Tag Archives: activism

A Tower Of Babel

Mt, Wilson observatory, iPhone photo from the trail. 14 miles up and down, 4,700 ft elevation gain.

Politics is the art of articulating control and some voices have more profound global impact. Our modern age has given us dogma in legal language codified as legislation that was born of cowardice, forged in privilege, and wielded against the marginalized.

The “Tower Of Babel” is a great Judeo-Christian story of incredible relevance here. This was the story that made me doubt the existence of god but also awoke a kind of panic about authority within me. The Book of Genesis, in general, turned me off from the idea of God because it reminded me too much of Stargate. As a text the Judeo-Christian Bible does pick up quite a bit with all kinds of great philosophy and tremendous insight. But as a child I could not get behind the fascist god of genesis. The story of the “Tower of Babel” presented us with a humanity that came to gather after god’s genocide with the flood. Now, ostensibly, you might think this was the lesson of the flood–to learn how to love one another again, to work beside one another, to share a common language.

I have always interpreted this to mean sharing the language of love. This sounds hippie-dippie but stay with me: think of the time a stranger went out of their way to help you out with something simple. Maybe you were a little lost and in need of directions, maybe it was a quick freebie snack, maybe it was someone who didn’t make you feel like shit when you had to mention a boundary about personal space and genuinely accommodated the situation with humor. That was a time when you shared the language of love with someone and it does let you peek into a view of what those from “Shinar” experienced.

When people are taking the time to be present one another as individuals with a different contexts that require calibration for full communication they tend to get a lot of shit done. This is why you may have been subjected to work retreats even though that’s an industry in and of itself that has forgotten the purpose of the exercise. Another quick glance into the extent of empathy would be those rare and precious moments when you feel uncertain where your body stops and your lover’s begins.

The people worked together to build a tower to God because they shared a language, a purpose, and a plan to accomplish it and they were getting shit done. “A tower to god” is a symbol from my understanding. Perhaps, though, it was a tower. I look to our space programs and global space stations, I see the beginnings of a Tower of Babel. When you get to such heights you stop splitting so many hairs about the differences between individual humans because you’re united as earthlings exploring the cosmos. That’s the dream we seem to come back to across the ages, at least.

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Filed under activism, censorship, community, culture, feminisms, opinion, religion, skepticism

Dear PETA: Shut The Fuck Up

PETA being douchey with the ability to write big checks.

I’ve gone through cycles of carnivorous, veggie, and veganism throughout my life as I’ve struggled to learn what it means to live causing the least harm possible.

Right now I’m on what I believe to be a vegan renaissance coming into my life as my food tastes are undergoing a dramatic shift as I just got a taste bud upgrade and the new software is unprecedentedly sharp. This might have to do with quitting smoking as well. Nevertheless, I’m aware that there is a mental changing of the guards taking place and I’m letting my body lead the process in the new twists my paradigms of food and eating twirl once again.

This would be well and good but PETA has a brick and mortar location in my city of Oakland in a neighborhood that I frequent. Every time my eyes fall on their sign, I have a moment of frustration. PETA dedicates themselves to making as many people feel bad about their food choices, bodies, identities, class, gender, and pretty much anything else they can think of and their huge media reach means that lots of people have felt very bad at their hands. It’s created a view that food ethics are solely about self-righteous white people.

Oakland is a city with a lot of social justice movements inside of it. PETA may have the overwhelming share of global attention, budgeting, and common knowledge but they comprise a sliver of food justice actions taking place within the city and there is no clear reason why they have a branch office in Oakland, especially with a perpetually offensive stream of ads with unquestioned jerkwadded thinking and the quick defense that they’re just trying to raise awareness by being “provocative.”

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Election 2012

The monster has been held at bay.

That’s how this 2012 election has felt. Time moves forward, our culture slowly but surely begins to acclimate to the world wide web, some social movements advance and others seem more constricted.

California, my state, the home of “fruits and nuts” has been a state with either a rapid strain of virulent conservationism that shows up at the polling place in time to strike down initaives for social advance and the preservation of the earth and its bounty. Where do these people come from? Whether it’s pushing back same sex marriage, voting against decriminalizing marijuana as we have in past elections, this year we decided that YES we do want a costly, ineffective  and unethical death penalty and who the hell would want to know if the fruits and vegetables they were buying had been genetically modified, anyway?

Sometimes we are a backward place.

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Components Of Sex Work Activism

All activism is comprised of a diversity of tactics because the movement is composed of people who possess a diversity of skills, talents, experiences, enthusiasms, and challenges to offer any movement as a whole.

To speak of human rights activism as though there were one top secret bunker where a Stalinist army were meeting to carry out orders from a central commander is operating under a fallacy. There is no bunker. There is no commander. There are people coming together in their own contexts to respond to the issues that they are experiencing as the most pressing to the best of their ability at any given moment. Solidarity is a relationship between a lot of people. Trying to manage things between two people is fantastically difficult, trying to maintain a functional relationship across hundreds and thousands and millions of people spread across the globe poses a great number of difficulties.

Sex worker activism is a long war because sex work, substance use, and mental health are some of the most confounding issues to fight for because they exist on totally fluid ground and are considered low hanging fruit for law enforcement. Sex workers often fall into a nexus of oppression, coming to the work either because of serious limitations placed upon them for their class, color, gender, or sexual orientation. There are so many layers and intersections to be considered. Case in point, the overlap between vigils for sex workers and trans*gender women is exceptionally large. Continue reading

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Stop Dominatrix Shaming

There’s a disturbing trend in critiques of the “BDSM Scene” to blame the dominatrix for ills and inequalities among the real players. Let’s cut right to the heart of why this is bullshit: sex workers live at the mercy of the state on top of being stigmatized. For those who care about consent, remember that this is a form of adult consent that the state says that you cannot make and that feminists say you must be mad or mindless or both to pursue and then society says that when you cross that river you can never really come back.

Sex workers not only lack the right to make a consensual transaction, sex workers are also denied their rights to justice in American courtrooms. This means all sex workers.Why can’t we go to the police? What the fuck good will it ever do for us? We don’t live in a Law and Order world where our glamorized dead bodies are sneered at and justice is seen as fetishizing the law even when it’s a whore. I’m going to illustrate with a story I obsessed over as it occurred. My favorite coverage came from the OC Weekly and starts off with this paragraph:

No one disputes that an on-duty Irvine police officer got an erection and ejaculated on a motorist during an early-morning traffic stop in Laguna Beach. The female driver reported it, DNA testing confirmed it and officer David Alex Park finally admitted it.

To really paint the picture, an officer of the law stalked this woman. It was such a problem that even his department told him to knock it the fuck off. On this night, he stalked her. He turned off his GPS in the patrol vehicle so the car wouldn’t record where he was. He waited until she was on a secluded road.

He was acquitted.

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Filed under activism, BDSM theory, community, culture, slut shaming

More Musings On #OWS

But what do the protesters want? It’s so chaotic. There are signs about Palestine, abortion, foreclosure, wall street, the police, global warming, everything! It’s just a meaningless display taking up resources and making things worse. They need to go away.

Well, that’s what I hear a lot of people saying. I get that. Intersectionality is a hard thing to grapple with and it still makes me feel like rocks are breaking in my head when I sit down and really think about it. A lot of America is in denial about the fact that the blood coming out of the bath tub, the thumping up the stairs when no one is there, the flying dishes in the kitchen, the way the appliances all suddenly turn on at once and then shut down completely, the apparition of a wailing woman in the hallway, the congregation of flies on the wall paper might indicate the presence of a malicious poltergeist that must me exorcised from our midst before it kills us all.

You can’t miss the forest for the trees in situations like these. Pain to the others should not be accepted as an unavoidable side effect of the power and success of the exceptionally few. It is foolish to create protective barriers around bazillionaires that keep them free from restrictions or justice because you hope to some day be a bazillionaire for the same reason it would be foolish not to worry about the paying the rent because you bought a lottery ticket. Occupy Wall Street is hardly about revolution so much as it is about reformation. It’s calling the far reaches of the rich out of motherfucking bounds.

Then there’s the camping issue. It’s so messy, it’s a health hazard, it slows business, if you let the homeless in you WILL have problems, professionals need to handle that. I’ve spent many years working with the homeless so I have something to say about that. First and foremost, the “professionals” do not have it under control. Why? There’s a lot of corporate interest in there, too. When I worked at a multi-million corporate styled non-profit agency, I was prohibited from acting in the best interests of my clients when it came to education about safer substance use, specifically IV drug use.

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