National Equality March

October 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm (Fun, News) (, , , , , )

Yesterday was the National Equality March here in DC. I went down to stay with a friend on Saturday night so I could avoid the morning metro crowds. Pictures courtesy of my friend who brought a camera. It was a beautiful day, no cloud in sight, with sunshine and wonderfully moderate temperatures.

7921_1143410665299_1228440130_30414611_6172207_nHangin’ out in McPherson square while the rally was just filling up.

7921_1143410865304_1228440130_30414616_6820699_nThe turnout was absolutely HUGE. By the time we started marching (at noon), the rally stretched back for several blocks. We didn’t stay for the whole thing, but apparently by the time the march reached the Capitol, there was still TEN BLOCKS worth of people.

7921_1143410985307_1228440130_30414619_3170459_nOne of the many funny signs we saw. We didn’t get a good picture of one sign a gal was holding that said, “IF YOU MET MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU’D WANT TO MARRY HER TOO.” We awww’ed a lot.

7921_1143410905305_1228440130_30414617_2077576_nSomeone gave me a sign. I was leaning on it at this point, waiting for the rally to start. Lots and lots of buses went past us and the tourists gaped.

7921_1143410945306_1228440130_30414618_7683048_nMore signs!

Later we went to Adams Morgan and had lunch there. We saw a whole bunch of people dressed in pink and it turned out there was a 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk going on. Among the many things we saw, there were tricked out motorcycles (one dude had put a lot of pink fuzzy stuff on his motorcycle and a pink lace bra), pink fauxhawks on motorcycles. And then there was this guy:

7921_1143411065309_1228440130_30414621_4384397_nHe was dancing to Will Smith’s Wild Wild West. It was bizarre and hilarious.

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Desert Flower

October 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm (News) (, , , , , , , )

0688172377.01.LZZZZZZZI recently picked up Desert Flower – The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad after finding out a German filmmaker had managed to snag the rights to it. I had heard of it before, but seeing as I only recently officially came into being a snot-nosed feminist, it hadn’t occurred to me to read it.

Waris Dirie’s story is at once heart-breaking and inspiring. One of twelve children, she was born into a Somalian pastoral nomad family and raised in the deserts among those goats and camels. With no ability to read, write or speak a language beside Somali, she didn’t seem to be destined for great things. In fact, she was rather average for a young Somalian female. She tended goats, played with her siblings, had no shoes or education. Like every girl she was expected to marry whoever her father wished in exchange for more camels.

And like every other girl, she was subjected to the awful, awful practice of female genital mutilation when she was only five years old.

Waris Dirie is now a renown supermodel and UN special ambassador for the elimination of FGM. While I read this book, it felt like a small part of me died when I came across her experiences with FGM. When she was five, her mother woke her in the early morning before anyone else was awake and taken out to the bushes where the “gypsy woman,” as she was referred to, waited for them. Dirie was given a root to bite down on and held down by her mother. The gypsy woman herself used a razor stained with the blood of countless other young, helpless girls that this woman cleaned with her saliva and nothing else.

By African standards, this is relatively cleanly, apparently. Anything can be used – razors, glass, sharp rocks and when nothing else is to be had, teeth. The severity of the mutilation ranges from the removal of the clitoral hood to the full on removal of the labia majora, minora and everything else, then the girls are sewn shut. Dirie experienced the latter form – thorns from a nearby bush were used to create punctures for the sewing. After this, Dirie’s legs were bound together in order to create a minimal, “tidy” scar and she was left in a specially built hut to heal for a whole month.

Many girls die from blood loss, tetanus, infection, gangrene and other horrific side-effects of the “operation,” which include pelvic infections, severe UTIs and more. One of Dirie’s sisters bled to death. Dirie herself suffered for many years because she was left with only a small hole through which urine and menstrual blood were supposed to be allowed to escape. She was able to get surgery later in life, but will never regain much of the feeling in that region of her body because the surgery was performed back in the 90s. Nowadays, with medical advances, there are doctors who specialize in reconstructive surgery in order to help women regain feeling and a sense of pride in their bodies again.

I remember being in an Ethics class and the topic of FGM coming up. I argued against it because I feel, as a woman, that it is a cruel, unnecessary and awful tradition to uphold that gives a whole continent a bad reputation. I was told my Western privilege was showing – that it was necessary to approach some traditions with respect and the dignity it deserves because – while it is not my own culture – it is someone else’s cultural practice.

I call bullshit on that. I agree that the Western way is not always the right way, but I see no reason to accept a practice that is so barbaric. Many of the cultures FGM is practiced in are Muslim; men argue that the Q’ran demands it. Nowhere in the Q’ran does it state that you are to maim and brutalize your women. FGM – I refuse to deign it with the term “female circumcision” because it undercuts the severity of what is done – was invented by men in order to oppress women and make them pliable through their pain. Those who argue that male circumcision is equally cruel – what on Earth are you thinking? We do not cut off young boys’ penises. We don’t divorce them from their sexual organs in order to oppress them. There is a vast difference between a small surgical procedure in which the foreskin is removed and the hacking off and permanent crippling of young defenseless girls.

It makes me sick to my stomach that around 2 MILLION girls a year are at risk of being victims of FGM. I hope that, through education and redirection of practices, it will be possible to decrease and maybe eliminate the practice entirely, though it will take a long time. Meanwhile, here is the trailer to Desert Flower where Dirie is played by Liya Kebede:

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A Curious Case

September 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm (News) (, , , , , , )

By now, the news about Caster Semenya is all over the place. My main concern with the whole deal is how poorly she (YES, SHE) was treated and how much of a disgrace the IAAF and SA Sports Management have been in the matter. It is in extremely poor taste to publicly demand gender testing and then publicize the results without contacting the person first.

All I see right now is a bunch of smug people saying, “I told you so,” because they thought Caster Semenya looked “manly.” And a lot of people, like myself, who are absolutely livid about the way Semenya’s privacy was violated. Would it not occur to officials that, oh, a young woman who – as it turns out – is intersex and still a teenager might need time to adjust to the results of her testing? Homosexuals and transgender folk go through a lot of emotional turmoil trying to figure out where they stand on their issues; why should it be any different, if not even more difficult, for someone who has been harassed about her masculine appearance her whole life?

I’m absolutely tired of people basing their opinions on her appearance. So what if she has manly features? There’s plenty of heterosexual, gender-normative women who have many attributes we would describe as masculine. I know a lot of men who have very feminine features. Appearance has absolutely nothing to do with her performance as an athlete, her right to identify as the gender she feels she is, nor has it any implication to her sex. Period. It is one dead horse I wish people would lay off. Get over yourselves; it is inappropriate and uncalled for.

Semenya is not the first nor will she be the last intersex athlete. The question is, do we really have the right to take away the one thing she loves and does best – running in competitive sports? She has always identified as female, regardless of her genitals or hormone levels. Even if she does produce more testosterone than your average female athlete, she still has lower levels than a male athlete. What are they going to do, make her compete in the Paralympics? Ban her entirely? Open up an entirely different category for transgender and intersex athletes? I do not believe it would be fair to ban her from her vocation, she didn’t deceive anyone on purpose and she was abused by officials greedy for medals to be attributed to their nation, and abused by officials wishing to call more publicity to their organization. I hope to God that poor girl is compensated somehow.

I wish this would trigger intelligent discourse, but I know it will not because the majority of humankind is stupid.

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Day Terrors

June 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm (News) (, , , , , , )

I can shrug off many things, but the shooting at the National Holocaust Museum earlier today has left me shaken. Jezebel compiled a bunch of information on the shooter, James von Brunn. It turns out he is a white-supremacist, anti-Semite, pro-Aryan nutjob. The sole person he shot has died. His website includes gems such as:

The “American myth” (created by JEWS) alleging our Founding Fathers intended that all races, from pygmy to Ainu, be invited to our shores, is based on Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence: “…all men are created equal.” The meaning of this much quoted statement has been distorted by the ILLUMINATI which subjectively is re-writing history and wielding the “HOLOCAUST” like a battle-ax at the heads of those proclaiming genetic certainties: Men and races are NOT created equal. Jefferson’s statement can be understood only in context of his Era. Our Founding Fathers were Aryans, men of good breeding who understood, empirically, the great differences existing between strains of horses; strains of live-stock; races of men; and between individuals: knowledge confirmed today by the natural sciences of Genetics, Eugenics, and Anthropology. Hitler, as American boobs are beginning to learn, was not all wrong.

I am, in all honesty, terrified. The kind of hate-speech he promotes seems to be directed at me. I am Jewish – but do I not look Aryan? What about those who do not have the protection of such genes?

I did nothing wrong. I have never participated in conspiracies against anyone. I believe in social justice. He does not know me or my family, nor does he know any other Jewish family. He does not know our friends. This, however, would mean he had to think and get treatment for his brand of crazy.

So why does he hate us so much?

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An Open Letter

June 3, 2009 at 2:52 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , )

Dear Sir,

I realize you thought you were doing a good thing. Your thoughts were tainted by the grandeur of martyring yourself for the cause, ending a reign of terror, a genocide. You were stopping a godless murderer from ending the lives of defenseless children, those who had no voice. You and your friends, you were to speak for these innocents, you were going to protect them.

What you call ideology I call madness. What you call an innocent child I call a cluster of cells, a the half-formed beginnings of what – after birth – will be a human being, with no personality or viability. What you call murder I call choice. Those you condemn I support.

What you do not realize, sir, is that you have no right to make decisions for someone with little choice in the matter. For every woman who, in utmost emotional pain, fells the decision to have a “late-term” abortion does so with a heavy heart. It is a traumatic, invasive, terrible procedure. Those “children” are wanted. You have no concept of the terror and anger and sadness these women feel as they grasp their partners’ hands throughout the procedure. You have no idea of how these people have to pick the pieces of their shattered dreams and hopes they pinned on that pregnancy. Everything they’d wished for is dashed with one visit to prenatal care.

You may think you have the right to judge and shun these women and men, harass them and shame them. It is my duty to correct you, sir.

You are no hero. You are, in fact, an awful human being, as is every single one of your friends at Operation Rescue. How dare you take it into your own hands to pass judgement on someone else when you spend so much time arguing your belief in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. You are nothing but a useless worm. Do you think this is what your God wants?

How ever did you think it was right, even just to shoot another living, breathing human being? You are no martyr, sir, you are an asshole. You committed a heinous crime against another person, defying one of the Ten Commandments, if you feel inclined to placing worth on your own goddamn Bible. Does “thou shalt not kill” ring a bell? No? Then perhaps you are not as familiar with your own scriptures. You are a horrid person, sir. What you and your friends are doing is called domestic terrorism. You shot a man providing invaluable, important services to those who needed them the most. You shot a true humanitarian. Countless of Dr. Tiller’s patients are stepping forward to tell their stories. You are instilling fear in the hearts of innocent people, making them afraid to seek the help and make the choices they need to. Did you know all of them are anonymous because they are afraid of you, of the things you do in the name of a God who surely condemns what you did just as much as anyone with even an ounce of brain matter does?

I hope you rot in Hell.

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A Swine Flu Update

May 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm (News) (, , )

I figured you guys might find this interesting. My mother (an epidemiologist) is currently attending a medical conference in Hungary. She sent me this.

Swine flu is spreading more widely than official figures indicate, with outbreaks in Europe and Asia showing it’s gained a foothold in at least 3 regions. One in 20 cases is being officially reported in the US, meaning more than 100 000 people have probably been infected nationwide with the new H1N1 flu strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the UK, the virus may be 300 times more widespread than health authorities have said, the Independent on Sunday [newspaper] reported yesterday [Sun 24 May 2009]. Japan, which has reported the most cases in Asia, began reopening schools at the weekend [23-24 May 2009] after health officials said serious medical complications had not emerged in those infected. The virus is now spreading in the community in Australia, Jim Bishop, the nation’s chief medical officer, said yesterday [24 May 2009]. “I think we will see the number rise,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio today after confirming the nation’s 17th case and saying test results are pending on 41 others. “This is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.”

So far, 46 countries have confirmed 12 515 cases, including 91 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally. Almost 4 of every 5 cases were in Mexico and the US, where the pig-derived strain was discovered last month [April 2009]. Most of those infected experience an illness similar to that of seasonal flu. The main difference is that the new H1N1 strain is persisting outside the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Summer disease?

“While we are seeing activities decline in some areas, we should expect to see more cases, more hospitalizations and perhaps more deaths over the weeks ahead and possibly into the summer,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s interim deputy director for science and public health program, told reporters on a 22 May 2009 conference call.

The US has officially reported 6552 probable and confirmed cases, Schuchat said. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. We are estimating more than 100 000 people probably have this virus now in the US. There have been 9 deaths and more than 300 known hospitalizations,” she said. The fatalities exclude a woman in her 50s who died in New York over the weekend [23-24 May 2009].

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I Don’t Caaaaaaaare

May 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm (Art, Fun, News) (, , , )

What you say about Disney. I AM FUCKING PSYCHED FOR THIS MOVIE. I have a long-standing love affair with animated movies like this, and that’s not going to change.

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Endless Love

May 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm (Fun, News) (, , , , )

michellesesame

Can I just say how fucking awesome Michelle is? I adore her. A lot. I wish she’d adopt me or at least let me babysit her children. I must find out when this will be broadcast because I need to see that shit.

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Depeche Mode

April 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm (Music, News) (, , )

I remember watching this while it was broadcasted, live, in the summer of 06. It was beautiful, brilliant and awe-inspiring. The video is horribly out of sync, but who cares!

I feel like a bad fan for not realizing they had a new album, Sounds of the Universe (released this month). But the following factoid made me smile! They have a song called “Jezebel” on said album.

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A Royal Pain

April 14, 2009 at 6:51 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , )

bo obamaAs we welcome our newest member of the Obama family into the White House, there has been unprecedented nastiness pervading the nation. People are all up in arms about the fact that Bo, seen on the left, is a purebred Portuguese Water Dog. Many are complaining that the Obamas should have picked a shelter dog! Why did they not pick a mutt! Wah wah wah!

My dears, let me clarify: Malia Obama has severe allergies to dog dander. No matter how good your intentions, it is best to pick a purebred dog that will not set off her allergies. There is no such guarantee with mutts. When you buy a purebred, you know exactly what you are in for; there are no unexpected signs of aggression, no mysterious illness, nothing. Purebreds are predictable in temperament and this is precisely what anyone who has never owned a dog before needs.

Secondly, Bo IS a rescue dog of sorts. His previous owners returned him to the breeder. He was homeless. He needed a family. He seems like a sweet, even-tempered dog, which is ideal for first-time dog owners and especially owners in such high-level stress situations. They need a dog that will not piss itself with excitement every time a helicopter lands on the White House lawn or a foreign dignitary comes to pet him.

Bo’s breeders are respectable, registered, humane breeders who had the good sense to take a dog they had sold back when said dog could no longer live with his family. Humane breeders will always, always take a dog back, no matter what the circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the humane breeders who are contributing to the homeless pet population and influx of sickly purebred animals. It is backyard breeders, puppy mills and idiots who do not get their pets neutered. People also seem to forget that the First Family is not their personal Sims computer game; we have no right whatsoever to interfere with their choice of school for their children, their choice of designers – or not – to wear or which dog they adopt. There was no such outrage when Clinton adopted Buddy, a purebred chocolate lab; or when Bush brought his two Scottish Terriers to the White House. Why now?

I, too, am the owner of a purebred dog. Lena joined my family when she was thirteen weeks old, after she had been returned to her breeder by her previous owners. Lena earsMy parents had previously taken in dogs that had been abused by their owners, a cocker spaniel and a mutt, and had bad experiences with both of those dogs. When we purchased our first Golden Retriever – after much research into what breed would be compatible with a family with small children – we knew exactly what to expect. Whisper was the sweetest, dearest dog you could ever imagine.

Lena, my current dog, is a sweetheart. She’ll let you do anything to her (as evidenced by my younger sister torturing sad puppyface on the kitchen floor). If she’s had enough, she will get up and leave, preferably seeking shelter with me. She has not been around young children much, yet instinctively knows that she is not to play rough with them, has never snapped at one or made any threatening move. Much as I like mutts, I have had better experiences with purebreds simply because I knew what behavior to expect when. Besides – mutts wouldn’t be around were it not for the purebred dogs mingling, no? People pick what is right for them and their circumstances, and in the Obamas’ case, it was a purebred dog that would be of even temper, would not set off allergies and would be compliant to training.

To the whiners, I say: Shut the fuck up. It is not your decision to make which dog enters the White House, just as it was never your decision to yammer about which school Malia and Sasha Obama would attend.

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