November 26, 2016

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Originally posted by Michael Lovan on November 25

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It's officially recognized by the UN to raise awareness of the crimes perpetrated against women, including rape and domestic violence.

Today also begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, preceding December 10's International Human Rights Day.

That means from now until then, you have sixteen days packed full of choices. When I got started, I was entirely lost. So I made a list of 16 things you can do over the next 16 days that could go a short way towards eliminating crimes perpetrated against women, or a long way towards changing you.

  1. You can read a book about the harms of pornography. I recommend you get started with Pornland by Gail Dines or Big Porn Inc by Melinda T Reist and Abigail Bray.
  2. You can donate to a charity that supports women. I highly recommend Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).
  3. You can check out the ENTIRETY of Andrea Dworkin's essays online for FREE. I recommend starting with Pornography: Men Possessing Women.
  4. You can abstain from pornography. I suggest you do it for forever. Trust me - it'll change the way you look at everything.
  5. You can dive in and absorb some amazing feminist articles online. I suggest Feminist Current for the honest and brilliant articles.
  6. You can volunteer with or donate to a local shelter that promotes women's safety.
  7. You can interrupt any sexist or misogynistic language being used in your vicinity. I know how super hard that can be, but trust me when I say that true strength lies in those who challenge those in power. Only misogynists punch downwards (which is what you're doing when you make rape jokes or sexualize women).
  8. You can be critical of the media you consume. Don't know how to start? Stop watching and start listening when women tell you something is offensive (i.e. Game of Thrones and unnecessary nudity - it's okay to be critical of the things you love, people).
  9. You can listen to a podcast. Again, have to recommend the dense selection at Feminist Current.
  10. You can seek out organizations that are feminist, pro-feminist, pro-women and get to know more about their cause.
  11. You can open up communication with a woman you know who's been harmed by domestic or sexualized violence. I heartily recommend you start by telling them something along the lines of, "I haven't truly considered the experiences of other people. I want you to know that any time you need an ear, I would be happy to listen. And no, I will not offer you unsolicited advice or offer solutions or pretend I'm an expert at what you've gone through."
  12. You can stop using sexist or misogynistic language. This includes using words like "pussy," "bitch," "whore," "ho," "son of a bitch," "cunt," and phrases like "... like a girl," "be a man," "... is a man's job."
  13. You can stop laughing at jokes that generalize and thus reinforce what it means "to be a woman", such as the way women talk, dress, behave, and so onj
  14. You can defend women. Start simple, like with sharing an article on your personal timeline on the condition that you will be active in the comments section that follows. Small potatoes, share an article that's pro-women. Medium potatoes, share an article that's anti-porn. Large potatoes, share an article that establishes your position as an anti-porn / pro-women advocate and watch how quickly some men will hiss at you and how others in real life will begin to avoid you like you're insane (lol you'll get used to it).
  15. You can admit that you don't actually know much about violence against women, but that you are open to learning more and could use a few suggestions to teach yourself (important: nobody can change you except yourself. The best you can do is be open and allow yourself a huge amount of space to accept how very, very little you know and how very, very disorienting everything becomes once that light bulb has gone off over your head).
  16. You can speak up in real life.

Deep Green Resistance also recommends reading our Feminist Solidarity Guidelines, and following the DGR Women's Caucus

November 16, 2016

On the road to home from Standing Rock

Jennifer Murnan / Deep Green Resistance Colorado

Thin Blue Line
Flagged two times
“The Line is what police officers protect, the barrier between anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, between respect for decency and lawlessness.”
Blue line
Slap down
Smack down
Dogs dripping blood
Tear gas
Pepper spray
Violating your way
Breaking past
Red and Black and Brown and
Even White Protectors
What's left of human sanity
of human sanctity
for the river
What happens
Blue line
If you succeed?
Do you

Or do you free fall
dragging all
a bottomless pit
of blood and oil?

Civilization conquers all.

A Prayer and a Promise

To the red and brown and black and even white protectors
faces and bodies who know no lines
those between the blue line and sacred water of life
All that remains of human sanity
of human sanctity

Peace be with you
Love be with you
Courage is in you
You are all that your ancestors prayed for
Without you our future ceases to be

Thank you

We are coming

November 10, 2016

With Hope for the Environment Crushed, What Can We Do?

It's time to stop hoping lobbying will ever convince those in power to stop burning fossil fuels, polluting our air and water, and destroying nature. For decades, even "lesser of two evils" political leaders have permitted accelerated attacks on our environment. A few have put band-aids in place; none have acted to reverse our course. With Trump and other reactionaries gaining power around the world, policies will only get worse.

It's time to stop hoping for a mass shift in consciousness, a voluntary cultural adoption of a sane and sustainable way of living. Despite widespread understanding of looming environmental crises, voluntary simplicity and conservation have never gained mainstream traction. Nearly sixty million Americans just voted for Trump, who promised to gut even the tiny bits of environmental protection the US does have in place. Collectively, no matter the true costs, we are unwilling to sacrifice our comforts and luxuries. No amount of education will overcome this.

When we can't rely on others to make necessary change, we're left with direct action. Those of us serious about protecting present and future life on the planet must leverage our small numbers to shut down fossil fuels, polluting industries, and nature-destroying machines. This may sound radical, and that's because it is. We need to go to the root of the problem and win the war there, rather than fight (and mostly lose) battle after battle against endless manifestations of ecocide.

Deep Green Resistance has realistically assessed the resources of the environmental movement, the opposition we face, and the time we have left before runaway climate change and ecological collapse have gone too far to stop. Our response, Decisive Ecological Warfare, is a plausible strategy to stop the rich from exploiting the poor and the powerful from destroying the planet. Industrial infrastructure is surprisingly vulnerable: sprawling and impossible to protect everywhere. Though we'll never have large numbers of people fighting on the front lines, they can be disproportionately effective by attacking carefully chosen critical bottlenecks.

Don't let despair drive you to retreat; there's too much at stake. This is a call-out for people to join the fight on the side of the living. Read our strategy. Read our book. If you're in a position to carry out direct action to stop the destruction, know that there is an aboveground movement building in support of your work. If you can't be on the front lines, for any of a hundred perfectly valid reasons, join us in the aboveground as a volunteer, as a member, or as a financial supporter. Help us support the militant resistance the planet desperately needs.

Learn more:

November 4, 2016

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

"I fear that a world made of gifts cannot coexist with a world made of commodities."

Robin Wall Kimmerer transcends boundaries, and so does her latest book. Simultaneously a botanist and author-poet, scientist and Potowatomi Nation citizen, professor and mother, she brings together unusually diverse perspectives and ways of knowing. The result is a gift to readers: beautiful writing exploring knowledge and ideas often buried in academia or dismissed as "unscientific." As in her first book, Gathering Moss, her enthusiasm for nature and learning comes through strongly, a joy for any nature lover to read. She softens and contextualizes modern hard facts by relating them to indigenous worldviews developed over thousands of years. She reconciles art, appreciation of the natural world, and science (in many ways just now catching up to traditional knowledge.) Rejecting human exceptionalism, she considers all the beings with whom we share the earth while addressing deep questions of ethics and morality.

Braiding Sweetgrass draws on stories from elders and on Kimmerer's own experiences for its 32 chapters. Each could stand alone, ranging across seemingly disparate subjects: relationships between masting nut trees and squirrels, gift economies vs market economies, the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, harvesting plants in a regenerative manner, and what it means to be a good citizen. But the chapters are tied together by recurring elements, most notably the titular sweetgrass. Sections entitled Planting, Tending, Picking, Braiding, and Burning Sweetgrass organize the individual chapters, and sweetgrass appears again and again as part of traditional legend, knowledge, and practice. The book is densely multilayered, with specific material practices seamlessly integrated into broader teachings about the physical world, and then into deep philosophy. The real magic comes from Kimmerer skillfully interweaving themes of relationship, gratitude, and responsibility into a story larger than the sum of the parts. Her art mirrors a well-lived life which has transformed individual experiences into holistic wisdom.

The overarching theme, drawn forth through the dozens of stories in hundreds of ways, is reciprocity. A fundamental difference between the culture of civilization and those of indigenous peoples is a mentality of exploitation vs one of gratitude. Derrick Jensen defines sustainability as giving back more than you take, and Kimmerer richly depicts a worldview in which that ethic is held first and foremost, even (or especially) when harvesting the lives of others. Her multiple detailed accounts, backed by science, of human interactions with other species to the benefit of all rebut the belief that humans are intrinsically destructive. We have the potential ― indeed, the responsibility ― to take up a supportive role in the web of life.

Building on this revelation, Braiding Sweetgrass challenges the reader to consider how an individual, or a culture, can become indigenous to place. With the vast majority of the earth under siege by settler cultures with a domination mindset, this is an urgent task. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), collapse will render industrialism and globalization infeasible, reigning in civilization's ecocide. But local cultures unable to develop reciprocal relationships with their landbases are doomed to continue the destruction, even if at a smaller scale.

Perhaps the most important lesson is that everyone has gifts. Birds have the gift of song, stars the gift of shining. But with each gift comes a responsibility to use it in the service of life. Birds have a responsibility to greet the day with music, stars to guide night travelers. What gifts do humans have, and what responsibilities? And more personally: as Carolyn Raffensperger asks, “What are the largest, most pressing problems that you can help to solve using the gifts that are unique to you in all the universe?” With the world at stake, contemplate the question. Find your answer. Then take action.

Braiding Sweetgrass is available as a paperback, ebook, and audio book.

Derrick interviewed Robin Wall Kimmerer for the September 25, 2016 episode of Resistance Radio. Readers who enjoy Braiding Sweetgrass will probably also enjoy Derrick's The Myth of Human Supremacy, and vice versa.