Category Archives: Politics

“They’re Trying to Help a Dead Girl”

The hacking collectivist group Anonymous released a video of the Steubenville football players who took a 16-year-old girl from house to house and sexually assaulted her. They simultaneously posted evidence on twitter, pushing the gang rape into the territory of pure unadulterated public torture.

Anonymous released this video on the same day the House of Representatives refused to vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Since when is it not in the best interest of the United States to protect women from violence? I have hope that when the next Congress comes into session we’ll have a different result, but I can’t get the feeling of fear out of my bones over this one.

The young men who are featured in the video of Steubenville are the kind of predators whom the Violence Against Women Act is supposed to protect us from. Sen. Patty Murray (from my state of Washington) put it best:

“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right-wing of their party always comes first.”

There’s absolutely no reason for House Republicans to have done this. Absolutely none. This is an action which is shameful in the eyes of the state.

The actions of the boys in Steubenville may not seem related, but if we don’t expose this kind of behavior as violence, we’re not doing our jobs as a society to protect one another. This young football player is giggling about raping a 16 year old young woman. (Allegedly. Except for the part where there are photos.) This isn’t the only reason the two are linked. Even with VAWA we’re not doing enough.  Like the football team, people who are well-regarded in their communities tend to be above reproach when it comes to the issue of sexual violence. A woman whose husband beats her every night is less likely to be believed, if she reports it, when that husband is a well-respected man. It was the Violence Against Women Act which helped to institute marital rape as a crime in all the states of the Union, as prior to 1994, there were still some states which allowed it.

This kind of violence is unconscionable, and the fact that the GOP will turn its back to violence against women makes me question their privilege. I hope none of them have known women who have suffered at the hands of abusers,  that none of them have had to listen when they heard the story of a friend or family member who was raped or beaten. Because, if they had, surely they would have voted with their conscience rather than with their party.

Yes, the supporters of VAWA  are trying to help a dead girl. They are trying to help a lot of dead girls, all of them who needed help and didn’t receive it. I am sickened today by the notion that there are people in this country who are likely laughing along with the boys from Steubenville – and I hope you’ll reconsider if you cackled at his jokes about Marcellus Wallace and Obi Wan Kenobi, because at the root of those “jokes” is the willingness to condone violence against a person and to use her for her body alone.

We should all be helping to end violence. We should be doing better.

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Filed under Feminism, Politics, War On Women

Sound Reflections: Questionable Quotes

I read a lot online. I read a lot of news, a lot of information, mostly so when I write on here I don’t come off as an under-informed dilettante. In the last 48 hours I’ve read a number of things which have made me frustrated. So we’ll talk about a couple of them.

This is a new segment on Feminist Sonar, named after the way in which sonar gets targets. The targets give off sound reflections. This is what I found.

Let’s start with an interview with Deborah Feldman over on XOJane, about her book “Unorthodox” which is a book about growing up in the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve read the book and I have a number of opinions on it, but her book isn’t actually what concerned me. It was her use of the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which had me questioning her opinions:

“So many of the strict Hasidic laws seem to have been created in response to the horrors that Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust. Is all of this just the sort of thing that happens when an entire community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

That’s exactly how I see it. In fact I’ve used those exact words. I’ve come to the conclusion that when a community is founded on PTSD, you can pass that PTSD on to the next generation, and maybe even on to another — but with every generation it’s going to be diluted, and the motivation for keeping your community and traditions alive is going to fade. My view is that if this community does not adapt and reform, it will eventually collapse and lose its youngest generation. And the new generation now has smartphones and the Internet; when I was growing up we were really isolated, but there’s no way to keep tabs on people right now, there’s no way to keep them from accessing information like they used to. People are wising up.” – Interview with Deborah Feldman

I would really like it if people would stop using Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as short hand for “bad things happen and now everyone is fucked up.”

I’ll let you in on something that isn’t a secret at all: I have PTSD.

I do not think that I will pass my disorder on to any children I may have in the future. I do not believe that we can GIVE PTSD to a future generation. By saying this about the community she comes from, Feldman doesn’t just dismiss the fears of her community (many of which are valid – though perhaps they could lay off on a number of measures which cause outsiders to label them as insular and cruel) but she dismisses the trauma her elders may have faced, and the trauma others have faced in order to gain the diagnosis.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very difficult thing to live with, we have to fight to regain control of our memories, we have struggles to control our sleep patterns, and to learn to live with deep seated fear. I have no doubt that many Hassidic people have made choices about their lives based upon the events of the Holocaust, but this isn’t PTSD. PTSD has symptoms, it has specific experiences. It’s a diagnosis, not shorthand for reactions to horrific experiences. Please don’t use it as such.

Our second quote comes from an entirely different source, and for those of you who read Feminist Sonar frequently, you probably know what it is.

“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” – Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia really stepped into it this time. He has a habit of saying things like this about any number of topics which can cause most liberals to froth at the mouth and cry for justice – but in this instance what really bothers me is that he jumped directly from homosexuality to murder. No pause, no consideration. Murder. Look, I know that much of the conservative portion of the United States believes that having sex with a homosexual is the worst thing you can do, but the fact of the matter is – it’s sex. It’s just sex. You can have good, bad, or somewhat OK sex.  But unless it’s unwanted sex, you can’t really have evil sex.

The point is, comparing sexuality to murder is ridiculous. It’s overblown – and it tells us that Scalia has no intention of even considering the question of same sex marriage. I shudder to think of what he considers to be the rights of transpeople.
Scalia isn’t going to grant same sex couples marriage rights in this country – other justices are ( we hope), but these kinds of statements do not lend any confidence to me in terms of believing that Justice Scalia can be objective on any matter. His comparisons reek of privilege and of self assurances. I would hope for more decency from a Supreme Court Justice but apparently that isn’t how this works.

The sad fact is that this kind of a comment would be called trolling if someone were a nobody saying this out loud – but because he’s a Supreme Court Justice we actually have to take him seriously. This should be a line from a farce by Moliere, not something we have to take seriously. C’mon, people. You can do better.

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Filed under LGBT, Politics, Sexuality, Sound Reflections

Happy Wedding Day

Yesterday was the first day that same sex couples could get married in Washington State.

And my home state did me very very proud.

It also has reduced me to a puddle of tears at least 3 times in the last 48 hours. I have been raised by a community – and much of that community was queer, or trans, or gay or lesbian or simply nonconforming.

When I got married this last April, I made a promise to myself that I would not sit in complacency just because I’m married to a man. In November, I voted for gay marriage in Washington.

And today, I can share with you these photos from buzzfeed: Photos 41 & 42 are of people who helped raise me. And I’m proud to be able to share these photos with people.

Raise champagne glasses to toast the world, and listen to a little Etta James in honor of all the couples who got married yesterday, and all those that will get married in the future months.

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So Your Preferred Candidate Lost…

What’s a sad voter to do?

Pick up a new hobby? Find a new political cause you care about? Call your mom?

… Oh. I see. Okay.

You’re going to start a petition to secede from the United States of America. Gotcha. That’s… uhm…. Unreasonable.

Yes. Secession. So very 1860.

In fact, this has almost become a fad. Now it’s not just the dissolution of states from the union that make sense, but those who really don’t. From looking at the We the People Petition Site the following states have filed petitions to “peacefully secede” or “secede” from the United States. A parenthetical indicates the number of times the petition has been put into the system: Commonwealth of Virginia (x2), Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Illinois, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Idaho, Georgia (x3), Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Utah (x2), Ohio (x2), South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania (x2), Kansas, Oklahoma (x2), Wyoming, California, New York (x2), Delaware, Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina (x2), Missouri (x2), Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado, New Jersey, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Washington.

Alaska and Oregon asked for a vote to be put to all state citizens on if they should secede or not.

45 states out of 50 have petitions filed on their behalf with regard to secession. And one city: Austin Texas would like to remain part of the United States. Because apparently Austin is cool like that.

There’s a popularized myth that Texas has the right to secede from the Union as according to their state constitution – they do not. But their website about secession has a lot of answers (from their perspective). In their case at least, this isn’t just a pouty faced outcry, but actually well thought out reasoning for why they want to leave the United States.

But why are people putting petitions to the White House about secession? Well. I’ll tell you, but it’s not pretty. It’s because we re-elected an African-American President. It’s because it turns out that the country isn’t as conservative and intolerant as many people would like to believe. We are a country populated by differences, and that is showing in this last election. They’re angry because they didn’t win.

So instead of acting like adults, who live in a country that they would have supported had their candidate won, they’re taking the temper tantrum route. They’re throwing a fit because they feel entitled to do so. Fortunately for them, unlike the one petition on the site requests, we won’t deport them for suggestions of secession. Look, we on the left did it too. We threatened to move to Canada (actually, I threatened to move to Europe, but it’s the same thing.) It’s a jerky thing to do, and we should all stop it.

But I’d like to point this difference between the Left and the Right out: The only other time that there has been a secession from this country, has been over race too. Apparently what really pushes people over the edge here isn’t about the choices a President makes, but his actions or affiliations with regard to race. My hope is that no one is stupid enough to throw a John Wilkes Booth-ian tantrum.

The White House has said that they will respond to the petitions which do reach the regularly required number of signatures (Which Texas and Alabama have.) No idea when, or what it will say. But given that the Governor of Alabama doesn’t support secession of his own state, I think it’s likely that the White House will tell them (very politely) to go sit in a corner and think about what they’ve done.

Go read a book. Go drink some whiskey. Volunteer at your school or church, or with the government. Make a difference. But don’t pitch fits about leaving the country when you know that our history still shows the battle scars of the Civil War, and seriously – don’t do it because our President has a different skin color than you. Plain and simple: That’s overblown bullshit racism.

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Homosexuality & The Death Penalty

Welcome to Uganda, the country where the “Kill the Gays” bill of 2009 will become law as a “Christmas Gift to the population” (according to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga)
The bill has been written to allow the death penalty in cases of what is defined in the text as “aggravated homosexuality”. The Offence of Homosexuality will still be punished with life imprisonment. Aggravated Homosexuality is defined as: homosexual acts committed by a person who is HIV-positive, is a parent or authority figure, or who administers intoxicating substances, homosexual acts committed on minors or people with disabilities, and repeat offenders. The offence of homosexuality involves engaging in same-sex intercourse and same-sex marriage, as well as working for or volunteering for LGBT organizations.

The scariest part to me, and the one which we can all do something about is the extradition clause. Yes. If they find out that you’re involved in any kind of gay relationship, or otherwise they can extradite a Ugandan back home to be tried and punished – which could mean the death penalty depending on the offense.

Being gay is not a crime against humanity. Neither is being HIV positive. Neither is, for that matter being a gay parent. Yes, pedophilia is a crime, but it is a crime no matter what your sexuality indicates as a preference in terms of gender.

I find it particularly terrifying to think of being a child whose parent was executed for having a gay parent. In fact, having had a gay HIV positive parent means that I already know what that feels like, and adding a possible government sanctioned criminal offense to the pile of trauma is enough to leave me sitting at my computer not knowing whether to cry or laugh at the absurdity.

Instead, I’m asking you to consider doing something about it. If and when this is made a law, consider writing your governmental authorities about the notion of denying extradition to Uganda under this law. That you as a citizen feel it is wrong to extradite someone on the basis of their sexuality.

There’s another thing you can do, too. You can write those same government officials and you can tell them that they should start speaking to the Ugandan Government now. That the United States, or Canada, or Great Britain or France does not support the actions of a state in killing those whose sexual preference is different from the majority.

The fact that Speaker Kadaga has referred to this as a Christmas gift to her people horrifies me, not just because she refers to the extermination and imprisonment of LGBT people as a gift, but because those same LGBT people are her constituents too – and for them this isn’t a gift at all. It’s a condemnation of their rights as human beings in their home country, and proof that their own government does not believe in their right to freedom.

Things may be getting better in the United States, but we have a long way until it is safe to be gay in the world and we cannot be complacent about execution, even if it isn’t happening in our backyard.

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Women Know How to Shut That Sort of Thing Down

Last night was definitely an all around win.

We got President Obama for another four years. And in his acceptance speech he acknowledged all creeds, disabled Americans and gay voters. In other words, he recognized that his constituency is not the 47%, but 100% of the people.

In Missouri Claire McCaskill (a woman!) beat back rape apologist Todd Aiken for her senate seat. In his concession speech, Akin thanked God, who, he said, “makes no mistakes.”

In Indiana, Joe Donnelly defeated Mourdock – showing that rape is not a platform and will lose you a republican seat, even if it has been held by republicans for years on end.

In New Hampshire there is a female governor, and TWO women in the House! Which may be a record, I’m not sure.

In Colorado they voted to legalize Marijuana.

In Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren  won, which just makes me happy on principle.

In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth became the first Thai -American woman elected to US Congress. Oh, and she’s also disabled which makes it EVEN MORE AWESOME.

Oh, yeah, and speaking of firsts – Tammy Baldwin? First Openly Gay senator! And from WISCONSIN.

And then there’s my home state, Washington. We voted to legalize marijuana as well, and it’s looking pretty damn good that WA will legalize gay marriage (The governor called it last night, but hopefully it’ll be official SHORTLY)

In Maine, gay marriage was voted in, as it was in Maryland! And Minnesota voted to ban future bans on same sex marriage.
Puerto Rico voted to pursue statehood – possible 51st state! This should be an interesting thing to watch.

The evening was highlighted by firsts, and by important steps in our nation. I’m proud to say that the voters came out, and they voted for equality, and for the future.

The Moral of the Story: Stopping people from getting married isn’t something which wins approval, the war on women doesn’t make you friends, and blaming rape victims tends to make you the bad guy.

Congratulations, America. We’ve got another 4 years before this nonsense happens again.

Have a picture of a kitty, you deserve it:

Kitty in a (ballot) box

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Election Day is Here!

So I’m going to ask you to vote!

I already did!

ballot

I voted for Referendum 74, I’m sad we have to vote for equality, but happy I can show my support.

 

So vote. Vote because you have the right. Vote because you believe in your candidate.

I’m living in a city where we just experienced a natural disaster, water came up my street, electricity and cell phone service were down. So for me, Romney’s comment about getting rid of FEMA doesn’t sit well. Vote because you believe in something.
Vote because you need to. Vote because women and men fought for your right to vote at some point in the last 200 years.

And vote because my cat says so.

Tinycat

Tinycat will look like this if you don’t vote. Don’t make my kitty facepalm.

 

So – Happy Voting Day! I’ll be covering the results tomorrow, and hopefully be fully back on track sometime by the end of this week!

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