society

Newtown, Connecticut

I am so angry I could breathe fire. So sad I might melt into nothing but tears.

This is not okay.

I was a freshman in college when Columbine happened. I remember empathizing with both victims and shooters for that one... people pushed to their limits and unequipped to handle the rage of years of bullying. I think that might have been when I all but solidified my feelings on guns.

I think guns are cowardly weapons. Anyone with motor skills can lift a gun, pull the trigger and kill someone. Period. While yes, marksmen have tremendous skill that took years to hone... guns as a weapon are cowardly. They are an easy way out. You can take a life without thought at 800 ft/second without looking at that person's face, without watching their life bleed away. There is no ownership in gun violence...only quick (pardon the expression) hair-trigger reaction.

School shootings. The Aurora tragedy. The Clackamas mall shootings earlier this very week. And now Newtown, Connecticut. An elementary school.

This is not okay.

We have a problem.

We--as a society, as a country, as goddamn human beings--have a problem when we're more strict about 3 oz. bottles of shampoo than we are with lethal weapons that are killing children in their elementary school. How is this okay? How is it alright that kids are going to school with metal detectors, schools that are more secure than prisons? How is it okay? We've made these concessions (metal detectors, security passwords, police patrols in schools etc) to "keep our kids safe" but what we're really doing is pandering to the shooters. We're not doing anything about the problem, we're just putting a condom on it and hoping it doesn't break.

What the fuck is wrong with us?

This is a systemic problem. It's not just about gun control. It's also about mental health care, about our society's priorities, corrupt government, a glutted gun lobby, a disgusting news cycle, a furor over losing rights that were to secure citizens the ability to have a weapon that took 15 minutes to load, aim and fire. There are so many problems all linked together, so many deformities and mutations that make shit like this possible.

But no....now is not the time to have that conversation. The NRA might get pissy and raise Charlton Heston's   mangled corpse as some sort of gun-toting lich. A politician might not get to buy that new Mercedes this year. Ratings might drop.

Fuck you. A parent has to go home right now and look at presents under a tree that won't be unwrapped. A kindergartner has to learn how to process survivor's guilt.

Where does it stop? When does it become socially acceptable to have this conversation and do something about these problems?

You have no idea how hard I will be hugging my daughter today. 

Better Know A Trickster #2 - Maui No Ka Oi!

So, back in October I started a series of blog posts introducing you to the Tricksters of various pantheons. We started with the red-headed stepchild of Asgard, Loki. This time we're going to leave the icy Norse lands and sail to the South Pacific and meet that maker of mayhem, the slayer of the sun, the thief of fire himself: Hawaii's very own Maui!

Like Norse mythology, much of what we white folks know of the Hawaiian religion comes to us from Christian scholars who came to the islands and wrote about the savages they found. One of the better sources of information out there comes from David Kalakaua, the last reigning king of Hawaii. His book, The Legends and Myths of Hawaii, seeks to explain his culture to the rest of the world. This book is rich with understanding of the native religion and the tales the Hawaiians tell to this day.

One thing I've always found intriguing about the Hawaiian beliefs is how present it is in comparison to say the Judeo-Christian faiths. From what I've read--and I know that I don't know half of what there is to know, so if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me--the Hawaiians don't base their lives on the aftermath. The gods are here. They live and surf on the islands among mortals. Our ancestors remain with us as protective spirits. The philosophy is very rooted in the moment, the here and now.

Until the 19th century, the myths were handed down mostly in an oral tradition where the kahuna--wise man or priest--sang the tales. The backbone of Hawaiian mythology is the Kumulipo. This is the origin chant. To "perform" it, one needs more than 6 hours and some awa to keep the throat cooperating. Beginning with the darkest of void, the Kumulipo describes the birth of the world. Beginning with the coral polyp, populating the ocean, then the land and skies until finally man shows up. Then, the lineage of the kings is spoken. There are still those today who can trace their ancestry to the Kumulipo chant.

Like most trickster deities, Maui's birth is full of its own mystery. As chronicled in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth chant of the Kumulipo, Maui's mother Hina--goddess of the moon--wears the loincloth of a mortal chief, Akalana, and became pregnant. Now there's some subtext here about the loincloth and what she did with it. Some say that she was overly fond of the young chief and snatched the loincloth, then masturbated with it. (So, call me maybe?) However she came by the seed of the mortal, Hina was surprised when she delivered not a baby but an egg. This egg hatched to reveal a rooster.

When the goddess gave birth to a cock, the other deities feared she had broken the sacred laws--taboo. Immediately, it seems, Maui must fight to survive. His own uncles challenge him to physical combat and leave him with a bleeding head. And it just gets better from there. Ten times, Maui is tested by the gods and the circumstance of his very existence. But, as he navigates his difficulties, his guile and cunning are forged.

Among the strifes of Maui are some of his most famous exploits. The sixth test comes when he asks his mother about his parentage. While the lines in the chant are sparse, myths of these trials have bloomed like the islands themselves. Hina sends Maui to be with his mortal family and he acquires a fish-hook from his grandmother. The hook itself is made of her bone, and the line from her hair. She has given Maui a powerful object indeed! While he is very lazy and leaves the actual work of fishing to the mortal sons of Akalana, Maui casts this hook into the sea and draws up the islands! However, he never finished the task of uniting them, and thus we have the chain of them dotting the Pacific.

Like other tricksters, Maui is known for his mastery over the elements, specifically fire. He stole the fire from the mudhen and snared the sun because it crossed the sky too quickly. Summer is dedicated to him for slowing the sun's passage for the people of the islands. The constellation of Scorpio is also known to the islanders as Maui's hook.

The Kumulipo chant itself calls him trickster, revering his cunning ways. "Maui-of-the-loincloth/ The lawless shapeshifter of the island/A chief indeed." (Beckwith, 136.)

The last island that his hook drew from the water was the verdant isle that we call Maui. He claimed it for his own and to this day the natives insist that Maui no ka oi! Maui is the best. I'm inclined to agree.

If you like the artwork in this post, please visit the artist Brittney Lee at her Etsy shop. Show her some love and buy a print. She is a rock star! I've got two of her pieces in my house and if I had the extra bank I'd give her all the monies for more awesomeness.  Also, a special thanks to Kanila Tripp for fact-checking me and making sure that I don't sound like a lame haole girl. 

My People

 design by Mark RantalI don't know what to say. I mean, there are words careening through my head. Some of them are cool and rational while others are fiery. I didn't know anyone in that theater in Aurora, Colorado today. But I might have. Someone walked into a theater full of geeks and opened fire.

My people.

That was heinous. Dispicable. Sick. I am angry and sad beyond coherence about what happened today. Innocent people just out to see the final installment in a beloved franchise, people out to have a good time with friends and family were shot and killed. Some were wounded but will have to live their lives with nightmares. Those that were uninjured don't leave this unharmed. Everyone there will carry a scar of some kind.

Families have lost sons and daughters. Friends and strangers are left wondering WHY?

This wasn't right. What happened today at the hands of one man was a true tragedy.

But what really has my blood boiling and my stomach in knots right now? The people in positions of power or influence--politicians and journalists--who are already using this pimp their own agendas.

I will not link to their comments here nor will I paraphrase. Sadly, I don't need to because their voices are rising above the others right now. I will not sully my space here with their bullshit.

The message I want you to hear is love.

Come together. Hug your friends. Go to a movie. Walk in a crowded mall. Do not be afraid. Do not give in to arguing or passing blame. ONE MAN did this for his own reasons and we may never know them. This was not a political stunt or an attack on a specific religion. This was a single, sick person on a shooting spree.  To postulate otherwise is blind, fear-mongering speculation at best and egocentric bullshit at worst that tarnishes the tragedy people are going through right now.

People.

Not your political party or your church or companies.

People.

People were shot and killed. People lost loved ones. People have to pick up the pieces.

These were geeks. These were my people.

We are all better than this. We are all above the petty shit hitting the airwaves.

Be those people. Be kind. Forget agendas and remember people.

Nerdmaste

Stompy Boots

Hello, my loves. I come to you today not with silliness or heartwarming tales of my home life. No, today I come to you with a certified, 100% pure, uncut Wahine-style rant of the ages. Oh holy shit, I'm primed on this one. Allow me to just tell you right now: THERE WILL BE PROFANITY. Lots of it, probably. I've been incensed and I'm ready spit fiery porcupine quills in the general direction of this woman's face. Lace up your boots and come watch me kick in the teeth of a festering boil on the ass crack of humanity. So, today's rant comes to us from Liz Trotta, a contributor on (shock and awe) Fox "News". Either she's a satirical artist who just needs some time to hone her craft or she's a fucking nutjob.

So, the Pentagon recently reported that sex crimes committed by army personnel has gone up 64% in the past six years. A statistic bandied about in the Pentagon's study said that in 2011 every 6.5 hours, a US soldier committed a violent sex act. This is higher than the civilian population rates and is based on the 3200 crimes that were reported for that year. Considering how many sex crimes go unmentioned...? Yeah. Staggering numbers. The wording is a bit sketchy, but I believe this number pertains specifically to the assault of military service members by their peers. Soldier on soldier abuse. Security measures are being taken to protect our servicemen and women from these crimes, but they still happen. According to the Pentagon's numbers, domestic abuse and child abuse in the homes of US army personnel is on the rise as well. Initial reactions by officials are that the soldiers with PTSD are more likely to resort to violence.

Now... I look at this report and I see a few things that jump out at me.

  • First and foremost, we're not taking care of our military when they come home. I know from the experience of friends who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq that it's no picnic. Period. You do the best you can with what you're given. When they come home, though, we're not taking care of them. Our soldiers need mental and physical support on the homefront to deal with the hell they've been through while away at war.
  • The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking their toll on our people in ways that are kept in the shadows.  We think we're safe on this shore. No, we don't have car bombs or riots in the streets. There aren't rockets blowing up fifty yards from your office. But we're not okay here. We are not unscathed.
  • Gender is not specified, so it can (and does) go both ways.
So, are we all on the same page? The soldiers that have been giving up their sanity, homes, jobs and families (you know, the parts of their lives that aren't just biological processes) to go thousands of miles from home to sit in a desert where things explode all around them and people shoot at them all day... yeah, those people... anyway, they're turning on one another (at home and overseas) and on their families when they get home. (**Please know that when I say, "they", this is an obvious generalization. Not all soldiers cope with their demons in the same ways. Some have tremendous support networks even if the government doesn't provide it to them.**)
When Fox "News" ran a piece about women serving closer to the front lines, they turned to pundit Liz Trotta (the previously-mentioned object of my unholy wrath) to weigh in on the subject. She brought up the Pentagon's study in her interview. What was her reaction as a professional and as a woman? Let's take a look. Let's let Liz tell us what she thinks about this horrific insight into our failure to take care of our troops...
Let's just distill that to its finest point, shall we? "What did they expect?" Seriously? Fucking seriously? Oh, Liz, where do we begin with the myriad ways you've proven yourself to be a daft twat? How about this...?
FIRST of all, you've taken the Pentagon's findings and immediately made assumptions that women are the victims. Now, while that may be accurate, it is, at this point, an assumption on your part. Poor journalism on your part. Strike number one.
SECONDLY, you have just joined a sad group of our society that looks at sexual assaults and automatically assigns blame not to the criminal but to the victim. I don't care if you're a man, woman, gay, straight, lesbian, child, or a purple snouth from the planet Kuzbain: If you say 'no', and someone forcibly brings harm to your body, you are a victim. And there's a stigma to the word, but fuck that. Bad things happen to people and when they do, they shouldn't be harassed about it to add further insult to injury. A victim's emotion and stress and need for healing is valid. Period.
Also, along this same point, let's not forget that sexual assault is not an act of sex, it's about control and will. This pisses me off to no end that our society--Puritanical and strangely bent on sexualizing everything--still sees rape as something that must involve a penis, and therefore, must be solely about that most taboo subject that is sex. It's not. Sex crimes are about taking. The rapist isn't stealing a stereo or mugging someone for extra cash, nor are they just trying to get off. No, a rapist s/he's actively seeking to rob someone of their control. *That* is currency. A dominance of will. It's a power thing. Sex crimes involve terrorism and physical violence. Either Liz Trotta has had the good fortune to never have experienced a sex crime (first hand or through a friend/family member), or she needs a few rounds of therapy to help her with the self-loathing she's got going on.
Seriously, Liz, you're going to sit there with your face hanging out and tell me that a woman who wants to serve her country by laying down her life to take up arms... you're telling me that she should expect that rape or assault comes part and parcel with her oath? Fuck. You. Regardless of gender a person should never be told to take rape as just part of the job. It's like the shit argument of "well, when you go out looking like that, what do you expect?" That doesn't jive in the military population since everyone's wearing the same thing and it's not all flash and short skirts. And it doesn't flow in the civilian world, either. Why? Because there is this thing called respect for others. We shouldn't be teaching our girls that a bright shade of lipstick and a low-cut blouse are an invitation to be raped, we should be teaching everyone (boys and girls) that no means fucking no! Respect. Self-responsibility. Liz, you've just joined every jock on every 80's after school special who grinned and drawled, "She was asking for it." Fuck. You.
THIRD: You're bitching that this is a web of red tape strung up by feminists just to spend your tax dollars on helping women who've been raped? Seriously? Liz is bitching about feminists and that's fine (masochistic, but fine). However, could someone triple check me on something? Go look at the video. In the sidebar within the first few seconds, her credentials slide by. It says that she is the first woman to cover a war for broadcast  news. Gee, if you don't like feminists, maybe you should head back to the kitchen, put on your lipstick and start making a sammich. Turn over that journalism degree from Columbia. Stop taking royalties on those books you've published. Just shut up like a good little woman and use the 19th Amendment for a tampon.
FOURTH! (and this one burns me up...) She says that pressure from feminists has built this web of bureaucracy to "support women in the military who are now being raped too much".  Oh, fuck, where do I start with this sentence? Like it's such a sin to support women. Let's pass that for a moment and move to my favorite part... "support women who are" what? Being raped too much. Too much. Because once should just be overlooked? As if it's like hot dogs where there's an acceptable about of rat shit that can go into the food before the FDA gets pissed. What the fuck is this!? Let's just say this in nice big letters that everyone will be able to read:
IT SHOULD NEVER BE ACCEPTABLE TO RAPE/ASSAULT SOMEONE!
And then, (FIVE) the Fox "News" anchor actually stands up for lady soldiers, agrees that women need support and protection and what does Liz do? The cunt sneers and laughs! When a FOX NEWS anchor has to tell you the difference between right and wrong, you've got issues. AND THEN (six), she digs the hole deeper with this gem:
"That's funny. I thought it was the mission of the [Armed Forces] to defend and protect us, not the people who were fighting the war."
Holy shit, you want to talk about a sense of entitlement? Listen, you crotchety old bag of lipstick, your logic here is severely flawed. I'm not sure if it's the senility settling in or brain damage of another sort, but allow me to educate you on a few things. A) Yes, the Armed Forces are there to defend the country and its citizens. B) That's not funny. Not at all.   It goes like this, Liz. We don't conscript our soldiers from slave populations. We don't outsource them like your tech support team for your iPhone. Our soldiers are us. They're your neighbors, they teach your grandchildren, they sit across from you in church. They have just as much to fight for--if not more--than you do, you fucking hag. Do you know what they've sacrificed? Do you have any earthly clue what the soldiers and their families go through in the name of "defending and protecting" you?
In case you haven't noticed it a camp in the middle of Afghanistan isn't exactly luxury accommodation. When your husband is gone for months at a time and you have to be both mother and father to your children during that time, it's not something that lands you on the cover of Vogue. If you're lucky enough to have your spouse come home with all limbs in tact, what about their mind? Have you ever had to kill someone Liz? Have you ever had to duck and cover because a missile hit the building less than a football field away? Have you had to watch a friend die or hold his organs in his body while waiting for help? Have you had to raise a family alone because your husband is serving his country?
I know for a fact I couldn't do it. I couldn't be an Army wife like my friend April. I couldn't be a soldier like Sgt. Tydings. I couldn't do it. It takes stones and it takes sacrifice to wear a uniform for your country. They deserve honor and respect, but you've just raised your voice with the others who make our wounded warriors feel like it is truly a thankless job. They deserve ticker tape parades and more, they deserve your gratitude. But you laugh instead. You snark off.
And now you'd take dignity away on top of that? Go to Hell, lady.
Fuck off, Liz Trotta. You're a disgrace to journalism. You're a horrible woman. You're a pitiful excuse for a human being. Shut. Up.

Dude Looks Like A Lady

I woke up this morning to find my various social media feeds blaring with talk of a 14-year-old Girl Scout asking the world to boycott GSUSA and their cookies because the organization allows transgendered children to join. I posted a brief status message to my Facebook page with some thoughts, but the more I pondered this, the more I realized that I have very strong opinions about this matter. So, please, join me after the jump for some polite, civil discourse on the subject of this viral and volatile video.I am not going to post the original video here. I've linked to it above and several sites have picked it up. You can go check it out for yourself at your leisure. The basic gist is that the Girl Scouts of America, by allowing transgendered youth to join their troops, is being dishonest and actually endangering the safety of the young women involved in the organization.

To put it bluntly, this pisses me off.

Dishonest? No, dishonest is telling the world you are one thing while being another. What this girl sees as dishonesty is actually truth. These kids are being allowed to live their truth, to be the people they are without bias, judgment or cruelty. I think that is beautiful and a step in the right direction for the LGBTQ community. However, I can see where people who are less open and understanding of LGBTQ concepts might mistake this for a lie of some sort. So, I'm more inclined to educate than fight on this one.

What boils my blood? The idea that allowing a 6-year-old child be themselves is somehow a danger to others. In her video the girl references a rule stating that adult males cannot share tents or bathrooms with the girls, so I'm assuming that her concerns for safety are of a sexual nature. She postulates that an 18-year-old boy is legally an adult male. Completely ignoring the fact that she is falling victim to an obscene amount of logical fallacies, she clearly doesn't grasp what transgendered even means. I'm curious if she has confused transvestite (wears the clothes of the other gender) with transgender (born with the body of one but mind of the other).

But I digress.

If this girl's beef with the GSUSA's policy is that the hypothetical trans kid is a threat to safety--specifically safety from sexual predation--we can end that one right quick. First, she's just aiming for the top of the age spectrum rather than taking each developmental stage into account. Secondly, she's making the gross assumption that transgendered living is about sex and/or sexuality. It isn't. Period. Gender issues may effect one's sexuality, but a first grader isn't thinking about sex. They are thinking about friends and sleepovers and the social aspects of a strange world that tells people who to be based on what's between their legs.

The video touts that an all-girl organization is statistically proven to be a safe place for girls to be themselves and talk about things they can't talk about with boys because of shared experience. Okay, seriously... I don't know where this chick's troops are but when I was growing up it was the opposite.

You might think this is hilarious, but I was a Girl Scout once. I did two years in Brownies and didn't go to my graduation ceremony because my parents and I were moving. I joined because I thought it would be like Boy Scouts where I'd get to learn how to build fires and chart the stars and read tracks in the mud. You know...survivalist stuff that is tested when you're dropped in the middle of the woods and have to make a functioning radio using only tree bark and the hair from a skunk you tamed with Morse Code. Do you know what my actual Girl Scouts experience was? A sit-upon. We made a sit-upon. A fucking vinyl table cloth, a bit of yarn and some fiber fill pieced together to form a portable chair you wear around your waist.

And this place of communion with other girls that the video speaks of? Yeah, none of that. My troop was a handful of judgmental bitches of the same quality I got every day in school. I was the fat kid trying desperately to fit in. I stood taller than most boys in my class and was broad as a race horse. I was stronger in some respects and I didn't go for a princess unless she carried her own sword and held it aloft for Greyskull. In comparison to my peers, I was masculine. Not tomboyish, just ... butch. I wanted so badly to fit in, to be accepted by my peers. That was part of why I did the Girl Scouts thing in the first place! All I got out of it was a feeling like it was yet another club I didn't belong to. The other girls in my troop talked with each other and I got left to do stuff on my own. The people I felt like I *could* talk with freely? Guys. It has always been that way for as long as I can remember. The boys didn't judge me. They didn't think I was too fat or too broad or weird for liking race cars and Star Trek.

Again, I digress.

This video bothers me on many levels because in a way it is spreading its own dishonesty. When I first watched it, I hoped that her parents had written the script and put her up to it so that a video could go viral on their agenda. An adult saying these things wouldn't be heard, but a 14 year old Girl Scout? Hell yeah, people listened. But the more I thought about it, I realized they didn't have to write the script. This girl's parents may not have put her up to this. God knows at 14 I was a little militant and if I'd had YouTube I would've been posting anti-establishment videos daily! No, her hand didn't have to be forced. She didn't have to be exploited to get some intolerant message out there or get 15 minutes of air time.

No.

This girl's words are her own. And that's sad because there is so much ignorance and intolerance in them. Her parents didn't have to put those words in her mouth, they raised her with the ideas and beliefs they instilled in her heart.

if you have any questions about trans issues, my dear friend Rhys is answering questions as he goes through his own transition. Visit AskRhys.com and start a conversation. Learn. Expand.