Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How Dare I be Jewish During Christmas Time!?

I stopped by the Christmas Tree Shop yesterday on my way home from work. I thought, "maybe they have a Chanukah corner? Even grocery stores give us a quarter of an aisle..." And they did! They had a whole section of Chanukah stuff and because it was already the second day of the holiday, it was all 50% off! Score. I picked out a few things and went to the cash register. I got in line behind two shoppers, one who asked for a price check that took forever, and one who paid by check. While we waited to pay, the four of us (the cashier and the two other women) were joking around, talking about the craziness of the holidays, the lines, small talk. Then came my turn. As soon as i put my basket down on the counter, the cashier's face and tone completely changed. During the whole wait my basket was on the floor, by my legs, so no one saw what i had. But as soon as i started pulling out Chanukah plates the cashier went from jovial to flat affect and then to rude. It started with an "Oh!"

"Oh what?" I thought. I realize i'm a bit more hyper-sensitive to discrimination than the average person so i thought i might be reading into it. I kept up a friendly demeanor. As she starting ringing up my purchases i realized the items weren't going through as 50% off. I told her so. To which she responded, "Ugh! Of course!" Here i couldn't help but wonder what she meant by "of course." Did she mean, "Of course, you're Jewish, buying Jew products, Jews are cheap, and you want a discount!" Or did she mean "Of course, way to hold up the line, lady!" I would have absolutely defaulted to the latter had i not been in line after the other two shoppers that held the line up for WAY longer than me. One waited on a price check that took 10 minutes and the other paid with a personal check... The cashier's "of course" could have been in reference to customers always having an issue in her line... or it could have been anti-semitic. There's no real way to know.

I told her, "there's a sign, right there, it says '50% off,' i can see it from here"
"I can't see it! I don't have my glasses" She snapped back
"Oh ok, sorry about that... do you think you can ask someone to check, please?" I was half upset at being treated so rudely, half still wondering if i was reading into it more than i should.
She asked the manager to check and wouldn't make eye contact with me while we waited. The manager told her it was, indeed, 50% off and she rung me up. I paid for my purchases and said "Happy holidays" as i walked away. She grunted back, "Merry Christmas!"

Ok, i get it, there are people who think it's all my fault they can't have Christmas trees up in public places and have to wish each other "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas." But honestly, living in a predominantly Christian country i am WAY beyond carrying if someone wishes me a "merry Christmas." I don't correct them, i don't wish them a "happy Chanukah" back, and i certainly am not bothered by it. I swear, I don't interfere with your Christmas spirit. I sing along to carols on star 99.9, i wear lots of red, and i really love eggnog. Though i avoid the malls this time of year like the plague, i am very not bothered by Christmas spirit, in fact, i enjoy it when (IF) people are slightly nicer to one another. I wonder if that's what the cashier was annoyed by? That i had the audacity to shop in the Christmas Tree Shop and purchase only Chanukah items! Maybe it wasn't Jews she had a problem with but me, for representing the politically correctidness that she now has to trouble herself with? Who knows. I don't. Because maybe she was just anti-semitic.

Either way, treating me differently, and rudely, for being Jewish was wrong and discriminatory - i don't care what her rationale for it was. I wish i had the chutzpah* to have said something, or to have asked to speak with a manager. But again, i couldn't tell if i was being overly sensitive or if it was prejudice at its best. But i guess that's a lot of what discrimination is. Trying to figure out why what happened is wrong and how to rationalize it.

The only other time i was taken aback by blatant antisemitism was the first week of college, freshman year. We went to the dining hall with some new friends from the floor and one of them told a Holocaust joke. I just sat there, baffled that people still did this. I grew up in a very Jewish community, these types of things didn't happen. Everyone laughed until one of my gentile** friends from high school said, "that's not funny." The person who told the joke said, "yes it is! It's just a joke." And my friend said, "No, it's not. Not when you have a Jewish person sitting at the table, and not ever in general." They never said anything anti-semitic around me again for the four years i knew them.

I walked away from the Christmas Tree Shop experience thinking, "yes that sucked, but it's pretty easy for me to hide being Jewish if i really needed to, like if my life was in danger." Many other minorities don't have this option.

*chutzpah: gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, guts.
**gentile: non-Jewish

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Fellow Highway Drivers,

Please clear the snow and ice off your roof before going on your merry way. Being pummeled by the sheet of ice at 70 miles per hour on I-95 is terrifying (and dangerous). I don't want to die because you're lazy.

Happy Holidays :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Light of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Sarah made me aware that today is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. As such i'd like to repost a comment that a woman made, in regards to how she's been feeling post her attack.

Last week a University of Michigan Law School student sought help from the police after being assaulted by an associate professor at the university, Yaron Eliav.

Not only were the police unsympathetic to her, stating that she herself engaged in criminal activities by selling sex services, but many members of the community have spoken out, against the law student, through Above the Law, a law school online network.

Like Feministe, i think her voice deserves to be heard. She needs a safe forum to speak up and tell her story. No one deserves to be assaulted. Sex workers are human beings with human rights who deserve to be safe, in all situations, whether or not they are engaging in sex work. This is why i am reposting her comment here. I wish her all the best and truly feel for her in this difficult time:

Dear Law School,

I’m the girl who got into the mess with the professor. I posted a version of this in the comments on ATL, because using my uniquename email on lawopen means outing myself, which gives the press permission to publish my name. Fortunately, one of my classmates has offered to transmit this message to you on my behalf. Those of you who don’t know who I am yet will find out soon enough.

Most of you probably don’t know what it’s like to push a boxcutter into your own wrist and neck. Or what it’s like to walk home from the psych ward, and set to the task of cleaning a room covered in your own blood. Or how humiliating and degrading it is to be penetrated against your will. You probably read the newspaper story, but you should know that it contained factual errors, and that it omitted significant details from the police report. I had no idea what I was walking into, and I’m lucky that I’ve made it through alive.

A month after I was assaulted, I attempted suicide over the whole mess. I’ve been unable to sleep or study, for fear of this story being published. I’ve had PTSD rape dreams. Everything I’ve worked for my entire life, personally, academically, professionally, has been harmed, and I’ve spent $20,000 trying to put it all right again. And I have, in fact, been prosecuted and will be required to pay a debt to society. All I can hope is that the bar will see that this was an aberrant moment in the life of a severely depressed, suicidal, isolated person.

Reading some of your comments makes me want to go crawl under a rock and never come out. But some of your comments have made me think that maybe I can show my face again. It’s difficult reading all of these things written about me without being able to offer an explanation/defense/vignette:

I worked my way through undergrad on my own, doing crazy hours on top of a full course-load. In fact, I’ve worked every kind of menial, low-paid job since I was 15; I’ve never thought I was above any kind of work, or better than anyone else I worked with, because we were all there together. But last semester I’d been so depressed that I could barely even get myself to class, let alone keep up with my finances. In April I realized I couldn’t pay the rent for May, and my parents weren’t an option. Nor was anyone else, because there weren’t really very many people in my life at that time. The housing crisis made it so that I couldn’t get an additional loan without a co-signer. I should have found some other way, but at the time none of my thoughts were very healthy.

I love the law just as much as you do, and I like to think about the ways that it shapes the world we live in. I watch a lot of movies, and go to the gym when I can. I have dear friends at other law schools who I try to keep in touch with. I’m a quiet, introverted, sensitive person; I think I’ve read every post on lawopen and ATL, and taken them all very personally. I used to be a proud atheist, but now I know that God saved my life the night I tried to take it. I also know that God kept the man in that hotel room from killing me, because he was completely out-of-control.

I went to the police the following morning because my vision was blurred from having been hit in the face. The bruises from his belt didn’t go away for a week. I later found out that this man had targeted other sex workers, making him a serial sexual sadist. Violent men target sex workers because they know sex workers are isolated, fearful, and ashamed, and won’t go to the police.

Going to the police seems like a stupid move, as many of you have pointed out. But I was afraid for the next woman he “contracted with.” And I felt so worthless and used that I didn’t care about throwing everything I’d ever worked for. I felt so terrible, and I thought that the police would make it right… that’s what the justice system is about, right?

It’s clear to me now that the AAPD thinks this is funny. That’s why they’re not going through with the assault charge.

What I did was wrong, and I’m a criminal for having done it. But if this had been any other misdemeanor like drug use/possession, DUI, public intoxication, open container, gambling, vandalism, petty theft, or simple assault, there wouldn’t have been a two-page article in the paper. And if you got rid of all of the lawyers who had done one of the above at some point, there’d be a severe shortage.

I also feel compelled to say that despite what many of you have expressed, I am not disease-ridden; my lifetime number is still under 20. I consider myself to be well-informed in the area of reproductive rights and health, and I think everyone has a responsibility to inform their partners of their sexual history, not just sex workers. I’m recently tested, and I don’t have AIDS, herpes, Hep B, syphilis, the clap, or chancroid. And I don’t judge those people who have contracted an STD at some point, because if you’re not a virgin, you take a calculated risk every time you have sex. If you have had sex with more than one person and you don’t have a viral STD, it’s because you’re lucky.

I’m not writing because I want pity. I’m writing because the future lawyers who read this need to understand that the answer is seldom ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but often ‘it depends.’ Good people do bad things sometimes, for a variety of reasons. The reason we have ‘bright line’ rules is because there is so much gray out there. And it’s only through compassion and understanding that anyone is able to make sense of it all. My crime was a cry for help.

Finally, I wish to apologize for having brought negative attention to this prestigious law school. But I expect that every amazing thing you do will outshine my mistake- it really is an honor to be a member of such an accomplished community of people. I hope that you won’t shun me, or completely expel me from social/academic/service life at the University. Many seem to think about this as if it were some complicated hypothetical on a Torts exam. But, I’m still the same girl you knew before. And right now I’m struggling with the reality of public humiliation. I haven’t directly talked to any of you about this because I imagine some of you will want to distance yourselves from me, and I don’t wish to impose myself upon you; I don’t really know who I can still call a friend, but I’ll find out soon enough.

- That 2L Girl (’A’ & ‘384′ on ATL)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That's So Gay PSA

"When you say 'that's so gay' do you realize what you say? Knock it off."

I was watching Degrassi reruns this morning (don't judge me) and this public service announcement came on. I was really glad to see it.

Dave wrote a guest post here last winter about gender roles and "that's so gay" being used as a negative, i'm glad people are starting to finally listen.

Just please don't read the comments. I realize that youtube comments shouldn't be taken seriously but most of the ones for this video are about the PSA being "so gay." And those are the comments that have +'s next to them. The one comment that resonated with me was:

"This gave me so much hope. People never think about the ways that we (queer youth) get hurt when we hear peers say "that's so gay" like it's something bad or wrong or gross."

However, that comment has a few -'s by it...

Seriously, ya'll better knock it off.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Feel Good: Target Women

I'm having a bad day today. But Sarah Haskins always cheers me up :) I should have known better than to watch this while drinking my coffee, i literally choked and almost spit up on my keyboard at the journalist joke! As someone who makes and sells jewelry, i found this Target Women especially hilarious!! Thanks, Sarah, for always brightening my day!! :)

With that said, wanna buy her (or yourself) some jewelry? ;)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Feel Good: Racism is Over!


And, since i missed my 1 year "blogiversary" back in November, i'll pretend it's today and link you to a post i wrote exactly one year ago. Last year today i took on a MRNer* - this was before i learned not to engage trolls :)

Because it's Friday, let's make this into a meme. As such, i'll challenge some fellow bloggers to answer this question:

What did you blog about last year at this time, and is it still relevant?

Sarah, Lindsay & Amelia, Renee, Have at it ladies!! :)

Happy Friday!!

*"Male Rights Network"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gorgeously Green: A Book Review

It's been a while since i last wrote a substantive post. I can make tons of excuses for the lack of time (finishing grad school applications, fulfilling holiday orders, trying to get to the dogpark before dark) but non are really good enough. Activism doesn't wait and though my life is full of hobbies, projects, and activities, this blog is by far my favorite and most important. I have no excuse for not making it a priority. Now, onto that substantive post i promised... riiiiiight

I got a book for my birthday. And I read it. Cover to cover. Though that was an extremely difficult feat. This wasn't just any book but a ridiculous joke of a book that teaches women how to be "gorgeously green" while they do all those tough girly things like picking out lipstick, buying groceries, gardening, making dinner, and picking out that "hot new outfit!" I kid you not, those are the chapters... Because obviously women have no real agency other than the trite pursuits of Stay-at-Home-Barbie. Don't get me wrong, i am all about reclaiming femininity in a "gorgeously green" way but when a book teaches me that the ONLY focus women should have on eco-consciousness are stereotypically feminine activities, i can't help but fume.

I got all the way through the third paragraph of the introduction before i understand how much i would despise this book:

"Women like me tend to be more interested in their compact than their compost. We never forget a hair appointment yet always forget our reusable tote... Yoga and recycling were as far down the environmental food chain as i was willing to go. There was no way that i was going to stop dyeing my hair and painting my nails; and my gas-guzzling SUV was just fine, thank you very much!... But I felt too lazy to walk down the hall to the recycling bin - well, a girl needs to conserve her energy for the really important things in life, like sitting down in front of the TV to find out who has been voted off the island..." and on she went...

I instantly knew this book was not for women like me.

I get that she's trying to be cutesy (or at least i pray to god that's what she's doing) but i hate it all. I hate the tone, i hate the impression that women should relate to her, and i hate the lack of genuine responsibility women are empowered to claim in our planet. I also hate that she continuously refers to women as "you girls."

Like i said, this book was a birthday gift... so i kept reading. Truth be told, the content got *a bit* better, but the tone remained the same. I quickly realized it was just this cutesy, inane, benevolently sexist tone that made me want to punch her in the face, even though i understand violence that is never the answer...

Aside from the tone, her constant contradictions and lack of basic grammar made me want to suffocate myself with a cloth tote (don't worry, cloth is too porous). She instructs "us girls" to stay away from certain ingredients only to recommend products with those ingredients as safe solutions. On her website she rationalizes this hypocritical writing by telling us that there are "shades of green" and you don't have to be totally "granola crunch green" if it doesn't fit into your lifestyle... Also, she mentions avoiding the microwave so to not molecularly alter her food but later writes that microwaves are the most eco-friendly way to cook because they use the least amount of energy. The last contradiction i'll mention is her recommendation for bamboo clothing, which must travel hundreds of miles, wasting an unnecessary amount of fossil fuels, before it reaches her white picket fenced doorstep.

I especially hated this book for the incredibly privileged angle from which it was written. She suggests $80 skin moisturizer bottles and 2 ounces of an organic perfume at $775. Seriously? There must be more fiscally responsible solutions for green cosmetics. In fact, there are. Combine her white/class privilege, erroneous writing skills, and vast contradictions and you've got yourself a D+ self help book...

I hate it even more because she succeeds in making a complete mockery out of the genuinely "granola crunch green" way my partner and i try to live our lives.

Yet, this post is a great opportunity to link to The Story of Stuff.