Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hate Crime at Unitarian Universalist Church

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
-John 15:13

Last Sunday, members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and the Westside Unitarian Universalist Fellowship were gathered together in the their church's sanctuary watching a group of children give a performance in front of the congregation. Suddenly, a man named Jim Adkisson storms in with a rifle in a guitar case and begins to start shooting into the crowd. Greg McKendry, a 60 year-old foster parent and church usher, reacted immediately by taking a bullet to the chest in order to shield the people that Adkisson was aiming at. His sacrifice gave congregation members more time to get out of the line of fire and escape next door. Adkisson fired over a handful more shots before three men were able to jump on top of him while he re-loaded.

About McKendry, one article wrote:

Brian Griffin, the church's youth director, said it's not surprising that witnesses reported McKendry jumped in front of the shooter in an apparent effort to save others.

"Greg was on some kind of mission, I guess, and part of the mission was to be there at that moment," Griffin said.

Griffin said McKendry, who worked part-time for Pinnacle Airlines, routinely did good deeds for others.

"He found out my daughter, Miriam, was about to go away to college," Griffin said. "Without anybody asking, he showed up with boxes. In my car today are the boxes Greg brought so Miriam could pack up to go to college."

Not only that, Griffin said, but McKendry also researched shipping rates so Griffin could get the best deal whenever he had to send items to his daughter.

"All of this he did on his own without people asking him," Griffin said.

Griffin said McKendry also put up light fixtures and undertook projects to make the church more energy efficient.

"He's the kind of guy who wouldn't hesitate at all to try to do something to help, no matter what happened," said Bill Dockery, who served on committees with McKendry at the church. "If he saw a problem, he was going to confront it."



Greg McKendry was an amazing man and so was the other victim, Linda Kraeger. Kraeger, a retired professor and author of several books, was active in her family and church community for many years and was at the church that morning to see the children's performance. According to Kraeger's neice,

"She had a beautiful laugh, a huge smile. When she laughed she would throw her head back.

"When I was little, I used to go spend a week during the summer at her house.

"She was really funny and really nice. … She was very cultured and very grown-up which I thought was really cool when I was a kid. I would have these wonderful conversations with her."

Sarah over at Orcinus has a beautiful tribute to the Unitarian Universalist church that tells of its rich history of welcoming people of all kinds. You simply must read it:

Of Madmen and Martyrs

Those who would like to show support for the affected church and its members can check out this website that has been set up where you can leave messages and get updates about what you can do to help:

Supporting Our Friends in Knoxville


My mother-in-law's New Year's resolution was to visit the local Unitarian Universalist church in her city. The German and I had looked into it and meant to check it out but never got around to it. I think that this would be an excellent time for us to follow through with that intention and I'd encourage anyone else to do so, too, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. They deserve to know that people of goodwill support them in this difficult time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

THIS is What Black Hair Looks Like, You Racist Idiots

Oh just when I thought that thread couldn't become any more of a train wreck, the cluelessness strikes again. Check this out from Panoptical:

Um… has anyone looked at their hair? They all have white people hair. I mean, seriously. Except for the bald guy, they’ve all got straight, light-colored hair.

I hope I don’t sound racist, but - black people don’t have straight hair. Have the people objecting to this cartoon ever actually seen a black person?


and this from Sis/Pony:

Excellent point. Indeed. The men there have white guy hair.




This is "black person" hair



This is "black people" hair



This girl? She has "black person" hair, too.




This woman has "black person" hair. Whoa! Would you look at that? A black person with straight hair!



This guy is also a black person with straight hair. Maybe someone should tell him that he's not really allowed to have this hair and still be black.



This guy is dancing with his "black person" hair. Is that impossible too?



This black woman has some great natural highlights in her straight hair. Nice!

I practically keeled over laughing when the people in that thread started talking about what black people hair does and doesn't look like. It just goes to show how you can sleep with, marry, and reproduce with people of color but it doesn't mean you have any understanding of what it means to be one.

People of color have all sorts of hair types. Saying that this cartoon can't be depicting people of color because the men have straight hair is just an example of how far some white people will go to try avoid taking responsibility for their racist assumptions.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hahaha! Isn't The Racism Clever?


You know, it think it's really sad how often the same one or two self-identified "radical feminists" are involved when there are outbreaks of racism in the feminist blogosphere. This repulsive woman never stops.

Here's the background story:

After Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff (aka Heart aka CrunchGranolaDyke aka AmazonHeart) posted the above picture on her blog, several people of color began to point out how racist and sexist it was. I mean, it's not like the idea of swarthy men looking like animals salivating over a naive, long-haired, wispy, white blonde is exactly a new idea, now is it? But, of course, we aren't really capable of deciding what is and isn't racist and so we need our great white savior, Cheryl to decide this for us:

The men in the cartoon are not men of color only. They are white men and men of color both. Men of color patronize strip bars just like white men do. Strippers are also white and of color.

The cartoon is not racist.

All men have sex privilege over all women, of whatever race. Men of color objectify both women of color and white women, just as white men do. Men of color patronize prostitutes, use pornography, just as white men do, and the women prostituted are women of color and white women.

That is what is true.

No more foolishness or stupidity from the two of you. Don’t comment here anymore, you are not here in good faith. I’ve encountered your type before many times, one too many times in fact — you are sexist, misogynist liberals who, when push comes to shove, do not give one good goddamn for women. You will sell your sisters out in a heartbeat.

ENOUGH.

We have those who would deny women the agency to decide what they will do with their bodies now telling us what we can and can not call racism. How (un)surprising!

Newsflash:

You are not one of our sisters, Cheryl. You are no friend to people of color and especially not to women of color. You are a racist, pure and simple. You are known for this stuff all throughout the blogosphere. Of course you support other people's racist depictions of people of color; it's the same behavior you engage in so why wouldn't you support it? You are not a feminist. You are not even an ally to feminists. You are the same bigoted arse that you were before you left the fundamentalist right-wing movement when you were no longer allowed to be a leader in it (the "liberals" line is hilarious because it's the same label you tried to use against REAL radical feminists back then). There are still women who remember you from then and see you being the same person today.


P.S. This month's Special White Woman award goes out to Pony/Sis for the following comment:

I kill myself laughing at BelleDame et al’s frantic desperation. No logic can throw the truth, but still they go their usual pathetic route.
Losing hard? Throw the racism hat in the ring. It’ so convenient, and soooo disturbing.
But at their friend AmPimp’s?
Not_so_much.
Oh yes, you know us women of color just love accusing you innocent white women of racism for no reason at all and not because, you know, you actually are being racist, right? Is it okay for a colored girl like me to point out how this comment of her's is identical to the sentiments expressed by men whenever women point out their misogyny? Maybe one of the decent white folks on that thread could let me know if I'm getting too uppity again. Y'all definitely know what's best for us, after all, right?

UPDATE:

Nine Deuce, the other white woman who thought that posting this racist and sexist cartoon would be a great idea, has decided that she isn't really able to deal with people questioning her theories. Here's what I wrote in response to this comment directed at me:

(Her words are italicized and my responses are underneath each part in regular text)

Nine Deuce,

I didn’t apologize. You need to acknowledge your own mischaracerizations.

Is it a mischaracterization to say that telling someone "Sorry" is a form of apologizing? Ah well, even if you don't apologize, you have acknowledged the fact that I did not say you claimed science is irrelevant. That's close enough for me. :)

Science, in the sense that jerry is referring to it, is a European product. It’s an Enlightenment product, to be exact.

If Jerry claimed that he was referring to an Enlightenment product, I must have missed that thread. On this one, I've seen him refer to sexual dimorphism, sexual selection, evolutionary biology. All of these are science topics, the science that predates the Enlightenment period. Furthermore, your questions and comments were directed to me and I certainly wasn't referring to any "Enlightenment product".

I am more aware than you have any way of knowing that plenty of discoveries and technological advances took place outside of modern Europe. Anyone making the opposite assumption would be foolish.

If you knew this, then why would you claim that science was founded by "European dudes"? Even what they did develop was built upon what existed before the Enlightenment. There's simply no factual basis for claiming that "European dudes" founded science.

As for Foucault, I’d be a goddamed idiot if I wrote off every white dude because he was a white dude. I am just saying that we ought to examine the sources and possible biases of all of our assumptions about the source of knowledge.

Well, I can certainly agree that WE should do that. Of course, that "we" also includes those who may think that the observation of prostitution sans objectification in other species isn't really an important means of understanding the behavior of "sex-positive" dudes (and everyone else). It also includes those who would try to use science to invalidate all other sources of knowledge. As a woman of color, I have seen how whites and their western culture tries to invalidate anything it can't co-opt, so I have no desire to see all the other "authorities" kept out of the equation when we (people) are trying to determine what is and isn't "true".

I don’t particularly like Foucault, but that idea is present in a lot of his work.

Nor do I. I don't need any white man's opinion in order for me to understand science and it's implications. If we're going to criticize white male dominance, then I think it would be a great start if we stopped looking to them for guidance about what philosophical theories we should believe in. But hey, I guess that's just the womanist in me.

We might define the true source of knowledge for ourselves, but our definitions are heavily influenced by forces that exist before we develop critical thinking ability.

This is too, true! I think it can be easier to see how others are influenced by dominant forces than it is to see how we are influenced by it. For instance, it might be easier for you to see if I have a bias that favors empiricism and it might be easier for me to see if you have a bias that favors white, Western culture.

You are off topic and boorish.

Boorish? Have I hurt your feelings or sensitivities in some way?

She wouldn't post what I wrote to her but she responded to it here.

This has been quite an interesting exchange, interesting and amusing.

Nine Deuce = Science Fail

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ginmar the Religious Fundamentalist

So, there was this really awesome woman who makes her living as a sex worker. She had a blog where she talked about her life, which consisted of a lot more than just her job. One day, on that blog, she mentioned the fact that she has had the rather painful experience of getting her nose broken. Of those four times, none of them were related to her job as a sex worker. However, one of these times was the result of being a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her (female) partner. Fortunately, her job as a sex worker provided her with the funds to escape from her abusive partner and, to me, that is a very good thing.

Fast forward to today. On a certain completely unrelated blog, someone decided to claim that the above awesome woman had her nose broken because she is a sex worker. Can you see the difference between the two versions? The person who experienced it expressed what happened to her. The other person--who has never even been in the same room as the woman--read about what happened to her and then claimed that this abuse was a result of being a sex worker.

Now, even without the names, I think it's pretty easy to see that there is something very wrong with a person who would blame a woman for being the victim of domestic violence. Now, what if this very same individual was a self-identified "radical feminist"? Would that make their "blame the victim" tactics any more excusable or would it add an extra layer of hypocrisy to the already unethical (and disgusting) behavior?

Now that you know the facts, you're ready to hear the details:

I love how the truth changes when it suits people...

You know, coming from a fundamentalist cult background as I do, when I read Ginmar's comments, I was more than a little taken aback by how what she said is the exact same argument they used to exert control over women's behavior:

If you're not engaging in behavior that supports the group's cause, then whatever negative thing that befalls you is the result of your disobedience to the rules for proper conduct. I just wanted to point that out.

kthxbai

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Disney's Frog Princess Controversy, A Black Girl Child's Perspective


In "Disney, blackness, gender, princess=reserve judgement for now" La Chola writes about the latest controversy/issues regarding Disney's plan to add an African-American to its' Disney Princesses line. The "Frog Princess" is the tentative title of an animated movie set in New Orleans during the 1920s, the height of the Jazz era. The lead character is a nineteen year old African-American girl named Tiana. Recently, the storyline has been amended due to some criticism of how the new princess was to be depicted.

La Chola writes,
Is New Orleans the only place in the world where a black princess could possibly exist in the U.S. imagination (and please, try to tell me that the story wouldn’t have had something to do with the “secretly she’s not a slave, she’s an African princess who was wrongly kidnapped and isn’t that terrible, oh, and too bad so sad for all the non-princess little girl slaves who, sadly, were rightfully enslaved” story line)?
In the comments section of La Chola's post, Chuckie K wrote about an example of the renaissance of black stereotypes that took place in an episode of the show "Psyche". That reminds me of the "Pushing Daisies" show where the black sidekick of the main character (a white male crime solver with the power to temporarily resurrect the dead) is often freaking out and becoming scared and making the stereotypical bug-eyed look of fright whenever something strange happens. I don't know if I believe these are really signs of a renaissance, though. These stereotypes have never disappeared. I mean, has there ever been a period in American entertainment where blacks weren't depicted this way?

You know, I understand why a lot of people of color are concerned about the possibility that the Frog Princess may also wind up doing the same thing. As a mother of a girl child, I really don't need another movie to shield my child from lest she internalize the racist depictions in it. God knows I did my absolute best to stop my child from seeing the Disney Pocahontas movie. The outrageously racist movie was made worse because, unlike the other "princesses", Pocahontas was a real person whose life was completely re-written into a form that was much more palatable for whites. To this day, whenever The German and VanGoghGirl want to get me riled up, they needle me about how much I hate that movie.

Still, I have to deal with the fact that my nieces are crazy about the Disney Princesses. They regularly request the toys and books for holidays and birthdays. I would love so much for there to be a black princess to choose from if I'm going to give in to their Disney desires. Of course, I'm from New Orleans so I'm actually delighted by the idea of her being from here. We have a rich African-American heritage and it deserves to the subject of a fairy tale about a black girl from that period. This is a place of enchantment. Sure there are lots of other places in America that a black character could depicted as residing but there are no other cities where hundreds of years of black culture, black spirituality, black cuisine, and black music is more integrated and celebrated and preserved than in New Orleans.

I vehemently disagree with this comment mentioned on La Chola's post:
“For one, this princess’ story is set in New Orleans, the setting of one of the most devastating tragedies to beset a black community. And then they throw in the voodoo theme and an alligator sidekick. When you put New Orleans, alligators and voodoo together, there’s no beauty there.”
New Orleans is and will always be so-oo-oo much more than "the setting of one of the most devastating tragedies to beset a black community". To constantly associate us and our city with devastation means that one has very little understanding of this community.

I grew up in the city of New Orleans. During that time I've lived on both sides of the river, and opposite ends of the city. Everywhere I've lived, wild life has been a constant presence. When I lived on the west bank, whenever it rained, the snakes would come out and slither down the streets. When I lived on the east bank, out in New Orleans east (a predominantly black part of city), we had more raccoons and possums rooting through our garbage than I could even count. In the local park (Joe Brown park) where baseball and basketball games were held and picnics and wedding receptions took place, there were ALWAYS alligators being spotted sunning themselves. You just called Louisiana Wildlife Services and they'd come out and deal with removing the animal if it was a really big gator. Otherwise, you just left it alone and it left you alone. No big deal!

With regards to the voodoo elements, any depiction of New Orleanian culture that didn't touch on voodoo isn't going to be complete. I'd like to see any references to it done in a balanced manner that recognizes it as a kind of spirituality and, as such, can be used in a positive way or, as with any religion, the practitioner can choose to try to use it maliciously.

The idea that there is nothing beautiful about the combination of New Orleans, alligators, and voodoo is more than a bit insulting, in my opinion. This is our culture. These things are our cultural markers. There is no reason why their depiction should be seen as a negative.

All of the comments I've seen about this come from people who are adults and non-New Orleanians, so I decided to get a different perspective by asking VanGoghGirl about her opinion of the story and the criticisms of it. This is what she had to say:


I personally don't think that Disney shouldn't have revised the original story. it wasn't racist in the least bit to me. i believe that it not only told a story but it told history, and race is a big issue in history. Also the people who criticized the story didn't have right to do that because it's not there history. If they new the real New Orleans and not just what they see in brochures they wouldn't have thought it was racist and Disney wouldn't had to do any unnecessary revisions.

I do like the style of animation very much. I appreciate that the artists gave her black girl features without making her looking too outrageous. I think that it will be easier for girls, not just from New Orleans, to relate to her because of the fact that she is way more modern then the other princesses. I mean, what little girl doesn't want to be a Disney princess? I know I always did, but Cinderella was to white, Belle was too much of a freak ( for dating an animal ), Snow White was too hard headed, and Arielle was too fishy. Now there's a princess just like me. Were both American girls-actually people from Louisiana are more French, Black, and Spanish than any thing- we both have curly hair, and we both love jazz. The only difference is that I'm lighter than her, which leads me my last point: instead of making the princess an ultra light color brown they made her BLACK, no doubt about it! I only hope there will be more black female characters like her !!


My New Orleanian Princess


This is no stereotype. This is who we are.

Overheard Elsewhere III

Jill and Robyn (and many other people at this event, but I want to focus on these two right now) empower me and encourage me to be a better sex workers rights activist for damn sure. Their bravery and compassion are really inspiring, so yeah, all the shit they’ve taken from so many people, for so many reasons? It’s exactly that: shit. Is the world a better place for having women like them in it? You bet your ass and a pair of snakeskin boots it is.

And you know, when I look at some of this other shit, for a second, I do think maybe they are just jealous. Not because of looks, or money, or power, or any of that shit, but because of solid, true allies and sisters like these.
by Renegade Evolution on Something Wicked This Way Comes! Maybe They’re Just Jealous!

Ridicule of African American and Latino (or other Americans of color) names and language or accent is usually racist because it has meaning only if one knows the underlying racist stereotypes and images. While it may appear to some relatively harmless, social science research shows that such mocking enables whites to support traditional hierarchies of racial privilege without seeming to be racist in the old-fashioned, blatant sense. Researcher Rosina Lippi-Green has noted, such mocking shows a “general unwillingness to accept the speakers of that language and the social choices they have made as viable and functional…. We are ashamed of them, and because they are part of us, we are ashamed of ourselves.” Language mocking and subordination are not about standards for speaking as much as about determining that some people are not worth listening to and treating as equals.
by Joe R. Feagin on Mocking Black Names in Covina: How “Liberal” are Our Youth?

The problem is said to be that many of us are too black. (Here I note that any marginalized group can fill in the blank of too “______ “- too brown, too gay, too female, too poor, too disabled… you get the picture. But for here I want to go with black.) We refuse to get rid of this blackness. Oh, we will try to tone it down, hide it, even denounce it when we see others being it - this black that is so offensive to this country, that, as Pat Buchanan has so charmingly put it; has been the best thing that has happened to black people.
But even if we refuse to own the blackness, or the whatever-ness, chances are high that sooner or later it will out. Some of us will bleach our skin, and straighten our hair and go under the knife so that our hips and thighs and noses and lips are not so offensively full. We will learn to modulate the tone of our voices and cultivate a manner of speaking that will make you wonder when you talk to us on the phone … so that we can get the job interview, but we know that when we show up the jig is up.
But some of us… some of us refuse to go along, either from the start, or eventually. Maybe it’s strategic, maybe we just don’t know better, maybe we just don’t care. We don’t talk right, we don’t dress right, we don’t live in the right neighborhoods, we don’t eat the right foods, we don’t go to the right churches - if we go to church at all. We don’t give our kids the right names. We refuse to let go of our blackness. It is in the way we walk and the way we laugh, the way we love and the way we die.
by Harrietsdaughter on Identity and Living Into Truth

Snickers: Hate Crimes Are Just So Ha-Ha Funny

Hat tip to Harrietsdaughter



You're kidding me! Please tell me I did not just see what the hell I thought I saw. This is outrageous! When I saw it I thought to myself, "Are you kidding me? Who would think that depicting hate crimes is a great way to make people want to buy your candy bar?", then I realized that, for a great number of people, the idea of "teaching people a lesson" when they don't conform to gender role expectations seems perfectly okay and maybe even just what they deserve. As if all that wasn't bad enough, the commercial also uses the stereotypical depiction of black men as ultra-violent victimizers of helpless white people too.

If you have a problem with this commercial, please consider giving the Mars Company a piece of your mind by clicking on the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page on their website.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Survivor's Guilt

I haven't been blogging very much lately. Since the last appointment with my oncologist where we discussed my prognosis, I've been trying to work through a lot of emotions that I'm not sure what to do with. Even though those I've told have been really excited for me, I've been really reluctant to share the news with everyone in my life. I don't know...It's kind of strange. I'm really struggling with what to do with the knowledge that I might not die soon while still dealing with the everyday reality of still being disabled.

I don't know how to handle the fact that I may live while many of those around me will die. Being one of the incurable/terminal cancer folks is kind of an elite group among those in my support group. I'm still not curable but maybe I'm not in the same category as those who are incurable and on the fast track to the Great Beyond. Am I being ejected from my seat? Do I now have more in common with the folks who are potentially curable? What do I say to my cancer family, "Sorry, I just got a reprieve, so I'm going to go on with my life while you contemplate your impending death"?


Sarah Mclachlan singing "I Will Remember You"


I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin’ in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Standin’ on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to loose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Weep not for the memories

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday, Madiba!







Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Picture description: There are four pictures of Nelson Mandela. The first picture is of Mandela and his wife Winnie. In the second one Mandela sits in a metal lawn chair while smiling. The third picture shows him standing in his prison cell looking out of the window through bars. The last picture shows the front page of the London Herald newspaper with a headline that reads "Nelson Mandela Freed".


Quotes:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people, I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Does anybody really think that they didn't get what they had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment?

I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.

Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Off Our Backs or Out Of Business?


I just found out from The F Word that the venerable bastion of transphobic, biphobic and ablist writing that it is Off "Our Backs" may soon have to stop publishing due to financial problems.

Personally, I am absolutely delighted at the possibility of hearing that the death knell might soon be sounding for "Off Our Backs". In almost every transphobic theory, there's also a great big dose of ablism to go with it and oftentimes there a bunch of classist assumptions, too.

Off Our Backs could easily accomplish the positive things it had to offer without de-legitimizing so many women's lives and experiences. Maybe, just maybe, if they hadn't alienated so many women, there would still be more people interested in keeping it alive. I don't have a lot of funds to send to all of the organizations that I admire, so I'd rather support those that don't actively work against the other things I believe in.

I can't wait to pull out the PatrĂ³n and have a nice toast to its end. May it come sooner than later!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Press One for Ignorance



What an ode to ignorance! I think we should remind the English-only bigots that people have been speaking multiple languages in this country since before the first Europeans ever stumbled onto these shores.

If you refuse to learn anything other than English, then that's your business but it doesn't mean that everyone else should cater to your choice. There's a reason why this nation's forefathers never made English the official language. Do yourself a favor and figure out why that was! Ignorance isn't a virtue.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Oh Noez, Moms Let Their Daughters Hear From Sex Workers!

Won't someone think of the children?!!

This comment was left on Renegade Evolution's blog a few days ago by someone calling herself "RealWorldGirl":

It flabbergasts me that people here comment about reading something you've written to or letting their daughters read your blog. Even when you do write something worthwhile (I'll have to admit your sex education posts were good), I don't see holding up the rantings of a self-proclaimed filthy whore as great for young women as a good idea. Don't young women see enough surgically enhanced bodies and hear enough messages about how fab being a slut is without having their parents shoving some hookers blog in their face? Do you think you might actually convince the world that Gonzo porn or whatever is something wonderful? That watching women get dicks shoved in every hole they have and slapped, choked, gagged, spit on, and sworn at is just fine and good clean fun? You can save the speech about how that's not all porn, because that is the kind you do, watch and spend money on? Sure, sure, you consent to it and have agency or whatever and no you don't make anyone else do it but come on, that kind of stuff is pure crap and you know it. There is nothing empowering about images of women splayed open or gaping or whatever. There's nothing cool about being or furthering the image of women as fuckable pieces of meat. Even you can see sexism in the world and apparently it bothers you, but what you do enables that directly and you know it. You can write thousands of posts about strong women, choice, education, sex workers rights and seeing the humanity in people, but not one of them will ever come close to negating the other image you put out there, the one where the only things that matter are breast size, a flat stomach, and the willingness to get used sexually by men. You know that too. I bet you don't have nearly as many hits on your blog as there are on whatever porn sites you are on, so more people are certainly seeing Ren being a "Worthless slut" than Ren being a thinking, full person. In fact, I find you of all people talking about "everyday sexism" a complete insult because you personally help fuel and feed the attitudes and industries that normalize it. The guys honking at you while you're running are the same guys who jerk off to women like you getting gangbanged or stuff money in your g-string. You know that too. You don't get to have it both ways, Ren.
Once again we find someone completely unable to deal with the fact that the whole world doesn't see her opinions as the gospel truth. Did you notice how many times she feels the need to say "You know it too" and "You know that too"? She has no facts to back up her claims, so she has to resort to just claiming that everything she says is self-evident. Well, I've got news for her. What we know is that her opinion is nothing more than that.

I've been reading Ren's blog for a long time and I am among the mothers who have read some of her writings with their daughter(s). Yeah, that's right. I've let my daughter read some of Renegade Evolution's blog posts. VanGoghGirl and I sat down and read some of Ren's sex ed posts together and discussed what it said. She agreed with a lot of it but--surprise, surprise!--she even disagreed with some of the stuff that I agreed with. Imagine that! A girl under 18 years old who can make up her own mind and form her own values and knows how to tell the difference between what sort of behaviors adults are free to engage in and what sort children might be wise to avoid until they are older!

For the record, my daughter is a professional artist and has been one since she was in elementary school. She's been drawing pictures of naked bodies of all types since she first got the dexterity to hold a crayon. As a still-developing artist, she has had a collection of manuals, commentaries, textbooks and models that she uses and refers to often. I suspect that many other young artists collect books and pictures about their craft if they can afford to do so (these materials can get pricey).

Here's why I bring that up: Her art books contain more naked tits and butts than Renegade Evolution's blog features. In her books, I've seen pictures of perky naked young ballet dancers, pictures of naked, rubenesque women and very heavy-set men well past their middle-ages. She has pictures of partially unclothed people embracing, people lying in repose and pictures of full body nudes, front and back. Some of them even feature pictures of just boobies or booties without a body attached to them. That's right! I actually let my daughter look at depictions of breasts and penises without informing her of how bad she should, supposedly, feel about her body after doing so. Quelle horreur!

Curiously, do you know what has been the outcome of letting her see all those naked bodies from a young age and not freaking out if she wanted to study one? Well, the result has been that she's never exhibited any difficulty with understanding the difference between everyday life and entertainment. What pisses her off is when adults treat her as if she's too stupid to be able to look at a visual and evaluate it without feeling the need to just go out and imitate what's depicted on/in it.

Also, contrary to what RealWorldGirl claims, many girls find the idea of controlling what they can do with their body to be quite empowering. I make it a point to tell VanGoghGirl that I'd support and love her just as much no matter what she chooses to do with her life and her body. And what does she fantasize about doing to her body when she grows up? It's not getting breast implants and straightening her hair so that she can look like those in stereotypical porn. She wants tattoos and piercings and maybe dreadlocks. Now, for all of the nakedness VanGoghGirl has been allowed to view, she still doesn't show any desire to conform to what this society considers "conventionally attractive". So where is the damage? What horrible thing was supposed to result from allowing my daughter to read the words of a woman who spends a great deal of time talking about how women should do what makes them happy and comfortable with their bodies?

Edited to add:

These are a few of Ren's posts that I think mothers and daughters might be interested in using to spark discussion about sexuality issues:

what in the hell? talk about "think of the children..."

Blogging for Sex Education!!!!

If you could wave a magic wand...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Esmin Green's Death on a Hospital Floor

My God, this is horrendous! Stephen Kusisto over at Planet of the Blind has written about a woman with disabilities who died on the waiting room floor at Kings County Hospital Center Psychiatric Emergency Department after being admitted a full 24 hours before her death. The whole scene was caught on the hospital's video cameras and the Associated Press has a clip of it that shows the woman's last few minutes alive.

Esmin Green was the forty-nine year old woman of color who had been admitted to King's County Hospital and, a day later, died there. This woman was in the prime of her life but she was left to die as hospital staff watched her collapse on the floor face-first. They watched her crawl and moan for HOURS and they did nothing to help her. No one even helped her up. There were other people in the waiting room, including hospital security guards, but even they did nothing to help Esmin.

In the video, she can be seen scrawling a message on the floor trying to communicate in some way. God only knows how terrifying it must have been for/to her, knowing that she was in a hospital and watching as people let her die right before their eyes. This is the sort of treatment that they thought she deserved. This is what goes on in psychiatric departments all around the country.

I was once admitted to our public hospital's psychiatric ward. I had a bad reaction when my Prednisone dosage was increased which exacerbated my schizophrenia causing me to have a "break" that lasted several days. As a result, I do not fully remember the first few days of my stay at the hospital. When my symptoms were back under control, I realized that, during those first days, other patients had raided my room and stolen my clothes. Though food was put in front of me, the other patients were allowed to take my food, so no one knew if I had eaten or not. This is how the hospital staff felt I deserved to be treated. Why? Simply because I was a patient there.

The medical examiner's office still hasn't released a cause of death for Esmin Green. It may be that her psychiatric symptoms were signs that something was wrong and she was in need of help...but maybe that's too much to ask of people who are being paid to do just that.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Don't Call Me "Differently Abled". Just Don't, Okay?

Picture description: The handicap symbol (of a person in a wheelchair) with the question "Does this symbol make me look "differently abled?" written beneath it.

I have seen the term "differently abled" used time and time again in conversations with non-disabled people. I'll use the term "disabled" to refer to me and my fellow sisters and brothers PWD and, in return, the non-disabled person will refer to us as "differently abled". It's quite maddening, really. I get the impression that they do that as some attempt to be polite, so I decided to write this to explain to all my non-disabled friends and acquaintances about why "differently abled" isn't how we tend to refer to ourselves and why it simply makes them seem a bit out of touch with PWD realities when they use it.

Contrary to what you may think, many PWD see the use of "differently abled" as much more insulting than "disabled". The two terms are not interchangeable. Many non-disabled people tend to be confused about what the term "disabled" means. It doesn't have anything to do with what the PWD is actually able to do. It refers to the way that society limits certain kinds of people from being fully included within it, specifically those whose bodies are perceived as being deficient, inferior or abnormal. In fact, we all have different ways of doing things but only some of those ways of doing things are categorized as "alternative". The term "differently abled" is just another way of hierarchizing PWD lives as somehow abnormal.

The term "disabled" recognizes that the problem isn't with how our bodies work. The problem lies with how some societies are unwilling to acknowledge that every kind of body is just as normal as any other. Sign language isn't a "different" way of speaking. It's a language just like any other. Using wheelchairs isn't a "different" way of traveling. It's simply one way of getting from point A to point B.

This ends today's lesson in PWD realities. Study it all this week. You may be tested on it the next time you're in a conversation with a PWD who isn't nearly as fond of explaining this stuff as I am.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Meals on Wheels Cutbacks Means More Seniors Will Starve

All around the country, Meals on Wheels programs are being forced to decrease the number of people and meals that they serve due to gas price increases and the skyrocketing price of food. Ideally, these food delivery programs would supply food to everyone who is homebound but, even before the current problems began, service was limited to those sixty years old and above.

I wonder if most people really understand what cutbacks in Meals on Wheels services will mean. This isn't just some nice little extra food that communities offer to a few older people. For many people, this is the only food they eat each week. Have you ever survived off of one meal per day? Have you ever had to survive off of one meal per day for several years? What about if you had to do it for a couple of decades? The toll that this takes on a person is immeasurable.

Many of those who do rely on Meals on Wheels must do so because they have disabilities that make it impossible for them to go out and purchase and/or prepare their own food. In this situation, even if you qualify for the food stamp program, you may still starve because the program makes no arrangements for those who are homebound.

I remember when I was completely homebound and had to have everything prepared for and served to me. If it weren't for the fact that I had The German here, I would have been in the same situation as many of the senior citizens who rely on Meals on Wheels.

It was extremely frightening to think about how the only thing standing between me and life-threatening starvation was the fact that The German was physically capable of and willing to care for me. Since his accident and the resulting brain and back injury, he has had to deal with his own disabilities and mine. I don't know what we'd do if one or both of us required the kind of care that I needed for several years. Even though the amount of assistance that I need has decreased dramatically, as he and I get older, the likelihood that we may face such a scenario will increase. For many older couples and individuals, this is a reality that they are currently trying to deal with.

I can't even begin to explain how bitter I am when I think about how this country is willing to allow people to die from starvation and how that starvation will severely affect people with disabilities in particular.

Articles on Meals on Wheels Cutbacks

In Ohio:
"Fuel prices are forcing Meals on Wheels programs in Hocking and Athens counties to reduce the daily delivery of some hot meals, as well as what is the only contact some elderly clients have with the outside. Beginning Monday, both counties will deliver hot meals only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, along with frozen meals for clients Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similar changes might happen in the next year for the nearly 3,000 people served in Franklin and Madison counties if prices continue to rise."

In Hawai'i:
"Hawai'i's largest Meals on Wheels program expects to cut 233 O'ahu senior citizens from its home-delivery food service in three weeks because extra state money it has relied on for years will dry up next month."

In Texas:
"Fancier entrees, like tilapia and roast beef, are gone. And some clients who who used to get a fresh, hot meal every day, will soon get all their food delivered on one day: one hot meal and four frozen ones to last them the rest of the week. On weekends they have to find their own food."

In Michigan:
"In Detroit, shut-in seniors on the waiting list for federally subsidized hot meals face a harsh reality: They won’t get help unless someone currently in the program drops out or dies. Some seniors have been waiting for more than a year."

Home Again

Well, we're back from our trip. Actually, we go back on Sunday night but it took me a few days to recuperate. It was a wonderful trip. I have a lot to say about what I saw but it's going to take me a few more days to process it all.