April 26, 2007

The Crimson gets it right

Check out this cartoon from a recent edition of The Crimson:

P.S. The DAPA-sponsored National Alcohol Screening Day is tomorrow from 10am-6pm in the Hemingway Gym. If you have questions about your alcohol use (or just want a free nalgene), consider stopping by!

April 24, 2007

"Put your money where your mouth is."

Hi everyone,

First, read this. Think about it. Contribute, if you relate to these experiences.

So, I was thinking. I will be graduating soon, and employed in a Real World Job pretty soon, which means I will have a Regular Salary. And I think it's time that I started factoring donations to important organizations and causes into my monthly spending. I won't have much disposable income, but I'd like to at least start making small donations.

Check out Peter Singer's "What Should a Billionaire Give - and What Should You?" for some compelling evidence that these kinds of donations can effectively work to fight poverty. I'd also love to challenge those Quench readers who have regular disposable income to consider doing this too.

So, I'd like your input: What organizations or causes do you think would make effective use of a small monthly donation?

Please post any info or websites. I'd really appreciate it!

Something Very Awkward

As some of our readers know, Quench has a history of posting awkward incidents that happen in the lives of our writers.

(See zine pages here, here, here, and here.)

(See posts here, here, here, and here).

Today, I read something particularly awkward.

Ever sign up for a free sample of Astroglide? If you used your real name and address it is probably on a list that Astroglide accidentally made available to the internet... According to the Department of Homeland Stupidity blog, the data breach also includes "a spreadsheet containing 4,529 records of people who ordered the company's Silken Secret vaginal moisturizer product." The file contains names, ages, email and home addresses, and "why they wanted to try the product", including options like "Intimate Activity" and "Vaginal Dryness."

- A quote from Consumerist

Please feel free to add to this post your own things that are awkward from your recent daily lives but also take the time to engage with icarus' fabulous, and more substantive conversation about virginity.

"I Had That Now-Banned Abortion."

I'm not going to go into all my feelings about the Supreme Court decision, but I think that anyone who reads this editorial should be able to see the ways that women's autonomy and safety are being compromised by a court dominated by conservative men.

April 22, 2007

Georgia school throws first integrated prom

ASHBURN, Ga. --For the first time, the faces of students at the Turner County High School prom were both white and black.

Each year, in spite of integration, the school's white students had raised money for their own unofficial prom and black students did the same to throw their own separate party, an annual ritual that divided the southern Georgia peanut-farming county anew each spring.

That all changed Saturday as horse-drawn carriages and stretch limousines carried young couples around the downtown streets to a single prom.

April 20, 2007

A step away from saying rape victims "deserved it"?

Earlier this week, Lucy Caldwell issued a call for "caution in judgment" when discussing issues of sexual violence. [warning: this article may be triggering for some due to implied and explicit statements blaming rape victims for their rapes.]

Caldwell cautions that much of sexual violence prevention work should recognize that "preventing sexual violence hinges on sexual responsibility." See, when I removed that sentence from its context, it sounds highly uncontroversial. In fact, it sounds true. In fact, it is true. If everyone took responsibility for their own sexual and violent actions then rape cold be prevented. Potential rapists have the ability to prevent 100% of rapes. All that we need to do is to convince people not to rape each other! Caldwell seems like a genius.

Oh wait, then when you look at the rest of the article, you might realize that that is not what she is discussing at all. Caldwell continues to equate what she sees as women's bad sexual decision making with other women's accusations of rape. She says, "The most effective way for a woman to “take back the night” is to take control of her sexual behavior." In a way, I agree, but not the way Caldwell meant it. Women should have control of their own sexual behavior. As soon as men stop raping women, perhaps they will have it. (and everyone else needs to stop raping everyone else, as well). See, in order for people to take control of their own lives, others need to stop violently imposing themselves on others without consent. People need to be able to walk down the street or have a drink at a party without being targeted by sexual predators. Then, women can have control of their own bodies, decisions, and autonomy in a way that Caldwell's opinion fails to recognize.

I am glad that the sexual violence movement takes this week in order to support survivors/victims, their families, and their friends. But in general, we would do well to not allow the perpetrators out of the discussion. Rape doesn't just happen. Caldwell, you can bring up all of the questionable cases in which you think that someone might want to falsely report a rape but that doesn't change the fact that thousands of people actually are raped, or, as it should be put, thousands of people (mostly men) rape thousands of other people (mostly women).

Just because one guy falsely reported his car stolen as part of an insurance fraud scheme doesn't mean we don't believe people when they report their cars stolen. Let's get over talking about the exceedingly small proportion of falsely reported rapes just because it's more comfortable than thinking about the real rapes that do happen every day. Rape is painful to think about, painful to talk about, and painful to try to prevent. But you know what? It's painful to experience, too. It's disservice to our peers not to take rape seriously.

I recommend reading two letters to the editor from this morning's crimson. They are much more articulate than what I just wrote:
here's one
here's the other.

Conference on Queerness and Economic Justice

I just wanted to remind everyone that this year's Safe Colleges Conferences at Tufts is a) tomorrow (Saturday) and b) focussed on queerness and economic justice.

Who is planning on attending? Do you think you might be able to do the service of letting us know how it goes?

April 14, 2007

No room for Kevin anywhere - not even jail

Meet Kevin Morales.

Kevin is a convicted sex offender in Miami. He served his time and now he is on parole. Well, sort of. Miami recently passed residency restrictions for sex offenders so that they can't live too near (within 2,500 feet of) parks, schools, and other places children gather.

Miami's rule literally outruled the entire city. When Kevin contacted authorities and asked where he could live, the only place they could find was under a bridge (outdoors).

Let me repeat that. There were no indoor places where Kevin was allowed to live. And, if Kevin is like most parolees, then Kevin can't leave the city of Miami. Kevin is literally being forced to live under this bridge.

Kevin served his time and it is time that he is able to reinegrate himself into a community. Casting him out and forcing him to live under a bridge is not going to make him a safer member of the community. If anything, he will become more angry, dangerous, and socially disconnected.

Nearly every night, parole officers check to make sure the ex offenders are under the bridge. I thought being on parole meant that you were not incarcerated?

Yesterday, Kevin asked a judge if he could go back to his jail cell instead of living under the bridge. The state denied his request. He is literally forced into living under this bridge (unless he wants so desperately to have a roof over his head that he intentionally commits a crime in order to get to jail). Kevin and the other Miami sex offenders have a fucked up set of options in front of him.

Operating a jail is very expensive but if these guys are safe enough to be in the community, they should be safe enough to live indoors somewhere.

If you are interested in reading one reasonable proposal for sex offender registries, I recommend checking this out.

April 12, 2007

6-Year-Old Black Girl Arrested

“You can’t handcuff them on their wrists because their wrists are too small, so you have to handcuff them up by their biceps.”

A 6-year-old black girl was arrested after she had a temper-tantrum at school. Clearly, this had to be a dangerous situation. This is just yet another example of the ways that the so-called criminal justice system over-involves itself in the lives of some people depending on their race or where they live.

April 08, 2007

two fathers

This is just so cute.

April 07, 2007

You call that color WHAT?

From the WTF department:

The sofa this woman is sitting on came with labels describing its color as "Nigger-brown."

Moore, 30, who describes herself as an African-American born and raised in New York, said it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out the label just after delivery men from the Mississauga furniture store left.

"She's very curious and she started reading the labels," Moore explained. "She said, `Mommy, what is nig ... ger brown?' I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes."

Shit, me neither.

April 05, 2007

something I have never before quenched about

I am usually quite open with my friends, and even with this blog about what I am thinking about, about what I believe, and about who I am. In thinking about what I’ve blogged about in the past, I realized that I have never (or almost never?) mentioned my religion. As we label ourselves with so many modifiers why do we not foreground our religions (or status as atheists or agnostics) in the same way?

Many of my close friends know that I have both Christian and Jewish family, but I think that most of my friends assume that I am an atheist or at least agnostic.

I am in fact a Christian. And yet I seem not to talk about it much. I wonder why. Here are the reasons I can think of that might be relevant:

  1. Because Christianity is a dominant religion in the United States, I am uncomfortable discussing my Christianity.
  2. I worry that discussing my Christian beliefs will make others feel that I don’t respect their beliefs or that I am just humoring them. I worry that it will interfere with my ability to communicate respect with my non-Christian friends (most of my friends?). I think this is strongly related to number 3.
  3. I am ashamed of the way that Christianity has been coopted by the conservative right in this country. I know that people associate Christianity with people trying to convert others without listening to them, respecting what they have to say, or taking them seriously. Conversions are used as sort of notches in someone’s belt – proof that they are true believers. And Christianity is used as a way to avoid logic and debate and to institute laws at national, state, and international levels that oppress people.
  4. I worry that people won’t take my logical arguments seriously (see number 3).

Here are some reasons that those reasons are silly:
  1. I speak about privilege in other contexts – about white privilege, heterosexual privilege, male privilege, and social and economic class privilege. I know that this isn’t the real reason I don’t talk about my beliefs.
  2. This may be true with acquaintances or people who I don’t know but I hope my friends know that I respect them so it doesn’t explain why I don’t really talk about it with them, or with Quench.
  3. Should this be a reason to avoid the topic? Perhaps it is a reason to actually bring it up occasionally and try to take away the hold that the Dark Side claims to have. (sweet, star wars references!)
  4. Maybe I should just be logical and that issue would be solved.

Well, step one of not hiding my religion is to explain how I got involved in activism in the first place.

Christianity was begun by a servant-leader who put the lives of oppressed people ahead of his own. He spent his time helping and glorifying people who were hated by others of his time period – he helped lepers (who many were afraid of or judged as immoral) and told stories of a Samaritan who was hated by society and yet was the epitome of what is good. A woman at his time had access to very few resources, and yet Jesus said what she was willing to give to the community was worth more than what a rich man gave.

The old testament/torah chronicles a people attempting to free themselves from slavery, a god who teaches people to love their neighbors, and families, and people who are wise enough to make peace at times when it seems impossible.

Jesus was recognized as a leader and as a messiah and yet he took the time to wash the feet of his followers and to thank others who were less fortunate than he was. At this time of year, as Easter comes closer, I think about what Christianity says about sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed everything that he had so that others could inherit everything that is important.

Unconditional love in the bible teaches Christians that we need to work to respect everyone in the world as if they are our family and closest friends. This means actively pursuing an end to racism, an end to incarceration and the prison industrial complex, it means an end to war, it means an end to sexism, it means a fair financial world, it means ending ableism, it means taking care of our future generations, valuing all love and all sex, stopping violence of all kinds, and it means no excuses.

I got involved in radical activism because the bible told me to. I have met the most amazing, great people on the way. And to be honest, most of them share my Christian roots – because by Christian, I mean radical justice activists who are willing to look beyond current power structures and look to others for support because they acknowledge their limits as an individual. These beliefs are not exclusive to any single religion, of course, but some so-called Christian leaders would have us think that they are incompatible with Christianity.

George Bush and Fred Phelps can’t take Christianity away from its radical roots. Shame on them and others for trying.

(I would be curious to know if there are aspects of their identities that other quench bloggers or readers have noticed themselves not talking about, and also interested in how your religion, religious background, or lack there of interacts with your activism and how you relate to religious activists [like me]. For example, how did you feel when reading this post? Would it be better if I just kept my religious views to myself?)

April 03, 2007

Further complicating "femme"

Because, y'know, that's what I do. I complicate what looks like it ought to be fairly simple.

So, if you've read ... oh ... pretty much anything Quenchy I've written, you've probably picked up on the fact that I ID as a femme. Specifically, a queer (XX-)femme SOFFA, with a lot of other not-immediately-relevant identity labels tossed in there, too. (I don't think it's my place to reveal intimate details about sexual practices that don't just involve me - but since there's a lot of conflation of femme with sexual roles, I'll mention that the top/bottom distinction is not something that plays into my identity at all. Just FYI. *smile*)

This past weekend, I met a ton of fabulous femmes at a conference I was helping out with. Many of them were also queer femmes (or femme dykes) who, if asked to check off a standard "male/female" box, would check "female" without worrying too much about it. These were pretty much your standard Bettie-Page-meets-Gwen-Stefani femmes: lots of leopard-print, lots of lipstick, and high high heels.

But by and large, the femmes I met that I ended up really clicking with weren't in any way girls, chicks, ladies, or checkers-of-the-f-box. (Ok, so maybe some of them liked to check other people's f-boxes ...) Some of them were femme FTMs, of various sexual orientations, and at least one was a blazingly fabulous genderqueer XY femme. (Let me know if I screwed up the sequence of those, will you, dear? I know you're reading this.) I also have a good friend here in University City who describes himself as a boyfemme glitterfag, and I believe there are some non-girl-type Quenchfolk who are also femme-identified.

I'll point out that I'm not simply on good terms with these folks because they're non-girl-type femmes, although I appreciate not having to hear them talk about how dating an FTM doesn't negate their lesbian identities because it's almost like dating a woman. (Obviously, if you have no lesbian identity to start with, shoring it up is not going to be an issue for you.) But they all happen to be closer to the RuPaul-in-boy-drag school of femininity, and that's something I know very little about. So I was surprised to realize that they'd sort of reached critical mass as a subsegment of my friends.

I wanted to ask one of the conferencefolk this weekend how he describes his femmeness: when I talk about it, I say I'm being "girly;" I add gratuitous feminine suffixes to my labels (turning "coordinator" into "coordinatrix," for example). I refer to myself in ways that seem counterintuitive to imagine coming from the mouths of femmes who are not girls. I wanted to ask him how he talks about being a femme without talking about being a woman, too.

Unfortunately, he happened to be running the conference, so he was super-busy and not really available for deep discussions about identity.

So I'm asking you.

For those of you who identify yourselves as femmes, how does that interact with other elements of your gender identity? Those of you who aren't femmes, but who have other possibly-surprising identity overlaps (queer butch guys, female-identified daddies, girlfags, etc.) - same question.