04 May 2011

god damn everything texas (redux)

no words.
A Friendswood mom says she was offended by what her daughter says happened Monday in ninth grade algebra.

She said, "The teacher told the student that 'I bet you're grieving.' And she basically looked at him and said what are you talking about? And he said I heard about your uncle's death and she said wow, because she understood that he was referring about Osama bin Laden being killed and was racially profiling her."

the teacher has suspended pending investigation, and he damn well better end up fired.

but seriously, what's with today today?

new unofficial slogan for the state of texas: It Gets Worse.

god damn everything texas

minor plaintiff in east texas ordered to pay $45 thousand in court costs after supreme court refuses to hear her appeal of a court decision that her school district was justified in dismissing her from the cheerleading squad after she refused to chant the name of her rapist at a basketball game.

this. this is why i get so fucking angry when people accuse me of looking for things to be offended about, as though i have to fucking look.

i'm seriously. i am shaking with anger over this.

the court's decision rests on the principle that by voluntarily participating in an activity in which she serves as a mouthpiece for the school, the girl voluntarily ceded her first amendment right not to cheer on a basketball player who was convicted of sexually assaulting her.

a friend pointed out that in isolation, there wouldn't be a problem with this principle; the girl has the right to free expression, but the school likewise has the right to choose who they want to represent them. but the thing is, that's only applicable in isolation. what, for instance, do you think the court would have decided if she'd been dismissed over her right to pray? or for her right to engage in political speech out of uniform?

it's east texas, y'all. i guarantee you that if the problem had been her wearing a cross or demonstrating in front of planned parenthood, she wouldn't have had to sue the district. she wouldn't have had anything to sue over, because the district probably would have fired the coach.

fuck double standards, fuck the supreme court for letting this stand, and fuck east texas.

her rapist gets the rape charge conveniently dropped so that he is still eligible to play, and she gets punished for refusing to adhere to the fiction. once again, apparently it's worse to stand up to rape apologism than it is to actually, y'know, rape someone.

and to think that people ask me what i mean when i start going on about rape culture.

i'm trying to find out everything i can about this case -- here is the appeal that SCOTUS declined to hear, and here is a link to onpoint's reporting on the case, with links to many of the documents. having a best friend who is an attorney = great

fun fact: apparently after she was raped, the survivor petitioned for and received an injunction against her rapists which required their removal from the school. the DA apparently let this injunction lapse so that bolton could play basketball.

In fact, SISD weighed its basketball program’s and
Bolton’s interests against H.S.’ welfare and psychological interests, and during the week of February 16, 2009, gave greater weight to its basketball program and Bolton, and added Bolton to the High School’s Varsity Basketball team, where H.S. as the cheerleader would be forced to interact and cheer for the five man team including her rapist.

funner fact: there's this.

On February 17, 2009, C.S. and his plaintiff’s attorney met with Sup’t. Bain and when asking about the forced exposure of H.S. to Bolton and Rountree, were told by Bain that he and his lawyer considered there to be two sides to the rape, and that Bain was not going to take any action to insulate H.S. from Rountree and Bolton.

if you would like to register your displeasure, since setting the superintendent and district counsel on fire is not an option, here is the contact information for silsbee independent school district and for the firm that represented the district in court. i called both of them this morning just trying to verify the facts reported in the independent and got stonewalled, but i feel like making the calls was important.

silsbee ISD
richard bain, superintendent
415 hwy 327 west
silsbee, tx 77656

telephone 409.980.7897 (press 4 for administration)

wells peyton greenberg & hunt, LLP
century tower, 550 fannin, ste 600
p.o. box 3708
beaumont, tx 77704

tanner t. hunt, jr. (attorney representing the district)
telephone 409.838.2644

please call. we might not be able to obtain justice for this girl, but at least we can let them know that this shit is not acceptable, and it's not going to fly.

now if you'll excuse me, i'm going to call the girl's attorney and find out if there's a fund for her to help her pay the settlement. i don't want my money going to the fuckers at SISD, but i want this girl's family to be financially ruined because of her courage even less. (laurence w. watts, 281.431.1500)

28 April 2011

on opinions, and entitlement thereto

so! not only did the battalion publish my column, they published a response to it the next day!

do yourselves a favor and don't read all of the response. just watch this instead:

the only real point that he makes is "if you tolerate everything, you stand for nothing." this is a great point! but it's also totally irrelevant to everything else in the piece, which is a combination of fundamentalist outrage over the existence of queers and epic butthurt over how i define muster and how it relates to the way i see myself within the aggie community.

oh yeah, and apparently queers are reprehensible because by having sexytimes with one another we are apparently depriving people who don't exist of their...existence? i don't know, it's crazycakes.

anyway, discussion of this totally idiotic response to my (heartfelt, carefully written, extremely personal) column in the batt resulted in some honest musing on the true meaning of he's entitled to his opinion.

this is something that we tend to say when we reach logical impasses. it is, you might say, the civilized alternative to using violence to convert another good-faith actor to your own point of view. and under those circumstances, it's actually a pretty useful sort of semantic vacuum; agreeing to disagree means that neither of you loses face by giving up your position. it is a recognition that even if you don't agree with an argument, you can still respect it, because you respect the person making it.

my favorite band is cobra starship; if you think they're terrible, i may believe that you are in error, but i don't have the ability (or desire, really) to force you to change your mind. i can try to persuade you to like them by spamming you with pictures of victoria asher, but your tastes may just not be the same as mine. my enjoyment of them (as a band, and as people) isn't threatened by your lack of same. this is the way that reasonable people deal with minor disagreements about trivial things.

the problem comes when you try to extend this expression of respect to a larger realm of discussion. not only do the subjects of disagreement become less and less trivial, you also have no assurance that the other party is, in fact, a good-faith actor, and sometimes they actually offer compelling evidence that they are not. for instance: "I do not hate homosexuals; their lifestyle is offensive and against my beliefs."

(he also likens us to animals and strongly implies that we are, as a class, somehow dishonorable. winner!)

applying the "entitled to his opinion" label to this argument is fucking ludicrous. this dude does not respect me. he does not respect my right to pursue romantic and sexual relationships with consenting partners, even there is literally no possible way that my life or my lifestyle will affect him in even the slightest way. if he doesn't respect my right to live my life in the manner i choose, he doesn't respect my right to exist, and he certainly doesn't respect me. he doesn't even respect the love for the a&m family that we presumably have in common, since he seems to think that i can't possibly have opinions about muster that aren't somehow skewed by a political agenda or a pathological need for approval.

shit, dude, i don't need your approval. and i didn't need to bring muster into the discussion at all to talk about why SB 63-106 sucks, which you would probably know if you'd actually read my letter. but apparently your "i'm not a homophobe, but..." schtick has affected your reading comprehension.

that was mean. i shouldn't have said it. (but i'm not going to delete it.)

it's like math. if someone thinks that two plus two equals five, no matter how fervently they believe it, no matter how much or how often they fail to understand addition, it still isn't true. just because i can't beat the arithmetic into their heads doesn't make them any less wrong, and i am not obliged to take their obstinately ignorant, objectively wrong "opinion" seriously. moreover, there are certain circumstances where i absolutely should not waste any time pretending that i respect their right to be wrong. if i'm calculating the stress capacity for a highway overpass, for instance -- any task where getting the right answer is important, because getting it wrong will endanger others -- i would at best be wasting time and/or money and at worst be engaging in criminal negligence were i to extend any due consideration to their opinion.

not that i think killing the GLBT center would collapse highway overpasses, or anything. but how many men and women have to become the victims of discrimination and violence before people like this dude stop contesting our right to exist? how long are people are going to treat us as though maintaining that we should not be harassed and devalued and disadvantaged is asking for special treatment?

how long will it take for people to realize that the best way to reduce the necessity of places like the GLBT resource center is to stop attacking and complaining about it at every turn?

to sum up: you are entitled to the opinion that cobra starship sucks. you are not entitled to the opinion that other people's sexuality is any of your fucking business, or that you get to treat them differently because of it.

(cobras never say die, y'all)

25 April 2011

oh my

this made me cry.

also, i got an email yesterday from the battalion asking me if i would send them a picture so they could publish a version of my muster post as a guest column. i...don't have one. /o\

but: it appears that they found an equally great guest columnist. \o/

21 April 2011

got a little story for you, internet

this is a story about a very special holiday celebrated every year on san jacinto day, 21 april, the anniversary of the 1836 battle at which texas gained its independence from mexico. since 1922 it has also been a day for texas a&m aggies to gather, recall their days as students, and remember their absent comrades and friends. since world war II, we have called this day muster.

texas a&m is an interesting place. the university as it exists today is so very different from the tiny land-grant military college established by the texas legislature in 1871, but current and former students continually strive to maintain a lot of the culture established during its first few decades -- values that the first aggies, most of them poor farmers' sons, brought with them when they arrived on the campus of the agricultural and mechanical college of texas beginning in 1876. muster is, essentially, the convergence of several of these values: family, fellowship, and duty towards the fallen.

it is, to paraphrase in the extreme, a Big Fucking Deal.

i didn't attend muster until i was 19, but my first experience with aggies united to remember and support their own came several years earlier. americans and especially texans probably recall the bonfire collapse of 1999; i recall it because one of the kids who was killed was the youngest child of extremely dear friends of my family. i was a little too young to know him personally, but i have known and loved his parents since i was eleven years old. my mother was one of the people his dad called in the middle of the night on november 18th to let us know that stack had fallen.

his funeral was so crowded that hundreds of people ended up packed into the foyers and aisles at our modestly-sized church. there were speakers set up outside so that mourners seated on the lawn in folding chairs could hear the service.

a lot of those people were parishioners and friends. but a lot of them weren't.

i start to tear up just thinking about it, even now.

i bring this up not because i'm trying to establish some sort of aggie cred or whatnot; i only want to try and explains what it means when i say that as a demonstration of solidarity, support, and strength in the face of grief, muster leaves that day in the dust. and we hold muster every single year.

more than any other of the myriad traditions associated with texas a&m, i feel like muster is really when we put our money where our mouths are with regard our bluster about all belonging to the aggie family. with a lot of other institutions, claiming to be a family would be -- is, even -- empty rhetoric meant to cajole donations out of alumni. not so a&m.

once an aggie, always an aggie, we say. no "ex-students" of texas a&m; if you were among us once, we will stand with you always. even if you never attended a single day of classes -- although thankfully, this year campus muster will only count one from the class of 2014. i didn't know him. i don't even know where he's from. i will probably never know. but because i am part of the family that boy chose, because in choosing that family he chose me, i likewise choose to mourn for him and for all of the joys and sorrows he would have endured alongside me in this family, this state, this country, this planet.

muster is on a very fundamental level about how we all belong, and about how the least of us is just as worthy of remembrance as the greatest. it doesn't matter who we are. our colors and churches and classes don't matter. we are all aggies, and we honor our own.

so imagine, then, the overwhelming horror i felt when -- on this of all possible days -- i found out that the following resolution passed the texas a&m student senate at their meeting last night:
Whereas: The Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center is partially funded by student fees.

Let it be
That it is the opinion of the students of Texas A&M University that the university should provide equal funding for family and traditional values education, as well as alternative sexual education...

(full resolution available here)

now, the fact that the student senate (charitably described as "a bunch of careerist junior republicans" by my aggie best friend) produced this garbage isn't really surprising. they've been trying to find an excuse to defund the campus GLBT resource center for years, and this isn't even the first time i've written about it. i suppose it's a little surprising that they're using this separate-but-equal tactic, if only because it's so manifestly stupid, but then again, when i was a student i actually witnessed an anti-marriage equality protest wherein a dude "married" his bike. i guess they couldn't get the administration to allow them to bring a goat onto main campus for political purposes.

honestly, their argument isn't any more absurd than any of the dozens of other versions of it that queer advocacy groups get bombarded with every single day. at any other time, this would just be business as usual: see the news pop up on metafilter, roll eyes, forward to friends with a few exclamation points, and then go about the day's business.

but today is not a usual day. today is the day when aggies come together to affirm their support for one another. today is the day, more than any other, when we show that we are a family.

the student senate, in their wisdom, decided that today would be a grand day to openly attack part of that family. and worse, then they decided that it would be appropriate to sign that attack with the names of 46,000 members of that family, thousands of whom will be assembling in a few hours' time to do right by their fellow aggies at the campus muster ceremony.

and to that i say: no.

a&m student senate, you don't get to do that. you do not have the right to taint today with bigotry and hate, and the fact that you thought it not only appropriate but fair to do such a thing makes me wonder about you. something like this goes so far beyond bad bull; it undermines not only the very values that you are disingenuously claiming to stand for, but the entire spirit of both muster and of texas a&m.

when i started writing this post, i was agonizing over whether i should even go to my local muster this year. i wasn't sure how i could square the sick feeling i had in my chest over this with not just my responsibility but my desire to honor my aggie family? how many of them would approve of the sophistry which the elected representatives of current students have so proudly endorsed? can i even claim them as family at all?

i still don't know the answer to those questions, but i do know this: if you can't set aside your prejudices in order to support your fellow aggies, on this day especially, then i'm not sure you deserve to be counted among this family at all.

softly call the muster -- i'll be there.

rachel '07

30 March 2011

good morning, internets!

i have been absent lately because i've been moving (from one apartment to another just down the street, most annoying of moves ever) while simultaneously attempting to kick what seems like the most persistent case of upper respiratory death plague in human history. it is the gift that keeps on giving, if you consider fevers and coughing and, yesterday, an absolutely prostrating migraine to be gifts.

anyway, there's been a lot on the docket that i would have liked to post about, if i hadn't been too busy packing and/or being sick, but being as how i am already totally fucking miserable, i will refrain from commenting on these topics (i.e. chris brown, scott adams, and gerard way and bonus hypocrisy) and instead point you to two awesome, awesome instances of jerks getting called out.

first, following an incident at sxsw in which ben foster of the punk band screeching weasel punched a lady audience member, the other four members of his band quit because they don't want to deal with his bullshit anymore:

The un-calculated act put forth by Ben Foster leading up to and including the violence that erupted on stage is seen by the band as shameful and embarrassing. The sentiments and actions expressed were completely out of our control and in no way represent the band members' view points or moral compasses. As a result, the band has discussed at length and has come to the conclusion that as a group we will not likely be able to muster the dignity to attempt a live performance as "Screeching Weasel" in the for-seeable future. We each look forward to re-evaluating our involvement in the band as we move forward if we are given the opportunity.

and second, a senior writer at bioware by the name of david gaider responded to privileged whining from a self-described "straight male gamer" who doesn't think that dragon age 2 caters to him enough with the following:

The romances in the game are not for "the straight male gamer." They're for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don't need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant...and that's ignoring the idea that they don't have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The "rights" of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent "right" to get more options than anyone else.

and thirdly: officially -- that is, according to Science -- abortion is safer than having a baby. or at least it is in the UK!

and fourthly, because it is awesome, i have added no more lost to my blogroll.

stay gold, friends, i'll be back in full-on rage mode ASAP.

10 March 2011

another day, another rage blackout

this is all the fuck over, but: vicious assault shakes texas town:
The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions.

well, i know i'd have some questions, if 18 dudes i knew kidnapped an eleven year old girl and filmed each other raping her! for instance, "would it be possible for us to take those dudes out back and shoot them?"

just kidding, i don't believe in the death penalty.

however! read on, plucky adventurers!
Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?

"It’s just destroyed our community," said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. "These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives."


. . .

. . .

and the rest of it goes on like that. she dressed like a much older girl, so it's her fault. (and apparently 20-year-olds deserve to be raped for...dressing like 20-year-olds?) her mother didn't keep an eye on her, so it's her fault. these "boys" (the eldest is apparently 27) were "drawn into" this business; they didn't make a conscious decision to abduct and repeatedly rape a child.

this is truly atrocious on so many levels that i barely know where to start. didn't stop me from calling the NYT correction/retraction line (888-NYT-NEWS) and demanding an apology in writing, but there have been good responses elsewhere:
This is the point at which, as the writer's editor, I would send him an email. "Dear James," it would say. "Thanks for getting this in! I have some concerns that we've only got quotes from people who are worried about the suspects ('The arrests have left many wondering who will be taken into custody next') and think the girl was asking for it, especially since, even if she actually begged for it, the fact that she is 11 makes the incident stupendously reprehensible (not to mention still illegal). We don't want anyone wrongly thinking you are being lazy or thoughtless or misogynist! Please advise if literally no other kinds of quotes are available because every single person who lives in Cleveland, Texas, is a monster."

02 March 2011

here is a post i meant to make yesterday!

so yesterday was not a good day for me. this article was the second thing i read after i woke up. but as i was reading my news feed and contemplating what to write about it, this article came up on my news feed. and, granted, that is much less unexpected, i think, since it's about creationists also being homophobic bigots, but i figured i could get some amusing cheap shots in.

and then this showed up, and i pretty much had a rage blackout at my desk and didn't write anything or get any actual work (for which i get paid) done for the rest of the day.

but! today i am, in fact, going to discuss that slate piece, or at least point to this one part of it:
As Baumeister and Vohs note, sex in consensual relationships therefore commences only when women decide it does.


seriously, though, this whole article is just precious. you usually know it's going to be a doozy when a dude is posting to double-x (blog subtitle: what women really think about news, politics, and culture), but this is really a gem of absolute fail.

in case you have been living on a different planet for the past half-century and/or lack even the most rudimentary understanding of statistics, marriage as we know it -- one man, one woman, unequal incomes, 2.5 kids, picket fences, etc. -- is On Its Way Out. but even if you don't note things like the divorce rate or the steady increase in nuptial age, the amount of nonsensical, offensive, and desperate pushback against a changing view of heterosexual relationships would tell you that something is definitely Up.

what i find most interesting about this is the flat refusal to look at direct evidence of change as...evidence of change. at least where ladies are concerned. and i get that all of that is wrapped up in gender essentialism, which just about everyone with any sort of say in media or pop culture is heavily invested in defending, but the vehemence of it still surprises me sometimes.

if more ladies are engaging in relationships to pursue sexual satisfaction rather than lifelong companionship and financial security, so the conventional narrative goes, it must be because men have changed. women can't possibly have realized that, by and large, in an economy that is finally beginning to recognize and reward their willingness and ability to work just as hard as men, marriage doesn't actually benefit them anymore.

the misogyny inherent in these assumptions is pretty staggering! and also pretty pathetic. but it's also inevitable, given gender essentialism! because if all ladies are desiring of this one gold-standard sort of relationship -- which neither gender really seems to want all that much nowadays -- then the decline of this kind of relationship must actively disadvantage ladies. if relationships are trending shorter in duration, lower on commitment, higher in turnover, and more focused on sex, it must mean that men are...what? yanking on puppet strings in order to get what they want out of women?

funny how the cited national longitudinal study of adolescent health wasn't consulted as to relationship trends as reported by actual ladies. almost all of the statistical evidence in the article is focused on men, and all they could get out of ladies, apparently, was anecdata from college students. is that because the numbers don't exist, or because they don't support the columnist's thesis? you make the call.

the author is definitely right that somebody here is pulling our strings, but it certainly isn't dudes sitting at home on their couches. maybe we should start pointing fingers elsewhere.

22 February 2011

a strong contender for "best idea ever" has appeared

in my small linkspam of earlier today, i linked to the opencongress report on the vote to defund planned parenthood. i am not going to go into the reasons why this vote was stupid, meaningless, and counterproductive to actually improving things for anybody in this country, but behold, it is as though the Gods of Internet Feminism heard and were moved by my unvoiced cries of woe.

thus i present to you: http://boehnerforpp.tumblr.com/
You can donate as little as $5, or as much as you want! For every person who does this, John Boehner will get a card saying a gift has been made to Planned Parenthood in his name.

i would also suggest making donations in the name of antichoice congressthings, especially your own, if you have been cursed with one as i have.

reminder: find and contact any congressperson here


there have been lots of things happening lately to piss me off. in fact so many things to piss me off have happened lately that i could have made every word in that sentence, as well as every word in this sentence, into a link to something that pissed me off!

frankly, i'm afraid to open up my news feed. i still do it, but there's that shameful little moment of hesitation before i can click the "reader" link, wherein i wonder if i wouldn't be better off if, maybe, just this once, i could take a day off from caring so goddamned much.

yeah, yeah, i'm such a martyr.

anyway, in lieu of choosing one thing from the very, very many things that make me angry to talk about, i'm going to write about this:
She's her district's pony-tailed, 112-pound champion wrestler, boy or girl, kangaroo or camel. She's not a tulip, isn't a Jane Austen character, and doesn't wilt in the heat.

So why did her first opponent in the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament default rather than wrestle her?

Because "wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times," said 16-year-old home-schooled sophomore Joel Northrup, in a statement. "As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner."

it's a good column, and the columnist is unlikely to fill you with rage. go read it.

anyway, i very unsurprisingly have thoughts about this. first among them is: man, that dude's dad must be a real piece of work. because sixteen-year-old star athlete dudes, no matter how devout and gentlemanly, as a rule do not come up with that shit on their own, and the fact that said star athlete dude left the tournament literally in tears would seem to lend credence to my highly scientific (not scientific) theory that he cares more about winning than he does about engaging girls in appropriate ways.

second among them is: man, i have never heard of someone saying "she's my son" about a (presumptively) non-trans child. actually, come to think of it, i don't think i've ever heard of someone saying that about any child with pride or affection.

it would seem to me cassy herkelman is one lucky kid. maybe her family wouldn't mind taking in one more? i think that joel northrup needs new parents.

also, i hope that they meet again in the tournament next year -- she's a freshman and he's a sophomore, so they've both got years of high school competition left. i can't tell you what would happen, because i know next to nothing about wrestling in general and absolute jack SHIT about iowa high school wrestling in particular, but i'm willing to bet it would at least be an interesting match.

18 February 2011

today in lols

a stunning bit of inadvertent self-awareness from al cardenas, chair of the american conservative union:
“If you are a group, and this has got nothing to do with your orientation,” said Cardenes, “of straight couples, and you advocate gay marriage, that’s not within the scope of what we believe the three legs of the stool of the movement are.”

(emphasis mine)

i love it when they just lay it out for us like that. who says there's no straight talk (lol) in politics anymore?

15 February 2011

honor killings: coming soon to a south dakota near you!

mother jones reports:
A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.
all flippant one-liners aside, though: what the fuck?

if you click over, you will see that rep. jensen's response to the internet at large asking that very question is "it's only if the person being justifiably homicided is trying to commit a crime!" and that sounds great until you remember that this is a state that actually had a total abortion ban signed into law in 2006.

i've had this article kicking around my inbox with a "blogqueue" tag for the past week and a half while i tried to decide exactly what i wanted to say. i still can't really organize my thoughts about it; just rereading it now has made me sort of sick to my stomach.

all of these efforts to make abortion more difficult, dangerous, and expensive are textbook studies of the law of unintended consequences. a zygote is a legal person? whoops, a woman who miscarries has just committed manslaughter. your daughter wants an abortion? south dakota wants to make it legally justifiable for you to kill whoever's taking her to the clinic and every person who works there.

i have a lot of trouble believing that anyone could be evil enough to intend these effects. but honestly? i think evil would be a much more comfortable explanation. as it is, the conclusion i keep drawing, over and over again, is that these statutes come into being not because antichoicers are evil, or even because they're stupid. it's because they don't care.

they don't care that pregnancy can kill us. they don't care that even with all contraceptive due diligence, accidents still happen. they don't care that an egg can't tell your boyfriend's and your rapist's spermatozoa apart. they don't care about the millions of single mothers living in poverty, and they don't care about the millions of children in the foster system who despair of ever finding loving families.

misogyny is undoubtedly evil, but the thing about an oppressive system is that it makes tons of people, who given the choice would not choose to be oppressors, complicit in oppression. and the rhetoric about protecting life -- in which my esteemed congressman is apparently so well-versed -- is a smokescreen that exists to maintain that complicity. and it is a mistake to tar all antichoicers with the same brush. possessing the privilege of being insulated from poverty, the fear of sexual violence, and inadequate health care doesn't make someone a bad person; only refusing to own it does. and if someone doesn't care about you, it is wrong to condemn them without giving them the chance to care by using your voice.

so i guess what i'm trying to say is hooray for mother jones. hopefully that article will separate a few more of the well-meaning but ignorant prolifers from monsters like phil jensen.

11 February 2011

a quick word

so yesterday, charlie parker of san antonio's first news was commenting on the christopher lee debacle, and he made me very angry!

and i wrote his co-host and asked for a transcript or recording of the show so that i could source this post, but apparently they don't keep them around (or just don't make them available to random ladies on the internet, more likely). thus you have to take my word for it when i report that mr. parker called mr. lee's would-be ladyfriend a skank and a snitch, and said she should have kept her mouth shut.

also, she apparently shouldn't have been suspicious that he was lying to her, because everyone on craigslist lies, so she...? should have just stopped talking to him, i guess, and not exposed him for an adultering sack of shit.

i wonder what mrs. lee would think of that!

there was some speculation on wednesday afternoon and evening on what the republicans would do to spin this so it wouldn't make their social conservatism act look even more ridiculous and hypocritical than it already is. what i want to know is why they even bothered asking, when the scandal comes with a built-in person to blame!

...the lady, of course. what, you think they'd actually blame a rich white dude for something?

10 February 2011

republicans are dumb, film at 11

from the los angeles times, dateline about a month ago:
"We want to promote economic freedom, a strong national defense and social conservativism. We think these policies are indivisible," said Mike Gonzales, the think tank's vice president for communications. "It's not a boutique. You can't pick one and not the other."

translation: "we want the government to enforce an inflexible and oppressive social status quo so that nobody will whine as we steal their money and kill brown people."

alright, but seriously, folks...

actually, i can't think of a more charitable way to translate that statement. possibly i'm not creative enough. or maybe the dude is just that big an asshole. your call.

09 February 2011

more fun with congressthings!

so mr. canseco wrote me back. and by "wrote me back" i mean sent me an "i'm sorry you're pro-choice :(" piece of shit form letter.

Dear Rachel:

Thank you for contacting me to let me know of your opposition to H.R. 3 the “No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act.” While we don’t see eye-to-eye on this issue, I appreciate having the benefit of your thoughts on this issue.

It is my ardent belief in the sanctity of life and the right to life for every unborn child. I am a strong believer that life begins at conception and that innocent lives must be protected. Our Founding Fathers believed that all Americans have certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that these rights must be protected. As a Member of Congress, it is my duty to defend the rights of all Americans, especially those who cannot stand up for themselves.

As you know, the “No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act” (H.R. 3) would establish a government-wide prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortion. This legislation ensures that millions of Americans who believe in the sanctity of life do not see their tax dollars used to destroy innocent life.

Again, thank you for contacting me. In the future, if there is anything else with which I may assist you, please feel free to contact me. To keep track of what is happening in Congress, I encourage you to visit my website at http://canseco.house.gov/, my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/RepCanseco, or follow me on my twitter site http://twitter.com/RepCanseco.

Francisco “Quico” Canseco
Member of Congress

and because i am objectively better than he is, i wrote him a response. too bad i couldn't add "and if you would actually engage with my arguments this time that would be great, thanks in advance" to the end.

this is so difficult. how utterly insulting to be told that we as women matter less than any potential lives we might temporarily house in our uteruses, and then easily dismissed or ignored when we protest this indefensible injustice because we...have uteruses. it's like a grandly unfunny chicken-or-egg question, except that you can't look clever by remarking that dinosaurs laid eggs.

i don't know, maybe i'd be less bitter if i were talking to a woman.

Mr. Canseco,

Thank you for taking the time to write me back. I appreciate the response.

I do not appreciate, however, having my concerns about the rights of rape survivors dismissed with a list of pro-life platitudes.

You say that as a member of Congress, it is your duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I strongly agree with this precept, but if I may be so bold, do you extend that duty to all of the oppressed and voiceless? Because I see no reason why women who are victims of rape, poverty, and utterly inadequate education are less deserving of your protection than the unborn.

I am aware and extremely thankful that the "forcible rape" language was removed from H.R. 3, and I assume that change extends to H.R. 358, which duplicates it in its original form as accessible online. But there is a much larger issue at play here: is it really just to legislate safe and legal abortion out of the reach of the women who need it most, when that action may destroy their lives? Ensuring that women in poverty will remain there by denying them access to the contraceptive of last resort, especially when taken in concert with denial of access to decent preventative care, seems to me to be a poor way to represent them in government. If you are going to pledge to protect the sanctity of life, perhaps it would be wiser to begin with persons who are biologically independent.

And finally, while I respect your dedication to the founding principles of this nation and that references to the Declaration of Independence play well with your base, I must remind you that the Declaration does not and has never carried the force of law -- and even if it did, nowhere in that august document are fetuses mentioned. And furthermore, I implore you to consider how your rhetoric concerning the Life and Liberty of the unborn negatively affects the Safety and Happiness of 51% of your constituency.

Rachel K. Clair

his note had typist's initials at the bottom, like an old-school memorandum. i should have shouted out to him/her.

so, uh. A.F., do you actually believe all the fuckery he makes you type?

08 February 2011

boldly going!

reason #2837461827361 why sir patrick stewart is awesome:
"The entertainment industry has been extremely irresponsible in perpetuating and stereotyping the violent attitudes of men to women," said Stewart, best known for his portrayal of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek.

"I condemn utterly films like Kill Bill. We are told it is about empowering women. All it does is empower a woman to kill other women."

from the guardian

07 February 2011

addendum to last

it was brought to my attention that pittsburgh was not the only team with an accused rapist on their roster.

but at least green bay kept theirs on the inactive list the whole season, despite the circumstances surrounding the incident being somewhat murkier.

let's hope we unload him soon.

super bowl XLV: the reckoning

confession time: i am a dyed-in-the-wool, die-hard green bay packers fan.

you may surmise, correctly, from this fact that last night was a very good night for me. but as awesome as it feels to have your boys walk away from the biggest game of the year jubilant that they're bringing lombardi's trophy home, i likewise confess that as much as i wanted my team to win, i think i wanted the steelers to lose even more.

schadenfreude: i has it

there was a whole lot of talk yesterday during pregame (all eight hours of it) about all of the "obstacles" that ben roethlisberger has had to overcome this season, about what a hard road it's been, about how he's had to rise above "problems" in his personal life in order to lead pittsburgh to their third super bowl in six years. sub the word "injury" in for "suspension" and it would have been extremely difficult to tell whether they were referring to the two women who were brave enough to come forward with rape allegations against him, or a repeat of his 2006 motorcycle crash. i guess if he'd been injured, they wouldn't have suspended him without pay, so that's something. the problem, of course, is that "something" isn't enough.

it horrifies me that michael vick was crucified in the press and sent to prison for mistreating dogs, but ben roethlisberger got off with a six-game suspension that was reduced to four after he raped a human woman in a bar bathroom while his bodyguards stood outside the door. regardless of whether one thinks that vick got what he deserved, how in the sainted fuck is that in any way defensible?

oh, right, rape culture.

so to say that last night's game mattered to me is a huge understatement. at championship time, even the most rational of fans tends to take things a little too seriously, a little too personally -- and i've never claimed to be the most rational of anything. if a career-ending injury for #7 accompanied the humiliation i so dearly hoped that the pack could dish out to pittsburgh on my behalf, so much the better.

that i had that absolutely earnest thought process is appalling, but i did and do believe that on the field was the only way roethlisberger (and the steelers organization which continues to play him, even though there's plenty of smoke coming from that fire) was going to get any sort of comeuppance.

so. ask me if i'm happy the pack won. the answer: yes, absolutely. i may or may not have cried when they showed woodson after the game ended, i was that happy for him, for my team, and for the city of green bay.

now ask me if i'm happy the steelers lost.

the answer: couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

04 February 2011

here is a pretty good statement of purpose

discovered while playing linkfrog from sociological images:

Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be "Why can't you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can't you just enjoy it? Why do you have to analyze it???"

If you have posted such a comment, or if you are about to post such a comment, here or anywhere else, let me just advise you: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Shut your goddamn fucking mouth. SHUT. UP.

First of all, when we analyze art, when we look for deeper meaning in it, we are enjoying it for what it is...

this is an attitude -- not the one that the redoubtable josh wimmer is expressing, the one he is railing against -- that i encounter all the everloving time and i don't think i've ever been able to argue against it quite this cogently. probably because i was too mad.

the entire purpose of creating and sharing art, for whatever definition of "art" one employs, is to say something about other things. this can be complicated or very, very simple, but when you put something of yours out there, you are starting a conversation. and you might not like all of the response, but that doesn't absolve you from dealing with it. it doesn't remove whatever consequences result from what you say.

the first step in effective activism is getting people who don't want to acknowledge this -- the fundamental responsibility of something as simple as having a conversation -- to accept that the discussion has already begun.

and we can't take for granted that it's something we've already accomplished.

31 January 2011

letter: no taxpayer funding for silencing rape survivors

Mr. Canseco,

It is a terrible and terribly unfortunate fact that we live in a society where one in four women will experience sexual assault during her lifetime. And even more unfortunately, we live in a society that does everything it can to demean, belittle, dismiss, and silence those 25% of women who experience rape and sexual assault.

Regardless of one's personal politics with regard to reproductive choice, it is absolutely reprehensible for a government which is meant to protect all of its citizens -- and which fails utterly to do so for as many as 85% of the rape victims who have the courage to demand justice -- to abet the evils of rape culture. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion's artificial distinction between "forcible rape" and "all other kinds of rape which are no less rape because the victim was unable or unwilling to fight back" is nothing less than that -- a clear message to women that Congress does not care about us or our dignity not just as women, but as human beings.

As your constituent I urge you to vote against this message and to encourage your colleagues to do the same. This is not a partisan issue. This is not a religious issue. This is an issue of basic human decency.

Rachel K. Clair

to contact quico canseco (r), 23rd texas district: here

to find and contact any other congressperson: here