Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A

Archive for February, 2013

Enough With Your Superiority Complex

February 18, 2013 By: Mel Category: Seeking

You are not better than anyone else.

I don’t care how aware you think you are or how many books you have read on anarchism or racism or sexism or whatever. I don’t care what ist you are. I don’t care if you can quote Marx or Judith Butler. I don’t care if you eat animals or don’t eat animals. Whether you spend all day feeding the homeless or all night binge drinking. Whether you go to church every week or don’t believe in god. Whether you live in a penthouse or a group house. Whether you have a Rolls Royce or ride a bike. I don’t care if you have a closet full of Chanel or knit your own clothes from organic hemp that you grew on your commune.

None of those things makes you better than anybody.

Even if you disagree with everything a person thinks, hate the way they live, would die fighting against everything that they stand for – that still doesn’t make you better than them. I guarantee that you are wrong at least as often as all those people you feel superior to. Because we are all human and damaged. None of us has control of where we started in life. All of us are formed within the same oppressive systems. All of us have internalized the prejudices, the violence, the insecurities, and the fucked up desires – including the desire to find something that makes us feel superior to other people.

It is impossible to get it right. I don’t even know how to define what right is. How do you know how much of what you want is socially constructed? How do you know when you are acting purely in opposition to something and thus still letting yourself be defined by it? What magic is going to tell you that your mind is officially free and you can now judge everyone else by your standard?

I’m not saying we should not have opinions or try to live by our values. People should say what they feel. They should fight for whatever they think will make things better. But it is possible to do that without having the kind of contempt and hubris that I see too often from people who like to pretend that they have worked way more shit out in their heads than they actually have.

Things You Might Have Missed

February 06, 2013 By: Mel Category: Misc

The big news this week is that white paper. I read it last night at the bar. I wasn’t drunk enough for that shit. Greenwald’s breakdown here.

A must read interview of Lynn Paltrow over at Guernica about what is happening to pregnant women. In short, get pregnant and kiss your rights goodbye.

This American Life is harassing Siouxsie Q of This American Whore. Melissa Gira Grant wrote a letter.

Good piece in Vice on Why Barrett Brown is facing 100 years in prison. Hint: It’s called investigative journalism.

Cornelius Harris (also known as Soja) has been on hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary for more than 30 days now.

Db0 responds to whether or not humans are ready for anarchism. Hope this means he’ll be blogging more again.

Normally I am very supportive of drugs, especially x. But something about telling people to take drugs so that they can stay in a relationship longer seems a little wack. I mean, maybe it is just time to move on.

If not for racism, we might all be drinking cocaine every day.

About an Art at War exhibit – art in France under Nazi occupation. I don’t know about you, but I cannot separate an artist from their art. Once I find out someone was a tool, I can never look at their work the same again.

Wish I could go see this exhibit on anarchist schools.

O.k. everyone. I have a little bit of time on Saturday. Let’s go to Virginia and see how many laws we can break in a day. I’m going to need a bullhorn, a car, a married dude, and a lot of booze.

At least Virginia didn’t only make it illegal for girls to curse.

Trans Issues are Core Issues

February 04, 2013 By: Mel Category: Core, Stratification

A few weeks ago, a piece by Suzanne Moore called Seeing red: The power of female anger started a bit of a shitstorm. Moore was looking to get women riled up and she succeeded – just not the women she was aiming for. Trans women were furious at her comment that women are angry with themselves for “not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.” Roz Kaveney explains.

In the first place there’s the implied dichotomy between women on the one hand and Brazilian trans women on the other – as if Brazilian trans women are somehow not women. But far more important is the fact well over a hundred Brazilian trans women were murdered in the last year alone.

And if there had been any doubt that people were right about the trans hatred that lingered behind Moore’s words, we had only to wait for her and her friends’ responses. The most vile of which came from Julie Burchill, best bud and godmother to Moore’s children. Click through and read the hate if you can stand it. I’m just going to give you one quote. The first part refers to another of Burchill’s friends who has been supposedly harassed by the “trans lobby.”

she refuses to accept that their relationship with their phantom limb is the most pressing problem that women – real and imagined – are facing right now.

Similarly, Suzanne’s original piece was about the real horror of the bigger picture – how the savagery of a few old Etonians is having real, ruinous effects on the lives of the weakest members of our society, many of whom happen to be women

I had to google Etonian. That would be somebody who went to Eton College, one of those boys boarding schools where upper crusty Brits go. Do you see what Burchill did there? She just made conservative legislation in the UK take precedence over every other thing that women are fighting.  Apparently, what some Tory does to a relatively privileged Brit is supposed to matter more to me than hundreds of dead Brazilian women, or even the  trans women killed right in my own city.

I may still have a lot of 101 to do when it comes to pressing problems facing the trans community, but I feel quite secure saying that “phantom limb” doesn’t make the top ten. Moore thinks it is terrible that women are getting laid off from government jobs. I have news for her, U.S. trans people have double the rate of unemploymentA fifth of trans people have been refused a home or apartment. A fifth have been homeless. Those who are homeless are regularly turned away from shelters, even in the dead of winter. And trans people face massive discrimination when it comes to health care. Even those who have insurance can be denied routine care due to a trans exclusion. The stats are even worse for trans people of color.

No. The trans community isn’t concerned about a “phantom limb.” They are concerned about the basic necessities of life – work, housing, medical care, personal safety. Concerns that are, by the way, a hell of a lot more important to me than how many women are in the UK parliament, how patronizing UK leaders are, how women do more housework, how women feel bad about themselves because they don’t look a certain way – the things Moore was complaining about in her piece.

It is a shame that so many women are blinded by their animosity towards those who don’t neatly fall into the boy/girl roles they were assigned by some doctor at birth. I have to wonder how the Moore and Burchills of the world think that gender discrimination is going to end. Do they not realize that it is based on a false binary, on differences that are largely socially constructed? Trans people, queer people, any people who challenge rigid conceptions of gender, are on the front lines smashing those tiny gender boxes for all of us.

If anything, it is the liberal bullshit that the Moore and Burchills of this world focus on that is a distraction. They don’t really want to shake things up, just for Tory politicians to be less patronizing and for there to be a few more tits in parliament. They might claim radical women’s movements when it suits them – as Moore did when she claimed Pussy Riot and Tahrir Square in that piece – but ultimately all they really want is a little more power and champagne money.

And I might add that, far from distracting me, learning about trans issues has made me more aware of the social constraints that affect me as a cis woman. I am more conscious of the safety calculations I make on the streets and of how safe for me is not safe for everyone. I’m more aware of how much of femininity is stagecraft. And I am more aware of misogyny and self hatred. Because while it is often kept in check around me, that hate spews out freely when it comes to trans women.

Suzanne, Julie, et al. You can take your freely spewing hatred and shove it. You aren’t just making life more difficult and dangerous for trans women. You are standing in the way of dealing with the core issues that hold up this mess. And, as a dear friend of mine likes to say, I ain’t got time.