Youth Institute for Anti-Sexual Violence Activism

Hey y'all,

I am in the process of starting a community organization. I decided to name it Youth Institute for Anti-Sexual Violence Activism. The mission of Youth Institute of Anti-Sexual Violence Activism is to organize from a non-violent, feminist perspective to empower youth of all genders with the tools, resources, and training needed to aid in the fight to end sexual violence and to become anti-sexual violence activists, particularly focusing on violence against women and trans folks of color. Here's our Idealist page, if you're interested, please check it out to see if there's anyway you can offer your support. Right now, I really need help in moving this organization past the 'idea' stage. If you have a background in working with youth, trans folks, women, or on the issue of sexual violence in inner city communities your advice and support are welcome. Also, we need a logo, so if you know anyone who does graphics, let me know! I don't have the resources to work on this project full time right now and I also want to get more experience working in non-profits and with youth before I go full fledged but I am applying for some fellowships and grants right now for the org so send me your good vibes!



On Heteropatriarchy, Presidents and Families

I've been reading a lot more these days about polyamory. The theory itself is pretty convincing and so are the arguments against the heteopatriarchal myth of marriage: "For instance, we may be in a relationship we are super into, but then want to have an experience outside that relationship with someone who shares a characteristic with us that our partner doesn't, whether that be race, language, age, class background, ability, trans identity, or something else. Our radical politics tell us we don't have to pretend that those things don't matter, and that we can honor the different connections we get to have we get to have with people based on shared or different identities. If we love our partners and friends, it makes sense that we would want them to have experiences that are affirming or important for them in those ways, and not let rules of sexual exclusivity make us into barriers for each other's personal development (For Lovers and Fighters, Dean Spade)." I think in our minds, polyamory makes more sense to us. However, we've been socialized from the likes of parents, Disney movies, church, television shows, and of course, our Presidents. 

What does it mean that only one of our U.S. Presidents have been unmarried (James Buchanan was engaged to be married before his fiancé died)? And that none of them have been married to someone outside of their race? Or that all of them have been Christian and heterosexual? What message does being married send to the American public? A recent article in the L.A. Times about Mitt Romney focusing on his marriage to Ann Romney throughout his campaign and increasingly so, now that its almost time for the primaries, outlines the fact that Romney's marriage is evidence that he is a man of "steadiness and constancy." It has been said that Romney is using this focus on marriage, in direct opposition to another candidate, Newt Gingrich, who has had three failed marriages; Republican voters cite it as the main reason why they might not vote for him. One woman interviewed said, in reference to Gingrich, "if you can't work at a marriage and make that work, how can you make the government work?" What does it mean that President Bill Clinton was impeached when it was found out that he had an extramarital affair?

Our society is rooted in capitalism. It is the fundamental building block of America and it is present in every corner of our lives. Therefore, it is no wonder then, that the wives of American presidents, particularly in this example of Mitt Romney are treated as the property of the President and by extension, the American public. "The President is a product" and marriage is a huge part of the campaign for the Presidency. The American public must also fall in love with the wife. She is touted to events and speaks often during the campaign on behalf of her husband. Marriage, particularly in the case of the American presidency is a property arrangement, where the wife is sold to the American public as the perfect wife. The marriage of the President to someone of his same race; one man, one woman, white picket fence as the traditional love story is essentially a myth, a message sent to the people of the world that this is success, this is what you should attain to. I'm not married, but in my experience, marriage doesn't last, monogamous relationships that follow this framework don't last, at least most times, statistics show and if they do, its probably not because both parties followed this stoic framework.

Andrea Smith, in her article, "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy" quotes Christian Right activist and founder, Charles Colson, "Marriage is the traditional building block of human society, intended both to unite couples and bring children into the world... the family, led by a married mother and father, is the best available structure for both childrearing and cultural health." I've heard comments from black men, that a real woman is a woman like Michelle Obama, a woman who they've never met, that this is they way it should be done, referring to a familial structure. Their marriage normalizes black heteropatriarchy. As I discussed here, black womyn are particularly oppressed under this institution of patriarchy. Black womyn's worth is based "solely in terms of success at finding and keeping a romance, to brainwash women into spending all their time measuring themselves against this norm and working to change their bodies, behaviors, and activities to meet the requirements of being attractive to men and suitable for romance. I see this myth as both personally damaging to people-in how it creates unrealistic expectations about ourselves and each other and causes us to constantly experience insecurity-and also politically damaging because its a giant distraction from our resistance and it divides us (especially based on the fucked up self-fulfilling stereotypes about how woman compete with each other.)...It's important to have a critique of the myth of romance that looks at how damaging it is to us in our personal lives, and how it is designed to fuel social arrangements, codified in law, that we invented to subordinate woman and make them into the property of men.(Dean Spade)." Womyn are socialized to do everything to fulfill the "perfect woman" myth to enter into the capitalist structure of a relationship, which is marriage, even diss other women, in order to help perpetuate categories of women that are acceptable and unacceptable for marriage. 

The marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama is drooled over by the American public as well, particularly the Black American public. That's not particularly a bad thing either. Media, even black media, depicts black relationships as tainted and violent; Baby Boy is one example, not to mention that Chris Brown's violence against Rihanna received more media attention that any white man beating up his white wife. However, I believe that the near worship of Potus and Flotus' relationship is unhealthy, because its almost never accompanied by a real interrogation of the President's politics. Its always "I love my President!", "I love them!", "They are so cute!" when we see a picture of them together or Barack talking about Michelle. This myth, adopted to a predominant black family, makes it easier for black people to adapt to it. Andrea Smith continues "heteropartiarchy is the building block of US empire. In fact, it is the building block of the nation-state form of governance." Maybe its because a lot of us have grown up in communities "listening to their choice of baby mama anthems while using “baby daddy” as a term of endearment" like Janelle Harris, in this article describes. Perhaps we've grown tired of seeing poor, single mothers. But is marriage really the solution? Of course, we wish that more dads would stick around after they've had a child with a woman. But as Smith says "Christian Right politics work through the private family (which is coded as white, patriarchal, and middle class) to create a 'Christian America.' She notes that the investment in the private family makes it difficult for people to invest in more public forms of social connection. In addition, investment in the suburban private family serves to mask the public disinvestment in urban areas that makes the suburban lifestyles possible. " Therefore, marriage is seen as the solution to the struggling single mother, with no real movement for the social services necessary to make caring for a child as a single mother or even as a family possible.

In conclusion, whether choosing polyamory, monogamy, single hood or marriage, we must create our own ideals of family that include consciousness about our relationships with the community around us. 


Rape culture is...

Rape culture is telling fat womyn that they should be happy someone wants to fuck them.
Rape culture is telling black girls that they are fast.
Rape culture is telling Native womyn that its tradition.
Rape culture is telling Latina womyn to stay pure until marriage.
Rape culture is telling trans folks that they deserve it.
Rape culture is telling immigrant womyn that its the price you pay.
Rape culture is telling disabled womyn that they can't have sex.
Rape culture is ignoring people who experience sexual violence in prisons.
Rape culture is telling trans womyn, that they aren't really womyn.


Black Womyn Hate as Manifestations of Heteropatriarchy

This hate of black women is not new, but it still fucking burns. I'm tired of this shit. I'm tired of black men who act like their dick is the second coming of Jesus Christ telling black women that we are not good enough to be with them. Rhetoric like this, based on what is wrong with black womyn, why we are not desirable, what we need to do to get a man, is rooted in heteropatriarchy and by extension, capitalism and homophobia. In "Heteropatriarchy and The Three Pillars of White Supremacy", Andrea Smith draws out the link between heteropatriachy and this type of conversation around relationships.

Andrea Smith quotes Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, "If we fail to enact a Federal Marriage Amendment, we can expect not just more family breakdown, but also more criminals behind bars and more chaos in our streets." We can see from this quote that in the eyes of right-wing, Christian, mainstream society, marriage between two heterosexual adults of extreme genders is a process of crime prevention. The assumption is, which is an assumption held by black men also, that when you invest in this traditional familial dynamic the you prevent delinquent little boys and sexually promiscuous girls, with no critical analysis to the criminalization of black youth and the high rate of black womyn experiencing sexual victimization. Smith then goes on to quote Lift High the Cross author Ann Burlien, "the investment in the private family makes it difficult for people to invest in more public forms of social connection. In addition, the investment in the suburban private family serves to mask the public disinvestment in the urban areas that makes the suburban life possible." Subscribing to the belief that one man should be with one woman and that men should be the ones we aspire to be with promotes patriarchal domination and homophobia. It promotes the myth of the American dream, which ultimately benefits a small sector of society.


USA as a Battleground: No Surprise

"In fact the U.S. Constitution confers the right of the state to maintain itself over and above the rights of its citizenry." -Andrea Smith

In light of the recent news that the U.S. could soon be declared an effective battleground, I want to shed light on why this is happening and what this might for people of color. Andrea Smith, in her essay "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy", which I have quoted here and here outline why this might all make sense in the eyes of the U.S. as a imperialist society. She says, "the logic of Orientalism marks certain peoples or nations as inferior and as posing a constant threat to the well-being of empire. These people are still seen as 'civilizations'-they are not property or 'disappeared'-however, they will always be imaged as permanent foreign threats to empire. This logic is evident in the anti-immigration movements within the United States that target immigrants of color. It does not matter how long immigrants of color reside in the United States, they generally become targeted as foreign threats, particularly during war time. Consequently, orientalism serves as the anchor for war, because it allows the United States to justify being in a constant state of way to protect itself from its enemies." Therefore, we can draw comparisons to the way the state institutions currently treat marginalized groups to what society would be like if this bill passed.

People of color, women, gays and lesbians are unfairly targeted by the police and are the fastest growing segments of the military where they face discrimination and violence at higher rates than other populations. Not only are people of color marginalized here the in the States, but colonial missions are launched almost exclusively against people of color abroad. So if we draw these connections, we can see that this bill will mean that a permanent war is waged against people of color, women, LGBT person, low income individuals, etc. here in the U.S. to keep oppressions, privilege and white supremacy in place. "What becomes clear is then is what Sora Han states-the United States is not at war; the United States is war." It is because we have the belief that the U.S. is basically a good society, with a basically good framework for our liberation, that oppression is just happenstance and is not deliberate, we continue to ignore that war and genocide is at the very core of this country. The U.S. continues to facilitate colonial missions such as these to keep black people imprisoned and Native lands occupied, both of which serve to keep capitalism in place and keep the U.S. a successful imperial entity.

Click the title of this post for a pdf of the proposed bill.