Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Nation Working Together -- For the Benefit of Whom?

Hey All,

So I'm well aware it's been AGES. This fairy has been all over hell and back for a multitude of work, scholarly, and activism commitments. However, I'm hoping to post at least weekly about some issue or another.

This weekend myself and a bus full of mostly white middle-aged to senior folks loaded a bus to DC for the One Nation rally. It became evident as soon as we got on the bus that this rally was being funded by the Democratic National Committee and was essentially a giant ploy to get votes and free volunteers to work on various political campaigns.

Our bus was late due to traffic, among other things, so we missed the various contingents that decided to march to the rally (due to the fact One Nation didn't organize one.. I'll go into that in a bit). This extremely bummed me out because 1. I didn't get to use my bullhorn and 2. It didn't let the people say everything they needed to say.

Why wouldn't there be an organized march to the Lincoln Memorial? Because the DNC wants to control the movement, our movement. True, anyone could hold a sign that said anything they wanted. Signs say things we aren't always able to say out loud, but signs don't speak louder than voices. People speak louder than words. By taking away a chance for folks to really speak out, you lose the productivity and the purpose of the movement. If you have a set list of speakers stepping up to the podium, you're controlling every word that is said. In a march every voice is heard, in a rally everyone blends into random cheering and booing.

The speakers spoke about unity, which was one of the goals of this rally, the reason I went. The problem? Every speaker had a different outlook on what unity is. How can we be unified if even our leaders can't decide on what that should look and feel like? Granted, this rally was incredibly diverse, and for that I was proud.

I do have to say that there was a serious lack of young folk, or people of my generation. It's as though the DNC specifically targeted labor unions and large organizations and left out the radical youth who make DC their stomping grounds on a regular basis. Maybe trying to count radicals out helps control the message: Democrats are the good guys, be sure to elect them.

What wasn't mentioned is that the Democrats have thousands of corporate sponsors. The Democrats, right along with the Republicans, voted AGAINST the repeal of DADT and ENDA, have pushed to cut Social Security, opposed putting extreme pressure on BP due to the oil spill, turned down clean energy legislation, refused to pass any form of helpful immigration legislation, and have pushed to cut Medicaid and Medicare. But they don't want you to know that, they just want to make sure you know they made some progress. Let's just note that the progress they have made has been watered down to the point where benefits are limited.

I resent the propaganda tactic of convincing thousands upon thousands of folks to come to DC to further perpetuate a flawed agenda. Yes, I believe we need to vote for representatives that will fight for something that's important to you, but playing the "we gave you a feel good experience, made you think you were heard, now we want you to elect us so we can water down your needs and wants and tell you we have your best interests in mind" card is a cheap trick.

Granted, politics are complicated. Capitalism is complicated. I say, if you want real change, you have to be revolutionary, not idolizers of corrupt or corporate politicians. And you can't tell me that Obama isn't corporate, look at his administration. Our Secretary of Treasury is an ex-CEO of the major corporation, Goldman Sachs. Do you think that might lean his politics one way or another?

I'm not satisfied with cookie-cutter answers and unified facades. It's time to rely on direct action, civil disobedience, and the power of the people to make change, not legislators. Social change comes from the ground up, not the top down. Sure, let's elect folks, but it's up to us (no matter who is in office) to demand, pressure, and even force those in power to propose and pass bills that are made by the people for the people. Elections aren't the answer for change, WE ARE.

If you want a revolution, baby you gotta be ready to march.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Club Politics of the Misogynist Kind

Hey all,

So inbetween packing up my apartment and reading for my research, I kept thinking about this man that happened to be at the club Thursday night. This man was presumably heterosexual, African American, about 5'9", and wearing one of those bro long sleeve shirts that show just about every crease of your muscles. None of the above were of any issue, but his attack on women were.

My first interaction with him is when he came up to try and dance with my very queer appearing friend. Being the fantastic clubbing sidekick that I am, I started grinding all up on her and spun her around so he couldn't touch her. When he tried to dance with me, I kindly elbowed him and told him to back off. He got the hint, this time.

After rejection, I watched him go to the girl next to us and he forcefully grabbed at their hips and kept his mouth close to her neck and ears. She looked pretty uncomfortable, but her friend eventually saved her. What did he do? He moved on to the next girl.

This chain of events kept occurring, a predator in all his glory. What finally set me off (and could have very quickly escalated into a fist fight), was when I was dancing with some friends and he comes up behind me and pushes his very apparent hard on up against my backside. I turned around and pushed him, perhaps harder than I should, and he BLEW UP. He pushed me back then screamed into my ear, "IF YOU DON'T WANT ME TO DANCE WITH YOU DON'T STICK YOUR ASS OUT!!"

The phrase kept ringing in my ears and it took everything in me not to deck him. Did he not realize he was in a gay club? And what the hell made him think that my dancing was FOR him? Yes, I was dressed queerly feminine, but I recall giving no such invitation of "Hey you! Yeah, you. Come rub your dick on me."

I'm sick of this disgusting assumption that femininity means submissiveness, someone and thing to have and they won't fight back. His aggressive reaction was him trying to put me in my place. I was taking the power and control from him, and that's not a womanly thing to do. I have no doubt that he would have hit me (granted, I'd be hitting him too), but it would have been for two entirely different reasons. I'd be decking him for being a misogynistic pig, and he'd be decking me because, as a female-bodied individual, I'm less than him, property if you will and he can't have that changing.

What he doesn't realize is femininity is fierce, bold, and unapologetic. Materialistic things don't make up what it means to be femme or feminine, the power within to rock femininity in a hypermasculine world makes feminine individuals fiercer than the biggest male body builder in the world.

I was later met outside by another man, who came up and straight out asked me if I was gay. I said yes, then he told me I was looking real good and then asked me if I could identify his accent. I could, he was from Jamaica. I have no doubt that he was using this to try to make himself enticing, but then he went on to ask me which of my two friends he can have. I looked at him and was like, "They're not interested."

He responded with something along the lines of "I promise not to take your girl, just let me have the other one." I said they were both my girlfriends and they both only like women (only half true, but I wasn't going to pass my good friends off onto this sexist power-monger).

He didn't seem to understand this. He felt like because he talked to me he was entitled to "have" one of my friends. What world are we living in when sexual orientation has nothing to do with whom people want, if you are female bodied, you will, by default, have to give into a man if he decides HE wants YOU.

This culture is dangerous. When women don't have the freedom to choose, they're subject to rape, sexual assault, and violence. It's time to up the ante on the wombyn's movement, we need social change. If I am this uncomfortable in a place I generally feel at home at, something has got to change. We live in a state of terrorism, and it has nothing to do with the Middle East. If our government is so set on maintaining this "War on Terrorism" they need to start within our own borders. Women are not treated equal, they are constantly reminded of this by comments like both men said to me earlier, the fact they can't walk home alone at night without being petrified, the fact that one in four women will be victim to sexual assault in this country.

It's time to fight, it's time to have those tough conversations until our mouths run dry and our lips are cracked. Women need to stop perpetuating vulnerability when it's not the truth, and men need to stop treating women aggressively just for the sake of doing so. We need to start hosting more events, more seminars, more rallies and protests, and demand wombyn's voices be heard. In our country today, we are not all created equal. It's about time we are.

Peace, Love, and Revolution,


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bullseye. Hitting the Target on Homophobia

Hey all,

I'm sure many of you are aware of Target, a major retail corporation, donated $150,000 to Tom Emmer, a politician running for Governor of Minnesota. Why is this an issue? Tom Emmer frequently spews homophobic ideals, does not support marriage for same-sex couples, and hangs out with the likes of people who think LGBTQ individuals should all be killed.
Target claims they didn't realize that Emmer was so homophobic. I think this is a load of crap, as any major corporation would check out as much as possible about the politician before they would fund a third of their advertising campaign. Yes, Tom Emmer might be good for big business, but he's going to kill profit margins with his anti-gay banter and entourage.

My personal view is that Target saw legislation going their way if Emmer were to be elected, but once they started getting heat about their choice in politicians, they tried to play the victim card. Anyone with access to the internet can find out who someone is associated with and what their opinions are, especially when it comes to politicians running for major office. I think Target DID know that Emmer was notoriously anti-gay, but they didn't care, business is business right?

This is our chance to make a difference. Yes, all big business is corrupt, but it is possible to make change happen. Everything is about profit, and who gives corporations profits? Consumers, that's who. We have the advantage of pocketbook power. I vote everyone should boycott Target until change is made. Having worked at target for 2 years, I know how they function. They freak out hard core if they don't make sales in a given month. Enough months of that, and you'll see some results. We are in the majority, America is overwhelmingly turning to the side of pro-LGBTQ politics, so the time is now.

I think it's also important to note that there are other ways to boycott Target that can get to the big shots. Hand out fliers or tell people about what Target did, write stock and share holders, hell, write the CEO's. Employees of Target are going to be feeling a boycott as much as the big shots, because when profits are low there are less hours of work to be had. While I hate to think of putting fellow working class individuals in a tight position, it's only going to put more pressure on the big wigs. If they have thousands of angry employees, and potentially strikers, they will have to change how they do politics.

It's up to us to police bigotry and negligence. We have more power than they give us credit for, our dollars fill their pocketbooks. With a lack of customers and a boat load of angry employees and share holders, they will have to make some changes. It's time we unite and fight for what is right, and stop allowing big business to trample on the lives of the people who helped them stay in business in the first place.

Until next time...

Peace, Love, and Revolution,


Monday, July 26, 2010

Verizon--Emblem of Girl Power?

Hey all,

So while being very productive at work and watching Bones on Hulu, this ad from Verizon came on. I've included the video below:

I'm torn on my thoughts about this advertisement. On one end, it screams for girl power, also racial equality. But the reason it's doing it, isn't to empower young women of all races, it's to get young women to buy their product.

This is where things get ugly. They are acknowledging injustices within our society, and blatantly exploiting them for profit. They talk about how "air" doesn't discriminate, well, I'm pretty positive phones don't discriminate, but the people on either end of them do. This message provides this false hope that this right wing corporation actually cares about their thoughts, ideas, and dreams regardless of gender, age, or race. News flash, Verizon couldn't care less about you, they just care about the money you shuffle into their hands.

The whole part about there not being discrimination based on if you're black or white is a load of crud too. What about all the racial variations inbetween? The majority of the women in this video were white--or at least had such pale skin it would be hard to distinguish any other racial identity unless you are really looking for it. I actually counted. There were 10 women who appeared to be straight up white, 2 women who could potentially be Asian-American, and 2 African American women (one of which who was used twice). I didn't see one woman with indicators of Hispanic, Indian, or Middle Eastern descent, not to mention the other races that weren't accounted for.

Why might that be? Because the Hispanics are stealing our resources and jobs, the Indians are stealing our jobs too because they "benefit" from outsourcing, and Middle Easterners want to blow us all up. It would be too controversial if you incorporated everyone, instead we'll stick to the binaries that keep us in this mess.

I think it's important to note that all of these women appear to be middle class. This sends a pretty distinct message, that the air DOES care if you're poor, because you can't afford to use it, so it doesn't like you. I think it's funny how Verizon sets it up so it seems like IT is the air. We need air to survive, to breathe. So if you're not represented in their short list of what they don't discriminate against, you're better off dead.

Also, the women of color spoke in a very typical white dialect, and had no markers of their racial identity except for the actual color of their skin. No wonder the air doesn't discriminate, all the women represented appear to have been socialized to appear and act white. I'm not trying to speculate, as I don't know the actual personal stories of the women in this commercial, but the way they are presented couldn't be any more white.

Overall, I think this commercial is a bunch of bologna. The solution to discrimination isn't getting your parents to switch cell phone carriers, and you will survive if you don't have Verizon. Wouldn't it be nice if ending hundreds of years of oppression could be solved by consumerism? I'm pretty sure it's that sort of capitalistic outlook that fuels oppression on a regular basis.

Peace, Love, and Real Girl Power,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Intersections of Purity and Race

Hey all,

So today in class we had an interesting discussion about virginity and sexual purity before marriage. This class is a women's health class, and the people in it tend to not be very well educated on intersectionality, in particular race and gender identity. The whole conversation and movie clip we watched kept urking me. This conversation was about white, middle-to-upper class heterosexual women, straight up.

Once we began discussing the video and purity in general, folks were looking at it from a one-sided perspective. One quote really rang in my head, "If they had sex they would put a black stain on their purity."

While I think the person who said it didn't mean for it to have racial implications, but it sure as hell did. Purity is looked as being symbolized as white, clean, and wholesome (I.E. a white wedding dress), and anything not pure is seen as dark, dirty, and cheap.

How does this tie into race? Well those who are thought of to be pure in our society are middle to upper class white heterosexual folks, often times Christians. Lower-class individuals, non-Christian, non-hetero, or people of color fit into that "other" category, the dirty, cheap, and promiscuous sector of society. Women of color are looked at as being jezebels, willing to sleep with anyone. History of slavery in this country has shaped sentiments of people of color and their worth in society.

Looking back at that student's quote, it's clear. If you're white, you're pure, otherwise you are the unwanted stain and you don't belong. The same sentiment is prevalent in the common phrase "The black sheep" referencing the weird, abnormal, deviant person of a certain group. The color choice of the sheep in this phrase isn't just about sheep, it's about the acceptance of people of color within mainstream society and its values. I'm willing to bet there are just as many black sheep as white sheep wandering around out there, but white is default, it's always default. What we're doing is otherizing anyone who isn't white, forming segregated communities with little understanding.

I have a hunch that part of the reason women of color, especially those occupying lower-classes, are victims of more rape and sexual abuse due to the fact that men think they can't say no to sex, their race screams sexual promiscuity. This keeps those pretty little white girls "pure" while the boys can still have their experience. It's a disgusting cycle that needs to stop.

We need to stop looking at purity as being symbolized by whiteness. If you have a black granite counter-top, it's going to be dirty if it has white baking powder on it. When we choose to symbolize such strong moral convictions that are prevalent in society by color, we're further perpetuating systematic racism. Things aren't black and white, and there's not one perspective that should be seen as better than another. We need to start being more aware of these cultural norms that are intertwined and embedded into our lives so that we can stop using them, and start changing them.

Peace, Love, and Equality,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Being Gay and Gender-Fluid -- Don't Expect Respect

Hey folks,

Sorry about the long lapse in blogging, I've been having 15 hour days, so extra time is dedicated to sleep. But alas, I'm here and queer, and very angry.

So today I participated in a preliminary research study on asthma and allergies. This visit was about getting my medical history, testing my lung capacity, and testing me for allergies to put my information in a bank to be drawn out for various studies (which pay big money...chachangggg). Now, usually I have decent luck with doctors. But this was not a pleasant visit on multiple accounts. For being public health representatives, these doctors had no sort of empathy or compassion, let alone understanding.

The first offense: Homophobia. So she asked me if I was sexually active, and I said yes. Then she asked me how many men I was having relations with. I told her none. She looked at me oddly and questioned my first affirmative answer. I replied "I'm gay, I sleep with women." She looked me dead in the eyes and said "Oh, that doesn't count."

EXCUSE ME? My sexuality doesn't count? If you only wanted hetero responses you should have asked "Are you sexually active in heterosexual relations?" (not that I wouldn't be offended by that either). I'm sick of society assuming that there are A. No STI's or diseases that can be spread in lesbian sex, B. There is no "real" penetration in lesbian sex, and C. Women want to sleep with men, and if they sleep with women it's not because they actually care about it or it's just an experiment and consequently doesn't count.

The Second Offense: Transphobia. While filling out one of the surveys, I told her that I go by my middle name "Rae" not my legal first name "Sarah." She looked at me and said that she doesn't do nicknames, she does legal names. Cool lady, real cool. Then I got to the dreaded "Circle one of the following... Gender: Male or Female." I looked up and said that when they print off more copies of this sheet they should change "Gender" to "Sex" since that's what they were really asking, and that they should include "Intersex."

She told me they don't include intersexual individuals in the studies. Which, HOLD THE PHONE, 1 in 2,000 newborns are intersex, I think they need asthma treatment too. Not to mention intersexuals have different biology in terms of reproductive systems, not lungs. Then she told me "You would be the type to want to not want it to say gender."

Excuse me? I look the type? What does that even mean? Because I'm gay I automatically want to transgress gender? I should note, she didn't know my gender identity previous to this. When I explained I don't identify as either gender, she said that if I didn't pick female that I wouldn't be used in the study. What did I do? I wrote in "Gender-Fluid" next to the gender. Don't ask for gender if you mean sex, and if you ask for either, you best lay out all the options.

The Third Offense: Lack of Empathy for Medical History. So here's where things get real personal. I have a history of struggling with anorexia, it was a long battle and I've been in remission for a full year and three months now. When I told her about it (part of giving medical history) she looked at me with this disgusted look and judgment in her eyes saying "Which one is that again? The one where you starve yourself?"

As a medical professional, this should never occur. Anorexia is a disease and should be treated as such. You should NEVER judge, blame, or ridicule a patient for such. But unfortunately both society and medical professionals view anorexia as a choice, something crazy people do for attention. Talk to anyone battling anorexia, it's not a choice. It's not nearly that simple, it's a crippling disorder that consumes your life and can lead to death if untreated for too long. This isn't something to scoff about.

I don't plan on ever going back to that place, helping doctors who don't have enough respect for their patients to maintain them. Doctors visits should be relatively pleasant, and shouldn't leave you with disgust, guilt, or shame. We need to rework how the medical world views diseases and social concerns. I understand they are only human, they have their biases like everyone else, but if you work in a place that helps people of every background imaginable, you should have no choice but to put judgements and bigotries on the shelf in the locker room. As far as I'm concerned, bigotry only deteriorates patient's health, never improves it.

Signed a very angry queer,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 5: Immigration

Howdy folks,

This is part 5 of 6 on the Texas GOP Platform. Arizona, a state away from Texas, has passed the strictest immigration policy to date (they are actually being sued by the Federal Government because of it), and it seems as though the Texas GOP wants to follow in their footsteps.

“Legal Immigration – One nation, one flag, one language, one loyalty; America is a country of immigrants, we should insist that any immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself/herself to the United States. He/she shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else. This is predicated upon the fact that the person is in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance. Anyone who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American Flag. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the American people. (Teddy Roosevelt, 1907) ''

Alright, so this sounds all hunky dory for the first couple of lines.. then things get serious. What they are asking is that all immigrants erase their past, their native cultures, language, and lose any connections to their homeland. Is it possible to be an American and still honor your roots? You bet. How do you explain all the various German or Polish festivals we have all over the country to honor our ancestors? The way they are defining citizenship, 90% of the people I know aren’t legal citizens because they still speak their ancestors’ tongue, they root for other countries in the World Cup, and they don’t like baseball. That is afterall, trangression from the notion that every legal citizen has to uphold every facet of a real American.

America is great BECAUSE of the differences in culture, pasts, and experiences of immigrants. Yes, immigrants should learn English if they plan on being successful in the US, but should they forget about their home countries, traditions, and languages? God no. I don’t support an elitist country and the efforts to erase cultural diversity. What are they going to do next, require every immigrant to have their skin bleached in order to fit into our “picture perfect” country? Not on my watch.

“Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of these United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States: with no exceptions.”

This is also bogus. So a child who is born on our soil, grows up here, knows no other country nor society other than ours, can’t be a citizen if their parents are immigrants without citizenship status? You want to deport children who grow up here because of their parent’s nationality. Some might argue that that last statement I just said is an overgeneralization, but how do you think they they are going to assume someone’s parents are citizens thus making them one? Two words, racial profiling. I have no doubt this is another ploy to dispose of non-white people, in particular those of hispanic or Middle Eastern origin. This will put more people in danger than help current citizens. If on a child’s 21st birthday they are discovered to have non-citizen parents, they risk being deported to a land they’ve never set foot on before. Not to mention it takes YEARS and YEARS to actually attain citizenship, a process children will know little to nothing about.

“American English – We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.”

There are hundreds of dialects and languages spoken every second here in the US. Declaring American English (which has many different dialects for the record) as the official language is one more way of saying anyone whose first language isn’t American English is less of a person in this country, not legitimate nor wanted. This has dangerous implications. Our country was founded on diversity, we should be celebrating it rather than fighting it. Our demographic is always changing, and it has been since the human existence came to be. We took over the US from the Native Americans, altering the demographic. Humanity is fluid in shape, size, and color. It’s time to stop fighting it and start embracing it.

Immigration is an extremely controversial topic in the United States and virtually everywhere else in the world. If we only want documented immigrants in the US (which I think to an extent is a reasonable request) then we need to start expanding resources and make it easier for people to move here. When we screen people based on income, we leave thousands of people to their deaths in tyrannical, unlivable conditions. As humans we all should have the right to better our lives, that’s the American dream is it not? We need to start making this possible.

Some argue the reason it’s so hard to obtain a visa or legal immigrant status is because of all of the illegal immigrants. Well think about that, the harder it is to be a legal immigrant the more illegal immigrants there will be. People risk their lives to provide for their families or give there children futures by coming to this country. No level of security is going to prevent people coming in. We need to get off our high horses and embrace these people, allow them to be documented so we can be aware of their existence and integrate them more effectively into society.

All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.

Peace and Love,