Saying No and Saying Yes

Catherynne Valente went back to Fairyland in the wake of the election. “The first magic anyone learns is saying No,” purred the Leopard of Little Breezes. “It’s how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their magic at everything to see what it’ll stick to. And if they say No loud enough, and often enough, and to the right person, strange things will happen. The nasty supper is taken away. The light is left on at night instead of turned out. The toy comes out of the shop window. It is such old magic, such basic magic, that most folk don’t even know it’s magic anymore.” "But we…we must say Yes to each other. We must say Yes to the needful, to the suffering, to the lonely, to those the Marquess punishes for saying No to her. We must band together, back to back, and say Yes to everyone who lost today, for we are all family now, and our loss is our new last name." The Leopard of Little Breezes is wise. (For those who don't know, Valente wrote the Fairyland books, beginning with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The Green Wind, the Leopard of Little Breezes, and A-Through-L are all characters from those books. They're just waiting for a new protagonist to come along, is all.)...

Aftermath

Sorry, folks, expect posts to be a bit thin on the ground for a while. I'm heartsick, terrified, and depressed, hurting too bad to write much. I posted this to facebook, which my mother (who has usually voted Republican in the past; I don't know how she voted this election because we haven't spoken yet, and I likely won't ask, but her FB feed looks like maybe this year she got it) and various family members (some of whom are conservative and/or outright racist) follow me on. I don't use this site much. I don't really like it. At all. But I figured this was a good place to say this, because of the audience. Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and with both houses being Republican, he'll probably manage it. I get ALL of my health care paid for by Obamacare. Including the meds I need, NEED, to function. Without my meds, I would be in a psych ward or dead, having committed suicide. I cannot afford these meds without it. Since one of the key meds is around$500-700 a MONTH, no one I know can help me that that. If Trump repeals the ACA, I might very well die. Because, by the way, I also won't be able to afford to stay in a mental hospital. Trump has promised to appoint justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade. He wants to outlaw abortion. If something awful happened, and I was raped and got pregnant, and I was already off my meds, because the ACA was gone? I would definitely be suicidal then. I'm going to be trying to start a new career and at 40 next year, and I can't afford to get pregnant. (I'm just keeping this focused on me personally to make a point here. There are better and broader points about abortion to be made, but I'm just talking about me for the moment.) While Trump himself is less horribly homophobic than much of the rest of the Republican party, he will still almost certainly pick justices who will want to overturn marriage equality, simply because he'll be picking who he's told to pick, because he doesn't have much interest in governing himself, and has said so. My marriage is on the line, too. So is my ability to eat, shop, go to the movies, and anything else I damn well please, because some people think "religious freedom" means the freedom to treat people like they aren't people. I won't even talk about what this means for my wife, who has it even worse than I do. If you voted Republican at the national level this year -- and I mean Senate and House as well as president -- and any of these things or any of the dozens of other awful, horrible things that could happen, do happen? I hold you personally responsible. If I can't get my meds, and so can't work, and maybe I commit suicide? That's YOUR FAULT, because you voted in the people who did that to me. If I need an abortion and can't get one, and that pregnancy wrecks my life or kills me because I had now access to medical care? That's YOUR FAULT, too. If my marriage ceases to be recognized by the federal government, and my wife and I lose our cherished protections because of it, and ANYTHING bad comes of that, that is YOUR FAULT. If you love me, and you vote for Republicans... the message you are sending me is that your money is more important than my health, my rights, or my life. That's what you're telling me, right there. No amount of trying to convince me it's something else will work. Voting Republican means, and has meant since I was 16, wanting to put people into office who want to hurt and/or kill me, because you like your money better. So. Know that if you're family or a friend, I still love you. But if you vote Republican, then I can't trust you to have my back, because you're already stabbing me in it. Not gonna respond to any comments on this. Not gonna talk about it with anyone. Not interested. I know that less than a quarter of the populace actually voted for trump (there was only a 46% turnout, and less than half of those who voted, voted for Trump), but that still means that more than half the populace didn't think my and other people's right were important enough to vote for. I knew my country didn't give a fuck about me before, but wow....

Gods and Radicals

Gods and Radicals, a new site discussing paganism and anti-capitalism and other forms of radicalism, is up and running, and off to a great start with Jason Pitzl's discussion of respectability politics in paganism. Good to see him writing again after leaving Wild Hunt. And it's a great piece. Do beware of one awful fucking transphobe in the comments, who got shut down by the mods, but they left her comments standing....

Political Body as Magical Body

It occurred to me recently that people who are othered -- women, PoC, queer people, trans people, fat people, disabled people, and all the rest of us who are not the "default" in some way -- have what I am calling Political Bodies. This is a magical body that is not created by the othered person, but by the society that others them. Let's look at Mike Brown (may he rest in power). Mike was a big guy, yes, but not actually significantly larger than his killer. He was, by all reports, pretty chill. And yet Darren Wilson (may he never know peace, may the Eumenides follow him all his days and whip him with the scorpion flails of his own guilt) definitely perceived him as much larger, as very threatening, as a "hulk" and a "demon". This is not an image that Wilson conjured up (literally) on his own. It is a magical construct built out of and fueled by the racism and racists of our society. Any Black man or boy has the same political body thrust upon him: that he is violent, that he is a criminal, that he is a threat, that he is armed, that he is on drugs, that he is much larger and angrier than he is. Black women have similar political bodies thrust on them that are modified by misogyny and misogynoir. I'm fat. It's one of the first things people notice about me when we meet. I am definitely and distinctly fat. That fatness carries a political body, too. Laziness, lack of discipline, physical weakness, never exercises, couch potato, bad eating habits, stupid, at fault for everything bad in my life. My queerness has its own political body, both as a bi woman and as a woman married to a woman, each of which carries a different political bodies. Being a woman carries another political body with it. So does having a mental illness. And all of these bodies, together, form the political body of me. These political bodies are not just invisible assumptions. They actually change the way we are seen -- Darren Wilson (may he understand what he has done, and may it haunt him forever) quite literally saw that magical construct instead of Mike Brown's physical body. And yet, these political bodies are intimately connected with us. What might witches and magicians and workers in the subtle arts do with these bodies, if we claimed them as ours, named them and tamed them to our hands? How could we reshape not only our own political bodies, but by contagion, all political bodies that are like ours? What magic can we work to change the landscape of fear and bigotry in which we live through such avenues?...

Mountain Momma

I’ve been keeping away from discussing the poisoning of the water in West Virginia, largely because it hurts me. My father is from Huntington. I still have relatives there, although only one or two I know to talk to. There’s a cabin there that still belongs to distant cousins that my ancestors built with their own hands, that the great-great aunt I was named for (Ader Rebecca) was born and died in (well, she fell asleep on the porch smoking her corncob pipe and the bottom burned out and the coals caught her gunnysack dress on fire, and she had second and third degree burns over 75% of her body, but she managed to make it a mile up the road to the neighbors and then lived three days in the hospital; she was in her 80s). Out back of it is a private graveyard with five generations worth of headstones, and looking at those headstones, all in one place like that, was amazing for me, especially since all my other ancestors’ and relations’ burial places are scattered. I’ve only been a few times, and the last was nearly 15 years ago, but I have never found the landscape to be less than stunning beautiful. Truly, it has some of the most amazing forests and mountains I have ever seen… and the most depressing towns and cities. Wild Hunt linked today to piece by Anne Johnson that talks about the more general situation in WV, putting the water contamination into some context. As an expatriate Appalachian, I can tell you exactly why people want to live in West Virginia. It is beautiful. If you can step out on your back porch and lose your breath in awe of the vista beyond your house, you live in West Virginia. Many of the people who live there have ancestry going back centuries. I could wax poetic, as some bloggers have, about the ecosystem, and the sense of place, and the grounding in tradition, and all of that. I'm not a poet. I tell it like it is. West Virginia is beautiful. If you live there, you don't want to leave ... especially for some big city in some flat tidewater state. But West Virginia is a mess, isn't it? West Virginia has been ruled by big monied interests since the first tunnel was dug into the first mountain in the pursuit of coal. The politicians are on the payroll of Big Coal, and they have been since that first tunnel was dug. The current crop of Democrats are only Democrats because Lincoln won the war ... they act like Republicans and are often the serious movers and shakers behind efforts to squelch the EPA. How do they get by with such antics? By persuading their constituents that the EPA will raise the jobless rate, and environmental activists are by and large replants from other areas of the country. (That is certainly not true in either case, I'm just giving you the politicians' talking points.) Go read it. It does a better — and much more knowledgeable — job of talking about the things I really wish I could....

40 Days for Reproductive Justice

Susan Harper of Third Wave Witch (which is not a blog I actually read, but I might start now) has declared 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal to parallel the 40 Days of Prayer to Keep Abortion Legal some liberal Christian groups are doing. I am all in favor of this. Reproductive justice is absolutely essential to human rights and social justice. In fact, integration with the latter is where the term comes from. To be pro-choice is a much more limited thing than to work for reproductive justice. Pro-choice means being in favor of a person's choice to bear or not bear a child. It's a fairly simple thing. But it doesn't take into account the immense complexity of the lives of people who are or might become pregnant. Things like having the resources to do either one, having the care available to do either, the social pressures involved, having the support to do either. If you want to have a child, but you don't have health insurance to get prenatal care, won't have childcare available once the child is born, don't have the money to pay for a (extremely expensive) hospital birth, or a safe place to have a home birth, are in danger from a partner or family member if they discover you're pregnant, and on and on, then people vaguely wanting you to have the choice to have the child doesn't mean much. If you want to have an abortion, but you don't have the money to pay for one, are hours from the nearest clinic, don't have transportation to get there, don't have someone who will care for you afterwards, can't get the time off to go, will be in danger from a partner or family member if they find out you want or have had an abortion, then people vaguely wanting you to have the choice to have the abortion doesn't mean much. Working for reproductive justice, on the other hand, means not just working to keep abortion and birth control legal and accessible, but supporting the general and reproductive health and choices of people who might become pregnant, acknowledging how race, gender (including that of trans and genderqueer people), sexuality, social and economic class, language, religion, incarceration, and many more issues and identities affect these questions. It means fighting the forced sterilization of incarcerated women, especially women of color, and also making sterilization available to anyone who wants it. For me, all of it goes back to two things, which I consider to be inextricably linked: basic human equality, and bodily autonomy. All human being are equal, and the law must protect that equality, serve to counteract historical injustice, and encourage future social equality; socially, we all have a responsibility to work for those same goals. Bodily autonomy is essential to equality: every human being absolutely must have final authority over their body. This means far more than reproductive choices, although is certainly includes it -- no one should be forced to remain pregnant, give birth, remain fertile, have an abortion, cease to be fertile, or any other damn thing -- and must include things like the right to donate organs or refuse to do so, get surgical ender reassignment without the interference of gatekeepers, eat the diet they choose, do the work they choose (such as sex work), and far more. Without absolute body autonomy, especially if it's just for certain classes of people, we are not equal. The legality of abortion is not the be-all, end-all of reproductive justice, but it is an essential component. Without legal and accessible abortion, without restrictions, people who are or may become pregnant are absolutely not equal, either de facto or de jure. Our bodies are not our own if we can be forced to be pregnant and give birth, or if we can be punished for living a certain way when we are pregnant, and if our bodies are not our own, then we are chattel to the government. Our bodies don't just belong to us, they are us, and our selves cannot belong to someone else. If we give ourselves to someone else, or to our gods, by our own choice, then that is our right, but it is also our right to take ourselves back when we choose. Period. This is a simple moral truth. For me, it is also a religious commandment: I am a dedicant of Hecate, and she commands me always to make my own choices. I choose to give myself to her and to my other gods, but I am free to take myself back, or to refuse their orders, if I choose. I also, incidentally, believe as a religious position that human life begins at birth, and a fetus is not morally, ethically or practically...