Barbara Grier, lesbian publisher, activist and archivist, died Thursday of heart disease. She was 79.
When I first met Barbara Grier, I was 19 and knew even then that she was one of the most important lesbian figures I would ever meet. More than 30 years later, after I’ve interviewed countless other lesbians over the years, Grier still ranks as a mover and shaker of iconic proportions.
For a lifelong queer activist, Grier grew up in unlikely circumstances, in the heart of the Midwest — Kansas and Missouri, where she lived for decades — the daughter of a feminist mother before the word feminist was even known. In the many interviews I did with her over the years, Grier was always succinct about her origins: The pioneer spirit of the Plains states had infused her. She was born to be a pioneer, she believed, and she was one.
Irascible and cantankerous, with a dry and acid wit, she could make a sailor blush and have you laughing till you cried. She worked hard and expected everyone else to work equally hard, because to her, there was always something else to be done.
Grier was a librarian and archivist by trade and an activist by avocation. The two great loves of her life, her first partner, Helen, and then the woman she spent over 40 years with, Donna McBride, were also librarians. McBride survives her.
Grier told me many stories over the years of how she came to lesbian activism — through meeting the town butch dyke as a child, through wooing Helen at the library, through meeting McBride and, as she said about their relationship, “falling as deeply in love as anyone ever could.”
Continue reading at: http://www.shewired.com/lifestyle/2011/11/11/barbara-grier-lesbian-icon-dies-op-ed
by Steve Brown, Traumatic Stress Institute
November 10, 2011
Last week, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury indicted former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for sexually abusing eight boys over the course of a 15-year period. The indictment also charged two top university officials with perjury and failure to report what they knew about the allegations. The indictment has kicked off a firestorm of media attention both in the sports world and the US at large. On November 9th, the Penn State Board of Trustees fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno and Penn State President Graham Spanier. Allegedly, a graduate assistant told Paterno that he observed Sandusky abusing one of the boys. Paterno reported this to Athletic Director Tim Curley although did not follow up later on the matter or alert legal authorities himself. The indictment stated that President Spanier was made aware of the incident reported to Paterno as well.
In any particular abuse situation there is an abuser, a victim, and (almost always) bystanders. This is true in bullying, street violence, as well as child sexual abuse. One of the most important questions that the Penn State situation, and cases like it, raise is — what is it about the nature of intimate sexual violence that stops so many bystanders from taking action when they either have direct information that abuse has occurred or, more commonly, just an inkling that something might not be right.
It is true that men like Mr. Sandusky can often be well-regarded, upstanding citizens, involved in the community, even loved as a role-model by many. However, it is ALSO true, as has come out in the press, that numerous people had direct knowledge of, and even directly witnessed, Mr. Sandusky sexually abusing boys. Despite this knowledge, they were passive bystanders, not active ones. If any one of these adults took appropriate action to report this to the proper legal authorities, maybe the abuse would have ended with one or two boys rather than eight. Maybe the victims would have been given help and protection.
While some adults in this situation had direct knowledge of the abuse, I’m guessing there are likely many others who had troubling gut feelings about Mr. Sandusky –family, neighbors, players, coaches, etc. Many such people are now wracking their brains about what signs they might have missed, why didn’t they trust their gut, and, most importantly, what prevented them from coming forward. These are good and important questions. Even Joe Paterno, whose Penn State football team proudly extolled a reputation for being “squeaky clean” and whose motto was “success with honor,” could not see clear to act on his moral responsibility to protect current and future victims. It is especially disturbing that those with direct knowledge could not muster the resolve to actively speak out.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/11-5
A few weeks ago, as the Occupy Wall Street protests were first spreading, something amazing happened: For 10 whole seconds, the local reporter on my TV screen actually talked about the realities of the recession. He even uttered the phrase “economic inequality.”
My guess is that you’ve seen something similar on your local affiliate — and that’s no minor event. When even the most local of television journalists are compelled to acknowledge this crushing emergency in a country whose media aggressively promotes American Dream agitprop, it means the Occupy protestors have scored a monumental victory. You can almost imagine a Wall Street CEO turning to an aide and muttering a slightly altered riff off LBJ: “If we’ve lost Ron Burgundy, we’ve lost Middle America.”
In response to this stunning turn of events, conservative politicians are retreating to non sequiturs. They seem to think that if they shout the phrase “class warfare” enough, the nation will go back to not caring about the divide between the rich and poor.
But something has changed.
For most of the post-World War II era, we tolerated relatively high inequality because we envisioned it as a necessary side effect of an exceptional economy that (supposedly) guaranteed opportunities for advancement. As The Wall Street Journal put it, we believed that “it is OK to have ever-greater differences between rich and poor … as long as (our) children have a good chance of grasping the brass ring.”
However, the last three decades have invalidated our standing hypothesis. After the conservatives’ successful assault on the New Deal, America has lived a different reality — one perfectly summarized by a new Federal Reserve study revealing that today’s increasing inequality accompanies comparatively low social mobility.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/11-5