Wallflower at the Social Dance of Gender

I honestly never got the importance of gender.  Why people think it is so important has always been a mystery to me.

I don’t consider myself “gender queer”, instead I’m more of a gender agnostic.  I tend to ask annoying questions about gender and gender roles.

One of the reasons I embrace the word, transsexual as a descriptive term rather than embracing the more recently popular term, transgender has to do with my whole agnosticism regarding gender.

When I was a kid I was labeled a sissy and never really understood why.  Except I was physically small and nonathletic. The sports I enjoyed were solitary like swimming, wandering the woods and fields rather than playing team sports.

I was bookish, a passionate reader.  I loved movies.

There were other kids, effeminate sort of campy boys whom I assume were gay boys.  I had more in common with bookish tomboy girls.

I had a hard time understanding why certain crafts were for girls and others were for boys. They all seemed about making things with your hands.

I was fortunate to enter adulthood during the time of the hippies.  I tried to find a place in the androgyny of long hair and androgynous clothes.

I still felt the discomfort within my own skin, the extreme discomfort with even the unassertive male sex characteristics that were coming as I entered my twenties.

I came out to my friends.  Other than the most obvious aspect of my starting to wear skirts and dresses very little changed about my approach towards gender.

What did change and started changing the minute the first female hormones were in my blood stream was my sense of my physical being.

As my physical characteristics changed and I started living as a woman people responded to me differently than they had.

I wasn’t that conscious of my changing behavior but in retrospect I’m sure I started responding to the way I was being treated based on my appearance with gender appropriate behavior.

That is what I describe as the social dance of gender.  It isn’t the same thing as what people call gender identity, which is something I have taken to calling core sex identity, that inner awareness of being male or female. The social dance of gender is more what we spend our lives being socialized into.  It is what we are told is the appropriate behavior and dress for real men or real women.

As I said I’m kind of a wallflower at that social dance.

I fit right in as a hippie, clothes were almost like costumes then and loose interpretations of roles was encouraged.

I also fit easily into the 1970s era feminist and lesbian feminist world.  Women went braless, wore jeans and t-shirts.  Lots of us learned the basics of car repair along with how to cook different food.  I personally became a photographer instead of a model. I studied Taekwondo.  Became a computer nerd.

I liked the idea of challenging oppressive sex role stereotypes.

Sex roles… The term seems like an anachronism in the brave new world order of macho boys, little princesses and GENDER.  I guess sex role stereotypes morphed into gender role stereotype when the neo-Victorians prudishly decided that it was  slutty for women to like sex, although how we ever forgot the secret joys of reading Erica Jong and identifying with her doppelganger Isadora Wing, is still a mystery to me.

There was a concerted war against the liberation of the 1960s and the 1970s with all its non-conformity.

Yuppie women computer techs weren’t supposed to go home on Friday night, put on jeans, a band t-shirt, black leather jacket and go slam dancing in the mosh pit of a punk rock club.

I thought I could pass until one day in the elevator of the Bank America building I was riding the elevator with a bike messenger and he looked at my multiple ear rings and said, “You were a lot hotter last Saturday night at the Mabuhay.”

I was canned a few weeks later when I refused to suck up to a regional manager, didn’t want to show him a good time.  Told him I didn’t have a husband and didn’t want one.  Basically I told him he was a fucking fuck and should go fuck off.

Bad attitude.  Bad girl not conforming, not obeying the rules of the social dance of gender.

I never got the whole idea of high heels or spending a lot of money on make-up.

There was a time when I did, then one day I was at the Macy’s counter in the SF store.  I was looking at make-up from England, Mary Quant or Yardley.  I was high on consuming the stuff of gender when a gorgeous blond hippie guy, looking like a rock and roll angel whispers in my ear, “Buying make-up won’t give you better orgasms.”

I had a snarky come back because I always had a wise mouth, but he was right.

All those trappings of gender, all that expensive junk is just a way of selling over priced goop based on gender insecurity.

I like jewelry but never got the supposed thrill of diamonds or highly expensive jewelry and I’d much rather buy it for myself than have someone get it for me as a present.  When it comes to presents I’d rather receive a camera or guitar, or payment of an over due car repair.

Now for the last thirty years I have watched the selling of gender.  “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

It all seems like a backlash against the 1960s.  Sell sexual (gender) insecurity along with conformity to gender roles.  Label those who rebel against those rigid stereotype as being gender queers or maybe gender out laws, like being either of those is a bad thing.

Well maybe being those are bad things in a rigidly conformist world based on marketing to gender insecurity.

I guess that the corporations have a vested interest in selling us crap we don’t need and rigid gender roles help sell the garbage of man caves and ugly pink crap.

I’m thankful I’m old and no one gives a damn that I prefer Birkenstocks and running shoes to expensive high heels.

Being part of the Older, Wiser, Lesbian set means that the few lesbians in my social circle often have the same casual at best approach to gender conformity that I have.

All of which makes me sort of sad because some of the same battles I fought forty years ago need to be fought again.

Time to bury Reagan and the 33 years of bullshit that have followed.

Time to throw off the chains we donned again in the years since that small taste of freedom and liberation.

Fuck the conformity of gender and gender roles.

Obama Opposes Olympic Boycott, Criticizes Russian Anti-Gay Law

Obama isn’t half the man Jimmy Carter is nor does he have half of his integrity.

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/obama-olympic-boycott_n_3733275.html


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Friday that he did not favor boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, rejecting calls from LGBT activists to do so over a new law banning so-called homosexual propaganda.

“I want to say very clearly. I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” he said at a news conference. But he added that he hoped gay and lesbian American athletes would bring home medals and reiterated his opposition to the law.

“If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it will probably make their team weaker,” he said.

A law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” and the law is written so vaguely that many fear that it will be used to crack down against gays and lesbians broadly. Since foreigners who violate the law can potentially be deported, many fear LGBT athletes from other countries who are competing in the Olympics may be targeted.

“Nobody is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation than you’ve been seeing in Russia,” Obama said. “As I said just this week, I’ve spoken out against that, not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them but we have a strong disagreement on this issue.”

Obama also spoke on the U.S.-Russian relationship more broadly, and defended his relationship with Putin.

“I don’t have a bad personal relationship with Putin,” he said, describing their conversations as “blunt” and “candid.”

He added, however, that he had seen more anti-American rhetoric coming from Russia since Putin became president again in 2012. “I’ve encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward as opposed to backwards with mixed success,” Obama said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/obama-olympic-boycott_n_3733275.html

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Susan B. Anthony List Petitions Supreme Court for Right to Lie in Political Ads

From RH Reality Check:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/08/09/susan-b-anthony-list-petitions-supreme-court-for-right-to-lie-in-political-ads/

by Jessica Mason Pieklo,
August 9, 2013

In preparation for the upcoming midterm and 2016 presidential elections, anti-choice groups are hoping to do to political speech what they did to political spending—upend it altogether.

As reported in The Hill, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) plans to ask the Supreme Court to review an Ohio law that prohibits false political speech. The “false statements” law prohibits false attacks on political candidates, including untruthful and inaccurate representations of their voting records. Ohio’s false statements law was used to block the group from putting up billboards accusing then-Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) of voting for taxpayer funding of abortion because he supported the Affordable Care Act. Taxpayer funding of abortion is prohibited by federal law.

The SBA List argues the law’s prohibition on lying or presenting misrepresentations in political ads is an unconstitutional limit on the group’s political free-speech rights. “The Ohio Election Commission statute demonstrates complete disregard for the constitutional right of people to criticize their elected officials,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Defenders of the law assert there is no constitutional right to mislead the public and that the law serves an important public good in helping to maintain clean and fair elections.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the SBA List’s attempt to challenge the Ohio law on First Amendment grounds. The SBA List is asking the Supreme Court to revisit that decision, but there’s no indication yet the court will do so.

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Van Jones rips Obama’s ‘ridiculous’ denial of domestic spying operations

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/08/van-jones-rips-obamas-ridiculous-denial-of-domestic-spying-operations/

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, August 8, 2013

Van Jones, a former White House special advisor, blasted President Barack Obama on Wednesday for cracking down on whistleblowers.

“I love this president, everybody knows I love this president, but this is ridiculous,” he said on CNN. “First of all, we do have a domestic spying program, and what we need to be able to do is figure out how to balance these things, not pretend like there’s no balancing to be done.”

“But much more important, he said something else that I thought that was really awful,” Jones continued. “He said that if somebody like Snowden wanted to be a whistle-blower, they could have gone ahead.

“Well, hold on a second, sir. That is — you are right now prosecuting more whistleblowers – not only than any American president, that every American president combined! So, you can’t then come out on Leno and yuck it up and say, well, whistleblowers, come on out and we’ll treat you right because you haven’t been doing that.”

Speaking on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday night, Obama denied the National Security Agency was targeting people who lived within the United States.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” he said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/08/van-jones-rips-obamas-ridiculous-denial-of-domestic-spying-operations/

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Your Government Spies on You and Lies About It: Now What?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/your-government-spies-you-and-lies-about-it-now-what

America’s domestic spying juggernaut has expanded to an unbelievable extent.

By Steven Rosenfeld
August 8, 2013

Now that Americans know the federal government domestically spies and lies about it—thanks to a litany of “misstatements” by top officials that have been debunked following disclosures by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—very big questions emerge about what kind of country we are going to be.

Americans keep hearing more news reports about the national security state’s growing reach. Reuters just broke the story of more police efforts to use data collected in the NSA’s domestic digital dragnet for FBI drug investigations. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that other federal agencies are clamoring for the NSA’s data and are engaged in turf battles over it.

The parade of domestic spying stories has been met with a stream of official denials, which have been unmasked by the media as lies. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said that the NSA didn’t read Americans’ emails, but Snowden’s disclosure of the XKeyscore program—including the user manual showing that functionality—disproved that.

ProPublica.org put together this video montage debunking six more domestic spying lies: Is the NSA spying on Americans? (The NSA said no.) Does it only collect data from bad guys? (The NSA said mostly). Does the NSA keep data on citizens? (The NSA said no.) Is NSA data collection any different from a local grand jury? (The Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman said no.) Is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court transparent? (Obama said yes.) And what other lies did the NSA present to Congress in “fact sheets” prepared for oversight committees? (It won’t say.)

The domestic spying and lying should not surprise anyone, given the growth of the national security state and a private sector that has been selling militarized gear and tactical training to local police ever since 9/11, according to the Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin, who trace these trends in their  series and more extensive book, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.

Priest and Arkin’s 2011 book—which doesn’t even discuss the NSA dragnets exposed by Snowden—details how law enforcement’s mindset has been hijacked by the post-9/11 belief that all levels of government can never have enough tools or firepower, which, in 2013 includes the ability to assemble digital dossiers on every American. For example, the military’s NorthCom command, based in Colorado, has its version of Google’s streetview camera and mapping for every block in America, which is eerie for privacy advocates and not even in the headlines.

What’s missing from today’s jarring headlines is the big picture context: how the national security state has changed America.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/your-government-spies-you-and-lies-about-it-now-what

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NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/09/nsa-loophole-warrantless-searches-email-calls

Spy agency has secret backdoor permission to search databases for individual Americans’ communications

The Guardian, Friday 9 August 2013

The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.

The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing “warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans”.

The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA‘s dragnet surveillance programs.

The intelligence data is being gathered under Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the NSA authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.

The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases. That process is known as “incidental collection” in surveillance parlance.

But this is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals’ communications.

A secret glossary document provided to operatives in the NSA‘s Special Source Operations division – which runs the Prism program and large-scale cable intercepts through corporate partnerships with technology companies – details an update to the “minimization” procedures that govern how the agency must handle the communications of US persons. That group is defined as both American citizens and foreigners located in the US.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/09/nsa-loophole-warrantless-searches-email-calls

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What It Means to Be An NSA “Target”: New Information Shows Why We Need Immediate FISA Amendments Act Reform

From Electronic Frontier Foundation:  https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/07/what-it-means-be-target-or-why-we-once-again-stopped-believing-government-and-once

By Mark Rumold
August 8, 2013

An important New York Times investigation from today reporting that the NSA “is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country,” coupled with leaked documents published by the Guardian, seriously calls into question the accuracy of crucial statements made by government officials about NSA surveillance.

The government has previously tried to reassure the public about its use of FISA Amendments Act Section 702 surveillance practices, emphasizing that, under Section 702, the government may not “intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.” Indeed, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Feinstein, in a letter to constituents who wrote to her expressing concern about the NSA’s spying program, said this: “[T]he government cannot listen to an American’s telephone calls or read their emails without a court warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause.”

We’ve written before about the word games the government plays in describing its surveillance practices: “acquire,” “collect,” and “content” are all old government favorites. The New York Times report proves Feinstein statement is false, and it’s clear it’s time to add “target” to the list of word games as well.

When “Target” Means Searching a Specific Person’s Communications

First, at least this much is clear: a “target” under the FAA must be (a) a non-US person and (b) not physically located within the United States. A “person,” for purposes of the FAA, includes individuals as well as “any group, entity, association, corporation, or foreign power.”  Under the FAA, the government can thus “target” a single individual (e.g., Vladimir Putin), a small group of people (e.g., Pussy Riot), or a formal corporation or entity (e.g., Gazprom).

So, when the NSA decides to “target” someone (or something), it turns its specific surveillance vacuum at them. The NSA then believes it can intercept and analyze all electronic communications of the target (telephone conversations, email conversations, chat, web browsing, etc) so long as the “target” is overseas and remains overseas. As others have noted, this includes conversations the “target” has with Americans, which would then be “incidentally” collected. Keep in mind this does not require a warrant or even the approval of a court, which is only one way Senator Feinstein’s reassurance was demonstrably false. But there’s still more.

When “Target” Means Searching Everyone’s Communications

Continue reading at:  https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/07/what-it-means-be-target-or-why-we-once-again-stopped-believing-government-and-once

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Fracking Undercuts Democracy

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We’re All Being Poisoned by Deregulated Capitalism

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/18045-were-all-being-poisoned-by-deregulated-capitalism

Thom Hartmann
Wednesday, 07 August 2013

There’s an undeclared war going on between the rich and the poor right here in the United States and the rich think they’ve found a way to win it.

They’ve locked themselves into gated communities, lily-white suburbs, and wealthy urban neighborhoods and they’ve priced the poor out.

Happy and blissful in their one percent paradise, the richest Americans think they can ignore how their policies have decimated the poor and the working-class.

Think they can live in a “me” society, and ignore the larger “we society.”

But they’re wrong and here’s why.

It’s pretty much common knowledge in the United States that poverty and health are inseparable. All the major indicators of physical health – diabetes, heart-disease, and even access to nutritious foods – are connected to socioeconomic status.

Just take a look at any map of obesity in the United States.

The poorest states like Mississippi and Arkansas are also the most obese. You can see why when you compare those maps with one of American food deserts, which are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as places where at least 500 people live more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. Those same impoverished and overweight states are also home to the most barren regions for people who want fresh food instead of the stuff they sell at a 7-Eleven or McDonald’s.

And things aren’t getting better for the poorest Americans. Today, 32 years of Reaganomics have brought us record levels of inequality and poverty. While most developed nation in the worlds have poverty rates below 10 percent, the official poverty rate here in the United States hovers around 15 percent according to the most recent Census data, an all-time high.

This means that about 46 million people struggle to make ends meet in the richest country in the world.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/18045-were-all-being-poisoned-by-deregulated-capitalism


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The Next Keystone XL?

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15435/the_next_keystone_xl/

A new front in North America’s pipeline wars opens with TransCanada’s latest tar sands megaproject proposal.

BY Cole Stangler
August 9, 2013

The Keystone XL might be stalled for now. But that’s not getting in the way of the TransCanada Corporation’s plans to build an even bigger pipeline to transport tar sands—one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuels on the planet.

If completed, the $12 billion Energy East pipeline, which TransCanada publicly announced last Thursday, could transport about a third more oil than the company’s Keystone XL project, or about 1.1 million barrels a day. The 2,734 mile-long pipeline would transport mostly export-destined bituminous sand from the Western Canadian province of Alberta to a seaside refinery in St. John, New Brunswick. A large portion of the project involves converting an existing gas pipeline to carry the heavy tar sands that originate from deposits in Alberta. But the company will also need to build some new pipelines, including a large pipeline stretching from eastern Ontario to the refinery in St. John. TransCanada anticipates the project to be complete by 2018.

The Energy East marks the latest attempt of the North American oil industry to take advantage of new export opportunities for tar sands, a commodity currently limited to the American market. The two other important pipeline projects that would link oil production in Alberta to global export markets have stalled—the Keystone XL, which would extend through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico, and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, which would extend from Alberta to a port in British Columbia. To date environmental groups have managed to block those projects from being completed.

Andrea Harden-Donahue is the energy and climate justice campaigner for the Council of Canadians, one of the nation’s leading environmental groups. “This pipeline is critical for the oil industry. “If they are not successful in getting this pipeline going, as well as some of the others like the Keystone XL and Enbridge’s pipeline out west, they are literally going to be landlocked with bitumen in Alberta,” she says. “There are plans for massive expansion of the tar sands in that province, and quite frankly it just needs to go somewhere. In order to do that, they need these pipelines.”

Unlike the Keystone XL, the proposed Energy East route doesn’t actually enter U.S. territory. The pipeline loops around Northern Maine en route to St. John. Some say the company is deliberately avoiding the kinds of regulatory burdens that it has faced over the Keystone XL. Since that pipeline crosses international borders, it requires the final approval of the U.S. President.

“Why would you bother going through a presidential permit approval in the U.S. if you can avoid it?” asks Steven Guilbeault, head of Equiterre, an environmental organization based in Montreal. “Why do it when you have the Canadian federal government as a cheerleader of oil development in Canada?”

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15435/the_next_keystone_xl/

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Fox News found to be a major driving force behind global warming denial

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/08/global-warming-denial-fox-news

American consumers of conservative media like Fox News distrust climate scientists and don’t believe the planet is warming

Posted by
Thursday 8 August 2013

A new study published in the journal Public Understanding of Science (PDF available here) surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 Americans in 2008 and 2011 about their media consumption and beliefs about climate change.

The results suggest that conservative media consumption (specifically Fox News and Rush Limbaugh) decreases viewer trust in scientists, which in turn decreases belief that global warming is happening. In contrast, consumption of non-conservative media (specifically ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post) increases consumer trust in scientists, and in turn belief that global warming is happening.

The study also examined previous research on this issue and concluded that the conservative media creates distrust in scientists through five main methods:

1) Presenting contrarian scientists as “objective” experts while presenting mainstream scientists as self-interested or biased.

2) Denigrating scientific institutions and peer-reviewed journals.

3) Equating peer-reviewed research with a politically liberal opinion.

4) Accusing climate scientists of manipulating data to fund research projects.

5) Characterizing climate science as a religion.

Media Matters provides examples of Fox News engaging in all five of these tactics. One prime example involves contrarian meteorologist Joe Bastardi, a frequent climate misinformation guest on Fox News who Rolling Stone awarded the #1 dumbest thing ever said about global warming for claiming that CO2 “literally” cannot cause warming because it doesn’t “mix well in the atmosphere.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/08/global-warming-denial-fox-news

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