, and I love that they cover everything from politics to fashion to sex and more. A comment they made about an article they found on revirginization made me snicker. I enjoy Jezebel's honest, sarcastic, and conversational commentary.

The site they discuss is about "renewed virgins" who've "found" their virginity again and mentions that some women even have surgical "replacement" of their hymens (we'll talk about how that's problematic later). Jezebel notes how one woman gave her newly intact hymen to her husband as an anniversary gift.

Jezebel's response: Why is an intact vagina a present? Is sex only meaningful when dudes get all Star Trek and boldly go where no man has gone before? Does Jesus give a sh*t about your hymen?

Schools of thought (that might be a stretch) like the site they reference are why Americans, and especially women, have such screwed up notions of sexuality and self-worth.

Anyway, we both felt immediately guilty about it and cried and prayed for forgiveness. However, it lowered self-respect in both of us so that over the next year, it became easier for us to have sex because "we had already done it." It's not that we had sex all that often... but mostly when, 1. We didn't have a plan for the evening, and 2. No one was around.

And the sex wasn't even all that pleasurable at first... no one told me it would hurt or that it would be so much work! We felt pressure to try to "get it right," and I know it would frustrate him if I wasn't fulfilled... he felt like he wasn't good enough. We'd try so hard to feel the pleasure during sex, but we'd feel so guilty about it afterward. The strain between us started to grow. We really startedsecond-guessing each other and our entire relationship. Our relationship had originally began on the basis of the love of God... we had grown SO much together, spiritually and mentally. We used to challenge each other with our readings and have the best discussions.

That poor girl. See, no one ever taught her to love her body and that what the human body desires is natural and okay. Relationships are not based on mutual love of God. That's what churches are for. Relationships are more complicated than just one shared interest and include sexual attraction, and hey, sometimes relationships even fail, with or without sex. Sigh.

There's just so much to say about this that it makes me tired. I'm in support of saving yourself for the right person who you love/care about/like a lot/trust/is not a douche, but marriage does not automatically make those things true.

Oh yeah, and the whole, intact hymen thing. We are a species that just loves making absolutes out of imprecise terms, aren't we? (see: The Bible, race, sexuality, gender roles) Some women aren't even born with a hymen, and the absence of one is not the definitive definition of "de-virginized." I was pretty sure it was common knowledge from 6th grade health class (oh wait, many states don't allow those either) that a hymen could break from vigorous exercise or horseback riding.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Should college not be for everyone?

I have a friend who claims that not everyone should be going to college. His point is that students are shuffled, en masse, to University, even when they don't have the motivation, grades, ambition, or skills to be there, and that perhaps they'd be better suited to something occupational or technical.

I can't say I disagree with him completely, but as a proponent of higher education (hey, I work there!), it's hard for me not to think, "Yes, come children, come to college, the bastion of learning and experience that it is. There is room for all!"

I was a motivated student. I am a bit of a nerd. I like school. I'm good at school. Not everyone is, which I have trouble understanding sometimes. I'd hate to narrow opportunities for students, but my friend has a point in that we don't advertise the OT (occupational/technical) programs enough.

For instance, in Virginia, there is a huge shortage in people to fill the needed jobs in nearly all of the health fields (many of whom make a lot more money than I do, and I have a bachelors degree).

I also blame parents. Helicopter parents of this new generation of millenials-and-younger push students to go to the big 4-year school in the sky. Higher education was their ticket to a better life when they were growing up, and they want it for their children.

What do you all think? Are we pushing the wrong people into college? What do we do instead?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I couldn't have said it better myself

This is not a political blog. However, I find that politics and social justice are often intertwined. I have been finding it a painful challenge to explain exactly why I'm so fervent about my political candidate without having the words "polarizing," "divisive", or "bitchy" thrown at me to describe her.

So I was floored when both Gloria Steinhem (a woman I admire) and then Robin Morgan wrote articles in major press outlets summing up exactly what I was thinking.

Robin, wrote “Goodbye To All That”, her "(in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women." She felt so strongly about what was going on in the Presidential Race with Hillary that she was compelled to write a second essay. Here are highlights from it(emphasis mine):

Goodbye to the double standard . . .
—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.
—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had labor pains?)
When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.
—Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.—all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort “See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him.”

Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
--This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which whites—especially wealthy ones—adore), while she has to pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and then found unforgivable). If she were black or he were female we wouldn’t be having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn’t stand a chance—even if she shared Condi Rice’s Bush-defending politics.

Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys—though unlike them, he got reported on). Let’s get real. If he hadn’t campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
—an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience, and skill is actually seen as attractive.

Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn’t bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She’s running to be president of the United States.

Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they’re not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten thestatus quo), who can’t identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking “what if she’s not electable?” or “maybe it’s post-feminism and whoooosh we’re already free.”
Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, “I could have saved thousands—if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves.”

Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire. There’s not a woman alive who, if she’s honest, doesn’t recognize what she means. Then HRC got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media’s obsession with everything Bill.

So listen to her voice:

“For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words."--1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing