I got sucked into Reddit recently. I’ll get back to you later on whether this is a good thing or not, in the mean time it has been educational!

One of the first things I did when joining Reddit was seek out some feminist forums. One of the first things I found on r/feminism (which is distinct from r/feminisms, if you embrace intersectionality I advice avoiding the latter)..anyway, one of the first things I found on r/feminism was a man asking why there couldn’t be a middle ground between feminism and the Men’s Rights Movement.

The main response he got, from one of the forums moderators, was that MRM and feminism are NOT two sides of the same coin because the Men’s Rights movement is trying to turn back the clock and strip away the hard-won rights of women everywhere, and can never have any middle ground until members of the men’s rights movement admit that woman’s grievances are justified and start support real equality, not “men first” equality.

Now, I’ve visited several men’s rights websites that do in fact say exactly that kind of shit. But I’ve also seen the feminist websites that claim every straight woman is tool of the patriarchy just because they like dick, and every instance if PIV sex is always rape. We feminists have our own Kool-Aid we desperately need to stop drinking.

I also know far to well that there are areas where men are discriminated against. The side of feminism I support looks at this and says, “Yes, gender roles and gender stereotypes fuck everything up for everyone, we need to fix this shit.” The really loud side of feminism that I wish would die says, “Oh, the poor menz, dey got der feeling hurt. Suck it asshole.”

Anyway, I decided that just because a couple of men’s rights websites were misogynist crap didn’t mean all of them were and decided to do some research, starting with r/mensrights.

In the Men’s Rights subreddit there is a big, bold link right in the sidebar about the difference between Men’s Rights and Feminism. I decided this was probably a good place to start. I was hoping to find something a bit more open-minded and nuanced than the feminist version. What I found was a very well thought out explanation about the various forms of legal discrimination many men face, and this concluding paragraph:

So for all of you men and women who support the MRM and to all of you neutral parties who can’t seem to figure out why MRAs and feminists can’t find common ground; to everyone who thinks The MRM and Feminism are two sides of the same coin, take a closer look at the damn coin. One side endorses legal bigotry while the other seeks to end it. You can’t get any more different than that.

–Jared White, http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/whats-the-difference/ sourced on 7/4/14

Basically, both sides are saying the same damn thing, just swapping who is the victim and who is the bad guy.

Every one of the issues that Jared says men face discrimination in? I fully agree on. Blaming feminism for them? Eh…look, when the custom of women automatically getting custody in a divorce developed in the 19th century, when women couldn’t vote or be judges and feminism wasn’t even a thing yet? Yeah, there are definitely some ways feminism has made things worse for men, if only by emphasizing women victims of domestic violence and rape but ignoring men victims. But blaming all men’s problems on feminism is going a bit far.

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of feminism being out to get men, sometimes it’s a matter of men being screwed by gender stereotypes.

At the same time, feminism needs to wake up to the fact that it has largely been successful. The big battles–for the vote, for non-discrimination, for women’s health to be treated as a real thing, are largely over. Oh, I’m not saying that women aren’t still facing discrimination in various ways. The fact that the anatomy of the clitoris wasn’t mapped until the last 20 years is a sign that we still have far to go in having women’s health taken seriously. So is the fact that more has been done to study and treat erectile dysfunction than a medical condition–a “woman’s condition”–that nearly killed my mother three times before she could get her doctors to take it seriously. So is the fact that not one state-level legislative body has reached even parity between men and women, and the average state legislative body is 75% men.

I remember a disturbing conversation I had with my kids after watching MegaMind. At the time my kids were 6 and 7 years old. I asked them what they thought about MegaMind “getting the girl” as a prize for saving the city. Both of them, one boy and one girl, saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. “Well he won, didn’t he Ima? So of course he gets the girl. The hero always gets the girl.”

Not even 10 years old and already convinced that a woman was a prize, and not a person who made her own choices. Thankfully, I managed to correct that impression…temporarily. I don’t kid myself that I’m not fighting an up-hill battle against the majority of media. And since I don’t have custody, I can’t control their media either.

But if that kind of casual misogyny is built into our culture, it’s equally true that every time we talk about rape culture as being part of a war on women, we are erasing male victims of rape. It is equally true that for decades rape was legally defined as something that only happened to women. It is equally true that male victims of domestic violence are the butt of jokes while women victims of domestic violence are rescued and supported.

I had two friends who were having a very rough marriage. I’ll call them Alice and Bob. One day when they were fighting, Bob tried to leave the room. He was getting angry and knew he needed to cool down before he said or did something he would regret. Alice didn’t want him to leave and planted herself in the doorway, physically trapping him in the room.

Bob pulled Alice out of the doorway, tossed her on the bed, and ran out of the house. Bob’s own mother offered Alice sympathy and support and said she almost called the police on him.

If the situation was reversed? If Bob had trapped Alice in the room? You know anything she needed to do to get herself out of that room would have been applauded as “standing up for herself” and “getting out of an unsafe situation.”

So I am a feminist. I believe that there are and remain areas of life and culture where women are discriminated against, and that all people should be equal. But because I am a feminist, because I believe ALL people should be equal, I support men’s rights.

Because no one deserves to be discriminated against, belittled, or denied justice because of their gender.

I believe–I hope, that in spite of all the voices on either side saying that men’s rights and feminism are inherently opposed, I am part of a silent majority who thinks we all need to work together to fix the way people in our society are treated.

Hey folks, the amazing Dr. Eli Sheff’s new book, The Polyamorists Next Door, is out now on Amazon.

“It is the first book to use empirical evidence from a 15-year study of polyamorous families with children to explore this rapidly-growing relationship style. Hot off the presses, it is the perfect gift for the reader/seeker/counselor/teacher in your life.”

I’ll be getting a review up later this week, in the meantime, I highly encourage you to go order a copy now. If not for yourself, then for the people in your life–family, friends, professionals–who could benefit from learning a lot about the reality of poly families.

Marriage and monogamy are not what they used to be, and today many couples are opting to start families before getting married, or deciding not to get married at all. At the same time, gay couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage are getting married in droves. Some people prefer non-monogamy and have relationships that include swinging and polyamory. The landscape of American marriage and relationships is changing, and a variety of family systems are developing and becoming more common.

The Polyamorists Next Door introduces polyamorous families, in which people are free to pursue emotional, romantic, and sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time, openly and with support from their partners, sometimes forming multi-partner relationships, or other arrangements that allow for emotional and sexual freedom within the family system. In colorful and moving details, this book explores how polyamorous relationships come to be, grow and change, manage the ins and outs of daily family life, and cope with the challenges they face both within their families and from society at large. Using polyamorists own words, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff examines polyamorous households and reveals their advantages, disadvantages, and the daily lives of those living in them.

While polyamorous families are increasingly common, fairly little is known about them outside of their own social circles or of the occasional media sensationalism. This book provides information that will be useful for professionals with polyamorous clients, educators who wish to understand or teach about polyamory, and especially people who wish to better understand polyamory themselves or explain it to their potential partners, adult children, or in-laws.

I haven’t been around much the past few months. RL and my paying work went insane on me, and well…yeah. I’m trying to get back in the groove but it’ll be a slow process. Sadly, if you follow my poly blog, you’re used to these long disappearances.

Today, a friend on Twitter shared this story with me: World Aids Day: Stigma of living with HIV strong inside gay community

I can sum up the story in two sentences. 1) A gay man with HIV found acceptance and love from the Mormon father he was terrified to come out to, but rejection from the Gay community he trusted to support him. 2) Stigmatizing and hurting  people with HIV/AIDS makes it harder to fight the epidemic.

I’d like to add a third part: What the fuck is wrong with us. Whether we identify as LGBT, sex positive, kinky, poly, feminist, POC or any other fucking label…How can we do this to our own? And it’s not just in LGBT communities. We, as marginalized groups, and those who are fighting for our own rights and protections, have turned, over and over and over again, on some of the most vulnerable among us. We have stigmatized them, penalized them. Driven them from us and far to often left them to die alone.

For over a year, I researched and wrote for a medical blog on HIV/AIDS. I wish I could link to it, but it’s down now. The things I learned in that year would blow your mind. Things like, sexual transmission is actually extremely difficult if the virus is under control, so difficult that many doctors believe it is perfectly safe for a person with HIV to have sex if their T-cell count it high enough. (I don’t remember the specific number, but I invite you to do your own research.) Like using condoms reduces the risk of transmission even further–depending on the study you read up to 95% when used consistently and correctly.

Now, percentages seem to hurt people’s brains, so let me spell this out for you. Go back to that ‘extremely difficult’ link. On the chart it is says that highest risk sexual activity is receptive anal intercourse. 50 out of 10,000. If 10,000 people have receptive anal intercourse with an HIV+ partner, 50 of them will get infection. That is half a percent, people. Now add in condoms. Figure condoms are 60% effective, that’s the low-end, but let’s be safe. Condoms cut risk of infection by 60% does NOT mean that your risk of getting infected if 40%. It means that half a percent risk (0.5%) drops even further to 0.2%. That’s 1 in 500. Hey, how about this? If the person with HIV/AIDS is on bottom, the risk of the penetrative partner in anal intercourse using a condom is something like 0.03%. In English, that’s 3 in 10,000.

So why the fuck did I spend a year reading news reports of people afraid to shake hands with a person who has HIV/AIDS. Of people with HIV/AIDS going to jail for35 years for spitting on someone.

Look, I admit it. The idea of getting AIDS is scary. Especially for someone like me without insurance and decent medical care. Knowing that HIV is a manageable disease (did you know that? someone infected with HIV today is just as likely to die of a heart attack or cancer. Science, she does progress) doesn’t do me any good when I can’t get the care to manage it. So yeah, if I was dating someone and found out they had HIV, I’d be uncomfortable with the idea of penetrative intercourse. Why? Because I’m human, and AIDS has been the Big Bad Boogeyman since I was in grade school. It’s hard to think rationally about it. But that wouldn’t stop me from being a relationship with someone who has HIV or AIDS.

News-fucking-flash: There is a lot more to dating a person than sticking tab A in slot B. There’s even more to sex than sticking tab A in slot B. Unless you learned your sex from porn, in which case, please educate yourself.

The stigma against people with HIV/AIDS is a particularly pervasive form of ableism. It’s one that doesn’t belong in our communities, in our homes, in our relationships.

It’s time to person-up, get over the stupid “Ew! They have cooties!” and start treating the people around us with HIV/AIDS as the individuals, friends, and comrades they are.

 

Someone with a reasonably loud internet-voice had recently said a good bit about social activism, most notably that it is a hobby which doesn’t really have any impact (except in certain rare cases) on the world at large. That within this hobby we have our own little subculture, which has its own little hierarchies and privileges and again, doesn’t really change anything in the world at large, and while it’s a fine hobby, we really need to be honest with ourselves about it just being a hobby.

There is almost nothing in there I can disagree with. This is certainly not a ‘job’ or ‘career’ for me, my career is my writing. And social justice advocacy certainly does have a significant echo chamber effect which is hard to overcome. And as cathartic and fulfilling as #killallmen, #solidarityisforwhitepeople or #fuckcispeople may be, I haven’t seen anything actually come of them in the wider world.

Ilna couldchange the world; she was doing so to the best of her considerable ability. But she couldn’t change it all, and she couldn’t change it all at once.

-Queen of Demons, by David Drake

When I come out of the social justice advocacy echo chamber, I talk about stuff with my partner and our friends. My partner isn’t involved in social advocacy. He’s a gamer. He streams video games on Twitch as Abbadonsin. He’s not going to be challenging Yogscast or Machinima any time soon, but he’s got a loyal, if small, following. Mostly made up of 13-24 year old gamer boys. Gamer boys who listen when we talk about trans rights or rape culture. Who now understand why they shouldn’t use ‘it’ when talking about trans people and who understand why consent matters and the importance of “yes means yes.”

I’ve helped Michael answer questions when these guys have asked things like “Is it ever okay to have sex when you or your partner is drunk?” (My answer: If you discussed and agreed to having sex before you started drinking, I don’t see a problem with it, but not if either of you show signs of alcohol poisoning.)

These are boys and young men, who because they have heard Michael and I talk about social advocacy, got interested starting asking questions, and are now that much less likely to turn into abusers and rapists. That much less likely to intentionally or unintentionally bully, shame or denigrate the trans people they meet. Because someone they respect understands enough about social advocacy, rape culture to know better, and trans 101, and passed that knowledge on to them.

I am a writer. I don’t expect to ever reach the level of Mercedes Lackey, much less J.K Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, I’m a geek, and I write fantasy. Deal with it.) But my stories do tackle issues related to social advocacy. And when I tell my children a fairy tale of a trans man who knew from the time he was a child that he was born in the wrong body – well my kids will now have empathy for children in their classes who are trans and know that if they ever feel like they are in the wrong body, they can come to me and I will accept and understand. I am currently working on a collection of similar fairytales addressing as many issues as I can include, which will be released as an ebook under creative commons attribution.i

And if it hadn’t been for the trans advocates who through their writing and their willingness to interact and answer my questions and critique my stories and my writings, I wouldn’t have bee able to share that story with my children.

I am a daughter of the Appalachians. I am truly at home only within these mountains. But I know the truth. The mountains are shaped by the seas and the winds. By the steady, day-to-day erosion, one bit of dirt or piece of gravel at a time, caused by the ceaseless, tireless assault of wave and wind on cliff and height.

My advocacy will never change the world. I will never stand in front of the Washington Monument and give a speech before a million man march, I will not end world hunger, and the part I can play in stopping the judicial murder of women, and LGBT folk in other parts of the world is miniscule. But that does not absolve me of my responsibility. The responsibility to be that wave, pounding against the cliffs. That wind, slowly shaping mountains. The change that happens, each day, in such tiny, miniscule ways no one else will ever know about them. Often I will never know about them.

But they still happen. Everyday. As long as I remember to take my advocacy outside of the echo chamber, and spread what I learn there through the people I meet. And those changes – the changes I make, the changes you make, he changes all of us make, can reshape the world.

And for those interested in a faster approach to changing the world, try organizing. It’s worked before.

 

i If anyone would be interested in contributing to this collection, please let me know There are some issues I want to include but am not comfortable writing about, and I’d like to see other voices and other perspectives included regardless.

 

After some time to think and recharge, rather than collating links here, I’m going to folks on summarizing major stuff in various social activisms that I feel should be part of a wider conversation and occasionally personal thoughts and ramblings. I will also be building up the 101 pages to provide a place to find information both about various identities, and how can happen when they intersect.

If you follow what’s going on in feminism at all, you will have heard about Hugo Scwyzer. If you haven’t, here’s background.

Short version: Scwyzer has a long history of abusing people, and especially women. His history of abuse has long been ignored by feminist media (let me put this in perspective: 3 years ago, when I didn’t know anything at all about feminism, I had heard of Scwyzer and knew he was an abusive asshole who I didn’t want within a mile of me, my daughter or any other woman I knew. There is no way feminist media missed this. They ignored it.) Now he’s finally gone ‘too far’ and people are trying to make excuses for him based on mental illness, while shutting down or ignoring the WoC he abused, pleading for understanding about his illness and calling upon ‘community’.

I am told (haven’t read it myself) that some places are even raising the cry of ‘ableism’ in Scwyzer’s defense. Flavi Dzodan’s has a very good response to that shit. The abuser getting a pass due to his mental illness while the abused is victim blamed and their illness – which is caused often caused by the abuser – is ignored and swept under the carpet. Anyone who is familiar with rape culture recognizes this pattern. It should not be happening within feminism.

Mental illness is not an excuse for abuse. It is not a reason for abuse. If my mentally ill partner ever hit our child because the kids screaming during an anxiety attack cause him to lose control (something I have no fear of him ever doing, but work with me here) I would be out of this place so fast the carpets would catch fire and my partner would be talking to the police and/or the residents at a psych-ward. The fact that he is mentally ill would hopefully get him treatment rather than jail time, but it would not excuse his abuse.

And using his illness as an excuse to shut down my voice is not protesting against ableism, it is aiding and abetting an abuser.

Which is exactly what mainstream feminism has done to WoC who had stood up to demand Scwyzer be held accountable for his actions.

Scwyzer was allowed to brand himself as a feminist, to build a media career on the backs of the women he abused, and was aided and abetted in this by the feminist media who should be rights have denounced him for the way he behaved.

WoC color have been harmed repeatedly by this man, and by the brand feminism that supported him. WoC have a voice, have a right to be heard, have a right to be able to name their abuser without getting further abuse from the very people who should be supporting them. WoC have a right to not be erased by mainstream feminism.

If you aren’t in the habit of listening to the voices of WoC, then Red Light Politics and Tiger Beat Down are good places to start.

ETA: For more on this, check out twitter hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen

 

Mother Russia is not actin very motherly, at least not to her LGBT children. I will not link to the sickening shit that has been going on over there in the wake of the anti-LGBT laws that were recently enacted. Those who are familiar with history are loudly noting the similarity between the actions of Vladimir Putin and the early days of Nazi Germany. And anyone who wants to start crying about how what’s going on is nothing in comparison to the Holocaust, educate yourself on 1935-1939 in Germany. The Holocaust didn’t start as the Holocaust either.

Ironically, and furthering the parallel, Russia is scheduled to host the Winter Olympics this year. Varying Olympic committees in different countries have reacted in less than ideal ways, such as saying that if LGBT athletes don’t feel safe going to a country where LGBT people are being beaten to death while the police look the other way, they shouldn’t compete. Athletes who take action to protest the anti-LGBT laws or support gay pride, such as wearing rainbow pins, have been threatened with fines.

Thankfully, there is one huge difference between now and 1939. LGBT has far more support around the world than Jews did during Kristallnacht or the 1939 Olympics. From sidewalk graffiti to political protests people are speaking out.

For a wonderful summary of the situation and why the Olympics don’t belong in Sochi this year, check out Stephen Fry’s open letter to British PM David Cameron.

Multiple petitions have been started, asking the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2014 Olympics to Vancouver.

And Colinology is looking ahead, to what may need to be done if Russia truly is walking in the Nazi’s footsteps.

Also, the first link in this section raises some alternatives ways to challenge this development.

As a bisexual, Jewish woman who studies history, this in parallel with some of the developments in Greece is terrifying. Because as bad as what is happening to LGBT in Russia is right now, if those of us looking at the parallels are right, it is only going to get worse.

 

There is a slightly disturbing trend in non-monogamous discourse. In short, it’s become all about polyamory.  Mainstream media has latched on polyamory as the ‘ethical’ non-monogamy and that many other forms of non-monogamy (which are just as ethical as polyamory or monogamy) such as swinging, open relationships, and the many, many other varieties non-monogamy can take are getting swept under the rug. Some folks inside polyamory (myself included) are disturbed by this and see a parallel to the way L&G interests have dominated LGBT discussion to the point of erasing or abusing B&T folk. Its a complex mess with no easy answer, but I’m putting out an invite for folks who practice a non-poly form of non-monogamy to contact me. I’d like to get a Yahoo! Discussion group going for people who formulate their relationships in any way that doesn’t match mainstream monogamy, so that we can start building an umbrella that can fit all of us and the political and social strides being made can begin to extend beyond polyamory.

ETA: If anyone knows of such a group or umbrella that already exists, please let me know!

I can’t do this. I’ve tried, but even attempting to put together another post has been triggering me to the point that I haven’t been able to log into WordPress for several weeks. It is just plain hell going through all the shit out there, reading through it, picking and choosing what to share, organizing it, all the while drowning in the hell that is the world today for so many people. And the victories that I read about just aren’t enough to overcome that feeling. Especially not when Activist Apathy starts to set it.

So I’m going officially step away from this for a few weeks while I rethink what I”m doing here. Whatever I do it will continue to be able activism and intersectionality. But I think what I may do just re-blog the occasional must-read article, and focus on building pages of information about intersectionality, and all the oppressions that so many people deal with every day.

If you’ve been following this and have an idea for what else I might do here, feel free to share your thoughts. Otherwise, I’ll see you sometime in August.

 

Folks, life has beat the crap out of me lately and I had largely disappeared off the ‘net due to mental overload and loss of the ability to give a fuck. Luckily, I regained my feet just in time to meet the tidal wave of SCOTUS related news which is this week in activism. I’ll try to resume regular posting next week. Usually I try to take a couple of days and several revisions before putting up a post like this, but right now timing and topical counts. Apologies for any typos or errors.

It has been an amazing and horrid week in SCOTUSLand. Rarely do simultaneously want to jump for joy and break down weeping. Lady Justice, where the hell were you Tuesday? Certainly not in chambers.

Alright, anyone who isn’t living under a rock has heard about the so-called ‘big news’ of the week. The Supreme Court has struck down part of DOMA (After DOMA Fact Sheet) and dismissed the case on Proposition 8, both of which are major wins for LGBT rights. Personally I wonder just how much bile Scalia had to swallow in siding with the majority on Prop8 (here’s some legalese on why the Prop8 decision isn’t actually about SSM – I am not endorsing this guys conclusions, per se, but he has his facts in order).

The sadly-less heralded news came on Tuesday. NAACP, wake up and remember that you are not irrelevant! The media blitz from the overturning of the Voters’ Rights Act should have rivaled the celebrations today, instead SCOTUSLand’s butching of voter rights has passed relatively quietly.

For anyone who has not been following the VRA case, here’s the gist:

Last year, Texas tried to redraw their voting districts in such a way as to deliberately hurt PoC. This redrawing was done by white members of the Texas legislature in secret from their black and latino colleagues. Basically, here’s what happened: the white guys looked at the voting districts and said “This district is a majority PoC, which means they won’t vote the way we want them too, so we’re going to change the borders of the district to remove some PoC and add some white folks, this way the PoC won’t have a majority any more. This other district has a majority white folks, we’ll leave that alone.”

Well, understandably PoC and their allies weren’t to happy about this. They challenged the redistricting under the voter’s rights act, which among other things, said that states with a history of severe and institutional racism and voter manipulation had to run changes in voting laws past the Federal government to insure that any changes they made weren’t going to infringe the voting rights of PoC.

The Feds took a look at Texas’ new-and-improved voting districts and said, “What are trying to pull here? This is blatant racism and you aren’t allowed to pull that crap!” And the old districts stayed. But Texas didn’t like being told what to do (who does?) and sued the Feds for the right to set any voting laws they want, no matter who got hurt.

Yesterday, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Texas, and less than two hours after the ruling was handed down, Texas Attorney General said the redistricting and associated voter ID law might go into effect immediately.

And the reason SCOTUS tossed out the VRA? Because everyone has the right to vote now, and racism is gone in America, so it wasn’t needed any more.

As Justice Ginsburg says in the dissent: “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

For fairly obvious reasons, white LGBT folks are a bit happier with SCOTUS today than straight PoC. For LGBT people of color, well sadly the DOMA and Prop8 don’t apply if you live in any of the states that were covered by the VRA, because none of those states have marriage equality, so you can’t get married and they can now fuck with your voting rights. Yay for the puff pastry of oppressions.

Yeah, I’m snarky today. It’s keeping me somewhat sane in the face of this insanity.

In a somewhat related note (very related to intersectionality, somewhat related to SCOTUSLand), last night Texas Senator Wendy Davis pulled a marathon filibuster* that prevented the passage of a bill which would have shut down 80% of abortion clinics in Texas and outlaw abortion after 20 weeks (SB5 Primer) Wendy Davis is one of the Texas senators whose district would have been redrawn before the November elections, meaning she likely wouldn’t have been elected and standing on the Texas Senate floor to pull off her feat of awesome if that redistricting had gone through.

*One source claimed she spent most of the 10+ hour filibuster reading the stories of women whose lives would be negatively impacted by the bill. Sorry I lost the link for that one.

This morning I had to change the channel on the kids show Arthur. Arthur had apparently put on some weight, and the show made a big deal about how he couldn’t run without getting out of breath, and might need to go on a diet – while looking exactly like he always has. First off, there is no connection between weight an athletic ability. Anyone who thinks there is needs to check out some weight-lifters or sumo wrestlers in action.  Second, there are enough kids with eating problems already without teaching kids that they need to go on a diet whenever they gain 5 or 10 pounds. WTF? Yes, kids need to learn to eat healthy and be active, but fat shaming is NOT the way to do it. Can we please teach kids to love their bodies AND have a healthy lifestyle, not keep tying healthy lifestyle to thinness (which taken to far can be JUST as unhealthy as carrying some ‘extra’ pounds.)

On to the news

Ableism

School district tried to force deaf child to change name and the School denies trying to force any child to change their name-sign (Issue appears to come down to which type of sign language the boy uses. Sounds like the equivalent of telling a Spanish speaking child to call themselves Joseph instead of Jose, because the school only uses English.)

Living with depression

Autism used to as reason to deny lifesaving medical procedure

Ableism on the Left is still Ableism

Terminology: Disablism or Ableism?

How disabled people are working to change views of disability

Victim blaming and ableism (Trigger warning, rape)

Sex Positivity

LinkedIN bans legal sex work profiles

Practitioners of BDSM and Kinky sex often healthier than average and the abstract from the original study
If anyone has access to the original study and can share an assessment of it’s methods and conclusions, I’d be grateful.

Body Acceptance

TEDTalk on one woman’s experience w/ the diet yo-yo and the real relationship between weight and health

Abercrombie Ad re-imagined as fat friendly

The Real Deal about body acceptance

I’ll be honest. Cultural appropriation is an idea I am still working to wrap my head around.  That there is something wrong with a member of a privileged culture (read:white 99% of the time) making money off of the symbolism and traditions of another culture – for instance for someone to create a company that manufactures imitation dream catchers and sells them for massive profit while the NA tribes that dream catchers come from are fighting to get the money to provide their people with food and housing… If anyone is going to make money selling cultural items and ideas it should be the culture they came from. People using trappings of another culture to try to look exotic or cool or hip? Yeah, that’s just wrong and I’m not going to pull any punches. But, the idea that, as some have maintained, it is cultural appropriation for my friend to practice Buddhism? Possibly it is because I grew up a culture where it assumed to be a good thing when someone converted to your religion, I don’t get this. TBH, i especially don’t get this when applied to Buddhism, which has a long history of proselyzation and, yes, forced conversions.

Would it be cultural appropriation for me to write a story set in Mongolia or India? I honestly don’t know. I also know it isn’t my opinion that matters.

But this intro is actually off topic from my musings today.

Stavver‘s linked to an old but good piece on reverse cultural appropriation. Now, the idea that it is reverse cultural appropriation for PoC to where business suits, when it is impossible to get a ‘good’ job wearing anything else, that Native American’s should not be wearing jeans, when they have been stripped of their ability to make enough clothing for their people using their traditional methods AND their ability to evolve new methods… I have, in fact, heard more ridiculous ideas. But not many.

If white people think it is reverse cultural appropriation for PoC to wear business suits, then white hiring managers had better start welcoming applicants in kimono, sari and other formal clothing from other cultures.

But it was something in the comments that really got me thinking about cultural appropriation and intersectionality.

A person who identified as Irish (I don’t know if they were a person of Irish decent living in the US or a person of Irish nationality – and I don’t think it makes a difference) raised the issue of St. Patrick’s Day, and asked if her being upset with people getting drunk, painting themselves green and generally making a mockery of her heritage would be seen as cultural appropriation of just another whiny white girl crying ‘reverse cultural appropriation’.

To which I can only respond with the classic geek battle cry: Yes, no and 42!

Yes: The adoption of St. Patty’s Day and it’s associated drunken celebrations are definitely a form of cultural appropriation.

No: This is not an issue of crying reverse cultural appropriation.

42: But factor in everything else, and it’s pretty damned complicated.

Okay, first off, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are where the English first practiced colonialization before exporting their oppression to the rest of the world. According to my father, I have ancestors who were forcibly shipped to America for refusing to swear loyalty to the British crown. The oppression of the Irish has a history that is actually longer than the oppression of PoC. That said, the suffering of my ancestors who were forced from their homes and thrown into what history tells us they would have perceived as a ‘howling wilderness’ is DEMONSTRABLY LESS then the suffering of PoC, in particular for purposes of this example, the Africans and Native Americans who were forced in slavery or subjected to genocidal campaigns. (There may well have been genocidal campaigns against the Irish, and I have been told that ethnocentrism in Great Britain continues to create and oppressive social structure for the Scottish and Welsh with some similarities to the racist social structure in the US.)

So the Irish are NOT a historically privileged group trying to divert attention from their own oppressiveness with cries of ‘reverse cultural appropriation’ and similar bullshit.

Historically, the Irish were part of the oppressed.

But intentionally or not, the Irish were also the oppressors.

Does the fact that my ancestors had no choice about coming to America change the fact that they and their descendents kept slaves, forces NA tribes off of their lands and were able to live comfortable lies off the suffering of others? No, no it doesn’t.

The history of the Irish in America, as opposed to the history of the Irish in Ireland and Great Britain, is not a tale of the oppressed. It is a tale of a people stuck in the middle. A people who were once faced with “No Irish allowed” signs as ubiquitous as “No Negros allowed”, but who were able to level themselves into a white identity and become part of the dominant, and privileged majority.

In the Appalachian coal mines, the descendents of Irish and Scottish immigrants still do a disproportionate amount of dying in the coal mines that feed the US’s need for electric power. But people of Irish descent are well represented in boardrooms, legislative houses and other centers of power across the country.

Yet the specific question for cultural appropriation is even more complicated.

EDIT: I had previously stated that the English never appropriated the cultures of the Welsh, Scottish and Irish. Several commenters have corrected me on this.

Sometimes I think the real basis of cultural appropriate is not modern avarice, but ancient awe. I think on some level Anglo culture has never forgotten that when London was a cesspit, the Mughals ruled a powerful empire, Istanbul with THE City, center for culture and power, held in awe throughout Europe, and Ancient China was a united power when William the Conquer was in nappies. And even if Anglo culture didn’t exist yet when the pyramids were raised, what European traveler, however firm in his superiority, could not be overwhelmed faced with the glories of ancient Egypt? Cultural appropriation happens, I believe, because we recognize the wonders of other cultures, and rather than being willing to come as students and learn from the wisdom and might of others, we insist on coming as thieves, taking the work of others and trying to make it our own.

There was no cultural appropriation of the Irish in Britain. That waited for the US. Yet… within the US, Irish culture was not sought out by Anglos and other ‘white’ folk (b/c the Irish were not considered ‘white’ for long periods of US history). Irish culture came to America with the Irish themselves, as they worked to recreate and hold onto the traditions that had been stripped from them. The popularity of irish music in America is as much cultural appropriation as the popularity of rap or jazz. Both are attempts by a displaced and broken people to create or retain something of their own in a place where they have been stripped of their past and made into the ‘other’.

But… St. Patrick’s Day. Oh, that may be the most complicated of all. For Saint Patrick’s Day is the day when EVERYONE can be Irish. It is literally day publicized specifically for the appropriation of Irish culture by everyone in the US.It is a holiday built on cultural appropriation. Isn’t it?

Well, let’s get back to where we started – yes, no and 42.

You see, while St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in America originated in Irish-American’s desire to connect with each other and their cultural heritage, in the mid 19th century when discrimination against Irish was at its height, Irish-American’s organized politically and used St. Patrick’s Day as part of their organization. They pushed to make St. Patrick’s Day a revelry celebrated across the nation. The transformation of St. Patrick’s Day from a relatively sedate celebration of pride in one’s heritage into the drunken revelry it is today can be directly linked back to this push. So is it oppression and cultural appropriation for the non-Irish to take up a celebration vigorously promoted by the Irish? in a country where the vast majority of people are a quarter this and a quarter that when we look at nationality and national culture rather than race, is someone with an Irish great-great-grandparent celebrating their heritage or stealing someone else’s when they get drunk on green beer and wear “Kiss me, I’m Irish buttons?” Factor in that commercially St. Patrick’s Day is widely promoted by Irish companies making money off of Irish traditions being celebrated by both Irish and non-Irish people…

And what about St. Patrick’s Day in other parts of the world. St. Patrick’s day is celebrated in several Asian countries, parts of the Caribbean and even Russia.

In the end, I can understand an Irish person trying to hold onto their culture being upset, insulted and dismayed by the drunken revelry that St. Patty’s has become in the US. I do think it is a kind of cultural appropriation, when non-Irish try to claim for themselves Irish-ness on this day that is traditionally an important holiday and a cultural unification for people of Irish decent in the US. But I also think that such a person needs to recognize that whatever cultural appropriation may be happening one day a year, is not in the same league as the culture appropriation going back centuries faced by PoC from around the world.

And whatever oppression the Irish have faced in the US in the past, they have levered themselves into a position of privilege, and it is important to recognize that fact. Any structural ethnocentrism which remains in UK is oppression and needs to be fought. But oppression is not always international, and a person of Irish descent in the US is not dealing on a daily basis with the oppression in the UK, while they are benefiting on a daily basis from the privilege of being white.

We all function in a matrix of both privilege and oppression. Recognizing the ways we or our cultures are oppressed does not give us a pass on the privilege we benefit from.

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