Why Progressives Should Stop Using Violent Rhetoric

(Content note: hate and threats, including violently misogynist hatred and threats of rape and death.)

Progressives condemn the hateful vitriol aimed at feminist women.

Why do we aim it at people we don’t like?

fireAs you probably know, Texas pastor and conservative activist Rick Scarborough recently commented on the right-wing Christian fight against same-sex marriage, saying, “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”

Many progressives responded as if Scarborough had threatened to set himself on fire. And many of those progressives responded to this supposed suicide threat with glee. They said things like, “I’ll give him the matches,” and, “Can I bring the marshmallows?” When the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality came down, they called for Scarborough to make good on his supposed promise, and mocked him for not doing it. (This isn’t just one or two people, either — it’s been all over my Facebook feed.)

I have a couple of problems with this. One, as Ed Brayton (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) has pointed out repeatedly on Facebook, is that Scarborough’s statement was not, in fact, a threat to set himself on fire. It was an absurd statement of a willingness to fight marriage equality to the death — but it wasn’t a threat to kill himself by burning. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about my other problem with this progressive response.

My problem is that I see it as a threat.

Here’s the thing. I’m a feminist writer on the Internet — which means I get a whole lot of people publicly saying that I should experience brutal violence or die in some horrible way, and expressing pleasure at the thought of it happening. And when they do, I see it as a threat. Most of my readers see it that way, too. When people publicly tell me “I HOPE YOU GET RAPED,” or that “someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face,” or that “I think I’m going to become a far right wing, woman raping clergyman,” or that I should “GO CHOKE ON A DICK AND DIE,” or that I should “just die already,” or when they tell me to “Go fuck yourself with a knife,” or when they tell me “Kill yourself” — most of my readers recognize it as a threat. When other women are targeted with hateful messages saying, “You should be killed very slowly,” “Will somebody please rape Rebecca Watson,” “This bitch needs to be punched in the throat,” or “Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself Kill yourself…”– most of my readers recognize it as a threat.

My readers understand that a threat doesn’t have to be explicit to be real. [Read more…]

Keeping Up the Momentum: Support The #MyNameIs Campaign

mynameis banner

I’m writing this to other queers — and I’m writing it to straight/ cisgender allies.

Last Friday, when the Supreme Court ruling came in about same-sex marriage, I wrote this:

We won marriage. Let’s take this weekend to celebrate. It’s Pride Weekend in San Francisco and in many other cities: let’s take this weekend to celebrate, to recognize the hard work we put into this and to to enjoy our victory. And on Monday morning, let’s roll up our sleeves, and get to work — on employment rights, on housing rights, on homelessness among LGBT teens, on school bullying, on the epidemic of violence against trans people and especially against trans women of color, on the hundreds of other ways that LGBT people are still treated as second-class citizens.

We won marriage. Let’s take that momentum, take those changed hearts and minds, and put it to work.

If you’ve been working for marriage equality — in any way, whether that’s volunteering, donating money, doing visibility on social media, simply talking about about it with your family and friends — thank you. That is awesome. And we’re not done. For LGBT people, equality and an end to bigotry and hatred and oppression are by no means over. We’ve won the right to marry. I think it’s an important right. But there is a lot more work to be done.

So let’s keep this momentum going.

Every day this week, I’ll be posting about a different LGBT rights organization. Please support them however you can. That can mean with money, of course — even small amounts help, and small automatic monthly donations help a LOT. But you can also support LGBT organizations by following them on social media, and helping spread the word about their actions and fundraisers. That’s a small, easy thing to do — and if a lot of people do it, it can make a real difference.

Today, I’m plugging The #MyNameIs Campaign.

#mynameis 200 logoThe #MyNameIs Campaign is a coalition of drag and other performers, transgender people, Native Americans, immigrants, domestic violence survivors, and allies who advocate for the reformation of Facebook’s dangerous and discriminatory “real names” policy. In October 2014, the #MyNameIs Campaign received a public apology from Facebook and a commitment to allow all users to express their “authentic identities” — however, they have yet to see substantive change in the company’s policies or procedures and are continuing to apply pressure. The #MyNameIs Campaign is organizing around three main demands: they’re demanding that Facebook remove the “fake name” reporting option; stop asking for ID; and create an appeals process.

Please support them with a donation if you can. Please follow them on social media: they’re on Twitter at @TeamMyNameIs , and they’re on Facebook at facebook.com/mynameiscoalition. And if you have a story about Facebook’s harmful “real names” policy, please consider sharing it with them — they will (of course) protect your privacy, and will publicly share only the information you’re okay with them sharing (including no information at all — they’re also gathering stories for statistical purposes that aren’t being publicized at all). Please support them any way you can. Thanks!

#mynameis shame on FB at SF Pride Parade 1

#mynameis shame on FB at SF Pride Parade 2

And if you have suggestions for other worthy LGBT organizations, please make them in the comments!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Keeping Up the Momentum: Support the National Center for Lesbian Rights

National_Center_for_Lesbian_Rights banner

I’m writing this to other queers — and I’m writing it to straight/ cisgender allies.

Last Friday, when the Supreme Court ruling came in about same-sex marriage, I wrote this:

We won marriage. Let’s take this weekend to celebrate. It’s Pride Weekend in San Francisco and in many other cities: let’s take this weekend to celebrate, to recognize the hard work we put into this and to to enjoy our victory. And on Monday morning, let’s roll up our sleeves, and get to work — on employment rights, on housing rights, on homelessness among LGBT teens, on school bullying, on the epidemic of violence against trans people and especially against trans women of color, on the hundreds of other ways that LGBT people are still treated as second-class citizens.

We won marriage. Let’s take that momentum, take those changed hearts and minds, and put it to work.

If you’ve been working for marriage equality — in any way, whether that’s volunteering, donating money, doing visibility on social media, simply talking about about it with your family and friends — thank you. That is awesome. And we’re not done. For LGBT people, equality and an end to bigotry and hatred and oppression are by no means over. We’ve won the right to marry. I think it’s an important right. But there is a lot more work to be done.

So let’s keep this momentum going.

Every day this week, I’ll be posting about a different LGBT rights organization. Please support them however you can. That can mean with money, of course — even small amounts help, and small automatic monthly donations help a LOT. But you can also support LGBT organizations by following them on social media, and helping spread the word about their actions and fundraisers. That’s a small, easy thing to do — and if a lot of people do it, it can make a real difference.

Today, I’m plugging the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

National_Center_for_Lesbian_Rights_logoNCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. They are a a non-profit, public interest law firm that litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT issues. Their projects and legal issue areas include: Asylum & Immigration; Elders; Employment; Family & Relationships; Federal Legislation & Policy; State Legislation & Policy; Hate Crimes; Healthcare; Housing; Low Income & Poverty; Prisons; Rural Communities; Sports; Transgender Law; and Youth. They’ve been deeply involved in the fight for marriage equality: they are currently working on campaigns to end conversion therapy, to address the needs of LGBT people in rural American, and much more.

Please support them with a donation if you can: you can make a one-time donation, or an automatic monthly gift. And please follow them on social media: they’re on Twitter at @NCLRights, and they’re on Facebook at facebook.com/nclrights. Please support them any way you can. Thanks!

And if you have suggestions for other worthy LGBT organizations, please make them in the comments!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Keeping Up the Momentum: Support the Transgender Law Center

transgender law center banner

I’m writing this to other queers — and I’m writing it to straight/ cisgender allies.

Last Friday, when the Supreme Court ruling came in about same-sex marriage, I wrote this:

We won marriage. Let’s take this weekend to celebrate. It’s Pride Weekend in San Francisco and in many other cities: let’s take this weekend to celebrate, to recognize the hard work we put into this and to to enjoy our victory. And on Monday morning, let’s roll up our sleeves, and get to work — on employment rights, on housing rights, on homelessness among LGBT teens, on school bullying, on the epidemic of violence against trans people and especially against trans women of color, on the hundreds of other ways that LGBT people are still treated as second-class citizens.

We won marriage. Let’s take that momentum, take those changed hearts and minds, and put it to work.

If you’ve been working for marriage equality — in any way, whether that’s volunteering, donating money, doing visibility on social media, simply talking about about it with your family and friends — thank you. That is awesome. And we’re not done. For LGBT people, equality and an end to bigotry and hatred and oppression are by no means over. We’ve won the right to marry. I think it’s an important right. But there is a lot more work to be done.

So let’s keep this momentum going.

Every day this week, I’ll be posting about a different LGBT rights organization. Please support them however you can. That can mean with money, of course — even small amounts help, and small automatic monthly donations help a LOT. But you can also support LGBT organizations by following them on social media, and helping spread the word about their actions and fundraisers. That’s a small, easy thing to do — and if a lot of people do it, it can make a real difference.

Today, I’m plugging the Transgender Law Center.

The Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. Their programs include: a legal information helpline; legal clinics in the Bay Area; a Detention Project that works to end the abuses transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people experience in prisons, jails, immigration detention, state hospitals, and other forms of detention, and at the hands of law enforcement; and more.

Please support them with a donation if you can: you can make a one-time contribution, or a monthly sustaining gift. And please follow them on social media: they’re on Twitter at @TransLawCenter, and they’re on Facebook at facebook.com/translawcenter. Please support them any way you can. Thanks!

And if you have suggestions for other worthy LGBT organizations, please make them in the comments!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Being Part of History

In February 2004, Ingrid and I were married in the “civil disobedience” weddings, when the mayor decided to legalize same-sex weddings in San Francisco. We stood in line at City Hall for hours, with hundreds of other couples who knew that the window would be closing any day, and who were willing and able to stand in line for hours to walk through that window. (Those were the weddings that got annulled by the State of California.)

In November 2005, we had what we tend to think of as our “real” wedding: the one where we spent months writing our vows, the one with the guests and the dancing and the dresses and the cake, the one with no legal standing, the one where our celebrant, Rebecca Hensler, said, “By the power vested in me by Ingrid and Greta…”

In June 2008, we were married at City Hall again, during that brief window after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and before Prop 8 passed banning it again. We were one of the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples in California who, after Prop 8 passed, got to have a deeply strange “special right”: the right to be a married same-sex couple whose marriage was legally recognized by the State of California.

“We make a little history, baby/Every time you come around.” -Nick Cave.

I still do, sweetie.

Same Sex Marriage a Constitutional Right!


YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!


Ingrid and Greta holding hands at Skepticon 6 Biblename Foto Josiah Mannion

It’s not just that the Federal government recognizes same-sex marriage. It’s not just that states have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

Here’s the full majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy. It’s worth reading. It got me tearing up in places.

I’m tickled pink about this, for all the obvious reasons. I’m actually finding myself uncharacteristically tongue-tied: this is so obvious, it has been so obvious for so long, I’m finding it hard to put into words exactly why this is important and wonderful. Marriage equality is, you know, equality. Millions of couples around the United States are no longer second-class: our marriages are seen as fully valid, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other. To put it in personal terms: Every year, Ingrid and I go to Skepticon in Missouri. This year, it’ll be the first time we won’t have the constant worry in the back of our minds, “What happens if one of us gets sick or hurt? What happens if some asshole at the hospital decides not to let us make medical decisions for each other, or even let us visit each other — because they think gay sex makes baby Jesus cry?”

Now, multiply that by millions. Millions of couples around the country can now visit each other in the hospital, make medical decisions for each other, adopt kids together, file state income taxes together, travel from state to state without their marriages disappearing and re-appearing and disappearing again.

I’m also, just personally for myself, enjoying an opportunity to have been proven wrong. When the recent cases on marriage equality were first brought to the Supreme Court, I was one of the people saying it was a bad idea. Many of us thought that the current court would deny the freedom to marry — and that this would set a precedent it would take decades to overturn. I’m deeply happy to have been proven wrong.

And finally: I’m delighted that we can now move on.

There’s been considerable debate within the LGBTQ community about the priority that’s been placed on same-sex marriage. Many in our community argued that other issues — employment rights, housing rights, homelessness among LGBT teens, school bullying, the epidemic of violence against trans people and especially against trans women of color — were more important for more of us. It was argued that other issues have a greater impact on queers who are poor, working class, disabled, immigrants, trans people, people of color, and others in our community with multiple marginalizations — and that the emphasis we placed on marriage was another example of more privileged LGBT people being put front and center.

Myself, I had mixed feelings about this. I certainly saw that point, and even agreed with it. At the same time, I also thought that we don’t always get to choose our battles: some issues catch the public heart and the public imagination, and same-sex marriage has clearly done that. And I thought winning same-sex marriage would make our other fights go easier. The legal precedent helps, of course: but maybe more importantly, the fight for same-sex marriage has changed people’s minds about us, in a way that few of other our fights have done. I think that when straight people saw us fighting for love, and fighting for the right to make commitments and take on responsibilities based on that love, it humanized us — and I think that will help us win our other fights. But yes, I definitely saw the point people were making, and even agreed with it. I think there are other issues for LGBTQ people that are more important than marriage.

I’m delighted that we can now move on.

We won marriage. Let’s take this weekend to celebrate. It’s Pride Weekend in San Francisco and in many other cities: let’s take this weekend to celebrate, to recognize the hard work we put into this and to to enjoy our victory. And on Monday morning, let’s roll up our sleeves, and get to work — on employment rights, on housing rights, on homelessness among LGBT teens, on school bullying, on the epidemic of violence against trans people and especially against trans women of color, on the hundreds of other ways that LGBT people are still treated as second-class citizens.

We won marriage. Let’s take that momentum, take those changed hearts and minds, and put it to work.

Comment policy for this post: If you want to be negative or douchy about marriage, do it another time, or don’t do it here. Today, I just want to celebrate and be happy.

Photo copyright Biblename Photo/Josiah Mannion.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Support Secular Activist Taslima Nasrin, Targeted for Murder by Al Qaeda-Linked Extremists

Taslima-NasrinWorld-renowned secular activist and author Taslima Nasrin has been threatened with death — by the same violent extremists who claimed responsibility for the recent murders of freethought writers Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, and Ananta Bijoy Das. Her advocacy of human rights and criticism of religion forced her into exile from her native Bangladesh in 1994: since 2004 she has lived in India, but even there she has faced persecution and threats — threats that have become much more alarming and immediate. She has come to the United States for her safety: she arrived just last week.

But her safety is only temporary if she can’t stay here. Center for Inquiry has established a Freethought Emergency Fund to help with food, housing, and the means for Dr. Nasrin to be safely settled.

CFI has also heard from several other secular writers and activists in Bangladesh who are in similarly perilous situations — many of whom have also been specifically named as targets for murder. If more money is raised than Dr. Nasrin needs, it will go to a general freethought emergency fund, to assist with the rescue of other atheist, humanist, and secular activists under threat. Please donate if you can — even small amounts help, they really do add up. And please spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, other social media, and any other platform you have. Thanks.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand

money closeup

Social and economic issues are deeply intertwined.

“Well, I’m conservative, but I’m not one of those racist, homophobic, dripping-with-hate Tea Party bigots! I’m pro-choice! I’m pro-same-sex-marriage! I’m not a racist! I just want lower taxes, and smaller government, and less government regulation of business. I’m fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.”

How many liberals and progressives have heard this? It’s ridiculously common. Hell, even David Koch of the Koch brothers has said, “I’m a conservative on economic matters and I’m a social liberal.”

And it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G Wrong.

You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called “social policies” that are supposedly separate from economic ones. Here are seven reasons that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is nonsense.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

The Pros and Cons of Caring Deeply About Other People’s Suffering

This piece was originally published in The Humanist.

The Pros and Cons of Caring Deeply About Other People’s Suffering

Minuses:

Symbol_thumbs_down.svgYou get to suffer. When you care deeply about other people’s suffering, you suffer too. Not as much as they do, generally, but you still suffer. You feel a small piece of what it feels like to be homeless, to be a suicidal gay teenager, to be sexually assaulted, to be beaten for being transgender, to have your teenage son shot for the crime of existing while black.

You don’t get to go for the big bucks. Unsurprisingly, there’s not a lot of money in caring about other people’s suffering. Unless you’re very, very lucky (like if you write a song about other people’s suffering that goes to Number One), the best you’ll probably do financially is to be reasonably comfortable. And even if you do get lucky, you’ll probably turn around and plow a good chunk of your good fortune into alleviating the suffering you care about.

You get to waste a lot of time. You get to spend a lot of time trying to persuade other people that the suffering right in front of their faces is real; that the people who are suffering shouldn’t be blamed for it; that working to alleviate suffering isn’t futile. (When I was writing about misogyny recently, and was asking people to say something about it, I saw people seriously argue that speaking out against misogyny was a waste of time, and that nobody’s mind would ever be changed by it.) This isn’t a waste of time, in the sense that it often is effective, and it does amplify the work you’re doing and get other hands on deck. But it’s a waste of time in the sense that it’s valuable time spent arguing for what should be obvious. It’s valuable time that all of you could have spent just doing the damn work.

And when you’re persuading people that suffering is real and that they should give a damn, you get to feel just a little bit guilty about it. As you’re desperately trying to pry open other people’s eyes, you get to feel just a little bit bad about the life of suffering you’re exposing them to.

You get to feel guilty. You get to worry about whether you’re doing it right, whether you should be working on something different, whether you could do better. You get to feel vividly conscious of the ways that you, yourself, contribute to other people’s suffering: buying products made by exploited labor, banking with banks that exploit the poor, driving cars that spew greenhouse gas. Every time you don’t take action, every time you don’t help, every time you don’t donate money or don’t volunteer time or don’t hit “Share” or “Retweet” on the fundraising letter, you get to feel bad about it. And every time you do donate or volunteer or spread the word, you get to worry about whether you could have done it better, or whether you could have done more.

You get to feel helpless. A lot. Once you open yourself up to other people’s suffering, you quickly become aware of just how much of it there is, and how little you personally can do about it. You get to feel overwhelmed. You get to be vividly aware of the fact that no matter what you do, no matter how much you work and sacrifice, at the end of your life there will still be a massive amount of suffering in the world. I sometimes think the helplessness is worse than the guilt, that the guilt is a defense mechanism against the helplessness. Feeling like you could have prevented suffering gives you a sense of control, makes you feel like you can prevent it in the future. As crappy as it is to feel like you could have done something and didn’t, I think it’s sometimes harder to feel like there’s nothing you could have done.

And you never, ever, ever get a break. You never really get a vacation; you never get to retire. When you do go on vacation, you think about the lives of the people who clean your hotel rooms and wait on your tables. You leave generous tips, and feel how inadequate that is. It’s like the red pill in The Matrix: once you’ve swallowed it, you can’t un-swallow it. Once you know, really know, about other people’s suffering, you can’t un-know it. You have to care about it, and feel it, and feel guilty about not doing enough about it, and feel helpless over how little you can do about it — for the rest of your life.


Symbol_thumbs_up.svgPlusses:

You get to have a life that matters. [Read more…]