The Personal is Political

This is a blog where I will be spouting out all of my personal political arguments, thoughts and beliefs. I encourage interaction and you're more than welcome to submit or ask questions. I identify as a feminist and most of my personal philosophies are built around social justice concepts. If you want to jump right to stuff I've written myself check the "the personal is politic" tag. Creative Commons License
The Personal is Political by Ragen Ashlie Roberts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Posts tagged "history"






when did homosexuality become wrong i mean in ancient rome they just had giant orgies and nobody thought twice about it

Except they did!

Sexuality used to be a more complex thing: it wasn’t about male/male or male/female (or being exclusively confined to an m/m or m/f relationship!) Rather, it was about who got penetrated vs. who did the penetrating.

So, historically, if you were a male Roman citizen, you could have sex with women or men (well, boys were preferred a lot, but males), but you had to be the one doing all the penetrating. If you didn’t, then that was considered demeaning and bad because it was associated with being submissive and effeminate, and feminine things were largely considered weak and bad - the word virtue derives from vir, man (just like virile.) Being penetrated was something for slaves/barbarians/effeminate Greeks/women. So, in that sense, homosexuality wasn’t considered wrong because they didn’t conceive of a sexual dichotomy in the sense of “do you prefer the ladies or the men?” Rather, it was, “Are you penetrating or being penetrated?” and one of those things was definitely considered wrong, bad, and incredibly demeaning.

For example, Julius Caesar’s political enemies liked to claim that he’d allowed himself to be penetrated by the King of Bithynia to secure his support, and nicknamed him “Queen of Bithynia,” which was a slur throughout his life - it’s not a “gay vs. not gay” thing, especially since Caesar was known as a pretty scandalous womanizer, but rather a “he let himself be penetrated!” issue. Even in the Imperial era, when Elagabalus and Nero both went through marriage ceremonies with men (and where you get the “giant orgies” that people tend to think about), it wasn’t tolerated 100% - there was a lot of dissent and people who were happy to say that those marriages were unnatural/made them dissolute/destroyed their reputation (although  Elagabalus wasn’t helping anything by also marrying a Vestal Virgin and stuff, but that’s a different post.) 

Even if you go back to the Greeks, who were more tolerant than the Romans, you still get the penetrated vs. penetrating issue, the idea that such relationships were usually between men and boys and wouldn’t be tolerated once the younger man reached the age where he should be off penetrating younger men himself, and then there’s obviously the problem inherent in this entire discourse about the fact that, while the ancient Greeks/Romans may have been more tolerant about some kinds of LGBT relationships (and have some bits of tolerance I haven’t gone into here - yay, Sappho!) - the whole thing was founded on the idea that women are so inferior that the best kind of relationship a man could have was with another man, because obviously ladies were stupid and inferior and could only be penetrated, and were therefore incapable of actually being a soul mate for a man. (Note on the ladies/boys thing, women get grouped with beardless youthful boys as the clear inferior in the relationship - it’s women and children in the forever-inferior group, men in the other.) 

I feel like francieum in that I’ve just gone and text-vomited a very long actual serious response to a casual text post, but it always makes me go “Gah!” when people assume the past was better, because in a lot of ways it wasn’t. I really wish the ancient Greeks and Romans had been all about the tolerance and giant rainbow parades of happiness, but inequality, bigotry, and just all-around unhappy situations have always existed.

^ and this is the cultural context in which the New Testament was written. When Paul and the early Christians within the Roman Empire talk about “homosexuality” they were talking about the oppressive/imperial culture of the time’s penchant for “penetrating” slaves and little boys to show how tough they were.

Well, that’s my interpretation, anyway. 

Think on!

I concur

Just reblogging for interesting historical stuff.

This is why historical and cultural context are so important!  I mean it goes for everything but it’s especially important in biblical stuff.  Another good one is the whole “turn the other cheek” thing everyone loves to throw around.  The bible was written with a hardcore right handed bias because for some very specific cultural and historical reasons people in the ancient world ONLY ever used their right hands for damn near everything.  The bible doesn’t just say to turn the other cheek it specifically says that if someone strikes you on your right cheek to turn the other cheek to them.  If someone is using their right hand to strike you on your right cheek they are straight up backhanding you, that’s the only possible way they can do it.  To backhand a person is inherently dehumanizing and disrespectful, the gesture really can’t be interpreted any other way.  Telling someone that if you are struck on the right cheek to turn your other cheek to them does not mean just sit there and take their abuse all day long it means to assert your humanity and if they’re going to beat you at least force them to treat you with respect while they do it and hit you straight on.  It’s a huge difference and one that gets lost when nobody considers historical and cultural context. 



This woman might have been one of the coolest women ever to have ruled Sweden. We’re talking about a teetotal, polyglot, Catholic, lesbian queen.

Not only was Queen Christina, a woman who spoke 10 languages fluently, a supporter of the common people - she stripped the nobility of some of their rights as an effect of a protest initiated by the lower classes - she was very fond of the arts and humanities as well, but sadly her biggest fan Réne Déscartes died shortly after the queen had made him a professor at the University of Uppsala. What is more, she also stopped the witch hunts that her father had initiated, and refused to let any man tell her what to do, or how to rule her country.

Even more interesting - as already mentioned - Queen Christina was a lesbian, and thus refused to marry a man for the sake of keeping the royal family alive, and she was pissed off with the traditional dress codes of her times, and thus often dressed up as a man instead. As a child, she refused to subscribe to a traditional gender system, and consequently refused to learn how to knit, or embroider a pillow, and instead she became a skilled soldier and horse-rider.

And, even more remarkably, considering the fact that the country adored her, when the government told her that she wasn’t allowed to be a Catholic, she told them that she wasn’t going to be untrue to her own heart in order for the country to have a queen, promptly abdicated and moved to Rome in order to become a manager of a royal academy of Italian art. 

She was actually KING Christina—badass. Love her.

those eyes look very sad

(via may-i-never-be-perfect-deactiva)

For every Harriet Tubman there are hundreds of thousands of black women who died as slaves. For every Sojourner Truth there are hundreds of thousands who were never able to speak publicly about their experiences.
Melissa Harris-Perry on the legacy of the black woman in America. She discusses the fact that black women are mythicized into these hyper-strong, powerful, magical beings that never need help and have the means to fight against all who oppress her. America likes to take a few figures and say “my, look at how strong, mighty and confident black women are!” and completely ignore the ways in which black women are dehumanized and degraded on a daily, institutional basis. (via newwavefeminism)

(via homunculilith)




Adam Smith, the intellectual father of capitalism


The father of free-market capitalism speaks.

But this is just like the Bible, people. The Right will pick and choose the things they want to listen to and scrap the rest. “Love thy neighbor,” and “contribute to the public expense” are out the window in favor of things that suit them better.

Adam Smith was a communist.

Oh, wait.

(via ya-la-vida-continua)


There has never been another large historical event that has it’s decedents be told to ‘get over’ than the ancestors’ of the enslavement of millions of Africans transported across the Atlantic.

There has never been such any formal set of reparations for the 300+ centuries of…

(via i-am-a-child-of-time)



The FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) has a dark and sordid history spanning three decades and four presidential administrations (1956-1971). It was a covert program of domestic terrorism and state sanctioned oppression against popular movements in the United States. Tactics ranged from illegal wire tapping to the assassination of Freddy Hampton, a member of the Black Panthers. The FBI under COINTELPRO sent Martin Luther King Jr. death threats, sabotaged the Socialist Workers Party, used their influence to terminate “communist” professors from universities, infiltrated and disrupted student groups,  undermined the civil rights movement, incited  gang warfare and many other nefarious and illegal activities. These are pages from a coloring book purportedly from the Black Panthers but actually created by the FBI in order to delegitimize the Black Nationalist organization.  The coloring book was mass mailed to white communities throughout the United States.

I can honestly say that the government did everything in their power to stop the rise of black power and liberation when it comes to the FBIs history with the Black Panthers and the BLA.

When you look at the state of America now… it makes you wonder… what would America be like if the FBI didn’t destroy everyone fighting for the black power & equal rights?

(via karnythia)


Did you know that Hattie McDaniel was the first African American woman to ever be nominated for an Academy award?

She was not even allowed to attend her own movie’s premiere. The movie, in case you are unfamiliar, was 1939’s Gone with the Wind.

Her career began with radio in which she played a maid who went by “Hi-Hat Hattie.” The radio serial was called “The Optimistic Do-nut Hour.” She was paid so little for her role (especially in proportion to her white counterparts) that she had to work as a real maid off to the side in order to make enough money to live.

She also got criticism from different groups such as the NAACP, who felt she, like other black actors at the time, were only perpetuating stereotypes of African Americans. She decidedly kept working as she did saying, “I’d rather play a maid for $700 a week than be one for $7.”

(via fuckyeahfamousblackgirls)


We the undersigned women of African descent and anti-violence advocates, activists, scholars, organizational and spiritual leaders wish to address the SlutWalk. First, we commend the organizers on their bold and vast mobilization to end the shaming and blaming of sexual assault victims for violence committed against them by other members of society. We are proud to be living in this moment in time where girls and boys have the opportunity to witness the acts of extraordinary women resisting oppression and challenging the myths that feed rape culture everywhere. 
The police officer’s comments in Toronto that ignited the organizing of the first SlutWalk and served to trivialize, omit and dismiss women’s continuous experiences of sexual exploitation, assault, and oppression are an attack upon our collective spirits.  Whether the dismissal of rape and other violations of a woman’s body be driven by her mode of dress, line of work, level of intoxication, her class, and in cases of Black and brown bodies—her race, we are in full agreement that no one deserves to be raped.
The Issue At Hand
We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it.  We are perplexed by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word, much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress.  Much of this is tied to our particular history.  In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women.  We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label. [READ MORE]
This is the best - most thorough- critique that I have read about the SlutWalk. It fully addresses the concerns that I have been struggling to verbalize. Should be read in its entirety. 

(via homunculilith)

I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.

Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress. An early education expert, Shirley Chisholm was elected to the New York Legislature in 1964 and to Congress in 1968. She ran for president in 1972, winning 152 delegates before she withdrew. Shirley Chisholm served in Congress until 1983. During her congressional career, Shirley Chisholm was noted for her support for women’s rights, her advocacy of legislation to benefit those in poverty, and her opposition to the Vietnam war.

(via kiboxx)

(via themythsaredead)




Early American political poster.  Oh how the times have changed.


Talk about a 180…

That art is really fucking offensive!

(via karnythia)

Schools have classes called “women’s studies,” and “African-American literature” because the standard for existence set by white men has yet to be rescinded in this age. “Normal” history is the history of a certain class of white people, from the perspective of men. All the other histories are precisely that: other.
Cunt:  A Declaration of Independence. (via ratsandcandy666)

(via ya-la-vida-continua)

The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all … The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands - the ownership and control of their livelihoods - are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.

— Helen Keller, 1911

It really frustrates the hell out of me that the only public mention of Hellen Keller in any modern context is to poke fun at her disabilities. Keller helped to found the modern day American Civil Liberties Union, wrote extensively on the exploitation of the working poor (particularly those with medical issues), and was a member and contributor to the Industrial Workers of the World. She was a badass and a passionate socialist radical. I intend on posting a more in-depth background on her in the future.

Critics attempted to diminish the impact of her work by saying that her embracing socialism and activism was obviously the result of her “limits in ability and development”. All you are doing is participating in the perpetuation of that lie.

(via reinventionoftheprintingpress)

(via )

“Passions are the elements of life,” but elements which are subject to the control of reason. Whoever will candidly examine themselves, will find some degree of passion, peevishness, or obstinacy in their natural tempers. You will seldom find these disagreeable ingredients all united in one; but the uncontrolled indulgence of either is sufficient to render the possessor unhappy in himself, and disagreeable to all who are so unhappy as to be witnesses of it, or suffer from its effects.

Having once obtained this self-government, you will find a foundation laid for happiness to yourself and usefulness to mankind.

Abigail Adams

Part of a letter to her thirteen-year-old son, John Quincy Adams, who had just arrived in France with his father, John Adams, seeking aid for the American Revolution

March 20, 1780

(via ruanaidh)

(via )

(via )