Fe Bongolan: This is MY body; this is OUR planet

Fe Bongolan: “The battle in this election is not just about republican and democratic platforms. It’s about a battle of our belief systems.” Yes.

And yet, see this, for a more comprehensive view that situates “belief systems” within “world-views.”

Either we realize a belief-system is one among many possible frameworks for interpreting “the world” — all of them equally illusory; or we do not. And when we do not, we tend to “believe in” our own belief system, to the extent that we can’t see through or beyond it. It adheres, you might say, to the inside of the skull wall.

So though I root for the passion with which this young woman shares her belief system, and, as a person, I tend to agree with it, even so, as an elder, let me add that we need to be aware of the danger of thinking our own belief system, no matter what it is, as either the best, or the most correct one. That way lies polarization; that way lies the usual conflict of duality, and we’re back in the same leaky boat, trying to bail ourselves out of endless conflict before we sink to the bottom of the ocean of being.

Better to sink! I’ll meet you there. Especially, now, one day past August 23, when Mars moved out of sweet Libra into one of its home signs, intense, death/rebirth Scorpio.

Let us sink below surface polarization; let us dive deep.

This is MY Body

August 22, 2012

by Fe Bongolan


“The enemy now is nothing less than a force lusting to make the world their personal Walmart — everything is cheapened — human lives and cultures, the personhood of women, the wealth of the land and air and water that is the life of the planet — all for their purchase and disposal. Akin is a tiny demon in the stream of Mammon, but he’s (also) another telling blip. We cannot just defeat them in this election, we must make sure that every last one of their outmoded, inhumane theories are debunked and permanently wiped clean from any further valid consideration in public policy, education, and history. This is the past that needs to be swept clean away, boxed securely and dumped in the darkest cellar we can find.”

I wrote those words at Daily Kos in response to the remarks on “legitimate rape” made by Todd Akin, Missouri’s Republican senatorial candidate. At the encouragement of my Daily Kos colleagues, I have expanded my thoughts, which I share with you here today.

What came out of Akin’s mouth was a blip on the sonar screen of a larger and widely held belief, a belief deeply ingrained in our society, and one that will take all our efforts to root out not just during this election cycle, but over the coming generations. Undoubtedly, the platform the Republican Party will build in the lead up to their convention in a few weeks will be a free-market free-for-all we’ve come to expect, now with legalizing rape an undercurrent. But the larger picture is all-consuming commodification.

A commodity is the generic term for any marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Economic commodities comprise goods and services. The Republican platform is a way to further facilitate commodification of our country, its finite resources and its people. It is about removing governmental obstacles so companies can have their way, and in terms of women’s reproductive freedom, under this mindset, it’s easy for those of this belief to imagine that our bodies are ‘real estate’, a commodity whose future use is to be determined and controlled by someone else.

We’re familiar with the model used a few hundred years ago when cheap-to-free labor was used to fire up the economic engine of America’s Southern agricultural industry. The cost of that industrialization was horrific human misery, which we are still trying to progress ourselves past, with some still fighting against that progress. And they’re fighting hard.

It is my belief that any policy, politician or party that does not respect the Earth certainly does not respect women, and by extension, children. That was the gist of what I wrote over a year ago in my weekly column here. The subject at that point in time was Fukushima, and the industrialized mindsets that carelessly use and abuse the planet, her resources and her people. Does this not remind you of the Koch Brothers-owned political subsidiary called the Republican Party?

Now more so than ever, the female body — my body, your mother’s body, your sister’s body and the body of our mother, our planet — is the battleground. Those same people who complain we are indebting our grandchildren to pay for government programs we can’t afford are also more than willing to mortgage the future of their grandchildren’s planet. Many of the people who use our bodies as political fodder to gain votes are the same people who will let their grandchildren and great-grandchildren choke on the toxic garbage they will leave behind. They will allow for a climate of rape for women because they’re doing it to our world. And they call themselves pro-life.

I had been piecing together the larger meaning of what I’ve been reading in the news this week because the correlations of current events and our national history make it appear that we are heading towards a terrible path if we do not act. But the type of vehicle that it was was elusive to me. It was an itch that was too deep to scratch. That is, until I caught sight ofanother Kos diary with words and historical pictures from the civil rights and abolitionist movement which helped to coalesce my thoughts.

The battle in this election is not just about republican and democratic platforms. It’s about a battle of our belief systems. That is one reason why I think it’s hard to counter the arguments of far-right conservatives with fact, let alone common sense, because we are fighting their beliefs. It’s why a Todd Akin is allowed to continue his candidacy past the deadline to withdraw without shame. Regardless of whatever he spews when he opens his dumb mouth, his followers continue to believe he is right in a broader sense under the general umbrella of their beliefs. And even if some didn’t publicly agree with him out of fear of political reprisal, they secretly cheer that he actually said it.

This election, we not only need to vote against them, we need to counter their beliefs with our own, which hold something dear, humane, and forward thinking in a world that desperately needs us to do so. At the heart of this is a symbolic struggle over what government is and the role of government in general: is it here to serve all the people or to commodify them? Such are the stages built by Pluto, upon which Uranus comes to act.

Starting with the free-market principles of Ronald Reagan, the lines for their argument have hardened with over 30 years of acquiescence. We have free-marketed just about everything short of our souls and are paying the price for other people’s greed. Now the new price is my body, the bodies of my niece, my sisters, my friends, and the body of our planet. All are at stake, and Akin is a tool for people who use his righteous, misogynistic and wrong-headed agenda to advance theirs, and at a profit.

I apologize if I appear overwrought, but I find it hard to be calm when there is talk about promoting rape through legislation. It’s not like our current rape laws protect us, let alone the ordeal of a court system that vilifies the victim when we choose to press charges. The fight for women now and until we win is that our bodies are no one’s property. Not to be abused, not to be used. Sacrosanct. This is my body.

The fight against the greed attempting to consume the planet begins with the proclamation that the body of the planet belongs to all of us. Holy. This is our planet. If we need more sights, sounds and pictures to get more women to stand up and vote, I will be happy to do so, from here on out to the election; but right now, I can’t get any more personal or upfront about about my beliefs than this. This is MY body. No politician or policy will ever be allowed to take it from me.

About Fe Bongolan

Fe Bongolan is a writer, dramaturge and actor living in Berkeley, California. Along with her Planet Waves column “Fe-911,” Fe performs with Cultural Odyssey’s “The Medea Project — Theater for Incarcerated Women,” which produces work empowering the voices of incarcerated women, ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS and young girls. A long-time Planet Waves fan and an employee in the public sector off and on for 30 years, she describes herself a “mystical public servant.” When it comes to politics, she loves reading between the lines.

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