Tomorrow marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

6 10 2009

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 7th, marks the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan.  Earlier this year, President Obama announced his 10 year plan for Afghanistan which entailed of adding 21,000 more U.S. military forces deployed in Iraq and diplomatic engagement of Pakistan.  This is misguided – the way to Peace in Afghanistan will not come through more military force.  That will only lead to more civilian casualties and inner turmoil.  The war in Afghanistan will only end if the public keeps demanding it.  It is time to tap into the political momentum for peace.

If you are in the Boston area, the United for Justice with Peace (UJP) Coalition will be having Stand Outs against the War at T stations:

Wednesday, October 7th is the 8th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan, a war which UJP was formed to oppose.

To mark this date, the Cambridge and Somerville/Medford UJP community groups will be standing out at T- stops from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. We will be distributing information about the costs of the war, for Afghans, for  US troops and for our communities, and alerting people to the Oct. 17th anti-war rally at Copley Square.    We will gather at the Central Sq., Harvard Sq., and Porter Sq. T-stops in Cambridge and at Davis Sq. in Somerville.

At Harvard Square, the Raging Grannies will sing at 5:30pm, and there will be a creative action in addition to vigiling and leafleting.    We invite all to join us there, or at one of the other T-stops, if that is more convenient.
Dorchester People for Peace will also leaflet at the Ashmont T-Stop on Wednesday morning from 7:30-9am.
Milton for Peace will stand out on Blue Hill Ave. near Mattapan Square from 7-8am.
The tide is turning away from further escalation of the war on Afghanistan.  It’s time to bring the troops home now and end this war which is bad for Afghans and bad for Americans.  It’s a time when we can make a difference.  Come stand with us on Oct. 7th.




Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Right to Decide

5 10 2009

Today was a lovely day for Mass NOW’s Counter-Protest to Mass Citizens for Life – the rain held off, it was fairly warm out, and an enthusiastic, energetic crowd showed up in solidarity to participate in the counter-protest.  Here are some images from the Boston Commons:

 

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On Inclusionary Language

30 09 2009

This is a wonderful post about Why Inclusionary Language Matters. It really gets to the heart of a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about lately.

Here’s an excerpt:

What do all of the following words or phrases have in common?

Bitch. Cripple. Grow a pair. Lame. Cunt. White trash. “He/his/him” as a generic when the gender of a subject is not known. Ballsy. Harpy. Whore. Female impersonator. Jewed. Real woman. Retarded. Slut. Dumb. Natural woman. Harridan. Witch. Idiot. Man up. Biological sex. Crazy. Tranny. Step up. Breeder. Shrew. She-male. Gay. You guys as a generic greeting to a mixed gender group. Skank. Mankind. “Man” as a generic for “people.” Gyp. Insane. Schizo/schizophrenic. “Disabled” as a noun. Women born women. Ungendering by using “he” as a pronoun for a trans woman or “she” as a pronoun for a trans man.

They’re all exclusionary. Some of these words are actively used today as insults, and some of them have a historical context of use as insults which oppress, silence, and marginalize large groups of people, some of whom happen to be women. Some of these terms are racist, some are sexist, some are classist, some are cissexist, some are heterosexist, some are ableist. (I deliberately haven’t used speciesist terms here because, while I think that there is a clear intersection between animal rights issues and feminism, others may disagree, and thus, may not think that using speciesist language is exclusionary.) Many of these words are a common part of the vernacular; I use “bitch” all the time, for example. Many are examples of subconsciously exclusionary terms, in that people use them thoughtlessly, without realizing what they are really saying.

All of them should not be used by people who claim to be feminists, if feminism for them is about advocating for all women and improving conditions for all women. I include myself in this admonition. Every time we use them, we engage in othering. We exclude The Other, and make it clear that we don’t actually care about the issues that other people may experience. We make it clear that our claims of ally status are just lip service.

At its core, feminism should be, to my mind, about justice. Justice for all women. Not just women who fit into a very narrow set of categories. And this is why we need to use inclusionary language. This is why we need to cultivate spaces which are truly safe for everyone. This is why we need to own our actions and apologize for them if they are hurtful. We cannot repair the damage we have done to other human beings, but we can work to prevent it in the future.

Lots of people like to defend exclusionary language. They say that they like using a term, or can’t come up with a good alternative, or don’t really see why they should have to change. “The word doesn’t really mean that anymore,” or “but I’m not really [pick your poison]ist, so it’s ok.” But, here’s the thing. Even if the word doesn’t mean that anymore, that doesn’t mean that it does not carry very negative implications. Even if someone thinks that the word is being used in a positive sense, it is still loaded with negative meaning. It does not mean that the word does not have a very loaded history. It does mean that every time you use it, you are unconsciously enforcing a system of oppression. You can participate in and even perpetuate a system of oppression without actively subscribing to it.

People who dislike being told that they should not use exclusionary language are often people who have something to lose if actual justice is achieved. If we ever live in a society where trans hatred doesn’t exist, everyone who is cis gendered will lose privilege, for example. As the old saying goes, “we all like to see our friends get ahead, but not too far ahead,” and this appears to apply to social justice issues as well, though you would be hard pressed to find someone who openly admits it. Being informed that you are hurting people with your actions threatens people when they have something to lose in this fight. This is why people push back so strongly when they are informed that their word usage is hurtful. This is why people become defensive when they are asked why they failed to include different perspectives in discussions. This is why people get angry when they are called on their privilege.

You can believe with all your heart that sexism is terrible and evil, but when you call a woman a bitch, it kind of undermines your point. You can think that people with disabilities are oppressed and marginalized by society, and that this is wrong, but when you call something “lame,” you’re saying that you think it’s ok to continue oppressing people with disabilities. When you say that someone should “step up,” you are unconsciously erasing everyone in the population who cannot step, like wheelchair users and people who are bedbound. When you refer to someone or something as “insane” or “crazy,” you are using mental illness as a slur.

So stop it. Stop using exclusionary language. Start including people.

And stop trying to defend it. If you’re too lazy to find a better word or phrase to use, that’s your problem, not society’s. If you can’t be creative enough to think of a different word or phrase, a word or phrase which does not exclude or silence someone, you apparently have not heard of a thesaurus.

I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”





G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines

27 09 2009

At the G-20 Conference in Pittsburg last Friday, a lot of protesters gathered outside. Since it was a major economic conference featuring leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, there were many protesters advocating for better wages and working conditions, unemployment rate and hiking violence at the US-Mexico border, clean energy, etc. There was one group of protesters who called attention to sexual assault, establishing procedures and safe spaces for people who are assaulted at the conference or in the crowd. Furthermore, they made a clear statement that sexual harassment and sexual assault will NOT be tolerated.

The following is the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines that they disseminated to the crowd. I think it’s pretty awesome! The definitions are thorough and well-informed. Check it out for yourself:

Announcing the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines. Please disseminate widely.Perpetrators of sexual violence, assault, and harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault:

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic).

G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines: No Perpetrators Welcome!

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Harassment Are Not Welcome in G20 Resistance Spaces

Perpetrators of sexual violence/assault/harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces. This includes people who have perpetrated in the past*, people currently engaged in or running away from accountability processes, and people who refuse to respect the ResistG20 consent guidelines. People who violate consent guidelines will be directed to leave G20 organizational spaces and housing arrangements. Given the short time frame, lack of people resources, and likelihood of state repression we don’t have the ability to deal with these situations in this artificially constructed community.

Perpetrators’ presence should not hinder survivors’ participation in G20 mobilizations (Perps: You are not welcome regardless of the survivor’s plans). We are resisting the G20 in large part because the G20 acts WITHOUT accountability to or consent of the people it fucks over. Don’t replicate the same paradigm of domination and abuse that you’re claiming to want to smash.

*We understand and respect that other communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.

There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic). People staffing housing and other spaces, as well as medics and (A)-minded legal observers (note: not the ACLU kind) should also be able to put you in contact with us.

We can offer you:

*Support, caring, and listening

*Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence

*Emergency housing changes to quiet, safer space housing

*Transport to the Pittsburgh rape crisis center

*Medical, herbal, and wellness (massage, acupressure, music therapy) resources

*Resources for further support and/or action

*Support, with the legal team, to document sexual abuse by law enforcement

Consent Guidelines for G20 Resistance Spaces and Housing

Consistently asking for consent and listening to your sexual partner at every step in every sexual encounter, regardless of length, history, or specific situation, is the only way to prevent sexual assault from happening. Consent includes asking, listening, and respecting; it does not include coercion, expectations, or assumptions.

Consent: Consent is actively and voluntarily expressed agreement. Doing personal work to consistently seek consent and respect the times when it is not given helps to combat rape culture, and informed consent, sexual and otherwise, is necessary in the building of strong, healthy anti-authoritarian communities. The following do not qualify as consent: silence, passivity, and coerced acquiescence. Body movements, non-verbal responses such as moans, or the appearance of physical arousal do not, necessarily, constitute consent. Further, if someone is intoxicated, they may not be in a position to give you consent. Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity, regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity.

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual interaction. Sexual assault happens, and it happens in activist and radical communities as much as anywhere else. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, but is often perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the survivor and community. Sexual assault is a tool of domination, of taking power, and can rob someone of their self respect, self worth, and autonomy. Sexual assault is rooted in broader systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and colonialism- and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced, and dealt with.

Rape Culture: Rape culture is the culture in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion.

We are survivor centric and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made to give “benefit of the doubt” to a perpetrator or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor. State language which serves to cast doubt onto survivors experiences (eg referring to experiences as “allegations”) has zero space in radical support and communities.

Thank you G20RP, Antioch College Consent Policy, Denver on Fire, Unconventional Denver, and the RNC Welcoming Committee





Men and Feminism

21 09 2009

I just discovered a website, XY Online, which is:

a website focused on men, masculinities, and gender politics. XY is a space for the exploration of issues of gender and sexuality, the daily issues of men’s and women’s lives, and practical discussion of personal and social change.

…XY is a pro-feminist website. It is guided above all by a commitment to feminism. XY is intended to advance feminist goals of gender equality and gender justice. XY is intended therefore to encourage men to involve themselves in personal and social change towards gender equality. It inspires men to develop respectful, trusting, and egalitarian relations with women, to promote equitable and liberatory ways of living and being, and to join with women in projects of gender equality and social justice.

It’s run by pro-feminist men which is awesome because we can always use more men to help smash patriarchy! I find it interesting that the website describes itself as a “pro-feminist” website rather than a feminist one.

I’ve had several conversations with many different men who identify as pro-feminist rather than feminist, which brings up the discussion of whether men can be feminists or if they simply are allies to feminism or pro-feminist.

What are people’s thoughts on this? And definitely check out XY Online! I haven’t had much time to peruse it much yet, but my preliminary readings and first impressions have been positive.








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