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Monthly Archives: July 2011

For Norway

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I don’t know what to say to things like this. I remember watching the coverage of the Oklahoma city bombing as a child, and how senseless and awful it all was. This is senseless and awful. This is all of the things I hate and fear the most, and wish would never have to happen again. This is why feminism and socialism must persist– if we were not slowly and steadily changing things for the better, anti-feminists and fascists would not be so disturbed by the progress being made.

Even writing that seems hard, and wrong, as if maybe capitulating, shutting up, sitting down, giving up, would be acceptable if they could promise that no one else would die. But then I know that it’s never enough. There is not enough surrender to make people like that stop wanting to hurt anyone who is not like them. They may even believe that there is some theoretical point of absolute debasement that would satisfy them, but history and the unnamed victims of patriarchy and colonization, of unchecked capitalism and imperialism are always there to remind us that there is no satisfaction for men like Anders Behring Breivik, because what they are afraid of, what they hate, is in themselves.

So I know that there is no salvation from this kind of violence in surrender to it.

What I don’t know is how to balance the demands of a civil society, with tolerance and openness and fairness and democracy, against the need to isolate and excoriate these kinds of ideas, which follow a predictable path to terrible violence again and again.

At what point do we start making note of the correlative relationship between misogyny and violence, between misogyny and authoritarianism, between authoritarianism and inequality– at what point do we decide to teach children about these things, to use our social power to shame these ideas into silence, because they are bad ideas, and they corrupt the people who hold them.

How many times? How much time?

It is no great shock to me that a person so severely misogynist, so seriously racist, would target children. I believe that the otherness and weakness people like that see in themselves is projected onto whoever is “othered” by society, but enacted against whoever is most vulnerable. It’s the same logic that causes people to agitate for an end to legal abortion, and an end to social programs benefiting children.

In the end, I believe that the need for a civil society to freely allow a plurality of ideas, even bad ideas, necessitates that the state does not interfere in the expression of such ideas. But society must. Individuals must. This was not a lone gunman, this was a person acting on common rhetoric, acting from within a community. This kind of rhetoric must be socially unacceptable.

We have to topple the structures that enable this kind of thinking from below and laterally, rather than from above. That means more empathy, more compassion, more outreach and care.

That means that people suffering from fear and depression, need resources and widespread community care.

The answer to hatred and violence, is compassion, kindness and solidarity, but never, ever, surrender.





In Re: The Blogosphere Lately

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A Brief List of Shit You Should Not Do:

The Atheist Elevator Debacle

Dictate another person’s boundaries

Decide that you are entitled to their time and/or attention

Approach them in an enclosed space with no other people present, acknowledge that you’re being inappropriate, but boldly soldier on

Insist that women are responsible for magically intuiting the desires of sad, socially inept men

Suggest that men are literally incapable of following accepted social guidelines, then accuse feminists of being “misandrist”

Turn someone’s story of a creepy come-on into the most contrived controversy ever

The Hugo Schwyzer Paternity Kerfluffle

Compare “paternity fraud” (really, guys?) to rape

Decide that a brief run-down of what is no doubt a very complicated story gives you enough information to make sweeping judgments about everyone involved

Shriek about “poor Ted” and “horrible Jill,”apparently oblivious to the inconsistency in who you’re willing to give the benefit of the doubt/assume the absolute best intentions

Leave a wall of text, using information lifted from Wikipedia, that accuses the author of being a psychopath. That’s just stupid

Say that you would stop loving your kid if you found out he wasn’t biologically yours. Not only does that make you a terrible person, it’s a lie—because if that’s all it would take to make you stop loving your son, you never really loved him to begin with

Get so hung up on the details of the story that you completely miss the overarching point of the article. (For the record, I was pretty squicked out by the story, but in the end I agree with Schwyzer—DNA doesn’t make a parent)

Mac McLelland’s Horrible Article to Which I Will Not Link

Grossly mischaracterize PTSD (Protip: You don’t get a diagnosis so soon after the traumatic event—like all mental disorders, you have to demonstrate an established pattern of behavior. Also, if she really had PTSD, “rough sex” would not have been a cure.)

Falsely equivocate bystander trauma with first-hand trauma

Make someone else’s rape about you

Turn a horrible story of a Haitian woman’s rape into a tale of Privileged White Lady Pain

Be so lazy in your use of language that your writing blurs the very-super-obvious line between sex and rape

Criticize her article on the grounds that she’s OMG SO TOTALLY SLUTTY instead of “wow, what a terrible narcissistic asshole”

This and This

Freely admit to being a stat rapist (2:14 in the video), revealing how utterly unconcerned you are with the potential legal repercussions, then deny that we live in a rape culture. (Yes, that person probably wouldn’t give you his real name, but his IP could be traced)

Be one of those horrible people. I can’t even.

I Have Questions For the English-Only Movement

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Or more specifically, for the movement’s largest and most vocal organization, U.S. English.

Q: So uh, first off, why do you call yourself U.S. English? Why not The U.S. English Organization or something? As it stands, your name is a little unclear.

A: Because we control all the English! Or at least the U.S. English. IT IS OURS.

Q: Oh, alright then. Well, maybe you could explain your position to me a little more, as it sounds, to laypersons such as myself, like a huge pile of bullshit.

A: Well, duh, making English the official language of the U.S. will make life better for immigrants, because it forces them to learn things, which, as we all know, immigrants are generally averse to doing.

Q: Yeah. Lazy immigrants. That’s not racism, it’s just truth! Anyway, I’m sure I’m not the first person to observe that trying to make English the official language of a country that is still home to so many indigenous languages, or at least the ones that have thrived in spite of what amounts to mass genocide, is a little—

A: We don’t actually address that anywhere on our website, so I don’t know what to tell you there.

Q: So you don’t see the hypocrisy in telling immigrants to learn English without having learned the indigenous language most common to your particular region of the country yourself?

A: No.

Q: Not to press the issue, but do you genuinely not see how offensive this is? English isn’t in any danger of dying out, but many—most, even—indigenous languages are. English doesn’t need to be preserved; it’s doing just fine. I mean, I totally support attempts to preserve endangered languages, like the indigenous languages I just mentioned. Or if you want to go across the ocean, take a language like Welsh, which, unlike English, isn’t even an official language of Wales. See, that’s a language that needs preserving. Wintu needs preserving. But English? English is thriving like a goddamn mosquito by a river.

A: A mosquito by a river?

Q: Look, I have six bites on one hand. I’m pissy. But you see my point.

A: Not really. We’re a bunch of clueless assholes.

Q: Well that just gives me a sad. The US is basically one big colony, you know? And to actually try and pass legislation mandating that people learn the language of the colonizers while native languages continue to die out is just—

A: Can we change the subject? Examining my privilege feels weird.

Q: Alright, fine. My next question is a more practical one, namely, should you succeed, what do you expect this movement to accomplish?

A: Force the dumb immigrants to speak good, of course.

Q: Right. But you know, on your website, you list all the states that have English-only laws, as well as the states that have the largest populations that speak English worse than “very well,” and there’s some overlap. Like California. California has English as its official state language, but also has the largest population of people who speak English “less than very well” of any other state in the nation. Doesn’t that kind of undercut your argument?

A: Hey now—

Q: I’m also wondering how, if English were to be declared the national language of the U.S., you would go about enforcing that. I mean, are you going to hand out citations every time you hear someone speaking a language other than English? Because you make this big point of being all, we totally support people learning other languages, but your position doesn’t really seem to support that.

A: Duh, Paprika, if English is declared the official language, it will be the only language used in government, and on driver’s license exams, and on signage—

Q: Wait. So if shit goes your way, people who don’t speak English fluently won’t be able to get driver’s licenses?

A: It’s already that way in Arkansas.

Q: Well fuck.

A:We win!

Q: Not yet. Look, I’ve yet to see any proof that your arguments stem from anything other than good old-fashioned racism. You cite national unity as an argument in favor of English-Only, implying that Amurrica is fractured and inharmonious—which, duh—but you fail to provide a causal link between linguistic diversity and general shittasticness. I mean, this isn’t an especially linguistically diverse country anyway, and what diversity we have is due in large part to languages that are becoming obsolete. We don’t generally encourage our native English speakers to learn other languages, but we insist on immigrants learning English. We ignore how difficult English is (and sorry, but some of the most ardent supports of the EOM can barely compose a coherent sentence), and don’t even consider how much more difficult it is for adults to acquire new languages. (You know that statistic you cite about the age disparity in immigrants who speak English “very well”? Yeah, well, I guarantee that’s related to how easily children pick up new languages compared to adults.) I also think it’s interesting that you act purely as a lobbying group, and don’t actually do anything to help immigrants learn English, short of linking to the US English Foundation. And although this foundation supposedly sponsors English classes for immigrants, they also make a point of saying, in their mission statement, that language learning assistance should be “short-term and transitional,” and that one of their goals is “to raise public awareness about the importance of our common language.” Specifying in the mission statement that the immigrants should only be granted “short-term and transitional” language assistance raises plenty of red flags, and suggests that they don’t really understand how the whole language acquisition thing works. And I have to wonder, too, if your goal is simply to lobby for legislation that supports your dream of a magical English-Only wonderland, why don’t you try to pass laws that, say, mandate the availability of free English classes to immigrants? That would be far more helpful than simply banning Spanish driver’s license exams.

A: So what’s your point?

Q: My point is that you don’t really care about national unity. You don’t care if everyone lives in perfect harmony, you just want brown people to act less brown. I mean, hell, if you were even advocating for an artificial language to bridge the gap between different nationalities, I’d think it was a needlessly complex approach, but I’d believe you when you said you were just trying to help. But what you’re doing with this movement is creating the illusion of a problem which you then try to correct with a plan fundamentally rooted in racism. Do you really believe people emigrate to the US expecting to never have to learn the language? Of course not. But there aren’t many resources available to immigrants—and I’m not just referring to illegal immigrants either, but to all of them—and at any rate, if you seriously have a problem with people holding on to their native languages and cultures, then you are terrible. Objectively terrible. And the legislation you’re trying to push through won’t do anything but make things more difficult.

A: Yeah, well, what’s your solution?

Q: I don’t think we should have a national language at all, personally, but if it went to a vote and my side lost, I’d say that at the very least we should declare more than one. That’s not actually very unusual, you know—ever heard of Switzerland? Declare English, Spanish, and maybe French. Keep signage in multiple languages; offer licensing exams in multiple languages. Encourage our children to learn languages besides English, because being multilingual is great. I don’t think we get to demand that immigrants be bilingual without making an effort ourselves. People will always figure out a way to communicate—you don’t need to pass legislation demanding that we communicate in one way. Basically, don’t opt to limit our knowledge; opt to expand it. Offer free classes in Spanish and English. Work to preserve indigenous languages. Don’t be an asshole. It’s really quite simple.

A: Do you ever shut up?

Q: No, actually.

A: I barely talked at all in this interview.

Q: Of course you didn’t. This was really just a platform for me to pontificate. Thanks for playing, though!

A: …

The End.

In which I segue carefully into my thoughts about BDSM

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The way I feel in summer is the state in which I imagine that children perpetually exist– sticky, overwrought and full of angst. I have no patience. My skin is an exciting chinle formation. I wish to be covered in cucumber slices and placed gently on a bed of moss in a walk in fridge.

I feel vaguely disconnected from everything, because I’m so focused on finding work, any work.

I’ve read about the atheist kerfluffle, and the BDSM (mac whats-her-name) boondoggle, and the same sexist shit which keeps on coming in with the relentless regularity of these god damned fucking mosquitos.

For the first kerfluffle– I have nothing to say really except, fuck, the patriarchy is like a planarian. Cut off one half and it just grows itself back.

For the second. I’m a little afraid to write about it.  Because I have…dissonance (?) with BDSM. Personally.

Not in the you’re a bad person for your kink way at all. I don’t get to interrogate other people’s desires. Not in the you’re a bad feminist/womanist/anything else at all either. As a disclaimer, I should note that the way *I* work, is that sexy times arousal and violent times arousal are completely different physical, emotional, and even spiritual experiences for me. They are not routed from the same power station, the cables do not cross, the venn diagram has no overlap.

That is not how other people work, and there is nothing wrong or broken about that.

In the same way as an examination and dare I say hatred of the patriarchy is not about individual men, my discomfort with BDSM is not about individuals.

But. Here’s my problem. So much of the turn on with BDSM seems to rely on the paradox that while those participating are enthusiastically consenting, somewhere, someone is not. I could be wrong about this. Please, feel free to comment on my massive level of wrongness.

But it seems like if it were not really happening, somewhere to someone, in a non consenting way, that if it did not hold an echo of that, the appeal would be gone. It would be as arousing as anemone division, or flower reproduction or any of the myriad other ways and kinds of sex that go on unnoticed by humans.

I don’t know how to mentally or emotionally undo that paradox. That’s basically my problem the whole violent sex helped me get over my trauma about someone elses rape article which I will not link to.

Well, that- and also the person who deserves to talk about the trauma of that sexual assault experience or not, is you know, the survivor. Who happens to be standing at the intersection of some identities that are the opposite of privileged. I have real issues with the appropriation of marginalized suffering.

I feel like I should make it clear here, that I have no problem with sex bloggers, blogging about BDSM. I enjoy The Pervocracy, because despite my aforementioned issue, I think there is tremendous value in challenging my reactions to things.

I think that there is value in decentering my experiences, because I believe in the value of standpoint epistemologies.

But I can’t get comfortable with apples to orangizing trauma. I can’t figure out how to negotiate the weirdness I feel when viewing the connection between the arousal of play violence and it’s necessary component of real violence.

I suppose that I could throw up my hands and say, not my thing, not my bailiwick. I’m torn about posting this, because I am afraid that in the white noise of the internet, all the reader will see is that I think they are terrible bad rapey mcabusersons. I don’t. I don’t want anyone to be miserable or unsatisfied in their sex lives. I don’t want anyone to be shamed for their sexuality either. Be happy, be joyful, have fun, be open and proud. That’s the world I wish for, for all of us.

I sincerely hope that my respect for the individual if not the abstract, is very clear.

Although I don’t have a whole lot of anything other contempt for someone privileged who takes the severe trauma of someone else and uses it as a springboard into any kind of narcissism (I’m looking at you, Bono.), but that bit isn’t about BDSM.

Not appropriating trauma much more severe than any you, privileged white lady are likely to experience is baseline. I don’t care if you appropriated that trauma that was not your own into growing roses, or making paper mache canaries or climbing mountains without an oxygen tank or filling your vivarium with cane toads or whatever. Just don’t, ok?

Oh and also, privileged white lady, rape is not sex. It’s good that you had sex, but for the imaginary amount approaching infinity-eth time? Sex and rape, the mechanics may be superficially similar, but they are as alike as mercury and pluto.

I’m not asking to be educated, either. I’m just thinking out-blog, which I hope is also clear. I remain willing to go and read, and learn given the vasty resources available to my privileged white lady self.

I don’t have a grand finale, I personally have dissonance. I’m working on it.






A Little Good News For Those of Us Still Clinging To Reality in South Dakota

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This is for you, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Karen Schreier!


Keep on Rockin' The Logic!

I could not be more pleased with the ruling! Shakesville has a fantastic rundown, well worth reading.

It’s been a rough year so far, with a thousand anti-choice bills popping up like fetid mushrooms across the country, and our grand shit-shroom of a bill here in South Dakota didn’t make it any better. It’s easy to feel like one of about ten fact believin’ reality clingin’ to-an progressives in this state (which I will soon be leaving, with any luck!), but this gives me so much hope. I hope that this ruling will be used as precedent to put down other invasive, unconstitutional, shitty anti-choice bills. I hope that this will send a message to voters in South Dakota, about how voting for people who actively subvert democracy (by, you know, directly contradicting the twice voted down ban on abortion through introducing incredibly ridiculous and heavy requirements that are a de facto ban on abortion) is a BAD PLAN.

There’s been so much going on politically and personally that I have sort of put blogging on the back burner, but I’m still here. We’re still here, in the face of this tsunami of frothing misogyny, us lonely socialist progressives, us lonely feminists, us lonely judges committed to upholding the constitution not just for corporations but for people too. Even women people.

Right now, Mr. Lee Hales and I are unemployed and looking for work out of state because this anti-choice bullshit is CLEARLY more important to the state legislature than creating  jobs. Things are kind of shitty. Things are shitty for a lot of good people. But some good news is better than none.