I suppose there is some irony in the title, Rules for Radicals. The public opinion is that radical changemakers are rebels, spontaneous, sometimes reckless. Possibly it is best to leave it that way for the oppressors, put them off their game a bit, but for those of us who are truly dedicated to making change and pushing through the limits of convention, not having a real understanding of the paradigm of oppression, the ways change occurs, the internal game plan ~ there is much to be lost.
There are always two parallel movements in USA Social Justice; the healing of the oppressed and the integration into society of the minority. It is easily seen in the LGBTQAI movement. As we work to end the oppressive laws and cultural prohibitions, we are called to care for those who have suffered at the hand of the oppressor; i.e. youth homes, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, anti-bullying campaigns. In the VAW movement, we are working against H.R. 4970 which excludes protections for the women of First Nation, First Immigration, Queer Nation; but within the movement we have to care for one another with clinics, shelters and legal protections. These are two very distinct movements that are forever intertwined and must run simultaneously.
As the movement speeds up, slows down, breathes through time; we rest, we march, we dance, we mourn, we fall in and out of love, we move, we want others to move, we can’t wait another minute and, yet, another year passes with no advances. That is how it is. That is the way it works. People jump in and out, take a break to refuel, raise the flag and walk the talk.
The question I am struggling with today is what is the best use of our precious energy, the true robust demonstration of our demands, the strongest push in the labor of this inevitable birth. Losing the thread, emphasizing the unimportant, diminishing the gravity of oppression, excluding those most harmed, building too narrow a path for all of us to travel. This last week, two cherished minorities made some choices that I cannot resist addressing.
Dan Cathy, owner of Chick Fil A, made a strong anti-marriage equality statement. It was a huge opportunity to demonstrate that the disenfranchised Queer Nation is working on establishing Marriage Equality for the entire USA. The point of focus was conveniently all over the country, with open doors and long hours and good weather. It was a real wealth of protest possibilities. I stood on a sidewalk myself, supporting local groups and cheering on non-violent direct action. Jon Stewart to Brian Williams all covered the cause.
But it was within that coverage that the point of oppression physically changed. The oppressor changed from Dan Cathy’s ideas to the media’s trivialization of his impact. As the family values people lined up for some sandwiches, the media let the spin cement dry that this was about Dan’s limp sentence. It was then that the radicals, the protests, the entire Queer Nation needed to move our powerful spotlight to the money. Follow the money! Aim that search light on the Money. Dan Cathy’s power increased as we kissed on his doorway and had a fun time because the media was not following the CFA Foundation, his money, his alliances.
Years ago I took Aikido lessons. (true) The best part for me was that the Sensei always showed us “right way.” I am going to try that here. I wish the changemakers had gotten the message after the opponents had lunch and moved the demonstrations to major media outlets. Petitions, email, sit-ins, lines of fake money, articles about the CFA Foundation, highlight that Secretary Clinton was on her way to Kampala, Uganda to honor LGBT leaders, endless possibilities to hone in on the point of oppression: misinformation. I believe that most Americans have no idea about the money line from their waffle fries to a noose – it is a very difficult association, as it should be. It is the duty of the oppressed to make that visible. As radicals (those who want change at the root) we have to be ready to move like quicksilver with the demonstrable issues.
The second event that occurred this last week was Slutwalk L.A. Reading the posts on Facebook, it seems like everyone had a great time. It was a real push to pull off this event; permits pulled, location changes, limited parking, leadership shifting right up to the last few days. It was a heroic effort for all involved.
Like the Aikido teacher’s method, I want to share my dream slutwalk. As my poem of 2011 reflected, all people who say no, mean no ~ have the right to say no. All people, whose no is disregarded, are at risk. The Toronto officer announced that those who are violated asked for it in some way and are responsible for their outcome. My estimation of who that includes would be people in prison, hospitals, retirement homes, mentally challenged, children, anyone in an unequal relationship. It is further illustrated by the US House of Representatives identifying several groups they want to exclude from the Violence Against Women Act; immigrants, LGBT, Native Americans. And, one of the most at risk, women in the military.
In the Slutwalk of my dreams, there would be women and men representing all of the identifiable high risk groups. The reason being that it would demonstrate the parameter of humanity that is violated through the weapon of rape and sexual assault. I think that we already got the idea that duct tape on nipples, torn fishnets, wearing crime scene tape is a fine representation of one group of people at risk – but it is a lost opportunity to not show the viewers – the breadth of those who are violated. A contingency of seniors, of workers, of children, of military, of First Nation, of Dreamers, of LGBT all standing in unmistakable unity, as they are unified by their shared oppression, that is part one of MY DREAM SLUTWALK. That would clearly identify who actually falls into the category of SLUT and how outrageous and immoral victim blaming is. Secondly, there is no movement without allies, without converts, without bridges. I really would love to see each person who is a champion of consensual sex walking and talking with a peace officer, an official, a health worker, a care provider, a legislator.
There are rules for radicals. A few that apply here:
Rule #1 demonstrate the oppression.
Rule #2 shine the light on the oppressor
Rule #3 move with the points of oppression
Rule #4 expand the circle of understanding and information
Rule #5 protect the oppressed as you wish the oppressor would do
CFA Foundation is supporting the criminalization of homosexuality
Media is talking about kissing and lines of pro-family-values eaters
Slut means anyone who is not in power whose consent is disposable
How do we as Human Rights Activists DEMONSTRATE this.