Typically narcissistic blogging.

Politics

My Heart is Broken

My heart is broken.

Black children and young Black men can be murdered by cops across the country and their families will never see justice. Black cis and trans women are murdered and get backburnered. The idea that somebody is a “thug” is enough to justify that person’s untimely death.

My heart is broken.

My friends who are parents of Black children are terrified. They live in fear for that this means for them, for their children, for their families. A friend of mine spoke of feeling helpless against the concerns of his teenaged son, who is deeply frightened  by the knowledge that he can be shot any day just for being a young Black male.

My heart is broken.

Yesterday as I walked through Oakland I looked down at the black leather gloves in my hand and wondered if they looked threatening enough to get me shot on my way to drinks and dinner with a friend.

My heart is broken. 

mike brown's father

My heart is broken.

The list of names keeps growing, like the most awful mantra, like a time bomb, ticking away one name at a time.

My heart is broken

Broken.

I can’t breathe.


Unrest

In the wake of mishandling of the Ferguson Grand Jury and their travesty of a decision, people have been staging protests across the country, and predictably, there have been protests and riots here in Oakland. There appear to be two camps regarding these protests and riots: in the first, those who believe that protests and riots are an essential element of social change and in the second, those who don’t want to be inconvenienced (in the form of travel, property damage, or noise) by these actions. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of whining about protests causing delays and problems at BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, for those of you not in the know). I’m not even talking about the jagged razor’s edge of a topic that is looting and property damage, here. Just BART.

And I see, repeatedly, the argument that there were plenty of “innocent” and “uninvolved” commuters who had “nothing to do” with the protest and should have been allowed to go about their days.

I just have a few things to say about this.

I.

This is a point that has been made repeatedly by people who believe in the power of civil unrest, but I feel the need to make it again: Since when do quiet, non-disruptive protests get any attention at all? Since when do they make it into the papers, into the public eye, into history? Did the Stonewall riots help to turn shit around for the queer community because the queers were polite and nonviolent? No.

It is not incumbent on the people who are fighting systemic social injustices to make their struggle for justice convenient to you.

II.

Who the fuck is innocent in a society where systemic racism, misogyny, and various phobias regularly destroy lives, families, and communities? Who the fuck is uninvolved? WHO ON THAT BART TRAIN IS NOT AFFECTED BY THIS? Whether it be positively or negatively, who?

Not one person. From the tiniest baby to the most elderly person on that BART train, every single person is affected and every single person who believes that this brief inconvenience is more important than the lives that have been carelessly cut short is complicit.

III.

When a child tugs on your clothes in order to show you her wounds, you don’t chastise her for getting blood on your shirt. Well, an entire group of people, an entire race is showing you that we have been wounded. Repeatedly. Throughout history. And we are gonna get your attention any way we can.

But, you know. Sorry about your BART delay, bro.


Animal

Hey, kid.
Hop off your tricycle.
Listen.
It’s never too soon to know what you are.

You are Black.

You are.
Black.
A diversity statistic.
A token.
A shoplifting risk.

You are.
Potential trouble.
Definitely trouble.
Going to be suspended.
Not a job prospect.

You are a tangible threat.

Terminology is essential, so keep these in mind:
Y’all don’t rally, you riot.
Y’all don’t assert your rights, you resist arrest.
Y’all don’t find, you loot.
Y’all are not persons fighting for equality, you’re animals.

Animals.

Hey, kid.
Don’t worry.
We’ve got your back.
Three squares a day.
Once we manage to pack you away.

Hey, kid.
Hands up!
Just kidding.
That never works.

Hey, kid.
Nice trike.
Now tell the truth:
Where’d you get it?


[Guest Post] #notalldrivers

Reading many of the #‎YesAllWomen posts from most of my female friends, one thing comes repeatedly to mind. It’s from a radio interview Marisa did in regard to being a female motorcyclist in the Bay Area.

During the interview a man called in with so much hatred towards motorcyclists, it was terrifying. He even went so far as to promise that any time he sees a rider in his side view mirror he tries to “put them into the guard rail” and that he hoped all motorcyclists died horrible, painful deaths.

Traffic

                               #notalldrivers

This is as close as I can come to understanding that feeling of what it’s like to be female in this society. EVERY TIME I RIDE, I think about that guy on the radio and remind myself that he—and many others like him—are behind the wheel of some of those cars I ride past every day. I will never know who those people are until it’s too late, so I always treat every driver like they’re that one guy I heard on the radio that day, vowing to kill us all.

It doesn’t matter to me at all that most drivers don’t think that way. I only care about the 1 in 100,000 who does.

The kicker to my analogy is this:
I can stop riding my motorcycle any time I want.
Women never get to stop being female. (Not that easily, anyway.)

Thanks to all of you who have been brave enough to share your experiences thus far and those that will in the future. It has been enlightening, even for those of us who are trying to be the good guys.

 

Ben Davis is a SF/Bay Area web developer and 12-year veteran motorcyclist. Ben has appeared on ABC News 20/20, The Wayne Brady Show, and in the National Enquirer—for reasons you can’t possibly imagine. 


[Guest Post] OMG MY FRIEND IS TRANS WHAT DO I DO?

Substitute “friend” for: “co-worker”, “schoolmate”, “partner of someone you know”, or someone in the public eye. For example, Chelsea Manning.

If you don’t already know (maybe you live under a rock or are one of those people who reads snarky blogs and not the news), Chelsea Manning went public today regarding her identity, preferred pronoun, and new name (as reported accurately and sensitively by The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and of all places, MSNBC).

It’s pretty sad that other media outlets refuse, even while reporting on this story, to use the correct pronoun. Hint, it’s female pronouns: “she”, “her”, etc.

What’s playing out today in the media is, sadly, the same kind of thing that plays out at parties, work environments, or in social scenes. There’s always a few people who get it instantly, and a lot more who need to be educated, plus a sprinkling of haters who will willfully resist the truth or argue against. Why? Who knows. Maybe they’re angry that this person looks better in a skirt  or a suit than they do.

For the sake of this post, let’s assume most people are in the middle group. You’re a nice person, you want to do the right thing, and suddenly your friend is dating a trans person, or is a trans person, or maybe your kid is trans, or your kid’s friend. What’s the etiquette around what might be (to you) a new name or pronoun?

1. Names have power.

Perhaps you are happy with the name your parents gave you at birth. Perhaps you are happy with the gender and sexual identity presumed for you at birth. Go you. It doesn’t hurt you, your gender, or your sexuality to hold a space where other people can be accepted for who they are.

USE THEIR NEW NAME. ALWAYS.

It can be tough switching someone’s name in your mind. The more you use it, the easier it will become, I promise. A few months in and you won’t remember their old name, which will come in handy in other situations which I will get into a little further down this page.

2. Pronouns have power

USE THEIR NEW PRONOUN. Ignore how the New York Times has a perpetual inability to get this right in any article about a trans person. You should be reading The Guardian anyway. Practice also helps.

3. What if I screw it up?

You’re gonna screw it up. We’ve all screwed this up. Correct yourself and move on. It’s as simple as that. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Know that your trans friend noticed. Yes, we notice every, single time someone does this. The more you bring it up, the worse you look.

If you feel the need to apologize for messing this up, especially if you do it in public, make a private apology to your friend or the person whom you wronged. Own your mistake, don’t tell them it’s their fault because “you’re confusing.” It isn’t their fault, it’s yours. Do the right thing and apologize, in private, and with honesty.

4. How to avoid screwing it up?

If you, for whatever reason, simply cannot get this person’s pronoun correct, then refer to them by their name until your mental reframing of them is more complete. Take a moment and look at this person, really see them, not your impression of them, not your past idea of who they are. At the risk of getting into the land of ‘woo’, look at their essence and be open to being flexible. This person has come a long way; your job is to support them and accept them.

Imagine if every time someone looked at you, they saw you with that horrible haircut you had in Jr. High or High School. No, it’s not the same as gender, but the mental timestamp is just as out of date. Flush your mental browser cache and enjoy your friend’s new look.

Avoid doing that thing where you go out of your way to use their new pronoun more frequently than is necessary. That’s kind of the same as when white people talk about their ‘black friend’.

5. How to be an ally to a trans person?

Do not gossip or share personal information. This means: do not tell other people that this person is trans, their former pronoun, or their former name. To anyone. Even with people you know also share this information. Do you want people talking about your tummy tuck or abortion at a cocktail party to a group of fascinated strangers or co-workers? Didn’t think so.

When someone trusts you (and it is a trust) with their truth, your one response should be to honor that trust by not betraying it.

Before you get angry that I’ve equated a hormonal or surgical transition with something to be ashamed of, know this. Some trans people are very open in regard to discussing their transition. Some trans people use hormones or surgery, others do not. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to transition. Transition is a personal procedure and should be kept private.

People are also comfortable discussing their abortions, the births of their children (in gruesome detail which I like to hear because I like gross stuff), or their colonoscopy. These are highly personal stories and should be shared only by the person who experienced them. That isn’t about being politically correct—that’s just good manners. Don’t be rude and co-opt someone else’s good party story. If other people are gossiping, shut them down. If they gossip about your friend, chances are they’re also gossiping about you.

Do not ask if they are planning to get/have gotten surgery.

Just. Don’t. Think about it. Unless you are their surgeon, it’s none of your business what’s going on down there.

Educate yourself on trans issues.

There are a ton of articles similar to this online, (many of them better written) as well as many, many books on the subject of being trans, partnering with trans people, and the human rights issues faces by trans people. Some of them have contrasting information. Be informed. Read. Use your critical analysis skills and stay compassionate.

Trans teenagers, and adults for that matter, are far more likely to attempt suicide or use drugs/alcohol. This is not because all us trans people are So Messed Up. This is because the world treats trans people unfairly. Transgendered people are more likely to be unemployed or face discrimination on the job. Health insurance companies do their damnedest to deny trans people access to transition-related services, including mental health services, which have been proven time and time again to improve people’s quality of life, personal safety, and economic security. Trans people often lose the support of family and friends and must constantly fight for recognition that their transition is real, necessary, and meaningful.

Never use the word ‘Tranny’

Just. Don’t.

6. As a final note: 

Since the default standard mainstream dialogue around trans people is to treat them like the punchline to a joke, I can see why uninformed people might interpret it that way. This is a good opportunity for people surprised by the news to consider how their mental awareness of trans issues is shaped by representations in the media. Compare the coverage, consider how respectful writers and reporters are of names and pronouns. 

Guest blogger T is trans and queer identified, currently owned by two cats, lives in San Francisco, and will occasionally write blog posts if nagged by close friends.

Freedom from/of Religion

whiskeypants:

This is something that happened. And it’s not cool. Please, if you are in the Bay Area, consider taking voice lessons from my amazing friend. And/or pass this along to your friends.

Originally posted on No Inside Voice:

As my heart is reeling from news of being laid off from my regular church today, I go back to a story. These all start with a story, all rife with feeling and promise. This one’s about a church.

In August 1999 I returned from New York. My mother had been dead a year, I was recovering in turmoil from a recently broken relationship that I had thought would last forever (I was 23. Of course I thought that.), I had been put through the wringer. It was January of 2000 before I licked my wounds enough to get back in the game. I needed more money than my DayJob provided, and I wanted to earn it by singing. But where to start? Where any tenacious, operatically-trained career rebel starts – the yellow pages. (For the younger folks in the audience, this was a book of businesses listed by type…

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Why So Quiet, Son?

At some point, the word “feminism” took on ugly connotations. So ugly, in fact, that women will distance themselves from the term, claim not to be feminists. While that seems incredibly problematic to me, so is the fact that “feminism” somehow no longer means “advocating equality for women and men” but somehow means becoming stridently obnoxious about women’s rights, or requiring cheesy hippie approaches to womanhood, or that women hate men (something I’d like to generally avoid, as men can be quite charming and really rather awesome).

feminist

This is unfortunate on a number of levels, and I think there needs to be a general redefinition of “feminism” as something that both women and men should want to take part in. Definitions aside, I’ve noticed something about how things get shared and handled on both Twitter and Facebook that I find incredibly shitty.

  1. When I share or tweet an article about rape, the only people who share, retweet, or comment? Women.
  2. I wrote a post about misogyny. 1 guy ‘liked’ it. 2 guys commented, to make jokes.
  3. The post about misogyny was in response to a guy I called out for comparing his irrationally bad mood to PMS in women (thus perpetuating the stereotype that women are irrational and continuing to give license to men who, when they don’t like a woman’s behavior, would like to complain about “that time of the month”). I had my say and his response was, “ok.” Maybe he thought I was being irrational—just like a woman? All I figured was that dude was too cowardly to admit that he’d fucked up.

Well, fuck that. Fuck all of that.

Dudes, bros, come on. Where is your feminism? I am not asking, by the way, where your love for women is. Saying you’re a feminist because you love women is like saying you are Jewish because you love hamantaschen.

Okay. For the sake of this post, let’s create a loose definition of “feminism” with some very basic concepts:

  • Recognizing that women are just as capable as men are.
  • Recognizing that women deserve equal pay to men.
  • Recognizing that stereotypes about women are bullshit and should be avoided: let each woman define herself; don’t define women.
  • Recognizing that women don’t exist for others to desire/use/fuck—even if being desirable or fuckable is something they do and enjoy.
  • Recognizing that double standards with regard to sexuality and enjoyment of sex are ridiculous.
  • Recognizing that rape is an issue (and yes, I know that women can also rape, but the majority of rapes are committed by men, and that majority is gigantic. I also realize that men can rape other men and do regularly, so just standing up against rape in general is a Good Thing—all right?)
  • Using your voice to emphasize all of these things, to help pass on the message, to share, to do something as simple as retweet.

feminist1

Why are men leaving the discussion about feminism, about rape and rape culture, up to women? Why is it only their job to fight for their rights, to stand up to rapists and abusers? Why, when men send rape threats to women who have stood up for themselves, don’t their friends say, “Dude. Not cool.”? Why, when a girl is sexually assaulted and her assaulters share the photograph of the assault, don’t people rally around the girl, why don’t they support her, why aren’t we teaching teenagers that bullying is bullshit? We have had two suicides in rapid succession of young women who experienced such intense bullying after being sexually assaulted that one of them couldn’t even move schools without it following her. Why are teen boys not telling their friends, “No way, dude. Leave her alone.”?

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why people are still sharing posts about how women can avoid being raped, about the times they can walk alone outside, about how they should wear their hair and their clothes—thus leaving the victim-blaming discussions wide open (I mean, really, did you see what she was wearing?) and making it so easy to blame women for not being careful enough. I don’t understand why there aren’t more discussions about teaching youth about rape—discussion about sex is so taboo in schools that it’s left up to parents who are apparently in denial about the situation or think their kids are too young to learn about it. Well, guess what? They are old enough to rape, they are old enough to learn why rape is unacceptable. I don’t understand why we aren’t teaching young men to love and respect young women.

And learning it from only women is also unacceptable. Men, you need to add your voices to the arguments for equality. It’s easy to say that women should obviously vote, because that’s a right they already have. It’s more difficult to stand up for equal pay, for removing double standards, for cutting out casual misogyny (like unnecessary comments linking irrationality and women). It’s more difficult to let go of your privilege when a woman points out the rampant misogyny in gaming and at conventions, and support her. It’s more difficult to stand up to your friends when they misbehave. It’s difficult for teenagers to go against the social flow—high school is a breeding ground for cruelty and insensitivity—and it’s difficult for us to teach them that standing up for women and taking a stand against rape is necessary. But if you really genuinely believe that women have just as much a place in the world as you do, then you have got to. It is fucking necessary.

And if you don’t believe that, I don’t want to know you. And don’t get me started on the so-called Men’s Rights movements, which are nothing short of delusional.

So men, where are your voices? Why so quiet, son?

goslingfem


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