king tides

photographer: Rachel Lena Sterline
photographer: Rachel Lena Sterline

Isn’t history just repetition and accumulation of power and influence? This is about understanding why you feel so wronged. Don’t you know it takes the Sun and the Moon to make the tides? It’s also true that roaring cats don’t purr. In this specific instance, it is either roar or purr. There is no both.

Cities showed up 6-figures deep. A people’s definition of amazing. Folks are asking if this is another revolution for a problem with no name. Pre-conditions find themselves in dispute along with feeling safe, not comfortable, but safe. You do not have my permission to share this. Pussy is on sale.

Expressions exchanged, uploaded, tagged. Bravery, morality, aggression slants.

Today we celebrate 44 years of codified privacy and personal (white) choice. An axis of origin. To be fair, there’s no standard agreement on how many simultaneous wars we are fighting. Drama should be reserved for love. The noise, the roaring noise, has been the most reliable of our tensions. Hair-triggering sensitivities. Isn’t it ironic?

tripping my triggers

we talked about how we were animals
yet never admitted we cared for each other’s hearts and minds

Detroit Nov 10, 2016
Detroit Nov 10, 2016
With no institutional memory, we are safe.
There were no dreams this time. There was no response.
The business men are calculated nerves. Women wear pumps in retort.
We let in metered light with every blink. Syncopation rewards action.
How we follow matters to no one but those in power.

Create. Undo. Rest. Accelerate.

Solace becomes isolation. These words flow to make room for more.
This may all be in real time. Conscious objection is familiar.
Recalled strategies swell in curation. Suspicions privately managed
like ripping out a seam. Divided interiors lead to dark click holes as
we the people reigns.

meat of my eyes

“…abstractions of bureaucracy and government and capital destroy real, actual, human bodies.” –Daniel Borzutzky

Point Reyes, CA Dec16
Point Reyes, CA Dec16

there was a request to have erotic mean more
to expand beyond the perverse
a subjective benediction

intimate corporeal wishes
like hope or joy

in that moment I was nothing
I was forever
beyond a body

my ideas are infinite
aren’t you

when you touched me
there
it reminded me of when I stopped asking questions
simply, repeatedly letting go

poetry push

in search of glory

Henri Cartier Bresson, Mexico, 1934
Henri Cartier Bresson, Mexico, 1934

It’s been said that god is in the details; the devil is too. There can be tension in revealing the obvious and intentions, despite having benevolent origins, should be read with discretion.

Finding oneself alone with language that pushes and pulls with an exactness of familiarity is why I can reread Robert Hass’s Praise, cover to cover, repetitively and with perverse discovery at each angle of detail he so eloquently and simply lays before the reader. Revelations breed epiphanies which begets clarity.

There is glory in those details.

******

Meditation at Lagunitas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remember how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy place where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

*************

Santa Lucia

IV

Santa Lucia: eyes jellied on a plate.
The thrust of serpentine was almost green
all through the mountains where the rock cropped out.
I liked sundowns, dusks smelling of madrone,
the wildflowers, which were not beautiful,
fierce little wills rooting in the yellow
grass year after year, thirst in the roots,
mineral. They have intelligence
of hunger. Poppies lean to the morning sun,
lupine grows thick in the rockface, self-heal
at creekside. He wants to fuck. Sweet word.
All suction. I want less. Not that I fear
the huge dark of sex, the sharp sweet light,
light if it were water raveling, rancor,
tenderness like rain. What I want happens
not when the deer freezes in the shade
and looks at you and you hold very still
and meet her graze but in the moment after
when she flicks her ears & starts to feed again.

———————————————————-
original publish date: April 24, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

love

One of the reasons why I identify as someone who reads poetry boils down to valuing perspective.

Ai (photo by Bill Hayward)
Ai (photo by Bill Hayward)

Poetry can illuminate the beauty of ugly, exhume shadowy forces of trauma, and distill the essence of struggle in one sentence or one metaphor. Poetry can just as easily pivot to elevate the joy of mundane routines or capture moments of secret pleasure; it does not discriminate. Through this demonstration of language and precision, the reader can embody a practice of being open to having those previously defined private moments become moments of public definition.

Ai (which means love in Japanese) is one such poet whose voice dominates those quiet spaces between private moments. With each aptly named collection (Sin, Cruelty, Greed, Vice) Ai weaves narratives that embrace life’s complexity. She provides perspectives that you can follow through darkness and visions that bend toward brilliance.

xxxxxxxx

Abortion

Coming home, I find you in bed,
but when I pull back the blanket,
I see your stomach is flat as an iron.
You’d done it, as you warned me you would
and left the fetus wrapped in wax paper
for me to look at. My son.
Woman, loving you no matter what you do,
what can I say, except that I’ve heard
the poor have no children, just small people
and there is room only for one man in this house.

from Cruelty, 1973

xxxxxxxxx

The Good Shepherd: Atlanta, 1981

I lift the boy’s body
from the trunk,
set it down,
then push it over the embankment
with my foot.
I watch it roll
down into the river
and feel I’m rolling with it,
feel the first cold slap of the water,
wheeze and fall down on one knee.
So tired, so cold.
Lord, I need a new coat,
not polyester, but wool,
new and pure,
like the little lamb
I killed tonight.
With my right hand,
that same hand that hits
with such force,
I push myself up gently.
I know what I’d like–
some hot cocoa by the heater.

Once home, I stand at the kitchen sink,
letting the water run
till it overflows the pot,
then I remember the blood
in the bathroom
and so upstairs
I take the cleanser,
begin to scrub
the tub, tiles, the toilet bowl,
then the bathroom.
Mop, vacuum, and dust rag.
Work, work for the joy of it,
for the black boys
who know too much,
but not enough to stay away,
and sometimes a girl, the girls too.
How their hands
grab at my ankles, my knees.
And don’t I lead them
like a good shepherd?
I stand at the sink,
where the water is still
overflowing the pot,
turn off the faucet,
then heat the water and sit down.
After the last sweet mouthful of chocolate
burns its way down my throat,
I open the library book,
the one on mythology,
and begin to read.
Saturn, it says, devours his children.
Yes, it’s true, I know it.
An ordinary man, though, a man like me
eats and is full.
Only God is never satisfied.

from Sin, 1986

————————————————

original publish date: April 17, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

the struggle of living fully

Minnie Bruce Pratt (courtesy of the Poetry Foundation)
Minnie Bruce Pratt (courtesy of the Poetry Foundation)

I first learned about Minnie Bruce Pratt via Bitch Magazine’s excellently curated Bitch List. The list highlighted Pratt’s newest poetry collection, Inside the Money Machine with Nothing to Lose. In Inside the Money Machine, her poems vacillate between the struggles of surviving in a 21st century capitalist system while looking for joy beyond the obvious circumstances of the working poor.

Pratt writes in an essay entitled, The Struggle To Write:

“I returned to poetry not because I had ‘become a lesbian’—but because I had returned to my own body after years of alienation. The sensual details of life are the raw materials of a poet—and with that falling-in-love I was able to return to living fully in my own fleshly self.”

Below are two poems from the critically acclaimed We Say We Love Each Other that, in my opinion, distill the essence of her power to transform the obvious.

Blueberries

Love, I know you well: how you look, desiring,
upper lip lengthened when you look at what you
want: some wet fat blueberries heaped in bowls, or
me, at times, wet too.

10/9/1982

******************

New Year’s, 1984

I avoid the stalled elevator, walk up five flights,
down a long green hall smelling of cooked food
(not cabbage) to have, in my apartment, a night view of
monuments, and public buildings with windows gunslitted
like forts.
Even though officially War Is Peace,
MX missiles and Marines with guns are Peacekeepers,
and the enemy is a devil with a name not like ours;

even when occasionally a helicopter spotlight
chops through my window, silver-white cuts across
my hands at the typewriter, the nightmare of caught
at the truth, naked as with a lover;
even when
a trapped voice shouts on the other side of my bedroom wall:
They control us like robots;
I do not agree
with my neighbor, I do not agree with my government.

I agree with you, mother-naked on the year’s first night.
I agree with your hand in my cunt. Your fingers explain
the future by scrawling lines of exquisite pleasure
on the walls of my vagina, urgent graffiti.
The day
that comes, as it will, when a neighbor or casual laughing
hating mouth offers to let me pass, if I say Her
not me, if I agree to rat-tooth jaws closing
on you as enemy, Jew, dyke:
then I will remember
your hand has written your name inside me forever.

1/9/84

—————————————-

original publish date: April 11, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

cockfight

artist: Rivane Neuenschwander
artist: Rivane Neuenschwander

Choice and reproductive justice* are no longer marginalized as “women’s issues” anymore. That’s the intent behind Bro-Choice, a newly launched Choice USA initiative that has received a lot of attention in its first week of inception.

Andrew Jenkins, field associate at Choice USA, bravely unveiled the basics of Bro-Choice in, Bro-Choice: Moving Men From Passive Allies to Vocal Stakeholders in Ending Oppression. Counter-arguments from pro-lifers, feminists, and even tumblr quickly ensued.

The basics of being a Bro-Choicer are:

LIVING BRO-CHOICE means having the courage to speak out against injustice, even at the risk of being alienated. It means creating broader, more equitable definitions of masculinity. Living Bro-Choice means being a vocal advocate for reproductive justice, and an authentic ally to women. Living Bro-Choice means being a part of the solution.

  • Challenge negative stereotypes and representations of men and masculinity
  • Call out sexism and rape culture when I see it
  • Always ask for consent before sexual activity, and always respect the answer
  • Challenge myself and interrogate my own personal privileges
  • Be an outspoken champion for reproductive justice

This all sounds logical—common sense even. Encouraging the use of a reproductive justice framework, challenging those who do not identify as women to participate in all things that relate to reproduction (code word for: sex, morality, culture, economics, etc.), and finding new strategies to resist oppression of one’s autonomy all sound like goals that even sit-on-the-couch “my body, my choice” fans can get behind. Right?

It’s too soon to know if these “actively-engaged men” will be the change agents needed to tip the scales of justice. As most initiatives go, it will be the implementation and the long-term vision that ultimately will define its success.

I want to believe. But to quote Six Finger Satellite’s infamous line from Cockfight, “that’s how I break the rules/when I bring a cunt to the cockfight” there is much to suspect in a patriarchal culture that yet again is doing nothing more than elevating men’s voices. There is also no discussion of racial justice – a core component of reproductive justice – which is a serious weakness. I’ll eye roll past the burning bra comment (really?) to find some promise in having “serious dialogue about the indisputable connection between traditional representations of masculinity and reproductive oppression.”

If they follow some golden rules of being a good ally, think more strategically about authentically incorporating an intersectional approach, and understand 10 reasons [link lost] why using choice is seriously problematic, this might be a potential bromance.

~~~~~~

*Reproductive Justice exists when all people have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our gender, bodies, and sexuality for ourselves, our families and our communities. Achieving this goal requires changes at all levels and ending all forms of oppression…including forces that deprive us of self-determination and control over our bodies, and limit our reproductive choices. A New Vision for Advancing Our Movement for Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, and Reproductive Justice. Oakland: Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (now Forward Together), 2005

———————————————————————

original publish date: May 1, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

Recommended Reading: Defending Reproductive Justice

revolution as constant
revolution as constant

For anyone who cares about reproductive justice, reproductive health, and reproductive rights or for that matter freedom, agency, and empowerment, I highly recommend downloading the updated Defending Reproductive Justice: An Activist Resource Kit by Political Research Associates (PRA). PRA first disseminated their activist resource kit in 2000 to expose the anti-abortion movement’s strategies and analyze its rhetoric so that reproductive justice activists could proactively calibrate their resistance. The resource kit was updated in 2009 after Dr. George Tiller was murdered.

On the heels of Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary, this current version demonstrates the depth and long-term strategic vision of a movement that wants desperately to “capitalize on negative societal attitudes about anyone who does not conform to narrow definition [sic] of ‘true’ Americans, including immigrants, low-income women, prisoners, and LGBT people.”

To say there has been a steady and calculated erosion of access to reproductive health services in the United States, and especially for low-income women of color and LGBTQ people, is an understatement. According to a Guttmacher Institute report released in April, in the first three months of 2013 there were 694 provisions at the state level that sought to restrict reproductive rights and health, 47% of which were directly related to abortion.

Defending Reproductive Justice is an incredible resource to understand the strategies behind anti-choice ideologies that can be illogical and confusing. How can one be against contraception and against abortion? What’s really behind the idea of “reducing the need for abortions?” By appropriating feminist rhetoric and incorporating language that appears to be “woman-centered,” anti-abortion (and let’s be clear anti-sexuality) advocates have been extremely effective. The end result is clear:

By focusing only on cutting the number of abortions performed, some conservative advocates of abortion reduction hope to appeal to moderates, including some communities of faith, while studiously avoiding consideration of the factors that contribute to the need for abortions. Such factors include inadequate sexuality education or health care, economic distress, lack of a supportive partner, and the dismissal of the ability of a woman to make her own decisions. Not addressing these factors through better family planning and more economic support, while accepting the logic of “abortion reduction,” could strengthen the argument for further limiting access to the procedure – a clear antichoice strategy.

Exposing the racialized, classist, and misogynistic underpinnings of arguments for rape exemptions, abortion as holocaust/genocide, sex for procreation only, abstinence-only-until-marriage, and “right to conscience” clauses demonstrates a strong argument for embracing a reproductive justice approach to this incredibly complex issue. We need to assure that all have sexual freedom and access to quality affordable health care. By understanding the systemic origins behind why some have “choices” and others do not, we are better able to call out those historical and culturally constructed oppressive structures of power. We are also better able to see how anti-abortion advocates are highjacking racial justice to further their agenda. This is the holistic and interconnected vision of reproductive justice.

The activist kit concludes with practical tips for resisting and strategies to move beyond the fear-based rhetoric to create a society where those who are able to reproduce decide for themselves when they want such a revolutionary change in their lives.

————————————————————————–

original publish date: May 8, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

The 511: Digital Feminist Politics

#FemFuture: Online Revolution, like all good apocalyptic narratives, describes a fragile world of deprivation, struggle, and impending catastrophe. The protagonists are “online feminists” building virtual communities and producing content that is prized for its authenticity. The antagonists are “traditional feminist organizations” who hoard limited resources and control the tools that amplify voices which create influence, a highly sought after form of power.

Linda Wallace, Living Tomorrow (2005)
Linda Wallace, Living Tomorrow (2005)

The report, written by Courtney E. Martin and Vanessa Valenti of Feministing.com, published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, and funded by a number of family foundations and individual donors, is a provocative call to reflect and assess a critical moment in time. They rightly point out the positive impact of employing today’s online tools and strategic social media strategies used within an intentional feminist practice. “Online feminism has the capacity to be like the nervous system of this modern day feminist body politic.” The capacity for connection through building community and the speed to mobilize formerly isolated individuals has changed the way business is done; there is no debate about that.

Except there has been a lot of debate and whole lot more critique. I recommend reading #FemFuture, History & Loving Each Other Harder for one of the most comprehensive and balanced critiques of the report. Jessica Marie Johnson echoes valid sentiment that communities of color’s voices are sanitized and appropriated into a history that itself isn’t new. “There is nothing new about bloggers attempting to create digital media and activate online networks to challenge interlocking oppressions while agitating on the ground for social change.” Neither are the numerous efforts, mostly failed, to build bridges to predominately white women-led feminist organizations.

It is precisely this attempt to originate and center this new-ish revolution within a milquetoast framework of unchecked privilege and access to power that made the proposed “solutions” so disappointing. Johnson lays it down in full view with the following:

This power, at play in the space, conveners, and even among the participants, is precisely what allows the long history of black feminist and WOC online activity to be erased. We are not all in this together. Some feminists are able to write the story down, tell it, and have it be seen as the gospel truth. Power and privilege are invisible and insidious and difficult to face, but only power and privilege explain why such a well-documented past (and thriving present!) is not explored. As a historian of slavery, I’m well familiar with what happens when certain stories are told and others are dismissed. It was never the case slaves weren’t telling their own stories or philosophizing their own experiences. But it was always the case that the means through which they spoke–from the languages they used to the technology they chose–were seen as illegitimate.

I also agree that “differentiating the labor of creating ‘citizen-produced media’ from the labor of organizing online and on the ground (re)creates unnecessary fault lines, privileges certain kinds of organizing over others, certain kinds of knowledge over others, and further gnarls issues of compensation, attribution, citation, and recognition that are the heart of black feminist and rwoc [radical women of color] critique of the report.”

The recommendation for women’s funding organizations and networks to financially support feminist infrastructures that can effectively coordinate and set agendas is important to state. It’s also equally important that feminists – all of us who claim that identity – be vigilant about setting agendas that don’t reinforce hierarchies or power dynamics. The common ground is recognizing that strategic and proactive use of social media tools to change culture, if only for that news cycle, demonstrates a power of collective action.

It’s within these opportunities, moments that more often than not are meticulously planned and not randomly spontaneously generated, where feminists across the spectrum can reflect an authentic reality of systemic problem(s) and intersectional solutions. Those are the first steps in the implementation of a revolution and a fully realized feminist politic.

————

original publish date: May 29, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

rebel yell

punk-rock-feminsim

Riot grrls, from the isolated Pacific Northwest to the shores of the Atlantic and the prairies in between, catalyzed a cynical nation through confessional rants and powerful critiques of a system that objectified and perpetuated violence against them. Radical “third-wave” feminist theories on the body, race, sexuality, class, privilege, and gender were captured on xeroxed paper or pressed into 7″ vinyl records. The riot grrl culture was dynamic in disruption yet static in reflecting much of the status quo. It was a predominately female identified youth-led movement born from the simple premise that they had every right to be on stage, have opinions, and fully participate in their communities. It was radical accountability and influenced a generation of feminist thought and action.

That’s one version of riot grrl’s influence distilled from the dissonance of fractured underground cultures and personal experience.

The history of the riot grrl revolution, as evidenced by the considerable press surrounding the recent release of The Riot Grrl Collection and franchising of Bikini Kill’s fashion for sale, seems to have landed on the contentious opinion of whether or not riot grrl as a movement had any validity (as any classic punk argument is want to do). This current project of framing a specific time in U.S. history (approximately 1990-1997) within localized cultures and individual agents has produced a firestorm of commentary from those who participated or not. As is the case with most underground movements that have been pushed into the harsh above-ground light, a major sticking point revolves around authenticity.

Slant no. 5, Mimi Thi Ngyuen, 1996.
Slant no. 5, Mimi Thi Ngyuen, 1996.

It is revolutionary practice for individuals in a community to openly question, and more importantly vocalize, against constructed realities that do not represent them. The history of riot grrl is situated within the intersections of punk and DIY culture and their respective, mostly white, middle to upper class, straight and male, communities. It was riot grrl’s unique sound created by and for female-identified folks and a familiarity of independence and anger that seduced me the summer of 1996.

Riot grrl music and the subsequent theories that resulted were significant catalysts to my understanding the risks of practicing feminism.

Ultimately, riot grrls’ confessions of resistance were commodified into an exchangeable end product. It became more about the production and distribution of zines or albums which often required capital, both social and financial, than the politics of liberation. It was this narrow understanding of sharing that dominated the scene. Speaking only for myself, this commodification led me to question identifying as a riot grrl. When the message and actions moved from demanding to be heard to a watered down copy of itself to such a degree that the concept of “girl power” signified the Spice Girls, I moved forward as a free agent. I was not the only one who became disillusioned when the politics became a lifestyle.

The manifestation into consumable goods helps to explain the very valid critique that riot grrl was exclusive territory to those who were mostly white, upper to middle class, and straight. As a result, many believe that the narrator of this specific history is in fact that particular dominant voice. Who is being asked to provide testimony matters deeply. Who is asking the questions? What is being asked and, more importantly, not asked? Who’s voices are not being heard? Should it be a surprise that once again those same stories, and to some extent the music, are being commodified into an aesthetic to be consumed?

It is important to be conscious of the following factor: the fidelity of the narrator, and ultimately riot grrl’s comprehensive history, rests on the assumption that we should listen critically to those who were members of those communities. It’s also important to simultaneously remember that communities are messy as are the blissful memories of youth. Qualifying the impact of embodying radical thought that exposes privilege as oppression is a political act.

When we resist hearing only one point of view, one voice, we honor the original revolutionary tenets of riot grrl. There is power in knowing it is not a history that can easily be bought and sold.

Revolution RiotGrrl poster

—————————————————————————–

original publish date: July 9, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

inertia insertion: the sexual politics of menstruation

“Mary Mary” (2000) P. J. Speakman
“Mary Mary” (2000) P. J. Speakman

There is a spectrum of menstruation experiences that are rarely represented in the public discourse. For some, menstruation is a sacred feminine process and a cause for celebration. For others, it’s a curse and should be obsolete. For most menstruators, it just happens. It should be no surprise that the dominant and traditional menstruation narratives have been centered around shame, surveillance, and strategies of avoidance. However, there are occasional disruptions to this storyline.

Hello Flo an incredibly popular (over 5 million views on YouTube) and dissonantly optimistic story is about a young girl who embraces her menses power. Her “red badge of courage” affords her great power until she is dethroned by a business model that undercuts her authority as expert.

Unfortunately, Hello Flo isn’t an alternative narrative. It’s a well-produced ad for monthly deliveries of menstruation needs: Always pads, Tampax Pearl tampons, and “treats.” Hello Flo draws from classic marketing strategies of false empowerment, nostalgia, and humor which tap into a conversation that has been constructed as private so it’s tagged as innovative.

That the process of menstruation management can still be deemed provocative can be found by reading the comments of another trending conversation, “Still Using Tampons Or Pads? You Should Read This,” which has been liked by over 68,000 on Facebook. One could assume by the over 600 unique comments, in two separate postings, that the way we think about menstruation is still stalled at the intersection of a disposable consumer culture and hegemonic ideals about hygiene and menstruating bodies. The discussion of alternative methods and the subsequent disposal of menstrual blood continues to reinforce a plot line of control and tension between those who have hard limits on managing their menstruation cycle (you’re putting what where!?) to those who essentialize a biological process.

Looking at products like the Feby, a “female empowerment bracelet” that uses different shades of pink to signify when you are “most prime for procreation” in case there is any lurking sperm around, it’s pretty clear that the dominant menstrual narrative hasn’t changed since the first wave of menstrual product advertisements in the 1920s. There was a spotty sign of resistance in 2011 when we were witness to an Always ad that was the first to show menstrual blood as red and not the classic blue; however, these visions of a less-traditional menstruator still present a white, feminine body whose function is to produce human life. The public sexual politics of menstruation are quickly absorbed into private tactics around management and control.

The fact remains that this narrow category of a what makes a proper menstruating body is intimately connected to heterosexist, capitalist, and cisgendered norms. It’s no wonder that so many menstruators across the spectrum feel moody when their periods arrive.

———————————————–

original publish date: August 18, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

asking for it

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.

Excerpt from “The Untrustworthy Speaker” by Louise Glück

As I witness access to abortion clinics disappear and internalize legal justifications for “legitimate rape,” I am conscious of how I embody the traumatic, anxiety-provoking illogical contradictions of an implied truth like “she asked for it.”

If asked, or provoked, I can adequately testify to how “she wanted it” is a distraction of semantics for those who will never have that phrase used against them. I can just as easily and eloquently pivot to subversion by quoting Dorothy Allison, “Revolutions begin when people look each other in the eyes, say ‘I want,’ and mean it.” I hold both extremes delicately and with intention. Like twilight’s influence on developing shadows, conscious expression has illuminating power.

I am a consumer of consent culture. I am not alone.

consent

Resisting narrow, out-dated, and false ideas about the worth, and therefore perceived value, of my female body is not easy. Through a slow burning recognition, I learned that my dissonant curiosity was a pattern formed from perceived isolation and a survivor’s imagination. I found fierce language that named this struggle, brilliant manifestos that unapologetically sang a chorus of survival, and the healing salve of validation by participating in online feminist communities.

All those intimate stories and images we share help contextualize the complexity of our prismatic identities. It is an act of positive resistance to confess that your body is beautiful and your feelings legitimate.

please-thank-you

However, these performances can also oversimplify “choice” which hides class. Depending on your location on the spectrum of marginality and your ability to effectively upload your expressions, these curations can lull the audience into believing that agency is subjective and consistent which conceals a passive privilege. The process of “asking for it” (hopefully enthusiastically) warps in ironic ways. This revolution of saying what we want starts to look and feel homogenized.

What are the economics of consent in a system designed to sustain unequal power? As Chris Bobel in the anthology, Embodied Resistance, states, “Because relations of power are social, it follows that they are constantly under deliberation, a perpetual give-and-take. These processes of negotiation effectively draw and redraw the lines that separate or unite people and the symbolic meanings they ascribe to their material realities.”

In a culture of mass objectification, criminalization, and commodification, there are still too many of us who have learned that our desires are dangerous. There are legitimate reasons why we are not taught how to ask for it (consensual sex, a living wage, birth control on demand, authentic representation). It’s a privileged position to know what you need and get what you asked for.

I want a world where I am not afraid to ask for it.

—————————————————–

original publish date: September 12, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

blank wave feminism

Even if you haven’t heard of Sheryl Sandberg or bell hooks or the amorphous concept of “leaning in,” you likely have fallen victim to a particular brand of feminism; a siren call of empowerment that very few are able to ignore.

this is what feminist success looks like
this is what feminist success looks like

Mainstream feminism, an ideology that frames equality of the sexes within comfortable gender norms and ignores difficult topics like race, provides a steady rhythm of easy-listening soundbites that lull the masses into complicit consciousness. This complacency is fashionable and exceptional in its ability to promote itself; this brand of feminism has always attracted big business and uses a shallow critique of the very system from which it is born. It’s the soundtrack that sells us “men’s lotion” and anything pink.

In a recent post by bell hooks, Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In, she dives into a measured call and response to Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book, Lean In. As only bell hooks can do, she lays bare the real agenda of Sandberg’s rising feminist star power.

Sandberg’s definition of feminism begins and ends with the notion that it’s all about gender equality within the existing social system. From this perspective, the structures of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy need not be challenged. And she makes it seem that privileged white men will eagerly choose to extend the benefits of corporate capitalism to white women who have the courage to ‘lean in.’ It almost seems as if Sandberg sees women’s lack of perseverance as more the problem than systemic inequality. Sandberg effectively uses her race and class power and privilege to promote a narrow definition of feminism that obscures and undermines visionary feminist concerns.

hooks goes on to describe obvious flaws of appropriating a feminist theory that does not intend to change anything. In fact, this is the reason you are to “hate the player, not the game.” Sandberg’s method and practice of “faux feminism” is not real feminism. By setting up this predictable dichotomy, a divide that ironically perpetuates exclusive solidarity politics, hooks maintains a rigid status quo. hooks concludes, “Sandberg uses feminist rhetoric as a front to cover her commitment to western cultural imperialism, to white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

I wish it were this simple. It’s easy to think that Sandberg is plotting world domination inside an audacious mansion, or, more likely, from her corner office at Facebook. With the launch of LeanIn.org, it certainly appears that some thought was put into taking this faux feminism global. By “changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do,” Sandberg and her army of ambitious empowered women have the potential to inspire ordinary women to question how they themselves are perpetuating stereotypes and supporting those who have erected barriers to their success.

To borrow a phrase from Lisa Wade’s excellent exposé into a similar battle of words, the recent Cyrus vs. O’Connor vs. Palmer much ado about nothing debate, “they’re both right but only half right.”

If the way out of this conundrum were easy, we’d have fixed it already. But one thing’s for sure: it’s going to take collective sacrifice to bring about a world in which women’s humanity is so taken-for-granted that no individual woman’s choices can undermine it. To get there, we’re going to need to acknowledge the power of the system, recognize each other as conscious actors, and have empathy for the difficult choices we all make as we try to navigate a difficult world.

Both Sandberg and hooks espouse solidarity, community, and a vision for a more equitable world. It’s unfortunate that they have to come out fighting from opposite ends of the feminist spectrum.

—————————————

original publish date: November 2, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

inside the princess machine

Standing at the precipice of misunderstanding depends on which side you’re facing.

GoldieBlox, will you fight for the right to expand gender norms?
GoldieBlox, will you fight for the right to expand gender norms?

There have been a number of notable moments lately that have exposed just how precarious binary gender narratives are in a culture that works overtime to show only narrow understandings of femininity and masculinity. Not surprisingly, feminism was at the center of all of these discussions. From the Beastie Boys non-ironic defense of their feminist credentials to asking the question as to how one of the leading masculinity experts avoided calling out the worst of the worst mansplainers, feminism seems to experiencing a resurrection of sorts.

There are many threads of feminism but the most common understanding is mainstream feminism, otherwise known as liberal feminism. Liberal feminism is best summed up by failing to recognize that lived experiences are not the same for all. This is a critical blind spot when one is in a position of power and has a web of privileges that benefit rather than block access to making decisions, which often leads to epic failures to recognize how this influences the way one speaks on behalf of “women” or minorities and other terribly relevant policy implications.

Recent mainstream feminist battles have been interesting to observe because the debate appears to pivot on practice. There was a time not that long ago where the shouting matches were over the very existence of a thing called feminism. Now the politics seems to be about who’s doing feminism “right” and who is doing it “wrong.”

Using the example of GoldieBlox taking the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” without their permission, we can explore this idea of who is practicing feminism “right” (specifically liberal feminism). GoldieBlox’s social venture for-profit mission is to sell toys that empower “girls” to pursue math and science-based careers through inspired yet gender segregated learning concepts like girls inclination to have strong verbal skills. Their theory of change seeks to “disrupt the pink aisle” which will eventually narrow the gender gap in male-dominated engineering fields. It’s a worthy endeavor if you don’t question the larger root causes that maintain this limited career access.

On the other side, we have the Beastie Boys with their checkered past of blatant sexism that was transformed by feminist consciousness, public apologies, and practicing “good” feminism. The Beastie Boys evolution from sexist to feminist was a disruption in its own right.

GoldieBlox’s defensive stance was that they were simply using the song “Girls” to demonstrate parody through a critique that proclaimed “Girls” is sexist. They banked on parody to protect them under the umbrella of fair use, which means they could use the song without permission or compensation. GoldieBlox, by contrast, are not sexist because their mission is to sell empowerment only to girls. It’s a thin argument that GoldieBlox has the authority to determine what is sexist and what is not.

The point of contention for the Beastie Boys was not being labeled as sexists but rather that GoldieBlox was using their song to sell a product. The two-minute video was in fact an ad whose message was to empower girls through the purchase of the GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine book and construction pieces. In a statement by Debbie Sterling, GoldieBlox’s CEO, “Our intentions are good. We just really want GoldieBlox to stand for a brand that empowers girls. We want to be good role models.”

There is no doubt that GoldieBlox wants to “change the equation” but the gender paradox they’ve constructed actually perpetuates a hierarchical system they allegedly wish to see equalized. The real politics are that it’s not good feminist practice to brand empowerment, especially in the form of a disposable, ephemeral product. The lesson learned is that good intentions are not a shield to protect you from being called out and that, like the Beastie Boys, one always has room to grow into being better feminists.

—————————————-

original publish date: December 3, 2013 (Bluestockings Magazine)

shrink to fit (2)

“We’ve got to take it back. We sleep to sew the seams that we oppose. We shrink to fit in our pre-assigned roles. Resist with each stitch. Split the seams and start all over again. Cut the pattern that fits. Ready-made rarely means ready to fit. A bleached white tightness to bind and gag and scold … The lines we fought to fit have now become our own. … We cannot be tied down by roughly cut threads from the patterns of the CEOS. … They need no spokesman if you have no voice.”

-Milemarker, Shrink to Fit

Hobby Lobby protest (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
Hobby Lobby protest (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was appointed to the United States Supreme Court. It was also the year that newly elected President Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The year ended with the Barbie Liberation (BLO) effectively jamming our over-saturated binary gender culture by switching the voice boxes on over 300 talking G.I. Joe and Barbie dolls. Instead of Barbie saying, “Math is hard,” we heard “Vengeance is mine.”

Over 20 years have passed since the murder of Doctor David Gunn, the first documented murder of an abortion doctor. The World Trade Center had its first bombing so we bombed Iraq and have not left since. We have lived with the greedy consequences of NAFTA, bore witness to the repeal of DADT, and now understand the strategic appropriation of the religious right to use RFFA as a master’s tool to keep the master’s house intact.

RFRA is the federal law that the Supreme Court used to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby and now sets the precedent to allow private for-profit corporations to “exercise religious freedom” equating corporate entities ever closer to breathing conscious “persons.”

According to Hobby Lobby’s attorney Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, “Today’s victory against this unjust mandate is important for… all Americans who seek to live according to their consciousness.” She then declared that women’s voices have been heard.

Much has already been written about the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision – its potential impact on people who receive contraception benefits from their employer’s insurance plans and the relentless chipping away of reproductive health and justice access for low-income communities of color (See RH Reality Check for the most comprehensive analysis on this unprecedented ruling).

But beyond the immediate, we face a terrifyingly near future where Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale is no longer a science fiction fantasy. The dystopic reality we face today is a false sense of private choice. Sadly, for those of us who personally experience the daily struggle of living in poverty, this ruling isn’t likely going to change the way we go about our business. We have history on our side and have embodied our oppressions.

When we push aside the illogical and scientifically wrong argument that the four contraceptives in dispute, which were incorrectly institutionalized as abortifacients (IUDs, two forms of emergency contraception, and contraceptive implants), the underlying issue reveals itself as the control of sexuality, which has always been a matter of public discourse and policy. And that discourse is abilist, racialized, classist, cisgendered, and heteronormative.

In an ironic statement after the ruling, Randall Wenger who is part of the Conestoga Wood legal team (the other now infamous private for-profit corporation) noted, “The announcement provides what we had hoped. There are limits on government power.”

It is true that Hobby Lobby does not object to their employees receiving vasectomies, condoms, or Viagra. The pivotal point where they felt a “sincere” threat to their religious liberties rested on the concept of who controls the implantation of a fertilized egg, the subsequent hospitality of the host’s uterus, and the hopeful birth of a human (not to be confused with a corporation) that should only result from legally sanctioned heterosexual coupling.

It is equally true that our legal system, founded and maintained to uphold the ruling class, would publicly reinforce who really controls the miracle of life.

It’s too soon to know if this stain will wash out or give birth to new categories of corporate life. So instead of shrinking to fit, we will reimagine a culture where power empowers instead of dominates. We will continue to violate norms and resist the lines that divide and conquer us. We will embrace our contradictions and support the collective public struggle of the matters of our private lives.

——————————-

original publish date: July 9, 2014 (Bluestockings Magazine)

public feelings

[such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes]

— E.E. Cummings

found @stacyontherocks
found @stacyontherocks

We’ve come undone, cumulatively, in the same way that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring warns. Ruled by misunderstandings, which is to say we are ruled by no one in particular, norms are large-scale projects of self-consciousness. It’s public infrastructure.

The ocean goes nowhere except to meet itself.
A private sensation, a mix of urging and friction.
There is suspicion at this earnest effort.
Days bleed into opinion. It is not enough to simply be.
All this pressure to perform as heaven’s rewards remain on layaway.
I wanted to be inside that pejorative energy. Transposed survival.

Cut. Then paste. Seasons as witness to predictions that light seeks light.

cracked

Christmas fell on a Sunday, as ordinary as on a Tuesday.
Wants were absence so we honored each other’s realizations.
A modern birth narrative.

Cleveland Dec05
Cleveland Dec05

Liturgy presupposes witness as its baseline function.

Transitions have made you partisan.

escape
escape

Dancing as walking.
Sidewalks are walls.
Stoplights are lamps.
Eating as warfare.
Bombs are poems.

We find comfort in staying warm and undefeated.

normalization

you got no fear of the underdog / that’s why you will not survive – Spoon, The Underdog

Artist: Beth Cavener. Trapped, 37 in. (94 cm) in length, stoneware, paint, 18k gold, rope, wood, 2015.
Artist: Beth Cavener. Trapped, 37 in. (94 cm) in length, stoneware, paint, 18k gold, rope, wood, 2015.

This violence looks good on you. Fitted. Proper. My opinion, of course.
All apologies have been returned to sender. Transparency is seasonal.
No stability is guaranteed. Can we at least agree it is sacred territory?

This is a good-bye letter. My reasons rolling out like smoke from fire.

tactics

hello Jan10
hello Jan10

each day unwinds into itself
each one of us an appetite
expansion releases
preferences: wild

context is so specific

his throat tatooed punk
another directed his gaze
I gave him what he wanted
performative resistance as lifestyle

gambling spirit

Seattle December 1, 2016

Let’s hold each other with a tenderness we never earned.
I humbly confess I have no strategic solutions, today.
Tomorrow does not exist within this current embrace.

Messages were slow to be received.
Communications tangled passing through enemy lines.
All arbitrary and always binding, like paper hearts.

Solicitous profit tied up with bright strings of gratitude.
This time of year pulls tension to the height of joy.
Shadows flash, sparkle even.

Conscientiously objecting is expression beyond fragility of emotion.
There’s a masculine way to do this or something more powerful.
Place bets on queerly stacked decks as panic breeds discos.

All this, and more unsaid, guides us like the promise of beginner’s luck.
Glory bound towards trust towards you towards truth.
Come back. Let’s fight.

mimesis

what is your habit energy?

Pacific Ocean, Nov16
Pacific Ocean, Nov16 (photo by Atlee)

We perform our own strategies of consumption.
My short-term memories are hidden between my thighs.

Othered desires are masks. But for whose protection?
Entertainment currently discounted as politics.

Feeling expendability like breath like faith.
You can order custom misfortunes or xxx or standard subjectifications.

Our stories are our truths.
This is my museum-quality curated experience.

post-truth

Did our information channels cross? What did you see?

Detroit Nov16
Detroit Nov16

I saw acceptance as evolution or, for some, defeat.
Our blended memories equal parts resistance.
Those metaphors really are literal representations.

Over strong coffee and homemade kuchen he said,
America does not have a culture of grief.
For some, this is our language, stories, solutions.

There is nothing in this city that is soft.
Nothing but words that flow from behind your teeth
and the background rhythm of your always working heart.

Working all sides of the angle honors a process.
All conversations end unless you want to move forward.
Value silence found around figurative positions.

The screen read: baptized by boundaries.
I looked for dignity after that simple interaction.
Theories, as perception, in parsimony and in exhale.

bow to the middle

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. –Kurt Vonnegut

November16
“Last year. Last night. I’m tired. Let’s fight.” – Superchunk Yeah, It’s Beautiful Here Too

I was radicalized. Force-fed ancient beliefs. Required to center sin instead of self. Drank from an endless well of false promises – an afterlife.

Then I learned the sun holds all our light. Oh holy fact: sunsets are 8-minute delayed images of an absent sun. Divine visuals of calculated perspective.

Beg for satisfaction. Wring hands and gnash teeth. Look past stains of neglect. Ordain historical trauma as profit. Prick arousal.

One morning, after I left you, I walked into buttery light. The City coated in luminescence. Clouds billowed pink and shone unconsciously.

Acknowledge how ghosts bleed out.
Embellish for clarity’s sake.
Honor nothing but this subtle effort.

elegant solutions

in order to feel adequate you cannot stop consuming
in order to feel adequate / you cannot stop consuming

 

shifting horizons changes orientations
desire one another to recognition

our cognizant bodies are protective
an arrangement as relational as structure

philosophical longing is its own psychic delta

organize

San Francisco 2011 (photo by Eric)
San Francisco 2011 (photo by Eric)
This suite of dreams found the deeply conscious.
Formerly languished tertiary emotions unfolded
into a familiar and comforting serial thriller.

Absorbed as volition, rapid moving transformations,
these dreamy stories have been thick with meaning
personified by you, his posture, and breathless repetition.

Looping back to vorfreude, I weave my own meaning.
At climax, I am literally haunted in mind and body.
Multi-sourced sensations are now hardwired connections.

It is there, that specific detail, translation finds traction.

cut on the bias

adipocere, hand embroidery on natural linen
adipocere, hand embroidery on natural linen

The earth shook itself awake this morning.
With a low-key grumble and heavy embodied motion
our Russian nesting cat dolls fell, one by one.

The mountains had no comment.

We took a collective breath as the clouds lined up like teeth.
Moving gently is a familiar technique to memorialize hope, to witness beauty.
This occupation of time and resolve has been emboldened by necessity.

I’m about to confess everything to you: I was saved by the grace of Sassy.
Santayana, the philosopher, said history is nothing but recorded dreams.
The poet Stafford said divine is more of a claim. Those stanzas are now trending.

There is a way to be in this world and this must be it.

pussy whipped

If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions.
— Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town

hedonism by genis carreras
hedonism (the ethical position that pleasure is the ultimate goal and greatest good, and should be the central aim of all decisions made) by genis carreras

It’s a fact. Cycles sync. It is October, 2016. The word pussy is in our mouths again. Full and heavy bodied, it’s paired with a specific violence as naturalized as an inherited ownership tone. This is the fetishized frequency of law and order.

*** you’ve got to stack it so it’s stable – Low, No Comprende ***

So this is what whiplash from a mass capture of imagination feels like. A forced common image. Pussy, for now, functions as an ironic partisan anchor, while still maintaining its gendered significations.

What is the whole of this historical objectification of our parts? Patriarchal logic argues that this violence of disassociation is necessary and even desired. This detachment is inherent in our economic theories, consumer-based language, and mass-produced representations.

We learn, repeatedly, there are far more serious and urgent issues to concern ourselves with than ritualized gender-based violence. We are dismissed. We are told to question less and obey more.

*** underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like bomb – Perfume Genius, Hood ***

We perform this idealized creed through a perpetual liturgy of demure expressions in a culture that protects mobs of high-volume denials. This contemporary shrill masculinity is socially recycled into discourses that tap into an idolization of individual perspective. For most, this illusion only creates isolation.

Manipulating the dark side of vulnerability isn’t a new strategy to win elections, or maintain control. What feels different this Presidential election cycle is the dredge of cultural material to mine and the hypervoyeurism that has produced. Public and private boundaries are as unstable as our contemporary understanding of when virtual becomes reality.

As we bare witness to the misogyny that rages beneath all our sacred institutions, may the soundtrack to this ride to November include Magnet by Bikini Kill.

I’m keeping this advice on a loop: I’ve got the love that’s strong and not weak.

holon

Christian Furr, That My Heart Should Explode with Tenderness (from the Juissance series), 2015 Inkjet with hand painting in acrylic with diamond dust on linen
Christian Furr, That My Heart Should Explode with Tenderness (from the Juissance series), 2015 Inkjet with hand painting in acrylic with diamond dust on linen

we’ve named it “rape culture”
export/import incertitude
the state’s gospel won’t accept no
its own sovereign request
fringed borders bleed reciprocity
thick as oil as war as water

desire transforms everything
corporeal physics as vim and vigor
soft kisses melt hard intentions
it’s why embodiment alludes enlightenment
our landscapes matter when our eyes close
horizons become their own grounding binary

pressure is a gilded warning signal
jouissance its own casual experience
how deeply our metaphors inform us
as angels, as deviants, as complicit
love is in here somewhere, or should be

buttons

Did you know we have started living in isolation to prepare for colonizing Mars?

Seattle Oct10
Seattle Oct10

There is dedicated front cover news space to our collective denial about the basics of life on this planet: water, menstruation, dignity. A particular death-wish resistance to facts because we can’t face our feelings; our responsibility as witness to 24-hour broadcasted cruelty. Gripping so tightly to distance, we can think only about scale not urgency.

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake data reads like an ultrasound of the earth’s surface. What’s at our center?

“An ellipse is richer than a circle. It possesses two centers. It’s a dialogue.” — Louise Bourgeois

Those smallest details of absence and desire go almost unnoticed, felt as impetus. A survivor’s mentality.  An orientation to want (hunger) as something outside of you, something to be experienced. Unapologetic formations to desire are apocryphal stories of purpose. They hold between their lines our remaining humanities. Revelation is all around us. A range no longer than a row of buttons.

 

a request

Come, swoon again, we who invented dying
And the whole alchemy of resurrection.
They will concoct a scripture explaining this.

–Carolyn Kizer, The Copulating Gods

Portland June16
Portland June16

send me photos of your body, in fragments:
knees, cheeks, hands
take in a light that will show me what you adore

send me clues so I can map a path to you
finding curves best traced as embraces
guided by boundaries that leave me softer

send me your theories and your reveries
this is an intimate appeal, a personal request
show me how you release your imagination

doing liberation

Andrea Smith’s foreword in Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia states, “a liberatory vision for immigrant rights is one that is based less on pathways to citizenship in a settler state, than on questioning the logics of the settler state itself.”  This expansion of decolonization, a revolution to undo “zones of invisibility, exclusion, and death,” requires a radical vision and daily practice of justice. For those of us who are not Indigenous to the nations we occupy, liberation is no longer a theoretical space you can opt in and out.  

Undoing Border Imperialism is a collective expression of a migrant justice movement grounded in healing justice. Starting from a place of opportunity, “as a prefiguring framework, decolonization grounds us in an understanding that we have already inherited generations of evolving wisdom about living freely and communally” Walia shows us a future few movement theory books dare dream. Through various entry points in the book, which are beautifully supported by poets, philosophers, and activist’s lived experiences, the reader is profoundly transformed.

Undoing is not used haphazardly nor as a metaphor. We are asked to enthusiastically have a decolonized orientation to self and others. The systems few move through with ease are relational, which is political and embodied. Borders are human-made. That’s one clear justification for resisting violence with nonviolent direct action. If one needs a concrete example, follow #NoDAPL.

art-and-social-movements
artist: Radical Design School, Toronto

Chapter 3 entitled Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory puts everything into perspective. Consider this your manifesto.

Given all the power-over we have internalized, traumas we have metabolized, and walls and hierarchies we have maintained between one another, it is imperative that we unravel and confront these effects of border imperialism within our movements as we work to dismantle the systems that propagate it.

Name it. Analyze how power functions and distorts. Commit to steering “movement strategies and relations toward collective liberation.” This requires consent, accountability, and communication that is transformative, not transactional.

We all have a role in this vision.

Strategy cannot be applied in a cookie-cutter approach; it requires collective deliberation, trial and error, and reflection. It necessitates a willingness to experiment, and make mistakes, and humility to change our ways.

Syed Khalid Hussan’s epilogue is a reminder that “our actions are just as much visceral as they are analytical, theoretical, or intellectual.” It’s time to declare that we are no longer obligated to be monogamous in identity, story, or victory. However, we are bound to practice compassion, respect, forgiveness, and evolve our ways of being in community with each other. Walia, and the voices she shares this revolution with, moves us beyond those never-ending conversations that center frameworks (talk). A tactic designed to distract and delay justice. This embodied power is found through a decolonizing praxis that honors generational resistance. To deny this is to remain complicit in settler logic.

We can, as Smith so clearly states, dismantle the logic of the settler state. And in its absence, we move freely with self-determination.

 

purpose

Los Angeles 2012
Los Angeles 2012

Summer, by academic and capitalistic time, is over. The light, the light, the light shows phenomenal nominal change.

There are silences bestowed and silences unbecoming. We are taught we are broken: mind, body, spirit. This evangelical conservative belief that the future is not yours is an organized robbery of imagination and self-determination.

Conceptually, we must collectively conceive our destinies.

rain shadow

I’ll look deep inside to see if I belong with the men – Tarnished Angel, Silkworm

August 8, 2016 8:18pm
August 8, 2016 8:18pm

Danger and excitement can feel similar
tensions at decades, leeward shelters.
Threatening as clouds as love is laissez faire.

I love you more today than yesterday.

untitled

wet, waiting to burst
low-flying clouds hung
this city visualizes virtually
while dreams bloom in analog

I must (screen capture by Atlee)
I must (screen capture by Atlee)

our breath is always moving
the pace of trees bending to find light

confession is my way of speech
the faithful will recognize these signs

she asked me about grief // I thought about honor

politics of fantasy

June16

In a previous post, I coupled the early essays of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure as “academic stimulation with real-world sensations.” The chorus of voices throughout the remainder of the book continue on that path and give more support for using an erotic economic analysis. The production of porn is about selling pleasure, consuming (queer) desire, and fucking loving yourself.

Ingrid Ryberg in Every Time We Fuck, We Win pushes you to understand watching porn is witness to intimacy. It’s telling that we have to learn to repress so much to fit into assumed historic preferences. Keiko Lane’s Imag(in)ing Possibilities spreads your psyche out with respect. Experiencing “fantasies made conscious” is a particular arousal of “embodied subjectivity.” That point of view, a corporeal validation, is useful. Porn can heal us if we experience it without shame or remorse. If you want to get the deepest and quickest purpose of this book, read Constance Penley’s A Feminist Teaching Pornography? She gives you the permission to study porn as film. We are the audience to a multi-dimensional experience from performer to director to public tastes.

Presentation matters: angles and agency. Lorelei Lee demonstrates that to the fullest. “Sexual desire and sexual identity are absolutely essential  to the freely defined self.” Feminist porn performs power which is why it deserves its current logical reputation. Own that what you feel from seeing is pleasurable. This feminist entertainment project is political. That’s no-fucks-given explicit from the begging to the end The Feminist Porn Book.  As is Ariane Cruz’s call to “take up a politics of perversion, a disruptive shift in black feminist studies, to critically analyze the engagements of pleasure and power through pornography consumption, performance, and production.”

All anthologies straddle numerous opinions and I agree with Nina Hartley that “porn houses our sexual dreams, which are vitally important to our happiness.” The how, worker-centered, is what makes feminist porn feminist. That is what mutual satisfaction looks like – good enough to share. Tristan Aormino knows both sides of the camera. I’ll watch sex that is “presented as joyful, fun, safe, mutual, and satisfying.” Sexual expressions of joy! Who would be against such imagery?

That was a larger question that was often left out of the frame. We hear and see enough of the anti-porn position. It was a nice reprieve from that way of thinking. The Feminist Porn Book repeatedly and gently reminds you to consume critically and honor consent always. Sexual expressions are exchanged as erotic capital and culturally produced whether we agree with it or not. That’s why having more porn that thinks and fucks like me is where I’ll be putting my hard-earned feminist dollars.

 

credo

The day starts with blessings, with sacred reminders of what I know and why.

I’m grateful for the person who tagged “gender fucked” on the border of east and west bay.

This form of witness bears repeating.

Port Angeles, WA 2007
Port Angeles, WA 2007

I start packs on Sunday, bleed on Tuesday, and plan for French Fridays.

There are four core love asteroids: Amor, Eros, Psyche, and Juno, also the queen of Heaven.

Florence, Italy 2008
Florence, Italy 2008

There’s a desire to write from a place of softness, from sentimentality.

To record; to repair.

Make visible; resolve.

April16
April16

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself,
beloved on the earth.

–Raymond Carver, Late Fragment

op-eds

just because they know your name doesn’t mean they know where you came – cat power

august 13, 2016 7:48pm
august 13, 2016 7:48pm

discovering grace through curated understandings
some spoken, explicit, but most often held in breath
in glances and in rhythmic exchange of metaphors
a particularly classed communion

quiet clung to the lake’s edges
marred only by wandering hymns and thundering mornings
thinking about all those places that made us
an acceptance of motion as hard-luck blessings and raptured devotion

this is the tenuous nature of belief
in effort, a maintenance of fallibility
oh holy day: in haste, but with love

necessary but not sufficient

“Act so that there is no use in a centre.” Gertrude Stein

zoso ross

those years embraced us ferociously
as fear and pride perpetuated dissonance

weights, a fog, referents

that way you feel inside my mind
not quite spiritual, more phenomenon

desires, a politic, intimacy

there is joy in unraveling
then there is curation of what remains

joyful rejection

We are a cramp nation. Involuntary, restrictive, a tool.

Oakland, June 2016
Oakland, June 2016

our periods, collectively, are politically vogue
gender representation reflects without liberation
we process reclamations as speculative transmissions

even the clouds
and now their patterns
wander lost

the simplest narratives are stored in the bends of our flesh
rancor its own habitual expression, a saturation of cultural static
transfigurations of competitive positivity, a sharing economy
Angela Davis said the political reproduces itself through the personal

how far does your radiance reach?

visceral

January 31, 2016

“Art has to be disturbing.” Marina Abramović

He wrapped his hands around her throat and told her she was good.

This was their mutual understanding.
A feeling of being surrounded in pleasure, an abstraction.

A chorus bleeding into verse, chorus, and back to verse.
Then, and now, a reminder that metaphors are not to be taken literally.

Our mouths numb from atrophy.
When prompted, not quite coerced,
revelations of agency are found.

It could all be about the light or a phrase turned into image –
brilliance unspoken.

after extra time

Have you noticed love is always on sale and violence is on demand?

Oakland, May16
Oakland, May16

she dug deep, and still,
my hips held position

walking through clouds of words
hearing only “baby”

performing radical distortion, always inward
personally speaking, “no” becomes aspirational

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Lately, this fevered responsibility begs for:

  • cultural affection
  • mass-blessed kisses
  • wanting

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

She wore tights the color of sun-hidden skin.
I stole touches. Even in stillness, the body has a beat.
Oblivion’s call such a tempting response.

with(out) you

artist: Kourtney Roy
artist: Kourtney Roy

underneath the ocean
a quiet roars

we all have an edge
soft margins with sharp centers
fiercely contoured boundaries

we sanction ourselves
love is provocative
as we make our homes museums

every day and every night a tender eve
books left marked to forever hold place

let go

Let every kiss hit the body / like a season. – Ocean Vuong, A Little Closer to the Edge

artist: Mary Abbott
artist: Mary Abbott
sun patterns become cloud covers
we react as resistance
malefic masculinity

we are born again in times of violence
flash moments designed as destiny
patterns worn translucent

soft and hard (but never loose)
when the middle shifts
the center sways

inertia

die vorfreude

Julian Wasser, Susan and Dorita, Los Angeles, 1962

She called exactly four hours after the earth stopped moving. While we waited, wave after wave, we sat. Through repetition and capture, we learned how to stay constantly aware. It had been years since I gave my soul away. An unbecoming strategy for some; survival for others.

Protecting misgivings and intentional reactions, we spent our days building machines that ran on unrequited syllabic utterances. Flip back, back track, forward leaning free verses flowed as patterns, as privileged misdemeanors. Our hearts grew to beat metaphorically.

After pausing to ask how the earth breathes under the weight of concrete, she said act like you’ve been here before. It was a coded reminder of our legacy. A collective fantasy replicated endlessly in anticipation for moments we never took the time to define. For some, wanting more is our purpose.

transgression remission

september 10, 2015
september 10, 2015

I want to know what happens after the scene.
After the play ends. Which position do you assume?

That morning the City reflected transformation.
A kindness from and because of suffering.

I know. I know. I know.
Those words, their rhythm, influence me.

The water moves against itself; I forget to breathe.

divination

I’m going to ride your heart – Bleached

south dakota dec11
South Dakota Dec11

Have you noticed our conversations are almost always about safety?
Will you listen to that fear? Will you listen to my need?

[fighting what feels natural / what has been conditioned to feel good
finding providence / hard-won wisdom]

What imagination led us here?

He said practice creates habits
a reference to his dangerous life,
a prophetic retrograde.

promise of fortune

Margaret Kilgallen
Margaret Kilgallen (Ratio 3, Aug 2011)

we both wanted more
so we took it

hands act like scarves
wrapped necks
turned over
for you
face down
filled with your effort

dusty mandarins marked with stranger’s fingerprints
how do you carry your violence?

risk & reward

photo by orange_and_tangerine
photo by orange_and_tangerine

the mountains found their own solitude
spooning each other to hold their gaze
while hills white from not-yet-risen clouds
were in contrast to the Bay warming blue

grateful for forgiveness and forgetting
time as construct, a gravitational force
wrapped around desire, momentum, abundance
absence has pulled your energy elsewhere
away from me

every day we show our stories by waking
under cloudless skies as nests of nests
of birds clamor and inspire the cat,
a product of us: neglect and minimal care
unencumbered with material fancies

all this and things undiscovered
guide our personal rhythms (fulcrums/hips)
like how our body’s most graceful state is to be at ease
and unlike that first summer we drove across country
with every possession we assumed we needed

satori

NYC Mar15

“So (re)invent us, still weeping the solutions we came from, imagining ‘things’ would be fine if only a single interpretation could be shared, meaning enforced.”
Laura Mullen, Complicated Grief

Golden fur and morning light warms calmly.
Energies, swirling, occasionally oppressive
as unconscious as the way we sell love.

The mural reflected a range of fruits found in this region,
geographic signifiers, orbs of light and juice. Positive
transformations expressed through practice, ritualized execution.

Repeat, forcing action. Asking for it, suppressing.
The real economics of what we dream, imagine, and desire
divided, found between centuries of exclusion, forced space.

Think about how resistance is holding what remains.

mindfulness

my needs are non-negotiable
my wants are yours

cleveland Nov04 (photo by Atlee)
Cleveland Aug04 (photo by Atlee)

the problem with the women in my family
we always stay too long

there is no inertia
hilltop clouds linger past what feels good

what we mean to each other matters little
if living presently, an influence of detachment

bend
forward

tiger dreams

ocean beach Dec15
ocean beach Dec15

aspirations of distillations
the clouds reflected their own rapture
in cycle                     omens

impact a function of proportion to intent
mountain passes carve telluric love notes
as ecumenical bridges span our heartaches

that morning the eclipse darkened light
the back of the truck carried bright yellow fans
spinning like lemon slices

excelsis

aleksandra waliszewska

We are taught someone has to lose.
Perpetual calculations of how much we allow
in contrast to what we can’t take anymore.
Revery forbidden, outwardly.

I feel nothing but desire to keep myself whole.

Our collective resentments (cultural backlash)
form dysphoric protests, an occupation of complexities.
Mass wish fulfillment to move beyond fear, imagined and not.
In excelsis, suspended.