The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

January 3, 2017

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2016/11/06I went dark on November 9 after enough people voted for an eminently unqualified, racist, misogynist, homo-hating, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, narcissistic, criminal con man and Putin puppet to give him the majority of votes in the electoral college and force those of us who are not white, straight, christianists to live in fear for our lives.

The election results were disappointing, horrifying, nauseating, frightening, outrageous, and disgusting. The one thing they were not, at least for me, is shocking or surprising. I suspect the more marginalized someone is by our society, the less surprised they were by the vote.

Make no mistake, if you voted for Trump, if you stayed home and sat the election out as a protest (or just because you couldn’t be bothered), if you voted for Stein or Johnson or anyone else but Clinton, your actions contributed to people suffering and dying because they are queer, trans, POC, or just can’t afford health care. (No Clinton would not have been worse, she wouldn’t have hired billionaire white supremacists with no experience but plenty of conflicts of interest to run the government or worked to destroy any progress made in reproductive health care and LGBT/POC civil rights or left many of us trying to figure out whether we should flee the country.)

White nationalists emboldened by Trump are thirsting for blood. That blood might be mine, or your gay cousin’s, or the Sikh gentleman’s behind the motel counter whose mistaken for a Muslim, or the African-American boy’s playing in the park, or your neighbor’s who wears a hijab, or your trans co-worker’s. (You didn’t know she was trans? But you insist she should use the men’s restroom?)

As far as I’m concerned, every single person who voted for Trump is a racist bigot. You can say whatever you want about how you voted for him to protect your guns (Clinton wasn’t going to take them away). Or because the economy is in the toilet (it was the best it’s been since Bush destroyed it in ’08). Or because he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs (he can’t, automation has already replaced those jobs even if the factories move back to the U.S. and those jobs he claimed — at the cost of millions from taxpayer– to bring back either were staying anyway or will be used to create further automation). Or because he’s a successful business man (he’s lost more money than he ever made, routinely rips off people he hires as contractors, paid millions to get out of fraud charges against him, etc. etc.). Or because Clinton did whatever (outrageous misogynistic fabricated conspiracy theory) you’ve cited as an excuse not to vote for her. Or whatever other lies he told that you were gullible enough to believe. I do not care what “reason” you give to salve your conscious, you voted for toxic sludge and should be judged by what you did, not what you say.

I’m so very tired of inane statements about the majority of people voting with genuinely good intentions for what they honestly believe is their country’s best interest. The majority of those voters don’t give one rat’s ass for the best interest of the U.S. They deliberately voted to prioritize their straight white cis privileges over basic civil rights for POC, LGBTQ folk, and those who don’t worship their particular brand of consumerist christianism. They didn’t care about the consequences as long as they got what they wanted (and they will be genuinely shocked, blaming anyone but themselves and the man they elected, when they lose their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and/or their savings and retirement as a result).

I find it more and more difficult to believe that even a small majority of people are genuinely good when so many of them are willing to deprive others of health care, a safe place to live, enough food to eat, a decent education, the ability to earn a fair wage for their work, agency/autonomy over their own bodies, a partner in life, etc.

Trump voters will eventually pay the price for their hubris. Racism is one of the ways the ruling class one percent keeps the poor white working class in line, enabling the rich to turn them into wage slaves while raping the planet, destroying our water supply and making the air impossible to breathe. No matter how bad it gets, at least those wage slaves can believe they’re superior because they’re white, straight christianists.

Racism has always been the primary motivation behind the white nationalism white evangelical movement and remains at its core. The GOP deliberately used the evangelicals to create the noxious atmosphere that allowed Trump to ascend to the White House by pandering to racist, xenophobic, fears of privilege loss.

Wherever you claim to stand on civil rights for women, POC, immigrants, or those who are LGBT, if you facilitated Trump’s election with your vote (or lack of) you are condoning both the violent racist/xenophobic attacks of his followers and your own exploitation at the hands of their billionaire masters. The overt anti-Semites in Germany didn’t enable the Holocaust as much as all those middle class Germans who wanted to Make Germany Great Again and who were willing to overlook their missing neighbors, the broken glass in the streets, the stench from the ovens, and the racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

This naziism of America is the result of your sharing fake news, giving racists the benefit of the doubt, avoiding political discussions with family members who actively support venal politicians, staying silent in the face of misogyny.

Now what are you going to do about it (whether you enabled Trump’s election or not)? Will you sit silently with your head down and ignore the slaughter or will you step up to stop the colleague making racist jokes, refuse to allow your relatives to justify their Trump votes, call out the guy yelling at the Mexican-American on the bus to “go home,” video record the white cops harassing an African-American for minding their own business, stand in front of the woman threatened for wearing an expression of her faith? Will you donate and volunteer for organizations fighting for civil rights and reproductive health care? Will you call your Congressional representatives, daily if necessary, to let them know you won’t tolerate evisceration of the Office of Congressional Ethics, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc? Will you recruit, support, campaign for, and finance candidates for public office who believe in civil rights for all?

Or will you proceed with your daily life while everything that made America great is destroyed?

I know where I stand. I may have been silent online, but I never stopped fighting. What about you?

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Rites of the Savage Tribe

September 10, 2015

Today’s guest blogger Jean Roberta believes in tolerating everything except intolerance. This piece originally was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Rites of the Savage Tribe

By Jean Roberta, author of The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella


I’m always interested to learn about sexual cultures: what a particular demographic considers sexually acceptable, and what is taboo.

One social event among today’s young that has been acknowledged in the media is the Teenage Sex Party: a group of secondary school students get together to drink, and (in many cases) indulge in other mind-bending substances. A gang-bang happens, either spontaneously (it seems like a good idea at the time), or pre-planned. In most cases that I’ve heard of, the event is largely spontaneous, though it often starts with one boy and one girl. The rest of the crowd piles on.

I suspect that this event happens much more often than many adults choose to believe. It’s easy enough to legislate a minimum age for drinking, driving, and consensual sex. It’s not really possible to legislate lust, curiosity, or recklessness, and teenagers of all genders have these qualities in abundance.

Now here is the catalyst that propels a local event into the stratosphere of public discussion: someone has a recording device and takes pictures, or makes a little porn-movie of the event. Someone posts this on YouTube or some other social-media platform. The images go viral. The girl or girls in the Sex Party (who are usually outnumbered by boys) become targets of a lynch-mob of their peers.

In some cases, the girl who has become known as the Scarlet Whore of Whoville (or whatever town it is) changes schools to avoid the stigma, and finds that her reputation has preceded her. If
she reads her email, she finds fresh insults and threats every day. She can’t concentrate in class, and wants to drop out of school. She can’t sleep. Her only support comes from her parents, who would like her to recover in a well-guarded facility. In a worst-case scenario, the girl commits suicide.

At this point, there is much hand-wringing in the media. The girl’s red-eyed parents ask why the police have not prosecuted the “rapists” who did this to their daughter. Various experts point out that vulnerable young women need to be better-protected from sexual exploitation presumably, by means of constant supervision.

Seriously?

The frequent aftermath of the Teenage Sex Party, in which a girl is deprived of human status because of her perceived sexual behaviour, is parallel to the disfiguring, flogging, or murder of “fallen women” in cultures that practice fundamentalist religion in its most medieval forms. There is nothing especially modern or high-tech about any of this; it took place in the time of Christ, as recorded in the Bible. (Christ was against it.)

Let’s reconsider the party itself. In a case that was recently discussed on a daytime television talk show, the girl who was the centre of attention explained that she went to the party with the intention of having sex with one boy (presumably her boyfriend at the time). Another boy entered the room, and both boys persuaded her to let them take turns. By this time, everyone involved was both drunk and high, so it was hard for the girl to remember everything clearly. At
some point, she became aware that the fourth guy had been replaced by a fifth guy. She couldn’t identify him, but she knew he hadn’t asked her permission.

The talk show host asked Scarlet (as I’ll call her) if she knew the difference between sexual attention and sexual exploitation. He made it very clear that there was only one right answer to this question. She said yes, and agreed that what was done to her had crossed the line. The host then assured the girl’s anxious parents that the local police were wrong when they said the boys couldn’t be charged. The host promised to look into the case himself.

Are you uncomfortable yet?

Scarlet was clearly disturbed by the host’s promise to her parents that oh yes, those five boys could and should be punished. She said she didn’t think they should get criminal records. She seemed admirably loyal to the truth: the event had not been a clear-cut assault, and she had not been simply a victim of unwanted sex.

It’s incredibly hard for a teenage girl to maintain her integrity by telling the truth about her sexuality in the face of social pressure. In my day, there was rarely any objective evidence, but rumours abounded. When numerous classmates asked me whether it was true that I had “done it” with the boy who was bragging about this, I denied it. Admitting it would have opened up an abyss of shame in which I was afraid of being trapped for the rest of my life. Then, when boys asked me why most girls lie so much about what they really want and what they’ve really done, I cringed. I didn’t want to be a liar or a hypocrite, but I didn’t see any viable alternative.

Let’s think about sexual hypocrisy with regard to Scarlet and the boys from the party. Did the boys acquire terrible reputations at school because they were recognizable from the video on YouTube? Did anyone propose that the person who recorded the event without Scarlet’s consent (and who might not have been a participant) should be convicted of a crime?

I would like to see a talk show with a different focus on the Teenage Sex-Party and its aftermath. Who were the ringleaders of the smear campaign against Scarlet, and why was no one talking about appropriate penalties for them? Where were the parents of these underage thugs? How many of them will grow up to become sexual bullies at work? Will any of them become police officers who use their power to abuse or even kill innocent civilians?

Something is definitely rotten in Denmark, so to speak. And it’s not a loss of sexual purity among young women.

About Jean Roberta: Jean Roberta has taught English in a Canadian university for over 25 years, and now teaches a credit course in creative writing as well.

Her diverse fiction (mostly erotic) has appeared in over one hundred print anthologies, an out-of-print novel, two out-of-print story collections, and two single-author collections (Obsession, The Princess and the Outlaw), as well as The Flight of the Black Swan. Anthologies including her work have won awards from Lambdalit, EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), and Independent Publishers Association. She has also written poetry, drama, news articles, scholarly non-fiction, blog posts and reviews.

The 25 opinion pieces she wrote for a monthly column, Sex Is All Metaphors (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas), are available as an e-book. Under her actual family name, she co-edited an anthology of scholarly articles: OutSpoken: Perspectives on Queer Identities, and contributed an article on a controversial “lesbian” novel, “The Well of Loneliness” (1928).

She married her long-term, female partner, Chilean-born Mirtha Rivera, on Samhain weekend in 2010. More on her website. You can also find her on Twitter and LiveJournal.


Forced Pregnancy Movement

June 19, 2014

Let’s call a spade a spade and stop granting the right-wing, evangelical, misogynists their self-preferred, and totally erroneous, title of “pro life.”

You can’t claim “pro life” if you spend time, money, and energy fighting to prevent people from getting life-saving medical care resulting in thousands of deaths each year.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you actively try to eliminate one of the best, proven methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions: fact-based sex education in schools.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you campaign against allowing womGynoticianen access to the most significant abortion prevention option: contraceptives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t work to provide pre-natal care for women so they can deliver healthy babies.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you argue against paid family medical leave that allows parents to care for their children when they’re newborns, sick, or injured.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you advocate cutting programs to feed, clothe, house, and educate those children you force into this world.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you justify laws that prevent same-sex couples from adopting the children you forced into the world then abandoned, preventing them from having a stable home because (and only because) homosexuality squicks you out.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t support realistic minimum-wage laws that would eliminate the oxymoron “working poor” — poverty kills.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you refuse to take action to prevent the slaughter of children and other innocents and keep it legal for any idiot, criminal, and nut job to carry automatic weapons and enough ammunition to take out a municipal police force into schools, theaters, restaurants, etc.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you promote “Stand Your Ground,” police brutality, urban warfare, rape culture, and trans hatred — all of which cost people their lives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you favor the death penalty.

In short, you can’t claim “pro life” if the only thing you do to “protect” life is use lies, outrageous and unnecessary procedures, and inappropriate clinic-closing regulations to stop women from terminating pregnancy … even when it means their lives are at risk, even if the fathers are rapists, even if they’re brain dead, even if the fetuses probably won’t survive.

If that’s all you do you, aren’t “pro life,” you’re a hypocrite who is part of the forced-pregnancy movement which only has the one goal of coercing women to deliver babies, babies you don’t give a rat’s ass about once they’re born.

So, if you’re pro-choice, pro-women, pro-freedom please stop using the term “pro-life” to describe members of the forced-pregnancy movement.


“Feminist” Backlash Against BDSM: A FemDom defends the eroticization of male domination

October 22, 2013

National Leather Association–International
Cynthia Slater Non-fiction Article Award Finalist
This post originally appeared October 15, 2013 on Female First.

While I do not believe 50 Shades of Grey has any redeeming qualities, I frequently find myself defending some of its concepts against the so-called “feminist” backlash.

Self-identified “feminists” (SIFs) object to statements such as “freedom is slavery,” “submissiveness is empowering,” and “BDSM erotica is feminist,” claiming they are “lies that patriarchal culture has served up for women.”

Since they shut down any comments defending those statements — but continue to promote them — I find it necessary to take the conversation to a forum that is more open to both sides of the discussion.

The first flaw in the SIFs argument is that BDSM is only about male domination and female submission. I am a FemDom (female dominant). I own a male submissive and have owned a male slave. I have never submitted (and never will) to any male.

I’m not unique. BDSM offers alternatives to women who refuse to accept patriarchal hierarchy in their lives or their relationships. In reality, BDSM relationships span the gender combinations, including (but hardly limited to) Male/male; Male/female; Female/male; and Female/female.

For some, slavery is freedom. It’s freedom from decision making, freedom from responsibility. Submissiveness can be empowering for those who choose to submit and who submit to a dominant who respects and honours their submission.

BDSM and BDSM erotica absolutely are feminist. Feminism is the fight for equality — to not allow gender to limit one’s opportunities. BDSM (and the erotica written by those who actually understand it) is about choice — about selecting your role based on your desire not your genitals.

Some women prefer to submit only in the bedroom. Some choose to submit for all aspects of their relationships. Some women submit to other women. And some women accept the submission of men (or women) and assume the dominant role in their relationships.

Feminism means not being forced to accept a role because of your gender. BDSM is about not being forced to accept a role (or even a gender) based on what’s between your legs.

50 Shades of Grey is not about BDSM. Christian Grey is not a dominant. He is, like Twilight’s Edward on whom he’s modelled, an abusive stalker. According to the Chicago Tribune, “psychologists at Michigan State University and Ohio State University concluded that its characters’ behaviours are consistent with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s official definition of intimate partner violence — and that the book perpetuates dangerous abuse patterns.”

In the series, BDSM is portrayed as what’s wrong with Grey. It’s written by someone who has never participated in BDSM, never done any research, has absolutely no knowledge of BDSM beyond her own personal fantasies.

There are myriad books — fiction and non — that get BDSM right, some written by practitioners, some by those who take the time to do thorough research. But, the media — and the SIFs — focus on the material that feeds their prejudices and stereotypes.

For many, male domination can be extremely erotic, even if they only choose to explore that eroticism between the pages of a book. However, many prefer female domination. I write about both, but, my stories — and those of other responsible authors — always make it clear that consent is required; that abuse is not BDSM.

In fact, BDSM practices do not, as SIFs would have you believe, “actively oppress women.” Mainstream media’s reporting of BDSM actively oppresses women. Ninety-nine percent of the time an article about BDSM is illustrated by a photograph of a scantily clad woman in bondage. But probably as many men enjoy bondage as women. And, many men prefer to submit in the bedroom and in their relationships.

More than anything else, BDSM is about consent, a term missing from patriarchy. Those who submit, consent to their submission at whatever level they choose to submit and can walk away anytime the relationship is not meeting their needs. Anything else is abuse (including, and especially, the relationship in the 50 Shades series).

As the Tribune article states: “In consensual BDSM relationships, partners take negotiations seriously and respect each others’ boundaries.”

Every description of BDSM relationships that delineates the options we have includes the word consensual. (SSC: Safe, Sane Consensual; RACK: Risk Aware Consensual Kink; or even PRICK: Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink.) However you define us, you cannot deny that we take responsibility for obtaining consent.

BDSM provides more relationship dynamic options than anything you’ll find in the “vanilla world.” And, because BDSM requires much more communication about sex, sexuality, consent, etc., BDSM relationships are more intimate, more intense, and more openly honest than any other form of relationship.

Are there abusers who use BDSM to mask their abuse (àla Christian Grey)? Yes. But they are abusers. They need to be prosecuted for their abuse. For those of us who practice responsible, consensual BDSM, abuse is not part of the picture.

Exploring rather than repressing sexuality, allowing people to have choices that are not dependent on their genitals, giving people the freedom to make their own decisions about how their relationships are structured rather than dictating — whether from a feminist or patriarchal perspective — what their relationship dynamics look like, is transgressive. And it is feminist.