Why Should I Care About Politics?

When people hear that one of my majors in college was political science, I get “Oh, I’m not interested in that stuff. It’s just a bunch of people fighting about stuff that doesn’t impact me at all.” I smile and nod, or shrug, because I get it. I was there, too.

It wasn’t until my American Government class freshman year that I became interested. It fulfilled a general education requirement, it had an Honors section to fulfill the requirements for the Honors program, and my roommate was taking it. Dr. Edward Yager taught the course. I fell in love. I quickly added it as my second major, and it all went from there.

The first thing that I learned was that politics affects everyone. It touches everything in our lives. This was the same fact that I told every person who skeptically, condescendingly, asked why I was studying English. Politics was why the roof of my urban high school leaked when it rained. Politics was why gas prices were soaring. Politics was why tuition was so dang expensive. Politics was why. Politics was. I had to learn as much as I could about this thing, this entity, this institution that touched every corner of my life. I had to know.

The more I learned, the more I realized I could do something about all the stuff that made me go “What the fuck? Seriously?” when I heard about it. This was a pivotal  moment. I was no longer a leaf in a stream, getting swept along in whatever direction the current took me. I was a part of the stream itself. I could either be passive, and let all the other molecules of water move and shake, or I could move and shake myself, become part of the energy that moves the stream.

After learning that I wasn’t a leaf, I wasn’t about to be some passive molecule. The energy, the excitement, and the passion of my professors and classmates stirred me into action as well. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

What was seen, couldn’t be unseen. What was learned, couldn’t be unlearned.

I joined student government. I jumped into the feminist blogosphere that I’d been lurking in. I got involved in state-level politics. Local movements. Online movements. I began to write. Global movements. National movements. Protests. Petitions. Writing to my Senators, my representatives. Writing to Senators and representatives that didn’t even represent me. Boycotts. Rallies. Lobbying. Writing to the paper. Interviews.

What’s next? I have no idea. This thing, this entity, this institution we call politics will continue to touch every corner of my life. It always will—so I’ll always be moving.

 

 

Chronicles of the Gym: Getting “Sexy”

I suppose this is going to become a series. Unsurprising, considering, but frustrating nonetheless. There’s so much cultural baggage  surrounding women and exercise–thanks to the “beauty standard” that all women are expected to constantly adhere to, and strive for.

Women are supposed to look good–all the time. Even while exercising. We’re supposed to be exercising in order to look better. Everything we do is supposed to, in some way, be about men. We work out to get “sexy.” While we work out, we’re objects to stare at–bouncing, sweaty pieces of flesh for men to look upon, comment upon, and follow around for entertainment. We’re supposed to interrupt our workout to chat with you. We’re supposed to cease use of a machine if a man wants to use it, because his workout is a priority–he’s working out to become stronger and healthier–increasing our sexiness for his benefit is of lesser priority when it clashes with his needs.

From the moment I signed my contract for my gym membership, I’ve had numerous comments outside of the gym, regarding my purpose there.

“Trying to lose some weight, eh?”

“Oh, I can tell already! You look so much better!”

“Hey sexy!”

“Your ass is looking awfully good! That gym membership is paying off!” *stare*

“Trying to get a sexy six pack, huh?”

Every time, I protest.

“I’m not there to lose weight.””

“I don’t care if I lose weight–I don’t care if I gain weight. I’m trying to build strength and endurance.”

*deadpan stare* “I’m not working on my ass. I’m training for a hike this summer.”

“Sexy has nothing to do with it. Yes I want a six pack. It’s messed up to just assume I’m working out to get sexy.”

Then come the protests.

“Oh, but you look good! You’re getting all tone!”

“I was joking!”

“Of course you don’t need to work out! You’re already hawt!”

Even when I attempt to steer the conversation away from appearance, weight loss, or attractiveness, my conversation partners never fail to correct my course change, right back to the beauty standard.

Evidently, I need constant assurance that I am indeed attractive, duh. I’m just working out to get even more so. Pssh, don’t listen to what I’m actually saying or anything. I don’t really want to get all muscled up. I’m not really trying to get to the point where I can do pull-ups, or bench my body weight, or run long distances quickly or climb mountains or anything. You, autonomous person who is not me, clearly know my motivations and goals better than I do.

I’m just a silly woman, after all. A silly woman who is obsessed with her looks, so clearly you can’t trust anything I say. Including when I say that adhering to the beauty standard is not my purpose for exercising.

 

ADA Suits Crippling Your Business? Let’s Repeal the Law!

I guess it never occurred to Dianne Feinstein or these mysterious small businesses to comply with state and federal law in the first place.

But for real, ya’ll. It’s not that we want equal access or anything. We just want to sue you for money! That’s why we’re disabled, after all.

We’re special, dammit! Cater to our special needs or PAY.

As Liss from Shakesville would say, it was either this, or a 2,000 words screed riddled with profanity.

An Observation on Zimmerman’s Defenders

Trayvon Martin had an empty baggie with weed particles at school, and he spray painted a couple of walls.

George Zimmerman has a domestic violence charge, a charge for resisting arrest, and a charge for resisting arrest with violence (assault on a cop).

Tell me, why is Trayvon the do-no-gooder here, and Zimmerman isn’t?

 

Racism.

The same people who were condemning Occupiers for civil disobedience, i.e. with no violence involved, are the same people deliberately ignoring Zimmerman’s history of violence. Or playing the “no conviction” card. The same people are also ignoring that Trayvon was not arrested for possessing this empty baggie, but are so busy condemning him with a plethora of racially charged dog whistle terms.

Ari Fleischer: One of the Worst Displays I’ve Ever Seen

While we’re talking about decorum and civility, let’s talk about Ari Fleischer. He, along with Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, were on Anderson Cooper’s program last night, to discuss the President’s remark to the Russian President.

<object width=”416″ height=”374″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ id=”ep”><param name=”allowfullscreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent” /><param name=”movie” value=”http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=bestoftv/2012/03/28/ac-obama-open-mic-election.cnn&#8221; /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#000000″ />

Whenever Stephanie spoke, Mr. Fleischer couldn’t restrain himself from smirking, shaking his head, and interrupting Stephanie mid-sentence.

It was disgusting. I could barely focus on what was being said, I was so astounded at his disrespect, his sexist dismissal at anything Stephanie said. Over and over again: “Well, actually, Stephanie, this is what happened.” “I’d like to point out that Stephanie didn’t answer the question.” (She did. He was too busy shaking his head and waiting for a pause to interrupt to notice.)

Ari, if you remember, was a press secretary for President George W. Bush, as well as being involved in Komen for the Cure’s strategy planning on Planned Parenthood, and interviewing applicants for top positions at Komen.

Growing Up Black in America

Melissa Harris-Perry talks to a few black teenagers on their experiences growing up black in the U.S. and their reactions to Trayvon Martin’s murder.

Growing Up Black in America

This is about so much more than just hoodies and baggy pants. Clothes aren’t the problem here. Racism is the problem. Clothes are meaningless. Or, rather, they should be. In a racist world, the “right” clothes can be the difference between life and death for black men in America. And that is not their fault if they choose to wear clothes tagged by racists as threatening. It’s our fault–White America’s fault.

It’s not even the clothes. Are young white men that wear the same fashions targets for suspicion, questioning, and violence? Nope. The clothes are a scapegoat. It’s all racism.

Self-Defense: Not Just for Gun Owners

I’m seeing a lot of babbling about George Zimmerman defending himself.

What I’m hearing very little of is Trayvon Martin’s right to self defense.

Trayvon didn’t know Zimmerman. He didn’t know why Zimmerman was following him. He didn’t know why Zimmerman had a gun. All he knew, was that this strange man was following him, for God knows what reason, to do who knows what.

From what I can piece together, this seventeen year old boy tried to deescalate the situation. “Why are you following me?”

When that didn’t work, he tried to remove himself from the situation and get to safety. He tried to run away.

Zimmerman followed.

Trayvon was backed into a metaphorical corner here. Deescalation didn’t work. Flight* didn’t work. All that he had left was Fight*. Self-defense.

(Fight or Flight, you know, the two instinctual responses to a threat?)

Trayvon showed more sense than this grown-ass man. He waited to use physical confrontation until the very last, after all other options were exhausted.

Now, I don’t believe for a second Zimmerman’s accounting. I don’t believe for a second that Trayvon attacked him. I believe Trayvon fought back. To defend himself, from this strange, grown-ass man that was following him home in the dark. With a gun.

Zimmerman should not own a gun. He has shown that he has no sense. He has no respect for his weapon, and no respect and caution in the face of the power a gun gave him.

The power to take a life.

Responsible gun owners know that the mere presence of a gun escalates a situation. Responsible gun owners know that you don’t exhibit threatening behavior to another (perceived, in this case. Zimmerman thought Trayvon was carrying.) gun owner. That’s a good way to start a shootout. Responsible gun owners don’t look for a fight. Responsible gun owners avoid it. Responsible gun owners don’t want to use their weapon. At all.

When Trayvon tried to deescalate the situation, Zimmerman kept escalating it.

Zimmerman was the threat. Zimmerman was the instigator. Zimmerman was the attacker.

Trayvon was exercising his right to self-defense.

Zimmerman is a murderer.