morgan_dhu: (Default)

Both my reading page here and my Facebook feed are overflowing with accounts of marches from all over the world. I haven't seen this strong a spirit for resistance and change since the 60s, and I hope that the sheer size of the response means there is that critical mass of committed activists and participants to keep the spirit strong and growing.

I couldn't march here in Toronto, but friends in Boston and Victoria offered to carry my name in their pockets, so in a way i did march with them, and with all of you who stood up today for human rights, for human dignity, for cherishing the earth and all its peoples, for democracy and freedom of speech and all the other things we must fight for in the midst of this savage move toward fascism that's oozing out of the deep recesses of our past in places around the world.

We've made our opening statement, fired the first rally in this war. Let us continue as we have begun.

In Memoriam

Jun. 1st, 2009 05:13 pm
morgan_dhu: (Default)

David Gunn, March 10, 1993, Pensakola Florida
George Patterson, August 21, 1993, Mobile, Alabama
John Britton, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
James Barrett, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
Shannon Lowney, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Nichols, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Sanderson, January 29, 1998, Birmingham, Alabama
Barnett Slepian, October 23, 1998, Amherst, New York
Steven Rogers, July 16, 2001, Melbourne, Australia
George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Witchita, Kansas

These women and men were murdered by anti-abortion terrorists because they offered, supported and defended reproductive choice. In addition, there have been over a dozen attempted murders, hundreds of assaults and hundreds of arsons, bombings and major acts of vandalism, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia. In the face of these acts of terror, the people who continue to provide abortion services, and those who protect them, their clients, and their offices and clinics are nothing short of heroes.

Lest the sacrifice of those who have died and the courage and dedication of those who continue to face the threat of violence in order to provide this necessary medical service be in vain…

Support reproductive choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal decision between client and doctor.
The state has no place in the uteri of the nation.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

It's been announced that Dr. Henry Morgentaler is to receive the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honour, in recognition of his "commitment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations."

Henry Morgentaler is one of my heroes. Without his courage and commitment and steadfastness and leadership, the struggle for a woman's right to control her own body would not be as far along as it is today in Canada. At the risk of his livelihood, his freedom, his health and his life, Dr. Morgentaler fought for women's right to choose, and he made it his life's calling to provide safe abortions to women who wanted them, even when to do so was illegal in Canada. And he's continued to speak out for the need for access to abortion for all women.

Congratulations to Dr. Morgentaler for the recognition he so richly deserves.

Naturally, the usual suspects are horrified. Our weasel right-wing government is desperately trying to distance itself from the award, reminding everyone that it had nothing to do with the decision, that the honour list is decided by an independent advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. As if anyone thought for a minute that our weasel overlords would do anything truly honourable, or recognise a real hero when they see one.

And of course the Catholic church has said that it's truly shocking that such immorality should be honoured. As if the Catholic Church actually knew anything about what is and is not immoral, as opposed to what they think their version of a deity gets all worked up about - such as responsible people choosing to use condoms to avoid exposing themselves or their sexual partners to sexually transmitted diseases, which is apparently the height of immoral behaviour.

But enough about clone minds who are more concerned about foetuses than the actual women who, thanks in great part to Dr. Morgentaler and all of the other Canadians who worked for the right to safe and legal abortion, have the absolute right to choose whether they will bear a child or not.

Thank you, Dr. Morgentaler, for your courage and your humanity. May you wear your Order of Canada with pride.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

6 décembre, 1989
École polytechnique
Montréal, Quebec

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Barbara Maria Klucznik
Maryse Leclair
Annie St.-Arneault
Michèle Richard
Maryse Laganière
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Annie Turcotte

Se souvenir pour agir contre toutes les formes de violence envers les femmes.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I support reproductive choice.

I support those who choose to bear a child, without reservation, no matter what their social or economic situation may be, no matter what medical issues may exist for the one who carries or the one who is being born.

I support those who choose not to bear a child, without reservation.

In order to make these choices freely possible for all, I support a full system of social and financial supports for those who choose to bear a child, and for children that have been born, so that no pregnant person need go without food, shelter or medical case, and that no child need live without food, shelter, medical care and education. I support universal daycare so that no caregivers of children need choose between work and knowing that their children are safe and cared for at all times. I support complete and intelligent sex education for all young people so they can make decisions for themselves in full knowledge of the meanings and potential consequences of their actions and in full knowledge of how to protect themselves from risk. I support universal access to contraception, abortion and sterilization products, services and technologies, and increased research into new methods that will continue to make these safer and more accessible. I support full access and increased research into medical services that provide persons who wish to bear a child but cannot do so easily or without intervention with the assistance they need to have their chance to bear a child. And I support strict legal guidelines that make it certain that no person will ever be forced, coerced or pressured into any of these reproductive choices.

I support these things because it is the right of every human being to control their own body, and because it is also the right of every human being to be respected and given access to the necessities of life, and the responsibility of society - which is all of us - to ensure that those rights are in fact respected for all.

I have never had any personal ethical struggles with abortion, as many have, at least in part because my belief system is not a Judeo-Christian one. I don't believe, and never have believed, that conception had anything to do with a providential deity or with granting or denying a spirit's one and only chance to be born into flesh. I believe in the immortality of spirit, both before and after birth and death. I believe that the decision of whether to bear a child is a conversation between the one who bears and the one who would be born, and that it is always possible for the one who bears to say "Not now - come again later if you so deeply want to live a life as my child, or go with my goodwill to choose another parent in another place and time," or "No, I choose not to bear a child in this life. May you find the environment you seek elsewhere."

I have had an abortion. I have never born living children, though I have had several pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. I have no regrets, and I would not change my decision were I to be in that time and place again, knowing all that I know now. I have assisted another woman to conceive outside of heterosexual intercourse and joyfully call both her and the child she bore part of my chosen family. I have fostered a young girl without anyone to parent her, and helped her to find her own path in the world. I have had the great gift of being able to make my own reproductive choices in this life, and I am at peace with them.

I long for the day when every person can say the same.

morgan_dhu: (knight)

Notice to all persons who have uteri.

It doesn't matter if you're Mary Magdalen or Mary Jones from around the corner, you are a flowerpot.

You may be a flowerpot that doesn't have any earth in it yet and can't grow anything until you get some, a flowerpot containing lots of earth but no precious seed - yet, a flowerpot just about to bring forth its bounty of blossoms, or an old cracked pot that can't hold water, earth or seed any more, but never forget that you are a flowerpot.

Has nothing changed since I was ten years old and being taught by some idiot what to expect now that I was "becoming a woman"? Are women to be forever assessed in terms of the content of their wombs, and not the content of their characters?

morgan_dhu: (Default)

So what do these two things have in common? I think you can figure that one out. Be creative.

For once and for all, it's just a piece of fiction. It's not based on history. There is no Da Vinci Code, there was no Prieury de Sion before Pierre Plantard - a right-wing ultramonarchist with claims to a Merovingian bloodline - and some friends invented it. The idea was so cribbed from the idiots who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which built Plantard et al's delusions of grandeur into a pile of wing-nut tinfoil hat conspiracy crap, and the saddest thing is that the focus on this idiotic vision of Mary Magdalen as the earthly vessel of the Lord's sacred seed draws attention away from what the Roman Catholic church really did conceal about her.

If you want to know something really revolutionary and dangerous about Mary Magdalen, read the Gnostic gospels - the ones that were excluded from the biblical canon and ordered destroyed, but have survived in bits and pieces here and their, most notably in the Nag-Hammadi find. The Gospel of Philip is instructive. So is the Gnostic text Mary herself is reputed to have written, called the Gospel of Mary (this one was found in Cairo in the late 1800's, not at Nag-Hammadi).

These excluded Gnostic texts identify Mary as not just one of Jesus' companions, but as someone very special to him - not because she was his lover, although she may also have been that, but because she understood his teachings better than anyone else. One passage of the Gospel of Philip says:

They [the disciples] said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."

Mary was the one who set the course of the Christian church after the death of Jesus. It is on her vision that the initial message of the Ressurection rests. Some passages in the Gnostic gospels suggest that Mary was one of the leaders among the early disciples, and considered by at least some to be the person Jesus chose to lead the early church. Mary preached. Mary was, as much as any of the disciples were, a priest, and following her example, other women in the first two centuries of Chritianity were also priests and preachers.

The Gospel of Philip also tells us that there was a power struggle in the years after Jesus' death between Mary and Peter - Peter refused to accept that Jesus would give higher instruction to a woman, but other disciples - Matthew among them - accepted Mary as, at the least, the recipient of deeper instruction from Jesus and thus a legitimate teacher to the other disciples.

Now, let me ask you - what is a more revolutionary secret? That Jesus might have had sex, or that Jesus intended to place the leadership of his movement in the hands of a woman who he believed understood his teachings better than any of the men around him? That Jesus had a child, or that he intended women to have the same authority as men within his church?

Please note: I am not a Christian. I am looking at the history of the accounts of the person we know as Jesus and his companions, at the history of the early Christian movement, and the history of the Catholic Church. Whether Jesus was divine is irrelevant to this discussion; he and his followers have impacted history based on the assumption that he was, and there are many accounts of how that happened. From a historical perspective, there's no difference in legitimacy between the texts that were preserved as part of the Bible, and the texts that were excluded, mostly on grounds of theology and politics.

But if I were a Christian, I'd much rather have the legacy of a woman who was called to lead the early church than a convoluted story about a bunch of men hiding a holy flower-pot.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Taken from [ profile] hothead, [ profile] fancymcsnazsnaz, and [ profile] madamjolie, and modified to fit my own circumstances.

I'm pro-choice, and I would have an abortion. I have had an abortion in the past, and I do not regret my choice.

The meme:

If you agree with this statement, post it in your journal:

I'm pro-choice, and I would have an abortion.

*If pregnancy is not in the theoretical cards for you but you want to participate, feel free to substitute the statement "I am pro-choice" or "I'm pro choice and I would assist someone with having an abortion, no questions asked." Or whatever you're comfortable with. The implications are slightly different, but solidarity is just as important. The important thing is not having the BUT that everyone loves throw in there.

The background:

There are too many damned idiots in the world going around saying "I'm pro-choice, but..."

But what? But I'm so morally superior I'd never do such a nasty thing myself? But I'll never be in that position because I'm too smart, too privileged, too whatever I think will exempt me from the possibility of being pregnant and not wanting a child? But I think it's the less worse of two evils and I really feel uncomfortable about it? But I really don't want to admit that pro-choice means that some people will have abortions, no matter how perfect a world it is.

And if you are that person who accepts without judgment another's choice to have an abortion but would not have one yourself, guess what - you're just plain pro-choice. You choose not to abort. But it's a choice, and you acknowledge other people's rights to choose differently. So you don't need to say "I'm pro-choice, but..." Unless what you're really after is distancing yourself from those people who choose abortion, and if you are, then perhaps you need to ask yourself why you need to distance yourself.

So, no "Buts" allowed on this one. You either believe in reproductive and sexual choice or you don't.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Get over it, people. Members of Parliament have been crossing the floor since parliaments were first invented. And in case you've forgotten your Civics 101, you cast a vote for the candidate, not the party. Of course, the candidate most likely has a party affiliation, but is still at liberty to change zir affiliations, particularly if it appears that zir current party’s policies may be detrimental to zir constituents.

I'm not denying the importance of party politics – who could, these days? And I've seen people, quite understandably, called a traitor or an opportunist for crossing the floor in the past. That's just standard political name-calling. But the level of invective and personal insult that's been levelled at Ms. Stronach is unlike anything I've seen in 30 years of watching politics. Remarks such as:

"A little rich girl who is basically whoring herself out to the Liberals." "I said that she whored herself out for power, that's what she did." Tony Abbott, a Conservative member of the Alberta legislature

"Some people prostitute themselves for different costs or different prices. She sold out for a cabinet position." Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott

Aside from the "whore" remarks, there have also been an astonishing number of people impugning her intelligence, saying things like "Belinda's not the brightest bulb" and so on.

"She sort of defined herself as something of a dipstick, an attractive one, but still a dipstick, with what she's done here today. She is, at the end of the day, going to paint herself as something of a joke." Ontario Conservative Bob Runciman

"I've never really noticed complexity to be Belinda's strong point." Conservative Leader Stephen Harper

Interesting. Setting aside the whole issue of pot, kettle, black, she was smart enough for the boys in borrowed blue when she helped broker the whole deal-making process that led to the creation of their freaking party. She was smart enough to run Magna and be identified as one of the most powerful women in international commerce - until last night of course, when suddenly they're describing her successful stint at the helm of Magna as "playing with the company Daddy gave her." Hello, lots of successful men made their name in the family business.

I've never seen personal insults of this nature directed at a man in her position before. This is pure sexism, and it says so much about the Conservatives and their supporters. I can't help wondering if this is part of the reason that the Liberals are back up in the polls, and the Conservatives are down again. Maybe, just as they always seem do, they've shoved their feet squarely into their mouths up to the knee joint and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again. If so, it couldn't happen to a more deserving party.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

No Pity. No Shame. No Silence.

The other night I watched a film called “Prey for Rock and Roll.” Not a great film, but one scene was very powerful, at least for me. In an all-woman band, one of the band members has been raped. Another band member writes a song about rape. They sing it. The song is:

Every Six Minutes

Every six minutes, someone says "no"
Every six minutes, she gets ignored
It's not what you're wearing, it’s not where you've been
The fact that they think so tells you somethin' bout sin.
Every 6 minutes, a woman cries
Because every 6 minutes, her pleas are denied
No one's asking for it, it's no woman's secret desire
The fact that they think so is a man-made lie.
The passing of time brings you closer to me
Cause I've got love and justice keeps you free
I've got .38 special reasons at my side
Face the ultimate "no" big boy, this time I'll decide
If I had a bullet, for every six minutes
I know just where to put it, every six minutes
If I had a bullet, for every six minutes
I know just where to put it, every six minutes
If I had a bullet, for every six minutes
I know just where to put it, every six minutes

By Cheri Lovedog and Grace Chapman
(lyrics incomplete)

The song hit me to the core. Even though I abhor violence, even though I believe that revenge is never the answer to violence, even though I don’t want anyone running around with a gun for any reason. Deep inside me, something roared “Yes!”

And yesterday, I found that [ profile] misia’s powerful statement about sexual violence, and people’s responses to it, had migrated to the small corner of Ljland that I inhabit.

So now many people around me are writing about sexual abuse and sexual violence. It’s a hard topic to start writing about, I find. Do I talk about my personal experiences with it? Or its history? Its sociological meanings? The different kinds of sexual violence? Who does it, who has it done to them, and why? The way sexuality and violence mixes together that makes so many blurred edges? The questions of fantasy versus reality, of consensual sex and power play versus the violation of the will that is rape. So much to talk about.

Back in the sixties and seventies, when some of us first started saying things akin to “no pity, no shame, no silence,” we also used to say that the personal is the political. And politics is about power. And so is sexual violence. So here’s the personal:

In my own life I can think of at least half a dozen occasions where a man, or a group of men, have tried to block my path, encircle me, trap me, prevent me from getting away from them, while they made sexual comments or threats of violence, mostly sexual, to and about me. One of these times, it was a groups of about five adolescent males in a car, who made several moves as if they were going to run me over if I didn’t stop and let them say, and possibly do, whatever they wanted to me.

On several more occasions, a man has followed me on foot or by car, making sexual comments or gestures whenever he got near enough to me.

Once I was stalked by a man for several weeks. I first became aware of him when he started a perfectly normal conversation with me in a public library, and then asked me out. I declined politely. He kept showing up at the library whenever I was there, and kept approaching me. I started being very careful about the path I took going home from, always going a round-about way and making sure he wasn’t following me. Eventually, I stopped going to that branch, even though it was the closest and one of the best in the city for my interests.

Two or three times a man has grabbed one or both of my arms and tried to hold onto me or pull me somewhere while making a sexual threat or suggestion.

Once, when I was 12, I took a short-cut one summer evening through an overgrown area by the river that ran through the city I lived in. A man started following me. He moved faster and faster. So did I. It was dark, I was scared. I tripped and fell. I don’t remember much more about it, other than his hands around my neck – interesting that that’s the one physical detail I recall so clearly. Maybe he was holding my throat so tightly that I blacked out – I’m not really sure. I do have fuzzy memories of pulling my clothes together, getting to my feet – he was nowhere in sight – going home and taking a long, long shower and throwing out the clothes I'd been wearing. My mother was away for a while on business, and so was her husband (of whom I will shortly say more), and I was alone for several days after that. I told no one for years afterward, not so much out of shame as because there was no one I could really think of to tell.

In most of these situations, no physical harm was done to me. Nonetheless, I believe all these things count as sexual violence. Certainly, the way I felt after each incident - the combination of fear, disgust and rage - wasn't all that different from how I felt the time I didn't get away. Some would probably say that's because I was stranger-raped at the age of 12, and these situations from later in my life bring back those original feelings. But I believe that words and gestures can be violent. Threatening sexual violence is an act, and a violent one.

I’m not sure that I consider child sexual abuse and sexual violence to be the same thing – or perhaps, it’s more that child sexual abuse, while never right, is not always sexual violence. Certainly, my feelings about being a survivor of sexual violence are different from my feelings about being a survivor of child sexual abuse. I remember my mother’s husband exposing himself to me, and getting me to touch him and fondle him, many times, beginning when I was seven or eight and continuing until he and my mother divorced when I was almost 13. I told no one about that for a long time, either, because even though I didn’t really like what he asked me to do, he treated me a lot better than my mother did (but that’s another story for another time). I don’t carry quite the same kinds of wounds. I think this is possibly because, twisted and sick though it was, there was an element of relationship. Sexual violence made me angry. Sexual abuse made me distrustful. Not saying one experience is any more or less harmful or wrong, just that they may sometimes have different dynamics – partly, I think, because sexual violence is power and control expressed through sexual acts, and child sexual abuse is, I think, more about sexuality expressed in a context of power, control and sometimes violence.

I wonder what it says about us as a species that sexual violence is so common among us. My guess is that, by my definitions of sexual violence, most women and at least a quarter of men are survivors of sexual violence. Sexual violence, as both an individual and a cultural means of exerting power and control and evoking fear, is directed not just at women but at sexual, ethnic and faith minorities. Wherever we look, we can find it - in homes, on battlefields, and everywhere in between.

Survivors of sexual violence have been talking about it for decades now. I know that speaking out can help the survivor to heal, and sometimes help others in their healing as well. So far, I’m not sure it’s done much to heal the human race of whatever dark knot is coiled inside, waiting for the time and place to strike. Maybe that’s just because there’s still not enough of us talking.

No Pity. No Shame. No Silence.

Addendum: It’s curious – when I began writing this entry, I considered putting some of my comments after an lj-cut, but decided not to, because concealment is so often associated with both shame and silence. I know that the cut is used for many reasons having nothing to do with concealment, and that many people will argue, with justification, that material about sexual violence could be very uncomfortable, even painful, for some. And if what I’ve written here has caused pain to anyone, I am sorry that this has happened. But I’m not ashamed about anything I’ve spoken of, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been silent about any of it. And in the current context, I think it all belonged right out front.

September 2017

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