Posts from December 2001

Off to Europe

To all of my loyal readers (and the finks out there, too): Geekery Today will be on temporary hiatus during my much-needed winter vacation, while I spend a couple weeks hanging out in Europe with L. and another week or so in Dallas with the extended fam. See you all next year!

Worries over notification laws

Another "Boo hoo hoo, poor rapists" story, concerned with measures such as sex offender registries and involuntary detention in mental health clinics for sex offenders who have served all their time in prison. You know, there is a simple solution for all this.

  1. Rationalize age of consent laws so that consensual sex between adolescents with less than 2-4 years age difference is not considered statutory rape. Thus, there is no worry about consensual sex between adolescent partners giving the older one a criminal record just because they are on the wrong sides of the age-of-consent line.
  2. For anyone who commits acts covered under the remaining rape laws – whether child rape, acquaintence rape, serial rape, gang rape, or anything else – throw him in jail for the rest of his life, without the possibility of parole. Thus, there is no worry about the constitutionality or fairness of notification laws or involuntary detention in mental health facilities after release. There is no release at all.

Simple, isn’t it? Treat rape like a serious crime, and these worries disappear.

Gender Terrorism in Nashville

(caught this story while going through backlogged issues of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s feminist newswire)

Nashville bus driver Willie Houston was holding his fiance’s purse when a man began harassing him with anti-gay slurs, making references to the purse. The man pulled a gun on Houston and shot him to death as Houston put his hands in the air and pleaded that he just wanted to go home.

A friend of mine once worked in a children’s clothing store. A woman came in one day and bought a bonnet for her baby son. Later that day, the woman came in again with her husband next to her. She was crying. He stared at her and demanded that she say what we agreed to say. She put the bonnet back on the counter, and haltingly said, I’m returning this bonnet so my son won’t grow up to be a faggot.

I’ve heard a lot of people wonder what kind of psychological issues it takes for someone to want to live, either in whole or in part, in a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. But to me, the real question is, what kind of sociological and political and psychological issues does it take for a society in which a man will murder over a purse, intimidate and humiliate his wife over a piece of clothing that’s off-brand for little boys?

Top-down and Bottom-Up Models for Online Politics

Scott Reents and Thomas Hill have written an interesting article on why political sites fail, and what they can do about it [Democracy Project]. Bottom line: political sites fail because they are based on the one-way model of traditional campaign media. As the authors put it:

In particular, current political sites are failing to adhere to the new rules of the "citizen-centric" Internet. Because the Internet puts citizens in control over the information they access, it requires that political organizations think and act as service providers to, rather than as mobilizers of online constituents. A citizen-centric campaign recognizes that it is most powerful when it practices the enlightened self-interest of true cooperation, ceding control to citizens as the most effective way to accomplish shared goals.

It’s worth noting that the most continually successful politically-oriented sites on the web are services such as Independent Media Center and Free Republic, Feminist Majority Foundation Choices Campus Community, and innumerable e-mail listservs all over the Internet, which center around forums for user-contributed content.

My hope is that the trends exemplified by Internet users here will successfully drive political candidates and groups more and more towards bottom-up, participatory democracy as the primary form of web interaction, that the mood of the Internet user will force them to adopt this strategy in order to survive. The Internet as it stands if full of limitations – we need to work hard at making Internet access and resources more available to people in poverty, making it a less toxic space for women, and developing software and hardware that empower users apart from mega-corps like AOHell-Time Warner and Microsoft and Netscape). But I hope and believe that it can also be opening up a horizon for truly democratic spaces in ways that traditional media have systematically ruled out. We have a great hope of winning this one, if we fight.

For further reading:

WOMB Rally for Reproductive Rights in Michigan

For any readers I may have in Michigan: A while ago I ran across the page for Women Outraged by Michigan Bureaucracy (WOMB), an active pro-choice group spearheaded by Flint feminists. They’re doing work around the Michigan state government’s hostility towards abortion access, as well as general feminist organizing. Check them out!