Fighting Bob

I read a bunch about the Bread & Roses Strike when I was living up near Lawrence, so I figure I should poke around Wisconsin’s history and what do I find but this quote:

“The purpose of this ridiculous campaign is to throw the country into a state of sheer terror, to change public opinion, to stifle criticism, and suppress discussion. People are being unlawfully arrested, thrown into jail, held incommunicado for days, only to be eventually discharged without ever having been taken into court, because they have committed no crime. But more than this, if every preparation for war can be made the excuse for destroying free speech and a free press and the right of the people to assemble together for peaceful discussion, then we may well despair of ever again finding ourselves for a long period in a state of peace. The destruction of rights now occurring will be pointed to then as precedents for a still further invasion of the rights of the citizen.”

The scary part is the guy who said it died in 1955, so he wasn’t talking about the current war or the current destruction of rights – but he could have been. (The guy was “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, former Governor of Wisconsin, Congressman, Senator, and onetime candidate for President – who carried 17% of the popular vote, no mean feat in a two-party democracy.)

Today’s Lesson: Intersectionality

We’re covering this in GEST 100 tomorrow, and I think it’s always the kind of piece that’s worth re-reading:

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered 1851, Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

(We’re reading it with some Angela Davis.)

Now, NOW

What a fracas: NOW-NY issued a press release yesterday roasting Ted Kennedy for endorsing Obama, and did so with some of the most extravagant language I’ve read in a while. “Betrayal” seems a little much, but “ultimate betrayal”? Yikes.

But NOW National has stepped in like a calm, protective aunt whose niece has just thrown a shit-fit.

This whole “you’re not a good feminist unless you vote for the woman” stuff is just so tired – as if most women need one more voice in the world telling them how to be good feminists (or good women, for that matter). The other assumption – that men aren’t feminists, and therefore need not be loyal to a feminist candidate – also tires me.

Ivy League Assholes

A bunch of guys who go to Yale took a photo outside of Yale’s Women’s Center with a sign that said “We love Yale sluts.”

& Yes, they did belong to a frat! How did you guess? I was so surprised by that. Can the Yale administrators kick them out of school for being a redundant parody of themselves? I hope so. I’m more offended by how lame an idea this was than by the sentiment, even.

I’ve spoken at the Women’s Center at Yale, for Trans Awareness Week, four times in fact, and it’s an understated little office with a few old couches, the kind of place where if a male student had wanted to have a discussion about the use of the word “slut” as a positive term for a sexually-liberated women, they probably would have let him.

IvyGate has provided a higher-res version of the photo, presumably so women know which assholes not to date, though I’m sure there’s a third-waver out there who will end up dating one of these morons while taking issue with the Women’s Center suing Zeta Psi for sexual harassment.

(via Feministing.)


I said I’d catch people up on how it’s been for me here in snowy Appleton, WI since Betty left on the 10th – more than two weeks ago. Mostly, I’ve been busy teaching. I’m somewhat convinced I do more homework for my classes than my students do, whether in preparing discussion questions, in-class lectures, or even reviewing readings or documentaries I want them to watch.

Other than that, I go outside on the front porch to smoke, since I can’t smoke in the resident housing, and that’s definitely been interesting. I find myself a little less able to focus with the huge decrease in nicotine consumption, actually. But so far I don’t seem to be eating more, & that, at least, is a good thing. It’s also a good thing to smoke less because the air is so cold; asthmatics must have a time of it here. The one thing I am sure of know is that if I could ever keep my habit at about 5 a day (which is what I’m smoking here), I wouldn’t bother quitting.

It’s quiet – other than today’s fire alarm that got triggered when my next door neighbor burnt his lunch – and the daily scraping sounds of the snow plows and shovels. I’m not complaining, by any means; as long as I don’t have to shovel, they can make as much scraping sounds as they want, and at 5am if need be.

Teaching itself is really interesting work and I’m a little amazed at how good a job it is – teaching two courses, which is what I’m doing, is considered a full-time teaching load – but also how time-consuming. I enjoy watching the lighbulbs go on, the same as I do when I’m giving a workshop for trans people at a conference.

And in fact I met some local trans people just this week, & I’m hoping to meet some in Milwaukee in a few weeks as well.

In some ways it’s a break from New York, a trade off: instead of high densities of crime and people and ethnicities, we get an awful lot of snow, an awful lot of Packers fans, & an awful lot of fish.

But in either place, mostly I spend my free time reading about gender: more on some of the new stuff I’ve discovered in another post.

17 Degrees

I just found myself getting excited that it’s going to be a whopping 17 degrees here tomorrow. How pathetic is that?

CEO & Cinderella

Our friend Angela Madden is opening a play she wrote – and performs in – tonight at the Connelly Theatre. It’s called C.E.O. & Cinderella. We got to see it before I left for Wisconsin, and I’m glad I did. It’s interesting, it’s funny, and it’s moving.

It also only runs until February 19th, so do get tickets as soon as you can. It’s being presented by the theatre company Betty helped form a couple of years ago, and their website has all the info you need.

Angela, break a leg. We love you.

Blog for Choice Day

Blog for Choice Day

This year, the organizers of Blog for Choice have asked us all why we vote pro-Choice.

I grew up Catholic, as many know, & my first opinion on abortion – once I realized I should have one – was to be Pro Life. I was already against the death penalty, & in this instance, the Church’s rulings – against human beings messing with life & death – seemed consistent to me.

It was only later that I became a feminist and realized that pregnancy is often considered only a woman’s problem, that men are barely even expected to use birth control when they have sex, and that not only do we preach – as a culture – that women have to be sexy, but that it’s bad that they are. There’s a certain ‘head in the sand’ quality to the way we deal with these issues, and when, a few years ago, a pro life friend told me women should just keep their knees together – she wasn’t kidding, either – I’d had enough of the double standard.

So that’s why I vote pro-choice.

If people find others who are blogging for choice, do link to them here.

NH DMV Petition

There are people up in New Hampshire trying to convince the DMV to change their surgery requirement for gender marker change on licenses. In order to show how much support there would be for such changes, they’ve started an online petition.

Requiring surgery as a condition of ID change is both medically and economically discriminatory.

Do sign it.

‘Nipply’ Is An Understatement

Today it’s supposed to be -12 degrees F here in Appleton. The high? 1 degree.

Sunday it’ll be between 3 degrees and -4 degrees F.

Monday? Between 11 degrees and 0.

& It just keeps snowing.

They told me I arrived during a warm streak. Apparently. Who knew freezing could be “warm,” relatively speaking?

But I love it, I have to admit.


I still have moments of looking at the LGBT bookshelves in bookstores feeling sheepish – sometimes because I feel like I’m not “queer enough” to be doing so, or because people are clocking me as queer, that you must be queer if you’re browsing the LGBT section of a bookstore.

What’s funny to me is that I’ve stood in front of 200 people & talked about strapping it on, yet strangers in bookstores looking at me looking at books can still make me shy.

Tristan Does 200

Congratulations to Tristan Taormino on her 200th “Pucker Up” column for The Village Voice. She’s been writing that column since 1999, and even mentions the column about The Queer Heterosexual that I cited in My Husband Betty. (She also wrote a column about My Husband Betty, which did the book a world of good).

So congrats Tristan, and keep on putting your nose (or whichever parts you choose) into other people’s sex lives – with their consent, of course.