I got interviewed!

When I started to train for open water swimming again a couple of years ago, I decided it would be in my best interest to become a US Masters Swimming (USMS) member. This was mostly because a lot of open water events are only open to USMS members (for liability/insurance reasons), but there are a lot of perks that come with the membership that I like, especially the forums where I can ask other swimmers questions, training programs, and their magazine “Swimmer”.

Well, a few months ago, Swimmer Magazine had an excellent series of articles about diversity in swimming which mostly focused on race, but did mention other diversity issues, except body diversity.

So, I wrote a letter to the editor, Laura Hamel, and told her as much. I basically said that while I thought their articles on diversity were really awesome, they forgot to talk about size diversity. I mentioned how hard it is to get good training swimsuits. The major swim companies don’t carry suits past size 24 (maybe) and the places where you can get suits in my size have maybe one style of suit that is suitable for swimming laps. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cute swimsuits, but I’m not lounging by the pool when I go swimming, you know?) I also mentioned that I was nervous about going to a Masters training session because I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, or if they would take me seriously, or if they’d just assume I was there to lose weight.

The editor and I had a nice exchange of emails, and they published an edited version of my letter in the next issue. She was really awesome, and said that she hoped that any Masters event I went to that they would take me seriously and welcome me. (To be honest, I still haven’t gone to one yet.)

But color me surprised when a few months later I get an email from Laura about wanting to interview me! The journalist, Elaine, and I had a great discussion when she interviewed me on the phone, and a later I got pictures done with a very nice and body positive photographer named Mike Calabro in Lake Michigan (literally in!).

The online version came out a couple of weeks ago, but I finally got my initial hard copy a couple of days ago. I created a PDF of the article, which is below! The article belongs to Swimmer Magazine and US Masters Swimming, so, if you are going to share it anywhere online, please make sure to give the appropriate citations.

I’m still going “Holy cow! Someone thought I was interesting enough to interview!” but this is awesome!

swimmerarticle

Being Dismissive of People Who Don’t March (aka More Social Justice-y than You)

There’s a thing in social justice and activist communities that has now become a call-out culture thing that really bothers me. It’s the idea that if you’re not doing “X activist thing” that somehow you are not doing enough, or you don’t care about the subject of said activist thing, or that you are somehow complicit with the oppressors if you’re not making statements about everything that comes up.

I see this over and over in many communities:

  • Some activists in seminary thought other seminarians weren’t activist enough because they didn’t march on the streets during the Occupy movement. (or BLM or other marches, etc)
  • Some people in many different communities may think that I don’t care about certain topics because I don’t blog about them, or that Circle of Cerridwen doesn’t make a specific statement, or that we don’t send money, etc etc…
  • Because I pushed Bi issues in college, I wasn’t accepted by the local queer community that was heavily lesbian and gay. Even a lesbian professor, when I came out to her, refused to talk to me afterwards because I wasn’t for the “lesbian cause.” (I’m somewhat certain, though, that she was a TERF.)

In this, there is a certain idea that the person doing the calling out is somehow is superior to you because they have at least done something and you haven’t. Usually with the person doing the calling out not bothering to ask the person they’re calling out about what they actually do. (And gods help the person if they say that they “pray.”)

I feel like a broken record when I talk about this, but I get so many people who have said to me that they can’t do public activism for a variety of reasons: disabilities, mental health issues, financial issues, stamina, time, spoons, or their talents lie in other areas. Sometimes they fear that they will lose their jobs, or work for the government, or are in a situation where they could be in danger if they do public activism. There are also people who can’t go to protests because of the fear of being arrested. They either have medical issues the an extended lock up would complicate or make worse, or they have been arrested before, or have some legal or family issue that an arrest would make worse.

What I tell people when they ask me what they can do is that you do whatever you can, because at least it’s something. If you can pray, send energy, do magick, then that counts. If you can pass along information, sign petitions, write to your congress critter, then that counts. If you can order pizza to send to people who are marching or cook for them when they come home, then that counts. If all you can do is live your life, educate yourself, and try to be an example of a caring, loving, human being who treats everyone, to the best of your ability, as human beings, too, then that counts.

Are prayers, or writing, or any of these other things enough? Of course not. This is why we have a community of people with different talents. It’s amazing that there are those who can march with those doing the protests. Or that they can travel to places, or take the time off, or feel ok with the risk of being arrested. I’m glad that they can do that work.

But, to me, it’s another form of oppression being dismissive of people who are the support: the cooks, those who pray, the writers, the information disseminators, those who educate, those who are just aware and try to be an example of what’s good. To me, it’s like feminists being dismissive of stay-at-home moms (or dads), or lesbian and gay people telling bisexuals, transgender folks, asexuals, non-binary folks, etc that they somehow don’t belong in the queer community. Just because someone can’t do ALL THE SOCIAL JUSTICE THINGS doesn’t mean they don’t care, or aren’t doing anything at all.

Blessed be the supporters: may you know that even your smallest helpful things still counts as activism.

Words are Bullets

Every TERF that tells my wife and other transgender women that they aren’t real women or tell transgender men that they are traitors to their gender;

Every Christian Fundamentalist that rejoices when LGBTQA people are abused or killed, or any Christian who “loves the sinner, hates the sin;”

Every white cisgender man who makes rape jokes, queer jokes, and spouts other misogynistic crap;

Every person who says that all black people, or Latinx people, or all Muslims, or all of any other group should be rounded up and shot;

Every person who decides to denigrate another group of people for the sake of “protection” or “jobs” or just because you think they’re “icky” in some way;

YOU are the ones who encouraged Omar Mateen, Dylan Roof, Adam Lanza, and all the other shooters known and unknown.

YOU are the ones that encourage the Cathy Brennans, Donald Trumps, MRAs, Neo-Nazis, and other hateful people.

And if you’re OK that, if you’re OK with people dying because of your “dearly held beliefs,” then may God have mercy on your soul.

If this statement makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you should think about why. Maybe you should think about what you post on Facebook. Maybe you should think about your racist, anti-queer, anti-women blatherings. Maybe you should think about why you think rape jokes, trans jokes, or other jokes made to denigrate people are ok.

Maybe you should engage your brain and think before you speak. Every “just mouthing off” or “boys will be boys” or “stop being so sensitive! It’s just a joke” lets others know that their violence is OK. You give permission to others to hurt and kill someone.

YOUR WORDS THAT YOU SHOUT ONLINE, OR IN PERSON, OR TO YOUR FAMILY TELLS EVERYONE ELSE THAT YOU THINK THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE DEAD. YOUR WORDS TELL PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE WORTHLESS. RIGHT NOW YOU COULD BE TELLING PEOPLE YOU LOVE THAT THEY SHOULD BE DEAD.

Do you really think that’s OK?

I don’t.

Excerpt from “Jailbreaking the Goddess” by Lasara Firefox Allen

I just got my copy of Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen in the mail today. I’ll admit now that I read an early copy of the book and was thrilled by this re-visioning of the cycle of the Goddess! Even though I’ve read it before, I’m reading it again, because I think this is incredibly important. This moves Goddess spirituality away from being defined by cis-gender biology into a fluid system that is inclusive of everyone, including those who are gender-variant.

The most radical chapter, and in my mind and experience the most important, is Chapter 2: “More Than Our Biology” where Lasara discusses how the Maiden, Mother, Crone cycle is inherently patriarchal:

“In adhering to a biology-based model for the feminal divine, we have carried the seed of inequality forward, disguised as worship of the feminine. At the core, the maiden, mother, and crone model for the feminine divine is a patriarchal system rooted in the ideology of ownership and utility. When our utility is our meaning, our bodies are community property.”

As a woman who has PCOS and a uterus that she doesn’t need or want, and the wife of a transgender woman, this chapter makes me incredibly happy. In fact, this is something that has always confused me about TERFs, really. Why should anyone’s womanhood be predicated on their ability to breed?

But I digress…

If you are looking for a new way to look at cycle of the Goddess, or looking for a more inclusive Goddess spirituality, you should get this book. You should also listen to when Lasara and I talked about the Five Fold Goddess in the interview I did with her on This Week In Heresy.

Go get this book. Read it. Read it a couple of times. Give it to your friends….