Parker Marie Molloy
I recently read about Alissah Brooks, a transgender woman from Atlanta, Ga., and her recent run-in with a bouncer who denied her entry to a club on the basis of her gender identity. For those who haven’t yet read this story, after attending a GLAAD event in Atlanta, Brooks and a few friends stopped at Don Pollo Bar and Grill. Brooks was denied entry to the bar after a bouncer asked to see her ID. Her friends then explained Brooks’ transgender status to an employee of the club, saying they believed Brooks was denied entry on account of her status as a trans woman. The employee’s response? “What’s wrong with that? We can do that — we have the right to be selective. We can do that. We’re a private property.”
Actually, they can’t. This would appear to violate a city ordinance put in place to protect LGBT individuals.
I wish I could say this was the first time something like this has happened to a transgender woman, but that would be a lie. In fact, it was only a few months ago that one of my friends and I were denied entry to a bar in Chicago for the same reason, apparently. On July 19, after going to a concert on Chicago’s north side, my friend and I decided to end the night by stopping at a bar for a drink. As most bars were jam-packed, we kept walking until we found one with a little more breathing room. That’s when we stumbled upon Big City Tap, a bar that lives up to its nickname of “Big Shitty Tap.”
We approached the door. The bouncer eyed us suspiciously. He held up his hand as if to say, “IDs, please,” and we went ahead, giving him our drivers licenses. He looked at mine, then up at my face, then back down at the card, then up at my face again. He handed me my license, waving me into the nearly empty bar. My friend, wearing a cute dress that went down to her knees, covered her shoulders, and showed minimal cleavage, handed her license to the bouncer. Immediately he called for me to come back out of the bar. I heard the tail end of the conversation between my friend and the bouncer.
“Wait, what?” she asked, confused by the situation.
“Dress code. That’s all I’m saying,” he replied, waving us away.
We walked away from the bar, not necessarily in the mood to get into an argument over the right to purchase an overpriced beer and sit in a bar blasting shitty music. Still, it stung. I felt like a freak; I felt subhuman. There was no way to interpret “dress code” as anything other than another way of saying, “Stay out, tr*nnies.” After all, it wasn’t until the bouncer saw that my friend’s drivers license didn’t match his own initial read of her gender that he shooed us away. Had this legitimately been about some sort of dress code, why did he look at the license in the first place? The people who were in the bar? Girls in low-cut shirts that bared their midriffs, guys in T-shirts and jeans, a man in cargo shorts with flip-flops, a girl in a short skirt who wasn’t wearing shoes at this point in the evening. Clearly there was no dress code in place.
Saturday, Nov 16, 2013
For those who haven’t had the great misfortune of reading “Atlas Shrugged,” the book is premised on the idea that if the world’s “creative leaders,” businessmen, innovators, artists (i.e., the “makers”) went on strike, our entire society would collapse. These strikers hide out in a utopian compound in the mountains of Colorado while the rest of us despondently wail and gnash our teeth and beg for them to once again bestow their creativity upon us.
The book mirrors in many ways the more lefty “Elysium,” where to escape the environmental degradation they have wrought, the wealthiest go off to form their own society in the sky. The rest of the human population remains mired in slum-like conditions, because the only thing standing between humanity and savagery is Bill Gates. But have no fear! Rather than collectively solving our problems, humanity needs a salvific “Jesus” in the form of (who else?) Matt Damon to make us citizens of Elysium and thereby save humanity. These two, very disparate tales of woe both have common elements (what I will call the “Randian vision”): society relies on the wealthy; collective action through government is either meaningless or detrimental; and a few individuals (“great men”) should be the center of social change and innovation. But all of these assumptions are false.
The appeal of the Randian vision to today’s wealthy is obvious: it puts them back at the center of economic life. They long ago realized that rather than being the beneficent “makers” they had always imagined themselves to be, they were the parasitical “takers” they so despised. Their wealth, which was once a symbol that God praised their work, became an instrument for social change (Carnegie, Rockefeller) and eventually good in itself (Gates, Jobs). Social Darwinism, the idea that the economy is a “survival of the fittest” competition where the superior end up on top, exults the businessman as superior and deserving. But as Henry George noted of Herbert Spencer (the founder of Social Darwinism): “Mr. Spencer is like one who might insist that each should swim for himself in crossing a river, ignoring the fact that some had been artificially provided with corks and other artificially loaded with lead.” F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thorstein Veblen ridiculed the idea that the wealthy were in any way superior. Social Darwinism has resurged in conservative thought, supplementing the Randian vision to fortify a social order in which a minuscule proportion of society reaps its rewards.
Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes,
Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)
BY Vanessa Sheridan
November 19 2013
While Congress continues pondering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, business leaders are brokering the reality of a fully LGBT-inclusive workplace. Supporting employees in their efforts to be authentic, it turns out, actually improves the bottom line.
As a leading consultant directing professional trainings around trans-inclusive business practices, this writer has seen firsthand the positive effect that ripples through a company when it supports an employee’s desire to transition. But the numbers also speak for themselves.
In 2000 only three Fortune 500 companies included gender identity in employment nondiscrimination policies. Today, those policies have reached nearly 60 percent of the Fortune 500. All the while, more states and municipalities are passing laws that protect the rights of transgender workers.
These changes and the relatively brief time period in which they’re occurring indicate a rapidly growing awareness of transgender identities and issues throughout society and, certainly, within Corporate America. That’s because the business case for transgender inclusion is solid.
Companies don’t usually become transgender-inclusive out of a desire to be altruistic: They do so because they realize it’s a smart business decision that can ultimately augment the bottom line in any number of ways.
For starters, transgender inclusion can help with recruiting and retention efforts. Many Gen X and Millennial employees, in particular, expect to come to work in an inclusive, diverse environment. For this reason, organizations that discriminate based on gender identity and gender expression may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
Dear Radical Feminists in attendance at the Shulamith Firestone Women’s Liberation Memorial Conference on What is to be Done,
I too, was gathered with you for this conference in New York City. I was excited to be involved in a consciousness raising session, and interested to hear your collective thoughts on what is to be done. I had heard the criticisms of transphobia within your movement, but naively hoped such sentiment came from a small, removed faction. As I sat among you, and your notable speakers, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. Transphobia and transmisogyny are alive and well within your walls. The disdain with which you referred to trans women and your collective refusal to accept them as women was shocking and horrifying. This letter is to voice what I did not have the courage, or the words to say when I was in your presence.
Ladies, you are not feminists. Feminism, as defined by bell hooks is the movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression. Your tactics and vision place you squarely as oppressors. You are fundamentally no different than the patriarchal system you supposedly seek to dismantle. Your vitriolic exclusion of women whose bodies do not qualify as appropriately “female,” is little different than the exclusion of white women from the public sphere or blacks from white-only spaces. The logic is the same. You are an elitist class exercising and maintaining privilege by denying a systemically oppressed class access to your space. It is an age-old tool of oppression.
Maybe you’ve been so focused on your own liberation, you failed to notice that trans people suffer immensely from the discrimination and hatred that those like you dish out. In fact, 41% of trans people have attempted suicide, one in five have experienced homelessness, and nearly all have feared for their lives. Trans women are the most frequent targets of anti LGBTQ hate crimes. Is this really the group you choose to target?
At the conference one of you spoke out about the fundamental right of lesbian women to bodily autonomy, emphasizing the importance of being free to choose who to love. Others of you made it clear that women should not be defined by their reproductive capacity. The hypocrisy in these sentiments were mind-blowing. In one breath you championed your own freedom from biology, yet scoffed at the idea that trans women are not defined by theirs. Your suggestion that SOME women deserve bodily autonomy, while others do not is horrible, self-aggrandizing and reprehensible.
I’d like to know how you determine which women are worthy of bodily autonomy and of occupying your space. You see, sex and gender aren’t quite as simple as you seem to think. Human beings are complex creatures, and sex, gender and sexuality can be expressed in an infinite number of ways at different points in time. It wouldn’t even suffice if one were required to show their genitalia before entering your space, since human sex/gender is not clear-cut. Yet, your obsession with the idea of “real” women makes this horrific scenario all too plausible.
By erroneously defining women as those with female physical characteristics you have elevated your own status as cis-women and willfully exercised your privilege to oppress others. You do so, seemingly with the belief that you must climb over the backs of others to achieve liberation. The exclusion of trans women is, as one of your invited speakers explained, the linchpin, the one issue that would be the most effective in gaining “women’s” liberation. Making an argument for women’s liberation by denying access to some women is simply nonsensical.
November 14, 2013
Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business will be happy to tell you that waiters always fight each other to avoid working Sunday lunch shift. Not because they want to sleep in, but because it’s a widespread belief that the post-church crowd is loud, demanding and unwilling to tip appropriately. In the food service industry, “Christian” is synonymous with “selfish.”
Unfair stereotype? Probably. Big groups, regardless of affiliation, tend to tip poorly. More to the point, waiters probably remember the bad Christian tippers more because the hypocrisy is so stunning. The image of a man piously preening about what a good Christian he is in church only to turn around and refuse the basic act of decency that is paying someone what you owe them perfectly symbolizes a lurking suspicion in American culture that the harder someone thumps the Bible, the more selfish and downright sadistic a person he is. And that perception—that showy piety generally goes hand in hand with very un-Christ-like behavior—is not an urban myth at all. On the contrary, it’s the daily reality of American culture and politics.
Bill Maher recently had a rant on his show that went viral addressing this very issue, bad tippers who leave sermons or notes scolding waiters instead of paying them what they’re owed. His larger point is a much more important one: It’s absolutely disgusting how the politicians who make the biggest show of how much they love Jesus would be the first in line to bash him if he returned with a message of clothing the naked and feeding the poor. The Jesus of the Bible multiplied the loaves and fishes. His loudest followers these day gripe about feeding people, claiming it creates a “culture of dependency.” They may even comb through the Bible to take quotes out of context to justify their selfishness toward the poor, as Rep. Steven Fincher did when he claimed the Bible says, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” The fact that those jobs are unavailable didn’t give him a moment’s pause when suggesting this very un-Christ-like plan to his fellow Americans.
There are plenty of progressive Christians who genuinely try to live out Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself, described in the Bible as the root of Jesus’ entire philosophy. That said, statistics bear out the sense that people who are more invested in being perceived as pious also embrace the most selfish policies. Self-identified conservatives and Republicans claim go to church regularly at twice the rate of self-identified liberals. People who go to church more than once a week are far more conservative than the rest of the population. Indeed, the research suggests how often you report being in the pews is the most reliable indicator of how you’re going to vote. (Though it may not be a reliable indicator of how often you actually go to church. In the grand tradition of showy piety, people who claim to be avid church- goers often lie about it to pollsters.)
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/belief/gospel-selfishness-american-christianity