Okay, I saw the thing about Marcotte and Imma let you finish, but before I do, I’m gonna tell you a story that I told you before but what you did not seem to listen. If you did not see that, it’s about Marcotte using her angry voice about Democrats not doing shit and about other people using their angry voice to tell Marcotte how wrong she is to get angry about Democrats not doing shit.
In the 90s during my wild, Riot Grrl days when I was pro peace, pro titties, anti fascist and committed to a positive revolution of love and generosity (so, like today, but prettier & under 25), I was part of the Lesbian Avengers. We marched. We ate fire. We paired up, fucked each other for a week, then broke up & fucked someone else in the group. It was a whole thing.
Well, at the time there was that first out lesbian in the Oregon state legislature Gail Shibley (I still have her campaign button “Girlfriends for Gail!” on a dresser about 10 feet from me as I type) making waves. (The first out bisexual legislator, an obscure 1990s local politician named “Kate Brown” came out just after Gail, but this story is not about her.)
But things were not all puppies & kittens & oral sex & queer women writing your laws for you. There were also asshats, and they were, frankly, greater in number at the time. The hub of all asshat anti puppies/kittens/oral sex activity was the Oregon Citizens Alliance, but there were others, too. Some of them even in the legislature.
Well, artificial insemination hadn’t been invented that long before and the laws around it were still … interesting (as, frankly, they probably are today). One law that was important at the time said that any child of a legal wife was also the legal responsibility of the husband unless & until evidence came to light that it was not his child. Because of this legal “rebuttable presumption” dads might sometimes have to pay child support for a kid that wasn’t theirs after a divorce, but the law was clear that the interest of the child who had no choice to be born was more important than the interest of a man who at least had the choice of whom he wanted to trust in legal marriage.
But what about test tube babies? It’s obvious that at least sometimes artificial insemination would be used to get around male infertility, so what would it mean if a court found that there was no genetic relationship between a birthmother’s husband and her child? Would that really mean that a guy who supported artificial insemination shouldn’t pay to support the child he nontraditionally helped to create?
The solution in Oregon law was neither to abandon the rebuttable presumption standard which still had its uses nor to require support for all child conceived through ART. Instead the law required that a doctor providing services to a married woman seeking ART help in conceiving a child had to solicit and receive written consent from both the patient and the legal husband. In this way the courts could later feel comfortable imposing child support obligations on future divorcee dads.
But OCA fan, state legislator, and full time asswanker Kevin Mannix ignored the history and context of Won’t Somebody Think of The Children, and instead framed the issue this way:
Married women have to get permission from their husbands before receiving ART services, but single women (read: lesbians) don’t have to ask anybody (read: any man).*
So in keeping with the Republican philosophy of freedom for all, he proposed a law that would require a single woman seeking ART to petition the state for permission before services could begin.
Gail Shibley was having none of it. She went around to everyone she could & tried to kill this stupid bill but the men dominating the Oregon legs were having none of it. Mannix’s bill was going to get its committee hearing and serious consideration and might even become law.
Now Shibley was a privileged lawyer working inside the system. She trusted the Oregon lege to do the right thing, yet there was this obviously badstupid bill that was just embarrassingly sexist as fuck, and no one was listening to her. They were yelling “SHIBLEY IS BIASSS” throughout the statehouse because as a lesbian how could she objectively consider the reasonableness of the state telling women they have no sexual freedom? And not just Republicans, but Democrats, too. She was a total insider, except for that “woman who prefers her oral sex sans penis” thing, and yet she suddenly found herself with no credibility to engage her fellow legislators when she needed it most. As Shibley put it at the time,
They thought I was the far left fringe*
Well, the Lesbian Avengers were ready to do something about that. We gathered in secret at our regularly scheduled, publicly advertised Tuesday night meeting at the bookstore and put it to a vote:
Shall we show those fuckers who owns the “Far Left Fringe” title in this state?**
Answer: We shall! So we organized the fuck out of a protest & went to the statehouse screaming,
2 4 6 8 It’s all right to inseminate
1 3 5 7 FUCK YOU AND YOUR BILL, KEVIN!**
My housemate’s infant daughter was alternately in the stroller & hugging some lesbo’s breast throughout. We were allowed to march around the grounds a little (save little tyke, who was pushed or carried the whole time, the slacker) and then asked to leave, which we did.
But, AND HERE’S THE POINT:
A week or two later the story was out that the bill had been tabled in committee, would not get a hearing & would not become law. Gail Shibley herself told local reporters that no one had been listening to her before the Avengers protest, but after the protest other legislators came to her & told her that they were sorry for treating her like the lunatic fringe, that now that the Lesbian Avengers stormed the capital (legally! politely, even, so long as you weren’t a common Kevin Mannix! With no gallows or guillotine in evidence!) they knew who the lunatic fringe really was and it was not Gail, so they were now willing to listen.
Okay, ready for the big finish?
In the end what defeated Republican asshats wasn’t patient exploitation of the process and using a reasonable voice while paying attention to the context. AND it wasn’t a 7 month old sleeping through angry queer women screaming “FUCK YOU AND YOUR BILL, KEVIN!” It was, and your mind may be blown here, it was both of them together.
Screaming our lesbo chants wouldn’t have worked without someone on the inside making arguments on the inside that the legislative insiders could understand and respect. But making those reasoned arguments wasn’t going anywhere without radical outsiders demanding action.
IT TAKES BOTH, MOTHERWONKERS.
Please can we stop it with the anti Marcotte hatred and hatred for other people who commit other sins like demanding action and being tired of using “hate” as a noun?
And can we please stop it with the the hatred of people who prefer to act nicely middle class and pale and reasoned and logical and contextual and historical and all tolerant of the confident insider patience that appears to people suffering to be indifference to that suffering?
Yes, choosing one tactic over the other is fine. Yes, you can advocate for your preferred tactics over some other tactics. But in the end, my screaming at La Migra’s swat team snatching people off the street with my snatch juice stained lips is neither more nor less necessary than Chuck Schumer’s brunch with some Republican hack.
Argue passionately for what you think will make this world a better place. I certainly do. But don’t ever lose sight of the fact that in this world of very different people, your tactics aren’t the best tactics for every single advocate with different skills or a different audience, and even if they were the very bestest of best tactics you would still need someone wild and crazy like me to make your reason seem all that much more reasonable by contrast. And I will still need the insider to patiently work through the issues of centrist waffletwats.
We absolutely fucking require both Lesbian Avengers and Gail Shibleys in this world if we’re going to drag it kicking & screaming into a better place.
Please, denizens of Wonkette, please: disagree if you like, but never lose sight of the fact that we need each other, and we’re all doing the best we goddamned can.
*may be a paraphrase, it’s been 25 years for fuck’s sake
**definitely not a paraphrase. We fucking OWNED left wing crazy in the 1990s, and I will never forget that chant. (Nor will I forget the Christmas Carol we wrote for our lesbian caroling action, “Betsy the bi gal”. That song rocked.)