Category Archives: Feb/March 2005 (2/10/05)

Surviving the Side Effects of the Class Struggle

Some of our brothers and sisters have been struggling with physical and emotional injuries after recent confrontations with the police state. In response, many of us gathered at the Long Haul community center in Berkeley, Calif. to brain storm about coping with the psychological effects of police brutality. We agreed that a better support network is needed to help activists stay alive and active.

We are good at preparing for all the possibilities of any protest or direct action. We lend solidarity outside jails, inside court rooms, mobilize roaming medics and write phone numbers of law collectives on the back of our hands. We have empathy for anyone who has been shot at, tear gassed, beaten bloody, or had their limbs twisted and yanked out of their sockets by the cops. But once the visible wounds are healing, many of our friends are left alone with their fears, their sense of defeat, their suicidal despair, or the resulting addiction to pain pills. Those of us who cry openly are often told we shouldn’t be surprised that we got hurt fighting the system. But such response grossly misinterprets and invalidates the feelings we are expressing. We are not surprised. We are shocked. We are traumatized. Nor is trauma something we choose to indulge. It is the typical human response to violence and injustice. In fact, in a community of activists who actively confront the capitalist system, trauma is inevitable. An emotional support network should be part of protest preparation right along with the medics and legal aid.

If we want to prevent burnout, and keep our activists from recoiling in fear of the next confrontation with reality, we all must learn to recognize trauma, develop a better understanding of the emotional impact it has on ourselves and on the community at large, and take the recovery of the individual out of isolation. Right now it is common for comrades who don’t know how to deal with emotional crises, to encourage us to seek professional help, unaware that they are sending us into a mine field.

Having battled my way through the mental health industry, I am well aware of the difficulty and even dangers of finding professional help for mental and emotional needs. Unlike medics and legal aid who simply must have knowledge of medical science or written rules, psychology is a surprisingly menacing field, and available support systems are hard to distinguish from cult-like communities and mind sets. The time to prevent further injury at the hands of these “professionals” is before we are traumatized to the degree of desperation, when it becomes especially easy to fall victim, and to research what type of safe support is available.

Hijacking Science to Justify Oppression

To understand the mental health system in place today, it is important to understand that psychiatry was never a medical profession, but has always been primarily a tool of oppression. It was first established as the Holy Inquisition was coming to an end, indeed actively replaced it by reclassifying “witches” as “mentally ill”, and apologizing for the church sanctioned mass murders by explaining that the inquisitors were well-meaning but misguided by superstition, all the while validating their persecution of the endless victims of the witch hunts by continuing the same persecution under the guise of science. Early psychiatric literature is eerily similar to the writings of Holocaust revisionists and apologists of today. Let us never forget that the very first deaths in Nazi gas chambers were psychiatric “patients”, this time under the guise of euthanasia.

Psychiatry was never based on science, nor is it today. There are no physiological tests to diagnose disease in psychiatric “patients”, not even to find the chemical imbalances, which the current “scientific” fad attributes “mental illnesses” to, nor its supposed genetic origins. Diagnosis is based on talking and observing behavior, classifying culture and personal expression into categories according to the physician’s own culture and personal opinions. It is not unusual for psychiatric “patients” to be diagnosed differently by each psychiatrist they see. The diagnostic standards themselves seem to change according to whim, weather, and regime change. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) for psychiatrists listed homosexuality, for example, as a mental disorder until the 1970’s, yet even though it was removed and invalidated as a disease at that time, queer youths are being incarcerated and drugged in psychiatric institutions to this day.

I don’t doubt that many people feel they owe their lives to psychiatric drugs, or at least feel the drugs have been useful tools to help them function better. I certainly defend people’s rights to take psychiatric drugs, or illegal street drugs for that matter, if they choose. But I won’t legitimize these substances as medicine. Medications claiming to treat illnesses for which there are no medical evidence are experimental at best. All the tests of these drugs are designed, funded, and supervised entirely by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, with outrageous scientific protocols and manipulations of data. The side effects are rarely disclosed to “patients,” especially those who are forced to take them. Aside from tragic changes in people’s personalities and creative abilities, the most severe side effects range from tardive dyskinesia, a disorder similar to Parkinson’s, and indicative of permanent brain damage, to seizures, coma, and unexplained death. Psychiatrists usually claim that the side effects or even the withdrawal symptoms are further symptoms of the “mental illnesses” the drugs are supposed to treat. As a result, larger doses are often administered, with the victim caught in a vicious cycle, treating a disease caused by the drugs intended to cure it.

One should step inside psychiatric offices with great caution. No matter how good the intentions of individual psychiatrists, the system they work for is structured more like law enforcement than medical practice, and treats people who are labeled “patients” like they are criminals. People with a psychiatric diagnosis can be incarcerated and drugged against their will. The stigma alone has permanent effects on many people’s ability to get health insurance, jobs, into school, be approved to adopt a child, or be believed as a witness, not to mention be free from prejudice from their own families and friends. It is nearly impossible for psychiatric survivors to win a case for injuries inflicted by psychiatrists, because they are easily discredited as “unstable”. Unlike medical records, access to ones own psychiatric records can be denied “for the patient’s own good”. Freedom of speech also does not apply to psychiatric “patients”. A psychiatrist is required by law to lock up anyone who admits that they feel suicidal, for a minimum of 72 hours. Psychiatric institutions are prisons where we get put into straight jackets and isolation, and get our brains washed, doped, lobotomized, and/or electrocuted, as the case may be. 2005 in Berkeley, and you can still get your brain fried at Herrick Hospital by people who are paid living wages for the privilege.

And the oppressive legacy of psychiatry continues as the Bush administration’s “New Freedom Commission on Mental Health” is lobbying to screen all Americans for mental illness, beginning in the schools with children and their teachers, and eventually extending to everyone at routine annual doctor visits. This would result in psychiatric treatments with only the most expensive psychiatric drugs on the market, as the proposal is backed by pharmaceutical companies. It is already implemented in school districts in several states. Teachers all over the country have been pressured into dispensing drugs for some time now, and there are financial incentives for underfunded schools and families on welfare to label children as mentally ill. The number of ADD/ADHD diagnoses in schools have been increasing at an alarming rate. Sally Satel, the psychiatrist Bush appointed to the “National Advisory Council for the US Center for Mental Health Services”, the committee that reviews federal grants for mental health services, is advocating for more coercive psychiatric treatments, including more outpatient commitment, which court orders people to take psychiatric drugs against their will, and is already well established in most US states.

In contrast, psychoanalysis, even though it evolved out of psychiatry, is practiced mostly by people who do not claim to be doctors. Freud’s “talking cure” developed from the discovery that traumatic experiences cause mental confusion (now called “dissociation”), and are often acted out unconsciously, without any conscious memory of the traumatic event itself. He found that the confusion could be alleviated to varying degrees by bringing the traumatic memories into consciousness and by talking about them. But in an oppressive society that normalizes abuse, the truth is inherently unwanted, and secrecy is part and parcel of psychiatry. The psychiatric community threatened to ostracize Freud for revealing the frequency of child abuse, and he abandoned his most relevant psychological findings, and replaced them with the theory that memories of abuse are really fantasies of the victims. This act continues to have lasting, devastating repercussions on how our society defines feelings, actions, and truth. Since then, the validity of repressed memories has been repeatedly challenged, debated, and confirmed, but attempts to squelch the truth continue. In 1992, shortly after changes in the judicial standards of evidence extended the statute of limitations to accommodate survivors of child abuse who had repressed all memories of the events until well into adulthood, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, an organization of parents accused of having sexually mistreated their children, began to wreak havoc on the support network established by survivors. Its attacks were aimed directly at therapists, who are often the first to provide survivors with a relatively safe place where the truth can be expressed.

Speaking our Minds

When self-articulation is chronically discouraged or made impossible through the imposition of secrets, confusion and lies – especially in abusive homes where the abusers’ priority is to conceal their crime, but also in schools, at work, and in combat – our communication can no longer follow traditional patterns and we find ways to express our truths any way we see fit. Some of the resulting patterns and behaviors are considered awkward, unintelligible or even frightening, and rather than attempt to truly understand the troubled person’s plight, our society readily stigmatizes us by labeling our communications symptoms of mental “illness”. But no matter how cryptic our “craziness”, to those who try to decipher the meaning, the same message keeps repeating: unresolved trauma causes ongoing disorientation, with the degree of disorientation being in direct relation to the degree of trauma. While it may seem disorderly in its extremes, this disorientation, or “dissociation”, is something all people do to varying degrees. It is in fact fundamental to human functioning: it filters useless or overwhelming information by fragmenting from consciousness experiences, feelings, memory, other people, ones own body, sense of self, reality, and more…

Trauma and the difficulty of working through it, are at the core of why individuals are labeled “mentally ill.” When we are traumatized we are confronted with a reality too overwhelming to cope with. Sometimes the shock is so great that people can’t find words to tell their stories, are in fact speechless, catatonic. After the traumatic event is past, some of us begin to behave strangely, while others continue seemingly unaffected. But regardless of how it looks from the outside, traumatized people frequently feel a sudden disconnection from reality, often re-experiencing the event as though it was still happening in the present. We are easily triggered by reminders, and defend ourselves against the intrusive flashbacks by numbing out the present along with the past. The resulting confusions distort reality to varying degrees, sometimes to the degree of hearing voices, having visual hallucinations, and body memories. Many develop insomnia to avoid nightmares, and are too frightened and depressed to participate in life.

I personally didn’t leave my home for several years because I was overwhelmed with several deaths among my closest friends, one due to police violence, which was followed by a threat to my livelihood by my abusive boss, and then a sexual violation, which catapulted me into flashbacks of a terrifying childhood. I became suicidal, fluctuated between manic anxiety and exhausted grief, and starved myself into the hospital. My dreams were so vivid I couldn’t tell if they were real, or if I was in the past or present. I heard voices inside and outside my head, hallucinated spirals opening up in front of me, and one day I looked in the mirror and every time I blinked someone else looked back at me. During that time many people offered me remedies ranging from pills to prayers, none of which I trusted, so I researched what support was available to me. The stories and solidarity of people with similar experiences helped me realize that my coping mechanisms were perfectly understandable, even predictable in the context of my life, and I learned to adjust them according to my present needs.

Among the available tools for recovery are a wide variety of therapists (psychologist, social worker, eco-psychologist, shaman,…) with a wide variety of methods (EMDR, bio-energetic, transactional analysis, non-violent communication, primal scream,…), guided and anonymous groups with specific focus (addiction, abuse, grief,…), peer counselors, herbs, massage, meditation, yoga, tai chi, dancing, capoeira, martial arts, self-defense, art and music, keeping a journal, changes in life style, such as nutritional, sleep, home or work environment, and finding supportive relationships and ending abusive ones. One of the more interesting approaches is Soma, which was featured in a recent edition of Slingshot, but to the best of my knowledge is available only in Brazil. But the most important consideration in seeking help is personal rapport with therapists and allies, and agreement on fundamental boundaries and concerns. Method (if any) and structure can then be negotiated. It’s best to go for a mixture of approaches that work for you.

Trauma is both universal, yet deeply personal, and psychotherapists come in many flavors. Many therapists believe in psychological categories of how humans function, either based on the biological reductionist models of pathology or drive, or on personality typing or ego states, or according to various vague religious explanations of destiny, fate, or karma. Their solutions range from remedies intended to “cure illness”, to modifying behavior, to talking and supporting their clients in developing insight, self-awareness, autonomy, self-esteem, hope, and self-determination. In order not to be retraumatized it is essential to get some questions answered before entering into a therapeutic alliance. One of the potential pitfalls of searching for allies is that the anti-psychiatry movement is comprised of a wide political range, from psychiatric survivors, Marxists, Civil Libertarians, to the Church of Scientology (as the Citizens Commission on Human Rights). Even Co-Counseling seems to have its origins in Dianetics, and has been criticized for their sectarian practices, and history of sexual abuse and abuse of authority by its founder. Another issue most people will be confronted with when exploring therapy options, is the trend to apply the term “codependence”, which originally implied a partner of a person dependent on alcohol or drugs, to all interdependence and to thereby discourage any truly intimate relationships. Fundamentally, the first step in recovery is finding a place where it is safe for the fog to lift, so that the truth can be integrated into conscious reality, and can then be acted upon.

Truth telling is part of both recovery and revolution. Language can be either oppressive or liberating. Many people who have been labeled, feel that the labels are useful, because it provides them with a language to put their struggle into words. While it may be helpful to embrace some of the psychiatric labels as metaphor, we have to take care not to actually pathologize our struggle and our humanity in the bargain. Reclaiming labels is a powerful act, but just like the swastika is too loaded a symbol to appropriate for any meaning other than fascism, talking about “mental illness” at a time when people so categorized are stripped of their human rights, is using not only the symbols, the language, but the very attitude and perpetuating it. In this system differently-abled people may have to accept being labeled, just to provide for such basic needs as housing, food, and health care. Plenty of people would love an excuse to take away the meager disability benefits some of us receive as a result of our inability to function in this abusive system. Our political objections may make us feel like liars, so we push ourselves beyond our limitations to prove we are not disordered, or we validate the labels by acting them out instead of our own experiences. Either way it is fundamentally problematic to use labels that define our humanity as a medical problem, because it adds to any mental confusion we are struggling with. We must dismantle the language that oppresses us, while somehow keeping what little support is available to us in place.

Since the brain storm at the Long Haul, some of us are in the process of putting together a resource guide to help activists in crisis navigate the system, including emotional and mental support, advocacy, legal aid, access to medical care, disability benefits, and other basic needs, information and personal stories about recognizing trauma and how to survive it. We’d also like to create a safe space where activists can share about their struggles and network for support, both casually over tea, or more formally in workshops, support groups, and one on one peer support. Ideally we would like our own free emotional crisis clinic for people not willing to be labeled “mentally ill”, that is politically conscious of class, gender, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. But until we can accomplish such an ambitious task, we must start small. I urge you to do your own research of what support options are appropriate for your situation, share resources, educate your co-ops and affinity groups, talk openly and honestly about your experiences, and always defend your full range of emotions. Most importantly, be good to yourselves and each other: this rotten to the core system won’t do it for you.

Sources for my analysis are too many to list here, but the books I recommend most are: Trauma and Recovery – The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror by Judith Lewis Herman The Manufacture of Madness – A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement by Thomas S. Szasz The Assault on Truth – Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson For questions, further dialogue, or if you have resources you’d like to share with the community, Dr. Ruthless can be contacted at feralmadwoman@riseup.net

Finger-bang Your Way Out of a Sex Rut!

I have been having a lot of great sex lately. But why am I sharing that information with you in this format? Well, I’ll tell you. In this political and historical climate, great sex can be a quite subversive, expansive, and radical mode of dismantling socializations and creating alternatives to mainstream drone culture. More and more, the christian right’s morals and limits are seeping into the larger culture. Take a look at fashion, security precautions, what is being passed off as education, entertainment, etc. This nauseating wave of puritanism and conservative values hangs in the air, almost un-noticed like the stale salty grease cloud present when passing a McDonald’s. Subtle, toxic, bland, unhealthy, normative. So when I heard Slingshot wanted an article on how to have great sex, I thought, “Hell, let’s queer it up and discuss perverting this political culture…time to fuck shit up- literally.” I have a disclaimer, which is: These are merely my opinions and results of my experiences that are subject to change. If my experience doesn’t work for you, please feel free to ignore and move on with your life.

And another thing, for clarity’s sake, I am not discussing relationship models here: polyamory, monogamy or non, multi-fidelity, self-sexing, sleeping around, etc. Who we do it with and how we negotiate these relationships is indeed a part of having great sex, don’t get me wrong. These preferences evolve and fluctuate. The intricacies are limitless and differ based on individual experiences. Therefore, discovering which models work for us, who we are attracted to, how we show it and how often, are personal choices I’d rather keep distinct from the issues I am about to go off on.

Okay, Sex. Comfort in one’s skin and sexuality, consent and self-care are an essential backdrop to this discussion. For me there is no way to have freeing sex if I am not actively checking in with myself and whoever I am having sex with about emotional and physical comfort and openness. If folks are shutting down, going on to the ceiling, disassociating or not that into it, then how the fuck can it be any good? Knowing what one wants is not easy, as we are taught very boring and limited sexualities in this culture. Part of what can make sex so revolutionary is discovering what it is we like and pushing ourselves (consensually of course) to and beyond our limits.

Here is where I go into 5 components that enhance my sex life. Hopefully this information is useful or at least entertaining. Some elements I have recently noted as being helpful to my sex life are laughter, role-play, gender fucking, lube, and physical boundary pushing.

Laughter

I laugh a lot during sex. Solo laughing is a recent addition to my sex life. It can be diverse; from a coy giggle, to a belly laugh, to laughing at myself at an awkward moment or just as a way to communicate joy. Oftentimes, new lovers are curious about why I am laughing. Am I laughing at them? What sparked that chuckle? My answers vary as what inspires a giggle really depends on what is going on. However, I always explain that I am not laughing at them and try to relieve any insecurities or anxieties my gaiety may bring up. Usually this is well received and may even inspire peals of relieved laughter. Plus laughter is contagious and can put folks more at ease. One may laugh solo or in unison w/ sex partners. For me, laughing with lovers during sex is different than spontaneously laughing as a release. Sometimes I laugh to relieve tension- not get so caught up in my “performance”. You know, seeming slick and skilled and oh so sexy. I mean honestly, what we are doing is goofy and silly and in fact hilarious. There is a myth that we should act a certain way during sex; virile, coquettish, animalistic, blasé, submissive, dominant, alluring etc. Laughing helps me hush those “you should be fill in the blank” voices. It neutralizes the tape-loops that play in my head, freeing me from self-imposed expectations of hotness based on media-inspired sources. Laughing is also a good way to express sensation. Noise in general during sex is, in my opinion, a fabulous added layer to events. Sound can act as a reflection of what is going on and also act as a release for the sensations being experienced; crying, screaming, moaning, gasping are all marvelous additions to this sex symphony. Something about laughing, for me, just enhances the intimacy and the experience in general.

Role- Play

Adding some drama to the scenario can provide many things: lessen other social/psycho/dramas that folks tend to drum up when the issue of sex arises, keep things interesting and creative, help explore different identities, help approach taboo subject matters, and be healing from past traumas, just to name a few. I notice that sometimes we get stuck in sex roles or sex acts. I encourage myself and others to not get stuck in roles like butch or femme or top or bottom or daddy or slave. I think those roles are awesome, but anything gets boring if not tweaked or switched up from time to time. It is very easy to stick with what we’re good at or cling to a role or identity out of habit or just plain comfort. Role-play can be a great way to challenge one’s rigidities and discover hidden perversions in a safe context.

Switching up roles is exactly as it sounds; availing oneself the opportunity to receive when previously being the provider; taking turns sucking and being sucked, biting and being bitten, slapping and being slapped, holding and being held, fucking and being fucked, you get the picture.

Story telling is another version of role-play. For me this includes setting up characters in a setting with a plot. It can get intricate with scripts or songs, heck even a dance routine. The important thing here is that everyone is okay with where the story goes. Also these scenarios can leave the bedroom and social norms. Here is where many taboos can be explored; intergenerational sex, and inter-species sex (you’ll be the farmer and I’ll be the livestock) are a few examples of such taboos. These games could challenge political and social norms in positive and smarty-panted ways. For me it is important to remember that this is fantasy and that these role-play scenarios set up safe consensual spaces for folks to go there consciously, critically, humbly and with an open mind.

Reading aloud can also be a fun way to explore roles. Reading stories, erotic or not aloud can absolutely add a certain something to the moment. It gives an added activity and focus and brings in more opportunity for fetishes. For example, reading an entomology dictionary, political theory, or porn to each other adds a certain geeky quality that can really do it for folks.

And finally drag, props and outfit sex. These dramatic elements can really heat up a moment. Messing with outfits and identities and incorporating them into a sex scene can be so erotic. Beyond changing the physical location, adding new physicalities can heighten the reality and challenging nature of a scene. In my experience, I could get hotted-out just by someone’s outfit, so incorporating costume changes works wonders in the bedroom. Just imagine what the addition of a mermaid outfit, a map, and kitchen utensils could add to your sex life.

Of course all these examples are not mutually exclusive and often get mixed up altogether; outfits, role-playing, story telling, reading aloud and whatever else you can think of, the more the merrier, sillier, nastier.

Gender-queerness

One element of my sex-life, with or without other people involved is fluid gender. As someone who travels many gender identities beyond anatomy in my day-to-day life, it follows suit that my sex life is a stage for non-binary- gendered bodies. When re-learning to have sex, I switched my focus away from stereotypical notions of genitals and genital contact. (Boys get blowjobs and girls get finger banged.) There is so much to play with and destroy, pervert, re-name. One lesson I have learned is that it is respectful and sexy as hell to ask people what they call their body parts and how they want them touched. When opening-up what we consider erogenous zones, more conversations about re-imagining bodies, gender, society may become possible. Anybody can get a blowjob anywhere on their body and the same goes for finger banging. I try not to focus on genitals and orgasms but nerve endings and what turns them on and works also on an emotional level for a person. This concept helps me move away from the dualities of gender often put onto sexual situations. Expansion, re-defining and being aware of people’s boundaries are key in this realm and essential to my sex.

Lube

Why is it so revolutionary to be wet? Because we get taught how to have sex wrong. It is astounding to me how many people have sex without lubrication. The orifice does not matter, what matters is that it feels good. As a youngster, figuring out what to do with my parts, I was unaware of adding moisture. In my opinion, everything is better with lubrication, lots of it. As I get older, my commitment to maintain moisture increases and that is why lube made it to this list. Different folks like different qualities of lube, from sticky to slippery, gummy to smooth, chunky to creamy even. I would love for more people to experiment with different wetnesses and see what works best for their bodies. I imagine the world would be a more joyous place if that happened. Slip it in.

Pushing Self Limits

Like dismantling racism, sex can push us beyond comfort zones bequeathed to us by the dominant culture. Many things we are taught are dangerous or scary, nasty or off-limits can be explored safely in a sexual situation. Personal stories of abuse, neglect, self-hatred and other of the myriad of private struggles surface in this practice and what is good limit pushing for me may not at all be good for you in your process. It is important to go at our own paces with boundary pushing and not go places inappropriate to our own experiences. Many issues can come out with consensual boundary pushing; power dynamics, stereotypes to be de-bunked, pain thresholds, ideological differences, and the concept of the comfort zone in general. As a person who challenges norms, I find sex a wonderful place to keep pushing myself beyond the comfort zones of society at large. Recently one of the boundaries I have being pushing for myself has been the issue of cutting. In an extended knife-play scene, I asked to be cut. Health, safety, safer sex and self care strategies were well established and adhered to in this scene. Since then I have explored the many levels of emotions, trust healing and comfort in my sexual self through this and other forms of personal bounadry pushing in bed. I have hope that if we hold enough space for each other to expand these concepts, then maybe other forms of social and environmental change can manifest.

Free free

June 2005 marks the five-year anniversary of the imprisonment of our friend and comrade: Oregon environmental political prisoner, Jeff “Free” Luers. Jeff was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for burning three Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) at a car dealership in Eugene, Oregon, and on trumped up attempted arson charges. Jeff set fire to SUVs to call attention to climate change and to protest oil wars and environmental destruction. Jeff was motivated by compassion and a desire to protect life, not to harm it.

On June 12, 2004, social and environmental activists in the US, Canada, England, Scotland, Norway, Finland, Australia, and Russia participated in an “International Day of Action” with Jeff by organizing non-violent protests and community events to show their support for him and their disgust for his cruel sentence. The FBI responded by creating a real ‘Green Scare’, sending a memo to businesses, corporate media, and government agencies warning of planned “terrorist attacks” by the “Earth Liberation Front” on June 12. Of course, no “terrorist attacks” ever occurred.

Since the June 12, 2004 Day of Action, support for Jeff has continued to grow. People all over the world see Jeff as a political prisoner and acknowledge that his sentence is meant as a deterrent to increased resistance to oppression. Overall, however, the political climate in the US and abroad has become more corrupt and repressive. The conditions are ripe to expose the hypocrisy of the system. Opposition and dissent is needed now more than ever.

During the weekend of June 10-12th, 2005, social justice activists from across the world are called upon again to organize and show their outrage about Jeff’s imprisonment and the continued abuse and isolation of dissident prisoners across the globe. State repression is meant as a deterrent to social and environmental movements all over. Jeff received a sentence of over 22 years for an action that harmed no one except for the pocketbook of a local car dealer. Typical arson charges in Oregon result in sentences less than five years.

There is no central organizing body or group to check in with but the Jeff Luers Support Network can help by providing you with flyers, graphics, and merchandise such as videos, zines and stickers about Jeff and allies in the struggle.

Read more about Jeff’s case at www.freefreenow.org. East Coast contact: Friends of Jeff ‘Free’ Luers freefreenow@mutualaid.org; West Coast Contacts: Break the Chains breakthechains02@yahoo.com; San Francisco Jeffrey Luers Support Network reejeffreyluers@resist.ca

Infoshop Update

Alternative Press Center – Baltimore

The APC has “a really cool library full of leftist publications, and we publish a quarterly reference guide to independent media, the Alternative Press Index” according to Caroline. Visit them at 1446 Gorsuch Avenue, Baltimore MD 21218, 410-243-2471.

The Planet Infoshop – Ann Arbor, MI

They just opened and feature sweatshop-free clothes, books, CDs, free internet, zines, etc. They also feature and promote local artists and musicians. They’re open Monday- Saturday 10-10 and Sunday 12-8. 1112 1/2 S. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, 734-994-4545.

The Third Space – Norman, Oklahoma

Finally, a social space, safe place, and organizing venue for anarchists, radicals and other activists in central Oklahoma! They feature over 800 books: radical, revolutionary, and progressive social theory, philosophy, history, race, class and gender studies, art, literature and DIY manuals/guides. They have a collection of over one thousand zines & periodicals, as well as a small collection of audio and video material. Plus a public internet terminal. Open Sat/Sun 1-5 pm and Tues. 7-11 pm. Just a block from the University of Oklahoma—look for the rainbow flag! Drop in at 813 College Ave A, Norman, OK 73069, 405-307-8594.

Reflections Mirror-Image Bookstore – Portland, OR

This re-opened Afrocentric and community-oriented space is now hosting Books to Oregon Prisoners (BtOP) which sends new, publisher-donated books to prisoners. Drop by to browse the catalog and place an order on behalf of an imprisoned friend or to help out with mailing. 330 North Killingsworth, Portland, bookstooregonprisoners@gmail.com 503-288-9003.

Aboveground Zine Library, New Orleans

They have moved and now are located at the Iron Rail bookstore—511 Marigny St. (@ Decatur St.) in New Orleans. Open from 1-7pm everyday. Zine donations are always welcome; mail them to: Aboveground Zine Library, 6810 Bellaire Dr., New Orleans, LA 70124, 504-944-0366.

Manila-Infoshop Projekt – Philippines

After having a space that got evicted in 2002, activists in the Philippines are raising funds and gathering materials (literature, videos, audio) to create an Infoshop. “The aim of Manila Infoshop Projekt is to create a space that would cater to the needs of various kolektives/autonomous groups and individuals. In our experience of surviving in span of almost 4 years, we kept on doing activities and actions without much documentation because most of the times we lack the resources (camera/film). Instead we tried our best to release statements and create some banners, streamers and flags that are usually recycled. We would like to have a space where we may conduct meetings, workshops, indoor activities, propaganda making, Food Not Bombs kitchen, library, etc.” They’re trying to raise $600 to pay for house rental (4 months), make bookshelves and buy second hand computers. You can send them money or printed materials. To contact them, visit: www.oathmeal.proxmira.com, manila.indymedia. org, www.gaizao.org.

MORE mistakes and corrections from the 2005 Organizer!

• The Asheville Community Resource Center address is wrong —they still exist but they no long have a physical space. The mailing address is correct.

• The address listed for the Madison community coop (Wisconsin) is wrong – the correct address is 1202 Williamson St. Suite C Madison, WI 53703. The phone # listed is correct, however.

• The phone # for the Kresge coop in Santa Cruz, Calif is wrong by 1 number – the correct # is 831-425-1506.

Mama Said Rock You Out

I didn’t mean to do it. It was the summer of 2001. I had just gotten my arm out of a cast, my ex had quit his job and moved away from Oakland to get out of supporting our children. I was on disability, and was living with my two daughters in a small room in someone else’s house. In my head, I could hear Johnny Rotten, prescient little twerp, screeching “no future, no future, no future for you!” There was no music that I could find which spoke to my particular circumstance, despite the fact that being a struggling single mother in this country is hardly a rarity. I needed to speak out and be heard, and I knew the music industry wasn’t about to start spewing out single mom anthems. I had a crappy acoustic guitar. I had never written a song. So, I started a punk band. Like many other punks, I was pissed off, and I wanted to do something about it. I’m over 30, with a background in classical music, moving into a genre dominated by young men, so, naturally, I looked for other moms to work with.

The first incarnation of the band (The Lactators) started with lyrics about problems moms face: The Sleep Deprivation Blues: “My baby woke me up at 4, he just wanted to nurse some more; I’m so tired and my tits are sore, ‘cuz he never stopped from the time before!”, and there was a decided bent toward being a novelty act or a joke band. However, whining about supposed maternal martyrdom degrades the power inherent in motherhood, so I left the band to sing in a mostly-guys, political, old school hardcore punk band.

Gender

As much as I was digging hardcore punk, I missed working with women. When the opportunity arose to play again with some of the old Lactators, I was quick to join in. We chose a non-gender-specific name (Junkbox). It’s unfortunate that the music I love is marked by ingrained sexism. Women rockers are not immune from the “you___ like a girl” syndrome. This is not true of classical music. No-one ever said to me, “you orchestrate like a girl”. Junkbox wanted to be judged from the quality of our rock-n-roll, not viewed from an “aww, mommies with guitars, how cute!” standpoint. The songs we started to write as Junkbox were more feminist, stronger, and more passionate. Poison Oak: “Pray to survive this, pray for enlightenment, pray for some guidance; I just smell the scent of dog and cigarettes–because you keep dicking me around.”, Pimpin’ Bitch: “Fuck love–give me the dough”. I didn’t want to have to be “in the closet” about being a mother rocker. And, at this point in my life, I feel like I have done more than enough to prove myself as someone to be taken seriously. A mother, an activist, an educator–I don’t have to act like an adolescent boy in order to rock.

Rocker-Mom

The lead guitar player of the band, Kjetset, suggested we re-embrace our identities as mothers and rockers. Mothering is what we do, it’s who we are, it’s one thing that permeates our entire lives. Not to acknowledge that we are moms plays into the old boys’ network. We had already embraced a band mission statement about empowering women by example. Our songs were moving toward strong mother-related themes. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, by bassist The Down-Low: “Beware of the women with nothing to lose…” Mother Nature: “I didn’t bear my children to be your fallen angels…Mother Nature just don’t play that!”, Too Much Woman: “I’ve got two kids, two jobs, three cats, one dog and two rats. I can program in Unix and change my own tire, what’cha think of that?” So, minutes before we played a gig in May, we took on a new name. We chose a very strong female image that wouldn’t belittle motherhood, and that would be difficult to turn into porn–that takes the essence of what it means to be a woman and a mother, and shoves it in your face. Placenta!

A Movement

Two days later, a strange thing happened.

We were contacted by the Wall Street Journal for a story about mother rockers. Apparently, during the past few years, in New York, Dallas, Detroit, and other cities in this country (and beyond, probably), other moms have had the same idea of forming all-mom bands. As early as 1998, Joy Rose formed a band called Housewives on Prozac. In 2001, a documentary was filmed about Suzie Riddle’s band, Frump, which then inspired her friend Paige Gilbert to start a band, the Mydols. Other bands have received coverage, but most of these bands had only passing knowledge of each other.

The mainstream media has decided that all of these mother rockers are part of a movement. A movement that, at best, draws begrudging support from family, and, at worst, pits rock-n-roll novelty against the sacred trust of all-sacrificing nurturance of their children. A movement of whining moms, making music that reporters don’t even bother to listen to or review. A very cute, not to be taken seriously movement.

I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to be in a movement.

I didn’t exactly mean to be a mother, either, to be perfectly honest. It was kind of, “Oops! You’re pregnant!” but I took on the role of mom with gusto (there’s a reason my band mates have dubbed me Mother Nature, as in, “don’t fuck with”). So, if someone from People magazine, or whatever, calls what I do a movement, then I’m perfectly willing to run with that idea. And I’m going to define it, dammit. I certainly have worked hard my whole spiked-hair-stretched-earlobes-leather-wearing life to avoid being deemed cute or whiny.

Feminism Rocks

The songwriting platform that mother rockers come from is protest songs, hillbilly laments about poverty and hardship, punk songs about the corruption of government—in contrast to big sleazy production numbers aimed at industry moguls. Far from having illusions about becoming rock stars, mother rockers write songs about events in their daily lives. What mom rockers have in common is the framework of freedom laid down by feminists, and the impetus of the current shape of feminism. For the sake of argument, if feminism was initially about being able to play with the boys, and then moved on to recognizing that “women’s work” has equal merit to “men’s work”, now we are fighting for acknowledgment of the fact that women create and sustain human life with our bodies, and that mothers are fucking powerful because the Universe made it that way. Take the strength of a mother in her prime and apply it to a drum set, amplified rock guitars and a screaming lead singer and I’d say you have the voice of a very powerful movement, all right.

Fronting a band that performs political, feminist rock songs is a conscious part of my parenting. My parents are musicians. My mother strove for feminist ideals in her parenting. In turn, my activism is something my kids have been a part of since they were in the womb. I don’t artificially separate my “real” life from my life as a mother. I do buffer what my kids get exposed to, and I do have continuous dialogue with them about life, media, politics, human behavior (including my own, good and bad), but I’m not a different person when I’m parenting than when I’m dealing with adults. Being a mother rocker is parenting through example.

Mother Rocker

Mother Rockers are creating music that fills the gap for moms, women, and basically anyone who can’t stand the current industry treatment of women. We show our children what it takes to be committed musicians, to go against the grain, to eschew traditional, safe-and-tame images of motherhood in favor of speaking from our own reality. We show other women that motherhood is not the end of coolness, and we show men that being strong women and mothers does not equate with man-hating. We show mothers that there is a voice for the job we do, and we show how owning the power of motherhood–and amplifying it–earns us even more respect.

I know that standing on a stage with a guitar in my hands, speaking about anything and everything I chose to, coming from the place of being a mother, threatens the system which specifies that moms remain perennial doormats, ever sacrificing, always soft and caring, always “there”. There”, for what? To be uncomplaining consumers, to devote our energies to petty PTA conflicts, to raise our children to conform to school rules and become mindless workerbees? The system wants mothers to be extensions of anti-choice philosophy. Uteruses, whose greatest accomplishment in life is to create more fodder for the capitalist machine. Mothers who make choices more significant than cloth vs. plastic diapers, who are vocal about choosing, and who band together could easily bring about the downfall of the system.

It pisses me off that the mainstream press is trying to keep Mother Rockers “in our place” by completely ignoring our music or trivializing our message. It’s a bizarre sleeping-with-the-enemy situation right now. We want more people to check us out, to hear our message, and the way that is happening right now is through exposure in the mainstream press. When we get interviewed, we focus on our message. We know it’ll still get twisted, cuz reporters have their angle, but we hope a little bit is creeping through. We think that the system is already falling apart, but quietly, quietly. We want moms, women, people to start owning their own power, and we hope to stand as examples of moms who are doing just that.

I don’t want the industry to dictate what Mother Rockers are. I want more mothers to make loud, obnoxious, powerful, screamin’, thrashin’, drivin’ rock music. I want more grassroots musicianship, taking the power away from the big 5 entertainment industry monsters. I want moms to speak about our own situations– I want my band to be one of the least outspoken bands. I want the system to topple because moms take themselves, their work, and their own power seriously, and act from that position of very real power. A critical mass of mother rockers. This is a call to arms! Mothers, get out your amps and start rockin’! This is our music! This is our revolution!

Golpe al tendon de Aquiles de la guerra

Las elecciones recientes en Irak — y todas las imágenes y retórica televisivas para hacernos sentir bien sobre la libertad y democracia — no pueden cambiar el hecho de que el ejercito estadounidense está empantanado en Irak, y no cuenta con una estrategia para salir. Es interesante recordar que Estados Unidos organizó las elecciones de 1967 en Vietnam del Sur, y a pesar de eso la guerra continuó durante 8 años. Hay más y más paralelos entre la guerra en Irak y la de Vietnam: puede que el ejercito estadounidense sea el más poderso del mundo, con fuerza abrumadora y mucha tecnología, pero en una guerrilla no hay cantidad de violencia o de muertes que pueda resultar en la victoria en contra de alguna población determinada. De hecho, se cree que la presencia de 150,000 soldados, le da vida y unidad a la insurgencia.

Aunque hay paralelos entre Vietnam e Irak, hay una gran diferencia que puede resultar ser en el tendón de Aquiles del régimen estadounidense, esto es, en esta ocasión no hay reclutamiento: el ejército es una fuerza compuesta “únicamente de voluntarios.” Aquí en Estados Unidos, aquellos que están en contra de la maquinaria imperial de Estados Unidos, necesitan aprovechar esta debilidad para encontrar maneras de corroer el poder del ejército desde adentro, al privarlo de lo que más hambre tiene: hombres y mujeres estadounidenses frescos para llenar las bolsas de cadáveres.

Al igual que en Vietnam, las tropas estadounidenses que llegaron a Irak con la esperanza de “reconstruir” y “llevar democracia y libertad,” ahora se están dando cuenta de que los iraquís no los quieren ahí, que no ha habido tal reconstrucción, sólo muerte y destrucción, y que las razones gloriosas de la guerra han resultado ser mentiras. La mayoría de los soldados esperan cumplir su término en Irak y regresar a casa con vida.

Hay muchas oportunidades para los oponentes en Estados Unidos al imperio estadounidense para cooperar con las tropas que están cada vez más escépticas sobre la guerra. Al fin y al cabo Vietnam no se pudo ganar porque las tropas se negaron a pelear — en lugar de eso, mataron a sus oficiales, desertaron, pidieron un estátus de Conscientious Objector, publicaron periódicos militares clandestinos, se fueron a huelga, o simplemente dejaron de luchar a través de un millón de pequeñas formas. La gente en casa ayudó como pudo — creando cafeterías antibélicas fuera de las bases, ofreciendo consejería sobre reclutamiento o pre-enlistamiento, asistiendo a los desertores en la clandestinidad y minando el apoyo local a la guerra.

Un mes antes de la guerra, millones de personas en el mundo protestaron — pero Bush se aferró a su poder y mantuvo sus oídos cerrados. Como va avanzando la guerra necesitamos pasar de una estrategia de corto plazo a largo plazo. La asistencia masiva a rituales de protesta organizadas magníficamente no han tenido la inteligencia de romper la capacidad de Bush para pelear. Aunque la mayoría de la población no apoya la guerra (54%, de acuerdo a la encuesta de Los Angeles Times del 19 de enero), ésta continúa. Ultimadamente son las tropas las que tienen el poder de esta situación — necesitamos apoyar a nuestras tropas al apoyar su resistencia. Los estadounideses están arriesgando sus vidas por nada: ¡es hora de que luchen!

Además para coperar con las tropas que ya están en el ejército, los activistas en Estados Unidos pueden ayudar al cortar la oferta de reclutos nuevos. La maquinaria de reclutamiento del ejército estadounidense funciona en cada pueblo, en cada escuela preparatoria (High School), en todo el país (vea la lista de estaciones de reclutamiento en página 14). La maquinaria de reclutamiento es un presa fácil. Podemos, con acciones en las estaciones de reclutamiento del ejército en todo Estados Unidos, traer la guerra a casa y crear conecciones reales entre la guerra sin sentido en Irak y nuestras propias comunidades. ¿Por qué debería la maquinaria militar estadounidense actuar sin consecuencias aquí?

Desde que el gobierno terminó con el sistema de reclutamiento, el ejército estadounidense ha dependido de una “reclutamiento de la pobreza,” para llenar las filas del ejército. Mientras que en teoría unirse al el ejército es un acto “puramente voluntario,” la falta de oportunidades económicas presiona a la gente más pobre hacia el ejército: a veces para conseguir dinero para ir a la universidad, mientras que los jóvenes de clase media van directamente a la universidad. El ejército gasta 2,500 millones de dólares en sus esfuerzos de reclutamiento que principalmente se dirigen hacia comunidades de bajos ingresos, vendiendo el mensaje de que el ejército es una alternativa para salir de la pobreza.

Como resultado, la mayoría de los reclutos proviene de las comunidades más pobres. Por ejemplo, de acuerdo con el comité de Servicio de Amigos Americanos (American Friends Service Committee), “Puerto Rico es el territorio número 1 de reclutamiento del ejército. Con una tasa de desempleo en la isla de más de 40%, las oficinas de reclutamiento del ejército en Puerto Rico reclutan más de 4 veces el número de personas que las oficinas basadas en el territorio continental, anualmente. La población negra también es reclutada de manera desproporcionada: 29.8% de soldados en la primera guerra del golfo eran negros, en contraste al 12% que representan respecto a la población estadounidense.

Pero con más de 1,400 soldados muertos y más de 10,000 heridos en una guerra sin sentido — y más muriendo cada día — el reclutamiento de la pobreza se está volviendo cada vez menos efectivo. La Guardia Nacional del Ejército no pudo complir con su meta de reclutar 56,000 soldados el año fiscal 2004, logrando reclutar a sólo 49,210. El teniente general H. Steven Blum, jefe del Buró de la Guardia Nacional, dijo el 26 de enero que la Guardia cuenta con 15,000 soldados menos que su fuerza normal de 350,000. En respuesta, la Guardia Nacional va a añadir 1,400 reclutos, y ofrecer bonos de 15,000 dólares por enlistarse. Hasta el momento el ejército regular ha logrado sus metas de reclutamiento pero en las filas no todo va bien.

Stars & Stripes, periódico militar patrocinado por el gobierno, hizo una encuesta a 1,935 soldados en Irak durante agosto del 2003 para una serie de artículos poblicados en octubre del 2003 y encontró que el 49% dijo que deseaban abandonar el ejército tan pronto como les fuera posible. Sólo el 18% dijo que “era muy probable” que se quedaran. El 55% de la reserva de La Guardia Nacional encuestada dijo que era “improbable” o “muy improbable” que se reenlistaran. Desde que apareció el artículo el ejército ha mantenido silencio sobre otras encuestas que puedan contradecir la versión de la realidad oficial de Bush.

Una manera en que el ejército ha tratado de mantener la fuerza de las tropas ha sido creando orderes de “Stop loss,” que impiden que los soldados abandonen el ejército cuando expiran sus contratos. Algunos soldados han llamado a las órdenes de “Stop loss,” “reclutamiento por la puerta trasera.”

Se estima que la tasa de deserción de la guerra o AWOL está entre 600 y 5,500 (el pentágono se niega a dar información). Canada está considerando dar refugio a muchos soldados estadounidenses que han renunciado a dar servicio en Irak.

Aún más, están comenzando a salir a la superficie reportes sobre la resistencia entre las tropas estadounidenses. El 13 de octubre del 2004, 19 soldados de La Guardia Nacional se negaron a obedecer la orden de manejar tanques de gasolina sin armadura a Baghdad (lo cual consideraron como “misión suicida”). Este fue el primer motín que se reporta en Irak y sólo salió a la luz pública porque los soldados llamaron a sus famiilias desde una carpa de detención. Probablemente nunca sabremos sobre otros motines en Irak.

El apoyo de las tropas a las políticas subyascentes a la guerra también se han evaporado. En respuesta a la pregunta de Stars and Stripes “¿Qué tan importante consideras que es para Estados Unidos pelear en esta guerra?,” el 31% dijo que tenía “poco valor” o “ningún valor en absoluto,” mientras que el 48% respondió que era “valioso” o “muy valioso.” El 35% respondió que “no era muy claro” o “no era claro en absoluto” por qué estaban en Irak.

Debido a la guerra, hay rumores cada vez mayores de que habrá un Reclutamiento Oficial (no sólo un Reclutamiento de la Pobreza) si Estados Unidos continúa su ocupación en Irak. Un reclutamiento puede ser aún más necesario si la administración de Bush planea invadir Irán, Siria y/o Corea del Norte en los próximos 4 años, como claramente desean. La posibilidad de un reclutamiento oficial, asusta, y con razón, a mucha gente en edad de reclutameinto a quienes no les gusta la idea de sacrificar su vida por las aventuras de Bush o ir a la cárcel.

Pero mirando más allá del factor miedo, si el ejército se ve forzado a reclutar soldados, esto podría ayudar a cristalizar la oposición a Bush y a sus guerras. La encuesta de Los Angeles Times del 19 de enero, encontró que sólo el 39% de los encuestados respondió que “la situación en Irak ameritaba ir a la guerra” y el 56% dijo que no. ¿Qué pasaría si todos los segmentos de la sociedad estadounidense (no sólo los pobres) tuvieran hijos e hijas en Irak o la posibilidad de estarlo? Si el reclutamiento voluntario disminuye y las tropas que regresan de Irak se niegan a re-enlistarse, Bush se queda con una crisis real: si intenta promultar el Reclutamiento en el contexto de una guerra con tan poca popularidad, estaría poniendo en gran riesgo la estabilidad social doméstica.

Cuando vi la película sobre Weather Underground el año pasado, una frase se me quedó en la mente. Un hombre trató de explicar su estado mental al decir que por muchos años, cada día al despertarse lo primero que pensó fue que había una guerra, que la gente estaban siendo masacrada por nada, que el gobierno del lugar en donde vivía los estaba matando. Así que cada mañana pensaba: “¿Qué voy a hacer el día de hoy para parar la guerra?”

Y los últimos meses, me he estado levantando en el mismo estado. ¿Qué puedo hacer, y qué voy a hacer hoy para parar esta guerra? Parar esta guerra en particular, no sólo concierne a Irak, es sobre la gente que vive en Estados Unidos unida al mundo en contra del imperio de Estados Unidos y que busca la manera de poder sacar, del hecho de que estamos aquí, en el estómago de la bestia, la máxima ventaja. Incluso si Estados Unidos comienza a retirar sus tropas de Irak, tenemos que asumir que Estados Unidos desea reagruparlas para invadir algún otro lugar.

Me gusta la idea de acosar las estaciones militares de reclutamiento en todo el país porque cada pueblo y ciudad tiene una y no se necesida un gran presupuesto o una gran protesta organizada por ANSWER, o nada, para ir y hacerles la vida de cuadirtos. Puedes escoger un horario fijo (vamos adecir, cada sábado) y hacer una demostración con pancartas. O puedes ir cada semana a una hora inesperada para que nunca sepan cuándo va a suceder. Puedes ir sol@ o con amig@s, o organizar un grupo grande. Puedes tener una conferencia de prensa y hacer un evento público o puedes hacer la acción de manera encubierta. Puede ser con pancartas, repartiendo bolantes, colocando posters con fotos morbosas de Irak, al estilo de las manifestaciones antiaborto, hacer teatro callejero, entrar creando un poco de confusión o un caos total con sangre falsa, ataúdes y una banda. Muchos grupos sociales de una comunidad podrían molestar la misma estación en diversas formas. Tal vez un día podría haber veteranos, otro día estudiantes de preparatoria, otro día madres, otro día el clero, etc. Tal vez si en tu población hay 3 escuelas preparatorias, podrían hacer un concurso para ver cuál puede hacer la mejor protesta. Y ya que las agencias de reclutamiento van a las escuelas preparatorias y universidades de manera regular, los estudiantes pueden confrantarlos también en sus terrenos. El 20 de enero, algunos estudiantes de una universidad comunitaria en Seattle, rodearon y destruyeron una mesa de reclutamiento. La policía tuvo que escoltar a los reclutadores en su salida.

Así como cada población tiene una sucursal de Food Not Bombs y Critical Mass Bike Ride etc., ¿qué tal si cada pueblo protestara ante los reclutadores? En cualquier lugar en donde haya gente radical, punk, pensadores libres, amantes de la libertad, los reclutadores militares van a ser cuestionados. La diversidad, esponaneidad y creatividad, son nuestras fuerzas clave en dichos esfuerzos.

Bush no debe de salirse con la suya en esta guerra solo porque “sólo” la gente pobre la tiene que pelear. Si un Reclutamiento Oficial llevaría a un levantamiento nacional, ¿por qué estamos dejando que el gobierno se salga con las suyas con el Reclutamiento de la Pobreza? ¡¿Por qué no podemos tener un levantamiento nacional ahora?! Un ejército compuesto de voluntarios puede ser escudado en contra de guerras de agresión sin sentido. Para explotar este tendón de Aquiles, necesitamos apoyar a las tropas en su resistencia y terminar con el reclutamiento!

Para obtener más información o circulares, materiales, etc., contacte algunos de estos grupos:

• Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (Comité Central para Objetores Conscientes), 405 14th Street #205 Oakland, CA 94612 510-465-1617, www.objector.org; patrocinador de la línea GI Rights (800) 394-9544; (215) 563-4620.

• War Resisters League (Liga de resistencia a la guerra) 339 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10012 (212) 228-0450 fax (212) 228-6193 wrl@warresisters.org

• Veterans for Peace (Veteranos por la paz) , 216 S. Meramec Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130, (314) 725-6005, www.veteransforpeace.org

Consejo caliente para disfutar y radicalizar el sexo

He tenido mucho sexo últimamente. ¿Pero por qué estoy compartiendo esta información contigo de esa manera? En este contexto político e histórico, el buen sexo puede ser bastante subversivo, expansivo y una manera radical de desmantelar socializaciones y de crear alternativas a la cultura convencional. Más y más los morales de la derecha cristiana están penetrando la cultura predominante. Mira por ejemplo la moda, las precauciones de seguridad, lo que llaman educación, la diversión, etc. Esta onda nausante del puritanismo y valores conservativos flota en el aire, casi desapercebidos como la nube salada y grasosa presente cuando uno pasa un McDonald’s, sutil, tóxico, soso e insalubre. Entonces, cuando yo escuché que Slingshot quería un artículo de cómo tener buen sexo. Pensé— “vamos a darle sabor y hablar de pervertir esta cultura política…es hora de chingarle — literalmente.” Tengo una advertencia: estas son nada más mis opiniones y los resultados de mis experiencias y se pueden cambiar. Si mi experiencia no te dice nada, favor de sentirte libre de ignorarla y seguir con tu vida.

Y pues otra cosa para quedar claro, no estoy hablando de modelos de relaciones: poligamia, monogamia, multi-fielidad, masturbación, promiscuidad, etcétera. Con quien lo hacemos y como negociamos estas relaciones es ciertamente parte de tener buen sexo, no digo que no. Pero estas preferencias evolucionan y fluctuan. Los intrincados son ilimitados y dependen de la experiencia individual. Por lo tanto, descubriendo cuales modelos funcionan para nosotros, quien nos atrae, como lo demonstramos y cuanto, son decisiones personales que prefiero dejar seperadas de lo que voy a hablar ahora.

Ok, el sexo. Sentirse cómodo en su propia piel, con su sexualidad, el consentimiento y el cuidado personal son partes esenciales a esta discucción. Para mi no hay manera de tener un sexo libre si no estoy activamente vereficando la comodidad y libertad física y emociónal de yo mismo y de la otra persona. ¿Si una de estas personas no está presente, está desasociada o no lo está disfrutando, entonces como la puedo chingar bien? Saber lo que uno quiere no es nada fácil debido a que nos enseñan una sexualidad limitada y aburrida en esta cultura. Parte de lo puede hacer que el sexo sea revolucionario es desubrir lo que nos guste y sobrepasar (con consentimiento) nuestos límites.

Ahora les voy a dar los cinco ingredientes que han mejorado mi vida sexual. Ojalá que esta información sea útil o por lo menos entretenida. Ultimamente he notado unos elementos que enriquecen mi vida scxual: el reirse, jugar papeles, jodiendo con el género, lubricante, rompiendo fronteras personales.

El reirse

Me rio mucho durante el sexo. Reirme es una adición nueva a mi vida sexual. El reirse puede tomar muchos formas: una risita modesta, una risota pansota, reirse de si mismo en un momento torpe o como una manera de comunicar alegría. A menudo mis amantes nuevos tienen mucha curiosidad del por qué estoy riendome. ¿Me estoy riendo de ellos? ¿Qué inspiró esa risita? Mis respuestas varian porque lo que inspira una risita depende de lo que está pasando. Sin embargo, siempre explico que no me estoy reindo de ellos e intento aliviar cualquier inseguridad y ansiedad que resulta de mi risa. En general, lo toman bien y aun puede inspirar una risa de alivio de parte de ellos. Además, la risa es contagiosa y puede contribuir a la relajación. Uno puede reirse solo o junto con su amante. Para mi, reirme con mis amantes durante el sexo es distinto de reirme espontaniamente como expresión de alivio. A veces, me rio para liberarme de la tensión y no poner demasiada atención a mi presentación — parecer sueve, habilidoso y muy sexy. De hecho, lo que estamos haciendo es rídiculo, chistoso y muy cómico. Existe el mito de que debemos portarnos de cierta manera durante el sexo: viril, coqueta, animalistico, hastiado, submisivo, dominante, como tentador, etc. La risa ayuda acallar estas—“debes ser así o así” voces en mi mente. Y neutraliza los pensamientos repetetivos liberándome de las expectaciones autoimpuestas de lo “sexy”, basadas en fuentes inspiradas por los medios de comunicación. También, reirse es una buena forma de expresar las sensaciones. El ruido durante el sexo en mi opinión es una adición fabulosa al evento y puede trabajar como un reflejo de lo que está pasando. También es como una expresión de las sensaciones experimentadas: llorar, gritar, gemir, boquear son todos adiciones maravillosas a la simfonía sexual. Algo acerca de reirse, para mi, enriquece la intimidad y la experiencia en general.

Jugar papeles

Añadir un poco de drama a la escena puede ofrecer muchas cosas: reducir los dramas psicológicos y sociales que la gente sufre a veces cuando tiene que ver con el sexo, hacer todo más interesante y creativo, ayudar a acercarse a asuntos prohibidos, y remediar traumas del pasado, solo por decir algunas. Yo noto que a veces nos quedamos estancados en roles sexuales o actos sexuales. Yo me animo y a otros a no quedarse en roles como macha o femenina, arriba o abajo, papi o esclavo. Pienso que los papeles son impresionantes, pero todo se hace aburrido si no lo cambias de vez en cuando. Es muy fácil hacer lo que hacemos bien o clavarnos en roles o indentidades de hábito o comodidad. Jugar roles puede ser una buena manera de desafiar los costumbres y descubrir perversiones ocultas en un contexto cómodo y seguro.

Intercambiar los roles es exactamente como sueña; dejarse recibir cuando antes daba, tomar turnos chupar y ser chupado, morder y ser modido, abofetear y ser abofeteado, abrazar y ser abrazado, coger y ser cogido, agarras la onda.

Contar historias es otra versión de jugar roles. Para mi, eso incluye crear personajes en un escena con un argumento. Puede ser muy detallado con guiónes, canciones o aun un baile. Lo más importante es que todos esten de acuerdo en donde nos llevara la historia. También, estas historias pueden salir de la recámera y las normas sociales. Aquí es donde se puede explorar muchos tabús. El sexo entre las generaciones y entre diferentes especies (tu serás el granjero y yo el ganadero) son unos ejemplos de estos tabús. Estos juegos podrían desafiar las normas políticas y sociales de una manera positiva y sarcastica. Para mi, es importante recordar que estos juegos representan la fantansía y que estas escenas donde se juegan roles crean espacios consensuales y seguros a donde la gente puede ir conscientemente, criticamente y con la mente abierta.

Leer en voz alta puede ser otra manera divertida de explorar los roles. Leer historias eroticas u otras en voz alta puede añadir algo al momento. Da otra actividad y enfoque y trae más oportunidades para los fetiches. Por ejemplo, leerse un diccionario de entomología, teoría política o pornografía añade cierta cualidad necia que puede exitarle mucho.

Y finalmente tranvestirse, accesorios y el sexo de disfras pueden ayudar a calentarse el momento. Jugar con disfrases e indentidades y incorporarlos a una escena sexual puede ser muy erótico. Más alla de cambiar la locación fîsica, añadir nuevos physicalidades puede enriquecer la realidad y índole desafiando de una escena. En mi experiencia, se me puede calentar mucho ver el disfras de alguien, entonces incorporar cambios de disfras hace milagros en la recámera. Imagínate, como ser la adición de un disfras de sirena, un mapa, o un utensilio de cocina puede enriquecer tu vida sexual.

Claro que todos estos ejemplos no son mutualmente exclusivos y muchas veces se mezclan todos juntos; poner disfrases, jugar roles, contar historias, leer en voz alta y cualquier otra cosa que puedes imaginar, lo mas alegre, ridículo, obsceno.

Jodiendo con el género

Un elemento de mi vida sexual, con o sin otra gente involucrada es el género fluido. Como soy una persona quien viaja a través muchas identidades de género en mi vida diaria, tengo sentido que mi vida sexual es un escenario para cuerpos con género cuales no son binarios. Mientras aprender de nuevo a tener el sexo, cambié mi foco de las ideas estereotípicas de genitales y el contacto genital. (Los chabos reciben chupadas y las chabas son cogidas con los dedos.) Hay tanto para jugar, destruir, pervertir, renombrar. He aprendido que es muy respetuosa y sexy preguntar a alguien cuales nombres tienen para sus partes y como quieren que están tocadas. Mientras abriéndose al lo que consideramos zonas erógenas, podemos conversar sobre las posibilidades: imaginar de nuevo nuestros cuerpos, el género y la sociedad. Cual quiera puede recibir una chupada en cualquier parte de su cuerpo y lo mismo se aplica al ser cogido con los dedos. Intento no enfocar en los genitales y los orgasmos sino los nervios y como excitarles, igual como el efecto al nivel emocional para una persona. Este concepto me ayuda evitar las dualidades de género que muchas veces se imponen en situaciones sexuales. Expansión, redefinición, y ser consciente de los limites de la gente son claves en este reino y esenciales a mi sexo.

Lubricante

¿Por que es tan revolucionario estar mojada? Porque nos enseñan como tener sexo mal. Para mi es increíble ver cuanta gente coge sin lubricación. No importa el orificio, lo que importa es que se siente bien. Como joven, aprendiendo que hacer con mis partes, estuve inconsciente de la adición de lubricante. En mi opinión usar mucha lubricación sería mejor. Envejeciendo, mi compromiso al mantener estar mojado aumenta en audaz y por eso, con lubricante logro llegar a esta lista. A la gente les gusta diferentes cualidades de lubricante, desde pegajosa a resbalosa, chiclosa a suave, grumosa hasta cremosa. Me gustaría saber si más gente experimenta con diferentes cualidades de estar mojada. Imagino que el mundo seria un sitio más feliz si esto sucediese. Deslízalo.

Empujando Auto Limites

Igual como desmantelar el racismo, sexo puede empujarnos mas allá de las zonas de comodidad que nos llegaron por la cultura dominante. Nos enseñaron muchas cosas que consideramos peligrosas, espantosas, asquerosas, o prohibidas que pueden ser exploradas sin peligro en una situación sexual. Una parte de empujar a mi misma más allá de mi socialización es irme allá con amantes. Muchos temas pueden salir mientras empujo límites personales consensualmente; relaciones de poder, esteriotipas para desacreditar, umbrales de dolor, historias personales penosas, diferencias ideológicas, y el concepto de la zona de comodidad en general. Como gente que cuestiona las normas, encuentro el sexo un lugar maravilloso para empujar a yo misma más allá del sueño americano. Espero que podemos mantener el espacio entre nosotros suficientemente bien para expandir estos conceptos, y tal vez, podemos crear otros cambios sociales y ambientales.

Querido Slingshot

Querido Slingshot,

Te escribo esta carta por la seguiente razón. Primero, yo recibi el ùltimo articulo #84 de Slingshot. Lo he leido desde el principio hasta el final màs de una ves y sinceramente lo he disfrustado tremendamente. Me gustaria que usted me renuve mi subscripciòn.

Segundo, permitame extender mi sincero apoyo y agradecimiento a todo el personal, incluyendo a los traductoras en español por el hermoso trabajo. Le deseo a cada uno de ustedes un próspero año nuevo.

Tercero y ultimo, en el articulo #84 uno de lo cual titula “A huge impact for only 23¢”. Este articulo fue escrito por LunAcy. Con referencia a el articulo. Lo ha he leido con gran interès. Me gustaria que ella se ponga en contacto conmigo o me mande una copia de Earth Liberator Prisoner List and the Anarchist Black Cross Federation List (as well as other resources). Con este articulo yo asumo que LunAcy esta dispuesta a darme apoyo y solidaridad.

Gracias por tu tiempo.

Sinceramente,

Carlos

Escribe à: Carlos Zamalea #43499

SMUII

P.O. Box 3400

Florence, AZ 85232

Insult to Injury: The Longstanding Crisis in Aceh

Aceh is long overdue in receiving international attention. It’s unfortunate that it took the devastation of a tsunami to get the world to turn their heads. As TV viewers cringe and gasp at the piles of bloated bodies being bulldozed into mass graves, little do they know that mass graves are commonplace in Aceh. It’s one of the worst situations of repression in the world. The military occupation of Aceh, designed to defeat an armed independence movement and operated by convicted human rights abusers in the Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), has killed tens of thousands of civilians over the last three decades. The known murderers are now in charge of relief efforts in the worst-hit area of the tsunami disaster that has left over 100,000 people dead. The number of casualties are rising, as the politically driven bureaucratic mess of the Indonesian authorities restricts the flow of aid from to where it’s most needed.

As sympathizers of tsunami victims pour in donations, they need to know where the money goes. They need to know of not just the present destruction but the decades long devastation that has been forced on the Acehnese people.

Life in Aceh before the tsunami was no paradise. Even though Aceh is rich in resources, the people live in poverty with high rates of hunger and poor nutrition. A massive natural gas operation accrues high profits for Exxon Mobil and the government in Jakarta but leaves the people of Aceh oppressed and empty handed. In response to continuing exploitation from the Indonesian government, people in Aceh demanded independence. For decades, armed rebels known as the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or G.A.M.) have battled the Indonesian military, demanding a referendum on independence from Indonesia. The Indonesian military has used G.A.M. as a scapegoat, blaming them for the lack of aid distribution in post-tsunami Aceh. Shortly after the tsunami hit Aceh, G.A.M. declared a ceasefire to ensure safe movement of humanitarian relief workers to locate victims, distribute aid and allow family members to track their loved ones.

Under martial law, the people of Aceh are not free to move. The military conducts regular sweeps where they stop cars on the road and pull people out. If you don’t have proper ID you’re taken into custody. If you resist, you are beaten. If you are on a military intelligence list of activists or sympathizers, you “disappear”. There is systematic torture, rape and murder. Mass graves pile high with victims of military beatings and massacres.

The Indonesian military is using the tsunami devastation as an opportunity to further implant their military power. They continue to attack and harass the civilian population. More lives are being lost as the military takes control of all relief efforts. The Indonesian military blames the G.A.M. for the imposed tight security restrictions on aid workers, even though the G.A.M. has publicly announced their appreciation: “We extend our deepest gratitude to the peoples and governments of countries that have not only shared our griefs and losses but have come to help our suffering people in such a swift, massive and unprecedented generosity.”

Meanwhile, reports of military control hampering relief operations are as follows:

  • Local NGOs are forbidden to participate in the distribution of aid to survivors and the families of victims.
  • Aid packages are being stock piled in Banda Aceh and Median airports and are not being effectively distributed.
  • Survivors lined up outside distribution centers are denied aid if they cannot produce identity cards. Sometimes they are harassed and beaten.
  • Donated food is being sold at black market prices outside of distribution centers.
  • The only hospital still functioning is operated by the military. Some international medical personnel are denied access.

The majority of people in Aceh do not want to live under a military occupation. They do not want to live in perpetual fear of a very real violent presence. Five years ago, a massive demonstration took place outside of the grand mosque of Banda Aceh. Over half a million Acehnese gathered to peacefully support a call for a referendum — a free vote in which the Acehnese could choose to become independent of Indonesia. Twenty-five percent of the province’s population attended this event. Faced with such a massive civilian movement, the military moved quickly to exterminate them. The key organizers and speakers were assassinated, imprisoned, forced into exile or “disappeared”. The top military and political officials of Indonesia make it clear that speech against the army and for a referendum vote are crimes against the state and something that could get you killed in Aceh.

Prior to the tsunami, military officers working in collaboration with the Indonesian government’s economic interests succeeded in tightly restricting the flow of information from the province. Security measures in Aceh deny access to foreign media, independent international observers and international human rights organizations. Local humanitarian agencies and NGOs face unacceptable threats. They must make nationalism a priority or risk the consequences. Other local activists have fallen victim to these consequences with reports of poisoning, torture and death. One report describes the body of Jafar Siddiq Hams, an international spokesman for the Acehnese. In 2000, his corpse turned up wrapped in barb wire with multiple stab wounds in the chest and his face sliced off. This is one example out of an assumed many — but the hard reality is that no one knows for sure what is actually happening in Aceh under martial law. This is exactly how the Indonesian authorities want it.

The master minds behind the Indonesian strategic operations in Aceh are the same famed human rights abusing generals who led the war against the east Timorese and student protesters in Jakarta. Major general Adam Admire, brigadier general Suhartono Suratman and major general Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin are key figures. General Damiri’s work in east Timor earned him a promotion to assistant for operations to the chief of the general staff.

ExxonMobil wields an incredible amount of financial power in Aceh. They have sucked some $40 billion from operations in the region. In order to protect their precious resources from the people who live there, ExxonMobil has hired the Indonesian national army to provide “security” for the gas extracting project in Aceh. So, the Indonesian military is paid to perpetrate human rights abuses. The business contract between ExxonMobil and the military includes the construction of buildings on ExxonMobil grounds, which the military uses for the torture and disappearance of the Acehnese. Another job perk is the provision of excavating equipment which the military allegedly uses for the digging of mass graves for the victims. In order to horde their massive revenues, ExxonMobil needs the Indonesian military to prevent the Acehnese people, at all costs, from achieving their desires: independence.

ExxonMobil, the Indonesian military and political officials must be held accountable for their atrocities. Aceh has a right to independence if that’s what the people want. Free Aceh!

*For more information on how to donate to local relief efforts, contact www.Etan.Org

Or just demonstrate at your nearest Indonesian consulate and facilitate massive boycotts of ExxonMobil.

Cultural Appropriation != Outlaw Culture

Can alternative communities wake up enough to ever significantly oppose the white supremacist control of resources? Or, are hip, white revelers being trained through “outlaw culture” to be the shock troops of gentrification, the ones at the edge of their culture who establish colonies, er, communes and collectives, which eventually make it safe for the big investors to move in?

I should have known I was asking for trouble when I decided to attend Bonnaroo, which Rolling Stone called “the American rock festival to end all festivals.” Held on 700 acres in Middle Tennessee (only 50 miles from my home), the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival sells 90,000 tickets at about $200 each for its four-day event. My boyfriend and I decided to go because we wanted to see Femi Kuti (son of legendary Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti) perform and we could get in for free by agreeing to perform at what we thought would be the radical stage.

I sent Bonnaroo a description of my performance, which I told them would utilize satire, juggling and stilt-walking to explore the “racial history of Tennessee and how that has created the current white supremacist culture.” They freaked. While they assured me that they are not racist, they said they could not publicize such a description because they had to be mindful of how the festival impacted the local community and they could not risk being offensive. I should have pulled out, but I was really looking forward to seeing Femi Kuti. In the sweltering June heat, we raced back from the G8 Summit protests in Georgia to head for the festival. After the G8 I was in the mood for amazing music. In short, I placed satisfying my desires above thinking clearly about the mentality that silences discussion of racism and white supremacy. Bonnaroo accepted a more generic description of my performance (which essentially did not say anything) and we proceeded as planned.

What a shock to arrive at this farm in Manchester, Tennessee, and find an extremely open drug culture. Before our tent was set up we were offered many different drugs for sale. I have never seen so many dreadlocks in my life. We’re talking zillions of white hippies with dreadlocks.

Cool man, dreadlocks. I am aware that there is lots of debate about whether it is ok for white folks to have dreadlocks. I am not crazy for the idea of European Americans taking on the fashions of oppressed cultures. The hipeoisie reeks of too much mockery. A party held in Montreal with the theme “Cowboys& Indians & Rastafarians” showed how the dominant culture ridicules “exotic” communities. Our local weekly had another example of how dreads are viewed as cultural capital when a white person sports them: “With her dreadlocks and earthy sultriness, vocalist Sellick succeeds in bringing jazz standards to the hacky-sack crowd.” Yep, white folks with dreads can make cultures accessible. In my world of dreaming the impossible I fantasize that thousands of white folk will get together and cut off their dreads, pledging their hip hairdo energy will instead go into strengthening their efforts as allies to African Americans.

Maybe I just need to lighten up. Well, back to Bonnaroo: After less than an hour there I had serious doubts about how entertained this crowd would be by my stage explorations of race history and land theft.

There were some radical performers and people grooved on it. The first rocker we checked out was Patti Smith. She sang about remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Awake from your slumber

And get ‘em with the numbers

Get ‘em with the numbers

Long live revolution.

I wasn’t trying to be cynical, but having just come from the G8 where there were merely hundreds of protestors amidst 20,000 cops, it was hard to see how this crowd of thousands of mostly white people (I’d guess far less than 10% of the audiences were people of color) cheering on Patti Smith was going to usher in a revolution.

I paid more attention to the festival environment and its many different venues and stages. Bonnaroo set up checkpoints at certain concert entrances to keep bottles and coolers, etc. out of certain areas and to keep areas free of concertgoers while they cleaned the grounds. Tens of thousands of people walked from stage to marketplace to stage under the blazing hot sun, then waited in lines. Nearly all of the workers standing in the open sun at the checkpoints were African Americans. All day long impatient hippies agitated to get in quicker. I couldnít tell if anyone was thankful to the workers. There were lots of visible white workers there too. They were mostly driving around in shaded golf carts or working in shaded concession tents.

It dawned on me that Bonnaroo has managed to create the largest Hippie Plantation, with Black workers (largely bussed in from Atlanta, it turns out) standing in the sun sweating to serve the leisure set (substitute a joint and a homebrew beer for a mint julep and you get the picture). Although there were plenty of anti-war images, there were also plenty of visible Confederate flags and even some Bush/Cheney bumper stickers on cars. Oh, yeah, but it is a party. As they say on their Website, Bonnaroo is “Hailed among critics and fans for its near-flawless logistics, peaceful vibe, and progressive lineup.” If you drop a couple hundred bucks to get into a party and then spend more on drugs and food you might not want to give much thought to what kind of exploitation goes into making your fun possible. Or whose backs you are dancing on.

I was depressed by the contrasts. My boyfriend (who is African American), meanwhile, was tirelessly fending off white people who would walk towards him and (possibly unconsciously) expect him (being the Black person) to move over so that they would not have to alter their path. The more he noticed this the more determined he was to stand his ground, and some people literally bumped into him, rather than yield. He was saying “EWPS” (Entitled White Person’s Syndrome) out loud to deaf ears. There is this pervasive dynamic in alternative white cultures where people have become so accustomed to living in a segregated, privileged world that they cannot or do not want to examine their part in maintaining their privilege, and raising the issue of racism is just gonna be a downer on the great, alternative time people are having. People then often become defensive and complain that they are being guilt-tripped, rather than view education about racism as a gift.

We decided to spend more time over at the “political area” called Planet Roo, the place where the environmental and food activists who had invited us were based. The political scene consisted of, among other things, five environmental groups, mostly focused on liberal causes like the Sierra Club’s campaign to get more support for hydrogen cars. This feel-good carnival of activism had no tables, booths or literature focused on environmental racism, racial profiling, police brutality, gentrification, the prison-industrial complex, attacks on immigrants in Tennessee, or discrimination in land ownership patterns and resulting further displacement and marginalization of people of color in the US.

The eco-crowd we joined had built a beautiful earthen structure that housed Earth First literature and crafts for sale. Bonnaroo was a lucrative marketplace for folks with food, drugs or crafts. The joke was that you could sell anything there. One person in our group’s booth had attraction-getters described as “primitive”-inspired pottery, including “Shamanic Whistling Pots”. Another person offered a workshop on “Shamanic Plants”. I objected, explaining that people who are not shamans are capitalizing on the colonization of cultures and profiting either financially or through status attained as “experts”, while the indigenous cultures continue to suffer from the ravages of imperialism. He said the name of his workshop wasn’t important, that he wanted to present information about mind-altering plants, and that he didn’t have to refer to them as “shamanic”. Unfortunately, months later the group’s newsletter extolled his workshop on “Shaman Plants” as one of the successes of their Bonnaroo activities, and how much they looked forward to returning to Bonnaroo 2005 with similar expectations of greatness. The write-up mentioned that their Earth First presentations were well received, but didn’t have one word of criticism about the festival’s blatant racism and appropriation, and it certainly did not link it to larger issues of white supremacy and imperialist culture. The justification of exploitation is often expressed through silent consent.

In my fantasy they will decide not to participate in the same event this year, but instead write a letter to Bonnaroo explaining that the festival needs to examine why it presents “progressive” artists in an environment not accessible to many communities. They might opt instead to share their growing, cooking, earth-building and activist skills with communities who do not normally have such access (assuming that they are welcome), places like Brunswick, Georgia where the majority African American residents are still talking about continuing hardships endured from the G8 Summit come and gone. For now, the score is Bonnaroo 90,000, G8 protests 400.

My boyfriend and I left early, before our performance (and Femi Kuti). Enough is enough. I haven’t even begun to break down the endemic sexism, homophobia and misogyny, but in this case, it was the white supremacy nurtured by hippie culture and the complicity of anarchist activist friends that was too much. Some of our friends offered their condolences about “it not working out.” I offered up some critique of the festival and saw some nodding heads and heard that, while there are problems, it is a good chance for them to explore things like “outlaw culture.” Outlaw culture strikes me as something that white folks create in opposition to the dominant paradigm, but it is more or less tolerated by the government. Sure, white folks get busted for drugs too, but “outlaw cultures” like Bonnaroo are tolerated by the government. Bonnaroo hires a private security force to keep the peace at the festival. They are not there to bust people for drugs. The police are outside, directing traffic and playing their role as community relations liaison, because the leaders of the local community want all of the money that a huge festival brings to Tennessee. Bonnaroo, in turn, strives to create an environment of comfort they perceive will not rock the boat. History is filled with the ruling class passing laws and then making exceptions for the privileged to blow off steam. It is an integral part of creating an illusion of freedom that ultimately encourages the status quo.

“Outlaw culture” is not so embraced a few hours down the road in Atlanta. That city has played host to Freaknik, an African American spring break party that has not been tolerated like Bonnaroo. New laws, such as the infamous “no cruising” ordinances, were enacted to restrict the festivities. The city’s main newspaper editorialized that it would be better for the city if they would keep their activities to Black parts of town.

***

I write this from the perspective of a white person looking for ways to actively challenge racism and undermine white supremacy. I am working on a longer writing project on white supremacy in alternative, queer, anarchist and environmental communities, and welcome correspondence on these topics (maxzine69@yahoo.com).