[T]he new law, . . . made illegal any physical, romantic contact involving anyone under 16, regardless of consent.
But the controversy that news of the looming event generated -- first on the social networking site Facebook, then in radio and newspaper reports -- caused authorities to announce that they had no intention to arrest or prosecute violators of a law enacted just three weeks ago. It amounted to quite a victory for legions of cyberlinked high school students not yet old enough to drive themselves to their own protest.
Strictly speaking, the law criminalized a remarkably broad range of adolescent behavior, including mouth-to-mouth contact of any sort, or any other form of touching that could cause sexual arousal among those under 16.
The law, which authorities said was intended to make it easier to prosecute sexual liaisons between adult men and much-younger girls, and assaults on the mentally disabled, made actual prosecutions of consensual encounters between similarly aged teenagers unlikely, requiring explicit approval from the country's top prosecutor.
Yet news of the law triggered a powerful backlash among thousands of students armed with little more than computers, Facebook accounts and an acute sense of outrage at what they regarded as the clueless behavior of repressive adults. Many teens also posted pictures of themselves in amorous, but largely PG-rated, exchanges.
"You should have the space and time to do that. We're young. We need to experiment," said Natalie Winston, 12, shortly before the protest here. "When you're 21, you're old already, and ugly."
The organizer, or at least instigator, of the movement was Frances Murray, 14, an exuberant denizen of online-networking sites who has long dark hair, and wears black nail polish and braces. Shortly before Christmas, with just a few weeks to go before starting 10th grade under South Africa's scholastic calendar, she learned about the law from a friend while chatting via instant messaging, she said.
"When I checked it out, I thought 'Okay, how am I going to go out and break this law?' " recalled Murray, who dreams of becoming a rock star or, in light of recent events, a political organizer.
After downloading a few news stories, Murray created a Facebook group called "Everybody Against The New Kissing Law." The description of the group included information on the law's effect and a passionate call to action: "Lets band together and stop this law!!!!! It's takin away our freedom of choice and is against Our Human Rights."
Murray said she messaged many of her friends, urging them to take up the cause. After one day, 166 people had joined the group. Then it was 664 on the second day, and she soon began suggesting in her postings a mass action of some sort.
Well, it's early days and all and everyone knows that a lot can happen between last night and the conventions this Summer, but I've got to say that an Obama v. Huckabee match up is definitely not going to be good for Pagans.
Huckabee is a Baptist minister who's running almost exclusively on the fact that he will "return" America to its "xian roots." Obama, far more than either Edwards or Clinton, is already running as Republican lite, apparently convinced that he can get people who want a Republican in office to vote for a Democrat who pretends to be a Republican (because that's worked so well before and makes such inherent sense, I guess). He's also run farther into the arms of the xian right than either Edwards or Clinton, appearing at "gospel concerts" with xian homophobes. If he's running against Huckabee, his strategy is going to be to run even harder on Jebuz, Jebuz, Jebuz. Huckabee, meanwhile, will spend his campaign arguing that Obama's church isn't a "real" xian church and showing that he's a better (read: more fanatic) xian that Obama. (This has already been his, apparently successful, strategy against Romney). The entire election will be about who's more xian and I just can't imagine that being good for either Pagans or America.
Talking to Son on the phone and, in the background, G/Son is pulling some books off the bookshelf. Son tries to take one away, saying, "Only grownups can have Nietzsche." G/Son: "I want Neeche! I want Neeche!" Me: "Oh give him Nietzsche." Son: "You spoil him, Mom. Nietzsche is for grownups."
When I was seven, they explained to me: no girl priests, no girl popes, no girl presidents; go for the eating disorder, you'll be canonized for sure.
When I was ten, they added: no girl astronauts.
When I was sixteen, they added: no girl lawyers, here's an application to teachers' college, you can grow up to be a teacher. You could teach high school, even, which is more than we ever offered your grandmother, just think about it, we're going out on a limb here.
When I graduated from law school, third in my class, they said: OK, nice work, you took a job away from some man, and his hungry wife, and his starving children, bitch, but, ok, nice work, want to make some partner look good?
Hil has a vagina and gave birth and is smarter than six dozen guys and has spent her whole life paying for being a chick and she has everything it takes to turn this fucked up wreck of a country around and, well, because she has a vagina, I want Hillary to win.
Being a witch, I get to have two New Years; the real one at Samhein and then, just as the steam is beginning to leak from my sails, a second "calendar" New Years, today. Feel free to line up and laugh at my naivete, but I love New Years. I love fresh starts.
I love new calendars, clean and crisp and chock full of 366 (this year) days simply begging to be filled with fun, with purposeful work, with gardening, with magic workings on the moons, with Sabbats spent with brilliant women, with family time, with "organization days" which I celebrate 12 times a year on the day of the month when I was born -- days to organize files, attend to finances, take care of nagging tasks, lay in supplies, do what's been needing to be done. I was a v. young witch when I realized that a calendar is, perhaps, the greatest magical tool ever invented, which might, I suppose, explain why my woad-tattooed ancestors spent less time making arrowheads to sell and more time erecting Stonehenge. A calendar gives you control of time, and she who controls time, rules.
So many Pagans watch time slip away, never managing to meet financial goals, care for their health, do what needs to be done. My madcap friend R. was telling me a story yesterday about a well-known Pagan couple, unmarried. She'd been ill for years and recently walked on over to the Summerlands. He can't get the Virginia hospital to release her body to him. They had years to prepare for this; she didn't just suddenly die. Pagans! Go buy a goddamn calendar; they're on sale now! Make a list on the front pages of what you need to do to be effective in this world! Write those tasks down on the goddamn calendar! Do the mundane tasks and the magical tasks! Do them! Don't make me come over there!
This year has one extra day -- February 29th. You'll only get that gift on 25% of the years that you live on Earth. That extra day, a day dedicated to Freya, is surely magic. I think you'd have to be mad not to pick something special to do on February 29th. And it's a Friday! It backs up to a weekend! You could make it a special three-day event. What three-day task would move your life forward? What would your Better Self do with three extra days? Go do it!!! Go write it down on your calendar today!
I shoot off my mouth a lot about politics, I celebrate living in a circle of witches, I post pictures of pretty plants, I report on living between the worlds, I post poems that rock my world, but if there's anything that I try to do consistently on this blog, it's to remind women to take care of their breasts.
On the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And, I haven't said this enough, but, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.
Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year.
Several years ago, when we were in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, my brilliant DiL bought me a set of Goddess cards by Susan Boulet. (Have I mentioned that Son had the immense good sense and gentle wisdom to marry the kindest, smartest, most elegant, most grounded woman of his generation? If you only have one child, it's great good luck when they marry someone outstanding.) The cards that DiL gave to me have formed a v. intimate part of my spiritual practice. Tonight, at my altar, my hand strayed to the deck and I pulled a Goddess for 2008. I pulled Tlazolteotl.
Here's what Boulet says about her:
Tlazolteotl is a Toltec earth mother, the goddess of carnal love and desire. Like Kali in India, she is portrayed as a horrible, devouring figure yet is also honored as a moving, creative principle. She is sometimes pictured as four sisters (the four ages of woman [an increasingly modern concept as "maiden, mother, crone" becomes too limiting]) who are present at the crossroads of one's life. Tlazolteotl is best known as the Eater of Impurities. Once in a lifetime, a person confessed her worst deeds and sins to Tlazolteotl, holding back nothing. In return the confessor received absolution: no impurity or defilement was too great to be forgiven. Tlazolteotl is that deep part of ourselves that we fear because it is so powerful and unfamiliar. Yet when we touch her through her fearsome countenance, we find absolute mercy. She is proof that anything [that] can overwhelm and destroy us also has the power to heal [us] and [to] grant forgiveness.
Oh, this is going to be an interesting year. "For behold, I have been with you from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire."
After this massacre, we will drop the smallest body bags ever made into Baghdad, they will be made of black rubber with zippers like those we filled in Vietnam, they will be from one to four feet long, for the last mothers alive in Baghdad. They will drift down as thousands of black leaves, after our missiles have burned through water and skin. We will try to drop them before the world can see the remains these last mothers alive in Baghdad will carry from our craters of sand in their broken arms the rest of their lives.
Do you still see the young Vietnamese girl running naked from Hanoi, screaming with horror with her back on fire with Napalm; her sisters running toward her from Baghdad.
Yes, we have seen to the future of Iraq-- these smallest body bags ever made if rolled up tight enough, can even fit inside the womb.
We cannot remove our government of wide graves by ourselves. We will need your help to pull us back from the desert of quicksand beneath their great fleet of knives on fire, to heal we will need your help with the impeachment and the trial of war crimes, with the prison to be built with light. In light. We will need your help to lift these tears of blood from us after Iraq.
This is what we have grown for you. This is what this Empire eats.
For all the women in the world who imagine they need to save everyone else first:
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice-- though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do-- determined to save the only life you could save.
When I went to that house of pleasure I didn’t stay in the front rooms where they celebrate, with some decorum, the accepted modes of love.
I went into the secret rooms and lounged and lay on their beds.
I went into the secret rooms considered shameful even to name. But not shameful to me—because if they were, what kind of poet, what kind of artist would I be? I’d rather be an ascetic. That would be more in keeping, much more in keeping with my poetry, than for me to find pleasure in the commonplace rooms.
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."