Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Reading

Walk This Way — Jessica Valenti writes in the Washington Post about the SlutWalks protests.

More than 40 years after feminists tossed their bras and high heels into a trash can at the 1968 Miss America pageant — kicking off the bra-burning myth that will never die — some young women are taking to the streets to protest sexual assault, wearing not much more than what their foremothers once dubbed “objects of female oppression” in marches called SlutWalks.

It’s a controversial name, which is in part why the organizers picked it. It’s also why many of the SlutWalk protesters are wearing so little (though some are sweatpants-clad, too). Thousands of women — and men — are demonstrating to fight the idea that what women wear, what they drink or how they behave can make them a target for rape. SlutWalks started with a local march organized by five women in Toronto and have gone viral, with events planned in more than 75 cities in countries from the United States and Canada to Sweden and South Africa. In just a few months, SlutWalks have become the most successful feminist action of the past 20 years.

In a feminist movement that is often fighting simply to hold ground, SlutWalks stand out as a reminder of feminism’s more grass-roots past and point to what the future could look like.

The marches are mostly organized by younger women who don’t apologize for their in-your-face tactics, making the events much more effective in garnering media attention and participant interest than the actions of well-established (and better funded) feminist organizations. And while not every feminist may agree with the messaging of SlutWalks, the protests have translated online enthusiasm into in-person action in a way that hasn’t been done before in feminism on this scale.

The protests began after a police officer told students at Toronto’s York University in January that if women want to avoid rape, they shouldn’t dress like “sluts.” (If you thought the days of “she was asking for it” were long gone, guess again.)

More below the fold.

Still Here — Mark Trautwein on living with AIDS for half his long life.

I had joked that dying of a heart attack at 75 was the least of my worries. By the time I was 51, I’d had two of them, and four angioplasties. The pill-taking was overwhelming. What with the pills taken every 4 or 6 or 12 hours and the pills taken on an empty stomach and the pills taken with food and more and more pills, every infected person I knew carried a beeper to remind him of the day’s next pill-taking event.

My pill regimen became so contradictory it was simply impossible to execute properly. Doctors were just throwing meds at me. There weren’t enough hours in the day for everything to work; the overlapping of starving versus full-stomach regimens, combined with the dosage frequency, couldn’t be accomplished in a 24-hour day, for example, because you couldn’t be both at the same time. Choices had to be made as to what to take, and what not to take. To this day, I still swallow about 25 pills a day.

But the dead don’t have problems, so I was grateful for mine. I was alive and my deathly companion less insistent. AIDS and I have been together for almost 30 years now. My relationship with AIDS is one of my most enduring ones, and has both enriched and beggared my life. It robbed me of friends and loved ones, and with them memories we would have had and repositories of my own history. It ended a career I loved. It cost me a marriage. My intimacy with health care in America has been costly and exhausting. I know these are small prices to pay for life.

What I’ve gained is precious. Above all, the constant companionship of plague has taught me that life is about living, not cheating death. Fighting disease is required and struggling with life inevitable. But I accept the outcomes now, whatever they are. My disease does not make me special, nor does my survival make me courageous.

On that day I walked from the hospital knowing I had “it,” I was given a great gift: the realization that we all dangle from that most delicate of threads and that the only way to live a life is to love it.

I haven’t died on schedule, and I’ve been learning not to live life on one either.

The Grifters Convention — Dennis G of Balloon Juice on the ironically-named Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington that draws the con artists and Republican hopefuls.

It is the second annual Faith and Freedom Conference. It was organized by Hall of Fame grifter Ralph Reed. Reed is a fellow who has super-charged the “I am a Christian scam” to levels that would make Satan himself blush. A few years ago it looked like Reed would go down in the Abramoff scandal. He was exposed as a money grubbing, hypocrite who had no problem scamming Christians into support gambling, human trafficking, sex slavery and forced abortions just to make a fast buck. The list of Reed’s exposed crimes and ethical lapses should have ended his grifter career and his influence over anything. But Ralph is a Republican, and we all know that any crime Is OK If You’re A Republican. And so, Republican candidates for President and other elected officials come to the Faith and Freedom Conference to lick Ralph Reed’s ass.

But that’s not all.

They also come to bow before Grifter legend Grover Norquist. He was also exposed in the Abramoff scadal and should have gone to jail, but he made a deal with McCain. Grover supported McCain’s run for the White House and McCain let the investigation end and made sure that evidence of Grover’s crimes were buried for twenty-five years. And now every Republican seeking office must make the stop to lick Grover’s ass as well.

And then the rest of the schedule is just filled with other grifters—big and small—and the politicians compelled to pander to them. Watch some of the C-Span feed if you feel like checking out the freak show. You could drop in anywhere and it would be almost always the same: Obama is bad. He is that scary black thug seeking to destroy America. White values are under attack. And only by giving your time, money, energy and money to the grifters behind this conference can you and those you love be saved from Obama and his nonwhite army of destruction.

And while most speeches are predictable, sometimes they are accidentally revealing. The speech […] from Dick Morris was an example (see the beginning of this segment). It was a direct appeal to white voters that their very survival depends on opposing Obama—who in Morris’ telling was only elected because ignorant young white voters made common cause with Latinos and shiftless Negroes. It was shameless race-baiting, but It was also OK because, well, they are Republicans.

That grifters like Reed, Norquist, Beck, Armey, Palin, Trump, Ailes, Gingrich, Ryan and so many others control the CONservative movement should tell you all you need to know. It should also inspire you to keep a tight grip on your wallet whenever any of them are near—but no. Instead they are celebrated. And the worst of them must be paid off and give their blessings before any candidate is supported or any action by the Republican Confederate Party is taken. Having Reed and Norquist as GOP gatekeepers is like Democrats deciding that Dollar “Bill” Jefferson, John Edwards and Rod Blagojevich have to approve any candidate or policy before others in the Party would endorse it.

The idea that you out-source control of policy and candidate approval to known grifters is insane, but, also too, IOKIYAR.

Doonesbury — Aftershocks.