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Can we talk about why a woman's right to control her body is important? Can we talk about how we talk about it? Can we talk about why we hook into language used by those who would deny women bodily autonomy? Can we talk about what is really fundamental about bodily autonomy?

I read and hear so many debating points and narratives from so many well-meaning people who want to support a woman's right to control her body. It is clear that many people are speaking passionately about a woman's right to choose whether to remain pregnant, to resist forced genital mutilation and even to be respected for her own exploration and expression of her sexuality. It's so awesome to see all that support.

If we want to foster a society which really embraces all of these things, though, we need to get at the foundation of why its so important to everyone: not just women. The underlying principle which is so important to the possibility of peace and justice in the human world has nothing to do with whether a fetus is more important than the woman who is carrying it or how we define the beginning of a life. Talking in those terms is never going to take us where we want to go. In fact, it plays into the framework of those who would keep women oppressed.

What we need to talk about is the principle of bodily autonomy and why this is so fundamental to small 'd' democracy and a just society. You can't end oppression unless you establish and embrace the principle of bodily autonomy for everyone. So much about our ways of living together would be different if we would focus on that. Seriously. Everything would change for the better. So, can we talk about bodily autonomy?

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Reposted from Wednesday. The night before Thanksgiving is not the best time to post. ;-
After marching for about 4 hours and being on the front line when the police confronted the protesters and having only 6 hours of sleep, I'm exhausted. Still, I have all these random thoughts going through my head this morning as I process both what I directly experienced last night and the social commentary I've read since then. This may ramble or be disjointed. It may also be raw, unclear or not fully thought out. I'm seeing it as a snapshot into a frame of mind and body after a highly charged event. Nuggets to, perhaps, spark dialogue or lead to further exploration. I want to see what comes out in hopes of not losing any particularly valuable nuggets. So, here goes....
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Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 02:10 PM PST

From An Ally in Boston

by UnaSpenser

After marching for about 4 hours and being on the front line when the police confronted the protesters and having only 6 hours of sleep, I'm exhausted. Still, I have all these random thoughts going through my head this morning as I process both what I directly experienced last night and the social commentary I've read since then. This may ramble or be disjointed. It may also be raw, unclear or not fully thought out. I'm seeing it as a snapshot into a frame of mind and body after a highly charged event. Nuggets to, perhaps, spark dialogue or lead to further exploration. I want to see what comes out in hopes of not losing any particularly valuable nuggets. So, here goes....

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Chacounne, aka:

Standing for justice and accountability,
                               For Dan,
                               Heather
needs our help.

We all know her as the relentless anti-torture activist and purveyor of hugs. Many of us know that she manages all her activism and support of others even while she lives serious disabilities herself. How she does all that and maintains a sense of humor is almost beyond my comprehension. But I can tell you first hand, she is both strident and hilarious! My first Netroots Nation would not have been as memorable without her presence. Fighting Islamophobia on the streets and roaring over margaritas. Life at it's fullest.

Right now, she is also distressed. If the "Kossack is need!" siren call has already struck your heart, you can send a paypal donation to the this email address: chacounne [at] gmail [dot] com

If you'd like to hear more, scroll on down beyond the Kos de lis of infinite orangeness ....

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"Come, come whomever you are:
wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Though you have broken your vows
a thousand times,
it doesn't matter.
come, come yet again. Come."

 - often attributed to Rumi, it may have been another Persian poet of that time. The second line has also been translated with different words such as 'heretic', 'non-believer', 'Pagan', "infidel."

I add my harmony to the "I am an Atheist" refrain.

Why? Because, our voices and perspectives must be acknowledged and respected as part of the song of life.

I have found myself chuckling over some of the things people say about atheists. Most atheists I know have deeply-held ethics and are very compassionate people. It is a laughter borne of the sheer absurdity of the epithets. Behind my chuckle is a grip of fear. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of bullying. Fear of physical violence. Fear of being murdered. For that is history and reality for atheists. The same as every other oppressed demographic. Perhaps we can hide a little more easily than others. Still, we know what we face when outed.

We hear about religious views all the time. We have to sit through prayers at almost every event we go to, public or private. Religious references frame almost every colloquialism in our language. Marriage is a religious construct. Yet, when a few people post diaries about atheism, we get complaints about how bothersome it is to hear about it? Well, let me add my descant. My ultra-high soprano voice isn't the clear bell that it once was, so it might grate a bit. Too bad. I might have stuck with my later-in-life more buttery alto sound. Instead, you got me rankled, so I'm squeaking this out.

I will share some of my journey:

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What or who does it serve? How does it serve you?

One of the more bothersome dynamics I see when we have tension amongst us is the way people will invalidate others by telling them how they should feel about something or that there is something wrong with them if they are having the feelings they are having.

Can we please stop?

It is not a sign of "life imbalance" or emotional instability or lack of "fortitude" or whatever phrase you can think of to say, "I don't want to accept your feelings so I'm going to tell you why you shouldn't have them."

Once a person gets involved in anything, be it offline or online, that activity becomes a part of their life. It is entwined in their existence and a part of the experience of the life that is theirs, who they are. Everyone will have a different relationship to every interaction that happens and a million people could be involved in or witness an interaction and have a millions different feelings about it. Live with that. Let it be. Stop telling people how they should feel to meet your requirements for acknowledgement.

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... Occupation Is A Crime!" - chant being heard from protesters in Ferguson and at solidarity rallies around the nation.

Author's Note: The Anti-Capitalist Meetup group felt that this is such an important subject that we decided to have me re-post an updated/more fleshed-out version of a diary I had already posted. I was wary due to the tenacious accusations of Anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to suggest that we relate to Palestinians as people. Still, that's a First World problem. I have agreed to take that risk, again.
In a recent diary, a commenter expressed frustration when a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of "can we please just focus?"

I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see that linkage and build solidarity.

The people in Ferguson have already made the linkage:

Richard Potter ‏@RichardSP86

Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted "From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation" because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson

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From a NY Times report:

Mr. Stone ran outside and saw two police officers, both both white men, standing near Mr. Brown, who was lying on his stomach, his arms at his sides, blood seeping from his head. Another neighbor, a woman who identified herself as a nurse, was begging the officers to let her perform CPR.

They refused, Mr. Stone said, adding, “They didn’t even check to see if he was breathing.”

I have some disturbing feelings about this.
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This evening, I went to the #NMOS14 rally on the Boston Common. We were there to remember the victims of police oppression. Particularly, those who have been murdered by the police. As we all know by now, abusive police tactics and the entire policing and justice system in the US is very racist. People of color are targeted for harassment, arrest, prosecution and harsher sentencing than White people.

So, when I attend a gathering such as this, I'm there as a White ally, more than as an equally suffering citizen. As an ally, I have no issue whatsoever with people of color venting their anger about racism and white domination. I saw some other white people wriggling uncomfortably at those moments, but that doesn't bother me. I find it healing that people of color can have their voice and speak their truth.

Where I found myself unsure of how to respond was when a Black woman was railing against Black men.  This particular arm of the oppressive system is meted out predominantly against men of color in the US. Railing against them in that particular setting felt a lot like victim blaming. More than that, as a White woman, I don't feel it's appropriate for me to make judgements about how Black males behave in a brutally racist society.

Follow me beyond the fleur de Kos for how this becomes an internal conflict for me.

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In another diary, a commenter expressed frustration that a conversation about the racism and tyrannical force being displayed in Ferguson prompted someone to bring up the Palestinians. The complaint was along the lines of "can we please just focus?"

I responded that many of my friends who are not White are quick to make the connection between what they experience here and what is happening in Gaza. Many of us see the linkage. Focusing actually means getting everybody to see the linkage.

The people in Ferguson get it:

Richard Potter ‏@RichardSP86

Did everyone else catch when protesters chanted "From St Louis to #Gaza end the occupation" because that was some powerful shit. #Ferguson

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It can be very disheartening to contemplate the state of the world, these days. Climate change, growing wealth inequality, civil rights erosion, violence, violence and more violence. As a practitioner of bearing witness, it all gets overwhelming and can lead to despair, unless I find beacons of light. One of the beacons I've found is Evo Morales of Bolivia.

If you're not aware of him, he is the first indigenous president of Bolivia. That would be notable, in and of itself, but he has represented so much more than a demographic token. He's now a leading voice in a worldwide coalition for a sustainable future. Something he calls "Vivir Bien."

The concept of vivir bien (live well) defines the current climate change movement in Bolivia. The concept is usually contrasted with the capitalist entreaty to vivir mejor (live better). Proponents argue that living well means having all basic needs met while existing in harmony with the natural world; living better seeks to constantly amass materials goods at the expense of the environment.
This isn't just a vague "feel good" philosophy. It is a set of principles to live by and guide public policy. Let's take a look at what those principles are, how they've been applied in Bolivia and how they are being adopted beyond Bolivia, along with some of President Morales' personal background.
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There is not a lot to say here other than mentioning that this is yet another example of how misogyny is embedded in our capitalist life.

Ray Rice apologizes for knocking out wife, makes wife apologize too

Janay Rice sat next to her husband during the press conference and, curiously, also spoke, apologizing for her "role in that night" though simple assault charges against her were eventually dropped. Footage from the night showed Rice dragging his wife's unconscious body from an elevator.
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