the deafening silence...

okay. let's make this the last time i apologize for a prolonged and overwhelming absence. (not that anyone wilted or perished, while futilely re-checking for new posts. but still.)

let's chalk this up to the massive exodus that's been my workplace, resulting in a very overworked me. and lots of travel. including a couple of short, internet-free vacations. yeah, i know. excuses, excuses.

much has been happening here: namely, they shut down the abortion clinic, unexpectedly, overnight. more on this soon.



so, i went to the national NOW conference in albany last weekend, and i've been meaning to write about it, but it's a been a crazy week with lots of people quitting where i work, and deadlines to meet, and a general feeling that i really, really need a vacation, and so the idea of sitting down and blogging at my computer when i could be at the park with my dog or watching law and order with a glass of wine in my hand doesn't sound as appealing as it usually does.

but i have a few extra minutes this afternoon, so i thought i'd mention a couple of things that were on my mind while i was in albany.

first, it felt SO GOOD that at a well-attended, national conference, almost every panelist was a woman. let me say that again. IT FELT SO, LIBERATINGLY, FREEINGLY GOOD. the experience of going to conferences usually culminates for me in a brewing resentment over the token woman they assign to every third panel (not to mention the severe absence of people of color), who either doesn't get to speak as much as the men on the panel, or who is talked over or "interpreted" or reframed by her male colleagues. yeah, that still happens, and at supposedly progressive conferences, too, sponsored by organizations with "gender equity" clauses in their bylaws.

but not at the NOW conference. there still weren't as many women of color on the panels as there should have been -- and the panel on immigration was comprised solely of latinas, as if immigrant issues don't affect a wide, wide array of women of many colors from all over the world -- but it was moving in the right direction. when i got home, j made a stupid joke about being "whipped" when i told him this, but to top it off, at the session where we were voting on resolutions, the husband of the president ferried her a coffee refill as she presided from behind the podium. not a secretary, not a wife, not a woman. the person doing the coffee-fetching was a man. the little things matter.

more later -- i need more coffee.

at the clinic this morning

the anti-choice protesters at our abortion clinic have found a new tactic. they're bringing their children -- from a two-month-old baby strapped to the chest of a woman holding a sign that screams, "Babies KILLED HERE for $700", to teenagers who matter-of-factly explain to the younger kids that the trash cans on the corner contain the bloody, mutilated body parts of murdered babies. the kids stare in horror first at the trash cans, and then at us -- for we MUST be forcing women into the clinic, possibly drugging them, to perform abortions against their will. (never mind the gross distortion of basic biology -- a first-trimester abortion results in what looks like menstrual blood, not little arms and legs and baby feet.)

and, they've taken to praying at us. we do such a good job of preventing them from giving their drivel to the women entering the clinic, that they've almost stopped trying. instead, they stand on the sidewalk, a big cluster of white women in long, homemade dresses, holding signs that look like they bought them from a pro-life mail-order company in 1978. and then they sing. sometimes, they bring musical instruments, like violins and large horns. today, they followed us around, praying in our ears.

this morning, one of the protestes explained to me that a battle for my soul was raging right above my head, between the devil and god. she said she was there to help persuade god not to smite me. i could look up, and while the battle was in the general direction of the clouds, i wouldn’t be able to see it. but don’t worry, it’s invisible, so if i didn’t see it, that didn’t mean i was crazy.

it's a circus, only better.


Weekly Action: Stop Coastal Drilling!

Stop Coastal Drilling and Other Give Aways to Big Oil!

The high price of gas and election-year politics have put Florida's coastal areas at great risk of environmental degradation. For the first time in more than a decade, the bipartisan consensus to spare coastal areas from drilling has broken down. The House passed a bill ending the moratorium last month, and the Senate is set to vote this week.

The Weekly Action Coalition urges you to contact your Senator to oppose opening our precious coastal areas to oil drilling. To learn more, read this background article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Contact your Senator today (Find your senator's contact information here) and send them the following important message from Save Our Environment.org:

Dear Senator:

As your constituent, I urge you to protect America's Gulf coast and oppose S. 2253, sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. The Domenici-Bingaman bill would allow oil and gas leasing and drilling in millions of acres off of Florida's Gulf coast in an area known as Lease Sale 181.

Florida's coast is a complex mosaic of sea grasses, wetlands, bays, estuary systems, beaches and dunes, and offshore drilling is simply not compatible with the quality of life and economy this fragile ecosystem supports. That is why both Florida senators, Senators Martinez and Nelson, are opposed to S. 2253.

Finally, there is not much oil and natural gas thought to be in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. At current rates of consumption, Florida's coast probably contains less than four months of oil and only six month's worth of natural gas.

Obviously, we cannot drill our way out of our energy problems. There is simply not enough oil and natural gas off of Florida's Gulf coast, certainly not enough to reduce prices or make America energy independent.

We strongly urge you to vigorously oppose - and not sign on as a cosponsor - S. 2253, the Domenici-Bingaman bill, and oppose any attempt to lift the moratorium for offshore drilling off of our coasts. Instead of promoting drilling projects that harm our coasts and do nothing to solve our energy problems, we urge you to support energy projects that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Thank you for your consideration.


mississippi's last abortion clinic under siege

okay, i've been meaning to post on this for DAYS, but things happened, as they often do, and i haven't had a moment to write since returning from jackson.

i'm going to post some pics from the mississippi pro-choice rally later today. for daily updates about the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, check in with the folks at World Can't Wait. Unfortunately, I'll be at the NOW national conference in Albany this week, but i'll be updating Rage from there...

other articles about the Jackson protests:
Last Clinic Standing, by Sunsara Taylor
The Jackon Clarion-Ledger's coverage of Day 1



another clinic escort sent this email yesterday. the folks mentioned in the beginning are the lovely people who protest at the abortion clinic every week. it's too funny not to share...

I took a long walk this morning and did some thinking. What we need to do is find something for Hat Lady, Joshua Horn Woman, Violin Girl, etc. to do in their spare time -- you know, days that aren't Wednesday or Friday. I think we should suggest to them that they take their protesting skills to some place like McDonald's. They could meander around the parking lot, harrassing potential customers by begging them to not purchase junk food. "You're killing your children!" Or "If you're thinking of eating a BigMac, I can help!"

They could hand out liturature with pictures of morbidly obese people, or display jars of fat that has been liposucked out of somebody's butt. They could imply that McDonald's is practicing genocide by targeting African-Americans in its ads, and selling more Quarter Pounders to Blacks than to Whites. They could promise to pray for everyone that consumes transfat.

Of course, McDonalds would be forced to use McEscorts to safely get the public past the protesters and into the Golden Arches.


not so entertaining

so, i watched the first "pirates of the caribbean" this weekend with the Boyfriend. the second one's in the theater, as anyone who's turned on a television or glanced at a magazine cover already knows. but, living under a rock as i do, i never saw the first one, so the Boyfriend rushed to the store and bought it, in an effort to give me a crash course in all things "pirates."

we settled in, with bowls of ice cream and the surround-sound speakers hooked up and the lights dimmed. "isn't this great??" he whispered. and it was -- at least the first 15 or 20 minutes and the last hour or so. but there was one little blip, about 15 or 20 minutes in, and i almost didn't notice it, and i kind of wish i hadn't. because every now and then, it would be nice to enjoy a movie without the running social commentary buzzing in my head.

in johnny depp's introductory scene, his character, the pirate jack sparrow, announces he's come to a seaside village to rape and pillage. those are the words he uses, plus a few others. the two soldiers with whom he's speaking decide he isn't kidding. flash forward several scenes. the pirates from the black pearl -- the ship jack sparrow once captained -- descend upon the town, with crazed eyes and outstretched hands, and begin throwing fire bombs into windows and chasing screaming, terrified women. one particularly rabid pirate almost catches a frantically fleeing woman, but he's stopped when a local blacksmith lodges an axe in the pirate's back. potential rape averted! i'm sure the movie execs figured viewers would either a) cheer for the good guy, b) consider such material fair game for entertainment, or c) not notice it at all.

when i saw this, i cringed. later, when the lead female character -- played by young, doe-eyed keira knightley -- was kidnapped by the pirates of the black pearl, i asked the Boyfriend if there were going to be any rape innuendos during her captivity. after all, we know what pirates do, right? jack sparrow already told us: they rape and they pillage.

when i asked this, the Boyfriend jokingly responded, with a smile, "i knew i shouldn't have watched this with a feminist!" he was kidding. but i wasn't.

"they didn't have to put that in there," i said, regarding the pirate-chasing-the-woman scene.

"but that's what pirates DID," he said. as if historical accuracy, when it comes to pirate behavior, is of paramount importance when making a children's movie based on a disneyland ride.

but he's a dude -- so he can understand intellectually that it bothers me to see what basically amounts to a loose "rape" joke in what's supposed to be a kid's movie, but he doesn't "get it" in his gut that rape is too real to be considered entertainment -- even when it's done in innuendo, and especially when it's done in passing.

we live in a world where members of our military rape and murder teenage girls.

we live in a country where 11-year-olds are gang-raped.

unless a movie is trying to make a grand social point (boys don't cry, the accused), filmmakers have no business using rape as a plot point or a device to build suspense or tension. it's crude, it's tacky, and it's just too close to home for the majority of women around the globe for it to be considered anything remotely close to acceptable entertainment.

i don't need a movie reminding me of the days when women had to run for their lives, trying to fend off men with outstretched hands. those days never went away. to realize this, all you have to do is turn on the television or glance at a magazine cover.


Weekly Action: Support Stem Cell Research

This week's action comes from the Alliance for Stem Cell Research:

Tell the Senate to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act!

Millions of people suffer from diseases and injuries that could be treated if we have adequate research to develop new therapies. Human embryonic stem cell research has enormous potential for finding life-saving treatments for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, brain injury, stroke, heart disease, burns, and spinal cord injuries.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from excess embryos, which were created for infertility treatments and will be discarded once treatment is discontinued. Stem cells have the ability to divide indefinitely in culture and can develop into most of the specialized cells and tissues of the body such as muscle cells, nerve cells, liver cells and blood cells. Using stem cells could reduce the dependency on organ donation and transplantation.

Our nation's best opportunity to aggressively move stem cell research forward is here!

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced this week that HR 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, will see a vote on the Senate floor before their August recess!

We're almost there!

To get this vital piece of legislation passed, please do two things:

1. Contact your Senator and urge them to vote "Yes on HR 810"! Be sure to share with them why this research is so important to you.

2. Forward this message to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers and ask them to do the same!

HR 810 is the only piece of legislation before the Senate that will move stem cell research forward. From now until the vote, we need to be vigilant in putting pressure on the Senate to pass HR 810!

Background information:

Senate to Take Up Stem Cell Bill in July
~from the Alliance for Stem Cell Research

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Holds Unprecedented Hope
~from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

introducing the weekly action coalition

Starting today, Rage Is Good is a proud member of the Weekly Action Coalition, a diverse group of bloggers promoting weekly progressive actions. (So far, in addition to Rage, the group includes two secular feminists, a Buddhist science professor, and two liberal Christian activists. Links to each member blog are listed over on the righthand sidebar.)

Once a week, I'll be posting an action from the coalition -- check out the archives on the link above for a list of past actions (happy stuff like protecting the voting rights act and helping rape victims get access to emergency contraceptives).

I'll add this week's action in a separate post.



i have an addiction. i can't stop posting comments to a right-wing conservative blog. i think i need an intervention.

back story: a couple of weeks ago, my friend C, a kick-ass fabulous feminist woman, wrote an op-ed in our local paper about the dangers of banning abortion. (okay, first, before i continue with this distressing story, let me share an aside. J's parents were in town this weekend. they live in a moderately large city in north carolina. they are progressive christians, active in local democratic politics. they read the newpapers and write letters to the editor. so, they're kind of with it. J's mom was asking me about the clinic escorting stuff, and i was telling her about the crazy protesters. she looked increasingly perplexed. and then finally she said something like, "you know, this isn't an issue where we're from." yeah, they have anti-choice folks in their town, but abortion isn't at risk of being outlawed. it was a healthy reminder that i live in a bubble. vigilance is necessary here, but there are places on the map that still shine bright, beautiful blue. sigh. and anyway. lot good it does us here.)

okay. so, the op-ed. in the local paper. it got picked up by a religious right-wing blog, the name of which i don't believe i'll share here. the owner of the blog posted C's words and then used ominous and threatening language to "warn" her to stop killing babies. what followed was a lively conversation among readers about how "those" women (i.e. pro-choicers) love abortion because a) they hate humanity and want to yank us back to the dark ages and b) because they want "convenient" solutions to their "profane lifestyle" choices. oh, and also that rape and incest don't matter, because "rapists should be killed, not babies."

this made so much nonsense that i couldn't stop myself. i chimed in. my first post was brief and pointed, yet still civil. i wrote it, i selected "anonymous" (didn't want them spamming me here), and then hit "Post." a new window informed me that my comment would be posted pending the blog owner's approval. "oh great," i thought. i figured the blog owner probably wouldn't approve something so obviously contrary to his own beliefs.

i was wrong. i checked back today (i don't actually have a lot of free time -- i just procrastinate a lot and end up working late because i spend so much time futzing about online) and there it was. not only had he approved my post, but he'd responded. and so began my decline.

part of me wanted to badger and condescend the other posters and make them look like hypocritical idiots. another part of me wanted to dispel their myths that pro-choice women are a bunch of selfish baby-haters. and all of me hated the idea of being the lone voice of reason amid a sea of knee-jerk "legalized abortion leads to increased rape" arguments. (sidebar: i don't think all anti-choicers are rabid fools. i've had intelligent conversations with a couple of people who understand nuance and don't succumb to stereotypes about baby-killing sluts.)

so, kind of without thinking, i did something even sillier than post a comment. i posted two comments. from what appeared to be two different "anonymous" people. one used proper grammar, capitalization, few exclamation points (sort of a toned-down version of me). the other was all lower-case, lots of !!!s and just a bit more barbed (sort of a ramped-up version of me).

of course, they all got posted. and replied to. now, i know i use language here that is entirely dismissive ("rabid fools", "hypocritical idiots"), but in conversation with an anti-choicer -- and in my posts to that right-wing blog -- i make sure my discourse is pretty civil. i also try not to generalize. i think i had expected -- no, hoped -- that that would be the case there. that by pointing out, "hey, i think that sounds like a stereotype, what about xyz?", we might be able to have an intelligent conversation among people who happen to disagree.


with one exception, everything other posters wrote was laced with lies, stereotypes, personal threats and ridiculous misinformation. maybe my expections are too high. maybe i'm invading their in-group space by posting to their blog. but if a seriously anti-choice reader posted a thoughtful, intelligent comment to this blog, i would respond in kind, and i expect the other people who read this would do the same. so what gives?

i know there are more meaningful ways i could be wasting my supposed-to-be-working time, so maybe i'll stop posting to the conservative christian blog. or maybe not. or maybe a whole bunch of you will gather around my desk in a human chain, as a de-blogging intervention.

baby moses is back!

SM said he missed the baby moses picture, so here you go -- enjoy!

no, this image is not a joke. they sell it on t-shirts. you can walk around in public with this picture emblazoned across your chest, or maybe ironed on to the front of your ball cap. it's a nice fashion statement for the end-of-the-world, death-to-feminazi's crowd.

i looked at this picture, and mostly i laughed. it's pretty hysterical. that anyone would take this seriously, or look at this image and feel moved and inspired. but check out the race commentary here: baby moses is white and plump, and he's surrounded by mostly white babies who also are round and plump and who seem to be following baby moses freely and happily.

and then there's that little emaciated black kid, who looks like he's being dragged by baby moses against his impoverished little will. and really -- what's up with that??


a couple of shout-outs.

(i just had a flashback to a raucous debate several years ago in the copy room of a DC nonprofit over whether to hyphenate "shout-out". jana -- you remember that?? ah, the good ol' hunger-fightin' big-house-livin' bread-and-chocolate-eatin' paper-crane-makin' CD-burnin' days.)

anywyay. what i meant to say is that i received a lovely email a few days ago from a montgomery native (who has since escaped) who accidentally and happily stumbled upon this blog. and i wanted to say thanks to her for writing. (emails are great. as are comments. shameless, i know.)

also, i wanted to wave to SM. (the person, not the practice.) you know you who you are.

happy 5th of july

i'm driving around right now with a "god is pro-choice" sign and a "christian coalition: stop the war on women!" sign visible from my back window. i'm surprised i haven't been keyed. we'll see how long it takes for a cop to pull me over and arrest me for disorderly conduct.

in other, more patriotic news, i went to a minor league baseball game monday night. they were passing out those little american flags, the kind stapled to wooden sticks that people wave in parades. a little boy a couple of rows in front of us was using two of the flags to beat his brother over the head.

god bless america.


don't talk to strangers...

...or to strange people. especially when they're standing outside of an abortion clinic, yelling to women that they're murderers.

i braced myself this morning. i'd heard word that the number of protesters had grown, that the police had been called last week, that they were trampling all over the grass, stalking the escort volunteers, shouting at the women. a far cry from the timid Hat Lady with her satchel of pamphlets. i wasn't nervous, because there were three escorts on this morning's schedule. we could handle five noisy nutcases.

but then i got there, and no one else showed up. S was sick. i didn't know where E was. i checked in with the clinic staff, and they told me there were 16 women on the patient roster this morning. that's a lot. last friday, there were five.

the protesters immediately started in. "we didn't think you'd show up -- we'd hoped maybe you'd had a change of heart," said the lone man in the group. another woman tried to introduce herself, asked how long i'd been "working" there, told me she was praying for my soul. i ignored them. i didn't make eye contact, pretended i was the only one there. when they came right up next to me to ask questions, i casually wandered a few feet away. this left them confused and disconcerted. "i know you can hear me," said one woman who told me her name was victoria.

i didn't blink. but i did help seven women get in safely in the course of about five minutes. it felt like triage, asking some to wait in their car while i helped others in, escorting them to the door in small groups. "do you get paid to do this?" asked the man. "or do you just get the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping these women kill their babies?" all of a sudden, their energy seemed focused on me. three of them huddled, intentionally close enough so that i could hear them. "it amazes me that people who promote abortion can't even discuss it," one of them said.

"do you really think you're protecting these women?" they demanded. "do you really think we want to HURT them?" they sounded incredulous and bitter. their faces twisted in anger. the man looked like he wanted to spit on someone.

i'd been there 30 minutes, and they hadn't been able to hand out a single nasty brochure. so they took to heckling the women. one woman showed up with her infant son and a friend -- the friend had the appointment; the woman with the child was there to support her. the protesters, of course, assumed both women were there for abortions. as the woman hoisted her child from his carseat, the man sneered in her direction, "it's too bad you're here to kill your other baby!"

finally, D, a second escort volunteer, showed up. S had tracked her down, asked her to fill in. most of the 16 women had arrived by now, but four were still unaccounted for. this was my first time to deal with multiple protesters, but D had been here twice before with them. the man saw her walking up the sidewalk. "hello, there!" he shouted. "well, hi, Carl!" D said. she was smiling. so was he. "i didn't think you were coming today," Carl said. "oh, I woudn't miss it! if just to see you!" D said. they interacted like old buddies.

the other protesters looked on approvingly, then shot me smug, reproachful looks.

i asked D why she was talking with them, and she said it was because they were human beings, too, with strong beliefs, that they deserved respect just like we did. that she might have to see them in the grocery store, or at the coffee shop, and that ignoring them completely was disrespectful. "we may disagree about this issue, but we probably have a hundred other things in common," she said. i understood her point. but i also completely disagreed with the tactic. escorting women into an abortion clinic isn't exactly the time to try to find common ground with the enemy.



Revelations can come in funny packages. Like over hummus sandwiches. Like in the middle of otherwise-banal conversation. Like today.

I had an unsettling conversation today with a close friend. We'll call her Molly. I love Molly, and I know Molly loves me. We've relied on each other during times of stress and heartbreak. We've revealed things to each other that we don't widely share. I feel like we know each other pretty well.

Now, before I go on, I feel the need to clarify something. There was a time in my past when I required near-complete ideological agreement with other human beings in order to become or remain their friend. I think this is a common reaction to going to college and also to becoming a 20-something. That period of time doesn't usually last long, as it means you don't get asked to many dinner parties. And besides, variety is a good thing, and yes, conservatives are people, too. But still, like most folks, I have some general measuring sticks. Like, I try not to closely associate with racists. Or with people who don't think women should be president. Or, generally, with evangelical, Anne-Coulter-loving Republicans. I'm just not sure we'd have much to talk about.

Another issue of importance to me (aside from anti-racism and democracy and religious freedom) is reproductive rights. I know this comes as a surprise to anyone who's ever read this blog. :-) Being human, I tend to assume similarities with other people until I receive information to the contrary. So I generally assume my close friends feel pretty much the same way I do about most things, and especially about women's rights and feminism and pro-choice politics. (I also tend to assume that women in their 20s and 30s who wear hip shoes and funky glasses and eschew things like plaid blouses and shoulder pads are, of course, radical feminists with a burning desire to bring down the patriarchy.)

So, Molly and our friend S and I were having lunch today at a cafe near our office. The subject turned to a meeting S and I are attending later this week to discuss ways to fight the looming abortion ban. Molly got kind of quiet. We didn't notice this, so we kept talking. Then Molly, who wears hip shoes and funky glasses and eschews plaid and shoulder pads, said something that made me almost drop my fork. "I think abortion is murder," she said.

Now, Molly has every right to think this (and, given her audience, it was brave of her to say).

I was just surprised to hear her say it. I have spent the past several months fighting against the anti-choice movement in my state; hearing that my dear friend felt something of an allegiance to that movement was a bit of a jolt.

After we had paid our bill and were driving back to work, Molly elaborated on her feelings. She thinks abortion is murder, but she also thinks abortion should be legal. It's a paradox that bothers her. She doesn't know if how she feels is the right way to feel. She knows women have abortions for many legitimate reasons, but she can't get around the notion that the fetus is a human being, and that aborting that fetus is like murdering a child.

As we stepped into the office elevator, Molly turned to us. "So, I guess neither of you thinks it's murder?" she said.

S and I both shook our heads no.

"So you think it's just a bundle of cells that's okay to kill?" she said.

"Well, I mean, no," each of us sputtered.

"Then when is it okay to kill, and when is not okay?" Molly asked. She wasn't being argumentative or accusatory or confrontational. She sincerely wanted to know. Her voice was conflicted, almost pained. I think she wanted to know what we thought because maybe it would help her unravel that paradox.

As I stumbled over an answer about when a fetus becomes viable, and how legally, a fetus isn't really a person (well, in most states), I realized that Molly's conflict was probably more common than my certainty. Because at the heart of her conflict was the emotional, gut-level response to abortion and what it means to say you're okay with ending a potential life.

I've never really stopped to think about this.

I spend so much time thinking about the woman, and her circumstances, and the need to protect her, that I don’t think at all about the fetus that would be her baby. I'm not sure if this is okay, or if it's a problem.

S has a close relative who works in an abortion clinic; S tells me all the time that the pro-choice movement does a horrible job recognizing that abortion can be a difficult and painful decision for many women, that it's deeply emotional, that those feelings matter. S is right. If someone says "I think abortion is murder," you can't answer with, "You have the right to feel that way, but don't infringe upon my choice." That's like saying, "If you think it's wrong to murder your mother, then don't murder your mother. But let me still murder mine."

So what did S and I say instead? We shrugged. We looked at each other. In some ways, it was like we were all three looking at the same thing, but through a prism, so that the contours and colors of that thing looked different to Molly than it did to us.

"This is an important conversation," S said on the elevator. "It's almost like both sides of the abortion issue need to take a step back and look at the language we use to talk about it."

The abortion battle isn't just about passing laws or fighting laws or keeping clinics open. It's about, as it always has been, how people feel. It's about what mothers teach their daughters. It's about what we value and what we fight for. And it's about answering Molly's emotional questions with something that doesn't feel like a court case citation.


anti-abortion protesters are lunatics.

okay, perhaps not ALL of them are crazy.

but i would bet my next paycheck that a hefty percentage are at least mildly unstable.

s and i escorted at the abortion clinic today.

this means we helped women get from their cars to the clinic door without first getting accosted by the anti-choice protester who tries to hand them fistfuls of nasty pamphlets filled with pictures of bloody, dismembered baby parts.

the toenail-painted hat lady doesn't look like the protesters on the news, those mostly men, holding horrible posters of dead babies while screaming "murderer" in women's faces. the hat lady doesn't carry big posters. she wears gingham sundresses and lipstick and pink toenail polish. she wears widebrimmed sunbonnets decorated with floppy, oversized bows. she is petite and even kind of puny. she's married to the president of the alabama christian coalition. she carries a bible with her, and usually a hymnal, and all morning she stands on the sidewalk outside of the clinic, softly singing songs about jesus and meditating and smiling her vapid, churched-out smile. she looks like a sunday school teacher on crack.

several mornings a week, the toenail-painted hat lady paces back and forth in front of the clinic, reciting the same saccharine words over and over to every woman trying to enter the building: "morning! how are you today? if you're here for an abortion, i'd like to help you!"

the clinic is a bland place on the outside. it's one story, brown brick, with a sagging, white overhang. it has narrow windows framing the front door, but they're mirror-coated so you can't see inside. a small strip of grass separates the clinic from the sidewalk, and a gravel parking lot stretches along two sides of the building. even the sign -- white plastic, with plain, black letters that say, "reproductive health services" -- is easy to miss. no brand name. no fancy logo. everything about it fades into everything else. i drove by the clinic for a year and a half before i realized it was there. this is to its advantage, of course.

the hat lady (and the preacher or two who sometimes accompany her) isn't allowed on the grass or the parking lot or the driveway. she can stand only on the sidewalk; one step anywhere else, and we call the cops, and she gets hauled to jail. so, as we walk with women -- and sometimes the men who are with them -- from their cars to the door, we're careful to stay off the sidewalk and stick to the grass. one of us walks next to the woman; the other body-blocks the hat lady. once, i "accidentally" walked backwards, because i knew she was behind me. i didn't knock her over, but i knocked her off guard. and she wasn't able to get to her satchel of pamphlets in time.

the woman who organizes the escorting has warned us to take the protesters seriously. "these are dangerous people," she says. doctors in alabama -- like in new york and elsewhere -- have been murdered over this. clinic-bombings may have died down in the 90s, but the fervor of things seems to be on the rise; who knows what could happen. it's easy to think the hat lady harmless. and on some level i do. i scorn and ridicule her on the inside, and part of me hates her for the weak-minded misguidedness of her actions.

but i know better.

today, she got to a woman. i wasn't fast enough. the hat lady recited her script and handed the woman a pamphlet filled with photocopied images of death. i got to the woman before she could open it. "i can take that from you, if you'd like," i said. she looked at me with a mixture of gratitude and fear. "yes, please," she said.

in sight of the hat lady, i tore the pamphlet into several pieces. i'm sure i looked smug while doing this. then, as i walked back to my post at the front of the driveway, the hat lady and i made accidental eye contact. and i did what i shouldn't have done. i smirked. by the time i got to the curb, she had pulled out her cell phone and was dialing a number. she was probably calling the dry cleaners, or the exterminator, or the daycare. but i made sure not to make eye contact again. she has a fancy cell phone, the kind with a built-in camera. i'm sure she has close-ups of me and my car.

as someone who interviews people for a living and is paid to be curious, i have to stifle the urge to talk to her. i want to ask her a million questions. i want to know what motivates her to do this. i want to challenge her with medical facts and see how she responds. i want to hold her accountable. i can't do this. because, obviously, none of this is about me.


Plan B in 'Bama

This is a true story.


What follows is an actual conversation with a registered nurse. A medical provider. Someone who is paid to dispense medical assistance and possess a more-than-average knowledge of basic medical information.

Yesterday afternoon I called my doctor's office to find out if she prescribes emergency contraceptives. I didn't need any -- but it occurred to me that I ought to check, based on a couple of recent events.

Some background: At our local NOW meeting last month, someone passed around a flyer encouraging people to call their doctors and ask if they prescribed Plan B. If the doctor said yes, the flyer suggested we get a prescription in advance (it can be hard to access in case of a real emergency; and besides, with conservatives in control, who knows how long it'll be legal). If the doctor said no, we should think about getting a new doctor.

Then, earlier this week, I read this washington post article, about a woman in northern Virginia who had unprotected sex with her husband and was refused emergency contraceptives by her two doctors. She got pregnant and, for a host of reasons, decided to have an abortion. If her doctor had prescribed Plan B, none of this would have happened.

So yesterday, I decided to follow up on the advice from the flyer at the NOW meeting. To the best of my memory, this is how it happened.

I call Dr. F's office around 2:30. A receptionist answers the phone. I tell her my name and say something like, “Hi, I was calling to see if Dr. F prescribes emergency contraceptives.”

The receptionist: “Emergency contraceptives?”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

The receptionist, sounding very stumped: “Hmm.” Then a pause. Then, “What do you mean by that?”

Me: “It’s, like, a really strong version of the regular birth control pill. It’s sometimes called Plan B? Maybe you've heard of that?

The receptionist: “Hold on a minute. I’m gonna let you talk to the nurse.”

After a very long wait, another woman comes to the phone. She has a thick Southern accent. I immediately recognize her as the same nurse who took my blood pressure the first time I visited the office. She was sweet as pie as she asked where I was from and why I had moved to Alabama. (My lack of a strong Southern accent is like an invisible billboard.) As soon as I told her where I worked -- at a rabble-rousing civil rights law firm -- she recoiled. Her face turned to stone, and she said in barely controlled anger, “Seems like none of you people is from here.”

So I am thrilled, of course, when she’s the one who picks up the line.

The nurse: “Okay, exactly what are you looking for?”

Me: “Emergency contraceptives. Um, Plan B?”

The nurse: “Who are you?”

I give her my name. I tell her I'm a patient. I tell her I've been there several times before.

The nurse, sounding increasingly skeptical: “Let me pull your chart.”

She comes back after a couple of minutes.

The nurse: “Now, okay. What exactly is this medicine? What does it do?”

Me: “Um. Well. It prevents a woman from getting pregnant if she takes the medicine within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.”

The nurse: “Really?!”

Me: “Really.”

The nurse: “Huh.”

Another long pause follows, during which time she’s either thinking to herself, ‘damn, that’s cool!’ or looking up the number for the Christian Coalition to report a traitor. I decide to clear my throat to remind her that I’m still here.

The nurse: “So, 72 hours, huh?”

Me: “Yep, 72 hours.”

The nurse: “So you take it 72 hours after you... ahem. After you have sex?”

Me: “No, no, you have to take it within 72 of having unprotected sex.” (I kind of want to say the word “sex” a little more slowly and loudly, just to make her squirm a little. But I don’t. Because deep down, I really am a decent person.)

The nurse, incredulously: “And that keeps you from getting pregnant?”

Me: “Exactly.”

The nurse: “Huh. So, do you need this now?”

Me: “No, no, I just want to know if Dr. F provides it.”

The nurse, silent again, and perhaps a little confused.

Me, clarifying: “Not all doctors prescribe it.”

The nurse: “Oh.”

Me: “You know, I want to make sure that, if I did need it, like in the future, that I’d be able to get it from my doctor.”

The nurse, still sounding like she doesn’t understand what, exactly, I’m talking about: “Oh, of course. I mean, of course!”

But it turns out the doctor is seeing a patient. So the nurse takes my name and number and says she’ll be happy to find out for me and call me back.

The phone rings 15 minutes later.

The nurse: “Yeah, Dr. F said she’d prescribe that if, you know, the circumstances were right. But you’d have to come in first.”

Now, it takes many, many weeks to get an appointment with my doctor. And the comment about circumstances being right sounds a little ominous. Or at least a little weird. And then -- and I hate that I think this next thought, but I do -- then, with a sinking feeling, I think: “But Dr. F is Catholic.” Which means an “appointment” could really mean a counseling session. Or a chance for her to badger me and try to make me feel small and shameful for wanting a piece paper with her signature on it that I could then take to the CVS and exchange for a couple of little pills.

I sigh into the phone.

“Thanks,” I say.

Then I go online and make a donation to Planned Parenthood.


the GOP made me have an abortion

read this washington post article.

it's absolutely ridiculous that plan b is being opposed by conservatives. it's not abortion, people. it prevents abortion. big difference.


rape in the congo

it isn't news. we know this happens. every day. in every country. it's not new. not hardly.

but still, some article can come along and remind us, especially us americans all caught up in american idol, that there's a whole world out there, and that in it, very very bad things happen all the time.

this morning i saw this headline on CNN: Rape, brutality ignored to aid Congo peace.

i waited until i was finished with my breakfast to read the story.

from the article: "Some of them have knives and other sharp objects inserted in them after they've been raped, while others have pistols shoved into their vaginas and the triggers pulled back," said Dr. Denis Mukwege Mukengere, the lone physician at the hospital. "It's a kind of barbarity that only savages are capable of."

the women walk -- or are carried by relatives -- 100 miles or more to get to the doctor. one woman had to save money for a year after her brutal rape before she could afford the travel to the hospital.

these attacks are being carried out by members of the congo's own army.

again from the article:

Mukengere, who attends to an average of 10 new cases a day, explains bed-by-bed the cruelty that has become the Congo.

"Helene, over there, is 19 years old. She first came here five years ago after having been raped," he said. "We treated her and discharged her, and off she went back to her home village. Five years later, she's back after being attacked and sexually violated over and over again. This is pure madness."

Equally troubling is that aid money designated for victims of sexual abuse here may run out at the end of June despite the relative success of this program, the only one of its kind in the region.

Sadly though, many of the people responsible for these rapes -- what is being described as the new weapon of war in a time of peace -- have yet to be arrested, tried or convicted. The peace process is too delicate at this stage, officials say.

(end excerpt)

yesterday, the article that send me into an IMing tizzy with a couple of friends was an alternet story about a new book by philosopher peter singer, in which he argues in favor of a vegan lifestyle.

"i think i'm already doing enough to save the planet," said a vegetarian/religious-recycler friend.
"what about poor people?!? they can't afford to eat organically," lamented another.

we all waxed intellectual for a while and then stepped down from our soap boxes and went back to checking email and talking with colleagues about how we hoped taylor hicks would win american idol and maybe did some work.

reading the congo article was a jolt to my comfortable, white american existence.

i IMed the story link to the same vegetarian/recycler friend and said, "what can we do about this. it's more important to me than recycling and eating organic produce."

there is something so fundamental -- and fundamentally wrong -- about the atrocities committed against poor women in war-torn (or peace-fragile) nations that it kind of drowns out the picture. or at least it should. i understand how we can sleep at night knowing we haven't hit the streets in favor of an international recycling program. i fail to understand how we have yet to make a dent in the use of rape as a common tool for control and power in the wars waged by mostly men.

and so i sat at my computer, feeling angry and hopeless and small. my vegetarian/recycler friend IMed back, "send that article to everyone you know and include links to some organization working to stop it."

please, reader, do the same. imagine living in a world where even in your own home, you are at constant risk of being brutalized by strangers in a way that makes many women wish they had instead been killed. economic stability will never occur when half of a country's population lives in the most basic kind of fear. human potential will never be reached. let's step outside our privilege, the shield of relative economic security, of living in a country where rape is at least marginally illegal, and try to imagine that terror.

here are organizations working to end violence against women internationally:

End Violence Against Women International
Amnesty International’s “Stop Violence Against Women” Campaign
International Center for Research on Women
Human Rights Watch
Zonta International

To learn more about the effects of sexual assault as a tool for war, see:
Stop Violence Against Women
End Violence Against Women


threats to our freedom: the women, the unmarrieds, and the gays

so i sat down at my computer yesterday morning and went straight to alternet, as i am generally prone to do while drinking my morning coffee, and was greeted with this riff on an alarming article from the washington post that basically outlines how the government thinks all women under age 45 are mostly good for being incubators. apparently, if you are of child-bearing age, you should consider yourself "pre-pregnant" and stay away from excessive amounts of alcohol and cigarettes, even if you never want or plan to have children.

"nice," i thought to myself.

then yesterday afternoon, i stumbled upon this story about the missouri couple who, along with their three children, were forbidden from living in the same house together because the mother and father weren't married.

"crazy," i thought to myself.

then this morning, three friends IMed me the same link to another alternet article about the right-wing attempt to not only ban abortion, but contraception, too. in their twisted logic, the birth control pill equals abortion, and men who wear condoms while having sex with women are baby killers.

"great," i thought to myself.

then, this afternoon, bored and kind of hungry and trying to waste time before the end of the day, i skittered over to the new york times homepage, and i found this very depressing story about a u.s. senate panel's initial approval of a federal ban on gay marriage.

"okay," i thought to myself. "this is bordering on overkill."

what are they going to do next? pass a law forbidding women from wearing pants?

aren't there more important things to do?? like figure out an end to the war, maybe feed some poor people, maybe raise the minimum wage, maybe try to improve sex ed so that we don't have one of the highest teen pregnancy and std rates in the industrialized world?


sorry sorry sorry

i am back. sorry for the three-week-long silence. work and school and work and travel and emerging from said work and school and travel, and then moving, have sucked up all my non-sleeping-time. but i'm sort of back now, at least enough to spend time writing here instead of unpacking boxes.

i hate unpacking, and besides, much has happened worth writing about in the category of "insane things intended to jerk us back into the 1950s".

i don't know about you, but 1955 wasn't a particularly friendly era for a lot of people in this country. like people of color. and poor people. and women. and gays.

people have been talking about the handmaid's tale, by margaret atwood. i'm not much into conspiracy theory, but the more i read the news (and not even the alternative press, which i prefer, but also corporate stuff like the washington post and cnn and the nytimes), the more i think the handmaid's tale metaphor rings true.

more on this in a sec. i just needed to post something to get my blogging self jump-started...


from today's protest

dirty hippies. :-)

glad i don't live in ohio.


so a new bill in ohio wouldn't just make it illegal to have abortions, it would also make it illegal to cross state lines to have abortions somewhere else.

pinko feminist hellcat has more on this: the state bill, introduced earlier this month, "would make it a felony for a woman to seek to terminate her pregnancy and holds the same penalty if she chooses to leave the state for the medical procedure. additionally, anyone who helps coordinate an abortion or transportation to leave the state for one could be charged as well."

is there something in the WATER??? what's the deal with all these white men scowling and screaming their heads off about women's bodies? it's practically a fetish, i tell you.


to all the women over 45: We're sorry.

s and i have been planning this weeklong pro-choice demonstration against the christian coalition. the turnout -- for alabama standards -- has been wonderful. the press coverage more than we dreamed. people we've never met are showing up every day.

and yet.

yet i can't help but feel like we're moving backwards.

a friend of mine who's 50 emailed me yesterday and said, "we've already fought this fight! what is going on?!"

and she's right. i feel this nagging need to apologize to every woman over 45, every woman who was there in the 70s on the streets, who was there in the 60s and 50s and before, when abortion was dangerous and often meant getting maimed or shunned or killed.

they already fought this fight. and now, it seems, we need to fight it again.

it isn't that women my age don't give a damn. it's just that we thought those crazy, right-winger loonies were too nutty to be taken seriously. we thought access to abortion -- that private and personal and sometimes-painful decision over what to do with our own bodies -- just made rational sense, and so who would ever successfully try to take that away?

but then shit happened.

"the christian coalition wants to ban abortion in america."

that's a joke, right? that we, in 2006 for christ sake, would be talking about this. debating it. seriously. in state legislatures across the country.

now we have states passing abortion bans, and laws giving fetuses rights that trump those of the women in whose womb they're being carried, and organizations that once were relegated to the margins of right-wing radio and southern-style revivals being hailed as heroes by the republicans we accidentally voted into office.

so to all the women over 45: we're sorry. we'd rather be fighting a new fight, too, if it makes you feel any better. we know you're tired, and you might feel the urge to throw up your hands and stay home and say, "what's wrong with young women these days? why'd they drop the banner?" but the truth is, we need you. one more time.


vaginas for christ

"vaginas for christ" was the only sign that didn't make the cut for our pro-choice protest today outside the christian coalition. but i thought it was so catchy that it deserved mention somewhere (thanks, trish, for the brilliant idea).

shockingly, about 20 people showed up to stick it to the christian coalition for their brazen attempts to ban abortion in alabama. we were hoping for five people, so we were pretty ecstatic. the newspaper even sent a photographer. (yes, i know, in the vast majority of the country, 20 people at a pro-choice rally would be considered a whopping failure. but this alabama, a state that still hasn't made it into the 1970s.)

for more pics, check out the blog for alabama feminist action.


"creation science" in alabama schools

so, we're already the ONLY STATE IN THE COUNTRY that requires warning labels in public school biology books (something to the tune of, "warning!!! learning about evolution has been linked to the dangerous disease called 'reality.' please proceed with caution.")

now, alabama's esteemed legislature wants to pass a bill that would allow the teaching of "creation science" and "intelligent design" in public school science classes. they're calling it the "academic freedom act."

okay, if you want your kid to learn that a christian god created the world in seven days, and if you want your kid to think "evolution" is a dirty word used by dirty hippies, and if you want your kid to be laughed out of their required college science courses, then by all means: yank your kid out of public school and send her to a christian day school. hell, this is alabama -- there's one on every corner.

but please, please, keep your christian hands off of our public schools.

if you live in alabama, think about signing the act for change petition to tell the state senate to vote 'no' on this bill.


abortion causes illegal immigration (??)

whenever i take a long road trip, i always make a point of flipping the dial over to a.m. to hear some of the blather on right-wing radio.

you can always count on conservative talk radio for a good laugh. or a good cry. but these days, the folks over on the a.m. dial are in rare form. the fact that both abortion AND undocumented immigration are in the news at the same time means they have a rare gold mine of news to distort and sensationalize.

if there were academy awards for right-wing radio, i think the oscar in the "most preposterous claim to suit one's own agenda" category would have to go to a man named charles w. colson. his show, "breakpoint," claims an audience of more than a million good, christian listeners.

on april 11, colson told his audience that abortion was the "root of the problem" of illegal immigration:

"the reason we must allow millions of illegal aliens in to fill these jobs is because we have murdered a generation that would otherwise be filling them: 40 million sacrificed since 1973 to the god of self-fulfillment."

media matters has more on this. brilliantly twisted, colson! bravo!


pro-choice victory in TN!!!

whoa! these abortion bans are spreading like wildfire. alabama, mississippi, tennessee... seems the good ol' boys who control things down here were just waiting for their SD brothers to light the match.

so far, though, the abortion-ban copycats are running into a touch of trouble. first, the bill in alabama got stalled in committee. today, a house committee in tennessee actually voted the ban down. (apparently the committee is stacked with women dems, although the very informative post at tennessee guerilla women notes that while dems have a majority in the TN house, many are conservative enough to switch parties without anyone really noticing.)

of course, this is an election year, and as is true here in alabama, conservatives in tennessee will probably reintroduce the bill as soon as they humanly can.


how many men?

i don't know what to say about this duke rape case. i've had so many starts-of-conversations with female friends today, but they always end with confused, sad, angry questions. "i don't even know what to say about it..." one of my friends finally said. we've read the demented email, the newspaper accounts, the police report. we feel beaten and kicked inside, and angry that once again, the woman who came forward is being called a liar and a whore, and the accused perps are being shielded behind the thick, privileged wall of brotherly, good-ol-boy secrecy.

a female duke student was on the talk shows this morning, saying things like, "i know these guys -- they're not THAT kind of guy."

i'm sick of this language that suggests men who rape are some sort of evil aberration. like "we" couldn't possibly know anyone who could do something like "that." like they come from somewhere else, not from our families or our neighborhoods or schools.

one in four women will be raped before she graduates college. every two and half minutes, someone is sexually assaulted.

that means if WE haven't been sexually assaulted, chances are, we know someone who has. that means it's everywhere. and if it's everywhere, that also means these crimes are not committed by some small, roving group of monsters (i.e. "that kind of guy"). if the victims of sexual assault are, as rape crisis centers tell us, our daughters, mothers and sisters, than the perps are our sons, fathers and brothers. if we all know someone who's been the victim of sexual assault, then we also probably know someone who was the perpetrator.

this is what i want to know -- how many men? what percentage of men have committed sexual assault? one in seven? one in 10?

i think it's critical that we know this. because rape will always happen as long there are men who think it's their right, who think it's okay, who can justify its cruelty or ignore its consequences. and those men will always exist as long as we keep saying my son or brother or father couldn't do something "like that," as long as we continue thinking of them as people who have nothing to do with us, people we don't know, people we couldn't possibly be at all responsible for.

i scoured the internet and couldn't find the answer to my question. if you know it, let me know. i don't think it's an answer we necessarily want to be confronted with. it's much easier to demonize men who are rapists than to realize society might be culpable for some of the messages that make then that way. it means being a man who sexually assaults women isn't necessarily an aberration from the norm -- it means it's part of the norm. and that means, as a society, we're doing something terribly, exceptionally wrong.



is this racist?

that's what some people are calling this line, of magnets, shirts, etc., from EdChange, a multicultural, anti-racist website, which sells some pretty radical stuff in its online store. i just got an email about it from a multicultural ed listerv.

what do you think?

the anti-abortion movement and white supremacy

i was talking to my mom yesterday, and she told me a story about my aunt who was visiting for the weekend. my aunt had just seen "crash," and her comment on the film boiled down to one sentence: "this whole country's turning brown!"

and then i got to work, and then i read this post, from hysterical blackness:

hysterical blackness: A thought

she writes:

"I've been reading a lot of James Baldwin and I came upon this quotation: 'The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply; life is their weapon against life, life is all that they have.' And i was thinking about abortion and the push to make it illegal again.

Is this about white supremacy? About increasing the US white population? No incentives like other countries but a dis-incentive--a criminalization of reprodcutive choice."

hmmm. well, most anti-abortion protesters and politicians ARE white men. maybe there's something to this.

someone who commented on hysterical blackness' post related it to the phenomenon of white folk who worry the brown and black folk are "out-breeding" them. my aunt who commented on "crash" is the same one who encouraged her grown children to reproduce because "the mexicans are having more babies than us, and we need to catch up."


this is just anecdotal, but there are more where she comes from. (and they vote.)

the real white supremacy

i just read this fabulous essay from the black commentator (a great source for radical, critical thinking, in case you haven't heard of it): "race, place and freedom: a katrina classroom memoir".

the author, paul street, a history prof at northern illinois university, frames the essay with a quote from black philosopher charles w. mills:

"one of the most important, though most subtle and elusive, aspects of white supremacy," notes mills, "is the barrier it erects to a fair hearing. It is not merely that people of color are trying to make a case for the economic and juridico-political injustice of their treatment; it is that they are additionally handicapped in doing so by having to operate within a white discursive field.

"the framework of debate is not neutral: it is biased by dominant white cognitive patterns of structured ignorance, an overt or hidden white normativity, so that at the basic factual level, many claims of people of color will just seem absurd, radically incongruent with the sanitized picture white people have of u.s. history. ... typically white and typically black realities - in terms of everyday experience with government bureaucracies, the police, and the job market, housing, and so forth - are simply not the same."

this is the white supremacy of 2006. white folk easily shrug that label -- i don't own a confederate flag, use the "n" word, pay dues to the kkk. but i do live in a society whose official history reflects people who look like me, whose government is ruled by people who look like me, and in which i am actively discouraged from encountering in meaningful ways people who don't look like me (through housing patterns, economic segregation, the labeling of discussions of race as "impolite" and "improper", etc.)

the "typically white reality" makes no room for "the typically black reality" -- that would be too hard, involve too much self-reflection, require too many changes. it would be messy. and painful. we don't realize the system is broken, because for us, in the short-term, anyway, the system seems to work pretty well.

i have to go to a meeting. more on this later.


pro-life nation

okay, so, i'm harping on this whole abortion thing. but i think it needs harping on. at the NOW meeting yesterday, a bunch of women in the 40s and 50s enjoyed a lively harangue against "young women these days" who, apparently, fail to grasp what's at stake with all these anti-choice bills floating around. one woman said, with an apologetic smile in my direction, "all the young women i know only care about what their hair looks like!"

well, i guess i don't know the same young women they know. the ones i know all seem to be pretty freaked out over what's happening in places like south dakota, alabama, and, oh, washington, dc. i tried to explain to the women yesterday that not everyone in my generation is addicted to "the bachelor" and that some of us actually read newspapers and vote.

speaking of newspapers, i found this in the ny times sunday mag (you need a free online subscription to read it):

"pro-life nation": what happens when you completely criminalize abortion? over the last eight years, el salvador has found out.

(the editor in me needs to point out that they incorrectly used the word "last" in that subhed. thank you for letting me share.)

from the story:

"There are other countries in the world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion, including Malta, Chile and Colombia. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal."

i.e. women who have abortions.

"we are america!"

this afternoon, thousands of people are converging in birmingham in support of immigrant rights -- i think it might be the first immigrant rights rally in alabama's history!

similar protests are happening all over the united states tomorrow, part of a national day of action for immigrant justice.

i'm thoroughly disappointed that i can't be at the protests in birmingham today... too much school work keeping me tied to my keyboard to justify the hour-and-a-half drive each way. so i thought i'd at least post about it today, sort of like protesting in spirit, if i couldn't be there to actually wave a sign.


check out this blog!

a fabulous blog by a black, queer, feminist academic. i just discovered it. and needed to share...

hysterical blackness

comic artists kick ass

comic artist stephanie mcmillan decided to auction off her hysterically pro-choice, in-your-face-SD comic strip on e-bay and then donate the cash to pro-choice groups fighting south dakota's abortion ban. the winning bid was $2,201.00.

here's a link to the kick-ass comic strip on stephanie's website -- email it to all your friends, and then contact the artist at steph@minimumsecurity.net to say a big thanks for the great idea.

alabama feminist action

it's official! check out our brand-spankin'-new blog for alabama feminist action. (our name might change. s is out of town, and i'm hoping when she gets back she can help come up with something a little less dreadfully literal.)

our first target, of course, who else would it be, come on now, is but the devil himself. in the form of the christian coalition.

this afternoon i went to a meeting of the montgomery chapter of the national organization for women. this was my first meeting... the group started just a few months ago and has grown from 16 members to 77. fabulous! folks were quite excited about the christian coalition protest... although one woman came up to me afterwards and said, "that sounds like a good idea, but i'm afraid of those people!" i couldn't tell if she was joking, so i said, "well, safety in numbers, right?" and she said, "yeah, like 50!"

i think it's time to show those god-fearing, bible-thumping, we-don't-mean-nobody-no-harm, get-your-female-behind-back-in-the-kitchen crazies that we're the ones they should be afraid of. :-)


"welcome to talibama"

on my lunch break today, i stalked down to the statehouse to watch the public hearing on alabama's proposed statewide abortion ban. there's a silly rule of etiquette that says no clapping or jeering or banana-peel-throwing during testimony, which meant i spent a good deal of the time sitting on my hands and gritting my teeth. but, in between quiet fits of rage, i was able to take a few notes.

the bill would outlaw abortion except when the woman's life is at risk. got raped? victim of incest? abusive husband? under this law, it doesn't matter.

here's what cheryl sabel, acting-director of the montgomery chapter of NOW, had to say, in her public testimony: "if this bill passes, alabama's tourism bureau might as well post signs welcoming visitors to 'talibama.'"

that, apparently, would be peachy with the bill's supporters.

it's sponsor, sen. hank erwin, told the committee that "the most important issue society can address is the protection of the unborn."

and dan ireland, the leader of alabama citizens action (which appears to be affiliated with the christian coalition), said in his testimony, "i believe in choice. if a lady doesn't want to become pregnant, she should choose not to expose herself to the opportunity to get pregnant."

(of note, ireland's group also supported alabama's infamous dildo ban. and, in a glaring failure to understand that having a child usually equals a lifelong commitment, today ireland dubbed the decision to have an abortion a "temporary choice." the proposed abortion law, he said, represents a "hallowed opportunity to perpetuate god's plan for the human race, and that is to replenish the earth." jeeez. i tried to corner ireland afterwards, to clarify whether god would want a raped woman to have her rapist's baby, but he stuck around for the next hearing.)

yes, women of alabama. these are the men who control the laws that govern what we can do with our bodies.

luckily, the people speaking against the bill outnumbered those in favor by more than 2 to 1. the legislature's session is almost over, so the bill probably won't see the full senate floor this time around. but erwin vows to keep introducing it until it passes. he's holding out, it seems, for legislation giving fetuses the right to vote.

alabama to south dakota: thanks for the great idea!

the men who control alabama's legislature are so proud of their south dakota brethren that they've decided to play copycat! from sunday's montgomery advertiser:

"I thought if South Dakota can do it, Alabama ought to do it because we are a family-friendly state," said state Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, who has introduced a bill in the Senate that would even ban abortions in cases where a woman became pregnant because of rape or incest.

"I don't think you need to penalize the unborn child when something like that happens," Erwin said.

aw shucks!! thanks, sen. erwin. it's nice to know you're looking out for me.



the writing stopped, but the rage continued. best in pairs, i think! so i'm back. or trying to be. thanks, solely, to the inspiration of my friend j, whose brand-new blog hits the virtual streets today, with lovely ranting about men and meaningless, mind-sucking, post-modern employment. so, j, thank you. muchly.