from the olden days: (re)thinking walking: shifting priorities


This is a picture of a field in Colorado that used to be home/hunting grounds for several indigenous tribes of Colorado. It was also a base camp for poor white settlers desperate for gold. I spent most of my time there while I was in Colorado.


My life is shifting right now. It’s been shifting for a while–but just as you often tinker around with an idea before you fully commit to it–I’ve been tinkering.


Now–I’m committing.

The world brings a reality to my existence that I can’t really explain. The earth, the water, the trees. I can hear them whispering…


How do I sit comfortably in this field?
When my cells and DNA and blood created the history of it?

The blood lines destroyed
The destroyer of bloodlines…

This is not abstract hippy earth mother shit for me.

A family member has an official certificate of discharge for a long dead relative who fought in the “the Indian wars.”

The other side of the family knows what tribe they came from–that technically, we are not Mexicans. We also know there comes a time when you can’t go home any more…

I saw a film once that brings me to tears still.

A group of black people from throughout the world used DNA testing to find what tribes they were stolen from.

A young british black woman sits on tribal lands surrounded by her ancestor’s people. They ask her for money. She says no. They say: Go away–we don’t need you anymore.

The necessity of her–the hole left by her ancestor’s disappearance–long since filled by others.

There comes a time when you can’t go home.

But you can understand.

You can look at what a location is right now,
and understand
the price paid

for the streets, the cars, the inescapable ungodly fucking noise.

And you can ask yourself, was it worth it?
Is it worth it?


Commitment to new priorities.

I am a person who learns by sight, by touch, by repetition.

Walking, day after day after day,


I see questions I never knew existed.
I taste answers that my tongue knows no words for.

how do i sit in this space:



How do i turn a taste into words?



the olden days: (re)thinking walking: righteous uncomfortability

Background: I grew up in a very conservative city with very conservative strictly religious Mexican men being the norm. My own father was not religious, but was very very strict–and so I have always associated ‘strict’ with ‘Mexicanness.” Of course by ‘strict,’ I mean deeply conservative, extremely old fashioned, stifling rules on gender and gender roles–all the stuff that make it really hard for a young queer Chicana to exist, basically. When I went to Colorado, it was the first time I had experienced a different way of being Mexican, of being Chicana.

A scene: When I was in Colorado, there was this park that I walked through everyday. There was hardly anybody there on weekdays, but on the weekends, every Mexican in Boulder was there. If there *is* a best thing about national parks, it’s that if they are close enough to home, it just takes a little ingenuity to create a whole day of good times for very poor people. There was fishing and eating and dancing and Frisbee throwing. One family was sitting tightly packed on a small bench, and laughing their asses off every time the young son popped a rubber toy at people walking buy. The sun was brilliant, the air was warm and dry, and when you looked up, there were those awesome Rocky Mountains watching you.

As I walked on that particular day, I noticed a young Mexican girl on a bike. She had long ink black hair and was wearing pink shorts and a stripped shirt with spaghetti noodle straps. Her bike was one of those old beat up banana seat kinds–the kind that was really popular back in the 70s. She was fat and had light brown skin–and she was flying down the pathway, peddling as fast as she could.

I smiled as I watched her, she reminded me of myself–still at the age where she’s oblivious to the societal mandates of what “fat brown bodies” are supposed to do and be. Free.

The path began it’s ascent, and I stopped watching her to focus on getting my own butt where it needed to go. When I say you’re going up mountains in Colorado, I mean you’re going up mountains. A “hill” is really a paved mountain that will hit a 90 degree angle after about three or four feet. When you’re used to “hills” being something that your kids roll down for fun, this type of hill is a bit intimidating, to say the least.

As I was huffing up this hill, I noticed that the girl was not alone–her father was behind her, and because the ascent slowed her down, had just caught up to her. He was wearing blue jeans, work boots and a nice shirt. And was clearly more than a little uncomfortable trying to get that bike up the hill. With a few quick strides, I had caught up to him, and only because I had sympathy in my soul and a history of being lapped by walkers while on my own bike, that I didn’t charge past him.

I heard a bunch of clicking and cursing, and knew that he had changed gears–I snuck a few looks over to him and saw his feet peddling madly and his bike barely moving. He was on first gear.

His daughter was not so lucky. She was going, if possible, even slower than her father. Her bike almost tipped over, twice.

But by that time, her father was going so slow that when he stood up on the peddles to try to go faster, he did tip over after his foot slipped off the peddle and almost slammed him face first into the handlebars.

Which, of course, caused his daughter to laugh.

But as she laughed, she stopped next to her father, offered some encouraging words and began peddling again. The father realigned the bike, got his feet firmly planted on the peddles and pushed off.

I have to say I admire the dude. If you have ever tried to move a bike on first gear up a mountain while wearing blue jeans and work boots, you know he was working a feat worthy of Lance Armstrong’s admiration.

And that he and she were both doing this while surrounded by white, trim grandmas in spandex, bikers on thousand dollar bikes, runners with pure bred dogs –all of whom were going faster than they were–it’s like they were facing down the Devil from hell himself.

But the thing is, after the daughter started laughing–the father got moving again, and then he started laughing too. His entire persona of bad ass macho Mexican man was completely obliterated–in front of a bunch of rich white people no less–and he was laughing. A daughter was watching her father fail miserably at being a bad ass macho Mexican man–and both he and she were laughing together.


After a little while, the pair stopped their trek up the mountain and got off their bikes. They walked the bikes around until they were facing the opposite direction. I could hear the labored way the father was still laughing and trying to catch his breath at the same time.

They each got back onto their bikes and then kicked off. This time, there was no struggle–the bikes slowly rolled at first and then were flying. As the girl passed me, her feet were up on her cross bar and her hair was streaming behind her. She maneuvered easily through the speed walking grandmas and thousand dollar bikes.

The father kept his feet firmly planted on the peddles. He called out a few words that I didn’t understand, but that I assumed were words of caution to his daughter. The high screeching sound of of breaks controlling descent followed him all the way down the mountain. He didn’t go as fast, and he didn’t move as easily through the crowds.

By the time he reached the bottom of the mountain his daughter was well ahead of him. He eventually melted into the rest of the crowd and I didn’t see them again.

As I turned and continued my walk up the mountainside, I couldn’t stop smiling.

The world can be righted.

My feet beat the words into a rhythm on the sidewalk.

The world can be righted.

the olden days: (re)thinking walking: taking up space

I’ve been taking my kids to acupuncture. So far things have worked out very well. We all get into the car after a treatment and there is blessed quiet. Everybody chilling and feeling good in the same way makes for a happy ride back home!

I noticed something though. This last Saturday when we were at the clinic (me, W*, son and BabyBFP), everybody was settling in to their individual recliners, waiting for our poker lady to come poke us in turn. And as I looked over at BabyBFP, I started to get really anxious. She had brought her American Girl doll (which is about 21 inches long), several books, a huge pen with frilly feather thingys at the top, and then had also grabbed several pillows, three blankets, and had kicked her chair back as far as it would go. And then as she was settling in, she looked at me and asked where her water was. One of the women at the desk brought her over a cup so that I didn’t have to.

Yes, my daughter is a diva. ANd it’s something that I alternately enjoy and am horrified with. Right at that moment, I was horrified. Not only was she making GROWN UPS run water to her punk behind (and then she asks the poker lady, “Um, is there a table or something that I could put next to my chair to hold my water?” Yes, because we’re on a CRUISE LINE, child, and we’re all here to SERVE YOU), but she kept *taking up so much space*.

I kept thinking that over and over again as I watched her. She’s taking up SO much space! She’s being so HUGE with her personality. Look at her laying all her crap out like she OWNS the place! OMG, look at how much space she’s taking up!!

Only, she was taking up the same amount of space as everybody else there (one recliner), in fact, technically, she was taking up *less* space because she had all her crap laid out, there by boxing her in a bit more.

The whole time she was following the protocol of the clinic, whispering if she needed to talk, mostly not talking, staying on her chair, reading quietly so she wouldn’t disturb others–but I sat there, horrified, watching her. She asked for the water in a normal voice (as opposed to a snotty, where’s my water woman???), and was overall polite to the older folks there.

But she took up SO much space. Her belief that she had the right to spread out and be comfortable? Her belief that she had the right to ask for “extras” to improve her quality of comfort?

How dare she?

How dare *she*?

How *DARE* she take up that space? Or take it for granted that she has the *right* to comfort?

Especially when I, her mami, am 35 yrs old and still struggling through the whole “oh, I didn’t want to bother her” phenomenon? Especially when I, her 35 yr old mami, was just talking to a friend the other night, telling her about how there is literally 5 pictures of me in the whole house that are “post pregnancies”–because I am fat and ugly now, no longer the hot piece of ass I was pre-pregnancies, and I don’t want to offend other people by thinking that I have the right to have my picture taken.

As I told my friend, it’s like I’m erasing myself from history.

Erasing myself from existence–because my fat, ugly, old ass self doesn’t have the *right* to take up that space, right? You have to *earn* that right to take up that kind of space right?


I know in my head all about the politics of taking up space. Of women of color, girls of color, taking up space. Of marginalized bodies taking up space. Of how those bodies are punished and controlled and violated for the audacity of taking up space. I’ve spent the last year blogging and walking and doing activist work that is connected to examining and asserting the right to space–the right of all human beings to take up space–because space belongs to HUMANS, not capital or companies or the nation/state.

But when my heart sees my cocky little girl setting up three pillows and thee blankets on a fully opened chair so that she can throw her legs over the side and read while her health gently takes care of itself????

I cringe.

We all have so much untraining to do within ourselves. So much “hegemony” that has implanted itself in our souls and guts like the alien creature Sigourney Weaver had to kill over and over again. And we’ll only ever recognize it in us by doing what it is that we’ve been trained to think we aren’t supposed to do, like my daughter. It’s only sometimes that we recognize the pattern…

Yelling at our kids so that they’re smaller ….
Beating our kids so that they’re smaller….
Silencing our kids so that they don’t disturb…
Ignoring our kids because they haven’t “earned the right” to do…

Refusing a photograph, refusing a hug, cleaning when we’re too tired, saying yes when it hurts, smiling when you dont want to…

A movement most certainly needs marches, parades, flyering, chanting and collective action.

But it also needs those moments–those moments where a mami keeps her damn mouth shut and thinks about why her tongue is begging to do some lashing. And it needs those moments as well, where whole communities sit and think about why tongue lashings are embraced so hard even when tongue lashings are really alien creatures in disguise.

And it needs those moments where individuals and whole communities talk about how to blast that fucking alien to shreds AND what to do with the lashing tongue when it is anxious to start up. What other glorious things are there for that tongue to do? What other things are there for it to do when it is stressed out and unnerved?

And who knows how much energy that tongue would have if it stopped wasting all it’s time licking alien claws?

Would it make us free?

the olden days: thinking about porn

This is an old post from my old blog that I found because somebody linked me to it on twitter. All the links to the post are dead, so I just deleted them. I am also quite embarrassed that I used ‘pron’ rather than porn, back in the olden days of blogging, we used to do cute little things like that to try to keep google et al from finding your blog. How I miss those days.

So when I first came to blogging I was vehemently anti-porn. And then I came across the sex positive feminists in the blogosphere, and although I had serious misgivings with what they were saying, I was willing to listen. I’ve spent a lot of time listening–I’ve figured out from Queer Dude that there is a difference between sex positive and pro-pron people. From other bloggers, I figured out that pro-pron people feel feminist liberation can come from female controlled and centered pron. That queer and transgendered folks also find liberatory aspects in pron. From Radfems, I found out that radfems feel there is a difference between a free expression of female sexuality (which is good) and pron (which is, in general, bad). And most importantly, that there are women of color who are grappling with all of these issues as well.

Now, knowing all the stuff that I know, I am not so vehemently anti-pron any more–but I’m also not feeling the pro-pron thing either. I have these random thoughts that individually may not make must sense, but pulled all together under one post sort of make up the beginning of an opinion. They are as follows:

** Renegade Evolution has a post up about Women, Subversion, Capitalism, Practicality & Feminism. I disagree with her presentation and argument of “the master’s tools” and what it means for feminists. And the discussion really made me think of how pron has been styled into the “choice” debate–Pron is supposed to be empowering because women enter it “by choice” OR women have no “choice” thus, it is disempowering.

** As with other “choice” debates (abortion is the biggie), “choice” rests its foundation on the beliefs that 1. the person making the choice is valued by society and 2. the choice the made is valued by society. In the abortion debates, people like Dorthy Roberts (and lots of other RWOC theorists) argue that “choice” is harmful to women of color (and other marginalized women) because it continues the agenda against women of color such that women of color are systematically violated for making the “wrong” choice. For example, the choice to have a baby is certainly available to all women in the U.S., but it is generally only poor white women, disabled women and women of color that must contend with back to work programs, sterilization without consent, losing children through child protective services, imprisonment, etc. Also, many times, under the guise of “feminist choice’ white feminists employ violent and harmful policies of reproductive control over women of color–for example, the unquestioned support of Planned Parenthood (a corporation with a proven track record of systematic “population control” policies.)

** In terms of pron, I see the choice debate as being harmful to women of color in the pron business (and the sex industry in general), because it assumes that a black woman (and all woc) making the choice to do pron is valued by society in the same way that a white woman making the choice to do pron is. That is, all women are the same, they all hold the same level of power, and they all are considered *desirable* by those who either do or don’t consume the product they do or don’t deliver.

** The assumption that all women are the same–that there are no hierarchies of oppression, marginalization, and/or violence that exist between women blatantly disregards the capitalistic system that has always and probably will always value white, thin, able-bodied blond women in terms of “product” more than any other woman. As I said at RE’s–it’s not necessary for the u.s. to bomb Denmark for U.S. citizens to value sexual services performed by blond white women. But as different scholars argue about arab and asian sex workers, it wasn’t until the u.s. began to actively colonize these areas that sex as performed by arab/asian workers came into demand.

** Similarly, it’s not necessary for the U.S. to be a “Christian Nation” for U.S. citizens to value white female virginity. Snow White is a virgin. So is Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty. What little girl in the U.S. doesn’t want to be a princess? There’s a reason why Asian, Arab and indigenous princesses all came along before the black princess did. Notice anything about this pic?

** Angela Davis argues that racism will always exist within the confines of a capitalistic system. Furthermore, there is no way to eliminate racism from the structure of capitalism as capitalism is dependent upon racism for its survival. Other activists/scholars build upon her argument and argue that disablism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism etc will always be present within a capitalistic system as capitalism rests on a foundation of inequality. Each ‘ism is used to varying degrees by a capitalistic system to reinforce hierarchies that keep 2-8 percent of the world’s population in control of everybody else.

** An example of racism directly related to pron–on a female owned, created, centered pron site there was the following phrase over the pic’s of a black female sex worker, “It’s not very often you come across a great female black performer, but…” Even within women centered porn, great black female sex workers are the exception not the rule. How do black women negotiate that particular type of racism? How do black sex workers negotiate racism that is present in the “solution”?

** On the other hand, how does the elimination of one industry in a capitalistic system eliminate racism in every other industry in the U.S.?

** A woman in Detroit was recently arrested for selling sexual services with her seven year old daughter online. She brought a bag with her to the hotel meet up that was filled with sex toys. She promised the undercover cop she was working with that he had free access to do what he chose with her daughter. As more details have come out, this apparently was not the first time she has done this with the seven year old, and she has four other children that the police suspect have also been sold in this way.

** From UBUNTU’s website:

The consequences for sex workers of color may be greater in terms of community acceptance and stigmatization. Scholar Elizabeth Higgonbotham coined the phrase “the politics of respectability” to describe how racial oppression can be broken down if oppressed folks are just respectable enough. Basically, people of color who engage in stigmatized behavior are seen as reflecting poorly on their people and disparaged for their actions. The politics of respectability most certainly enters the Duke rape situation when we see community leaders like Jesse Jackson offering to give the survivor a full-ride scholarship to pay for the remainder of her education so that she does not have to strip. While it is certainly a wonderful thing that a single mother of two no longer has to worry about how to pay for school, the gift confuses the issue. The problem is not that she was stripping. The problem is that she was raped.

** I believe this quote is one of the only quotes on any feminist site I have ever seen discussing pron that confronts the idea of “choice”. The problem (or solution) is NOT that women are choosing to enter into sex work, the problem is that they are being raped and violated while working. The problem is that it’s OK to rape, fuck, beat, threaten, intimidate, stalk, verbally assault those who perform acts of sex. If it is ok to violate those who sell sex as a product (and thereby presumably, within a capitalistic system, have power), why on earth wouldn’t it be ok to violate those who don’t? In other words, if it’s ok to violate a factory worker in the U.S. that belongs to a Union, why would anybody think that it’s not ok to violate a factory worker in Mexico that doesn’t belong to a union?

** If sex work is valued by feminists in a way that decenters “choice” and recenters, for example, community health (as UBUNTU has chosen to do), how might that hold feminists accountable to the seven year old child sold by her mother? How might it hold feminists accountable to women of color sex workers? Or to hetero married non-sex workers? Or to sex workers in other nations? Or to those who are being sold into sexual slavery?

** Beth Richie:

For if we’re truly committed to ending violence against women, then we must start in the hardest places, the places like jails and prisons and other correctional facilities. The places where our work has not had an impact yet. I think we have to stop looking for the easy clients, and we have to stop being the friendly colored girls as some of our anti-violence programs require us to be. We must not deny the part of ourselves and the part of our work that is least acceptable to the mainstream public. Just because we’re a lesbian. Or maybe because a survivor is addicted and relapsing, or because she may be young and pregnant, again. Or because she’s a sex worker or because she does not have legal status in this country. We must not let those who really object to all of us and our work, co-opt some of us and the work we’re trying to do. And if this anti-violence movement could ever really be legitimate in a patriarchal, racist society–in a society where building more jails and prisons is a growth industry, where racism is allowed to flourish through hate speech, hate actions and hateful neglect of communities of color. Where violence against women and poor people in this country is condoned and celebrated. Not only in this country, but around the world. Where some women don’t matter except to serve those in power, as nurses or secretaries, sex workers, wives or prisoners.

…we need listen more closely and remember the voices of the women of color who are farthest from this room. We need to listen to the hardest stories of the failure of our work. We need an analysis that is based on the experiences and needs of not just some of the women, that ‘every woman’ somewhere, but of all of us. All women. We must take leadership in this movement from those who, up until now, have been excluded from this movement. Not only by white women, but by some women of color too. And ultimately, we need to be accountable not to those in power, but to the powerless.

My summation:
** The solution rests not in eliminating an industry (which makes feminists accountable and dependent upon the legal system in a particular nation/state), but in community power and health (which makes feminists accountable to their communities and specifically, the women of their communities)

** Which also means that the answer is not individual action within the system as RE stated, but collective action against the system.

I’m not sure if these thoughts finally amount to any spectacular understanding of pron, sex work, or life in general. They represent me working through an issue from a third space more than anything. I welcome discussion from others who are also working through issues from a third space. Comments are on moderation.