Friday, March 28, 2008

The Election and Progressive Politics.

(This is cross-posted at Dakota Women.)


This is a guest post by my good friend and fellow activist, Ricky Baldwin. Actually, I feel silly saying "fellow activist" when it comes to Ricky, who puts the "act" in activism, as in, this guy knows all about organizing and the hard work that is standing up for your principles. He certainly puts me to shame. He's done labor organizing, he's worked for pro-choice organizations in *Mississippi* (which is even more of an experience than doing it in South Dakota, I'll bet), he's protested unfair treatment of migrant workers and he's done work in the Peace Movement, just for starters. I asked him if he'd like to write something on the current political situation, and he has. He will also be stopping by to answer comments, if anyone wants to leave any.

Here he is (the bolding at the end is my doing, but the words are his):

In my opinion, thinking about the elections we sometimes forget to start with what we know. We don’t know who’s going to win or what they will do – or try to do when it comes down to it. We do have a pretty good idea what they won’t do. Suffice it to say, what they won’t do includes some of the most important things the American people want (not to mention the rest of the world so deeply affected by US policies).

In every poll I know of, for example, a majority of Americans – or at the very least a strong plurality – always prefer some kind of 'universal health care' system such as what we call 'single-payer' (more or less the Canadian or British system). But there are powerful interests that want just the opposite, so we will not get it any time soon no matter who wins in November. Of the three remaining possibilities Clinton probably comes closest to at least proposing something like what we want, but that's not really very close. Besides, she has been weighed in that balance already, when Bill was prez, and found wanting. By that I mean she championed a miserable charade of a healthcare plan, which became infamous even in the mainstream for its potential to enrich our vampiric health insurance companies. Maybe this is one reason that, among all the candidates, Hillary is the number one recipient of donations from the health insurance industry. Who knows? Anyway, it didn't fly despite her long-famous abilities as an aggressive negotiator (when she was a big-time corporate lawyer). Now it seems she has tamed her proposal considerably. Single-payer ain’t happenin.

Also, one of the leading bones of contention this year promises to be the so-called "war on terror" – especially the war in Iraq – for another example. Most Americans pretty clearly want us out of Iraq (at least) sometime around yesterday, whatever the pundits tell us we are supposed to think. In dozens of local referenda across the country voters, even Republicans who supported Bush and other hawks in previous elections, virtually always say they want withdrawal "as soon as possible" or "with all due haste" or words to that effect. Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership have been very clear since election nite/morning 06: that's off the table, right along with impeaching Bush or Cheney, right along with Hillary Clinton's earlier swagger about getting rid of the phenomenally anti-democratic idea of the Electoral College (she's been silent on that for some time now, I notice). On the war, Obama probably looks best, although he has been pretty clear from the beginning of his campaign that the sort of immediate withdrawal actually favored by the American people was not on his agenda. It's true that Obama was outspoken against the US invasion of Iraq from before it happened, while Clinton supported and voted for it (a vicious hawk for some time), and McCain thinks we should stay there 100 years – only without torturing prisoners. But Obama has voted along with the others to continue funding the war, and he's mostly followed the line that 'the invasion was a mistake, but now that we're there we can't just leave.' (How would he feel if someone broke into his house and started smashing up the place, killing and maiming, and his neighbors responded this way?)

Neither of the Dems will rule out the sort of Bush-style unilateral aggression that got so many Nazis hanged at Nuremburg. McCain, of course, is a cheerleader for that sort of thing. None of them will challenge Israel's brutal policy of apartheid against the Palestinian Arabs – certainly not to the point of cutting off military aid to this beligerent European colony – they've made that very clear.

Judging from our three remaining candidates' actions, we are also unlikely to see the reversals we might hope for on NAFTA, the USA PATRIOT Act (all 3 voted to reauthorize) or the heinous 'No Child Left Behind' attack on public education. Speaking of NAFTA, we do also have significant circumstantial evidence besides the candidates' own voting records and campaign promises. Clinton was of course part of the administration that presided over passage of that longtime GOP wet dream, NAFTA, not to mention "the end of welfare as we know it," and "don't ask, don't tell" soon thereafter responsible for more military discharges for homosexuality than the earlier prohibition. Bill also promised to end the first Bush Admin's illegal policy of returning political refugees to Haiti, which his admin actually accelerated once in office. In fact, besides gutting the US welfare system as I mentioned, we might paraphrase an important Native American leader: the Clinton campaign made a lot of promises, but they kept only one – they promised to bomb Iraq and they bombed it. Hillary, we now know, pushed that policy of bombing as well as the Admin's cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and the baby formula factory they blew up at the same time. Their Admin also specifically fought gay marriage as well as medical marijuana. Some liberals!

It's hardly surprising, given Hillary's background in one of the highest profile law firms in the country – now renamed Rose Law Firm – representing Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and the like. Obama, on the other hand, not only was a community organizer himself, but apparently as a bright young lawyer he turned down offers from more prestigious firms than Miner's to specialize in civil rights and social advocacy law, representing ACORN and the League of Women Voters and others (trouncing the Illinois governor and winning a 'Motor Voter' law), fighting red-lining (Citibank), and supporting whistleblowers and such. I claim it doesn't really matter if Clinton 'comes from money' and Obama doesn't, for example. Sen. Inouye (D-Hawaii), a Clinton supporter, who noted earlier this month that Obama attended an elite elementary school in an attempt to influence his state’s primary (Obama attended on a scholarship, while being raised by his single mom and grandmother) is beside the point, as is Rev. Wright's insight that Hillary Clinton is not black. What does matter is what, and what interests, the candidates represent. And on this score, their histories are telling.

McCain of course has an atrocious track record, no matter what Herr Limbaugh and Frau Coulter say. Maybe that's why Henry Kissinger is working for his campaign, not to mention a gaggle of war criminals and other miscreants including Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, George Schultz and Colin Powell. It's a group that shares a lot, including – in a just world – a seat in the dock at the Hague. But the world is not that just. Hillary has of course Bill, as well as their former partner in state terror Madeleine Albright, as well as Richard Holbrooke (ugh!) and Bush Jr's "surge" plan co-author John Keane. Obama has the evil Zbigniew Brzezinski in his corner, but fewer big-name sociopaths as far as I can tell. Obama is, however, favored by others in the nefarious Council on Foreign Relations, as a recent Z article points out, because he is supposed to have the best grasp of the "historical moment", a sort of Machiavellian term as I understand it that is not at all a good sign. Of course other CFR spindoctors support Hillary or McCain (e.g. all those I mentioned above). Not the candidate with the most CFR votes wins, but the three with the strongest CFR cheerleading are in fact now the only contenders left.

The Z article is actually refreshing in that it talks about the way in which ruling class interests, altho they don't strictly speaking choose the next prez, do narrow the field to the point that any candidate still standing when the music stops will serve their minority needs well enough. One way they do this is, not surprisingly, money. What may be surprising, tho, at least to many good liberals, is the particulars. Over 80 percent of all presidential campaign donations as of fall '07 went to six candidates: Clinton, Obama, Romney, Giuliani, McCain and Edwards (in that order). Almost 70 percent were over $1000 (i.e. not from you or me or probably anybody we know). The author goes into great detail, and it's fascinating, breaking out groups of big donors. "Big Capital" (finance, real estate, insurance) favors Clinton, then Giuliani, Romney and Obama. The big law firms favor Clinton, Edwards then Obama. Etc. Again, it's not that the one with the most 'high class' donations wins, but the proverbial 'playing field' is thereby tilted (and, as the author emphasizes, many potential candidates are eliminated).

So are they all the same? Not if you're one of the working class millions. None of them are great, but I'd argue that, overall, tho I'm not happy about our choices and want to emphasize that above all we must not confuse simple voting with democracy – we have to organize and fight for the rights of ordinary people if we are to have any hope of even modest gains – but voting is an opportunity to at least sway government policy this way or that. It's not the only one, or even the most effective (at least not on the national level, for sure), but we skip it to our cost.

The Greens won't win. But of course owing to the anti-democratic structure of our electoral system, in most states a Green vote is a good protest and that's it. (My
mother called me in 2000 to ask if I thought she could vote for Nader. My response: You're in Mississippi, you vote for whoever you want and don't let anybody bug you. Mississippi is going for Bush.) If you live in one of those swing states, however, anything but a Democratic vote is dangerous brinksmanship.

So I'm saying I'd vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination? Of course – if it seemed close in Illinois, [Ricky's home - PF] I'd vote for Donald Duck if he ran as a viable candidate. I worked on Hillary Clinton’s first campaign in New York because she was running against a rightwing nut. But I think you can tell by now I hope she doesn't get it. (I voted for Obama in the primary, just to minimize Hillary's delegates relative to Obama. My man Kucinich was out by then.) The policies of the last eight years at least must be repudiated, but a vote for Clinton doesn't really accomplish that all that well. Oh, I've heard all the arguments, most of which aren't serious. She's a woman – yes, and so was Thatcher. She's earned it (!) – and what have the American people earned? (Obama, by the way, has a much better record of working for the good and welfare.) Oh, yes, and speaking of arguments for Hillary that make no sense, there's one that needs special attention. I'll quote a friend of mine who's in charge of the excellent news service After Hillary repeated Bush’s transparent lie that Saddam Hussein kicked out the weapons inspectors (the US withdrew them, preparing to bomb), my friend quipped: "Hillary, ready to lie from Day 1." Indeed.

Sure, she's familiar with all the (evil) people. She's comfy sending planes to bomb women, children and sick people for elite purposes. And she'd have no problem selling out health care or whatever interest of the poor/working class comes before her, if it helped her stay in office or in some other way. I'm sure her reputation as a ruthless negotiator is well deserved, and her corporate clients were happy with her, but is that a pattern we want her to continue in the White House? The world needs something very different, and it's up to US citizens – who are the only ones who get to vote, unfortunately – to get the most we can out of our government.

What we need, of course, is an immediate withdrawal of all US troops and reparations to Iraq and Afghanstan, unconditional release of all POWs and reparations to their families, closure and evacuation of Guantanamo Bay as well as the School of the Americas and all US military bases around the world. We need to stop backing Israel, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and other repressive states and instead start standing up for what we say we support – democracy – even if the results are not what we'd like. We need someone who will fight for single-payer healthcare, a living wage, free abortion on demand and gay marriage (if we can't get the state out of the marriage business altogether). We need the right of civilian review for every person who alleges mistreatment by any law enforcement rep. We need to put an end to corporate welfare and reverse the policy that corporations are people with Constitutional rights (it would probably take an amendment). And so many other things that we will not get. But we have an obligation, on behalf of all the less powerful people of the world, to get what we can. Our comfort levels as voters, our disgust, our desires to touch symbolic base and feel good about ourselves, are nothing beside the deep suffering that so many billions on the planet endure largely at the hands of a world order dominated by our government.

The good news is, the Dems have a decent chance of winning, and both at least promise to get out of Iraq – eventually – tho I'm sure they'll maintain that gargantuan military base there and the 'quagmire' will continue. I doubt either one would hack away at welfare much more – Bill did enuf – or follow Bush-Cheney on international agreements like the Kyoto Accords, etc. We might even get a decent land-mine treaty! But will we get another Kosovo in Sudan? Maybe Iraq has lefta bad enuf taste to prevent it, if we fight. And hopefully we can get someone decent on the Supreme Court in the next four years. (Four is about all we can hope for; we have to make hay while the sun shines, like the Republicans do and the Dems usually don't.)

For labor, it's just possible, of course, with a Democrat in the Oval Office and Dems running both houses of Congress, to pass a much-needed reform authorizing card check to replace the gauntlet-running election system we have now for joining a union. McCain would certainly never let that happen. Obama or Clinton just might, Obama more likely in my book. But that's far from given and would require a bitter, hard struggle. I hope it happens. Maybe at least we'll get a raise in the min wage and some extention of SCHIP, stuff like that. Who knows, maybe we can revive that ergonomics standard? Obama promises to ax "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." Clinton says she wouldn't fight gay marriage, tho she opposes it, like Obama. Neither would attack abortion rights, at least, but it seems the real battles there are at the state level at the moment.

In education, maybe we can at least see some changes in that awful "No Child’s Behind Left". But what we really need is a massive federal expenditure (way short of what we're spending on Iraq, of course) to put one more teacher in every classroom in the US. Now THAT would be a campaign to get excited about!

There are many such changes that we need, and campaigns for any of them would be well worth our time. But elections will not get them for us – and this one may yet prove that to some of us. The work we need to be about is much less glamorous. It involves knocking on doors, talking on the phone when you'd rather be chillin, talking to people sometimes awkwardly outside activist circles, sitting in long meetings, speaking up "even when your voice shakes," tolerating quirky people with strange ideas, and sometimes a lot of study (newspapers, voting records, etc.). It involves some flexibility, too, especially when two or more good causes compete or conflict, and yet some focus to remember our basic purposes and the people who need change the most. Whatever we do, however we disagree, I hope we always keep them in mind.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Partial Meme

Tagged by Danielle:

What I was doing 10 years ago:
I was getting ready to start my dissertation research. Bwaa-ha-ha (maniacal laugh)!!

Five things on my to-do list today:
1. Pay rent. (Forgot.)
2. Change lightbulb in front hall. (Forgot, which made coming home sucky.)
3. Pill the cat. (Sigh...putting it off...ok, just did it.)
4. Work on the budget. Ugh.
5. Hear Annabel Park and Eric Byler's presentation. AWESOME.

Five of my bad habits:
1. Biting my cuticles.
2. Being overly anxious.
3. Being self-involved.
4. Being self-conscious.
5. ...filling out these things...

Five jobs I've had:
1. Pulling staples out of financial aid forms for the NY State Dept. of Higher Ed.
2. Constructing cardboard boxes for a company that made the labels that went on record store shelves (the ones with the band names).
3. House cleaning.
4. Fundraising.
5. Coordinating home health care aides.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I still do have this great book on abortion and an actual FILE (I kid you not) of stuff I want to write about. It's just that I slept (and shopped) through spring break, and now I've grumpily returned to my desk, where piles of things to do await me.

So, some miscellaneous comments:

1) I just think it's interesting that they don't consider that the phrase, "female assigned at birth" may have an entirely different meaning than the one they want it to mean. "Female assigned at birth" doesn't mean "woman born woman." It doesn't mean "biological woman." It doesn't mean cis-woman, which is want they want it to mean (except they don't like the prefix, "cis" because they don't want to even have any discussions about transwomen actually being women).

It means that a baby was assigned a female gender at birth. Which is exactly what doctors do with intersex children - they assign them a gender. Cis-gendered people are not "assigned" a gender in quite the same way; they are identified with a gender. To be assigned a gender suggests conscious thought and deliberation: "what sort of person shall this child be?" Not, "oh, it's got a penis: boy."

How weird is it that women who insist that transwomen aren't women, who put such emphasis on the importance of biology, would choose such language to describe themselves?

2) You may have noticed some new additions to the blogroll. Please check out Tenured Radical (who was teaching at my alma mater while I was there, though I never had the opportunity to take one of her courses, and who will be here soon to give a lecture on pornography. Yay!

Also, take a look at Fat Rant and Shapely Prose - it's about time I got some fat-positive blogs listed, and these are fabulous. I have a group of friends who seem to talk a lot about the so-called "obesity epidemic" and the "dangers" of being overweight - I always want to send them to blogs like these.

3) Barbara Ehrenreich has an interesting piece in The Nation on Hillary Clinton's religious doings - and even though I'm not quite sure what I think about it, I was going to link you to it, but then I found this piece that I liked a lot better. An excerpt:
Every presidential hopeful has his racial moment. For Reagan it was the Neshoba County Fair near Philadelphia, Mississippi; George Bush Sr. had Willie Horton; Bill Clinton had Sister Souljah; Bush Jr. had Bob Jones University. Each one sought to comfort white voters with at worst their bigotry and at best their ambivalence toward African-Americans.

That was not an option for Obama. Boy, was he lucky. All he had to do was address black alienation and white disadvantage, set it in a historical context and then call on people to rise above it...

...For all his talk about transcending race, not even this biracial, Ivy League, intact-black-family man could escape America's racial dysfunction.

Which brings us back to Ferraro. For if her initial comments were ridiculous, her response revealed just what Obama is up against. "Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist," she said. "I will not be discriminated against because I'm white."

Tsk. Oh, OKAY. Here's Ehrenreich's piece, too.

4) Finally - on Hillary's talk of Bosnia. I'm actually willing to give her somewhat of a pass on this one. I mean, I can believe that she misspoke, and frankly, I don't really care all that much either way. What I do care about, though, is that she's mentioning Bosnia in relation to her foreign policy experience at all. Because the Clintons have nothing to be proud of when it comes to Bosnia. From Marc Cooper at Huffington Post:

[Journalist and author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power] took great personal risks during the Balkan wars to witness and record and denounce the carnage (She reported that Bill Clinton intervened against the Serbs only when he felt he was losing personal credibility as a result of his inaction. "I'm getting creamed," Power quoted the then-President saying as he fretted over global consternation over his own hesitation to act).

FWIW, I've read the book, and it's fucking amazing. You should all check it out.

And because it is such an amazing book, I was really glad to learn that Obama has read it, and not only read it, but read it and wanted to consult with her on developing foreign policy. From Jon Wiener, also at HuffPo:

In a recent interview I asked her why Obama called her. "His office said he had just read my book, and he wanted to talk about, literally, 'a smart, tough, and humane foreign policy.' No one from the US government had every called me - no mayor, no school board head."

(Um, sadly, Power called Hillary a "monster" to the press, and well, she's no longer a consultant for Obama. Frankly, I wouldn't agree with such a characterization of Senator Clinton at all, and I'm sure they say all kinds of nasty things about Obama over at Camp Clinton. Oh, well. That's how it goes.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The speech.

In a comment on my post on Wright, Stuff Daddy wrote:

"With out a doubt, I think it's the most important speech on race given by a public mainstream figure in my entire lifetime.

I am with him now more than ever. He is extraordinary.."

This is exactly how I feel.

I do not remember, in my lifetime, anyone saying anything like this, in this way, to a national audience. Even though he is not saying anything new, because he is saying it publicly, because America is listening to him, I feel like it's the first time in my life that any of it is being said outside of communities of color. And because of that, I want to focus on what I think is the importance of what he said to White people.

Much of what he talked about is stuff that White people don't generally hear, partly because, as Obama says, we are still a segregated nation (he's pointing to churches and the difference in what is said in Black and White churches; my pointing is more general). Many Whites simply have not heard this stuff before. And many others who have heard some of the anger Obama speaks of have been afraid or offended and thus haven't actually listened to what was being said. To hear it translated in so gentle a way, as an invitation to join with him, with all Americans, is a gift - and it is a gift to be able to translate it so skillfully.

I really do believe that we who live in America are not speaking the same language, even when we're speaking English. Whites hear Black anger at the persistent impact of racism as "reverse racism," hateful, and threatening. Repeatedly, when I read the words of people of color, I read "they don't listen to us." And when I read Whites' words, I read, "I can't listen to what they're saying because it makes me feel bad / offends me."

Obama's speech bridged this gap. He offered Whites a hand in clambering over this barrier between races. He made White people's love for racist relatives understandable, acceptable, simply part of the complexity of being human. And in offering that image of his White grandmother, he also explained clearly the complicated nature of love and loyalty and his connection to Rev. Wright.

He also reminded us, but without pointing fingers, that many people do, in fact, have serious disagreements with our "pastors, priests, or rabbis." How many Whites who themselves do not think of homosexuality as a sin nevertheless remain in congregations where the pastor condemns it? How many remain in congregations where the pastor, and perhaps other congregants, actively work to prevent gay people from having civil rights? How many Whites disagree with their priests on issues of abortion and birth control, yet stay to hear violent language about those who support reproductive freedom for women?

And so, Obama, by talking about race in very deliberate - and generous - ways, I think, managed to transcend it. He is still a Black man, and we White folks are still White. But in talking about race in this way, he elevated the discussion beyond the too-simple ways in which we generally talk about race. He talked honestly, out loud, about things White and Black people are sometimes afraid to say. He made it ok to talk about these things, and he made it ok that we are all stumbling around trying to figure out how in the hell we can talk to each other. He gave us a way to talk to each other - in the tradition of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Barbara Smith, who have always spoken generously (if firmly) to White allies, he focused us on listening to other's stories and lending a hand to other's struggles. With this speech, he taught Whites the first lesson in how to be allies, and he did so without triggering White guilt. He made it ok to focus on the shared work at hand, on our unity rather than our differences, and so we begin to move beyond race as a barrier and into a new conversation.

And, what the hell, this already the sappiest post I've written in a long time - let me echo Michelle Obama and just say that, for the first time in a long time, I feel deeply proud to be an American.

(For some other responses to Obama's speech, check this out. I've been linking to Bfp a lot lately, and for good reason. If you aren't reading her regularly, you should be.)

Coming soon...

...a review of a new book on abortion;
...thoughts on Barack Obama's address on race;
...a response to one white man's journey to take responsibility for his ancestor's racist, deadly acts.

All that and more, coming just as soon as I catch up on the laundry, finish my grading, and make dental appointments for everyone. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 17, 2008

On Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

I have missed much of the national freaking-out about Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and so I'm in the process of catching up. In this process, I happened to read the post at La Chola by Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and I recommend it. An excerpt:

"Let’s be clear. American democracy has always coexisted with vicious, state-sponsored racism. The nation’s first presidents worked to establish an innovative, flexible, radical democratic republic while simultaneously codifying enslaved blacks as a fraction human and relegating them to intergenerational chattel bondage. After emancipation, as blacks helped make America the greatest industrial and military power on earth, the country stripped blacks of the right to vote, segregated public accommodations, provided inferior education to black children, and allowed and promoted the terrorist rule of lynch-mob violence.

This week Barack Obama was pressured to denounce Jeremiah Wright. But in the hundred years following the end of the Civil War more than five thousand African Americans were lynched and not a single president denounced the atrocities. Because of this history, black patriotism is complicated. Black patriots love our country, even though it has often hated us. We love our country, even while we hold it accountable for its faults."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lovin' that Bean of mine.

I got a wonderful compliment yesterday. Bean asked me, at a dinner function that I took him to, "why are you always so nice to people? You always say, "hi!" to everyone!" So we talked about being friendly, and from that I segued into telling him that I was really excited for him to meet some of the people I know and like, and that I've told them about him and they were really excited to meet him. When I introduce him to people, he usually hides, and I've worked on trying to get him to at least wave or say "hi," even if he's shy. But that conversation seemed to make a difference, because after that, he was saying "hi" to everyone who said "hi" to him - and doing so very eagerly, like he'd finally realized that people weren't just doing that to annoy him, but because they genuinely were interested in him - and that I liked them, and so he might like them, too.

And also - my kid thinks I'm nice!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I have become someone who does absolutely nothing on the weekends except eat and sit at the computer. Which is not a good thing. I suspect this comes from working for 10+ hours a day during the week - by the weekend, I'm so exhausted that I only have energy to crawl out of bed to pee, eat, and maybe do a load or two of laundry. I read a little of the paper, because I get two Sunday papers and I feel like I should do something to justify, if not the insignificant cost, then at least the trees who bravely gave their lives so that I could have a Sunday paper. And I catch up on blogs and wish that I had more to say on my own blog. (I can't tell you how much I long to take my computer to Starbucks and blog there, while the sun streams in the window and the steam rises from my chai latte. I may have to write some snarky comments on certain mommy bloggers' sites at which this sort of description of their day is common.)

Some people came to the door a couple of hours ago to sell me their religion, and I was embarrassed, because whenever this happens, I am in my pajamas, hair uncombed, face unwashed, no bra, bare feet, child lagging behind me in various states of undress / dress-up. I feel like I might as well hang a sign around my neck that reads "heathen," especially on Sunday. I really miss having a buzzer so that I could find out who is at the door before I expend the energy to walk all the way down there.

Bean wants to go out and "do something," as do I, but I think it may be illegal for me to leave the house without first taking a shower. And also, I have to do laundry at some point so that we will have clothes for the week. And I'm not sure when I last changed the sheets, so that should happen, too.

And, on top of everything else, today we're back to Daylight Savings. I suppose I should be grateful, as that means that when I finally make it down to the basement to do the laundry, it might still be light outside, making the creepy basement a whole lot less creepy. But I hate losing an hour, and I will be very grumpy if I wake up in the dark tomorrow morning.

Sunday. Feh. I can't wait until break.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

To the person who found my site by Googling

"girls on toilet without no clothes on and not covering up their vagina+pictures," I can only say, first, that it should be "without any clothes on" (otherwise, the double negative would mean that they did, indeed, have clothes on), and second, ew. Go away.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

International Sex Workers Rights Day was March 4.

Renegade Evolution recently posted on her blog her great frustration that this was not a topic that was discussed in feminist blogland. She wrote about it, as well, on AlterNet, and lest you think that what she is after is a celebration of sex work, here's an excerpt of her post:

"Nary you mind that the way things are currently, however many sex workers could get robbed and raped tonight and have it laughed off by the law, nary you mind that sex workers pulled over by the law will be black mailed into favors, nary you mind that sex workers of all races, genders, classes, political bent, religion, will still be seen by the majority of humanity as less than human themselves, nary you mind possession of condoms in the highly vaunted Swedish State is cause for arrest and possible immediate deportation."

While I do think that this silence around this topic this week is worth noting, even more noteworthy (to me) are the responses she got at AlterNet:

Why are you looking for women to support an organization that promotes an industry responsible for the rape and enslavement of women all over the world? Why is it feminist to promote the idea that a woman's body is a commodity for sale? Why is it feminist to teach this to our daughters?

Why should I spend my time supporting women or men who voluntarily support the patriarchal status quo? What ever ‘sex workers’ may claim - it is not a ‘job like any other’ fair enough do what you want to do but don’t expect me (as a father of two daughters) to give any of my energy to supporting men’s perceived right to female bodies. It’s just not going to happen.

Good get a celebration of a seasonal Pussy on a Plate.
Wow - can't forget about the menz - you know, the oppressed and forgotten lot...

See, these are classic examples of what NOT LISTENING looks like. Mention sex workers' rights, and people are hearing "promote prostitution" and "help men buy women's bodies." If there was ever any doubt about what anti-prostitution advocates think about sex workers, there sure isn't anymore - from these comments, they don't appear to think of them at all.

Which is why acknowledging sex workers' rights is important. When a woman is thought to be unrapeable, when she is unable to demand safe working conditions, when she is punished for exchanging sex for money but the people who abuse her are not - these are violations of human rights. Fighting for sex workers' safety, for decent working conditions, has nothing to do with how one might feel about prostitution. If one is really trying to help sex workers, then one ought to listen when they ask for help.

But somehow, it becomes about promoting prostitution if we do anything to help sex workers, right? Gah.