Thursday, September 27, 2007

The 80's, and other early harbingers of the Apocalypse

So, because I like to torture myself, and have recently given up one of my favorite pastimes for Yom Kippur or Lent or something, I have turned to the never-fail method of Really Bad Music Videos.

Invisible Woman
, bless her, is right there with the bad 80's nostalgia trip. Thanks to her, I found myself watching this video by Vanity again and again:

(embedding disabled, which is probably a blessing, really)

Oh, I'm not saying it isn't the best song/video about money shots ever to be represented with feathers and giant glasses full of styrofoam peanuts. Just: well, the hair! the shoulders! the hair! the shiny! the burpy synthesizer! the gauzy floaty things! the Pretension! the HAIR!...

there was a lot of that about, sadly.

someone! left the wedding cake out!@ in the rain! apparently fatally. bummer, dude.

But Wait! There's More!

feel the PAIN:

So, today's boybands make you writhe and twitch uncontrollably, do they? Well, listen up, l'il missy: -this- is what SOME of us were subjected to in our tender youth:

Oh yeah, that's right: FEAR the fedoras. and the SKIPPING OF DOOM.

But the very best song and/or video of the era, and possibly ever, I still think, has to be this:


Dude. I don't remember Bill sounding that...-scary-.

h/t Kagro X via Left in the West.

Action alert: police violence against queer and trans folk in NYC

Via Angry Brown Butch, or go straight to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (same authors, Naomi and Jack)

On the night of Wednesday, September 26, officers from the 9th Precinct of the New York Police Department attacked without provocation members of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and of its community. Two of our community members were violently arrested, and others were pepper sprayed in the face without warning or cause.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is an organization that works on behalf of low-income people of color who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex, providing free legal services and advocacy among many other initiatives. On Wednesday night, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project was celebrating its fifth anniversary with a celebration and fundraising event at a bar in the East Village.

A group of our community members, consisting largely of queer and transgender people of color, witnessed two officers attempting to detain a young Black man outside of the bar. Several of our community members asked the officers why they were making the arrest and using excessive force. Despite the fact that our community was on the sidewalk, gathered peacefully and not obstructing foot traffic, the NYPD chose to forcefully grab two people and arrested them. Without warning, an officer then sprayed pepper spray across the group in a wide arc, temporarily blinding many and causing vomiting and intense pain.

"This is the sort of all-too-common police violence and overreaction towards people of color that happens all the time," said Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. "It's ironic that we were celebrating the work of an organization that specifically opposes state violence against marginalized communities, and we experienced a police attack at our celebration."

"We are outraged, and demand that our community members be released and the police be held accountable for unnecessary use of excessive force and falsely arresting people," Spade continued.

Damaris Reyes is executive director of GOLES, an organization working to preserve the Lower East Side. She commented, "I'm extremely concerned and disappointed by the 9th Precinct's response to the situation and how it escalated into violence. This kind of aggressive behavior doesn't do them any good in community-police relations."

Supporters will be gathering at 100 Centre Street tomorrow, where the two community members will be arraigned. The community calls for charges to be dropped and to demand the immediate release of those arrested.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Senate votes on Matthew Shepard hate crimes act tomorrow

Via HRC:

This afternoon, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), one of the lead sponsors of the Senate hate crimes bill, took to the Senate floor to urge the Senate to pass the hate crimes bill (S. 1105) and for President Bush to sign the legislation into law. Earlier today, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a cloture motion on the hate crimes bill, a procedural move to overcome Senator McCain's objection to bringing the amendment to the floor. Our side must achieve 60 votes on the cloture motion to win; that vote is scheduled for Thursday. The Senate should then move towards passages of the hate crimes bill as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.

Senator Kennedy's prepared statement on the Senate floor can be read here.

You can contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill here. At this point, a phone call is probably best. Find your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

or, here's another good starting place.


Via Black Amazon,

White supremacist backlash builds over Jena case

HOUSTON - No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.

First a neo-Nazi Web site posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six black teenagers and their families at the center of the Jena 6 case and urged followers to find them and "drag them out of the house," prompting an investigation by the FBI.

Then the leader of a white supremacist group in Mississippi published interviews that he conducted with the mayor of Jena and the white teenager who was attacked and beaten, allegedly by the six black youths. In those interviews, the mayor, Murphy McMillin, praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counterdemonstrations; the teenager, Justin Barker, urged white readers to "realize what is going on, speak up and speak their mind."...

Quote of the day, 9/26/07

"...Poor old gentleman!" she said to the old man. "Mrs. Archer is certainly not going to let you leave here without a full meal inside of you."

Mrs. Archer looked doubtful. "I have some eggs," she said...

"I would rather not trouble you," the old man said to Mrs. Archer.

"Nonsense," Kathy said. "We've got to see that you get a good hot meal to go on with." She took Mrs. Archer's arm and began to walk her out to the kitchen. "Just some eggs," she said. "Fry four or five...I'll tell you, fry up a few potatoes too. He won't care if they're half-raw. These people eat things like heaps of fried potatoes and eggs and..."

..."Kathy," [Mrs. Archer] said, "I'm just a little worried. If he really is drunk, I mean, and if Jim should hear about it, with the baby here and everything..."

"Why, Jean!" Kathy said. "You should live out in the country for a while, I guess. Women always give out meals to starving men. And you don't need to tell Jim. Blanche and I certainly won't say anything."

"Well" said Mrs. Archer, "you're sure he isn't drunk?"

"I know a starving man when I see one," Kathy said. "When an old man like that can't stand up and his hands shake and he looks so funny, that means he's starving to death. Literally starving."

"Oh my!" said Mrs. Archer. She hurried to the cupboard under the sink and took out two potatoes. Two enough, do you think? I guess we're really doing a good deed."

Kathy giggled. "Just a bunch of Girl Scouts," she said...

...Then Kathy came, leading the old man by the arm. "There," she said. "Now, Mrs. Archer's fixed you a lovely hot meal."

The old man looked at Mrs. Archer. "I'm very grateful," he said.

"Isn't that nice!" Kathy said. She nodded approvingly at Mrs. Archer...

..."What's your name?" Kathy asked.

"O'Flaherty, Madam. John O'Flaherty."

"Well, John," Kathy said, "I am Miss Valentine, and this lady is Mrs. Archer and the other is Mrs. Corn."

"How do you do?" the old man said.

"I gather you're from the old country," Kathy said.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Irish, aren't you?" Kathy said.

"I am, Madam." The old man plunged the fork into one of the eggs and watched the yolk run onto the plate. "I knew Yeats," he said suddenly.

"Really?" Kathy said, leaning forward. "Let me see--he was the writer, wasn't he?"

"Come out of charity, come dance with me in Ireland," the old man said. He rose and, holding onto the chair back, bowed solemnly to Mrs. Archer. "Thank you again, Madam, for your generosity." He turned and started for the front door. The three women got up and followed him.

"But you didn't finish," Mrs. Corn said.

"The stomach," the old man said, "as this lady has pointed out, shrinks. Yes indeed," he went on reminiscently, "I knew Yeats..."

...Then he turned and thumbed his nose at Mrs. Corn. "I hate old women," he said.

"Well!" said Mrs. Corn faintly.

"I may have imbibed somewhat freely," the old man said to Mrs. Archer, "but I never served bad sherry to my guests. We are of different worlds, Madam."

"Didn't I tell you?" Mrs. Corn was saying. "Haven't I been telling you all along?"

Mrs. Archer, her eyes on Kathy, made a tentative motion of pushing the old man through the door, but he forestalled her.

"Come dance with me in Ireland," he said. Supporting himself against the wall, he reached the outer door and opened it. "And time runs on," he said.

--Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some excerpts from the ongoing discussions at "Bound, Not Gagged" no particular order:

Where are the answers to three vital questions from anti sex industry activitists?
Posted on September 19, 2007 by jillbrenneman

Question 1. Both Ren Ev and I have repeatedly asked radical feminist anti prostitution activists three questions and never get answers to them. Question 1 is if you advocate abolishing the sex industry what is your plan to do this, how will you achieve it, what happens to the sex workers that are currently in the sex industry and when will it be accomplished? To be this dedicated to the concept of abolition someone must have a strategic plan. What is it?

Question 2, I have made repeated requests to radical feminists that we try to drop the acrimony and work on issues we both can agree on. Is it so awful to work with actual sex workers that you can’t work with us? Wouldn’t it be more prudent and helpful to all if you found out what we really advocate rather than obsessing on Larry Flynt, Nevada Brothels and abusive pimps, issues that the vast majority of swr activists are actually working on? Why fight us when there are actual abusers and abuses we could ally with each other to combat.

Question 3. Why does everything have to be analyzed for faults if relayed by sex worker rights activists? I discussed the very anti prostitution org in Minneapolis called Women’s Recovery Center as one I have worked with in the projects development and support and send referrals even now. And all that came was condemnation of this program from radical feminists with factual misrepresentations of WRC not offering psychological assistance to exiting sex workers. Which is perhaps a weakness in their website because they do offer it. Why are they considered a poor resource even though the project is radical feminist? Is it just because they don’t hate SWOP East and still work with us thus they are collaborators with the enemy? If this is the case it is a very sad statement. That some/many rad fems are far more interested in politics and war with sex worker rights activists than actual work. This is 2007, not 1967. Militancy had a very important place in the sixties and seventies. Without it feminism wouldn’t have been successful. But this is 2007. Times have changed. Methods need to also.

Please, I would like answers to my questions. Ren would too.

From 'Speaking of Being Privileged...'

swoplv, on September 20th, 2007 at 4:39 pm Said:

Ya know, we count among our allies 60,000 sex workers in Sonagachi, India, as well as many other large groups of rather poor and certainly not privileged sex workers in India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, and so on and so on.

They fully support our efforts, as their lives are most poignantly affected by the Bush Administration’s policies against prostitution.

karlykirchner, on September 20th, 2007 at 6:10 pm Said:

For some of us, doing sex work IS a privilege.

I bought my computer with money that I earned as a sex worker, I pay my DSL bill with money earned in sex work, I pay the tuition on classes where I learned how to use my computer with money from sex work and I support organizations that make computers and other resources available to less privileged sex workers with money from sex work.

I consider my ability to do sex work a privilege that gives me access to the tools necessary to make the world a better place, not just for sex workers, but for humanity (yes, it may come as a surprise to some, but sex workers do care about issues that reach far beyond debates at this blog.)

My privilege as a white woman is something that I was born with and I utilize it both as a sex worker and as an activist. However, economic privilege is something that developed because I CHOSE to do sex work.

Jo Weldon, on September 24th, 2007 at 10:19 am Said:

Well, the problem I have with being accused of having a privileged perspective, when it comes from hardline anti-prostitution feminists who claim that all prostitution is a form of rape, is 1) it’s an accusation, as if I somehow criminally assumed my privilege because I have no compassion for those who can’t assume privilege, and 2) it doesn’t jive with the idea that all sex work is a form of rape, since there is no privilege in being repeatedly raped, and I’m a sex worker.

I understand that privilege applies to a pre-existing set of circumstances and opportunities and not to the actual advantages it accrues to the holder of said privilege, but do they?

I believe that my privilege needs to be taken into account. I don’t , however, believe it invalidates every opinion I have about the issue. I also think it’s entirely relevant to the examination of sex work to consider the input of privileged workers, since their privilege does not automatically exempt them from many of the drawbacks of sex work, such as discrimination, threats of violence, acts of violence, arrest, having their children taken away, etc., etc. The fact that people of privilege can be discriminated against in this fashion because of their jobs is INFORMATION, which is what research is supposed to be gathering.

It may be that the methods of addressing these issues with regard to workers of relative privilege must differ from those used to address workers in less privileged conditions, which is the whole POINT. The whole freakin POINT is that there has to be more than one view of sex work and what it means to be a sex worker or to have sex workers in a community. The point isn’t that sex work is great. The point is that IT ISNT ALL THE SAME. Abolitionists do NOT get to represent the entire world’s population of sex workers, no matter how much extra funding that means they might get for their research, in which they explicitly exclude statistics about people who don’t find having done sex work to be entirely hideous.

And that means that dismissing their point of view when they are struggling with labor, safety, and social issues that affect them, their children, their families, and the communities around them, simply because they may get served more easily in restaurants which favor a clientele of their skin color, is very self-serving.

From Working together for effective solutions to trafficking and forced labor
Posted on September 23, 2007 by karlykirchner

josie, on September 19th, 2007 at 2:20 am Said:

“Karly, this is an issue I am deeply intereseted in. What should be the standard practice when dealing with trafficed women cuaght in raids? There are obviously going to be raids. And at least in Nevada, there are many undocumented people caught up in them.

So what should be done? Obviously ICE is not the answer. We can’t just send them back to their trafficker. So what is the human standard of care here? Anyone?”

Hi Josie, thanks for posting this question. It seems important, so I decided to make it a whole new thread.

Since I am a US-based worker, I cannot speak from personal experience about what trafficking victims go through before, during or after raids. For information, I look to trusted organizations such as:

The Network of Sex Work Projects

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

EMPOWER, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Zi Teng, Hong Kong

And there are many others. These are just examples to get you started.

This article provides a chronological explanation of how money for trafficking is routed in the US. It highlights the problem of using un-scientific and exaggerated figures to quantify the problem of trafficking. Using these figures dilutes the real problems of trafficking that exist, focuses energy on punishment rather than services and wrongfully discriminates against women who travel here from other countries, even if not for sex work or any other labor.

From my perspective, even one case of sexual exploitation is too much and something should be done about it. But one instance of abuse does not mean that all sex work is abusive. Sex workers should be seen as allies in this fight. We need real solutions that provide assistance and support to people who are actually in need, rather than money being funneled through law enforcement agencies. The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in NYC provides legal support and assistance with immigration paperwork/T visas/etc. I would check them out for info about the actual practical details of assisting an identified trafficking victim. These efforts require money, but the money available for this work comes with all sorts of strings attached. Here is a statement from SWP:

Statement on Trafficking in Persons for the 51st Session of the Commission for the Status of Women on the “elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.”

We recommend a realistic and effective policy model on human trafficking and prostitution, which would include:

• Training people who work in all industries where trafficking occurs to identify and aid trafficked persons;

• Enforcement of laws against assault, extortion and other human rights abuses committed against trafficked persons and sex workers;

• Access to comprehensive health care, education, and opportunities to seek a living wage in adulthood for all girl children;

• Removal of harsh immigration policies that exacerbate the vulnerabilities of those who are susceptible to being trafficked;

• Reform the criminal justice response to prostitution, as harsh systems increase vulnerability for trafficking and other abuses;

• Training in business and money management;

• Reductions in social stigmas that often prohibit sex workers from moving into other forms of labor if they want to do so; and

• Education and empowerment for sex workers on ways to prevent the spread of HIV.

willow, on September 25th, 2007 at 2:00 am Said:

The lack of compassion for victims of sex trafficking here is appalling. Why is it so important to you to minimize it? Is it because it would force you to look at the fact that your johns are assholes who don’t care where that 16 year old Korean girl came from? Does that mess with your fantasy of the sweet lovable john?

Are some of you traffickers? Or pimps who make money on the backs of those trafficked women and children? What the hell is your motivation?

Do you honestly think they all WANT to come here and are using “sex work” as an immigration vehicle?

Being kidnapped and repeatedly raped is not “work” or “choice” or “a legitimate option for poor women.” I would expect to find a little more compassion here and a plan of action to help the victims.

Is your entire agenda just to attack Farley? You have nothing else to offer? Nothing that can help real women…today?

staceyswimme, on September 25th, 2007 at 10:04 am Said:

Willow, you may need to re-read this post, and the rest of this site for that matter. Nobody here has sympathy for anybody who would force women into sexual servitude. This post actually outlines resources for trafficking victims and the positions that an organization that actually works directly with trafficking victims has on this issue. Perhaps you should follow the links and see what services SWP actually provides.

None of us are traffickers or pimps- although that seems to be the favorite accusation of abolitionists when you don’t have any better grounds to attack us on.

Our agenda is not to attack Farley, had you read through this site at all, you’d see that it is about a lot more than that. Challenging Farley’s unsubstantiated claims are a current topic of discussion.


karlykirchner, on September 25th, 2007 at 12:43 pm Said:

Gosh, it seems the more diplomatic and open we are, the more folks respond with anger and hostility.

I made this post in part to give kudos to some folks who are doing good work. And in part to make the point that blaming sex workers for the existing problems with human trafficking does nothing to assist the people who are actually being trafficked- ACCORDING TO the people who actually provide direct services to victims of trafficking, not just numbers and statistics used by ‘researchers’ and lobbying groups.

Willow, you’re new here and haven’t actually had a chance to engage with us. I’m sure if you hang out for long enough you’ll find that we have very common goals that we should be working on together.

sexworkeradvocate, on September 25th, 2007 at 3:52 pm Said:

Willow, just because we support the right of sex workers to cross borders legally and safely doesn’t mean that we lack compassion for trafficking victims.

The conflation of all migrant sex work with trafficking actually makes workers in the sex industry more vulnerable to trafficking and other abuses that occur on the illegal market. If sex workers had the opportunity to cross borders safely and legally, they would have no need for traffickers to sneak them over the border for thousands of dollars. They would at least have legally recognized labor rights and perpetrators of violence could no longer use the criminalization of these sex workers as a tool to get away with abusing them, hold them in debt bondage, or cheat them out of pay. under the criminalization of prostitution, the pepetrators can threaten to turn sex workers into authorities in order to silence them and get away with such abuses as the ones described above. Migrant sex workers face the additional fear of deportation.

Also, in response to your comment that our clients “are assholes who don’t care where a 16 year old Korean girl came from,” are you trying to say that all Korean sex workers are trafficking victims? If so, this is a very xenophobic attitude that has resulted in many sex workers who came to the U.S. from South Korea being subject to raids, arrests, and deportations. Is that your idea of compassion?

Also, you didn’t mention how U.S. pressure on South Korea to enforce prohibitionist policies against prostitution has resulted in mass arrests of prostitutes in South Korea and thus, numerous South Korean sex workers are fleeing South Korea to seek work else where, and some of these workers have come to the U.S. What a self-fulfilling prophesy……………….


Monday, September 24, 2007

"Let me borrow that top."

Kelly's STILL fuckin' rad, betches.

Earth to Dubya: Shut UP shut UP shut UP omiGOD would you JUST FINALLY SHUT UUUUUUUUUUUUPPPP.....

In which Fearless Leader confuses Nelson Mandela with the state of his three remaining unfermented brain cells and pronounces him dead.

NELSON Mandela yesterday assured the world that, contrary to the impression given by the President of the US, reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

Even for blunder-prone George Bush, it was a gaffe of toe-curling proportions.

Defending his stand on the war, Mr Bush said Saddam Hussein's brutality made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge to halt civil warfare that has torn Iraq apart.

"I heard somebody say, 'Where's Mandela?'," Mr Bush said. "Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."

The South African authorities were besieged with calls after Mr Bush's speech, which was carried live on TV. Many viewers feared the country's first black president and Nobel Peace Prize winner had died.

In other news, we are not, in fact, under attack from the Martian terrorists--no, wait!! YES WE ARE!!! ZOMG RUN FOR THE HILLS!!...

Mind you, this is just a scant two weeks after his star turn representing our proud nation:

Bushisms were famous before the man even entered the White House. But with his presidency entering its twilight phase, there is no end, it seems, to the steady supply of inadvertent slips of the tongue.

Yesterday he had reached only the third sentence of his address to an audience at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, when he committed his first gaffe.

"Thank you for being such a fine host for the Opec summit," Mr Bush said to the Australian prime minister, John Howard, confusing two completely different groupings of nations. "Apec summit," he quickly corrected himself.

Article continues
He then joked that Mr Howard had invited him to the Opec summit next year (for the record, an impossibility, since neither Australia nor the US are members of the oil exporting cartel).

That slip paled in comparison with the next gaffe - a slip of the tongue that placed Austrian, not Australian, troops in Iraq.

Talking about Mr Howard's visit to Iraq last year to thank his country's soldiers serving there, Bush called them "Austrian troops".

That one was fixed for him, with the official text released by the White House switching it to "Australian". Tapes of the speech, however, clearly show Mr Bush saying "Austrian".

Then, speech done, Mr Bush confidently headed out - the wrong way. He strode away from the lectern on a path that would have sent him over a steep drop. Mr Howard and others redirected the president to where there were steps leading down to the floor of the theatre.

So nu okay, the two-time "Banality of Evil Homecoming Queen" Award winner has officially moved into the Wile E. Coyote phase of his "career." Move along, nothing more to see here. try not to hurt yourself cringing.

brownfemipower interrupts her hiatus to bring this important message:

"The 'Nobody' posting about the New Jersey political prisoners"

A good twenty or so links from the past several months.

Lesbians sentenced for self defense
Plenary session for saturday night
Update on the Jersey Four
FIERCE, violence against women of color, support
Support the Newark women
Lesbians sentenced for self-defense
This is Just Depressing
No Snow Here: Three things
Automatic Presence: The Newark Women
without grace: Sakia Gunn and the Newark lesbian conviction
Carnival of Radical Action: The Education Edition
Don’t forget the Newark women!
More Reasons the (in)Justice System Has Me Down
Independence Day?
East Coast Lesbians of Color Sentenced for Self Defense
A couple things
It’s not the oppression olympics
Free the New Jersey Four!
Hate Crimes on the Rise
Media Representations of New Jersey 7
FIERCE on sk*rt (yes, the queen of link posting, shannon, did post a link there!)
donate money for Mariah Lopez’s bail
Support the Newark women
Sylvia: Support the Newark Women
Slant Truth:Jersey Seven/Four Updates (with link to Facebook page and online petition)
Activism Roundup
The Silence of Our Friends (specifically requested by Donna to repost for her readers)

Go to Women of Color Blog for the rest of the hyperlinks.

The erasure of work through the creation of “nobody” discourse=the continued marginalization of the worker.
It’s funny how “nobody” is always so damn colored.

"She's got a point there, kids."

The basics from FIERCE!:


On August 18, 2006, seven young African American lesbians traveled to the West Village from their homes in Newark for a regular night out. When walking down the street, a male bystander assaulted them with sexist and homophobic comments. The women tried to defend themselves, and a fight broke out. Thus began the women’s nightmare for almost a year. Three of the women accepted plea offers. On June 14th, 2007 Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20), and Renata Hill (24) received sentences ranging from 3 ½ to 11 years in prison.

The women and their families now call on our communities for support. Their emotional and financial burdens have already been immense. These hardships will only continue as the women begin their prison terms and the process of appeal.


Thanks to the dozens of you that turned out to the community support meeting for the NJ4 on July 10th. For an update on how to write letters of support the young women or to send them a donation directly, click HERE. [pdf hyperlink at site]

yahoo group here.

Some commentary:

from FemmeNoir:

What I found interesting about this story was Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin's statements during sentencing stating he had no sympathy for the women, ages 19-25, none of whom had a previous record and who claimed self-defense.

Also interesting was the judges disbelief in the testimony of Patreese Johnson that she carried a knife because she was 4-foot-11 and 95 pounds and came from a dangerous neighborhood. Johnson not only lives in one of the most dangerous areas of Newark, she and several of the other defendants were also high school classmates of Sakia Gunn, a lesbian who was stabbed to death on the street in downtown Newark four years ago after she spurned a man who tried to pick her up.

After hearing of a classmate's death by stabbing, at the hands of a man who made advances on a similar group of young women who did not have the means to defend themselves in an attempt to kidnap one of them, I can understand why a young woman might find it prudent to carry a weapon to defend herself. I do not condone using a weapon but I certainly understand considering how and why Sakia Gunn was killed...

Imani Henry (syndicated via Worker's World):

None of them had previous criminal records. Two of them are parents of small children.

Their crime? Defending themselves from a physical attack by a man who held them down and choked them, ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and threatened to sexually assault them—all because they are lesbians...

On Aug. 16, 2006, seven young, African-American, lesbian-identified friends were walking in the West Village. The Village is a historic center for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) communities, and is seen as a safe haven for working-class LGBT youth, especially youth of color.

As they passed the Independent Film Cinema, 29-year-old Dwayne Buckle, an African-American vendor selling DVDs, sexually propositioned one of the women. They rebuffed his advances and kept walking.

“I’ll f— you straight, sweetheart!” Buckle shouted. A video camera from a nearby store shows the women walking away. He followed them, all the while hurling anti-lesbian slurs, grabbing his genitals and making explicitly obscene remarks. The women finally stopped and confronted him. A heated argument ensued. Buckle spat in the face of one of the women and threw his lit cigarette at them, escalating the verbal attack into a physical one.

Buckle is seen on the video grabbing and pulling out large patches of hair from one of the young women. When Buckle ended up on top of one of the women, choking her, Johnson pulled a small steak knife out of her purse. She aimed for his arm to stop him from killing her friend.

The video captures two men finally running over to help the women and beating Buckle. At some point he was stabbed in the abdomen. The women were already walking away across the street by the time the police arrived...

After almost a year of trial, four of the seven were convicted in April. Johnson was sentenced to 11 years on June 14.

Even with Buckle’s admission and the video footage proving that he instigated this anti-gay attack, the women were relentlessly demonized in the press, had trumped-up felony charges levied against them, and were subsequently given long sentences in order to send a clear resounding message—that self-defense is a crime and no one should dare to fight back.

Political backdrop of the case

Why were these young women used as an example? At stake are the billions of dollars in tourism and real estate development involved in the continued gentrification of the West Village. This particular incident happened near the Washington Square area—home of New York University, one of most expensive private colleges in the country and one of the biggest employers and landlords in New York City. The New York Times reported that Justice Edward J. McLaughlin used his sentencing speech to comment on “how New York welcomes tourists.” (June 17)

The Village is also the home of the Stonewall Rebellion, the three-day street battle against the NYPD that, along with the Compton Cafeteria “Riots” in California, helped launch the modern-day LGBT liberation movement in 1969. The Manhattan LGBT Pride march, one of the biggest demonstrations of LGBT peoples in the world, ends near the Christopher Street Piers in the Village, which have been the historical “hangout” and home for working-class trans and LGBT youth in New York City for decades.

Because of growing gentrification in recent years, young people of color, homeless and transgender communities, LGBT and straight, have faced curfews and brutality by police sanctioned by the West Village community board and politicians. On Oct. 31, 2006, police officers from the NYPD’s 6th Precinct indiscriminately beat and arrested several people of color in sweeps on Christopher Street after the Halloween parade.

Since the 1980s there has been a steady increase in anti-LGBT violence in the area, with bashers going there with that purpose in mind.

For trans people and LGBT youth of color, who statistically experience higher amounts of bigoted violence, the impact of the gentrification has been severe. As their once-safe haven is encroached on by real estate developers, the new white and majority heterosexual residents of the West Village then call in the state to brutalize them...

Deemed a so-called “hate crime” against a straight man, every possible racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and anti-youth tactic was used by the entire state apparatus and media...

Court observers report that the defense attorneys had to put enormous effort into simply convincing the jury that they were “average women” who had planned to just hang out together that night. Some jurists asked why they were in the Village if they were from New Jersey. The DA brought up whether they could afford to hang out there—raising the issue of who has the right to be there in the first place.

The Daily News reporting was relentless in its racist anti-lesbian misogyny, portraying Buckle as a “filmmaker” and “sound engineer” preyed upon by a “lesbian wolf pack” (April 19) and a “gang of angry lesbians.” (April 13)

...All of the seven women knew and went to school with Sakia Gunn, a 19-year-old butch lesbian who was stabbed to death in Newark, N.J., in May 2003. Paralleling the present case, Gunn was out with three of her friends when a man made sexual advances to one of the women. When she replied that she was a lesbian and not interested, he attacked them. Gunn fought back and was stabbed to death.

“You can’t help but wonder that if Sakia Gunn had a weapon, would she be in jail right now?” Bran Fenner, a founding member and co-executive director of FIERCE, told Workers World. “If we don’t have the right to self-defense, how are we supposed to survive?”

From Trouble: More Than Bargained For

I love this article. I do. Because it's written like an exact "How To Belittle The Experiences Of Women and Gay People Who Talk About Harassment" Primer.

"The girls started coming out of nowhere," Dwayne Buckle told a Manhattan jury yesterday, describing the bizarre beat-down he suffered last summer, allegedly at the hands of a seething sapphic septet from Newark, N.J. "I felt like I was going to die."

"Seething sapphic septet"? That's actually funny. I will totally give it extra points for that.

... Buckle told a different story on the stand, assigning many of his alleged attackers monikers. There was Brown, the one he admittedly called an "elephant." Then there was the one with the "low haircut," do-rag and wife-beater T-shirt,whom he admittedly called "a man," and the "slightly pretty" one to whom he first said hello. It all started, he said, when the first two walked by. "They looked effeminate [sic] and one of them was slightly pretty, so I said 'hi' to them," he said. But the "heavier girl, she started to dog me out," Buckle said. "What does that, perchance, mean," asked the judge, Justice Edward McLaughlin. "Just disrespect me," Buckle explained. Then "more girls started coming out of nowhere."

But I'm sure that he just "said hello", right? And then suddenly seven sapphic samarai just jumped him, for no reason!

...So, let's review:

- Women are just walking down the street, minding their own business, when some guy demands they buy his videos
- Women refuse, and for some reason that he's not their type comes up
- Man starts hurling abuse at them for daring to be lesbians
- At some point a cigarette is flicked, a woman is choked, stuff like that
- Women fight back against their attacker
- Man = victim


Yes, I will totally agree that the man was knifed and that is horrible and bad. And yes, I will totally agree that violence isn't the answer to street harassment (although did you hear about the woman who ignored the catcalls from a truck and the guy who was catcalling was so mad he ran over her. Last I heard she may die.).

But why the HELL is he being presented as an innocent victim in the lead in to this article? Why is it being presented as these wild and insane women (gay women!) just going off on him for no reason for the first few paragraphs?

This is my theory:

Because the women being lesbians is titilating. It's an amusing image. It's women's sexuality, and we can't make it not about the sex.

Look, I know sex sells. I do. But does it bloody well have to sell a violent attack on someone? Does it *really*? Can't it just be about how a group of women retaliating after a gay-bashing incident? Doesn't that make the whole thing a bit more serious? And shouldn't the whole thing be taken a bit more seriously? The guy was knifed, for crying out loud. After attacking the women for not wanting to sleep with him. After choking one of them for... what, not wanting to sleep with him?

from GLAAD:

At the New York Times, reporter Anemona Hartocollis described the women as "a pack of marauding lesbians" and Samuel Maull, an Associated Press reporter, wrote that they were "all avowed lesbians from Newark."

The trial did feature a moment that showed how these mainstream reporters can so easily use these characterizations.

Bruce Nussbaum, an assistant managing editor at Business Week, was screened as a possible juror on the case, but he was excluded after he expressed the concern that his wife might be threatened by this lesbian gang. For Nussbaum, "gang" connoted "a nationally organized gang, very powerful, that could reach out and try to influence members of the jury," he told the Times.

What does Nussbaum think he is dealing with? A lesbian crime family? A gay Mafia? Nussbaum was presented with four young lesbians charged with assault and he saw a sinister and vast criminal conspiracy.

It is no surprise that mainstream press stories about us are so consistently awful. As Nussbaum revealed, we remain alien and unknown to these benighted reporters. The result is that their stories are crap.

from LDNY:

There is also the surplus complication of this being categorized as an “aggressive” crime - an “aggressive”* being a woman ‘of colour’ who sleeps with women, dresses in a masculine fashion and doesn’t identify with either ‘lesbian’ or ‘trans’ labels.

...It is almost as if their gender identity somehow puts these women on a ‘level’ with men when it comes to fighting or territorial protection - for example, if heterosexual men attempt to hit on femme girls that date aggressives. In the moment, it is man fighting man, defending their honour, not gay woman fighting homophobic man, or woman fighting man. Although in the most brutal, factual, physical sense - it is. There is likely to be an inbalance of strength and power.

There are other issues, of course, such as the fact that their sexualities were made clear to the male victim and any harrassment that follows such a declaration could be classified as a ‘hate crime’. Obviously, in this case, the crime was committed by a presumably “aggressive” woman, not against one, although it appears to have been not premeditated attempted murder at all but aggravated assault against a minority group.

...Groups of sexually voracious men seem quite adept at spotting ‘lesbians’ these days, either due to their behavior or their appearance and may actively seek them out - particularly in known gay areas. They do not approach these women to romance them, but to bully a minority group they cannot possibly comprehend. Aggressives in particular may be viewed as ‘copying’ heterosexual men, emulating them somehow or taking “their femme women”; as such, they are subject to ridicule, or being provoked into a “real man” standoff.

From Queer Woman of Color:

I'm not saying for one second that the media attention the Jena 6 are getting is undeserved. On the contrary. I think an even bigger ruckus needs to be caused. In that same vein the New Jersey seven's lack of attention seems questionable. Why isn't there more about these women and their case. What are the reasons one case gets more support than another?

With the New Jersey seven I have to wonder if there is sexism here. Or homophobia. Or genderqueer phobia. Or all of the above. Maybe it is just too much for us to think about that many levels of injustice and oppression. Maybe we can get behind men but not people who we consider immoral due to their sexuality and gender expression. Whatever the reason I figure it is important to at least ask.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quote of the day, 9/23/07

Silky dark chocolate ganache paired with a thin layer of pure raspberry. (It was like the Raspberry Fairy was wearing a chocolate bra and rubbed her boobs on my tongue)

--Creampuff Revolution, a woman who clearly has her priorities in order, describing a truffle

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not in whose backyard?

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has an important message for the author(s) of Bilerico (which I also normally like, and find this extremely disappointing and dismaying):

I started sobbing when I read "The prostitute’s day in court,” one of The Bilerico Project founder Bil Browning's posts from the other day, and learned that residents from his neighborhood association attended a court hearing to ensure that a woman arrested multiple times for prostitution do jail time. These residents were successful, and the woman in question will now spend approximately 218 days in prison. Over seven months in prison. Can people think about that for a moment? What will that mean for this woman's life?

This issue is extremely personal to me. I supported myself for 12 years as a whore, and the practices, politics and cultures of sex work have been crucial to my understanding of and engagement with the world. Sex work has enabled me to structure my time and finances in order to move cross-country half a dozen times, live in half a dozen cities (and a dozen apartments), write two novels (both with sex work as a central theme), edit four anthologies (one about sex work), go on five book tours, help to start several activist groups, and become involved in innumerable direct action activist projects. Equally important, sex work has helped me, an incest survivor searching for home and hope, to negotiate the perilous intersections of sexuality, intimacy, lust, self-worth, longing and desperation with integrity and charm. Sex work has given me the space to envision radical queer alternatives to the violence of the status quo -- in relationships, activism, identity, desire and self-expression.

Has this been messy? Of course! Do I regret any of it? Well, sometimes... But the point is that everything I've learned over the last 15 years (or almost everything, anyway) comes from an active participation in radical outsider queer cultures that have always intersected, overlapped, and interwoven with sex work cultures -- from high-end dungeons to the quickie blow job in the car, Talk to a Model to "massage," streetwork to the kept boy/girl lifestyle.

And everywhere I've lived (but especially in New York and San Francisco), I've witnessed and struggled against the violence of pro-gentrification "neighborhood" associations that always see the annihilation of public sex and sex work cultures as paramount to the success of their urban removal projects. In New York, a group called "Residents in Distress" (RID) aggressively seeks to eliminate queer youth of color, hookers and other “undesirables” from sections of the West Village where these cultures have survived and thrived for decades. In my current neighborhood in San Francisco, a group of property owners and merchants calling themselves Lower Polk Neighbors (LPN), started by a pair of architects who opened their business/home on a notorious drug dealing/hustler block, across the street from a porn shop and virtually next-door to a homeless shelter, now decries the presence of -- gasp -- hustlers, hookers and drug dealers. What was one of their first things they did for the neighborhood? Shut down the needle exchange...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote of the day, 9/21/07

"men hate you." yeah, whatever. that doesn't mean I have to hate me, regardless of whether I exchange sexual activity for money or not.


How has he not just choked himself on that foot?

Foot in mouth, head up ass, all that wind...and yet, words keep coming out of his mouth, somehow.

Yeah, fucking BillO again; you're surprised? Well, he is:

O'Reilly surprised "there was no difference" between Harlem restaurant and other New York restaurants

Summary: Discussing his recent dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, Bill O'Reilly reported that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." O'Reilly added: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.'

No, it's not an Onion article. It's...O'Rly?

tbh I don't know why he and his ilk haven't put the Onion out of business by now.
You can't make this shit up.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Virtual March for the Jena 6

HQ at the UltraVioletUnderground.

Black Amazon kicks ass as per usual.

It's not, but it could be, more or less

The ongoing discussion at Bound Not Gagged (and elsewhere. o, for centuries, now, but just lately, i mean) inspired me to make the following observation in the comments of one post:


It feels like…I dunno, like a group of NORML activists and anti-War On (Street/Some, depending on who you ask) Drugs from an anti-State Power POV were butting heads against the “Just Say No/DARE” people. and every time there’s a meeting it’s like,

“We’d like to decriminalize marijuana for reasons x,y, and z”

“Do you KNOW how many people meth kills?? Or heroin??”

“I wasn’t talking about meth or heroin. I’m talking about pot. Here’s why–”

“Well, la di da for you, I Just Want To Smoke Pot In My FancyPants Hot Tub, it’s all right if you want to rot your -own- brain and give -yourself- lung cancer, but -innocent helpless people are dying.- Think of the children!! God, you’re so SELFISH. You and your “I gotta get high and that’s all I care about.” What have you done to save people from DRUG-CAUSED DEATH?? What have you done to get people off the street? Huh?”

“Well, first of all, it’s -not- just ‘getting high,’ although I personally don’t see anything -wrong- with that. But, one, I don’t think the State should have so much power over a consensual activity, and two, while some drugs are more dangerous than others, medical marijuana–”


“Well, okay, I -was- going to talk about getting medical marijuana to cancer patients, but since that clearly doesn’t count for anything, I’ve taken addicts into my home and helped them detox, helped get them jobs. I helped set up a needle exchange program for heroin–”

“Those don’t help. They actually just lead to more heroin addicts. Studies have shown that.”

“Which studies?”

“These studies here. They’ve got graphs and footnotes and academic endorsements and -everything.-

“Okay, those studies there were funded by a pro-abstinence think tank, and furthermore they aren’t in any peer reviewed journal.”

“What is all this fancy talk? You and your ivory tower graphs and footnotes and academic endorsements! We’re talking about REAL LIVES. People are DYING, did we mention?”

“…Look, can we just get back to talking about the pot thing, since we’re clearly just talking past each other when it comes to this stickier stuff?”

“Why do you hate America?”

“AAARRGGGGHHHH” *breaks things*

“You see? You see how irrational and abusive you are? Maybe if you weren’t rotting your brain with all those DRUGS, you’d understand that we’re -just trying to help,- and you’d get out of our way and let us get on with it.”

…lather, rinse, repeat…

Debate down the rabbit hole

I'm finding this interesting, today:

"Suckered Into A Creationism Debate"

It all started in April 1985 when I was asked if I would talk informally on the creation-evolution controversy to the Georgia Tech Faculty/Student Christian Forum. I agreed to do so.

Normally, when addressing such an audience as this, my talk emphasizes how religion and science supplement each other. Since I have a background in religion, I also discuss the origin, meaning, and significance of the Old Testament. This talk was intended to be no exception.

However, a week later, at the end of April, I was asked by the meeting organizer if I would mind having a local creationist opposite me so that there could be an informal exchange. "Fairness" was used as the reason. Having previously debated several local creationists in the Atlanta area, I had no misgivings. So I agreed.

A week later I was informed by the meeting organizer that an out-of-town creationist would be in town at the time of the talk. It was then suggested that I debate him. By now I was getting concerned—but rather than withdraw and thereby foster propaganda that I was afraid to debate the creationist, I again agreed.

On May 16 I received a letter stating that the out-of-town creationist was Walter Brown. A brochure listing his qualifications was enclosed: he is a mechanical engineer and director of an organization whose purpose is to "bring glory to our Creator." He debates suckers like me all over the country. By this time I was upset, but more was to come.

A week before the debate, slated for May 30 (during final exam week at my university), a packet of materials arrived including:

1. An agreement to debate (which prohibited the discussion of religion and stated that the creationist was to speak first)

2. A descriptive list of suggested support personnel for such a debate.

3. The text of before-and-after questionnaires for the audience

4. A suggested stage diagram (where the moderator is placed on the same side with the creationist)

5. A copy of Brown's now famous The Scientific Case for Creation: 108 Categories of Evidence (which lines up against evolution an array of mostly physical and chemical technicalities that take a lot of time to research and refute)

The agreement to debate is illustrative...

After receiving the above material, I reminded the organizer that I had originally agreed only to a small informal meeting with a Christian organization, that now this had grown to a full fledged formal debate, with religion prohibited, in a large auditorium with the public invited, and that if he wanted me to participate there would be no more preconditions, no questionnaires, and no more trickery. He seemed to back off, but that may have been only because he had already emptied his bag of tricks on me.

Such maneuvers appear to be common.

... Dr. Brown opened our debate with the standard creationist line of argument. At the end of his allotted time, he posed a number of questions for me: an obvious strategy to gain the offensive and keep the opposition busy. I didn't fall for it.

In my opening remarks I included a brief account of how I was manipulated into the debate and the nature of the creationist preconditions. Audience reaction indicated a lack of approval for such creationist machinations. I then pointed out that this exchange could not be a typical scientific debate in which participants are stimulated to test ideas in the field or lab. Rather, this was to be a philosophical discussion in which nothing would be settled; that even if all of Brown's arguments were answered he would probably say the same or similar things to other audiences later, as creationists consistently do. I added that, for these and other reasons, many scientists feel that such debates are a waste of time.

Next I proceeded to explain the nature of science: reproducibility, rejection of authority, concern with the physical world, description of how the world works by statements, testability, falsifiability, universality, and so forth. The scientific approach was contrasted with other ways of viewing the world. One example I used was law, which is based on authority and precedent, is variable from court to court, concerns itself with personal interrelationships, is "moral," and so on. (The example of law is useful because most people can accept it more easily than if religion is selected. Once the example of law is in place, however, religion can then be compared with it and both together contrasted with science.) I used art as another perspective, saying "Heaven help the person who has an appendectomy by a surgeon who studied anatomy under Picasso." ...


via NoBojo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Carnival of Feminists #45 is up

at Feminist Philosophers. Great collation of meaty subjects from a widely diverse range of writers. (me included (thanks!))

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oh, jeeeeeeeeezu...

What the hell is wrong with some people? More bullshit wrt the Jena Six case:

The black teen at the center of a furor over legal racism remained behind bars - though charges against him were thrown out Friday - because the judge and prosecutor didn't come to a bail hearing yesterday, his lawyer said.

"We showed up. There was nobody there," said Bob Noel, lawyer for 17-year-old Mychal Bell of Jena, La. "No DA, no judge."

A woman who answered the phone at District Attorney Reed Walters' office said he had no bail procedure on his calendar.

A massive protest is planned for Thursday in tiny, rural Jena on behalf of Bell and five co-defendants who are known as the Jena 6. Other rallies that day include one outside Brooklyn Borough Hall.

"To imagine that in 2006, 2007, we're still fighting these fights is just incomprehensible," said Assemblyman Darryl Towns (D-Brooklyn) at a Jena 6 rally at City Hall yesterday.

An appeals court on Friday threw out the conviction of Bell, who was charged as an adult with attempted murder last year for punching a white classmate in a schoolyard scuffle.

The charges were later reduced to aggravated battery, a charge the appeals court said should have been dealt with in juvenile court.

Noel had filed a motion to have Bell released - or his $90,000 bail reduced - while the prosecutor mulls whether to appeal the overturning of Bell's conviction. He has two weeks to decide.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Washington should step in.

"We needed federal intervention to get into school in Little Rock [in the 1950s] and we need federal intervention now," he said.

All six black Jena football players were hit with heavy charges after a white student was punched and kicked at Jena High School on Dec. 4, one of a series of racial dustups that began when white students hung nooses in a school tree.

White students involved in similar fistfights were shown leniency.

Bell is the only one who has been tried. The other blacks still face trial on charges that are widely seen as overly harsh.

Organizers say at least 10,000 demonstrators will flood the mostly white town of 3,000 people.

Councilman Albert Vann (D-Brooklyn) organized yesterday's New York rally to keep the pressure on Louisiana prosecutors and set the stage for Thursday.

"There's a national spotlight now on Jena," he said.

via Black Amazon

Monday, September 17, 2007

Get a good mental picture

Ah, go on. Ah, go on. Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on...

Quote of the day, 9/17/07, ii

Seperatism is of course a key point within the matrix of the utopianist's thought, the idea being that we should make a unique little protected habitat for the revolutionary, in which noble revolutionary gate keepers would ensure that no stray weeds from the outside world would seep in and corrupt the society from the inside.

...Strangely enough, radical politics doesn't quite work like that, and the utopianist's attempt to find a cheap short cut to a revolved society cannot, a priori, work, due to the most important part of the revolution being the journey, not the destination.

Which is less a physical place, or a building or a city or nation but rather a completed mandala imprinted on the path that the revolutionary walks, made up by the wake we leave with our tread upon the ground, and which is shaped by the obstacles we meet along the way.

--R Mildred

...and, much as I am loath to shatter the rather spiritual, uplifiting tone of that last piece,

...I feel compelled to add a bit of deeply. fucking. angry. commentary.

I expect Califia would understand, somehow.

This. This. And, it is NOT limited to any one thing, goddamit, but there are reasons why some of us get this basic principle at a gut level, i mean BESIDES just not being totally stuck in a primitive level of ethical and emotional development, god knows why some people ARE...

Here it is:

You don't fucking out people.

Furthermore, you don't suddenly treat them like shit because they reveal something to you that frankly you ought to get on your damn knees and be -thankful- they trusted you enough to reveal in the goddam first place. You don't dump shame on them and PARTICULARLY you do NOT get to coat it in some sort of fucking sanctimonious self-justification because of your frigging -dogma.- -Fuck- your dogma, it was supposed to be helping real people, -precisely- the people who you -just shat on-, gee, i guess maybe it's NOT WORKING. or, at MINIMUM, Ur Doing It Wrong.

As the saying goes, if this doesn't apply to you, don't take it personally. If it does--well, Christ knows you'll never be honest enough to admit just how despicable you're being, because that would undermine your entire frigging self-identity and we can't have THAT for Maud's sake. Just know this: Karma's a bitch. No, that is not a frigging -threat.- That is an observation of how the world works. The real one, not the pathetic little fantasy treehouse land you've cobbled together to nurture your festering wounds and spin fables of grandiosity and paranoia.

"The great thing about believing everyone's out to get you is that sooner or later it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Seriously though: prove me wrong. Stop being a whited sepulchre. Do the right thing for once in your damn life. Stop your martyred whining for five seconds and -consider- that -maybe-, JUST MAYBE, you, yes YOU, o Righteous Crusader, are hurting someone else, -specifically-, and, frankly, gratuitously.

Quote of the day, 9/17/07

Most gays and lesbians move the sexual taboos they were taught as children just far enough over to accomodate some of their own desire. Sadly, battling homophobia doesn't seem to encourage most of us to look at the bigger picture of sexual repression. Our efforts to improve our status are hampered, not just by hatred of gays, but by the abysmal state of heterosexuality. We are trying to win our freedom from people who can't deal with protecting their own children from AIDS or teen pregnancy, people who seem helpless to stem a rising tide of violence against women and children. Thanks to heterosexual men, more Viagra is being sold than aspirin. And if Pfizer could come up with a drug that would work that well for straight girls, pharmacies would be leveled in the resulting stampede. No wonder straight people see exciting racy images of frolicking gay perverts and get so steamed up and self-righteous. Being at the top of the sexual hierarchy and legally validated is one of the few perks that heterosexuals get, and I'm not surprised they are so reluctant to share.


Coming out is such a hard process that it's no wonder most lesbians and gay men can only manage it once in a lifetime. Coming out begins when we recognize, in a stigmatized Other, something of ourselves. Something disturbing we feel we must bring forward--at first into our own consciousness, then to a community of like-minded people where we hope to find welcome, and finally to outsiders. Coming out transmutes what is loathsome or unimaginable into something valuable and nourishing--garbage into gold, sickness into bread. This is an inherently terrifying experience because it means disobeying the voices of social disapproval (and often self-hatred as well) to risk becoming a more honest, but not necessarily happier or safer or more beloved, person.

Coming out ought to be a normal developmental process of differentiation. But we do it in the context of our culture's sex-negative pathology. It resembles or encompasses other stages of adult life that vanilla, gender-congruent, heterosexual people are able to take more for granted--achieving autonomy from the family of origin, undergoing sexual initiation, learning courtship skills and other social skills, forming a relationship, consolidating ties to a friendship network and a community, and (sometimes) clarifying political, moral, and spiritual values that impel us to take action.

...One of the most crucial tasks of coming out is to defeat the shaming voices of self-obliteration and reject the temptation to live for others' gratification and approval rather than our own. By coming out to ourselves, we free up the energy we spent keeping a part of ourselves hidden. By coming out to our kindred spirits, we acquire allies and rewards for integration and openness. We strengthen our little corner of the world, the walled gardens where some of our secrets may be told. By coming out to outsiders, we serve the health of the entire social body. We shut down or at least contest the omnipotence of the institutions that foster stigma; we replace ignorance and invisibility with the faces and lives of real people. We widen and clear the path for others to come out as well.

None of this is meant to imply that the power to come out lies only with the individual. The dangers that greet sexual nonconformity are quite real and at times life-threatening. There are few situations more painful than needing to come out when it is too unsafe to manage it and survive the process. This is a loneliness like no other; it generates a level of stress that can also be life-threatening. Those of us who have come to any sort of sexual sanctuary, however narrow and beleaguered, must never forget those who are prevented from joining us, and we must never stop trying to extend them practical as well as psychic aid.

...Whether willingly or no, stage three of coming out involves service to the body politic. It is as its core an attempt to ease human suffering. And so it has inherent spiritual value...And the attempt to foster kinship, love, and mutual care in the face of hatred and violence is also, I believe, an activity that brings us closer to the divine...

...But there is another side of this: our grim combat with those who hate us. There is a powerful temptation to split and view everything bad as associated with the Enemy, everything good as within our camp. But that is distorted thinking, at best, and self-righteousness at worst. We cannot hope to grow as a community if we punish other people for speaking their sexual truth. Coming out is made more difficult because of the shortcomings of our own community. Some of these defects are not our fault; we may be so marginalized that we have few resources left to comfort one another. But we are responsible for doing better than our opposition, even if the only victory we want to achieve is on the battlefield of public relations.

...Storming the Bastille is a lot more scary than rooting out dissent within the ranks of the revolutionaries. I think, for activists, the paradigm of the farmer or the mason is much more useful than the paradigm of the warrior. If we thought of our work as cultivating the things that we will need to survive in the future or building a shelter to house our dreams, rather than as a war in which we must annihilate the opposition, we might be less combative with one another.

We might also be able to come up with gentler and more effective ways to disarm the fear that can hamper or kill us. When you become aware of how much injustice there is in the world, the enormity of all the suffering that we inflict on one another, it is very difficult indeed to have the patience to slow down and do the hard work of connecting, one at a time, with individual people who need to be educated or at least made aware that they will face resistance if they try to hurt or defame us. And yet this is the only way to guarantee that whatever social policies we manage to change or civil-rights laws we get passed will be implemented or obeyed...

--Patrick Califia, Speaking Sex to Power

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Quote of the day, 9/16/07

I mean, so much of the evil that men do to one another has at its core the inability of people to empathize with another person's position. Say when you're seven, you find yourself slightly more drawn to Johnny than you are to Jane. This is not a conscious decision on your part, it just happens, it's an instinct like...liking the color blue.

Now in less tolerant times, you were put to death for this attraction. As time went on, this punishment was sometimes reduced to mere castration, or just imprisonment. Until recently this attraction was considered so horrific that society pretty much expected you to lie to yourself about your sexual and emotional feelings, and if you couldn't do that, certainly expected you to shut up about it and go live your life bottled and terrified; and if you would be so kind as to never have any physical closeness with anyone ever, when you were buried you could know that society would feel that you had handled your disgraceful situation with tact and willpower. That was one cheery option--nothing, and then the grave.

Or, you might make a false marriage with some woman who wouldn't know what was going on with you, and you could both be miserable and unfulfilled. That was another respectable option. Or you might kill yourself. There's not a lot of empathy evident in the people who prefer these options.

I mean, I certainly realize how insane it would be to ask a heterosexual to deny his or her natural sexual feelings and perform homosexual acts that went against their nature. If I can have that empathy, why can't others have that same empathy in reverse? I want some empathy here!

[Goes into an affirmation] I am the predominant source of...well, fuck that.
[Throws his note cards over his shoulder, drives on ahead.]

--Christopher Durang, from Laughing Wild

Update on the Jena 6

Via Facing South by way of Victoria Marinelli:

Today a state appeals court threw out the aggravated battery conviction of Mychal Bell, one of the half-dozen black teens facing unusually serious charges for the beating of a white schoolmate amid escalating racial tensions in a small Louisiana town. The Associated Press reports:

Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday. He could have gotten 15 years in prison.

His conspiracy conviction in the December beating of student Justin Barker was already thrown out by another court.

Bell was only 16 at the time of the beating. It occurred after a series of troubling incidents that started when black teens sat under a schoolyard tree that had traditionally been reserved for white students. In response, a group of white students hung three nooses from the tree, an act for which they were punished with a brief expulsion.

Bell's attorney told the AP that he wasn't sure whether his client would get out of jail immediately or face new charges. Four other teens involved in the beating still face adult charges because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight.

Further background/required reading at Group News Blog:

The story? Perhaps you've heard about it.

"It began with a seemingly innocuous question. At an assembly during the first week of classes last fall at Jena High School in rural Louisiana, Kenneth Purvis, a junior, asked the vice principal if he could sit under the shady boughs of an oak tree in the campus courtyard. "You can sit anywhere you like," the vice principal replied. Soon thereafter, Purvis and several black friends ventured over to the tree to hang out with some white classmates. According to the school's unspoken racial codes, however, that area was reserved for white kids; Purvis is black. Some white students didn't look kindly on the encroachment: the next day, three nooses hung from the oak's branches.

That provocation, which conjured up the ugly history of lynch mobs and the Jim Crow South, unleashed a cycle of interracial strife that has roiled the tiny town of Jena. In the ensuing months, black and white students clashed violently, the school's academic wing was destroyed by arson and six black kids were charged with attempted murder for beating a white peer. (The "deadly weapon": tennis shoes they supposedly used to kick the white student knocked unconscious by the first punch.) One of those black students—Mychal Bell, the only one of the "Jena Six" to stand trial so far—was convicted by an all-white jury in June on lesser felony charges of aggravated second-degree battery and is awaiting sentencing. He could face 22 years in prison. In the wake of that judgment, a host of national figures—from the Rev. Al Sharpton to the Nation of Islam to the American Civil Liberties Union—have descended on the town to inveigh against racial injustice. Billy Fowler, a white school-board member, has pledged that when the new school year starts, "we're not going to see black and white anymore. It's going to be right or wrong." But, says the Rev. Raymond Brown of Christians United, which has been working with parents of the Jena Six, "Jena does not want to come up to the 21st century. They are living deep in the past."

Decades of suppressed racial hostility spilled forth at the appearance of those swaying nooses. Word spread quickly that day; before long, scores of black students congregated under the tree. "As black students, we didn't call it a protest," says Robert Bailey Jr., one of the Jena Six. "We just called it standing up for ourselves." School officials convened an assembly in early September, where local District Attorney Reed Walters appeared, flanked by police officers. "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy," he told students, warning them to settle down. "With a stroke of my pen, I can make your lives disappear."

...Understand something. It is the year 2007. Where we joke about, “Where is my flying car? My monorail? The 3.5 jet-packs per family we were promised?”, mocking the progress we were supposed to have made, based on futurists predictions.

It is the year 2007. And as much as we may try to think otherwise, we live in a country where White teenagers will still fight over who can, and who can not sit under a fucking tree during recess at school, based on the color of their skin. For all the crowing about the “browning of America”, and how the kids are un-learning the racism inculcated in the American fabric, this incident should give every one of us pause.

Pause because it speaks to the reality of what we're actually confronting here.

If these kids...these supposedly, rapidly blind-to-color kids will fight over a scraggly patch of grass, don't stand here and try to tell me that their fathers and mothers—the generation presently in control of this country—aren't actively fighting Black folks' inclusion in the more important arenas of participation in the American mosaic.

Do not look me in the face from my TV, and tell me from your visit to New Orleans Mr. President, that Kanye West—crazy as he is—was wrong. The carnival that is American Idol, where “Ohmigosh! Look at all those talented Black people doing so well—aren't they doing so well?” isn't enough of an anesthetic to numb me to the constant, pounding ache that is the reality of not being Black in America—but rather, what dealing with the perceptions from others about one's being Black in America does to you.

Jena brings it all sickeningly home. Teens. Kids. Decades at least, removed from the last picnic/lynching to take place in their neck of the woods, by so-called decent people, somehow knew, in their stupid little turf battle, just what mega-trope, what ultimate nullifier to go to to let those wandering n*ggers know that they meant business about keeping one's place. And then, when those Black kids defiantly said “Better check your calendar, motherfuckers. It is the year 2007!”, those Black teens saw the second wave, the real shock troops—those silly, turf-crazed White kids' parents, jump up with the old-school, authority smackdown all too familiar Post -Reconstruction, to uppity/not-having-it Black folks...

read the rest

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"On the bright side, just think of all the new cruise line opportunities this opens up."

Nope, no climate change here:

Arctic ice melt opens Northwest Passage

By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press Writer 13 minutes ago

PARIS - Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane.

The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978.

The waters are exposing unexplored resources, and vessels could trim thousands of miles from Europe to Asia by bypassing the Panama Canal. The seasonal ebb and flow of ice levels has already opened up a slim summer window for ships.

Leif Toudal Pedersen, of the Danish National Space Center, said that Arctic ice has shrunk to some 1 million square miles. The previous low was 1.5 million square miles, in 2005.

"The strong reduction in just one year certainly raises flags that the ice (in summer) may disappear much sooner than expected," Pedersen said in an ESA statement posted on its Web site Friday.

Pedersen said the extreme retreat this year suggested the passage could fully open sooner than expected — but ESA did not say when that might be. Efforts to contact ESA officials in Paris and Noordwik, the Netherlands, were unsuccessful Saturday.

...Researcher Claes Ragner of Norway's Fridtjof Nansen Institute, which works on Arctic environmental and political issues, said for now, the new opening has only symbolic meaning for the future of sea transport.

"Routes between Scandinavia and Japan could be almost halved, and a stable and reliable route would mean a lot to certain regions," he said by phone. But even if the passage is opening up and polar ice continues to melt, it will take years for such routes to be regular, he said.

"It won't be ice-free all year around and it won't be a stable route all year," Ragner said. "The greatest wish for sea transportation is streamlined and stable routes."

"Shorter transport routes means less pollution if you can ship products from A to B on the shortest route," he said, "but the fact that the polar ice is melting away is not good for the world in that we're losing the Arctic and the animal life there."

Shame, shame, shame.

Inspired by a comment at Oh No a WoC PhD, and tangential to the main point of the post, which I do happen to agree with (cliff notes, with commentary by me, brackets Miz brackets: If you've got a 600K house with all the trimmings including a bloody koi pond [?!], and the dilemma is currently whether to sell the house, cut back on spending, or go back to work: mazel tov, seriously, and good luck with whatever you decide to do, but you're not frigging POOR, and it's rather grossly insulting to suggest that you ARE. signed, another person who is grateful for her relative socioeconomic privilege, does not wave the bloody shirt but won't wear the hairy one either, and tries to at least maintain some gorram perspective and sense of who the hell I'm talking to when the subject of financial wangst comes up)

(...or, no, I'll put it in PBW's own words, in case you're thinking of going over there; please do not follow my own example and give in to the temptation to snark at another commenter and thus further derail, no matter how--anyway, here's PBW:

My issue is with classism and elitism masquerading as victimhood and solidarity. It is not about Bitch PhD as a person or a blogger. Please try to at least get the basic facts right if you plan to point people to my blog as I am tired of having to explain it to them when they arrive.

My blog isn’t about smack downs it is about discussing oppression and until now the people who read it have been able to have a civil and productive conversation. I resent that this episode means those days might be gone. So much for standing up against the tide.”

on edit: Black Amazon's take on this, and her expansion into the more general subjects of entitlement versus gratitude, and the latter's application within the broader culture, particularly the loosely-defined progressive political communit(ies), is--as usual, it's BA--well worth a read or six.

--ANYWAY, on the subject of shame.

A commenter said this:

When shame leads to self-hate and inaction it is a pointless emotion. When shame stems from abuses that only perpetrators should carry and yet society expects from the survivors it is a function of patriarchy and should be shunned. But when shame signals a warning that you have done something wrong, you have fallen down, then use it as an opportunity to stop doing that, get up, brush yourself off, own your mistake, and forge a new way.

which got me a-ruminating, since this is the sort of thing that I think about a lot (quibbles over whether one wants to use the term "patriarchy" as the Monolith du jour or not aside).

I said:

*nod* I know people have talked about the difference between a “shame” and a “guilt” culture, but for the life of me I can never remember which is which.

In psych there’s this notion of “optimal” shame as an essential part of the socialization process, I remember from child development class. Basically, it’s like the littlest Bear. Not enough of it and the kid never really gets to grow, doesn’t learn sie can fix hir own mistakes (just that someone will be along to clean um hir mess), or basic empathy, which is actually hir loss as much as anyone else’s, because well, that’s actually a rather lonely and disconnected place.

At the other extreme, if you’re too heavy-handed with the shaming it can crush the kid’s spirit. Interestingly enough it can lead to the same sorts of coping mechanisms as too little shaming, i.e. narcissism. It can also make you a kind of Bontsha the Silent, someone whose spirit is just kind of crushed, who stops asking for or even imagining that sie deserves anything better than whatever comes to hir.

From another angle, I’ve often pondered to what degree one’s cultural and religious baggage influences how we deal with shame/guilt, even if on the surface we don’t identify with the religion or culture of our upbringing. For instance, more and more lately I’ve been thinking that maybe part of the reason why I don’t “get” certain approaches to various political movements, i.e. this weird sort of interpretation of “the personal is political” (I am thinking in particular of someone who announced that -anyone- can do social work or practical work to help women, -real- feminism is an “in your soul” thing) might -possibly- have something to do with, my own cultural/religious background, secular humanist Jewish, doesn’t really grok the whole “faith, not works” thing. Yeah, guilt we get, and we can overdo it, but mostly what I learned wasn’t “you have already sinned in your heart, and that’s just as bad as the deed;” what I learned was “what you DO and how it affects OTHER PEOPLE is what matters. You fucked up? -Go fix it.-” THAT is “atonement,” not self-flagellating or…

mm, then again, here it is Yom Kippur-ish (which I -always- forget about), and I don’t suppose fasting is particularly about anyone else but one’s own spiritual process. Still, on the whole, I’ve generally thought of My People as rather eminently pragmatic, for good or for ill.

Thoughts on this, either the shame/guilt thing or the influence of religion and culture? I realize I'm painting with a rather broad brush here, particularly viz Judaism and Christianit(ies). Still, I do think the New Testament switch from outer to inner--and I am not saying this is always a bad thing, by any means, I've said it before, on the whole I tend to like the dude in the sandals a lot better than much of the Old Testament, whatever problems I have with many of (H)his followers and/or fanfic writers notwithstanding--has maybe -something- to do with the ways in which shame manifests in this (U.S.) culture.

...and now I am also thinking of Midori, who, in the course of a workshop on female domination, expounded on her take on the difference between the Japanese ways of processing shame/guilt (she was one of the ones who made the distinction, dammit, and I STILL can't remember which is supposed to be which) and the--well, at least the U.S. one, I don't remember how far she expanded that, but she did connect it to predominantly Protestant-influenced cultures, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, she was particularly of course referring to sexualized shame/guilt; very roughly i think her take was that in Japan, it's a lot less about internalization of "I am a bad person for having these fantasies" and more about a sort of socialized shame; i.e. if a wanker wanks in the forest and no one sees or hears, ain't nobody's business if sie do; neither Santa nor the baby Jesus is interested in whether you've sinned in your heart. I'm probably getting it horribly off, it was a long time ago.


A good analogy for a number of situations. (Personally i relate it to depression/anxiety, at least somewhat).

h/t hexy

(i was trying to come up with something clever viz "there is no spoon" and well it just wasn't clever. probably just as well).

Friday, September 14, 2007

This, on the other hand, is hi-larious

Well, -I- thought it was funny.

h/t GriftDrift

on edit: oo, lookie! Another version! Same idea!

"You're lucky he even showed up to the Congressional hearings, you bitches!"

Why, yes, being visibly gay is still an occupational hazard

Daisy shares this bit of news:

"Top Chef" Beaten By Anti-Gay Attackers"

SEA CLIFF, N.Y. — A Miami woman who was a former contestant on the reality show “Top Chef” was beaten by attackers yelling anti-gay slurs, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Josie Smith-Malave, a lesbian who was featured on Season 2 of the Bravo channel show, was among a small group of women asked to leave a Sea Cliff bar over Labor Day weekend, lawyer Yetta Kurland said. About 10 young people followed the women out and began screaming anti-gay epithets, spitting on them and then beating them, Kurland said.

The women, who had been on Long Island to attend a friend’s birthday party, suffered bruises, and one received injuries to her head. One of them had a camera taken in the attack.

Smith-Malave, who is in her early 30s, is openly gay, Kurland said. Her sister, who is straight, also was beaten.

Smith-Malave is a former sous-chef for the Marlow and Sons restaurant in Brooklyn. She has played for the New York Sharks of the Independent Women’s Football League.

Yep, it still happens.

Most people think of hate crimes as being exclusively against persons based on race, ethnicity or gender, but hate-based crimes against gay, lesbians and transgender people are equally rooted in our history and just as heinous.

Since the 1980's, the U.S. Legislature has passed a series of laws to help combat bias-based violence. Unfortunately, hate crimes based on sexual orientation have increased since 1995.

Forty four states and the District of Columbia have anti-hate crime laws, however only 24 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation in their legislation.

It's more or less sanctioned by a number of people with strong bully pulpits and think tanks.

Gays hurt civil rights movement

Homosexuals have never been forced to sit in the back of the bus. They are as privileged a group as any. To compare their attempts to affirm deviant sexual conduct to the legitimate discrimination claims of true minorities is a sham," said FRC Director of Cultural Studies Robert H.
Knight - FRC's CultureFacts, July 28, 1999,

Gays are like liars and cheaters

" 'Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race,' White said. 'People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic backgrounds also are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing.' " - Reggie White, Associated Press, March 25, 1998.

Gays compared to serial killers

"If we discovered that being a serial killer or a sociopath was genetic, though we might not blame the serial killer or sociopath for being so, we certainly would not allow him to act up his serial killing or sociopathological disposition." -, Homosexuality in America: Exposing the Myths.

Gay civil rights could lead to slavery, cannibalism

"The demand is that homosexuality be endorsed and promoted with the full power of the law. This would require us to abandon the standard of nature, the one standard that can teach us the difference between freedom and slavery, between right and wrong. Once we abandon the standard of nature, what is to forbid us from resorting to any violation of nature that we may please? Why should we not return to slavery, if we find it convenient? Or the practices of incest or adultery or cannibalism?" -

Gays are disgusting and diseased

"The disgusting details of the homosexual lifestyle explain why so many diseases are present in the homosexual community." -, Homosexuality in America: Exposing the Myths.

Gays want to silence Christians, and blame them for all crimes against gays

"the real motivation behind such hate crime laws is to silence Christians. Gays will now feel free to blame any crime against a homosexual on Christians" - AFA ACTION ALERT via email, 10/16/98

It starts early.

Research indicates 31% of gay youth were threatened or injured at school. These experiences have a devastating impact on the educational success and mental health of youth. Anti-gay prejudice affects straight youth, too. For every gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth being harassed, 4 straight students were harassed because they were perceived as being gay or lesbian...

And this is why, for all his maybe-not-so-likable characteristics, I feel genuinely worried about this kid.

And you know what else?

The current law does not protect three groups that are particularly vulnerable to physical attack: women, the disabled, and homosexuals. President Clinton commented at the time: "All Americans deserve protection from hate."

Almost a decade has passed since Shepard's crucifixion. Many versions of a federal bill to expand hate-crimes protection to protect women, men, heterosexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals, transsexuals and disabled persons have been proposed, discussed, but not succeeded.

The latest version of such a bill, the Matthew Shephard act, actually passed the House this past May, and is pending in the Senate, which is expected to vote 'yes'. Naturally, Bush threatens a veto.

You can speak up in favor of the legislation, here, here,
and here. It won't take you but a minute.

If you want to read a bit more on why the legislation is necessary, as well as some of the people and tactics dedicated to stopping it, you could start here.

And by the way, once again, for those of you just tuning in:

"In 31 states, it's still legal to fire someone because they're gay or lesbian; in 39 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgendered."

Support the ">Employment Non-Discrimination Act.