Tag Archives: law & justice

F*cked Over by Gender Roles: Not Just For Women

18 Apr

Here are two paragraphs:

#1 Christine is an employee of Boring Company. She has a low-level but crucial job. She is good at it, but unreliable. Her hours are irregular and she sometimes disappears with no notice for weeks on end. Everyone at Boring knows she has a longtime, live-in boyfriend that she complains a lot about and they break up and get back together every month or so. When they break up, he kicks her out of the house and she needs to sleep at a friend’s or in the office. She sometimes comes to work with a black eye, scrapes, and bruises. People say they are from her boyfriend. Usually she doesn’t comment and when she does, she says she walked into a door.

Imagine this response from the bosses at Boring:

“Yeah, don’t bother Christine too much this week. She’s fighting with her boyfriend again, heh. Men,” shake of the head. “So she might be out the next few days on a bender. I might have to bail her out again – you just can’t trust some people with money. Anyway, fill in for her job for a little while.”

And this response from her coworkers at Boring:

“God, I hate it when Christine takes off for days just because she’s fighting with her boyfriend. It’s so unprofessional. ”

#2 Chris is an employee of Boring Company. He has a low-level but crucial job. He is good at it, but unreliable. His hours are irregular and he sometimes disappears with no notice for weeks on end. Everyone at Boring knows he has a longtime, live-in girlfriend that he complains a lot about and they break up and get back together every month or so. When they break up, she kicks him out of the house and he needs to sleep at a friend’s or in the office. He sometimes comes in with a black eye, scrapes, and bruises. People say they are from his girlfriend. Usually he doesn’t comment and when he does, he says he walked into a door.

Imagine this response from the bosses at Boring:

“Yeah, don’t bother Chris too much this week. He’s fighting with his girlfriend again, heh. Women,” shake of the head. “So he might be out the next few days on a bender. I might have to bail him out again – you just can’t trust some people with money. Anyway, fill in for his job for a little while.”

And this response from his coworkers at Boring:

“God, I hate it when Chris takes off for days just because he’s fighting with his girlfriend. It’s so unprofessional. ”

[For maximal bonus points:

“I mean, she/he seems like her/his boy/girlfriend is abusing her/him. That would make it really hard to function.”

“Yeah, I guess. I switch between feeling bad for her/him and just being really annoyed. She/he’s lucky to even have a job in this economy and it drive me nuts to see her/him blowing it.”]

Radical History

14 Apr

fist_2-

Source: http://openclipart.org/detail/168935/fist-by-rapperklimov

When I was in college, I wrote my thesis on the first Rainbow Coalition, militant namesake of Jesse Jackson’s current organization. Theirs is a lost history of radical empowerment – part of the struggle of writing about it was simply trying to find any sources at all. Many of the websites that put me on the trail of the coalition’s history are gone now. The primary sources I have access to at the moment I can pretty much count on my fingers. James Tracy, who was himself one of Uptown’s organizers in the 1960s and 1970s, is pretty much the only person to have written a book on the subject.

The Rainbow Coalition arose from the least mainstream end of many minority communities in Chicago; the Black Panthers, the Young Patriots, the Young Lords, I Kor Wen, and more. The Panthers, neglected in civil rights history as they are, are easily the most well-known of these groups. Some sources for the history of the Young Patriots do exist, mostly in the form of films and documents obscure except among extreme left organizers. The invention of portable video cameras was the first information revolution – and the activists of 1960s and 1970s Chicago kept their history alive and accessible through film.

One of the biggest problems I had getting my thesis idea approved was in answering that most fundamental of academic questions, why does this matter? Why is this group influential? How does this fit into the literature? I managed to answer these questions well enough to convince my advisor to give me the go-ahead, but with distance I can tell you that my answers were pretty thin. An activist can say, these people mattered because of what they tried to do, not how well they succeeded. The fact that you don’t know about them is in itself a reason to write about them. But that’s not a very academic response. In retrospect, I view that paper as a failure not just because it wasn’t terribly good, but because it split the different between academia and activism. I tried much too hard to bring aloof intellectualism to the history of a group that was meaningful because it wasn’t run by aloof intellectuals.

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The Marriage Post

1 Apr
Wedding_dress_princess_seams

Night of The Living Brides.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedding_dress_princess_seams.jpg

Given the recent cases before the Supreme Court, I figured now is as good a time as any for the marriage post. I’ve been trying to edit it up to my satisfaction for the last day or two and I’m officially giving up and just posting it before the moment’s past and I’m eaten by camp nanowrimo anyway. This post is pretty near and dear to my heart, so I may try to do a revised version of it one day. Or it may just stay here in all its sprawly glory.

This decision of Squiddy’s and mine to get married has actually been rather controversial in our circles. Our friends in Altlandia have a variety of reasons for being uncomfortable with and suspicious of the institution of marriage. My mom isn’t crazy about it either; my parents got married by a judge (by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actually) almost a decade into their relationship, pretty much only because they were about to have a kid. Though my parents weren’t really Altlander parents per se, my mother is as marriage-skeptical as the best of them.

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg

How married are my parents? So married. The marriedest.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg.jpg

So it seems reasonable for me to try and explain why Squiddy and I want to do this.

First off, I think there are two major kinds of marriage that get conflated – marriage (legal) and marriage (social). Squiddy and I want both, but I’m going to start with the one that I think is easiest to explain. I don’t think I need to tell you that marriage opens up a wonderful world of legal protections and connections between two people. Taxes, property ownership, medical decisions, child-rearing, you name it, marriage makes it easier and safer.

Let me get this out of the way right now and say that in my perfect world, marriage as it stands would not be the only way to get allthese legal rights and responsibilities with someone(s). I’m not even going to try to encapsulate all my problems with how our governmental bureaucracy categorizes people and relationships – in my utopian fantasy its role would be descriptive rather than prescriptive anyway. In my universe, when you came of age it would be de rigeur to march off to a lawyer and explicitly state who’s making your medical decisions if you’re incapacitated and who’s getting your money if you die. There would be a family registration form of some kind and it would be totally possible to register with whoever you liked. You could register with more than one person – poly families could have the same advantages as monogamous ones and sexual/romantic/familial relationships wouldn’t get automatically privileged over all others. Squiddy and I happen to be monogamous and romantic in a way that pretty much fits the current standard model, but it shouldn’t be everyone’s default.

Wow. I am...never googling rainbow unicorns again. I got some weird shit in results.

Wow. I am…never googling rainbow unicorns again. I got some truly weird shit in results.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HappLand!.jpg

However, that’s not the world we’re living in and in these matters I’m rabidly pragmatic. I’ve had a lot of experience with the intersection of law, medicine, and family. I am viscerally aware of what it means for you and your loved ones to have a medical power of attorney and a written will when shit hits the fan. Even ignoring my qualms about marriage in general, the marriage Squiddy and I will be having doesn’t come with the full suite of legal protections yet. The legal security blanket of gay marriage is pretty thin. But does the inadequacy of those advantages mean we shouldn’t go get them anyway? Really no. The perfect, in this case, is the enemy of the good. Squiddy and I whatever chunk of security we can get for each other and practicality trumps everything in that area for us.

Practicality! Safety! Worrying about sad things! Real romantic. So why haven’t we moved somewhere gay marriage is legal, tied the knot in a judge’s office, and called it a day already? I think the explanation for why we want a legal marriage is pretty clear-cut, but why do we want a wedding?

This part’s more complicated.

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The Case For Gay Marriage

26 Mar

Supreme Court

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robcrawley/3114271990/

Well, today’s a big day. I can’t be back in my hometown on the courthouse steps, but I’ll be following along on the net as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Prop 8 today and arguments on DOMA Wednesday. From what I’ve heard, we can expect to hear rulings on the fate of gay marriage some time in late June.

Here’s hoping.

Rainbow_flag_breeze

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Rainbow_flag_breeze.jpg

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