agency

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arvan's picture

On Tim Tebow and the captive audience sales pitch

When I was a kid, our family would gather at my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  All manner of cousins, aunts, uncles and sundry relatives would descend on a little house in Batavia, IL.  She had a bar in the basement with a pool table, a long dining room table made longer by adding some folding card tables and folding chairs.  In the living room, she had a big color TV - one of those tube jobs with the old remote that clicked loudly when you pressed a button.

The house and the day were a montage of running around, opening presents and eating tons of food including some questionable things made with Jello.  After a day of consumption and jubilation the adults were usually at the bar or playing pool downstairs.  Meanwhile, us kids would settle down in front of the TV to watch football.  We sprawled out across the floor, next to tables and a few choice seats in the big lounge chairs.  Late arrivals sat in the "bleacher seats" - a couch covered in plastic slip covers that stuck to skin in the summer and was slicker than ice in the winter.  Food coma and the chance to maybe see Gale Sayers break a long one.  This was the perfect ritual to mark the passing of another year and the bonds of family.

There was only one thing that could destroy this idyllic landscape: my great-uncle, the Priest.  He would come in when the game was on and we were all too tired or too full to move.  It was the kiss of death for fun.  It would usually go something like this:

great-uncle Priest: "What are you all doing in here?"

some kid: "um...watching the Bears lose"

great-uncle Priest: "Jesus never played football."

(fun dies)

arvan's picture

that time when I was 12 and forced to deal with abortion

My parents sent me to Catholic grade school, catechism and the whole nine yards.  My mother was Catholic but she was also a Democrat, pro women's rights.  She dragged us to church but she was not on board with a lot of the Church's ways.  My dad was Presbyterian and never went to church.  He didn't buy into much of the rah rah business.  But, Catholic school was where we went.

By the time I was 10, it felt like I had every sacrament except marriage & last rites.  I had one clip-on necktie and a drawer full of white shirts & black pants.  My instructors were nuns or priests.  I still have scars on my knuckles from steel tip rulers being applied in response to some hijinx or another.

Until about the age of 10 or 11, us kids were kind of like a room full of puppies.  Adults, nuns and priests mostly talked at us making announcements, scolding and instructions of some sort.  Nobody asked us what we thought.  We talked to each other in the schoolyard or on the weekend as we ran around on our own.  We never asked the nuns or priests that much either.  Nobody wanted to get pulled into some lecture about Jesus or some obscure holiday / saint / rite that we would then be responsible for remembering later.

That all changed around the time I was 12 or 13.  Maybe it was  because we were going to be leaving for high school in a couple of years, or perhaps it was the times we lived in.  Probably, it was because we were or I was now becoming aware of the world around us.  Our little brains were looking around the world and forming opinions and making choices.  That shit right there is like kryptonite in the Catholic Church, let me tell ya.

arvan's picture

Fault Lines - Outsourced: Clinical trials overseas

US Pharmaceutical companies have moved their operations overseas over the course of the past decade. Instead of testing trial medicines on Americans, more and more of these tests are being carried out on poor people in faraway places. Russia, China, Brazil, Poland, Uganda, and Romania are all hot spots for what is called clinical research or clinical trials. Now employing CROs—or Clinical Research Organizations—the industry is big business, worth as much as $30 billion US dollars today.

One country has experienced a boom like no other in this industry--India. Spoken English, an established medical infrastructure, welcome attitudes toward foreign industry and most importantly legions of poor, illiterate test subjects that are willing to try out new drugs have transformed the Indian landscape into a massive testing ground for pharmaceuticals. Fault Lines' Zeina Awad travels to India to see what the clinical research practices look like on the ground. What role are the US regulatory bodies playing in overseeing the trials? Are participants aware that they are taking part in a clinical trial? Is the testing being held up against international ethical standards?

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/faultlines/

arvan's picture

on gaga: how being in the news is not news

[Warning: I will actually be criticising white people, lady gaga and several sacred cows of white culture]

Lady Gaga is all the rage.  She loves her some gay people and she even sings a song that takes up the banner of gay rights - "Born This Way". 

Before anyone derails this into a conversation about music (it's not), my taste (I have none), why I don't like gaga (I think she's talented enough), any theory of me being anti-LGBTQI (wrong again, camel-breath) or my dislike for white people (I am white and harbor no such thoughts) - be clear: this is about the institutionalized cultural appropriation has been served up to and consumed by cis-gendered, heteronormative white audiences.

These are the lies we are told in order to maintain division and inequality by those who profit from our ignorance and cruelty toward each other.

I have had my reservations with a reliance on some short saying such as "born this way" to justify the identity of LGBTQI persons and I am not the only one.  I am not saying that people are not "born this way".  Some are and it is for each of us to decide for our own selves, whether this is true or not. 

-  I do not recognize the authority of others to demand from me or anyone - some accounting of how I got to be the way I am.  I don't owe anyone such an explanation and I don't need to convince them that I am a valid person.  I think that there are no shortcuts.  For me to accept that LGBTQI persons owe some sort of explanation for whom we are is victim blaming.  No different to me than slut shaming.  It is placing the power in the hands of the bullies while releasing them from accountability.  I may have been born this way or I may have chosen to be this way - either way, I cede no power to anyone challenging my rights to be.

arvan's picture

Simone de Beauvoir Institute - A Feminist Position On Sex Work

(h/t Cybersolidaires)

Simone de Beauvoir Institute’s Statement:

A Feminist Position on Sex Work

The Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University supports the recent decision by Ontario Superior Court judge Susan Himel with regards to Canada’s prostitution laws.

We support this decision as feminists, and in particular as feminists who have taken a position of leadership with regards to sexuality.  The Simone de Beauvoir Institute is the oldest women’s studies program in Canada, established in 1978.  We were the first Canadian university women’s studies to offer a course on lesbian studies (1985), we helped organize La Ville en Rose, an international conference on lesbian and gay studies held in 1992, and were active in the implementation of the first undergraduate course on HIV/AIDS at any Canadian university (1994). Since 2006, we offer an elective course entitled “Framing the prostitute,” which considers the ways in which debates about prostitution are constructed – within feminist, policy, and activist sites.

For more than three decades, then, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute has provided leadership with regards to questions of sexuality. Our position in support of the Himel decision continues a long tradition of deep reflection and action with regards to sexuality.

arvan's picture

On Rape, Safe-Words and Choice

In the span of 24 hours recently, I came across several vastly different experiences of women regarding feminism, choice and the question of women's control over their bodies.

I saw this post by That Ghoul Ava where she disowns feminism if it means being forced to switch from her identity being defined by men to that of being defined by women - with both excluding her own voice and choices for their own agenda.  Her framework for articulating this, is her experiences in the work force and the rest of her life.  Her point is that she is a woman because she says she is and not because she meets someone's definition.  In her life, she wants to be judged on her merits and that is how she defines herself.

Before you start screaming discrimination, make sure actual qualified people didn’t get denied. Wouldn’t that bother you, knowing you got hired or promoted because the company was required to get women and wasn’t based on your qualifications? That would piss me off. I’m not good enough, but my tits are!!! YAY!

Ava claims to write when she's drunk, pissed off and sarcastic.  Much like Liberating Porn, she expresses herself with a foul mouth and a sense of humor that is not universally shared.  Many could debate whether her language helps or hurts her point.  She clearly states that she's talking about her own experience and there is no debate in that.

arvan's picture

My Anger, by Duduzile Dlamini

(h/t SWEAT)

A story supported by the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) and facilitated by Women'sNet in South Africa.  I found this to be moving, simple and very much at the core of what it means to be human.

 

arvan's picture

People fuck - all the time

Everyone on the planet is here because someone fucked someone else.  Everybody fucks at some point in their life.  We all think about fucking.  We all know what it is.  Human beings have been fucking for the last 200,000 years or so - since we took our current form.  That's a lot of fucking. 

(Point of clarity: I'm talking about consenting human adults fucking here.  NOT rape / child abuse / slavery.)

Fucking is why we are here.  You owe your life to fucking.

What is proven:

- biology.  evolution.  reproduction.

What is not proven:

- god.  that men who claim to run god's business on earth are actually working for god.  fucking is evil, bad or shameful.

Conclusion:

We need fucking and fucking is natural.

The fuck-haters tell us how, when, who, why & where to fuck.  They all pitch the same mesasge, though:  men fuck women.  Men who like fuck a lot are rewarded.  Anything other than that is punished.  Women who fuck a lot or even like fucking are punished.  Women fucking men / men fucking men / women fucking women / women or men changing gender - all punished. Hell, even talking about fucking is punished.

Why? 

Some people make a lot of money interfering with fucking. 

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