we've got issues, yeah.
September 16, 2002 12:28 PM

Kerri's collab post for this week goes a little something like this:

What are your issues? It can be assumed that since you are posting on a feminist collab, that women's issues are important to you, but what in specific, or in addition?

I may actually have too many issues. That is - I care pretty passionately about a lot of different things. So go ahead and grab yourself some hot cocoa before you launch into this one...

1. Social equality. That means: feminism, the men's movement, queer rights, fat acceptance, acceptance of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. When I talk about feminism, I'm usually talking about all these things. And when I talk about any of these things, I'm also talking about feminism.

So why do I even bother to call myself a feminist in the first place? Because I think (and I've said this again and again) that feminism needs people to understand how inextricably linked it is to other aspects of social equality.

Career Any career choice should be open to people, as long as they are able to perform the tasks of the job. That includes the military and any other profession typically open only to one gender, race, etc.

Family I think families need to be able to structure themselves based on who's best at and who wants to do what. That the definition of "family" isn't just a mother and father, but a community of people who have chosen each other.

Sexuality Just as religion is a choice we defend without forcing people to prove they have a "gene" that causes Catholicism, Judaism, or any other ism, sexuality is a continuum of choices that every individual needs to feel free to make. Period. It is a personal choice, I don't care where you got it, and I don't give a damn if it's contagious (though seriously, it's not).

Gender See "sexuality". Same thing. Gender isn't M/F anymore, and we need to accept the choices of people who fall somewhere between those poles.

I think that, ultimately, everyone needs to be free to make whatever choices make sense. Social equity is largely about choices, and goes hand in hand with economic equality.

2. Economic equality. That means: raising minimum wage to a living wage, welfare reform with real meaning, an end to economic discrimination based on any of the social equality factors I mentioned. This also ties back to career choices (see above).

I do not have an issue with corporate greed. Corporations may be as greedy as they like. But, as long as they control most of the ways our government money is spent, thereby eliminating most of the supportive, socialistic programs that once characterized US domestic spending, they need to pay up. I think most of the fiscal responsibility for improving wages and employability for working poor americans needs to fall on our corporate citizens. After all, they're the ones who stand to benefit most from increasing the productivity of the poor.

This is the main reason I support Ralph Nader (who, let's face it, is something of a wild and crazy alarmist): everyone else who talks about "corporate accountability" is thinking about shareholder value. Fine, but we need Ralph and people like him to think about workers.

3. Death. I'm pro-death. This is my morbid way of saying I support: the right to abortion, the right to assisted suicide, and the right of the people of your state/country to kill your sorry ass if you commit a truly heinous crime.

I think abortions need to be readily available. No debate, no requirement that a pregnant thirteen year old tell her abusive father, no need to prove you've been raped or any of that other crap. Just - available. And available from your average medical provider, not just the free clinic. Abortion needs to be depoliticized. Because the truth is, it's still barely legal. That's not an acceptable position for a medical procedure: it puts barriers between women and the truth about abortion (like that it hurts, might be better done in a hospital setting than in a "grab and go" clinic).

I think all the same things apply to assisted suicide.

And I think that being pro-death penalty is complicated, considering the inequities of the legal system. I'm certainly not opposed to a moratorium on the death penalty while we take some time to figure out why we kill so many black men. Honestly, the current system is fucked up. But I do not believe that the death penalty is morally wrong.

4. Beauty. Health. Consumption. All that stuff. America is blessed and cursed with a vast number of buying options. The result is a sale of beauty and health as commodities. Which leads to what?

Well, the establishment of fat as equivalent to ugliness and disease, the last politically correct thing to hate. Misinformation about what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle, most notably in products that can instantly grant you all the benefits of both (which is, of course, a lie). The notion that exercise is a litany of pain resulting in a perfect body product - unless you, the buyer, fail the program.

The fat acceptance movement tackles one tiny corner of this vast issue. There is much, much more. The notion of a single, narrow range of body types as acceptable, beautiful, and healthy is part of the larger culture of buy-and-sell. We can try to change one without the other, but the truth is we need to think about both.

5. Citizenship. Civil rights. Free speech. Free political action. Leonard Peltier and Mumia abu-Jamal out of prison. Expecting accountability from our government officials, not about who they screw, but how they vote. Demanding that appointed officials [say, John Ashcroft] understand and abide by the rules of the Constitution.

Essentially, all of these things revolve around the need to us as individuals to understand and enforce our power over the government. If we buy soundbytes and red-striped ties, that is what they will sell us. You have a responsibility to know who represents you, and to give consistent feedback on those peoples' performance.

6. Education. It's not good enough. In fact, we increasingly teach our kids only to be good little consumers (which is, I suppose, what passes for citizenship). We need to teach them (and ourselves) to be literate, capable debaters. To analyze situations and make logical decisions.

Essentially, we need to train all our minds to inspect and to question, not to spit out facts. School sucks, plain and simple. And while there are plenty of teachers working to improve that, they are constrained by a system that replaces funding and solid support with standardized tests and the Ten Commandments in every school lobby.

When we as adults start thinking the way we should - as citizens who look at the value of their $300 tax refund compared to the value of that money poured into schools - we will change this. But I suspect we can't do it without changing ourselves first.

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your wicked thoughts

Don't get me started on those standardized tests- my school just made the kids sit for a 70-minute PRACTICE version of the Connecticut Mastery Test. 70 minutes that the kids could've actually been learning something.

these are the thoughts of kerri on September 16, 2002 07:22 PM

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