Why I Don’t Support the Salvation Army

As Christmas continues to approach the sound of bells fill the air outside of department and grocery stores.  The red kettles recognizable as donation buckets for the Salvation Army.  They are known not only for collecting donations during the holiday season, but for helping the homeless with shelter, food, clothing etc.  What you may not know is that they are also known for being discriminatory towards the LGBTQ community. 

Salvation Army - Anti Gay

I used to work for the Salvation Army at a wet, low barrier women’s shelter.  What that means is 1. clients do not have to be clean and sober to receive services (the wet part), and 2. anyone who identifies as a woman may access services (low barrier part).  I loved the idea of this shelter.  Many shelters have program restrictions, a screening process, and a required intake process before people can access services.  These are used to determine if the client is a good fit for the program.  This place had none.  This meant that we would get the women that no one else would take, women with severe, often untreated mental health, and women with current and ongoing substance abuse issues.  Chronically homeless women were the majority of the clientele.  Women who for whatever reason could not find and/or retain housing.  The shelter had 50 beds which the women could access for 30 days at a time.  During this time they would receive a case manager would work with them mainly on finding housing.

In theory this is a great program.  Unfortunately it was poorly run by a woman who had little to no compassion for the women we served.  The Salvation Army as a whole encompasses a lot of programs, all run by different people with little communication between them.  They are poorly organized and push the “salvation agenda” pretty hard.  I have very deep concerns about programs who help the homeless only after they have listened to a sermon, attended a Bible study, or some sort of other religious function.  This is not my gospel.  There should be no religious requirements attached to receiving services.  I’m getting a little off track but this is one of the reasons I no longer support the Salvation Army.  While the program I was a part of did not specifically require clients to attend church etc. there was a definite pressure to.  This is the first problem I have; when saving someone’s soul becomes more important than providing for their basic needs.  This is not a holistic approach to service and it does not serve the whole person.

Another thing I discovered while working for them is the bigotry towards the LGBTQ community.  Again, in theory my program was supposed to be better in this area.  We operated under a harm reduction model.  An example of this would be if you know a client is using drugs you provide them with access to clean needles.  Several of our clients were transwomen, or lesbians.  They were welcome in the door.  Unfortunately this is often were the welcome stopped.  I witnessed these women being harassed by other clients and the staff did nothing about it.  Sometimes my co-workers were the ones encouraging the abuse.  I was told that we did not house lesbians as they may move in with their partner and this was in clean violation with the Bible.  Again, this is not my gospel.  And my program was tame compared to others underneath the Salvation Army umbrella.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about this I would encourage you to do some research before dropping your money into the kettle.  If you are interested in doing something more tangible and forthright I recommend that you click on and print the voucher below, and drop those in the kettle instead.

Salvation Army Voucher

Related Articles

  • Don’t Donate to the Salvation Army If You Care About LGBT People
  • UC Berkeley Salvation Army Controversy: Students Call For Campus Ban On Organization Citing Alleged Homophobic Practices
  • Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Holiday Campaign Takes Heat From Gay Rights Activists

 

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A Day That Will Live in Infamy…Apparently

Republican likens contraceptive mandate to Pearl Harbor, 9/11

“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day.  The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack,” Kelly said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

Really?  I don’t even know what to say about this one.

To Protect the Men…

“Why is our culture so intent on protecting men from hearing about or discussing a woman’s reproductive health?”

I came across this article on “The Current Conscience” blog, written by a Los Angeles based columnist.  It is interesting to read a male perspective stating that women should not be apologizing for their bodies.  I strongly recommend that you read the full article (below) and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

“So, why are women apologizing for their bodies or hiding their reproductive issues from their male partners or friends? I think this tendency for women to protect men from issues about their body, especially about the reproductive issues, is something that is learned. It’s not inherent. All it takes is your mother or another female relative telling you that no man wants to hear about a woman’s period or PMS issues, to begin a lifelong habit of not sharing anything related to that part of the body. Or, it’s your first boyfriend saying “TMI–gross,” when you dare say out loud that you’re dealing with a problem. It shuts you down for life.”

Read the article here: “If Men Had Periods: Women Would Know All About It.”

Note to men: if your sense of masculinity depends on avoiding ever having to buy a plastic tube filled with cotton, you’ve got way bigger problems than you realize.”

Shame: Sisters by Blood and Embarrassment

That’s right, we are going to talk about your period.  And if you don’t have a period chances are there are a number of women in your life who do.  What are the first things that come to your mind when you think of “that time of month?”  Is it something positive?  Or is it something less than favorable?  Chances are you’d rather not think about it at all and you’d really rather not talk about it.  It is important to do so though because nothing is used more to devalue and minimize women’s experiences, emotions, and feelings than her period.

It is referred to as gross or disgusting by both men and women.  I can think of a lot of disgusting things.  Baby spit up, or poop, or snot…basically anything that comes out of a baby.  🙂  In all seriousness though, if you’ve ever worked in a camp kitchen on bacon day, in the food industry in general, or had very much contact with children you know there are a lot of disgusting things in this world.  There are also those things which my grandmother called “disgusting” and would fall more under the category of upsetting or morally wrong.  Stories that are all too often in the news about rape, murder, kidnapping etc. fall into this category, and (if you are like my grandmother) so do car salesmen, bills, and gas prices.  So, which is it?  Revolting or immoral?  While you think about it, let me pose a third option.

Normal.

That’s right, this thing that a lot of women have come to think of as a curse is completely and totally normal.  In fact, it is concerning if you do not have a period or have an irregular one.  So, why is it that there is so much shame associated with having a period?  Why do women, no matter their age, often feel embarrassed buying products at the store?  Why does that embarrassment extend even to a female checker?  Why are women afraid to share period stories and experiences with other women?

I would argue that it has a lot to do with patriarchy and limiting women’s (perceived) power.  Not to get all Xena, Warrior Princess on everyone but a woman’s body is an amazing thing.  Really think about it.  In theory, women have the ability to grow another human being inside of them.  How cool is that?!  It is also an incredibly powerful thing to be the life-giver of humanity.  They say giving birth to a child is one of the most empowering experiences a woman can have.  And especially women who give birth naturally say they leave the experience feeling like they can do anything.  I digress though.  The fact that women bleed every month means that their bodies are preparing to grow a child.  Their bodies know to get rid of the old stuff if there is no need for it and the process starts over again.  It’s really an amazing process.  So, what better way to down play and limit the power of this process than to attach a negative connotation to it and make women feel ashamed of their own bodies.  Women have already been stereotyped as overly emotional and irrational beings.  I can not count the number of times when I have been sad or angry that someone asks me if I’m on my period, or says something along the lines of “she’s PMSing” and I know I am not alone in this.  Many of my female friends hear similar statements to dismiss their feelings.  The conversation then turns to the woman having to defend her emotions or whatever she was talking about.  It is extremely invalidating and degrading to not be taken seriously just because you have a period.

And it is not only men that do this to women, but women do it to each other.  That is probably the most frustrating thing for me: to have another woman question my emotions when (I’m sure) she gets equally as frustrated when someone does it to her.  Instead of sharing in the experience and supporting each other through it, because let’s be honest, having a period can really suck sometimes, we continue to force each other into secrecy.  So, here’s to the biggest known secret ever…our periods!

Until my next period post check out these articles:

So Will Periods Attract Bears or What?

The Mainstream Media Is Out to Convince You That Periods Are Terrifying

Reproductive Writes: Do We Need To Bleed?

What it Looks Like 40 Years Later

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Today, June 23, 2012, marks the 40 year anniversary of a landmark piece of legislation.  Title IX, which was signed by President Nixon in 1972.  While most often associated with equality in sports that was only a small piece of the original legislation.  It was meant to level the field in opportunities for men and women in education, including the kinds of classes and extra curricular activities they were allowed to participate in.  The law was designed to prevent sex discrimination and harassment in educational activities and programs.  The areas it covers includes fairness in admissions and financial aid, freedom to take any vocational course, and allowing pregnant students access to education.

But looking around the educational system, excluding sports where this year an equal number of men and women will compete in the Olympics, a stigma still exists in vocational classes.  The promise of Title IX was that girls would be allowed into traditionally male classes like auto-mechanics and carpentry, and that boys would visa versa be allowed into traditionally female classes such as home economics or cosmetology.  How often does that actually happen?  I would guess that you are more likely to see a girl in shop than a boy in home ec, but still there is a strong acceptance of one sex over the other in such classes.  We still have a ways to go before it is not seen as degrading or insulting for a man to be doing traditionally “feminine” activities.  Part of the problem is family pressure and the way children are raised, boys are praised for being “masculine” and girls for being “feminine.”  We have to change the stigma.  Parents and teachers need to be accepting of a child’s dream, whether or not it bucks traditionalism.  So, to those who say Title IX is no longer needed, I respectfully disagree.

Read President Obama’s reflections on Title IX’s anniversary here.

Update:  I came across this cartoon after I originally published this post.  I think it relates.

“I need feminism because I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed about buying tampons from a male cashier.  Periods happen once a month for most of the female population, it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of.”

Original post from http://whoneedsfeminism.tumblr.com

More on periods and period shaming coming soon.  I just wanted to prepare everyone because even though periods are normal many feel embarrassed talking about it.  So, consider this your warning.

And to all the mothers out there Happy Mother’s Day, it is because of your missed periods that we are all here.  Blessings on your day!

Who Needs Feminism?

“Naturally Born Female”

Below are three different articles about beauty pageant contestant Jenna Talackova.  She was excluded from the Miss Universe Canada pageant due to the fact that she is transgendered or a transitioned woman.

Link 1  News article from CNN

Link 2  Article from Feminist Blog

Link 3  Article from Montreal Gazette’s “Trans Talk” Blog

Thoughts?  I know there are a couple of different issues going on here but I will definitely post on beauty pageants later.  What do you think about someone being excluded because she is not a “naturally born female?”  What does that even mean to you?  Is it discrimination?  Was she rightly or wrongfully excluded?