Any questions about LGBT Pride?

Festivals!

Marches!

Events!

Oh my!

Yep, it’s that time of year again-LGBT Pride Month.  What is Pride? Who celebrates it? Who hates it? What groups don’t need to celebrate Pride? When did it begin? Let’s fire up my first ever Shoop FAQ for the answers! To the Shoop-mobile!

Continue reading “Any questions about LGBT Pride?”

Any questions about LGBT Pride?
{advertisement}

Chaos has not engulfed Baltimore

On April 4, 1968 civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His death outraged African-Americans across the country and was the inciting event that led to riots in several major U.S. cities including Chicago, Louisville, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. While King’s death was the proximate cause of the riots, in cities like Baltimore, years of economic inequality, high infant mortality, above average unemployment (compared to the national rate), and sub-par housing contributed to the anger and frustration felt by Black Baltimoreans. That frustration and anger provided the fuel that sustained riots in Baltimore from April 6-14 in the spring of ’68.

47 years later, civil unrest has once again come to the city of Baltimore, and once again, the catalyst for the unrest has been the death of an African-American male. On April 12, 2015, Baltimore police arrested Freddie Gray, Jr. after (I kid you not) he gave them a look and started running. Police reports claim his arrest was for possession of a switch blade (I didn’t know it was illegal to possess one in Baltimore). During transport Gray somehow fell into a coma and was eventually taken to a trauma center where injuries to his spinal cord and larynx were discovered. Gray died on April 19 as a result of these injuries. Although he was struggling to walk when he was arrested, he showed no signs of other injury, and the official police report states that the officers involved did not use force. Somehow he incurred damage to his spinal cord and larynx between his arrest and his admission to the trauma center (despite reports to the contrary, Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury). As he was in police custody during this time, it is highly likely that the police officers involved know more than they’re saying (it’s possible Gray sustained his injuries as a result of a rough ride). While some news outlets hint that Gray’s injuries were self-sustained, I find that quite implausible (and so does Gray’s family). Baltimore authorities have released little information regarding the events surrounding the death of Gray, claiming that it is important to allow the investigation to run its course. City officials have also said that they will not release the results of their investigation when it is completed on May 1.

With so little information released by city officials, many questions regarding Gray’s death remain unanswered. How did he sustain his injuries? Did they occur before or during his time in police custody? Were the officers involved aware of his injuries? Did the officers involved cause his injuries? Why were his hands cuffed and his legs in irons, yet he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt during transport? Why did the police chase him to begin with? Why did the police arrest him? With no answer to these questions, many African-Americans have become frustrated and suspect that a cover-up is underway. That frustration is fed in no small part by ongoing outrage over the unjust criminal justice system in the United States. That outrage fueled the creation of #BlackLivesMatter, a civil rights movement founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in the wake of the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  The goal of the BLM is to raise awareness of and broaden the conversation surrounding state sanctioned violence against African-Americans. In their words:

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state.  We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.  How Black poverty and genocide is state violence.  How 2.8 million Black people are locked in cages in this country is state violence.  How Black women bearing the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families is state violence.  How Black queer and trans folks bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us, and that is state violence.  How 500,000 Black people in the US are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows. How Black girls are used as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war.  How Black folks living with disabilities and different abilities bear the burden of state sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by white supremacy, and that is state violence.

#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.  We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.

In the wake of Gray’s death, protests began in Baltimore (ostensibly under the banner of #BLM). Initially the protests received little coverage from the mainstream media. Apparently, it isn’t news when an African-American man in police custody later dies under mysterious circumstances. On April 25, a small number of protesters became violent and hurled rocks at police officers and that’s when the MSM took note. The coverage of the protests focused on the relatively minor incidences of civil unrest, serving to paint a decidedly negative image of the protesters in the eyes of many USAmericans. Headlines like USA Today’s ‘Baltimore police say Freddie Gray protest turns destructive‘, TIME’s ‘Baltimore Riots: Instagram videos show violence, looting, unrest‘, CBS’s ‘Calls for calm amid rioting, chaos in Baltimore‘, CNN’s ‘Baltimore riot video shows liquor store on fire, chaos‘, and CNBC’s ‘Chaos in Baltimore: what you need to know‘ have helped perpetuate the idea that the protests in Baltimore are violent, chaotic, and city-wide. Two images courtesy of Vocativ dispel that notion:

The smaller scale of the 2015 civil unrest in Baltimore belies the claim that the city was engulfed in chaos, and yet many media sources chose attention-grabbing headlines that imply the opposite. AJ Woodson of Black Westchester warns people not to fall for the media narrative surrounding the protests:

As you read most of the nationwide coverage, the various news media and websites do admit that most of the protesters were peaceful as you read further down their stories, despite the attention grabbing headlines that speaks of only the violence, destruction and criminal mischief of a few. Unfortunately there will always be a few agitators in any crowd this size. Some of which are purposely positioned among the peaceful protesters for just that reason.

After what has been going on with black men being killed nationwide without any justice taking place even after grand juries, video evidence, incidences being ruled homicide by medical examiners, No officers go to jail, very few cops lose their job and the Ferguson officer who killed Mike Brown was allowed to retire and protect his pension, there is a sense of frustration in these protests, yes!

What happened in the streets of Ferguson was worst by comparison. But let’s be very clear, the scene the media is describing, the picture being painted with all headlines are something no one, I repeat NO ONE wants to see. What they’re showing you are the actions of 100 or so people, there were 10,000 people there, and despite some of the headlines, and you can see by the pictures below all the protesters were not black and out of control. And despite what a local pastor would have you believe, some of those who were acting up the most were doing so before those (he called outsiders), who came to town in support showed up.

Words have power, they create perceptions that make other actions possible and allow the most outrageous of  explanations why they kill black people believable and acceptable by other groups of people. Let’ be clear here, NO ONE wants to truly see Scenes of Chaos: 1,000’s of Frenzied Protesters Rioting In Baltimore, the city would truly still be burning. But they media will show the worst or the worst, you know if it bleeds it leads. It’s true it’s great for ratings which leads to heavy advertising revenue, but it is not good for our community or the race relations nationwide.

Just like the media takes the liberty to show the worst of the worst like they did in Baltimore, I am taking the liberty to show the worst of the worst in their reporting and calling them out. It’s important to not allow the mass media to distort the narrative and take away from the message of this fight for justice.

What they don’t report was there were, “Muslims, Christians, Jews, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Young and Old, Rich and Poor people all united and standing harmoniously against common oppression,” shared one of the organizers Frank ‘Sha’ Francois. The demonstration was sponsored by a wide coalition of social justice groups, including Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers For Justice (BLFJ), Carl Dix of Stop Mass Incarceration (SMIN) and brother Ted Freedomfighter Sutton of Sutton House, just to name a few who came in support of their brothers and sisters in Baltimore. Support for justice of Freddie Gray, 25, who was arrested one week ago, in West Baltimore. Who died on April 19th, from injuries sustained while he was in police custody.

Contrary to news reports from many sources, the story out of Baltimore is not ‘police were hit by rocks‘, ‘a CVS store burned to the ground in an act of arson‘, or ‘protesters became violent‘*. Yes, there were pockets of violence and property damage. Yes, roughly 15 police officers were injured and a CVS was destroyed. The CVS can be rebuilt, and the officers are still among the living. The same cannot be said of Freddie Gray, Jr, who joins a growing list of African-Americans killed in fatal police encounters including Michael Brown, Jr., Rekia Boyd, Walter Scott, Tanisha Anderson, Shelly Frey, Eric Garner, Alesia Thomas, John Crawford III, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Kajieme Powell, Ezell Ford, Malissa Williams, Dante Parker, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shereese Francis and many more. The real story is one the mainstream media has largely failed to address: the failure of the U.S. criminal justice system to treat People of Color-especially African-Americans-equitably.

Let me be clear here: I do not condone the civil unrest. I recognize that there are people who suffer emotionally and financially when their property is destroyed. At the same time, I do not fully condemn the civil unrest because I understand that it is the last option open to an oppressed people who have had their lives and their rights trampled upon by an unjust criminal justice system enabled by the government. When black person after black person continues to be the victim of disproportionately harsh sentencing laws, racial profiling, and police brutality…when peaceful protests and lobbying politicians doesn’t work…when writing and blogging and being an activist does not work to change the system-what then? What is left? How can positive change be accomplished when all other avenues have been exhausted?  It is this understanding that led Martin Luther King, Jr. to say the following about riots:

Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena. They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people, he is shocking it by abusing property rights. There are thus elements of emotional catharsis in the violent act. This may explain why most cities in which riots have occurred have not had a repetition, even though the causative conditions remain. It is also noteworthy that the amount of physical harm done to white people other than police is infinitesimal and in Detroit whites and Negroes looted in unity.

A profound judgment of today’s riots was expressed by Victor Hugo a century ago. He said, ‘If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.’

The policymakers of the white society have caused the darkness; they create discrimination; they structured slums; and they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society. When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also demand that the white man abide by law in the ghettos. Day-in and day-out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say boldly that if the violations of law by the white man in the slums over the years were calculated and compared with the law-breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man. These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.

The outrage felt by African-Americans is the result of centuries of discrimination, oppression, disenfranchisement, and economic inequality that sustains the engine of white supremacy. USAmericans must confront the deadly legacy of racism this country was founded upon and continues to benefit from (with an eye to demolishing that system) even if it means white USAmericans lose a bit of privilege. Until then, equality for all citizens will continue to be nothing more than a dream for all but a privileged few.


*For the pearl clutchers concerned about property damage, I have two things to say:

  1. Your priorities are deeply screwed up. You’re hand-wringing over property damage, but where is your concern for black lives? Why are you not outraged over the mass incarceration of black bodies? Why aren’t you similarly angry over the disproportionate levels of police brutality experienced by African-Americans? Why do you care so much more for property than human beings?
  2. Given your concern for property, if you would focus your attention on dismantling the engine of white supremacy, fewer and fewer African-Americans will reach the point of desperation whereupon they choose to engage in civil unrest.
Chaos has not engulfed Baltimore

LGBT Link Round Up 1.10.15

Defying death threats and police detention, activists in Uganda publish LGBT magazine

In an effort to convey the realities of life for LGBT people, an activist group in Uganda have published a magazine that offers health advice, personal stories, and articles on the clergy. Activist Jacqueline Kasha says the magazine was created with the goal of addressing  “the falsehoods spread by the Ugandan media, which regularly publicly humiliates and degrades homosexuals.”

“Instead, we are sharing our stories in the hope that we can change social attitudes. The people we are trying to reach out to are the people who are threatening to burn our houses and beat us.

“We are not journalists and I don’t respect the media here in Uganda. The media is furious with us because we are reclaiming our stories. We expect them to retaliate. We are always frightened, but nobody else is going to stand up for us; our community needs a face.”

I applaud their courage, and hope that they remain safe, bc unfortunately, bigots are going to retaliate against them.

In a statement, the activists involved said:

“This magazine will also shade a light to readers on the extent of the marginalization and discrimination the LGBTI community in Uganda continues to face on a daily basis.

We have been forced to live undignified lives; the authors of the stories are Ugandans who, through their voices, should be heard by policy makers and the general public, and hopefully, help to create a path for attitude change in a community that is continuously growing in homophobia and violence against this harmless group of Ugandan citizens.”

They have also called on the government to “promote humanity, peace, unity and liberation as they report on LGBTI issues” and to suspend all moves to introduce further anti-gay legislation; for the public to establish a dialogue with the LGBTI community; and for religious leaders “to refrain from preaching and instigating hate within their congregations.”

 * * * *

For the first time Tiffany & Co. feature a same-sex couple in an engagement campaign

The unnamed pair are a real-life couple living in New York City.

“Nowadays, the road to marriage is no longer linear, and true love can happen more than once with love stories coming in a variety of forms,” said Linda Buckley, Tiffany & Co. VP of North American PR, in a statement to ELLE.com. “The Tiffany engagement ring is the first sentence of the story that a couple will write together as they create a life that is deeply intimate and exceptional, which is the message we hope to convey through this campaign.”

Thank you Tiffany & Co. for treating gay people AS people and recognizing that our love is every bit as real and deserving of recognition as heterosexual couples.

* * * *

“I wish I’d never written the story” says author of ‘Brokeback Mountain’

I wish I’d never written the story. It’s just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out. Before the film it was all right… In Wyoming they won’t read it. A large section of the population is still outraged. But that’s not where the problem was. I’m used to that response from people here, who generally do not like the way I write. But the problem has come since the film. So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that Brokeback reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends — they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it. I can’t tell you how many of these things have been sent to me as though they’re expecting me to say, ‘Oh great, if only I’d had the sense to write it that way.’ And they all begin the same way — I’m not gay, but?.?.?.?The implication is that because they’re men they understand much better than I how these people would have behaved. And maybe they do. But that’s not the story I wrote. Those are not their characters. The characters belong to me by law.”

* * * *

Margaret Thatcher considered banning sex toys in the U.K.

The revelation comes following the annual release of documents from the UK’s National Archive. They say that the change was considered after moral crusaders lobbied the Prime Minister, including Mary Whitehouse, whom Thatcher met on two occasions.

In September 1986, the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, wrote to Prime Minister Thatcher saying that there was a ‘strong case’ for banning sex toys under obscenity laws.

‘Some of the items in circulation are most objectionable, including some which can cause physical injury.’

Brittan thought that sex toys, under the terms of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, could be viewed as items likely to ‘deprave and corrupt’.

However, following her meetings with Whitehouse – a prominent anti-obscenity campaigner – Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister between 1979-1990, instructed Brittan to look at a new way in which they could be barred, more specifically in relation to how they could be considered to offend good taste or public decency.

Brittan felt that asking court’s to make rulings in regard to ‘good taste’ could be fraught with ambiguity. The plans were subsequently abandoned.

Heeey, I know what’s a great idea!
A government banning items that are used by consenting adults in the privacy of their own bedroom!
Glad this didn’t happen as it’s none of the government’s business what consenting adults do in their bedrooms.

* * * *

Today in “Transphobic assholes who refuse to accept that trans women are women”:

Trans woman turned away from Western Wall in Jerusalem

Stylist Kay Long from Tel Aviv visited Jerusalem with a friend from Madrid, but was refused entry to the female section of the wall by a ‘modesty volunteer’ who said she was not a woman. She was then yelled away from the men’s area.

The Western Wall, or Kotel, is the only remaining part of the Temple Mount and is the holiest site in Judaism.

Long visited the wall in a black dress and is two meters (6’7”) tall ‘without heels.’

‘From an early age we are taught that if we place a note at the Kotel our prayers might be answered,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘All that’s left now is to take a picture and say a prayer from afar with the hope that it will be answered. Because God is everywhere and loves us all.’

Elinor Sidi, director LGBTI community center Open House, said Long’s experience was not unique.

I hope that one day such transphobic bigotry is so rare that it is nearly unique.

LGBT Link Round Up 1.10.15

Vivica A. Fox to be the keynote speaker at the first ‘Women of Power’ conference

In an effort to inspire others, the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce wanted to bring in some star power. For their first conference, they found an actress with a great deal of star power:  Vivica A. Fox. The star of ‘Independence Day’, ‘Soul Food’, and ‘Set It Off’ will be the keynote speaker at the first ‘Women of Power’ conference, on March 14. And it’s going to be here in Pensacola!

“We wanted to do it big right out of the box,” said Nicole Dixon, executive director of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce. “She has a strong personality, and we think she’ll be great for our audience.”

The one-day event will be at the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel.

The conference aims to inspire and provide networking opportunities for professional women across the Gulf Coast. The event will feature two panels of area business and civic leaders, all women, discussing issues of economics, community, lifestyle and more.

Speakers include:

Tina Morrison, executive director of the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce.

Nicole Stacey, president/CEO of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Kristen Loera, president/CEO of the Gulf Breeze Area Chamber of Commerce.

Nicole Dixon, executive director of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.

Robin Reshard, owner of Robino’s Productions.

Lisa Nellessen-Lara, executive director of the Pensacola News Journal.

Kim LaDuff, chief diversity/associate vice provost for equity, diversity and international programs at the University of West Florida.

Harriet Wyer, Biologics sales specialist with MedImmune Inc.

Fox will speak at the event, then answer questions from the audience.

The actress has also been featured in various television programs such as “Dancing With the Stars.” She is currently a cast member of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Want to go?

WHAT: The first “Women of Power” conference hosted by the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.

WHEN: March 14.

WHERE: Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel.

TICKETS: Early bird tickets are $45 until Feb. 14. After Feb. 14, tickets are $55 through March 1. Regular price tickets after March 1 are $65. Tickets are available online at www.gcaacc.info/ or at the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce office at 619 N. Devilliers St.

I think I know where I’ll be on March 14.  And I know what I’ll be doing:  sitting quietly and learning.

Vivica A. Fox to be the keynote speaker at the first ‘Women of Power’ conference

Vivica A. Fox to be the keynote speaker at the first 'Women of Power' conference

In an effort to inspire others, the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce wanted to bring in some star power. For their first conference, they found an actress with a great deal of star power:  Vivica A. Fox. The star of ‘Independence Day’, ‘Soul Food’, and ‘Set It Off’ will be the keynote speaker at the first ‘Women of Power’ conference, on March 14. And it’s going to be here in Pensacola!

“We wanted to do it big right out of the box,” said Nicole Dixon, executive director of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce. “She has a strong personality, and we think she’ll be great for our audience.”

The one-day event will be at the Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel.

The conference aims to inspire and provide networking opportunities for professional women across the Gulf Coast. The event will feature two panels of area business and civic leaders, all women, discussing issues of economics, community, lifestyle and more.

Speakers include:

Tina Morrison, executive director of the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce.

Nicole Stacey, president/CEO of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Kristen Loera, president/CEO of the Gulf Breeze Area Chamber of Commerce.

Nicole Dixon, executive director of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.

Robin Reshard, owner of Robino’s Productions.

Lisa Nellessen-Lara, executive director of the Pensacola News Journal.

Kim LaDuff, chief diversity/associate vice provost for equity, diversity and international programs at the University of West Florida.

Harriet Wyer, Biologics sales specialist with MedImmune Inc.

Fox will speak at the event, then answer questions from the audience.

The actress has also been featured in various television programs such as “Dancing With the Stars.” She is currently a cast member of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Want to go?

WHAT: The first “Women of Power” conference hosted by the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.

WHEN: March 14.

WHERE: Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand Hotel.

TICKETS: Early bird tickets are $45 until Feb. 14. After Feb. 14, tickets are $55 through March 1. Regular price tickets after March 1 are $65. Tickets are available online at www.gcaacc.info/ or at the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce office at 619 N. Devilliers St.

I think I know where I’ll be on March 14.  And I know what I’ll be doing:  sitting quietly and learning.

Vivica A. Fox to be the keynote speaker at the first 'Women of Power' conference

Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai’luv McDonald

Growing up, I remember learning of the accomplishments of many people in US and world history and more often than not, those people were men. Women received much less coverage. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that the accomplishments of women have long been minimized, dismissed, or ignored.  This is another way that sexism has played out in society. Denying the accomplishments of women is an insult. It treats them as if they’re unimportant…as if they haven’t contributed significantly to events throughout human history. In this ongoing series, I’ll be highlighting notable women, historically important women, and those women who ought to be acknowledged.  My intent is to show that women have contributed to the course of human history and ought to be recognized, rather than ignored or overlooked. Born in 1989, today’s woman of the day is transgender prison-reform activist Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai’luv McDonald.

Continue reading “Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai’luv McDonald”

Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai’luv McDonald

Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai'luv McDonald

Growing up, I remember learning of the accomplishments of many people in US and world history and more often than not, those people were men. Women received much less coverage. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that the accomplishments of women have long been minimized, dismissed, or ignored.  This is another way that sexism has played out in society. Denying the accomplishments of women is an insult. It treats them as if they’re unimportant…as if they haven’t contributed significantly to events throughout human history. In this ongoing series, I’ll be highlighting notable women, historically important women, and those women who ought to be acknowledged.  My intent is to show that women have contributed to the course of human history and ought to be recognized, rather than ignored or overlooked. Born in 1989, today’s woman of the day is transgender prison-reform activist Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai’luv McDonald.

Continue reading “Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai'luv McDonald”

Woman of the Day: Chrishaun (CeCe) Reed Mai'luv McDonald

Heroic Humanity: Dr. Willie Parker

Heroism can mean a variety of things to different people.  Firefighters. Police officers. Active duty military members serving on the front lines.  Lawyers have been called heroes, as have politicians.  Doctors too.

There is one member of the medical community that is often overlooked:  abortion doctors.

They provide a much needed service to women:  the termination of a pregnancy.  I make no secret of my support for easy and legal abortion access for all women-no restrictions.   My support for this is due to my belief that women are human beings with the right to bodily autonomy that every human being has.  This right underlies our right to self-defense and our right to be free from being enslaved.  There is no exception to this right.  It is universal and applicable to all human persons  (a fetus is not a human person ((it is a biological human being, which is different than a human person)).  Where is the capacity for pain in fetus?  Self-awareness?  Cognition?  Where is the possession of rights and duties, or an awareness of the passage of time?  Where are these qualities present in a fetus?  Are they all present at the same time?).  Even if fetuses were considered people, with all the rights of other human persons, there are a host of complications that would entail:

Giving a fetus the status of person could lead to many more legal issues and complications than most people realize. “Further, a prenatal personhood measure might subject a woman who suffers a pregnancy-related complication or a miscarriage to criminal investigations and possibly jail time for homicide, manslaughter or reckless endangerment. And because so many laws use the terms “persons” or “people,” a prenatal personhood measure could affect large numbers of a state’s laws, changing the application of thousands of laws and resulting in unforeseeable, unintended, and absurd consequences.”

Of course the right to bodily autonomy means that no human being can force another human being to use their body against their wishes. As a result, even if a fetus were a human person, with all the attendant rights, they still would not have the right to use the body of a woman against her wishes.  If she wants to be pregnant, it’s her body and her choice.  If she wants to be not pregnant, it’s her body and her choice.  The fetus does not get a say, whether it is a human person or not.

Sadly, in the United States, there are many barriers to abortion access.  Nationwide, the cost for the abortion pill ranges from $300 – $800.    In other areas, great distances much be traveled to obtain an abortion, which requires more money, as well as time off from work.  89% of counties in the US lack an abortion provider.  Insurance bans, biased counseling, waiting periods, invasive and unnecessary ultrasound requirements, and parental consent requirements in many states create barriers to abortion for many women, especially those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

Mississippi was dangerously close to losing its last remaining abortion provider:  the Pink House.

In the latest battle of the long war to shut the clinic down, itself just a part of the recent national push to use state regulations to choke off the right to abortion, they finally won one. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in their favor, leaving the clinic open for the indefinite future.

This decision allows the Pink House to remain open (what will become of the unnecessary ‘admitting privilege’ legislation is uncertain). That’s a good thing.  Women need access to abortion if they are going to have the full range of reproductive options available to them.

In a recent Esquire article, it is made apparent that Dr. Willie Parker understand this.  He understands the necessity of abortion providers.  He is acutely aware of the problems faced by women in obtaining an abortion.  He is also very aware of the opposition, and the lengths that some people will go to prevent women from obtaining an abortion.

When Parker was ten, his mother moved from the house with no electricity and plumbing into his grandfather’s place. To get to that neighborhood, you drive past a gravel plant. Here, the world is coated with gray dust. Parker’s youngest brother points out the sights: “They call that the lie tree, because everybody set up under that tree and drink and tell lies.”

Their grandfather’s house is simple, square, made of weathered boards that were never painted. The house that didn’t have plumbing is a few streets over, abandoned now, a lone shoe left behind on the porch.

One street over is an area they called the “White Quarter.” Its backyards adjoined the Parker yard, but the blacks were never supposed to cross the line, much less drive down the white street. Naturally, the boys took this as a challenge. “It was a thrill to get on your bike and go down that hill. Three or four of us would get at the top and yell Go! and we just shoot down the road. Next thing you know, the dogs all come out running at you—or somebody shoot at you.”

When he went off to college, Parker was still wearing a Jesus pin in his lapel every day and devoted his Saturday mornings to knocking on dorm-room doors to spread the Word. But that was the fall of 1981, when Reagan was funding the contras in Nicaragua and apartheid in South Africa was making the news, and his professors threw out one moral challenge after another. “Now it’s not just about Jesus gets you to heaven and you live fine with pie in the sky by and by but what is your role as a Christian in the modern world?”

One professor even asked him to write a paper on abortion. His answer was rooted in “Thou shalt not kill,” but he was already reluctant to judge. “My hope was that women would approach the question prayerfully,” he remembers.

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

I think he’s a hero because he’s doing the right thing for the right reasons.  He does so knowing full well that his life is under greater scrutiny as well as heightened danger from being an abortion doctor.   He is one of two abortion doctors who travel to Mississippi to perform that service:

This is because no doctor in Mississippi is willing to provide such a service. Although the state already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including a twenty-four-hour waiting period, parental consent, face-to-face counseling with the physician, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases), it is going all out to close this clinic, the last abortion provider in Mississippi, known as the Pink House because the defiant woman who owns it painted it pink to make it stand out, bold and unashamed. The latest fight is over whether abortion doctors should be required to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in the event of a complication, an irrelevant requirement since a hospital’s emergency-room staff usually does the admitting. It’s a practice no other specialty is required to observe. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the state law that makes this a requirement. But a similar law may soon leave the state of Texas—home to twenty-seven million people—with just six abortion clinics. It is already law in North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah and looms over Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Louisiana and is likely to spread to other states, pressed by a nationwide conservative movement that uses regulation to force a result democratic votes cannot achieve. So Parker flies down from his home in Chicago for several days twice a month to perform the service so few other doctors are willing to provide.

Twice a month may not sound like a lot, but as the article above points out, Dr. Parker sometimes performs up to 45 abortions per day.  That’s 45 women having a procedure they’ve deemed necessary.  That’s 45 women that are able to make decisions about the ir reproductive health with the full range of options available.  That’s freedom for women, and I Dr. Parker should be recognized for his heroic actions.

*The article is quite long, and I’ve had difficulty finding notable segments to quote.  I suggest reading it in full.  It is very much worth it.

 

Heroic Humanity: Dr. Willie Parker

I don't like the word 'Slut'

“Look at that low cut dress! She must be on the prowl tonight. What a slut!”

“She slept with 5 guys last month.  What a slut!”

“She broke up with me and now she’s seeing someone else.  She’s such a slut.”

‘Slut’ is a word that is spoken in many a social interaction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it.  Almost without fail, the speaker is criticizing a woman for being sexual. Here in the US, there’s still an expectation that women are supposed to be chaste.  They’re supposed to be pure, untouched, virginal.  They aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and if they do, they’re broken, used, and unworthy.

I detest that line of thinking.

Why is it considered socially acceptable for a man to sleep with multiple partners?  Why are men applauded for having lots of sexual partners? Why are men encouraged to “sow their oats”?  Why cannot women do the same?  Women are humans too.

And women like sex.  Every woman I’ve spoken to on the subject like sex.  A lot.  They don’t express it in the same ways that men do, probably because they’ve been socialized to not talk about sex in the same way that men do.  They still like it.  They should still be free to have whatever kind of sex (as long as it is between consenting adults) they please.  However often they please.  With as many partners as they please.  Women do not exist for the judgment of others.  What they choose to do with their bodies, and whom they choose to do that with is not for others to decide.  It’s not a question of right or wrong when it comes to expressions of sexuality.  People ought to respect a woman’s decision to be as sexual as she chooses without shaming her for it.

Everydayfeminism has an article arguing that people should stop using the word:

How would you describe that low-cut, tight dress you just bought for your best friend’s party? Would you call it sexy? daring? fun? Or would you use a more negative term like “slutty?”

And that fun one-night stand your neighbor had last weekend – would you describe her actions as adventurous or “skanky?”

The word slut is a common slur in our modern day vernacular. No doubt, it still carries weight if said with malicious intent.

But in recent years, the word has become deeply ingrained into our culture to the point where people say it too easily and too casually.

As innocuous as using pejorative terms may seem when used in reference to clothing or the activities of others, they undoubtedly still imply negativity surrounding female sexuality.

And using them just validates the societal standard of a perfect, virginal-until-marriage, demure woman as an ideal.

That ideal there?

That’s a puritanical, religiously derived “ideal” of women.  It’s informed not by respect for women or recognizing that they are human beings with the right to make decisions on their own.  It’s informed by men and their beliefs on what is right and proper with regard to womens’ behavior, specifically their sexuality.

Many of us have been called a slut at some point in our lives — or have thrown the epithet at someone else. But what does it really mean?

The word “slut” originates in Old English, meaning a “messy, dirty, or untidy” woman or girl. Because of this, it was frequently used as a term for kitchen maids and servant girls. By the 15th century, the word took on the meaning of a “promiscuous woman” as well.

Think about it: Have you ever called someone a slut, whether in jest or seriously? What did it mean to you? And what do you think it meant to the person it was directed toward?

I have used the word in the past, without thinking about what the word means.  I stopped using it once I began frequenting feminist spaces.  Initially I stopped using it because the word is a gendered slur and there are many places where the use of the word is not appreciated or even off-limits.  After spending time in feminist spaces for some time, I came to understand *why* I shouldn’t use the word.  Most of my understanding of feminism in general and how gendered slurs work has been in the last 4 years.  I’ve successfully eliminated gendered slurs from my everyday speech and writings.  It took a modicum of effort, but considering that I respect women, the effort to not slut-shame was worth it.

To slut-shame means to “degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.”

Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have judged or degraded someone (usually a woman) for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage.

It happens all the time. That young celebrity who wears something more daring than her usual attire is automatically described in terms of “her slutty side.” We see a beautiful woman who is wearing heavy makeup and comment on how she is lovely, but she looks like a stripper. We condemn our sexual thoughts as slutty instead of explorative.

As a culture, we are quick to use words that paint female sexuality as disgraceful – even if we don’t realize that we are doing it.

It took thinking about the word ‘slut’ and what it means and how it affects women for me to understand the harm. As I said above, it shames women for having sex.  Yet there’s nothing wrong with having sex; no matter your gender!  I should also note that the word ‘slut’ isn’t always used as an insult to women (though the use of the word is most often aimed at women).  I’ve heard it used often in gay culture.  I’ve been to many a gay bar and heard people refer to someone as a slut.  The intent was always to convey disapproval of the choices men made in whom they slept with.  I’ve even heard people refer to themselves as ‘sluts’.  Usually it’s half-hearted humor, but digging deeper, gay men often have called themselves sluts because they think there’s something wrong with sex.  Once again, the puritanical mindset concerning sex rears its ugly head.  As a society, we need to reframe our discussions about sex.  We need to understand that sex, when between consenting adults, is a perfectly natural and harmless, often enjoyable activity.  We need to become sex-positive, instead of sex-negative.  In the process of doing so, we can hopefully shed the harmful discrimination and oppression of women, and instead help empower them.

 

 

I don't like the word 'Slut'

I don’t like the word ‘Slut’

“Look at that low cut dress! She must be on the prowl tonight. What a slut!”

“She slept with 5 guys last month.  What a slut!”

“She broke up with me and now she’s seeing someone else.  She’s such a slut.”

‘Slut’ is a word that is spoken in many a social interaction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it.  Almost without fail, the speaker is criticizing a woman for being sexual. Here in the US, there’s still an expectation that women are supposed to be chaste.  They’re supposed to be pure, untouched, virginal.  They aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and if they do, they’re broken, used, and unworthy.

I detest that line of thinking.

Why is it considered socially acceptable for a man to sleep with multiple partners?  Why are men applauded for having lots of sexual partners? Why are men encouraged to “sow their oats”?  Why cannot women do the same?  Women are humans too.

And women like sex.  Every woman I’ve spoken to on the subject like sex.  A lot.  They don’t express it in the same ways that men do, probably because they’ve been socialized to not talk about sex in the same way that men do.  They still like it.  They should still be free to have whatever kind of sex (as long as it is between consenting adults) they please.  However often they please.  With as many partners as they please.  Women do not exist for the judgment of others.  What they choose to do with their bodies, and whom they choose to do that with is not for others to decide.  It’s not a question of right or wrong when it comes to expressions of sexuality.  People ought to respect a woman’s decision to be as sexual as she chooses without shaming her for it.

Everydayfeminism has an article arguing that people should stop using the word:

How would you describe that low-cut, tight dress you just bought for your best friend’s party? Would you call it sexy? daring? fun? Or would you use a more negative term like “slutty?”

And that fun one-night stand your neighbor had last weekend – would you describe her actions as adventurous or “skanky?”

The word slut is a common slur in our modern day vernacular. No doubt, it still carries weight if said with malicious intent.

But in recent years, the word has become deeply ingrained into our culture to the point where people say it too easily and too casually.

As innocuous as using pejorative terms may seem when used in reference to clothing or the activities of others, they undoubtedly still imply negativity surrounding female sexuality.

And using them just validates the societal standard of a perfect, virginal-until-marriage, demure woman as an ideal.

That ideal there?

That’s a puritanical, religiously derived “ideal” of women.  It’s informed not by respect for women or recognizing that they are human beings with the right to make decisions on their own.  It’s informed by men and their beliefs on what is right and proper with regard to womens’ behavior, specifically their sexuality.

Many of us have been called a slut at some point in our lives — or have thrown the epithet at someone else. But what does it really mean?

The word “slut” originates in Old English, meaning a “messy, dirty, or untidy” woman or girl. Because of this, it was frequently used as a term for kitchen maids and servant girls. By the 15th century, the word took on the meaning of a “promiscuous woman” as well.

Think about it: Have you ever called someone a slut, whether in jest or seriously? What did it mean to you? And what do you think it meant to the person it was directed toward?

I have used the word in the past, without thinking about what the word means.  I stopped using it once I began frequenting feminist spaces.  Initially I stopped using it because the word is a gendered slur and there are many places where the use of the word is not appreciated or even off-limits.  After spending time in feminist spaces for some time, I came to understand *why* I shouldn’t use the word.  Most of my understanding of feminism in general and how gendered slurs work has been in the last 4 years.  I’ve successfully eliminated gendered slurs from my everyday speech and writings.  It took a modicum of effort, but considering that I respect women, the effort to not slut-shame was worth it.

To slut-shame means to “degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.”

Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have judged or degraded someone (usually a woman) for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage.

It happens all the time. That young celebrity who wears something more daring than her usual attire is automatically described in terms of “her slutty side.” We see a beautiful woman who is wearing heavy makeup and comment on how she is lovely, but she looks like a stripper. We condemn our sexual thoughts as slutty instead of explorative.

As a culture, we are quick to use words that paint female sexuality as disgraceful – even if we don’t realize that we are doing it.

It took thinking about the word ‘slut’ and what it means and how it affects women for me to understand the harm. As I said above, it shames women for having sex.  Yet there’s nothing wrong with having sex; no matter your gender!  I should also note that the word ‘slut’ isn’t always used as an insult to women (though the use of the word is most often aimed at women).  I’ve heard it used often in gay culture.  I’ve been to many a gay bar and heard people refer to someone as a slut.  The intent was always to convey disapproval of the choices men made in whom they slept with.  I’ve even heard people refer to themselves as ‘sluts’.  Usually it’s half-hearted humor, but digging deeper, gay men often have called themselves sluts because they think there’s something wrong with sex.  Once again, the puritanical mindset concerning sex rears its ugly head.  As a society, we need to reframe our discussions about sex.  We need to understand that sex, when between consenting adults, is a perfectly natural and harmless, often enjoyable activity.  We need to become sex-positive, instead of sex-negative.  In the process of doing so, we can hopefully shed the harmful discrimination and oppression of women, and instead help empower them.

 

 

I don’t like the word ‘Slut’