We’re having a Godless Perverts Social Club on Tuesday, October 3, at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th St. in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART), 7-9 pm. Our discussion topic for this evening: Sustaining Resistance.
How do we sustain political resistance for the long haul? How do we stay involved and informed, without becoming overwhelmed and burning out? How do we move forward with our everyday lives, without letting fascism become normal? Join us for a discussion about self-care, taking care of each other, deciding on priorities, taking breaks, folding resistance into our everyday lives, and more.
Godless Perverts Book Club is back from summer vacation! We’re reading Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey. WEDNESDAY, Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday, September 20, Borderlands Cafe in SF. Please note that it’s on Wednesday this time. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Please join us!
An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country’s most infamously haunted places — and deep into the dark side of our history. In this secular exploration of the belief in ghosts, Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. With boundless curiosity, Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved. He conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living — how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Continue reading “Godless Perverts Book Club in SF: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places“→
Some political protests are relatively safe. Others are more risky. And we don’t always know ahead of time which is which. Whether you’re planning to be in a protest with a known risk of injury or arrest, or you just want to be ready in case it happens, it’s good to be prepared, so come attend this Protester Safety Training session, featuring Guy Vandenberg and Kitty Stryker, hosted by Godless Perverts. Wednesday, August 23, 7:00 to 9:00 pm in San Francisco. This training will cover:
Preparing for action, anticipating and avoiding violence and injury
Tactics for non-violent self-defense and de-escalation
What to do — and what not to do — when you’re injured and/or arrested
Taking care of yourself and each other after an action
PLEASE NOTE: The space for this event is limited. If you’re planning to attend, please email [email protected] to RSVP and get the location.
Guy Vandenberg is a registered nurse and HIV specialist who began work in the fight against HIV/AIDS in 1985. A veteran of ACT-UP, the AIDS activist organization, he has founded needle exchange programs, worked with homeless populations, and done continuing education about HIV care for physicians and nurses in correctional settings across the US. He has done numerous trainings in protestor safety.
Kitty Stryker is an experienced activist, the ringmistress for Juggalo resistance group Struggalo Circus, and an active member of the genderqueer feminist art collective the NorCal Degenderettes. She has been on the ground acting as a street medic since Occupy. Her first book, Ask: Building Consent Culture, is an anthology with diverse voices discussing consent, from Thorntree Press and coming out in 2017. For media inquiries and bookings, email [email protected].
GODLESS PERVERTS is a non-profit organization that presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers. We host social meetups, educational events, performances, and fundraisers for other organizations. We are committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. All sexual orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.
I’m writing this three days after the last round of the Big Health Care Showdown. For seven years, Republican legislators in the U.S. have been screaming that they wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Yet despite having control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, despite arm-twisting and deceit and heavy-handed manipulation of legislative procedure (including introducing their final bill at ten p.m. for a vote at midnight), they failed.
There are a lot of reasons they failed. Even though they had seven years to prepare, the Republicans weren’t prepared with actual legislation. Their own party was divided: a large branch of the party thought the bills being proposed weren’t draconian enough. And, of course, the president is an arrogant, incompetent, willfully ignorant buffoon, who failed to do the difficult work of convincing legislators and citizens to accept the legislation, and didn’t even see the value of doing so.
But one of the biggest reasons the Affordable Care Act was saved was a massive outpouring of resistance from citizens, beseeching their representatives not to take health care from millions. The ACA was saved, in large part, by a flood of people contacting their Senators and Congresspeople: calling, texting, emailing, sending letters and postcards, protesting, lobbying, getting arrested, and organizing others to do all the above. Everyone familiar with how federal government works says contacting elected officials is effective, and when it happens on this scale, it’s hugely effective. Everyone familiar with federal government says the recent flood of civic engagement was a major reason a handful of Republican legislators broke ranks — and all Democratic legislators held firm.
On the one hand: We don’t want to normalize the Trump regime. One of the ways fascism and authoritarianism get a foothold is by turning up the hot water a little at a time. We get used to a little more autocracy, a little more corruption, a little more contempt for democratic government, a few more foxes guarding the henhouses, a few more basic rights dissolving into the night.
And once we get used to all that, the regime makes it all a little bit worse. We can’t allow ourselves to get used to it. We have to resist it at every turn, and we can’t allow ourselves to think it’s normal or okay.
On the other hand: We can’t live in a constant state of crisis. Emotionally, psychologically, that’s just not tenable. It’s exhausting and demoralizing. For those of us with mental health problems — and those numbers have gone up dramatically since the election — a constant state of crisis can make those problems worse. And it can lead to the exact numbness we’re trying to avoid. If we’re going to have the strength to resist, we have to live our lives. We have to have some sort of routine: eating meals, going to work, playing games, paying bills. We have to put one foot in front of the other.
That’s especially true when we’re in it for the long haul. We might be able to drop everything and throw all our reserves into a political crisis if it can be resolved in a few weeks, or even a few months. We can’t do that if the crisis will be going on for years.
So how do we do this? How do we live with the unacceptable, without accepting it? How do we get on with our lives, avoid treating every day as a crisis, without allowing the intolerable to become normal?
Here’s how I’ve been framing this for myself:
Don’t normalize fascism. Normalize resistance.
Make resistance part of our daily or weekly routine. Do something on a regular basis to resist the current regime. Call or fax elected officials, every day or every week. Post notices on social media every day or every week, encouraging our friends and family to call elected officials. Put the phone numbers of our elected officials in our phones, to make these calls easier. Sign up for notifications of resistance actions. Go to meetings of resistance organizations, every week or every month.
Go to protests when we can: make plans with our friends to go. Donate money to resistance organizations: set up regular automatic donations every month. Subscribe to good sources of news. Wear buttons and T-shirts, put bumper stickers on our cars, signaling our resistance. Participate in boycotts. Stay on top of the news. Stay informed about which news sources are reliable (yes, there’s fake news on the left as well as the right). Share news on social media.
Read about the history of resistance movements. Read about the history and experience of marginalized people, especially in groups you’re not part of. Talk politics with our friends and co-workers and families. Listen to marginalized people when they talk about their experiences and tell you what they need — even when they’re criticizing you, especially when they’re criticizing you.
And very importantly: Keep talking with each other about how bad things are — and what we can do about it. Keep it on our back burner, and bring it to the front burner regularly. Keep it in each other’s consciousness, and in our own.
Don’t normalize fascism. Normalize resistance.
We don’t all have to do all these things. We can pick one or two or three, more if we can but only if we can. We each get to decide which forms of resistance are within our abilities: physically, emotionally, financially. And we don’t have to do resistance work every second of every day. In fact, we probably shouldn’t. Self-care is not selfish; preventing activist burnout is not selfish. Taking care of ourselves is one of the ways we get the strength to resist — and that includes setting limits and taking breaks.
In fact, taking regular breaks can be part of how we normalize resistance. Taking care of each other, building supportive communities with other people doing resistance work, is itself a form of resistance work. Dinner parties, dance parties, chat sessions, game nights — all of this helps us get to know each other better, care about each other more, work together more effectively.
And making resistance pleasurable is an important way to make it normal. People are more likely to keep doing activism if it’s at least occasionally fun — and we’re more likely to make activism part of our lives, part of our selves.
Folding resistance into our everyday lives lets us have “normal” lives in a fascist regime, without letting fascism become normal. And it gives us daily reminders that fascism is not normal.
(Thanks to my Facebook friends for their suggestions of concrete, everyday resistance activities.)
You are cordially invited to the Impurity Ball, a dance party and activities extravaganza, spoofing purity balls and celebrating sexual freedom.
You know those creepy Purity Balls, where teenage girls lie pledge to stay virgins until marriage, and fathers are controlling creeps pledge to protect their daughters’ virginity? That’s what we’re mocking. In addition to dancing all night, the evening’s activities will include:
Impurity Ring Ring-Toss. (Take a wild guess what we’ll be tossing the rings onto! Thanks to Vixen Creations!)
Prom Photo Booth. Take the sexy prom pic you always wanted.
Debaptisms. Were you pledged to a sexual purity cult against your will? Let our Humanist celebrant undo it!
Impurity Supply Station. Need the devil beaten out of you (consensually, of course)? Want your own “purity rings” for your parts? Visit our Impurity Supply Station! Courtesy of Wicked Grounds.
Ten-Minute Dating.. The ultimate ice-breaker!
Potluck treats. Bring your favorites!
Introvert’s Lounge. Enjoy parties, but need breaks from the noise and chaos? Visit our quiet VIP lounge for Very Introverted People!
Dance music by DJ Victor Harris Jr.
The Ball will be on Saturday, August 5, from 7 to 10 pm, at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco (near 9th Street and the Civic Center BART). Suggested donation $10-$30: no-one turned away for lack of funds. RSVP on Facebook or Meetup (RSVPs appreciated but not necessary). All proceeds to benefit the Center for Sex and Culture and Godless Perverts.
Wear what will make you happy — just keep your junk covered. Some suggestions (admired but by no means required):
Formal/ prom wear
Sexy and/or fetish wear
Sexy versions of formal wear
Mocking or over-the-top versions of formal wear
Festive, colorful, exuberant, or celebratory outfits
On one side: “I’m just asking questions! Why are you being so harsh? If you want people to learn about sexism and racism and stuff, you should be more patient.” On the other side: “I don’t believe you’re asking in good faith. You’re JAQing off: ‘just asking questions’ as a way of poisoning the well, derailing the conversation, and wasting my time.”
In conversations about sexism, racism, and other social justice issues, this meta-conversation is one of the most consistently contentious. And it can be hard to explain exactly what’s wrong with “just asking questions,” or even to precisely define what it is. But my friend and colleague Heina Dadabhoy said something recently about this issue that crystallized it for me:
If we sincerely want to learn from people, we approach them the way we would a teacher. And that means approaching them with respect, even with a certain degree of humility.
If we really want to learn from people, we assume that they know more about the subject than we do. When we don’t understand them, or when what they say contradicts things we thought we knew, we don’t automatically assume they’re wrong. We think about what they’re saying; chew it over; maybe talk it over with other people in the class, or with other people who’ve taken the class before. And when we have questions, we ask respectfully. We assume that they have informed, knowledgable answers, and we listen to those answers.
This doesn’t mean we never disagree. People have been disagreeing with teachers for millennia, with wildly varying results. Sometimes it’s just arrogant bloviating; sometimes it’s an important part of how our understanding moves forward, as individuals and as a society. (And yes, in my time as a student, I’ve indulged in the former.) Respecting a teacher doesn’t mean unthinking obedience.
But when we’re learning from a teacher, we don’t start off by disagreeing. We don’t start with a hostile or contemptuous attitude, with the assumption that they must be wrong. We don’t argue with them every step of the way, and we don’t go out of our way to trip them up or shoot holes in everything they say.
And when we’re learning from a teacher, we don’t assume their time is ours to command. We don’t get hostile if they don’t have time to debate with us — or don’t have time at the exact moment we want it. If they direct us to other resources that can answer our questions in more detail, we follow up. At the very least, we don’t get pissy with them for saying, “Here’s a book/ essay/ documentary that can answer a lot of the questions you’re asking: if you still have questions after that, come back and we’ll talk some more.” We recognize that this is part of how teachers teach, that an important part of knowing a subject is knowing where to learn more.
In fact, when you assume that your friend or acquaintance or random person on the Internet is obliged to debate whenever you want, for as long as you want, in whatever space you want including theirs, it’s more unwarranted than treating a teacher that way. Teachers are, after all, teachers: it’s their job to answer questions, and to be patient with questions they’ve answered a hundred times before. It isn’t their job to answer every single question they’re asked, on demand, regardless of whether it’s relevant or whether they’re even on the job — but answering questions and being patient with ignorance is part of what they’re paid for. That’s not true of your friend or acquaintance or random person on the Internet. If you’re asking them to explain a thing about sexism or racism or what have you, they’re already giving you their time and emotional labor for free. They’re your teacher — and they’re volunteering their time.
The reality is that women are the experts in sexism; black and brown people are the experts in racism; disabled people are the experts in ableism; etc. To be very clear, that doesn’t mean you can defend your sexist opinions by citing your one female friend who says they agree with you. There are certainly chill girls and so on, marginalized people who ignore or deny the realities of their own oppression. And there are often disagreements and debates within a marginalized group (such as feminist debates over pornography).
But if you’re talking with a marginalized person who’s conscious of their oppression and well-informed about it, and you’re sincere about wanting to understand their oppression, you need to approach them with the respect and humility you’d give to teachers. When you don’t treat people as teachers, it’s reasonable for them to assume you’re not there to learn.
April 15 is more than just Tax Day this year! Godless Perverts will be celebrating our fifth anniversary (that’s our “wood” anniversary, according to the people who decide these things) with another Godless Perverts Story Hour, the performance branch of our little empire, featuring Bridgett Crutchfield, founder of Black Nonbelievers of Detroit.
Of course, we’re going to need some money to pay expenses for our celebration of five years. Please pitch in to our crowdfunder campaign! Even small donations helps, they really add up, and it also helps to share the crowdfunder on social media and spread the word. Donations to Godless Perverts are now tax-deductible! We are now a California non-profit and have 501(c)3 status under fiscal sponsorship by the Center for Sex and Culture. Expenses for this event include:
* $500 to rent the space at the Center for Sex and Culture for the evening;
* $400 to hire an ASL interpreter (an anonymous donor will match donations for this up to $200);
* $400 to pay our performers. As writers ourselves, Greta and Chris have long thought that our writers and performers deserve to get paid for their time and labor. We’re going to celebrate five years by finally doing it;
* $200 to cover GoFundMe costs and the costs of fiscal sponsorship from the Center for Sex and Culture.
Any donations over the costs of this event will go towards future Godless Perverts projects. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us get this far, whether by donating money, attending our events, spreading the word about us, or giving us moral support when we needed you most. Thanks again for supporting the crowdfunder! We look forward to celebrating the five years with you and many more after that.
The Godless Perverts Story Hour is returning to the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, 7pm on Saturday, April 15! The Story Hour is the performance/ entertainment/ literary reading branch of the Godless Perverts empire: we’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural. We will have ASL interpretation: details below.
April 2017 is our fifth anniversary! We had our very first Godless Perverts event in April 2012, and since then we’ve grown from a one-shot panel discussion to a non-profit organization hosting social meetups, discussion groups, educational events, holiday parties, fundraisers for other organizations, political protests, and performances. We’ll have some special celebratory pleasures at the event, including individual cheesecakes for sale from Reuschelle’s Cheesecakes. And we’re very excited to be bringing in an out-of-town performer for this performance — Bridgett Crutchfield, President of Black Nonbelievers of Detroit!
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bridgett (known as ‘Bria’) was raised, baptized and disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witness faith. She segued to Pentecostal Christianity and assumed leadership roles as Prophetess, Intercessory Prayer Warrior and Evangelist. After thoughtful reflection and finally being honest with herself, Bria realized she was an Atheist. In 2011, she Founded Minority Atheists of MI, and founded Detroit affiliate of Black Nonbelievers in 2013. In 2016, she spearheaded a gofundme campaign which raised $7,000 for water and baby wipes for Flint, MI residents. Bridgett has a heart for newly identified atheists, those who’ve been hurt within the secular community, and assisting those who are interested in forming alliances with the African American community.
Our other readers and performers for the evening include Victor Harris, Donna Jay, Liberty N. Justice, Juba Kalamka, Maggie Mayhem, and Simon Sheppard, hosted by co-founders and co-organizers Greta Christina and Chris Hall. So please join us at the Center for Sex and Culture for an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong.
Yes, we will have ASL interpretation for this event! We’re setting aside some seats near the front for people who need ASL interpretation: please arrive early if you can, and if you can, please contact us ahead of time to let us know you’ll be there, so we know how many seats to save. Many thanks to our anonymous donor who’s given us a matching grant to help cover the cost: if you want to help cover the rest of the costs, your donation will be doubled up to $400. Donations to Godless Perverts are now tax-deductible: any donations over the cost of the interpretation will go to fund other Godless Perverts events and expenses. Many thanks to Bay Area Communication Access (BACA) for providing ASL interpretation.
The Godless Perverts Story Hour is happening at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART), at 7:00 pm. Suggested donation is $10-20, with no-one turned away for lack of funds. We hope to see you there!