Nature is an ecoterrorist!

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What Does Life Say About Those Who Die? Submission and Ventriloquism

I found an article on Gary Francione’s blog, The Abolitionist Approach, a post entitled And What About the Four Other Dogs? In it, he talks about how five dogs were scheduled to be euthanized at a shelter; four died, but one—a puppy—was found to be still alive after being given two lethal doses of euthanasia medicine. The dog’s survival was posted by a veterinary technician on a pet adoption website, and hundreds of people over North America began clamoring to adopt the dog.

He asks, as with the title, what about the other four dogs? The ones who didn’t make some kind of miraculous escape?

This story is similar to the stories about farm animals who escape from slaughterhouses and are then given homes to live out their lives. They, too, are “special.” They escaped from the institutionalized exploitation that we have established. They have cheated death.

Many people think that when an animal escapes death in this fashion, it is some sort of divine sign. These sorts of events ironically reinforce our view that because there is no divine intervention for all the other animals that are killed at “shelters” or in slaughterhouses, then this is the way things ought to be for those other animals. They are killed as part of the “natural” order.

This is true. I have heard exactly this kind of “argument” used against veganism, although I last encountered it several years ago, perhaps because the most obvious inaccuracies are hard to ignore: “If animals cared about not being killed, why don’t they try to escape? [Kidnapped African] slaves did, after all.”

That’s paraphrased, but I did not actually add in the part about the kidnapped Africans. She put that in on her own. There’s the obvious problem with the argument, which is that many animals have escaped and that slaughterhouses are built to prevent that from happening—a la Temple Grandin—but then there’s something else wrong that she didn’t realize. The fact that most kidnapped Africans did not try to escape, or successfully escape, was used as evidence for the idea that slavery was perfectly fine.

I. After all, if the kidnapped Africans really objected, they would be escaping, successfully, in droves. II. After all, if she really felt it was rape, she would have fought him off. III. After all, if she really didn’t want to be beaten by her husband, she would leave him. IV. After all, if he really didn’t want to be bullied, he’d fight back or go to a teacher. V. After all, if zie really felt zie was getting cheated by zeir boss, zie would have sued. VI. After all, if zie doesn’t want to be poor and starving, zie would have gotten a job. Et cetera.

This is a variation of the No True Scotsman No True Rape Victim fallacy—the idea that if someone being oppressed really thought it was unjust, they would fight back against it. And they would win. But the idea of the Iron-Willed Escape invalidates not just those who can’t imagine fighting off their abuser—it invalidates the people who do successfully manage to fight off their abuser, too. Rape victims are discredited because, given that he didn’t really manage to rape zem, he’s still Shrödinger’s Rapist and therefore, not really a rapist. The question is always, “But how do you know zie was really intending to hurt you?” because any resistance against power is always seen as fundamentally unjustified.

Thus, if zie was able to fight him off, zie couldn’t really know he was actually going to rape zem—he didn’t, so therefore he’s not a rapist! But if he does succeed in raping zem, then it wasn’t really rape because zie failed to fight him off so zie wasn’t really serious about not wanting it… so therefore he’s not a rapist!

That’s what rape culture is. That’s what victim-blaming is: placing the onus of rejecting violation on the victim instead of the violator. It is Lierre Keith‘s perfect philosophy because, no matter what, the oppressor is never to blame for oppressing. An abuser can’t be held responsible for their actions: you just let it happen. You just let him sell away your children. You just let her beat you. How were they supposed to know it wasn’t okay if you didn’t force them to stop?

“If you don’t like me hurting you, then you shouldn’t let me hurt you.”

The oppressor becomes invisible and the oppressed becomes solely responsible for their own oppression. If they don’t like it, then they should have tried harder to keep it from happening. Somehow, the abuser is never held responsible for their decision to abuse and never expected to actually treat anyone like people. The victim is portrayed in a black room, empty save for zem, shuddering as an unseen hand batters zem—something that is assumed, because of the absence of any visible perpetrator, exists entirely in zeir own mind, that zie is submitting to. A personal pathology. An individual flaw. No atrocity to see here, folks; move along.

You should perhaps question why it is easier to hold the victim responsible than the one who victimized zem.

I draw together all these examples not to show similarities between different forms of oppression, but to show how all oppression is fundamentally the same. Oppression and its justifications are all the same—they’re utterly unoriginal, just a repeating pattern of the same thoughts, the same arguments. Every carb-starved fuckneck thinks that “but plants are alive too” is a unique and compelling argument against veganism, and so does every porn-addled fuckneck think “women’s choice” is a unique and compelling argument against anti-exploitation, consideration of abuse, capitalism, coercion, reality. Then they wonder why they keep hearing the same rebuttals in response, over and over again, and conclude that those desperately trying to scrape their way out of a fucked-up, oppressive world and into a new one, those people simply have nothing else to offer.

It’s the other way around. Being aware of oneself requires an accounting of one’s bigotries, one’s life, one’s actions. It requires a vicious, snarling demand for self-inflicted honesty and ultimately, honesty requires change.

In a society that wants to view oppression as normal, as neutral, as right, it becomes much easier to blurt some self-indulgent nonsense and let yourself fall into the ensuing applause.

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News: Nature is Awesome, Humans Intent on Short-Term Gain (Still)

In animals and nature news today, another species of beetle native to the UK has been discovered. It’s a rove beetle with an average length of 6.5mm (i.e. pretty damn small). A handful of new beetle species are identified each year in the region, which doesn’t include other species of insects and animals. I find a great many people who insist that we know a whole fuckin’ lot about animals, which usually provides the basis for their assertion that we know non-human animals are inferior to us, but this just isn’t true. (And it doesn’t help when you repeat basic inaccuracies like, “bees aren’t animals, they’re insects!”)

Out of a scale of everything there is to know about humans, the knowledge humanity possesses accounts for probably one millionth of one percent. I say “probably,” because we know so little about ourselves—even separate parts of the body, like the circulatory system—that it is basically impossible to estimate unless you’re using my scale (which is extremely practical but widely ignored and/or denied).

For example: did you even know there were 1,500 varieties of potatoes in existence? (I did. Plants are awesome.) There are also over 600 varieties of mangos… although they are quickly being destroyed by global agriculture, capitalism, and… hey! Carnism.

When you include everything else in the world… well, dudes, our knowledge is basically the equivalent of a single single atom among all the atoms in all the molecules of every material thing in the world.

However, we do have some knowledge by trial-and-error—not passive knowledge (that something is), but active knowledge: what happens when you do something. Actually, humans have such a long history of fucking up that we have a massive repository of straight-up facts for what will happen if you try to fuck with the world around you… This is being stolidly ignored in the UK; to reduce tuberculosis rates in farmed cows, farmers want to shoot badgers.

Aside from the outstanding evidence that “pest management” is a bad fucking idea, shooting badgers actually increases the spread of TB outside of the immediate area because of the upset to their social networks, so any badgers that foraged nearby will range farther instead of remaining in the area. No, of course that doesn’t imply badgers feel so strongly about others in their social networks dying that they will actively avoid the area—that would be sentimental and obvious reasonable evolutionarily sound anthropomorphism.

Apparently, it’s a better idea to fuck up another animals’ social system than it is to simply eliminate the problem by not farming cows. Because if you did that, nature wins! And nature is an ecoterrorist.

That’s officially my new tagline.

News: U.S. Military Part of Rape Culture, Too

Rape culture is perpetuated by a vicious cycle. Institutional power (the police, the courts, the prisons, the politicians, etc.) does not take rape seriously and actively discourages any attempt to change that fact; everyday people, taking their cue from these institutions (and assuming, as they have been taught via compulsory “education”, that the institutions would care if it were such a big deal), enforce the same dynamics on the ground level; those everyday people then enter those institutions and proceed to do exactly the same thing. This is one reason, among many, that I am an abolitionist, not a reformist—because those institutions of power pose too great of a threat to freedom of thought and life.

But I’m going off topic. This post isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that the U.S. military also follows rape culture: they would rather sweep rape under the rug than actually punish rapists. As the articles say, more than a dozen female and at least one male current or ex-military are suing prominent Pentagon officials to try to force the hand of the military into actually doing something. Which, in case you haven’t caught on to that by now, they haven’t been: survivors have mostly been told to shut up and serve regardless—even then their attacker is in the same unit. Systematic oppression is the only kind of oppression.

Part of it is just that it is even more bizarrely taboo to socially reject or shun someone for being a rapist than it is for any other reason. Another part is that rape culture as a whole continuously trivializes the experiences of rape victims—they’re whiners, drama queens, etc. because rape is not supposed to be that bad. Rape culture does its damnedest to persuade everyone to look at rape from the POV of the rapist—the rapist is sympathetic, the rapist is calm, the rapist is objective. The victim is irrational, overemotional, out-of-control, attention-seeking, manipulative (count which other oppressed peoples those apply to as well—I can name a few). That’s the cultural narrative.

It happens everywhere, whether you’re male or female, young or old, on the brown side or on the white side, rich or poor. Rape victims are overwhelmingly more likely to be female—the notoriously conservative RAINN estimates that 1 in 6 women will be raped in their lifetimes, whereas the corresponding statistic for men is 1 in 33. This doesn’t make rape and sexual assault less important when it happens to men—it is unacceptable, anywhere, at any time—but it does provide perspective on why rape and sexual victimization are coded as feminine.

Here are some other articles: Scott Howard, an openly gay man, went to prison for moneymaking schemes and was repeatedly raped and extorted by 211 Crew—a well-known white supremecist group, then punished by prison officials when he reported it.

In 2010, a report was issued that stated about 12% of youth in juvenile detention in the U.S. reported having been sexually abused in the last year. Unlike in adult prisons, however, the ratio of abuse by inmate:staff was reversed—the majority of sexual abuse was perpetrated by staff. Indiana got called out by Federal authorities soon after because the conditions shocked even the investigators—and do you know how hard it is to get people who think prison is a good idea to admit something’s crossed the line?

At the G20 summit in Toronto last year, police repeatedly threatened to rape protesters in their custody, and they actually did sexually assault several.

Rape isn’t invisible: it’s just bled out and pale, less threatening. One of the reasons that transparency is fought so vehemently by these institutions of power—corporations, government and even colleges and universities—is that transparency shows that these problems are big, that they are endemic and of mind-boggling proportions. The idea that real rape rarely happens is part of rape culture’s trivialization of rape—because, abstracted into isolated instances, the implicit suggestion becomes unavoidable: go work on real issues.

News: Italian PM Berlusconi Shameless, What Else is New?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to step down from his position because hey, he only actively sought out women to use as property, because what are women there for if not to titillate men? Something so decorative couldn’t be intended for anything other than decoration, amirite guize?

He’s also accused of buying underage girls, which is probably very much true, but the woman in question says it’s not true. She’s Moroccan to boot—which probably means more if you’re aware of the massive racism alive and well in Italy. But what makes it worse is her own story, as told here. [TW for rape, abuse.] You know, just in case you were inclined to believe that there is such a thing as a happy beginning for pros.

It is not a mistake that in Italy, where the Catholic Church is headquartered, which is still all-male and still notoriously conservative and anti-woman, it isn’t illegal for a man to pay for “sex.” It’s not a coincidence that Italy is still one of the most conservative Western European countries, and that it’s still a hotbed for fascism. It’s not a mistake that even though more women have college degrees than men, less than half of all women are employed, and they aren’t abstaining because of choice. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, the largely male parliament voted against an investigation of his home for evidence for a prosecution. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, fetuses are more precious than women. It’s not a mistake that women in Italy are divided into two groups: housewives and veline (“showgirls”), and it’s not a mistake that both of those groups are property—for the benefit of, enjoyment of, and entertainment of men. It’s not a mistake that being treated as if he did something wrong by using women as property is taken as an attack on Italy itself by the megalomaniacal Berlusconi, but it’s not attacking women to make them into fucking playthings.

It’s not a coincidence that the extremely-Catholic Italy gave the world Mussolini and is still fascist and corrupt, but the similarly extremely-Catholic Spain was anarchist against those Italian fascists, and that they were one of the first nations in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. These things are connected. Sexism, heteronormativity, anarchism fighting against fascism, capitalism, individualism, prostitution, male entitlement. These things are written spray-painted on the wall of history. You ignore these things at your own peril.

From an article I linked earlier:

Decades after a feminist movement helped bring significant changes, including legal abortion and divorce, some argue that Italian women are worse off today than in the past. “It’s as if we’ve gone backwards since the ’70s,” said Antonella Giacobbe, 55, as she attended a recent meeting in Rome of Filomena, a women’s advocacy group.

And:

Women’s rights have gone backwards under the Taliban militia’s rule in Afghanistan in the past 12 months, with tougher restrictions on their employment and no perceptible change to the defacto ban on education.

And every feminist woman I have ever met, saying the same thing. “I feel like we’re moving backwards.”

This is not a mistake. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s so fucking overwhelming.

Good News: Canada Decides Gender Discrimination’s Not Cool

Bit late on this, but this is definitely a good thing. Less discrimination and fuckuppery in the world is the point.

The Canadian House of Commons have passed a bill to outlaw discrimination against transgendered and transsexual Canadians and specifically mentions gender expression as something that should be protected.

The amendments proposed in the bill prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression through adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canada Human Rights Act, and through adding transgender and transsexual Canadians as identifiable groups in the Criminal Code’s hate crimes law.

Lest you forget, gender expression is not actually that limited a term—and it doesn’t just apply to dressing across the dichotomy as such. Your gender expression applies to what you feel comfortable being recognized as, not just in terms of genitalia. And especially because of the “transgender” part of the bill, it applies to anyone who is persecuted or discriminated against for not conforming to gendering norms. So, for example (I don’t know how much this is a problem in Canada), your employer is discriminating against you for telling you to dress a certain way beyond uniform and cleanliness standards. Damn straight.

I wish we had that where I live—I have a friend who works at a fast food chain, and co’s boss keeps ordering female-fitted shirts instead of unisex or “male” ones—under this law, for him to refuse to order a unisex shirt, or to charge co extra for a unisex shirt, would actually be illegal.

“This is reckless. I’m appalled,” said evangelical minister Charles McVety, who has been fighting the legislation since June. “This is a dangerous, inconsiderate bill. The considerations of all Canadians were not taken into account.”

McVety, along with other critics from the Campaign Life Coalition, have dubbed C-389 the “Bathroom Bill” because of their belief that it can grant male cross-dressers and drag queens a legal right to use female bathrooms.”

Right-wing bullhonky. I will be interested to see how the fuck they’re going to determine who has the right to enter female bathrooms—because, you know, it’s just too much work to build unisex bathrooms; fuck you and your little wheelchair too!—but I’m not entirely convinced that this will allow this increase in sexual harassment or anything. Men have been going into the women’s bathrooms and raping them for years now.

Anyway, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to “consider all Canadians” when you’re talking about giving a specific, marginalized group of people rights, but—yeah, that’s just me: I’m one of those loonies who thinks that a democracy’s highest duty is to protect those of the minority. Honestly, the fact that this is so hard to get for people who actually believe in democracies is a big fuckin’ reason I think democracy—among other kinds of government—doesn’t work.

News: U.S. Economy Bleeding Dry is “Recovery”

The economic world for rich white men is lovely and sunny right now; rose-colored lenses are blooming everywhere. If you don’t want to step out of your carriage to smell them, they’re giving them out down at the country club. All in a day’s needs to make everything seem better than it really is.

There are some quite reasonable explanations for what’s actually happening.

First, we’ve laid off so many people that we’ve flatlined: the U.S. economy is at a plateau and cannot easily cut workers past this point.

Second, it’s the spring holiday season—temporary workers are being hired for Valentine’s, Easter and the slew of other holidays until the end of May, but will likely not be retained.

Third, jobless benefits have been cut for many, many long-term unemployed USians. Unless there are literally around 400,000 new unemployment claims every month—which would suggest that the economy’s hemorrhaging instead of recovering—the decline is easily accounted for by the defeated and the hopeless.

Why are capitalists so fucking desperate about this? It’s getting ridiculous now—every four days, they’ve been screaming, “The economy’s recovering! The economy’s recovering!” as if that’ll make it true. (Then again, that might actually be what they’re attempting to do—while forgetting altogether that the economy is at a crisis point because they’ve sucked the working/paying classes dry.) Humming a cheerful tune about how it’ll all be alright does not make it so, especially if you personally are invested in the social/financial climate that fucked everything up in the first place.

I am so fucking tired of these articles and speeches from rich white men about how the economy is getting better, or worse, or whatever. Where are the articles from people who had to move back in with their parents, and how their hair is falling out and they’re getting ulcers from the emotional abuse, but they don’t have any health insurance to take care of it? I want to see articles from people talking about how the hip-hip-hoorayism of economists makes them more depressed and anxious and less able to search for a job, because now it’s their fault—the economy’s recovering, after all, so it must be just them! Articles about how people are getting fucked over by their employers but they can’t complain or do anything about it because then they’d lose their job, and how that’s a bigger threat than simply having to deal with it.

I want to read articles in the mainstream press in which capitalism is not assumed as the default state of the world, like it just is so you can’t question it or make it better. I want to read articles questioning how the fuck USians can live with themselves when every action of theirs supports a system that chooses some people to succeed beyond necessity and reason at the expense of many, many more who will be condemned to starve, freeze and die of thirst, beaten by teenagers and cops.

It may be nice and validating to the economists to crow about how everything’s going to be just fine, but it’s not. For so many people, it won’t be alright.

It’s unacceptable to support a system in which so many people are set up to be losers just because you do not lose—because you don’t have to fear starving to death, freezing, dying of thirst, being beaten by the cops and being treated like you’re filth. Because that’s what you think you’re supporting the system against; this is what you’ve been told is the alternative to capitalism, and you fucking cowards just sit there when people get hurt because you’re too stupid and too lazy to think that, gee, maybe the people who benefit from this system have a reason to scare me about the alternatives—maybe they enforce this reality on the “losers” of capitalism so that they can scare me into thinking that this is what it’d be like all the time if my benevolent overlords weren’t here to protect me with their Invisible Hand.

Optimism, when it ignores the plight of those suffering, does nothing more than prolong that suffering. Sitting with your thumb up your ass, passively waiting for the economy to recover—like the rich somehow aren’t in control of who lives and dies by capitalism—is privileged as hell. It’s unethical. It’s wrong to pretend you have no control when, in fact, you do. These people weren’t hired by the Invisible Hand; they were hired by people, and they were fired the same way.

It stands to reason that you should hold those people accountable instead of blaming it on some mystical force.

(Original U.S. Department of Labor weekly stats page here.)

ETA: Actually, a little bit of extra sleuthing turned up the fact that yes, actually, the “new jobless benefit claims” refer to actual first-time unemployment benefit applicants. So 396,000 new claims every week is… recovery… ?

Well, fuck that backwards noise. Welcome to the new world. I’m gonna water the plants now. Oranges, anyone?

News: Lysistrata Stunt Suggested in Belgium, Retracted

I hesitated in writing about this. I didn’t know what to say. This article left a bad taste in my mouth, but I couldn’t quite articulate it—I still don’t know if I can, at least adequately. But I’m going to take a whack at it nevertheless.

The partners of Belgian politicians are being urged to go on a sex strike until a government is formed.

The country had general elections last June but parties have so far been unable to form a governing coalition. …

“I call on the spouses of all negotiators to withold sex until a deal is reached,” said Ms Temmerman in an article for a Belgian newspaper. “Have no more sex until the new administration is posing on the steps of the Palace.”

And I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that sex is still being used as a bartering tool and a weapon—on the State level, no less. Clearly, using sex as leverage in a transaction or bargain doesn’t impact women at all, nor does the idea put them in danger whatsoever. After all, it’s not like one of the historical traditions of marriage itself is to toss your wife aside when she stops putting out, or when you no longer find yourself wanting to fuck her.

Via the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which does extensive surveys of parliaments (legislative branches to you Yanks) including collecting data on women in government, I’ve found that roughly 38% of their government is made up of women—36% in their Senate and 39% in their House of Representatives. So, even a country that said OH NO YOU DINT to the Vatican is still strongly skewed towards men at the legislative level. Double that because the person who initially put it forth got the idea from fucking Kenya, where it’s even worse.

It’s fucking disheartening. A lot of my reaction came from—and still does, even though the Senator who made the suggestion says it was a joke—the fact that even now, women’s primary power is expected to be in manipulating powerful men. It always has been—re: Lysistrata—and then men have the gall to mock and deride women for being so manipulative, those fucking bitches, look at how much power they have over us from eliciting boners!

Why is this “progressive” country still, even today, able to “joke” about sex being used as a weapon? It has been, by men, against women—whether literally, via rape, slut-shaming and sexual harassment… or as indictment, because women have historically been forced to use sex as bartering goods for survival, by men. Get on the ball, Belgium.

On slightly lesser note, this is creeping me out, because David Cameron’s speech had a similar line in it:

“What Belgium is experiencing is a foretaste of the challenges that Europe itself is facing, because you have a prosperous north and a less prosperous south. Over the last decade they’ve really been separating themselves so they don’t have a unifying national identity,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

… I’m getting uncomfortable images of fascism because this is coming up everywhere, in these words. I do not like what that’s foretelling at all.

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