Tuesday, August 1, 2017

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

Reproductive rights are non-negotiable. Reproductive rights are non-negotiable. REPRODUCTIVE. RIGHTS. ARE. NON. NEGOTIABLE.

What's that? Oh no, I'm not talking to the Republican Party. I'm not even talking to the Txxxp administration. Believe it or not, I'm actually talking to the Democratic Party leadership.

Just yesterday, the Democratic campaign chief, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) indicated that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will continue to fund Democratic candidates who oppose abortions, stating that "There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates....As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.” In other words, they seem to think that licking the boots of the Republicans and the alt-right will help them win back the House in 2018.

I'm here to say that, if they think making reproductive rights a negotiable bargaining chip will help them gain more votes, they are delusional. They will lose more votes from women, LGBTQ people, etc. than they will gain from old, white, male Republicans, as we do not take kindly to having our rights reclassified as being non-essential when they become inconvenient to the Democrats' success rate.

It is not a coincidence that the all-male Democratic leadership does not consider reproductive rights to be essential--not just to the party platform, but to women! Apparently we can just drop the issue for the moment and we can pick it up again when the time is right, sweetie. If you need any proof that the current Democratic leadership doesn't give a fuck about women, think about this: anti-abortion politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, will vote for anti-abortion legislation. The Democratic Party leadership is not stupid--they know this. However, even with that knowledge in mind, instead of doubling down on reproductive rights and continuing to press it as a non-negotiable issue after the presidential election, they have instead decided that our right to bodily autonomy, our right to decide if and when we have children, is worth sacrificing for votes.

The Democratic party, as it stands right now, does not give a fuck about women. It does not give a fuck about LGBTQ people. It does not give a fuck about anyone who needs reproductive healthcare services, abortion or not. It does not give a fuck if they vote in anti-abortion politicians who will continue to strip us of our reproductive rights until they disappear, as long as they get the votes they want. We really need to think about what will happen if there comes a future when candidates from both major political parties, the parties that tend to win elections, are anti-abortion.

Do you want the Handmaid's Tale? Because this is how you get the Handmaid's Tale. And it's clear that, with men in charge, we can't have basic human rights in ANY party.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Call to Action: Day 4 of the Resistance

The Women's March, which had representation in all seven continents, took place on Saturday, January 21st, to the tune of 3.67 million marchers on the low end and 4.6 million on the high end of estimations. More than one out of every 100 Americans took to the streets to voice their outrage at this incoming administration and voice their determination to fight and resist at every turn. Many people, Drumpf included, voiced their confusion about the necessity of this march. They argued that women already have all the rights and privileges that they could possibly need. What was the point of this march, really?

A bill was recently introduced to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 17th. A full four days prior to the march, and yet nobody knew about its existence until yesterday and today. Even now, most people you inform of the existence of this bill are surprised to know that it's there. This bill, titled H.R.586, posits that "human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization." This is why women marched. This is EXACTLY why. Because from the moment Drumpf set foot into the Oval Office, we knew that he and his administration would start decimating reproductive rights as we know them. This bill sets a dangerous precedent for our country, on a number of levels, and needs to be voted down.

If this bill passes into law, it will make abortion access, and very likely contraception, a thing of the past. With life defined as beginning at fertilization, abortion will be criminalized and defined as murder (even though, interestingly enough, when you ask pro-lifers what the punishment should be for women who have abortions, they usually cannot, or will not, give an answer). The "pro-lifers" who believe that contraception terminates pregnancies, some of whom are our political representatives, will look to deny women access to birth control using the language of H.R. 586 as their justification--seeing as "alternative facts" are perfectly acceptable now, the legitimate fact that contraception does not actually terminate pregnancies will not matter. Women's bodily autonomy will be a distant memory, and all the bloodshed from pre-Roe v. Wade will return to our doorsteps, back alleys, and hospital ERs in very short order. This bill will also set a dangerous precedent for women who have wanted pregnancies and are facing a miscarriage, fetal anomaly, or other medical issue that requires an abortion (early or late term). What's to stop Congress from forcing women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term, even if it kills them? What's to stop Congress from criminalizing miscarriages and imprisoning women for something along the lines of "suspected abortion?" What's to stop Congress from ultimately using The Handmaid's Tale as an instruction manual rather than a cautionary tale? 

The reality is that bills like these, laws like these, do not "save babies." They kill women. Women like Savita Halappanavar, who died after being refused a life-saving abortion during a miscarriage. Women like all those who died prior to the Roe v. Wade decision--approximately 5,000 women ANNUALLY in the United States--bleeding to death in back-alley abortion clinics and dying of sepsis in hospital emergency rooms from DIY abortions gone wrong. Women who poisoned themselves with whatever they had in their medicine and/or kitchen cabinets rather than go through with an unwanted pregnancy. As I wrote in a previous post, women will have abortions, bills and laws notwithstanding, whether they are safe or not. Whether they are done by a professional or a back-alley "doctor" or the woman herself. These politicians know this. They know. They know that women who do not want to be pregnant will do whatever they have to do in order to no longer be pregnant. They know that women who do not have access to safe, legal abortions generally end up injured or dead. 

But, as I also mentioned in that same previous post, it was never about protecting women's health. Our political representatives who claim to be "pro-life" are fully prepared to ignore (or even condone) the fully preventable deaths of actual living, breathing women, fully prepared to step over the corpses of women in the streets, in order to prove how "pro-life" they are. The fact of the matter is, we have laws in this country that state that we cannot be forced to donate organs, blood, or any other living tissue to another human being, EVEN AFTER WE ARE DEAD, unless our express consent has been given. And yet, somehow, it's perfectly acceptable to force women to give up their bodily autonomy for approximately 40 weeks--from the moment she becomes pregnant, her body is no longer hers. She becomes a mere vessel for the fetus. In many states where abortion access is practically nonexistent, pregnant women literally have fewer rights than corpses do. To say that this is unacceptable is the understatement of the century.

For those of you who have read up to this point, for those of you who are beyond angry, I'm issuing a call to action and I want you to do three things:

1. Contact your House representative and tell them to vote NO on H.R. 586
2. Contact your Senators and tell them to vote NO on H.R. 586
3. Read this short story titled "ILU-486". Bookmark it. Read it every day that you feel like you can't fight anymore, because this could very well be our reality if we don't fight back NOW.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women, and Witches, Get Shit Done

I participated in the Women's March on NYC today--sort of. I went with my best friend of 20 years, her parents, and their friends. The crowd was so huge that we never actually got to march in the actual march itself--the streets were so crowded that they were basically a parking lot, which makes me so. Fucking. Happy. As of this writing, the estimated total number of marchers in NYC is 400,000, much higher than they anticipated. Approximately 3 million people, obviously a majority women, marched across all seven continents, with our marchers outnumbering the Trump inauguration attendance by a staggering amount.

Mentally prepping to be part of what would turn out to be a 3 million person march across all seven continents

If you want to get an idea of the scope of the NYC march, take a peek at this video footage of the march from the Daily News. 

Shitty cell phone pictures, because I forgot to charge my camera
Since we couldn't get into the march itself, we walked around the perimeter instead and cheered from the sidelines. And the streets. Were. Packed. The sidewalks were packed. And not one fight broke out. Not one. Not one confrontation between fellow marchers or with the police (thank the gods). In a city whose inhabitants are known for flipping their shit on slow tourists, there was a surprising amount of patience for the molasses-pace of the march and an overwhelming amount of acceptance of each other as allies in this fight. I never thought I'd see something so beautiful come out of this nightmare.


One of my best friends, Althea, aptly compared it to the scene towards the end of "Practical Magic" when the women join hands and exorcise Jimmy from Gillian Owens. We identified a problem and gathered our sisters and allies around us to support us as we said "Enough is enough." We raised energy as a collective with the target of creating positive change in our country, preserving the rights we fought so hard to protect, empowering and emboldening each other in solidarity. If that's not a spell, I don't know what is. So many women woke up to their wild woman nature today because of these marches, and it's sending chills down my spine. The Divine Feminine woke up in us today, not with a stretch and a yawn, but with a heart-stopping roar.

Friday, January 20, 2017

To Trump, With (No) Love

Dear Trump,

President Obama talked recently about the tradition of the outgoing President leaving a handwritten note for his successor. I’m sure he wrote you some very diplomatic things, because he is a diplomatic person with class and distinction.

I, on the other hand, am not. So I’m writing you this letter instead.

On this day of your inauguration, I wish to let you know a few things. First of all, your tiny, tiny feet have some very big shoes to fill. You are walking into this office with a 40% approval rating, the lowest in American history. Unless you make drastic changes to the core of your being, it is almost inevitable that that number will drop with every passing day.

You have showed this country and its inhabitants nothing but absolute disdain from the very first day you started running. Your campaign and your soon-to-be-presidency are drowning in racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and all your other isms and phobias. Your cabinet choices are, for lack of a better word, deplorable. None of you know how to do your jobs—the only thing you know is money, power, bigotry, and climbing to the top on the backs of other people.

It is clear to us that you had no intentions of actually becoming President—you just wanted the attention. You just wanted to feed your already gigantic ego. But unfortunately, for you and for us, you tapped into a deep-seated hatred in this country, and it responded to you in kind. You have validated racists, sexists, homophobes, and rapists (much like yourself), condoning their beliefs and their behavior, refusing to denounce the violence and bigotry being enacted in your name. The rise in hate crimes in this country is in direct correlation to the garbage that continues to come out of your mouth. Ultimately, you allowed a neo-Nazi group to “Sieg Heil” you in the nation’s capital—I have yet to see you make a statement condemning that. This silence speaks volumes.

Mr. Trump, you are not my President. You will NEVER be my President. You will go down in history as a national mistake, as the worst error that we have ever made as a country. Just because I know this eats at you day in and day out, I will remind you that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote—65,844,954 (48.2%) to 62,979,879 (46.1%). You are not the President this country wants. You are a monster, a fascist, a totalitarian, a child. You are ill-prepared for the office of the Presidency, and while you may think us weak and easily destroyed, you are ill-prepared for the amount of resistance you are about to face. Millions of us are watching you, ready to fight—know that our numbers will swallow you whole.

Monday, June 27, 2016

5-3

[CN: abortion, misogyny, etc.] 

5-3

That was the Supreme Court vote striking down the TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws. (For an awesome summary of what these laws are, the Center for Reproductive Rights has a link here.)

5-3. 

Five justices ruled that the width of the hallway, doorway, and ventilation system has nothing to do with whether or not a woman can get appropriate, safe healthcare at an abortion clinic. Five justices ruled that requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital was unnecessary for a procedure that is statistically safer than a colonoscopy and childbirth (and unnecessary by virtue of the fact that any patient with a life-threatening medical emergency will be admitted to a hospital, whether the clinic has admitting privileges or not). Five justices ruled that when the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said that these TRAP laws did nothing to protect women's health and instead actually caused a detriment to women's health because they restricted access to abortion care, they were right. (Imagine that, actual doctors knowing more about providing medical care than politicians do.)

But the thing is, it was never about protecting women's health.

Women will have abortions whether they are safe or not. Whether they are done by a professional or a back-alley "doctor" or the woman herself. These politicians know this. They know. 

They know that women who do not want to be pregnant will do whatever they have to do in order to no longer be pregnant. They know that women who do not have access to safe, legal abortions generally end up injured or dead. 

For those who claim to be "pro-life," this is acceptable collateral damage, if they even choose to acknowledge it at all in any meaningful way. It's mind-boggling how easy it is for them to ignore (or even condone) the fully preventable deaths of actual living, breathing women. It's almost like these TRAP laws have nothing to do with protecting women's health and everything to do with controlling women or something.  

A perfect example of this is when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg confronted Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller during oral arguments back in March (you can read a great recap of that here). The Notorious RBG asked him how many women would have an undue burden placed on them in the form of living 100 miles or more from the clinic if the TRAP laws were to go into effect. He responded that about 25 percent of women would be affected by the TRAP laws--however, there was another clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, just over the border from El Paso. He argued that the law did not impose an undue burden on abortion-seeking women in El Paso because they could just go across the state line. Justice Ginsburg wasted no time in ripping that argument apart--the New Mexico clinic would not face the same restrictions as the clinic in Texas, restrictions which Keller was in the middle of arguing were for the purpose of protecting women. So, Ginsburg argued, New Mexico's clinic was not a viable option for women seeking abortions since those clinics did not have the same standards that Texas was arguing their clinics should have in order to protect women's health--if it was truly about protecting women, then why suggest women go to a clinic with "lower" standards to prove that no undue burden would exist as a result of the TRAP laws going into effect? If the clinics in New Mexico were good enough for the women of Texas, why weren't the clinics in Texas OK exactly the way they already were?

The answer: it was never about protecting women's health. It was about punishing women who dared have sex without the express purpose of reproducing. It was about punishing women who dared say no to forced gestation and birth. It was about making the right to an abortion as inaccessible and unaffordable as possible so that the right itself might as well not exist. 

The Supreme Court, thankfully, saw through the hypocrisy and misogyny and hatred. By 5-3, in fact.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How is This Not Terrorism? The Oxy-Moron of "Pro-Life" Violence.

[TW for gun violence]

When I first read about the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, my stomach sank. It fucking terrifies and enrages me that women (and men) run the risk of having their lives ended by a "pro-life" gun, simply for working at, going to, or merely being in the vicinity of a Planned Parenthood clinic. It fucking enrages me that women have to fear for their lives because some people believe that, somehow, shooting and killing women is better than allowing women to have freedom of choice when it comes to their own reproductive organs.

As I read further, I became even more enraged. I read how the police asked people not to make assumptions about the shooter's motives, even though the only place he attacked was the Planned Parenthood clinic. I read how there was a five-hour standoff while three bodies lay lifeless somewhere in the vicinity of the AK-47 he used to take their lives. I read how the attack was labeled as a "shootout" and a "standoff," as if this were a spaghetti Western and not a real life-or-death situation.

What I didn't read was the word "terrorism" anywhere in the news coverage, even though this was clearly a situation in which someone was using deadly force and grievous bodily harm, and the threat of such, in order to scare people into not using their legal right to reproductive health care. What I didn't read was how the police shot the gunman on sight, even though he, as noted in this article, "previously had been firing at police who entered the facility." What I didn't read was an instant condemnation of the inherent violence of white men, because the person who committed this act of terrorism (referred to in the media as a "shooting") was, indeed, a white man.

Part of the reason for this is because he committed an act of violence against women. The majority of patients of Planned Parenthood are women, and it's not a coincidence that Planned Parenthood clinics are the target of this much violence. The people who are arguing that Planned Parenthood should be defunded/shut down/what-have-you are arguing so not because they want to "save babies," but because they want to punish women for having sex that they deem unacceptable. The only proof you need of that is any argument featuring a "pro-lifer." Read far enough down the thread, and you'll find the truth--"save the babies" almost instantaneously becomes a self-righteous "if you don't want to get pregnant, keep your legs closed" the second they find themselves backed into a corner. They want to punish women for having sex of which they don't approve, namely sex purely for the purposes of recreation rather than procreation, and we're pretty much OK with that.

The other reason this act of terrorism will not be labeled as such is because the person who committed the act is a white man. If this person had been a black man, he would have been dead the moment he opened fire on the clinic (especially on the police) and the media would be condemning the inherent violence of black men before his body had even had the chance to go cold. If this person had been of Middle-Eastern descent, this act of terrorism would have been called such and then, of course, the conversation would go back to how we can't accept Syrian refugees in this country because LOOK AT ALL THE TERRORISTS. But because this person was a white man, we will instantly give him the benefit of the doubt. We will give him the benefit of a five-hour standoff, even though he's already killed three people and fired his gun at police. We will refuse to label this shooting as an act of terrorism, because terrorism is a word we reserve for acts of violence committed by those who "appear" Muslim, whether or not they actually are. We will blame the mental health system, we will call him a "lone wolf." We will do anything and everything BUT call him what he is--a motherfucking terrorist. And all because he is a white man who committed an act of violence against women.

White men are committing act after act of horrific mass violence, over and over and over and over and over and over and nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it, or even to call it what it is. For the "pro-life" man who pulled the trigger, I'm sure he felt that what he did was simply an act of retaliation, a way to punish the women who didn't listen to him when he told them what to do with their bodies. And that's really what it boils down to--he, and every other man who's attacked Planned Parenthood clinics, is punishing women who dared exercise their right to bodily autonomy, even though he expressly told them not to. When we women find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun as punishment for exercising our right to freedom of reproductive choice, we have to ask ourselves--how is this not terrorism?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why I Cannot (and Will Not) Accept Eldership from a Transphobic Person

[TW for transphobia]

In the last few days, I have been made aware that there are a handful of so-called elders in the Pagan community who have said and done some really nasty, hurtful, and bigoted things towards trans* women. Some of these things include, but are not limited to, referring to Caitlyn Jenner by the wrong name and violently misgendering her by referring to her as "an old drag queen" and referring to her biologically male anatomy as alleged proof that she is not a "real" woman (implying that all trans* women are not "real" women), and refusing trans* women access to women's-only circles on the basis that trans* women are "women with penises" and that only "women-born-women" should be allowed access to that sacred space. Put simply, they have gone out of their way to deny trans* women access to circle and other forms of ritual space dedicated to women because they do not believe that trans* women are "real" women, and they have gone out of their way to let trans* women know that they are not welcome in the Pagan community.

There are many in the Pagan community who have had enough and are taking a stand against this bigotry and hatred. There are also many in the Pagan community who are defending their words and actions on the premise that everyone is entitled to their beliefs. They defend their words and actions because they are elders of the community and those words and actions, no matter how harmful, should be left alone. It seems that, by calling them out on their bigotry and hatred, we are stepping on their contributions to the community at large, and apparently it's more important to preserve their legacy than taint it by holding them accountable.

I have no other way to respond to this other than to say (and I promise this is the only time I will curse), "That's fucking bullshit."

When your beliefs cause you to intentionally, violently, and virulently misgender people and deny them their humanity and basic respect, they are not worth defending. 

What we have is multiple Pagan elders repeating the message that trans* individuals (trans* women in particular) aren't "really" their gender. What we have is multiple Pagan elders using old, tired rhetoric of biological anatomy as "proof" of gender authenticity (or inauthenticity), and using that "proof" as an excuse to deny trans* people access to sacred space. What we have is trans* women being told by multiple Pagan "elders" that they don't belong in "women-only" circles because they're not "real" women. That is the textbook definition of bigotry.

Pagan elders are supposed to be a pillar of support and are supposed to help guide people along their chosen path. They are supposed to provide a safe space for individuals to explore the greater mysteries. They are not supposed to pick and choose who gets access to these mysteries and who doesn't based on their gender and then go out of their way to make sure that those who are not of the chosen group understand that they are not welcome. That is bullying. That is bigotry. And that is not how an elder of ANY community is supposed to act.

It's high time we started calling these elders out on their transphobia. There are some who argue that calling them out and denying them support from the community will do nothing to help them learn. I disagree. Losing a large chunk of their community's presence, respect, and support as a direct result of their transphobic words and actions is a great lesson. It's a lesson that there are consequences to saying discriminatory, hurtful things about members of their community because of their gender--it's a lesson that you don't get to violently misgender trans* individuals and deny them basic respect, that you don't get to deny trans* women access to ritual space because they are trans* women, and still hold a position of power.  

Many in the community are arguing that this is an attack on their free speech--certainly, they're free to speak as they wish. They're even free to continue to deny trans* women access to women's-only space if they feel they must. However, they have to learn that there are consequences to their bigotry--in this case, the consequence is that no one will want to follow them. 

Long story short, I refuse to accept an "Elder" who picks and chooses who they will support and who they will allow access to the greater mysteries of magick. Last I checked, the deities (many of whom are of one, two, or many genders) love and accept all, regardless of gender.

It's high time these "elders" remembered that.

To quote someone who I consider an actual Pagan elder, "I don’t want to go where my kin can’t follow."