Writing on the Body: Flesh Makes it Real

I posted this to a list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/trans-theory/   Over the years this list has been the space to go for theoretical fist fights.

It has been mostly a dead list save for a few long time contributors, but it might be a worth while place for those interested in eternal debates.  It’s “Trans-Theory” and is on Yahoo groups

I started hormones in mid-March 43 years ago.

I’m 40 years post-op this year. I’m also friends with Max Wolf Valerio “The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male” who tends to concur with me on many of these points.

I’m not going to argue in the metaphysical and semantic mess of  Transgender Borg ideological terms where one has to assume special definitions for words the general public interprets as having a different meaning.

Arguing in that realm is like trying to argue with a Scientologist or any other religious whack job. When I do that I wind up feeling dirty and hate myself in the morning.

When they assign sex at birth they do so on the basis of hole or pole. They do not do chromosome tests and they do not scan brains.

They do not have tests that will determine if you are straight, transsexual, gay, lesbian, transgender or anything else. Tabula rasa. Here is a male infant; he gets the male gender uniform and indoctrination program. Here is a female infant; she gets the female gender uniform and indoctrination. Ignore the goddamn hippie commie feminist terrorist who lets her kid do what ever he/she wants and refuses to get with the program.

Now we don’t actually have a gender binary, nor do we have a huge number of sex differences that aren’t related to those parts between our legs and the hormones associated with those parts.

Many non-western countries have much more of an actual gender binary due to taboos regarding male defines social realms and female defined social realms. These cultures are beyond the scope of this discussion.

Born transsexual, or born gay, born transgender. When I use these terms I’m basing them on actual human observation. There are an awful lot of gay people who are in denial (Marcus Bachmann) based on their physical
appearance.

We see children straight from the cradle who cause us to think the doctors made a mistake in the sex assignment of this one. Or the little boy who is a mini gay man at five years old.

So like the Dylan song “Somethings happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?”

Which brings us to that shiftiest and most suspect of all terms in this debate. Gender. WTF is gender? Seriously here is this hugely loaded term that upon unpacking seems totally devoid of meaning beyond function as an ideological tool for reinforcing female inferiority.

Outside of positions taken while having sex or giving birth there are very few activities that are exclusively male or female. Hell even when having sex the role of fucker and fuckee isn’t actually defined 100% by the sex of the parties doing the act. That kind of leaves pregnancy and giving birth and impregnation as pretty much the only sex exclusive acts.

Don’t bother running the transmen giving birth by me. I’ll be forced to deBorg the language on that one to “butch female gives birth”.

I like the trapped in the wrong body metaphor. It describes the discomfort I felt within my own skin. Making my skin my own demystifies the process.

What was I doing in the process?

Process is very important to me, with its implied interaction with the world at large.

Identity without action equals fantasy. But action without imagined, visualized goals lacks purpose.

There were a multitude of reasons for my unhappiness with the sex I was assigned at birth. Some but not all might fall under the rubric of that nebulous term, gender, particularly since gender is the interface we use to communicate with others in society.

From the cradle people expressed a tentativeness regarding the authenticity of my sex assignment, an impulse to question my claim to maleness, which either mirrored my own unease with that assignment or nurtured that unease.

Here things become very chicken and egg. what came first? Or is this part of the socialization of transkids?

This I know and know for sure. The act of coming out, telling friends and comrades that I wanted to be a woman, that I wanted to change my sex forever altered our social interactions. Even as I was taking the first
red diethylstilbestrol tablets.

As my nipples swelled, as my breasts filled, my skin softened, hips rounded, as the dream was made a physical reality my interactions with the world changed.

By changing my physical sex the gendering of my being changed.

As my body changed my way of seeing myself changed, I was becoming by the act of physically changing my body.

I know we are no longer supposed to use the term “sex change operation” and that suggesting that the surgery makes it real makes me a genital surgery essentialist.

I have walked through this world as a male transkid, as a pre-op transsexual, as a post-op transsexual and as a post-transsexual and I feel that these 64 years including the 40 years post-op/post-transsexual have managed to impart as least a little insight. Thus I feel qualified to say that living in this world with a pussy between your legs is a vastly different experience from living with a dick there no matter what clothes you put over those parts or even what secondary sexual characteristics you bear.

For one thing I view sexism and misogyny as a constant source of oppression while transphobia is something I hear of from others. I have the equivalent of white skin privilege that goes with fitting into the world as female, with a female body and not as transgender with a body and being that many seem to believe requires explaining and justification.

The problems and issues of transgender people or for that matter pre-op transsexual people are not my issues. This does not preclude empathy for the issues of others.

My position is based on my physical reality. The world reacts to my physical reality not some unrealized “identity”.

The process of change was a process of letting go of old assumptions and assuming the authenticity of the new interactions based on the feedback my physical presence was eliciting. In that sense gender as a social
interface functioned to reinforce my sense of being. This is quite different from the concept of gender as a metaphysical constant.

Flesh makes it real and separates the world of dreams from the world of reality.

NOM and the Death of Marcellus Andrews

From Pam’s House Blend:  http://pamshouseblend.firedoglake.com/2012/03/28/nom-and-the-death-of-marcellus-andrews/

By: Scott Rose
Wednesday March 28, 2012

Reposted with permission:

Before the National Organization for Marriage set off on its 2011, Summer of Anti-Gay Hatred all over Iowa, it sponsored an anti-gay hate rally in the Bronx in May where a NOM-approved speaker told a mob of gay-bashers that homosexuals are “worthy to death.”

All summer long, NOM fanned the flames of anti-gay hatred, while getting major Republican presidential candidates to sign the maliciously anti-gay NOM pledge. Carried out in full, the NOM pledge would have a president forcibly annulling the marriages of all married gay and/or lesbian American couples, stripping them of their state-level legal protections with no regard for the well-being of any eventual children they might be raising.

NOM consistently disseminates psychopathic heterosupremacist gay-bashing propaganda claiming that acceptance of, and equality for gay human beings leads to the end of civilization. NOM also portrays gay human beings and equality supporters as mortal enemies of religious people and of God, (without ever acknowledging the validity of religious people who favor equality).

Having poisoned people’s minds against gay human beings in such ways since 2007, NOM undertook its deadly gay-bashing Summer of Anti-Gay Hatred, 2011 tour of Iowa.

On August 19, 2011, in Michele Bachmann‘s hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, the gay African-American 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews was beaten to death by anti-gay bigots who yelled “Faggot!” at him, as well as “Mercedes,” a feminization of his first name. A witness who was friends with Marcellus tried to pick him up, but one of the attackers came back and kicked Marcellus the “Faggot!” in the face. Marcellus was out to friends, but his family adamantly refused to accept that he was gay.  They refused to cooperate with any eventual investigations into his brutal murder as a hate crime, and that was one reason authorities local, state and federal never investigated it as one. Remember; NOM’s mastermind Princeton Professor Robert George thinks that 1) gays should be jailed for their intimacy; 2) gay-specific hate crime legislation and anti-bullying policies should not exist, and; 3) if gays won’t pray to Jesus to be magic-poofed into heterosexuals, they deserve whatever bad thing happens to them.  A vigil held in Marcellus’s name in Iowa, with his gay-bashing family present, did not even mention that he was gay, or that his murders yelled anti-gay slurs at him as they were beating him to death. This is precisely what NOM wants; for gay people’s own families not to acknowledge still less to accept that they are gay, or to think that they deserve civil rights as gay human beings. In its evil, scheming documents, NOM even details the means by which blacks are to be encouraged to feel that gays are the enemy, and vice-versa.

Recently released internal NOM documents do indeed  state that important goals of the anti-gay hate group have included driving a wedge between gays and blacks, and fanning the gay/black hostility in the wake of Proposition Hate in California. NOM’s resident bigot pig (Oink!  Oink!) Maggie Gallagher has even had the nerve to say that those creating a wedge between blacks and gays are “white liberals,” though African-American pastors have condemned NOM for its anti-gay bigotry. It isn’t expedient to NOM’s gay-bashing political goals for NOM to acknowledge that gay blacks exist, and that black hetero supporters of gay rights exist; so NOM simply doesn’t acknowledge their existence.

At the very least, NOM shares in having intensified hateful gay-bashing social conditions that led to Marcellus Andrews’s murder and his family’s extremely aggressive, denial-laden non-acceptance of him as a gay, African-American human being. It isn’t just that NOM wants to drive a wedge between African-Americans and a “white elite;” it’s that NOM’s bigot Schwein loose no sleep when they intentionally pit African-American families against their own LGBT family members.  If instead of all of its hate-mongering against gays since 2007, NOM had been organized to push for acceptance and equality, Marcellus’s own African-American family might have been accepting of him as the whole person that he was.  Moreover, thanks to what would have been the resulting, generally more accepting and humane social climate, his attackers might not have even have attacked, and certainly would have been less inclined to scream “Faggot!” and “Mercedes” at him.

The phrase “Blood on their hands” has a meaning.  NOM’s 2011 Summer of Anti-Gay Hate was book-ended by 1) a NOM-approved speaker telling a mob of gay-bashers that homosexuals are “worthy to death,” and 2) the August beating death of the 19-year-old gay African-American Marcellus Andrews, by attackers yelling “Faggot!” at him.

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PA trial: Priests struggled with ‘sexual sobriety’

From Google News:  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jiAQWxPAKvs3QqnrXGrjbOeX9HOQ?docId=1f8180418db14e4080a523df7bd6f23a

By Maryclaire Dale
March 28, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A string of Roman Catholic priests testified Wednesday in a landmark clergy-abuse case, saying they reported fellow priests to the archdiocese after finding them with pornography or in unhealthy relationships with children.

The priests, uncomfortably, are prosecution witnesses in the trial of a longtime supervisor in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Monsignor William Lynn. The former secretary for clergy is charged with endangering children by allegedly helping the church cover up abuse complaints.

The Rev. Joseph Okonski told jurors Wednesday that he found pornographic magazines and videos, and a sexually explicit letter to a seventh-grade boy, in another priest’s bedroom in 1995.

The graphic letter, which purported to be from a classmate, asked if the boy wanted oral sex. The author said he fantasized about seeing the boy getting spanked by his father. The boy was told to write “Yes” on a bulletin board at the parish school if he wanted to engage in sex acts with his “secret lover.”

Okonski said his housemate admitted writing the letter and soon left the parish. But the next trial witness said the priest landed at his rectory, where he worked with altar boys and had no restrictions on his ministry.

Prosecutors argue that predator-priests were, at best, transferred if they got in trouble, then left to seek out new victims.

Continue reading at:  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jiAQWxPAKvs3QqnrXGrjbOeX9HOQ?docId=1f8180418db14e4080a523df7bd6f23a

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Confidential court papers reveal anti-gay NOM’s dirty racial strategies, ‘sideswiping Obama’ plot

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/27/1078093/-Confidential-court-papers-reveal-anti-gay-NOM-s-dirty-racial-strategies-sideswiping-Obama-plot

Scott Wooledge
March 27, 2012

National Organization for Marriage’s dirty little secrets continue to spill out. When they failed to appropriately disclose their donors in 2009 to state elections officials, they found themselves in court, squaring off with the state of Maine. And they lost, in trial court and appeals, and recently the Supreme Court declined their appeal. Now, for NOM the post-litigation document dump is looking like it’s going to be a real public relations nightmare for them. It arrives courtesy of Human Rights Campaign’s NOM Exposed project.

Their confidential document, “National Strategy For Winning The Marriage Battle,” has been released to the public and it’s a doozy. Dated Dec. 15, 2009, the group appears heady after their Prop 8 victory. They speak in grandiose terms of how they’ll roll back marriage equality progress in Iowa, New Hampshire and DC. Well, that clearly hasn’t gone their way.

They describe a “Faces of Victims” rapid response team with a goal to feature the heart-wrenching stories of people harmed by marriage equality, in pictures, video and media appearances. That seems to have been a non-starter, still waiting for them to post the tearful videos the rapid response team creates. Perhaps in two and half years, since they are still searching furiously for a victim to feature? It certainly hasn’t turned into NOM’s version of “It gets better” share-your-story, watch-it-go-viral social media sensation.

They plot to recruit glamorous celebrities to serve as spokespeople. Well, they found Kirk Cameron, Stephen Baldwin (the washed-up one, not the funny one on 30 Rock; he supports marriage equality). And they rallied around Carrie “Miss Opposite Marriage” Prejean until, well, video evidence surfaced that she might actually enjoy sex. Then they scrubbed every mention of her from their website.

One thing they have followed through on is their own version of the Southern Strategy, this time with anti-gay bigotry. To anyone paying attention, it has been obvious that National Organization for Marriage has been doing their best to stoke division between communities of color and the LGBT community. Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou blog has lots of evidence, 13 examples in this post alone.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/27/1078093/-Confidential-court-papers-reveal-anti-gay-NOM-s-dirty-racial-strategies-sideswiping-Obama-plot

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Boys, men, patriarchy, and privilege

From Feministing: http://feministing.com/2012/03/28/guest-post-boys-men-patriarchy-and-privilege/#more-46274

Cara Hoffman
March 28, 2012

Women’s issues have dominated the news these past few months with reproductive health becoming the cornerstone of an argument many of us thought had been put to bed decades ago. We’ve seen Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem calling for Rush Limbaugh to be booted off the airwaves for his sexist hate speech against Sandra Fluke and sat in front of our televisions while the Republican candidates debate the use of birth control as if it is solely a women’s issue. And throughout all of this we’ve been hearing one very obvious statement. Sexism is bad for women.

But there is a crucial factor in this conversation about gender and women’s rights that continues to be ignored; how boys and men are negatively impacted by aberrant anti-social masculinity, how it ties them to violence and helps enforce institutional exploitation of all people, not just women.

Boys and men are constantly inundated with portrayals of members of their gender as violent and irrational; as sick, crazed people who engineered attempted genocides. For women there is the everyday threat of violence, the objectification, the sheer numbers of us who are murdered. But we don’t have the burden of being associated constantly with criminality. There are no images in the media of women setting Vietnamese villages on fire with zippo lighters. One in fifty of us is not a rapist. Images of men as heroes dominate fiction and entertainment, but images of men as slightly better than animals dominate the news and historical documents. That can’t be easy. Especially given the biological risk factors associated with testosterone that predisposes a person to violence and to particular kinds of cognitive difficulties.

We know the burden of living in the same kind of body as people who are the victims of honor killings, genital mutilation, staggering rates of spousal and sexual abuse and denial of basic human rights is a heavy one. But we rarely think about the burden of living in the same kind of body as people who kill, rape, exploit, crash economies and start wars.

Continue reading at:  http://feministing.com/2012/03/28/guest-post-boys-men-patriarchy-and-privilege/#more-46274

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Jailed Climate Hero Tim DeChristopher Thrown in the Hole

From Rolling Stone:   http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/jailed-climate-hero-tim-dechristopher-thrown-in-the-hole-20120328

By Jeff Goodell
March 28, 2012

“Have you ever read Franz Kafka’s The Trial?”

That is the first thing that Patrick Shea, a member of jailed climate activist Tim DeChristopher’s legal defense team, says to me when I call him this morning to ask him about reports that DeChristopher has been pulled out of his minimum security camp at Herlong federal prison in California and thrown into isolated confinement in an 8 x 10-foot cell. His latest crime?  Sending an email to a colleague with a “threat” to give back a $25,000 donation to his legal defense fund because DeChristopher, one of the most principled people I have ever encountered, discovered that his donor was exporting U.S. manufacturing jobs.

If you don’t know the backstory to DeChristopher’s imprisonment, you can read about it here. (Short version: He was sentenced to two years in prison last July for having nonviolently disrupted a federal auction of oil and gas leases in 2008.) This case was a sham before it took this latest turn.  If there were any justice in the world, DeChristopher would have been pardoned before he ever set foot in jail.  The fact that it is now possible he will serve out the rest of his sentence in a tiny cell with only one break a week to go outside is an outrage, and one that should have everyone who cares about justice and the abuse of political power in America marching in the streets.

According to Shea, a veteran lawyer and director of the federal Bureau of Land Management during the Clinton administration, this is what happened to DeChristopher: On March 5, he wrote an email to Dylan Schneider, the treasurer and volunteer coordinator at Peaceful Uprising, a climate activism group co-founded by DeChristopher.… In the email (you can read the whole thing below), DeChristopher discusses the fact that an unnamed corporate donor who contributed to his legal defense fund is exporting U.S. manufacturing jobs and laying off workers.  DeChristopher is not happy: “I feel like I have some influence and hence some responsibility to do something,” he writes.  “If they are saving money by screwing their workers, I can’t in good conscience accept some of that money.”   He then says that he plans to send a letter to the owner of the company that made the donation, explaining why it bothers him.  He writes, “This letter will include a threat to wage a campaign against them if they don’t reverse course and keep the plants open.”

Let’s be clear about what DeChristopher is doing here: He’s threatening to give back a $25,000 donation because the donor’s company is exporting jobs, thus tainting the donation in his eyes.  Is this the action of a dangerous criminal?

According to Shea, five days later, on March 9th, DeChristopher was pulled out of his minimum-security camp and told he was being moved to a cell in Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU).  “When Tim asked why,” Shea explains, “he was told that a U.S. Congressman had called and told prison officials that he was threatening people outside of prison.”  With that, he hauled off to the SHU, where he has been ever since.  He shares his 8 x 10 cell with another man and, according to Shea, has been allowed outside the tiny cell only four times for brief periods of exercise in what Shea describes as “a dog kennel.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/jailed-climate-hero-tim-dechristopher-thrown-in-the-hole-20120328

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Worker Ownership For the 21st Century?

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/167048/worker-ownership-21st-century

Laura Flanders
on March 27, 2012

It may not be the revolution’s dawn, but it’s certainly a glint in the darkness. On Monday, this country’s largest industrial labor union teamed up with the world’s largest worker-cooperative to present a plan that would put people to work in labor-driven enterprises that build worker power and communities, too.

Titled “Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-op Model,” the organizational proposal released at a press conference on March 26 in Pittsburgh, draws on the fifty-five year experience of the Basque-based Mondragon worker cooperatives. To quote the document:

“In contrast to a Machiavellian economic system in which the ends justify any means, the union co-op model embraces the idea that both the ends and means are equally important, meaning that treating workers well and with dignity and sustaining communities are just as important as business growth and profitability.”

It might not sound like big news to members of their local food coop but it’s revolutionary stuff in the context of industrial production. The United Steelworkers represents some 1.2 million members; the average steel plant requires millions of dollars of investment, and there’s history here when it comes to worker ownership—some of it painful.

Thirty-five years ago, when local steelworkers and a statewide religious coalition put forward a plan to transfer the Youngstown Sheet and Tube steel mill to worker and community control, the USW’s attitude was very different. As recounted by Gar Alperovitz in his (recently updated) “America Beyond Capitalism:”

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/167048/worker-ownership-21st-century

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Repeal the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/repeal_the_stand_your_ground_laws_20120327/

By Eugene Robinson
Mar 27, 2012

The “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and other states should all be repealed. At best, they are redundant. At worst, as in the Trayvon Martin killing, they are nothing but a license to kill.

Police in Sanford, Fla., cited the statute as grounds for their decision not to file charges against Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Martin, 17, was strolling home from a convenience store, armed with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles, when Zimmerman—a Neighborhood Watch volunteer and wannabe police officer—spotted him and decided he looked suspicious.

Zimmerman, who is 28, happened to be armed with a handgun. He followed Martin, despite instructions from a 911 operator not to do so. They had an encounter that left Zimmerman suffering from minor injuries and Martin dead on the ground from a gunshot wound. While we don’t know exactly what happened, we know that Zimmerman initiated the contact by stalking a young man who had done nothing more sinister than walk down the street wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

Police decided to release Zimmerman without charges because of the Stand Your Ground law. The relevant part of the statute says that “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked … has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.”

Zimmerman claimed self-defense, was given the benefit of the doubt required by law and released.

This was a shocking travesty, as we now know. The “person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked” was Martin. Under the Florida law, as I read it, he had every right to feel he was in “imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” from the stranger who was following him. He had every right to confront Zimmerman—to stand his ground—and even to use deadly force, if necessary, to defend himself.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/repeal_the_stand_your_ground_laws_20120327/

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Right-Wing Activist: Obama Supports “Forced Homosexuality”

There is no limit to the lies the racist, misogynistic Conservative Nazis will tell.  They’ve really become hysterical in their hatred and bigotry.

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/27/Right_Wing_Activist_Obama_Supports_Forced_Homosexuality/

By Trudy Ring
March 27, 2012

Right-wing lawyer Mathew Staver has a surprising revelation about President Obama’s administration — one of its goals, he says, is forcing people to be gay.

Staver, chairman of the legal group Liberty Counsel, appeared on the conservative Christian radio show Crosstalk last Friday, telling host Jim Schneider that actions by the administration will ultimately result in “in-your-face forced abortion funding, in-your-face forced homosexuality, and in-your-face deconstruction of moral principles.”

Staver talked at length about Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, currently being challenged in the Supreme Court; Liberty Counsel has filed amicus briefs in the case. He apparently based his statement about abortion funding on the act’s mandate for insurance coverage of contraception and sterilization, but he did not offer a basis for the “forced homosexuality” comment.

Complete article at:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/27/Right_Wing_Activist_Obama_Supports_Forced_Homosexuality/

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Cops Arrest Peaceful Protester at Union Square Sunday Night

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I lost my job as a teacher because I was once a call girl

We have become a harsh world indeed, where no one is allowed to change.  People who call themselves Christian haven’t a drop of mercy or forgiveness in their ugly hearts.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/28/lost-job-teacher-call-girl

Melissa Petro used sex work to pay her way through university, then gave it up for a job she loved as a teacher in the Bronx. But when she wrote about her experiences of prostitution, she was lambasted and then forced to resign. Here, she tells her story.

Melissa Petro
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 March 2012

There is a stereotype that current or former sex workers are so highly sexualized that all we think about is sex, but I’ve found that it is people with no experience in the sex industry whatsoever who can’t get our business off their minds. In my experience, there was nothing sexy about prostitution. In the Huffington Post article that cost me my career as a public school teacher, I described my lifestyle as a prostitute as “physically demanding, emotionally taxing and spiritually bankrupting” and went on to say that “I hope to never again make the choice to trade sex for cash even as I risk my current job and social standing to speak out for an individual’s right to do so.” That risk proved far more real than I’d expected.

I became a sex worker at 19 while living in Mexico. At the time of my enrollment, Antioch College had what they called co-op, a program wherein students alternated academic terms on campus with terms of work or volunteer experience anywhere in the world. I was in Oaxaca on co-op, volunteering at a pre-school for indigenous street kids. It was my first time out of the States. One day at a grocery store, the credit card I had been living on was denied, having hit its limit. It was strip or go home, back to the claustrophobic suburbs I had worked so hard to escape. Going home did not seem like an option. Sex work, on the other hand, seemed an enticing option for reasons I could not then explain.

I would work in the sex industry as a stripper and, for a brief stint, as a call girl on Craig’s List, on and off for nearly a decade, conducting ethnographic research on the industry and, eventually, writing in the first-person. From the beginning, writing and speaking about my experiences was my way of making sense of my chosen profession.

For many years, sex work was a solution. I could work and go to school. I could travel, live and work all over the world, participating in unpaid internships taken for granted as part of the undergraduate experience. As an undergraduate, I worked at two domestic violence shelters and as a rape crisis counselor. I went on to work in nonprofit development, grant-writing for a Somali women’s health organization in London, UK and, later, for a nonprofit that ran after-school programs for disadvantaged girls here in New York City, where I eventually made my home. In graduate school, I worked as a consultant for a high-profile feminist organization while also working as a research assistant in the Pediatrics Department of a public hospital. During this same time, I sold sex.

Sex work defines the people who do it like no other occupation. Associated with deviance, drug use, mental illness and disease, to be labelled a “prostitute” is to be cast as the lowest of the low. No matter the realities of our experiences, we are thought of as victims and as inherently damaged, either before or as a result of our profession. Sex workers are considered a danger to society, unfit for serious public service. Worst of all: once a sex worker, always a whore.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/28/lost-job-teacher-call-girl

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Spring is here for OWS

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How Hedge Fund Vampires Use Insider Info to Extract Their Dishonest Fortunes

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news/154719/how_hedge_fund_vampires_use_insider_info_to_extract_their_dishonest_fortunes/

The transformation of Washington into an information feeder arm of Wall Street will continue until an outraged public builds a mass movement to counter Wall Street.

By Les Leopold
March 27, 2012

Ever wonder how hedge funds can make 20 percent returns during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, while your savings account grows smaller? Ever wonder how it’s possible for the top hedge fund manager in 2011 to make $1,442,308 an hour, while it takes the average American family over 29 years to earn that much?

Well, a slew of financial writers are quick to tell you that the answer is simple: hedge fund managers are simply much smarter than you are, so get used to it. But that’s nonsense.

Hedge funds make enormous sums of money because they have an edge – one that pushes them out to the ethical limit…and beyond. Their edge often depends on obtaining privileged information that is inaccessible to the rest of us. Sometimes they get information illegally through well-paid sources inside corporate boardrooms, as Raj Rajaratnam did before he was sentenced to 11 years in the hoosegow. In other cases, hedge funds can buy it from congressional “sources.” And they even can get it for free when one of their own is appointed to the highest councils of government.

This sets up a vicious cycle – hedge fund money buys more information which leads to more hedge fund money which buys more information. It doesn’t take long for hedge funds to turn Washington into a wholly owned subsidiary.

But, surely this is a gross exaggeration, isn’t it? If only.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/news/154719/how_hedge_fund_vampires_use_insider_info_to_extract_their_dishonest_fortunes/


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Romney’s cousin: Mormonism is a ‘fraud’

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/26/romneys-cousin-mormonism-is-a-fraud/

By David Edwards
Monday, March 26, 2012

Mitt Romney’s second cousin, Park Romney, once was once a Mormon high priest, but he is now denouncing the religion as a cult.

Park told BBC recently that he left the church because “I became convinced that it’s a fraud.”

“There’s compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable,” he explained.

Park points to one of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s foundational documents, the Book of Abraham, which church founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated from an Egyptian scroll.

After examining the translation, British Assyriologist Dr. Archibald Henry Sayce determined that it was “difficult to deal with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud.”

“His facsimile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied to ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct,” Sayce wrote.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/26/romneys-cousin-mormonism-is-a-fraud/

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Shine a Light on the Defense Budget

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A Childhood Exorcised

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12861/a_childhood_exorcised

Jeanette Winterson’s adoptive mother was like no other.

BY Sanhita SinhaRoy
March 28, 2012

In lesser hands, a memoir as heartbreaking as Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? would collapse under the weight of its own intensity. At the center of much of the story is Mrs. Winterson, the author’s domineering adoptive mother, a religious zealot who was “apocalyptic by nature.” For the author, growing up “different” meant not just suffering through the ritual abuse of finding herself but also coming out of the closet in an evangelical Pentecostal household. After the elder Winterson finds a teenage Jeanette in bed with another girl, she organizes a church-led exorcism that ends with sexual abuse at the hands of a fellow parishioner.

But the torment began earlier. Mrs. Winterson – as she is referred to throughout the book – would tell the young Jeanette that the devil had led her to the wrong crib when she adopted her. She punished Jeanette for her shortcomings by locking her in the coal room or outside the house to wait on the doorstep until her father returned from the graveyard shift to let her back in. “My mother never beat me. She waited until my father came home and told him how many strokes and what with … the plastic cane, the belt or just his hand.”

The turbulent first half of the memoir is familiar to anyone who has read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Winterson’s first novel, published in 1985 when she was only 26. It became a bestseller and a beacon in gay culture. Although Oranges closely mirrors parts of Winterson’s own life, the author makes clear in her memoir that what actually occurred during her English childhood was much worse.

But to understand the real story, Winterson knows we must learn more about her mother, who had a repressed attitude toward sex. Mrs. Winterson regularly stayed up most of the night baking cakes so she wouldn’t have to sleep in the same bed as her husband. “I don’t know, and never will, whether she couldn’t have children or whether she just wouldn’t put herself through the necessaries,” Winterson writes.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12861/a_childhood_exorcised

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