Help Me Mary

This is a feminist’s blog.

I, myself, sometimes forget that.  I get tired.  I get fed up with how other feminists behave and I debate about putting the word down and finding something else to call myself.  And, really, like anyone else, I want to be liked.  And I want to feel like “fuck you, I can too stand it,” when really, I can’t.

It’s so dumb.  Like Liz says, “they play me like a pit bull in a basement and for that…”

So, here’s the thing.  I’m tired of reading, in the comments of my own blog, cunt and pussy used as an insult.  I am beyond tired of anyone making jokes about anyone else’s mom being a whore or anyone at all being a whore.  I have a vagina.  I have sex.  That puts me in the group(s) of people who are supposed to be the butts of those comments, like being like me is some nasty insult.

Why in the fuck am I tolerating that kind of shit?  Why am I wasting my time worrying about how to fix things?

I’m not an advocate, at least not in the usual sense of the word, and I have long ago accepted that choices I’ve made about how to run this place were going to have broader implications for how effective I could be, in a traditional sense.  In other words, if I’m going to cuss and be forthright about how I feel about religion and abortion and other controversial topics, some folks are going to hesitate to link to me and others are going to dismiss what I have to say.

I won’t be as effective in some ways because I don’t present myself in a way that makes it easy for me to be effective at some things.

And yet, I regularly mull over how being “effective” is so often so easily conflated with “stop making us uncomfortable.”  And how “make everyone as comfortable as possible” and “don’t make waves” are so often specifically gendered.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

My point is this.  If you’re not a feminist or at least sympathetic to the broad goals of feminism, you don’t get to question feminism or what my example as a feminist in the world means for feminism as a whole or whether I really care about women, as if I am somehow outside of the category “woman” and have me take you seriously.

You don’t get to use words designed to make women feel like shit about being women or to make men feel like, oh no, they might be mistaken for women or be being too much like women and expect me to treat you with respect.  It’s sexist bullshit to expect that you can just dole out whatever you want and its the women’s job to take it or smooth it over or ignore it or make it right (and I thank Shannon for reminding me of that).

And if you make an asshole of yourself here, it’s not my job to fix it.

I will say, upfront, that I’m not completely comfortable with that, especially when I see comments that are so egregious that I can’t help but think “My god, what if someone who doesn’t regularly read me stumbles on that and thinks that’s how my readers are?”

But, yeah, no.  It’s not my job to smooth things over.

Or, actually, it is my job to smooth things over.

And I reject that.

I have to go to bed, but I don’t think you could come up with a more feminist prayer than this one and, frankly, it’s the one I’ll be praying tonight.

National Attention

Holy cow!  Tim Chavez got the New York Times to cover Juana Villegas DeLaPaz’s story.  Wow.

I just want to add a couple of things to what Chavez has said here and here.

First and most important thing to remember is that our “efforts” to remove illegal immigrants from the United States are a joke (a cruel joke with real people getting crushed by the weight of the punchline, but a joke).  People like DeLaPaz, who want to come here from Mexico, literally cannot enter the United States legally.  There is no legal mechanism by which she can get here and stay here.

Because our immigration system is screwed up and needs drastic reformation.  It is cruel for us to both make it impossible for “unskilled” Mexicans to migrate to the United States AND to continue to entice them to come here.  And it creates a labor pool ripe for exploitation because they had to sneek in here and cannot get the help they need when they need it for fear of being sent away from here.

But also, even if you believe that illegal immigrants are criminals who should be deported, even you should see that ICE’s efforts to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S. are a giant boondoggle smoke-screen designed to funnel money into a “problem” they have no real impetus to fix (because, after all, if they fixed the “problem,” they wouldn’t still get billions of dollars to “protect” us from illegal immigrants.

Consider this.

There is an estimated 12-30 million people in the country illegally (obviously with the pro-immigration people citing lower numbers and the anti-immigration people citing higher numbers).  Let’s just say that there are only twelve million people here illegally, just for the sake of argument, just for a second.

According to ICE itself, they have “more than 16,500 employees and an annual budget of nearly $5 billion,” and yet, last year, again, according to ICE itself “ICE removed a record 276,912 illegal aliens, including voluntary removals, from the United States.”

America, they have 16,500 people, a budget of nearly $5 billion dollars, and their record for removing people from this country who shouldn’t be here is 276,912?

What’s 12,000,000 minus 276,912?

Um, almost twelve million.

At this rate, assuming that they can or want to actually keep people from entering the country illegally, most people here illegally will die in this country before ICE ever gets around to rounding them up.

Five billion dollars is a lot of impetus to continue the status quo.

Second, being in this country illegally is not a crime punishable by prison time.  The punishment for being here illegally is to be sent back to your country of origin and, usually, denied reentry into the United States.  People don’t go to prison for being here illegally.

People also don’t go to prison for driving without a license.

And yet, look at this passage from the New York Times.

As a result, immigration agents issued an order to take charge of Mrs. Villegas once she was released by the local authorities. Based on that order, county officers designated her a medium-security inmate in the jail, Ms. Weikal said.

A medium-security inmate. 

A woman about to give birth facing two charges that wouldn’t even get her thrown in prison is, by virtue of coming to ICE’s attention considered a medium-security inmate?

How is that not a fourth-amendment issue?  She’s sorted into the inmate population not based on the severity of her crime (like everyone else) but on her legal status?

Is this happening to all folks held on immigration charges?  And, if so, isn’t that a safety concern?  We sort prisoners for a reason.  A dude, like the folks in my family, who gets tossed in jail for not paying his child support isn’t housed with the dudes who murder folks, for his own safety.

Why is a woman facing a misdemenor charge and who is being held on an immigration violation being held in medium security?

And, my fellow Davidson County-ians, pay attetion to this little gem in the Times article as well, in case you’re ever arrested:

She said that it was standard procedure to bar medical equipment like a breast pump from the jail.

Really?  You can’t have necessary medical equipment in jail?

Again, how is that not a fourth amendment issue?

See, because here’s the thing, to get to the point I want to make–these are our rights that are being threatened.  We have a right to expect that, when we are in the custody of the authorities, that we will get prompt and thorough medical care.  We have a right to expect that we will not be placed unduly in harm’s way when we are in custody.  And we have a right to expect that our tax dollars go towards what we were told they would go towards–helping to remove dangerous criminals from our midst.

ICE in general and the 287(g) program in particular has been more about acclimating us to the exact opposite of that stuff and we all suffer for that.

A Brief Recap of the Day’s Events in No Particular Order

–The Professor fixed my car!

–Nashville, on hot days, driving into our city is really disgusting.  There’s this layer of brown bleck that just hovers over everything.  I don’t know what can be done to combat it, but we need to do it.  Having a poo colored haze over everything is not an enticement to get out of your car and enjoy our fair city.

–We might have gone a little overboard on the bag collecting.  At the end of the afternoon, when we were knee-deep in bags spread all over the Professor’s living room, I saw this brief look in her eyes a mixture of horror and delight, that look that I’m sure all crafters know, when you say to yourself “What the fuck have I gotten myself into?”

–But bag collecting was awesome!  We drove all over, got to say “hi” to a bunch of people.  We even stopped in at NM’s, even though she didn’t have any bags, just because we were in the neighborhood.

–So, even though I was teasing the Professor about it all night, I’m actually very curious to see how they turn out.

–And you are not going to believe who I saw Saturday evening!  Tiny Pasture!  I about fell over.  There he was, talking and drinking and eating food just like regular folks.  The thing that cracks me up most about him is how much he reminds me of the recalcitrant brother.  I didn’t realize that until just last night, but I think that’s why I am so fond of him, even though he’s… well, he is who he is.  I just feel kind of sisterly towards him.

–I’m sure there’s some other stuff, but I can’t think of it right now.

–Oh, except to tell you that Mary Mancini had the best beer in her keg and that, as usual, I ended up having to introduce myself to folks as the Butcher’s sister.  Is there anyone in town that man does not know?  I’m just going to get a t-shirt made that says, “No, you don’t know me, but you probably know my brother” and then on the back, it will have his picture, preferably the one with him with a giant handle-bar moustache.