Salvation Army V Harry Potter. FIGHT!

The Calgary chapter of The Salvation Army, that bastion of anti-gay hatred and occasional fundamentalism, has made a bit of a stir lately over the revelation that donated Harry Potter and Twilight toys will not be distributed to children in need along with other toys they receive to distribute, nor will they be passed on to other charities who will distribute them, because they are toys revolving around "witchcraft" and "the demonic" and the rest of the utterly predictable list of objections this kind of thing always brings up.

Which is stupid, and denying children in need toys they would enjoy and play with simply because of one's personal religious beliefs is reprehensible, but nothing more than I'd expect from SA.  I just have one question, though, and this is for all the anti-HP types who freak out about OMG WITCHES over it:

If your god is, as you so love to claim, a "god of love"...why do you so vehemently hate a book series in which the entire premise of the protagonist's power against the main antagonist is, quite literally, LOVE?  

(For those who have not read Harry Potter, Harry survived Voldemort's original murder attempt and retains an odd, inexplicable power to resist him, despite being in all other ways a more or less average young wizard, because his mother loved him so much she sacrificed herself to protect him, leaving him with the lingering protection of love, something Voldemort cannot understand, fight, or control.)  It just makes no sense.  You're screaming about OMG demons and witchcraft for a book series where *love* is the basic premise of the protagonist's power, and in which the forces of light are doing battle with the forces of darkness.  Not to mention, spoiler alert, in the end the protagonist sacrifices himself willingly to help his side win the battle.  Jesus parallel much?  

It's just dumb, and anyone with half a brain can see through the fearmongering.  Please stop now, and stop letting your irrational hate interfere with children getting toys to play with.

Anti-Choice Hypocrisy, Part 465,423,831,835

Exhibit A: "Informed" Consent, or "Whose information are we offering here?"
A so-called "informed consent" bill is introduced by an anti-choice legislator in Guam.  Reproductive justice advocates know these bills are purely propaganda, designed to emotionalize the pregnancy and try to turn women away from abortion.  Sure enough, the original form of the bill requires women be told the "gestational age, anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus, as well as of the medical assistance benefits for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care," plus a video describing "the unborn child" and information on agencies offering "abortion alternatives".  Other legislators, however, got their hands on the bill during the amendments process, and the finished version instead requires that the woman be given information including "the name of the physician who will perform the abortion, the medical risks associated with carrying the child to term, the need for anti-Rh immune globulin therapy, and the consequences of refusing the therapy."  You know.  Actual, relevant information on carrying a pregnancy to term.

The legislator who originally introduced the bill is having a tantrum now, saying "...after further review of the bill in its final form, I realized this potential law may encourage abortions. ... This one-sided presentation no longer protects Guam's future children."  So, acknowledging that there are physical risks associated with carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth = encouraging abortions, and we can't have that...but downplaying those risks and editorializing about the "unborn child" in a blatant, outright attempt to encourage giving birth is perfectly fine?  Look, sir, your bill was clearly intended to influence women's decisions about their pregnancies in the first place.  You have no leg to stand on here, just because you're upset that it might influence them in the other direction than what you wanted.  If you don't want women influenced in a way you don't like, don't try to step in and influence them your way, either, because this is what you open the door to: equal-opportunity influencing.  Which, let's face it: that's not what you hypocrites want.

But back to this whole idea of "informed consent".  Pregnancy *has* risks.  That is solid, undeniable, medically-established FACT.  First-trimester abortion (which is when some 98% of all abortions take place) is, statistically speaking, safer than giving birth at full term.  Anti-choicers claim to want to "inform" women, but when it comes to giving them actual information about the risks of pregnancy and childbirth, they want to cover up all the negative information and portray it as a win-win situation.  How could this be said to be about information at all, at that point?  It's not.  It's about deception and influence and controlling women to do what they want us to do.  Period the end.  So they don't like *actual* informed consent requirements, because they're afraid of what women will do if they're actually given information and space to make their own decisions.

Exhibit B: Clinic Regulations, or "We are rubber, you are glue, attempts to regulate us bounce off of us and stick to you!"

Last month, a bill passed the Michigan Senate, regulating how clinics which perform abortions dispose of the products of conception.  Based on an unfounded accusation that someone found fetal remains in a dumpster behind a clinic (although police investigations over a period of 8 months found no such remains, and what the hell were they doing going through the dumpster anyway?), the bill would require clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains, and would mean fetal remains are no longer classified as "products of conception" along with the placenta and other tissues.

Simultaneously, over this past year anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" in Baltimore and NYC have been screaming bloody murder about "violations" of their First Amendment rights, because of bills being debated/passed that would require them to display signs openly admitting that they do not provide or refer for abortion or contraceptive services, and advertising whether or not there is any medically-licensed staff on-site.

What's wrong with this picture?

Seriously.  Anti-choice CPCs, generally staffed only by volunteers, which are well-documented to lie, pressure, manipulate, and threaten women into keeping their pregnancies, throw tantrums worthy of a spoiled 4-year-old being denied hir favorite toy at the idea of being subject to any kind of truth-in-advertising regulations, while the same anti-choice legislators who support those CPCs will happily regulate every possible aspect of a *real* clinic's functioning they can get their hands on, from record-keeping to scripting their counseling sessions to which kinds of ultrasounds they must offer on what kind of equipment and, now, how they dispose of medical waste.  (Yes, antis, pregnancy tissue, including the fetal remains, are medical waste, same as tissue remnants from any surgical procedure.  So are your tonsils.  Get over it.)

Have these idiots even noticed what gigantic, flaming hypocrites they all are?  Do they even care, at this point?  Or are they so far gone in their war on women's autonomy that they will ignore any contradiction and go to any lengths, no matter how irrational, to further their ultimate goal of total control over women's sexuality and reproductive rights?

This, by the way?  Is why common-ground approaches are doomed to fail.  You can't compromise with this kind of shit.  Attempts to do so will only give them more ground, and they will *never* be satisfied.  I thought we would have learned this by now.


Pregnant Women Are Public Property

If you don't know PostSecret, here's the quick version: an art project begun several years ago, in which people were asked to anonymously write a secret of theirs on a postcard and mail it in, blossomed and grew into a huge thing.  There's the website, where a selection of a dozen or so postcards are posted every Sunday.  There are, I think, four books now of collected secret postcards.  There's the exhibit, which travels from gallery to gallery around the country, displaying secrets of all kinds, all anonymous.  There are events, at which PostSecret founder Frank Warren talks about the beginning of PS, what it's done, what he's learned from it, and people have an opportunity to share their secrets.  It's all about finding our common humanity in the things we would never admit out loud.  I find it fascinating.

I also follow the @PostSecret Twitter account.  Frank tweets random stuff, and also sometimes tweets secrets from postcards that don't make it into the weekly post.  Then yesterday, this tweet was posted:
Today's Secret: "I work at Starbucks. I judge pregnant mothers and decaffeinate their drinks, even though they ask for caffeinated."
I'm sorry, what??? Now, I've seen secrets like this pop up before. A few months ago, there was one about a civil servant who always marked down servicemembers as blood/tissue donors in case of death, whether they had said they wanted to or not, which a lot of people were angry about, myself included. There are a half-dozen secrets I can think of that involve someone in some kind of service-based position admitting to the ways in which they judge, help, or sneakily undermine customers, from a grocery store checker who "forgets" to scan every tenth item for people paying with food stamps or using WIC coupons, to a call center rep admitting zie puts angry customers on hold to let them cool down instead of dealing with them. As a retail shift manager who does, in fact, decide whether or not we'll take your return based on how argumentative or pissy you are with me about it, I can relate.

But this one about the decaf for pregnant women goes beyond that. It's not just "customer service employee is judging you", it's "a person feels that they are entitled to decide how a pregnant woman's body should be treated better than the pregnant woman in question." And it ties into a long, ugly history of the public feeling like pregnant women's bodies are fair game for denial of bodily sovereignty. It's a way of playing "good mother, bad mother" with a total stranger who is just trying to have a damn cup of coffee. It's a person saying, "Because you are pregnant, I am going to make decisions for you instead of letting you decide for yourself." It's sexist, it's fucked up, and I have the sneaking suspicion that the person whose secret this was fully expects to have public opinion on hir side. Because after all, the person whose decisions zie's overriding so cavalierly? It's only a pregnant woman.


A Roomful Of Women With Men's Eyes

[TMI warning for family: I talk about a pole dance class and enjoying/experiencing my sexuality through dance.  You may or may not want to hear about this.]

I love the art of pole dance.  Vertical dance.  Vertical gymnastics.  Whatever you want to call it.  I love the flexibility of the dancers, the incredible way they can hold their entire bodies off the ground by wrapping one arm or a leg around a pole and look like they're flying.  My ex, not too long after we broke up, got into pole dance, and performed at a few clubs for awhile.  She had a pole installed in her house, and once we started being friendly again, she had me over and taught me some basic spins and showed me some videos of competition-level dancers.  Ever since then, I've wanted to try it myself.

But I couldn't.  First it was a problem of money, then of finding a place nearby, then a problem of time, and always an undercurrent of body-issues.  Last night, a blog I read linked to a video of a woman of size performing some very cool pole tricks, and it started the longing up all over again.  So I did some research, found a studio that offered introductory one-off classes, checked the schedule, saw that there was one tonight, and this morning I called and reserved my spot.  So tonight, less than 24 hours after deciding I'd like to try, I walked into a brand-new just-opened pole/erotic dance studio in Walnut Creek along with a trio of women (sisters or friends or something) for an Introduction to Sensual/Pole Dance class.

I was, as I had fully expected, the largest woman there.  The other three students and the teacher were all at least four inches shorter than me, and I had easily 50-100 lbs on them all.  It was a heavy-duty test of FA's effect on me and my own self-esteem.  Thankfully, I passed with flying colors. ^_^  In a pair of borrowed stripper stilettos (the studio loans shoes to students for the intro class), I strutted across in front of the mirror, and even to my own usually-critical eyes, I looked fucking hot.  Neither hotter for my curves, nor less hot for being fat, than the other women, I just looked *good*.  It helped that the instructor asked, as we were setting up mats for some warm-ups, if I had danced before, because "You just have that posture and way of moving of someone who's done dance before."  It was a nice little ego-boost.  I explained that I've taken belly dance, ballroom dance, and modern dance before.  I also explained that my ex was an exotic dancer and had taught me some simple moves, although it was a long time ago.  She blinked a little at the clear connotation that I'd dated a woman before, but to her credit, didn't treat me any differently.

We did warmups, and some floor moves, and when it came time to try a basic spin on the pole, she said to me something like "I guess you already know how to do this, you said your roommate taught you, right?"  Um, no.  No, I never mentioned a roommate.  It was as if she had mentally edited my previous comments into a framework she was more comfortable with, where two women would only live together as roommates (although my ex and I never lived together, but what the hey).  So I corrected her.  "No, my ex did."  The blink again, and a slight stutter to her cheery small-talk, and she said "Oh, that's right" and moved on to a different subject.  Do not disappear my relationship just because it makes you uncomfortable, dammit.  Do not turn lovers and a beautiful relationship into "roommates" because you don't want to acknowledge that not every woman coming into your class is going to take the dance you teach her home to a boyfriend or husband.  (The irony, of course, is that insomuch as I take *anything* home to perform intimately [since that wasn't my intent in taking the class, I don't really "take it home" at all], at the moment, I would be taking it home to show my male partner.)

The class moved on, I enjoyed playing on the pole, and then the instructor was working us through putting everything together into a mini-routine.  She gestured to one end of the studio: "Pretend there's an audience over there.  Your boyfriend or husband or whoever.  Now, face this way..." and gave us this mini-routine, enlivening it by encouraging us to play to our imaginary male audience.  "Swing your hips at him...look back over your shoulder at him..."  

The studio is emphasized as a women-only space.  I kept wondering, what is the point of a women-only space, if you deliberately invoke the male gaze anyway?  So it's a group of women, yay.  But we're supposed to pretend men are watching anyway.  We couldn't possibly be dancing for the enjoyment of a female partner.  We couldn't possibly be dancing simply for our own enjoyment, to feel the glory of our own body moving in sensual, beautiful ways.  We couldn't possibly just want to dance, express whatever emotions we have, learn this dance form because it's just fucking cool.  No, we are now and always performing for a male audience, displaying ourselves sexually for his enjoyment.  

I realize that pole dance originates from a performance dedicated to titillating men.  I get that.  But if you're going to go to the effort of having a women-only space to learn and enjoy this dance form in, why would you still insist on making it about performing for men?  

I think it's because, in this culture, women are not taught to enjoy our sexuality for and by and with ourselves.  We are taught to see ourselves sexually, and even just sensually, through the lens of a man enjoying us.  It's as if, without the mirror of a man, or at the very least *a partner* to reflect our sexuality back to us, it doesn't really exist.  

Well, fuck that.  I can sashay around the pole, swing my hips and admire their sway, without anyone but me seeing it.  I don't have to pretend my man is watching in order to love the sensual way my body can move.  I can twirl around the pole, off the ground, hair flying out behind me, and take gleeful pleasure in the simple sensation of it, without an audience to witness.  I am a beautiful, sexual, and sensual being, and I don't need to have a man's eyes to appreciate it.


This Is How We Are Trained

In the discussions of the sick, fucked-up methods security theatre is using these days (pornoscanners and "enhanced" pat-downs that, if done by anyone but a TSA agent, would be grounds for a sexual assault charge), I was linked to a video that disturbed me greatly.  Trigger warnings for disrespecting a child's bodily autonomy apply.

For those who cannot view it, the video is a clip of a news segment about security procedures and the ordeal of the three-year-old daughter of one of the news program's employees.  A blurry clip taken on the man's cell phone shows his wife and daughter at airport security, when his daughter was required to undergo a pat-down.  The little girl is crying hysterically, screaming over and over again, "Stop touching me!" while her mother holds her for the TSA agent to examine.

And as I watched it, my heart hurt for that little girl, and all I could think was, This is how we are trained.  This is how the message sinks in, reinforced in so many ways by so many people: Your body is not your own.  You do not have the right to not be touched.  You do not have the right to say no.  Saying no, saying stop, does not work.  We tell children that if an adult touches them in a way they don't like, they should do something, say stop, tell their parents, etc.  And then in a situation like this...this three-year-old child is trying to say stop, and yet the adult carries right on touching her, with her own mother's assistance.  Tell me exactly how this doesn't completely undermine every time she's been told to say no and fight back?  

Furthermore and specifically, this is not only how we are trained to the knowledge that our bodies are not our own property despite claims to the contrary, but this is how we are trained to accept the intimate control of those in power.  When you are forced to accept touch you don't want by your own parents, because *this time* it's different, because *this person* is a Person In Authority, you learn additionally that you might be able to say no to other people, but you can never say no to Authority.  The government has the right to put its hands on you, whether you want them to or not, and all you can do is submit to it.  This is how you train a populace to just accept government overreach*, to not agitate, to not question.  Inculcate a fear of authority and a knowledge of one's own helplessness in the face of that authority, starting at a young age, and you'll end up with a society in which this shit goes unquestioned.  In which criticism of the government may safely be labeled "un-American", and it's considered legitimate discourse to tell dissenters to just shut up and support the President no matter what he does.  (Weren't the Bush years just *so* much fun?)

I hope this child is all right.  I hope this didn't scar her too badly.  And I hope that we can move away from this kind of violating security theatre, fast.  How, I don't know...but I hope we can.

*And before anyone - yes, Dad, I'm looking at you - jumps in with "Welcome to the Republican side!" or makes a crack about Dems that involves the phrase "nanny state", I'll remind you that the biggest expansion of executive power *specifically pertaining to* issues of "security" came from a hyper-conservative Republican, that conservative ideals of "small government" have only ever been meant for the privileged (white, male, cis, able-bodied, wealthy, etc) and that conservatives have always been quite happy to have government intruding on and regulating the lives and bodies of those with less privilege. 


Onward, Christian Soldiers ...Everyone Else Can Fuck Right Off.

Or, Happy Veteran's Day!  We support the (Christian only, please) troops!

In the town of King, North Carolina, there has been a bit of an issue over their local veteran's memorial.  Specifically, that it was flying a Christian flag as part of the memorial.  A local veteran complained about the sectarian bias, the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State got involved, and the city took the flag down while they worked out a "compromise" with the help of conservative Christian law group Alliance Defense Fund.  Which, frankly, if you're trying to get a genuine "compromise", I can think of about a bazillion better organizations to work with than ADF, but whatever.  Point being, they were trying.

They've announced a rough idea of compromise.  The city council will allow a religious flag to be flown, but it will be a rotation of flags chosen from the VA's list of approved religious symbols (the list of ones which may be chosen as grave markers in military cemeteries, and which Pagans fought for *years* to have the pentacle added to, culminating in victory not too long ago).  This means there may be a Christian flag flying at the memorial, but it might also be a Muslim star-and-crescent, or a pentacle, or a Star of David, or one of several other flags of varying faiths.  Reasonable enough, right?

Not to the local Christianists, who are protesting mightily and loudly, threatening to lodge a complaint with the city council, and if the policy takes effect anyway, organize amongst themselves to take every single "my flag, please" spot for the next few years and all fly the Christian flag in order to maintain their hegemonic domination of the memorial.  According to the leader of the citizen's group which is protesting the idea of acknowledging religious plurality:
Many of the foundation’s members are concerned that the city may allow religious flags such as the Muslim Crescent and Star flag, the satanic flag and Wiccan flag, all of which are recognized by the U.S. military, to be flown at the memorial.
Look, dude, I hate to burst your happy little Christian-superiority bubble.  Actually, I take gleeful pleasure in doing so.  But anyway.  You do realize that there are, in fact, soldiers of a persuasion other than Christian?  That Muslims and Buddhists and Pagans and Sikhs and Jews and atheists and humanists have all been, in smaller numbers than Christians for sheer demographic reasons, but nonetheless have been part of the U.S. Military and have fought and sacrificed and died for this country?  It is true.  You cannot argue this.  The facts are not on your side.  

So by kicking and screaming and making a big fuss about oh noes Wiccan and Muslim flags!, you are dishonoring the sacrifices made by actual Wiccan and Muslim servicemembers.  If you are going to support the fucking troops, support ALL the fucking troops, goddamnit.  My baby brother is a Buddhist and a soldier.  Don't you fucking dare erase his existence, and the many like him, simply because they had the temerity to be in the military while non-Christian.  They made the same choices, they spend the same time far from family, they are in the same danger during combat deployments as their Christian comrades.  That deserves respect, not erasure*.  

The only thing the people protesting the flag compromise are actually accomplishing is a clear demonstration of what they are *really* about: not supporting the troops, not honoring veterans, but further grinding their collective bootheel into the neck of everyone who isn't exactly like them as a demonstration of their own supposed moral superiority.

*I am deeply conflicted about honoring Veteran's Day and "supporting the troops", despite having a family member in the armed forces.  Not because I don't care about servicemembers, but because I am vehemently not okay with the "giving their lives to defend our freedom" rhetoric that usually is tied to such protestations of support, seeing as the wars we are involved with right now are wars of choice in which dead Iraqi/Afghani civilians outnumber wounded or dead American soldiers by approximately 100-to-1 or more.  That's not an honorable ultimate-sacrifice-defending-our-freedom kind of situation, to me.  That's a war we didn't have to begin, for aims which are poorly defined at best and completely fabricated at worst, in which the civilian populace in the country we've invaded are bearing the brunt of the losses.  That's not something to be proud of.  Further, such rhetoric fuels the proces of, and is utterly necessary to normalizing war and contributing to a thoroughly militarized society in which this kind of conflict is okay, and I do not want to be part of that.  So please take my phrasings of such things with a grain of salt.  It's not as pat and unconflicted as it sounds.  I am trying to acknowledge the difficulties and dangers of enlisting in military service for what they are, without glorifying war and the military with a veneer of defending! our! freedom!


Explain *This*

Me flipping off many, many people

One of the favored lines of the self-appointed Conservative Christian Morality Police when it comes to censoring public behavior they disapprove of is "I don't want to have to explain this to my child."  They don't want same-sex partners showing affection in public - even a chaste kiss or holding hands, like any hetero couple could do without eliciting so much as a frown - because "I don't want to have to explain to my child why two men are kissing."  They don't want women breastfeeding in public, because "I don't want to have to explain to my child what that woman is doing with her baby."  The general public is not allowed to engage in any behavior the CCMP does not approve of, because the right of the CCMP to not have to explain the ways of other people to hir child is paramount, taking precedence over the right of other adults to conduct their affairs in any place other than their own home.

Anti-abortion billboard, with a cartoon of a scared-looking pregnant girl. Her thought bubble reads "My mom's going to kill me."  The thought-bubble coming from her uterus reads "My mom REALLY is going to KILL ME."
And yet they're quite happy to post this billboard.  In very public view, near a local school, with the deliberate intent of having as many people view it as possible.  And when someone OTHER than the CCMP says they don't think it's appropriate because they don't want to have to explain it to their child, the asshole who put it up is totally understanding of that, right?


Some have expressed concern about explaining the billboard to children. LifeCore's president says if a child is old enough to understand reproduction, the child is also old enough to understand the issue.

They think breastfeeding mothers ought to hide in the bathroom or never leave the house, and that same-gender couples should pretend to just be friends anytime they walk out their door, to avoid offending the CCMP's sensibilities by forcing them to explain these mundane activities to their kids.  But a billboard with a cartoon fetus saying its mother is "REALLY going to KILL ME"?  Tough shit, everyone else.  Have fun explaining the nuances of the abortion debate to your young child.  

Fucking hypocrites.


National Coming Out Day: Because I Can

I have a hard time believing that someone could be reading this blog and not have yet noticed that I am Very Queer (And Talk About It A Lot).  But for those who haven't heard the formal announcement yet:

I am queer.  I am bisexual (mostly), although I've mostly dated men and mostly prefer women, which is kind of a weird combination.  I am polyamorous; although I am in a monogamous relationship right now, I still hope that someday we might find a third to join our relationship.  And I am very, very out about it.


Because I can be.  Because I live in a state that offers robust employment protections for LGBTs - I can't be fired for being openly queer, and if I suffer retaliations at work because of my outness, I have legal recourse.  Because I am the kind of person who is willing and able to handle intrusive questions and the curiosity of strangers, in service of normalizing non-hetero-monogamous sexuality to the wider public.  Because I believe that only with openness and talking about it will the wider culture ever come to be truly accepting of non-hetero-monogamous sexuality, to the point where we won't assume a married woman has a husband and not a wife, to the point where we ask people if they have a significant other, not a boyfriend (for women) or a girlfriend (for men).  I want nobody to bat an eyelash when a woman talks about her female ex, or when a man says he and his husband and their girlfriend are going away this weekend.  I have the kinds of privilege (stable employment in a state with good protections, supportive family to back me up, etc) that make it possible for me to be visible like that, and I'm damn well going to put that to good use.

So at work, I talk very matter-of-factly about my exes, male and female, as if there's nothing strange about that (because there isn't, and there shouldn't be).  So in my very personally-sharing psychology class last spring, I fielded questions from curious classmates about the difference between dating men and women, and how does that poly thing you talk about work, and where do you go to pick up women?  (It's hard to explain, it's *really* hard to explain briefly but here are some links, and I don't, respectively.)

This is something I can do for the community.  I can't donate much, and social anxiety makes it difficult to be part of meetings and organizations and direct actions...but I can be one more queer on the ground, so to speak, making a statement simply by openly and honestly being myself to other people.  

So I am out.  Because I can.


A Public Service Announcement

Service workers are still people.

And the world would be a much nicer, happier, friendlier place if everyone remembered that.  

Corporations are soulless, blood-sucking, evil entities worthy of every ounce of scorn, contempt, and outright hatred you choose to heap upon them.  This is undeniable fact.  However, the minimum-wage-earning drudge you are screaming at is not the corporation.  Zie is a person, who is working a job zie probably doesn't much care for, who has to put up with your bullshit or lose hir job.  Zie is a person who will go home at the end of hir shift, probably tired (because my gods, not even full-day rugby tourneys compare to regular 8-hr retail shifts), and go about hir life.  Zie may be a person of delicate emotional temperament, or with mental illnesses that result in emotional instability.  Your temper tantrum at the register, because you find the corporation who employs that individual's policies not to your liking, may result in the clerk needing to take a "mental health moment" and quietly freak out in the bathroom.  It may send hir plummeting into a downward mood spiral, affecting hir job performance the rest of the shift, and earning hir a reprimand, because despite hir best efforts, zie could barely muster the energy to cope with people after expending all hir mental/emotional spoons dealing with you.

These are things I have personally experienced, including the consequences I mentioned.*  Listen, people.  I am genuinely sorry that the company which is currently paying me to serve as their representative to the public has a policy that will not allow you to do what you want.  I wish I could shit rainbows and make your world a better place.  But no, getting angry at me will not do anything to change the return policy.  It will, however, make me feel like shit, start my mental chains that end with me thinking that I'm a horrible person not fit to live, and force me to use all my emotional energy to stop the horrible depression spiral, leaving me feeling like I just want to curl up in a corner of the stockroom and cry until my shift is over, but I can't.  So I drag together every last emotional spoon I have, plaster a fake smile on my face, go do the bare minimum of interacting with customers because that's all I can handle without completely breaking down, get a talking-to from my fellow managers for not being 100% "on" and being perky and bubbly with customers, and end up so demoralized and emotionally exhausted that I go home and spend my evening crying and hiding from everyone, with my very patient fiance making sure I also eat and go to bed at a reasonable hour.  

TL;DR version: The temper tantrum you feel entitled to throw in the face of a service employee because you're not happy with their employer, may very well be the pebble that starts the avalanche that buries their entire day in a haze of misery and trashed mental health.  You wouldn't feel entitled to abuse your average person on the street that way (and if you would/do, I suggest you seek psychiatric help and stay in your house until that changes).  You are not relieved of your good-manners obligation to treat your fellow human beings with respect and dignity and fairness, just because we're on the clock at the time.  We may be corporate employees, but we are first and foremost PEOPLE.  Please remember that and act accordingly.

This public service announcement brought to you by some first-class assholes at work, and also this post

*For new readers: I have depression and social anxiety.  This means that my mental and emotional coping resources are often severely limited, and become taxed much easier and more rapidly than a person without my mental illnesses would experience.  Yes, one nasty customer *can* throw me into a very bad spiral that ends with "Oh god I'm just going to run my car into an overpass on the drive home tonight, I can't take this anymore."  This is a result of my malfunctioning brain.  No, not all service employees struggle with my particular issues.  But you can't tell I have these problems just by looking at me, so it's not safe to assume they don't, either.


Halloween, or Teaching Girls Their True Value To Society Day

As an adult, I've become painfully aware that Halloween is not "dress up as something cool" day anymore.  It's "dress up as a pornified version of something cool to titillate your male friends" day.  Sexy cop, nurse, pirate, those are standard.  This year, I've seen some incredibly fucking weird "sexy ___" costumes.  Sexy NemoSexy crayon.  I'm not even fucking kidding.  Sexy Big Bird.  Also not kidding, dear gods I wish I was (and does it look to you like a tiny Big Bird is eating her brain? Or is that just me?).  This lead to an afternoon of my Twiends and I tossing around random "sexy ___" suggestions.  We had "sexy fluorescent bulb" and "sexy coffee cup" and "sexy stapler". 
This morning, though, I saw a whole new twist on the usual "sexy ___" costume thing.  Here: 

A simple enough "sexy cop" costume, right?  (I'm not even going to start on the disrespect a costume like this shows for ACTUAL female police officers, who DO exist and do NOT dress like that.)  But.  It's on a child.  And the costume is a "child size medium 8-10".  It's carried on the fucking Toys R Us website.  The "recommended age" is 7-9.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Let the horror and rage percolate through your system for a minute or two.  Now consider:

They are recommending that you dress your 7-year-old daughter up in a "sexy cop" costume.  Oh, it's not called that.  On the Toys R Us website, it's just billed as "Cop Halloween Costume".  Which almost makes it worse.  The adult version at least acknowledges, hey, this is a perversion of something that actually exists, it's only make-believe, this is a "special" version.  You're dressing up as a "sexy cop" not a "cop".  But this is presented as just a "cop costume".  As if this is how female cops dress.  As if this is normal, not something special.  You want to be a police officer when you grow up, honey?  That's wonderful!  Let's dress you in this minidress and heels, because that's how you pretend to be a cop!  (Also, who the hell dresses a 7-yr-old girl in 3-inch heels like those?  Aside from pageant moms.  That's got to be detrimental to her physical development.) 

Maybe I'm just old, and I've reached the point of mourning for Teh Childrenz already at the ripe old age of 25.  But I do NOT remember it being this bad when I was a kid.  When I went as Princess Leia for Halloween one year, it was in the long white dress from Empire Strikes Back, not the gold bikini from Return of the Jedi.  If it's just that my parents were exceptionally good at sheltering me, then Mom, thank you.  But I am absolutely sickened to see evidence that at a mere 7 years old, we're supposed to be teaching her that while the boys her age can dress up as police officers, her only option is "sexy cop". 


"Pro-Life" Isn't.

One of the great coups of the anti-choice movement was getting their hands on such a generalized, warm-fuzzies, can't-argue-with-that name as "pro-life" and securing its usage in popular discourse.  According to that moniker, they are in favor of life!  Who could possibly say that's a bad thing without sounding like a total asshole?  Life is a good thing to be in favor of, right?  Who wants to be anti-life?  Yeah.  They kicked our ass on that one.  Pro-choice is an accurate statement of what we believe, but it doesn't have the ring or raw power of a phrase like "pro-life".

Thanks to our refusal to use their preferred title, though, it's falling out of use in favor of the more accurate "anti-abortion".  NPR, just a few months ago, issued a statement declaring they would no longer use the terms pro-choice and pro-life in their reporting, but would instead refer to "advocates/opponents of abortion rights."  

But why do we refuse to play along and call them pro-life?  Because they aren't.  Because their concern for life begins and ends in the womb.  Once you're on the other side of the birth canal, you're on your own. Pro-choicers have joked about that for years, in a lolsobby sort of way - I remember a bitterly funny political cartoon I saw once (have tried to find it several times since, and never can), depicting a pregnant Latina woman with a toddler holding her hand, standing in a rainstorm, and a white male politician-looking guy solicitiously holding an umbrella over himself and her pregnant belly, leaving her and her child in the rain* - and have prodded at so-called pro-lifers to support things like health care for pregnant women and contraceptive coverage, in order to actually reduce the abortion rate.  They refuse, repeatedly, to hew to their stated values.  They do not earn their title.  And so I refuse to give it to them.

Unconvinced?  Still willing to ascribe positive, if desperately misguided, motives to anti-choicers, and give them the benefit of doubt that they, at least, really believe they're saving babies?  Lolwhut.  A few days ago, when a Democrat-authored bill aimed at lowering the US's abysmally high infant mortality rate through the use of community-based health programs came up for a vote in the House, 64 Republicans voted against it.  The nays included such anti-abortion crusaders as Michele "WTF" Bachmann and Virginia "Dear Gods Who Let You Near The Laws?" Foxx.  I did some random googling of various names on the nay rolls, and turned up, without exception, Republicans with 100% ratings from National Right to Life Committee/0% ratings from NARAL.  These are heavy-duty "pro-lifers".  And when push came to shove, they voted AGAINST a bill that is about saving actual babies' lives.  Actual.  Living.  Babies.  You know, these are the people who are all "Think of the innocent baybeez!" when you're talking abortion.  And yet when you want to talk about infant health and infant mortality rates, it becomes "fuck those babies."  

So if it really is about saving babies, not controlling and demeaning women, how do you explain that?  Why isn't the almighty baby coming first in the priorities here?  What kind of stultifying level of cognitive dissonance would you have to endure in order to simultaneously genuinely believe that the life of the unborn child is of paramount importance and overrides all other concerns like the incubator's health and life, and yet vote against a bill aimed at saving the lives of living infants?  It's not even fucking remotely imaginable.

Anti-choicers are truly the people to whom it's only a precious baby until it's born.

 *ETA: The comic, it has been found!  Fuiin Ekusu, in the comments, provided me with a link to a FB group which uses the comic as their image. 


Bryan Fischer, Yet Again: Hetero Anal Sex, Lesbians Do Not Exist

Bryan Fischer, the one-man 3-ring circus of bigotry and fuckbaggery, is at it yet a-fucking-gain.  He, like so many anti-gay bigots, has huge hangups about teh buttsecks, and so focuses his bigotry on ass-sex to an embarrassing degree, a la Porno Pete LaBarbera.  Honestly, if you're this obsessive over other people's sexual proclivities, you need therapy, not your own radio show.

Here's the prize quote, from Fischer's anti-DADT rant-turned-blog-post (via Bryan Fischer Right Wing Watch):
Homosexual conduct is deviant sexual conduct. Homosexuals are defined by one characteristic and one characteristic only: they want to use the anal cavity for sex. This kind of sexual conduct is aberrant and carries enormous health risks.
Attention Bryan Fischer: straight couples do it up the butt, too.  This public service announcement brought to you by the reality-based sexual facts community.  Where have you been while the media has freakouts about teens who have (straight) anal sex to preserve their technical virginity?  And articles show up about whether or not men have come to *expect* anal from women they date?  For the love of all the gods, man, go browse a mainstream porn store for ten minutes.  I doubt it would even take that long to find "Ass Titans #4"*.  Also?  Not all male-homosexual couples have anal sex.  Some do, some don't.  Just like not all hetero couples have vaginal-penetrative sex.  And aren't you forgetting something?  Or rather, someone?  Very many someones?  Who are also categorized under the general term "homosexual", but who are not men?  Yes, them.  Lesbians.  Some of whom *also* enjoy anal sex, and some of whom do not.  

At any rate, this is a ludicrous level of Othering based on sexuality.  Male homosexuality is defined solely by buttsex?  As well to say that "heterosexuals are defined by one characteristic and one characteristic only: they want to stick their penises in vaginas/they want to have penises stuck in their vaginas."  See how stupidly reductive that is?  No one rational would claim that hetero relationships are based solely on wanting to have PIV sex.  Heterosexuals are defined by being attracted to and forming loving relationships with members of a different gender from their own.  Likewise, homosexuals are defined by being attracted to and forming loving relationships with members of their own gender.  And bisexuals are defined by being attracted to and forming loving relationships with members of multiple genders, and asexuals are defined by not being attracted sexually to other people, but forming loving relationships nonetheless.  See how that works?  

Bonus points to the metric fucknugget for these snippets, too...
We would be left with a military comprised of nothing but sexual deviants and those who celebrate sexual deviancy. That is a guaranteed path to a permanently and irreversibly emasculated military
The impact on readiness, retention, and recruitment would have been utterly catastrophic. Character-driven officers, gone. Character-driven service members, gone. Character-driven chaplains, gone. Character-driven recruits, gone.
So, masculinity is what defines our military and protects us (from what?  Aside from 9/11, which, terrorism is not the kind of thing you can effectively use a military against, we haven't been attacked by anything or anyone we could reliably need the military to defend against), and if we allow it to be "emasculated" it will become worthless.  I'm sure that's news to the many women serving in the military currently.  Nice little dose of misogyny and patriarchal framing there.  And apparently, LGBs and our allies have no character, and are in fact antithetical to retaining people of character.

Frankly, Fischer, given a choice between an all-rainbow-uniforms military composed entirely of buttsex-having gays and lesbians, and your "$MILITARY_TITLEs of character", I will happily welcome our new buttsexing overlords.  Now please, STFU.

*Why yes, I totally did go google "anal porn dvds" in order to give you an authentic anal sex porn DVD title.  See how dedicated I am to you? ;-)


The Definition of Family: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

This weekend is the Values Voter Summit - yet another wearying conference where hateful conservative demagogues gather to preach at each other about how awesome they are and how horrible the rest of the world is.  This one features a veritable who's who of the hate movement, including the likes of Bryan "All Muslims are inbred and violent and should be deported from the U.S./Gay sex is domestic terrorism" Fischer, Christine "Masturbation is adultery" O'Donnell, and ex-Senator Rick "Man-on-dog/Frothy Mix*" Santorum.  You know, most of us who pay attention to this kind of thing were already aware that these are terrible, terrible people who should never be allowed any authority over other peoples' lives, but it's truly breathtaking the things they'll say in their "natural habitat", so to speak, surrounded by other like-minded haters.  Here's a clip of ex-Sen Frothy Mix, courtesy of Right Wing Watch, explaining how there are no families in poor neighborhoods:

The size and scope of government is directly related to the virtue of her people. Go into the neighborhoods in America where there is a lack of virtue, what will you find? Two things. You will find no families, no mothers and fathers together in marriage. And you will find government everywhere. Police, social service agencies, why? Because without faith, family and virtue, government takes over.
You know, we knew they wanted to redefine "family" to cut out all same-sex pairings, even those with children.  That's not news.  But now it seems Frothy Mix wants to go a step further and eliminate from the definition of family anyone except one woman, one man, married to each other, with children (probably only ones that are biologically theirs, but that's just an educated guess on my part).  Single parents and their children?  Are not families.  Grandparents raising their grandchildren because their children are single parents?  Are not families.  Hetero couples with children, who can't afford the $75 for a marriage license or who don't choose to partake in that social tradition?  Are not families.

I've got two big fuck-yous here.  The first is this:  You know what makes a fucking family, Mr. Frothy Mix?  Choices and love.  The choice to spend your life with someone.  The love you feel for a siblings of the heart, whether they are siblings in blood or not.  That makes a family.  There is a family-in-your-sense-of-the-word out in TN, two hetero parents, three charming daughters, living in one house with their cats and dog.  I have absolutely no blood relation to these people at all.  But for the year and a half that I lived in that part of the world, we called one another family.  My now-ex and I would go to family gatherings at their house.  When the husband graduated his military training and his parents couldn't make the drive up for graduation, my ex and I drove through the night to be there, because that's what family does.  I refer to them as my heart-brother and heart-sister, and their children are my nieces.  My fiance and I live together, with no children and no plans to, and we won't be married until Prop H8 is finally repealed.  We are still family, because we have chosen to be.  On the subject of single parents and single parenting: my parents divorced when I was 18, and my brother was 14.  For the years that my brother lived with my mom and my father lived elsewhere, were we no longer a family?  What about a man who has lost his wife and is parenting his children alone?  Because his wife died, are he and his children not a family?  That suggestion is sick, abhorrent, and morally wrong.  I cannot say it strongly enough, Mr. Frothy Mix.  Kindly remove your head from your rectal opening and look around you at the diversity of families that populate the world.  We are not all one-man-one-woman-2.5-kids.  That is not the only way of doing things.  And it is sickeningly disrespectful of millions of people and the families they have been born to or chosen, to claim that "there are no families" because you don't see enough married hetero couples with children.

Second, what the fuck is up with this way of referring to "poor neighborhoods" like it's another planet populated with a strange alien people called "the poor"?  The way you phrase this, it's *abundantly* clear you are not talking *to* poor people, but *about* them.  Are you poor?  From a poverty background?  No?  Then STFU on this moralizing-at-the-poor thing.  This is not the only place I've seen this attitude crop up recently, and it's also disgusting and wrong.  People living at or below poverty level are still, y'know, PEOPLE.  Not moral problems to be fixed, not some endangered species you need to discuss how to handle.  PEOPLE.  

Look for more to come from this Values Voter Summit, including a rant on the idiocy of the name.

*The "Frothy Mix" thing came from his offensive comments about gay marriage a few years ago, when gay sex-advice columnist Dan Savage decided to hold a reader contest to make up the most offensive/grossest definition of "santorum" they could.  The definition ended up being "The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter which is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex."  Savage put up a website touting that definition and readers and activists across the internet Google-bombed it to bring it to the top of the search rankings.  Go ahead.  Google "Rick Santorum".  I'll wait... Anyway, those of us who dislike his policies with great intensity will sometimes refer to him as Mr. (Senator, when he was) Frothy Mix because of it.


Quote of the Day (+Zombie Blogsplanation)

First, the quote of the day, from a Salon article about the Dems' "Ooga Booga Republicans!!" strategy for this year's elections...
The great irony of the Obama presidency is that a central promise of his candidacy was to reduce the corrosive cynicism pervading the citizenry regarding our political system, but dashing the hopes of huge numbers of first-time and young voters -- as the "enthusiasm gap" compellingly reveals is occurring -- will likely do more than any other single event to increase cynicism levels to all new heights.  It's easy to imagine large numbers of people who decided for the first time that politics can matter -- people who were enthused supporters who expected the fundamental change they were promised by electing Barack Obama -- giving up "hope" for a long time, if not forever, in the face of a Party which now has little to say to them other than:  But Look Over There at Sarah Palin!!
That pretty much sums it up.  I absolutely fall into this category, btw.  I voted in my first presidential election in 2004, when it was just a desperate "ohdeargodgetBushthefuckoutofofficeplz" attitude.  Nobody was *excited* for Kerry, but he was a democrat, and he was Not Bush.  And then Obama's campaign came.  I was one of the many young voters, although not a first-timer, who was swept up in the fervor.  I believed with all my naive little heart.  I hoped!  I changed!  I hoped for change!  I donated time, and for the first time donated money too!  And now I'm counting down until 2012 when we can see the end of the Third Term of GW Bush right alongside my Teabagger-Republican father, although for diametrically opposed reasons.

Let me tell you just how disillusioned with the Democratic Party I am: my family has always been a bit fanatical about doing one's civic duty by voting.  We vote.  We always vote.  Growing up, my parents would each put their ballot stub on the fridge when they got home with it, and I would look at it and imagine the day when I had one to put up there, too.  "If you don't vote, you can't complain" was a common refrain around our house.

This November?  If I vote at all - and I'm considering not - it won't be for Dems.  I might vote Green.  I might not vote at all, except for the propositions (CA's prop system is so fucking broken) and voting against Meg Whitman for governor because she scares me.  But even there, I'm not voting *for* Jerry Brown, I'm voting *against* Whitman.  And I really truly hate that it's come to this.  But there it is.  Thanks, Obama administration.  My bubble: you bursted it.

Now for the blognews:  I realize this blog is kind of coming back from the dead all zombified right now.  I have been gone a long time.  No, I'm not dead.  Clearly.  What I am, however, is employed.  Readers who follow me on Twitter know I have a job at Lane Bryant these days (a plus-sized women's clothing retailer), and may or may not have noticed that it is eating up all my time and also kind of devouring my soul.  Posting has ground to a halt under the weight of stress and work and I'm trying to figure out how to fit blogging in there along with some leisure time on WoW.  (How do people do it?  I know there are lots of people out there who manage to work and have hobbies and a social life all at once.  What am I doing wrong?)  Anyway.  I am sorry.  I've missed it, and you, all of you, whether you comment or not. 

So here it is:  I'm sorry for the absence.  I'm going to work on this time-management thing.  While I'm still figuring it out, posting will be a bit spare, probably only once or twice a week.  Hopefully that will get better with time and practice.  But as of now...I am back.


An Addendum To The "Depression Is A Crock" Debacle

I posted last week in response to some fauxpert on AOL news calling post-partum depression a "crock" and then further claiming in response to criticism that all depression is just "people who don't want to cope with life".  As a survivor of depression for more than half my life, and specifically a survivor who resisted antidepressant medication for far longer than was safe for me precisely *because* of attitudes like that, I was furious and jumped on her statements about depression as a whole.  But in my anti-ableist fervor and my anger over the generalized stigma against viewing mental illnesses as real illnesses, I missed a seriously huge (and very feministly-relevant) aspect that I'd like to go back and revisit now.

Because while I focused on the "depression as a whole is bullshit" part of her statement, that was actually only in her response to the controversy, when she "clarified" her position.  The original dustup was over her statements regarding post-partum depression specifically, and so in the grand scheme of responses to her, I am an odd childfree voice arguing about depression amidst a sea of mothers arguing about post-partum depression.  I am kind of feeling like I missed the forest for the trees, or the trees for the forest perhaps, and I just wanted to clarify, because I feel like I focused on my own experience and the ableism against that, to the exclusion of a discussion of the misogyny in Pat Brown's position.  .  

See, the thing is, when a person talks shit about survivors of depression, that's a feminist issue because of intersectionality, and because women suffer depression at higher rates than men, and because of the way women are portrayed as overemotional, blah blah blah...but it's also talking shit about male survivors of depression, so it's more than just a women's issue.  Post-partum depression, on the other hand, is a women's issue in a way general clinical depression is not, because PPD is a thing which happens to childbearing persons.  While not all women are childbearing persons, all childbearing persons (with the exception of a scant few rare transmen who chose to exercise their gestational capability post-transition) are women.  Thus, talking shit about PPD survivors is talking shit about an experience which happens specifically to women.

And in that context, the stigma against survivors of PPD is just another facet of Women Can't Win.  Be thin, because fat is ugly and you don't want to be ugly, after all, your primary value is your beauty...but eww, too skinny, you're all skin and bones, go eat a cheeseburger!  If you're a virgin (past a certain age), you're a pathetic prude, but have sex in any context other than your first time on your wedding night with the only husband you will ever have and you're a slut, a whore, dirty, used...  If you work, you'd better be totally devoted to your career because you'll have to be twice as good to get half as far as the men in your field, but if you're devoted to your career at the expense of dating or having children, you're a selfish bitch and probably also a lesbian (and remember, lesbians are Bad).  If you don't have or don't want children, you're sick and selfish and not a real woman, but if you have children, you are unequivocally NOT ALLOWED at any point to be anything other than happy and grateful for EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of your child-raising life, and if you fail that in ANY WAY AT ALL, including pregnancy-related mental illness like PPD, you are RUINING YOUR CHILDREN and you are a BAD MOTHER.

Stigma against depression is ableist and privileges a neurotypical experience of mood and happiness.  But stigma against post-partum depression is both ableist and uniquely misogynist.  It is deeply sexist to dismiss the experiences and suffering of thousands of women by telling them that their specific form of a debilitating mental illness is bullshit and doesn't exist.  It's a diagnosis of "hysteria" for the modern age, and it is. not. okay.


Sarah Palin Has Left The Building (In Which Reality Resides)

I normally don't read @SarahPalinUSA's tweetstream.  First of all, why the hell is it @SarahPalinUSA, not just @SarahPalin?  There can't be that many Sarah Palins in the world that she needs to differentiate herself from, and it strikes me as childish conservative posturing - "Real Amurricans" and all that.  All she needs now is an American flag and a bald eagle in the back window of her pickup truck...  And second, reading it gives me a headache, and I have yet to figure out if it's the bizarre use of txtspeak (yes, I realize 140 characters is short, but Roger Ebert and I manage to be grammatical within that constraint; why can't you, Sarah?), the breathtakingly unabashed conserva-bizarro-world "logic", or simply the repeated thudding of my head on the desk that's the cause.  But today, someone RT'd a genius satire account into my timeline, @SP_Translator.  SP_Translator's twitterstream consists of RT's of a Palin tweet, followed by a "translation".  For example, this morning:
SarahPalinUSA: Now headed to ANWR; 20,000,000 remote acres of US oil & gas;we'll show you what it really looks like,unlike extreme enviro's fundraiser pics
SP_Translator: I'm heading to the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. I might kill something. And, if I'm really lucky, I'll kill everything! @SarahPalinUSA
It made me laugh, so I followed.  The "translations" dilute the stupid enough that it's not a toxic dose, so even seeing the original Palin tweets only makes me roll my eyes, because I know something funny will shortly follow.  With a couple of exceptions, of course...

...So you've been following the Dr. Laura thing, right?  She went off at a black woman on her radio show, who had called in asking for advice in dealing with her white husband and his white family and friends who were sometimes racist around her, including using the n-word (which I will not type out in full for any reason, period the end.  You know which word I'm talking about).  Dr. Laura yelled at her about hearing black people use the word themselves and by god if you people can use it, so can us white people!  Basically.  But it included Dr. Laura actually saying the n-word something like eleven times at the woman, to prove her point.  Many many people were very very angry about this, complained, Tweeted, blogged, called her advertisers, and she announced today that she's ending her show.  Good fucking riddance to her homophobic, transphobic, fauxminist, gender-essentialist bullshit.  

Of course, what controversy with a conservative woman at its center would be complete without the Palinator weighing in?  Sure enough, on Twitter this afternoon, she said...
Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!
Dr.Laura:don't retreat...reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence"isn't American,not fair")
Head, meet desk.  Again.  Not least because of the odd use of quotes in the second tweet.  See what I mean about her fucking bizarre txtspeak?  Worse than a 12-yr-old on sugar, that woman is, with a phone's keyboard in her hands.

Anyway, eleventy-billionth verse, same as the first, a whole lot louder and a whole lot more fucking annoying because ye gods, do you people not get it yet?  What have you got in place of your brain pieces, spent brass and a copy of Atlas Shrugged?  Sing it with me, progressives:  The 1st Amendment guarantees that the government will not censor you for reasons of content suppression.  It has NOT ONE FUCKING THING to do with what OTHER PEOPLE think of you and how they express that opinion.  We are well within our rights to criticize an out-and-proud bigot for her bigotry.  If she weren't saying something that is completely unac-fucking-ceptable according to polite society (and her advertisers) there wouldn't be a damn thing we could do to her.  It's not us that's the problem, it's her racism that's gotten her in trouble.  

The other thing that gets me about that pair of tweets is the whole "unshackled=more powerful!" crap.  It strikes me as trying to turn a frown upside down, only it's totally bizarre (I use that word a lot when I'm talking about Palin, don't I?  Heh.) because, um, without her radio, sure, she's not "shackled" by the need to be marginally polite and not (too much of) a raging bigot...but she also has no platform.  Which was kinda where that power came from, yes?  How is a woman willing to yell the n-word at a black woman to make a point going to be "powerful and effective", cut off from the major platform for her message?  

Well, she might try getting a job at the AFA.  If they're willing to give Bryan Fischer a platform, Dr. Laura should fit right in.

PS: What's a "Constitutional Obstructionist" anyway?  The only way I can make that work out, semantically, is that she means people who obstruct her agenda by following/using the Constitution.  Which is hilariously, and probably unintentionally, accurate.  I think I'm taking that for my new title.  "[MyLegalName], retail wage slave by day, blogger and Constitutional Obstructionist by night!" ^_^


This Is Why I Resisted Medication (And Could Have Died From It)

[Trigger warning: descriptions of depression and suicidal ideation] [TMI warning: family who would rather not hear the raw details of my suicidal periods, turn back now]

First: holy shit, AOL still exists?  I thought that ancient behemoth died off by the time I'd graduated from high school.  Apparently not, given that the customers at work give me @aol.com email addresses fully half the time.

And AOL is even around as an internet news service these days, publishing ridiculously offensive content like this article (it's been scrubbed of the offensive bits already; here's a response to it that quotes the bad parts before they were taken out) about a woman who killed her children in South Carolina.  The short version is, a woman who may or may not have been suffering from post-partum depression (PPD) killed her children, and the police are looking at PPD as a potential motive.  The AOL article included quotes from a so-called "expert" - an expert in criminal profiling, mind you, not a doctor or anyone who would know two shits about how chemical imbalances in the brain *actually work* - basically saying that PPD is "a crock" and it's just an "excuse" for women who are whining about how they don't like their new babyified life.

Several mommybloggers got righteously outraged and called the "expert" on her shit, including an open letter posted here, which cited the author's own experience of PPD and describing the environmental, psychological, and physiological causes/triggers of PPD as best understood by current science.  She ended her letter by saying:
The women suffering from PPD/PAMD [Perinatal Anxiety and Mood Disorder], and those of us who have survived it, do not need any more blame and judgment.  Believe me when I tell you that we blame and judge ourselves quite enough.  We need compassion, help, and access to treatment.  We do not need to be told that our disorder is "a crock."
And lo and behold, a response appeared in the heavens...
I am not ignorant of your argument for PPD and I am not saying in some rare case such a thing could exist based on chemical issues. Generally speaking, I don't buy the chemical imbalance theory for any depression; I believe people just don't want to deal with real life issues and the fact that sometimes life is simply depressing and damn difficult. It isn't about chemical imbalance but tough times and our own issues.
Pat Brown
Investigative Criminal Profiler
Wow.  Not content with dismissing PPD/PAMD survivors, she's upped the ante to include ALL depression.  Let that sink in again...
I don't buy the chemical imbalance theory for any depression; I believe people just don't want to deal with real life issues...
I guess I spent most of my college years hiding in my apartment, barely able to get out of bed and face the world at least one or two days out of every week, battling on a daily basis the tantalizing thoughts of suicide that floated around in my mind, hating myself and picking apart my every tiniest flaw, terrified to go to class and be around people, sinking ever further into a desperate spiral of emotional/psychological agony not because I have a diagnosed mental illness, but because I just didn't want to deal with real life issues.

You know what?  Fuck you, you sanctimonious meat nugget.  I desperately wanted to deal with my real life issues.  I WANTED to be able to go to class, to keep my house clean, to have friends and a social life, keep up with my homework and get my degree.  I WANTED those things with a desperate hunger.  But I COULDN'T.  I wanted to deal, I tried to deal, but my brain kept getting in my way, dousing my efforts in fear and hurting until I could do nothing more strenuous than curl up under the covers and cry and wish I were dead.  You think that's fun?  You think fantasizing about one's own death in meticulous detail is preferable to dealing with real life issues?  What the fucking fuck.  

I wrote my first suicide note when I was 11.  I started self-injuring when I was 13.  I received some (ineffective) counseling when I was 15, then some better therapy when I was 17.  I didn't get onto medication, despite having very good insurance coverage that could have gotten it for me for free/low copay, until I was fucking TWENTY, nearly a DECADE after the first onset of depression.  You know why?  That stigma right there, that attitude the "expert" is showing.  Because I bought that shit wholesale, in Costco-sized quantities.  Medication was a sign of weakness.  There was nothing wrong with me except that I wanted there to be something wrong with me.  If I tried hard enough, I could just "snap out of it" and be ok.  I just had to think positive, buy a day planner, do my homework, and everything would be ok.  It was all in my head.  I just wasn't trying hard enough.  Antidepressants are just happy pills for people who can't cope with life.  You don't want to be the kind of person who relies on happy pills instead of her own strength, do you?  Be strong.  Be tough.  Suck it up and keep going.  Smile, even if you don't feel like it.  You thought yourself into this, you can think yourself back out.

Finally, finally, my therapist talked me into giving meds a try.  It took a therapist that I trusted and liked THREE FUCKING YEARS to talk me into trying meds for my depression, that's how strong the stigma against depression-as-illness had me in its grip.  I contacted a psychiatrist through the campus health center and began Lexapro.  It lessened the suicidal thoughts and made them easier to cope with, except it completely blocked my ability to orgasm, and after three weeks of that I stormed into my appointment and said "Find. Me. Something. Else. NOW."  Me - orgasms = REALLY REALLY UNHAPPY.  So we tried Wellbutrin instead.  And something happened.

Three or four weeks into taking it, I was walking home from class (a hell of a thing in and of itself; I was going to class more or less regularly!) and I realized I was smiling up at the sun for no particular reason, and I hadn't thought longingly about suicide once all day!  I was afraid to trust this sudden thing called happiness.  What if it was just a fluke?  What if it disappeared again?  I enrolled in a cognitive-behavioral therapy group - me, who was terrified of being around people! - and made friends.  One of my favorite memories of college was planning a day out together with three other women in the group, where we went to breakfast in town, then to the campus art department's Open Studios day together.  I was having a social life!  With other people!  It was amazing to me.  

So I have a question for this unmitigated fuckwit: if you "don't buy" that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain - ie, you don't believe that it's a real mental illness (and why the fuck is it any of your business to buy or not buy the categorization of depression as a mental illness anyway?) - how do you explain my experience, and the hundreds of others who could tell you similar stories?  If we don't have an illness, what good could medication possibly do?  And yet medication has clearly helped many, many people.  So how do you explain that?

I wonder if she, and those who hold similar views, realize the very real damage they do by perpetuating that stigma?  It is purely by the grace of a few very, very good friends that I am still alive today.  Friends who talked me down from the ledge over and over again, once or twice a month, like clockwork, when the desire for death became too much to stave off again.  Friends who, at times, literally physically restrained me from attempting suicide.  Friends who helped keep these episodes a secret from the rest of the world, because I didn't want anyone else to know how broken I was.  I could have died, several times over, because I refused to accept medical treatment for my illness.  Because of the stigma.  Because of that "I don't buy it" attitude.

To Pat Brown, and those who believe as this fauxpert does, who would dismiss all depression as people who "just don't want to deal with life":  


No love,
A depressive in remission


Committing To Vote, But Not For You!

I can't decide if I'm glad I'm still on Organizing for America's email list (OFA being the post-campaign continuation of Obama's campaign organization, now absorbed into and run by the DNC) because it gives me immediate access to all the condescension and emotionally-abusive patterns this administration so loves, or if I'd really rather this shit didn't show up in my inbox to annoy me anymore.  

But I think, since it's giving me more to blog about, I'll be grateful for now.  The latest missive is a get-out-the-base "Go vote in November!" type.  Here you go:

[personal anecdote here]
That's why one key part of our Vote 2010 plan this year is to get folks like you from across the country to commit to vote, to make sure we get as many people as we can to cast their ballots this fall.

But getting the commitments we need starts with your own promise to make it to the polls and cast your ballot.

Will you please commit to vote in the 2010 elections?

Over the next 82 days, volunteers across the country will spend countless hours calling voters and knocking on their doors, asking them the same question.

And you can bet that I am counting on you to join them in talking to voters in your community.

This election offers a stark choice. We Democrats are hard at work trying to move America forward, repairing a decade of damage and growing an economy based on the Main Street values of hard work and responsibility.

We've fought for and won historic reforms to our health care system, a victory 100 years in the making, and to Wall Street, the most sweeping overhaul of the financial system since the Great Depression.

But after years of policies that landed us in the worst recession since the 1930's, the Republicans who got us there have not come up with anything different from the policies of George W. Bush.

We simply cannot afford to go backwards or let them repeal our reforms. And making sure we can continue moving forward starts with your own promise to cast your ballot in these elections.

Please commit to vote this fall:


*Yawn*  More of the same.  "Look at our historic [and toothless] reforms!  Ooga booga REPUBLICANS IN POWER AGAIN!"  

Okay, so you managed to make some adjustments to our health insurance system.  But we never got the public option we were promised, and honestly?  I'm still waiting for this to be of any use to me.  Still uninsured, still waiting, still without my depression meds.  Thanks a bunch, Obama administration.  Yay historic reforms.  Plus I'm super-pleased at how you threw me under the bus to get the DINOs in line on abortion.  Love it.  Can we please stop calling this health CARE reform, and start calling it what it is, health INSURANCE reform?  

And with Press Secretary Gibbs' little rant the other day, about us drug-addled ingrates who are really pissing off the administration by not licking their ass in worship for the few crumbs they've seen fit to toss us, the Obama administration can go fuck itself.  Hard.

But I do hereby promise to go vote this November.  After all, I've got Carly Failorina trying to unseat Barbara Boxer, and I'm not going to stand idle and let that happen uncontested, and Meg Whitman the corporate shill up for governator.  So rest assured, OFA, I will go vote.  

I will not, however, pledge some kind of unthinking allegiance to the DNC's chosens.  I will not commit to vote Democrat.  I will commit to vote for those who support me, who do not start from the middle, compromise to the right, and call it historic reform, who do not sign proclamations further emphasizing the BadWrongImmoral nature of a medical procedure I have myself needed in the past, despite purporting to support the right and ability to access said procedure, who do not stubbornly insist on bipartisanly declaring their anti-marriage equality bigotry in the face of real progress.  I will vote for actual progressives, no matter what the letter is before their name.  And I flatly refuse to donate to or work with the DNC and their chosen corporate-friendly DINOs.  

I'm committed to voting.  But not the way the DNC wants.  They want my vote back, it's time for them to damn well earn it.


Dear OFA: I'm Not A Special Interest Group, Either

Last summer, I was (briefly) an Organizing for America (the post-election version of Obama's campaign organization, now an arm of the DNC) online-based intern, before The Great Lifesplosion.  This has meant that, despite my growing disenchantment with the Obama administration, I'm still on the email list and get regular calls to action from the group.  Today, an OFA email landed in my inbox, with the subject line:
I am not a "special interest"
I opened it, and it was an e-blast about the emergency jobs bill, purporting to be from a teacher named Wendy.  Here's the relevant quote:
Democrats in Congress are trying to do the right thing, proposing emergency assistance for states to preserve more than 100,000 jobs like mine. They're racing back to the Capitol for an emergency session this week to pass this bill and save these jobs.

But Republicans are standing in the way. Minority Leader John Boehner is calling the bill a "payoff" to "special interests" and attacking every Democrat who is fighting for us.

But I'm not a special interest. I'm a teacher.
You know what, Wendy?  I'm not a special interest, either.  I'm a woman, a person without medical insurance, and queer.  The Obama administration has trampled right the hell over each of those facets of my identity, reasoning that we're "special interests" that they don't really have to listen to.  Hell, in the case of the insurance "reform" fiasco, they *actively* pandered to the real special interests, the insurance companies, instead of supporting uninsured people and women!  Why should I jump up and swing into action, calling my Congresspeople and spreading the word, to make sure you aren't treated like a "special interest", when the Obama administration all too clearly sees me and many others like me as "special interests" and is willing to treat us as such?

Mind you, I do support this emergency jobs bill.  Call me a socialist, w'ev.  But I am really fucking annoyed by the OFA's approach on this.  No, teachers are not a special interest.  But neither am I, and until the Obama administration is ready to acknowledge that and get to work representing me as well as you, they can go suck a bag of dicks for all I care.


The Religious Reich: Without Lies, What Would They Be?

...Just a whole bunch of silence and trousers, that's what.* Via Right Wing Watch (what would I do without you?), comes a clip of some right-wing assholes talking about their strategy for getting SCOTUS to reinstate Prop H8.  In essence, their belief is that if they just bring enough public opinion to bear on their side, the justices will capitulate to the tyranny will of the people.  But really, the best bit is right at the beginning:
The Supreme Court has not, ever, handed down a decision which flew into the face and teeth of a strong moral consensus against it.
Wow, really?  So Brown v Board of Education was totally uncontroversial, with massive public moral consensus on its side, and the National Guard was called in to escort the black students into newly-desegregated schools as an honor guard!  Also, Roe v Wade was and has always been supported by a strong moral consensus, which is why certain segments keep on attacking it and trying to have it overturned.  Oh, and Loving v Virginia was a total no-brainer, despite more than 40 states having anti-miscegenation laws on the books at the time.  No moral consensus against interracial marriage there!  

I mean, really.  This is one of the stupider boldfaced lies I've seen come from the Religious Wrong.  Someone please do correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, the function of SCOTUS is to scrutinize contested laws through a Constitutional lens and decide if the law in question is permissible under the Constitution, yes?  Not to have a popularity contest and say "Well, most people feel strongly against this, so we'll have to rule against it."  The popularity-contest part is the voting which enacts the law; SCOTUS is supposed to stand independent of public opinion and decide pure questions of the Constitutionality of the laws.  Sure, there's a "moral consensus" against same-gender marriage, although it's not such a strong one as they'd like to claim, and its hold has been diminishing considerably with the passage of time.  And with that moral consensus, they won the popularity contest that is voting, and enacted their law.  That part has already been decided.  The question now is not whether it's popular or in step with a "moral consensus", but whether it abides by the strictures of the Constitution.  Which Judge Walker held it did not, and which is the question the 9th Circuit Court and, eventually, SCOTUS will be deciding on, not whether or not there's a "moral consensus" about the issue.

No wonder they're getting all the wrong answers here.  They're asking the wrong questions.

*Gamer joke; from a Zero Punctuation review for Dragon Age in which Yahtzee asked, "What would a Bioware RPG be without text?  Just a whole bunch of silence and trousers, that's what."


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