We Need to Give Up Transphobia

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/we-need-to-give-up-transphobia_b_3046302.html


04/10/2013

Trigger warning: Transphobia. A lot of transphobia.

A month ago my friend Todd Clayton came out as a recovering transphobe in an incisive Huffington Post blog post, “The Queer Community Has to Stop Being Transphobic.” In the piece Clayton details his personal journey toward transgender acceptance, explaining how a speech by Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski, an out trans woman, opened his eyes to the quiet bigotry in his own life. Clayton hadn’t openly attacked trans people or worked against their freedoms; he was transphobic in ways that a lot of cisgender members of the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities are: insensitive and dismissive, not realizing the ways in which trans lives and struggles intersect with our own.

When he asked me to read the piece, I told him that his experience is common among cisgender people in the LGB community. In fact, I’ve made a similar journey. I told Todd that if he ever published his piece, I would come out with my own story. This is that story. It’s not easy to tell. I’ve been holding on to it for a while, keeping it secret and safe. But it can’t stay secret anymore.

My name is Nico Lang, and I used to be transphobic.

I never thought about myself that way. I thought that my emotions were normal and valid, feeling justified in my passive disgust for trans bodies. The first time I heard about trans people was when my father talked about seeing The Crying Game in the theater and observing the way the audience convulsed with shock when the heroine’s “secret” was revealed. My father claimed that people walked out or threw up when confronted with the image of transness or a life that didn’t fit their binary concept of gender.

I was a teenager. The gender binary was all I knew. Like Patty Hearst, I grew to love my captivity. I identified with my oppressors, working to uphold that marginalization in my own life.

When I met a trans person for the first time, I didn’t think my emotions were hatred, but they had to show on my face. For the purposes of this essay, her name was Megan, and she was one of the oddest characters I’d ever met, the kind of person you never forget. Megan claimed to be a vampire who drinks blood; she also told us stories of being a general’s wife and getting married in Egypt, as if she were a real-life Orlando or Candide. She wanted to believe that she leads a life that is too big to comprehend.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/we-need-to-give-up-transphobia_b_3046302.html

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Is the ‘heterosexual’ woman a thing of the past?

From Xtra, Canada: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Is_the_heterosexual_woman_a_thing_of_the_past-13404.aspx

Xtra Staff
Friday, April 12, 2013

Naomi Wolf is a polarizing figure. Her previous books, which include The Beauty Myth and Promiscuities, have caused much discussion. Her latest, Vagina: A New Biography, is no exception.The book follows the author’s odyssey as she investigates a medical condition that left her sexual experiences lacking the “poetic dimension” of her yesteryears.

Both derided and celebrated, Vagina seems to evoke strong opinions in those who read it, including Xtra‘s Sasha Van Bon Bon.

Van Bon Bon went toe-to-toe with Wolf, and as you can see in the interview below, the exchange was lively and engaging.

We were so interested in what Wolf had to say, we went back for more. In a follow-up phone interview, excerpted below, we discussed Wolf’s own sexual orientation, how gay men and straight men are different, and her belief that labels such as “heterosexuality” can’t fully encapsulate a woman’s sexuality.

And we talked more about the vagina, because when it comes to female sexuality, there seems to be little debate that it deserves more study.
 Xtra: You say the term heterosexuality doesn’t make sense. Explain.
Naomi Wolf: Correct. I no longer believe there is any such thing as a heterosexual woman. Here’s why. Can I also refer you to my book Promiscuities, which goes into some detail about my conviction that all women, even if they identify themselves as heterosexual, respond or can respond to women sexually and that that’s a developmental and normal part of any women’s capacity to love.
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Feminists take opposite stands on prostitution: DiManno

From The Toronto Star:   http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/04/14/column_feminists_take_opposite_stands_on_prostitution_dimanno.html

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Group Supporting Rehtaeh Parsons’ Alleged Rapists Accidentally Exposed Their Identities On Facebook

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/04/16/1867831/rehtaeh-parsons-rapists-identified/

By Andrea Peterson
on Apr 16, 2013

Hacktivist collective Anonymous isn’t outing the identities of the boys who allegedly gang-raped a Canadian teen who later committed suicide after photos of her assault went viral — their own friends and family are. An open Facebook group supporting the boys involved in the Rehtaeh Parsons case, calling itself “Speak for Truth,” was closed down apparently due to a request from the authorities because the context of posts could be used to identify some of the alleged rapists according to screen caps. Canadian blog Dance of Red has images of the more incriminating posts.

The Parsons’ story gained international media attention after her death last week. Parsons’ mother claimed on Facebook her daughter struggled with depression following being sexually assaulted at a party, having photos of the night spread throughout her community, being subject to harassment about the photos, and having the local police mishandle the investigation of the assault and the distribution of the photos. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) closed their original investigation after a year citing lack of evidence. Previous reports suggest the high school Parsons attended all but ignored the assault, despite being made aware of the investigation and having photos of the assault “spread like wildfire” around the school. The RCMP announced Friday they will be reopening their investigation into the case due to new and credible information about the assault, and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Drexter announced Monday there would be a review of the handling of the case after the current criminal investigation is concluded.

Anonymous claimed to have identified all four of the assailants in press releases last week, but were waiting to release the information “until it is apparent” no legal action would be taken against them. Press release comments on their investigation suggest that Parsons was doubly made a victim by a systematic indifference to her plight by the adults in authority in her community. Around one hundred Anonymous and Parsons supporters including her mother held a rally outside of the Halifax police station on Sunday asking for justice.

But a small group of counter-protesters, possibly affiliated with the Facebook group, also came out to support Parsons’ assailants. The counter-protesters waved signs proclaiming support for the boys — presumably the same boys who took photos of themselves sexually assaulting a teenage girl without the capacity to consent, then spread them around like a joke. Photos of the counter-protest posted by Dance of Red:

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/04/16/1867831/rehtaeh-parsons-rapists-identified/

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Sierra DeMulder – “To Michelle Bachmann” (WoWPS 2013)

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Gold crash is an instructive whodunit of financial markets

Way back in 1980 I sold off most of my gold jewelry when the right wing in America was under the spell of a guy named Howard Ruff.  Gold went up to something like 1300 dollars an ounce before plummeting to some 340 an ounce.

The cool thing about right wing suckers is the money men can fool them again and again.  All they have to do is dangle bright shiny stuff in front of them and tell them how they need to be afraid of the dark skinned people.

Gold is crashing like the bad investment it generally is.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/16/gold-crash-2013-explanation-not-obvious

Gold’s crash this weekend is, as Oprah might say, a teachable moment. Don’t buy the conspiracy theories


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 April 2013

Gold crashed this weekend, falling in its deepest drop in over 30 years. From a high of $1,900 an ounce at one point, gold is now selling for less than $1,395 an ounce. So whodunit?

There are theories kicking around – so many theories, so very many unnecessary and probably incredibly wrong theories. Was it the central banks like the Federal Reserve trying to “smash gold,” as conspiracy theorists believe? Or, paradoxically, was it a show of faith in central banks?

Was it a big hedge fund suffering giant, secret losses, as many in the market have theorized? Was it a mass trade on the Comex exchange on Friday – of 13.4m ounces, or 400 tons of gold! – by gold skeptics eager to sell the shiny metal short? Was it the rumor that the central bank of Cyprus would have to sell its gold to pay off its bailout? Was it a delayed reaction to the long, slow pressure drop in gold this year?

To make it worse, some of the smartest pros are baffled. Veteran investor Bob Gelfond called the gold crash “somewhat random,” according to Investment News. “It’s almost like a fire hose flying around that you can’t control,” he said. It could make your head spin. But with all due respect to Gelfond, a crash is never random. There’s always a reason, no matter how insane or stupid or irrational. Some event or rumor made someone hit the “sell” button.

Take a moment to carefully consider all those arguments and you can come to your own conclusions. Gold’s crash this weekend is, as Oprah might say, a teachable moment. Crashes like this are a good way to find out how markets work. It’s like a game of financial Clue, a way to keep sharp your skills of deduction. You don’t have to be a stock investor or a math whiz to figure it out, either – you just have to have a good grasp of news and human psychology.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/16/gold-crash-2013-explanation-not-obvious

See Also Salon: Gold prices plummet to 2-year low

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It’s Time to Shine a Light on the Poverty Creation Industry

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15726-its-time-to-shine-a-light-on-the-poverty-creation-industry

By Joe Brewer, Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk
Sunday, 14 April 2013

It’s about time we called out the great myth that mass poverty just is, as if it were a natural part of some universal moral order. Such thinking is both profoundly untrue and disastrously misleading.

Poverty is human-made. It is created – knowingly and with scientific efficiency – by a vastly sophisticated industry that includes private companies, think tanks, media outlets, government policies, and more. This ‘Poverty Creation Industry’ is about the least talked about feature of our global economy and yet it is perhaps the greatest market force in the modern world. Until we acknowledge this startling truth, progress towards global prosperity and sustainability will fall far short of what is possible.

This isn’t to suggest that there’s a dark, smoky room somewhere in which a small cabal plots to cause immeasurable misery just because they can. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. In truth, it happens in big boardrooms and political conferences, where people create rules and execute strategies to ‘maximise self-interest’ as economists say, by extracting wealth from others. This is largely driven by a maniacal focus on short-term profit or advantage while ignoring one of its primary effects – the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people. Wilful ignorance, though, as any legal scholar will tell you, is no defence in law. It’s about time we applied the same standard to our economic rules and realities.

Revealing the culprits

You don’t need to dig very deep to find the main culprits. If we apply the old Latin rubric cui bono? – literally ‘who benefits?’ – there are some very clear and unsurprising suspects.

The richest 0.001% of the world control 30% of the financial wealth; the wealthiest 0.1% about 81%. So the rich are indeed extremely rich. More important than their static worth, though, are trends over time.

Over the last two centuries, global inequality has steadily increased. We know this because whilst ratios of absolute poverty have been decreasing over the last two centuries, the standard measure of inequality – the Gini coefficient – has risen from 43.0 in 1820 to 70.7 in 2002. (A score of 0 means everyone has exactly the same amount and 100 means one person controls everything.) This trend has been accelerating since 1980, when the latest round of ‘free market’ policies was put in place. It is being exacerbated still further in most countries by both the economic crisis and climate change.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15726-its-time-to-shine-a-light-on-the-poverty-creation-industry

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American People Fight Obama’s Treacherous Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/american-people-fight-obamas-treacherous-cuts-social-security-and-medicare

The attack on our most basic economic rights may open a new chapter in the post-crisis narrative.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
April 15, 2013

 In a spin worthy of the Tasmanian Devil, the mainstream media are casting the reaction to Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a case of division among progressives.

Actually, there is no division; not among progressives, nor among the American people. The vast majority, left, right and in-between, have repeatedly made it clear that they do not want cuts to either of these vital programs. A CBS News poll conducted last month shows that 80 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, opposed cutting spending on Medicare to reduce the budget deficit, while 79 percent were against cutting Social Security for that reason.

The people don’t want the cuts, and the facts don’t support them. There are certainly no economic excuses: The federal deficit politicans howl about is shrinking, as none other than Goldman Sachs’ chief economist has attested. And even if it wasn’t, Social Security doesn’t affect it – a fact that many Americans have copped onto despite the best efforts of politicians to deceive them. Clearly, in a time of growing economic inequality, there is no justification for taking more money out of the hands of the elderly and the vulnerable.

Let’s be blunt: The only folks in favor of the cuts are those serving the interests of financiers who seek to privatize retirement accounts on which they can charge fees and those among the wealthy who don’t wish to pay taxes. This group includes a large swath of politicians and media pundits we’ve been hearing from. And yet despite all the smoke and mirrors – the phony budget crisis, discredited deficit hysteria, the rhetoric of “shared sacrifice,” cuts cloaked in wonky language like “chained CPI,” and excuses about the need to play “3-dimensional chess,” the American public has not been fooled. We know that Big Money has bought and paid for Obama’s budget (which, by the way, also rescues the Pentagon from cuts even as it throws seniors overboard). We know that the President is not representing the will of those who elected him. How do we know? Because Obama himself told us.

Back in 2008, Obama, the “Yes we can!” candidate, gave voters his word that he would not use trickery to cut the social insurance programs hard-working Americans rely upon: “John McCain’s campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age,” said the would-be president. “Let me be clear: I will not do either.”

Obama lied to us. So what are we going to do about it?

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/american-people-fight-obamas-treacherous-cuts-social-security-and-medicare

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Boston Marathon 2013 Hero

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The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/16/boston-marathon-explosions-notes-reactions

As usual, the limits of selective empathy, the rush to blame Muslims, and the exploitation of fear all instantly emerge


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 April 2013

There’s not much to say about Monday’s Boston Marathon attack because there is virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why. There are, however, several points to be made about some of the widespread reactions to this incident. Much of that reaction is all-too-familiar and quite revealing in important ways:

(1) The widespread compassion for yesterday’s victims and the intense anger over the attacks was obviously authentic and thus good to witness. But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid. My Guardian colleague Gary Younge put this best on Twitter this morning:

younge tweet

Juan Cole this morning makes a similar point about violence elsewhere. Indeed, just yesterday in Iraq, at least 42 people were killed and more than 250 injured by a series of car bombs, the enduring result of the US invasion and destruction of that country. Somehow the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of our own aggression against others.

One particularly illustrative example I happened to see yesterday was a re-tweet from Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso, proclaiming:

Idea of secondary bombs designed to kill the first responders is just sick. How does anyone become that evil?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/16/boston-marathon-explosions-notes-reactions

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The Right Wing Loonies Are in a Dither

They can’t make up their minds if the bombing in Boston on Monday was the work of the Muslims, the fault of Obama, caused by women having reproductive rights or marriage equality.

But there is one thing they agree on.  The right wing’s endless spewing of hatred and bigotry couldn’t possibly be to blame.

They all agree, the hatred and bigotry that is their stock and trade could not have created another Tim McVeigh or Eric Randolph.

From Right Wing Watch:

Beck: Muslims Responsible for Boston Bombing Because American Terrorists Always Target the Government

Tea Party Nation: Boston Attack Occurred Because Obama Administration Is ‘Not Committed to Protecting America’

Erik Rush: Kill All Muslims in Response to Boston Marathon Attack

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We are Better Than This

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/16-4

by Erin Niemela

Americans will remember Monday, April 15, 2013 as a day in which unspeakable violence took the lives of three people and wounded at least 153 after bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line. Thousands of miles away, Iraqis will remember this same Monday as a day in which violence claimed the lives of at least 31 people and over 200 injured after multiple car bombs detonated in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, and several other areas. Afghans will remember this Monday as a day in which a ghastly roadside bomb in the Zabul province killed seven and wounded four other human beings. These are the headlines, only for this particular Monday, and we can be sure some lost lives have yet to be reported.

Humanity is better than this. We are a resilient, adaptable species with a propensity towards community and kindness. Yet, we continually find ourselves locked in a dangerous spiral of retaliation, fueled and fanned by the winds of “justice” that creep into every speech, every condemnation, every epitaph, and every time responsibility is taken. We have the capacity for unspeakable violence, yes, but we also have a profound capacity for love.

It makes little difference if we’re talking about terrorist bombings or state sanctioned war, neither type of violence composes our dominant nature. This is the very sentiment the 1986 Seville Statement tries to correct. “It is scientifically incorrect,” the founding authors write among five major propositions, “to say that war or any other violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature.” Anthropologist Douglas P. Fry celebrates peaceful, nonviolent human nature in his 2006 book The Human Potential for Peace, proclaiming compassionately, “Certainly, violence is part of the human species’ profile, but it is only part of the picture. A balanced view of human nature also recognizes the substantial capability that people have for limiting and dealing with conflicts without force.”

This doesn’t mean there will come a time when human conflict ceases to exist; rather, we may see a day when we eradicate violent conflict. Famed psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg explains violence as, “the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.” Such a statement seems inflammatory when you look at events in Boston, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Surely the pain was the direct result of another’s explicit actions. Yet, we are systematically conditioned to believe that more pain – more violence in the name of justice – is necessary to erase our own.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/16-4

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Let’s Be Cautious in Wake of Boston Marathon Bombings

From The Progressive:  http://www.progressive.org/be-cautious-in-wake-of-boston-marathon-bombing

By Matthew Rothschild
April 15, 2013

What a horrific tragedy in Boston. The scenes of the carnage are almost unbearable to watch, let alone re-watch. The suffering of the victims—at least three people dead, and more than 175 wounded—and their families is too much even to contemplate. And the nihilism of the attackers, the wanton destruction of innocent lives, is utterly incomprehensible.

But before we leap to conclusions about who did these heinous deeds, we need to be cautious and wait for the evidence to come in.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, understandably under enormous pressure, nonetheless was not helpful when he answered a question about whether the explosions were the result of a terrorist attack.

“We’re not being definitive, but you can reach your own conclusions,” he told reporters at a press conference.

There is no good purpose served by speculation.

And we need to be extremely cautious about taking measures that might curtail our civil liberties in the wake of these bombings.

Our civil liberties have already taken a big enough hit in the post-9/ll era.

In this moment of horror, let us take a couple of deep breaths. Let’s let law enforcement figure out who the culprits are and how they managed to wreak their havoc, and let’s let them apprehend the culprits.

Continue reading at:  http://www.progressive.org/be-cautious-in-wake-of-boston-marathon-bombing

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