A CHANCE TO SURVIVE CANCER — Doctors Are Not God

A CHANCE TO SURVIVE CANCER

Doctors Are Not God

  Bev Jo

I am dedicating this to my best friend, who has inspired women with her choices in  dealing with cancer. She had three unrelated cancers, starting in 1993,  for which she had surgery but said no to chemo-poison and radiation, mammograms and scans. She is now 75 (in 2017). We have more choices than we are led to believe.

I decided to write this because it was heart-breaking to see so many women I know suffer and die after following what most doctors recommend for dealing with cancer. Many women said they did not want to do it, but felt trapped. Some women even believe they have to obey the doctors to get any help at all. Continue reading

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The Opioid “Crisis” or Business As Usual

The Opioid “Crisis”
or
Business As Usual

Bev Jo

This is dedicated to everyone who is suffering and those who have committed suicide from has being denied pain relief, and the few caring doctors who are being punished for helping people with pain.

The people with the power to stop deaths from opioids are making decisions that will kill more people, while bombarding the media with misleading propaganda.

What “opioid crisis”? From news reports to television dramas we are lectured about the “opioid crisis,” but this issue is actually about conning people into demanding even more government control of our lives. Why can’t we make our own choices? Why do people who otherwise do not want to be regulated and controlled by the US government not only eagerly obey, but also spread the propaganda? Why do they not consider that further restricting opioids will lead to more deaths from overdose and violence in the “drug wars”?

Do we want a society where people desperately needing relief from pain, including people who are dying, are denied the safest way to stop or lessen the pain? This is what people are demanding, agreeing to, and applauding.

Have you ever been in so much pain that you wanted to die, but were too afraid of what you’d heard about opioids that you would consider suicide rather than take Codeine or Vicodin, even if it’s what your doctors is recommending?

A friend took a drug (Cipro) that her doctor prescribed without any warnings about its often serious, permanent side effects, so she developed chronic, disabling pain. Her doctors couldn’t or wouldn’t help her. (I’ve been told by victims of Cipro and other Fluoroquinolones that they can cause terrible pain and even irreversible brain damage.) My friend was then prescribed Lorazapam, which also didn’t help, and then, after more months of crippling pain, and in spite of the “suicidal thoughts or actions label warning,” Lyrica. The next day, she killed herself. Instead of leaving her loved ones with the horror of finding her with a gunshot to the head, she chose a gentler death, which was a deliberate overdose of Percocet that she had taken from her partner’s prescription. But what if she had first tried opioids for the pain? I believe she would still be alive. Yet now she is part of the statistics proving how dangerous opioids are.

Opium has been used for thousands of years because it is the absolute best herb for pain control. What happened to make it so reviled and feared that people would rather die than take it?  Even if my friend had taken enough opioids to become dependent, wouldn’t that be better than her being dead? (I can only hope that before she died she had a moment of feeling the peace, joy, and safety that opioids can give.)

Something is very wrong, and that’s what I want to explore and counter in this article.

                                                                            So What Is Going On?

A few years ago, friend in chronic pain from Lyme disease predicted a media campaign about the invented “opioid epidemic” and speculated about the motive. She felt money was behind it, and I agree.  Soon, cannabis started being legalized for “recreational” use and the television news magazine, 60 Minutes, did a report about how cannabis is being grown on an “industrial” scale by corporations. Suddenly, the media was full of stories vilifying opioids and telling people that cannabis was the safe alternative — except that cannabis rarely helps against pain that way that opioids do, and many people react very badly to cannabis (with severe Post Traumatic Stress and other symptoms immediately and obvious brain damage with longer use.)  Considering that the number of cannabis users has greatly increased, you would expect some reports about the glaring problems that many of us see with friends after longtime use, but it’s not happening. Meanwhile, more toxic and less effective “painkillers” are also being pushed by the medical system.

What’s been more of a surprise is how the media has been carrying the same story line about the terrible dangers of opioids to make sure that people not only readily believe the hype but start spreading it to others and police anyone who refuses to agree. Even people who do not trust the medicine-for-profit system seem to have given up their skepticism when it comes to propaganda against opioids. It’s as if they have given up rational thinking. But why?

Part of the problem is that too many people in the US expect that the government will take care of them and have come to believe that those in power know best. I would hope that would end once we got an openly nazi administration, but instead, people who hate the government actually approve of recent plans to execute people who make opioids available. (I’m not seeing similar suggestions to execute the manufacturers and distributors of tobacco and alcohol, which continue to be pushed throughout the media.)

                                                                 Pain, Lies, Profit, and Obedience

It’s been interesting to see how this fear campaign against opioids has developed, considering that when I was little, babies were given opium in the form of over-the-counter Paregoric.

First, people are “educated” about the increasing overdose deaths “caused” by opioids. I had never seen a news report about how many of these deaths are actually deliberate suicides until recently: http://wypr.org/post/how-many-opioid-overdoses-are-suicides

(AUDIE CORNISH: This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WBUR and Kaiser Health News.

“[Based on the literature that’s available] it looks like it’s anywhere between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose that may be actual suicides,” says Dr. Maria Oquendo, immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

Oquendo points to one study of overdoses from prescription opioids that found 54 percent were unintentional. The rest were either suicide attempts or undetermined.

Several large studies show an increased risk of suicide among drug users addicted to opioids, especially women. In a study of 5 million veterans, women were eight times as likely as others to be at risk for suicide, while men faced a twofold risk.

The opioid epidemic is occurring at the same time suicides have hit a 30-year high, but Oquendo says few doctors look for a connection.

“They are not monitoring it,” says Oquendo, who chairs the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. “They are probably not assessing it in the kinds of depths they would need to prevent some of the deaths.”)

Then people are taught about the increasing numbers of opioid addicts, without mention of how many of these “addicts” are people needing opioids for pain control. As our environment becomes increasing toxic and people have to work in harmful conditions in order to just survive, more people need relief from pain. But now doctors are too afraid to keep prescribing what they know works best for their patients because they will lose their licenses and be imprisoned. Is it any surprise that many people turn to illegal opioids, like heroin? (Heroin, by the way, was a medical invention.) Then more die because they have no idea what is in the illegal drugs. Fentanyl is now being blamed as a toxic additive, even though it’s an opioid which is used for medical procedures like colonoscopies and prescribed for pain relief.

The answer to this dilemma is obvious, so why are so few saying it?

I try to find the truth about a subject by searching for what is most hyped in the media. There are daily misleading reports on opioids, like the recent medical “study” announcing that they only just discovered that opioids actually don’t work or stop working, even though opioids have been known for thousands of years to be the best medication for pain relief.  Only at the end of this report do they admit that the actual problem is people building tolerance, as if that wasn’t already common knowledge about opioids. Opioids don’t stop working — it’s just that more are needed to work.

“But what about ‘addicts’ just taking opioids for pleasure?” Well, so what?  Alcohol and tobacco are legal, though both harm the lives of other people without consent, whether it’s babies and children forced to breathe their parents’ carcinogenic, toxic smoke or people killed by violence and accidents fueled by alcohol. Meanwhile, cannabis is increasingly being legalized, which is also affecting other people’s health, yet there is a massive media campaign saying that stories of brain damage are myth and rarely is it mentioned that cannabis smoke is twice as toxic as tobacco smoke. Cannabis has a history of being trendy and therefore is promoted by many people based on the belief that it’s a radical and harmless drug. It was repeatedly pushed on me as a teenager, and I still am being told to use it decades later, (including by a therapist), no matter how much I say it’s harmful to me and that I hate it.

Though I had a family that was full of alcoholics, I never saw the brain damage I have seen with friends who have been long-term or even short term cannabis users. (A friend said she’d started taking it daily for three years and now her memory is terrible). When I was 17, I noticed, like other friends also have said, that cannabis dulled our thinking and memory. I had never even bought any, and only used it occasionally. The effect of cannabis is so glaring that I can often recognize daily users by behavior, including in letters, like when three friends had the exact same style of missing words and incomplete sentences such as I’d never seen in other letters. Plus, I saw a bizarre kind of megalomania where they believe they are far more knowledgeable than other people even when they aren’t making sense. I asked each friend if they used cannabis, and they said “yes,” and “as often as possible.”) But if you dare say cannabis causes brain damage that seems irreversible, expect ridicule and insults, including being told you are boring.

A dear friend who has been in severe chronic pain for years, which she controlled with opioids and cannabis, was suddenly forced by her medical insurance company into required urine testing. (Why must ill or injured people be told to accept the humiliation of urine tests, which are not required for other prescription drugs?) She had to choose between which drug she was allowed so she chose cannabis, but gave up the Norco/hydrocodone (opioid). Her personality changed dramatically to where she no longer calls or writes, and seeing her in person is impossible, because after a planned visit would be scheduled, she wouldn’t respond, even to cancel. The last I knew was that she was suicidaly depressed and homebound.

Still, I am not suggesting cannabis be banned. I am recommending that NO herb or drug be banned (other than those that have no value except for profiting the medical industry.) Make everything that is used for pain or health or pleasure (pleasure improves health, physically and psychologically) available and affordable without prescription, but with the dosage and all side effects and warnings meticulously described (which is not done now with most pharmaceutical drugs).

If this seems shocking, consider how things are now in the US. The US government commits terrorist environmental assaults on other countries in their “war on drugs,” with aerial herbicide spraying that contaminates air, land and water, poisoning countless people, other animals, and plants, causing chronic illness and death. (The birth defects and cancer, etc. from US poisoning of Viet Nam by herbicides decades ago still continues.) Meanwhile, in the US, enormous numbers of people are injured, murdered, and imprisoned by this governmental drug war that targets the most oppressed communities. Everyone is affected by the violence — it’s not unusual to hear drug-related gunshots every night where I live. Bullets go right through walls, killing people. Since most of what happens in the US is based on exploitation and profit, why don’t people explore the reasons for the “drug wars” instead of just accepting them without question? What easier way is there to stop this horror than to legalize and make a safe version of the drugs be available, which would put dealers and traffickers out of business?

Why not let people decide for themselves what health decisions they want to make?

Part of the reason people don’t question authority (in spite of bumper stickers) is the belief that the government knows best even when we know that is not true. The US was founded on genocide and slavery, and US culture is steeped in a cold, punitive, puritanical way of thinking and treating people. Even recreation for many people consists of punishing regimens and nutrient starvation that harms the health in the guise of being good for health. I’ve been chronically ill since 1981, but am still pressured to do more than I should and am told it will be good for me. I have seen women who are dying of cancer doing grueling hikes that leave other women gasping for breath. They are using up the very Ch’i/life force that they could use to recover.

Consider the horrified reaction to my saying “so what” if people want to use drugs for pleasure, even though that is precisely why people drink alcohol. Also, notice the classist and racist biases about which drugs are accepted for pleasure and even status (expensive “fine wines,” liqueurs, cocaine, etc.) and which are reviled (cheap alcohol, heroin, crack cocaine, etc.)  Another aspect of the racism is how sacred herbs and mushrooms, such as peyote and psilocybin and coca of First Nations people, as well as lesser-known herbs, are all banned. How dare the puritanical WASPs who run the US deprive people of their culture?
                                                                                            Health

Another question is, what is better for people and the world? Opioids don’t just mask pain, but actually help heal pain. They also help people sleep, which helps recovery from injury and illness. Opioids help prevent macular degeneration, which is an increasing cause of blindness because of the protective ozone layer disappearing. Opioids help control coughing, dysentery. and diarrhea, which can save lives. Opioids also help stop beginning flus and colds as well as making them end more quickly, which means they could help people survive some of the serious illnesses that are increasing, such as West Nile Virus.

Opioids also aren’t just good for physical pain, but for mental and emotional pain. We know they are supposed to make people “high” and happy, and that’s part of why we are taught they are evil. But what if opioids help people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder not kill themselves or they help people get off anti-depressants? Addictive? Benzodiazepines and anti-depressants are extremely addictive. Three of my friends cannot stop the anti-depressants doctors prescribed for them without warning them because when they try, they have excruciating physical as well as excruciating mental and emotional pain. Could careful use of opioids have helped them heal from trauma without becoming addicted to anti-depressants? But what if they became addicted to opioids instead?  Well, what if people were able to take as much as they needed without fear of being denied what is helping them?

The “opioid crisis” has become a popular topic whenever people meet and talk, yet I’ve rarely heard anyone question the basic premise. Can these people not consider that they too may be in terrible pain some day and be denied opioids? Do they really trust the government to know best for them when other governmental decisions against our wills have been so harmful? Even ephedra, which is the best herb I know of for treating congestion from colds and flus has been banned, though the “dangerous” effects are no more than from drinking too much coffee or tea. What are people afraid of if we have the choice to use whatever herbs or drugs we want?

People are trusted to do many dangerous things, including driving cars. So why are we being treated as children who need to be supervised and controlled when it comes to herb and drug choices? Who is the Big Daddy to make such personal decisions about our lives, including if we deserve to live in pain or not?  Generally, many previous laws restricting our lives, including criminalizing our choices about who we love, whether interracial or same sex marriages, have been extremely destructive. Being forbidden to know if some of our food has toxic ingredients is another and it’s always about corporations and profit.

                                                            Shall We Debate Some of the Common Myths?

  1. There is an epidemic of people dying from taking opioids.

    Which opioids? If they are prescription opioids, then the deaths are likely deliberate suicide, or from people mixing drugs/alcohol because their doctor isn’t accounting for increased tolerance from chronic pain. If people are buying illegal opioids and have no idea what is in them or the dosage, then of course people will die. Isn’t denying people access to safe opioids what is actually killing people?

2. The “opioid epidemic” is doctors’ fault for over-prescribing.

Are you in chronic pain? Have you ever used opioids? Have you ever known people helped by them? Do you know people who are being denied opioids by their doctors, though their pain could be stopped and they could re-gain some of their former life? Most doctors now refuse to prescribe opioids no matter how much pain people are in.

And what about the kind, competent doctors who are in prison with their medical licenses taken away because they continued to prescribe what people needed in spite of the changing punitive, cruel attitudes?

3. Some people take opioids just for fun.

How do you know? If someone is in pain, even if it’s emotional or mental, doesn’t relief from that pain feel like fun or pleasure?  What’s wrong with that and who has the right to determine whether someone else should have access to pain relief? Certainly relief from physical pain feels pleasurable.

And if they do, do they still deserve to die, like a friend of mine who died from contaminated heroine when in her twenties?

4. Doctors can tell who really needs opioids.

No, they can’t. I’ve heard horror stories from friends about loved ones with broken bones or even dying being denied opioids.

Recently, a friend who is in her sixties and has severe chronic pain, osteoarthritis, and Lyme disease, saw the doctor who prescribes Tramadol for her, which is a very low level weak opioid. He didn’t take her blood pressure or ask how she was, but began yelling at her that she would be well if she just exercised more and ate more vegetables. He didn’t ask how much exercise she gets or what she ate or he would have found out that in spite of her severe pain, she does hard physical work six days a week and eats as well as she can. (By the way, she had looked up his prescribing history and saw that he gets $60,000 a year just from kick-backs from non-opioid drugs from pharmaceutical companies.)  She wasn’t even asking for an increase in the Tramadol, although that is exactly what she needs as her pain level and tolerance increases and illness progresses. This cruel doctor is not unusual, and from his Yelp reviews, he frequently treats patients like this.

Doctors also rarely give accurate information when they do prescribe opioids. If they let people know the time frame for when dependency is likely to start and what beginning withdrawal feels like and how long people need to take breaks to not be dependent, that would help tremendously, but they rarely do this. In fact, the UCSF pain clinic actually told a friend who asked how to deal with withdrawal after longtime prescription opioid use to “just eat chocolate.” Seriously?

What doctors do need to be held accountable for is how their irrational rules force people to take more opioids than they need and prevent people from lessening their dosage. A friend wrote:

I agree with this entire article. I live with chronic pain and have been lucky enough to finally find a doctor willing to prescribe me what I want at a pain clinic. But I am completely at their mercy, because I have to pee test to make sure I’m “taking my meds as prescribed.” So if I have a good week, and don’t take as many, I’m at risk for being flagged for diversion. When I don’t need them I feel too high, but have to take anyway just to please the doctor. It seems counter-intuitive to ask me to get high in order to continue to get my meds…

I feel for people who can’t get meds they need at all. I’ve been in that position. Friends who desperately need pain meds have even asked to buy them from me. I wouldn’t accept money but I am unable to help without risking my own care. It’s sad, I understand why people in pain turn to illegal drugs.

5. But people will become addicted if anyone can get opioids.

Because opioids can cause physical and emotional dependence, people who take opioids need to be aware of this if they don’t take breaks, but that does not make someone an addict. A friend with severe chronic pain says, “if your body needs opioids for pain and then adjusts to their presence, you can become dependent on them and it’s more difficult to function without them since it’s very hard living with pain. An addict has no need for the opioids or perhaps once did but started using them recreationally. Meanwhile, many people need to continue taking opioids at the dose they need, like people do with many other medications.”

6. It’s harmful for people to be dependent/addicted.

Not necessarily, if they have access to what they need and if the opioids are clean and not adulterated with toxic drugs. Some people are dependent on insulin or other drugs for survival. Pure opioids are far less toxic than most pharmaceutical drugs. The problem is that the punishing medical system makes it almost impossible to get pure opioids because acetaminophen (toxic to the kidneys and liver) or toxic ibuprofen are added to most prescribed opioids. This is one of the things that needs to be stopped if the medical system actually cares about people’s health. Acetaminophen can easily be bought, so the only reason it’s added to opioids is to prevent people from taking “too much,” with their punishment being kidney or liver failure and sometimes death. (What happened to “First do no harm…?)

7. If everyone had access to opioids, the US would become a lawless country and there would be more criminals.

Seriously? The opposite is true. Have you not seen the crime rate because of drugs in the US?

The corporations want the most oppressed people to be in prison in order to have legal slave labor. That’s part of why prisons have been privatized to be for profit.

And don’t ignore the fact that the government colludes with drug traffickers and has used drugs to control and imprison oppressed populations.

All this is even more reason to let people make their own decisions.

8. Addicts are dangerous to society.

Some people who are being denied the pain relief they need can become violent and dangerous. That’s true even for other animals in pain. Longtime opioid users are among gentlest, kindest and most responsible and functional people I know.

9. Opioids cause people to become too passive.That’s a problem in such a violent society? They aren’t passive compared to cannabis users.

10. People will just lie around and not work.

Now there is the real issue. People should all be forced to work for the corporations that are destroying the world, no matter how much they are in pain and suffering? Don’t dare deny the rich more money.

Notice how this argument hasn’t stopped cannabis or alcohol legalization.

Actually, relief from pain increases people’s ability to be active, and certainly opioids do not interfere with ability to think and write.

11. People build tolerance to opioids.

That’s true and most prescribers ignore that. Again, let people choose what they need

12. Eventually, if the dose is increased, they don’t work as well.

That also can be true, so be careful how much you take. Again, give people all the information, making it specific about what to expect with dosage and time frames, and not just be a vague patronizing lecture, and let them decide. In countries where opioids are legal, most people self-regulate dosage. Even if some people make bad decisions, at least those who need relief from pain can get it. No one is talking about banning alcohol or tobacco because of the problems with them, so why opioids

13. People on opioids should be put in rehab.

Should everyone who uses tobacco or alcohol also be put in rehab? Actually, the shaming and forcing people into rehab causes more deaths. People stop opioids, but are still in pain. So they start again, but aren’t aware that their tolerance level has lessened and so they take the amount they last took, which then can be an overdose. If they weren’t in the cycle of use, shame, quitting, and use, far less would die. A large part of this is because of the “experts” deciding to cut off access to opioids.

Many people deal with this by taking other drugs, which is not their first choice. Some use alcohol as well, which is extremely dangerous. Many of the famous people who have died from drugs actually died from alcohol or a combination of other drugs, like anti-depressants, with alcohol. The media often confuses the drugs involved and assumptions are made.

How many people would support easy access to opioids if some of their beloved media stars could still be alive?  I had believed that the rich could get pure, unadulterated opioids, but Prince died from “counterfeit Vicodin combined with Fentanyl.” It’s likely that Amy Winehouse would be still alive also, but, like so many others, including Janis Joplin, resorted to combining opioids with alcohol. Being a musician/artist/actor, like Prince often meant being expected to perform with excruciating injuries. Grueling schedules prevent many from recovering. Michael Jackson relied on Propofol to sleep but also was taking benzodiazepines. Those who died from benzodiazepine combinations like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe might still be alive if it wasn’t so much easier to get prescriptions for those drugs than for opioids.  For many, the pressures of fame alone is overwhelming. And then the longtime “addicts” who died from liver and kidney failure, like Billie Holiday and Esther Phillips, probably would not have died if they had had access to clean instead of contaminated heroin. (A doctor I know who worked in an ER said the healthiest people she met were heroin dealers, presumably because they had access to the cleanest heroin.) Meanwhile, so many famous people die from complications from smoking, but that is less publicized and warned about since most films still are relentlessly pushing it.

Imagine all the beloved famous people who might still be alive if opioids were legal without prescription and affordable.  What music, writing, creativity has the world lost as a result of these unnecessary deaths?

14. People’s personalities change when they take opioids.

Yes, they can be nicer to be around. Seriously, that isn’t necessarily bad. For many, it’s coming back to who they used to be before having disabling pain. Many are able to do things they had given up being able to do years ago, from hiking and dancing to enjoying being with friends to writing, painting, sculpting, etc. (Other drugs prescribed for “pain relief” can interfere with thinking clearly.)

A friend describes feeling her heart opening and feeling more love towards others. My mother had been bitter, angry, and almost impossible to be around. After she was prescribed morphine, she did change. She became like the person I had known before she was so sick and in so much pain. For the first time in decades, I could have conversations with her and she became more kind and loving. I felt like I finally had my mother back before she died. (She finally died from sepsis after doctors destroyed her kidneys with the twelve toxic and unnecessary drugs they had prescribed to her. I pleaded with her to stop – her next door neighbor experienced the same thing, and her kidneys recovered a year after she stopped the doctors’ drugs. But my mother thought doctors were like god and always knew best, even after they admitted how their drugs had harmed her and after she saw so many friends die from cancer “treatments.”)

15. What about the people who are denied access to clean needles who get HIV or hepatitis and die, or spread them to other people?That is precisely why affordable access to opioids would solve this and protect everyone.

                                 Sensible and Lifesaving Solutions

The “unthinkable” is actually happening in other countries. Why not lessen deaths and HIV infection by doing what Switzerland and Portugal has done? Make all opioids legal without prescription and be affordable, and no one will die other than those who are choosing deliberate suicide. No more drug wars in other countries with the US destroying their environment with poison and no more drug wars in our cities. No more overdoses because people will know exactly what they are taking. And no more overdoses because people are shamed into rehab and then start again and aren’t careful to lower the dose.

Again, think with compassion about whether anyone should continue to be deprived of pain relief or be in constant fear they will be as more doctors are pressured to stop prescribing opioids. Isn’t chronic or terminal pain hard enough to deal with?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/07/truth-us-opioid-crisis-too-easy-blame-doctors-not-prescriptions

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/our-international-perspective-on-americas-response-to-the-opioid-epidemic_us_59fb5607e4b01b474048fde8

http://fortune.com/2017/09/19/jeff-sessions-opioid-epidemic-legalize-all-drugs/

http://reformdrugpolicy.com/beckley-main-content/new-approaches/future-directions-for-drug-policy-reform/switzerland/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bill-bogart/to-confront-the-opioid-crisis_b_15234080.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paregoric

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UNFORTUNATELY, WE NEED AIR TO BREATHE

UNFORTUNATELY, WE NEED AIR TO BREATHE

Support Women’s Health, Not the Chemical Industry

Bev Jo

I want an end to patriarchy and all oppression. But sometimes, I just want to smell clean air. Well, not really clean air, which is impossible, but air that doesn’t stink. That shouldn’t be too much to ask, should it?
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Lesbianism Is Revolution by Bev Jo

Lesbianism Is Revolution

Bev Jo

When I found the Lesbian Feminist community in 1970, I felt I’d come home. I had been searching my entire life, from my earliest memories of loving other girls and fantasizing about being in a community with other girls, where we would love and protect each other. Even though I knew my feelings made me “queer,” loving my own kind felt too perfect for anything to be wrong with it. (“Queer” was a terrifying slur in the Fifties, which we reclaimed in the Seventies as a way to confront heterosexism, but decades later it has become the trendy genderqueer term that applies to anyone, including those who oppress and erase us by appropriating Lesbian and gay male culture).

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Censoring Our Minds and The Power of Naming

Censoring Our Minds and The Power of Naming

Bev Jo

The words we use may seem trivial, but actually they affect how we think and appear, and can make us recognizable as trustworthy or not. They show how we identify and who we ally with.  And they always reveal class background.

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Ageism – A Radical Lesbian Feminist Perspective

Ageism

– A Radical Lesbian Feminist Perspective

Bev Jo

A good way to not “other” or marginalize women is to not call them something you would never want to be called. In terms of ageism, this goes both ways. I’m getting ageism now but when I was first in the Lesbian Feminist community in 1970 when I was 19, I was less respected because of my age (though the class-privileged young Lesbians got much better treatment).

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Radical Feminism Part III Choices

  Radical Feminism
Bev Jo

                                                                        Part III

                                                    Choices

Feminists question everything we are told we have no choice about, including one of our most important, life-changing decisions, which is whether to love other women with passion as Lesbians, be bisexual (betraying women to men), be celibate, or be het. This issue brings up some of the most bizarre enraged responses I have ever seen, yet who does it serve to insist that women have no real choice in one of the most important decisions we will ever make?  Men. 

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Radical Feminism Is Real Feminism Part II

Radical Feminism
Is Real Feminism

Bev Jo

Part II

 The Cons and Lies, and Ruling by Terror  

We need a truly Radical Feminist movement that welcomes all girls and women, where we can finally talk about the most radical of feminist politics, so we go as far as possible with our ideas, observations, and conclusions. We want the women who have been isolated and marginalized to know they are not alone and that they have finally come home.

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Radical Feminism Is Real Feminism, Part 1

Radical Feminism
Is Real Feminism

Bev Jo

Part 1

We shouldn’t even have to call our culture and politics “Radical Feminism” when it once was simply feminism.  Real Feminism.

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Posted in classism, Dyke, Dyke Separatism, Feminism, Lesbian, Lesbian culture, Lesbian Feminism, Lesbian history, Lesbian politics, patriarchy, Radical Feminism, Trans, Trans cult, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Help Defend Our Undocumented Immigrant Plants and Animals (as we should do our humans)

Help Defend Our Undocumented Immigrant Plants and Animals
(as we should do our humans)

Bev Jo

Those of us who are trying to save our local plants are in an ongoing battle with fanatics who want to kill anything “non-native” in our local parks (except for themselves). I’ve been writing a series of articles on this issue, which is also about  fire prevention….

Once upon a time, people in the San Francisco Bay Area were thrilled to live in a place where so many exquisitely beautiful and edible plants from all over the world could survive. It’s not a tropical region, but sub-tropical, so there are limits to what grows here, and it depends on the area (such as that along the coast and cities like San Francisco, which are much colder in summer are warm enough in winter for species that cannot survive the cold just a few miles away.) But, still, there is so much magnificent variety that cannot live in other parts of the US.

People loved to plant what they missed from their homelands. In our small yard, the previous Lebanese owner had planted a Greek Bay Laurel, Olive, Sour Orange, Apricot, Nectarine, Apple, Pear, and Plums. Our poor neighborhood that was once mostly barren dry grass and juniper hedges, now has so many beautiful herbs and plants that just taking a walk is like a trip to a Botanical Gardens. There also has been an increase in birds and other native animals.

Visitors used to be stunned that even the California freeways could be beautiful, with South African Ice Plant in full glowing bloom, and large trees and shrubs that bloom throughout the year to help clean the air from the traffic and soften the noise.

And then, something very disturbing happened. A movement began to spread that many of us recognized as being frighteningly similar to the racist hatred against immigrant people, but this time it was about nature, in the guise of being for nature. Most of the luminous Ice Plant is now being eradicated. Flowering plants, including edible herbs, who most rational people would revere for their beauty and ability to survive in an increasingly inhospitable and dry land are being called “trash,” and targeted and killed. (This has become such a popular fad that sometimes the nativists aren’t even sure which plants to hate and mistakenly include native plants, like Poison Oak, on their non-native hit list.)

For no apparent reason and without the input of the majority of people living here, these people have been given the power of life and death for countless living beings. Their fanaticism has extended to their killing forty large healthy native Redwood trees in a small local urban park in the wasteland of the barren, mostly treeless part of Oakland, because those trees had been originally brought from a city north of the Bay Area and so weren’t “native.” (Most of what is planted anywhere has been grown elsewhere.) The nativists also use massive amounts of pesticides in their “restoration” projects, which then poisons our creeks and bay, where animals are “mysteriously” dying. We now never know when we go to a park if trees or even lakes we have loved for decades will be gone. In Pt. Reyes National Seashore, the nativist fanaticism led to the destruction of a beautiful little lake where Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets nested and many other species, from Kingfishers to Muskrats, lived. The lake was a significant fresh water source for deer, bobcats, etc.

  Great Blue Heron                                      Black-Crowned Night HeronGreat Egret

There is nothing wrong with loving native plants and animals, but why should that mean hating and killing non-natives?

The fact that most of the “nativists” are primarily non-native themselves and are among the most privileged people in the Bay Area is no surprise. Neither is their hypocrisy when it comes to their own gardens (many of which are full of non-native roses, fruit trees, vegetable and herb gardens, and showy ornamentals, as well as their own chosen companion animals who are also not native and often are a danger to native animals. The other aspect of their arrogant hypocrisy is that it never occurs to them that, as a non-native animal, they should remove themselves before removing any plant or animal, and especially any plant benefiting native animals (which is all the plants they have targeted for execution.)

It’s not just innocent plants (who do feel and think) who being reviled and killed, but animals are also are being poisoned, trapped, and shot for no rational reason. The killing frenzy even includes important keystone native animals, like the California Ground Squirrel, who has complex language like their cousin Prairie Dogs, simply because of propaganda and nativists’ lack of knowledge about nature.

   California Ground Squirrel babies

My first introduction to nativism was when I got involved in an Audubon project to help the Burrowing Owls, who are tiny owls who use Ground Squirrel burrows to live in. Once, they were one of the most common birds in California, but no longer. Those in charge of the Audubon project knew nothing about the owls, so they asked a UC Berkeley “expert” who told them to cut all plants down in the owl area.  So they cut down every plant, leaving the returning migrating owls to stand forlornly behind the stump of their shrub, which also left them exposed to off-leash dogs. (At least they did later apologize to those of us who had been horrified at what they’d done, but too late for the owls.)

Burrowing Owl

The Audubon people also talked about native versus non-native plants, making it obvious that they had no idea which plant was what. They were unaware that we were lucky to have anything growing in what used to be the Berkeley dump or that the nearby businesses had multi-million dollar landscaping with non-native ornamentals, so doing nativist “restoration” made no sense. Their next focus was to eliminate the Ground Squirrels, ignoring that there would be no owls there if not for the Squirrels since they provide the burrows for the owls, as well as help divert the most serious danger, which are off-leash dogs.

It was a disaster. The people who knew the most about the owls were those who were being driven out of the park: the poor people who daily fed the squirrels and loved and knew each individually going back generations, and who also protected the owls from dogs and humans. (Boys throwing rocks at wild animals is a popular pastime here, as elsewhere.) Now the squirrel-lovers  were being fined for feeding their friends. (Remember when feeding squirrels in parks was one of the few pleasures of the urban poor?) These true experts knew that the owls depended on their shrubs, so that cutting all the plants down exposed the owls to dogs. It turned out that the “mysterious” decline in the owls was most likely because of the increase of off-leash dogs where most owners ignored the leash laws and let their dogs kills the owls. But the Audubon project people never seemed to figure that out and instead chastised anyone who would confront people with off leash dogs near the owls.

The designated habitat for the owls is a small area, yet Audubon next allowed an “art project” to be built right there, where an inadequate open fence was constructed that still let in dogs, and where concrete benches were placed, with one put on top of one of the last two owl burrows. The remaining burrow then was destroyed when the dirt path was replaced by a much larger paved path, for no reason. I had become involved as a docent and finally could not bear it any longer. It’s still painful to go to that park where we once could see the beautiful little owls just a few feet away.


I did manage to help stop the plan there for poisoning all the rest of the Ground Squirrels. In another East Bay Regional Park, however, they continue to poison them, even though that also means killing raptors and other wild animals who eat them. When I asked why they were doing this, the smug park representative simply asked if I’d seen the horror film, Willard, which was about rats. That was presumably to provoke me to shriek in horror and jump on a table at the thought of seeing lots of rodents. (Wrong move. I not only love squirrels but love rats even more. Such incredibly loving and kind and smart animals. Cover me in rats and squirrels and I couldn’t be happier. Now, crowds of humans polluting our parks is another story….)

  Baby Rattus Rattus  eating morning glory flowers in our loquat tree.

This is typical of our massive East Bay Regional Park system, which theoretically is a wonderful thing to have, where we can  escape from the cities and increase in destructive humans to nearby wildness parks. But they are constantly spraying herbicides (which has been stopped in a nearby, but much richer county). The park authorities planned an aerial spraying of poison near a reservoir, to kill one of the only plants that can bloom in the driest, hottest time of year, which is the Yellow Star Thistle. They also targeted the exquisitely beautiful artichoke relative, Cardoon, which is edible and sold in gourmet produce stores. Their lack of coherent answers made it seem as if the park people don’t expect to be questioned about why they are poisoning our environment. This time, the stories changed each time one of us called. “We’re trying to help the boy scouts when they camp.” Since I’m a woman, they assumed boys would be priority for me over poisoning our environment. Why don’t the boy scouts camp in a designated area instead of spraying poison over a huge park from a helicopter?  (Don’t even bother asking if there is a program for girl scouts to camp.) A friend was told, “It’s to protect bicycle tires from thistle punctures.” Again, why not just stay on the trails, which is the law since erosion in the parks is an ongoing concern and why risk running over wild animals?  But our Coalition to Defend Our East Bay Forests did stop the spraying (for now).

The real issue about the spraying was to kill non-native plants. What is astounding is that this small group of nativists now has so much power in controlling decisions made by local government agencies and parks, that enormous numbers of healthy trees (and the native animals who depend on those trees for survival) are slated for clear-cutting, followed by extensive pesticide spraying. The nativists also have managed to bypass safety regulations and laws against poisons so that they have increased the use of pesticides on our public lands, including what leads to stream, lakes, reservoirs, the bay, and the ocean. Then there is surprise when some native animals in the bay are “mysteriously” dying. Even knowing that every one of us has the carcinogenic herbicide glyphosate in our bodies and in our ground water has not stopped the nativists. Nor has the increasing rate of cancer and chronic illness.

Even the organic wines made in our famed North Bay Sonoma and Napa counties  have glyphosate. (A friend figured this out before it was well known because she got stomach pain from drinking Bay Area “organic” wine but had no problem with imported French or Italian wines.)

Meanwhile, our climate is changing and we need every tree we can get as our native trees are suffering and dying. Many of the introduced species from hotter, drier climates are doing fine and are more disease-resistant. They cool the air, bring down significant water from fog drip (up to 16 inches annually), and are needed by native animals for food and shelter. The most maligned tree here, the magnificent Blue Gum Eucalyptus, is the preferred nesting tree for eagles and hawks and large owls.

But that tree, as well as the beautiful Monterey Pine (who also enriches the soil and creates incredible plant and animal diversity) is the most targeted tree for killing because of the myth that they increase fire risk, though 90% of fire here is arson and it starts in the dry grasslands (no rain here for 5 to 6 months a year) with non-native Poison Hemlock and thistles, which is what grows after the trees are clear-cut.

I suggest everyone who has accepted the myths about fire danger from Eucalyptus  learn the truth about how they actually help prevent fire. (These sites explains so much in detail: http://bapd.org/treenotes.html

https://milliontrees.me/2016/05/06/fire-scientist-says-eucalyptus-did-not-burn-with-high-intensities-leading-to-home-destruction

https://milliontrees.me/

https://www.facebook.com/savetheeastbayhills/?fref=ts

While other parts of the US are frantically planting trees, the supposedly progressive Bay Area is killing them. People who get depressed in the darker months of January and February could realize how glorious the golden blooming Acacias are. (Australian trees do better here than our native trees.) And those who hate the Scotch and French Broom  who also bloom gold in winter and help hold up hillsides (and houses) in danger from landslides could learn instead to treasure their evocative scent and beautiful flowers.

Acacia Baileyana

The nativists also should learn which “non-natives,” like the targeted Monterey Pine, Pinus Radiata, are actually native, based on fossil records (which can be seen in the map showing Marin and perhaps Sonoma counties, the peninsula, and the East Bay.)

https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/montereypines_01

I live is a hot, dry, concreted poor part of East Oakland, where any living plant feels like a miracle. A few months ago, a small Australian Bottlebrush tree/shrub in a median strip had been hit by a car and left a shattered mess. She had to be dead, and yet, with no water for months, she made a small flower and now is putting up leaves from her broken branches and base. What a survivor. I didn’t use to value them until I realized how long they bloom, feeding hummingbirds the entire time, and how many other animals benefit from them. In a friend’s neighborhood, there are a handful planted as street trees, grotesquely pruned into a lolli

pop shape, yet, when I go there, the birdsong is stunning because no predators can reach the birds who nest safely in the Bottlebrush trees.

Most people don’t know that many of our local spiders are also immigrants, usually from Europe and Asia. One of my favorites is a fairly recent undocumented immigrant from Australia. Badumna Longinqua is a shy sweet little spider who is perfectly adapted to our increasingly hot region. They began to appear along the West Coast a few years ago and are now all over the Bay Area. (I can show them to anyone who’d like to meet them.) They are easy to recognize because they make a unique, interesting lattice web that they fluff up, and then they have an opening where they hide, similar to our funnel weaver spiders who we can see along fences and other structures and in plants. http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/spiders/grey-house-spide.html

Badumna Longuinqua web

The females (who are usually the majority of spiders and web-builders) are a lovely soft brown/tan/grey/black with symmetrical geometric patterns similar to what some reptiles make. What I am amazed by is how they can tolerate conditions where most animals would die. One built a home behind my car side mirror and has become my car companion and survives even in hundred degree heat. (I do water her, but still….)  She asks for nothing, and I enjoy knowing she travels with me and is likely to live for two years at least, as the previous one (her grandmother?) did. I am so fond of her. Yet most people have no idea about her, and if they did, they might call for her to be exterminated. Instead, she deserves our love and appreciation as do so many of the other wonderful plants and animals who now live among us. And who are we, most of us descendants of immigrants, to say who has the right to live in the Bay Area and the United States and who doesn’t?

All photographs (except for the owl) by Bev Jo

 

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Who Does Lying about Voting Benefit?

Who Does Lying about Voting Benefit?

Bev Jo

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I usually don’t focus on the US or US politics, but we are in a crisis and what happens with the US, unfortunately, affects the rest of the world.

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Women Are My People

Women Are My People

                                                                                                 Bev Jo

Women are my people. I also say females are my people since that includes all ages, as well as females of other species who also are raped, tortured, and murdered by males. I have loved females all my life. No, we are not perfect. No, being a Radical Feminist does not mean I am “for all women all the time,” as I’ve been accused of.  We need to say no to women who betray us and the earth, and that is part of loving women. Radical Feminism is practical and realistic, and is not a cult. We keep thinking….

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Working Class Radical Feminism: Telling the Truth for a Change

 

 

Working Class Radical Feminism:
Telling the Truth for a Change

Bev Jo

This space is for women-born-women only and is about making Radical Feminism and other issues relevant to women be as clear, simple, direct, and honest as possible.

I try to keep things simple. There are many reasons for that. Convolution and academic styles of writing are unnecessarily confusing. They also weaken politics. (Class-privileged styles are usually more about bragging than clarity or honesty.)  I want to reach all females, including those who, because of oppression, haven’t had access to patriarchal “higher” education and those whose first language isn’t English. That was why I co-wrote wrote our book, Dykes-Loving-Dykes: Dyke Separatist Politics for Lesbians Only in direct, honest, and clear language. It’s also harder to lie about something that is clearly stated.  https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/

This is my second blog. My first has almost our entire book, updated 25 years later, but also has many newer articles that would be enough for another book or two. The articles are long and dense, so I wanted a blog with shorter articles that could be easily written and read, with links to my more complete articles for women who want to read more in depth.

My goal is to answer a lot of the questions I’m seeing Lesbians and other women ask online about Radical Feminism and other issues and to discuss any topics relevant to us.

Plus, with so many Radical Feminists being banned for months on facebook, this can be a way to continue community with articles to talk about. (So let me know if there are any guest posts you’d like to do.)

The masthead is a photo I took at Pt. Lobos, California.

 

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