New Patreon Account To Help Me Activist

#ImasurvivorAnd I want representation on TV. Show me male survivors who do better things than serial-killing. Show me female survivors whose function is not martyrdom.

#ImasurvivorAnd I want to know for sure that when I try to have my adoption records unsealed the judge will consider just wanting to know who raped me is a valid health concern.

#ImasurvivorAnd I’d like to throw a party for survivors, because why shouldn’t we get to meet each other under happy circumstances?

Survivors of rape and sexual assault need and deserve our own political movement.  The only time people talk in public about sex-crime, the discussion revolves around rapists and how we ought to treat them.  But we survivors are a huge and diverse community, with needs that non-survivors have never considered. I present #ImasurvivorAnd to help us find each other, and our collective political voice.  Join me in leading the conversation around the issues that affect us.  I want to know what your political priorities are as a survivor, and how we can work in solidarity to accomplish every last one.

Donate $1 to my new Patreon account, and every month I’ll tweet a 280-character story about you (in the genre of you choice).  Donate $5, and I’ll sneak your name or chosen code-phrase into the first piece I publish every month.  When I have $100 of monthly donations total, I’ll throw a party for survivors to celebrate our community!

A Merely Canned Beauty



Maybe because

I was young

I held onto

Old men winking

You, and roses

Never will be ordinary


Funny how we can’t let go

Of promises

People with winters

That come and leave

Are ready for the air that hurts

Taking it all in stride

When the land where we live rises up

To attack us

Never just thinking we might go back

To where the summer stayed


The dirty, open secret is

That air of our painless shelters

Tastes stale

Like anything packed away

Wind-chill is a livid pulse


If we don’t have to face it

We never will

And promises made to always be magic

Find no relief in old breath

It’s a bad time of year to be special

When everything outside is shrieking

And everything inside is worn


Maybe because we survived

We keep finding

Things set aside for the rain

Hold onto any image of a dauntless hero

To stand and plead the case before

We can be more than ordinary

We can be born again and again

Where the land rises up to attack us


Painted eyes are winking

Making the air bear shivers where it died

Here we only beg

To differ

Black Mirror Hates Rape Survivors


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

That Black Mirror continues to be a popular program after the first horrendous episode is proof that survivors of sexual violence need more than the general aegis of feminism for our protection.  We need and we deserve a movement specially geared toward our interests as a community.  Non-survivors don’t know how to recognize threats against us and are not prepared in any way to address those threats.  We do, and we are, if we had a platform to preach it.

Charlie Brooker’s science fiction anthology show is supposed to examine dystopian manifestations of current trends in technology and culture.  It’s also, according to Wikipedia, “inspired by older anthology shows like The Twilight Zone, which were able to deal with controversial, contemporary topics without fear of censorship.”

So says anonymous on the internet, who, like Michael Hogan of the Daily Telegraph, comfortably hails the first episode as “a shocking but ballsy, blackly comic study of the modern media.”  But really, shut up, because I saw that first episode, too, and what I saw was a giddy self-congratulation on Brooker’s infinite power as expressed by his ability to make you watch a man’s sexual violation.

It features a fictitious British Prime Minister (Michael Callow, played by Rory Kinnear), who is tricked into believing a beloved princess will be killed by a terrorist unless he has sex with a pig live on national television.  He goes through with it, and everyone tunes in, their delirious giggles at local pubs slowly turning into mutters of “poor bastard” as he sobs his way to tortured orgasm.

It turns out the princess was never in danger of being killed.  She’d been kidnapped by an oh-so-edgy, oh-so-brilliant artist who quietly released her right before the pig-fucking, and who gracefully killed himself to avoid any discussion of just what crimes, by name, occurred.

A news analyst in the show recapped the incident one year later, tacking the following moral onto the story: the incident was definitely art.  The artist had successfully engaged a bigger audience than any artist before him.  And everyone engaged in what was clearly a public performance, whether they wanted to or not.

But did you see what Charlie Brooker did there, friends?  He got meta.  It’s not a fictitious audience fictitiously engaged in a character’s coerced sex-act.  It’s you and it’s me who were tricked into watching the full episode.  We thought there would be a point.  It’s implied when you begin a story that you’re going to get to a point eventually, and we trusted that there had to be a point, and we watched and kept watching even when we were made to feel uncomfortable, and it turns out that there was no point – just art.

Some of us, though, watched with more than vague discomfort.  Some of us, where others saw weird, bold, artistry, could see the plain old rape.  And where you were hearing white-noise, we were hearing dog-whistles.  Brooker’s boast is old as time: look what I can do.  But when you are a survivor, it doesn’t matter that Michael Callow is male and white and rich and even a world-leader; he is who you are.  The message for us was look what I can do – to YOU.

When we were sick to our stomachs and shrugged it off (because dammit what’s the point of this?  we have to figure it out), Brooker’s gloried Statement – that he did it because he could, because no one could stop him – came as a reminder, not as a revelation.  We already knew that we are powerless in the face of rape.  We already knew that you could make us watch, over and over, for no reason if you wanted to.  We might not have known (but thanks for the memo) that people like you can dream of power in terms of raping prime ministers live on TV, and all of society will say that it’s fine and good work on keeping things wonky.

We need a survivor movement: #ImasurvivorAnd I need you to see what I see.

Hey Survivors – Let’s Form a Faction.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey survivor – pay attention.  We are under attack.

I know right now you think it’s not that big a deal.  You probably think, like I did once, that you can shrug it off forever.  But you’re wrong.  We all have our limits, and I don’t want you waiting around to find out what they are.  Believe me when I say that you could die.

It wouldn’t be an accident.  It’s what the world expects.  In movies, news, and whispering gossip, we learn that survivors don’t exist – but victims do.  Suicides, and drug addictions.  Jail, and mental wards against our will.  Death row just for men – what petition of mercy for a killer did you ever hear (designated terrorists excepted) that didn’t include every gritty detail of his molested childhood?

They are waiting for us to die, and we know it.  For as long as you’ve been a survivor, this is a weight you have carried.  Remembering, privately, words like “except,” and “anyway.”  Living for us means defying, and thriving is beating the odds.

Think about what they make us go through – the polite society of normies all around us, with their shocked panic whenever one of us announces being in the room.  Think about the weight of fitting in, pretending we aren’t who we are just to make them feel at ease.

We lack the privilege of community.  We have no automatic allies and we’re randomly distributed.  But it is hard to find each other, because we lack the privilege of even group identity.  We don’t dare throw parades to celebrate being alive; our joy can and will be used against us, even in the court of law. Can’t be that traumatized if you went to a party.

And because we’re not a group, and because we’re not in the open, we don’t get to lead on any issues that affect us.  The burden of doubt (thanks, society) keeps us so busy defending and proving and playing the part we think will be accepted that taking political command is practically taboo.  Can’t be that traumatized if you’re able to talk about politics.

And we are under attack.  We’ve always been under attack – we’re used to it.  But suddenly, right now, it feels like we’re getting somewhere.  If we don’t join together and learn how to defend ourselves, as a group, #metoo will fade into thin air, like so many other reckonings.  We all know there’s nothing this world of normies would rather see than for us to get buried again.

Think about the ways they’re trying to shut us down.  Think about Project Veritas.

This is a think-tank founded by James O’Keefe.  Donald Trump is among its many funders.  The latest project it pursued was named, “To Catch a Journalist” – as an apparent diametric to Chris Hansen’s Dateline NBC program, “To Catch a Predator.”  Hansen’s show had investigators catfishing child-molesters to help police arrest them before real children could be harmed.  O’Keefe’s project was instead supposed to catfish investigators so as to discredit molested children and help a child-molester win a Senate race.

Project Veritas accordingly sent a woman to the Washington Post with a made-up story about having been raped by Roy Moore, impregnated as a teenager, and forced to have an abortion.  It didn’t work, of course; the paper followed the woman back to Project Veritas headquarters and wrote about the failed attack on journalism.  So, great.  One attack against us didn’t succeed.  But, my people, think about – just think about – the depth of the ever-present media attack against survivors.

O’Keefe was able to fool NPR.  He fooled ACORN.  He fooled Planned Parenthood.  He didn’t fail in fooling the Washington Post because they’re better detectives.  He failed because this time the story he was trying to sell was rape – and that’s a story nobody wants to buy.

Anyone who thinks doubt is a rational response to a news story relating to rape just has no idea what the world is like for survivors.  Even O’Keefe, who made a conscious decision to lead a smear campaign against us, was not able to prepare for that denial – and he controls a billionaire-funded think-tank.

Every time we get the slightest bit of traction toward a preferential option, the powers invested in rape culture pivot hard to take us down.  They’re not even subtle about it.

In a series of tweets dated November 29th, editor-at-large Ijeoma Oluo of The Establishment described an email exchange, followed by phone call, from USA Today.  They wanted her to write “the opposing view” to a piece that would argue that, though it’s good victims of sexual abuse are now coming forward, due process must still occur.

Oluo responded that, um, she also believes in due process – but she could write a response: “I’ll happily write about how their priorities are skewed and that the due process that’s missing is the due process for the women coming forward.”  She continued that, “if anything, these stories of years of abuse are testament to men getting more than due process.  And maybe instead of immediately trying to recenter the concerns of men because, like, 5 white dudes got fired, we should wonder about the countless women whose careers never even got off the ground because when they were harassed, there was NO process, let alone due process.”

After a few minutes’ conference with editors, the low-level representative from USA Today again called Oluo, explaining that they wanted her response to focus on how she just doesn’t believe in due process and is fine with a few innocent men losing their jobs to expedite the reckoning.

Oluo refused.  Her November 30th article describes the same incident, and the thoughts that ran through her mind after the call had ended.

“Did this really just happen? Was I seriously just asked by the third-largest paper in the nation to write their ‘feminazi’ narrative to counter their ‘reasoned and compassionate’ editorial? Was I just asked to be one of the excuses for why this whole ‘me too’ moment needed to be shut down?”

Oluo asks us, in the end, to consider how often we are suckered into supporting this kind of narrative.

If we count the ways that journalism works against survivors, we find ourselves in the thick of a pervasive gaslighting campaign.  No one bats an eye when we come across a sentence like, “Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden made allegations that Al Franken groped her as she slept.”  Allegations made by Tweeden are referenced on internet, TV, and printed press as the subtitle or introduction to the picture in which we clearly see Al Franken groping her.

Similarly, one teenaged girl among several made allegations that R. Kelly raped her.  Allegations – despite there being a widely-viewed and mocked video of it happening.  Things that we see with our own eyes are generally called facts, not allegations.  As the news, you should know the difference.

And yes, I’m aware that publications have legal departments requiring the insert of such disclaimers.  That’s my exact complaint: this isn’t accidental.  How have we allowed judges who rule in favor of rapists who sue, lawyers who believe certain truths are impossible to defend, and papers that fear telling hard facts about abusers, but think nothing of telling us, impulsively, over and over, that survivors could be lying – even when we can’t be?

The word that other groups of people might use for these events is “defamation.”  We survivors are, publicly, constantly, and by conscious decision disparaged.  “Allegation,” “accusation,”
“supposedly,” “accuser” – these have become codewords.  Some are hardly used outside the context of sexual abuse, and never replaced within it. Articles don’t introduce survivors as “plaintiffs,” “indicters,” or “statement-givers.”  We don’t read about “reports,” “cases,” or “accounts” of sex abuse, nor reference to “facts in question” or “disputed testimony.”  It is important, in the news, to signify that special kind of justice that only has to do with rape.

The coding is more than just widespread – it’s active programming.  In response to Roy Moore’s abuse of a teenage girl, David Hall, chair of  the Alabama Marion County GOP, offered: “It was 40 years ago. I really don’t see the relevance of it. He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.”

The injection of doubt here has to be kneejerk; Hall’s usage of the word “supposedly” serves no legal or rational purpose.  He literally isn’t saying that he doubts the woman’s story, and in fact by his downplaying the severity of sexual abuse in the next line we’re given to understand that he has no problem with believing she was kissed.  What the adverb tells us literally is that Hall doesn’t believe in  her – the survivor – as a living human being.

Supposedly she was fourteen when Moore was 32.  How can we really know?  What makes us so sure she moves through time at the typical rate, or that she’s existed alongside other people who counted her years as she grew?  She could be any sort of creature, who cares what Moore did.

Hall’s efforts to mythologize are unconscious, and are unconsciously accepted by a society that has forever been subject to systemic gaslighting.  We are trained, all of us, to doubt survivors claiming to be ordinary, while at the same time to believe survivors capable of impossible monstrosity.  I have seen better people than Hall reflect the training.

Immediately after 2016’s election, I took to facebook, posting furious screeds against the president-elect and the people who handed him power.  I came closer to some of my friends, who shared my anger, and blocked many others, who didn’t.  One acquaintance who became a closer friend asked permission to copy-paste some of my messages (my security settings compromised the “share” feature).  I said yes, and saw many of my messages re-posted on her wall.  But once, I noticed a very long post had been edited.  The change was subtle – just one word.  Instead of a “KKK-endorsed child-rapist,” the message now called Trump a “KKK-endorsed accused child-rapist.”

Though she’d credited me by name as the author of the message, and used quotation marks at the beginning and end to make clear that they weren’t her words, my friend included no note on the edited portion.  I did a double-take; I had to revisit my original message to check if I had actually used that word.  I hadn’t.

I don’t think the revision was a conscious enough decision on her part to consider asking my permission or explaining to her audience that there had been an edit.  But it was a change she went out of her way to make – on her own, no legal departments forcing her.  This is the self-replicating power of steady programming against us.  My sensible, smart-mouthed friend thinks the word “rapist” so dangerous that it can, if written once over the internet with no disclaimer, do more damage to the President of the United States of America than she would wish on her very worst enemy (who is, at this moment, the President of the United States of America).

It’s no wonder that we aren’t a faction.  In poisonous moments, we have been told that the most dangerous thing in the world is for us to open our mouths.  Now everywhere we go that message plays on repeat.

The irony is that, when it comes to sex-crime, survivors are the only group with a vested interest in justice.  People act like we’re out here trying to kill you.  We are the ones who can save you.

In a world where survivors’ voices lead our responses to sex abuse, I predict a great emphasis on restorative justice.  This is because, from experience, we are the only ones who seem to realize how normal is a rapist and how overlooked each survivor.  We’ll figure out quicker than the rest  that the sheer scale of rape makes any other kind of justice logistically impossible.

Justice to a survivor also has to be restorative, because the special stigma that sex crimes carry for us becomes a toxic obstacle to healing.  We need to be supported and believed.  And we’ve seen time and time again that unless our abusers stand up in public and admit what they’ve done, no amount of evidence will be enough to make most folks believe us.  We don’t have the luxury of prioritizing retribution.  Our survival requires that we center concerns on our own immediate safety and the safety of our communities.  We want to know that these crimes won’t keep happening, to us or to anyone else.

Can you, who are not survivors, decide for us under what conditions we might begin to feel safe?  If not, then I suggest you stop doing what you do in trying to defend us: stop controlling what we say.

It is notable, and not surprising, that #metoo became a big movement at the urging of non-survivors.  I mean, I don’t know what your twitter feed looked like when it first took off, but I remember so many tweets asking us to come out of the closet, now, as a demonstration of the scale of sexual abuse – written by people who identified being unable to do so themselves, due to their lack of personal victimhood.

I’m not saying allies don’t have a place in our movement.  What enabled us to come out en masse was the sudden societal permission, after all.  Guilty as survivors always are about everything, it made sense to speak out when it was for a good cause – not just us being selfish thrusting our nasty problems in other peoples’ faces.  But I couldn’t participate.  Just weeks before I’d written out a full disclosure on my blog, and I wasn’t yet in a place emotionally where I could brave another outcry.

This is not something many allies seem to understand; wanting to be believed does not mean our stories should be available on-demand, much less for the satisfaction of those who need to be showered with personal proofs of statistics we told them already.  And this is not the point of our movement – it’s not our job to save the normies from their own programming they haven’t done work to dismantle.

For a non-survivor who has nothing to add to our conversation, the right thing to do is stop talking.  Those willing to do the harder job of being our allies can use their own stories instead of demanding our proof.  We’ve all seen sexual abuse, harassment and gaslighting.  Assault has occurred at awards shows, on gameshows, and improvised moments during mainstream comedies, without much or any an uproar.  Did you even see it, normies?  Did you, and did you know that it was wrong, and yet say nothing, to keep things nice and polite?

That is the proof you were asking for.  Use that in our defense.  And good, if it’s hard for you to share it.  Learn from that shame what it’s like to be in our shoes.  Learn the feeling of being powerless and out-of-place, and bring that up next time you hear someone suggest there are people crying rape for attention.  Nothing about you is so much bigger and more dignified that you would have reason to fear speaking up where we would be spared embarrassment.

It’s telling, and typical, the form of #metoo.  Across the internet, survivors were given the job of divulging raw, personal data.  And institutions were given the job of deciding what to do with it.  In the void between us – scattered, providing survivors on the one hand, and on the other hand the looming keeps of power – our allies have been stepping.  Directing political winds, proclaiming on our behalf what they want our movement saying.

It’s a problem.

I didn’t think so at first.  It excited me to read in tweets, “Let’s get #TrumpSexualPredator trending!”  “16 women accusing Trump of misconduct deserve justice!”  I thought, finally.  They’re getting it.  Days passed, and I noticed people saying, on mentions of Roy Moore and other predators, “Don’t forget, this is also true of the President!”

Yup, I thought.  Don’t forget.  Within a week, the hot take had become, “Every liberal celebrity accused has already lost his job, and Al Franken’s under investigation.  When are we going to see Trump held responsible?”

Suddenly, I could see the conversation shifting.  In the hands of well-meaning non-survivors, we’re steering away from the topics we started with.  We’re sidestepping rape culture and systemic abuse to paint our targets on the biggest bad apple.

Do the normies realize, do you think, that a rich-and-famous man without a job can still assault people?  Do they understand that we have more work to do in each of the cases they labeled “dealt with” – that the institutions allowing those with power to abuse for all these decades must not be labeled “better” because the faces of scandal are gone?  Have they wondered whether these abusers will return, quietly, gradually, after six years, in the slithering way of Mel Gibson?

Today, with eight survivors having come forward against Al Franken, and Democratic Senators suggesting Franken should resign, I am on Twitter reading: “Franken shouldn’t step down until Moore and Trump resign.”

These people are not our allies.

If I thought there was a chance in hell that non-survivors appropriating our momentum could actually bring Trump down, I’d keep my mouth shut.  But, being a survivor, I know this tactic is the very least likely to work.  It was tried and failed in advance of Trump’s election.  Exactly nothing is different.  We’re watching it fail again as we speak in Alabama.  Using survivors to shame a sex-offender out of office is just the kind of bright idea that only occurs to the normies who, due to movies, attribute to the rape-whistle mythical magical torch-wielding-mob-summoning powers that seriously don’t exist.  I’m telling you.  Sexual abuse is institutionally protected.  You can’t take down the abuser in a seat of power without challenging the institution.

Survivors need to start leading.  We can’t depend on allies to speak for us; we are a huge and diverse community.  We have more to accomplish together than non-survivors have ever considered.  To help with finding political allies in each other, I propose a new hashtag: #ImasurvivorAnd.  Because declaring our existence is only the beginning of our movement.  We are the ones who should get to decide what comes of it.

Try it out:

#ImasurvivorAnd I don’t know who raped me because I don’t have legal access to my records of time in state custody.

#ImasurvivorAnd I want to know the names of some famous male survivors who did better things than serial-killing.

#ImasurvivorAnd I want the Catholic Church to recognize marital rape.

If you can’t start a sentence that way, you need to take a backseat to those of who can.  If you can start a sentence that way but don’t want to because your circumstances keep you in the closet, we can still ensure your political inclusion with a movement designed to identify the politically active among us.  The conversations that occur in private will inform the causes we pursue as a faction.

Victimization is a spectrum.  So too, we should expect a spectrum of identity in a survivor-lead movement.  It is for each of us to decide how closely we identify as survivors and how deeply invested we are in what happens to us as a group.  The most inclusive data reports that one in three women and one in six men have at some point in their lives been assaulted sexually, and I’d bet my life real numbers are higher.  Non-physical forms of sexual abuse involve even greater numbers.

As with any invisible identity, there are no external qualifications to determine who is one of us.  A survivor movement is bound to promote consent culture over patriarchy and the rape culture that springs from it.  Structural sexism enables rape.  It doesn’t follow that an insignificant number of men and non-binaries are survivors, or that women are excluded from the pool of rapists.  Language that is inclusive of all genders is important, because all survivors are important.

For those who felt inclined to shout down men using #metoo, I recommend taking Black Lives Matter for a model.  Though white supremacists still point at white people shot by cops as evidence that there’s no such thing as racism, BLM has no problem going to bat for white victims of police brutality.  No one’s forgotten for a second that this is an anti-racism effort.  If supporting male survivors undermines some element of our movement, we need to make our movement better.  We will only work as a faction if we work as a community that supports and hears each other.

We need to stand strong against derailers and doubters who try, time and time again, to control the narrative around us.  We need to feel within our rights to tell our tone-deaf allies to back it up and stay in their own lanes.  Right now, the ball’s in our court.  Let’s never give it back.

I’m Pro-Choice and So is the Virgin Mary


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Regarding the issue of abortion, the Catholic Church is in error.

It is no blaspheme to say so.  Theological standards require that infallible doctrine apply to the entire Church, and never target an individual or a particular group of people.  The Church’s pronouncements against abortion, however, remove rights deemed universal exclusively from the pregnant.

The error applies specifically to abortion conducted before the point of viability, or the point at which a fetus is developed enough to live unattached to another human being.  This error, in other words, applies to the vast majority of intentional termination.

Post-viability abortion is intrinsically different, in terms of both impact and intent.

In terms of intent, the person who has voluntarily endured six months or more of pregnancy is demonstrably planning to give birth.  Personally (and legally, in almost every location) it would take nothing short of a calamitous prognosis at this point to convince doctors and parents that death is the best course of action.  Most commonly, it is a fetal health anomaly guaranteeing the unborn a short life of struggle and pain, or a life like perpetual coma, without hope of interaction.  In these cases, the end of pregnancy is incidental to the situation, not the ultimate goal.

Late-term abortion, in other words, is not abortion.  It is euthanasia.

Though comprising a very small proportion of intentional termination, post-viability abortion is predominantly singled out by pro-life literature.  Images of women with pronounced pregnant bellies, terms like “fetus,” and references to dismemberment are common indicators that the protester believes all abortions occur late-term.  To make the case against it, some present graphic descriptions of the removal of the deceased’s body out-of-context, as though the unborn was killed in a manner without parallel.  However, the method of death is, as prescribed with every act of euthanasia, lethal injection.  The remains are collected in the manner least dangerous to the pregnant person (as is also the case with late-term miscarriage).

In terms of impact, there may be few circumstances where post-viability abortion occurs in defense of life, as gestation can usually be ended by an induced, non-lethal early labor involving the same degree of risk for the pregnant person as a late-stage termination.

Abortion pre-viability, however, constitutes the lowest threshold of force for the removal of risk from one person at the expense of another. It therefore constitutes legitimate self-defense and cannot be infallibly condemned.

Contrary to what has been claimed by some who are pro-life, pregnancy and childbirth always include a very real risk of dying.  This is why people tend to give birth under the direct supervision of medical professionals who keep sterilized surgical equipment at the ready, and it is why, throughout gestation, doctors carefully monitor the pregnant person’s health.  Pregnancy can cause spiking and plummeting blood pressure, deadly clots, strokes, and heart-attacks.  Hormone-related psychosis, depression, and other disorders which (because of pregnancy) are not treated with prescription pills have even taken their share of lives via suicide.  Everyone who died giving birth or under the cesarean knife would have lived had they instead chosen a safe, legal abortion during the typical first trimester.

Nor is there any knowing in advance who will die.  Every pregnant one is risking death.  Hence, every pregnant person is entitled to defend her own life in this manner.

Contrary to what some may argue specifically in this context, we are not obliged to shrug off risk to our own lives as unimportant when demise is not guaranteed.  Nor are we expected to defend ourselves in a haphazard fashion; a less-than-certain hazard of death does not require a defense that is less-than-certain to kill.  A moderate use of force requires rather that we are to employ in our own defense nothing in excess of the force required to remove the risk of death.  Up until viability, lethal force is the minimum amount necessary to ending the pregnancy; hence, abortion is the moderate use of force.

Some do not like the categorization of abortion as self-defense for the reason that they would rather not place the unborn in the same category as any violent criminal.  This, however, is bias – and it undermines one of the Catholic Church’s foundational teachings.  That is, all people are equally, incalculably, precious.  When removed from battle, a child-soldier, blameless and vulnerable, is to be shown the same mercy as the commanding warlord.  The rights of others dictate, however, that while posing an active threat, either might be killed in self-protection.

Legitimate defense is not a proclamation of guilt, nor a dismissal of human value.  No crime makes a person unworthy of living.  It is simply the Church’s position that when two lives are in conflict, neither is obligated to forfeit for the good of the other.  As the Catechism states, “one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.”

The fact that the Church classifies abortion as a special kind of sin, resulting in instant excommunication for the pregnant person and doctors involved, emphasizes the targeted and discriminatory nature of this teaching.  Unlike the soldier joining, in good faith, what seems to be a Just War, or the sovereign who orders the death of a citizen in pursuit of societal safety, the woman who is pregnant and chooses abortion (along with those who serve her) are presumed to be acting with mal intent and operating without the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  The demonstrable good of her continued existence on this planet is not considered, or else is worth nothing, such that abortion is purported evil by nature.

In cases where the error of this assumption are glaring, Catholic thinkers have exercised mental acrobatics to deny it the medical context proclaimed by secular feminism.

In an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo is found developing without a uterus, it is clear that termination will save the life of the pregnant person, and that the unborn will otherwise not have long to live.  Still, the preservation of one of those lives can only be accomplished by such pretended accident as might require, for instance, the removal of a woman’s fallopian tube.

In impact and action, this is abortion.  A willing deed ends one life early and saves another.  But, by a discriminating twist of logic, it is reasoned that intending the action that will certainly cause death is not the exact same thing as intending the death itself.  So this is not abortion.

But it would be, if the embryo were removed through a tubal incision small enough to heal.

We see by this example that a condemnation of abortion requires that sanctity of heart and mind not meant to be trespassed, even by angels, to be plastered over with assigned purpose.  Neither the woman seeking an abortion nor the doctors helping her are granted the privacy of their own intentions.  For them, and only for them, benign intent must be externally demonstrated in order to exist.  What satisfies the Church that they mean well, furthermore, is singularly the removal of a piece of her body.  This is nothing but abortion pre-absolved – by the sacrifice of one’s fertility and the physical assurance of her lifelong suffering.  It is an ordered corruption of indulgence.

Denying pregnant people their medical rights in order to maintain that abortion is wrong does nothing to disprove the medical nature of abortion.  If sin cannot be justified by the avoidance of harm, then sin cannot be required as a condition for the avoidance of sin.  Non-therapeutic amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations are explicitly-listed sins against bodily integrity.  In this context, the removal of an entire fallopian tube is all of the above.

Consideration for respect of the person and scientific research led the Church to rule concretely that it is “not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.”  As the best possible outcome of tubal removal for an ectopic embryo is the delay of death, such mutilation serves no ethical purpose.  In removing a pregnant person’s risk of death entirely,  however, direct abortion is an application of legitimate defense – in keeping with the fifth commandment and the spirit of defending life.

Nor is respect for the person to be undermined in the interests of saving life.  The donation of one’s bodily organs is hailed by the Church as an act of love and compassion, but is “not morally acceptable” if the donor has not issued explicit consent.

Even when the donor body is no longer alive, and sharing of its parts endangers no one, it must be unambiguously established that the deceased had intended donation.  In condemning abortion, the Church has established that the dead possess more rights than the living pregnant person.  For, as has been pointed out, every act of pregnancy requires the donation of one’s organs and the accompanying compromise of one’s health.

Symptoms of a typical pregnancy would certainly be termed illness – and often severe illness – if experienced by any category other than the pregnant.  Nine months is a long time to be so incapacitated, but many of these symptoms, such as tooth decay, have permanent effects.  Childbirth and the major abdominal surgery known as cesarean sections are, of course, objectively damaging in the best of circumstances and require many weeks and months of medical recovery.  Very often the person bringing life into the world sustains serious injuries rarely acknowledged.  Tissue damage may result in enduring painful intercourse, lost libido, or incontinence.  Irreparable pelvic fractures are also very common.

Explicitly, the Church holds as the organizing principle for the regulation of human bodies, the fifth commandment.  The value of life.  But where it is not argued that the individual is the appointed guardian of her own life, and it has not been established that the insides of our bodies are as private or as sacred as the insides of our minds, it is taken for granted that violations of body are wrong for the reason that they go against a certain order established by the Church.

Consent does not justify medical experimentation enacted voyeuristically.  Consent is not the baseline for determining what constitutes a desecration of the dead.  The Church establishes the order, and in so doing, places the human body firmly under its own jurisdiction.  Ecclesiastical authority can say that pregnancy does not violate its integrity – even when bones break, muscles tear, and hearts stop.  Even when the person who is pregnant does not will it, and is screaming for it to end.  There can be no violation because, as regards the pregnant, it has established that this is what their bodies are for and this is what their lives are for.

The fact that sexual assault appears in the section of the Catechism listing sins against chastity, rather than those entailing sins against health, freedom, bodily integrity, or respect for the person, speaks further to this troubling assumption: it is the business of the Church to regulate, not the pure morality of how people treat one another, but the material usage of bodies.  With relation to all things sexual, it is human reproduction the establishment seeks to command.

This is why, though it was never acceptable to kill an attempting rapist, it was once taught as valiant to kill yourself in the event that you were a virgin girl who otherwise would be raped.  Saint Maria Goretti, who died fighting off a sexual predator, is still commemorated at the pulpit for “defending her virtue unto death.”

What sole, unspoken virtue could there be in a young woman’s death – except the prevention of a baby, whose very existence outside the bounds of sacrament would sully institution?

It is not by reasoning, but by the default prejudice known to feminists as “sexism” that we have always determined something in a woman more precious than her life.  And by that same determination, we have reduced what life may be within her to exploited, “disposable biological material,” however hard we preach to the contrary.

When we include those zygotes who fail to implant, three-quarters of all persons conceived are never born.  That the Church nevertheless will demand unprotected sex between married persons is a valuation unexamined.  It states that an infant is worth the sacrifice of every life lost in utero.  In the Church’s eyes, the born child is worth more – by far – than the zygote or the embryo.

The Church’s teachings against birth control further are a statement that allegiance to natural order as defined by institution are of greater import than human life or dignity.  Science informs us, in fact, there are many more zygotes lost in the course of natural ovulation cycles than could be in the storied event of breakthrough ovulation, as it may occur within wombs too thinned by hormonal birth control to sustain life.  Assuming hormonal birth control even does thin the uterine lining and hinder implantation.  The jury is still out.

So, too, the teachings on marriage requiring openness to life, while maintaining that perpetual abstinence is sin.  A discovery that one partner entered the union with no willingness to have children qualifies a union for annulment – a disavowal that true love ever existed.  In pursuit of procreation, the Church makes the statement – never mind the fact that Jesus’ parents followed quite a different model – that this is what your marriage is for. This is what your love is for.

This is the context by which abortion is without conceivable merit.  The great evil is not death – for all lives are equal and every child born requires the risk of another.  What rankles so is the insubordination; the fact – the known fact – that a pregnant person made a choice about it.

Let it rankle and be known, however – the Virgin Mary is pro-choice.

It says so in the bible.

In Luke’s gospel, the angel Gabriel does not frame it as question, but fact – that Mary the virgin will be overshadowed by the power of the Most High, will become pregnant and will give birth to a baby, whose job it will be to save all the people of God. (Luke 1:26-38).  The Annunciation ends with Gabriel’s insistence that no word from God will ever fail.

Mary tells him, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it done unto me according to your word.”

This is not a yielding, simple, sweet agreement.  Mary’s first word is the literal demand – look at me.  And, contrary to what most think, that line about being the handmaid of the Lord is anything but self-dismissal.  For context, we need to look at the story immediately before the Annunciation – the one where Gabriel appears to Mary’s cousin, Zechariah.

Line by line, this conversation (Luke 1:5-20) reads as a foil for the second.  Both visits begin with Gabriel suddenly appearing, telling the human not to be afraid, and proclaiming a boy will be born to change the fate of the world.  In both cases, the human wants to know how it is even possible to expect a baby, given how old he is on the one hand and how unmarried she is on the other.

It is in answer to Zechariah’s skepticism that the angel self-identifies as a servant of God, whose words reflect God’s will.  Then Gabriel tells the old man that, because he failed to believe the angel’s words, he will be silent until the prophecy comes true.  (Accordingly, Zechariah can not speak again until he supports his wife in naming their baby John.)

When they come from an angel or a man in gleaming vestments, claims of serving God are hailed as proof of a special proximity to heaven.  He uses this claim to imply that he, better than others, is able to decipher the Lord’s will.  And if no word from God will fail, speaking for God makes one infallible.

But enter the maiden – poor and young.  Never having commanded angelic legions in heaven’s defense, and making no claims to any standing in divine presence.  She is bold for no reason – except faith.  Where Zechariah was shut up by Gabriel’s humble-brags of higher service, Mary makes the angel look her in the eyes.  Mary speaks of her own service to God.  And Mary tells the angel famously, “Be it done unto me according to your word.”

So active and forceful is her consent – practically a command – the annunciation is painted as a sort of proposal in most biblical interpretations.  But she answered a question that was never asked.  By her yes, Mary asserts, against the angel’s presumption, that she has the right to say no.

This is a stand that flies in the face of erroneous Catholic teaching.  The girl is not consenting to sexual activity that may or may not lead to pregnancy.  She is consenting to her pregnancy in the moment after learning there is a person – with a name, a gender, and a destiny – whose life depends on her.

Mary’s faith in God was not the type of faith that could be blinded.  She could not be silenced, like Zechariah, because she believed no word from God would ever fail – and if the word of God was in the angel who served her , she knew the word of God was in her own voice, too.

Mary’s love for God was not the type of love that would let her forget the dignity of her own person.  So she told the angel yes, even though she wasn’t asked.

It was in that very act of choosing that Christ was made, before the angel’s eyes, from a perfect foretold prophecy to a person of flesh, who might be denied.  Without that yes in honor of his mother’s personhood, there could be no honor given to the personhood of Christ.

Let Mary teach us, in a spirit of humility, to halt our quest for The Kingdom where it causes us to tramp beyond the veil of a breathing human’s flesh.  We do not honor children by removing from their parents such rights as we still give to corpses.

Allegations ARE Coming Out Now Because of Politics


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I get pissed when I read threads on twitter patiently explaining why survivors take decades to tell our stories.  I get pissed because, as true as it is may be that fear and trauma and societal pressure can keep survivors from speaking, there is a greater pressure no one wants to mention.  It’s the pressure that keeps you from listening.

The first time a survivor’s tale goes viral is never the first time it was told.  It’s only the first time someone who couldn’t be dismissed heard the story and decided to do something with it.

It’s a one-in-a-million story that everybody cares about; a lottery of supply-and-demand.  Politics are currents, happening everywhere, always.  They are at work when a 14-year-old girl gets molested and her friends tell her she’s making a big deal out of nothing.  There are politics in the small town mothers and fathers and pastors who gaslight and downplay, and in the journalist who, in the right place at the right time, will hear that resonating rumor and decide to follow up.

If it takes tens years for a political tide to swell in the right direction and make the stories finally go somewhere, it can’t fall on survivors to explain why.  It falls on us, on all of us, to ask why, suddenly, we heard.

It is true that Roy Moore’s child-molestation only matters to most of you because of this election.  I know that for a fact because most of you aren’t calling for criminal charges.  “If Moore is guilty, Moore should step aside as Senate candidate,” is the faux-heroic stance of admired liberal after liberal politician.  Thanks so much, farmer-with-a-shotgun, for suggesting the fox kick himself out of the henhouse, but it ain’t gonna happen.  When the best you can do with your power is to suggest a child-molester remove himself from your line of vision, you’re not protecting or supporting survivors.  You’re using the waves created under them to forward your career.

Trump is a rapist and he should be in jail.  So the fuck is Bill Clinton.  And I refuse to believe that saying this will work against the movements seeking to expand healthcare or put a halt to Nazism.  The political tides that brought Hollywood-hating republicans and feminism-studying liberals together as two ears, hearing buried stories, have given me reason to hope.  That, in this perfect storm, we have made room for reckoning.

The Virgin Mary is Pro-Choice


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The gospel of Luke begins with two announcements.  First in a conversation with an old priest named Zechariah, and then in a meeting with Zechariah’s cousin, Mary, the angel Gabriel declares that there will be another baby born, to change the fate of the world.

The first annunciation (Luke 1:5-20) is set up as a foil for the second (1:26-38).  Zechariah and Mary each ask the angel how could they, given their strange circumstances, parent a child?  But whereas Zechariah is struck voiceless because of his doubts, Mary’s voice only grows stronger.

“Behold,” she tells the angel, when it has been explained to her that no word from God will ever fail.  “Behold,” meaning, look at me.  Then she says: “I am the handmaid of the Lord.”

Taken out of context, this might be read as a declaration of passivity.  However, just a few verses before, Gabriel responds to Zechariah’s skepticism with a similar introduction:  “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you.”

Serving God was given, not as reason for dismissal, but as the source of the angel’s authority.  Anyone who disbelieved God’s servant was kindly invited to shut his mouth for the next nine months or so.

After Mary speaks, it is the angel, and not the woman, who has no more to say.  He stays just long enough to hear her final answer: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”

So active and forceful is her consent – practically a command – the annunciation is painted as a sort of proposal in most biblical interpretations.  But Mary assumes a question that was never asked.  By her yes, she still asserts that she has the right to say no.

Most traditions on the matter hold that without her permission, God would never have made her pregnant.  The narrative has been used in theological circles as a parallel for sexual consent.  However, Mary wasn’t consenting to sex.  She was consenting to pregnancy.  And Jesus, though not incarnate, was fully-formed.  Gabriel knew his name and gender and what his destiny would be.  Mary accepted, regardless, in a way that made it clear – she didn’t have to do this.

Jesus was a choice that she was making.

Though no story was recorded, it is evident that Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth, experienced some form of annunciation as well.  She knew her son’s name was John, though her husband couldn’t tell her so, and shouted as soon as she saw her cousin again that Mary was the mother of her Lord.  We aren’t privy to the way that Elizabeth spoke with God.  Elizabeth ensconced herself in solitude for the first five months of her pregnancy, so perhaps this missing story speaks to how highly she valued her privacy.  But she issued a statement during this time that rings loud and strong across the ages: the Lord had done as she requested.  John was a choice made, too.

Neither lady seems to have been particularly phased by the knowledge that whole nations and peoples would be shaped by their decisions. Of course, as they were women, this knowledge was nothing new.

Women are socially prepared, in great and subtle ways, to foster the life of the species.  Identified females at every age are discouraged from partaking in activities, diets, and habits considered unhealthy in any given culture.  Women must be clean and cautious, discriminating in our mating and producing the right number of offspring.

Conversations concerning family planning invariably fall under the umbrella of women’s issues – from secular spheres where chemical birth control has never been developed with men in mind, to the natural family planning promoted by most Christian groups, wherein the prescribed ingredient is a wife’s unerring knowledge of her own menstrual cycle.

Worldwide, fertility rates have always been determined according to the number of children per woman born.  We are reminded again and again that our bodies represent the greater public good.  Those like Elizabeth, who can’t or won’t have children, have long borne the shame of society’s disappointment.  So, too, the teenaged mothers, poor and unmarried, like Mary.

Popes and presidents, scientists and prophets all have voiced their strong, conflicting opinions on the way that female bodies should further human aims.  The fate of the world’s population is given as ours to decide.  John Paul II preached that, as the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.  This follows his appeal for married couples to see children as “God’s special gift to them and to society.”  He suggests, but doesn’t say it: As goes a woman, so goes her family.

It adds up to a political reality wherein no choice regarding pregnancy is ever isolated from societal concern.  This has always been the reality.  Those who become pregnant are required, rather than called, to serve the highest good – independent of which choice is made – by the very act of choosing.

Mary certainly knew her pregnancy had a political context.  The Jewish people were an oppressed minority within the Roman Empire, and the long-discussed Messiah was expected to flip that paradigm.  On her visit to Elizabeth after speaking with the angel, Mary sings that the Lord has “brought down rulers from their thrones but lifted up the humble.”  God was doing a great thing for her in making her a part of his revolution.  Her choice is a power that she is proud to wield – not in a general pro-life way, but specifically for the advancement of Israel’s people.  Mary demanded, before Gabriel knew her answer, that the angel recognize her as someone God trusted to make such great decisions.

To call abortion selfish is to ignore the sociological landscape that demands women choose, in every moment of living, the highest manifest good of our communities.  Fleeing abusers, hunger, political unrest, unemployment, or the violence of neighborhoods guarded with suspicion by established authorities – the choice of abortion has very often been a choice in pursuit of conditions that are safer and more conducive to life.  We have it on biblical authority that pregnancy is not always a blessing.  Cursed be the breasts that suck and the wombs that bear in days of tribulation.  Luke said so a few times, and Matthew said so once.

Those who have small children, and who plan to have children in future, acutely know that a risk to their own lives is a risk to others’, too.  You may argue that there are very few circumstances where abortion can be seen as a defense of a pregnant person’s life.  You would be wrong.  Pregnancy and childbirth always include the risk of death.  Hence people hurry to hospitals at the first signs of labor, preferring that medical professionals with surgical equipment actively supervise delivery.  Throughout a pregnancy, medical check-ins are normal and encouraged.  Rising and falling blood pressure throughout gestation can cause deadly clots, strokes, and heart-attacks.  Hormone-related psychosis and depression, and other conditions which during pregnancy could not be treated with prescription pills, have even taken their share of lives via suicide.  Everyone who ever died giving birth or under the cesarean knife would have lived had they instead chosen a safe, legal abortion during the typical first trimester.  There is no knowing in advance who will die; the risk is there for every pregnant person.

Life is not a miracle, in the word’s most common sense.  It’s not something that just happens, as though by magic – nor is it, as children may be told, born by stork through open windows.  The creation of a human being requires the physical suffering of another person.  Symptoms of a typical pregnancy would certainly be termed illness – and often severe illness – if experienced by any category other than the pregnant.  Nine months is a long time to be so incapacitated, but many of these symptoms, such as tooth decay, have permanent effects.  Childbirth and the major abdominal surgery known as cesarean sections are, of course, objectively damaging in the best of circumstances and require many weeks and months of medical recovery.  Very often the person bringing life into the world sustains serious injuries rarely acknowledged, affecting areas of the body considered unfit for public discussion.  Tissue damage may result in enduring painful intercourse, or incontinence.  Permanent pelvic fractures are all too common.

It is sensible to presume that, even if no laws enforced it, the vast majority of abortions would continue to occur within the first trimester.  A person who endures five or six months of pregnancy clearly intends to have a baby.  Late-term abortions are overwhelmingly the result of dire health concerns, and not what any compassionate person would call “elective.”

The Catholic Church, easily the most prolific and influential pro-life organization globally, enshrines a much more stringent definition of non-elective abortion.  Even when the termination of pregnancy will most certainly save the life of the person who is pregnant, and when the life of the unborn otherwise will certainly not be long, no abortion is moral that intends the death it causes.  For example, in the case of ectopic pregnancies, an embryo found developing in a place other than a uterus may only be terminated indirectly, by, say, the removal of a lady’s fallopian tube.

Following what is characteristically Catholic logic, it can be argued that the intent of an action is as important as the impact of the action.  But following what is characteristically Catholic prejudice, intent is treated as more important than impact when the subject is abortion.  Further, and uniquely here, intent is treated as external, rather than private – visible to the Church and open to public evaluation.

As a Catholic, you are taught in other contexts that a person’s heart and mind are private spheres, and that this privacy is sacred.  Not even angels can read minds.  It can’t be assumed that the intention of abortion is to kill a zygote or embryo anymore than it can be assumed that the intention of a fallopian tube’s removal is not to kill a zygote or an embryo.  Excepting such specific, individual cases where, say, a pregnant woman appeals for advice to her parish priest, then – the logic that is being used to tell us that it’s wrong to have an abortion, can’t be used to tell us that it’s wrong to have an abortion.

By a similar prejudice, the Church’s reasoning regarding self-defense is never applied to pregnancy.  However, abortion removes the risk of death from one person at the expense of another.  Because pregnancy cannot be ended with less than lethal force, lethal force is proportionate to threat.  On these grounds, abortion should be considered valid self-defense.

You may balk at categorizing a helpless embryo the same as a willful assailant.  This, too, is bias.  According to the Church, we have no right to distinguish the value of lives based on guilt or innocence.  Regardless of what crimes a person has committed, Catholic teaching holds that human being as incalculably precious and worthy of life.  A child-soldier, blameless and vulnerable, is to be shown the same mercy as the commanding warlord when either are removed from battle and posing no active threat.

While in battle, the Church’s longstanding support for the concept of Just War argues that (arbitrarily contrary to what we’d argue with abortion) it is permissible to organize and intend the use of lethal force.  A pregnant woman is different from a soldier only in that she is neither following orders, nor recognized, by the Church, as an authority over the territory of her body.

Interestingly, though the Church does specifically proclaim bodily integrity to be a value worth the outlaw of slavery, torture, and medical experimentation enacted voyeuristically, we have never been clear that a violation of bodily autonomy, even including rape, justifies defensive homicide.  It was, however, once considered acceptable to kill yourself in the event that you were a virgin girl on the verge of being raped.  And if you died while “defending your virtue”, you might just earn your sainthood.

There is something to the Church more precious than a life.

Abortion is a special crime not because of death – for all life is to be equally valued, and every child born requires the risk of another.  What rankles so throughout the Church is the fact, the known fact, that a pregnant person made a choice about it.

If it were known to all that the Virgin Mary was pro-choice, would we take her experience into consideration?  Or would we dismiss her?  Would we hate her?  Would we call her an enemy of life?  Would we, solemn and troubled, ponder the idea, that mother though she was, and Mother though we call her, she was able to hold her head high and consider, just a minute, a world where we didn’t belong?

Does that thought bring us too near for comfort to the brink of non-existence?  Can we feel the power slipping from us if we place it in her hands?  Does it make us feel better to imagine that she had no choice, that she was God’s servant in the sense that she couldn’t say no?

Or maybe we’ll just compartmentalize, again, to save ourselves from considering abortion in one vein with the rest of our theology.  The Annunciation will have nothing to do with questions of life or death.  The main difference, we’ll conclude, is that – regardless of whether God was obliged to respect her wishes – a hypothetical no from Mary wouldn’t have physically killed Jesus.

According to the Vatican, life begins, case-closed, at the exact point where a sperm and egg cell meet.  The angel says, you will conceive – Jesus wasn’t there, yet. Of course, conception as the starting point makes it theologically difficult to determine when Christ’s life did begin.  There was no sperm involved.  Unless it was God-sperm spontaneously generated.  Maybe zygote-Jesus was entirely concocted from divine genesis, or one of Mary’s egg-cells divinely mutated.  The point is, we have no canon idea when or of what Christ was made.

So life-at-conception isn’t inclusive of Jesus.

Nor is he the only one left out.  Identical twins, springing from a single zygote, would have to be considered half-people if personhood could not begin after conception.  Chimeras, splicing from multiple zygotes into one, contain multiple living strands of DNA.  Such people can sometimes be identified by two differently-colored eyes.  If both zygotes are people, and neither one dies, a chimera is a couple.

Great though it would be to watch the Vatican back-dooring acceptance of “them/they’re” pronouns and polygamia, the prospect of forcing a several-soul identity onto a child born chimera should remove from us such arrogance as would assert we know no mystery regarding life’s beginning.

What we have learned through science is that, including those zygotes who fail to implant, three-quarters of all conceived are lost naturally before they are ever born. That the Church does not condemn unprotected sex as reckless endangerment, but rather endorses it between married persons, is a valuation unexamined.  It states that an infant is worth the sacrifice of every life lost in utero.  In the Church’s eyes, the born child is worth more – by far – than any developing embryo.

Humility could spare us heresy and bless us with compassion, when, without it, our quest for righteousness entitles us to tramp beyond the veil of a breathing human’s flesh.  Is there no reason, after all, that God saw fit to bury the sphere of life within us?  Are the insides of our bodies not private, and sacred, just like the insides of our minds?

Mystery has its job to do.  It stands as shield between us and a knowledge too profound.  Protecting us from heartbreak in the wake of zygotes gone.  Blowing away our labels before we stick them to each other, and lifting from our backs the weight of explanation.  Some things don’t fit neatly into boxes.  The straightest path has always been to accept that we’ve been confounded.

In Support of Holyoke High School’s Outspoken Poet

Thank you for raising your voice at your school’s Puerto Rican Day event.  We are outraged that the blogger and former teacher known as Turtle Boy, who avoided an investigation into lewd and intimidating behavior toward a young woman by quitting his teaching job, has decided to target you.

That Aidan Kearney, director of Turtle Boy’s blog, either took it upon himself or allowed others to post numerous pictures lifted from a high-school student’s personal Facebook page is beyond inappropriate.  His sexualizing comments are abhorrent.  We call on our communities in Holyoke, throughout Massachusetts, and as far as word will spread to condemn this predator’s actions in the strongest possible terms.  By exposing a young woman’s images to his virulent reactionary following, Aiden Kearney has compromised the safety and privacy that every child deserves.

We stand with you against the harassment and cruelty that Aiden Kearney is trying to foment.  We condemn the sources, whoever they may be, who asked him to write this hit-piece.  It is unforgivable that an adult in a position of authority over you, including teachers at your school, according to Aiden Kearney, would jeopardize your well-being by directing a known internet abuser to write about you.

You clearly are more academically gifted by far than Aiden Kearney, who despite being a teacher in the past, has no idea how to analyze poetry or history.  We recognize that your poem is about racism, a topic that is far too heavy for some grown adults to handle, despite the fact that children of color must live with the impact of it every day.

It escaped Aiden Kearney’s notice that in the very recent wake of a massive storm that has left the majority of Puerto Rico’s residents without electricity or cell service, while family members are struggling to locate each other and an imperialist piece of legislation known as the Jones act is hindering international aid from reaching people who need it, the President of the United States of America can still refer to disaster relief as “debt” without a shadow of remorse.

It escaped Aiden Kearney’s notice that white supremacists were able to openly rally in Charlottesville, again, just two months after the last white supremacist rally in the same location during which a protester was killed in cold blood.

Aiden Kearney did not notice that as football players are protesting – peacefully, silently, kneeling down, harming no one – the Vice President of the United States made it a point to get up and leave, because their message that there is something wrong with police brutality is the something wrong with the situation to a white man who has the privilege of not caring.

But we hear you, and we believe you.  You do not deserve the hatred of Aiden Kearney, nor anyone else.  You deserve to be heard.  The problems you address in your powerful poem are more important and more worth all of our time than the words of another privileged white man.  You have our support, our admiration, and our thanks for using your platform to speak your truth.

Jesus is a Whore


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’re a Christian who thinks it’s wrong to be a sex-worker, here’s a counter-reason you probably didn’t consider:

Jesus is a whore.

Terms chosen to explain the deeper spiritual meaning of the crucifixion are consistently transactional.  Christian theologies explicitly state that our sins were all paid for by Christ’s physical body.  This isn’t an accident.  It’s an accurate throwback to stark facts concerning Calvary.

For thirty pieces of silver, Christ was kissed and stripped.  His naked body provided entertainment to voyeuristic strangers.  If you think that isn’t like sex-work because it doesn’t sound sexy to you, I can assure you that the Romans thought differently.  Public entertainment, including executions, were expected to be sexual.  The Latin word for a gladiator-trainer was the same as the word for a pimp, and gladiators were classed the same as prostitutes under Roman law.  Colosseum games included sexual exploits.  Political dissidents were crucified naked specifically as a form of sexual humiliation.  The crowd at Christ’s feet were getting off on it.

People are still are getting off on it.  Don’t Google Loadstar, Him or I saw Jesus Die, but do believe me when I tell you – there is such a thing as crucifixion porn.  And if you’ve never seen a crucifix in Church where Jesus didn’t have at least a chiseled six-pack, you might want to ask yourself why.

Now you’ll argue that Jesus can’t be a whore because he wasn’t the one getting paid.  He didn’t take the silver and his weren’t the sins forgiven.  But this has frequently been the case for prostitutes with pimps, with family in debt, and whose work went to feed their own children.  None of these circumstances prevent people from being labeled sex-workers.

Also, if you’re Catholic, you believe that Christ’s literal flesh is still yours to feast upon.  His body pays your share in eternal life on an ongoing basis.  If the transaction is not voluntary on his end, the Church should consider itself a predator.  Bad for optics, if you still want to deny Christ’s whoredom, is the literal collection of cash before the Eucharistic service.  Also not helping your case – the persistent, soft-spoken comparison of Communion to sex itself.  First Eucharist has often been related to a first passionate kiss.  Little girls waiting to receive it are dressed in wedding-bright white.

If none of that is convincing, I direct your attention to the only story in the bible where Jesus definitely speaks to a prostitute.  This story can only be found in the gospel of Luke (7:36-50).  (Other gospels tell a story that similarly involve a woman with an alabaster jar, but no allusions to prostitution.  John’s story identifies this woman as Mary Magdalene, which is a good case for the Mary-was-a-hooker narrative you’ll hear some bible experts dismissing out-of-hand.)

Luke’s story goes like this:

Christ is at a Pharisee’s house reclining at table, when a whore walks up to him with an alabaster flask, and pours ointment all over his feet.  The Pharisee thinks to himself, “‘If this man were a prophet,  he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’”

So everyone’s scandalized.  But it’s not for the reason you think.

You’re allowed to have sex with a prostitute.  That’s not a problem.  Not even for a holy man, not even for a rabbi.  Nobody’s shocked to see her in the Pharisee’s house, and in fact all the men seem to know who she is; she’s probably there all the time.  Nobody’s saying out loud that there’s anything wrong with what Jesus is letting her do to him.  He has the right to let her.  They’re just judging him privately.

Because, he’s doing it wrong.

The hooker’s not supposed to pay you.  The hooker’s not supposed to use you and your body for her own comfort and relief.  And that’s what she was definitely doing, and she was not being subtle.  We remember thousands of years later that her jar was made of alabaster; it was a big, showy thing she did to bathe him in that ointment.  She made it rain, to use the modern vernacular of strip-clubs.  She slobbered all over him – kissing, crying, rubbing her hair on his feet.  There could be no mistaking her passion for accident or malady; they know what kind of woman she is.  They assume she’s getting off.  And they’re privately scoffing at the way Jesus can just lay there passively, without seeming to realize that he’s become the whore.

That isn’t a story about how Jesus accepted an apology from a very sorry prostitute.  This isn’t even what Jesus said about the situation.  He said to his host, who sat there quietly mocking him, that the woman’s love was a demonstration of thanks for all that she had been forgiven.  Simon, man of stature, had never been forced by society to grapple with the weight of his own humility.  He didn’t yet know what it was to feel redeemed.  And Jesus said, it showed, in the stingy way that he received his guests.

The prostitute didn’t leave the house that day committed to prostituting no more.  It wasn’t an option; in Jesus-era Palestine, a known whore couldn’t just decide to get married or start up a respectable business instead.  Her redemption was to do with her own sense of integrity.  Her own ability to love and respect herself.  And her finding, in Jesus, the hope that the world she lived in could learn to love her yet.

It was her faith that saved her.  And Jesus heard that prayer.

So he became her.  In front of that entire stuffy dinner party – Christ became a whore, who wouldn’t be shamed.



, , ,

“Um – Excuse me…Laci?”

The woman in green sweatpants looked up quickly from her bed of half-repotted geraniums.  She felt the wide-brimmed back of her hat push against her neck, displacing a few wisps of hair in front.

“Hello, Tina…”  Laci smiled uncertainly at Evan’s Mom.  Tina was standing at the end of the driveway with both arms folded.

“I hope you haven’t been avoiding me.  I left you a few messages.  I feel it’s important that we speak about Tommy’s behavior yesterday.”

“Well…my goodness,” said Laci.  “Why don’t we go inside?”

In the kitchen, Laci washed up as best she could in a hurry, and poured them both some orange juice.  “I saw that there had been some missed calls and when I tried to listen I couldn’t make it out exactly.  I tried to call back but, cell towers…”

Tina blinked once, and lifted the glass of orange juice off the table.  She held it without drinking, her eyes moving back and forth as though reviewing script.  “Well, Laci,” she said, finally leaning forward.  “I don’t know Tommy’s side of things, but from what Evan has told me, during their playdate yesterday, your son jumped on his back while they were in the pool.  He fell forward, with his face in the water, and Tommy wouldn’t let him up.”

Laci covered her mouth.  “Oh, my…”

Tina’s eyes started popping.  “How have you not heard of this until now?  How closely were you supervising?”

“Tina!”  Laci shook her head.  “I’m as shocked as you are that my Tommy would do such – ”


Laci gasped.  “I can’t believe you’re talking to me in this way!  Our pool has nothing to do with the kind of people we are!  We always teach our kids, no matter where they are, they should always treat people nicely!”

Tina’s eyebrows worked together, until her forehead looked like a knot.  “Laci…what in the hell do you mean…your pool has nothing to do with…”  Tina pushed against the space between her eyebrows, forcing it smooth again.  “Are you trying to tell me…that you have a pool…and you don’t have any rules, any guidelines, any supervision, for when your children swim?”

“Well, we don’t want to scare the kids, Tina!  They’re too young to learn about choking and drowning and all that.  We don’t want them to grow up feeling afraid.”

“My boy felt afraid and hurt yesterday because your son doesn’t know how to not abuse people in his pool.  How do you feel about that?”

“I don’t know what to think.  At this house, we’re one-hundred percent pool-blind.”