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And so, the Texas legislature pretends that at 20 weeks, the unborn ______ no longer belongs to the body it lives inside. But personhood, in terms of reproductive self-determination, is most clearly noted after birth with a birth certificate.  When the baby leaves the body, it is born.  Instead of being framed as a matter of life and death, it should be about the event of birth. The unborn belongs to the body it’s attached to, as much as our internal organs are (supposed to be) our own.  It should not be legislated for or capitalized on.

I wish personhood laws were that simple. Alas, “The definition of personhood ranges,” says ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, continuing “if you’re talking about property, law, or inheritance, or how the census is taken.” Anti-choice organizations like Personhood USA exploit this gray area by claiming life starts “when the husband turns on that really sexy Sade cassette” (JK, but close).

The 20-week cut off argument is dangerous for many obvious and often stated reasons. There are a few more, too, that deserve to be re-stated again and again, to clarify what ‘choice’ has to do with being alive.

It’s the same schtick. Policymakers subjugating bodies…of color, both rural and urban, of poor whites, of immigrants. The ways the government capitalizes on these groups is not the same. It’s important, though, to reiterate points of intersection, the horizonless compulsion of the most privileged and powerful to control what seems threatening and/or in need of being controlled. Our right to choose the progression of our lives (to give birth and to stop a pregnancy) threatens the ability of the state to reinforce the narrative that we are not the captains of our own ships and that the bodies we live in have little value.

Attempting to cap abortion at 20 weeks is not about saving an ‘innocent life,’ it’s about controlling living people and fragmenting/undercutting the reproductive power/resistance of the people. Colonizing, excuse me, controlling the womb and the notoriously wild and sinful sexuality that it possesses. To be pro-choice is to threaten the assimilationist theocracy we absolutely-no-question-about-it live under.

Fundamentally, the right to terminate and/or pursue pregnancy cannot be entirely abandoned. Unless you live in an American prison, wherein your basic medical care is as elastic as the laws that locked you up in the first place.  But abortion won’t end, it is the access to safe and legal abortion services that we will lose. This is why the legislation being passed in Texas and North Carolina are, quite fucking obviously, acts of systematic violence against the health and vitality of Americans that will now have little to no access to legal abortion services.

The unborn ‘child,’ to anti-choice Christians, is pregnant (sry, sry) with meaning. It symbolizes an essential purity that, according to some cockamamie interpretations of the King James Bible, is lost at the very moment of birth. My heart nearly dropped when I read this one liner, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”* In other words, an unborn baby is like an unpurchased MacBook Air. Once taken out of the box, the value greatly depreciates.  Which, oddly enough, is a strikingly accurate representation of the right wing’s (dems included) stance on defunding social services for low-income single mothers.

How does the reproductive rights movement already reframe this ‘unborn child’ narrative? The value in re-emphasizing the needs of those already born and living cannot be understated. The needs and rights of working and jobless Americans, the sick but trying to stay alive Americans. The Americans frozen inside the prison industrial complex. These are real pro-life issues. I see organizers pursuing them year round, when the politicians are busy running for president. But really, what would it look like for representatives to address the born-a-while-ago-and-trying-to stay-alive constituency?

 *King James Bible, Chapter 58, 3.

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I’ve been thinking about Y2K a lot lately. Thank goodness that we made it through 2000, so that we could greet 2011. In just one more year it very well might be the end of the world… drink up!  I made three liters of mulled wine a few weeks ago to store for the upcoming 2012 apocalypse. So, cheers to a good year ahead!

On that note, for the past month I’ve retreated from my work in order to play. Now that it’s January, I figure I should wrap up vacation in a few bullet points:

  • A new word:

Eidolon– In ancient Greek thought, which has influenced modern literature and Theosophy, an eidolon (Greek εἴδωλον: “image, idol, double, apparition, phantom, ghost”) is a spirit-image of a living or dead person; a shade or phantom look-alike of the human form. If of a dead person, the phantom can appear under certain conditions to survivors of the deceased.

  • Three of my best friends and I started a production company called the Lipschtick Collective. We have a website, but don’t look! There’s nothing on it yet.
  • A bunch of us (Julia, Becky, Gelly, Marcella and I) took a bus for $16 to New York. It was cute, everyone fell asleep at the same time and woke up at the same time. On the ride back this loud Bostonian woman woke the entire bus while talking on the effing phone. Embarrassing for her, annoying for those that were asleep, and entertaining for me:

You have to understand, my father only wants to feed his chickens. My mother wants to be alone, my father wants to be alone. It’s a compulsion. He’ll take his money and spend it all on his chickens before his kids. Duh!

  • I have only two resolutions for the next year: “To think and produce work more often” and to wear glitter as often as possible. The first I wrote when I was less than sober.
  • This Mary Oliver poem:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

  • Watched a truckload of movies. Black Swan, which is pretty damn predictable. Who knew violence against women could be so sexy?! Everyone. Everyone knows, Darren. Your movie is poop. But then I saw Nora’s Will which is a cute little film about an older Mexican Jewish couple and their family. The wife commits suicide and her bitter “ex” husband has to pick up the very neat mess she left for him. It was a touching film, really. And then I saw Sex and the City 2 because I hate myself. I wonder which film is worse for women, Black Swan or Sex and the City 2. It’s a toss-up for me. If sexual violence, eating disorders, suicide and exploitative lesbian sex scenes don’t trigger you, then maybe Islamophobia, classism and racism will! When having to choose between the two, I choose neither.
  • Melissa Harris-Perry on Rachel Maddow talking about the DADT repeal. I know it’s a little after the fact, but it’s worth your time if you haven’t seen it.
  • I went to a Gogol Bordello concert. My friends and I hung out near the middle of the crowd, bouncing off each other and jumping into the air the whole time. We were on the outskirts of the mosh pit.  Every time someone bent over to tie their shoes, crowd members circled around to protect whoever it was from being trampled. And Eugene was in full swing with his big bottle of red wine and 100% kicks-ass mustache. After the second encore he yelled to the audience, “We are here to party, after alllll!!!!!!” and he started singing and strumming again.

Anyway, you’re all perfect and don’t you forget it over the next twelve months!

Reading a note in Susan Sontag’s journal, “I am proud of being Jewish. Of what?”

This is a question I have been trying to answer for a while. I would like to define my Jewishness, at the same time considering Zionism and its implications. I have been told that Zion should have a place in the Jewish heart. I’m wondering why this should be and how it ever could be. And I’m not the only one that feels this way, you know.

In high school, a friend of mine gave me a photography book imaging the Israeli Occupation. We were at a barbecue, it was a nice gift. But earlier in the evening the group of us had been having a conversation about Palestine, and while talking and eating our hot dogs someone interjected “Palestinians do not exist because Palestine does not exist.”  I don’t remember what my outward response was, but I do remember feeling disgusted.

Later in the evening, looking through my new book, this same person asked, “What is it you’re looking at?” A friend responded for me, “It’s an invisible book. You can’t see it.”

In my research for division iii (senior thesis), which has largely been on defining Zionism in terms of contemporary Jewish American identity, I have found that Palestine is hardly ever mentioned. Historically, this is true of early Zionist attitudes and it continues to be true now.  Palestinians were once just “natives” and now they are hardly anything other than “hostile neighbors.” Except when they’re enemies. I’ve been reading early writings on Zionism and watching interviews on the subject: and there are, it seems, no signs of Palestine.  This invisibility is striking, and I wonder what it says about the greater Jewish community.

So, this blog is going to be a space for me to think about my division iii out loud. The project is a non-fiction video on Jewish American anti-Zionism and Jewish nationalism. I am wondering: what does Zionism mean to American Jews and can Jewish identity be defined apart from Zionism? How has the rise of political Zionism changed the ways American Jews see themselves? How has it erased Palestine? And ultimately, what is the significance of being a Jewish American anti-Zionist?

Hannah Arendt wrote of the early socialist Zionists, who in forging a new home had “escaped to Palestine as one might wish to escape to the moon, to a region beyond the wickedness of the world.” Zionism is a response to antisemitism and trauma. But, what else?

What do you think?

Beirut Art Center, “Sexy Semites” ad in the Village Voice. It’s the next best thing since sliced flying pigs.

Arabic slips out occasionally, and sometimes the words are mine.

The sun is out and I am too. I’m squinting and smiling and admiring your crow’s feet. “Some kind of light is coming from her head.”

I’m still pissed off about Roman Polanski. And Arizona deserves to sleep on the couch.

Conversations at Cafe Younes, I will miss those. Starting to think about the things I’ll miss.

Went to Tripoli today.  Took a bus from Beirut for a dollar, driving along the water the entire way and thinking “If I lived here…” I was eating knafe two hours later. Passed the big mosque and a creepy garden next door. Reminded me that if I ever get married, it will be at the Enchanted Garden Chapel. Why do women still marry men?

I’ve been walking far and my feet are flatter than ever.

Language keeps on getting in the way, trouble conjugating verbs and people.

Walking along Nahr Ibrahim, in the mountains. The water was cold and my jeans are still damp. My lungs needed that hike.

3anjad my lungs can hike!