21 February 2011

An Open Letter to Montana

Dear Montana –

Let me be clear: sometimes, I miss the state I grew up in. I miss having multiple lakes within a 15 minute driving distance of my home. I miss clean air and water, the chance to see endangered birds nested outside my parents’ house, and mountain hikes that took me higher than some people will ever be in their lives.

I miss the beauty of Montana. I’m not sure, however, that I can ever return.

What I don’t miss, and the reason why I let, is highlighted by Rep. Kristen Hansen (R-Havre)’s bill to ban access to basic human rights. Rep. Hansen’s bill, just passed through the MT House committee to be put to a full vote, prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances or other policies that protect groups that are not recognized under the Montana Human Rights Act.

Here’s the problem, Montana. I’m not protected under the Montana Human Rights Act. Not because of who I am or who I am not (though I’d be happy to tell you over a beer or a glass of wine), but because of who I am perceived to be. I am regularly perceived to be a lesbian – because I own a house with a woman, because I love her – and that, under the MHRA, is reason enough for someone to look at me and say “Dyke, I don’t like you. You’re fired.”

And it’s legal.

I left Montana running at full speed when I was 18 years old because of the fear, hatred, and bigotry that I knew would be coming into my life. 13 years later, I have never returned for more than a vacation, despite the assurances of my friends and family that I was mistaken, that people from Montana aren’t like that.

Well … prove it, Montana voters and Montana representatives. Prove it by rising up and telling YOUR representatives that you trust communities to define those who may be discriminated in their communities. Prove it by defying this actively hateful bill.

Prove it. Because I was a smart, passionate, motivated, good citizen who left to never return. How many more do you want to lose?

Krista Benson – previously of Kalispell, MT; now of Spokane, WA

26 January 2011

This ain't a tune up, it's a goddamn racket

This actually started as a reaction to a bullshit Yoplait ad I saw while watching TV online - something about how low-fat yogurt, cereal, and a fruit are acceptable for 2 meals a day. And then I started calculating calorie counts and then I realized that this is not what I do best.

Because I don't feel like I have to break down how few calories that suggested "2 week tune up" is. It's fucked. It's a horrible, insidious suggestion that reentreches how women's bodies are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Because this ad isn't oriented at men - though I'll acknowledge this might mess up some men at the same time - it is beyond a doubt aimed at women. Because we're wrong. We need a "tune up" that consists of too few calories combined with exercise. We need a bunch of other shit like fake eyelashes, 30 day "shred" plans, videotapes, DVDs, blahblahblah.

All of our lives are devoted to this wrongness.

Of course I believe in health. Of course I think it matters. But there is not a single goddamn thing about starvation-style diets combined with exercise with a goal of losing weight that will almost certainly come back immediately. Not to mention that the whole connection of a SPECIFIC BRAND of low-fat yogurt (as if it has the magical formula to make you look hot at your high school reunion, as suggested in the ad I saw) isn't some gross consumerist crap that just makes us believe that we can buy the happiness that will make up for us being WRONG.

And I'm just so tired of wrongness. Tired of all of these plans, deals, videos, weekends away, diets, shreds, fucked up rules. I'm tired of being wrong. I no longer have the energy to pretend that any of it works (hint: long term, it doesn't), to pretend that I believe that it matters. I'm tired of accepting that I'm wrong.

Because maybe a world that tells me who I am is wrong is wrong.

17 January 2011

Is it time yet?

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail