NOM Uses "Some Of My Best Friends Are Black!" Excuse

Yesterday morning, some documents were released as part of an investigation into the National Organization for [Hetero Christian] Marriage's campaign financing, which showed explicit divide-and-conquer strategizing that revolved around pitting Black and Latino communities against the gay community (because, I guess, there are no queer Black people or queer Latinos? lol your intersectionality failure) in an effort to break apart core Democratic constituencies.

Well, after such damning evidence of their unethical race-based manipulation strategies emerged, they had to respond, didn't they?  How could they spin this to come out looking, if not like the good guys, then at least not like total and complete assholes?
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 and has worked extensively with supporters of traditional marriage from every color, creed and background. We have worked with prominent African-American and Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop George McKinney of the COGIC Church, Bishop Harry Jackson and the New York State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz Sr., all of whom share our concern about protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
NOM used My Best Friend Is Black!  It's not very effective...

Pokemon references aside (I don't even play Pokemon.  I never have.  Goddamnit, internet memes, what have you done to me?), this is basically the organization-level version of "...but I have black friends [therefore this racist thing I said/did can't possibly be racist]".  It's name-dropping certain PoC who are anti-marriage equality, as if to make the case that they do, or should, speak for all of their community (oh, look, that old trope of minority-groups-are-monolithic), while continuing to further erase the existence of PoC who are also part of the LGB community, and their allies.

So I have to wonder: how, exactly, was this supposed to make the case that NOM is not a bunch of terrible, racist assholes, in addition to being homophobic bullies?  Put down the shovel, kids.  You're in deep enough as it is.

Edited to reflect which day stuff was released.  Self, please remember that if you're queuing a post, you need to make sure the conditional references are accurate for the scheduled post time, not for the time when you were writing it.  >.<


What About The Doctors' Rights?

In the overwhelming tide of anti-choice legislation (honestly, don't these people have ANYTHING else to do?), we've seen a trend of being focused on legislating what goes on in the exam room, what words are exchanged between doctor and patient, what specific techniques the doctor has to use.  As Melissa over at Shakesville has pointed out a few times, these "state-sanctioned rape" bills (laws mandating transvaginal ultrasound prior to abortion) not only enforce a requirement of coerced penetration on the patient, they require that the doctor administer said non-consensual penetration.  In essence, they victimize the doctor as well as the patient, by coercing them both to engage in an act of penetration to which neither has the option of not consenting to.

We've also recently seen a rise in striking-back bills - ones that declare "sperm persons", ones that would require a person seeking medication for erectile dysfunction have a variety of invasive medical tests before receiving care, etc.

So here's a fun one that combines those two angles:  A doctor in Alabama has crafted a piece of legislation that would declare that the physician's judgment and medical necessity supersede any legislation requiring specific procedures or services.  Here's the text:
No physician or health care provider licensed to practice in the State of Alabama shall be forced by state or local regulatory authority to perform any medical service or component of medical service if the service or component of service is not medically necessary or would be harmful to the patient and the patient does not desire the medical service. The right to practice within the scope of a medical license supersedes any existing or future legislative act.
It's basically the good twin to the "conscience clause" bills that allow people working in healthcare (often including not only the doctors themselves, but everyone from the intake and discharge nurses, to the person who cleans the room or preps instruments or fills prescriptions in any way even tenuously related to abortion or end-of-pregnancy care) to refuse to participate in any level of the abortion process.  If they're allowed to refuse to do certain medical procedures because of their conscience - and even, in many cases, allowed to refuse to refer for those services - why shouldn't doctors of a different ethical bent be allowed to refuse to do other medical procedures that they find offensive?  I think this is a fantastic idea, and every state plus the federal government ought to have one.  And if they vote it down, we should play "zombie bill" with it and keep bringing it back over and over until it passes.  ^_^

I wasn't able to find bill-tracking information for it.  RH Reality Check said that it was offered as an amendment which was voted down after only 10 minutes of debate, but also said to check the legislative calendar for the Judiciary Committee to see when it comes up, so I'm unclear on the status.  (If anyone knows more, please let me know in comments.)

Also, I found this sentence at the end of the RHRC piece to be hilarious in a lolsobby sort of way:
...action is needed to protect the rights of [people] seeking reproductive health care in statehouses across the country.
I know "in statehouses across the country" is meant to modify "action is needed", but I'm cracking up at how the proximity to "seeking reproductive health care" implies that they are seeking reproductive health care in statehouses across the nation.  Well, shit - if this trend keeps up, it may well be the only way to *get* reproductive health care.  You'll have to petition your representative for a permission slip.



My apologies for not posting all week - I have been in the grips of a very dense "grey fog" type of depression, wherein everything is boring and nothing is interesting, even the things I intellectually know and remember loving to do, like blogging, writing, gaming, etc, and I have no energy and no willpower to get shit done with.  And it's been compounded by a constant barrage of fucking horrible news that I just have not had the energy to write about.

So as an apology, kitteh!

[video description: Mara, a small calico tabby shorthaired cat, lays across my laptop's keyboard, biting at a large bag of Cheetos laying beside the computer, which rustles pleasingly.  I laugh and ask "Are you having fun with that, sweetie?"  She pauses to lick her paw, then returns to chewing on the bag.  "Yeah?  You're enjoying trying to destroy my snack?"  She ignores me.  "Rawr."  More nomming, holding the bag down with one paw, as I pan out a little so you can see all of her.  "So we've taken over my entire computer, and we're trying to destroy the bag I'm trying to eat out of.  She's very - " Mara suddenly gets a good grip on the bag and starts to stand up and back away across my keyboard with it.  "Oh!  Oh.  Where are you going with that?  Hey, hey, hey.  No.  You can't go anywhere with that, give it back."  I pull it out of her mouth and set it back down, where she promptly returns to chewing on it.  "Yeah, no.  That's not for you, kitty-cat."]

She loves to sit on my keyboard whenever I will let her.  I've stood up to go do other stuff for awhile, and come back to find her snoozing on my computer, with the screen showing a dialog box asking if I want to allow some program to make changes to my computer!  She's also helpfully tried to write blog posts for me. Thankfully I've always caught it before she hits "publish", but if a nonsensical post of random text strings pops up one of these days, it's entirely her fault.  I let her keep hanging out on there anyway, both because it's so cute, and because she gets cranky with me when I try to stop her...

[video description: my hand, hovering over my keyboard, with Mara leaning on it with both front legs wrapped around my wrist as she bites my hand.  "Ow, ow, ow!"  She stops and untangles herself to sit next to my keyboard; I leave my hand hanging there to stop her in case she tries again.  "This is what happens when I try to stop her from stepping on my keyboard.  She tries to step over my arm, and then when I don't let her do it, she starts biting."  I pan the camera over to focus on Mara, who is now busy grooming her chest and belly.  "Of course, you would just completely fail to provide a demonstration of this, now that I have the thing going."  I nudge her side a little bit with my knuckles, and she immediately whips around to face my hand and clamps right back on, biting.  "Ack!  Oh god.  Ow.  Apparently poking it was all that was necessary!"  She chews on my fingers a few more times.  "You're so cute."  She decides she's done eating my hand and re-untangles herself, giving my fingers a last couple of licks before turning away.  "Yes, I'm sure I has a flavor."]

Maybe next weekend I'll see if I can get the video of her chasing her tail on the bed posted for y'all.  Until then, have a good weekend, keep fighting the good fight, and hopefully I'll have some more substantive content for y'all this week.


Fat Acceptance Is Not A "Passive" Act

Last week, Jen of Fat And Not Afraid linked to a post by a friend of hers, The Rogue Priest, about Fat Acceptance (FA), in which he voiced a couple of "concerns" about the merits of FA:
There are two concerns I have with the idea of fat acceptance:
  • There are health problems associated with obesity. Some are exaggerated or imagined and advertisers definitely hit the button too hard, but I question whether people should be told to accept a higher-risk health condition.
  • I tend to favor self-development. There is a type of happiness to be found in accepting circumstance, but also a type of happiness in overcoming adversity or personal obstacles and achieving something hard.
The first is the usual "fat is unhealthy therefore you're encouraging people to be unhealthy" BS, which commenters pretty thoroughly debunked, along with the notion that FA is "telling people to accept" anything, rather than presenting fat people with the novel idea that there is another choice outside of self-hate and celery sticks.  The second concern he voiced is less usual, and actually bothered me more, as a person who is deeply into self-development and who has also actually done the self-development work that FA requires of a person.  So I hopped over to leave a comment, basically summing up my own struggle with FA and how I count my increased self-acceptance and self-love and the stronger mental state that followed from that to be a big accomplishment from a personal development point of view.

To which he replied:
To me, having lived both of them, I do consider the proactive, demand-a-change, self development approach to be a very different kind of thing than the acceptance, self-love, take-me-as-I-am approach.
...way to completely sidestep addressing the point I just made, in favor of reiterating the point I was just debunking, but okay.  Let's take this point-by-point.

Look, here's the thing.  People don't just fall into FA, you know.  It is very much "proactive".  It requires dedicated work on rummaging through your preconceptions and your self-talk scripts and all kinds of internalized bullshit, to find it all and slowly, gently, without damaging yourself through further self-hate (OMG how could you have thought this for so long, STOP IT RIGHT NOW is not exactly the most productive way when the goal is long-term improvement of one's self-esteem), root it all out and replace it with healthier, more evidence- and reality-based conceptions of body size, weight, health, worth, and the relationship between those things.  (The short answer is, body size and weight are *sort of* connected, although not directly - some people pack a higher poundage into smaller space, simply by virtue of their build, and some people weigh less but take up more space, because of how they're built.  Health and worth?  Not even remotely connected, neither to each other nor to body size and weight.  Healthy fat people exist, as do unhealthy thin people, and all of us are worthy of dignity and respect because we are all people, the end.) Not to mention that because the anti-fat position is so vastly overrepresented in the media and culture, most people have never really been exposed to FA, so you have to search out blogs and books and people to talk to - again, very much a proactive thing.

So that takes care of the "proactive" assertion.  Next: you want to talk about demanding a change?  What do you think FA is and does?  As several other people pointed out in the comments there, FA as a movement is half self-acceptance and self-love, and half political/social activism to make it so that fat people don't NEED to undertake epic journeys of deprogramming and reprogramming their brains in order to stop the shame and self-hate!  We got Disney World to close its fat-shaming "exhibit" aimed at kids.  We raised over twenty thousand dollars to buy billboards countering the fat-shaming of children in Georgia.  Just because we're not demanding an unreasonable and unlikely physical change out of our bodies, and are instead demanding a change in how the world treats our bodies at the size they are, doesn't make it any less "demand-a-change".  

Lastly, given that my comment was explicitly describing how my journey from self-hate and disordered eating through to a fairly stable self-acceptance and HAES approach has been a massive accomplishment for my self-development, I find the contrasting of weight loss as a "self development approach" versus FA as a "take-me-as-I-am" approach to be deeply fucking insulting.  Look, bro, unfucking one's deeply dysfunctional culturally-ingrained mental patterns of internalized bigotry IS FUCKING SELF DEVELOPMENT, OKAY?  I consciously and deliberately sought out my mental patterns and slowly, painstakingly rewrote them to help me be a better person - stronger, happier, more fully myself in the world.  If that's not self development, I don't know what is.  Maybe you're working from a definition of self-development that reads "changing your external presentation to the world to increase public perception of your worth", but that is definitely not in the same realm as my definition, which reads roughly "consciously interacting with one's whole Self, mind/spirit/body/etc, in order to make deliberate changes that will make you happier, stronger, and healthier in every sense of the word"*, and I'm not inclined to grant that other definition any legitimacy as a valid meaning of "self development".

I cannot say enough how not-okay I am with this implicit framing of weight-loss as "active" self-development, versus FA as a "passive" approach.  It may have "acceptance" in the title, which is usually conceived as a fairly passive thing to do - accepting what you can't change, and all that.  But when what you're working on "accepting" is a trait inherent to your body, which is vehemently and violently reviled by the entire culture in which you live, "acceptance" is no passive, easy thing.  It requires work - a lot of it, and over a long period of time.  It requires struggle, as you chip away at internalized negativity you didn't even know was there - only to have the same issue pop up in slightly different clothing again a few weeks later, leaving you frustrated and angry because oh my god didn't I already work through this part how am I here again?  It requires strength - the kind of quiet, subtle strength that our culture never really talks about, because it's much more fun and dramatic to talk about and depict displays of overt, aggressive strength, but strength nonetheless.  It requires determination and persistence and consistency, especially during the awful, long slog through "well it's fine for other people to be fat but I still need to lose X lbs" territory - I'm pretty sure we all get stuck there for awhile, and the cognitive dissonance is nasty and yet still so hard to shake!  And above all, it requires courage, so much courage.  Because what you are doing, when you make the switch from a diet-and-thinness mentality to a FA mentality, is nothing less than flipping the finger to several very large, very loud, very well-funded and well-supported industries, which have conspired to build around you an entire culture which bombards you with repeated, painful, dangerous messages about your body and your worth as a human being.  You are explicitly rejecting the dominant narrative, openly refusing to participate in a game that 99% of the people around you are throwing themselves into playing.  Hell, in some ways, continuing to diet or attempt weight loss in some other way might actually be easier: less challenging, less personally-developing, because it allows you to go with the flow and it pretty much guarantees that everyone around you will support and encourage you in your efforts, while FA requires you to buck the trend and risk social backlash for it.

So don't ever, ever tell me that FA is some kind of passive deal, less of a worthy challenge than weight loss.

Maybe I should cut the guy some slack - after all, in other parts of the thread and with reference to the whole fat=unhealthy thing, he actually did seem interested in learning more about what FA actually is, as opposed to clinging to his preconceptions.  But at the same time, even ascribing the best of intent to his comments, the most charitable conclusion I can draw is that he has no fucking idea what the hell he's talking about when it comes to this shit, and should really, really, really just step back and listen and read and learn before trying to pass judgment on us again.

*I've never really tried to define my approach to personal development before; that was both harder and easier than I thought it'd be.


What Rush Has *Not* Apologized For - And It's Not What You Think

It's all over the everywhere, this Rush controversy, sweeping up even those people who hadn't ever paid much attention to his outrageous racism and sexism before.*  And in an unusual twist for these sorts of situations, Rush's "apology" to Ms. Fluke has actually been seen and shown for the total non-apology that it is.  Which is pretty cool.

But most of the criticism I'm seeing about his nonpology is that he apologized "for the words" but not the sentiment, and/or that he called them "poorly chosen" even though he repeated the statement several times over the course of a few days, which rather gives the lie to any protestation that they were chosen in haste and he just hadn't thought it through, oops.  Which are absolutely valid criticisms of his piss-poor half-assed attempt to shut his critics up "apology", by all means.

What I haven't seen much of, on the other hand, are the aspects of the whole controversy and subsequent nonpology that I actually found to be far more insulting, infuriating, and offensive than the slut/prostitute/poor word choice bit.

Firstly, everyone is talking about the fact that he apologized very specifically for those two words.  Nobody seems to have mentioned his complete lack of an apology for the demand for a sex tape, as if having a hand in subsidizing someone's birth control (no matter how far removed - it's not like you pay your taxes by handing over $50 to the pharmacist and then hand the bag of contraceptives to the person taking them) entitles one to turn them into a porn star against their will.  Honestly, of the two parts of his horrible spew of misogyny, I found Rush's demand for a sex tape posted on the internet to be far more offensive, far cruder and far more vitriolic than calling Ms. Fluke a slut and a prostitute, because of the way it framed and highlighted the "women's sexuality as public property" trope that is foundational to rape culture.  Where is the apology for that?  Where is the outrage that he hasn't apologized for it?

Secondly, I have seen surprisingly little commentary** that repudiates his assertion that he, as a taxpayer, was paying for Ms. Fluke's contraceptive medication in the first place, the premise on which his testerical little rant was based.  Because it's flat out bullshit - bullshit that he actually reiterates in his nonpology, no less!  "I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?"  Except that Fluke's testimony was not even remotely about being on taxpayer-subsidized insurance like Medicaid or any such assistance program that would mean taxpayer funds buying her contraceptives.  It was about private insurance that she and other students were paying into through their fees to the university.  That's their money, and the organization's money, not taxpayer money!  So his whole premise for demanding she produce porn for his enjoyment, as punishment for the audacity to want to protect herself from pregnancy***, was fallacious from the first word onward.

I'm glad Rush is finally getting the backlash he has so richly deserved for so long.  I'm frustrated that it took this long, that it only finally happened when he called a white woman a prostitute and not, say, when he called the First Lady of the United States "uppity", and that even in this backlash many people are allowing a goodly chunk of his true fuckery to go unacknowledged and unexamined.  So please, I am asking everyone who reads this: the next time you get into a conversation with someone - or an argument, or a screaming match, whatever, I'm not picky - about this, please, don't just argue that it was wrong to call Fluke a slut and a prostitute.  Remember that those words are only about a third of the real problem here, and bring these other issues to light for other people as well.

*Which says a lot about our priorities, as a country and in particular the media's priorities in never really covering his more outrageous racist attacks, often against women of color, up to and including the First Lady (calling her "uppity", speculating on her "authentic slave blood", etc), enough to ever provoke this kind of backlash.

**Lol.  So pretty much as soon as I finish writing this and hit queue to publish it tomorrow, I come across this on my tumblr dashboard.  Okay, so not everyone is letting him get away with the lie within the lie, which is good - but I've been following this since it broke, and this is literally the first I've seen of someone calling it out, so.  I still stand by my assertion that there's very little commentary calling out that aspect of it.

***Her testimony wasn't even about using birth control for contraceptive purposes, anyway - nor was it even specifically about her own experiences needing contraception.  It was a compilation of stories of other women she'd spoken to, about using it to control PCOS and other medical conditions that have nothing to do with having sex and not getting pregnant.  Moar fallacies!  Moar lies!  Bullshit for everyone!


Final Words on PantheaCon 2012

As the fire dies down to ashes around the PantheaCon 2012 trans-exclusionary ritual by Z. Budapest, I want to leave one last post here - this one, to highlight some of the best voices I've seen raising some really excellent points about just how wrong Budapest and her apologists are, and why.

Firstly, blogfriend and regular commenter here, Sonneillon, wrote a fantastic post about some more of the common apologia for trans-exclusionary rituals, and this particular paragraph, addressing certain people's claims that to draw attention to such things is "politicizing" a religious practice, leapt out at me.
What struck me the most about Gus's piece was his assertion that he thinks Trans* rights are political, and therefore have no place in religious discussion. As if religion is not political. As if the personal is not political, and the political is not personal. This speaks to an ignorance of the root of these issues that is so astounding I'm not even sure where to begin fighting it. If Gus, and others like him, do not accept that Paganism can and should wrestle with such issues as trans* acceptance, then Gus and others like him do not think we can and should be a community. Any community, politicized or not, has to wrestle with those issues, because trans* people are people and they exist in our communities. To imply otherwise is the height of naivety. It's the height of privilege, much like "I can't be a homophobe because I have gay friends!" which also shows up in that essay. It means that you think trans* people are too minor and too invisible to be part of a greater dialogue.
(Emphasis mine.)  Yes.  A hundred times yes.  Issues of identity cannot be confined to neat little boxes marked "politics" that have no intersection or interaction with the other facets of life and community, because identities are borne by people, and people make up communities, therefore the politics of various identites are present because people who live those identities are present.

Secondly, longtime Twitter (and now Tumblr) acquaintance Katie, a trans pagan woman who has written a fair amount about the PantheaCon fail, addressed the "well then trans people should just have their own exclusive spaces, so it will all balance out" fallacy so many apologists have trotted out.
To me, “trans only” spaces feel hurtful - they feel like being exiled to a leper colony. I need space to unpack my transness and let my transness be sacred - but I need that sacredness - need - to be firmly within the context of my womanhood. The first grows off the second - I cannot be trans without being a woman.
And thirdly, paganism and sexuality blogger who I deeply admire, Meliad the Birch Maiden, on how misogyny and oppression of women is not actually about vaginas, so we really don't need to be defining womanhood by that particular organ:
As a cis woman who knows that my reproductive system and the primary and secondary sexual characteristics[1] are used as justification for trampling my human rights in every single arena from legislature to the bus stop, from the school system to my own damn marriage bed, and punishing the audacity of my existence with every conceivable form of violence from micro-agressions to murder. (Stay with me here folks, I’m getting to it); as a cis woman in the context of a seriously woman-hating culture… yes, I absolutely found the treatment of cis-female biological functions like menstruation as Good and Powerful to be a really big, really wonderful deal. 
The thing is… trans women? They get exactly the same bullshit[3], exactly the same trampling of their human rights, exactly the same systemic violence from micro-agressions to murder as cis women do, but in their case, it’s justified because of their lack of a bleeding, baby-growing, factory-direct vagina + reproductive-system. 
So. Big reveal here: It’s not about vaginas.
Whether the assholes are assuming we have them, or assuming we don’t, we’re all systemically hurt, disempowered, and generally down-trodden by a culture that says, at every possible volume, in every possible way, that Girls Suck.
(The endnote [3] does reference a comment about how oppression of trans women is not *exactly* the same as the oppression of cis women because intersectionality, lest anyone think she was erasing that distinction; I read it as meaning how, specifically with reference to misogyny, we get shat on in the same way.)

So there it is.  Thank you to those who have read, those who have commented, and all those who have stood on the right side of things in this issue.  And I will leave this issue for the time being with the wish that, unlikely as it might be, we come out of this round with actual substantive change in our community, instead of a shiny anthology and nonpologies.


Related Posts with Thumbnails