Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pentagon discusses easing "don't ask, don't tell"  

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Discussions are taking place in the Pentagon over how to "loosen" the restrictions imposed by the disastrous "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Gates added: "What I discovered when I got into it was it's a very restrictive law. It doesn't leave much to the imagination, or a lot of flexibility."

The defense secretary said one possible modification might be consider the circumstances under which a service member is "outed" in determining whether or not he or she must leave the military.

Wow. Can a person really get kicked out of the military if another person outs them? Goodness. Well, here's my suggestion: how about we just get rid of this outdated and discriminatory policy?

Seriously. It's high time we get on our representatives' assess about repealing "don't ask, don't tell." Contact your reps and the White House. It seems foolish and futile to contact the president, but enough demand to repeal this policy might just be the push he needs to do something about it.
Monday, June 29, 2009

Good stuffs from the blogosphere  

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I've been reading so many great posts in my favorite feminist blogs recently. I wanted to share them with you all so you could get your tuchuses over to these links and enjoy them like I did.

  • Renee of Womanist Musings wrote an eye-opening piece about the discrimination she faces as a woman with diabilities.

  • File this under: better late than never. Venice has just gotten its first female gondolier, writes Courtney of Feministing. (Special thanks to Tiffany for the story suggestion).

  • Michael at The New Gay discusses "going green" and criticizes the gay community for doing anything but.

  • Has anyone watched "16 and Pregnant" on MTV? Chen at Choice Words commends MTV's noble attempts to provide sex education, but criticizes the lack of shows and discussions that highlight a young pregnant woman who chooses abortion or adoption.

  • Bryan of Gay Rights Watch rightfully calls out Senator John Ensign for opposing same-sex marriage with the "marriage is sacred" bullshit... and then proceeding to cheat on his wife.

  • As much as I admittedly love the Transformers movie, Laura at Adventures of a Young Feminist points out what irrevocably annoys me about this movie: the fact that Megan Fox's character exists solely as a sex symbol.

  • Gwen at Sociological Images wrote an important post on sexism in women's sports by calling out the fact that only "attractive" tennis players are put on the Center Court.

Comment with what you've been writing about in your own blogs!

Proof that online activism r0x!  

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Many of you might have heard about the storm of controversy surrounding the highly offensive "Tranny Alert" website. Essentially, the site would encourage people to submit pictures of what they perceived to be transgendered people and the photos would then be posted, thereby outing those who are trans and insulting those who aren't. It blatantly dehumanized trans people and put them on display like circus freaks.

But thankfully, due to the amazing online activism that took place, led by angry and offended feminists and GLBTQ-rights activists, the site has been taken down.

HELL. YEAH.

You've made me proud, activists. Keep it up.
Sunday, June 28, 2009

Giving voices to children of same-sex parents  

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There's an article on CNN about children of same-sex couples - the "gayby boom" generation (not too sure how fond I am of the term) - and it really shows how important these daughters and sons are in the fight for gay rights. It also shows that children of same-sex couples are often very loved and grow up to be well-adjusted and not confused about their sexuality, contrary to what anti-gay rights activists might want you to think.

Jesse Levey is a Republican activist who says he believes in family values, small government and his lesbian mothers' right to marry.

Levey is part of the "gayby boom" generation. The 29-year-old management consultant is the son of a lesbian couple who chose to have a child through artificial insemination. He's their only child.

Critics of same-sex marriage say people such as Levey will grow up shunned and sexually confused. Yet he says he's a "well-adjusted heterosexual" whose upbringing proves that love, not gender, makes a family.

"You can imagine what my parents thought when I was 13 and listening to Rush Limbaugh everyday," Levey says. "But my family had strong family values. I was raised in a loving, caring household that let me be a free thinker."

The modern gay rights movement began 40 years ago June 28 during the Stonewall Riots in New York City. While much of the controversy surrounding gay rights today has centered on same-sex marriage, a battle is brewing over another family issue: Is it bad for children to be raised by gay or lesbian parents.

Read the rest of the article here, and comment with your reactions!
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paying pregnant women to "choose life"  

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In a new Bloggingheads video on the Times website, two (AHEM) men, one from BeliefNet and one from Slate, discuss ways to reduce the abortion rate. First and foremost, do you all find it as annoying as I do when men who will probably never experience pregnancy sit down and talk about an issue such as abortion? Just wondering. Because it really makes my skin crawl.

But anyway. The representative from BeliefNet suggests that in order to encourage women to not terminate their pregnancies and instead carry the baby to term, we should pay them. I see a few things wrong with this (to say the least).

1. It reminds me of some creepy dystopian novel.

2. How on earth could the government or pro-life organizations afford to pay thousands of dollars to the endless amount of pregnant women in the United States?

3. The man from BeliefNet suggested that pro-life organizations raise money to give to pregnant women, but why not just set up foundations to give free items, such as diapers and toys, to financially unstable mothers, instead of conjuring up this creepy image of "cash for babies"? This whole "let me pay you $3,000 in exchange for you keeping your baby" sounds like it borders on bribery.

4. I can't imagine that any form of compensation could remove the pain of carrying a pregnancy to term, giving birth to a living baby, and having to give it up for adoption.

5. How about we take the more practical and less creepy route in reducing the abortion rate and just simply instate sex education programs in schools? Surely government money would be better well-spent teaching young people to protect themselves than to bribe pregnant women to "choose life."

Thoughts?
Friday, June 26, 2009

Feminist Book Club: "The Unit"  

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I was sent a wonderful and thought-provoking woman-centric book, which I read in about a week, and now I want to suggest it to all of you. The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist, is a chilling futuristic picture of what could really take place in any country (though the book comes from Sweden) at any time in the future.

The Unit is the story of a world in which infertile and single women and men have little worth. At age 50 for women, and 60 for men, those who are childless, without a partner, and/or without a job title that's deemed "important enough" are whisked away to what emulates a retirement community, but perhaps one that you would see in a dream. Everyone gets their own apartment and full access to restaurants, a gym complete with swimming pool, a library, a theatre, an art gallery, a hospital, shops where everything is free, and a garden where it's perpetually sunny. Oh. But they're required to undergo any and all medical and/or psychological testing that is thrust upon them, and they must donate their organs, one by one, to those who are younger and more valuable to society, until they make their "final donation." Those who live in the Unit (the Second Reserve Bank for Biological Material) are called "dispensable" - the word itself is chilling enough.

The story centers around a woman named Dorrit Weger.
Dorrit proved to be somewhat of a confusing character to me. She was raised by a feminist mother, yet she grew up to be a woman who enjoys being dominated in the bedroom, and has fantasies of cooking in the kitchen while her masculine partner chops wood outside. In the Unit, she falls in love with a man, but their partnering cannot remove them from the Unit - once you're in, you're in.

Despite Dorrit's strangely antifeminist behavior, the story has many feminist themes. For one thing, lesbian relationships happen on more than one occasion, and they are discussed very nonchalantly, as if women dating other women is no big deal (which it shouldn't be). Also, the majority of the main characters are women, and once characters experience loss of their male partners, the group of women become tighter than ever, relying on the powerful bond of female friendship to get through it all. Dorrit also continuously feels compelled to comfort the new arrivals and she often takes them under her wing, proving that you don't have to have children to take on a motherly role.

Mostly, this novel is about choices women have to make (do I want a career, a family, or independence?) and about those choices being restricted. Women in this novel cannot choose to continue their careers past the age of 50 unless they hold certain job titles, nor can they choose total independence, because without a partner and/or a child, they must be confined to the Unit, where their bodies become property of the government for the little time they have left.

In the end, Dorrit has an extremely important choice to make, and I debated with myself endlessly over whether or not she made the right one. Has anyone read this? If so, what did you think? For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure, if you happen to pick it up (and I highly recommend you do) shoot me an e-mail after you read it so that we can chat :)

Buy "The Unit" on Amazon.com

Rhode Island considers changing name due to slavery legacy  

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Most people don't seem to know this, but Rhode Island's official name is actually "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." Now, a bill has been introduced to drop the "Providence Plantations" bit out of respect for those who have been enslaved in the past.

A push to drop "Providence Plantations" from that name advanced farther than ever on Thursday when House lawmakers voted 70-3 to let residents decide whether their home should simply be called the "State of Rhode Island." It's an encouraging sign for those who believe the formal name conjures up images of slavery, while opponents argue it's an unnecessary rewriting of history that ignores Rhode Island's tradition of religious liberty and tolerance.

Personally, I have no problem with changing the state's name and I can't really understand why opponents do. What does everyone else think? Good idea? Bad idea?

Target Women: Charm School  

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You'll LOL.

Stephen Colbert: "gay demon is on the loose"  

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Stephen Colbert's hilarious commentary on the recent video of the gay exorcism makes me feel a little better about the whole thing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turn your BlackBerry into a vibrator! Get a vaginal infection!  

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I'm all for masturbation and I would totally hand out vibrators to every woman I know if I could afford it, but the "THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA" alarms went off in my head when I read about a new application for your BlackBerry that will essentially turn it into a vibrator.

*smacks forehead*

The application, made by Toy With Me, is called BlackBerry Vibe 101 and it controls the vibration functions on the device by setting them to low, medium or high, as well as in the different modes of constant, wave, or tickle.



As both Choice Words and BlackBerry Cool point out, this is just NOT hygienic. Most people don't keep their phones in sterile cases - if you're like me, your phone goes everywhere. Vibrators and sex toys can be cleaned, but as Sesali of Choice Words mentions, attempting to properly clean one's BlackBerry for safe sexual use will inevitably lead to water damage.

My advice? Please buy a vibrator instead. And keep it clean. Also, take a minute to contact Toy With Me and urge them to remove this application or educate those who download it on proper sexual health.

A quick note about comments  

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I know you're all out there. Google Analytics says so. I'm not just a crazy lady who enjoys talking to herself - I know that I have readers! So where are you all?! I've noticed lately that there has been a serious lack of comments, and I think... I hope that the content I write about is interesting and thought-provoking. And I know that all of you are intelligent and have really important things to say... so say them! If you're a lurker, now is the time to come out of the shadows. Commenting doesn't require registration of any kind, and I'm dying to hear more opinions and input about the topics I write about. Come on, all you smart articulate people, put in your two cents :]





















Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just when you thought BK's ads couldn't get any more offensive...  

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This Burger King advertisement is certainly making its rounds on feminist blogs, and I just couldn't avoid posting it here out of sheer horror and disgust.


I would love to meet the person (ahem, man) who thought it was a brilliant idea to sell sandwiches by portraying one face-raping (excuse the term) a sex doll-esque open-mouthed passive woman. This ad seriously makes me want to puke.

Do me a favor, readers. Buy some "THIS INSULTS WOMEN" stickers from Sticker Sisters (they're cheap!) and place them on this ad whenever you come across it (flipping through magazines at the grocery store, wherever) and any other horrifyingly sexist advertisement, because I am truly sick of this bullshit*. You can also contact the folks at Burger King - let's give them an even bigger backlash than we did in response to the horrendous "square butts" commercial.

And most importantly: girlcott. Let's girlcott the shit* out of BK.


*I said "shit" twice, I must really be pissed.

New dating show for plus-sized women  

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The preview I saw on TV for this show began with, "The average woman is a size 14/16. The average reality show star is a size 2. How is that reality?" To which I shouted "AMEN!" What does everyone think about this new dating show on Fox? Is it a positive thing for bigger women? Putting aside any negative feelings about dating shows in general, of course.

Video of 'gay exorcism' circulates net  

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This is really disturbing, so beware.



As shocking and upsetting as this video is, I think it's extremely important to circulate it around the net. Of course, the church who was so keen on scaring the ever loving daylights out of this poor young man in the video made the cowardly move of quickly deleting its YouTube account. Funny how they don't want people to see this. All the more reason to send it to everyone you know. People need to understand the disgusting behavior that goes on in places such as these.

Learn more about "ex-gay reparative therapy." Also, if you're looking for a gay-friendly house of worship, check out this all-inclusive list of links to GLBTQ-friendly religious organizations that can point you in the right direction. Make sure you don't end up in a horrible place like this.

Sandra Day O'Connor's reaction to Sotomayor  

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Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, comments on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor and discusses the place of women in politics today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Live Blogging from the NOW conference  

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NOW 2009 conference  

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So far, the NOW conference has been excellent. I'm meeting great people and attending workshops that are offered on a wide array of feminist issues and are led by intelligent and engaging women.

The first workshop I attended was called "Changing Media, Changing Policy: Feminist Voices Needed," and it was led by Lisa Bennett, Mary Alice Crim, Misty Perez Truedson, and Edyael Casaperalta. The workshop title and description were a tad misleading because the workshop focused solely on internet access, and failed to touch on any other medium. But I found their discussion of how the internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, to be extremely true. 60% of those living in the U.S. lack high-speed internet access, and because of this, their access to information and career options is limited. Internet access is a feminist issue because women are dominating the blogging world. We have things to say, and the internet is a great place to say them. It allows women a chance to gain information and opportunities that have been denied to them, and it gives them a place to express their opinions when it seems like no one else will listen. To get involved with the campaign to bring high-speed internet to all households, visit InternetForEveryone.org.



The second workshop I went to was called "Square Butts, Date Rape, and Wicked Witches: Confronting Dangerous Media Messages," and it was led by Lisa Bennett, Wendy Shepard, and NOW presidential candidate Latifa Lyles. And yes, the workshop started off with this gem of a commercial. They touched on some horrifying examples of poor messages being sent to young girls, many of which I have already seen, but they were relevant and helped to drive home the point of the workshop. I was happy they spent a good chunk talking about the Libby Liu stores, which thankfully have closed, which basically existed to groom young girls to grow up to become pink-loving thong-wearing man-pleasers. They also discussed the "cradle to grave" concept, meaning that companies like Walt Disney seek to hook young girls from the youngest of ages and keep them coming back for more of their products. And how disgusting is it that even troll dolls are being sexualized?




Then, of course, Sally, Veronica, and I hosted our workshop, "Feminist Blogging: Connecting Women Around the World." I think it went wonderfully, if I do say so myself. We touched on several aspects of blogging, and our audience greatly appreciated the Blogging 101 guides we passed out. Everyone was extremely curious and asked intelligent questions. I really enjoyed it, and I hope each person learned something!

Off to grab lunch, and then I'll head to the last workshop I'm attending, "Promoting Diversity Within the Movement." Tonight, voting will take place and election results will be announced tomorrow. Go Latifa Lyles!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GOP staffer e-mails racist Obama photo  

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And we have yet another racist incident coming from the GOP (as if "Barack the Magic Negro" weren't enough). Sherri Goforth, an executive assistant for Tennessee State Rep. Diane Black, sent this picture out to other legislative staffers (look in the bottom right corner):


This makes me so sick. We should be celebrating the fact that finally there's president who doesn't look like every other president we've had for the past 200 years, but instead people who are supposed to be political professionals are mocking it incessantly. When did politics turn into this? When did we stop caring about the issues and instead stoop to racist, sexist, and personal attacks?

To make matters worse, Goforth issued an apology, but she only apologized for sending the photo to the wrong people.

I went on the wrong email and I inadvertently hit the wrong button. I'm very sick about it, and it's one of those things I can't change or take back.

Contact Senator Diane Black and tell her to encourage her staff member to issue a real apology. And next time you're near someone who makes a "harmless" racist joke, let them know why this shit is unacceptable.

What feminism is lacking  

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Can you be 100% for equality, for respect, for a non-sexist non-racist non-homophobic world and not call yourself a feminist? Yes. Renee at Womanist Musings identifies as a womanist, and would never dare call herself a feminist, because she feels that feminism has no place for her. While reading her post, I grew increasingly upset... not because I disagreed with her, but because I knew she was right. While I believe feminism has made recent advances in becoming more inclusive, we're not even close to achieving racial equality within the movement, or else people wouldn't feel the need to identify as "womanist."

I'm guilty of it. We all are. I do make genuine attempts to write about issues that affect women of color because I feel they are extremely important and don't get even near the coverage they deserve, but when it comes down to it, I'm still a white and privileged young woman who will never be able to provide enough coverage and discussion of race and racism to make up for what feminism has been lacking. Renee writes:

Every time we are used, or our issues are ignored, it drives WOC running and screaming from feminism and I suppose that is the point. It has never been about solidarity or sisterhood; it has always been about making the white female the equal of the white male. When we make it clear that we are not to be used in such a manner, the pearl clutching begins. It has become tiresome and insulting. Dear white feminists, please stop playing the same game, Sojourner Truth long ago read your cards correctly.

While I would love a perfect world in which we are all joined in one pro-woman movement that isn't guilty of patriarchal behavior, I understand why WOC have to be womanists and why they feel feminism isn't for them. The most popular feminist blogs are run by white women, major feminist organizations are arranged in hierarchical manner in which white women are on top, and as little news coverage as women's issues receive, the issues that plague women of color receive a fraction of that.


(Current NOW officers)


I still believe the attempts of many white feminists to be inclusive are with good intentions, but feminism as a movement remains naive.

Obama makes anti-gay rights move  

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When Feministing asked "Is Obama all talk on LGBTQ rights?" the answer might've been yes. President Obama made an upsetting move in allowing his Department of Justice to file a brief that supported the Defense of Marriage Act. According to the Boston Herald:

The DOJ brief, which has touched off a firestorm of anger in the gay community, argued that states should not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, just as states don't have to recognize incestuous marriages or unions involving underage girls.

Barney Frank, U.S. representative and gay rights advocate, is particularly disappointed. So is David Mixer, gay blogger and former adviser to President Clinton, who called the DOJ brief, "a sickening document that could have been written by the Rev. Pat Robertson."

I know that technically President Obama isn't in favor of same-sex marriage (or so he says), but to deny same-sex couples these basic rights while implying that same-sex marriage is equatable with incest and statutory rape is just appalling. Contact the White House and express your concern.
Monday, June 15, 2009

Gay pride parades around the world  

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(Long Island - I was at this one!)



(Zagreb)



(Portland, OR)



(Winnipeg, Canada)



(Sao Paulo, South America)



(Boston)



(Rome)



(Tel Aviv)



(Washington, D.C.)

White supremacists in the army  

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There is an interesting, albeit disturbing, piece on Salon by Matt Kennard, entitled "Neo-Nazis Are in the Army Now." Though army regulations are designed to keep out white supremacists, many of them are getting in anyway. Seems to me that the government doesn't care why a soldier is shooting at the enemy, just as long as s/he can shoot. It's utterly nerve wracking that powerful weapons (both literally and figuratively) are being placed in the hands of those who believe in whitewashing the world's population. Kennard, who interviewed an Iraq war veteran and Nazi, writes:

Army regulations prohibit soldiers from participating in racist groups, and recruiters are instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious tattoos. Before signing on the dotted line, enlistees are required to explain any tattoos. At a Tampa recruitment office, though, Fogarty sailed right through the signup process. "They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo, and I made up some stuff, and that was that," he says. Soon he was posted to Fort Stewart in Georgia, where he became part of the 3rd Infantry Division.

Fogarty's ex-girlfriend, intent on destroying his new military career, sent a dossier of photographs to Fort Stewart. The photos showed Fogarty attending white supremacist rallies and performing with his band, Attack. "They hauled me before some sort of committee and showed me the pictures," Fogarty says. "I just denied them and said my girlfriend was a spiteful bitch." He adds: "They knew what I was about. But they let it go because I'm a great soldier."

I wonder if the army would be so forgiving if someone tried to enlist with tattoos of rainbow flags and two male symbols intertwined, or if a soldier's ex-lover sent in pictures of him or her engaging in same-sex kissing. My guess is that they wouldn't. The U.S. government is more comfortable giving guns to white supremacists than to queer people. That sends a shiver down my spine.

Does common ground in the abortion debate lie in pregnancy prevention?  

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Can those on either side of the abortion debate find common ground? Reverend Debra W. Haffner, of the Religious Institute, seems to think so. Her piece on the Women's Media Center highlights the area where she thinks we can find this common ground, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. While discussing Dr. Tiller's death, she explains:

It's also an opportunity to reach across the divide on abortion to forge ahead toward a goal that surely is common ground—to reduce the need for abortion by reducing the incidence of unwanted pregnancy. And it's an opportunity to uphold the moral agency of women in making the decisions that are right for their individual circumstances. That's how we can honor George Tiller, whose motto was "trust women."

Reverend Haffner believes that we need to be focusing on the cause of high abortion rates, which is unintended pregnancies. She believes that through comprehensive sex education and access to contraceptives, and not through attempting to pass restrictions on abortion rights, we can effectively reduce the abortion rate, leading to happier and healthier women.

So here is my suggestion: Let's stop talking about reducing the number of abortions as a goal in itself. Such talk obscures what should be our principal objective—reducing unintended pregnancies—and leads to anti-women and anti-teen measures that would place restrictions on abortion access. Let's keep talking about reducing unintended pregnancies. This is not only the better public health position; it is a faithful and moral one as well.

Unfortunately, Reverend Haffner's position is not one taken by most activists. Pro-lifers seem to be too wrapped up in the teachings of their churches to be comfortable with promoting sex education and contraceptive use, and pro-choicers seem reluctant to find common ground in the debate, as if it were to mean we would be admitting defeat. But I think there is a way to find common solutions without compromising our fight for reproductive justice. Abortion rights can remain solid and intact while we work to reduce the abortion rate through pregnancy prevention.
Saturday, June 13, 2009

Reasons why I hate Sean Hannity  

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Because he complains that mainstream news networks didn't provide proper coverage for the horrific shooting of the Arkansas soldier, yet he devoted all of one sentence to the shooting in the Holocaust museum.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum  

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We often forget that just because the Holocaust is taught in history books and has been the subject of several hit movies, it doesn't mean that antisemitism and Holocaust denial isn't alive and well. It is.

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has closed its doors for the time being after a man walked into the museum and opened fire. Stephan Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the museum, was killed. The police have identified as a suspect James Von Brunn, 88, who is a Holocaust denier and a white supremacist. Police found antisemitic writings at Von Brunn's home after the incident. Feminist.org points out something important:

This is the third shooting in recent weeks that is politically driven and has been considered domestic terrorism. Army private William Andrew Long, was shot and killed this month because of the suspect's opposition to the US military's presence in the Middle East. Also, Dr. George Tiller, one of the only remaining late abortion doctors in the country, was shot and killed in his church in late May by an anti-choice extremist.

Why is it now that there is such a flare-up of politically-motivated shootings - AKA terrorism? Does it have something to do with a deep division and animosity between the Democratic and Republican parties? Are extremists royally pissed off that we have a black man as president and are now taking it as their cue to start shooting? It's hard to tell exactly what is fueling this.

President Obama made a heartfelt comment regarding this incident. For some reason, I always feel a little better after reading his statements on situations such as this one and Dr. Tiller's murder.


This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.

In light of recent events, consider making a donation to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Another important way of fighting antisemitism is to experience Judaism for yourself - no matter what religion you identify with, synagogues are always open for your exploration. Find a synagogue near you, and pay it a visit. If you're uncomfortable attending a religious service, most synagogues hold non-religious events, such as Food Drives and luncheons.

And of course, hatred and violence stems from ignorance and fear of the unknown. Consider taking some time to learn about Jewish history. There are a handful of books on the Holocaust that focus specifically on women's experiences. The next time someone you know cites misguided information, correct them. Spread knowledge and spread acceptance.
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Same-sex Sims tie the knot  

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I never thought to write a post on this, but after I recently purchased and played (many) hours of The Sims 3, I thought, "Why haven't I written about this yet?"

For those of you who don't know, same-sex marriage is now "legal" in the popular computer game, The Sims.

When The Sims 1 originally came out waaaay back in 2000, same-sex Sim couples could only move in together, but they couldn't tie the knot. Still, in the Sims 1 and in all expansion packs thereafter, "straight" and "gay" seemed to not exist. When you made your Sims, you couldn't pick their sexual orientation; Sims would fall in love with whoever they found appealing, regardless of gender.

The Sims 2, which came out in 2004, allowed same-sex couples to be "joined," which was the Sim version of civil unions. But now, in The Sims 3, which was released just at the beginning of this month, all adult Sims couples can be married, regardless of gender. Lyle Masaki at AfterElton.com says it well:

It may seem like a small step for a game series that has always been LGB-inclusive, but games that treat gay people equally are still pretty rare. Homophobia is still sadly common among video game communities and, worse, some companies' attempts to deal with anti-gay harassment have ended up being even more repressive to queer players.

Though The Sims didn't always allow same-sex marriage, I always, even in my pre-feminist years, thought it was surprisingly progressive that the game allowed same-sex romances. And though some could plausibly argue that the game excluded any talk of sexual orientation out of fear, I think that, regardless of their motives, Electronic Arts created a world ahead of its time, in which sexual orientation does not exist, because love is simply love.


June 25th: next online radio show episode  

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So, apparently I can't juggle a million things at once. Who knew?! I moved the next segment of my radio show to June 25th, which is after the NOW Conference, where I'm holding a blogging workshop. Whew. Now I can focus on one thing at a time.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gays with guns  

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Did you know that there's a small, but active, movement that seeks to perpetuate the use of guns as a way to minimize hate crimes against GLBT people? Gays with guns. The Washington Independent published an article on this topic today, highlighting some of the organizations that support both gun rights and gay rights. GOProud, for example, is a conservative gay rights group that holds the right to bear arms near and dear. According to the executive director of GOProud, Jimmy LaSilva:


We support this because we think it's advantageous to make it legal and relatively easy for gay people to arm themselves so they can protect themselves. In the next few weeks we want to start highlighting some of those stories. There are people who have averted gay bashings because of their ability to use guns.

Another organization that is a cornerstone of this "right to self-defense" movement is the Pink Pistols. According to their website:

We are dedicated to the legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community. We no longer believe it is the right of those who hate and fear gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or polyamorous persons to use us as targets for their rage. Self-defense is our RIGHT.


Basically, what those in this movement are asserting is that guns are an effective and appropriate way for GLBT people to protect themselves from gay bashers.

...That is, until the haters acquire guns themselves of course.

Undoubtedly, it's tempting to, as a person who has been shit on by society for years and years, whip out a large weapon and point it in the face of some ignoramus who dares to mess with you and yell, "WHAT NOW?!?" But what was that quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. again?

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.


We cannot fight hatred with violence. What we will ultimately create is an even deeper division between queer people and their haters. We will have the scared and angry oppressed, and the pissed off and ignorant oppressors... with bullets. No good can come of this.

Take a few minutes to contact both the Pink Pistols (admin@pinkpistols.org) and GOProud (info@goproud.org). Say anything to convey your opposition to this. If you're at a loss for words, simply send them that Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.

And please contact GLBT rights organizations, blogs, and news sites. Ask them to address the issue of frustration leading queer people to pick up guns. Ask them to take a public stance against it.

Contact List

Jon Stewart bashes Fox News... again  

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Watch Jon Stewart slam Fox News for misrepresenting what Barack Obama said during his speech in Cairo. And to anyone who claims that Jon Stewart is a biased left-leaning liberal, YOU'RE WRONG! Because he doesn't just bash Fox, he bashes basically all mainstream news networks. So there.

Not good  

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Republicans gain control of New York Senate.

Dammit.
Saturday, June 6, 2009

The side of the story anti-choicers don't want you to hear  

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There's a heartbreaking, but worthwhile, piece up at Ms. Magazine entitled "Between a Woman and Her Doctor," in honor of Dr. George Tiller. It tells the story of a woman who is devastated when she finds out that her unborn child is dead inside of her. Not being able to cope with the idea of giving birth to a dead fetus, she goes on a seemingly impossible quest to obtain a late-term abortion. This story shows why so many women in this world will suffer without more people like the late Dr. Tiller.
Thursday, June 4, 2009

Buffet of the Week  

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I'm still a poor little sick blogger, so I'm just going to put together a short Buffet of the Week until I feel well enough to write a substantial post. In the mean time, I've quarantined myself to my bedroom. At least So You Think You Can Dance is on tonight.

  • New Hampshire is now the SIXTH state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. WOOT!

  • An article in Newsweek asks: can same-sex marriage save the economy? Ignore the offensive and not even remotely clever headline.

  • This morning, President Obama delivered a speech in Cairo, Egypt, where he addressed global women's rights.

  • This Orville Redenbacher commercial made my heart smile.

  • File this under "appalling." A man has been arrested for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and broadcasting it over the internet. I'm not only disgusted with the man who did this, but also the pervs who watched it.

  • Many polls are showing that the majority of the public supports the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor.

  • Gay penguins! Gay penguins!

  • Horrifying piece of information #1: A man put an ad on CraigsList that called for someone to come into his house and rape his wife. Horrifying piece of information #2: someone actually answered it.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Radio show  

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Just a heads up: I moved the next episode of my radio show to next Thursday (instead of tomorrow) because I'm Sicky McSickpants. See you then!

Celebrate Gay Pride Month  

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HAPPY GAY PRIDE MONTH!


THE HISTORY

The month of June was selected to celebrate GLBTQ pride to commemorate the Stonewall riots. It was on June 28, 1969 that a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn was raided by New York police. Tensions between NY police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into protests, and within weeks, Village residents had organized into activist groups with the mission of creating a safe place for people to be open about their sexual orientations without the fear of getting arrested. Ultimately, the Stonewall riots launched the gay rights movement across the nation.

TODAY

President Obama is commending Gay Pride Month by once again expressing his commitment to expanding the rights of GLBT people. In a proclamation, he stated:


I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans.

The proclamation also discussed his legislative priorities, including overturning the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and the Defense of Marriage Act. He is unarguably more committed to gay rights than any other president the U.S. has seen. From Pride.BarackObama.com:



GAY PRIDE MONTH EVENTS

There are tons and tons of wonderful events for GLBTQ people and straight allies to attend to celebrate the queer community.

  • If you're like me and you live in or near New York, you can visit NYCPride.org for the entire list of gay pride events, taking place between June 20th and 28th.

  • Pride is also huge in San Francisco, where there are events all throughout the month. The main pride celebration will take place on June 27th and 28th.

  • Boston has events from June 5th to the 14th. The Pride Parade will be held on June 13th at noon.

  • Washington, D.C. Pride Week takes place from June 5th - 14th.

  • But this only covers a fraction of the events happening in every state. You can check out the entire Gay Pride Month calendar, which includes events across the country and in other countries alike, to find an event near you.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Arkansas soldier shot and killed  

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Wow.

A new soldier helping to attract others to the military was shot and killed outside an Army recruiting office today and a second soldier was wounded, and a suspect was arrested, police said.

A man inside a black vehicle pulled up outside the Army-Navy recruiting office in west Little Rock and opened fire about 10:30 a.m., said police Lt. Terry Hastings.

The two soldiers were outside the office when they were shot. They were taken to a hospital, where one died.

Though I'm never too thrilled myself when I see military recruiters, shooting them is never the answer. Amazing people (Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.) have gotten so many things done in the past by employing non-violent methods... why can't we follow their examples? Shooting an enemy might provide gratification in the moment, but what does it solve in the long-run? Absolutely nothing.

Dr. Tiller's death: who's responsible?  

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Remember when Operation Rescue, a prominent pro-life organization, expressed its "outrage" at Dr. Tiller's death?

We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down...Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.

Well now, apparently Dr. Tiller "reaped what he sowed."



Saying that Dr. Tiller "reaped what he sowed" is a way of excusing the horrific terrorist act of murdering an abortion provider. Saying he "reaped what he sowed" implies that he deserved what he got. CERTAINLY, if Operation Rescue "denounces vigilantism and the cowardly act" of murdering for political purposes, they couldn't possibly believe that Dr. Tiller deserved to die?

Oh, but they do. They do. You cannot assert that pro-life organizations, even the ones who publicly denounce the use of violence to assert the anti-choice agenda, are not somewhat responsible for acts such as these. Even though an anti-choice organization might not use direct violence as a tactic, the tactics they do use are inherently violent and gruesome in nature. Displaying large photographs of dismembered fetuses, carrying jars with real fetuses, calling and threatening clinic employees, yelling obscenities at women who enter clinics... these are all, in one way or another, violent acts. They are strategies that breed hatred and anger, leaving many furious anti-choice activists one step away from picking up a gun.

An anti-choice organization cannot separate itself from terrorist acts when they condone activists doing everything but. How can anyone possibly argue that the only person responsible for George Tiller's death is the man who shot him? Yes, most likely, no one forced him to pull the trigger, but you cannot assert that anti-choice propaganda didn't propel him in this direction. He wasn't born a murderer and a terrorist.

And what about the radical "pro-life" organizations? What about Army of God? They certainly condone violence. Currently, on the top of their website, in huge bold letters, it says:

The lives of innocent babies scheduled to be murdered by George Tiller are spared by the action of American hero Scott Roeder. George Tiller the Babykiller reaped what he sowed and is now in eternal hell.

Psalm 55:15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.

George Tiller will never murder another child again. Abortionist George Tiller, now in eternal hell fire for shedding the blood of innocent children.

George Tiller's murderer is an "American hero." Army of God even holds banquets, called the White Rose Banquet, to honor anti-choice extremists who have been jailed or executed for committing terrorist acts, such as bombings and shootings.

Though Army of God is the most extreme branch of the pro-life movement, you cannot possibly argue that encouraging people to participate in the type of activism that involves screaming at their opponents and shoving photos of mutilated fetuses in their faces doesn't encourage some people to consider picking up a gun or a bomb.

It pisses me off that not one person in the pro-life movement seems to be willing to re-examine the tactics used by their activists in an attempt to identify any catalysts for violence. Instead, the defenses have gone up, and no one wants to take any responsibility.

"Now it's your generation's turn"  

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Kierra Johnson of Choice Words wrote a beautiful piece on her last encounter with Dr. George Tiller. I felt tears well up in my eyes while reading it. Take a few minutes to give it a read.

More commercials I can't stand: shut your bitchy wife up with McDonald's and milk  

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(Special thanks to Heather for the suggestion!)
Monday, June 1, 2009

Products I love: adorable menstrual calendars  

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Oh oh! I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but I completely forgot. I came across the most adorable feminist shop on the wonderful Etsy.com. Viva La Craft sells the cutest menstrual calendars to keep track of your period. Only $3 a pop too!

Each calendar features a different character from her Viva La Woman design, which happens to be on a poster on my wall.



Eeee, I love it.

More on Dr. George Tiller  

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As the days pass, we will undoubtedly uncover more about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, from information released by the police to general discussion held by feminists regarding what we can do. First and foremost, DailyKosTV has released a compilation video of the various attacks Bill O'Reilly has led on Dr. Tiller. Jed Lewison made an extremely important point in saying, "As you can see from these video clip samplings of O'Reilly's holy war, you don't have to actually pull the trigger to help sponsor terrorism."



Circulate this video around the net to show that breeding blind hatred can lead to unspeakable acts.

Since the killing, President Obama has released this statement:

I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

Also, police have taken a suspect into custody; a 51-year-old who was arrested some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting. They are pretty sure the man acted alone, but they are investigating whether or not the suspect had ties to any anti-choice organizations.


WHAT YOU CAN DO

Feministing has a great list up with many suggestions on how to take action, but I'll try to cover some of the options they might have missed.

Donate
  • The National Network of Abortion Funds has a George Tiller Memorial Fund up and running.

  • Also, as I suggested in my last post on this topic, Medical Students for Choice is a wonderful place to donate. They allow you to make donations in memory of people, so be sure to put in Dr. George Tiller's name if you do.

  • NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio made a memorial blog, in which you can donate as well.

  • You might also want to consider donating to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

  • If you do not have many funds available yourself, consider holding a "party with a purpose," or a social gathering in which you ask attendants to give what they can. Medical Students for Choice has a party kit with many resources to get you started.

Volunteer
  • Consider offering your help to your local Planned Parenthood. Many of them need clinic escorts to protect patients from rowdy anti-choice protesters.

  • You can also search for open jobs and internships at a NARAL near you.

Attend a Vigil
  • Wonderfully, there are many candlelight vigils in Dr. Tiller's honor. Feministing has a bunch posted, or you can search Facebook to find one near you. If you don't see one in your area, consider organizing one. If you need help promoting your vigil, feel free to contact me and I can write a post about it.

Spark Discussion
  • It is extremely important to talk about this. Talk to your friends, your family, the check-out attendant at the grocery store - whether they be pro-choice or pro-life, it is crucial to encourage discussion and debate.

Any other suggestions?

AfterEllen.com releases Hot 100  

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AfterEllen.com, the popular website for queer women, has released their annual Hot 100. The Hot 100 is meant to give lesbian and bi women a voice in "mainstream, heterocentric pop culture" to identify the women they find sexy.

Portia De Rossi topped the list at #1, and Ellen DeGeneres came in at #15. Some of my favorites on the list? Ellen Page, Tina Fey, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Sandra Oh, Rachel Maddow, and Amanda Palmer, among many others. There are also "supplementary" lists: Hottest Women of Color, Hottest Out Women, and Hottest Women Over 40.

I love that queer women are being given the opportunity to have their voices heard, but I still yearn for more "hot 100" lists that celebrate more than a woman's looks. But I do realize that many of the women on the AfterEllen list are attractive for reasons other than looks - for example, I know Rachel Maddow was on that list for not just her androgynous hottness, but also her intelligence and passion. Still, I have to agree with Sinclair Sexsmith, author of The Sugarbutch Chronicles when he said, "according to this list, sexy women are feminine." There was undoubtedly a blatant lack of sexy genderqueer and butch women on the list.

Because of this, Sinclair Sexsmith is asking for nominations for the Hot Butches of 2009. Submit yours!