The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written

invisible naked city illustration by Toeken
illustration by Toeken

Traveling south, you arrive at the city of Sex. Your road into the city is lined with cypress trees, their branches weaving together in a fragrant tunnel over your head; the ground is soft beneath your feet. Your road converges with others, thousands of them, and on your way to the marketplace you talk with the other travelers about how they arrived: the boulevard lit with hanging lanterns, the narrow trail through the forest, the caravan of traders and traveling musicians, the shimmering red bridge, the tunnel they clawed from out of the prison.

In the marketplace there are storytellers on every corner. Cut velvet is sold there, and rhinestones, and old photographs, and spices of every variety: cardamom, sweet basil, anise, vanilla, pepper in white and red and black. The spice vendors make proprietary blends, and argue hotly over them. Nothing essential is sold in the city: you can find spun sugar here, and chocolates dusted with gold, but must go elsewhere for bread. And yet its visitors find themselves sickening, withering, without the perfume they find here; the jeweled sandals; the jeweled collar; the mulled wine; the crimson sash embroidered with silver thread; the blend of spices from their favored vendor, the one under the silk canopy of cobalt blue. Even the absence of hunger is hunger here, and travelers drug themselves with pastilles and creams, not to stave off hunger, but to spark it. They will save their earnings for months for a visit to the city, and go without bread, and consider it a bargain.

*****

Thus begins my story for Persistent Visions magazine, The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written. To read more, read the rest of the story. Enjoy! (Illustration by Toeken for Persistent Visions. Content note: explicit sex, including kinky sex; brief passing mentions of suicide and murder.)

The Invisible Naked City, or, The Dirty Story I Wish Calvino Had Written
{advertisement}

Blood Family, Chosen Family

greta-at-edwardian-ball
I have blood family — in-laws, actually — and my wife and I almost always spend holidays with them. I love my in-laws and I like them, and most of the time when we visit them, I dress how I usually dress. I put together outfits that are quirky, comfortable, and stylish in a relaxed and fun way: strong prints, jewel tones, boots unless it’s boiling hot.

But on big holiday dinners with them, I dress like I’m going to a work conference. Dressy, cheerful-but-tasteful, almost entirely non-sexual. I’m festive, don’t get me wrong: it’s just a very respectful version of festive.

I also have chosen family. I do holiday things with them every year, too. And when I dress for the holidays with my chosen family, I dress, not to put too fine a point on it, like a hussy.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for Femme Feminism, Blood Family, Chosen Family. I explore how, in the symbolic language of fashion, there are lots of different ways to say “family holiday celebration” — because there are different holidays, different families, different ways to celebrate, and different ways to feel about all of it. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Blood Family, Chosen Family

Greta Speaking in Minneapolis Sunday, December 18!

Minnesota Atheists logo
I’m speaking in Minneapolis on Sunday, December 18, as part of the Minnesota Atheists Winter Solstice festivities! They’re having their annual winter banquet: you can attend the banquet, or just sign up for the entertainment (that’s me). They’ll be selling copies of my newest book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life, and I’ll be signing them and everything.

This event has filled up in years past, so they recommend that get your reservation now. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

DATE: Sunday, December 18
TIME: Social hour 5:00 pm; dinner 6:00; entertainment 7:00
LOCATION: Embassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis North, 6300 Earle Brown Drive, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
TOPIC: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
SUMMARY: So you don’t believe in God. Now what? The way we deal with life can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion — or if we never had it in the first place — where do we go? How do we deal with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up? How do we decide on our values, and how do we live them
COST: $15 for entertainment only; $50 for dinner and entertainment, with a $5 discount for MA members
HOSTS: Minnesota Atheists
URL: http://mnatheists.org/events/winter-solstice-banquet

Greta Speaking in Minneapolis Sunday, December 18!

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time Sat. Dec. 10 – Benefit for St. James Infirmary! EDIT: Now at Center for Sex and Culture!

godless-perverts-holiday-fun-time-csc

LOCATION CHANGE! The Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time party is now at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station.

Godless Perverts is throwing our annual Holiday Fun Time party on Saturday, December 10, 8-11 pm! Who says the holidays are only for the believers? Just as families don’t stop giving presents after the kids realize that Santa is a fake, the godless can have a great time during the holidays even without any gods, deities, angels, or spirits watching over them. And Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is just the place to do it! It’s at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station. (Yes, the location has changed! This is the new, correct location.) And this year, we’re making it a fundraiser for St. James Infirmary, the health clinic for sex workers in San Francisco!

We’ll have:

Festive food and drink! It’s a potluck: we’ll provide food, but we’d love to add your holiday treats to the buffet.
Adorably ridiculous icebreaker games!
Atheist holiday songs, celebrating the improper, twisted, and just plain silly!
Door prizes, including books and DVDs that are godless, pervy, or both!

And this year, Donna will be doing debaptisms! In fact, she’ll undo any religious initiation ceremony you like. Baptisms, confirmations, Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Wiccanings — you name it, she’ll undo it! Donna is a fully certified Humanist celebrant, so when you’re debaptised, you stay that way.

Blasphemous costumes, sexy costumes, awesome combinations of the above, and other festive garb are encouraged, but by no means required.

This year’s party is a benefit for St. James Infirmary. St. James is a unique healthcare resource, even in San Francisco. Founded by and for sex workers, they provide free, compassionate and nonjudgmental healthcare and social services for current and former sex workers of all genders and sexual orientations. We wholeheartedly support the organization, and we want to help them out. So all donations collected at the party will go directly to St. James Infirmary.

We’re asking for donations of $10-$20 at the door — but please just donate what you can, whether that’s less than $10, or more than $20. (We’re also collecting funds now to cover the costs of throwing the party — please help make it happen if you can!)

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St. in San Francisco, between 9th and 10th Streets, near the Civic Center BART station. (Please note the new, correct location!) Saturday, December 10, 8:00 to 11:00 pm. We hope to see you there!

Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time Sat. Dec. 10 – Benefit for St. James Infirmary! EDIT: Now at Center for Sex and Culture!

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement

godless-perverts-social-club-dec-6-for-website

Godless Perverts is having a Social Club in San Francisco at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th St., on Tuesday, December 6! 7-9 pm. Our discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement.

How can atheists and alt-sex people participate in a resistance movement? What do we uniquely have to offer? Some of us have limited time, resources, abilities — what can we do? In the coming months and years, more people will be needing more help — how can we step up our game and help them, without burning out? What can we do to resist white supremacy, misogyny, anti-queer hatred, anti-trans hatred, and other forms of systematic oppression? What can we learn from the history of other resistance movements? How can we take care of each other?

Note: This meetup is open to all nonbelievers, and all believers supportive of our mission, who want Godless Perverts to be part of a resistance movement in the new world. If that doesn’t describe you, please consider whether this particular meetup is the right one for you, and please don’t attend just to argue against this goal. Thanks.

Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers.

So please join us! Hang out with other nonbelievers and chat about sex, sexuality, gender, atheism, religion, science, social justice, pop culture, and more. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Continue reading “Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement”

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Dec. 6! Discussion topic: Participating in a Resistance Movement

An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring

Hillary Clinton

David Campos
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
San Francisco, CA

Dear Supervisor Campos:

I’ve now heard you say this twice. You said it at the Harvey Milk Memorial March and Vigil on November 27. And you said it at El Rio on Election Night, the night we were all reeling from shock and grief. You’ve said — I’m going to have to paraphrase here — that the reason we lost the Presidential election was that the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton, who was an uninspiring, establishment, Republican-light, business-as-usual candidate.

When you say this, it tells me a few things.

1: You have no idea what it’s like for women participating in political discourse. Millions of women were greatly inspired by Hillary Clinton — and when we spoke about it, we were harassed, trolled, dogpiled on, dumped on with a dumptruck of false accusations, dumped on again with the same accusations every time we said her name, targeted with sexist microaggressions, targeted with openly sexist aggressions and slurs, and harassed some more. Clinton supporters had to form secret groups on Facebook, simply to talk about the fact that we liked our candidate. Millions of women were inspired and enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton — and were silenced. So when you’re analyzing the reasons we lost this election, perhaps you should take that into account. Perhaps you should consider how many people were persuaded not to vote (or to vote third party) by people who insisted that Clinton wasn’t inspiring and the candidates weren’t really different. Perhaps you should consider how many people might have been persuaded to vote for her, and weren’t, because her supporters had to put a lid on their enthusiasm and couldn’t make their case. And when you say Clinton didn’t inspire enthusiasm, that tells me you don’t know how to listen to women. It tells me that because you were personally not inspired by her, because the people in your circle were not inspired by her, therefore nobody was. It tells me that I, a queer woman in your city, am invisible to you.

2: You don’t understand what it’s like for women running for public office. I’m very sorry that you found Hillary Clinton uninspiring. Perhaps you’re not aware of how tightly her emotional expression was policed. And that’s true for any woman in politics: Clinton just got it more because she was running for President. “Smile more! No, not that much. But a little more than that. Would it kill you to laugh? No, not like that, it comes across as derisive. Can’t you be more approachable and friendly? But not too much, when women are too friendly they don’t look like powerful leaders. So look like a powerful leader! But not that much, men find it intimidating. And smile a little more! Maybe just a centimeter.” Hillary Clinton’s emotional expression was critiqued more thoroughly, and more viciously, than anyone I’ve ever seen in public life. And then she was critiqued for being robotic, impersonal, and uninspiring. Of the many sexist critiques of Hillary Clinton, including critiques from the left, this is — well, one of them.

3. You aren’t familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record and platform — or you don’t care about it. When you call her “Republican light,” that tells me you didn’t take ten minutes to look at her campaign website. You didn’t look at her record and planned policy on reproductive rights, global warming, taxing the rich, repealing Citizens United, raising minimum wage, closing tax loopholes on corporations, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, education, LGBTQ rights, women’s issues, children’s issues. When you call her “business as usual,” that tells me you have no idea about her extraordinary skills, legendary even among her opponents in DC: her wide-ranging and detailed knowledge of government and policy, her willingness to listen and change her mind, her ability to get things done. Either you don’t know about any of this — which would surprise me, since you’re an elected official in a major U.S. city — or you don’t care about it, and don’t think these skills are important enough to be considered exceptional.

4. You don’t seem to understand that Hillary Clinton won the election. You don’t seem to understand that she won the popular vote, by a considerable amount. You don’t seem to understand that she lost the electoral college, in large part, because of voter suppression; that this was the first Presidential election since the loss of the Voting Rights Act, and it showed up in the results. This surprises me: I know that you must know about voter disenfranchisement, probably even more than I do. But when you insist that Hillary Clinton lost because she wasn’t exciting or progressive enough, that tells me you’d rather grind your personal political axe than focus on the fact that hundreds of thousands of people in swing states wanted to vote for her, and couldn’t.

5. You have no idea about appropriate timing. At El Rio on Election Night, many of us were in deep emotional shock and despair. We were in fear over the world we were facing under Trump — and we were grieving the world we were losing, the world we’d hoped to work for with Hillary Clinton. And you chose that time to tell us that the candidate many of us had fought for, worked for, lost friends and family for, wasn’t someone anyone really cared about, wasn’t worth caring about. You chose that time to grind your political axe. You chose that time to blame the victims — the victims who had busted our asses to keep ourselves, and other people, from being victimized.

I’m told by some of my friends that you’re generally a pretty progressive guy, that you’re mostly a pretty good ally on San Francisco progressive politics. But I can tell you that every time you open your mouth on this subject, it makes me unwilling to support you, or have anything to do with you.

Sincerely,
Greta Christina
San Francisco

An Open Letter to David Campos, and Anyone Else Who Thinks We Lost The Election Because Hillary Clinton Was Establishment, Moderate, or Uninspiring

Resistance Is Not Futile

resistance-image-black-ohm-on-pink-background
Ohm — a unit of resistance.

Content note: depression, the 2016 election

It seems like too much.

I haven’t said anything here for a while. In the weeks before the election, I was mostly doing election work. In the weeks after the election, I’ve been in a deep depression, struggling to find my way in the new world, struggling to even want to find my way, struggling just to put one foot in front of the other every day. (Don’t worry, I’m hanging in there, I’ll be okay. But this one’s been rough.)

I keep wanting to write about smaller things, but I don’t want my first post after the election of a hard-right, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, bullying fascist to be, “Hey, we’re having a meetup!” I keep wanting to write about the election, but the topic seems too big. Where the hell do I even start? It seems too big to write about, to think about, to do anything about.

But I know that’s not true.

It’s so hard to strike the right balance. It’s so hard to realistically face and accept the ugly reality of the rise of fascism in the United States — while maintaining the will to resist. It’s such a small window. Not enough attention to the realities of fascism, and it’s denial, minimizing, gaslighting. Too much attention to the realities of fascism, and here comes despair. It’s such a small window. And it’s a different window for everyone. Hell, for me it’s a different window from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. But for me, the lifeline I’m hanging onto is this:

Resistance is not futile.

The best-case scenario is unbelievably shitty, a rollback of support systems and civil rights that took decades to build, an upsurge in open bigotry and hate crimes, more people than ever dying of poverty, police brutality, hateful violence. The worse scenario is the rise of literal fascism. This isn’t hyperbole: historians of Nazi Germany are saying “Yes, this is what the rise of Nazi Germany looked like.” But resistance is not futile. Resistance can be effective. Resistance can reduce harm. Resistance can even win, if the concept of “winning” makes any sense in a permanent struggle.

I don’t know what exactly resistance will look like. I know it will look different for different people. I know I need to study more about resistance movements of the past — and I also know the resistance against this regime is going to be different from anything that came before it. (If for no other reason, they didn’t have Facebook in the Spanish Civil War.) Every resistance movement has been different, and we are going to have to invent some new wheels.

I don’t yet know what that looks like. But I know that one of the ways fascism rises is by endless repetition of the twin lies: “It’s really not that bad,” and, “It’s too powerful, you can’t fight it.” Neither of these is true. It really is going to be that bad — for Muslims and ex-Muslims, for immigrants and brown people who are assumed to be immigrants, for women, for queers, for trans people, for black and brown people, for disabled people, for poor people. At some point, it’s going to be that bad for pretty much everyone but the handful of people at the very top. But we can fight it. Struggle is powerful. Collective action is powerful. Resistance is powerful. And it is not futile.

(Note: I’m currently not allowing comments on my blog. Moderating them was taking too much of my time and energy. If you want to discuss this post, please share and discuss in your own spaces. Thanks.)

Resistance Is Not Futile

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Tues. Nov. 1 — Game Night!

godless-perverts-social-club-nov-1-for-website

Godless Perverts is having another game night on Tuesday, November 1! 7-9 pm. These are big fun, and they’re becoming some of our most well-attended events — so we’re making it a regular event. Wicked Grounds has a huge stash of games including chess and checkers, Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, Fluxx, Slash, Gloom, Snake Oil, and much, much more. (If you decide to play CAH, please be cautious; it can be a really hard game between people who don’t know each other and aren’t familiar with each others’ limits and triggers.) Feel free to bring your own games if you’re not sure that Wicked Grounds has a copy of your favorite. So please join us at Wicked Grounds, the kink cafe and boutique, at 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). 7-9 pm. Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink at the cafe if you can: Wicked Grounds has beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. We meet at Wicked Grounds on the first Tuesday of every month. Hope to see you there!

All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion.

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Tues. Nov. 1 — Game Night!

Brief Blog Break Until Election Day

I’m doing a temp job, doing get out the vote work, and it’s going to last through Election Day. So I won’t be blogging, or won’t be blogging much, until the election is over. In the meantime, here are some election-related posts you might enjoy.

Why You Should Vote in Downticket Races — and a Neat Trick For Doing It
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Disenfranchised Voters
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Trump Needs to be Trounced
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Liberal Voting Record
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Government Knowledge and Administrative Skill
A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Reproductive Rights
7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

And here are some cute pictures of our snuggly cats. Continue reading “Brief Blog Break Until Election Day”

Brief Blog Break Until Election Day

Art and Craft

greta-ashley-ingrid-at-skepticon
When men do it, it’s art. When women do it, it’s craft.

People have long debated the difference between art and craft, and have struggled to define the terms. Craft is defined as technical ability; art as creative ability. Craft is defined as producing useful objects; art is created for its own sake. The process of creating art is seen as open-ended; craft has a specific goal in mind from the beginning. Art is seen as expressing emotions or ideas; craft isn’t. There are dozens more definitions and distinctions, each hotly disputed by artists, craftspeople, critics, and audiences.

But another factor is at play in this distinction. When lots of men do a creative endeavor, it’s seen as art. When lots of women do it, it’s more likely to be seen as craft.

This plays out in lots of arenas. The craft of everyday cooking, for instance, is seen as women’s work, while high-paid, high-prestige culinary artistry is seen as a man’s world, with male chefs “elevating” the plebian. But one of the places we see it most vividly is in fashion and style.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for Femme Feminism magazine, Art and Craft. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Art and Craft