Thursday, November 8, 2007


(Dingo Dreaming, 1994, by Mick Namerari Japaltjari)

Adrienne Rich wrote "Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity. But it is a movement into evolution. Women are only beginning to uncover our own truths; many of us would be grateful for some rest in that struggle, would be glad just to lie down with the sherds we have painfully unearthed, and be satisfied with those. The politics worth having, the relationships worth having, demand that we delve still deeper." (From "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying" in On Lies, Secrets and Silence, 1975.)

Chewy, Scorpio-resurfaced items from this week:

(Anne Taintor, again)

"Gay and lesbian couples have become more visible in all areas of the country but the biggest increase is in areas of the country considered the most conservative, according to a study issued Monday. The report, prepared by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, is based on recently released data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey." For details of the findings, read it yourself, but here's some highlights at the end:
- East South Central states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee saw a combined increase in same-sex couples of 863% from 1990 to 2006.
- Mountain states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho had an increase of 698%.
- Same-sex couple increases were 55 times larger than population increases in the Upper Midwest (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin)
- Three cities (among the 50 largest) showed decreases in same-sex couples from 2000 to 2006: Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit. In all three cases the cities lost same-sex couples while surrounding counties showed large gains.

You may have noticed conflicting, confusing news reports lately about how being fat causes higher risk of cancer, doesn't cause higher risk of cancer, etc. This is the result of our incompetent news media trying to find something sensational AND validating the dishonest diet industry from a massive study conducted jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

By and large, this study is rocking many, many boats because it is pointing out that being underweight is just as likely to be associated with a higher mortality rate as being significantly fat, and that being "overweight" but not "obese", according to BMI criteria (which is useless when applied to individuals) is no health risk at all.

It's a complicated, non-gimicky study and worth reading in detail. Here's the first two paragraphs of the New YorkTimes article by Gina Kolata:
"About two years ago, a group of federal researchers reported that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. Now, investigating further, they found out which diseases are more likely to lead to death in each weight group.

"Linking, for the first time, causes of death to specific weights, they report that overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease."

I simply cannot believe we're still being advised for so-called health reasons to engage in behavior (dieting) that has a 95% failure rate -- not just failure, but accounts for most weight gain over the long-term.

(Bud Fields and Family, Alabama, 1935 -- photo by Walker Evans)

Crooked Timber does a great job, with sterling graphics, of reporting on some class and race analysis with regard to voting patterns conducted by Andrew Gelman, Boris Shor, Joseph Bafumi, and David Park of Columbia University and reported in Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

Hop over and take a look at Crooked Timber's red state/blue state maps, but here's a taste:

"For poor voters, there is no systematic difference between rich and poor states. But for middle-income and especially for rich voters, there is a very strong pattern of rich states supporting the Democrats and poor states supporting the Republicans.

"In short, rich people and poor people who live in poor states have very different voting preferences from each other. Rich people and poor people who live in rich states have much more similar voting preferences."

Bottom line: Regionality interacts with class and race identification. Which means effective strategies for addressing liberation and social change have to consider geography from an insider's perspective.

(Tianeman Square kiss, January 2006)

Lastly, for all of you too young to remember its passage and too misled by distortions from folks with an agenda:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. (To read the original full text of the bill, go here.)

The protection against discrimination based on sex includes gender and perceived gender.

This was covered in meticulous detail by Heart, after interviewing a feminist attorney, in a post at Women's Space. Reading the entire post and the comments (wherein other attorneys share their interpretations) is my recommendation, but here's pertinent case law quoted there:

"It is already illegal to discriminate against women because they’re not feminine enough or too masculine, or against men because they’re not masculine enough or too feminine. In Hopkins v. Price Waterhouse, Ann Hopkins sued precisely because of this type of discrimination: not being feminine enough, not wearing make up, wrong haircut, etc. In short, Hopkins was discriminated against because she was “too masculine”. That’s exactly what Hopkins and Title VII forbids, as does Smith v. City of Salem, a 2006 case finding discrimination against a transsexual woman illegal under Title VII because it was illegal sex stereotyping as defined by Hopkins.

"Under Title VII, if I don’t wear makeup, am 'too aggressive' or do anything that society thinks of as 'masculine', and my employer discriminates against me because I’m 'too masculine' or not 'feminine enough', I can sue for illegal sex stereotyping discrimination as the woman I am. Title VII says, you don’t get to discriminate against people because of how you think men and women should act or be."

We really did understand, in the 1960s, that employers imposing standards of behavior on people linked to gender was, in fact, sexism. Clearly we need to continue this fight, because the laws we already have are applied intermittently and are under siege from the right. But -- the point is made much more eloquently at the linked post above -- you should not have to claim a "gender identity" to be protected from sexism.

Your right to identify your self, to create your world view and organize human beings in a theoretical way, is absolute. But when you want to then define me so it is in accord with your world view, you have to obtain my consent. And if I as a member of a group targeted for oppression (note the caveat -- power does not flow equally in all directions) -- if I refuse my consent for your labeling of me, any form of reprisal against me (from employment discrimination to insisting I must be "oppressive" because I disagree with your analysis where it sloshes onto me and my life) is hateful.

Seems like we keep having to learn this lesson each new generation, and letting them persuade us the gains we've already made suddenly don't apply. Keeps us from taking on the real power structure and demanding the radical solutions -- radical as in going to the root of the matter -- which would start at the top.

1 comment:

kat said...

Why is it so obvious to me, but apparently not the rest of America (kay, I'm being sarcastic), that it's probably the crap that americans eat, not the numbers on the scale or the back of your pants, that relates to health?

If you completely eliminate vegetables and whole grains, and insert processed chemical bullshit into every imaginable consumable thing, of course health will be affected.....duh!