Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

I figured it was about time I start posting more frequently than once a month, so here's a little Veteran's Day post, all about: Women in the Armed Forces. Yes, there are women in the Armed Forces, so stop asking me, when I wear a Navy T-shirt to school, if my uncle or brother or father served.

Veterans are brave, they're tough, they're patriotic, they love their country. They deserve respect and gratitude, and better treatment than they get. They have earned the right to sit back in retired bliss, sleep in, drink beer, and watch TV all day if they feel like it (at least, I imagine that's what I'll be doing years from now, when I'm all done with four A.M. wake-up calls and drill instructors.) I don't care that a lot of them were drafted, or that a lot of them just signed up because they wanted the military to pay for their college or they jsut needed a job. They still served, and that's a lost more than millions of Americans can say.

Now, how in the hell does that have anything to do with feminism?

You read the news articles from today, and you see servicemen hugging their relatives, saluting the flag, leading ceremonies all across America. The women? You see them in the background, smiling at their husbands. the captions of their photos say "A veteran's wife applauds in such and such city..." A veteran's wife. A veteran's sister, or niece, or cousin. 'Scuse me? Where the fuck are the ladies?

But, wait! you say. Veterans' Day is for celebrating the veterans of WWI and WWII, right?

Get your history right, ladies and gentlemen.

Woodrow Wilson, waaaay back in 1919, declared Nov. 11th to be Armistice Day, when Americans would remember WWI veterans. But then came 1954. After both WWII and the Korean War, Armistice Day became a day to commemmorate ALL American veterans of ALL wars.

So, where are the ladies? We're honoring all vets, right? Women today make up about 14% of America's military, and about fifteen percent of the reserve and guard. So why aren't we seeing them in the headlines? Why are women background photos, supporting roles to husbands and sons, or only present when someone adds "and women" to "servicemen." Why are women an afterthought? I know it's not because we're quiet and easily forgotten. It's simply because people still aren't quite used to the concept of "women" and "military" in the same sentence. It just seems odd to a lot of people. I heard on NPR in the car a story from a woman who said she'd earned a Purple Heart. People would see her Purple Heart license plate, though, and jump straight to the "obvious" line of reasoning: "Oh, did your husband serve?"

The defense to this is obvious. "Well, most people are honoring the older veterans, you know, the ones from WWI and the Korean War and such. Women weren't allowed to serve then!" (not that I heard this from several people at school today or anything). Well, that makes it all better, then, you're not being sexist, you're just ignoring millions of people's contributions to their country! Carry on!

Shut the fuck up, folks. Women have served in militaries for thousands of years, and in America, they've been serving since before this country was even a country. If you would direct your attention here for a moment, and over here, and over here, hither and maybe a little bit of yonder... Why, looky there! Women! Serving! Since the freaking seventeen hundreds, folks! And those are the ones who've served openly. The number of women who disguised themselves as men and fought can't even be estimated.

I'll save the "Sexism in the Military" bit for another day; that's not the point today. The point is, don't forget the chicks. 'Cause they know how to use guns.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spirit Day

(This was originally going to be posted on Oct. 20th. People wore purple to show their support for the LGBTQ community, in light of all the recent suicides. Unfortunately, my Internet connection's been weird on me for a couple weeks. On the plus side, I got this and three other blog posts written while waiting for the wireless to stop sucking.)

Purple= Spirit.


Spirit is pride, strength, courage. Spirit is when someone at school calls you a faggot, and the teacher doesn't do anything about it, and you stay tough anyways. Spirit is when that jackass in the locker room calls you a gayfer, and you laugh, because you're proud to be yourself. On the rainbow flag, the purple stripe at the bottom stands for spirit. For some people, that means that we're shameless sinners, that we're corrupting traditional values and destoryiong everything America stands for with a smile on our lips and a twinkle in our eye.

At least seven gay, American teens could tell them otherwise- that is, if they weren't dead.

Any suicide is a tragedy. An epidemic of suicides, all preventable, in one month, is appalling. Teenagers, with their whole lives ahead of them, killed themselves, because they couldn't stand the intolerance anymore. I've got my dad, my sister's ex-boyfriend who's still my Facebook friend for some reason, kids at school telling me that they're not gonig to wear purple, that we shouldn't remember kids killing themselves just because they're gay; that if I want to do something useful, stop sticking up for gay kiods and do something about suicides that "actually matter".

Fuck you, with a shovel, in the ass.

There's been a lot of debate as to who is and isn't killing themselves because of gay-bashing, a lot of dispute over statistics like "1 in 3 gay teens will commit suicide", a lot of nitpicking, in other words, over things that don't matter. These kids are still dead. Their families, whether the news is making a big deal out of it anymore or not, are still grieving, every single day. I hardly think "Well, we can't be CERTAIN his death was realted to homophobia..." is going to help anything. The point remains, a lot of kids have killed themselves, and we've got nothing better to do than bicker like five-year-olds.

That means we, as a nation, have failed this generation. Again.

The numbers vary. Some people say it was eleven gay teens, some still stand by the original number, five or six. It doesn't matter, y'all. One is more than enough. One is too much. And everyone can agree, there are at least five. And, as if that weren't bad enough, there is still gay-bashing. There are still kids who don't know anything except hate, and abuse, because of who they are or what other people say they are. for some people, it doesn't even stop when they go home. It HAS to stop. The entire point of Spirit Day, which many people seemed to miss out on, was to remember these kids, and to show support for all the LGBTQ folks out there, and I promise you, it makes a difference to somebody out there. I won't lie, it's a lot easier for me to be bisexual than it is for a lot of folks- it's just more socially acceptable where I live. But even for me, to walk into school and see so much purple was such a lift. Knowing that that many people supported me, and were proud to do it, was one of the best feelings of my life, and I know it was for a lot of other people, too.

This post is shamlesssly late, since October 20th was, you know, two freaking weeks ago. But I just want to say thank you, to everyone out there who wore purple, and to everyone who meant to and forgot, and everyone who would've if they'd gotten the Facebook memo, et cetera. I know a lot of kids out there think suicide is the only way to escape the bullying, and the only way to stop people from giving in to thinking like that is to show them how many people actually do care about them. And THAT, dear sister's ex-boyfriend who was convinced that the point was "showing off how faggoty you are", is the point of Spirit Day. - LGBTQ suicide prevention hotline - Gay, trans, et cetera Google employees telling us it gets better.