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.