It’s time to begin the shift from SOAM to FS101.

Hello, friends and readers!

I think I will be starting the shift from SOAM to FS101 in my social media accounts soon. As things continue to shift and evolve with the work I do online and beyond, I think the time has come to begin to start the shift away from SOAM and towards FS101. For one thing, as I do more and more work for the trans community, I feel the name “Mother” is something that may lead the trans community to distrust my intentions. So many people claim to be allies, but folx in oppressed communities will inevitably find that the boundaries of that so-called allyship too often end far before the real allyship begins. As a cis woman, I know that trans folx do not owe me trust, I have to earn it. And for those who don’t already know me and my commitment to trans allyship, seeing “The Shape of a Mother” probably gives alarm bells. As this time in United States history, as we are moving to make laws against existing as a trans person, I want to work against that by being explicitly clear that I fully recognize that all genders give birth and parent children.

To anyone concerned that this move will lead to the erasure of women… It won’t. It doesn’t. SOAM has always been feminist. It is inherently feminist. But body image and postpartum body image are but one facet of what feminism actually covers and there is a LOT of work to be done.

I went back to college in my mid-30s. I was an English major and once I arrived at university, I decided that I wanted to do more. I came to choose between earning an editing certificate or taking a minor in Women’s Studies. The day that I met with the undergrad advisor for the WS department, was also the same day that Trump won the 2016 election. I watched the news in horror that night, but at least I knew what my decision would be.

We cannot continue compartmentalizing feminism because to do so divides our own power and weakens our ability to win this ultimate battle against patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Feminism is the anthesis to all of these evils because of its diversity. We cannot separate feminism from anti-racism work because some women are Black, or Indigenous, or other people of color. We cannot separate feminism from anti-capitalist work because some women are poor. We cannot separate feminism from environmental justice because women live in the environment and deserve a safe place to live. I can go on and on.

So I want to be very clear that the shifting focus from SOAM to FS101 is not erasing women in any way, but instead is an open invitation to all who want to work together for a truly equitable world. The tent is large and all are welcomed here, except those who work to divide and exclude.

I think I am formally closing SOAM. To be honest I wasn’t expecting that as I started writing this post, but the truth is that it’s been closed for a long time and that hasn’t been my decision. The lack of entries and my own disabilities and health issues made that decision for me. Maybe someday that will change. But right now I recognize that I need to face forward and move ahead with new, evolved work. Today is the 17th anniversary of the day I first started this website so it feels like a nice circle to end the project here. Will I stop doing work with body image? Absolutely not. If you have been following me on social media, you will not notice any difference except that the logo will change as we already do all kinds of feminist work outside of body image. It’s just that now everyone will know immediately that they are welcomed in my space.

Well, I think I’m gonna go sob now a little bit. See you around and I cannot wait to see what work we do together in the future!

Big News! Feminist Studies 101, now open in Beta

Y’all, this has been a loooong time in the making.

As the internet evolves, and as our social conversations and tools evolve, SOAM has slowed down significantly from when I was getting multiple entries daily.

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, I recognize that my inability to keep it up has contributed to this. I don’t usually get too raw here about my internal struggles because as the owner of this site I always feel an obligation to present a positive attitude, but the truth is I have been struggling with how to move forward for a long time and my childhood trauma of internalizing my failures feeds on this like Hexxus in Fern Gully, growing larger, looming, and destroying. It’s not a super functional way to try to be a successful person, turns out.

I’m not shutting SOAM down or anything, don’t worry about that! And I believe I even have some entries waiting to be posted.

But I’ve been somewhat uncomfortable with the shift here from a website focusing specifically on postpartum body image to a general feminist educational site. Obviously the one is inherently enmeshed with the other so it’s not exactly that feminist education doesn’t belong here. It’s more that feminist subjects vary so widely that postpartum body image is merely one facet of feminist education.

Part of this is obviously that “mother” doesn’t describe all of those who experience pregnancy, birth, and thus have a postpartum body and I have been increasingly uncomfortable with the name of this site because I realize that even if I say “I welcome trans folx” there will be some who will be triggered and cannot benefit from the work I want to be accessible.

I think part of it may also be my autism desiring clear distinctions between what is for SOAM and what is for something else.

But I’ve been clinging to this particular website because it once had a big audience and audience is everything online.

But as I become increasingly frustrated with the algorithms of the big social media sites, I find myself wanting to be able to write words without trying to figure out a new and inventive way to trick the algorithms while still remaining understandable to my readers. Knot seas, Yahtzees… Further, perhaps these euphemisms don’t do anything to slow the fascism and white supremacy that is spreading like wildfire. Perhaps they minimize, make silly, things that should chill our hearts?

I hold a minor in Women’s Studies and I believe the lessons that (intersectional) feminism teaches us are so vital to fighting the systems of oppression that I desire to make accessible all of the theory and lessons that feminism teaches us. Where oppressors try to hide information, or lie and twist truths, feminism thrives on transparency and bringing information to light. Where oppressors sow fear, feminism breaks down those fears and unites us in all of our diversity. I have known for some time now that I want to spend the rest of my life fighting patriarchy, white supremacy, racism, and fascism by helping to educate the world about feminist philosophy. And I’ve known for about a year that ultimately that would require a new place under which to organize. I’m keeping SOAM for what it has always been – and I absolutely mean to keep it inclusive despite the archaic name – but now there is also a new place I am basing on a formal education in Women’s Studies – but for inclusivity I’m calling it Feminist Studies 101.

Will I succeed in this new venture? Fuck if I know. My brain is telling me I’m never going to be successful; it’s just listing all of my previous failures, throwing them in my face and reminding me that, ultimately, I’m a fraud.

I fight back against that because, frankly, it’s all capitalist lies. If the information I provide helps even one person, that makes it worthwhile. If I let this new website sit where it is and never touch it again, it is still something I can be proud of.

That said, I do need money to live in this capitalist hellscape and I hope that you will consider supporting me financially for the work that I do because what better way to take down The Man than to support individual artists and activists.

On that note, I’ve set up a Redbubble shop with some feminist designs. I’ve got stickers up and you can slap those babies on anything. But there’s other merch, too. Mugs, water bottles, totes, etc. So many options to tell the world “Fuck Nazis!” And if you have a good idea for a design you’d like to see, let me know!

PS, this is not an April Fool’s joke, hahahaha I just wanted to take advantage of April to get some stuff about autism published at the new site for Autism Awareness Month.

Questions and responses I have for all the white men who were angry when I said Norse tattoos and bald heads are giving N*zi vibes

Before I go on, I want to be very clear that when I talk about the idea of reclaiming symbols stolen by Nazis, my stance is that we should not try to reclaim them. Because once white supremacy has tainted something, it’s like spilling soup on the ground – we can’t get it back.

But I am speaking to white people only here.
1. They are my people and therefore my responsibility. Other communities are perfectly capable of governing themselves based on their collective circumstances and histories.
2. Because there are modern religions who are not in any way related to Christianity or its crimes which have also used or use versions of the swastika, which is a very ancient symbol. There are some Buddhists and Hindi who are working to reclaim the symbol for them. I am not speaking to these cases, either.

And onto ….

Questions and responses I have for all the white men who were angry when I said Norse tattoos are giving nazi vibes

After an unfortunate conversation on Facebook in a private group I’m in, I had some thoughts:

1. No, I am not jumping to conclusions. This man *chooses* to dress in a way that signals “skinhead” and I am responding based on my cultural understanding of what those symbols mean.

2. No, it is not the same as if I accused someone Muslim of being an extremist. For one thing, folx who choose to follow Norse paganism are not an oppressed class. In the United States, Muslims are. For another thing, most Muslims are practicing what their families have been practicing for hundreds of years. Norse neopaganism is very new and Old Norse has not been active for hundreds of years.

3. PS. Wanna guess who it was that brought back Norse paganism?

4. No, there is no real difference between neo-Nazis or Nazis or skinheads. A nazi is a Nazi is a Nazi. I will not be taking questions.

5. No, my “Eat the Rich” face mask that you went and found on my Facebook profile when you decide to do some light stalking because you didn’t like what I had to say does not make me a hypocrite. Me wearing that in public does not oppress the rich, nor does it signify that I am an unsafe person because I am in no way a threat to rich people. And the sentiment is not a threat to anyone else so exactly who is being harmed when I wear the mask?

6. No, calling out Nazi symbols is not the same as transphobia for fuck’s sake.

7. Why. The. Fuck. Do you want a Hitler mustache? Why is that the part of 1930s fashion you, as an apparent connoisseur of 1930s fashion, absolutely must have? Why can’t you avoid a Hitler mustache while enjoying 1930s fashion??

I rarely know how to do the right thing, socially. But I am hearing BIPOC, Jewish and Trans activists asking white people to speak up in white spaces. And so I did. And let me tell you, the other white people were not into it. It’s so strange, and frankly confusing, some of the arguments they made. Like I am not even kidding about #7. That’s the hill you’re prepared to die on? For reals?

Anyway, it threw me until I realized: that’s exactly how this works. The system trains us to react to protect it without thinking, because once we do the thinking, we can see the system is toxic and needs to go. So when a person pushes back against it, the system remains protected. If I call out white supremacy, white supremacy will fight back.

People were claiming I was the bully for making assumptions, for judging a book by its cover. For making assumptions about the way this person looked. But what assumption am I supposed to draw when I see somebody who looks like a Nazi? Some books should be judged by their covers. Like, if you see the Necronomicon, fucking do not read it aloud, just lock the cabin door behind you and find a different AirBnb for next weekend.

I thought we were kicking Nazis. If I go out in my Nazi kicking boots am I expected to interview every nazi-looking person I meet to assess whether they actually are a Nazi or not?

With white supremacy on the rise (even Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken about it recently), why do you choose a look that could get you mistaken for a Nazi? Why do you want to present as something so dangerous and evil? Why can’t you find a new look? New symbols? Human beings are so creative that we were able to put human beings on a whole other rock in space and you can’t find a new shape?

If it looks like a Nazi, it’s a fucking Nazi.

It’s time to choose your uniform; what side are you on?

What’s Next?

Y’all. I’m nearly done with my first series of Badass Bitches From History. Ten bitches, coming right up!
Ada Lovelace completes the set. I’m also working to update the graphics for some of the older ones. Once that’s done, I plan to start offering postcards, stickers, perhaps mugs or other merch. What would you like? (Also if anyone knows of a good site that will print sets of postcards and ship them for me that’d be cool thanks.)

As far as moving forward in a sustainable way, I think I’ve decided each series will be ten historical figures (give or take). I’m less certain about how to present InfoPosts. Those may not come in complete series like my Bitches because I sense they need different organizational formats. However, I do plan to gather them all together to create some sort of Intro to Feminism source. Book? Website? All of the above? Who knows at this early stage!

I’ll work on a loose schedule for the BBFH and InfoPosts moving forward and get that posted soon. In the mean time, stay tuned for Ada Lovelace and Fat Phobia, they’ll be coming up within a couple of weeks!

BBFH: Lili’uokalani of Hawai’i

A digital collage including a photograph of Queen Lili'uokalani in sepia tones, wearing a formal gown and a sash, in front of a rainbow and above Diamond Head Crater. The collage has hibiscus and plumerias, and some palm leaves. At the top if a brass name plate that says "Lili'uokalani" and next to the Queen is a banner that reads "this badass bitch tho"

Born Lydia Lili’u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka’eha in 1838 (1), the future Queen of Hawai’i was adopted at birth to another high-ranking family per traditional Hawai’ian practices. This badass had ties to Hawai’ian royalty on both sides of her family: her birth mother was an advisor to King Kamehameha III, and her adoptive mother was a granddaughter of King Kamehameha the Great (3), the man who united the Hawai’ian Islands and all the chiefdoms within so as to be a stronger force against the forces of the colonizers (6). The practice of hanai, or this type of adoption, was frowned upon by colonizers at the time who “[compared] the practice to doling out puppies” and because of that, fewer Hawai’ians today keep the practice up (4). But there is a faction working to bring hanai back, noting that it was not, and should not be seen as “’giving away,’ but rather as ‘sharing. ‘The family didn’t get smaller, it expanded (4).”

Lili’uokalani was baptized Christian at birth. Twenty years before she was born, a group of congregationalist missionaries settled in Hawai’i and set to work converting the Indigenous population to Christianity. By the time the future Queen was born, a third of Hawai’ians had converted (5).

Lili’uokalani wrote of the formal end of Hawai’ian religion in her memoir:

“…my great-grandaunt was the celebrated Queen Kapiolani, one of the first converts to Christianity. She plucked the sacred berries from the borders of the volcano, descended to the boiling lava, and there, while singing Christian hymns, threw them into the lake of fire. This was the act which broke forever the power of Pele, the fire-goddess, over the hearts of her people (3).”

Growing up, the future Queen was educated at a school built specifically for the children who held claims to the throne. She considered herself a good student, noting in her memoirs, “I was a studious girl; and the acquisition of knowledge has been a passion with me during my whole life, one which has not lost its charm to the present day (3).” The school was modeled after European or American schools; in fact the missionaries ran the school, with philosophies and beliefs of those other cultures being taught to the children who would one day run the Kingdom of Hawai’i. This may seem like a problem to our modern, “woke” minds – and I do not in any way intend to minimize the effects of this kind of colonization – but it was done with a purpose. Per PBS, “Hawai’ian chiefs could now see that their future lay with the world beyond the islands (5).” They believed the future monarchs would need a native understanding of other cultural beliefs and this would help to accomplish that.

Lydia, around age 15

As a young adult, Lili’uokalani married John Owen Dominis, an American man born in New York, but raised, for the most part, in Hawai’i. Europeans and, especially, Americans were becoming increasingly important in the government of Hawai’i. Since the Kingdom had become a constitutional monarchy, in the style of European monarchies, the Chiefs, who had been trained and raised in traditional governments were considered unable to serve as part of the Monarch’s cabinet. Missionaries were installed in their place (5).

In reading her memoirs, it is clear that she was a classy lady who believed in remaining calm and polite, even as she was strong and powerful as a person and a leader. But she was very careful to always appear socially ladylike. (TBH I’m having a hard time calling her a Badass Bitch b/c I can feel her discomfort with the abject and I don’t know whether she would have understood embracing and reclaiming oppressions to strengthen ourselves haha) So while she spoke carefully and politely of her husband in her own memoirs, Lili’uokalani suffered loneliness in her marriage and struggled to be accepted by her mother-in-law who was not a fan of having indigenous folx in her family (5).

Unable to have children, Lili’uokalani threw herself into music, stating that “To compose was as natural to me as to breathe (3).” She estimated that her compositions must number in the hundreds and, in fact, she is known today as one of the most prolific composers of Hawai’ian music, beautifully intertwining traditional Hawai’ian chants with modern European style music. You probably know Aloha Oe. The song, about saying farewell, was inspired when she saw two lovers kissing goodbye, but later it would hold a deeper meaning for the people of Hawai’i. After their sovereignty was stolen from them, it felt to many like a song that represented the farewell to their beloved Queen and previous way of life.

I need to take a quick moment here to relay a message I’ve been seeing from Native Hawai’ians recently. Colonization has taken so much from the indigenous peoples of the world, including Hawai’ians. Currently tourism is devastating the islands and Natives ask that you choose not to vacation there. My family has history there (not indigenous, the US military led my family there) and I had always hoped someday to show my children and perhaps to lay my mom’s ashes to rest there. But there are things more important than my personal desires so I will choose to listen to Hawai’ians and support them. I urge you to do the same. You can read more about this issue here. (And, yes, currently much of their income is based in tourism, but humans are creative and intelligent creatures and I am certain that they can find solutions to any problem that arises as they seek their sovereignty.)

Before I get to the tragic ending of a nation, I want to share a part of Lili’uokalani’s story that feels pertinent right now, during a global pandemic. Before she was Queen, but after she was named heir apparent to the throne, she served as Queen Regent while the King, her brother David Kalakaua, was overseas traveling and doing King Stuff. During this time, there was an outbreak of smallpox in Honolulu. Hawai’i had lost as much as 84% of it’s native population to smallpox, measles, and other diseases (6). So Lili’uokalani was not fucking around with this. She imposed a quarantine and effectively saved an untold many lives.

“A strict quarantine of all persons infected or under suspicion was maintained; and so scrupulously and energetically were these regulations enforced, that when they were relaxed and quarantine raised, it was found that no case had been reported outside the place of its first appearance. But it was a serious thing to confine its ravages to the city of Honolulu, in which there were some eight hundred cases and about three hundred deaths (3).”

Heroine. Absolutely.

And heroine to her people, she always was and always will be. Because in the late 1800s, after the death of her brother King Kalakaua, she ascended to the throne only to have it stolen from her by a bunch of white dudes. She did what she could, but white men wield their power and take whatever they want in the world. And in this case, they wanted Hawai’i.

But let me back up a bit.

We’ve already seen how the Native Hawai’ians’ influence over government was weakened by Colonization: installing white Christian missionaries in place of the chiefs, for instance. There are many other facets to this, of course, including disease. In 1887, a group of American men who owned plantations on Hawai’i, led by Sanford Dole (yes, the pineapple Dole) among others, “took advantage of a spending scandal involving King Kalakaua” and forced him to sign a new constitution at literal gunpoint (6). This, for obvious reasons, became known as The Bayonet Constitution and it effectively stripped the Hawai’ian monarchy of nearly all its power, allowing foreign residents to vote and restricting voting to those who had significant income and/or owned land. Nearly 75% of native Hawai’ians no longer had any say in their own nation (6).

Shortly after, in 1890, the United States lifted tariffs on sugar, meaning that other places suddenly had the same access to American markets as Hawai’i. This lowered the price of sugar dramatically and created a hardship for Hawai’i which, due to colonization, had become economically dependent upon sugar (6).

Then, in 1891, King Kalakaua died and Lili’uokalani stepped into her role as Queen of Hawai’i. Two years after that, she attempted to right the wrong of the Bayonet Constitution by creating a new document that would guarantee voting rights to Native Hawai’ians and restrict foreigners’ right to vote (6). The American businessmen were not into it. Fucking white people, amirite? So they did what powerful white men do to this day: whatever they can to get whatever they want and fuck everyone else.

A group of armed men, backed up by the United States Marines waiting in the harbor, marched upon Iolani Palace and demanded the Queen abdicate. Knowing she was outgunned, and wanting to protect her people, she ordered her guard to stand down, “and the coup leaders declared the monarchy abolished, established martial law, and hoisted the American flag over the palace (6).” Sanford Dole was named leader of this provisional government. United States President Harrison supported this and signed an annexation treaty in 1893. However, when Grover Cleveland was reelected president directly after Harrison, he attempted, sorta, to fix this. He called the coup a “serious embarrassment” and insisted that the monarchy be reinstated. However, when Dole refused to step down, the United States took no more action (6).

(I mean, if this isn’t giving echoes of Trump, idk what to tell you. History tells us we must NOT allow capitalist bullies to get away with their bullshit.)

Native Hawai’ians attempted to get control of the monarchy back, but their forces were too few and too disorganized and they were arrested and threatened with death. Lili’uokalani claimed she was not involved with that attempted revolution, but to spare the lives of her supporters, she officially abdicated and the monarchy was thus ended.

Aloha Oe, indeed.

Queen Lili’uokalani was imprisoned in one room in Iolani Palace for eight months as her punishment. President Cleveland pardoned her in 1896.

“It was the intention of the officers of the government to humiliate me by imprisoning me, but my spirit rose above that. I was a martyr to the cause of my people, and was proud of it (3).”

“Today only about 10 percent of the islanders are of Native Hawaiian descent. Native Hawaiians face a number of health and social disparities, such as lower educational attainment, higher unemployment, and poverty, and higher rates of tuberculosis, smoking, and obesity compared to their white counterparts (6).”

Suddenly Dole Whip doesn’t taste so good.

Lili’uokalani spent the rest of her life working towards the good of her people. She worked towards many causes that would protect her people and the land of Hawai’i, creating a natural preserve and programs for Hawai’ian children. Never once did she not put her people first during her life and today she is deeply beloved by her people, even more than 100 years after her death.

There is a lot to learn from this Badass Bitch: grace and power, love and righteous fury, knowledge and compassion. Her life was a strange mixture of colonial and traditional beliefs, social structure, art, and attitude. There may be much for Native Hawai’ians to discuss in terms of how much colonization shaped her, but that is not for me, a white person and therefore a member of the oppressive class, to consider. What I see in Queen Lili’uokalani is pride in who she was, in her people, and in her history. And I admire her wholeheartedly.

2. (all photos)

Nope, I’m still apart.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. - Douglas Adams

In June I wrote a bit about how I completely dropped the ball on the May BBFH and Infoposts. Well, it’s now August and I’m still not caught up. I’m not sure why I’m so stuck right now because in many ways I am doing so much better than I had been for a hot minute there. I think it’s a combination of a number of things. For one thing, as I continue healing from my severe autistic burnout, I am capable of managing more of my daily life than I had been for a long time. For instance, I’m able to make myself small meals more often instead of eating frozen meals every time. So as I find myself able to do more things, I need to relearn how to balance those things with other stuff, such as the work I do here.

I think it’s also that, let’s be honest, I’m not the one in charge here. My brain is being driven, not by me, but by my neurodivergence and my neurodivergence has Opinions. For instance, it shuts down the factory if the workers aren’t getting enough rest or benefits. Heh. In processing all this with my friends, they pointed out that maybe it’s unreasonable to have planned a full year’s worth of posts with no flexibility for breaks. And of course, the intention was always to be willing to be flexible, but… let me put it this way. And folx with both ADHD and autism probably know what I’m talking about. But the ADHD likes new shit all the time, right? But the autism likes to know what’s coming next and to be fully and completely prepared with the schedule. So the ADHD was like “whoa there, we need a break.” and the autism was like “sure no problem but the thing is we won’t reopen the factory until we have a Plan.” And here we are, stuck between the one and the other neurodivergence, with no hope of escape until one side or the other is willing to concede, which they are not, of course.

It’s a ride, I tell you hwat. hahaha

A friend suggested that I break up the BBFH posts into series rather than one month a year and I love that idea, although I am admittedly not sure how it will look in the end. I need to create some sort of rules for the autism and to help hold the ADHD accountable, but no so much it makes the ADHD pull in the demand avoidance which can be a whole other thing all on its own, haha

That said, I am working on finishing up Lili’uokalani’s BBFH and I *hope* to get August’s posts up in (or at least near to) August. Please refer to the Douglas Adams quote at the top of this post.

And then I will be thinking about how to formulate things in the future so as to be both successful and reliable for y’all.

As always, think you for your support. You mean the world to me.

WTF is this SCOTUS Bullshittery?

I know it’s almost two months since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked and maybe it’s not a topical issue anymore. Also there are definitely other sources talking about the impending likelihood of Roe v Wade being overturned and I hope we are all taking the time and energy we can spare to fully understand this vital issue. But I wanted to create a source that talked specifically about abortion itself and where he is fundamentally wrong about it. I have also highlighted some other arguments that are dangerous at best, and I’m including here and there some information I have gleaned from other sources such as medieval historians (a moment of silence for the fact that we have to turn to medieval historians during this fight to protect abortion wtf). I am no lawyer myself and there is much that I cannot speak to. But I am a person living in this nation and I recognize that sometimes we must choose to drop archaic beliefs in the name of equity and freedom and so in that sense I maintain that I have the qualifications to question his logic, at times even when his opinion is backed up (supposedly) by legal precedent.


I know. Me neither.

Here goes!

(BTW, TW for gendered language. I am working hard to keep my own parts of this gender neutral because not all people who need abortions are women, but Alito is a little less, uh, woke in this area. And every other area. I’m keeping his comments as is for clarity.)

Alito wrote:
“The legislature then found that at five or six weeks’ gestational age an ‘unborn human being’s heart begins beating. . .’” (p6-7)

Completely ignoring the fact that for some reason we are letting legislatures do medical research and make medical pronouncements, this is factually misleading.

Y’all already know from my Abortion Facts infopost that the heartbeat detected at six weeks gestation is not a fully formed heart. It is a few heart cells and heart cells are known to beat even in a petri dish which is obviously not a viable human, nor will it ever become one. Recent research has shown that the heart may not be completely formed until around 20 weeks gestation (1).

Alito wrote:
“And at twelve weeks the ‘unborn human being’ has ‘taken on the human form at all relevant respects.’” (p7)

What? No really, what?

Who defines relevant? What is the definition of relevant? Because a fetus at 12 weks gestation cannot survive outside the uterus, which is a pretty relevant part of being a human, I think. This is an unscientific statement that holds no real meaning so I cannot debunk it with scientific facts, but I can discuss bodily autonomy here.

In no other situation is keeping another person alive forced upon a living or dead human. We cannot force someone to donate blood to save a human life. We cannot take someone’s organs to save a life without their consent – not even if the donor is deceased and will never need the organs again. Why do we force people to carry pregnancies to term, then?

It’s punishment. That’s what it is. Punishment for having sex.

Alito wrote:
“[The legislature] found that most abortions after fifteen weeks employ ‘dilation and evacuation procedures which involve the use of surgical instruments to crush and tear the unborn child,’ and it concluded that the ‘intentional commitment of such acts for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal patient, and demeaning to the medical profession.’” (p 7)

That’s a lot. Let’s break it down.

First of all, a D&E is a procedure done for second trimester abortions.

The claim that the procedure will “crush and tear” a fetus is designed to elicit an emotional response based on the presumption that being crushed and torn is painful and frightening. And it absolutely would be for you or I. But nearly all abortions take place long before the fetus has any of the physical structures which transmit pain. Furthermore, the capacity to comprehend pain doesn’t exist within the brain until around 28 weeks gestation (2).

(And if you want to limit later abortions, the most complete way to do that is to make sure abortions are accessible for all geographical locations, all incomes, all genders, and all races because, aside from those tragedies where a wanted pregnancy must be terminated for health reasons, the vast majority of later abortions happen because people lack access and it takes time to gather resources.)

The claim that a D&E is dangerous for the gestating parent is patently false (3).

The claim that a D&E is demeaning to the medical profession is nothing but Alito’s opinion. Once we have debunked these other errors, we find that the procedure is not “barbaric” at all and that it is a simple, safe medical procedure. Mayyyyybe we let medical professionals decide what is or isn’t demeaning to their profession? Just an idea.

Alito wrote:
“Roe, however, was remarkably loose in its treatment of the constitutional text. It held that the abortion right, which is not mentioned in the Constitution, is a part of a right to privacy, which is also not mentioned.” (p9)


This is actually chilling.

He is literally saying the constitution does not protect our right to privacy. People have been saying since May 3 that losing Roe v Wade is the first, incredibly dangerous step to losing our rights to privacy. Well, here it is in Alito’s own words.

You cannot want to ban abortions and also have your right to privacy. They go together.

Alito wrote:
“The regulation of a medical procedure that only one sex can undergo does not trigger heightened constitutional scrutiny unless the regulation is a ‘mere pretext[] designed to effect an invidious discrimination against members of one sex or the other. . . .’ And as the Court has stated, the ‘goal of preventing abortion’ does not constitute ‘invidiously discriminatory animus against women.’ (p10)

I mean. Let me just….


lol hoookay there, upper class white cishet male.

Alito wrote:
“…Abortion has long been a crime in every single state. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions.” (p 15)

Here we begin with his series of historical arguments which date back to the 1200s and include some pretty blatant hypocrisy. There is much that I cannot say here because I have no training in law theory and no formal training as a historian. But I can say this: The world is not the same today as it was 200 years ago or even in the 1850s. We know more and we know better. When we know better, we must do better. Women/AFAB folx have always been oppressed in part by our ability to give birth. Lives were ruined and often ended by forced birthing. Why in the actual fuck would we think any of that was valid in our modern world of supposed equality? Especially not now that we understand more clearly the science behind fetal development? Just because someone held a value 200 years ago does not mean our society today holds that same value (I will be coming back to this idea at a later point in the post).

It is also vitally important to understand that abortion has always existed (and will always exist). People who did not want a pregnancy have always used various methods via various professionals to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

It is a modern Christian belief that life begins at conception. As Alito notes with regularity in his draft, historically it was only considered a crime after quickening (when the gestational parent can feel movement). And other cultures and religions hold different beliefs. In Judaism, for instance, life is considered to begin at first breath, not at conception (4). We cannot make secular laws based on one religion because, and you may want to sit down for this shocking information, but not all religions hold the same beliefs. If we want to guarantee our own religious freedom, we *must* work to guarantee religious freedom for all. Period. This is why we say “if you don’t believe abortions are ethical, don’t have one.”

All that prefaced, there is ample historical evidence that not only was abortion legal, but it was also common and accepted. Medical literature discussed abortion and newspapers advertised remedies (5). If and when abortion was prosecuted, it was not until after quickening, which happens around week 20 of gestation, well into the second trimester. Alito conveniently ignores this to redirect his reader to focus only on the legality of it, but if he were honestly citing this as relevance for the historical precedent of abortions in the US and other western cultures, he would clearly allow for early abortions. But that’s not what he’s trying to do at all, of course. Like most forced birthers, he isn’t at all interested in the lives he claims to be pro-life for.

Alito goes on to cite specific cases starting in the 13th century and then more in the 17th century. However, according to medieval law historian, Dr. MJ Pardon, there really aren’t cases in which a woman is tried for her own abortion, and many medieval cases that deal with abortion are canon law – in other words, law maintained by the church a person belongs to rather than the government where a person lives (6). None of this is relevant to Roe v Wade.

Alito wrote:
“The Court in Roe could have said of abortion exactly what Glucksberg said of assisted suicide: ‘Attitudes toward [abortion] have changed since [the 13th century], but our laws have consistently condemned, and continue to prohibit, [that practice] (p 25).’”

Okay well first of all, we’ve already proved that abortion has always been accepted so he’s flat out lying or wrong there, but more importantly I’d like to point out that laws should always reflect the society they aim to maintain. Why in the actual fuck would we make laws that aren’t relevant to our society? The *only* time such a thing happens is when the government is overextending its control. 64% of Americans do not want to see Roe v Wade overturned (7). That is nearly two-thirds of this country, a significant majority. When a government so blatantly works against the wishes of the majority of its people, I’d argue we really cannot call ourselves a republic anymore because we are clearly no longer being represented.

Alito wrote:
“While individuals are certainly free to think and to say what they wish about “existence,” “meaning,” the “universe,” and “the mystery of human life,” they are not always free to act in accordance with those thoughts (p 30).”

This is another subtle bit that’s actually chilling AF. Here is is acknowledging that there are many and varied belief systems and philosophies regarding when life “begins” and yet he specifically says that one is not “always” able to enact their own belief systems. Because he is approaching this from an inherently Christian point of view, these words are cementing US law to Christianity which is a direct infringement on the rights of many other belief systems. The implications for future laws being cemented to Christianity is terrifying.

(And here I do feel I need to clarify that I am not having any “Not All ______” arguments. It is reasonable to say that not all Christianity shares these dangerous conservative views on lawmaking, but those who are allies recognize their privilege and know that what is meant here is modern evangelical Christianity which is by far the most active in US lawmaking and thus they know not to start a “Not All Christians” discussion.)

Alito wrote:
“Americans who believe that abortion should be restricted press countervailing arguments about modern developments. They note that attitudes about the pregnancy of unmarried women have changed drastically; that federal and state laws ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, that leave for pregnancy and childbirth are now guaranteed by law in many cases, that the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy are covered by insurance or government assistance, that States have increasingly adopted “safe haven” laws, which generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously; and that a woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home (p 33-34).”

Um. Wow. This dude is a leetle bit out of touch, huh? Okay let’s dig in.

1. Attitudes about unmarried women have changed in the past 50 years. That’s true. And that’s one of the big reasons that abortion and adoption rates have declined. Because people who give birth have more social freedom to keep their babies.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t still need abortion.

2. Laws prevent people from being discriminated against because of pregnancies. Um, yes, technically these laws do exist. But any lawyer (and *ahem* Supreme Court Justices are all lawyers) should also understand that it is notoriously difficult to prove intention in court. Companies can and often do lay off pregnant people or choose not to hire pregnant people and it’s very easy for them to claim it was for some other reason. If you cannot prosecute for breaking a law, you cannot enforce the law. Therefore, all the laws in the world cannot guarantee employment to pregnant people.

3. Leave for pregnancy and birth are guaranteed. Sure. Like, a little bit of leave is guaranteed but much of that goes unpaid, creating hardships. The United States is horrifyingly behind other countries in this area (8).

4. The costs of medical care for pregnancy and birth are covered by insurance or government assistance. Again, lol, not really. The US repeatedly refuses to create some sort of single-payer plan that would provide equitable and accessible medical care to all. Furthermore, there is minimal assistance for poor families once the forced birth produces a child. This may also be a good time to point out that we are also horrifyingly behind in gestational and birth mortality rates (9) and that rate rises for Black and Indigenous people of color.

5. People who put their children up for adoption can trust their infants will find a safe home. I could write a whole other paragraph in this increasingly long and verbose rebuttal but Vox already has a good article outlining all the reasons that adoption is not an answer to abortion so if you need to educate yourself on this (I did! No judgement!) click this link.

Also important to note at this point that the part of this draft that mentions the “domestic supply of infants” was not Alito’s own words, but appeared in the footnotes as a reference to a document he is using to support his claims. Of course it also doesn’t matter if he said it himself or not because he is clearly holding that opinion. So friendly reminder that children are humans, not products. Adoption exists as a means to solve a tragedy – when a child loses their parents. Adoption is not a means to provide a childless family with a human being of their own. That would be human trafficking. Kthxbye.

Moving on.

We’re almost done, I swear.

I hated reading the whole thing, I get it. But this *is* important and so I thank you for sticking with me.

Alito wrote:
“[with Roe], the Court usurped the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people (p 40).”

If the Constitution “unequivocally” leaves this choice to the people – WHY, SIR, ARE YOU REMOVING THAT CHOICE FROM THE PEOPLE? He’d say “because states’ rights” but fuck that noise. The concept of “states’ rights” is only ever invoked to restrict human rights. States are not “the people.” The PEOPLE are the people. FFS. I am too old and tired for this nonsense.

Alito wrote:
“Also noted [in Roe] were a British Judicial decision handed down in 1939 and a new British abortion law enacted in 1967. The Court did not explain why these sources shed light on the meaning of the Constitution (p 44).”

Ok hang on. Maybe cover your ears.


Alito wrote:
“Viability also depends on the “quality of the available medical facilities.” Thus a 24 week old fetus may be viable if a woman gives birth in a city with hospitals that provide advanced care for very premature babies, but if the woman travels to a remote area far from any such hospital, the fetus may no longer be viable. On what ground could the constitutional status of a fetus depend on the pregnant woman’s location (p 48)?”

It’s like he technically *can* grasp the concept that access to medical care needs to be equitable, but instead of applying that to make sure all Americans have equal access to health care, he uses it against equal access to health care.


Alito wrote:
“Despite Roe’s weaknesses, its reach was steadily extended in the years that followed (p 50).”

Well, I mean first of all, read a bit about the Hyde Amendment which fundamentally limited Roe’s reach.

But also, here are the specific ways in which he claims Roe’s reach was extended. You may notice that, in actuality, these are all ways in which conservatives tried to *limit* Roe and the Court determined that Roe should not be limited. That is not quite the same as extending its reach.

The Court ruled that:
-Second trimester abortions did not have to be performed ONLY in hospitals (1983)
-minors do not need parental consent to obtain abortions (1976)
-women do NOT need to give written consent after being informed of the status of the developing prenatal life and the risks of abortion
-people do not need to wait 24 hours for an abortion
-physicians cannot determine viability “in a particular manner”
-that a physician performing a post-viability abortion need NOT use the technique most likely to preserve the life of the fetus
-fetal remains do NOT need to be treated in a humane manner

Alito wrote:
“. . . the preservation of public approval of [SCOTUS] weighs heavily in favor of retaining Roe (p 63).”

He knows the majority of people don’t want Roe overturned. He just feels powerful enough to not give a shit.

Alito wrote:
“As Chief Justice Rehnquist explained, ‘The Judicial branch derives its legitimacy, not from following public opinion, but from deciding by its best lights whether legislative enactments of the popular branches of Government comport with the Constitution (p 63).”

Completely ignoring the idea that perhaps a document written by slave owners who did not view women as people might not be the best document for governing a nation in the 21st century, I want to reiterate that public opinion is vitally important in deciding what laws to follow and what beliefs our nation should hold. If we are not governing according to public opinion, what the fuck are we doing? Why would a culture enact and enforce laws that the vast majority of its people do not believe in?

At the end of his arguments, he summarized all his points by claiming that these following points (p 66) are the reasons the state has “legitimate interests” in this. I shall rebut point by point. (heh. heh. “re butt” heh.) If you are SO DONE with this post, it’s okay to leave now. He’s just repeating the same ignorant shit here so I’m just repeating my same actual facts and logic. Nothing really new. You get a cookie for being here this long as it is.

-respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development

I have already discussed how the embryo/fetus is mere cells early in pregnancy (1), I have discussed how the embryo/fetus does not feel or have consciousness of pain early in pregnancy (2). The question of at what moment does a human soul become involved is not a scientific one, but a personal one that each person should be allowed to consider on their own. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. But where is the concern for the gestating person? I’ve also already discussed bodily autonomy: abortion is the singular instance in which one person is forced to use their body to keep someone else alive. This is discrimination. Period.

-protection of maternal health and safety

I’ve already debunked the idea that this is a dangerous procedure for gestating persons (3).

-elimination of particularly gruesome or barbaric medical procedures

The use of the word “barbaric” is intended to focus one’s emotions on the pain a fetus must feel during the procedure. We’ve already debunked that. Instead let’s talk about how cervical biopsies literally rip part of the cervix away with no anesthesia for the person undergoing the procedure. Perhaps we can make medical procedures for autonomous humans less barbaric before we start worrying about undeveloped cells?

-preservation of the integrity of the medical profession

I assume his concerned about the medical profession retaining its integrity is due to his belief that abortions are “barbaric” but 1) I’ve already – twice now in this section – debunked the idea that abortions are “barbaric” 2) pointed out that he is not in any way concerned for the barbaric procedures grown adult people have to go through and 3) once again, let’s let the medical profession itself decide if it’s being harmed mkay?

-the mitigation of fetal pain

Dear lordy how many times do I have to say this (2). It’s SO easy to look this shit up. He looks either entirely unprepared and unresearched or simply controlling.

-prevention of discrimination on the basis or race, sex, or disability

I honestly don’t know how he sees that overturning Roe v Wade will help end these things? Women are still oppressed, trans folx doubly so. People of color are still oppressed. Disabled folx are also still oppressed. Forcing births onto any person in an oppressed demographic, left alone a person who has many identities that are oppressed, will only strengthen the oppression. Until birth is safe in the US (9), until health care, child care, housing, education, parental leave, food, and everything else needed to raise a child, then forcing birth onto people who are not ready to be parents furthers their oppressions.

Remember that bodies change during pregnancy and birth. And I am not talking *just* about extra skin on a belly. Bodies can become permanently different, permanently disabled due to pregnancy and/or birth. It is not a risk-free action and, in fact, abortion is far safer than childbirth. A person should not be expected to risk their health, their body, unless they choose to. Period. We don’t ask it of any other demographic except pregnant people. Stop it.

Thank you for sticking here this long. Let me know in the comments what kind of cookie you want. I mean and also let me know if you have any questions or clarifications. Fuck the SCOTUS, they aren’t working for the people any more.


1. “Human heart development slower than other mammals.” University of Sheffield. 21 Feb 2013.

2. “Facts are Important: Gestational Development and Capacity for Pain.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

3. “D&E Abortion Bans: The Implications of Banning the Most Common Second-Trimester Procedure.” Guttmacher Institute. 21 Feb 2017.

4. “Judaism and Abortion.” National Council of Jewish Women.

5. “Abortion Is Central to the History of Reproductive Health Care in America.” Planned Parenthood.

6. “Medieval law in the supreme court decision.” Dr. MJ Pardon (on TikTok). 3 May 2022.

7. “Poll: Two-thirds say don’t overturn Roe; the court leak is firing up Democratic voters.” NPR. 19 May 2022.

8. “Among 41 countries, only U.S. lacks paid parental leave.” Pew Research Center. 16 Dec 2019.

9. “Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries.” The Commonwealth Fund. 18 Nov 2020.

Every Now And Then I Fall Apart

Image shows a black butterfly with light blue accents sitting on a child's open hands. The child has light skin. In the background is shown shoes and a wooden floor, out of focus.
Image of me, a butterfly, transformed after three long years of depression/autistic burnout. Or some shit.

Hello, reader! You may have noticed that I wound up producing neither a BBFH nor an Infopost for May. I am not exactly sure what happened, or why/how I completely dropped the ball. I did have a few weeks where I struggled more with my depression again, and I know that this whole Roe v Wade thing has hit me pretty hard* and that was almost certainly a part of it. But sometimes my brain Can and sometimes my brain Cannot and this past May, for whatever reason or reasons, my brain Just Couldn’t.

I am working on getting myself caught up on life and my work here. I regret to say that I will not be able to complete both the May and June projects I had planned so I will be dropping the June ones, finishing the May ones, and jumping back in with July. So this month I’ll get out a BBFH about Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, and in lieu of the planned Infopost on Fatphobia, I will be publishing a post and Infopost on Alito’s bullshit claims, debunking them. I do also plan to get a TikTok done for Marsha P Johnson, a previous BBFH, and an Instagram/Facebook story posted about her as well.

I am still learning and relearning, writing and rewriting my newly healed and healing self into existence. Setting the goal this year of monthly planned BBFH and Infoposts was a hard thing to do and I am so very proud of how well I have so far met that goal (even if I am consistently late). I promised myself it was okay to make change things and make mistakes (like being consistently late) so I am meeting myself with forgiveness and love right now and moving forward.

Thank you all for being here for that and understanding that. Love and blessings to all of you!

*I want to acknowledge that my white privilege had blinded me for a long time to the fact that what white women/AFAB/fems are facing now with this Roe v Wade SCOTUS bullshittery is not in any way new to Black and Indigenous people of color. I am listening to y’ll and learning from you. When I say I am struggling this month because of it, I do not intend to erase the very real experiences other communities have always faced.

What is Intersectionality?

When I say that I practice intersectional feminism, I am specifically aiming to let people know that I eschew the erasure inherent in traditional “white feminism.” I am aiming to communicate that I recognize that Black women have different struggles than I ever could and that my goal is for my work to be inclusive of their needs and history as well. Because it’s not equity if it’s not for everyone.

However, I want to also recognize that I am willing to be corrected by Black women, or members of other marginalized groups I am not a part of, if ever I misstep. You cannot claim to practice intersectional feminism if you are not open to being corrected. We are all learning and unlearning, myself included. And when we know better, we must do better.

So what is intersectionality? Let’s get into it.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA. She coined the term to “describe the double bind of simultaneous racial and gender prejudice,” particularly in regards to law (1).

At the time courts recognized either sex or gender discrimination, but not both. Crenshaw cites three court cases that highlight how the *intersection* of race and gender compound to make Black women’s experiences more challenging than either Black men or white women.

Crenshaw cites the lawsuit DeGraffenreid v General Motors. GM did not hire any Black women before 1964 so when they had seniority-based layoffs in 1970, all Black female employees were fired (2).

The women tried to sue but because GM had hired white women and Black men previous to 1964, the courts refused to see the sexism or the racism, saying “[P]laintiffs have failed’ to cite any decisions which have stated that Black women are a special class to be protected from discrimination.” (qtd in 2)

So Crenshaw coined “intersectionality” to describe how multiple marginalized identities can erase a person’s struggles and keep them from accessing justice.

The more marginalized identities a person has, the more likely they are to face oppressions. It is important to disaggregate data: remember that when people say women are more likely to be victims of violence, that likelihood rises for women of color or trans women. Not all experiences of womanhood are equal.

While it is true that one does not have to be Black to have multiple oppressed identities, feminism in the US and other culturally-related places has a long history of excluding Black activists. Because of that, it is vitally important to remember that “For many, intersectionality has always been, and should continue to be, synonymous with US Black feminist theory (3).”

So what does this mean for feminists, especially for allies? First, remember that while we may hold multiple marginalized identities, we must still recognize those we do not hold and make space for them. For instance, I may be a disabled woman living under the poverty line (and that is significant!), but I am not a Black woman and I need to make sure I am making space for Black women and not talking over them or pushing them out of the proverbial tent. Need specifics? Keep these goals in mind and aim to make them a habit in your daily life:

  • Follow BIPOC content creators and activists.
  • Center voices from marginalized groups rather than speaking over them.
  • Call out/in the people in your own groups of privilege when necessary.
  • Be willing to be called out/in. Do self-reflection on a regular basis. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • Do not correct or tone police folx with marginalized identities as they speak or advocate for themselves and their community.

  • Feminism is in direct opposition to patriarchy. The patriarchy holds power with white supremacy and capitalism, therefore feminism must oppose those as well. Because for too long feminism has aligned itself with white supremacy and capitalism, we must actively and aggressively embrace intersectional feminism. Because we are not free until all of us are free. Patriarchy is bad for everyone, even the men who hold the power. The same is true for its bedfellows.

    Therefore, it’s not feminism unless it’s intersectional because we cannot truly and actually oppose the patriarchy while we are still aligned with it’s allies. Intersectional feminism because some women are Black, or indigenous, or trans, or disabled, or houseless, or incarcerated, or otherwise oppressed. Intersectional feminism because it’s the right thing to do.

    1. “Kimberlé W. Crenshaw.” Columbia Law School, 1 Feb. 2019,
    2. Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8.
    3. Davis K. Who owns intersectionality? Some reflections on feminist debates on how theories travel. European Journal of Women’s Studies. 2020;27(2):113-127.

    BBFH: Ching Shih

    Y’all. I heard “female pirate” and basically I was sold on this badass bitch, but after doing research I honestly feel like she may be the badassest bitch I’ve covered here and I can’t wait for you to meet her. Let’s go!

    Wikipedia claims she was born as Shi Yang, but other, scholarly sources claim we do not know her birth name (2). Today she is known primarily by Ching Shih or Zheng Yi Sao, or sometimes Ching I Sao, which translates to Cheng I’s Wife or Cheng I’s Widow.

    Full disclosure, I have tried to figure out which is the most correct translation of her name into English and I cannot find a source which discusses the variations so I do not know if one is more accurate/respectful than the other or if all are equally acceptable. If you happen to know, do please drop me a comment (and hopefully a source!) and I will edit this essay and all social media posts because accurate and culturally respectful histories are of utmost importance to me.

    In any case she seems to have been born around 1775 and worked as a sex worker in a floating brothel in Canton. She was known for her shrewd business sense (2). It was apparently this talent that made Cheng I seek her out (1). Cheng already had considerable forces under his command when he married Ching Shih, but together they were able to unify several smaller gangs into a fleet that ultimately was made up of 1,800 ships and as many as 80,000 men (2). For comparison, the famous pirate Blackbeard commanded only four ships and 300 men (1). For yet even more impressive comparison, this badass and her husband had more than twice as many men in their service as the Spanish Armada (2). Fucking wild.

    Meanwhile her husband was apparently bi and wanted his lover/protégé to inherit his legacy so he adopted him which is less uncomfortable than it sounds to our modern, Western ears as it was the primary means of “establishing kinship” for inheritances (1). Women were limited in the rights they were granted (2) and I presume this was also true of inheritances.

    In any case, Cheng I died unexpectedly, leaving his “son” Chang Pao to inherit the fleets. Almost immediately, Ching Shih took Chang Pao as her lover as well, soon marrying him (2). And thus she retained her power in the fleet with even her new husband subordinate to her.

    To continue to maintain her position, she instituted a severe code of laws which included the following:

  • Disobey a superior? Immediate beheading.
  • Stealing from treasury? Also gets you dead.
  • Desertion or AWOL? Lose your ears and everyone makes fun of you.
  • Have sex with a captive? Again with the beheadings. Even if the sex was consensual. (2)

  • But it wasn’t all threats. She also provided for her crews by guaranteeing 20% of all captured goods for those doing the capturing (2). It’s almost like a union. Or something.

    Y’all. This whole operation was so massive and so well-run that nobody could stop them. They were able to move their operations onto land and into cities, getting involved in the salt trade and eventually all but ceasing the opium trade (2). People do not like not getting their opium, it turns out.

    Eventually the Chinese government realized that even with the help of the Portuguese navy and England’s East India Trading Company, they could not make a dent in Ching Shih’s forces. They offered a generalized amnesty to all the pirates if they’d just stop pirating (3).

    So Ching Shih recognized the power she held here and, in theory, could have continued on as they were, but she also knew that tensions were rising among the leaders of the various fleets she commanded. She realized the power she held and the chance for this total amnesty would ultimately not last. She decided to negotiate the best terms she could for herself and her crews (2).

    Y’all. This may be the most badass part of all of this. She did not budge during negotiations which went on over a couple of months and multiple attempts. Eventually she showed up at the home of the highest official in the land with only women and children to accompany her. She would not agree to any terms until it was guaranteed that her second husband Chang Pao would be allowed 80 ships to continue working in the salt trade, legitimately (2). Not only did none of her pirates receive punishment, but many went on to do the same work they were already doing, and many others went on to join the actual military (2). But really. Can you imagine?

    As noted earlier, women were limited in various ways in how they could hold power. Ching Shih had achieved her status through illegitimate means thus far. Now that she and her crews were going straight, she wanted to maintain status. Normally remarried widows could not hold the title of Wife of an Official, but this badass bitch petitioned and won that right despite the social barriers (2). Absolute fucking queen, y’all.

    She spent the remainder of her years in peace, running a gambling house, until her death in 1844.

    So many women who achieve power in situations where it is typically withheld from them come from some sort of privilege, either an established family, or financial means, or a privileged community, or educational background. But Ching Shih seems to have had none of these. She rose from a brothel to become more powerful than China, Portugal, and England combined using only her wits and her shrewd business sense. I am in utter awe of this badass bitch.


    1. Banerji, Urvija. “The Chinese Female Pirate Who Commanded 80,000 Outlaws.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 6 Apr. 2016,
    2. Murray, Dian. “One Woman’s Rise to Power: Cheng I’s Wife and the Pirates.” Historical Reflections / Réflexions Historiques, vol. 8, no. 3, 1981, pp. 147–61,
    3. “Ching Shih Pirate Biography and Facts.” Anne Bonny Pirate,