You wanna know what pisses me off?

I just got home from my daily BART ride. I should be cooking dinner, but there’s no way that’s gonna happen until I write what happened down. You ever get like that? Have to write something down so that you can get on with your day? Just me? Damn, ok.

On today’s episode of “what happens when Airial rides public transit” (there really should be a whole webseries based on this, I swear) a child predator almost got his ass handed to him by one very pissed off mama bear.

So the BART was delayed today, making the early afternoon cars more crowded than usual. Normally at this time of day it’s teenagers riding home from school or parents on their way to pick up their kids from school- like me. Plus there is an A’s game so baseball fans in green and yellow filled the cars too. I get on the train, a man pushes past me. I notice that he’s in a hurry to get the interior doors. Maybe he really really wants to find a less crowded car, I think. Then at the next stop more people get on and I end up shuffling towards the back and who do I see, man-in-a-hurry. Except now, he’s not in a hurry. Now he’s adopted the slouchy stance of a teenager. Why? Because he is chatting up a girl. A girl who is obviously the same age as my kids. 13 or 14. She’s tiny. She’s young. And this grown ass man is coming on to her. He’s older than me. Well, maybe he’s the same age as me and just not aging well.

Fucking Hell. I’m watching their interaction. She’s got that smile going. The one where you hope that if you’re nice enough the creepy guy will like you enough to leave you alone. The smile of look I’m playing along, please don’t hurt me. The smile of I’m not threatening in any way can you please see me as a person. Yeah. That smile. He’s complimenting her on her clothes, her hair, her shoes. She’s wearing sneakers and pajama pants. Her hair is “I’ve been in school all day” untidy. She’s a fucking kid.

I step closer to them. Closer than necessary. I’m staring at him. This is where I love love love being a tall thick as a tank woman. I’m in flip flops and we’re eye level. I’m sizing him up. My shoulders are stronger than his. If I stand just a lil straighter he’ll be looking up at me. For now, I know the look I’ve got on my face. I know exactly what my expression is saying. I see you. You’ve been made. He’s stopped turning his head in my direction but he’s staring at me from the corner of his eye. I know that because she follows his gaze and looks up at me. I swear she’s barely 5 feet tall.

I’ve done this before. I soften my expression and make eye contact with her. She gives me the look. I step closer. He’s telling her to text him. He’s asking if her mom is waiting for her at the station she’s getting off at. He’s acting like he doesn’t care. He’s acting like it’s all so super casual. She’s smiling that smile. I shift my position so that my bag is between them. She immediately steps around me, like a bunny hopping over barbed wire. I stay put. Wait to see if he tries to push past me. Wait to see if he says excuse me. Wait to see if he’s gonna tap me on the shoulder. Part of me wishing he would. I’m loud. Loudest person I know actually. The sonic boom that would have resulted from him tapping my shoulder would have shook the train off it’s tracks. He doesn’t.

Adults who target children hate being seen by other adults who know what they are.

I walk to the middle of the car where she is standing face perfectly blank.

I ask her, “Do you know that guy?”

“No!” She says her eyes widening, voice lowered, “I was like, ‘Can you stop talking to me?’ the whole time!”

“He shouldn’t have been talking to you. I’m sorry he did that. It’s not your fault.”

“He just asked me if I knew someone who could braid his hair, out of nowhere.”

“You sure don’t know anyone,” I say raising my voice, looking back over my shoulder to where he’s watching us.

We get off the train at the same stop. I turn to see if he’s getting off. He’s not. I stand and watch him from the platform as the train slides away. I see you.

I learned to do this from my mother. My mom gives no fucks about the social order when it comes to protecting children from creepy ass motherfuckers. The social order requires silence and looking away and not interfering. The etiquette of our culture demands we not presume bad things are happening when in fact they’re happening right in front of our fucking faces. Not one other person in the packed train car lifted an eyebrow at that grown man chatting up a very young teenager.

And man that pisses me off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biggest Radically Inclusive Parenting Event EVARRR!


images-3

 

Oakland and East Bay Families!! I am so thrilled to be co-organizing Mosswood Park’s Papapalooza! Weyland Southon from KPFA’s Father Figures, Tomas Moniz of Rad Dad, A Zine on Radical Parenting and myself are delighted to be organizing an event sponsored by Oakland Parks and Recreation celebrating all of our families on June 15th at Mosswood Park in Oakland from 1-5pm. It’s an afternoon filled with music, children’s story book readings, art, information and games! This event is radically inclusive… all families are welcome and celebrated here.

What we’ve got planned for you…

The world renowned Estria Foundation will be on site at Papapalooza to conduct a Water Writes art project workshop with kids to paint Mosswood Park’s cement pillars.

Kid’s Games in the big field will be led by your’s truly. :)

images-4

So this being OAKLAND and all, we’ve got dope DJ’s on deck for a family dance party!!

but really, the best part is going to be Kid’s book readings by:

And because local orgs love you, we’ve got Parenting Information Tables:

images-2

This event will also be in conjunction with a Thursday evening event that will be an art show featuring a number of amazing parent artists and a release party for Rad Dad 24! that will be held at Solespace.

Soooooooooo if you came to our massive winter event, this is the summer celebration. Bring some picnic snacks to the park and join us! The event is free.

Recycling and Redemption Value

Img_00279

I wasn’t raised with a religion… so I first learned about redemption via recycling PSA’s.The word had a very narrow definition associated with keeping streets clean and something about saving the planet. Minds like mine depend on metaphors for meaningful analysis, so for me, when the older definition of redemption started making appearances in the books I was reading, ‘Heaven’ looked like an ally full of semi-deranged homeless men, broken by war or addiction, bowing under massive wings, collecting 5 cent souls out of cloud lined garbage cans. God’s grace looked like the dingy  depository; sorting conveyor belts stretching into infinity.

Img_00279A priori knowledge is a tricky thing… especially when you’re a poor kid with a brain like an accordion.

Valentine’s day has come and gone. And this year I made no promises, broke no vows, and kept myself mostly to myself, but as I’m walking the lake with my 4-legged BFF, we come up to the most beautiful trash receptacle I’ve ever seen. This trash can is on the exit I take from the lake to my street. A marker. Turn left, go up a hill. My place.

“Recycle my heart” is what this says to me. Yes, please. Can I deposit the heart I’ve got, the love I’ve had, the love that feels used and spent and maybe having outlived it’s original purpose can be melted down and a new heart will appear?

Maybe the structural integrity of my heart has been compromised, but the essential ingredients are still precious. How much is copper going for right now? What is it’s redemption value? How many ways can a steel heart be refashioned; made lighter with each trip up the conveyor belt?  Just keep my love out of the landfill. Keep my love circulating. Don’t let me be lazy and throw it away.

August Links LOVE! News and Events Round Up

oie_1575554A60Q5T5R

Sometimes when I open my laptop in the morning, all the awesome just floods in. It’s my own doing of course. I’ve curated my social media streams toward the awesome side of the sexuality news spectrum.

Links!

Ok, so here’s a lil blog post I did for Oakland Local. It contains online resources for parents and my own nudge in the sex-positive perspective. I’ll be blogging over there more often about parenting and sexuality resources specific to the East Bay, mostly local in y’know, Oakland.

Next read this quote:

I’m not saying that everyone is — or should be — throwing key parties or hunting for a plot of land to start a sex-based commune with 40 of their closest friends. I’m saying it’s time to start breaking down our antiquated ideas about romance and relationships, many of which are largely based on ideas of control and fear, and start talking openly and honestly about what really works best for each of us.

How brilliant is that? Noah Michelson, you just made my day! This comes from his post about the photo’s of Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend, Ben Maisani, kissing some other guy. It’s a good read. And it hits on the second tenet of sex-positivity: do what works for you. Know thyself, sweetie-darling, know thyself! Click to read the HuffPo piece! 

Next up, Jane Fonda is that cool grandma you all wish you had. I say you, because my own grandma is pretty damned cool and reminds me of Jane Fonda in a lot of ways. So my approach to sex-positive parenting has always been to have a running dialogue, little conversations build into a strong foundation to raise sexually-aware children. It’s in my ebook! So when The Quizzical Mama posted this link on FB and then I read the headline “Actress says one Big Talk wrong approach”… you know I did a the lil happy laptop dance. Which is kind of an exaggerated butt-wiggle, but I digress. Check out what Jane Fonda has to say about why she added a chapter on talking to your kids about sex in her upcoming book:

“There’s a lot of books about plumbing and how everything works, but …I talk about sexuality in the context of identity. That it isn’t just about intercourse, that to be human is to be sexual. There’s nothing dirty or weird about it, and it’s important to understand it very deeply.”

That’s right! Sex-positive parenting is all about the identity and deeper understanding of human sexuality. Woot!

Events!

So now back to Oakland, the town that I love. Tomorrow night, Thursday Aug 16th, 2012 there is I’m going to go ahead and say unprecedented opportunity for adults to hear what youth have to say about the quality of the sexuality education. Forward Together has their annual summer event, check the description:

Oakland Speaks: Youth Share their New Vision for Sexuality Education. We will be releasing “Let’s Get It On,” our research report on the state of Sex Education in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Through skits, music, dance and poetry we will share with the community our new vision for Sex Education in OUSD…

That’s right, research data & first person youth perspective on sexuality education in one evening. If you’re in the town I suggest you go. If you see me, say “Hey!” Here’s the FB invite page.

Another Oakland event is this month’s Bawdy Storytelling. The theme is “Heros & Villains”. Expect to see people tell their true to life tales in costumes. Why do I love Bawdy storytelling so much? Because it’s honest. And entertaining as all get out. But really, how many pubic forums do we have for just everyday people to talk about their sexuality? And I don’t mean in the reality TV show kind of way. That shit is so edited and warped we can’t look at those shows as honest. At Bawdy, you get 10 mins to be on stage, then you melt back into the audience. Dixie is a great storytelling coach, she constantly reminds people to stick to what happened. Don’t perform, just tell. Check it out at the Uptown Nightclub Thursday Aug 23rd, 7pm. I’ll be there working a table, so again come say hi!

Now for some SF Event love!

First event is BiblioBound. This Saturday Aug 18th. Damn. Just…. damn. This is one of those living in the Bay Area moments. There’s going to be a bondage party in a library? That’s a thing here. Really. World renowned bondage expert and women’s empowerment sexuality educator, Midori, is hosting a play space for folks to try their hand at rope bondage. Yeah. While surrounded by a most amazing sexuality library. Get more info and buy tickets here!

Annnnnnd then there’s Metta Dance! I was thrilled to co-facilitate a workshop on exploring polyamory at last month’s Metta Dance event. This month, on August 24th, they’ve got two of my favorite people leading a workshop on how to get what you want in bed. Yup, Lidia-Anain of Sex, Love, Joy and Dr.Charlie Glickman of Good Vibrations have strategies to share on how to get you there. And by there, I mean good sex. The sex you want to have. Lidia-Anain is a sex-positive parent and Charlie has been advocating and defining sex-positive for years and years now. So check out Metta Dance. Their whole set up is amazing. A whole night of whole body self care. Raw food, organic tea, and the music.. rrhmegerd… so good. More info here!

So how’s that for a morning round up? Not too shabby for a Wednesday. Enjoy your August!!! and remember:

Links, Books and Events for July 13-15th, 2012

Hello Sex-Positive Parents, here is your bi-monthly batch of links!

When awesome and competent collide! Read about Tristan Taormino’s experience as a guest on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show.

Watch Jay Smooth’s brilliant commentary on Frank Ocean‘s Independence Day.

Look, like and listen to Virgie Tovar on the Sex Positive Photo Project (NSFW)

Summer reading lists!

16 Books Challenged For Their Gay Content

Check out these new LGBT reads for hot summer days

On the web resources:

The Kinsey Confidential en Espanol!

The Queer Guide to Surviving Middle and High School

A few select events:

Friday, July 13: Reading of QUEER COMPULSIONS by author Amy Sueyoshi at Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality in San Francisco, CA

Saturday, July 14: Culture Fuck July featuring Mia McKenzie! in Berkeley, CA

Saturday, July 14:  O’FaSho! A Benefit for Mix’d Ingredients in Oakland, CA

We’re actually NOT all Trayvon Martin

This is problematic.

There is so much more this 44 year old economically secure straight white college instructor could be doing than wearing a hoodie to demand justice for Trayvon Martin.

Like calling up his travel agent and stating I will no longer spend my vacation money in Florida; a state with laws that exist to protect murders like Zimmerman is not a place I will take my family for vacation. And then asking all of his over privileged friends to do the same. Tweet that out to your followers, Hugo, make that your facebook status. Fuck Florida I’m not spending any money there. No more Disney World for my family till the DA presses charges and the laws are changed.

He could publicly divest in Florida orange juice or the NFL or NBA, etc.

He could dedicate time in his classroom for young men of color to speak about the harassment they experience from white people/law enforcement on a regular basis- and the rest of the class members are instructed to just listen, not dissect or critique or make it about themselves in any way. Just listen to the black and brown people speak.

Hugo Schwyzer walking while white-but in a hoodie- means nothing. I’m white, I wear hoodies all the time. My white privilege negates any bias against my clothing choices every day.

Having a million brown skinned people show up en mass wearing hoodies makes a very clear statement of “You going to shoot us all?” because in the eyes of so many white people, especially those in positions of authority, all people of color are deserving of suspicion. There is a risk being taken by any black or brown person just walking down the street, wearing a hoodie increases that risk.

It’s kind of like that “We are all Troy Davis” bit all over again. No, we are not all Troy Davis and those of us who aren’t need to fight the system with the tools we have access to. We don’t need to feel guilt or shame, we need to feel anger and resolve. We have to make phone calls, send emails and share our disgust and outrage with everybody we can.

I’ve spoken with the boys about how this other boy was shot and killed because of racism. That the laws that are protecting the murderer were written and upheld by racist white men. And we’ll keep talking about it. I told them that while I worry for their safety because of child predators and bad drivers and just a general level of parental care, I don’t have to worry about them being targeted for their skin color. I told them how every parent I know who has a child who isn’t white has this huge extra burden that is real and valid and it’s horrible to see their worst fears come true in the killing of Trayvon Martin. We talked about Oscar Grant and all the bad things that were said about him after he was killed to try to justify the shooting. We all knew it was bullshit, just a way to cover up the racism. But with this 17 year old kid, nothing can be said against him. Nothing. He was doing everything right and it still doesn’t matter. That’s what systemic oppression is. There’s no way the victims can appease the perpetrators because it’s not a system built on respecting humanity. White people hating black people is a form of sociopathy; a publicly supported derangement. And I also tell my kids we’re not sociopaths, we’re sane, and so we have to speak up.

My heart breaks for Trayvon Martin’s family. I couldn’t listen to the 911 calls. I got nauseous when I read the Change.org letter from Trayvon’s parents. I was literally made sick by them having to plead for an arrest. So, me, as a white person, wearing a hoodie will do what now? Show that I stand in solidarity with common fucking sense unlike how many millions of white supremacists? Awesome.

Reformation vs. Revolution

A good way for me to measure how much I care about something is by how much time I spend talking to my kids about it. You can tell I could give not one fuck about sports because I’ve probably spent a total of 8 hours out of their entire lifetimes talking about it to my kids. Politics, social justice, economics, ethics, the weather, (yes the weather) and sexuality… I’d estimate I’ve spent a good 4 years out of E’s life speaking to him non stop on those subjects.

So guess what we’ve been talking about a lot? The Occupy Movement. And I’m pretty sure he gets it better than a lot of adults do. When the idea to start Occupy Oakland started to float around a month ago, I had a muddled, half squishy expression when I told him about it.

“What’s wrong with Oakland having it’s own Occupy, Mom?”

Me, hating for the umpteenth time that I have no poker face whatsoever. “Wellllllll, it’s just that Oakland is no joke when it comes to confronting oppressive systems, and then getting punished for it by those systems in return. There is always an uneasy power balance in Oakland.”

E knows about the Oscar Grant murder, the protests, the response in the streets and by the police. He also knows about the Black Panther Party thanks to my having taken a course from Ericka Huggins, (who has an awesome interview with The Root up right now, you should so totes check that out.) So he not only knows of the Black Panthers, he knows a Black Panther.

It’s one thing for folks on the East Coast to call for reformation, it’s another thing for folks in Oakland to have a new outlet for revolution.

People at Occupy Wall Street are calling attention to the fact that rich people don’t pay taxes and that corporations need to stop being prioritized over people. They still believe in the system and the structure of the US. They believe in capitalism and they believe in wealth redistribution. They believe that the process used to dismantle economic security can be used to restore it. I wish I could go to NYC and be a part of their occupation. I wish I could listen to their conversations. I wish I could be in the presence of all the exchange of information, witness the process of enlightening the masses as it occurrs in real time.

People in Oakland are demanding decolonization. I don’t think the folks at Ad Busters quite had that in mind. There is no revelations going on in Oakland. Predatory lending? Check. Gentrification? Check. Industrial pollution? Check. Defunct public school system? Check. Blatant racial profiling? Check. Extreme income disparity? Check. Underfunded social services? Police brutality? Commercially sexually exploited youth on the streets? Check, check, check. For years and years and years.  I’m not saying that OWS isn’t complex, not saying that Oakland is the special snowflake in a country suffering deeply in terms of both economic and ethical despair. I am saying that Oakland, like Atlanta and Detroit and Richmond and Tacoma, has been in this position a lot longer than what is now happening on a national level.  Continue reading

The Occupy Wall Street Movement

Image design by Rha Bowden.

I was on the phone with my dad, mostly talking about the weather. And not in that humdrum pass the time kind of way, no, we actually like to talk about the weather. Even when we don’t mean to, our conversations drift toward storm patterns and new measuring instruments. This time I was talking about the Occupy tent cities in Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle, and my dad brought up the weather systems in each city.

“Oakland is great for a long term outdoor occupation, look at the weather right now!”

“That is true.”

“San Francisco and Seattle, though, that’s a lot of sea air, lot of cold moisture.”

“Mm-hm, well that’s part of the reason why the police are so determined take the structures down in the middle of the night. The people need them.”

“Sure, sure, I understand this Occupy Wall Street stuff… it makes sense you’d be supportive, with all your student loans, and single parent with young kids, you’re the 99%!”

[pause]

“Uh, Dad? You’re the 99% too.”

“Oh. Er, right. I uh guess I am.”

I’ve written about the world of privilege my father moves through. He’s got them all. He’s the right gender, the right color, the right body, the right family, the right mind, the right sexual orientation, right legal status, right language, right generation, ect.

I don’t want to go into my dad’s finances as they’re not mine to share, but he is firmly deeply truly not anywhere near the 1%, in fact, economically speaking, he’s not even middle class. He doesn’t own any property due to a foreclosure from being laid off from the large firm he was a HR director at. He’s back to scraping by through self employment. No retirement, no substantial savings, no health insurance. And yet, he doesn’t identify with the individuals involved in Occupy Wall Street.

The Occupy Movement is one month old today, and it is indeed a global movement: “951 cities in 82 countries”. There are the most amazing multi-media maps at sites like Mother Jones and The Guardian UK  if you’re a data and/or media geek it’s really really impressive to see these live action data sets compiled and made available to the public.

But back to my dad, I think for him, it is all about perception and privilege. He can’t possibly be that bad off, he’s white! and college educated! and a US citizen! and tall! Really tall! He’s the same as the men in charge, right? They’re his people. All those bastard ass CEO’s and corrupt politicians, slimey, smarmy, selfish to the point of sociopathy hedge fund managers and bankers, they  would surely invite him to a round of golf, no?

No, Dad, they won’t. I’ve met a few billionaires in my time in the Bay Area, and no, Dad, as much as you may think you have in common based upon your shared societal privileges, they actually want nothing to do with you.

My dad believes he just hit a rough spot. He’ll be back on his feet in no time. He must have done something wrong. Sorry, Dad, this is a large scale economic global catastrophe. Bigger than any one individual’s bad decision. Yes, you did something wrong, you’re not in the 1%.

Welcome, Dad, to the land of the other.

Some of us have been here for a very long time. Born into a legacy of not being right. Most of us are in the wrong. We are the wrong legal status, we are the wrong gender, the wrong color, the wrong sexual orientation and sexuality, we speak the wrong language, come from the wrong family, have the wrong body, the wrong mind and we make all the wrong decisions all the time. That’s why we’re all not millionaires right? Why we’re not all upper middle class, why we’re not all middle class, why we are barely above the poverty line, why we are living in first world poverty. Why we have no security or stability, right? Because the billionaires are right and we, the 99% are all somehow wrong.

For the people who are just now seeing that their privileges aren’t protecting them to the degree they once were, I hope your awakening imparts a deep empathy towards those who’ve never had the luxury of that ignorance.

I hope we are questioning the values and confronting the inherent inequity that have traditionally supported our own domestic legal and global financial systems; ie colonialism.

I sincerely hope that this movement is not, as some have said, simply a demand for the return to the social hierarchy where your average 55 year old white male was secure and rewarded for his rightness and the rest of us were paying dearly for our inability to be just that.

To me, the Occupy Movement is calling ourselves out for that cruel, unjust and unsustainable plan of economic action. We arrived at this place because enough people buy into the idea that the poor deserve to be poor. That the disenfranchised are at fault for their disenfranchisement. Hell, the fact that we even have a term for the systematic deprivation of civil power is a big fucking hint. Enough people in the US believe that the only way for their bread to get buttered is if they snatch it out of the hands of somebody else. I guess it’s worked up until now, but then again, we’re all pretty much fucked unless we stand together for some serious, paradigm shifting change.

Exhale

n1484247623_162189_2357

The first year of grad school is completed. Many thanks to all of those shoulders, arms, minds and smiles that helped me stay sane for the most part. Those last two weeks were a bit surreal. But I got good grades and I know I am learning. I definitely feel like I’m in the middle of something. Only half of the thoughts are coagulating, the rest are slowly sinking in, then dissipating. One year done. One thesis project constructed. One puzzle piece of my identity cast in relief. Breath out. Exhale, release it all, empty the lungs, clear the mind…

Continue reading