White Woman, Interrupted

 

womens-march-poster
[Poster by Hayley Gilmore.]
7 days.

It’s barely been 7 full days.

Some say the world was made in 7 days.

The new US president—aided, abetted, and manipulated by the unholy choir of white supremacists and power-drunk opportunists that surrounds him—seems bent on tying, if not beating, that world-creating record as he sets about the process of destroying it.

Holy crap. I mean…

HOLY CRAP.

How to even begin to resist?

With the Word, I ‘spose. If I’m sticking with tradition, I begin with the word. And in this situation, that word is me. My resistance must begin with me.

* * *

Let me be clear: I want to save myself.

First, last, every day in between. Myself.

So do you. It’s human nature; it’s survival instinct; it’s why we don’t yet breed in cannisters but cling to the fleshy stickiness of bodies and lusts, new life emerging blood-covered and squalling.

I want to save myself most, and so do you.

Now. If I misunderstand this basic fact, I can’t serve justice. It is my own judgment that I confront in the mirror at the end of each day, after all.

Continue reading “White Woman, Interrupted”

Accountability Partners

 

Dear Self,

This is a very clear choice between two sides.

Not black or white.

Not black or blue.

Sure as shit not the individualizing red herring of “good cops” vs. “bad cops.”

No—

we are choosing between the side of life…and the side of death.

That simple.

By which I do not mean easy—

though I do mean urgent.

Look at the picture below, as you contemplate our next steps and what commitments we will make. Must make.

I await your answer.

Do not make me wait long.

All my love, always—
alice

bachman_batonrouge
“This is what a police state looks like.” ~Imani Grandy [Baton Rouge PD detaining a demonstrator protesting Alton Sterling’s killing by police. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters (via)]

[EDIT: This BBC report has more context on the incident and the photographer, as well as other pictures also taken by Jonathon Bachman in Baton Rouge on Saturday. POWERFUL STUFF.

As the granddaughter of a news photographer, I am seriously impressed by this man’s photojournalism chops.]

[2nd EDIT: (via Twitter @tyriquex) The woman in the photo is Leshia Evans, mother to a 5yo son. She is still in jail.  https://t.co/C3hkjJb2jk ]

“20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg

[CN: rape, rape culture]


We have been compelled in our bodies and in our minds to correspond, feature by feature, with the idea of nature that has been established for us.
Monique Wittig, “One Is Not Born a Woman”

To be feminized means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled, reassembled, exploited…leading an existence that always borders on being obscene, out of place and reducible to sex….
Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia.

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”

That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…
Dan Turner, letter to the judge requesting leniency in sentencing for his son, convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner

mud_dolls1

I am still thinking about court statements that came out after the sentencing of Brock Turner, the so-called “Stanford rapist,” at the start of June. “Not a danger,” said the judge. “Not serious harm,” said the legal subtext of his 6-month sentence. “Not a monster,” said his childhood friend. Tell my son “that his life still has meaning,” pleaded his mother. Only “20 minutes of action,” bargained his father.

Nor has the victim’s statement left my mind. Did you know she keeps a drawing of two bicycles taped above her bed? It reminds her of the two passersby on bikes who stopped the assault and gave chase to her assailant when he fled, holding him until police arrived. These bikes are the one detail I remind myself of, the one I have to remind myself of, day after day. I think about the bicycles in an effort to drown out the detail I want to forget and can’t: how the hospital found dirt—and pine needles, and other debris—in her vagina.

Did you notice that detail too?

He filled her with dirt.

My mind won’t put this fact down. Or rather, part of my mind won’t put this fact down.

The part of my mind that can flood with shame just watching a dog squat to piss on the sidewalk, thus announcing its female genitalia; and the part that feels soothed by the impenetrable blankness between a Barbie doll’s legs. The part of my mind that would limit my vocabulary to only the crudest obscenities for sex, and for my own anatomy.

The part that still believes my survivor’s body is forever filled with mud. 
Continue reading ““20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg”

“The judge said WHAT?!”

[CN: sexual assault, rape culture, victim-blaming]


lighthouse_full

If you are on social media at all, then you are likely to have run across this story in the last few days: how Brock Allen Turner, former Stanford student and competitive swimmer (now three-time convicted felon), was just awarded a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of six months in county jail, followed by probation, for the sexual assault and assault-with-intent-to-rape of an incapacitated 23yo woman, as she lay comatose on the ground behind a dumpster.

You may be wondering: why so light a sentence, given Turner’s three convictions that carried a cumulative potential for up to 14 years in prison? Especially considering the eyewitness testimony of two bicyclists, who spotted Turner thrusting on top of the motionless and mostly-naked woman and chased him off her; the victim’s blood-alcohol level of three times the legal limit (i.e., she would have barely been able to walk, let alone consent); and physical evidence that included dirt and grit in her vagina, resulting from Turner shoving his grubby, unwashed hands straight from the ground to inside her.

Well…let’s hear what the ruling judge, Aaron Persky, offered as explanation:

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Oh holy hells. Where to even begin. Continue reading ““The judge said WHAT?!””

Silence, Silencing, and Rape Culture: a meditation in three parts

When I received an email recently from an unknown sender and cryptically titled “from your least favorite writer,” I was intrigued.

monsters_abbott-and-costello-meet-frankenstein-smiles
NOT me and the letter-writer chumming around.

Turns out, the author of a web essay published over a year ago had just located the excoriating critique of her work I posted at the time. By turns professional, embarrassed, and angry in tone, JD’s letter acknowledges some errors she wishes she’d avoided, defends some choices she made, and could be construed as an attempt at dialogue. Or, rather: could be so construed except for the final paragraph, in which she offers to write more carefully about rape in the future — “in return” for my taking down the post, or at least removing her name from my critical discussion of her still-available-online essay.

In a word: No. 

I offered, instead, to include her rebuttal as an addendum to my initial post. I have no animus towards this writer personally, much as I disagreed with this one piece — and I am strongly committed to the idea that the only way any of us get better at honestly discussing hot-button social justice issues is by, yknow, honestly discussing hot-button social justice issues. Having gotten no response in over two weeks, I am instead going to talk with you all about what this exchange foregrounded for me: about mistakes, and how we talk about them; about blogging, and why I do it; about calling people out and calling people in; and about why asking for a call-out to be expunged strikes me as the wrongest of wrong approaches to take, especially when the topic under discussion is rape or abuse. Continue reading “Silence, Silencing, and Rape Culture: a meditation in three parts”

This Boat Which Is Not One

“Be what you are becoming without clinging to what you might have been; what you might yet be.” ~ Luce Irigaray, “Ce Sexe Qui N’Est Pas Un”

♦ ♦ ♦

There is a hypothetical, posed as an ethical dilemma, in which you find yourself adrift on the ocean in a lifeboat overfilled with survivors, and the group must decide who to toss out. Do you cast overboard people least likely to survive under any circumstances — the sick, the elderly, small children — or do you put the healthiest into the drink — the strongest swimmers, with the best hopes of enduring?

lifeboat
Still image from Lifeboat (1944) via

I have never understood why this is a dilemma: I will go overboard the moment we know someone must. I go overboard if I’m healthy; I go overboard if I’m frail and haven’t dogpaddled in over a decade.

I do not wait to see first who can be coerced to drown in my stead. I go overboard because the value of the many is infinite.

And because the value of the one is also infinite. Continue reading “This Boat Which Is Not One”