crime is a social construct

I’m writing this because Tr*mp issued 3 executive orders related to law enforcement yesterday.  These orders increase penalties against those found guilty of assaulting officers, increase information sharing between law enforcement agencies to fight “drug cartels,” and create a task force (under the Attorney General) to address drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and violent crime.  These orders seek to empower racist law enforcement and intimidate opposition to racist law enforcement agendas.  The president’s reasoning (and the reasoning of all “law and order” legislators who are “tough on crime”) is that there is a lot of crime and that increasing the power of law enforcement and punishment will lower levels of crime.

This belief isn’t true, and what I’m about to write about it has already been said many times by scholars and activists; they have said it better and longer.  This is just a philosophical introduction to why crime is a bad way to measure morality and why, therefore, we should not be using crime rates as justification to further criminalize poor bodies of color. Continue reading crime is a social construct

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trump’s discursive formations

There may not be a public need for another analysis of D. Trump and his terrorism, but I feel the need to write one. This is very specifically an analysis of one of the most recent ways that Trump has rhetorically set the foundations for his ban on non-citizens entering the United States as refugees or from Muslim-majority countries.

This ban was issued via executive order on Friday, January 27, which also happened to be Holocaust Remembrance Day.  He gave a statement earlier in the day about Holocaust Remembrance Day and noticeably did not mention Jewish people (or any of the other groups targeted by the Nazis, including LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and people with disabilities): Continue reading trump’s discursive formations

what was good about this election?

It’s almost over!! Haha just kidding! Well, kind of. But that’s not the point of this post. Anyway, this morning, I read a post about how to deal with negative emotions surrounding the election, particularly fear, stress, and anxiety.  It made me think about just how much a presidential election matters.  No, the president we choose in this one election is not the only thing that will determine our political, social, and economic future.  But our president is our head of state, as well as our head of government; part of their job is to represent the people of the United States to the world and to ourselves.  Our president reflects who we are as a country and a people (even if that’s an impossible thing to do), and that reflection can have a deeply negative emotional impact on those of us who are unrepresented.

Whenever I talk with my mom, she brings up the election and how anxious she is about it.  I talked to my former supervisor from my college, and she said the entire trimester has been emotionally colored by the election.  No matter which candidate you support (if any of them), it is hard not to feel despairing about the way that elected officials treat each other and discuss people in the United States, about the amount of money in our political system, about how difficult it is to feel heard, and about the widening of the wealth gap.  A lot of people are voting to prevent a candidate from assuming the presidency rather than to get someone they admire and believe in into office.   In short, everything feels super shitty.

I’ve been feeling all these negative emotions too. But, inspired by the post I read this morning about being mindful in the face of election-induced anxiety and fear, I want to think about the thing that could be positive about this stupid election: a LOT of people are dissatisfied with “the system.”  Continue reading what was good about this election?

locker room talk

Trump is at it again!  Within the last week, a tape from 2005 was leaked in which Trump said disgusting things about women that I don’t really want to repeat here.  Trump has defended himself by saying that his comments were just “locker room talk.”  There has been a huge backlash against his use of the phrase “locker room talk” by many people, and rightly so.  His aim with the phrase is not to point out the cultural nature of sexual violence, but to ask that people ignore the violence he perpetuated. And yet…I think he has a point when he calls it “locker room talk.” As many activists, academics, and survivors have already established, sexual violence is not an individual problem. It’s a cultural, institutional, and structural one. That means that sexual violence is not only perpetrated by actual rapists and abusers; it is also perpetrated when anyone uses or excuses sexually violent language, when an institution retraumatizes a survivor, when anyone touches someone without their consent (in a sexual way or not), when anyone makes the choice to ignore sexual violence happening around them.

Male camaraderie is often (but, of course, not always) built upon an ethic of violence.  Men often use misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, and other forms of violence to bond. That means that some men who have never raped and will never rape anyone might laugh with another man about rape.  That means that some men will say things that objectify and degrade women, even if they never physically hurt a woman.   We can’t act like Donald Trump is wrong when he implies that it’s normal for men to talk that way with each other. The whole problem of sexual violence in our culture is that sexual violence is normalized. If rape and sexual assault and harassment and intimate partner violence were seen as unacceptable, we wouldn’t be living in a rape culture.

We should not excuse Trump’s comments, but we also need to contextualize them.  Trump is foul,  but he’s not the only who is.  Locker room talk is real, and as much as we need to hold Trump accountable for what he has said and done (at least 3 women have accused him of rape, including his ex-wife, a former business partner, and one who says he raped her when she was a young teenager), we also need to hold ourselves accountable for our own complicity in rape culture.  When people find themselves furious at one person for saying something particularly sexually violent, but not at the laws, businesses, law enforcement agencies, advertisements, and individuals who also perpetuate rape culture, that is a problem and a part of enforcing a culture of domination and exploitation. We DEFINITELY need to hold those accountable who claim to be disgusted with Trump’s words, but who perpetuate gendered and sexual violence in other ways (looking at you, every prominent Republican who has decried his comments!). And we cannot treat this as an anomaly, because it isn’t.  We live in a world where people say things like this every damn day, and until that doesn’t happen anymore, Trump is only a tiny part of the problem.