choice

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

Privilege within communities working to lessen privilege

Audre Lorde once spoke at a feminist conference, noting that she was the only black lesbian there and one of only two women of color.  She was pointing at privilege and exclusion within a group formed to remedy and address privilege and exclusion.  In this address, she pointed to the language and organizational structure adopted by feminists to address patriarchy was formed by patriarchy to reinforce patriarchy.  That language and organization are the "master's tools" she speaks of and her assessment is that by using them, privilege will not be eliminated, but instead renewed and sustained.  

That metaphor has resonated with me since the very first time I heard it.  I started blogging for a number of reasons, including identifying, owning and interrupting privilege.  I have come to some conclusions which I will share in this post, namely:

- Privilege is always happening, in everyone's life and in every group.

- I can only interrupt, acknowledge and impact my own privilege.  This seems to be true for us all.  It is also true for groups.

- Denial sustains and reinforces privilege and honesty creates an opportunity to interrupt privilege.

The very instant any group or community is formed or declared, exclusion and privilege are established and instituted.  

Exclusion: some people are in that group and some are not.  

Privilege: the group has leader(s) / former(s) / administrator(s) / public & private voice(s) in some form or another who agree to their ability to declare the identity of that group.  There is also privilege in the selection of new members to the group or the expulsion of current members.

This can be problematic for any group whose stated goal is to address or lessen privilege.  This is often a group whose members and lives are often largely defined by their experiences of having been excluded by privileged persons and groups.  How such an organization or group addresses its privilege and exclusion will impact how successful they are in their efforts to impact privilege elsewhere and as a group or individuals.

arvan's picture

[video] The Perfect Vagina

An interesting documentary on women's reflections, considerations and expressions on the physical shape of their vaginas

 

The perfect vagina from heather leach on Vimeo.

arvan's picture

oh noez, the divorce monster!

Do you ever think back to shit you said and realize what a jackass you are/were?  It happens to me all the time.

When I was 9, I had a conversation with my childhood best friend about the evils of divorce and how a woman can take everything a man works for.  We talked about how unfair that is to men and we promised to a) never marry and b) never join the army.  I kept neither promise.

Where the hell does a boy of 9 get such thoughts?  That sexist message came from the adults around me - along with a great many other messages.

In the fishbowl of our childhood world: school, playing outside and family time - we took in the news, values and questions of the world around us and struggled to form our own minds.  As kids, we traveled in and out of these vastly differing conversations of the adults around us.  Our world was a maze of sidewalks, alleys, classrooms, kitchens, yards, church basements and family gatherings.  My friend and I roamed the self-carved paths and tunnels of our daily navigation like ants in a colony.

The world was changing.

Christina Engela's picture

Choice - A Matter Of Perspective

I was a little caught by surprise this weekend when I saw an article about conscription in the Old South Africa, in which the author claimed that "conscription was a choice", and basically placed the blame for conscripts who served their year or two, on them. The author claimed that they could well have made use of the loopholes to avoid national service if they so desired, as he did.

There are some flaws in this theory of his, however, as I can attest. I am one of those white "men" who went to the army in January 1992, the very last compulsory intake. In fact, it was our intake that very nearly rioted when we heard after arriving at our training base that those who hadn't reported for duty no longer had to - and that we who had, had to finish our year.

I was an 18 year old child, straight out of school, confused about my my sexuality, my gender and about who I was - lost in a world of political turmoil and threatening violence, living under the authority of the state, enforced by both parents and society.

Where was my choice?

I could not duck national service as some did, by spending years at a university studying. My mother was a single parent who could not afford to pay for my studies. The money she had saved up to pay for my university studies was worthless by the time the policy matured - it was barely enough to buy our first color TV in 1993. And even if I had avoided going to the army, that would have meant I could not find work - as work in those days was even more hard to find than it is today - and I would simply have been yet another burden on my mother's finances. At least in the army I got a small salary, and since I was away from home for a few months, my absence lightened the monthly budget some.

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

More sterilizations of HIV-positive women uncovered

"A lot of women didn't know it was wrong that they'd been sterilized."

JOHANNESBURG, 30 August 2010 (PlusNews) - Veronica* did not realize she had been sterilized while giving birth to her daughter until four years later when, after failing to conceive, she and her boyfriend consulted a doctor.

"I was like 'Okay, fine', because there was nothing I could do by then, but I was angry. I hate [those nurses]," she told IRIN/PlusNews. Veronica tested HIV-positive during a routine antenatal visit and was given a form to sign by nurses at the hospital where she went to deliver.

"I didn't know what it was all about, but I did sign," said Veronica, who was 18 at the time and had been scolded by the nurses for being unmarried.

She vaguely recalls being unconsciousness and then coming to and giving birth to her daughter, but did not ask questions about the cut on her abdomen. "My aunt - she's a nurse - went there and asked them what the cut was all about. They didn't answer her; they said it was private and confidential."

Veronica, who is now 28 and working for an HIV/AIDS home-based care programme in Orange Farm, an impoverished township south of Johannesburg, is among a growing number of women in South Africa and other countries in the region who have come forward in the last few years with similar stories of forced or coerced sterilization after an HIV-positive test result.

Local rights groups in Namibia, with the support of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, have helped uncover 15 such cases, and a trial involving three HV-positive women who say they were sterilized at public health facilities without their consent is due to resume on 1 September in the High Court.

arvan's picture

Ireland: Abortion Limits Violate Human Rights

(h/t @HunterSony)

Women in need of abortion services should, as a matter of international law and – frankly - human decency, be able to count on support from their government as they face a difficult situation. But in Ireland they are actively stonewalled, stigmatized, and written out.

Marianne Mollmann, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

(Dublin, January 28, 2010) - The Irish government actively seeks to restrict access to abortion services and information both within Ireland and for its residents seeking care abroad, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 57-page report, "A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland," details how women struggle to overcome the financial, logistical, physical, and emotional burdens imposed by restrictive laws and policies that force them to seek care abroad, without support from the state.  Every year thousands of women and girls travel from Ireland to other European countries for abortions.

"Women in need of abortion services should, as a matter of international law and - frankly -human decency, be able to count on support from their government as they face a difficult situation," said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "But in Ireland they are actively stonewalled, stigmatized, and written out."

arvan's picture

Janice Raymond's Anti-Prostitution Screed Debunked in 2-part Video

I saw one of these excellent videos over at Harlot's Parlor this morning.  I think they both deserve to be seen. 

The anti-prostitution folks and abusive pimps have much in common - they all want to make money off whores without telling the truth or sharing the revenue.

I personally hope to see more from Laurel.  She has other videos on this topic at her youtube channel.

-arvan

Sifting Through B.S. Propaganda {Janice G Raymond Edition} Pt.1

{a video by Laurel}

Sifting Through B.S. Propaganda {Janice G Raymond Edition} Pt.2

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