The Fear Other People Might Get The Same Rights as You

This is something that bugs the hell out of me.  I think it is pretty psychopathological, but unfortunately the APA rarely wraps a diagnosis around such short comings as envy or greed.  Perhaps because what were once considered to be “deadly sins” are now considered virtues.

Unfortunately we now live in a strange Ayn Randian dystopia where greed is good and envy drives the consumption based economy.

We’ve come to believe possessions make one person better than another.

There is an insanity regarding the exclusivity of possessions.  Now it isn’t enough for a rich person to own a $1200 Louis Vuitton bag.  The rich mandate the spending of millions on law enforcement to insure that the subways and buses don’t have fake Louis Vuitton bags bought on Canal Street in NYC or in Korea Town  in LA.  They’ve ginned up the supposed threat of cheap clones to the point where some equate it with the hijacking of air planes to destroy the World Trade Center.

When really all they are protecting, other than the money stream of a bunch of rich pigs, is the privilege of the rich to walk around flaunting how special they are by waving expensive possessions at the hoi polloi.

When I’ve gotten something neat and cool, like a neat new camera or a nice guitar, clothes I really like, I’ve never felt my joy of possession was lessened by others having equally nice possessions.  If a friend had a particularly nice car I loved it when they offered to drive. I enjoyed the opportunity to ride in their neat car.

Rights are not a zero sum game where my rights are  lessened by other people having the same rights.

I never understood the idea of segregation of public accommodations.  Why does it lessen my enjoyment of a restaurant or concert etc if people of all races are able to enjoy that same restaurant etc?

It has seemed like the whole fight against equal access to marriage for all is really based on the idea that if LGBT/T people are able to marry that will somehow devalue heterosexual marriage.

Forget religion.  This really isn’t as much about religion as people make it out to be.

With marriage, I think much of the right wing thinking is that it would make the straight patriarchal form of marriage less valuable if lesbian and gay people were to have it too.  Also, that alternative models of marriage less based on sex roles might cause women to question their having to be submissive and servile as their religions claim “traditional marriage” demands.

There is something similar going on with some post-transsexual women.  It isn’t enough that they have their SRS and deal with their own lives.  They feel the need to denigrate others who had the same basic operation they had.  Perhaps they disapprove of the sexuality of that other person.  Perhaps they want to feel superior because they are heterosexual.  Maybe they think that having had a privileged life that never involved sex work makes them better than someone who lived a life of poverty that did include sex work.

Whatever it is people in this set feel compelled to condemn others, who are no doubt making their way through life the best they can.

Embracing the “Transgender Umbrella” is, or at least should be, an individual choice and not a forced piece of the package that comes with being transsexual.  I don’t embrace that label.  It came along over 20 years after I was post-op and years after I had gone my own way.

Other post-op sisters and brothers have a different take on things and a different approach to life.  Some of them are actually wonderful folks who are involved in many of the same causes outside of the “transgender community” that I am involved in.

The funny thing about the whole Jenna Talackova controversy is that I don’t give a rat’s ass about beauty pageants.  Yet, I’m glad that the “Transgender Community” pushed for her to have access to being able to compete in this contest.  I’m glad to see HRC, GLAAD and all those other organizations treating transsexual and transgender equality and matters of discrimination seriously.  I don’t much give a shit about the labels.

Do I really care if I get a generic drug with the exact same ingredients as a far more expensive drug, if either drug will have the exact same chance of improving my life?

Does it really lessen my life if others get the same rights I would like to take for granted?

How I identify matters to me, it is part of who I am.  I expect the same respect for my “identity” as others expect for theirs.  Conversely, in what Psychologist Eric Berne called “Transactional Analysis.  My reaction should be extending my respect for your identity.

“I’m Okay: You’re Okay.”

I’ve spent the last ten years trying to pound that one in.

Just because we are different,  I’m post-transsexual and you are transgender, doesn’t mean that difference is based on some sort of hierarchy.  It just means we are different.  Your having rights doesn’t lessen my life.  But then, because we have free will, your not having the same rights I have doesn’t require me to fight for your equal rights.  I can if I’m a decent person and I’m moved by your arguments. However there are a lot of apathetic dirt bags out there and it is their right to tell everyone to bugger off.

But really knocking Jenna Talackova for choosing to embrace the transgender label or for accepting the help of organizations that use the label transgender sounds an awful lot like the crazy Christo-fascists who think marriage equality affects them one way or another.  There is a total logical disconnect.  One premise doesn’t follow the preceding premise.

As far as I’m concerned every single chip in the wall of bigotry and discrimination no matter who causes that chip and no matter how small that chip is is a victory for my side.

Who is my side?  My side is made up of those who have been bullied, discriminated against, denied equal schooling and equal opportunity.  I don’t have to share an identity with others to feel empathy towards others.

That part of secular humanism.

Caught Up In Cotton

From Natalie Reed – Free Thought Blogs:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/04/caught-up-in-cotton/

By Natalie Reed
April 4, 2012

Reposted with permission

Yeah… um… I’m a little late to the party on this one.

Over the last couple weeks, while I was preoccupied with, um, things, there was this big swirling chaotic word-blizzard in the transosphere regarding The Cotton Ceiling. I did my best to provide some links here and there as it unfolded, but just wasn’t quite able to properly dive into the fray. But at least I can try to make up for it by offering a few thoughts now, for whatever their worth.

(almost, but not quite, exactly nothing, in case you were wondering)

The term Cotton Ceiling was originally coined by the intensely awesome Canadian trans-activist and porn star Drew DeVeaux, in which she referred (quite specifically) to the tendency within feminist and queer women’s spaces for trans women to be, while nominally accepted as women and supported in their pursuit for rights and equality, regarded and treated as essentially de-sexed, unfuckable, and sometimes a bit repulsive, with this becoming highly politicized in regards to its implications for things like what a lesbian sexuality really means, how much  of sexuality is “orientation” and something we can’t be held accountable for and how much is mediated by our perceptions, how sexuality can reveal that biases and lack of respecting gender identity continue to exist on visceral levels despite being intellectually (or superficially) rejected, etc.

The “cotton” refers to underwear. The idea being here that no matter how much basic, nominal acceptance a trans woman can receive in feminist or queer or women’s spaces, we’re still always ultimately rejected when it comes to breaking the sexual barrier, and being accepted as women to such a full extent that we are accepted sexually as women.

For me to weigh in on the cotton ceiling debate is bit difficult and problematic in that it’s not something I often deal with directly. I’m straight, at least in theory, and my dating pool exists in the world of heterosexual cisgender men, where wholly different issues (and risks… often very extreme ones) are in play. Amongst straight cis men, the danger isn’t being superfically accepted but rejected as unfuckable when it comes to sexuality. The danger lies in outright rejection (and possible violence), or in being sexualized and fuckable but only as an exotic, kinky, “dirty”, fetish object.

But the issue as a whole really isn’t much about actually wanting to get laid. It’s about representation, which certainly DOES effect me, especially given my committed involvement in both the feminist and queer rights movements (even if my involvement is not sexualized, I am a sexual being who is involved).

This, the misconception of it being about individuals upset about not getting laid, is in fact one of the key problems that has triggered the controversy surrounding the question. Basically, the initial subject was brought up in relation to how trans women are perceived and represented. For example, trans men are often openly regarded as being sexy and hot within queer communities, being the subject of things like calendars and pin-ups and erotica. Trans women, on the other hand, are almost never permitted acknowledgment or representation in such communities as sexual beings. We carry a sort of image of being stuffy, boring, slightly icky, and ultimately eunuch-like things. We’re allowed in to the parties, but we sit quiet and lonely in the corner. This ends up being a problem not in that we’re desperately eager to be sexually objectified (we get enough of that from the straight cis male world), but that this act of conceptualizing us as de-sexed and unfuckable is directly attached to larger systems of oppression, dehumanization and invalidation we face.

For example, the idea of us as de-sexed relates directly to the whole “cutting off your penis” myth through which transsexuality is often viewed. It imagines a male-to-female transition (but tellingly NOT a female-to-male transition) as being a loss, a reduction, giving something of oneself up and becoming a lesser being, rather than conceiving it (much more accurately), as a growth, a reconfiguration, an expansion of self and possibilities, gaining new confidence and sexuality and empowerment and self-realization. The idea of us as being fundamentally unattractive relates into the way that cisgender standards of beauty are positioned as the only possible standards, that “passability” and “beauty” are, for trans women, directly equated, and we can ONLY be seen as beautiful, attractive or sexy in so far as we do NOT appear to be trans and instead appear to be cis (which is, you know, really fucked up). The refusal of lesbians to consider us viable sexual partners, or their seeing intimacy with us as somehow a threat to their lesbian identification (I had a #FunWithSearchTerms the other day asking “what do you call a lesbian who’s attracted to both women and trans women?”) is to ultimately, when it comes to staking your own identification upon how you conceive of our gender, to walk your talk, assert that beneath whatever lip-service you’ve paid to the legitimacy of our identity you simply don’t really regard us as women. At least not fully so.

The trouble, though, is that in the painfully typical manner that cis people will consistently view trans issues primarily or only in relation to themselves, they see this notion that how trans women are sexualized (or more accurately, desexualized) within their community is somehow all about us trying to force our way into their pants, to trick our way past their “natural” disinclination to sleeping with our “naturally” less attractive selves. The conversation was quickly twisted into being about how “nobody needs to be obliged to sleep with someone we don’t regard as attractive! It doesn’t make me a transphobe just because I’m not interested in sleeping with trans women!”

Wellllll… here’s the thing. First of all, it is definitely, most emphatically, NOT about you. And frankly, the assumption transphobes so frequently make that our top priority is sleeping with transphobes is pretty silly (and pathetic). Listen, transphobes, seriously: we have no interest in fucking you. We don’t find you attractive. This is not about individual situations, nor is it about trying to deny or compromise anyone their right to choose when, where, with whom, and under what circumstances they consent to sex. It’s about how the category is represented, the patterns, the shared attitudes of a community, not what occurs between individuals in individual sexual scenarios. It’s also about the problems with extrapolating individual sexual needs, desires, hang-ups, baggage or whatever into blanket, “empirical facts” of who is or isn’t desirable. It’s about how those conceptions of an entire class of human beings as objectively (rather than just to your own close-minded sensibilities) undesirable lead to dehumanization, and to being treated as less valid, less deserving of respect.

And to be honest, saying as a blanket statement that you have no interest in sleeping with any trans women ever IS a transphobic statement. As I’ve talked about before, there really isn’t any universal or consistent outward trait common to all trans women. Logically, one can’t possibly experience a basic sexual attraction to cis women but not trans women, at least not while claiming that supposed lack of attraction has anything to do with trans women and trans bodies. It’s about how you perceive trans women. What you’re “not attracted to” is women you KNOW are trans, the IDEA of trans women, the CONCEPT. Which is inherently tied into cultural perceptions. You’d have the same reaction to a cis woman claiming to be trans as you would to an actual trans woman. It’s about your perceptions, not our bodies.

And those cultural perceptions, the ones influencing your attractions, are what we’re trying to address. We’re not trying to force you into being attracted to us and sleeping with us. As said, we have no particular interest in sleeping with transphobes. You’re not so amazing and sexy, nor are we so desperate and horny, that that’s the key dynamic here. We’re simply trying to talk about the overall way trans women are represented, thought of, conceptualized, etc. in the hopes that dealing with that will help change some of that influence on people’s perceptions of us and sexual relationships to us (and perhaps help move our rights forward in a general sense by breaking down this barrier). We’re simply trying to open a dialogue about the concepts that are mediating people’s sexuality, not trying to force any change in sexuality directly.

Sexuality does not occur in a vacuum. Imagine a circumstance where an enormous number of people were saying that hispanic women just plain weren’t attractive or sexy, and that the only way they COULD be would be to look as little like hispanic women as possible. And let’s say when this issue is broached,t he response is “I just don’t find latina women attractive. I’m not racist! It’s just my sexual interests, which I have a right to define. Trying to force me into having sex with latina women by guilt-tripping me is a form of rape”. Wouldn’t it be justified to explore how racism, and cultural attitudes towards hispanic people, are influencing those attitudes and sexuality? Wouldn’t the anger of the women so targeted as “innately” less attractive be justified in their anger and hurt?

Or as another analogy, is it inappropriate, and akin to “rape”, or “forcing” people to “want to have sex with you”, for people with disabilities to discuss the way that cultural representations of disability are often distinctly de-sexed, with PwD’s bodies often regarded as “flawed” and fundamentally “unattractive”, to challenge the idea that people “can’t be blamed” for finding PwD sexually unappealing? Is that conversation off the table too?

Because that’s all we’re after. A similar conversation. Addressing the attitudes about us, and their influence on sexuality.

Discussing the ways that sexual orientation can often be fixed and immutable, that you can’t, for instance, “cure” someone of being gay or lesbian, has been an extremely important step in working towards acceptance of sexual variance. But that does not and should not mean that sexuality is suddenly sacrosanct and off-limits for discussion. That does not mean everything about an individual’s sexuality is suddenly unassailable, off-limits for discussion, “just the way it is”, not to be questioned or critiqued or thought about.

Of course, given my whole skepticism thing, I become extremely unnerved and suspicious the instant any subject starts being treated as “above” criticism or “wrong” to discuss, question, think about and talk about. Sexuality especially so.

Some aspects of sexuality probably are innate, “Born This Way”. But a whole lot more of it is socio-culturally mediated. How cultural attitudes play out in sexuality is not something that needs to be protected from discussion, and given the fact that this often has real, actual consequences (such as perpetuating the oppression, alienation and dehumanization of trans women), it is something that needs to discussed.

The fact that simply trying to broach the subject of the cotton ceiling is something met with such a considerable degree of hostility and opposition is itself pretty strong proof that the cotton ceiling is in fact a real phenomenon that is actually limiting how trans women are conceived and talked about in the queer community. It makes sense, of course… there’s a whole lot of important things tied to these issues. The stability of gender, the stability (or even validity) of sexual orientations in a world where gender is not a stable, binary, fixed thing. The importance of what a lesbian identity is and means, where it beings and ends. How much of sexuality is fixed and how much is mutable. How much of our attractions, and sexual orientations, are connected to actual bodies and actual pleasure and how much is all just in our heads and how we think of those bodies and pleasures. The presence of trans women as sexual beings poses considerable threats to understandings of gender and sexuality, both of which are things that carry deeply personal significance to everyone, perhaps especially to queer women.

But this is a discussion that needs to happen. And needs to NOT be made all about cis people. It needs to be focused on us, on trans women, and our representation. To shut down this dialogue simply because it’s a bit scary is to forfeit the right to consider oneself trans-friendly or accepting. It’s to forfeit the right to claim membership in a unified queer community.

Given all the support and love trans women offer, and all the much more we can yet offer, to the queer community, to feminism, to women, the least you can offer us is allow us the space to talk about how you may be hurting us, to voice our concerns, to raise the topic of how you see us, represent us, talk about us, ally with us, love us, and most tragically, how often you fail to do those things.

Your sexuality is tough, it’s strong, and it’s your own. It can survive a few questions and a little inquiry. I promise.

Sandra Fluke Speaks On Rush Limbaugh, Women’s Issues And Her Next Steps

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/sandra-fluke-rush-limbaugh-attacks_n_1399138.html


Posted: 04/ 3/2012

Rush Limbaugh’s personal attacks on Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke’s character may have taken the nation aback, but Fluke says she wasn’t shocked by much of what the talk show host had to say about her.

“Perhaps I am a cynic, because [Limbaugh's] attacks were not that surprising to me,” Fluke told a small audience of New York movers and shakers at an intimate dinner following a gala event for the Women’s Campaign Fund to benefit female politicians and their causes. “They were outrageous, obviously, but we’ve seen this [sort of tactic] before. This is an old trick out of the old boys’ playbook, to try to silence women.”

What Fluke was surprised by, however, was how Limbaugh’s remarks seemed to touch a particularly sensitive nerve for so many women — and men — across the country.

“I almost felt that the groundswell of support for me was more surprising,” Fluke said, noting the numerous messages of support she’s received in recent weeks. “I’m so grateful that Americans proved me wrong on that one, and reacted so supportively in those moments.”

Support may be in abundance for Fluke these days, but sleep certainly isn’t. Fluke is, on some level, living something of a double life at the moment — attending galas, lectures, and political events on the side while attempting to maintain her studies at Georgetown.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/sandra-fluke-rush-limbaugh-attacks_n_1399138.html

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Why do bankers get to decide who pays for the mess Europe is in?

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/02/bankers-decide-pay-mess-europe

There were summits about how much misery would be imposed on the Greeks – and no trade unions got a say


guardian.co.uk, Monday 2 April 2012

What you’re about to read does, I admit, sound like a conspiracy theory. It involves powerful people meeting in private offices, hundreds of billions of euros, and clandestine deals determining the fates of entire countries. All that’s missing is a grassy knoll or a wandering band of illuminati. There are, however, two crucial differences: these events are still unfolding – and they’re more worrying than any who-killed-JFK fantasy I’ve ever heard.

Cast your mind back to the euro crisis talks last year, when the future of Greece was being decided. How much Athens should pay its bailiffs in the banks, on what terms, and the hardship that ordinary Greeks would have to endure as a result.

There were times when the whole of 2011 seemed to be one long European summit, when you heard more about Papandreou and Merkozy than was strictly necessary. Yet you probably didn’t catch many references to Charles Dallara and Josef Ackermann.

They’re two of the most senior bankers in the world – among the top 1% of the 1%. Dallara served in the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, before moving on to Wall Street, while Ackermann is chief executive of Deutsche Bank. But their role in the euro negotiations, and so in deciding Greece’s future, was as representatives of the International Institute for Finance.

The IIF is a lobby group for 450 of the biggest banks in the world, with members including Barclays, RBS and Lloyds. Dallara and Ackermann and their colleagues were present throughout those euro summits, and enjoyed rare and astounding access to European heads of state and other policy-makers. EU and IMF officials consulted the bankers on how much Greece should pay, Europe’s commissioner for economic affairs Olli Rehn shared conference calls with them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/02/bankers-decide-pay-mess-europe

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When corporations abandoned the 99%

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/02/when_corporations_abandoned_the_99/

Over the last 30 years, companies have shifted their loyalties from employees to shareholders

William Lazonick
Monday, Apr 2, 2012

In 2010, the top 500 U.S. corporations – the Fortune 500 – generated $10.7 trillion in sales, reaped a whopping $702 billion in profits, and employed 24.9 million people around the globe. Historically, when these corporations have invested in the productive capabilities of their American employees, we’ve had lots of well-paid and stable jobs.

That was the case a half century ago.

Unfortunately, it’s not the case today. For the past three decades, top executives have been rewarding themselves with mega-million dollar compensation packages while American workers have suffered an unrelenting disappearance of middle-class jobs. Since the 1990s, this hollowing out of the middle-class has even affected people with lots of education and work experience. As the Occupy Wall Street movement has recognized, concentration of income and wealth of the top “1 percent” leaves the rest of us high and dry.

What went wrong? A fundamental transformation in the investment strategies of major U.S. corporations is a big part of the story.

A Look Back

A generation or two ago, corporate leaders considered the interests of their companies to be aligned with those of the broader society. In 1953, at his congressional confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Defense, General Motors CEO Charles E. Wilson was asked whether he would be able to make a decision that conflicted with the interests of his company. His famous reply: “For years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/02/when_corporations_abandoned_the_99/

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GOP Congressman To Gays: Lie At Work That You’re Straight Unless You Want To Be Fired

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/1-gop-congressman-to-gays-lie-at-work-that-youre-straight-unless-you-want-to-be-fired/politics/2012/04/04/37535

by David Badash
April 4, 2012

GOP Congressman Steve King, a notoriously anti-gay, small government hypocrite, told a reporter that gays should lie about their sexuality unless they want to risk being fired for being gay, and that government has no business telling business they cannot fire someone just because they’re gay.

“In the first place, I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire. He won’t know who to discriminate against in the first place,” Rep. King told Think Progress’s Scott Keyes in an exclusive interview.

“To Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the problem is not that it’s legal for employers to fire an employee for being gay. It’s that the employee made his sexual orientation publicly known in the first place,” Keyes writes, and reports:

We asked if this meant that he opposed the idea of forbidding businesses from firing an employee because of her sexual orientation. “How do you know someone’s sexual orientation?” he countered, before proposing an idea similar to the recently repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military. “I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire.”

  • KEYES: Would that encompass, for instance, the government being able to tell businesses who they can hire and fire?
  • KING: Yeah, they shouldn’t be able to do that [to] a private business.
  • KEYES: Even if those were to be regulations say on a matter of sexual orientation or gender or other stuff like that?
  • KING: How do you know someone’s sexual orientation? I don’t know how you discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. That’s their business.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/1-gop-congressman-to-gays-lie-at-work-that-youre-straight-unless-you-want-to-be-fired/politics/2012/04/04/37535

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Union Square- Occupy NYC May 1st 2012!

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