Book Review: The Truth About Alice, Jennifer Mathieu (2014)

Friday, November 7th, 2014

A Study in Slut-Shaming / The Anatomy of a Rumor

four out of five stars

“I’m so glad you want to be my friend,” she laughed. “Even though I’ve had seven abortions and slept with the principal and plotted to have Brandon Fitzsimmons murdered by Mafia hit men before killing him with my dirty texting, right?”

The end-of-the-summer party at Elaine O’dea’s house didn’t promise to be anything special. After all, it was thrown together at the last minute, after Elaine’s parents announced that they’d be spending the night at a friend’s house a few towns over. And for the most part, it was pretty unremarkable: Healy High students sitting around, getting drunk and watching tv. That is, until star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons texted Josh Waverly to brag that he and Tommy Cray had both “done” Alice Franklin in the upstairs guest bedroom: Brandon, then Tommy, then Brandon again.

Almost overnight, Alice is branded the school slut. Slowly but surely, her friends distance themselves from her; she becomes the subject of much salacious gossip, even among the parents; and hateful graffiti starts to pop up in the girls’ bathroom. But an ugly rumor that might have otherwise run its course spirals out of control when a drunk Brandon dies in a car accident – and his drunk passenger and best friend Josh claims that he was sexting with Alice when it happened. Now, Alice isn’t just a slut, but a murderer too.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Camp Utopia and The Forgiveness Diet, Jenny Ruden (2014)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

“Beauty settles in the flaws.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Goodreads First Reads program.)

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Stern’s life is a mess. She’s not-so-secretly in love with her next-door neighbor and best friend, Toby Jacobson (TJ for short), who doesn’t feel the same. An aspiring magician two years her senior, TJ is on the cusp of graduation – after which time he’ll gladly blow town (which is Baltimore, Maryland) to audition for the talent show American Envy. Her older sister Jackie is stuck in unhappy relationship with a pothead named Doug, and their mom Ellen was forced to relocate the family to a poorer area of town after her husband Richard (or “Dick,” as they derisively refer to him) walked out on them twelve years ago. Now he’s got a new wife and twin boys, and he only contacts his daughters on birthdays and holidays…if that. Bethany’s even convinced that Richard Goodman spotted her at Chuck E. Cheese – at her half-brothers’ birthday party, to which she was not invited – and purposefully ignored her because he was ashamed of her weight.

Which brings us to the titular “Camp Utopia” and “The Forgiveness Diet.” Bethany’s tried all manner of diets, with varying success; while sucking on food (but not eating it!) helped her to lose a few lbs, her new look didn’t change TJ’s feelings towards her – so she gained it all back, and then some. When her mother books her a slot (to the tune of $5000) at a “fat camp” hosted on the campus of California University of the Pacific, she makes one last-ditch effort to slim down with the newest fad diet, The Forgiveness Diet. Just write down who you forgive and what for, slip it into the forgiveness jar (or, in Bethany’s case, a discarded fast food bucket), and watch the pounds melt away. Of course, this isn’t what happens; instead, Jackie and Doug accidentally find the notes, thus creating a meltdown of epic proportions on the road trip there.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Christian Nation: A Novel, Frederic C. Rich (2013)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

I really wanted to like this book…

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. )

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I mean, it’s right up my alley: Speculative fiction. The rise of an American theocracy. The erosion of civil liberties and rights. The misuse of technology by the government to spy on its citizens and force them into submission. Misogyny taken to its logical extremes. When I first read the description on the book jacket, it brought to mind some of my favorite dystopian classics: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an obvious one, as is George Orwell’s 1984. While these books do share some similarities, what sets Christian Nation: A Novel apart is that it’s surprisingly boring.

Caution: Minor spoilers ahead!

What might have happened had John McCain and Sarah Palin won the 2008 election? In Frederic C. Rich’s vision of one possible America, a McCain/Palin victory is the first step on the path to an American theocracy. Not long after his inauguration, President McCain drops dead of a cerebral aneurism while giving a speech in Moscow. In a nightmare scenario, the ill-prepared Sarah Palin is swiftly sworn in. During her presidency – which lasts two terms, thanks to a series of especially brutal and conveniently-timed terrorist attacks on American soil – Palin begins to lay the groundwork for what will become the unraveling of American democracy. Among other things, Palin declares martial law, and with her leadership, Congress passes previously unthinkable pieces of legislation, including the Houses of Worship Act, the Constitution Restoration Act, and the Defense of Freedom Act – most of the provisions of which are upheld by a Supreme Court now dominated by conservatives.

Palin is succeeded by her mostly-invisible adviser, Steve Jordan, under whose leadership America undergoes a radical transformation. On July 4th, 2017, he introduces a series of fifty proposed rules organized around ten assertions. Based on an evangelical Christian reading of the Bible and collectively called The Blessing, these are to act as each citizen’s covenant with God, as well as the basis for more concrete state and federal laws. The Blessing is a sort of conservative Christian wishlist: among other things, it establishes “God’s law” as the law of the land; restricts judgeships to born again Christians; expels the UN from US soil and nullifies existing international treaties; solidifies marriage as between one man and one woman; outlaws abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, adultery, pornography, and “sexual perversion”; eradicates hate crimes legislation; establishes abstinence-only education as the only legal form of sexual education; and demands that wives must obey their husbands and children, their fathers. While Jordon doesn’t unilaterally enact The Blessing – it comes up for a vote in Congress, much like any other piece of legislation – it easily passes in a House and Senate dominated by conservative Christians (many of whom were swept into power with the help of politically active churches, thanks to Palin’s Houses of Worship Act).

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: New Zapata, Teri Hall (2013)

Monday, July 15th, 2013

A Timely Dystopia

four out of five stars

Trigger warning for rape.

Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Johnson – Becca for short – is a young woman who suddenly and unhappily finds herself pregnant – again. Though she loves her young son Luke, his birth almost killed her. Did kill her, in fact: her heart stopped beating for several minutes before doctors were able to revive her. Despite the doctors’ grave warnings that a second pregnancy would most likely kill her, Becca’s husband Chad continues to insist upon sex as his husbandly right. Though she tries to satisfy him in other ways, he rapes and impregnates her. The embryo growing inside her could very well claim her life or leave her permanently disabled, like her own mother Dee, who has spent all nineteen of Becca’s years in a persistent vegetative state. An abortion is her only chance at survival. Trouble is, Becca lives in the Republic of Texas circa 2052.

Shortly before Becca was born, Texas seceded from the United States and installed its own repressive theocracy. The first order of business: assume control of the means of reproduction – namely, women and their bodies. Naturally, abortion is prohibited, although – after an initial backlash – the powers that be begrudgingly allowed exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the (would-be) mother. These exemptions are rarely granted, and require a vote by an (all-male) council and, if the woman is married, the husband’s written permission. To make matters worse, nearly all forms of contraception are outlawed, the sole exception being vasectomies, which also require a health exemption. (Chad would qualify due to his wife’s condition, but he refuses Becca’s requests to have the procedure performed.) As a result of this mandatory fertility, the population of the R of T is growing at an alarming rate, while public assistance to families is need is dropping steadily. “Pro-life” at its finest!

Divorce is outlawed, though in larger, more “liberal” cities, aggrieved couples sometimes opt to live separately. (Becca lives in the border town of New Zapata, which is not so progressive.) While public schooling is available, children are fed a steady stream of propaganda, faith-based misinformation, and outright lies. Any books that counter the government’s official platform – like the seemingly innocuous Gray’s Anatomy – are banned, and their possession could land you a stiff jail sentence. Girls rarely receive more than a tenth-grade education because they’re expected to become mothers, usually at a young age – and mothers aren’t allowed to hold paying jobs. Pregnant women are made to leave their jobs in the third month of pregnancy, so as not to harm the “baby.” The government knows exactly when life begins, right down to individual cases: beginning at adolescence and continuing through menopause, girls and women must submit to monthly pregnancy tests (and boys, DNA screening). The country’s borders are sealed, with no one allowed out or in, so that those in need of employment or who don’t agree with the country’s policies don’t have the option of leaving in search of a better life elsewhere. The R of T is a virtual prison, with its residents held captive to the hatred and religious zealotry of its founding fathers.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 25: Vegan nomz & Bowl-a-thons!

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Vegan cookies are distributed

Vegan cookies are distributed at a Prop 8 rally in Riverside, CA, circa 2008.
CC image via Flickr user lierne.

For this edition of Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, let’s start with some shiny happy news for a change, shall we? Namely, cross-movement bridge-building with vegan nomz and bowl-a-thons!

(Take note, carnists and defensive omnivores: vegans are not, in point o’ facts, all single-minded activists who prioritize nonhuman over human animals. Also: we are quite capable of multitasking, thankyouverymuch.)

Vegan Protest Fuel: Feeding the protesters in Madison, WI

Vegan Protest Fuel is the first of two projects I’d like to share with y’all (and, if you happen to have a little extra scratch laying around, encourage you to contribute to). Started just last week in response to the ongoing protests in Wisconsin, the good folks at Vegan Protest Fuel deliver vegan food to peaceful protesters defending their rights – because “Everyone Needs to Eat.” Naturally, their first campaign is feeding “the tenacious heroes in Madison, WI, who are fighting to preserve their precious collective bargaining rights and for economic justice in their state against a radical conservative governor and assembly.” Over time, they hope to expand their program throughout the United States and, possibly, the world.

Powered by tofu: it’s not just a slogan on a tee, yo.

See also: Food Not Bombs, Food for Life Global, HIPPO, A Well-Fed World and Ample Harvest.

Team Vegan Vixens: Bowling for abortions in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon!

Team Vegan Vixens needs your support in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon! Held throughout the month of April,

The Bowl-a-Thon is a nationwide series of local events that allow community members (you!) to captain your own bowling team, participate in a kickass national event – and raise money to help women and girls pay for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Abortion Funds are local, grassroots groups that work tirelessly to help low-income and disadvantaged women who want an abortion and do not have enough money to pay for it. Abortion Funds help women pay for their abortions, help them buy bus or plane tickets, and even offer women a place to stay when they have to travel for an abortion. Abortion Funds make a difference in women’s lives…and you can join them!

With $236 raised so far, Team Vegan Vixens is currently the top fundraiser for the Chicago Abortion Fund, which ranks #8 overall. Help Team Vegan (Vixens!) represent by pledging your support. Or sign up to participate your own bad self!

Fuck yeah, pro-choice vegans.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 21: Campaign WIN/FAIL edition

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

MTV's Retro Hit Girl Poster

“MTV’s Retro Hit Girl Poster”: In a reimagining of J. Howard Miller’s iconic “We Can Do It!” poster, a purple-wigged Hit Girl flexes her bicep, gun in hand. The purple bubble emanating
from her head reads, “We Can Kick Ass!” Message brought to you by the Women’s Ass-Kicking Committee. (This photo has absolutely zilch to do with today’s post; rather, it just makes me smile. The warm and fuzzies, I sure needed ‘em after wading through not one, but two PETA campaigns. Maybe you will too?)
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Okay, so there’s much, much more FAIL than WIN in this edition of Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, but seeing as I’m all about the power of positive thinking, half-full beer steins, and all that fluffy fun stuff (sike!), I had to lead with WIN. In the title, anyhow. Had you fooled, didn’t I?

The Discerning Brute: Rape of Africa in “A Bid to Save the Earth.”

So this is…interesting. In honor of Earth Day, Christie’s hosted an auction to benefit several environmental organizations. One of the art pieces – David LaChapelle’s “Rape of Africa” – is unsettling, to say the least. Click on over to the Discerning Brute to view the image (which is totally NSFW as it depicts, among other things, Naomi Campbell’s bare breast). Joshua Katcher’s interpretation of the photograph is worth a read as well, particularly as he links the exploitation of farmed animals to that of human women, to wit:

[S]itting beside Naomi Campbell are farm animals, which suggest the failure of programs like Oxfam and Heifer International as well as making the statement that, like domesticated farm animals, Naomi is a chattel.

WIN or FAIL? Well, I dig the piece, though it’s not exactly something I’d hang over the fireplace, if you know what I mean.

Catholic Vote - Earth Day 2010

Her Authority: Women’s Bodies Are… Pieces of Land?

In this Earth Day-themed ad, the anti-choice group CatholicVote.org links women (particularly mothers, o givers of life!) with the natural world by superimposing an image of the earth over the womb of a heavily pregnant woman. A cute (read: white, blond-haired, appropriately feminine, etc.) little girl rests her head against her mother’s belly; index finger pressed to her lips, she seems to be saying, “Shhh! My little sister is trying to sleep in there!”

With this imagery, CatholicVote.org is romanticizing two “homes,” if you will: that of the developing fetus (baby!), i.e., a womb which belongs to an adult human female; and planet earth, i.e., home to all of humanity (and a trillion other creatures, as well). Women are not individual beings with their own thoughts and desires, but rather pieces of land. And what do we humans do with land, the earth, and the natural world, class? That’s right – we conquer and dominate them! Nice.

Which makes the romanticization of each – women/mothers and the earth/nature – all that much more distasteful and disingenuous. Throw me on the bottom of the shitpile and tell me that I live on a pedestal, why don’t you?

(More below the fold…)

Blog for Choice Day: On being a pro-choice vegan.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

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Blog for Choice Day 2010:
Trusting Women, Honoring Dr. Tiller

I wrote the bulk of this post last June, in the days and weeks following the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Initially – and still – intended as part of a series called “Killing in the Name of,” this piece attempts to reconcile my pro-choice and vegan beliefs, which as it turns out, isn’t a difficult task at all. Harder still is defending some of the “terrorist” tactics employed by the animal rights movement while condemning similar tactics when used in service a “pro-life” agenda. It’s an emotional and confusing endeavor, and one I’m still working on. If ever I do figure it all out, I’ll post Part 2 of this series.

In the meantime, I’d like to share my thoughts “On being a pro-choice vegan” as part of today’s Blog for Choice Day (5th annual, bitches!). It doesn’t exactly fit with this year’s theme, but seeing as “Trusting Women” was chosen in honor of Dr. Tiller, I think it’s appropriate anyhow. If you disagree, hop on over to Animal Rights & Anti-Oppression; my post there follows the assignment to a “t” (“v”?).

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“Killing in the Name of”: Introduction

My apologies for the brief blogular absence. I’ve got a ton of posts lined up in the queue, but my attention has turned elsewhere – from animal rights to reproductive rights (which aren’t completely unrelated) – since the murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday.

News of Dr. Tiller’s death came like a kick in the gut. The last time an abortion doctor was murdered was in 1998; I was only 20 at the time, and somewhat apolitical. Even though Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murder occurred not far from my hometown, I really can’t recall what I felt – if anything – at the news. But now – now I know better. Dr. Tiller’s murder, far from an isolated crime committed against a single individual, was intended to terrorize abortion providers and reproductive health clinics all over the United States. Doctors and clinics that provide vital health care, primarily to women. Scared women, marginalized women, women in need, women with nowhere else to go. To this end, it was an atrocity perpetrated against women everywhere, women who want nothing more than control over their own lives – and bodies. Women who simply want to be regarded and treated as fully human.

Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors who perform abortions in the later term of pregnancy (whereas “late term” defies definition, and may mean anything from 3 to 6 months on). He saved countless women’s lives, even in the face of unrelenting threats and danger, including an assassination attempt and the bombing of his clinic. Dr. Tiller was a hero – a hero who became a martyr. It’s difficult to describe, but Dr. Tiller’s murder – and all the anti-choice rhetoric that’s littered the media since – well, it’s hit me. Hard. It feels like women are under siege, our very bodily sovereignty up for grabs.* We’re so, so much worse off without him.

Of course, our collective loss pales in comparison to the loss suffered by his family, which includes his wife, 4 children and 10 grandchildren. My heart bleeds for them.

Naturally, many on the left have labeled this an act of domestic terrorism, and criticized the media and government for not doing so. They also point to the extreme right wing rhetoric that inflamed passions against abortion providers, implicating it in the murder. Scott Roeder may have pulled the trigger, the reasoning goes, but pundits and anti-abortion crusaders put the gun in his hand.

All of which has brought to the fore related issues with which I’ve been grappling for quite some time, particularly those involving parallels between the animal rights and anti-choice movements. For example, while animal rights “terrorists” have never killed a human, they do engage in campaigns of harassment and intimidation against individuals involved in animal exploitation – campaigns that are uncomfortably similar to the forms of “protest” carried out by “pro-lifers” against abortion providers. While animal rights activists are deemed the #1 domestic terrorist threat, anti-abortion groups (not-so-)curiously slip under the radar. And yet, is the answer to label them “terrorists” – or to rethink the very definition of “terrorism”?

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 8: White Blood, Wild Things & District 9

Monday, September 28th, 2009

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Yikes! It’s been way too long since my last intersectionality link roundup and, as a result, I’ve managed to stockpile a ridiculous number of links – all without keeping current, naturally. Here’s the first batch; look for the second (or ninth, rather) installment later this week.

Making Hay: Animal Rights Is a Universal Issue

Farm Sanctuary’s Jasmin Singer recently traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to attend the South African Law Review Consultation Workshop, organized by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) “for the purpose of initiating a transparent public process of South African animal protection legislation review.” Here, she shares her experiences and offers a little background on ARA.

You can find out more about Animal Rights Africa’s work – and what you can do to help – on their website at http://www.animalrightsafrica.org.

VegNews: Backstage Pass: Erykah Badu

Via BlackVegan, a short-but-sweet interview with vegan singer/songwriter Erykah Badu, my favorite exchange of which is this:

VN: Is vegan food the new soul food?

EB: Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.

Racialicious: An Interview with Bryant Terry on Race, Class, Food, and Culture – Part 1

Speaking of soul food, Racialicious recently featured a lengthy interview with Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen.

A snippet:

One of the biggest things I uncovered in my work, especially working with young people in New York City through the organization I founded called B-healthy, is that a lot of people living in low income areas and urban areas are living in what are known as food deserts. They have very little access to fresh food – healthy, local, sustainable, all that – and have an overabundance of the worst foods, the fried things, the packaged fast food that has a negative impact on their overall health. Lack of access to healthy food is a huge issue, and it’s only one indicator of material deprivation these people are living with. In these neighborhoods, I visited, it wasn’t as if they just lacked access to healthy food and everything else was great. Usually it would be failing infrastructure, dilapidated schools, high levels of illiteracy, low income. So I think it is one issue that has to be addressed of many among these people living in these historically excluded communities are dealing with.

“Part 1″ seems to imply that there’s a “Part 2″ in the works – indeed, the interview ends with a promise of more to come – but a Google search has yet to reveal a follow-up.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 4

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

LGBT Compassion - Screenshot

LGBT Compassion

One of the newest additions to the “Intersections” category on my blogroll, LGBT Compassion is a

coalition of San Francisco Bay Area gay animal advocates (and some non-gay friends) working to promote awareness of animal welfare, health, environmental, and civil rights issues within our community – along with any other important social issues that we feel strongly about.

We feel that the LGBT community, having experienced discrimination, oppression and suffering ourselves, having special health issues, and often having unique bonds with companion animals, should be open to learning and helping others who may not be able to speak up for themselves – whether human or non-human.

Their motto: Fighting oppression and discrimination for all. Love it.

I first learned of the group through its investigation into San Francisco’s live animal markets, where chickens are kept and displayed for sale in plastic bags (!). If you haven’t yet, definitely go check ‘em out.

PETA Asia-Pacific: Urge Egypt’s Prime Minister to Stop Cruel Pig Cull

When I saw that PETA was campaigning against the pig culls in Egypt, I was excited. Last I checked, the WSPA had reached a standstill with the Egyptian government, which was insisting that the culls had ceased, despite evidence to the contrary. Writing about the issue at change.org, I wanted desperately to offers readers an opportunity to take action. But nada – until now.

When I actually read the sample letter provided by PETA, though, my heart sank. Rather than calling for an end to the culls, PETA asks the government to “Please place a moratorium on the pig cull until guidelines can be put in place to ensure that the killing is as humane as possible.” This despite the fact that the culls are wholly unnecessary – an inefficient way to guard against swine flu. And this comes not from animal advocacy groups, but government experts (such as those at the UN) – who, on the whole, aren’t really known for their animal-friendly views.

Add to the mix the possibility that the culls might have as much to do with religious discrimination as swine flu paranoia, and PETA really dropped the ball here. Not only has the group failed to defend the pigs from slaughter – it also failed to take the majority Muslim government to task for oppressing the minority Christian farmers. PETA even reinforces the government’s bigotry by pleading for a “humane” pig cull at a later date!

Oh, with friends like these…

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America by Cristina Page (2006)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Though I often review books and movies that have little to do with animal advocacy or environmental issues, I don’t usually post the reviews here since – well, since they’ve little to do with animal advocacy!

So while I read and reviewed Cristina Page’s How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex (2006) over Memorial Day weekend (do I know how to live it up, or what?!), it didn’t initially occur to me that I should publish it here. That is, until earlier today, when I realized that I included the volume in my list of recommended reading on the topic of intersectionality. Thus, entirely appropriate!

Also, I spent all my spare time today writing another guest post for change.org. Filler, this post? No!

Seriously, though, it’s a great book, and an excellent introduction to the current American debate over reproductive rights. It’s also quite timely, eerily so.

How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America by Cristina Page (2006)

“Pro-life”? More like “anti-sex,” “anti-woman” and “anti-human.”

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If How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America – the title of Cristina Page’s 2006 exposé of the religious right/pro-life movement’s true agenda – sounds like liberal hyperbole, chances are that Page wrote this book just for you!

While the “pro-life” movement professes to respect “all life,” to the point of holding it sacred, the movement’s actions belie this all-too-common assumption. Since the days of Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers have been hammering away at women’s – and men’s – reproductive rights. In addition to abortion (whether it occurs before the fertilized egg implants in the womb, the point at which those in the medical field consider that a pregnancy has begun, or in the later stages of pregnancy, which is very rare and usually done in order to save the mother’s life), the pro-life movement opposes contraception, and not just Plan B (which is not an abortifacient, but rather a high dose of The Pill). Whether the method is hormonal (The Pill, the patch, Plan B, NuvaRing, etc.) or barrier (the condom, the sponge, the cervical cap, the diaphragm, spermicide), pro-lifers oppose it. The only contraceptive method explicitly endorsed by pro-life groups, in fact, is one with dubious efficacy: natural family planning, also called the rhythm method.

(More below the fold…)

PETA takes a page from the Fred Phelps playbook.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Update, 6/4/09:

Well, then:

Anti-Abortion Protesters Crash Vigil For Slain Doctor

About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church bearing signs with messages like “Baby killer in hell” were an unwelcome presence at a vigil for murdered abortion doctor George Tiller.

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Oh, no, no, no. Just, no:

WICHITA – A national animal rights group plans to erect billboards in Wichita urging people on both sides of the abortion debate to go vegetarian.

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One version of the billboard says, “Pro-Life? Go Vegetarian.” The other says, “Pro-Choice? Choose Vegetarian.” Both feature a photo of three baby chicks.

Lindsay Rajt, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the billboards were prompted by the recent shooting death of abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday at his church.

“The discussion of the value of life is front and center right now in the public conversation,” Rajt said today.

“We think we would be irresponsible if we don’t talk about how we’re all guilty of extreme cruelty to animals every time we sit down to a meal that includes meat.” [...]

Rajt said the timing or content of the Wichita billboards may be controversial.

But, “If our billboards leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, we just think they might give a thought to what animals feel when they go to the slaughterhouse,” she said.

“We want to remind people that no matter where they come down on the abortion issue, each and every one of us can spare a life every time we sit down to eat.”

Frankly, the actual content of the proposed billboards is rather inoffensive – and downright blasé when compared to 75% of PETA’s other ads. In fact, I think the “pro-life” version is rather cute – and, on a subtle level, calls so-called “pro-lifers” out on their hypocrisy and ethical inconsistencies. The pro-choice one, meh, not so much; it just strikes me as a forced corollary to the “pro-life” billboard. A reach, albeit a harmless one.

But the timing – the timing is beyond crass and tactless. Fuck that shit, it’s downright amoral.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 1

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

I’ve decided to start a new feature (yet another!) on easyVegan.info. In “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs,” I’ll highlight blog posts and news items that examine the various ways in which speciesism parallels or intersects with the oppression of marginalized human groups. In a word, intersectionality.

Previously, I was linking to these stories in my weekly weekend activist posts, but since they’re easily overlooked in a sea of links, I’d rather give ‘em their own home. Deconstructing the patriarchy is hefty shit, yo!

So let’s get started, posthaste:

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?, Part 1 and Part 2

Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time examining how modern animal agriculture subjects female animals to especially brutal and prolonged exploitation, turning their reproductive systems against them. Their children suffer greatly, too; the daughters of “dairy cows” are enslaved in the same conditions as their mothers, while brothers and sons, an otherwise worthless by-product of milk production, become “veal” calves; females born to “laying hens” become egg machines as well, eventually replacing their “spent” mothers, while males are simply disposed of in garbage bags and wood chippers; and so on and so forth.

In “Pregnancy at Slaughter: What Happens to the Calves?,” Stephanie turns her attention to the fate of newborn calves and late-term fetuses at the stockyard, where their mothers are faced with imminent slaughter. As she explains, some fetal calves die with – inside – their mothers, while others are harvested for use in “science.”

If you eat “meat,” drink milk, or wear leather, you’re complicit in this species-, sex- and age-based atrocity.

Stephanie @ Animal Rights @ Change .org: Women, Girls, and the So-Called Achievement of Killing

Following up on an earlier criticism of Feministing for celebrating a woman bullfighter as a feminist hero, Stephanie laments the pseudo-feminist news coverage of Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, a 39-year-old Kansan whose major “accomplishment” is being the “first woman in the world to shoot an elephant dead with a bow and arrow.”

As Stephanie and others have noted, Groenewald-Hagerman’s slaughter of an elephant – someone’s father, brother, son, partner, friend – is no more a feminist victory than Aileen Wuornos’s unprecedented killing spree.

Elaine at Vegan Soapbox also weighs in:

Teressa was “inspired” to kill an elephant after a male friend said “women could never draw such a heavy bow.” But archery is NOT necessarily a hunting sport. My grandmother was an archer and she did NOT kill. She shot targets, not animals.

In order to prove the male “friend” wrong, Teressa needed only to show strength and skill, not a barbaric blood-lust.

Indeed. Sex-based discrimination in athletics (or any field dominated by men, for that matter) is a pervasive problem; the solution, however, does not lie in the slaughter of even more marginalized beings.

Vegetarian Star: Dan Matthews: Get Obamas Naked, Madonna Is Middle Aged Witch

PETA’s Dan Matthews on Madonna:

I was a fan of Madonna in the 1980s but she became this middle-aged witch who thought her style should be defined by wearing fur coats and eating foie gras. We had a long argument over her glamorising bullfighting in her music videos.

While I agree that many of Madonna’s actions are reprehensible, let’s not pretend that 1a) “witch” isn’t a G-rated euphemism for “bitch”; 1b) “bitch,” when used as an insult, isn’t misogynist; and 2a) “witch” isn’t also a sex-based slur, inasmuch as one never hears a man so insulted (e.g., “You warlock!”); 2b) “witch” isn’t also ageist and lookist, inasmuch as (bad) “witches” are conceptualized as old, wrinkled, ugly, scraggly, disagreeable, hideous creatures.

Alternatives one might employ instead of “witch”: killer, butcher, murderer, social carcinogen, Madge the Bunny Slayer. Lose the -ism in favor of creativity – you get the idea.

And also: fuck you, Dan Matthews.

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The "right" to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:
 

 
Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

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The horrors of modern fetus farms.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

The (d)evolution of animal agriculture sounds so much more insidious (and comical, natch!) when applied to human vs. non-human animals!

(Cue fetus frenzy at 1:10.)
 

 
If only they could grow in vitro embryos. Oh, wait.

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Ambushes for Justice (in your UTERUS!)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

ZOMFG! Bill O’Reilly believes in a Constitutional right to privacy!

No, it’s true. Well, kinda sorta:
 

 
Apparently the Constitution only protects the rights of the rich, the white, the heterosexual, the cisgendered, the faithful and the non-pregnant – and only when they’re in complete agreement with all opinions O’Reilly, natch.

Well done, Jon, well done.

Hoping for a change in how our government views the sex class.

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule yesterday. Wishes really do come true! Well, kinda sorta. Being the cynical bitch I am, Obama’s timing and statement threw up all kinds of red feminist flags for me.

As I said in Thursday’s Blog for Choice post, I had hoped – fervently – that Obama would repeal the Global Gag Rule that day. Instead, he chose to do so a day later. What’s one day, right? Practically speaking, not much. I don’t imagine that much money was distributed to international NGOs between Thursday the 22nd and Friday the 23rd, so most likely Obama’s slight delay didn’t have a negative impact on any family planning organizations. And yet.

Had he chosen to take action on the anti-abortion rule on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – like the two administrations before him – he would have sent a strong message to anti- and pro-choicers alike: Women are humans, and I respect their right to privacy and bodily autonomy unequivocally – no matter how popular such a stance may or may not be. Period. The difference is one of symbolism – and symbolically, Obama seems reluctant to align himself too closely with the pro-choice side.

Of course, he also chose to repeal the rule on a Friday – the slowest of all news days. Consequently, I’ve seen little-to-no coverage of the Gag Rule on the cable news shows. Seriously, Sully Sullenberger has received more air time. The more cynical part of me (which is to say, 99%) can’t help but think that this was Obama’s plan all along.

Of his rescinding of the Global Gag Rule, Obama wrote:

It is clear that the provisions of the Mexico City Policy are unnecessarily broad and unwarranted under current law, and for the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries. For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.

For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate.

It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.

I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls.

In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

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Blogging for Choice: Animal Advocacy & Reproductive Rights

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

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Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – and it’s also the fourth annual Blog for Choice Day!

This is the first year I’m participating in the blog swarm over here; in years past, I reasoned that reproductive rights were far enough removed from animal advocacy that a pro-choice post on an animal rights blog just wouldn’t make sense. The more I learn about intersecting oppressions, the more I realize how wrong, wrong, wrong I was.

There are many reasons why animal advocates should support a woman’s right to control her own reproductive system*: the environmental consequences of overpopulation and increased resource consumption; empowering women activists, who are overrepresented in the animal advocacy movement; a respect for bodily autonomy; and, perhaps most importantly, the similarities between speciesism and misogyny as expressed through the control of animals’ and women’s reproductive systems.

Much as a the reproductive systems of non-human animals are controlled, manipulated and exploited, anti-choicers seek to do the same to women.

First, let’s consider the ways in which humans manipulate animal reproduction in order to make a buck and satisfy a want (as opposed to a need):

Dairy cows are kept perpetually pregnant, so that they continue to produce milk. Typically, they produce up to 100 pounds of milk a day, or ten times as much as they might under natural conditions. The continued pregnancies and lactation is stressful on the cows’ bodies; common maladies include mastitis, ketosis, laminitis and “Milk Fever” (caused by a calcium deficiency). Once their calves are born, the sons are slaughtered to make beef or veal, while the daughters face the same fate as their mothers. Dairy cows usually live only 3 to 4 years before they, too, become beef; their natural life span is 25 years.

Egg-laying hens are packed into tiny cages, debeaked and forced to lay 250+ eggs per year. Since this is more than they would produce in the wild, their bodies are severely taxed; they may develop osteoporosis, fatty liver syndrome and cage layer fatigue. In order to eke a few extra eggs out of their hens, farmers initiate forced molts – they starve the entire flock simultaneously. Once the birds can no longer produce eggs – when they’re “spent” – they’re made into low-grade “meat” or “recycled” into animal feed. As with the dairy industry, male chicks are of no use to egg factories; consequently, farmers literally dispose of them: they’re stuffed into garbage bags to suffocate, thrown live into wood chippers, and otherwise treated like garbage.

Pigs, who are destined to become pork, don’t fare much better. Breeding sows are continually pregnant, birthing up to 20 piglets per year. During pregnancy, sows are confined to gestation crates; for birth, they’re transferred to farrowing crates. Piglets are taken from their mothers at 2 to 3 weeks of age. They are fattened up for “meat,” while heir mothers are forcibly impregnated again and again.

These are only three examples, taken from the modern animal agriculture industry. Add to this list dogs, cats, rats, ducks – basically any species of animal that humans “use” for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, etc. is exploited in a similar manner.

Likewise, just as the megatheocorporatocracy exerts control over non-human animals’ sex organs, so too does it try to control women’s sexuality and reproduction. Exerting control over a woman’s reproductive cycle is just the first step in controlling her as a person.

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Pssst! You know who (already) has a pro-choice platform?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The Green Party.

Just sayin’.

This is “pro-life.”

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

What will Ofwarren give birth to? A baby, as we all hope? Or something else, an Unbaby, with a pinhead or a snout like a dog’s, or two bodies, or a hole in its heart or no arms, or webbed hands and feet? There’s no telling. They could tell once, with machines, but that is now outlawed. What would be the point of knowing, anyway? You can’t have them taken out; whatever it is it must be carried to term.

From Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Which, unbelievably, this curmudgeonly feminist is only just now getting around to reading.

On Roe’s 35th, looking to the next generation.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

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Get blogging, bitchez!

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my little sis online while the (seemingly never ending) CNN campaign coverage droned on in the background. At 24, Michelle is only five years younger than this featherhead – but sometimes, the gap seems so much wider.

Though I took some women and gender studies courses while majoring in psychology in college, it was only in the years after graduation that I really discovered and embraced feminism. Not that was an anti-feminist in college, not at all; I just didn’t question, criticize, and examine the patriarchical culture in which I was – am – immersed. Like most women my age, I took hard-earned rights such as reproductive rights and the right to vote for granted, and casually threw around misogynistic terms such as “bitch” and “slut” – and not with the end goal of reclaiming them for the feminist side. Even though I was receptive to my feminist professor’s teachings, it took the internets to introduce me to patriarchy-blaming, I guess. Age and maturity most likely greased the old vagina, too.

Looking at Michelle, I see much of my teenage self in her; just, exaggerated. She’s also studying psych, but she’s veered towards more marketable psych skills – think occupational psychology. She’s never had the benefit of women or gender studies courses – not even a one! – and she’s not exactly politically active, either. In fact, she’s so indifferent to current events – particularly women’s issues – that it’s a little alarming, actually. Even as a little kiddo, I read the local newspaper.

Which brings me back to our conversation. At the time, the election issue de jour was the sexist attacks on Hillary and her subsequent “breakdown”. Half-listening to the coverage in the background, and suddenly a bit curious, I asked Michelle who she planned on voting for in the primaries. She was non-committal; “anyone but Hillary” was her reply. “Why not Hillary?” asked I, knowing full well what her answer would be. “Just don’t like her.” No reason, just a visceral reaction.

Assuming (ok, hoping!) that Michelle’s indecision only extended to the primaries, and that surely (please?) she’d vote Democrat in the national election no matter what, I asked her whether she’d vote for Hillary if she was the Democratic nominee…or if she’d rather vote Republican than support Hillary. “Eh…I’d probably vote for the Republican.”

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