as i tune in to this election, i feel the bristling dynamism of my internal complexities and contradictions in my body. i felt moved to write this piece, which is basically a call for love to all my straight and/or male bodied comrades who may be considering not voting in this election, or voting third party. i write this to lovingly check your privilege.
i am a post-nationalist american revolutionary. yeah. so i have to stretch to still see anything good as far as options for engaging, and yet i am learning to ‘love this country enough to change it’ as jimmy boggs called us to do.
so from that love, and because of what this election could mean for my body, i write.
first of all, my context is that this is a capitalist nation, in which we only have two parties that get engaged in the debate and race for president, both of whom are encouraged to compete to be the most…competitive, most aggressive and imperial. that’s literally the only kind of person right now who could win (thoughts on third parties at end of piece).
we live in a nation sick with fear, one of the primary generators for consumerism. fear is used as an election tactic at the federal level, and at the local level around policies, ballot initiatives, politicians.
within this nation where i was born, where my ancestors are buried, where my loved ones work and live, where the babies in my life are growing, i don’t want to be manipilated by capitalism, nor by fear.
and yet there are parts of myself which are female, queer, don’t know all the places my family migrated to the u.s. from, parts which are auntie to nearly three children and godmama/auntie to dozens more, parts educated and traveled, the parts of myself rooting in the soil in detroit…these parts have been feeling feelings.
most of all when i come in contact with republican thought:
when i watch the republican party speak of my body, any woman’s body, as a place over which the government should have jurisdiction, imply that there is something my body is supposed to know how to do to stop rape, to stop pregnancies from rape…to hear them say that god would give gifts in this way?…i feel myself simplify. i feel myself separate from republicans, deride them, speak of evil and ignorance, close my heart down. i read the handmaid’s tale recently, and recommend it to all people. in its imaginative dystopia i was reminded of how quickly conditions of freedom can change for the female body.
and when i hear republicans speak of gayness as something that a city might be punished for with a hurricane, gay rights as something that is given and taken by whomever is president – like a dog’s bone, to chew on for a while, empty, retrievable by master at any point…i feel myself grow defensive.
even though i don’t want to get married! i remember being hospitalized a few years ago, and scared, and how grateful i was when the nurse whispered permission for my same-sex partner at the time to stay with me til we knew what was wrong. who could be hurt by such a tenderness, such a care? surely only evil patriarchs lost in barren wastelands devoid of love…see the negativity grow in my heart?
i know there is still desperation to control women, to maintain something familiar for those who have benefited in a patriarchal and heteronormal world. it comes from a capitalist perspective that you should have to compete to have quality of life.
but that desperation, that desire to control everything that we fear or that makes us uncomfortable, works against human evolution. it works against the divine and miraculous in each of us.
i believe, as many believe, that there is a happiness, an evolutionary joy beyond materialism. i have felt it, been held by it, cultivated it in my life and family and community. from that belief and experience, i can feel past my triggers to reach compassion for whatever sadness and isolation occurs in peoples’ lives to hold them in that survival pattern of fear and desperation, judgment and inhumanity.
so really the question is not can i love and have compassion for republicans who hate and fear bodies like mine – i have a family full of them, i know i love them and as they learn and grow, they love me, even with such vast difference and misunderstanding between us. we have seen each other change through grief and love, over time, by continuing to return to the familial space.
and when i see us building the divisiveness in this country, constantly identifying and analyzing who our enemies are, cultivating and playing into a culture of enemies, forgetting that in the majority of things – needing air, water, healthy food, good education, abundance for our families, to feel safe secure and happy – we are the same, and interdependent…i just think we have forgotten who we are.
because we have to understand who ‘they’ are. these people who walk with racism, who desire to control women’s bodies, who devise policy from greed and fear – they are not aliens who landed on our nation. they are the part in each of us that is terrified, that internalizes oppression, that operates from scarcity, that feels love is limited and happiness is out of reach.
rather than reaching a fever pitch of division and hatred this season, how can there be dignity and respect? humane radical engagement in this election that isn’t just a ‘let’s all vote’ invitation, and it isn’t an ‘i’m too busy with the revolution to vote’ dismissal – but accountable authentic political dialogue towards transformation.
i am not an utter idealist anymore, i am not even trying too hard to change republicans. but my body is demanding that i make a legitimate attempt to awaken people in any party who espouse solidarity with me, or love for me, and then in action and word act against that.
this includes those who may vote republican, but even more so, those who might support a republican presidency coming to pass by not voting, or by voting for a third party candidate in this close election.
seriously, how can there be vision for, and action towards, revolution in the face of this comprehensive de-evolutionary system, revolution that doesn’t look like or feel like hate, compromise, or disengagement?
i find that in every instance the answer is love.
because my body requires ongoing movement towards love – in the culture of this country and the policies, as well as on any revolutionary visions we cultivate.
i know that grounding my work in love, always asking what the loving action is in any moment where i can choose my action, builds my personal dignity, fills the source from which i draw energy and inspiration for my work.
i also know that my chances of impacting others with my loving action increases with both physical and political proximity, so recently i have been concentrating on what is my loving action, in this election, towards those who say they are my comrades?
i have seen these comrades, mostly straight, many of them male, in social media spaces, in articles, saying the candidates are basically the same, both war mongering imperialist capitalists. they say fuck this system, this faux democracy, don’t vote, or vote for a third party.
with love, from my queer female body, i ask you to stand with me.
i stand with you in the analysis around our imperialist nation and the candidates within it. i stand with you in concerns around obama’s foreign policy, his border policies, i share your critique.
i also believe we are creating the conditions for post-imperialist foreign policy by building deeper authentic international movements where our work can be standing and acting with and as oppressed people. this being of and with is the next radical step, rather than generating charity and petitions and empty policies for people we are told to pity across a somewhat mythical first world/third world gap.
i believe that looking at poverty, prisons, climate, so many issues, there are no borders around the third world, it is all around us and within us. realizing that will liberate us from the savior-complex that still permeates our international solidarity work, keeps us focusing on eradicating poverty and violence abroad when we haven’t evolved beyond those same conditions at home, and when our nation is still at the forefront of creating those conditions elsewhere.
on the domestic side of things, however, we do have policy in place to ensure women’s decision making power over our bodies, we’ve been building the space for equality in the work place, building towards love being acknowledged regardless of the sex of the loved ones, equality in who gets to fight wars for us (a privilege i don’t long for for anyone, but folks fought for it nonetheless).
and these are reforms, many of them compromises to hold space while the culture actually shifts to see women and queer folk as fully human, works to experience in our collective american body a justice deeper than sex or sexuality (or skin color, ability, ethnicity or class).
but what i need to say is – don’t tell me my body doesn’t count, that the difference in what these candidates think as it relates to my body isn’t enough.
obama would uphold my right to make reproductive choices over my body, believes my body can love whoever i desire. romney will actively work to take away my right to make decisions about my body. romney rolls with people who believe queer people should be put to death and that rape is just another delivery method for babies, a cruel stork.
that should be enough, if you are truly radical, or revolutionary, or even progressive…or even liberal. that should be enough.
more precisely, i want that to be enough, that from your place of straight privilege, and/or masculine privilege, that you can sit down for a second and say the violence a romney presidency would bring down on the bodies of my female and queer comrades is enough to make me show up to this election and vote for obama.
obviously even if women and queer people’s bodies don’t generate solidarity in you, then it can be noted that on every other issue, romney chooses corporate over human growth – climate, federal emergencies, healthcare, etc.
angela davis, in a speech last week in detroit, noted that on every issue that matters to us, obama is the candidate we are most likely to be able to leverage. so we can elect him and continue our work.
but for the record, because my body is screaming it out, standing with me as a woman, and as a queer person, should actually be enough to stop you from super simplistic social media ranting about how obama isn’t che guevara. and it should give you serious pause about advancing third parties which don’t have a base large enough to win nationally, only large enough to take enough progressive votes to ensure obama loses.
i heard years ago a friend quote from a course in miracles, that ‘every act is an act of love or a call for love.’ i hope this writing is seen as a call for love, as the stories of republican hate of women and queer folks fill mainstream media, a call for love as we enter a close election which could vastly change conditions for all women and queer people, a call for love to my comrades who i need to stand with me, this time.
on third parties: i believe in building viable third parties at the local level, towards a time when they have built a local base and can be considered at the national level. i share a lot of their views. i also believe we should have instant runoff voting so a third party vote is not a loss. without that local base or IRV i feel they serve the dual role at the national level of deepening the conversation, while simultaneously weakening radical/progressive impact.