Monday, February 28, 2011

"Human Well-Being and the Environmental Paradox", by Kendra Pierre-Louis

photo of Kendra Pierre-Louis is from here
I believe the author of the following article is Kendra Pierre-Louis @ Justmeans. Sometimes it isn't at all clear to me who has written something online. I've been accused, accurately, of adding to the problem here on my own blog. I'm trying to do better in identifying who has written what, if you're finding it here.

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a Justmeans staff writer with an interest in creating healthier, more sustainable society. She's particularly interested in the intersection of business, sustainability and economics. How can we structure an economic system that allows business to behave better? She has a M.A. in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute and a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University. She has worked with the UNEP's Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, though she currently resides in New York City. [source: *here*]

Everything that follows is also from Justmeans. And you can link back by clicking on the title below.

Human Well-Being and the Environmental Paradox


One of the arguments against environmental conservation is that there is an apparent paradox between environmental degradation and human well-being. In short, when viewed through certain lenses (such as the UN's human development index), human well-being is increasing even as environmental health declines.

Scientists and economists expend a great deal of effort trying to untangle this paradox - perhaps most recently in a September 2010 Bioscience article titled Untangling the Environmentalist's Paradox. In the piece the authors propose four possible reasons for this apparent paradox:
  • There's a time lag between improved well-being and the effects of environmental degradation.
  • We've gotten technically advanced enough to separate human well being from environmental health.
  • As long as the ecosystems that provide food remain intact human well-being will increase.
  • We're measuring the wrong variables and economic well-being is actually decreasing not increasing.
It is this last argument that is the most intriguing. How do you measure human well-being? The UN's Human Development Index (HDI) while helpful in certain ways, is not an effective measure for arguing against the need for environmental conservation efforts in sustainable development.

The HDI is broken into four categories - life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, and gross national income per capita. The problem, however, with this sort of composite index, is that it hides a lot of factors.

For example, life expectancy as an indicator of health is helpful when looking for preventable death, such as from polio or other diseases with which we can easily vaccinate or prevent through proper sanitation. The problem, however, is that in many countries (such as the United States), people are living longer thanks to improved medical technology, but many of those years are sick years.

It's questionable if a society that manages to extend the life of its life populace thanks to technology that allows it to mitigate the effects of the diseases that society itself creates is "healthy". Stated differently many of the diseases in industrialized nations - from moderate depression, to type II diabetes, to heart disease, to the rise in autoimmune disorders - are strongly correlated with the structure of said society. Diabetes and heart diseases are strongly linked to how we eat, which itself is strongly correlated to large-scale agribusiness and mass environmental degradation. Similarly, mild-to-moderate depression can often be treated effectively with exercise and improved social connections: things that are eroded in modern American society with its focus on excessively sedentary work and a competitive rather than cooperative culture that erodes social cohesiveness. Furthermore, it's increasingly believed that autoimmune disorders ranging from seasonal allergies to Crohn's disease, in industrial nations are on the rise because people in those nations are too clean. Having co-evolved with a certain number of bacteria, when stripped of those bacteria our immune systems over-react and start attacking our own bodies. We are able to mitigate many of the original negative effects with a panoply of inventive pharmacological agents is a testament (non-ironically stated) to our pharmaceutical industry.

This, however, does not mean that we are healthy.

In addition, the HDI uses per capita GDP as an indicator of human well-being. The idea is, that as people's income increases their well-being increases. Never mind that in developing nations increasing GDP is correlated with increasing environmental degradation, so that within the indicator itself there is this correlation between increasing human well-being and increasing environmental degradation. It also ignores movements such as that of the Zapatistas in Mexico who very deliberately are eschewing global measures and aiming for self-sufficiency. Says Vandana Shiva:
People are perceived as "poor" if they eat food they have grown rather than commercially distributed junk foods sold by global agri-business. They are seen as poor if they live in self-built housing made from ecologically well-adapted materials like bamboo and mud rather than in cinder block or cement houses. They are seen as poor if they wear garments manufactured from handmade natural fibres rather than synthetics.

Yet sustenance living, which the wealthy West perceives as poverty, does not necessarily mean a low quality of life. On the contrary, by their very nature economies based on sustenance ensure a high quality of life—when measured in terms of access to good food and water, opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, robust social and cultural identity, and a sense of meaning in people's lives . Because these poor don't share in the perceived benefits of economic growth, however, they are portrayed as those "left behind".

Finally, this kind of measurement ignores that human well-being is predicated on direct access to ecosystem services beyond the role of ecosystems as a resource base. The emerging field of biophilia, or humanity's innate affinity towards and need for natural systems, has shown that human well-being declines upon separation form natural systems. Lack of access to ecosystem services encompassed in green spaces has been shown to negatively affect our cognitive ability causing difficulty in memory, attention, and self-control. Studies out of Japan, by contrast, have shown that two night three day camping trip in the woods can reduce insulin resistance in type-2 diabetes patients while also increasing human immune function.

None of this is encompassed within the values that the HDI uses to indicate human well-being while also excluding harder to quantify indicators of well-being such as happiness, cultural diversity and community cohesiveness.

In other words - measuring human well-being is hard. This does not mean that we shouldn't try, but it does mean that we should stop using it as an excuse as to why environmental conservation doesn't matter.
Photo Credit: Queralt

Houzan Mahmoud and other speakers on the Revolutionary Struggles in Northern Africa and Central Asia

photograph of Houzan Mahmoud is from here

I'll confess this from the start: I'm no Marxist. And I'm anti-corporate capitalism. What does that "make me"? It makes me pro-humanity and pro-Earth/Gaia and its diversity of Life. I don't identify with, work with, or organise with people who are on the white male supremacist political spectrum, which runs from State Fascism to (in the U.S.) Christian Fundamentalist Extremist Conservatism, to being a Moderate Republican, a Moderate Democrat, to being a Liberal Humanist, to Social Progressive, to (beyond the U.S.) the political philosophies promoted among Social Democracies, and Socialist Nation-States.

The reason I'm not Marxist (or any of the other categories above), is because I view Marxism--and most if not all of its manifestations, to be anti-Indigenist (see the work of Winona LaDuke and analysis by Noaman Ali of the work of Ward Churchill, as well as Ward's own work, on this subject) and pro-patriarchal (see the analysis *here* as well as the work of Catharine A. MacKinnon in Toward A Feminist Theory of the State, among other radical feminists, on this subject). The spectrum above doesn't tend to deal with heterosexism either. So that's another point of non-affiliation and non-alliance for me.

But, people around the world have limited tools with which to combat various forces of destruction. And while I don't identify with many current political movements and philosophies, I do support those people seeking freedom from tyranny, terrorism, and torture. And greed, rampant social oppression and terroristic dehumanisation, and gross unchecked corruption in various countries and by nation-state leaders is a serious problem, including, historically, in North America. The U.S., for example, is a gross violator of international human rights. It has engaged in torture. It is a pro-rape society. It is a society that is white het male supremacist to its foundation. It is an anti-woman society. It is also a society that is anti-lesbian and anti-feminist (actively opposed to the radical efforts of women to attain freedom from patriarchal conditions). And while the liberal media here portrays this country as unequivocally "good" and "moral" this society is neither, if we look at what practices it passively and actively, covertly and overtly, endorses and enforces. That said, here's information on some speakers addressing radical social change in the Middle East, including Northern Africa. I support oppressed people working with the tools available to them to achieve freedom from systematised, institutionalised harm and inhumanity; I rather passively support resistance to the destruction of Life on Earth beyond human life. See, especially, the work of all Indigenous activists and the collected writings of Dr. Vandana Shiva.

All that follows is from *here*.
Alan Woods, Serge Goulart and Houzan Mahmoud to speak in London on the Arab revolution

Written by ULU Marxist Society
Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00

On March 3rd the University of London Union Marxists will play host to a very special meeting on the revolutionary events unfolding in the Arab world. Speakers include: Houzan Mahmoud, the representative of the Organisations of Women's Freedom in Iraq and a member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq; Serge Goulart, co-ordinator of the Occupied Factory movement in Brazil; and Alan Woods, secretary of the International Marxist Tendency.

Houzan Mahmoud (Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq)
Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency)
Serge Goulart (Co-ordinator of the Occupied Factory movement in Brazil)
Dramatic events are unfolding across the Middle East and the Maghreb. Mass uprisings against high prices, unemployment and brutal dictatorship which began in Tunisia have spread throughout the region to the most distant parts of the Arab speaking world. Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Sudan, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait, Djibouti -- the list is growing longer, not by the day but by the hour.
The dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt have already been toppled by the movement and the same fate now threatens Gaddafi in Libya who has shown his readiness to slaughter his own people in order to cling to power. In Bahrain, which is next to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, the desperate attempt of the monarchy to crush the mass movement in blood has failed.In Iran also there are indications that the mass movement is reviving. There are clear signs of splits in the regime and in the state upon which it rests.Now, in Kurdish Iraq, mass unrest has erupted, threatening the shaky edifice put in place by the imperialists as they try to cut their losses while maintaining influence over the country's affairs and its oil. Everywhere in the region people are on the streets!
The Revolution taking place in the Middle East knows no frontiers, unifying the people of the region in struggle and inspiring people all over the world. The Western Imperialist powers are terrified of the great wave of change engulfing the Middle East and behind limp messages of support for “pro-democracy” movements, they are already manoeuvring to see the movement sold short in their interest. In the midst of these world-changing events it is imperative that we come together in support of the growing Revolution and discuss the nature of these events, what we can do solidify and act on the mass of support in this country, and what inspirations and lessons we can take for our own movements. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to come and share their views!

On Facebook:!/event.php?eid=156800401041992
Last Updated on Saturday, 26 February 2011 20:39

The Spiritual Ethics and Social Politics of Sudden Disengagement: a few cases in point

image from the Trans Youth Support Network is from here

I've had the experience in my life of disengaging from people and of them disengaging from me. When this happens abruptly, often enough this is due to one or both people being triggered into some old, deep well of pain, and when one is dropped by unresolved associations into that lonely well, isolating from what appears to be (or is) the current source of pain may seem like the best route to getting out of the well. But the more alone one is, the fewer hands there are to offer a lift up and out to a better emotional-spiritual place.

But no single person is responsible for someone else's well of pain, unless they have inflicted gross pain across one's whole lifetime. And such things do happen. They happen not just interpersonally, among and between people; they also happen institutionally. So, for example, I've heard many people with health care, with access to health care, state, defiantly, "I will not go to see a doctor! I don't trust the medical establishment."

The point of this post isn't to make a case for going to see people who consistently hurt, exploit, or dismiss or disrespect you. Or for staying engaged with institutions and systems of harm, degradation, and atrocity. But the point here is to note that only some of us have the option to leave places of discomfort, wounding, and disregard.

I have the privilege to do this: to leave places I don't feel comfortable in. People with less privilege than me have pointed this out to me--how when I don't feel welcome or safe in an environment, I leave and don't return. Or I wait a long time to return.

Considering the fact that most people have no means with which to travel anywhere, including out of one's village, away from one's family, or even the social resources with which to end friendships and acquaintanceships with a swiftly sent email, I think it is worth exploring other ways to find respect in places where one is often hurt.

I'm going to give as an example my own reactions and responses to men. And I'm speaking here as a male person, not as a female or intersex person. I'm speaking here as someone raised to be a boy and then a man. This ought not be generalised outside of this political realm, to, say, apply to women who seek permanent refuge from abusive men.

I'll hone down the group more: I'm speaking here, at this moment, about white men who are not overtly abusive, who do not intend to do harm, and who are generally skilled enough, emotionally, to communicate feelings as well as thoughts. Because these members of society are also skilled at appearing to survive by "going it alone", they can pretend they can do without human connection. Or, they will invest too much in one particular connection, burdening that relationship and often crushing it under the weight of great expectation.

That's my pattern with men, generally. I'll invest a lot, emotionally, and when disappointed or hurt, if it happens enough or triggers me sufficiently, I'll end things. Or, when they feel too burdened by my expectations, they'll end things. This ending can be done with more or less grace; with more or less compassion; with more or less concern, care, and regard for the humanity of the other person.

I've had men in the last year decide they don't want to stay friends with me because they were either triggered by something I said, or because I placed too heavy a burden of expectation upon them.

Within that population, I see tendencies for us males to cut each other out of our lives without much consideration for the effect on the other person. And if we've come to see someone as "THE ENEMY", we're not likely to want to find ways back into a relationship. Including with institutions that seem like "the enemy". Or, even, those that are the enemy. And when males cut one another out of their lives, this generally means a burder of care is put more intensely on the women in the lives of those males.

Structures of enemyhood abound, in places where destructive hostilities are reigning--whether in a home or a country--or within oppressed populations where self-hatred is deep and alliances and trust are hard to find.

In my experience, many friendships can appear momentarily, or longer, to be dangerous. Friendship, after all, is dangerous. As are all relationships. And the more traumatised and betrayed one has been in friendship and relationship, as well as by institutions, the more difficult it can become to maintain them.

I elect to not establish many relationships with men because my loading from the past is so great, and wounds can be accessed so easily, that I'd rather not inflict the pain of my own triggering onto myself and other males, if I can help it. But how many of us have this luxury--to cut out all men? To separate from all males? Or, pick the oppressor group: all whites? All people with power who use their bigotry to hurt others? I will, necessarily, bring more of my needs for care to women if I have few to no relationships of care with men. And what does that do for the women who also wish to limit their contact with males?

I'll shift gears to another population: queer folks across gender. This is also a site of great loading for me. I've been hurt and have felt rejected a lot from people within this population. And, no doubt, there are many people who are queer who have felt judged, rejected, or hurt by me. The issue is, "What do we do about that?" Do we mend and repair when possible and when it is humane to everyone concerned to do so? Or do we simply cut others out and try and leave no traces of ever having known someone.

I shouldn't make it seem like cutting people out of one's life is simple. For those of us who have stayed in abusive or grossly exploitive relationships for far too long, ending a relationship may be the healthiest thing someone can do. And, for example,  choosing to live without men in one's life may be exceptionally difficult, while also greatly spiritually and personally beneficial.

I'm not promoting a single ethic here. I'm discussing conditions in which we break or mend relationships. I've been militantly all for women seeking shelter from men who harm them. Interpersonally and institutionally. To whatever extent women can manage to accomplish it, I support women removing men from their lives if those men demonstrate chronic and direct disrespect--as named by the women, or misogynistic exploitation or abuse--as named by the women.

Different personal or social contexts call for different approaches. One has to decide when to flee one's home, if being abused. One also has to know whether fleeing is really possible. Something that stands out for me is Andrea Dworkin's discussion--I'm not sure where or if it exists online--of women being battered by men in intimate relationship. She spoke of how, for a time, the battered women's (shelter from men) movement used to advocate a single approach: leave him. As soon as you physically can, leave him. And what many women being battered by men reported to those activists--including to activists like Andrea who had, herself, been battered--was that leaving him would be very dangerous to her life. And the response, for a time was, "Woman, staying with him is very dangerous to your life!" And what Andrea discusses was what happened when it was discovered that women who left male batterers were far more likely to be killed by the terrorist-abuser than if they stayed in the home of the terrorist.

Clearly there ought to be far more options for women than that. Because in either case, she is being destroyed. But time and again we have people advising other people to do things that "make sense" and seem to be principled, and yet "don't work" in reality. And Andrea has spoken in her work of the need to always re-assesss one's own stance, to adjust one's politics, to adjust the course of action, given new information. And new information could be this: "Women battered by men, intimately, in their homes, know far better than anyone else what is best for them to do to survive."

Which brings me back to queer community. I disagree with so much that I see going on in my own queer community. I see flagrant expressions of misogyny among gay males, for example. And levels of racism among the whites that stun me, even while I shouldn't be shocked at all at this point. I see willful refusal to be aware of class and region privilege. For example, this shows up with mandates to "come out, come out, wherever you are!" Well, that's easy to demand of lesbians and gay males when they have a place to go once kicked out of their home-of-origin. And, yes, such homes are not safe places for queer youth if they are virulently lesbophobic, homophobic, and transphobic. But, more often than not, those very out-and-proud queer people promoting the ethic of "come out, come out, wherever you are!" are offering safe shelter to the youth who decide to do so. And where, really, are those truly safe places for women battered and sadistically controlled by men to go, where their terrorist-husbands can't find them?

So many times women, and queer youth, either find ways to stay in abusive homes and survive, biding time, or they flee and end up on the streets, which are no less friendly to anyone who is queer or female, or anyone younger than seventeen. Male predators abound on the streets. And some of them appear to be friendly--very friendly. And many of those "friends" turn out to be pimps or procurers, or slavers or traffickers. Or boyfriends or future husbands who will also turn out to be abusers, if not also woman-hating terrorists.

What I can ask of myself and others is this: when you are about to end a relationship, are there genuinely no options for repair and rebuilding, or does it feel like there aren't any? And determining one from the other--reality beyond but inclusive of feeling, from the inner realm of feeling only one's most triggered emotions, isn't at all easy. And those are waters for each person to negotiate and find buoyancy in.

But one thing I learned and keep learning from Audre Lorde's essays and speeches is this: we are not one another. And we ought not expect others to become ourselves. And the conditions under which friendship, relationship, and political alliance occur ought not be "falling in line" with one set of rules of behavior or one code of conduct. What I've learned from Audre is that for radical communities to exist--and here I specifically mean communities of revolutionary resistance to oppressive institutionalised forces of human and other destruction--the communities must accept differences as a welcomed requirement, not as something to endure or only fear.

At the beginning and end of a speech to women in an academic setting, Audre Lorde spoke these words:
I agreed to take part in a New York University Institute for the Humanities conference a year ago, with the understanding that I would be commenting upon papers dealing with the role of difference within the lives of American women: difference of race, sexuality, class, and age. The absence of these considerations weakens any feminist discussion of the personal and the political.

It is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians. And yet, I stand here as a Black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of Black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable.  [...]
Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master's concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women -- in the face of tremendous resistance -- as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.

Simone de Beauvoir once said: "It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting."

Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.  -- Audre Lorde, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House" [source: *here*]
Three things have happened to me in the last week: I received a death threat by email. It was from a man who, based on whatever allegedly "misandrist" posts of mine here that he'd read, decided I was "a monster" who needed to be shot and killed. (I know that many feminist activists and non-feminist radical activists do get these, on far too regular a basis. So I don't think there's anything special about me for having received this message.) Since this person threatening me--or whoever he thinks I am--is not part of my life and has demonstrated a gross lack of regard for my humanity, I feel no obligation to engage with him in any way. In fact, to engage with him is to acknowledge him too much. It would mean giving him too much credit for being human, when all he's shown me is that he's inhumane. So that one is easy: I don't respond. I don't engage. I don't seek out connection across difference.

And, there's a white feminist blogger who wrote to me privately that she no longer welcomed contact with me. She's never indicated any disagreement with me in the past. She's never brought any complaints, any charges, any expressions of anger, hurt, or anything else that would let me know that she's been dissatisfied with our connection. It was never a close connection, but it was one that lasted for a few years--at least two, I think. And it was friendly, at least to me it was. And, she's not obliged to communicate with me. But the point is this: to just end something the way she did, with words that appear to be intended to hurt or humiliate, does what, exactly? Does it make her safer in the world? Does it make her feel less isolated?

I have not demonstrated myself to be someone who can't listen. Or who won't listen. So if she instead wrote to me to say "I've got some strong disagreements with some of what you're expressing on your blog!" I'd be interested to know what those are. Instead, she linked me to one post--one post of hundreds that I've put up over the last couple of years--and gave that as the reason why she doesn't wish to hear from me ever again. As if I shouldn't be using this blog as a place to explore my own political and emotional positions on things. Or, as if me doing so is reason enough for someone who criss-crosses me in privileges and power to decide that the time has come for no further interaction. (As far as I know, she is not Jewish, is not lesbian, is not disabled, and is not transgender; I obviously have male privilege and power that can be used to hurt and oppress her.)

And, well, of course she gets to do that. She gets to take care of herself as she sees fit. My ethical practice isn't that people ought not take care of themselves, even while it is my personal practice too often. But was that, truly, her only option? Only she can answer that question. And as I'm not sending her a link to this post, she'll not likely ever read it.

In relationship with many other feminists, we express concern, disagreement, and hurt, and we move through it, building stronger connections that feel safer and enrich our lives, making each of us feel less isolated, not more so.

Also this week a man contacted me by email with care and support. And some criticism too--of a particularly U.S. American way I have of communicating here--but not the kind of criticism that was expressed outside a context of regard and respect. And, really, love. So I'm engaging with him. And maybe we'll be friends. I've had other men arrive via my email box. And I've befriended some of them. And one time one many was hurt by something I said to him about his own behavior. I probably could have found a more gracious way to express myself, but I was, admittedly, a bit triggered by something he wrote to me that sounded very misogynistic.

He, in turn, was triggered by my sloppiness and felt very confused and misunderstood--not seen and invalidated--by what I brought to him. This was not a white man. In some ways that doesn't matter, but the dynamics of people who aren't white being unseen or invalidated by someone who is white carries its own institutional, experiential loading. I think--or hope--that I acknowledged at some point that I might have been wrong in my assessments of his behavior. And he, months later, after his wound healed up and his capacity to trust me and be vulnerable to me was internally/spiritually re-established by him, he reconnected with me. We are on good terms again. I'm glad for that. And so it goes.

When it is emotionally, spiritually possible, I recommend that as a way to proceed: working across differences and disagreements if they are not loaded with gross disregard and disrespect--or with hostility or terrorism as a strategy of control and destruction. I recommend this approach to myself, so that when some parts of the revolution are occurring, we are not all fighting these battles alone. And, when it is time to celebrate, we have a room full of people with whom to share the joy.

Tony Porter on "The Man Box" (short video): on oppressive masculinity and het men's choice to be humane instead

This is only eleven minutes long and any man you know who is misogynistic, sexist, or just plain callous about women or girls, must see it. He's very good. I think many men will be able to "hear him". Honestly. Part of the story was intense for me to listen to, but he took it to exactly the right moral place. TRIGGER WARNING: This video contains the story of the gross sexual assault of a girl by many males.


Please share liberally with all men.That's about all that can be done with this perspective on patriarchal masculinity. There's nothing too radical about it. Or overtly pro-feminist, either.

(Here's the transcript, which I found *here*, on 16 April 2011.)

Transcript after the jump (thanks to DECIUS for posting it in the comments):

I grew up in New York City, between Harlem and the Bronx. Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating — no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger — and definitely no fear — that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior, women are inferior; that men are strong, women are weak; that women are of less value — property of men — and objects, particularly sexual objects. I’ve later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men, better known as the “man box.” See this man box has in it all the ingredients of how we define what it means to be a man. Now I also want to say, without a doubt, there are some wonderful, wonderful, absolutely wonderful things about being a man. But at the same time, there’s some stuff that’s just straight up twisted. And we really need to begin to challenge, look at it and really get in the process of deconstructing, redefining, what we come to know as manhood.
This is my two at home, Kendall and Jay. They’re 11 and 12. Kendall’s 15 months older than Jay. There was a period of time when my wife, her name is Tammie, and I, we just got real busy and whip, bam, boom: Kendall and Jay. (Laughter) And when they were about five and six, four and five, Jay could come to me, come to me crying. It didn’t matter what she was crying about, she could get on my knee, she could snot my sleeve up, just cry, cry it out. Daddy’s got you. That’s all that’s important.
Now Kendall on the other hand — and like I said, he’s only 15 months older than her — he came to me crying, it’s like as soon as I would hear him cry, a clock would go off. I would give the boy probably about 30 seconds, which means, by the time he got to me, I was already saying things like, “Why are you crying? Hold your head up. Look at me. Explain to me what’s wrong. Tell me what’s wrong. I can’t understand you. Why are you crying?” And out of my own frustration of my role and responsibility of building him up as a man to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defining this man box, I would find myself saying things like, “Just go in your room. Just go on, go on in your room. Sit down, get yourself together and come back and talk to me when you can talk to me like a –” What? (Audience: Man.) “like a man.” And he’s five years old. And as I grow in life, I would say to myself, “My God, what’s wrong with me? What am I doing? Why would I this?” And I think back. I think back to my father.
There was a time in my life where we had a very troubled experience in our family. My brother, Henry, he died tragically when we were teenagers. We lived in New York City, as I said. We lived in the Bronx at the time. And the burial was in a place called Long Island, it was about two hours outside of the city. And as we were preparing to come back from the burial, the cars stopped at the bathroom to let folks take care of themselves before the long ride back to the city. And the limousine empties out. My mother, my sister, my auntie, they all get out, but my father and I stayed in the limousine. And no sooner than the women got out, he burst out crying.
He didn’t want cry in front of me. But he knew he wasn’t going to make it back to the city, and it was better me than to allow himself to express these feelings and emotions in front of the women. And this is a man who, 10 minutes ago, had just put his teenage son in the ground — something I just can’t even imagine. The thing that sticks with me the most is that he was apologizing to me for crying in front of me. And at the same time, he was also giving me props, lifting me up, for not crying.
I come to also look at this as this fear that we have as men, this fear that just has us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this man box. I can remember speaking to a 12 year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you you were playing like a girl?” Now I expected him to say something like, I’d be sad, I’d be mad, I’d be angry, or something like that. No, the boy said to me — the boy said to me, “It would destroy me.” And I said to myself, “God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?”
It took me back to a time when I was about 12 years old. I grew up in tenement buildings in the inner-city. At this time we’re living in the Bronx. And in the building next to where I lived there was a guy named Johnny. He was about 16 years old, and we were all about 12 years old — younger guys. And he was hanging out with all us younger guys. And this guy, he was up to a lot of no good. He was the kind of kid who parents would have to wonder, “What is this 16 year-old boy doing with these 12 year-old boys?” And he did spend a lot of time up to no good. He was a troubled kid. His mother had died from a heroin overdose. He was being raised by his grandmother. His father wasn’t on the set. His grandmother had two jobs. He was home alone a lot. But I’ve got to tell you, we young guys, we looked up to this dude. He was cool. He was fine. That’s what the sisters said, “He was fine.” He was having sex. We all looked up to him.
So one day, I’m out in front of the house doing something — just playing around, doing something — I don’t know what. He looks out his window, he calls me upstairs, he said, “Hey Anthony.” They called my Anthony growing up as a kid. “Hey Anthony, come on upstairs.”
Johnny call, you go. So I run right upstairs. As he opens the door, he says to me, “Do you want some?” Now I immediately knew what he meant. Because for me growing up at that time, and our relationship with this man box, do you want some meant one of two things, sex or drugs — and we weren’t doing drugs. Now my box, card, man box card, was immediately in jeopardy. Two things: One, I never had sex. We don’t talk about that as men. You only tell your dearest, closest friend, sworn to secrecy for life, the first time you had sex. For everybody else, we go around like we’ve been having sex since we were two. There ain’t no first time. (Laughter) The other thing I couldn’t tell him is that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl. Women are objects, especially sexual objects.
Anyway, so I couldn’t tell him any of that. So, like my mother would say, make a long story short. I just simply said to Johnny, “Yes.” He told me to go in his room. I go in his room. On his bed is a girl from the neighborhood named Sheila. She’s 16 years old. She’s nude. She’s what I know today to be mentally ill, higher functioning at times than others. We had a whole choice’s-worth of inappropriate names for her. Anyway, Johnny had just gotten through having sex with her. Well actually, he raped her, but he would say he had sex with her. Because, while Sheila never said no, she also never said yes.
So he was offering me the opportunity to do the same. So when I go in the room, I close the door. Folks, I’m petrified. I stand with my back to the door so Johnny can’t bust in the room and see that I’m not doing anything. And I stand there long enough that I could have actually done something. So now I’m no longer trying to figure out what I’m going to do, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of this room. So in my 12 years of wisdom, I zip my pants down, I walk out into the room. And lo and behold to me, while I was in the room with Sheila, Johnny was back at the window calling guys up. So now there’s a living room full of guys. It was like the waiting room in the doctor’s office. And they asked me how was it. And I say to them, “It was good.” And I zip my pants up in front of them, and I head for the door.
Now I say this all with remorse, and I was feeling a tremendous amount of remorse at that time, but I was conflicted, because, while I was feeling remorse, I was excited, because I didn’t get caught, but I knew I felt bad about what was happening. This fear getting outside the man box totally enveloped me. It was way more important to me, about me and my man box card than about Sheila and what was happening to her.
See collectively, we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men. We see that as an equation that equals violence against women. We as men, good men, the large majority of men, we operate on the foundation of this whole collective socialization. We kind of see ourselves separate, but we’re very much a part of it. You see, we have to come to understand that less value, property and objectification is the foundation and the violence can’t happen without it. So we’re very much a part of the solution as well as the problem. The center for disease control says that men’s violence against women is at epidemic proportions, is the number one health concern for women in this country and abroad.
So quickly, I’d like to just say, this is the love of my life, my daughter Jay. The world I envision for her, how do I want men to be acting and behaving? I need you on board. I need you with me. I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men — that it’s okay to not be dominating, that it’s okay to have feelings and emotions, that it’s okay to promote equality, that it’s okay to have women who are just friends and that’s it, that it’s okay to be whole, that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.
I remember asking a nine year-old boy. I asked a nine year-old boy, “What would life be like for you, if you didn’t have to adhere to this man box?” He said to me, “I would be free.”
Thank you folks.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feminist Action Alert: Please Help Identify This Woman For the Sake of Her Loved Ones and So Justice can be Served: Spread this press release throughout the U.S. women's blogosphere. Thank you.

28 Feb 2011 important update: I've receive this message by email: The young woman has been identified! Her mother called looking for her this evening and she has been positively identified.

Please keep this grieving mother and other loved ones of her beloved daughter in your prayers and thoughts. -- Julian

The following email was sent to me with important information regarding the much-needed assistance of the general public in identifying a deceased woman, in part so her loved ones might know of what happened to her, and also so that those who are responsible for her being where she was found might be brought to justice. Details, including a portrait drawing of her and an image of her ring are below. Let's hope her loved ones might find some justice and closure. I have highlighted portions of the email. Below it is the press release which may also be found *here*.
I am an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office in Atlanta, Georgia. We have been desperately attempting identify and young African American female who was found deceased in trash bags in a wooded area of a dead end street in southwest Atlanta on 2/2/11. We have run her fingerprints and exhausted all other avenues in identifying her. Fliers have been distributed numerous times in the area where she was found, as well as other locations within the city of Atlanta. The news media was interested for about the first two weeks and then they stopped responding to my weekly requests to run the attached fliers, along with her demographic information, on their news broadcasts. This woman deserves to be identified and to have her family notified of what happened to her, along with bring the person(s) to justice who placed her where she was found. If you could possibly disseminate her information to whatever resources you have, it would be much appreciated. We have received a limited number of telephone calls about her and I am beginning to think that she may not be from Atlanta or Georgia.
Press Release
Deceased Black Female Adult Found Near Park Avenue, SW, Atlanta
The initial phases of the postmortem examination have been completed in the case of an adult black female found near Park Avenue, SW, Atlanta on February 2nd. No cause of death has been determined to date. Investigation continues to determine the identity the decedent as well as the cause, manner, and circumstances of death. The autopsy was performed by forensic pathologists Michael Heninger, MD and Rhome Hughes, MD.
The deceased is a black female, about 5'8" tall, and weighs about 212 pounds. Estimated age is 20 to 40 years. The head hair is brown with black roots. The right nostril is pierced and contains a white metal stud with a clear stone. A yellow metal ring is worn in the left ring finger and contains small clear stones. There are no tattoos.  One right lower tooth is lower down than the other teeth and one left upper tooth is higher up than the other teeth. The ring is shown in the photograph below.

If you have information which may lead to the decedent's identity, please call the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Center at 404-613-4400, ask for the Investigations Section, and refer to case 11-0242.

An artist's rendering is shown below. Note the stud in the right nostril and the left upper tooth which is higher up than the others.



Posted by:
Randy Hanzlick, MD
Chief Medical Examiner, Fulton County
Posted at 630am, February 4, 2011
Revised and updated February 4, 2011 940am

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Support Indigenous People Protesting the Militarisation of the Border, Border Patrol Abuses, and Racist,Terroristic Legislation in Arizona

image of protest is from here
With thanks to Brenda at Censored News. Please click on title to link back.
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two more arrests as Indigenous protest Border Patrol and militarization

Border Patrol Headquarters Occupation Protesters Stand Trial to Fight Charges

Two Arrested During March to End Border Militarization and Racist Laws

Press statement

TUCSON – On February 23, more than 40 protesters took to the streets – two were arrested – while six people who locked-down and occupied the US Border Patrol Tucson Headquarters on May 21, 2010 stood trial fighting charges of "criminal trespassing" and “disorderly conduct.”

Lawyers William G. Walker and Jeffrey J. Rogers represented the six as the city prosecutor called Border Patrol agents and Tucson Police to testify. The defense argued the trespassing charge was not properly filed and were granted a request to file a memorandum addressing the technicality. The trial is expected to continue on March 22, 2011. Corresponding rallies and actions are being planned.

At 1:30 pm people gathered in downtown Tucson at Library Park for a rally and then took the streets with banners reading, “Indigenous Resistance, Protect Sacred Places”, “Free Movement for People Not Commerce, Tear Down the Wall” and chanting “No Borders, No Border Patrol.”

Two people were arrested for allegedly hanging a banner that read “Las Paredes Vueltas de su Lado son Puentes (Torn Down Walls Become Bridges)” on a street traffic light. They were arraigned and released at 8 pm at Pima County Corrections.

Additional banners were hung at various locations throughout Tucson stating “Egypt, Wisconsin, O’odham Solidarity," “No raids, No deportations, No colonialism” and “Stop Militarization on Indigenous Lands."

O’odham Elders attended the court proceedings to demonstrate their support.
Donations can be made to support direct action efforts through Border Opposition Action Fund at

Communiqué from the occupiers of the Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson, Arizona

We demand that the Border Patrol (BP), Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), their parent entity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Obama administration end militarization of the border, end the criminalization of immigrant communities, and end their campaign of terror which rips families apart through increasing numbers of raids and deportations.

The state thrives off of the climate of terror and fear that racist laws like HB2281 and SB1070, and new proposed laws like SB1611, 1308, 1309, 1405, have caused. This terror also manifests with thousands of troops invading indigenous lands, such as the Tohono O’odham, Yaqui, Kickapoo, Lipan Apache, to name a few. Since the creation of the current U.S./Mexico border, 45 O’odham villages on or near the border have been completely depopulated. This terror manifests with the bones of thousands – making the southern Arizona desert a grave yard, where the hopes and dreams of migrant families are stomped into the ground by border patrol agents, National Guard, minute men, and profiteering coyotes.

Through the military strategy of terror and fear the state maintains power and control.

We take direct action because we have decided not to be afraid. We are more afraid of not standing up to the state and what other crimes against humanity will be committed if it remains unchallenged.

We are not guilty of criminal trespassing or disorderly conduct.

The state, and by extension the border patrol, is guilty of occupying and destroying indigenous communities and ripping families apart. The development of the border wall has led to desecration of ancestor’s graves, it has divided communities and prevents them from accessing sacred places. When will this end?

These buildings, the court house, are made of brick and mortar and are the same brick and mortar that are the operation streamline immigration court just down the street. It is a direct manifestation of this system’s criminalization, where in the 3 hours that we’re in court today, nearly 100 people will be detained, adjudicated and deported through the streamline process.

Who are these building for? Who do they benefit? These are the same brick and mortar prisons are made of. It’s the same steel and concrete that is ripped from Mother Earth that’s used to build the border wall.

Politicians aren’t going to negotiate away our oppression. They are sitting in the chairs in their offices that are built on it. Our oppressors can only maintain their oppression as long as we are afraid of them.

If they are not going to do it, then we are going to find creative and direct ways to ensure that our communities are safe. We recognize that this is not going to happen within the walls of these institutions, these walls, these borders. It’s only going to happen if we tear them down. What does that look like?

Let’s come together, strategize, and embrace diverse tactics to effectively become the answer.

Today we also shed the term immigrant that has been used to attack our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and children, many of whom are also indigenous, and to acknowledge and help restore the full human dignity that has been stripped away. To be immigrant should not be considered a crime unless 99 % of the U.S. is going to be ashamed and guilty of their pasts.

Our relatives are attacked on both sides of the border by colonial governments. The migration that the U.S. government is attempting to stop is driven more than anything else by the economic policies of the U.S. Free trade agreements such as NAFTA have severely reduced the ability of Mexicans and others from the global south to sustain themselves by permitting corporations to extract huge amounts of wealth and resources from these countries into the U.S. This has led to millions of people risking the terror and death that so many face to cross into the U.S. looking for ways to better support their families.

If the U.S. really intends on reducing migration it must end its policies of exploitation and wealth extraction targeted at the global south and instead pursue policies of economic, environmental and social justice for all human beings on the planet, thus reducing the drive to immigrate. But are they really going to do that?

Direct Action is about Direct Democracy. Building community is about communication, having respect for each other and doing something.

This is a struggle for freedom of movement and self-determination for all!

No racist laws, No colonial borders, WE WILL NOT STOP!


Feminist Action Alert: Please Stand with Women in Afghanistan to oppose a new bill that would significantly control, imprison, and endanger abused women seeking safety and justice

photo of Afghan women is from here

The first article is from AsiaOne News, *here*. I have edited the first paragraph as it was, to me, exploitive. Everything else in this post is hyperlinked back to the original source. At the end is a link where you can show your support by signing a petition to block passage of the profoundly misogynist and dangerous bill.

Abused Afghan women fear for future of shelters

Sat, Feb 26, 2011
AFP KABUL - At a secret women's shelter in Kabul, a mother with her children [has fled her abusers--family members who assaulted her. She] explains her fears over Afghan government plans to take over the refuges.

The 28-year-old left her home in Laghman province, east Afghanistan, three months ago and now lives at the shelter, which keeps its windows whitewashed and curtains drawn so neighbours do not guess what it is.

"My husband wasn't a good person and all the time he was out and we didn't have any food. When I told my husband's father and his brother to bring food, they abused me," she told AFP while breastfeeding her youngest, aged six weeks.

She plucked up the courage to flee her home but now her father-in-law has followed her to Kabul to try and force her to come back, she says. "He came to the Ministry of Women's Affairs and said 'I want the children.' I'm very worried about this," she explains, speaking on condition of anonymity because of safety fears.

Her story highlights concerns among activists that plans, announced last week, for the women's ministry to take control all 14 of Afghanistan's women's shelters will make it easier for abusers to track down their victims.

The move has drawn criticism from the United States as well as rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Activists say government-run shelters are more likely to yield to pressure from families to hand back abused women than if they are run by independent NGOs, as is currently the case.

HRW has accused President Hamid Karzai's government of making the announcement under pressure from powerful conservative, religious elements in Afghan society.

"The government is increasingly dominated by hard-line conservatives who are hostile to the very idea of shelters since they allow women some autonomy from abusive husbands and family members," HRW's Afghanistan researcher Rachel Reid says.

Shafika Noori of NGO Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA) says the new rules would force women to appear before an official committee and face intimate forensic examinations before being admitted to shelters.

"When the women are with us, we can make them safe but when it belongs to the ministry, we think they will give back the women to those people (abusive families) and there will be a deal between the influential people and the ministry," she adds.

She and the 28-year-old rape victim are speaking at a HAWCA-run shelter which was forced to move a few days ago after a controversial national TV show threatened to broadcast the location of all safe houses.

The same show previously suggested that women's shelters acted as a front for prostitution.

In fact, most residents end up at shelters because they face domestic violence or being forced to get married while still children, Noori says.

Another resident, who did not know her age but said it was "less than 20", told of how she fled from war-torn Helmand province in southern Afghanistan because her brothers disapproved of her lover.

"I wanted to marry him but when I told my brothers, they didn't accept it and they beat me," she said, scars still visible on her arms.

The man bought her a mobile phone so they could stay in touch but her brothers heard about this, she added.

"When my older brother found out, he said: 'Now I don't want to beat her, I want to hang her tonight.'"

As the rest of the family ate dinner, she escaped to a nearby international military base. "I put on my brother's clothes and turban and left the house," she said.

Karzai insists the government does not plan to take control of all shelters, saying that only "one or two" were causing problems with corruption and "wastage."
But the US says it is "concerned" by the issue, while Amnesty calls the proposals a "terrible piece of legislation."

Women's activists in Afghanistan say the issue highlights how their work overall has become harder in recent years, despite efforts by the international community to encourage gender equality.

"There are some political issues behind this. It's not just safe houses, I think it's to close down the voice of women in Afghanistan," Noori says.

Another campaigner, speaking in a low voice on condition of anonymity during a meeting at a cafe, adds: "Every year it becomes more dangerous for us. The government is with dark-minded people, you can't be open any more."
*          *          *
Women for Afghan Women writes:

The government of Afghanistan has recently introduced a bill that wrests control of women’s shelters in Afghanistan from the local Afghan women’s NGOs that have founded and run them, and transfers that control to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA).  This bill could become the law of the land ANY DAY NOW.

If this bill becomes law:

Women and girls seeking shelter will be required to plead their case before an eight-member Government panel, including conservative members of the Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice.  This panel will determine whether a woman needs to be in a shelter or should be sent to jail or returned to her home (and her abuser).

Women will have to undergo “forensic” exams (virginity tests) to determine whether they have had sex and therefore committed adultery. The tests are medically invalid.

Once admitted to a shelter, women will be forbidden to leave. Their shelter will become their prison. If any family member comes to claim her, even her abuser, she will be handed over to that person, in most cases to be subjected to the harshest retribution for shaming the family.

Also see the NY Times and the Ms. Magazine Blog for more information.

And please, please take a minute or two to sign this petition:

Thanks to Cara at The Curvature for posting on this.

"Consciousness Rising, World Fading" by radical profeminist Robert Jensen. His Journey to Feminist Consciousness and Action, In His Own Words.

photo of Robert Jensen with political posters is from here

I only know of a few men that I'd call "radical profeminist" and none of them is gay or Jewish. (Although Robert Jensen has spent some of his life in gay relationship to at least one man; as far as I know, he's been heterosexual for quite a while, though.) Some are white. Some are U.S. EFL (English as a First Language) speakers. One is South African.

I have read Derrick Jensen's own very intense personal story woven into his beautiful, powerful book A Language Older Than Words. I understand and appreciate his journey to radical profeminist activism. And I know he's accountable to women in his life. A man unrelated to him is Robert Jensen. His story is more unfamiliar to me, and is harder for me to relate to as my consciousness journey began at age nine. I think me being intergender, not heterosexual, Jewish, with an ill mother, raised by more than one self-respecting woman and more than one non-masculinist man, was a big part of why that is.

I'd like to hear more stories by men around the world, or intergender or transgender males, about how it is they came into their commitments to radical profeminist activism and being. Katlego, want to tell your story here? Chris O.? Malik? Anyone out there?

Oh, I'll mention that many radical activist men are deeply committed to many social justice causes and radical social change but don't take seriously or don't center the work of women, of white feminist women, of radical women of color, of radical feminist Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, and white women.

Byron Hurt is very profeminist, but I'm not sure he centers the work of radical feminist women of any color. And, his spiritual and political journey is his own. I wish him well.

Tim Wise, who may well be progressive not radical, is not very feminist, and I think his work would be much stronger if  he centered the work of radical feminist women of all colors. I don't see his work even centering the experience of women of any political location. I appreciate his fierceness as a white man on racism as it effects men in the U.S., though.

In his writings thus far, John Stoltenberg hasn't integrated any significant understanding of race, and hasn't seemed to grasp the experiences of radical feminist women of color who made it clear RADICAL feminism means dealing with gender and race, at the very least. John wrote as a white man without understanding what his whiteness meant, in my experience. I don't call that work "radical". But I do acknowledge John Stoltenberg's writing as very important for many men. I appreciate his work and have linked to it here, in some posts.
I also appreciate the work of Chris Kendall. He is gay, white, and Australian and has written mostly about pornography and sexual violence, focusing on how each effects white gay men. I also don't see him putting the experiences and analysis of radical women of color and radical feminist women of all colors at the center of his work. And I've linked to his work here at times. I feel great appreciation for his work. I know he's struggled a lot.

The writings and actions by women of color and white women radicalised me, not the work of men, although some men of color's writings have informed my experience and analysis of the world I live in. Particularly and especially James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've told parts of my story throughout the posts on this blog. One day, perhaps, I'll write it out in one place. I state this after getting another death threat by email. :(  One thing John Stoltenberg wrote somewhere was "If you're not catching shit, you're not doing shit." That's a solid, simple measure of whether or not men's work is challenging male supremacy and male supremacists. I guess that means my work is catching shit, and hopefully also composting CRAP. ;)

All that follows is from *here*.

Real and Corporeal: Consciousness and Being

[For complete article features, please see source at Common Dreams here.]

Consciousness Rising, World Fading
Our stories of awakenings -- whether moral, intellectual, religious, artistic, or sexual -- are tricky. Honest self-reflection doesn’t come easy, and self-satisfied accounts are the norm; we love to be the heroes of our own epics.
That’s true of accounts of political awakening as well, especially for those of us born into unearned privilege as a result of systems of illegitimate authority. Not only do we love to tell stories in which we come out looking good, but we know how to decorate the narrative with the trappings of humility to avoid seeming arrogant.  We use our failures to set up the story of our transformation; even when we speak of our limitations we are highlighting our wisdom in seeing those limitations.
So, when I got a request from a researcher to tell my story about how my political consciousness was raised, I was hesitant.
I don’t like feeling like a fraud, and something always feels a bit fraudulent about my account, even when I am being as honest as I can. But, like most people, I feel driven to tell my story, mostly to try to explain myself to myself. So, here I go again:
As a teenager coming of age in the 1970s in mainstream culture in the upper Midwest, I missed the United States’ radicalizing movements by a decade and several hundred miles. I developed conventional liberal politics in reaction to the conventional conservative politics of my father and his generation. But in a more basic sense, I grew up depoliticized -- like most contemporary Americans, I was never taught to analyze systems and structures of power, and so my banal liberal positions seemed like cutting edge critique to me. After college I worked as a journalist at mainstream newspapers, which further retarded my ability to think critically about power; reporters who don’t have a political consciousness coming into the field are unlikely to develop one in an industry that claims neutrality but is fanatically devoted to the conventional wisdom.
The raising of my consciousness began when I started a journalism/mass communication doctoral program in 1988, a time when U.S. universities were somewhat more intellectually and politically open than today. After years of the daily grind in newsrooms, I felt liberated by the freedom to read, think, and talk to others about all the new ideas I was encountering. My study of the First Amendment led me to the feminist critique of pornography, which at the time was an important focus for debate about the meaning of freedom of expression. My first graduate courses were taught by liberal defenders of pornography, who were the norm in the academy then and now. But I also began talking with activists in a local group that was fighting the sexual-exploitation industries (pornography, prostitution, stripping), and I realized there was a rich, complex, and exciting feminist critique, which required me to rethink what I thought I knew about freedom, choice, and liberation.
As a result of those first conversations, I started reading feminist work and taking feminist classes, and I kept talking with folks from the community group, which led me to get involved in their educational activities. I didn’t make those choices with any sense that I was constructing a radical philosophical and political framework. I was just following the ideas that seemed the most compelling intellectually and the people who seemed the most decent personally. Those ad hoc decisions changed my life, in two ways.
First, they opened up to me an alternative to the suffocating conventional wisdom, in which liberals and conservatives argue within narrow ideological boundaries. This exposure to feminist thinking, especially those people and ideas most commonly described as radical feminist, allowed me to step outside those boundaries and ask two simple questions: Where does real power lie and how does it operate, in both formal institutions and informal arrangements?
Second, they helped me realize the importance of always having a political life outside the university. Instead of putting all my energy into my teaching and research, I was anchored in a community project and connected to people who weren’t preoccupied with publishing marginally relevant research in marginally relevant academic journals. Although I had to publish scholarly articles for my first six years as an assistant professor, once I got tenure and job security I immediately returned to community organizing and ignored the pseudo-intellectual pretensions that dominate in most of the so-called scholarly world in the social sciences and humanities. I had developed respect for rigorous and relevant scholarship but had come to realize how little of it there was in my fields in the contemporary academy.
From those first inquiries into the sexual-exploitation industries and the role of a pornographic culture in men’s violence, I continued to think about how power is organized and operates around other dimensions of our identities and statuses in the world. After opening the gender door, it was inevitable that I would have to open the race door. From there, questions about the inherent economic injustice in capitalism and the violence required for U.S. imperial domination of the world became central. Finally, I began thinking more about how human domination of the living world is destroying the ecosphere’s capacity to sustain life as we know it.
All of those inquiries led me to the same conclusion: We live in a world structured by illegitimate hierarchies and based on a domination/subordination dynamic. For those of us with unearned privilege, the rewards for ignoring this conclusion are whatever status and money we can squeeze out of the system, while the cost of capitulation to power is a surrender of some essential part of our humanity. More than 20 years after embarking on this investigation, I can see that clearly. But when I first started confronting these issues, I only knew that the conventional wisdom seemed inadequate, that the platitudes uttered by people in power seemed empty, and that the rationalizations offered by the intellectuals in the service of power seemed self-serving. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want that kind of career or life.
All that seems clear to me now, but it wasn’t at the start. The researcher’s query that prompted this essay asked about my “earliest consciousness-raising memory.” I have no simple answer, because my awakening was such a gradual process. But there were some moments along the way, such as the day I read Andrea Dworkin’s 1983 speech entitled “I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape,” in which she asked men for “one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old.”[1] In that speech she pointed out that feminists don’t hate men, but instead “believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”[2]
I also remember the crucial role of one friend in the anti-pornography group, a white man who was older than I and was a part of not only the feminist movement but the civil-rights, anti-war, and environmental struggles. He provided me with a model for how someone with privilege could contribute to radical politics in a principled fashion. In my book on pornography, I wrote about one particularly important moment with Jim Koplin, when we talked about my motivation in volunteering with the group:
“If you want to be part of this because you want to save women, we don’t want you,” he said. At first I was confused -- wasn’t the point of critiquing the sexual exploitation of women in pornography to help women? Yes, Jim explained, but too many men who get involved in such work see themselves as knights in shining armor, riding in like the hero to save women, and they usually turn out not to be trustworthy allies. They are in it for themselves, not to challenge masculinity but to play out the role of heroic man in a new, pseudo-feminist context. You have to be in it for yourself, but in a different way, he said.
“You have to be here to save your own life,” Jim told me.
I didn’t understand exactly what he meant at that moment, but something about those words resonated in my gut. This is what feminism offered men -- not just a way to help those being hurt, but a way to understand that the same system of male dominance the hurt so many women also made it impossible for men to be fully human.[3]
Jim challenged me to ask myself why I was there and what I hoped to gain, and I came to understand that my interest in feminist politics was driven in large part by my own alienation from traditional definitions of masculinity. For me to tell a simple story about doing the right thing, implying nobility on my part, wasn’t going to cut it.
More than 20 years later, I’m still wrestling with these questions about why I make the choices I make. I am a man who is part of a feminist movement and a white guy who critiques the white supremacy deeply embedded in mainstream culture. I am an American who opposes U.S. imperial foreign policy and a middle-class academic working with a local group that organizes immigrant workers. For these efforts, I get attention and praise that is disproportionate to my effort and ability, a fact I point out as often as possible. People sometimes listen to me not because I’m smarter than feminist women, but because I am a man. My writing on race is not better than the work of non-white authors, but I’m appreciated because I’m white.
This is the tricky part of my awakening story. I was lucky to learn to see the world from the point of view of those who struggle against power, and I’m rewarded in many ways when I speak, write, or act in public in these movements. But I recognize that those rewards are unfair, and so my professed humility becomes another mark of my alleged sophistication. Yet if I were to refuse to use my privilege -- if I dealt with this angst by fading into the background -- I would be throwing away resources that come with my position in the world and which I can offer to these movements.
I am trapped, yet I am trapped in a system that makes my life relatively easy. Even when there is some threat of punishment for my political activities, such as during the fallout from critical essays about U.S. war crimes that I wrote after 9/11, I have so much support from outside the power structure and so much privilege as an educated white guy that I never really felt threatened. Even if I had been fired from my university position after 9/11, I likely would have landed on my feet.
I realize not all who adopt a critical perspective, even those in privileged categories, fare as well as I have. But in recent decades in the United States, in which dissent by people who look like me is mostly tolerated, there has been no widespread repression of people in the privileged sectors. People in targeted groups (particularly immigrants, Muslims, Arabs) have had to be careful, and there’s no guarantee that a more widespread repression won’t return to the United States, especially as U.S. power continues to decline around the world and elites get nervous. But for now, white men with U.S. citizenship are pretty safe. We may risk losing a job, but that’s trivial compared with the fates suffered by radicals in other eras in U.S. history or in other places today.
So, here’s my consciousness raising story summarized: I wandered through the first 30 years of my life mostly oblivious to the workings of power, protected by my privilege. For the past 20 years I’ve been struggling to contribute to a variety of movements for social justice and ecological sustainability, getting my consciousness raised on a regular basis whenever I seek out new experiences that push me beyond what I have come to take for granted (lately for me that has been happening at 5604 Manor, our progressive community center in Austin, TX, Although I love teaching and put considerable energy into my job as a professor, my community and political activities are just as important to me -- and a greater source of intellectual vitality. If consciousness-raising is an ongoing project, it’s not likely to happen in moribund institutions such as universities but will come through engagement with people taking real risks in political work.
That’s as accurate an account as I can offer about how I became, and continue becoming, the political person I am. But telling this story always makes me a bit queasy; I have yet to find a way to describe my political development that doesn’t sound self-aggrandizing, as if I am casting myself as an epic hero.
That longstanding discomfort in telling my story is further complicated by new concerns in the past few years. More than ever I’m aware that no matter how high anyone’s consciousness in the United States is raised, there may be very little we can do to reverse the consequences of modern industrial society’s assault on the living world. I don’t mean that there is nothing we can or should do to promote ecological sustainability, but only that the processes set in motion during the industrial era may be beyond the point of no return, that the health of the ecosphere that makes our own lives possible may be compromised beyond recovery.
In contemporary left/progressive organizing, we typically focus on those small victories we achieve in the moment and on a vision for social change that sustains us over the long haul. With no revolution on the horizon, we pursue reforms within existing systems but hold onto radical ideals that inform those activities. We are willing to work without guarantees, bolstered by a faith that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”[4] That’s supposed to get us through; even if our movements don’t prevail in our own lifetime, we contribute to a better future.
But what if we are no longer bending toward justice? What if the arc of the moral universe has bent back and the cascading ecological crises will eventually overwhelm our collective moral capacities? Put bluntly: What if homo sapiens are an evolutionary dead-end?
That’s the central problem with my consciousness-raising story. When I was politicized 20 years ago, I made a commitment to facing the truth to the best of my ability, even when that truth is unpleasant and painful. My ideals haven’t changed and my commitment to organizing hasn’t waned, but the weight of the evidence suggests to me that our species is moving into a period of permanent decline during which much of what we have learned will be swamped by rapidly worsening ecological conditions. I think we’re in more trouble than most are willing to acknowledge.
This is not an argument for giving up on or dropping out of radical politics. It’s simply a description of what seems true to me, and I can’t see how our movements can afford to avoid these issues. I’m not sure I’m right about everything, though I am sure this analysis is plausible and should be on our agenda. Yet it’s my experience that most people want to push it out of view.
In trying to make sense of my political consciousness-raising, I try to avoid the temptation to cast myself as an epic hero who overcomes adversity to see the truth. That’s a struggle but is possible when one is part of a vibrant political community in which people hold each other accountable, and for all my fretting in this essay, I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping on track. We can overcome our individual arrogance.
More difficult is facing the possibility that the human species has been cast as a tragic hero. Tragic heroes aren’t characters who have just run into a bit of bad luck but are protagonists brought down by an error in judgment that results from inherent flaws in their character. The arrogance with which we modern humans have treated the living world -- the hubris of the high-energy/high-technology era -- may well turn out to be that tragic flaw. Surrounded by the big majestic buildings and tiny sophisticated electronic gadgets created through human cleverness, it’s easy for us to believe we are smart enough to run a complex world. But cleverness is not wisdom, and the ability to create does not guarantee the ability to control the destruction we have unleashed.
Not every human society has gone down this road, but we live in a world dominated by those who not only exhibit that arrogance but embrace it, refusing to accept the reality of decline. That means our individual awakenings may be taking place within a much larger dying. To face that is to live in a profound state of grief. To stay true to a radical political consciousness is to face that grief.

[1]Andrea Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone: Writings 1976-1987 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1988/Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books 1993), pp. 170-171.
[2]Ibid., pp. 169-170.
[3]Robert Jensen, Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (Boston: South End Press, 2007), p. 9.
[4] “Where Do We Go From Here?” (annual report to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference), August 16, 1967.
Robert Jensen

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center . His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity. Jensen is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity; and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at and his articles can be found online here.

Charlie Sheen is a drug addict and the equivalent of two and a half men who are male supremacist scumbags. And Charlie Sheen HAS BEEN FIRED, finally! Details here.

image is from here
March 1, 2011: Breaking news on Charlie Sheen: Brooke Mueller, his ex-wife, has files a restraining order against him.
For more, see:

This is a man CBS has been paying about two million dollars to every week he "works" at playing a shallow misogynist on TV. With a fraction of that money (or perhaps all of it) he has been scoring more drugs and exploiting and/or abusing more women in systems of prostitution. He claims to have no savings! No savings with two mill a week? That'd be a lot of drugs and a lot of renting of women as sexxx-things. And now he wants 3 million per episode. Prince Charming, he's not. As was astutely noted on SNL's Weekend Update, on May 14, 2005:

Tina Fey: This Monday marks the final episode of the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Next season, CBS Monday will be anchored by the show “Everybody Has Mixed Feelings about Charlie Sheen.” [source: here]
But not because he's creepy, folks. Because he's one more man, a very rich one, who can pay to abuse women and not be charged with any crime.

If I hear any more about how victimised Charlie "the procuring prick" Sheen is, I'm going to... well, possibly write up another post about him. I've posted on this male supremacist racist abusive jerk before, *here* and *here*. But clearly three time's a charm, because now the arrogant, abusive, obnoxious actor is finally gone from the TV screens and hopefully will get his ass kicked to the curb just outside the border of Hollywood. Why am I hoping for this?

He's a chronically exploitive man who procures women (for sexxx) who have been raped and pimped. He sexually exploits and sometimes harms the women. He's a misogynist, racist jerk, along the lines of Mel Gibson. He may also be anti-Semitic, but certainly not as anti-Semitic as that son-of-a-HaShoah-denier, Mel. Both men are what they are because they choose to do what they do--they practice being that way. Over and over again. They aren't racist and misogynistic because of drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol don't cause people to be white supremacists or male supremacists, just so you know. How can I know this?

There are other men who've been caught with drug and alcohol problems of some kind, such as David Cassidy. Anyone see David spouting off anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic terms when being arrested or caught in an embarrassing situation? Nope. How come the substances didn't do to him what they apparently do to oppressive and bigoted scumbags like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson? Could it be because David Cassidy isn't a racist, anti-Semitic, battering misogynist and serial procurer of pimped women?

A typical quote by Charlie Sheen: "I hope you fucking die, b*tch." When will a man being an unrepentant misogynist be seen as reason enough to deny him any custodial parental rights to keep children in his home?
Just in: An all-new picture of Charlie Sheen and his new roommates, who include ex-wife Brooke Mueller, porn star Bree Olson and former nanny Natalie Kenly. The three women, who are pictured above in Sheen's home theater, are now living with the "Two and a Half Men" star, who is expected to return work on Monday after undergoing month-long rehab. Sheen and Mueller's twin sons Bob and Max, nearly two, are also living in the home and a source tells "The Insider" he would like to have an even fuller house. The source says the actor would also like his ex-wife Denise Richards and their two daughters, Sam, 6, and Lola, 5, to also live at his opulent Los Angeles home.[ Read full article on The Insider] [source for this blurb is *here*]
His dad Martin Sheen sees him as fully human, which Charlie is. But asking any of us to feel for the 45-year-old lad is a bit much, at this point. He's a big boy now. And even though too many men will be boys, this man has been a male supremacist for far too long.

I wonder if Martin has ever told him, "Charlie, using women as sex-things isn't cool and it's not okay. Renting, exploiting, and sexually abusing people is wrong and you ought to be put in jail for the way you mistreat women, particularly pimped women in systems of prostitution. You're also a racist, son. A racist misogynist. Now, when are you going to admit that with any degree of remorse or shame? And, when are you going to commit yourself to treating women--all women--with respect and regard for THEIR full humanity--the full humanity YOU demand everyone acknowledge you have?

He and Mel Gibson ought to take their millions and donate them to anti-trafficking and anti-battery organisations. They've sure got millions to spare.

What do you say, fellas? Care to transform yourselves into two men who don't fuck over women, beat women, harass women, terrorise women, and use and abuse women as sexxx-objects?

This just in: Two and a Half Men has been cancelled. Hurray!!! Now the producers CAN give the obscene amount of money that would have gone to C. Sheen to several international anti-trafficking organisations instead.

For the story on the cancellation of the show, see this, from the UK's Daily Record. You can link to the original by clicking on the title below.

Charlie Sheen rant results in hit show being cancelled as star goes off the rails

Feb 26 2011 Simon Boyle

TROUBLED Charlie Sheen's hit TV comedy was cancelled yesterday - after he unleashed a bizarre rant at the show's creator.

He branded producer Chuck Lorre a "stupid, stupid little man", then rounded on his critics, claiming: "I'm not perfect, but look what I'm dealing with - fools and trolls."

After the attack, TV chiefs cancelled production of his hit show Two And A Half Men.

But Sheen still refused to shut up.

In a letter to fans, he said of Lorre: "Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words - imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists."

The outburst could signal the end of his £1.2million per episode deal with CBS to star in the comedy, which made him the highest-paid actor on TV.

Sheen, 45, was hospitalised recently after a cocaine and booze party with porn stars.

Earlier this week, he jetted out to the Caribbean with his ex-wife Brooke Mueller, porn star Bree Olson and "nanny" and glamour model Natalie Kenly. Mueller has since returned to Los Angeles.

From the Bahamas, Sheen called a US radio show to insist he had kicked his drug and alcohol addictions, roaring: "I don't have time for these clowns and their judgment and stupidity.

"They lie down with their ugly wives in front of their ugly children, and then they look at me and say, 'I can't process it'.

"Well, stop trying, just sit back and enjoy the show.

"I'm gonna stay here with these two smokin' hotties and fly privately around the world. You know it might be lonely up here but I sure like the view."

Lorre quickly called a halt to the rest of the current series of Two And A Half Men.

That prompted Sheen to furiously pen an open letter to fans, stating: "I fire back once and this contaminated little maggot can't handle my power and can't handle the truth.

"I wish him nothing but pain in his silly travels, especially if they wind up in my octagon.

"I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable w rong."

During his on-air rant to US chat host Alex Jones, Sheen claimed his own methods of beating his addictions were much more effective than the techniques offered by support group Alcoholics Anonymous.

He sniped: "The only thing I'm addicted to right now is winning. AA has a five per cent success rate, my success rate is 100 per cent.

"Their entire manifesto is built on complete and total surrender. They say 'Don't be special, be one of us'. Newsflash: I am special."

And in an odd blast, he went on to attack United States founding father and former president Thomas Jefferson.

Sheen claimed: "I'm not Thomas Jefferson, he was a p***y, but I dare anyone to debate me on things.

"Debate me on AA right now.

I had a disease, I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I can't use the word sober, cause that's a term from those people, but I have cleansed myself. I closed my eyes and in a nanosecond I cured myself from this ridiculous model of disease, addiction and obsession."

He defended his relationship with a string of porn stars and models, claiming he and his group of "goddesses" enjoyed "a marriage of the heart".

The outburst leaves his Two And A Half Men career hanging in the balance - and threatens his return to the hit film franchise Major League.

Reports have linked the star to the third film in the series, but Sheen insists producers have yet to sign him, adding: "If they want me in it, it's a smash, but if they don't it's a turd that launches like a tugboat."

After Sheen's rant, the movie boss behind the Major League franchise James Robinson warned: "I'm not going to risk putting Charlie in the movie if he continues messing up."

[Charlie Sheen] ON HIS CRITICS

I don't have time for these clowns.. They lie down with their ugly wives in front of their ugly children, and then they look at me and say, 'I can't process it.

[Charlie Sheen] ON HIS WOMEN

I'm gonna stay here with these two smokin' hotties and fly privately around the world. You know it might be lonely up here but I sure like the view

[Charlie Sheen] ON CHUCK LORRE

I've defeated this earthworm with my words. Imagine what I would have done with my firebreathing fists

Below is a time line of some of Charlie's abusive and/or illegal and/or notorious behavior. To the general public: How about caring more about the women and other people he fucks over than about him? Or, even, caring as much about them as so many do about him?

What follows is from and may be linked back to by clicking on the title. Regarding that title: His behavior isn't "bad" so much as it is grotesquely and systematically white het male supremacist--whether or not he is of Latino heritage. His behavior is at times terroristic, abusive, threatening, criminal, illegal, and wrong. It's also obnoxious, selfish, self-absorbed, and not at all worthy of being reinforced with millions of dollars paid to him by men who want to profit off his abuses of other people. His behavior is disgraceful and ought not be condoned by anyone in Hollywood. At least he's no longer on the air in a weekly sitcom.

He and Mel Gibson need to call it quits with their careers and leave women and children alone for the rest of their lives. Maybe they--Charlie and Mel--can live together, hopefully without a boy (or girl) in the house, and hopefully they won't develop a reality show called "Two Racist-Misogynist Men".

Charlie Sheen: A Timeline of Bad Behavior

Charlie Sheen
As Charlie Sheen continues his anti-Chuck Lorre and Two and a Half Men tirade, takes a look back at more than 20 years of Sheen's bad behavior.
Charlie Sheen: The history of a promising acting career

January 1990: While in their home, Sheen accidentally shoots fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm. The relationship ends.
September 1990: Sheen completes drug rehab a month after checking himself in.

July 1995: Sheen testifies in the tax evasion trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, admitting he spent almost $53,000 on her prostitutes.
December 1996: Sheen is arrested for allegedly beating porn star girlfriend Brittany Ashland, who claimed he slammed her into the marble floor of his home and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
June 1997: Sheen pleads no-contest to the Ashland charges and is sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term and two years of probation.
May 1998: Sheen is hospitalized after a cocaine overdose. Father Martin Sheen turns him over to authorities for violating his probation. Sheen later checks himself into Promises rehab center.
March 2005: Denise Richards, Sheen's second wife, files for divorce while pregnant with the couple's second daughter. She says Sheen had been abusing drugs and alcohol.
Charlie Sheen: I'll go back to Men... without Chuck Lorre
March 2005: Porn star and escort Chloe Jones tells the National Enquirer Sheen was among her clients and had paid her $15,000 for oral sex. Sheen's agent disputes the claim.
April 2006: In order to obtain a restraining order, Richards signs a declaration stating that in the middle of an argument on Dec. 30, 2005, Charlie pushed and shoved her while she was holding their daughter Lola. According to the declaration, Charlie pointed his finger at her and screamed, "I hope you f---ing die, b----."
March, 2008: Jason Itzler claims he sent Ashley Dupre (the same Dupre who later had a relationship with Eliot Spitzer) and another girl to have a threesome with Sheen for $20,000. Sheen's reps deny the report.
December 2009: Sheen is arrested in Aspen, Colo., on domestic violence charges after an alleged altercation with third wife Brooke Mueller, the mother of his twins.
Two and a Half Men ends production for the season following Charlie Sheen's radio rant
February 2010: Sheen's Mercedes is stolen and found upside-down at the bottom of a cliff near Mulholland Drive. Police say they do not believe Sheen was in the car because he would have been injured in the accident.
February 2010: Sheen is charged with felony menacing and misdemeanor third-degree assault and criminal mischief in connection with the Aspen arrest. He pleads not guilty in March.
February 2010: Sheen announces he's voluntarily checking into rehab and takes time off from Two and a Half Men. In May, he signs a two-year deal that will pay him $1.8 million per episode.
August 2010: Sheen pleads guilty to the Aspen charges and is sentenced to 30 days in rehab, 30 days of probation and 36 hours of anger management.
October 2010: Sheen is reportedly removed from The Plaza Hotel in New York City after causing a disturbance, and allegedly doing $7,000 worth of damage to the room. Richards, who was also staying at the hotel, separately from Sheen, accompanies him to the hospital. His rep says Sheen had an "allergic reaction" to medicine.
November 2010: Capri Anderson, an adult film star who was with Sheen at The Plaza, sues him, claiming he choked her. Sheen countersues Anderson, claiming she tried to extort him. Sheen is not prosecuted for the incident at The Plaza Hotel.
January 2011: Sheen goes on a reported bender in Las Vegas — where he allegedly parties with a group of women that includes porn stars, strippers, and Michelle "Bombshell" McGee — but returns in time for work on Two and a Half Men.
What's next for Charlie Sheen?
January 2011: Sheen is rushed to the hospital for severe abdominal pains that a friend of Sheen says came from the actor laughing too hard at the TV. Shortly after, Sheen begins a rehabilitation program in his home. Two and a Half Men goes on production hiatus.
February 2011: Sheen begins a rant about Two and a Half Men creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre on The Dan Patrick Show, where he blames the producers for delaying the return of the show. Lorre responds with a vanity card reading, "If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed." Sheen's ensuing rants (challenging Lorre to a fight, and saying he owns him) and behavior force CBS and Warner Bros. TV to shut down production for the rest of the season. Sheen responds by saying he would return to the series for Season 9 if Lorre is not involved.