Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent: Peace on Earth

My family is having Christmas week more than Christmas day.  We had roast chicken and baked potatoes last night and opened most of our presents, and we've flown into Seattle today so that tomorrow night my sister and I can sing with our old church's youth choir in the 11 PM service.  We'll open the rest of the gifts on Christmas day and then have dinner with extended family downtown, then my parents and I will fly home on the 26th (my sister is on a secret mission that requires she stay in the area for a few more days).

My relationship with parts of my extended family is complicated, and all of this travelling and confusion has led to some internal chaos, and so here I am writing about peace while rather stressed.  How fun.


A lot of things come to mind with the word "peace".  I'm a pacifist-in-training*, so peace is a world where people put aside their differences and choose understanding and imagination over violence.  I'm a tall, large-ish woman with some self-esteem issues, so peace is being comfortable with my body as my weight fluctuates.  I'm an introvert, so peace is spending time with just my partner or completely alone, when I can take time and recharge after being surrounded by people.

What I do know, whatever image comes to mind, is that peace is not passive.

In this culture, I have to fight for my right to be left alone when I need it.

I have to work hard to train my mind to see my beauty, not my fleshy rolls which make me feel so uncomfortable.

I have to get more creative in my problem-solving when I eliminate violence as an option in confronting or opposing injustice.

Peace is not merely an absence of war and turmoil.  It must be a conscious choice made over and over again.  It is a hard choice.  I believe it's a necessary choice.

Peace is the fourth and final candle on the Advent wreath before Christmas Eve/Day.  We've been hoping for a better future, loving our neighbors (and, ideally, our enemies), and finding moments of joy in our lives.  Now, we seek peace, and it can be found in hope, love, and joy.  Just as you can find joy through hope, love through joy, and hope through love.

Advent is about anticipating the coming of someone who both embodied and taught hope, joy, love, and peace, so that others may do the same, and it would spread until the whole world was enveloped in that active, teeming Goodness.

May the year following this Christmas, and each year following, bring us more hope, more joy, more love, and more peace.  Merry Christmas and God bless you all.

*Pacifism requires a certain discipline of thought that I'm working on.  If you're interested in pacifism as a specific political choice, check out this interview on Rachel Held Evans' blog.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent: Joy to the World

I'm home for the holidays!  I've been waking up in my own bed, scrambling eggs while looking out at the bay, and playing lots and lots of Skyrim.  It's wonderful.

I've also managed to get the Advent order wrong, which I discovered in church this morning when the speaker said "On this day, the third Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Love."  Shoot.  Well, I'll have to make up for that by talking about joy today, which is what I should have done last week.


It's hard to talk about joy right now.  Last week there were two mass shootings, one of which left twenty young children dead (my mother gasped that "they were just babies").  The weekend has been dominated by conversations about mental illness and fights about gun control.  More generally, many people are still jobless and may not be able to give their kids a holiday experience they think they should have.  Life doesn't stop just because a holiday happens.

But I think it's good to talk about joy, especially because there's so much crap in the world.

Joy is waking up to see the sun shining through your window, or hearing rain hitting your roof after a drought, or seeing the first flakes of snow.

Joy is being wrapped up in the arms of someone who loves you.

Joy is finally getting hired.

Joy is the cancer going away.

Joy is hearing the first cries of your child after hours of effort.

Life is not made up entirely of joy, but joy is what makes life worth living.  When we have those moments, it keeps the darkness at bay.

Christians and 50s crooners sing "Joy to the World, the Lord is come".  What we celebrate during Christmas is the arrival of the Divine incarnate.  The birth of this little Jewish boy who will grow up to teach love and forgiveness in a culture which abided by the Hammurabi Code of eye for an eye.  This poor kid who would go from being a carpenter to spreading the message that the last would be first, the first would be last, and that the ideal world is not one of hierarchy but equality and justice.  That's something worth celebrating.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent: All You Need is Love

Today is when Christians everywhere light the candle of Love.  Growing up, this was the one pink candle on the wreath, but the church my family attended in Washington was weird and didn't do that and lit another purple candle and it threw us off and-

Anyway.  Back to reflection.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent: Hopin' and Prayin'

For those who don't know, today marks the first day of Advent season in the Christian tradition.  Advent is the period leading up to Christmas, when we await the birth (or "advent") of Christ.  My family and the churches we've attended mark this time by lighting candles mounted on a wreath, with a new candle each Sunday accompanied by a reading and a reflection.

I'm not home for Advent this year and I don't have a wreath, but I thought it would be nice to use my blog this month as a place for happiness leading up to my favorite holiday evar.  Get some holiday cheer up in here.

So without further ado, let's get this Advent thing going!

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Need to Have a Talk About Sex...

...and gender.

Yep, that's right, I'm gonna talk about something that you probably think is a no-brainer, but is actually incredibly nuanced and complicated.

Gender is such a complex topic that I feel like I'm not necessarily qualified to talk about it.  But for many people, I may be the first resource, the first step into the colorful world of Gender Understanding.  So let's just get right into it because there's a lot (and I mean a LOT) to cover.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Feminism and Petticoats

So I said in my last post that I'd like to look into some interesting implications I found in the ten-minute documentary Lace & Petticoats, just because I can and because as a feminist I can't help but watch everything with part of my brain looking for things to break down and examine (this makes watching TV for fun and relaxation rather difficult).

So, without further ado, let's analyze the crap out of someone's student project!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lolita Madness

I may have gone insane.  Just slightly.  I'm considering (well, pretty close to decided) getting into Lolita fashion.

Some of you just jumped for joy at the thought, some of you are confused, and some of you are slightly disturbed because you have certain connotations with the word "Lolita" already.  I can assure you, it's not what you think.

For those who don't know, "Lolita" is the general name for a type of fashion originating from Japan.  There are several sub-types of Lolita, but the overall style can be characterized by feminine details, voluminous skirts, and a sense of youthfulness.  Lolita is not an attempt to attract pedophiles; the name for the fashion was probably chosen by someone who didn't know much about the novel beyond "there's a beautiful young woman in it".

Anyway, the other day I woke up and checked Tumblr (like ya do) when I noticed that a friend of mine had reblogged a couple of photos of lolita outfits*.  It was like a tiny voice inside of me was just saying "You should try that.  You should try that." It got me out of bed within five minutes of waking up on a Saturday (not an easy feat) to head over to my computer and search out information on Lolita.

I have fallen down a strange rabbit hole.

A very pretty rabbit hole.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Voting: Why You Should Care

I know a lot of people are tired by the political theatre right now.  You may not be impressed by either the Democratic or Republican candidates.  You may hate the mudslinging from both sides.  You may think the whole thing is overrated.

And you're going to roll your eyes when I say this: You still need to vote.

I don't care how disillusioned you are.  I don't care how cynical you are.  For our country's government to work, you need to vote.

Here's the thing: you don't like Obama or Romney?  Vote for Gary Johnson, or any of the other candidates for President.  The more people out there who vote for the candidate they actually support, the better sense politicians get of what their constituents actually want.  Remember what happened in 2010?  Tea Partiers voted in all of these far-right conservatives into the House of Representatives so that the government could be shrunk and now nothing is getting done.*  And our country is in a bad place because people voted against something (incumbents, taxes, more involved government) more than for something.

When you vote for the candidate who best represents your interests and provides what you think is the best vision for the nation, then they know that their ideas have some weight, and they'll work for your support.  Other politicians will see that person's success (or lack thereof) with their positions, and adjust accordingly based on what the people want.

But really, that's only part of why you should SERIOUSLY VOTE.

If you are a citizen of this country, people fought- hard- so that you would be able to choose who ran the country.  If you're a white man, white men before you died during the War for Independence so that you could have a say in your government.  If you're a person of color, people of color before you were murdered by white supremacists for trying to vote, had to combat poll taxes and literacy tests specifically designed to keep POC's from voting in parts of the country into the 1950s and 1960s.  If you're a woman, women before you worked for nearly 100 years, faced shame, imprisonment and torture**, just so that you could have the vote.

And you're going to thank them by not picking up where they left off and getting involved in the way your country is run?

If you're not registered already, register online because it's easy.

If you're nowhere near the county where you're registered, like me, request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you.

If you're in a state with new voter ID laws, figure out how to work with them.

In this day and age, where every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote, where you don't even need to leave your home in order to vote, barring your not having access to a government ID (in some states), you basically have no excuse.  And you must vote.  If you care about the direction in which our country goes, you must vote.  If you don't vote because you chose not to, you don't get to complain about the outcome.

In early October, I'll be receiving a ballot in my mailbox.  I will be choosing the candidates who best represent my interests, and then I will be sending the ballot back to Contra Costa county to have my votes counted.  I'll have contributed to how my country's government functions.  How awesome is that?

Register and vote.  I don't particularly care whom you vote for (though as a queer person I'd appreciate it if you didn't vote for Romney***), just freaking vote.  It's not that hard.

I'm gonna let Hank Green play me out.

*Don't blame only Obama for the economy; the Legislative Branch, in theory, has just as much power as he does, and Congress blocked his jobs bill while introducing none by themselves.
**The clip is from the excellent movie Iron-Jawed Angels, pretty accurately depicting the final push for women's suffrage.  Protesters for the National Women's Party, led by Alice Paul (Hilary Swank), were imprisoned for picketing a wartime president.  Paul went on a hunger strike, and in order to prevent her starving to death and giving the cause a martyr, the prison force-fed Paul raw eggs and milk.
***Gary Johnson is a fiscally conservative, socially progressive alternative

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm Not Dead!

Hi, everybody!  I'm sorry I haven't been writing.  I'm still not sure about when I'll be able to return to a regular blogging schedule, but I don't want Lesbi Crafty to die.

In my women's studies class, we were tasked with writing one page (as if we had five minutes to teach a group of young people) about what patriarchy is.  I thought, since it's conveniently here on my laptop, I'd just quickly share my explanation of patriarchy with you:


“Patriarchy”. The word really sets you off, right? It’s one of those scary feminist buzzwords that makes your brain want to shut down and stop listening to whatever the person to whom you’re talking is saying. If you’re a guy, it can feel like these mean, nasty feminists are accusing you of something, like it’s your fault if a classmate has been raped by her boyfriend whom you don’t know, or your mom doesn’t get paid as much to do the same job as your uncle.

Guess what. Patriarchy is no one’s fault, because no one is patriarchy. Patriarchy is outside of us, and we all operate within it, feminists and non-feminists alike. It influences how we see ourselves, how we relate to each other. It influences the stories we write, the stories people film and show to us, the games we play. It’s not anyone’s fault that patriarchy exists; the question is what you’re going to do about it.

Patriarchy can be most simply defined as a cultural system in which men are generally better off by virtue of being men. They’re more likely to get a job, and in that job they get paid better than their female coworkers. When a man speaks, it’s accepted that he can interrupt another because his voice is valid. Patriarchy is the system in which male leadership is default and female leadership and power, even equality, is a deviation—welcome or not—from that default.

Patriarchy is not the same thing as sexism. Many things happen in our society because of patriarchy, not necessarily overt sexism. A boss may pay his male employees more not because he feels women deserve less money for the same work by virtue of being women, but because he’s been taught by our patriarchal society that women don’t need to be paid the same amount. A husband expecting his wife to take care of cooking, cleaning, and childcare does so not necessarily because he thinks his wife is less capable of other things, but because patriarchy taught him that those things are women’s work, outside the domain of men. 

Patriarchy is not a feminist conspiracy to make guys feel bad. In fact, the word “patriarchy” used to be a positive term, referring to the rule of a father over his family. Today, some conservative religious people want to bring back this positive connotation. What feminists did was say “You know this idea of fathers ruling their households? It goes beyond the households” and they called it patriarchy.

The question is what you can do about it. The first step is just being aware. Notice little manifestations of patriarchy in your everyday life. Check its influence on how you see women and men. Don’t be ashamed- don’t beat yourself up if you have a prejudiced thought or anything. Just check yourself and promise not to do it again. Nobody’s perfect, but we can always improve ourselves. The important thing is to not let knowledge of patriarchy crush you. Instead, let it empower you to bring about positive change.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When in Rome

This is part 3 of a series on the Bible and homosexuality.  Here is part 1 and part 2.

Last time, I established that Christians, in discussing whether the Bible truly condemns homosexuality as we understand it, shouldn't be using the Jewish Law of the Torah to argue that gay people are sinners.  I also broke down the seemingly simple but actually quite complex Leviticus verse which is so often enthusiastically used to condemn queer people.

Of course, if it were just Jewish law with which there was an issue, my job would be done.  But many Christians know that what is probably the strongest verse condemning queer folks is found in the New Testament, in the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Rome.  Brace yourselves, this one is intense.

Monday, August 20, 2012

On Abom'nations

This is part 2 of a series on the Bible and homosexuality.  Part 1 is here.

Last time, I stated my intent to offer a different way of looking at the Bible with regards to what it says about queer people.  It's something many have done before me, and in my opinion they've done a fine job.  Certainly good enough to convince me that my friends (and I, when I figured things out about myself) weren't sinning by virtue of being in relationships.

Still, I have friends who are either on the fence or are firmly in the "gays are sinners because they're gay" camp.  Until now, I recommended books, documentaries, long essays, and hour-long Youtube presentations to support my arguments.  It was clunky, but it was what I had.  Now, I have a chance to go about this a different way, that lets me utilize the resources I have in such a way that the amazing arguments shine but I can also allow for more specific citations.  So, for example, say someone says "Well Leviticus says that it's a sin for a man to lie with another man!" I can link them to a post which specifically breaks down that passage.

Speaking of which...

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Things that You're Liable to Read in the Bible

Did you know that six years ago, I thought being gay was a sinful choice?

Yeah.  It's always awkward to admit, but I was young and uninformed.  Everything I knew about being gay came from my parents, who were themselves still trying to figure out where they stood on things.

I started knowingly meeting gay people in eighth grade*, and I loved them.  My best friend all through high school was a sweet, smart, flamboyant guy, as were... the vast majority of my close friends in high school.  It really started getting going in my freshman year of high school, when there were two same-gender couples at my fifteenth birthday party.  Their affection for each other was every bit as real, genuine, and abso-freaking-lutely adorable as my straight friends in their relationships.

I knew those relationships had as much love as any other.  I also knew that the Bible had some things to say about homosexuality that, on their face, are incredibly negative.  You may have heard of them.  They're called the clobber verses**.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brace Yourself for Bizzaro-World

It's no secret that I love sewing, but my preferred crafting uniform is messy hair and rumpled pajamas.  I guess it's a good thing I was born in the 90's, after all...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Just a Quick Note

I'm sick and tired of people saying that religion poisons everything.  It seems to be a common refrain among atheists who aren't content to personally not believe in a higher power.

It's also something that should be easily countered with examples of both the benefits of religion and the times that atheism didn't necessarily mean better society.  Yet people continually insist that, without fail, religion is never benevolent or beneficial, and atheism is always better, even though is is clearly false.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German minister, fought the Nazi persecution of Jewish people, and even was part of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, until he was arrested and hanged.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was inspired by Jesus' teachings of forgiveness of one's enemies and turning the other cheek, as well as the philosophy of Gandhi (himself Hindu but also fascinated with Christianity).  He led the Civil Rights movement in the American south by utilizing nonviolent strategies to bring about radical change*.

American nuns are currently being investigated by the Vatican because they're devoting all of their energies to helping the poor and the needy.  You can say nasty things about the Vatican, but these loving nuns are of the same religion as the men trying to put them down.

For God's sake, our own president, whom many of these anti-religion people love, is a devout Christian.  He said so multiple times during the '08 campaign.

Don't even get me started on how, when some of these religions first became their own coherent organized things, they actually improved upon the cultures which first adopted them**.

So please, for the love of all that is good in the world, stop saying religion poisons everything.  It's not true.

Need more evidence?  Watch Dan Merchant's Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.  It's an excellent documentary for the religious and non-religious alike.  While some of the individuals interviewed say things which will make some of us uncomfortable (Rick Santorum is interviewed), the whole thing is enlightening and special.

Watch it, please.  And stop shredding the memory of so many religious people, whose faith led them to do great good, by saying with such certainty that religion poisons everything.

*Christopher Hitchens, I hear, tried to argue that MLK was never truly Christian because he preached love and forgiveness.  I call BS.
**I can't resist offering some examples, though: 1.) The Persian Empire kept no slaves, because the empire's religion, Zoroastrainism, banned slavery 2.) Islam gave women more cultural significance and more rights than they had before 3.) In the early days of Christianity, when they were still being slaughtered by the Romans, the small groups of Christians around cared for the poor and needy around them, with women having just as prominent of roles as men

By the way: I know the average atheist is no more or less moral than the average religious person.  But religion has been a powerful force in shaping these people I mention who have worked for the greater good.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Undoing, Redoing...

So I had the fun experience the other day of frogging something.

Frogging, in knitting, refers to removing your needles from a project and ripping the yarn out until you reach a certain spot or until there's nothing left of the piece.

It's called frogging because you rip it.  You rip it.  Get it?

I love puns.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Under the Weather

I've fallen ill, friends.  There will be a post on Friday, but until then, enjoy Washington State Senator Cheryl Pflug talking about why her Republicanism led to her supporting marriage equality:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hi, Conservative Friends!

Hey guys!  I know you're out there.  You're the ones who get annoyed when I criticize Mitt Romney or the conservatives in Congress.  You don't normally say stuff (because you fear getting eaten alive by my liberal friends?  I dunno) but I know you're out there, and I know at least some of you see what I write/post.

So I wanted to talk to you guys today.

I'd been putting off writing this until closer to the election, but I'm thinking that it's more important to start this discussion now, because this is when people are starting to make decisions with regards to who they want to be the next president.

SO let's whack this hornet's nest.

Awwww yeah,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hittin' the Ooooold Dusty Trail!

My mom and I are gonna be road trippin' down the coast for the next couple of days, so I'm taking a break from the blog on Wednesday and Friday.  See you guys next week! <3

In the meantime, watch this excellent video which provides a bit of foreshadowing for a future post of mine.

Monday, July 30, 2012

How Not to Debate

I read a lot of comments sections on blogs, especially on controversial, high-emotion topics.  It's fascinating to see the arguments people make from any particular side of an issue, and I sometimes even learn new tactics I can use to support my own point of view.

What I've noticed, however, is that there are folks who'll go onto conversations about, say, gay rights, and basically debate people HARD and make nasty jokes to belittle the position of the opposition, then when called out say that they're just doing this for fun.  And when everyone explodes, they act like it's other people who are irrational.

I used to participate in the Junior States of America, a politics and debate organization for high school students.  I loved debate.  I still do, when I'm in the right mood.  But debate becomes a lot less fun when someone with no sense of the importance of an issue decides to get in the thick of it with someone who puts a lot of stock in the outcome of the debate happening on a large scale.

It's one thing to debate an issue for fun- it's another to debate an issue for fun when the other side has deeply personal interest in their side being right.  Allow me to provide some examples:

-A straight person debating gay rights with a gay person, "just for fun"
-A male complementarian debating women's role in the church with a woman, "just for fun"
-A man debating reproduction rights with a woman, "just for fun"
-A white person debating the value of affirmative action with a person of color, "just for fun"

During Rachel Held Evans' Mutuality 2012 series, Christian feminist blogger Dianna E. Anderson wrote a post on this very subject.  She related a story wherein she was having a discussion with a complementarian male friend:
I referenced John Piper’s words that a woman should “endure abuse for a season” and attempt to bring her husband under church discipline before trying to leave the relationship. I also pointed out that complementarianism, as a system, leaves more room for abuse because it creates an uneven power dynamic within the relationship. I had a friend when I was younger who suffered extensive emotional abuse because her father bought into the rhetoric that “the man gets the final say!” and so on.  
My friend replied with a long, confusing mess that essentially boiled down to “abused wives are martyrs for Christ, like missionaries in China.”  
I stood up and walked out.  
He got upset at me, saying he was just “having a fun discussion,” was “disappointed that I took things so personally,” and that he hoped I would examine what he said, free of personal bias, and come back to The Truth (TM). 
We no longer speak.
She then went on to explain that the reason she got so angry was because the larger discussion "...affects everything about how [women] are to behave, how we see ourselves, how we interact in our relationships, how we manage our careers, our children, and our lives...if complementarians are right, my world falls apart.  How can I not take that personally?"

What Anderson gets at here is that, if you aren't personally affected by the outcome of a debate, you shouldn't treat it like a toy.  You can't just toddle in to a discussion and play devil's advocate "just for the the heck of it".

If you're a man, you can't for funsies tell women that they should give up their bodies and their health for an unwanted child.

If you're complementarian, you can't lightheartedly tell a woman that all she needs to do is submit to her husband and everything will be peachy.

I sound like a killjoy.  I don't care.  If you're privileged, you don't get to be flippant in debate.  These are conversations happening on a large scale, with people's lives and livelihoods standing to be radically affected depending on the outcome.  These aren't just abstract, theoretical discussions.

If you try to do this- if you try to treat an intense issue as your intellectual plaything- don't be surprised when people get emotional.  Even if it's not of personal importance to you, it is to someone else.

Recently, a friend and I ended up in a conversation with two guys over using the word "transgender" vs. "transgendered"* to refer to the trans identity.  My friend and I ended up being incredibly frustrated because these guys, being not-trans, thought they were totally within their rights to say that it was okay to use "transgendered" because it was grammatically correct, regardless of the explanations my friend and I gave.  Even when I said "We should respect trans people and use the term they prefer," they stuck to their grammatical guns.

These were cisgender guys trying to argue that they knew better than trans people what was the appropriate term to use to refer to trans people.  That's not okay.  When I tried to explain the importance of respecting a trans person's right to identify and label themself, I was mocked.  These guys turned a serious discussion into their own toy with which to show their grammatical chops in order to avoid being exposed as being in error.

Now, if you want to debate whether chocolate or vanilla ice cream is better, or whether Harry should have ended up with Draco instead of Ginny, or whether the Working Class Foodies recipe for borscht deserves to be called borscht, that's fine.  Have fun.  Very, very little is lost by your goofing off.

But when you think it's okay to toy with an issue which doesn't affect you but does affect your opponent, or to decide for a minority group whether their complaints are valid, that's wrong.  Plain and simple.

*"Transgender" is the correct term, as it is an identity assumed by an individual.  "Transgendered" makes it sound like trans is something that happens to you, not something you are.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No blog post today

There was a small family emergency and I'm not in the mood to finish and post what was going to be today's thing.

Instead, enjoy this video of Christian author Rob Bell explaining the importance of remaining awed and overwhelmed by the beauty of life and the world around us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

I'm sure you haven't escaped hearing a certain song by an Australian guy called "Somebody That I Used to Know".  I'm also sure you've noticed that there's a woman in the song.

She's on the right, Snarkface.

You may have thought "Eh, she's got a nice voice.  Kinda quiet, though.  Meh.  This is Gotye's song."

Oh ho ho, how little you know about this woman.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jared Wilson et al., We Need to Have a Talk

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of rape culture and all that goes along with that

So the Christian blogosphere has been going nuts over a certain Jared Wilson over at The Gospel Coalition (a complementarian organization), who, by quoting a book by one Doug Wilson (I assume no relation), in his analysis of the problems of Fifty Shades of Grey managed to:

1.) Blame egalitarians like me for the massive sexual assault problem this country has
2.) Suggest that the ideal sex is a man being aggressive and a woman being passive
3.) Frighten a heck of a lot of women who, being sexual assault survivors themselves, were reminded of their own assaults

Friday, July 20, 2012

Today, We Need to Lament

I had a post all ready for today, but after the news this morning I'm going to wait till tomorrow to post it.

Instead, a prayer posted by Rachel Held Evans on her blog seems appropriate:

Gracious and loving God,
You watch the ways of all of us
and the utter destruction of which our hands are capable.
We implore you to weave goodness and grace
in the lives of those destroyed by senseless violence.
Surround those whose lives are shattered with a sense of your present love.
Wrap them in the warm quilt of your compassion.
Though they are lost in grief,
May they find you and be comforted.


Sunrise Mass - 2. Sunrise (Gloria) - Ola Gjeilo from Music@belpres on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Patience and Social Justice Sally

My parents and my religion both raised me to be patient and forgiving.  If something got me angry, I learned to breathe and get through it so I could function and not turn into a Giant Squid of Anger.  I'm always grateful for this particular aspect of my upbringing* because I find it helps in my activism and education work.  It's not easy (insert big DUH here) but I think it's worth it.

WHICH IS WHY I get tired of other social justice activists who seem incapable of forgiveness, or love to seek out reasons to be offended then blow up in people's faces when someone sets them off.  These are the people who say they're open-minded about everyone except for straight cis white Christian men.  These are the people who have long lists of things which make a person worthy of the title "feminist" or "ally" and they must satisfy all of those specific criteria to be considered.  These are the people, ostensibly, who abused Laci Green because three years ago she used the word "tr*nny" in a video and then spelled the word out in her apology, which was otherwise humble and brought attention to trans* issues.

These are the people who are featured in my new favorite meme, Social Justice Sally.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not Feelin' It

Sorry friends, I'm not feeling much like writing today.  So enjoy Nicki Minaj, whose music is an occasional guilty pleasure of mine, being awesome:

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Feminists: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green


He's very happy to see you.

So there's been quite the crapstorm about feminism on the internet, lately.  Specifically, threats made against two feminist educators/activists, Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green*.  These women have different missions, different video styles, and different things have led to threats of violence against them, but they both have been dealing with those threats lately.  I wanted to share my thoughts about both of their situations, but first I should summarize for those who haven't heard about what's been going down.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

To the Boys

The other day, I saw a couple of young boys (the older couldn't have been more than 13) in the grocery store peeking at the pictures of female models in an issue of GQ magazine.  I rolled my eyes and walked on, but immediately afterward I started thinking.  Next time I see young boys looking at semi-naked women in magazines and giggling, I wish I could go up to them and say this:

Learn how to treat girls right when you're this age, and you'll get plenty of real-life women when you're a little older.

And that doesn't mean pretending to care so you can get in her pants by the third date.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On (Rude, Unpleasant) Atheists

So after freaking out about the broken nature of western Christianity on Friday, I decided to write some thoughts on the relationship between religion and the non-religious.

It's been my observation that, humanity being wonderfully diverse and complex, there are multiple kinds of atheists*.  Many of them (the ones I usually end up being friends with and who are on my team in political debates) are humble and say that while they personally see no evidence for the existence of a Divine Whatsit**, they respect the religious' beliefs and meet the difference in opinion with a shrug and a "Whatever brings you comfort."

Some atheists may have a more antagonistic position toward religion- they don't understand why anyone would be silly enough to believe in a Divine Whatsit- but they generally keep their opinions to themselves and consider it a mystery of the universe.

But there are some atheists (not sure how many, but they seem to frequent any article on the internet pertaining to religion) who aren't content to disagree with religious people.  Instead, it's apparently their mission to inform everyone that, regardless of whatever experiences they've had to the contrary, there is no God.  None.  Nada.  You're either delusional or stupid if you think otherwise.  Some folks even go so far as to say that belief in God makes a person a worse human being, and we should execute all Christians because of the Crusades and fundamentalists.  Thankfully, that last group is a minority (I can pretty safely assume).

Needless to say, I get really ticked off by that last group.  I was raised by intellectual, highly intelligent parents who taught me to value science; my dad has a Ph. D in psychology, for God's sake.  But I was taught also to value belief and faith, and to be open to God.  My questions were answered and even encouraged.  When I was in high school, I started developing a spiritual life independent of my parents and have had some awesome experiences through my church, and have often felt like God was speaking to me.

But apparently, to this particular group of (very vocal) atheists, none of that means anything.  I'm stuck in a childlike dependence upon a magical invisible sky daddy*** and because I'm part of a massive group of people (around 1/3 of the world) among whom exist a fair number of corrupt jerks I'm as good as a corrupt jerk myself.  And maybe I should go hang.

It's around this time in my masochistic reading of comment threads on Huffington Post's religion section that I withdraw and mentally take solace in the fact that pretty much every atheist with whom I choose to associate has no problem at all with my beliefs, because I have no problem with theirs.  I can understand the position of "I haven't seen compelling evidence to believe in a God." I have evidence compelling enough for me, but they're very personal experiences and I can't expect someone to take my personal experience and say "Gee, I'm gonna become a Baptist now!" or something.  We're each on our own spiritual journeys.  But it's one thing to say "I need to experience it for myself," and quite another to say "I don't care about your experience- I consider it invalid."

These same hardcore unpleasant people who speak so poorly of religious folks sometimes also tout themselves as being superior in open-mindedness.  These same people who tell everyone to believe as they do get angry when any religious group does the same.

I'm trying to make it obvious that I don't think of all atheists as awful anti-theist anti-faith bigots.  In a fight between conservative Christians and atheists on a certain issue, I'm more likely to agree with what the atheists are saying than what the conservative Christians are saying.

But when conservative Christians condemn me for being gay and a feminist, and then atheists condemn me for being Christian (even a progressive Christian), I feel stuck in a no-man's land where I'm accepted by no one.  To both groups, progressive Christians don't exist.

At SF Pride, I saw multiple denominations of Christianity represented, with priests and laypeople alike smiling, cheering and waving signs declaring their love and acceptance of queer people.  Several hours later, there was an atheist group.  They could've gone multiple ways to celebrate Pride, but the way they chose was to bash religion, with signs talking about how poisonous it is for the community and basically trying to turn us against religion.  This was after the Episcopalians and Lutherans had marched through saying "We think you're awesome and that there's nothing wrong with you.  God loves you just as you are."

Yesterday, I attended St. John Presbyterian Church.  It's a small congregation- on any given Sunday you'll see about 200 people.  But at that church everyone was warm, welcoming and caring.  We prayed in unison for world peace and for justice, and when a pastor passed a microphone to take individual congregant's prayer requests, I asked for people to pray that my family finds a permanent home, and the pastor told us he hoped we'd find a home soon, and we were always welcome at the church.  There we were, a group of Presbyterians, some people mourning loved ones and some with their bodies decaying, all of us together supporting each other and looking out for each other.  People who look for evil in religion will find it, but they'll miss communities like this, people helping people helping people.  Religion, for many of us, brings healing and comfort when none can be found anywhere else.  But to some Huffington Post commentors or Facebook page makers, it's all childish and we're better off without it.

So, to you highly vocal, unpleasant atheists, I have a challenge for you: be as open-minded as you say you are or Christians aren't.  Check out Soul Force or Believe Out Loud or Mormons for Marriage or Dianna E Anderson's blog or John Shore's blog or Rachel Held Evans' blog.  Read books by progressive Christians, like Brian D. McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity.  (And this is all just for us Jesus-following types.  Go beyond us.)

Then tell me religion is poisonous, stupid and pointless, and no good can come from it.

*Just as there are multiple kinds of any other category or group of people anywhere ever
**My girlfriend used this term once and I loved it
***You know what I think of a masculine God

Friday, July 6, 2012

How to Save Christianity

Churches are dying.  Did you know?  The age of rationality is surely upon us, when the cancer that is religion will be wiped out from society.

Okay, obviously this isn't how I really feel about the state of faith in the world, but the sentiment is pretty pervasive.  The countries we generally consider to be the most developed and progressive are also the least religious.  Portland, Oregon- that symbol of liberalism- is the least-churched city in the US*. 

For a lot of people, the decline of organized religion in the developed world is a great thing.  They look at extremist Muslims blowing up schools, Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem spitting on young girls because they don't cover their arms, and conservative Christians condemning sexual minorities, and then they say "Of course religion poisons everything.  It's the primary cause of wars and grievous violations of human rights.  We're better off without it."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fear of Failure

So to keep my always-itching hands satisfied while waiting for my tendons to heal (too much knitting), I've taken up crochet.  At least, I'm doing the best that I can with the stuff written in my knitting book.

The author only put in enough crochet info to help knitters with whatever they'd need crochet- chains for ties on hats and things, single crochet for neckline edging, and crab stitch for tightening loose edges.  With that, I took up my sister's old crochet hook and some scrap yarn and went for it.

My first swatch, I'm proud to say, is an utter derpy failure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Myth Bustin'

I was reading a thread on the Ravelry forums about a YouTuber who got seriously offended when someone corrected him on the statement that "No girls of this generation knit".  The YT comments were hard to follow, but I also noticed that some people were under the assumption that if a man knits, he must be gay, and they were very confident in that assumption.

Some people just hate to be told they're wrong, I guess.  But as I've said before, I hate letting people keep going in their wrongness.

So I think it's time to bust some knitting myths.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don't Screw With Me, Queen!!

So it turns out I'm a member of a powerful order.  This group has been able to use their numbers and influence to demand respect from even the toughest organizations, and few dare question the order's right to practice their rituals in public, even in places where so many other activities are restricted.

I'm speaking, of course, about knitters.

What?  Knitters?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Medusa and Victim Blaming

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of rape and victim-blaming

The other day, I was watching this show on History Channel called Clash of the Gods, which while not at all like how it sounds, is pretty awesome.  Essentially, they look at a story from classic mythology (such as the Minotaur, or the life of Thor) and while telling the story, look into what elements came from the fears, practices and dreams of the real-life culture from which the myth came.

One episode of this show looked at the story of Perseus and Medusa.  It didn't start with Perseus, though; it started with where Medusa came from.  And her story made me profoundly uncomfortable, because of how familiar it sounded to some issues we still have today.

So this is Ovid's version of the origins of Medusa, the one told by the show: She was once a young woman, serving as a priestess of Athena.  As part of her duties, she had sworn to forever remain a virgin.  However, Medusa was incredibly beautiful; many were attracted to her, including the Lord of the Sea, Poseidon.  One night, Poseidon found Medusa in Athena's temple, and raped her.  Athena, to punish Medusa for no longer being a virgin, transformed her into the hideous corpse-like gorgon* with snakes for hair, boar tusks, and tight scaly skin.  Athena also cursed her so that anyone who looked directly upon her would be instantly turned to stone, dooming Medusa to being alone forever.  Medusa's only relief comes when Perseus, sneaking up on her by watching for her in his shield, beheads her.

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Interest in Vaginas

Every morning at 10 AM, the TV in my family's apartment broadcasts The View to no one in particular.  I don't normally pay attention to the show, because they mostly talk about pop culture I know nothing about and interview celebrities I've never heard of.  But the other morning it came on, and they opened the show discussing the Michigan House of Representatives banning a female legislator from speaking on the House floor because, in a debate about aboriton legislation, she dared say "I'm flattered you're all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Fire in My Belly, and My Growing Addiction to Knitting

I have two things I wanted to address today, so let's get to it!


"Spirit" by IMustBeDead
There are a lot of times when I'll see something irritating on the Internet.  Someone trolling on an anti-domestic violence video; religious folks saying that, while it's important to affirm the inherent dignity of gay people, we must always remember that gay people are sinning and abominations before God; Tea Partiers.

And during those times, it's tempting to engage, because someone is WRONG ON THE INTERNET.  It's so easy to feel like it's my personal responsibility to correct every single person and save them from their wrongness so that we can all live happily ever after, but then I realize that 1.) There's a chance I'm the one who's wrong, or 2.) I don't have the energy as a human being on this planet to do that for everyone.  There are just too many people who think that religion is poison or that gay people are sinful for being gay; I can't address all of them!

Monday, June 18, 2012

On Art Appreciation

Before I get into anything else, allow me to have a fangirl moment over the fact that my best friend went to the Philadelphia Trans* Health Conference in early June, bought a shirt from Legalize Trans*, and got the guys from one of my favorite trans*-related blogs (Art of Transliness) to sign it:

Anyway.  To what I wanted to write about.

Yesterday, I went to an exhibit in San Francisco called The Cult of Beauty, showcasing the Victorian Aesthetic movement in the arts, interior design, and fashion.  In a rebellion against all convention, the Aesthetes celebrated art for its own sake, incorporated both Greco-Roman and Japanese culture, and the beauty of the natural female form*.

As I wandered through the exhibition, I was genuinely overwhelmed at times.  There was so much beauty in that space that I felt like I would have a seizure and collapse, foaming at the mouth. (Upon telling my mom this, she said "I hope that doesn't happen.  You'd hit your head.")

Friday, June 15, 2012

God is Not a Man

Many people don't know this, but I internally cringe when I hear people refer to God as "He" without a second thought.

After all, many of these same people would likely say that they don't believe God has any gender; they just use "He" because of habit or "it's as good as gender-neutral" or whatever.

Setting aside the fact that the queer community has been using a wide variety of truly gender-neutral pronouns for a while, we need to ask why "male" is considered "gender-neutral".

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Prayer for Jack

My cousin Kari and her husband are expecting their first child soon.  Because I love family and babies, I decided to celebrate by knitting a small hat for baby Jack.

You'll be getting the hat with another present from my mom in the mail, Kari. <3
I knew that I didn't want to go with blue or pink for this hat.  Not because I hate masculine things or gendering babies (I'm annoyed by the gendering of all things Baby but that's something for another time).  No, I chose green because I didn't want to make any assumptions on who Jack would turn out to be.  And as I knit, I kept thinking about this life that's about to be born.  And (brace yourselves, non-religious friends)... I prayed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Menstrual Cup

This is a re-post from something I'd put up on my Facebook last month (with a fair bit of editing).  Because my life is rather chaotic right now (and this topic is *coughcough* gonna be relevant tomorrow), I'm just gonna leave this here.

I wanted to talk to you today about something wonderful, something magical, something life-changing...

...something gross, something weird...

...something that a lot of people don't know about and will make judgments about unless they get the facts.

I'm talking about... THE MENSTRUAL CUP.

*dun dun duuuuun*

Seriously now.  Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about, some of you are already lost, some of you have heard me talk about it a little and dismissed it as "gross" or something like that, and some of you are men who never got over fear of a woman's period and had a minor heart attack at seeing the word "menstrual".  I know all kinds.

Friday, June 8, 2012

"I'm Not a Feminist, But..." is BS: A Book Reaction

I read.  A lot.  I love books.  It's something I picked up before I could even talk- my parents love to tell about how, when I was still a baby, I'd go to the bookshelf, take down a book I wanted read to me, and crawl (I assume) over to whichever parent was nearby and literally hit their leg with the book till they read it to me.  Then I'd rinse and repeat.  Several times.

To this day, I have no qualms about re-reading books if I really like them.  Sometimes they're so good that right then and there I'll start from the beginning again.

The latest book to get this treatment is the amazing Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti.  It's required reading for the Intro to Women's Studies class at my university, and since I'm taking the class next semester and Girlfriend (I WILL FIND A WAY TO MENTION YOU IN EVERY POST. :P) had already taken it, I borrowed the book to get a headstart over the summer.

This book.  Oh my God.  This book.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reality: The Problem with Complementarianism

Being a Christian, I have to support my positions on certain issues not just with logic and data, but ensure that there's a religious basis for those positions, as well.  I remember struggling with the church's stance on homosexuality because I saw the beauty of my friends' same-gender relationships as equal to that of my straight friends.  After a long time of careful study, I reached the position that modern gay life is not automatically condemned in Scripture (which was lucky, because a few months later I realized that I was queer).

So it was cool seeing a well-thought out, Scripturally sound analysis of the Bible with regards to the position of women in the home and the church, "Supporting Women in All Levels of Leadership" by Eugene Cho.  Because that frees me up to talk about this issue from a place in which I'm more secure- pure %&?ing logic.

Monday, June 4, 2012

God with Needles

I've had a fair amount of experience recently with finishing projects.  Stress about my family moving to the Bay Area has led to me spending many hours in my room, watching the Green brothers on YouTube and hammering out projects, taking frequent breaks to shake out my hands and relax my wrists. (Remember this, knitters: to avoid carpal tunnel, take a break every half hour!!)

Something that my mom can roll her eyes and tell you is that, every time I finish something, my fingers start itching to pick up the next project.  I get so used to having needles and yarn moving through my hands that suddenly not having that makes me so.  Very.  ANTSY.  (It gets pretty bad.)

I can't always decide whether I like the process or the finished product more.  I know that knitting takes a $#!#-ton of time, so I try to carefully choose my projects so that I know I'll like--and more importantly, wear--whatever it is I make.  There are things that I've sewn (because the process is so fun) that I haven't worn more than once or twice, and just hang in my closet hating me for my refusal to wear them.  I've learned my lesson, and now I'm very careful to pick things I *know* I will wear.  The satisfaction of finishing a fun project becomes bittersweet with the realization  that while I like the look on its own, I don't particularly want to wear it a lot.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blushing with Shame

There was a time when I was uncomfortable with makeup.  I saw it as little more than a ploy to convince women to feel bad about themselves, that they were ugly without makeup and only close friends, family and long-term partners should be allowed to see them without makeup on.  Then and now, I like the look of my naked face.  Even when I had really low self-esteem, it was about the rest of my body, not that much about my face.

But in my senior year of high school, I realized that studying acting in Southern California meant I would have to  get used to wearing makeup not just for stage (something I openly enjoyed, because of the transformation factor in stage makeup), but every day.  I knew the Professional Theatre World wouldn't take me seriously without it.  So, Mom and I went to a drugstore and I picked up some stuff.

Little did I let myself realize, but I actually enjoyed applying makeup.  It was the transformation aspect that I loved in stage makeup but on a smaller scale.  I loved seeing how a bit of liner, mascara and foundation could subtly (or not-so-subtly) alter my appearance and enhance certain features.  I started enjoying the compliments I was getting for my improving skills, and eventually became enthusiastic about messing around with colors to create different looks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Of Sewing and Sexism

Welcome!  Come on in!  Take a seat!  Let me make some tea.  Oh, this apron?  Yes, I sewed it from t-shirts.  Help yourself to a cupcake, I just baked a fresh batch!  Why thank you, I like this lipstick too!, I won't make you a sandwich just because I'm a woman in the kitchen.

No, I'm not caving to a patriarchal standard of beauty because I like wearing dresses.

Yes, that really is a picture of my girlfriend and me.  Yes, as in my partner.