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.