Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Racial Profiling--Ensuring Safety or Perpetuating a Culture of Racism

Hey All,

So I know that I already posted earlier today and am potentially breaking the blogging etiquette of letting readers keep up with you, but tough. Work is a wonderful place to remind you of all the things that happen in society, that much is for sure. So today I came across a particularly blatant social issue, racial profiling.

Let me set the scene for you.... Every once in awhile the parking garages get an email with pictures and names of wanted criminals, people to look out for and when we see them we are to call the authorities. Earlier this week we got one such email, with the pictures of a black man and a white woman, we're told they are drug dealers.

So today, a coworker of mine called 911 to notify them that he had seen the man in the picture. Now this would be perfectly legit if it had been true. The man had a patient visitor pass (meaning he is a direct relative of a patient and has parking privileges). These passes have the name of the person parking as well as the patient, and the names were not the same. So this man who is coming to the hospital to provide support for his sick loved one was about to have a really bad day. Essentially the only crime this man had committed was being black in the United States.

When I confronted the coworker about the situation he expressed no remorse. He said that first of all he had to racial profile, secondly that to him all black people looked the same. My coworker is a middle-class, middle-aged, white man. I was dumbstruck. I asked him if he had seen a brunette woman (the woman in the picture was white and had brunette hair) if he would call the cops on her because all brunettes look the same. He chuckled and said "Of course not!" and walked back to his booth.

I've heard this sentiment before... "Oh, all those Asians look the same!" or the assumption that all brown people are Mexican. But every time I hear it, I'm as dumbfounded as I was previously. This is systematic racism at it's best, and it's rampant within our society.

The only reason anyone would think that an entire group of people who share a skin pigment look the same is because they don't care to actually look at them as individuals. The people who say these things are those who don't take the time to get to know people of color, who don't take time to appreciate other cultures. This is a dangerous slope to be on. When we generalize who people are based solely on how much melanin they have, we fall into the hands of harsh stereotypes and prejudices.

All blacks are on welfare and in gangs, selling drugs. All brown people are illegal aliens. All Asians are really good at math and can't drive. All white people are rich and have morals.

When people tell me they aren't racist, I often chuckle. I'm not saying that racism is funny, it's just so ingrained into our society and how we are raised that it would be highly unlikely for anyone not to harbor even the faintest racist tendencies. Like when my coworker told me he wasn't racist, I couldn't help but laugh because he doesn't realize how embedded his racism is, it's natural and normal to him. When you can't tell that one person doesn't look identical to the next solely because they don't share your same skin tone, chances are you've got some racism deep down in your gut, the result of living in a racist society that likes to pretend its not.

Saying "I'm not racist!" and then talking about how all the Mexicans are stealing our jobs is a contradiction in the simplest of terms. Saying you're not racist but then the only people you will talk to are people who share your same skin town is a contradiction. When someone isn't racist they don't care what color a person is when they talk to them, they don't assume they're going to steal their purse because of their race, they don't make hefty generalizations, and they take strides to learn about others' experiences. Now a lot of this isn't just racism, it's classism and sexism and all other sorts of isms intertwined into the scenarios as well.

As a society we need to be better about realizing that racism is still alive and well, and just saying that you're not racist doesn't make it true. It's time we start doing some real soul searching and call each other out on things that embody this culture of racism in a means of progressing our nation to a truly racist free state. And I want to make it clear that I'm not just pegging this on white people, people of all races generalize and discriminate against each other. I've had black friends talk about those damn Mexicans, and Asian friends talk about those poor, unintellectual blacks. I've even heard people of their own races generalizing themselves. We need to work together to combat this. Acknowledge that everyone plays into this and that the solution is not simply one sided.

We need to see people as individuals, not as overgeneralized groups of people. I can guarantee that there countless people that are exceptions to these stereotypical boxes we put them in, but we'd never know it unless we didn't assume. Who knows, the person you've been so sure was stealing your jobs also happens to be a US citizen and makes an excellent friend. Don't be so quick to judge.

Racial profiling is a way of incriminating an entire group of people for the crimes of one. If you take nothing else from this, just remember to treat everyone as individuals. Think of that poor man getting pulled over and needlessly questioned after a traumatic day at the hospital solely because someone assumed he dealt drugs because he was black. We're not all the same, and we should start reflecting that in how we view one another.

Peace, Love, and Social Clarity,


Human Trafficking--The Truth We Choose to Ignore


So last night I finished reading an excerpt from the book Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide for a class I'm taking this summer. It made me recall the various educational events and fundraisers that I did with UNICEF to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking, more specifically, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves.
What people don't realize is that millions of young girls and women are taken from their homes and forced into prostitution by force of beatings, rape, and countless other forms of abuse. These brothels often don't give them clothes, shoes, or wages for fear that they'll run away.
Furthermore customers rarely use condoms, thus contributing to pregnancies (where if not aborted right away, they take the children from their mothers to keep them from running away as well as to raise the children to be new prostitutes) and disease. As this book points out, one of the leading causes of death amongst these sex slaves is AIDS. They even pointed out that in some parts of the world, predominantly in Africa, there is a myth that you will be cured of AIDS if you have sex with a virgin, thus triggering and increase in abductions of young girls.
This is a horrific occurrence and many people, even the authorities, just turn and look the other way. What's more, many Americans think "oh, this only happens in OTHER countries, it's not like it's in my backyard." The fact of the matter is, it IS in our backyard. Madison, WI alone has estimates of at least 200 sex slaves, trafficked from all over. There isn't a major city (or even suburban, smaller cities) that isn't affected by human trafficking. Hundreds of thousands of people (predominantly women and girls) are trafficked into the US as mail-order brides, person masseuses, or underground brothel workers.
So denying that this is happening, that millions of women are girls are being forced into slavery, should not be an option. We are all linked together by being human, by the capacity to feel and love, the innate need to survive and have freedom. Ignoring millions of people for the sake of your own privileged existence is crime to yourself as a human being.
It's time to start taking action, get involved with organizations that combat human trafficking, travel abroad and volunteer at schools and shelters for women and girls, or at least do your research and remain aware of what's going on so you can spread the word. Unless the masses start speaking up, nothing is going to change. Not only should we be helping rescue women and girls from all over the globe, providing them with education and job opportunities, but we should be rescuing our sisters that live in fear right under our noses. It's also important to note that we have to be mindful of the cultures of each of these places that are plagued with this problem. We need to find a way to allow them to figure out their own means of combating this issue and supporting them in those endeavors. We're not here to be the happy-go-lucky white middle-class folk that just throw money at them, we need them to take feminism and figure out what it means to them and the best means of achieving an equal world.
I'm not saying this is an easy process by any means, but we need to stop living in the dark. Host events on your campuses or in your communities about what is actually happening here in our backyards. Never underestimate the power of education. Even if you don't have the money to spare to help the cause, that doesn't mean you're useless. Talk about these issues, tell your neighbors, friends, coworkers, and families.
If you do come across someone whom you think might be the victim of trafficking, tell the authorities or find a rape crisis organization and notify them. They can help from there. It's time we start fighting sexism within our own societies, and support others in their efforts. Anytime a wombyn anywhere in the world is oppressed, we are all oppressed.

More Information:

Now go out there and get active!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 3: Separation of Church and State

Greetings to Internet Land,

Part 3 of the 6 part series on the Texas GOP Platform is dedicated to the implication of the Separation of Church and State. For those of you who might not be familiar with this, it's basically where the constitution says that religion and the Church have no power or influence in legislation or court rulings. While this is a fundamental part of the founding of our nation, it is trampled on in countless ways. This platform does a good job of taking it and dragging it through the mud.

"Remedies to Activist Judiciary – We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights."

Alright, there's a lot wrong with this stance. The first being that the fastest and most efficient (note, by most I don't mean it is that efficient, it's just better than proposing a bill) way changes in government are made are through cases in that occur in federal and state supreme courts. Their ruling judge what is or isn't constitutional and how the law should be enforced. What they are wanting to do is get rid of any progressive judges that help this country progress, hence leaving room for digression and removal of personal rights for anyone who isn't a white middle-class male.

To go farther, they want to take away the reason we have the Supreme Court. If you cut out anything having to do with abortion, religious freedom (which we do indeed technically have according to our founding fathers), and the Bill of Rights. Those three categories cover almost all of the cases that would be seen in cases that make it to the Supreme Court. They want to eliminate progress and make sure rights aren't granted where they don't think they are deserved (when more than likely they are).

"Free Speech for the Clergy – We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors."

So tax benefits should be given to organizations who openly promote discrimination, hate, and violence. Yeah, that seems really appropriate. I'll pay my full taxes, and the West Borough Baptist Church can squeeze by tax free, because after all, they stand for everything the Texas GOP loves. And maybe, just maybe, they can get rid of all those fags and people of color without financial or criminal consequence.

Whether people like to admit it or not, churches are businesses. The fact they are tax-exempt in the first place is beyond me. When they don't have to provide information on who and what is giving them money, there is no way of truly knowing what they are doing (from a governmental standpoint). If you have a terrorist organization feeding millions of dollars into a super church in the faith that they'll promote hate, you have problems. If hate organizations can fund churches, churches don't deserve tax breaks. Enough said.

"Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment, which provides: “Neither the United States nor any State shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.” We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents, and encourage discussing those documents."

If you're speechless after reading that, you're in good company. For starters they are promoting open Christianity in schools. Reading this, you would think any religion could have their rights to prayer in school, but after reading the entire platform, I have no doubt in my mind that they would encourage schools to quiet any students who express faith in a religion or lack of religion that wasn't an acceptable form of Christianity. By openly supporting religious speech in schools, they are essentially promoting evangelism or spreading the word.... no matter how much hate that word involves.

Now don't get me wrong, I firmly support freedom of speech for everyone in all settings. I just think if they want to emphasize freedom of speech, they best emphasize allaspects of it, not just religion. Perhaps what upsets me the most is that they want our government to say "We are a Christian Nation and all our laws reflect this." While it is possible that Judeo-Christianity helped inspire some of the documents, our country was founded on the basis that anyone can worship or not worship any religion they please.That means we are NOT a government of faith, and should not be proclaiming such things in order to alienate a large percentage of our population.

"Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice."

Again, they are saying that everyone can choose to worship whatever religion they please, but they best keep in mind that the only religion that the US really accepts and promotes is Christianity. Not to mention that "under God" wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until World War II and in this author's opinion, done wrongfully so. I see this as nothing more than a scare tactic to push other religions (or lack thereof) underground for the fear of persecution. Cool texas, real cool.

"Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations."

Huzzah, they sure like to end things with a big shabang. I can't tell you how upset this last stanza makes me. First, they're saying that if we don't acknowledge the fact that their Christian God (which, I remind you is not everyone's God) is the driving force in the founding of this nation, our freedom and futures will be in jeopardy. The way I see it it's just the opposite. If our government gets bullied into taking such a stance, our nation will go from being an already big bully on the world front, to an evangelist nation that plans on starting wars to protect the sanctity of the Christian God. Who's going to get hurt by this? Any nation that doesn't have an official religion that can't be considered Christianity, oh, and all the people here in the US who don't believe in the Christian God.

Furthermore, they want to completely eliminate the separation of church and state, claiming it's a bunch of poppy-cock. While I agree the separation of church and state has been trampled all over, it is still potentially the most important document that exists in our constitution. It's what is supposed to guarantee that people of all believing natures are represented in the law and not discriminated against because of their choices in faith.

In addition, reducing regulation of religious organizations that help the needy would produce devastating effects. In New York (I'm pretty positive it was New York, if not it was Washington DC) a Catholic organization cut all of its services to the homeless in protest of a bill that was going to be passed to give same-sex couples the right to marry. That sent 10,000 people out on the streets without food or shelter. When we don't regulate these organizations, they use their influence to persuade voting. As many of you know, the bill was rejected.

The Separation of Church and State is a fundamental block in our government. If we choose to cast it aside, it is my firm belief that everything is going to be going to the figurative fires of hell in a hand-basket. Discrimination will be able to run rampant with full permission and little remorse or consequence. If we really want to secure freedom and morality (humanity even) for our nation, we need to fully enforce the Separation of Church and State and elect more officials that aren't of a strictly Christian background. I want to see people of every faith in our government. It's up to us to make it happen, we have the voting power, time to start using it.

And as always, all the above stanzas of the platform were taken in full context and can be viewed here.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

How I Met Your Mother-Fact or Fiction?

Hey Folks,

In-between designing my next piece of ink, I indulged myself with watching a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother. Despite many of its heteronormative contexts, I still as a whole enjoy the show. Call it a guilty pleasure if you will, but it's the truth.

That was until a scene came up where Barney (the hypersexual male character in the show) is trying to replace his (ex-) best friend Ted by being the wingman of this nerdy coworker. Throughout the scene they show how his coworker is incompetent with women, sometimes appearing schizophrenic due to anxiety, and entirely unmanly because he hadn't had sex in 13 years. In order to combat this man's obvious "faults," Barney gives him three rules on picking up women...

1. Get them alone, that is isolate them
2. Say their name repeatedly in conversation
3. Subtly put them down

This got me thinking, is this how people really view women and how to get them into bed? This scene seemed a little too much like animal planet with a side of rape for my tastes. Think about it... "Let's draw her away from the pack, do a dance to make her think we care, then put her down so her self esteem is so low you can nail her!"
It takes away female humanity and reduces them to a game. What bothers me more is that because this is in this show, it's obvious that this is relevant in today's society, otherwise they wouldn't have it on display for million of people who couldn't relate.
Is this how we're training our young boys, men, and everyone else how to approach women? Like the prize buck that transforms into your species so you can fuck them and leave them? It's episodes like these that reinforce our rape culture. Subtle, yes, and probably not the intention of the producers, but by reinforcing this attitude towards woman they are inherently excusing these actions as normal and okay.
As a society we need to start being more mindful of these images that are constantly being portrayed in the things we watch, do, and hear. I once read the fact that 1 in 8 movies have a rape scene in them. And more than that, the way most of them are done are to inspire arousal in its viewers. I shouldn't have to say why this is a problem, but for the sake of being thorough I'll say it anyway. Making rape sexy in films creates the idea within the general public (generally men) that forced, aggressive sex in the real world is sexy. If she wore a slutty dress and says no and fights you, she's just playing, after all she's just there for your sexual satisfaction.

As viewers we need to start demanding that shows and films reflect the world we want to live in, not the one filled with terror. By doing mass boycotts of shows or movies that reflect negative views towards women, producers will have to start changing scripts. They don't make money unless we give it to them. That being said, we need to be more conscious consumers.

Until next time....

Peace, love, and revolution,


Friday, June 25, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 2: Women

Alright folks, so here I am again for round two out of six on my dissection and analysis of the new Texas GOP Platform. This blog post is going to highlight how this platform affects women, which for the most part this platform stomps on women's rights.

"Affirmative Action – Inasmuch as the Civil Rights Movement argued against using race as a factor in American life, affirmative action reintroduces race as a powerful force in American life. The Republican Party of Texas believes in equal opportunity for all American citizens without regard to race or gender. To that end, we oppose affirmative action because:

1. We believe it is simply racism disguised as a social value.

2. We believe that policies that lower standards on the basis of race or gender create a disincentive to excellence and thereby encourage mediocrity.

3. We believe that rights belong to people – not groups; therefore, we reject the notion of group-rights and policies that grant preferences based on race or gender. Policies of this type apply a blanket remedy before specific acts of discrimination are proven; thus, such policies compound one injustice with another.

4. Affirmative action falsely casts those who advocate merit as racist.

5. Affirmative action casts doubt on minority achievement making such achievement as seemingly unearned. We believe that true minority advancement will come from a demand for personal responsibility, accountability and competitive excellence. "

There has been a lot of debate on whether or not affirmative action is something that

should really still be instated. I personally feel as though without affirmative action,

women and racial minorities will miss out on valuable opportunities based solely on

their sex or race. Sexism and racism are still alive and well in this country, and

destroying a bill that protects rights is a terrible idea. You can tell this was written by

someone with white male privilege because he doesn't experience the discrimination

people of color and women face on a daily basis.

Since there are five parts, I'm going to comment on each part individually:

1. "...Racism disguised as social value." Who is this being racist towards? The

white man? Well excuse me if not everyone was born with the luxury of white skin

and a penis. If you're really worried about racism, you shouldn't be trying to repeal

the Hate Crimes Law, but if you didn't that would inconvenience your need to

exercise your white male power over your social inferiors without consequence.

What the GOP is really saying is they don't like women and people of color to have

seemingly the same amount of power in the application process as them.

2. Basically what the Texas GOP is assuming is that in order to have compliance

with affirmative action they have to lower standards for women and racial minorities.

Let's think about that for a second. Firstly they are saying that women AND people

of color are less intelligent and qualified as white males. Secondly, they don't take

into account the backgrounds of these persons who are protected by affirmative

action. Those who go to public, inner-city schools (generally racial minorities) are

more likely to have worse supplies, higher class sizes, and lack of adequate

extra-curricular activities. Who's fault is that? Maybe it would be the lack of funding

for inner-city schools? This issue is close to my heart as I taught ESL in inner-city

Detroit for a year. States don't fund inner-city schools (especially with high minority

populations) to the level they need to accomodate the amount of students they

serve. Therefor, it's reasonable to assume these students would potentially be as

qualified, maybe even more qualified than white male students if they had been

given the same opportunities by the government.

3. Basically they're saying that they think groups that represent women and racial

minorities are just assuming injustice,not actually experiencing it in order to gain

power. Man, those women and racial minorities, what a bunch of fibbers. They

can't POSSIBLY experience any discrimination that has been present in this country

since day one. Let them each fight their own battles so they can't gain any power

as a group. They want to squash each person individually. Not. Okay.

4. Maybe that's because those who are judging merit aren't looking at the whole


5. I think they're the ones casting doubt. If they weren't doubting minority

achievement they wouldn't need to repeal affirmative action, because it wouldn't

make any difference right? Basically they're saying they want minorities to prove

their worth and excellence. Excuse me, but I think they do that everyday they

survive in a racist, sexist society.

"Right To Life – All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We affirm our support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection applies to unborn children. We support the Life at Conception Act. We oppose the use of public revenues and/or facilities for abortion or abortion–related services. We support the elimination of public funding for organizations that advocate or support abortion. We are resolute regarding the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We affirm our support for the appointment and election of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We insist that the U.S. Department of Justice needs to prosecute hospitals or abortion clinics for committing induced labor (live birth) abortion. We are opposed to genocide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. We oppose legislation allowing the withholding of nutrition and hydration to the terminally ill or handicapped. Until our final goal of total Constitutional rights for the unborn child is achieved, we beseech the Texas Legislature in consideration of our state’s rights, to enact laws that restrict and regulate abortion including:

1. parental and informed consent;

2. prohibition of abortion for gender selection;

3. prohibition of abortion due to the results of genetic diagnosis

4. licensing, liability, and malpractice insurance for abortionists and abortion facilities;

5. prohibition of financial kickbacks for abortion referrals;

6. prohibition of partial birth and late term abortions; and

7. enactment of any other laws which will advance the right to life for unborn children."

There are so many things wrong with this section. First, they want to give unborn babies rights, rights that they don't even give queer persons. I think before we decide to start giving fetus's rights, we best take care of the people walking the earth already. What is really dangerous about this, is that there's a good chance they'll follow suit with Wyoming and basically charge women with homicide if they have a miscarriage or abortion. This is particularly awful, because that leaves no room for a woman to explain the natural function of her body... i.e. miscarriages... they happen.
In addition, they want to incriminate hospitals who perform abortions. If we start taking down our hospitals, people will be at a loss when they need medical attention. Furthermore they're advocating for pulling funding to any organization that provides information about abortions.. i.e. free women's clinics and Planned Parenthood. If you pull funding because of one service they provide, lower class women and teenagers will be subject to further disease, health problems, and lack of reproductive rights such as birth control.
Now, I do approve of some of their stances of abortions that shouldn't be allowed, such as gender selection. That aside, not providing insurance to places that perform abortions are ridiculous. These are certified health professionals who deserve the right to protect themselves and the work they do.

"Choose Life - We ask the Legislature to provide Texans opportunity to purchase "Choose Life" license plates."

Not only do they want to take away women's productive freedoms, they want to provide advertisement for the cause. So not only are they trying to dismantle rights via the legal process, they also want to profit from selling anti-women governmental identification. Cool Texas, Real Cool.

"Morning After Pill – We oppose sale and use of the dangerous “Morning After Pill.” "

I agree, the Morning After Pill should not be used in as much frequency as it is, especially by college age women. However, I full-heartedly support their opportunity to have the pill available to them. Rape and sexual assault happen all to frequently for this pill not to exist. Now don't get me wrong, I definitely believe in those circumstances they should go to the hospital and seek help from the authorities, but for many women, that's strictly not an option for a variety of reasons. That being said, this pill needs to be on the market.

"Abortion Clinics – We propose legislation that holds abortion clinics to the same health regulations as other medical facilities and that subjects clinics to the same malpractice liabilities. We oppose any public funding for Planned Parenthood or other organizations/facilities that provide, advocate or promote abortions. "

This goes hand in hand with the statement two sections up. What I find ironic is that they want abortion clinics to be held liable, opening them up for malpractice suits. While I agree this definitely should be the case, if someone botches your abortion and you deserve the right to fight for yourself and if this is a reoccurring event the doctor should be fired. However if you're going to open them up to malpractice suits you HAVE to allow them to have malpractice insurance. If you want to hold them to the same health regulations as medical facilities you have to equip them with the same protection.

"Abortion Requirements for Hospitals – We propose legislation that entitles hospitals to refuse to perform abortions because government has no moral authority to require such an abortion. "

While I agree no one should have to perform an abortion if they are not comfortable with it, this law is ridiculous. If you work in a field to where you're put into the position to provide abortions, you should be prepared for it. I resent the idea of having anti-feminist gynecologists. In addition, if someone isn't comfortable performing the abortion, it is their responsibility to find someone who is. Everyone deserves a high commitment to patient care.

"Unborn Victims of Violence – We believe a person who injures or kills an unborn child should be subject to criminal and civil litigation, whether the child dies in the womb or is born alive."

Let's take a second to think about the implications of this. Like I said earlier,
they are opening the door for women to be criminally charged for natural
miscarriages or still births. I want to know how they intend on proving whether
it was outside sources that killed the fetus or if it was the woman herself. Either
way it's putting unwarranted blame on the woman if her body rejects the fetus.
In addition, women and families who for whatever reason (and there are many out
there) that they cannot have the child need to have abortion made available to them.
It's called being responsible. Think about it.

As a side note, I also resent the idea that having an abortion isn't taking responsibility
for your actions. When all reality it IS taking responsibility. It's not like an abortion
is a good time and doesn't leave a person with both physical and emotional pain.
Think about a low-income family who already is struggling to feed their three children.
If she gets pregnant again, she won't be able to properly provide for the child. Sure,
adoption is always an option, but pre-natal medical bills and care are expensive. Not
everyone is fortunate enough to have someone agree to pay all their bills
and adopt their baby.
I also get mega peeved when these campaigns are being led by these upper class
white men. When they get pregnant, then they can start talking about what we should
or shouldn't be doing with our wombs. Until then, they should just bugger off and find
something better to do than to oppress women.

An amazing woman once told me "She who controls uteruses controls women." And
it's very true. When someone starts telling women what they are allowed to do with
their bodies they are taking away their freedom, controlling them like a cowboy
controls cattle.

All statements found from this platform are in full context and can be found here.

Peace, Love, and the Right to the Womb,


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Workplace--A Heteronormative Realization

Hello Internet Folk,

So I know I have already posted a blog today about the Texas GOP Platform, but I came across some experiences at work today that I felt compelled to divulge in the name of being a feminista.

The first situation was during my lunch break. I work at parking garages around campus, and four days a week I work at the hospital ramp. So during my daily trek to the cafeteria to microwave my scrumptious homemade bean and vegetable soup and read some form of literary excellence, I was confronted with the ever present stigma of what it means to be queer in society.

As I was walking by the table of male latino custodial workers, I heard the normal Spanish chit-chatting. That was until, distinctively in English (I have gotten to the point when I realize there's a language shift, which makes me both sad and relieved... but that's a different language oriented tangent) one of the men said, "Look, there's the lesbian!"

Now, I hear a fairly regular amount of queer slurs and tokenizations, but this really struck me. He went out of his way to say in English, so I would understand (little does he know I studied Spanish for 5 years and taught in Guatemala for 3 months) that he knew (well, thought he knew) what I was. That being an anomaly, something you don't see everyday.... The Lesbian. Now, his tone of voice didn't sound particularly harsh to me, moreso sexually suggestive. That aside, the fact that he went out of his way to tokenize me makes me wonder, does he not realize he sees more than one queer identified individual on a regular basis? That he probably works with many without him knowing?

I always find it interesting when people say they don't know queer people, that's why they don't like them. I'm willing to bet that everyone in any society knows at least one closeted queer person, if not others living in stealth or outwardly. The fact that people are still tokenizing this one queer in all their gender transgressing glory they think they are accomplishing something. Wake up people, there's queers in your neighborhood.

So after I return from my thirty-minute meal break, I sit down and get comfortable. A man comes up to the booth to get a patient visitor's pass. This is a routine procedure, so it's never a big deal. He was a tall African American man with stellar dreads, massive amounts of tattoos, and a thick build. He looks at me and says, "Don't look so mean."

I looked at him perplexed, I wasn't in any sort of bad mood and I'm pretty sure my facial creases were in their full and upright position, a usual clear sign of happiness. I asked him what made me look so mean. His response almost startled me. He said, "Well, you have short hair and you're dressed like a dude (Our uniforms are ever so sexy men's jean button-up shirts and I was wearing a pair of men's cargo shorts). "

Basically what he was saying, whether he knew it actively or not, was that because I don't follow the protocol for "normal" female-bodied persons, I'm mean, harsh, un-womanlike. Now, I don't identify as a woman, but I found this so profoundly offensive. Not because he was assuming I was a woman, but because he thought women who didn't conform to expectations were harsh in nature. I'm the first to admit that I have my aggressive or frustrated moments, but generally I'm pretty amiable and congenial.

It made me think about why this man, who seemingly took pride in being a mans-man who was tough and had the tats to show it, felt that he needed to tell me not to be "so mean." He was trying to put me into my place, trying to remind me of what a woman is supposed to be like.

Well screw that. Us wombyn will be "mean" if we damn well please. If you don't like it, move along, we don't have time for your petty accusations.

Cheers to all my feministas out there,


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Texas--Home of the Oppressors Part 1: LGBTQ

Alright folks, so I'm sure some of you have heard about the new Texas GOP Platform. I have spent literally hours going through it and finding that at least 75% of it is going to be directly harmful to at least one identity of persons at any given time. That being said, this is the first of a six part series about the implications this platform has for various groups of people and institutions.

You can't read this platform without feelings of extreme anger and outrage. The policies against homosexuality are similar to the sentiments and culture of the 1950's and seem model a less severe (for now) bill the Ugandans have proposed towards homosexuals. I literally found two pages of size 10 font of stances and proposed legislation that will directly hurt persons of the LGBTQ community. Hence this blog will be divided into three parts: Everyday Life and Marriage, Parenting, and Education.

Everyday Life and Marriage

"Marriage Licenses – We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple

and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such."

So basically what this is saying that if you perform any sort of marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple you can be convicted of a felony. Just let that sink in for a second. The Texas GOP is hoping to use its legislative power to sever ties between straight allies and queer individuals. Think about it, what is the ultimate form of showing allyship can be proven almost without fail? Performing a marriage ceremony, giving your blessing to a same-sex couple. They hope to incriminate individuals based on their support of a community of people. Words can not fully express the repercussions of a bill like this.

"Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown

of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be

presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. "

Alright... So this stance on homosexuality has a lot in it. Firstly, they describe homosexuality as being the downfall of society. They obviously just haven't been paying attention, but society has been functioning since the dawn of time WITH LGBTQ people. This is just white male supremacists trying to make sure they maintain their power over yet another group of people.

The second crippling part they describe is that homosexuality is unnatural as said by God. I can't express how furious this makes me. There is such a thing as freedom of religion (this country was founded on it) AND separation of church and state. By explicitly saying that God says it isn't right and therefor shouldn't be tolerated is a blatant disregard for the Constitution and what the founding fathers stood for.

Thirdly, they describe how they plan on propogating slander to youth, by saying that homosexuality is not only not acceptable, but homosexual families don't even count as real families. By advocating in such a way it is just going to result in further generations of harsher prejudices and rises in hate crimes.

This last part is perhaps the most infuriating. This is the part where they call basic human rights as "special privileges." Being able to have custody of my children is a special privilege?! REALLY? I'll go further into this in the next section, but rest assured, this is taking the meaning of second class citizen to a whole new level.

Furthermore potentially the most harmful (and most Ugandan-like legislation) is their stance that homophobic actions should be pardoned and LEGAL if done in the name of their faith.. or heck, just because they felt like it. This is opening the doors for countless hate crimes and atrocities that will never see justice. It's like they want to hand people the keys to rape and violence, and say "hey, so because you think that person looks or acts queer you can go destroy their very existence and we'll pat you on the back for it. No repercussions for you!" Let's pause and let the implications of such a piece of legislation sink in. Your friends, family, children, or acquaintances can be beaten to a pulp, potentially murdered, and the perpetrator will get away with it because they were given permission by your government. If that doesn't make you want to speak up, I don't know what will.

"Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy."

Basically, they want to make it illegal to be a practicing homosexual. Is it just me or does it sound a big like Uganda? I don't think I need to go into much detail about how serious this is. If you make an entire group of people criminals based on their innate human nature, you are performing the ultimate form of prejudice. 'Nough said.

"Family and Defense of Marriage – We support the definition of marriage as a God–ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President and Congress to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of marriage. We are resolute that Congress exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married. We advocate the repeal of laws that place an unfair tax burden on families. We call upon Congress to completely remove the marriage penalty in the tax code, whereby a married couple

receives a smaller standard deduction than their unmarried counterparts living together. The primary family unit consists of those related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property. "

Alright, so there is loads of offensive jargon in this little platform excerpt. Firstly, this is again, a violation of church and state. If you look at marriage in a political sense (which we should), it is the contract between two people who are committing to care for one another, share possessions, and pay necessary taxes. It's basically the government's way of keeping tabs on people and deciding how much money they're going to take from them in form of taxes and what services they are able to provide to said person in these contracts. The government has no say as to what religion to define marriage with, especially since the definition varies depending on what religion you look at. It's place as government is to manage contracts, not religious affiliations.

Secondly, what is this "natural man" and "natural woman" business? I would like for you to define to me what a natural woman or man are. There are 5 known biological sexes, so someone who appears like a "natural woman" or a "natural man" could actually have the chromosomal makeup of someone who could be defined as intersex. That brings me to my next question... What happens to persons with ambiguous genitalia that were able to opt out of surgery? Where do they fit? What about ftm's or mtf's? They may appear like "natural" men and women, but what's between their legs might be another story. Where do they fit? Not only are they discriminating against the homosexual population, but they are completely writing off intersex individuals whom are also in all technical means "natural."

Next they're going so far as to say even if the US granted same-sex marriages, that Texas should not have to allow it and will not recognize it. Now, I'm all for states governing their people in ways that best represent their constituents, but Federal law is just that, Federal... meaning the rules apply to EVERYONE that is a part of our Federation. If Texas wants to be exempt from the rules, then they can just cede themselves.

Even worse they talk about how people who are not married should not receive the tax refunds they do because they are single and living with a partner. Let that process for a second. Basically they are saying that "Hey, so you want to marry someone of your same sex, so we're not going to let you get married or accept any of the benefits that go along with marriage. But since you're queer, we're not going to let you have any tax benefits you get by being legal single either. SUCK ON THAT GAYS." Again, in terms of government and contracts... if you do not have a contract with the government saying you are married, you are in the government's eyes single. Which means you deal with your taxes as a single person. I'd like to know how they plan on figuring out who's in a committed same-sex relationship to determine their tax status.... Profiling much?


"Child Support and Visitation – We support equity between responsible parents in child support, custody, and visitation rights and costs, as well as the strengthening of laws designed to protect children from abuse. No parent/grandparent should be denied court ordered visitation, because of jurisdictional disputes between states. We also believe that no homosexual or any individual convicted of child abuse or molestation should have the right to custody or adoption of a minor child, and that visitation with minor children by such persons should be prohibited but if ordered by the court limited to supervised periods."

Alright folks, our friendly neighborhood Texas GOP wants to deny homosexual parents the rights to see their children. First off, queer folks won't be able to adopt children if they are in a same-sex relationship. I'm willing to bet that even if they caught wind of a parent being bisexual they would use that to take away parental rights. That's just speculation based on what I've read in this platform thus far.

Imagine this scenario... A man and woman got married, had children together, then got a divorce because the woman decided to pursue her homosexual identity. The husband could get full custody and not allow the children to see their mother at all (let's pretend she's a fabulous mother, but just happens to be gay) on the sole basis that she is a homosexual. What happens if the father is an abusive alcoholic? Would the Texas GOP rather those children grow up in a home of substance abuse or with a nurturing gay parent? You'd bet they'd choose the former.

"Adoption – We support reducing the time, bureaucratic interference and cost of adoption. The law should assure mothers of a choice in selecting a traditional home for their children at the time of terminating their rights for adoption. We oppose mandatory open adoption and adoption by homosexuals. "

Again, they want to remind everyone that queers should not be allowed to raise children. I think they need to read some statistics about how children growing up in gay households are just as well adjusted as those raised in straight households.

"Patient Protection – We support patients’ rights by calling on the state legislature to amend the Advance Directive Act to establish due process of law and ensure that a physician’s decision to deny life saving treatment against the patient’s will or advance directive is not due to economic or racial discrimination or discrimination based on disability. We also support the passage of legislation to amend the Advance Directive Act by requiring hospitals intending or threatening to withdraw life-sustaining treatment against the patient’s wishes or their advance directive to continue all treatment and care for such patients pending transfer to another facility."

Now this seems like a great statute to have. Except no where in there is sexual orientation or gender identity mentioned. What does this mean for the LGBTQ population? If you're queer people can withhold medical care from you because of your orientation or identity and not face opposition from the law.


"Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – We oppose this act through which the federal government would coerce religious business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs and principles by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior."

Basically, this means if you're queer in any such way the Texas GOP fully agrees with you getting fired for it. They also support throwing out your job application even if you're the only qualified candidate based on your orientation. How do you like them apples?

"Equality of All Citizens – We deplore all discrimination. We also deplore forced sensitivity training and urge repeal of any mandate requiring it. We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove the education curriculum mandate and the sexual orientation category in said Law."

This may be one of the scariest aspects of this platform. This not only affects queer identified persons, but people of color and immigrants as well. I would like to point out how contradictory this stance is. "We deplore all discrimination." "All" implies any sort of discrimination, including discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, class, etc. etc. But then they go on to say that they don't think sexual orientation should be a part of discrimination, because well, they just really don't like those homos. We'll I'm sorry Texas, but by saying that, you're discriminating. So much for deploring all forms of discrimination aye?

Furthermore, by excluding sexual orientation it would make repercussions of hate crimes against queer persons more tolerated, receiving minimal, if any sort of sentencing. This is promoting a terrorism on our own soil. If they succeeded in revoking the whole Hate Crimes Law, it will be any minority that will be living in a raised state of terror. This is not okay in any sense of the word.

Finally, in true Arizona fashion, the Texas GOP wants to completely cut ethnic studies courses. This will have terrible cultural implications, resulting in less understanding and further cultivation of bigotry and ignorance.

*sigh* This is a long post, and the next to come are just as long. It's time for everyone to take action, stand up and fight against these hateful platforms in order to preserve some rights for our brethren. We need to show solidarity for Texans fighting the good fight and give them as much support as possible. We can't let this type of hate be perpetrated in such significant and blatant forms from government. If there was ever a time to start flexing your voice, now is the time.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Women. I'll hopefully be posting that tomorrow.

If you would like to read the full platform for yourself you can find it here. All of the above quotes were taken directly from the Texas GOP Platform in full context.