Category Archives: Fuck America

The privilege of nostalgia

Of all the outside events in my childhood—things that weren’t just about me and the insular people in my little preteen world—nothing has failed to fade into obscurity except for the 2000 Elections.

I couldn’t pin down exactly why that is, or sum it up in one coherent sentence. But it was the first time that my little world tilted off its axle, the first time that I figured that there was a world outside of my own personal hell (thanks middle school, for all the angst!), and that it wasn’t any better than anything that came before.

Even at 12, I was precocious and had to have an opinion about everything. I had a good social studies teacher for seventh grade that year. Most of the time, whichever teacher got stuck teaching the poorly taught mish-mash of geographic, civics, and history just read from the text, while scrubbing the world of any of its bullshit and unsavory characteristics. But I remember that teacher. Not her name, of course, but I remember that she had short hair, was quite fat, and inordinately found of Pepsi. She had posters of the Pepsi logo on her wall and drank an entire Big Glup of the sugary crap at least twice a day.

But what I remember most about her is that she was the first teacher that encouraged us to pay attention to politics. Not in the way that we used to, the way that only required rote memorization and only accomplished filled out worksheets, but in the way where we were supposed to think for ourselves.

So I thought for myself for what was probably one of the first times on something bigger than me and bigger than my family. I contemplated Bush, I contemplated Gore. And at 12, totally untutored in the ways of politics and how to fact-check talking heads on the television, I had the overwhelming impression that one of the candidates was incredibly full of shit. Oh, and it wasn’t Gore.

That sort of clarity about politics never really faded as I grew older. What did fade was the black and white mentality. Now, I can’t separate candidates or positions into right and wrong. It typically comes down to something like wrong, horribly wrong, and so absolutely fucking wrong that I can’t believe anyone buys this bullshit. I wish I could say that the world was painted in shades of gray. But it’s not. As time marches on, and the pressures of adulthood creep into my daily routines, the world is just shades of black, speckled with some drab grays—never lightening to anything approaching white.

Today, I was struck by this overwhelming nostalgia for the ’90s. Until November of 2000, I was blissfully unaware of the bullshit of the outside world. The Oklahoma City bombings and O.J.’s farce of a trial (I was 7 when those happened) were blips on the radar. The world was rosy, the future was promising, and one day soon a girl (maybe me?) could be president. My parents got a messy divorce circa ’96, but I figured that was just an indication of my family’s private malfunctions, and nothing to do with the state of the outside world.

2000 changed that. For the first time, I got the sense that the world was full of very corrupt, very stupid people. I watched an election stolen, and I thought, “what the fuck?” They taught me that we lived in a Democracy, that America was the best country in the world. And some douche that knew nothing about shit, who just lost the popular vote, was fraudulently declared the leader of my country over some dude who was pretty awkward, and kind of dorky, but at least knew what’s what, or so I assumed.

I was privileged. Even as my parents fought and my mother bought our clothes at Goodwill, I was insulated from the fuck-ups of the world. There were no bloody Civil Wars, nobody in our family starved or went without birthdays and winter extravaganzas of presents.

The 2000 Elections ushered in a new era of thinking big. For the first time, I saw something that happened that was wrong, and attributed it to large forces that people refused to control. The bullies that tormented me suddenly weren’t so bad after all. I found myself hating their parents, hating the administrators that sat by and watched the brutal abuse visited upon the bookish “weird” girl and did nothing. For the first time, I looked at power and saw cruelty when they alone had the power to make kindness stick.

Now, I know that it was the beginning of a decade of realization: that the strong are offered such opportunity to be callously indifferent, ignorant, and weak while the weak are expected and obligated to be strong, brave, and good when given no incentive or opportunity to do so. This is now what I refer to when I talk about privilege. With power comes the sheltering embrace of ignorance, the ability to push responsibility down the pile until it rains like a foul deluge on those without anyone below them to abuse.

I sit here now, in a crap heap of shattered privileges. The willowy thinness of youth has left, replaced with hormonal imbalances, back problems, and horrid allergies. My refuge of feigned heterosexuality is destroyed beneath the weight of a denial I could not face—without any indication that I ought to do so, that there was any other way that this endless farce of normalcy. My religious heritage has become less of an interesting set of rituals and more of a set of squishy places for the heavy bludgeon of enforced public Christianity to really bruise. My wages don’t meet inflation, don’t meet the cost of living. I face an endless road of insurmountable debt, with the hopeless idea that I could beat the odds and pay it off. What bullshit is that? Pay it off? People who went to college in the ’80s—when it was expensive but not absurdly so—had to pay into their 40s. And this is with a good economy for most of the way, steady jobs, and wages that kept up with the cost of living until recently. What hope have I, with higher debt, lower wages, and an economy in shambles?

Nostalgia is for the privileged, for those who can look back with fondness to their youth. My youth, frankly, was miserable. There are years—somewhere between 8 (the year my parents split) and 14—that I was so unhappy that I only recall bits and pieces. But those fragile memories contain the promise that as long as I could live through the relentless hell of school, there would be a shiny adult life full of hope, if I worked for it, waiting for me.

At 22, I look back with nostalgia because I had hope. Now, I guess I still do. It’s its a flimsy facsimile of hope, because the consequences of facing the hopeless future before me is too psychologically great. There’s bitter refuge in ignorance. My number will eventually come up. Those in worst straights know it better than me—that the future isn’t all that awesome. Maybe they recall with fondness the ’90s, when parents let their children out to play all day and the world was full of the promise of high-tech jobs and high-tech lives. When the counterculture was about raging against the machine and a well-earned anger at authority and less about the crushing demands of relentless consumerism, creating debt to ease the pain of meaningless lives, meaningless values. When people mourned in the streets for their lost heroes—for their Princess Dianas and Kurt Colbanes—instead of overlooking the deadly attempted assassinations of political officials and bombings of medical clinics.

What happened since then? My favorite bands and artists could go up in flames tomorrow and I would not shed a tear. My house could be foreclosed upon, and I would not even blink in surprise. They could ban abortion and I’d shrug my shoulders, knowing it was inevitable.

If this is growing up, fuck it all. Adult responsibilities now only mean adult debts, adult lies you tell yourself to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not depressed. I’m angry. I’m filled with contempt at all the people in authority that had the power to stop this downward spiral, and instead said, “fuck it, I’d rather buy a Hummer.”

Nostalgia is for those with a past to look back on fondly. I could have it worse, but I could have had it a lot better. No matter how many people are worse off mean that those entrusted with the task of being strong for me—a child—should be forgiven for failing in so many different ways.

But what scares the ever-loving crap out me is the concept that in the future, as I see it going, we’re going to have extra awesome new ways of failing those we’re tasked with protecting. The meek shall inherit an Earth devoid of fertile soil, lush forests, equality of opportunity, and Democracy. They will instead inherit insurmountable debt, countries on the brink of dissolution or war, oceans depleted of fish and skies filled with the smog of yesterday.

One day I’ll look back at my nostalgia today with nostalgia, because the way we’re going, it’s going to only get worse. If The Smith’s “How Soon is Now?”—which exclaims, “I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone”—defines our generation, what of the generations of the future? How much worse must it get before we wake up and say to power, fuck you and your tax cuts, your business incentives and your bonus packages. I want a future for me and mine, so sell your fucking yacht, because no greedy ignorant sack of shit like you has the right to plunder the world of its riches, its happiness, its hope, and its future.

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Coming out, Part I

Most of my family, until very recently, didn’t know that I am a lesbian. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it or anything, but that I really resent that I have to inform them in the first place, like they have some sort of right to know. As far as I am concerned, they don’t. I don’t bother to hide it, and it would have been really obvious if I ever decided to bring another woman to a family event or into the house. It just isn’t something that I feel that I should disclose to people, as I highly resent that heterosexuality isn’t something that you have to confess, but homosexuality is.

I don’t define myself by the gender of the people I associate myself with romantically, and I hardly see why anyone else should. I am, however, aware that when people become aware that I am a lesbian, that often becomes the only defining feature of my existence. Much like any marginalized identity is considered more noteworthy than who a person is as an individual, homosexuality is considered more important for generalizing about the traits of any person than something like their hobbies or personal aspirations. Think about how we refer to people that we don’t know by name. There’s “that tall chick” if we’re talking about a tall white woman. Or “that black guy” if we’re talking about a black male. In the first case, the person is defined first by their gender — the most important personal identifier in a culture that considers gender the most important aspect of individual identity — and then by a physical trait. She is not defined by her race, unless she is in a group where her race is noteworthy. On the other hand, the second person is defined by his blackness, because we define the default human being as white in most circumstances. Thus, it is noteworthy that he deviates from that norm, and we identify him with that deviation.

The point here is that gender, as it identifies people, is a dichotomy. People are either male or female to the general population. Everyone has a gender (or is assumed to have one, regardless of their self-identification), and that is used to define everyone. Most other traits do not work that way. While maleness is often regarded as a norm, in which femaleness is the defiance — as can be seen in the tendency to define all of humankind with the word “man” or general pronoun “he”  — this is much more readily apparent in general conversation when it comes to other social identities. Race, religion, nationality, weight, and sexual preference are all traits in which a dichotomy may or may not be used,  but there is at least one value that is defined as the norm and thus, not noteworthy, while all other values are considered deviances.

Here’s some examples of how this plays out in the real world:

  • That (average-weight) guy vs. that fat guy
  • That (straight) man vs. that gay guy
  • That (white) woman vs. that black woman
  • That (American) person vs. that Polish person
  • That (Christian) kid vs. that Jewish kid

What happens is that values like average-weight (which may or may not be average, depending on what is arbitrarily defined as acceptably average), heterosexual, white, Christian, and American are invisible. They are not noteworthy, because we simply assume that everyone is heterosexual, white, average-weight, Christian, and American until that person is proven otherwise by their appearance.

However, not all values are apparent via appearance. Things like nationality, religion, and sexual orientation have to be disclosed or forcibly discovered (or “outed”) by others in order for those deviant values to be used as identifiers — with or without the consent of the people identified, correctly or incorrectly, by them. Such is the case with homosexuality. There really is no reliable way to determine sexual preference by observation. Sure, some people fit the stereotypes of homosexuality. But for every homosexual that is “caught” because they fit the expectations people have of them, there are hundreds more that engage in everyday interactions without anyone having the slightest notion otherwise.

I am one such person. I’ve been told that I don’t come off “as a lesbian”, whatever that is supposed to mean. I more or less adhere to patriarchal beauty standards by the chance of genetics and personal aesthetic choices that tend to be perceived as more feminine than masculine. I adhere enough to those norms that even if I defy them in small ways by my mannerisms or wardrobe, the average person would not have any reason to suspect that I have little to no romantic inclinations towards men.

Thus, I feel constantly pressured by a very real social expectation that I either deviate from the norm in easily identifiable ways so that everyone can pigeon-hole me, or disclose my sexual preferences to anyone that I have more than a passing social interaction with. This expectation, plain and simple, pisses me off. I expect that many, if not most, homosexuals feel similarly.

I feel as if I must behave or dress in such a way that people may easily label me as “deviant” and then freely discriminate against me or make bigoted assumptions without fearing that their judgment is erroneous. I also feel that if I don’t chose to do the former, I must verbally inform them of my deviance from their expected norms, so that they are not “fooled” by my “deception”. In this way, my social behaviors are either classified as visibly wrong and abnormal or invisible and deceitful.

This plays out in regular social interactions. My family used to often inquire as to the state of my love life, asking if I had meet “a nice boy” recently. This they did with the assumption that I was both heterosexual and actively looking for a romantic partner. Since I am not the former, and sometimes not the latter either, the question simply didn’t apply to me. Thus, I was either forced to lie, obfuscate, or confess. This expectation left me with such anxiety that I often dreaded family events.

That example is pretty tame considering the usual consequences. If I do dress and act like a stereotypical “dyke”, I am harshly alienated in public in ways that are inhumane, degrading, and currently acceptable by both social and legal norms. I may be called a “faggot”, I may be excluded from job opportunities. I may be taken less seriously, or feared. That is the consequence of defying norms. On the other hand, if I dress as I choose to and act as I currently do, I “pass” as straight. I don’t do this by design or any explicit desire to closet myself, I do it because I like skirts, flowery tops,  and cute shoes. I do it because I am not very assertive in pubic, and I paint my nails when I feel like it. That is just who I am, and who I am, apparently, is mostly read as “straight”. But this, inevitably, is eventually seen as a deception, sometimes by even my homosexual peers. I am accused of confusing or playing with heterosexuals, who are discomforted by the realization that they made the mistake of treating me like an actual human being until they knew I was a deviant freak. I am accused of hiding my “identity” — as if coming off as a lesbian in pubic was more central to who I am than my personal fashion inclinations. I am exposed to danger by men threatened by the fact that they have no access to me sexually, or thought they had access until I informed them otherwise. I am also exposed to danger by employers, acquaintances, and academic peers who feel like I have fooled them into complacency for my inherently disgusting nature, and thus, compromised their own comfort, safety, and moral values.

Out of frustration for the state of these injustices, I find myself torn between refusing to disclose any of my romantic life out of jealous spite, or visibly identifying myself as gay in such an obvious and blatant fashion that people assume I am “shoving it” in their faces. I find myself wanting to piss people off. I want them to feel deceived, I want them to be uncomfortable. This is because I am always deceived and uncomfortable, and there is nothing that I can do about it. I am always deceived when I assume that people are expected to treat me as an equal human being, and then fail to. I am deceived that we are a nation, founded on equality, when my day-to-day existence undermines that lie so utterly. I am put in situations where I am forced to out myself or lie. I am forced to distrust people who may disclose my preferences to a bigot with the power to deny me what is I am due. I never get to feel like I can trust or feel comfortable with the vast majority of people out of no personal choice of my own. That is the reality of being homosexual in a world in which that is considered deviant.

It’s pretty poor compensation that I can make people momentarily discomforted and unsettled in very small inconsequential ways of their own design, while I have to put up with enough Catch-22s to make me paranoid, anxious, and withdrawn out of fear of very real, very dire, and sometimes very dangerous social consequences. That is the nature of oppression: heterosexuals can choose whether or not homosexuality threatens them. They can give up the internalization that deviances to a standard they have placed themselves as the center of threaten their very existance of as individual. I can’t. I can’t wake up one day and say that heterosexuality as an institution and identity doesn’t threaten me. Because it does. Heterosexuality is defined as the negation, oppression, and alienation of homosexuals. That is what it is, and how it is defined, by institutions of power that I do not have any direct access to. I cannot redefine heterosexuality as a social superstructure or pick and choose what parts of it I want to adopt in my life. I am explicitly, irrevocably, and undeniably, excluded from heterosexuality and all the privileges it grants, and there is nothing whatsoever I can do to change that without putting herculean effort — effort not asked of heterosexuals — to cause massive institutional change.

That’s another power of priviledge: the opportunity to ignore the status quo. The heterosexual may chose to ally themselves with homosexuals and open themselves to a small portion of our vulnerabilities. Or they may quietly defy norms in small ways that do not directly threaten the institutions, but at least do not directly threaten homosexuals themselves either. Examples of these kinds of heterosexuals are those who are willing to picket for gay rights alongside gays, or those that simply live their lives enjoying the priviledges of heterosexuality — such as marriage — without enjoying the priviledges that directly deny homosexuals similar rights — such as refusing to vote for state propositions that ban gay marriage.

I don’t have that kind of luxury, not really. Sure, I can just go about business as normal, but that business includes enough unsavory reactions to who I am that I either have to be vigilant enough to preempt, or strong enough to ignore if I can. That kind of mental discipline takes effort and not a small amount of paranoia and alienation. This strength and vigilance is not required of heterosexuals, unless they too are the members of other alienated identities, but I assume that the vigilance required is different.

That vigilance and strength is symbolized and made palpable by the social phenomenon of “coming out” and then living “outed”. Choosing to come out, or being outed, takes so much strength and mental energy that is never asked of heterosexuals. It’s a vertible gauntlet of self-doubt, anxiety, and stress that is like nothing else. I’ve heard that it’s easier to come out than it is to live closeted. I say that’s bullshit. It’s not really easy to disclose a “secret” that has been constructed as something worthy of disclosure in the first place by its position as a defiance to the norm. It’s simply more of a relief to know that you don’t have to hide anymore, that you don’t have to fear the reactions of people close to you. Going “out” is not a one-time thing. Not even the most “flamboyant” of “queens” gets out opt out of outing themselves again and again. This is because homosexuality is treated like it’s something shameful that must be hidden. Much like nobody wants to assume that a stranger is a murderer without explicit evidence, so too to even the most liberal of individuals refuse to assume that someone isn’t heterosexual unless they have stated otherwise. Yes, people actually do behave as if being gay is a dirty little secret that it would be wrong to accuse someone of. Innocent until proven guilty; straight until proven gay. Being accused wrongly of a crime is precisely how people react when they are accused of being gay. How many times do people loudly deny that they’re a “faggot” or a “sissy”? How many times have those labels been thrown around as if they were indications of dire personal faults? How many people go to great lengths to prove to everyone that they are not sissies or faggots? Most people! Most people, if they were accused of being gay, would deny it quickly and unequivocally. They may or may not tack on a “not that there’s anything wrong with that” as a half-hearted objection. If there wasn’t anything wrong with that, they wouldn’t be so devastated with  the assumption of homosexuality that they had to immediately correct that assumption. If they really thought there was nothing wrong with it, they would have neither confirmed or denied it in the first place!

Homosexual individuals don’t come out once and then live their lives knowing that everyone knows and that they don’t have to hide. I have to continually out myself to everyone that ever gets close enough to me. Because everyone will assume that I am heterosexual until it is explicitly shown or said otherwise. And you I bet that they will never just come out and ask me. It seems funny to say this, but I actually prefer it when people ask me my orientation before they assume I’m anything at all and ask if I have a boyfriend. They want to know for their benefit, after all. I don’t lose or gain anything by them knowing. Their ignorance is of far more consequence to their assumptions regarding who I am than my ideas of myself. It comforts them to know, not me. I honestly could care less. I only want them to know because hiding is a pain in the ass and their frequent assumptions regarding my nonexistent heterosexuality are annoying and alienating. But it doesn’t end there. I have to juggle a mental list of who knows and who doesn’t for the rest of my life. Plus, I have to worry about if the people who know are going to tell other people or reveal it to people who I don’t want to know.

I was faced with this recently when a close family member who does know told family members that didn’t know without my permission. She claimed that she was “not ashamed” of my sexuality, so when they asked about whether or not I had a boyfriend, she informed them of my orientation. Then, I was faced with the prospect of seeing them for the first time, knowing that they knew, in front of other family members that didn’t know. That encounter will go down in history as one of the most awkward and anxious family events of my life. I hated it, and resented that I had to worry about who knew what and who was going to disclose what, and say what, and think what, and judge what. I’m surprised I didn’t have a panic attack right then and there. It was horrible. That situation was only surpassed by the endless anxiety of Christmas, in which I wondered the entire time if my father — who snooped through my private things without my consent and found out himself — had told the rest of his family. Then I had to wonder if they were being particularly unpleasant shits because they knew I was a big fat dyke and didn’t like it or just because they were extra special assholes for no reason at all. And the entire time, I was wondering if I should ask if they knew, because if they didn’t, then they would. But they seemed content to not ask me about it, if they knew, which was infuriating.

Thanks for keeping things about me from me, dude. That’s really mature and fair of you. I really highly doubt that your qualms about it being awkward for you are worse than how awkward it is for me. You know, the person who is actually concretely affected by this shit, day in and day out. But I forgot! The unearned comfort of heterosexuals is oh-so-much-more important than the very minimum of human decency and respect owed to homosexuals. My bad.

The point is that I really didn’t give a flying fuck whether or not that family member was “ashamed” or not of my sexuality. Her opinion, frankly, in that situation didn’t matter. It’s my secret to tell or to hide, not hers, and being in that situation out of no decisions of my own made me equal parts depressed, anxious, and really pissed off. I can never be completely out. That’s not the nature of homosexuality. I always have to decide who I’m going to “act gay” around and who I can’t. I’m not going to correct someone that interviews me for a job that I’m not straight. I’m not going to tell my gossipy older relatives who I know are both conservative and bigots. I simply don’t want to put up with their shit. I’m not going to scream it from the rooftops. I’m not going to walk into a restaurant holding the hand of a woman I desire and pull out a soapbox and say, “YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! I AM GAY, SO YOU CAN STOP WONDERING AND RUBBERNECKING AND GET BACK TO YOUR DINNER!”

I didn’t come out. I came out, then came out some more, and remained closeted, and told white lies, and denied, and came out, and came out, and ignored questions, and came out, and denied some more, and simply let people have their assumptions. I have to chose who to trust and who not to. I chose wrong. Hell, I came out to the internet and my friends before I came out to my parents. Then my father snooped and told me he knew. Then he may or may have not told other people without my consent, which made the holidays hell. Then I told my mother. Then she told more people without my consent. Then I decided to keep my brother in the dark because he’s an immature fuck, and would probably say something really stupid at a bad time. Then I decided that my work doesn’t need to know either as long as I’m not dating anyone that I want to take to social functions. Then I start to trust and admire professors and realize from their off-hand comment about “that lifestyle” that I can’t trust them and have to be careful what I say around them if I want a recommendation letter. Then I have to lie awake at night and wonder if a recommendation letter for graduate school is more important than some basic fucking dignity, and if I’m betraying myself and gays everywhere by being a coward.

And around and around it goes. I tell the wrong people, I get the brunt of the consequences. So far, every single person I’ve told except my friends has done something I didn’t want them to with that knowledge and put me between a rock and a hard place. Does that make me want to trust people? Fuck no. I’m not a trusting person. I don’t like strangers, I don’t like casual social events. I don’t tell people about my personal life. I zealously guard my personal space and my time. Then, I get told that I’m paranoid. Yeah, okay. I get stabbed in the back by most of the people I trust, and I’m paranoid? I have to worry who knows and won’t tell me they know, I have to worry who suspects and won’t ask, I have to worry who is clueless and will react badly, and I have to worry who knows and has done something stupid with the information.

Ugh, this shit is so fucking frustrating! It’s horrible because straight people have no clue. They have no clue the endless anxiety they cause whether or not I trust them. My nightmare doesn’t end when I let them in. It isn’t any better if I don’t. I know now why my peers invent slurs for heterosexuals. Breeders. Deep down, I want them to feel the sting of social rejection. When I’m petty and upset and anxious — which is about half of the time — I want them all to know how much their ignorance sucks. I want them to suffer. I hate their privilege, and I covet it at the same time. I wish for the days back when I was kid and the extent of my sexuality was that I had private parts that were fun to play with and horrify the adults. It seems horrible to say, but I know why people — after a revolution — go through the homes of their former oppressors and rape and pillage and assault and burn. Not that I’m saying that I would do that (because I wouldn’t), but I wouldn’t judge those who did it harshly, pretend that they are monsters. Because I know, intimately, the seductive catharsis that would be making them suffer just one fraction of what they have gained off our oppression.

And I end the first part of this series with that thought. I hope to have captured the rage, the anxiety, and the horrible gut-churning fear of what it means to me to be homosexual in American society. I want to expand this series, next time, with the concrete social mechanisms that I think are responsible for the alienation I feel. Then, I’ll finish up with a third post about my personal experience coming out, and what it meant to me.

Seriously, Democrats really hate women or I use the skills I got in law school to analyze shit that takes away my rights

So it gets worse.

Behold the absolute draw-dropping shittiness of The Stupak Amendment. Here it is, proof positive, that Democrats really hate women. What’s also awesome is that the first female Speaker of the House presided over a Democratic majority that passed the most expansive restriction on women’s rights in recent history. Not only was the amendment passed by 62 democrats (and all voting Republicans), the bill carrying the amendment was passed through Congress 220-215, with the majority of Democrats blithely signing the biggest roll-back of reproductive rights. Super.

Some Democrats (mostly women) did not take this shit sitting down. They tried to speak in Congress, only to have male Republicans heckling them and shouting “I object, I object, I object, I object” over them. Think Progress has the video. Thrown under the bus by their own party, some of the women we voted into office were forced to speak out against their own party signing away their rights while they were viciously silenced by the very men that orchestrated this new oppression. I’m sure that while the men in Congress, some of them in their own party, thought this was just business as usual, our minority of female lawmakers got a heady sense of deja vu. Men talking over them in a meeting? Nah, that never happens. Especially when you’re talking about your own freedoms and liberty. I mean, just shut up bitch. Know your place.

Out of this process of ugliness came the unholy spawn of the Stupack Amendment. However, unlike some other places, I believe that the proof is in the pudding. I’m not doing to quote from some dude that quoted from some other dude that quoted from yet another dude. I’m including the full text of this steaming file of fail. Here’s your fucking hope and change, right here:

AMENDMENT TO H.R. 3962
OFFERED BY MR. STUPACK OF MICHIGAN
AND MR. PITTS OF PENNSYLVANIA

SEC. 265 LIMITATION OF ABORTION FUNDING

(A) IN GENERAL—
No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the women in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(B) OPTION TO PURCHASE SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or State or local government) from purchasing separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and
(2) such coverage or plan is not purchased using—
(a) individual premium payments requires for an Exchange-participating health benefits plan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or
(b) other nonfederal funds require to receive a federal payment, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(C) OPTION TO OFFER SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN—
Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—
(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;
(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and
(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section
.

The emphases are mine.

For those without a background in legalese, this is about as unequivocal and binding as law can get. There’s no wiggle room. No exceptions. What this creates is a health care system in which women are second class citizens, forced to choose between even private coverage of a perfectly legal procedure and all federal funding of health care. This, simply, is an outrage. As far as I’m concerned, this violates both Roe and the substantive due process of the 14th amendment, but for those without a background in law, rest assured that this shit is really, really, really, legally dubious.

So let’s digest this, line by disgusting fucking line.

Section A explicitly prohibits any federal funding governed by HR 3962 (the larger Affordable Health Care for America Act) going towards the provision of abortions. But if you thought that they really needed to put this in, that anyone was really ever in danger of seeing their tax dollars going to “kill babies”, well, you’re a fucking idiot. No, seriously. Behold the related 30-year-old shittiness of the Hyde Amendment. Passed in 1976, in the immediate backlash of Roe decision three years earlier, the amendment explicitly bars all appropriations for The Department of Heath and Human Service budget from going to the purpose of funding abortions. It does not prohibit all federal funding of abortion, just anything out of HHS. Since H.R. 3962 would be administrated by HHS, there was absolutely no way, shape, or form that its provisions would go to funding abortion. Got it straight?

Moving on, the second clause is the kicker: “or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion”. You catch that? If you have a health plan that covers abortion, you cannot receive any federal assistance. Can’t make the last $300 for a root canal? Too fucking bad. Choose between your teeth rotting out of your face or abortion coverage. Want part of your “exchange” to go towards a consultation with an allergist for your seasonal allergies that you couldn’t otherwise afford? Too fucking bad whore, you got an abortion last year on that plan.

This amendment goes beyond limiting federal funds. This explicitly bars even private insurance companies from covering abortions.

Well, so can insurance companies just offer plans with abortion coverage and ones without? Sure, if you’re cool on getting totally substandard care and no government assistance whatsoever. Given that the majority of those who see themselves in low-paying part-time positions that don’t offer health coverage are women, there’s going to be a lot of women who need federal assistance. But they won’t get it unless they accept prohibitions on their rights, and start saving for out-of-pocket abortions if they need it, instead of putting away money for retirement. That’s other thing: men won’t have to save for expensive procedures that they need. They won’t have to choose between affordable health care and their reproductive rights.

But all this begs the question: will insurance companies continue to offer abortion coverage? The answer: probably not to the extent they do now. Providing abortion coverage will undoubtedly require additional administrative costs to make sure that the company remains in compliance with the amendment. Additionally, by section C Paragraph 3, those additional administrative costs will have to be covered entirely without federal assistance that insurance companies could get if they didn’t offer abortion.

The result is obvious: some companies will just not offer abortion coverage. It’s too troublesome and expensive. If they offer it, they’re required by Section C Paragraph 3 to provide identical coverage that doesn’t cover abortions. Notice that the amendment, however, does not require that companies offer plans that do offer abortion coverage. A company would be in compliance if they did not offer coverage for abortion at all. In fact, it’s transparently obvious that this is the goal of the entire amendment: to make it so that insurance companies will have lots of incentives to never cover abortions.

If a company decided to offer coverage including abortion, the coverage would be prohibitively expensive. Not only could the insured not use federal monies for any medical procedure so long as they are covered for abortion, they also would be forced to pay higher premiums. After all, the additional administrative costs of the plan could not be paid for with federal assistance, which would transfer the additional fees directly unto women. To really sweeten the deal, you’d also be ineligible for Medicaid matching even from your state while your insurance covers abortion. Awesome.

At the end of the day, you’re left with a tiered health care system. At the very top are men. They can purchase private insurance. They can use public funds. They can do what you want with them, within reason, and not have to worry about losing coverage.

Quite a way below them are women paying for identical insurance except for abortion coverage, but paying much higher premiums. They cannot use public funds for anything.

Below them even further are women who can’t pay for the prohibitively expensive private insurance of their female peers. Among them are women that need any assistance whatsoever for anything, even something as simple as a teeth cleaning. They must pay for abortion out-of-pocket or choose between any federal or state assistance.

And at the very bottom are the women who can neither pay for prohibitively expensive private insurance or out-of-pocket abortions. They get pregnant, and they’re forced to procure risky abortions by untrained providers or have a baby against their will. At best, they succeed. At worst, they bleed to death or lose their fertility to a massive infection.

Oh, and they will suffer from those cheaper abortions. I’d bet all the money I have that someone will make it so the prohibition against paying for abortions will extend to paying for the complications from botched abortions. Or they’ll extend it to birth control, IUDs, and all those things that wackos say “kill babies”. Before long, everything that has to do with your right to exercise your entirely legal reproductive rights will damn you to fork over big bucks. No assistance. No coverage.

Lo and behold, our fucking Democratic majority has opened its collective asshole and shat out a mammoth steaming pile of shit that only allows us to avoid bankruptcy by medical bills only if we promise to be good girls and never ever kill babies.

There’s your Hope™ and Change™. You thought that Democrats were cool with just throwing gays under the bus? We’re not stopping at anything. Fuck the poor. Fuck women. Fuck the environment. Fuck the Middle East. Fuck accountability. Fuck ending tax cuts. Fuck our progressive base. Fuck federal law and Roe v. Wade and the things we could do with a Democratic majority.

If you have a Senator that would otherwise vote to pass this bill (mine are all Republicans), please, for your rights, send them a letter. Give them a call. Do something! Otherwise, I’m afraid that this is the death-knell for reproductive rights.

Democrats (also) hate women

Lest you forget, know that the people who run America really hate women. No, really, they do. Underneath all that “hopey changey” bullshit is deliberate callousness that will not hesitate to throw women, gays, minorities, and the poor under the bus to get what they want.

Lo and behold, the steaming pile of shit that is HR3962. Just like all of the bills coming out of the House and Senate, the newly passed HR3962, known as the “Health Care Bill”, defines “basic health care” as “basic care for human beings who don’t have vaginas”. Among the services that sub-humans need and are therefore not necessary, of course, are the following: pelvic exams, domestic violence counseling and screening, counseling for STDs, birth control, and abortion. To add insult to injury, none of the above are protected from “cost sharing”, which means that women might possibility be required to pay the costs of these vital procedures out-of-pocket instead of using the affordability credits. Abortion, specifically, is barred from the application of affordability credits, meaning that it must be paid out-of-pocket.

This, of course, raises the question of how exactly women are going to afford to have abortions. Most private insurance companies do provide some sort of coverage for things as basic as birth control and abortion. However, a lot of people cannot afford private insurance, such as single mothers who don’t’ work enough hours to be eligible. Effectively, this will create a gender-tiered system of medical care, with men on the top, rich women with private insurance below them, and poor women with state insurance below them.

Additionally, will the new insurance deny coverage for abortion complications? Considering how hell-bent the leadership is on crafting a bill prohibiting any sort of reproductive care to women, I wouldn’t be surprised if women were given a red A at clinics instead of care and left to bleed out in the streets.

Of course, erectile dysfunction is on the list of things that will continued to be covered by insurance. So while you can get boners with medical assistance you can’t prevent pregnancy, end pregnancy, check if you can get pregnant, protect your ability to get pregnant, or protect yourself from abuse even if not pregnant. In short, the state thinks that funding a man’s right to have a sufficiently manly boner with the people’s taxes is totally more important than providing vital medical care to people with vaginas.

In other news, I’m looking forward to not voting in the next election if my choice comes down to a man who hates women and a man who really hates women.

Women and children: Guilty until proven innocent

Mum’s been the word around these parts on the Rihanna domestic violence case around these parts. I figure that my input is just unnecessary and encouraging people to further invade the woman’s privacy. Which, obviously, I do not approve at all. So, here you will not see pictures or run-downs of police statements. Plenty of other sources have already covered that, and you have Google at your disposal. Look it up if you so wish.

What I will say is that the framing of this case in the media disgusts the ever-living hell out of me. It did from the first second I heard about it at the Grammys from that Seacrest douche. I recall working on some International Ethics paper at the kitchen table, and hearing Seacrest announcing on the television in the next room that neither Rhianna nor Brown was going to be performing that night because of “alleged” reports of assault and battery. Seacrest finished with some sort of sentiment that boiled down to that “we don’t know all the facts” and “our hearts go out to both of them”. Huh?

Immediately, I rolled my eyes in disgust. It didn’t occur to me that there was anything “allegedly” about it. I know far far too much about domestic violence to be stupid enough to assume, without anything concrete, that reports were false. Furthermore, the sentiment that I was supposed to feel bad for the both of them just blew my mind. What the ever living fuck? I mean, when reports surfaced about Michael Vick, that asshole, it didn’t occur to me to pray for him. I felt horrible when I imagined the dogs that suffered at his hands, but I would be have to brain dead to pray for Michael Vick. The only thing I prayed for was swift justice and a long prison sentence for such a sick asshole.

So when the Rhianna/Brown case broke that day, I didn’t want to pray for Brown. First, I’m not one to pray to begin with. Second, I have a lot better things to pray for than accused woman beaters. Like world peace, starving children, and the women  abused by said batterers.

I knew that the case was only going to get worse from there on out. If Seacrest’s sentiments weren’t already mind-bogglingly stupid, the media coverage was about to go from plain ignorant to malicious and then lovingly embrace the abyss of bat-shit-crazy. And fuck me, I also pessimistically thought that the negative media about to leveled square at a woman who really didn’t need to be victimized again by a society that ought to have her back would probably drive her right back into the abuser’s arms for lack of better options.

Fuck, I hate when I’m right.

So the shit came outpouring from every media mouthpiece. Rhianna was slandered: did she make him do it? Did you hear that she gave him an STD? Did she read his text messages and need to be “put in her place”? Then some shithead at TMZ got a hold of her picture taken for evidence (no, I’m not linking to it) and posted it all over the Internet, regardless of how illegal and violating that is. Anything for a buck. Pictures of Brown surfaced: defending himself, “remaking his public image”, partying on a boat with friends, hanging with fellow rap artists that would eventually push Rhianna to reconcile with him, which she did.

And I gagged on bile the whole way through. I was forced to consider that people I thought were intelligent were actually dump as stumps when they started spouting nonsense about Rhianna too.

So, back to that first day. I recall asking my mother, “did they just seriously insinuate that I ought to feel bad for Brown?” Her response was the very thing falling from most ignorant lips, “well, we don’t know the details. Innocent until proven guilty”.

Except not. That excuse to rally behind batterers, rapists, and murderers always left me dumbfounded. “Innocent until prove guilty” is a legal doctrine. Which means, that it is not something that ordinary citizens are held to, nor should they be. And most people plainly do not really believe in “innocent until proven guilty”.

Most people simply take cases as they hear them and decide without all the information. The media usually gleefully rips to shreds any celebrity accused of anything. I can’t tell you how many times I had to watch Paris Hilton cry as she was shipped back to jail. Not once did anyone ask, “did she really do it?” Same thing with Winona’s stealing, Lindsay’s DUI, and Vick’s dogfighting. Nobody started spreading rumors about police framing, dogs asking to abused, or entrapment. If there was someone that did ask such things, they were labeled a fucking idiot and dismissed, rightly I might add.

But what was remarkable is that nobody touted out “innocent until proven guilty” or “we don’t know all the facts”. I don’t recall the media scrambling to assemble excuses for the crime, or reasons to condemn those that accused them of such crimes. It was just basically assumed that if you were caught stealing, drinking and driving, or gambling on abused dogs fighting, that you were probably guilty of what you were accused of. In fact, most people I know were upset that they didn’t get enough time in jail for their crimes.

Notice something striking about these cases though: none of them involved a man being accused of hurting, killing, or abusing a woman.

Which cases do?

Well, Rhianna and Chris Brown. Roman Polanski, who got someone to direct a biopic about how the 13 year-old girl he raped asked for it and won a fucking Oscar in overseas exile to avoid being brought to justice. O.J. Simpson, who people still to this day defend. Michael Jackson, who need no further explanation. Mike Tyson, who has high-profile celebrities defending him from accusations of date rape. Kobe Bryant who said he didn’t “view the encounter the say way she did… I believe that it was consensual.”

All of the above were, and still are, defended by the media. Their accusers were slandered, their names leaked, and their lives ruined. Many of them still are extremely wealthy, and their careers are unaffected. When Kobe dunks at a Lakers game, nobody prefaces their play-by-play with references to his crime. People still buy Jackson’s music and think of him as the King of Pop. Polanski is still hailed as a hero in Hollywood. The 13 year-old that he raped? She’s considered a whore.

Innocent until proven guilty, but only if you’re a man accused of hurting a woman. Everyone knows that women and fucking children, for shit’s sake, are just a bunch of liars.  The only people in the media who are ever accused of crimes without proof are the very women and children that have been killed, beaten, raped, and victimized by sick male celebrities. The media and plenty of citizens will go to any lengths to invent crimes the victims of such horrible crimes are guilty of.

You and I know better. Their only crimes are not being silent when a man decides to use his penis as a weapon against them. Guilty for slaking the male right to sex, consensual or not, and then objecting to the Natural Order of Things.

Good God, this shit makes me mad as hell. I’m ashamed to live in such a sick world populated by such delusional woman-hating fucks.

Honeymoon is over.

Didn’t take long, did it? Sometime after midnight on November 4th, the fervor died down. The night was quiet, but my mind was not. Over and over, I turned over questions in my head: have we accomplished anything?

No, we haven’t. No, we can’t.

President-Elect Barack Obama is more valuable as a symbol than a flesh-and-blood president. November 5th dawned bright and clear, and with it all the inequalities, abuses, and horrors of the day before. None of that had been washed away. None of that had been lessened.

Some of it had been worsened. California voters used their irrational hatred to take away the rights and happiness of a minority they despise. Arizona voters kept a sheriff that has wrongfully killed prisoners, violated the federal and state constitutions, and uses tax payer money to fund his crusade of racial profiling rather than doing anything to reduce the skyrocketing crime in our poorest urban centers.

Democrats now control the Congress, Senate, and White House. So? So what? What has that changed? Nothing at all.

Need I remind anyone that Obama’s health care plan is even worse than the shitty choices we already face? Do I need to explicate the fact that his stance on a woman’s rights to bodily integrity are so porous that I could park a jet in the holes? Must I really sit down and explain the fact that nobody seems to give a flying fuck about the majority of the population— the working and lower classes, women, homosexuals, and the population of the rest of the goddamn world?

You know, I’m really quite glad that McCain lost. I truly am. But that doesn’t make me happy. Not in the slightest. It means that my standards are so low that I can still feel hope or good about this stupid nation for a couple of minutes while the majority of our population—and basically the entirety of the rest of the world—suffers for the selfishness and hubris of the American ruling class.

This makes me a sorry piece of human waste. Because I bought it. I smelled the shit, I put in my mouth, and I lied and said it tasted good.

It didn’t taste good. No we can’t.

Our environment is nearing the breaking point every second. Millions in our own country have nothing to wake up to the next morning but insurmountable poverty, bigotry, and the ugly fact that they will never stop paying for who they are, or who their ancestors were. Billions in the rest of the world celebrate with our new President-Elect, because we have broken them. We pat ourselves on the back like the self-entitled fucks we are, and we all don’t seem to give a damn that while our new president might not like warfare as much as our last president, he still supports the American hegemony over the entire globe. He still voted to redistribute billions of dollars made on the backs of hard-working Americans and even harder-working exploited foreigners to a bunch of greedy bottom-dwellers who celebrate an economic downturn of their own making with another yacht.

He’s still a part of the American ruling elite, no matter how dark his skin or how foreign his roots. And he will operate within their parameters, or else. He will do their bidding, or else.

And we will smile. The rest of the world, because they are broken beyond repair, will too. The 1% will have their cake, eat it, and the 99% will thank them for the priviledge of being used as footstools.

November 4th: a day in which it looked like a lot was done, and maybe it was, but not nearly enough.

Sexism is culture, or the futile Oppression Olympics

Much ado is made about the ongoing Oppression Olympics. For those that aren’t familiar with my hip lingo, the Oppression Olympics is basically a clusterfuck wherein people (usually American white males, who are more unqualified than any single being on the planet to talk about cultural issues) talk about who has it worse. This advanced form of inadvertently ironic pedantry is used for many incompatible purposes, including the following:

1. Proving that one’s culture is better:
Sexism is dead in America, look at female castration/hijab/rape in third world countries!

2. Proving that one’s culture is worse:
If the sexism in the media gets any worse over Palin, I’m going to move to Canada.

3. Telling someone to shut up:
All you do is talk about abortion. If you care so much about women, try talking about child brides in India, m’kay?

4. Telling someone to speak up:
You stayed with an abuser for so long and didn’t do anything?

5. Denying responsibility:
I don’t have privilege. All the people I know are sweet as pie to women, black people, and that one down syndrome kid that everybody knows about but nobody wants to be seen with.

6. Granting responsibility:
The people of your race/class/gender/religion are so oppressed! If you are going to hold an office as someone who is of-color/a woman/formerly poor/not Christian we will hold you as a model of your background and expect you to speak for them at all times.

I’m certain that my esteemed readers could come up with many other examples on their own.

Regardless, my point is that the Oppression Olympics are just another tool in the box of hierarchy. Taken as a whole, the entire idea of comparing dissimilar cultures, none of which are a blissful Utopia of equality, to find evidence of which one is the “worst” at some artificially delineated form of oppression is absurd. In more words, here’s why:

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The rewards for capitulating to misogynists

What is clear from clips like these is the rewards for capitulation. Hillary Clinton was defeated partly by the vile and pervasive sexist media, and nobody believed her. She was belittled and shamed by cartoonists, other politicians, newspapers, and her own party. Clinton, however, was the closest thing to a feminist in a town serving as the American bastion of male privilege.

What about Palin? Palin is anti-choice. Palin supports prayer in schools. Palin is a veritable mouthpiece for the ultra-conservative Republican party who hold in the very highest esteem violent white heterosexual Christian wealthy men before anyone else. The message is clear: oppose men and you will be destroyed. Support men and the patriarchy and the state ownership of women’s bodies and you will be rewarded and defended. America is obviously no place for strong women.

If this election is anything to go by, I’d suppose that the glass ceiling has an entire posse–liberals and conservatives alike–repairing the cracks our sisters put in it decades ago. They will fortify it and guard it zealously, and only tentatively lift women near it if they promise to oppose all real power and agency for all other women. They will grease the sides of our great gilded cage anew, and clap merrily when some claim empowerment by taking off their clothes or becoming a false symbol of “progress” held as evidence of our country’s progressiveness whilst they are tapped to tear down the foundations that feminists labored for decades to lay. You please The Man’s politics of oppression or his throbbing cock superiority and you are rewarded with a false throne. You oppose The Man and you are mocked, belittled, and torn down. Your accomplishments are nullified. Your positions are ignored. Your character is warped. And they cross their legs and fear for their genitals in your presence while they and their cabal of media chauvinists collaborate for your destruction with the false invocation of comedy.

They should fear. For I hope that one day soon, the only thing that is torn down is their edifice of lies and misogyny. I hope it is cast into the dirt and their ideology is rent to pieces.

In which I pessimistically call the 2008 Election for McCain

20080829wap_mccain_palin_500 I think it’s over folks. I really do. You heard it right here before anywhere else: McCain will win this election to the detriment of everything I hold dear. Who will be responsible for this tragedy? Who can we blame?

The answer is liberal men and pundits. McCain, by choosing Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, will cause the most vocal members of Obama’s campaign and the Democrats to split the entire party in two. The only way this catastrophe can be averted is if liberal pundits realize that their mischaracterization and disdain for their monolithic idea of female voters, as blinded by the vision of anything with a vagina, will do nothing but drive actual women to seriously doubt the sincerity of Obama and his supporters’ claims of being for women’s issues.

I say that this is kind of proactive self-evaluation is currently impossible for the likes of male liberal pundits. The Democrats show no sign of ever regarding the concerns of women as the lynchpin of their party. My recent posts on Obama’s dismissal of a serious threat to reproductive rights and his pandering to evangelicals should be enough evidence. They are more content to tell us how to vote, blackmail us with visions of Roe overturned, and accuse us of stupidity than ask us to vote for them by addressing our concerns with something other than censorship and straw-man misconstructions of our goals.

McCain is not stupid. If Bush can win two elections with little political maneuvering, I think it is entirely likely that McCain can do the same given the fact that he has Obama on the defensive, and he seems to know exactly how to get liberals to put their foots in their mouths.

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Obama wouldn’t care if they confiscated my uterus

I am a lazy no-good navel-gazer. With the advent of the new semester my routine has transformed from sitting on my ass at home to paying thousands of dollars to sit on my ass on campus. Nevertheless, I have woefully neglected my blog and my loyal readership of three, maybe four, people that serve as my awesome echo-chamber of personal superiority. Or so I’ve been told.

Nevertheless, there is this nasty story about the federal government’s newest scheme to reassert dominance over the wayward uterus that I feel miserable about not covering when it was first brought to my attention. Scheduled to go into effect in late September, the proposal requires all agencies receiving aid from the Department of Health and Human Services to sign agreements stating that they understand that “discriminatory” actions taken against those who object to abortion on either moral or religious justifications will result in a loss of federal aid. Long story short, Bush and his godbag posse would like to make it illegal to “discriminate” against people that refuse to do their jobs, assuming that posing a significant barrier to someone’s full exercise of reproductive agency is protected by law, while the actual exercise of that reproductive agency itself is not.

Furthermore, the proposal seeks to redefine abortion as:

…any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.

Obviously, Washington has now decided that it knows a hell of a lot more about abortion and pregnancy than every credible gynecologist on the planet. Since 1965,  the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has defined pregnancy as the advent of “conception… the implantation of a fertilized ovum”. The horseshit proposed above (pay attention to the emphasis added by moi) would classify things like hormonal birth control and Plan B as “abortion”, whereas the ACOG–a far more credible source–has defined such measures as plain-Jane birth control. If this measure goes into affect next month without challenge, millions of women across the nation could be denied access to simple birth control by the whims of people permitted to not do their jobs and still get paid.

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