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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Chugging On

August 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been saved from spending my whole life brooding only because my mother took us to Montreal and then San Francisco. WorldCon was pretty fabulous – I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in AGES and that makes me happy. I did not get to talk to Neil Gaiman but I walked within a few feet of him. That will have to suffice. I don’t want to be that dick fangirl who ruins it for everyone else.

Right around that time, I had a pretty enlightening conversation with my friend Alex who has moved to D.C. She’s a year younger than myself and we’d lost touch a bit in between when we met each other and WorldCon, but we were both pleasantly surprised to discover we still got along famously. My mother had talked to someone and mentioned she had a daughter (yours truly) running around con, and the response of said stranger was, “OH! The hot chick!” Alex mentioned that the second she had started acknowledging that she was, in fact, not ugly but actually attractive, people started looking at her differently. There was a lot of negative feedback.

I’ve decided to do the same. After that conversation, I have decided that yes, I am attractive. Yes, I have my share of talents. No, it’s not going to be easy convincing my subconscious that I am deserving of love, respect and, yes, maybe even admiration for being pretty, but that’s not the main point. The fact is that I can’t spend my whole life hiding and being ashamed of who I am, what I look like. I had a friend who loved me unconditionally and the best thing I can do to honor her is to try and transfer her unconditional adoration into something productive, empowering. (Or maybe just a little silly.)

san fran

In San Francisco, I spent some “quality” time with my kid sister and looked at houses with my parents, who are 99% sure they want to retire to San Francisco. There is a house on Euclid in Berkeley that looked extremely promising. It was built in 1992 on an “earthquake proof” foundation, is a mile away from the UC Berkeley campus (where I had an interview, hence the formalish dress), is sound-proof and wonderfully located. The feel is similar to our current house in Heidelberg; my parents love it. It had only been on the market for three days when we went to view it. We’re hoping the offer will go through.

I got my hair cut in San Francisco because I decided it was time for a change. I decided this an hour before we went off in search for a stylist with free time on their hands. And then, the same night, I colored it and purchased a supervillain t-shirt the next day while exploring San Francisco and its crappy Museum of Modern Art with my long-time friend Jerri.

Photo 98

I met Meg and her friend Summer, who took me down to San Francisco’s Pier 39 to see sea lions. I love sea lions. I love anything that is basically the nautical equivalent of the retriever brand of dog. They are total hams, very vocal and pretty damn smelly, but extremely adorable. We tried on a bunch of silly hats while I pretended to look serious and classy in mine. I garnered a bunch of compliments for said hat and am sad that I did not purchase that $25 Kentucky Derby style hat that looked absolutely smashing on me. I am making due with my cloche, though.

Photo 103

We arrived back in England around noon today and I finally, FINALLY have a dental appointment for tomorrow morning. With the guy who dismissed my complaints about my tooth, which resulted in me living off painkillers for about two weeks. My tooth, by the way, is still not better. I am going to murder him if he gives me the holier-than-thou shit again. Oh, and my mom will be in the room with me. I think she can hurt him a great deal more than I ever could.

I might try and come up with a more comprehensive summary of my last two weeks, but my mind is blurry with lack of sleep. I decided you guys looking at pictures would be a lot more interesting.

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I Call Shenanigans

June 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm (Writing) (, , , , )

I was rereading Shirley Darsgaard’s series last night when I came across a section in “Witch Hunt” in which the protagonist’s friend, Darci, is putting up with a MAJOR red-flag guy. Ophelia, the protagonist, notices this and immediately bitches and moans about it. Her grandmother, Abby, is supposed to be this loving mentor figure who understands everything.

And, guess what? Ophelia points out Danny’s red flag behavior and all Abby has to say about it is to the effect of, “Some men just want to be the center of their partner’s universe. That’s Darci’s problem, not yours.”

Seriously, ma’am? I get that you’re older and were raised in the Appalachians and whatever other stupid-ass excuse you can come up with. But how DARE you hold Abby up as a prime example of good female knowledgability and matronliness, and then have her say something like that?

Danny is a red flag male. He controls Darci, pushing different clothes and different beliefs on her. He tells her what to think and what to say. He tells her it’s “for her own good.” He isolates her from her friends and loved ones and forces himself on her by pushing Darci to let him move in with her after a murder occurs in her house instead of letting Darci find other real estate. That kind of behavior is a warning sign of future abuse to come, and you basically have your character green-light this because it’s “Darci’s problem”?

I call bullshit. I feel angry enough about this to actually write to the author.

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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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One of THESE Again

May 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , )

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This Tornado Loves You

May 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm (Music) (, , , )

I love this.

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It was . . .

May 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm (Life) (, , , , )

a dark and windy night in Southern Germany when she decided to update her blog again.

My mother flew in from England. I am happy to see her, but somehow, I feel things have changed over the five months since I last saw her. I am loathe to say I have grown up because I pretty much feel the same as I always did. I never sense that I have changed. It is others who remark upon such things happening. I never notice it. I don’t feel different, I don’t want to feel different. While I had my flaws, I kind of liked who I was five months ago, even almost a year ago when I graduated.

It is late where I am right now. I think I’ll be able to focus my thoughts better tomorrow morning. I also have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow, so I will post before and after pictures and whatnot. I will also be hunting for shoes for the wedding (one more day until I can forget all about my sister’s gosh-I’m-so-pretty party!) and buying a new curling iron.

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Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009 at 12:52 pm (Life) (, , , , )

Since it is that day a year again, a stereotypical post about the appreciation for my mother is in order.

I would be lying if I said my mother were an easy person. She’s not. She can be brusque, she is honest to a point where tact is not even a remote option. She will roll her eyes at some flights of fancy. She’s never done things the easy way and she is independent and self-reliant; offering help will sometimes result in getting yelled at. She doesn’t quite understand the concept of being a sympathetic listener, instead she tries to come up with pragmatic solutions and is then flabbergasted why she is not someone’s first pick of listener. Her sense of fashion is non-existent and her penchant for wearing loud-colored self-knit socks with sandals has embarrassed me plenty of times.

But she is a wonderful person nevertheless, one who has faith in me when I am rather sure no one else does. Her honesty keeps me grounded. This crazy lady truly believes I am a beautiful, talented, smart, sophisticated young woman. She raised me to know I am worth a whole lot more than the world will offer me at times. Her primary concern is always, always my well-being and living up to my potential. She was willing to give me another chance after I messed up horrible when I was younger; she was willing to give me another pet to help me cope with my failure and my anxiety. Throughout every mistake I made, she trusted in my ability to make the right decisions for myself. My decisions may not always coincide with what she believes is right for me, but she will try and accept it after some initial bitching.

If I have a best friend, it is probably my mother. Distance – her being stationed on a completely different continent for some parts of my life – did sometimes put fissures in our relationship, but we were brave enough to put the pieces back together again and work around those cracks.

My mother is a crazy, wool-obsessed fiber artist with no tolerance for idiocy and the ability to forge her way through anything if she sets her mind to it. It was hard to realize, over the years, that she, too, is a human being and as prone to failure as I am. I still don’t think I could imagine a more perfect mother for myself.

Photo 75

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People Got A Lotta Nerve

April 29, 2009 at 11:57 pm (Music) (, , , , )

No words needed, I think. This is for all those idiots who think snuggling with various wild animals is a good idea.

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