Human Rights Badasses

So I completely abandoned the blog during the semester, as anyone who happens by can see. I think there was like one non-spam comment in that time that I didn’t approve for a while, sorry about that.

The obvious badasses that I would’ve mentioned had I been here were Aung San Suu Kyi, who was democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma but was put under house arrest by the military, which is now beating and killing the peaceful pro-democracy protesters; and Benazir Bhutto, who, well, if you’re not living under a rock, you know who she is and why she came to mind. Bhutto may have been corrupt. Not perfect. And not quite as cool as Suu Kyi, who, no joke, won a Nobel Prize while under house arrest. But you have to be a badass to go back into a country where people have already tried to kill you. And it’s pretty cool that she was the first female prime minister of an Islamic country. Hear that, islamophobes? Pakistan beat the US to a female head of state. Somebody wrote into my local paper in response to the assassination and ensuing chaos saying, I kid you not, “What do you expect? It’s Pakistan.” I just bet you that person turned around and said that Hillary Clinton isn’t fit to lead this country because she has cankles or something. I mean, yeah, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists suck, like all fundamentalists and terrorists – in fact, like Christian fundamentalists and anti-abortion terrorists. But it’s funny how people can ignore their own problems AND ignore Pakistan’s strong points so easily. Anyway. So far all this information is from Wikipedia and my memory of Guardian articles on Bhutto, but I’d like to read up more on Suu Kyi, so maybe I’ll give some real information. It’s definitely time to start focusing on badasses again; I’ve started getting depressed with US politics and I need to force myself to think about some good news.


I’m. So. Jealous.

Because as far as I know, no hateful person has called my state the Land of the Sodomite Damned, which probably means we’re not doing enough right. No, definitely. But Fred Phelps generously bestowed that appellation on the state of Minnesota for its tolerance of homosexuality. His daughter blamed them and their tolerance for the bridge collapse that just happened, which is so sickeningly cruel that I don’t even know what to say. Now I don’t want to generalize and name every single Minnesotan a Badass, but a commenter on who’s from Minnesota wants Land of the Sodomite Damned on their license plates, which sounds pretty badass to me. That’s a cool way to handle an insult from someone grounded in hate. His comments, not to mention his protests at soldiers’ funerals where he blames gay tolerance for 9/11, are hurtful and disgusting, but there’s no reason to lend him any credence.

So let’s laugh instead.


Not only did good ole MN give homosexuals some protection under the law and then refuse to repeal it (not that there aren’t any gay rights problems there), but they also just made birth control less ridiculously expensive (from feministing). That doesn’t really qualify as badass, it’s more of a straight-forward laudable really, but while we’re on the topic…

Why would it be so important to make birth control inexpensive? I mean it’s not like poor people have lots of unwanted pregnancies and don’t have the means to support large families or anything. And it’s not like women are more likely to be poor and malefit* disproportionately from unwanted pregnancies. And it’s not like having birth control that women use (like the pill instead of the condom) is important because of things like rape and men who refuse to wear condoms. So I really don’t get why it’s such a big deal. I mean if you want to have sex, well, you better be able to afford it, either by paying for full-price birth control or paying for a kid, ok? You have to earn the right to have sex by making money. And that’s fair, because meritocracy is totally real. Bad things never happen to good people and if you work hard you’ll get rich. So if you want sex badly enough, you’ll get off your lazy butt and get lucky in the stock market or get yourself adopted by rich people. Gosh.

So now that we’ve decided that affordable birth control is really not something you want to support, here’s a petition to sign saying that you want the price of birth control to go down. I toggle a lot between sarcasm and sincerity, I know.

*a word I made up meaning the opposite of benefit. From Latin male, badly, contrasted with bene, well. I’m hoping it will catch on, because I find it very useful. I’m a big proponent of generative morphology.

PS – How can anyone who’s read the Bible seriously refer to homosexuals as Sodomites? Read the damn (sodomite damn) story. Ha, I wonder if Fred Phelps thinks butt sex is damnable but offering your two daughters to be gang raped is perfectly acceptable. Yes, Lot did that, yes, Lot, the “righteous man.” Somehow they forget that part when they talk about it in church, it’s just one of those things that slips people’s minds. But one time I talked to someone who did remember it, but acted like it was ok because the daughters later turned out to not be perfect themselves (they committed incest in order to keep their father’s line going – another problem with patriarchy). You see, only perfect people deserve not to be offered for gang rape. You have to earn human rights. And if a woman does something bad, that proves that the Bible isn’t sexist. Case closed!

I just finished watching America’s Got Talent with my mom. I’m not the show’s biggest fan, but watching those competition shows has somehow become a way for my mom and I to spend time together. So I’m going to talk about one of the groups in the competition: The Glamazons.

I don’t like everything about The Glamazons. They’re a singing and dancing group of women, and their singing and dancing are enthusiastic but not exactly impressive, especially compared to the talents of the other competitors. I also didn’t like the part in their act tonight where they pretended to push men down before implying having sex with them. Mixing violence and objectification with sex is not ok by me, no matter which sex does it to which.

But the thing about them is, they’re not skinny. And yet they not only are comfortable enough to perform in front of thousands of people on television, but they do it in sexy outfits. I wouldn’t call them feminist icons; something about the idea that all women should have the right to be sexually objectified regardless of their size fails to inspire me. But you gotta admit, they’re ovaries-y. I mean, there are a lot of women who more closely fit the mold of what our society says is hot who would be embarrassed to flaunt their bodies like that – not based on modesty, but based on shame over what they look like. And fat comes with a lot of extra body shame around here. By performing and declaring themselves sexy, they’re giving the society that says you’re not only not sexy, but even a bad person, the middle finger. And you gotta respect that. It was a risk, but the cool thing is, it’s working. They made it into the top 8, which means people are voting for them, and the two male judges (someone want to explain to me why male judges always outnumber female judges on these shows?) give them real praise, on their sex appeal most of all, which is great, because I was afraid they would get some patronizing, “oh isn’t that sweet” kind of crap.

So I’m not praising everything about them, but what they’re doing is still brave, and I hope it will make heavier people feel more confident and women of all sizes, but especially larger ones, to be able to block out the messages about how they need to “fix” their bodies in order to be worthy of love. (No, I’m not confusing love and sex, but our culture does, so that’s what I have to work with.) And despite my reservations related to the sexual objectification of women, their act tonight seemed to say that women like sex too and it’s ok for them to show it, which is important for feminism.

Ironically, this shirt from their store looks too small for most women to fit into. I guess the whole world hasn’t changed yet. Baby steps.

Call me cynical, but I kinda laughed when I read the first line in this article from In These Times: “For all of its trappings of money, fame, and corruption, professional sports has a lot to do with character.” But believe it or not, I’ve got good news from the sports world, in terms of treating people like actual human beings. Michael Daniel Penner was a male sports writer who wrote for the Los Angeles Times. She’s now Christine Michelle Daniels, who still writes on sports for the Los Angeles Times. Not only that, but she wrote about her transition for the paper. No hiding, no shame, just honesty and badassery.

I can only imagine how terrifying that was. “Responses to the revelation came in three distinct flavors: kudos from sports fans, effusive thanks from other transsexuals and rants from bible-thumpers.” haha. I’ll settle for the kudos from sports fans. That’s a lot better than I would have expected. Really vitriolic homophobia and sexism come out online (this quote was talking about online comments), and for people in a hypermasculinized field to be congratulatory of a transsexual is huge. I mean, there are places where even a woman from birth can’t be a sportscaster (I tried to google this to find the article I’m vaguely remembering and half the results on the first page were about how hot different female sportscasters are. I want to bang my head against a wall. This is why I have to write a blog on the positive things).

Does this mean all the problems are over and we can all live happily ever after in the sex and gender in which we feel at home? Ha. No. But I think what this accomplished was to make people deal with sex reassignment. Not that all of these fans went and deeply pondered the issue and joined the HRC, but this is out there, in public, in the mainstream, in your space. Your options are: 1) be a jerk about it, or 2) accept it. If you accept it, yeah, you still might make a funny face if you find out someone you know is a transsexual, there’s still room for improvement, but you’re at least acknowledging that this happens and that the people who do it are human beings, not freaks or demons.

The article I linked to mentioned another sports writer, Christina Kahrl, who transitioned (from being Chris) in 2003, and no one said anything about it. They quoted Kahrl as saying that sports is a bridge for Americans, everyone can come together via sports. I’m happy that Kahrl had such a smooth experience, but I’m not that optimistic about the fans; I think a lot of people probably just decided to ignore it because it made them uncomfortable. Daniels didn’t give people that option, or at least made it harder to pull that off.

Christine’s boss actually told her to write the article, but I still give her b/a points for doing it, because she was the one on the line here. Her boss gets points for tolerance though – some people fire transsexuals (speaking of which, please help end workplace discrimination). And of course there were negative responses, and if I wasn’t writing a happy blog I would have a lot to say about them. But overall it sounds like it has gone well. Read about if for yourself at her blog, A Woman in Progress. Even if you think transsexuals are going to hell, it couldn’t hurt to find out what it’s like from their point of view. The rest of the original article has lots of info on sex reassignment as well.

et cetera