is there an end to prison time?

Dear oob,

“One Woman’s Plea, Another’s Prayer…”

Sentenced to 16 years to life! What is the true meaning of this sentence? If you live in California it means that you do not pass go, forget your future, educate yourself and prove yourself while walking the proverbial tight rope of faith and good measure. You can bet the farm that your only ticket out of prison will be placed on your big dead toe!

There is one dangling carrot as in any fairy tale. It’s called the California Board of Prison Terms. I can’t help but think that there is a better name-The Grim Reapers, Messengers of beath-because that is what you are left with after you have faced the Good OP Boys trained in oppression and recruited gals from the school of “We Don’t Give a Damn.”

I am a little uneasy sitting here waiting for a Governor who has been labeled “The Terminator” by destroying bad guys in movies. Were the bad guys not designed this way? Did he not start out as one of them?

It does not amuse me that I can speak of our powers that be in such a way. Just as it sickens me to see one woman’s struggle for fair treatment pushed aside as if her attempts are meaningless.

One person should matter! What would have happened if Rosa Parks had given up her seat that day? I will tell you. We would be waiting for the boys in charge to allow a black woman some choices in this country. One would think we have come so far since that day. Hardly, we still have women locked in prison after 20 years, after paying their debt to society they are still trying against all odds.

I do not have months or years to sit back and wait for fairness. What I do have is a strong unshakeable belief in Debra Holmes who is currently serving a 16 to life sentence; so far she has served 20. She has worked so hard to receive education in and not limited to masonry, A/A, N/A, Building Maintenance, Landscaping, Dry Cleaning, and is a participant in women’s support groups and long term organizations. She is active in helping others and is a candidate for parole!

I realize there are many people out in the world making a difference. I know the strong commitment we have to fight the battle for fair treatment-they are all big issues. Today, I have a big issue! She has a name-Debra Holmes! Now we have a cause! We have a time limit, as Debra will go in front of the parole board in August 2004!

The parole board will expect her to parole to the count of commitment, have a job offer ahead of time, and a place to reside. The board will expect Debra to walk out of prison after 20 years and have a pre-fabricated life fit to their design.

We need people to step forward, to write letters to the California Board of Prison Terms. To contact halfway houses, agencies, women’s support groups and anyone in Oakland, CA or Alameda County that will offer Debra a job or a place to reside. I am requesting that each person who reads this article donate at least one hour and a few stamps to write letters of support. Let Debra know she is not alone or forgotten, please!

California Board of Prison Terms

1515 K Street 6th Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

Debra Holmes W#25327

Valley State Prison for Women

P.O. Box92(C4-17-4L)

Chowchilla, CA 93610-0092

Rhonda Leland

exploration or commitment is not either/or

Hello Sisters:

Please convey my thanks to Angie Young for her positive and friendly review of The Ethical Slut. She spoke very highly of our work, and I am happy about that.

I do wish to point out that it is not necessary, as she seems to imply, to choose between security and commitment in our relationships and sexual exploration. This is not an either/or situation, and we think it all works a lot better when we try for both.

Thanks again for the glowing review,

Dossie Easton

polyamory Interferes with lesbian couples’friendships

[Editors ‘ note: The following letter was written to Angie Young, author of the review of The Ethical Slut in our May/June 2004 issue.]

To Angie Young,

Thank you very much for your very intelligent, cogent, and important review of The Ethical Slut. I believe you are exactly correct when you point out that “polyamorous relationships replicate the disposable throw-away values of our capitalistic society…” And the fact that lesbians are doing this to each other really causes me distress. Sleeping around is still sleeping around even if you try to dress it up with a different name. Jealousy was not invented by anyone. It is not limited to amorous relationships. Children in kindergarten are jealous of each other’s toys, snacks, etc.

What really hurts me the most about these sorts of attitudes is that they even interfere with friendships between couples in the lesbian community (well, there really isn’t any lesbian community anymore, just as there seems to be little real feminism). My partner and I find that many other lesbian partners are leery of making new couple friends because of uncertainty about boundarycrossing. No wonder we are losing community and our struggle for feminist values. It’s pretty hard to focus on issues beyond oneself, if the primary focus is the next notch on the bed frame. As my partner, Sara, says, “Does anyone really believe that polyamory is important to the women in Sudan, Iraq, etc.?” Where are our priorities?

I must tell you that I will not purchase this book, nor read it. There are too many other really important books out there to read, books that deal with real issues on women, children, poverty, pollution, Healthcare, education, politics, etc. I’m sure you have some of them on your bookshelf.


Maggie Strickland

Sara Herrer

language trivializes harm to animals

Dear oob:

I was surprised and dismayed to read the headline: “India: Indian women used as guinea pigs” on p.5 in the news section of the May-June 2004 issue of off our backs. Of course it is exploitive, abusive and morally reprehensible to conduct medical testing on the young Indian women without their consent and in the context of “desperate poverty” which can be construed as coercion. Of course, it is wrong to use those Indian women as, as, as … “guinea pig”? Then what about the use of real, living, breathing guinea pigs as, as, as … objects of experimentation, for whom informed consent never exists and for whom the context is always and absolutely coercive?

The simile struck between women and guinea pigs based on the common linguistic usage of “guinea pigs” to denote “subjects” (in actually, animals and women alike are objects) of experimentation encourages in your readers a mindlessness, a callousness toward animals and a lack of awareness or concern for the real horrific experiences of the millions (could be billions) of animals used/abused worldwide in testing and research on a daily basis. Their common usage implies that such use of guinea pigs/animals is normative and acceptable while such use of women is not.

From ancient times nature, animals and women have been linked inseparably in bonds of kinship, bonds used in the theory and practice of patriarchal power politics to justify and perpetuate the violation of nature and animals and the systematic oppression of women. Our struggle as women for liberation is inextricably linked to the freeing of animals and the Earth. As Andrée Collard wrote in Rape of the Wild: Man’s Violence Against Animals and The Earth,

“Feminists must articulate [these connections] as part of our holistic, biophilic vision. For it is a fact that no woman will be free until all animals are free and nature is released from man’s ruthless exploitations” (p.1).

Thanking you in advance for your consideration of my viewpoint.

In Sisterhood,

Joyce Contrucci

Haymarket, Virginia

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