Saturday, September 20, 2008

Breast Milk and The Exotic Palate

Each time I begin to believe that capitalism and patriarchy are not capable of exploiting women any further, some new ingenious manner of capitalizing on womens bodies is invented.

The owner of the Storchen restaurant in the exclusive Winterthur resort will improve his menu with local specialities such as meat stew and various soups and sauces containing at least 75 per cent of mother's milk.

Doesn't that just sound yummy everyone?  Now those with the finest of pallets will have the opportunity to sup on meals created with breast milk. Of course the women are being paid to provide the service, but ask yourself what class of woman is going to sell her breast milk?  Even at 4USD for 14 ounces of milk,  it is still exploitation,  and furthermore it is specifically female exploitation.

image Each woman has the right to do as she chooses with her bodily fluids, but how many will honestly make the choice to express milk for this purpose because of pleasure?  The women that will be participating in this latest capitol venture will do so to provide extra income for their families.  It will certainly not be because they enjoy the idea of being an exotic item on a menu.  This is literally eating the other.

Though he is paying these women, it will never amount to the profit that he will make from their bodies.  He is selling food, but how different is he from a pimp taking advantage of womens vulnerability? The privilege and the arrogance employed to believe that one has the right to consume another for the purposes of self satisfaction is a manifestation of the dehumanizing nature of both patriarchy and capitalism.

It is always womens bodies that are co-opted in this manner. This new bourgeoisie restaurant turns women into the equivalent of  dairy cows.  Can youimage imagine what the "got milk commercials" will look like? We are to believe that we live in a world of equal opportunity, but if this is the path that leads to emerald city, would we not all be better off clicking our ruby slippers and making our own transportation home? When you think about whether or not it is still necessary to invest in businesses run by women, remember this story.  This is what happens in a world wherein patriarchy controls the majority of the worlds wealth and women are devalued. 

H/T  What a crazy random happenstance


Friday, September 19, 2008

Domestic Violence Is Not Funny MTV

One of the "joys" of globalization is the spread of technology and cultural ideas. MTV recently launched a Ukrainian version.  Even though I grew up in the age of Much Music, (MTV Cannuck equivalent) I never found myself particularly driven to it.  The same cannot be said of the young kids growing today as they are all in some way digitized. When my 7 year old asked for a Nintendo DS, and I had to ask what it was. At any rate, my point is that since so many people are using technology for various purposes we should be mindful of the messages that it is sending.

image The media is an agent of socialization and as such has the ability to frame discourse.  This kind of power should never be taken lightly.  When MTV launched its Ukrainian version it had the opportunity to choose what kind of message that it transmitted to the public.  Instead of going for something life affirming and hey maybe even a little pro woman it decided to pose the question of whether or not it is okay to hit girls.  Seriously WTF.  No asshat, hitting women never was, and never will be cool.  In fact even asking the question posits that violence against women is acceptable.  In a country with a high domestic violence rate this is only reaffirming the supposed right of men to beat women. The question posed this way normalizes violence against women. 

So now that you know what MTV sought to get away with, what do you do with this information?  Well this is what you do, you call MTV headquarters at 212-258-8000.  or you email [at] mtv [dot] ua, and you tell them in no uncertain terms that turning violence against women into some sort of casual occurrence is not acceptable, no matter what country they do it in.

Check out Natalia at Global Comment for more


Margaret Cho: Colluder Of The Week, Tap That Ass

image Well it's been a while since I have given out a colluder award.  This week it goes hands down to Margaret Cho for her sexist attack on Sarah Palin.  There is absolutely no doubt that almost everything that Palin stands for is anti woman but reducing her to a sex object for the sake of a few cheap laughs is anti-woman and anti-feminist.

But even though I would never, ever vote for Palin, I am kind of obsessed with fucking her. She is sexy and hot in a MILF/Cougar way. Like you could have that real mature, straight to the point, adult, over forty, gonna cum multiple times with a big, oversize t-shirt on and nothing else and "I don't care what I look like cuz I am gonna bust nuts in your curl" kind of fucking with her. I want to steam up those glasses and show her what a pitbull with lipstick really needs – doggy style!

Seriously – I wanna eat her Alaskan pussy from behind. Like an Eskimo. What?! I'm just trying to keep warm!

Patriarchy continually reduces women to fuckable objects; and for a woman to perform the same behaviour is collusion.  Shit like this is exactly why women continue to be marginalized and oppressed.  This is not liberating or empowering; it says to the world that that the only thing valuable about us is the gadget between our legs.  I am all for women demanding orgasms and being sexual beings but this kind of commentary is just pussy pandering to titillate the patriarchal imagination. 

There is a reason why no one is talking about whether or not the "first dude" is worthy to work out your jones with.  Todd Palin despite being conventionally attractive has a ...are you ready....dick.  First dude might get ridiculed for being the "man behind the woman" (no sexual imagery intended), however he won't be reduced to a fuckable object because his body is male. There I said it. First dude has a dick, so let's not tee hee to ourselves about how hot he may, or may not be, or the various things we would like to insert in his orifices, because that is just not how the male body is constructed.  Instead we will save it all for Sarah and in the process demean all women.

First Dude will even notice some increase in rank.  You see, he is tapping the ass that everyone is talking about.  Since sex is still considered something that men do to women, when he is challenged with a reduced masculinity his ability to fuck Sarah, thus marking his territory will prevent him from being totally emasculated.  Todd and Sarah are both in the limelight but what separates them is more than political office, what separates them is gender.  As long as women continue to be deemed always available for male sexual pleasure she will continue to be devalued and he will continue to be the invisible body behind (sexual innuendo intended) the woman.  Tap, Tap, Tap, That Ass!

H/T Shakesville


Can You Spot The Dirty Girl?

image Well the dirty sluts are at it again.  In Uganda women in mini skirts are responsible for traffic accidents.  It seems that because men cannot manage to ogle a woman and drive safely, the solution is that women must be forced to cover their bodies by law.

Nsaba Buturo, Uganadas minister of ethics and integrity, is quoted by the BBC as saying, "What's wrong with a miniskirt? You can cause an accident because some of our people are weak mentally. Wearing a miniskirt should be regarded as "indecent", which would be punishable under Ugandan law.   These days you hardly know who is a mother from a daughter, they are all naked."

Wow, apparently once you push out a kid you are no longer allowed to be a sexual being, or display your body in any way.  Motherhood means a lifetime of chastity and purity, so have all the fun before you get pregnant ladies, afterwards you must live like a nun devoid of agency or desire. 

Why is it that women are always expected to suffer because of a "male weakness.?"  The suggestion is never that men should modify their behaviour, but that women must constantly adjust ours.  A woman going about her daily life is not responsible for the pervert that cannot keep his eyes on the road.  To slut shame women for a lack of propriety on the part of males, is just another example of the ways in which men continue to control women's bodies.

On the flip side of cover and be shamed, is the idea that exposure should be rewarded.  A Melbourne pub tried to run a "No Undie Sundie" - a promotion "urging women to remove their underwear in return for a $50 drink card", Oz's Daily Telegraph reports.  The online ad that featured a Brittany Spears upskirt said, "Free glass of champagne for first 100 ladies flash bra [sic] or undies to bar staff; for free drink hang your undies on the line above the bar for $50 drink card."

This amounts to pimping of womens bodies for profit.  Yes the women are rewarded for the display of their genitalia, but how much profit did the bar stand to gain from the male customers who would be attending in the hopes of seeing female flesh?  This was hardly a loosing proposition for the pub in question.

No need to panic though because Sue Maclellan, Victoria's liquor licensing director, ordered the cancellation of the festivities claiming, "it was likely to encourage irresponsible drinking".  That is the official party line but statements from women groups point to a different reason.

Carolyn Worth of Melbourne Centre Against Sexual Assault was more forthright, slamming the event as "stupid and dangerous". She said: "It sends a very bad message, and it is one made very explicit. It's almost an invitation to sexual assault."

Port Phillip mayor Janet Cribbes weighed in by saying she'd "consider referring the organisers to the Advertising Standards Bureau".

She explained: "The ad is bordering on being pornographic. It fuels the fire for irresponsible drinking, irresponsible behaviour and puts young women at risk and makes them more vulnerable to sexual assault.

I didn't know that drinking made me more vulnerable to sexual attack.  For 30 something years now I have  believed that having a little thing called a vagina made me vulnerable to rape.  A woman does not need to be drunk to become the victim of sexual assault, she simply needs to be in the vicinity of a man that is determined to be violent. 

Why is it irresponsible for a woman to decide to remove her bra or panties?  image Even standing completely naked before a man does not give him the right to have access to her body; therefore the idea that somehow nudity is irresponsible cannot stand up to scrutiny.  The other aspect of this issue is power.  Rape is not a sexual act, it is an expression of power over women.  Even if a man is sexually excited from viewing  naked bodies, unless he has a desire to harm nudity will not lead to assault.  The arguments made to stop this event removes agency from women and creates men as wild savages.  Though we may not agree with the choice to disrobe, it is still the right of the individual to disrobe.  When we place moral standards on behaviour they are usually targeted at women and ultimately this reduces female agency.

Even when we think we are acting in support of women we need to place our actions within a wider discourse to consider the implications.  If the goal is to reduce rape, we need to consider the reason for rape within our actions.  Demanding that women cover up to deal with acts of male violence or inappropriate staring as in the case of Uganda, gives the state power over womens bodies.  This is a dangerous pandoras box because if the state can legislate a minor thing like what can be worn in what spaces, they will be tempted to issue more decrees that limit our behaviour solely based in essentialist gender constructions.  If we are ever to be free of biology, we need to demand that those responsible for the violence, ( read: the men) be held accountable.  We are no  more responsible for male behaviour, than we are for the sun rising and setting each day.

 


Who Has Permission To Speak

Though this video is dated much of what it address still exists today.  As a woman I have become used to having my statements interrupted.  Routinely men feel that they are within their right to interrupt women when we speak, because what we have to say is naturally of less value.  This of course is based in a hierarchal valuing of bodies that always privileges males.

I have even been presumptuously told that interrupting me was acceptable because with their keen knowledge and foresight they were aware of what I intended to say; and therefore there was no need for me to finish my thought.  The ridiculousness of testicles equalling automatic precognition seems quite obvious to me, but apparently quite logical to men.

I am sure that for most women this is an experience that we all communally share.  The silencing can come in many forms, direct interruption, or criticism of our tone.  How many times has a powerful woman been told that her voice has a nagging or whining quality to it?  This reduces us to our biology and renders our opinions irrelevant. 

Many women have become jaded and simply accepted this silencing without further thought.  This is a mistake.  When we allow men to control the conversation we are granting them power to control our social discourse.  If men can always decide what is and isn't relevant conversation our issues will never be significantly addressed. 

Fear of being disciplined is not an excuse to become subservient.  It takes courage to speak truth to power, but when we consider what is at stake, it is an act of gender annihilation to remain silent.  Men will not engage about the harms of domestic violence, rape, pay inequity, childcare, femicide, and  sexual harassment; these are womens issues.  Even when we are speaking about benign subjects their interruption is a co option of our space and an expression of male privilege.  It has far reaching implications because it infers that womens needs and concerns are secondary to their thought processes.  The man that does not value your mind, views you as a fuckable object, or a mother replacement.

The next time you are interrupted look at the man who had the temerity to think that his words somehow were more important than yours and let him know that you were speaking.  What you have to say matters and no amount of chest thumping testosterone should ever make you feel small. 


Thursday, September 18, 2008

O'Reilly's Fixation With The Angry Black Woman

Any black woman that dares to stand and be counted is often deemed angry by the privileged.  O'Reilly is the king of denial and regularly employees his white, male privilege to create bodies of colour as less than.  I could probably dedicate an entire blog post to him and his ignorance but others have already done so far more eloquently than I ever could. 

O'Reilly is determined to declare Michelle Obama an ABW (angry black woman). This commentary comes without him ever once examining his position of privilege in this world.  As an upper class white male, his body exists with great power, and this combined with his position as a media idiot spokesperson allows him to frame discourse. 

Michelle is an ABW because she is a woman that is educated, successful and opinionated.  Black women have historically fallen into three categories, the licentious whore (read: jezebel),  loving nurturer (read: mammy) or ball busting shrew (read: sapphire) .  Each stigmatization has the specific purpose of creating us as caricatures rather than real people.  These stereotypes are one dimensional and the basis of their existence is their reaction to their environments.  Black women are universally seen as objects rather than subjects; and personalities like O'Reilly perpetuate these images because it maintains white hegemony.

An autonomous woman that demands respect does not pander to the concerns of the white male power elite and is therefore a threat to their privilege.  While he views his questions as innocent interrogations in fact what they are, are an attempt to reduce her validity as a person.  If she is angry, the anger is deemed illegitimate.  Quite unspoken is the opinion that her anger is based in her refusal to capitulate to the white male power base.   Every ABW could be happy if only they would be more like Mammy or Jezebel.

image Unlike ABW's, Jezebel and Mammy exist to perpetuate white comfort and white rule.  Since slavery socially black women have been deemed no better than beasts of burden who ultimately exist to find pleasure in the service of others rather than in our own joys and freedom.  To decide unilaterally that we are subject rather than object is to declare manumission.

Emancipation simply cannot be tolerated because patriarchy and white hegemony depend on a support staff to maintain their rule.  If black women refuse to act in collusion with their oppression headship cannot be maintained.  Calling a WOC an ABW is a disciplinary action, and it is specifically meant to remind us of our place in the race hierarchy. 

Privilege assumes that we have no right to our anger.  It is irrational and based on emotion because our historical purpose is to serve.  To be angry is to deny the right of white males to their power.  The current power structure is a social creation and not an independent source of nature.  Osmosis, and fertilization, are acts of nature, encoding bodies with value and difference is a result of our desire to privilege.  O'Reilly is not more entitled to autonomy than any other living being and it is this fact that daily he works to fight against.  That Michelle will not offer him her breast for nurture or her genitals for pleasure means that she has decided her own worth.  If a WOC unilaterally decides that she is an equal rather than a subservient body,  O'Reilly and men of his ilk would not exist with privilege.  Like any other ruling group in history white males will not release or reduce their privilege and therefore when we hear the taunt of ABW we should understand it for what it is-- a call to war in the maintenance of white supremacy.


Micro Activism and Owning Privilege

Recently I have written a lot blog posts about privilege.  It was my hope to get some people to acknowledge their unearned privileges.  For those reading who are well aware of the systemic nature of sexism, racism, abelism etc often there is the question of where do I go now.

Unfortunately there are no easy answers to this question.  No matter what you do, you can never get rid of your unearned privileges.  The nature of isms are systemic.  For those that have taken the time to educate themselves, the next step involves taking action.  Most look around them and feel overwhelmed by the task at hand.  This is understandable as the world is filled with such negativity.

Not everyone can be Mother Theresa, nor does everyone have the desire to lead such a self sacrificing life.  I am certainly not cut out for that. I am a strong believer in what I call micro activism.  This entails incorporating your principles into your daily life. 

Let's say that you hear someone making a racial comment, a WOC may object but coming from someone white because of the power differentials in our society the objection will be taken more seriously.  If you hear someone saying something homophobic, or trans phobic, let that person know that their commentary is ignorant and why.  When the opportunity arises, engage in critical conversations. Be a beacon for the truth.  Each person we engage with is one more person that is forced to acknowledge their privilege.

Conversation should never be overlooked as a meaningful tool for change.  Language is more than about simple communication, through language we have the power to change discourse and make the unimagined real. 

If you are a mother, or are regularly engaged with children, you have the opportunity to have a large effect on the future.  As children grow and mature they become a reflection of what we have taught them.  Parenting from a feminist perspective is a revolutionary act.  Each day as I engage with my sons, I make them aware of their unearned privileges and the necessity of treating all peoples as equal.  When they go out into the world they will carry with them everything that I have taught them.  The wonderful thing about children is that we don't know ultimately what they will become and the effect that they will have on the future, but if we raise them with a feminist ethic we can assure that whatever they choose to do, it will have a positive impact on the world.

Everyday small acts mean great change if we all commit to thinking of others before ourselves.  Shop at unionized shops, investigate the companies that you purchase from, buy used when you can.  Write letters to your governmental representatives, donate your time when you are able to worthy organizations but most importantly, commit to engagement.  Make your every thought about change and create the change  by making small adjustments in how you live your life.

I am no superwoman but I believe in living my politics daily.  When I enter the world, I enter it as an engaged, critical womanist/feminist.  This effects the relationships I choose to maintain, the companies I support, and the causes that I advocate for.  Feminism is as much a part of my identity as any other indicator and as such I believe in expression through deed.  Saying I know that I am privileged and then not moving forward is not mitigating privilege.  Have the courage of your convictions and engage with others.  Ignorance and hatred wins when  we refuse to speak truth to power.


Why Is It Always The White Women?

image I often engage in conversations with white women in which I accuse them of not owning their race privilege.  Quite often the response is, why are you blaming us, and not white males.  I believe that this is an important issue to discuss because despite the sisterhood claims of feminism, there actually exists a lot of animosity between WOC and white women.

White women and black men, both focus on the marginalizatio0n that they face from over privileged white men.  Though WOC will acknowledge that there is definitely an issue with how the  white male body is encoded with power; they are not our sole oppressors.  Unlike white women, white men do not have a history offering friendship that ends in betrayal.  The relationship between white men and WOC is quite clear...adversarial.  Telling us to focus on white men instead of deconstructing their own unearned privileges is an attempt to deflect responsibility.

Feminism has a history of betraying WOC.  As it has been noted on this blog and many others, when it came to activism, white women of middle/upper class standing have repeatedly made the movement about their needs and their desires, while at the same time trying to assert a common sisterhood with WOC.  When there is filing, coffee making and general menial tasks to be done, then and only then, do WOC matter in any significant way.  As we look at who are considered the heroes of second wave feminism the disparity between white women and WOC speaks volumes.  Despite the consciousness raising and the ideology of the personal is political, the personal is only validated when it is the experience of white women. White bodies, and white experiences have been utilized to  create the monolithic woman.

Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Janice Raymond, and Mary Daly could not possibly identify with the needs of WOC, and yet instead of seeking to learn they made their experiences the referential.  Bodies that did not conform to the feminist image were routinely silenced.  When bell hooks entered the scene saying that the gilded cage was a pretty trap for white women, but that it did not apply to WOC, then and only then, did we have a voice in modern feminism that spoke specifically to and for us.

What is most hurtful is that our common experiences of womanhood should allow for a form of solidarity, but as long as white feminists continue to devalue the degree to which race and class effect the lives of WOC there can be no lasting peace.  Race and class have been used as a tool to specifically oppress us.  When white women were attending consciousness raisings, getting degrees, and fighting in the courts for gender neutral legislation, it was  WOC  that you entrusted your children to.  Your achievements would not have been possible without our labour, and just like white men you discounted its value.

Even today feminists stand in defence of the clearly anti-woman Palin and yet there is virtual silence about the sexism that Michelle Obama faces.  Angelina Jolie is the embodiment of acceptable womanhood and Erykah Badu is a licentious whore.  Magazines daily reaffirm white womanhood as the most beautiful and desirable, and  WOC get one issue of Italian vogue.  That this privileging of beauty has left us permanently scared is not actively engaged in.

I talk to and about white women because I want an admission of the duplicitous nature of friendship that has been offered.  Until there is an acknowledgement of the history of betrayal, there can be no healing and no true sisterhood.  As women we cannot afford to continue to work at cross purposes if we hope to make any real inroads on our shared patriarchal oppression.  We will not allow you to achieve equality with white men by oppressing us.  Your freedom cannot be gained on our backs.  Mammy no longer wishes to serve.

 


Obama The Half Breed

image

This clearly offensive sign is being displayed on the front lawn of Andy Lacasse.  Apparently he was a die hard Democrat before Obama won the party nomination. 

"I got nothing good to say about Obama," Lacasse told News 13. "If I see anybody touching that sign, I got a club sitting right over there. That's the Democratic Party. They're nothing but a bunch of cutthroats," Lacasse said. "Like I always said, you show me an honest politician, I'll show you an honest thief. Look what he's doing to Palin," Lacasse said, referring to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate. "Come on. He got people going to Alaska, looking for something to say bad about her."

Politics is not a not a "clean business," and while he is willing to disparage the Obama campaign  for looking to discredit Palin, he makes no commentary about the fact that the GOP have continually slurred Obamas message, as well as used difference to perpetuate racism.  Why is it acceptable for McCain to attack Obama at will?  He is upset by Obama simply because socially it is believed that blacks should capitulate to whites, due to the history of the master/slave legacy in the US.  Already the Obamas have been referred to as "uppity" for having the temerity to be educated and successful.

Though Lacasse claims that his issue with Obama is how he is running his political campaign,  the "tone"  of his message makes it clear that the issue is about Obamas race.  The term " half-breed" is especially offensive in that it implies that he is not worthy because his body can not be read as, nor understood to be white. When we consider that white men have always controlled the political power in the US, calling Obama a half breed is an attempt to delegitimize him as a body worthy of running because of his race.

In the second half of his protest he falsely refers to Obama as a Muslim.  Obama has many times asserted his religious faith to be Christian.  I wonder where this idiot was when the Reverend Wright fiasco was occurring.  Clearly he had been attending a Christian church for many years, and this defeats the idea that Obama is Muslim.  Another point that is also troubling to consider, is even if true, why should being a Muslim make him disqualified to be POTUS? 

Though the US is a Judeo-Christian society there is a separation of church and state for a reason.  Religion cannot and should not be held against an individual.  Right now the current trend runs towards Islamophobia.  Muslims are treated as though they are social threat because of the actions of a few that have wrongly used Islam as a basis to perform violence.  Yes the complaints are legitimate but violence cannot be a solution. While Lacasse feels free of accusing Obama of dirty politics clearly the issue is who does  the action, and not the action itself.

Lacosse claims that this is a freedom of speech issue.  He is displaying this highly racist and inflammatory sign on his property.  While it is his right to display his ignorance and hatred to the world, it is also my right and the right of those that are like minded to inform him that such ideas have no place in an evolved state.

H/T Urban Swirl


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Miss Navajo: Reconceptualizing Native American Beauty.

image

Yolanda Charley, recently won the title of Miss. Navajo NationI am normally against beauty contests, as I see them as nothing more than the performance of femininity for the male gaze.  The Miss Navajo Nation is like no other pageant I have ever come across.

The Miss Navajo competition is a week long with a 45-minute, 18-question interview by former Miss Navajos to test the contestants' traditional knowledge. Navajo elders judge contestants' dance moves, attire and personal presentation. Charley presented corn grinding and dedicated a song to Navajo veterans for the traditional skill and talent events.

In the competition, young Navajo women are judged on their language, traditional skills and talents and contemporary skills to become ambassadors for the tribe... Miss Navajo contestants aren't helped by their parents or relatives during the pageants. They have to dress themselves and make their own hair bun, according to the application. They have to be fluent in Navajo and English and have a high school diploma.

What I love about this contest is that it is more than women parading around with fake smiles, with their bathing suits taped to their skin, to avoid being swallowed by their asses.  Miss Navajo is about celebration, and the perpetuation of  culture. 

As I looked through the photos of past winners one of the things that struck me was the fact that the women were of all different sizes.  Unlike the Miss America pageant where women are all thin, long legged beauties, the requirement to win Miss. Navajo is a firm grounding in language, and ancient traditions. In this we can see that beauty can be understood very differently from what the media and the fashion industry continually try to idealize for the public.

Miss Navajo Nation represents womanhood and fulfills the role of "grandmother, mother, aunt, and sister" to the Navajo people and therefore she can speak as a leader, counselor, advisor and friend.

I see this pageant as more than a return to the past, it is an elevation of womanhood.  While a good part of the competition involves the preparation of food, what should be considered is that this is actually an elevation of women's traditional nurturing labour.  Today when a woman prepares food for her family it is the expected and therefore an  invalidated act; whereas in the competition the labour is fully appreciated and rewarded.  The work that we do as women in the maintenance of our families upholds the private sphere, and this is often discounted because it does not produce a product that can be sold on the open market. When I see a pageant that celebrates womanhood in this way, I cannot help but to be thrilled.  Even though this competition is limited to Navajo women we should all take heed because what we should be celebrating are our skills and our devotion not whether we can  smile pretty, in a bathing suit and high heels.

H/T Ojibway Migisi Bineshii


How am I to Learn? Entering New Spaces and Unpacking Privilege

When Sept 11 happened one the things that I quickly realized is that I was basically ignorant about Middle Eastern culture, history, and the role that religion played in the conflicts that are continuously erupting.  Before that terrible day I thought that because  so much had already gone on, that it would be to cumbersome for me to wade in and educate myself about the relevant issues.  Sept 11 changed my purposeful ignorance. As much as I felt sorrow for the innocent that had died that day, I quickly realized that Muslim North Americans would quickly become a  group which would be virulently targeted.  As a body of colour who has been subject to discrimination and racism, I realized that it was my duty to learn about the issues and not hate, or be intolerant.

Slowly and with much trepidation I made my way to my local library.  I had no idea where to begin my search, but I was determined not to live in ignorance any longer. Today I am still not as informed as I would like to be about the issues, but I am educated enough not to believe the mendacious one sided commentary that regularly passes as news.  I learned about the Palestinians and discovered that yes indeed their concerns were legitimate.  I learned about the land disputes and unpacked my pre conceived ideas about Islam.  Most importantly I learned not to see the Middle East as one homogenous land mass.  Each culture has a distinct identity and history.

From there, I branched out and read the writings of feminist Middle Eastern Scholars.  I learned that viewing all Muslim women as victims was my western bias.  I began to understand that accepting the agency of women means accepting that not all women are going to make the same choices that I do.  Those choices do not need to be apologized for, they simply need to be accepted and validated as part of the human experience.

The reason I am sharing this with you is because of a post I came across at the Bilerico Project, wherein a blogger questioned how he was to learn, if he did not ask questions of the  trans community. Presuming that you have the right to question is a privileged position.  It is not the job of a marginalized body to educate you on their life's experience.  It is not their job to inform you of the issues, facts and data that you have purposefully chosen not to explore because you previously found it irrelevant.  Of course the whine that follows that statement is, "but how am I to learn ?"

It is privilege to play the role of the helpless ignorant, when we live in the information age.  Library cards are free and  with one simple visit, a world of knowledge is instantly available.  There are documentaries, seminars and college/university classes dedicated to a myriad of subjects.  The only thing impeding your knowledge is you.  Problematize the existential situation; make the familiar strange and you will see that by truly listening as though you had never heard anything about the issue, you will learn thousands  of details.  Some will be so heartbreakingly rich in detail that you will wonder how it is that previously you had been blind to such beauty, or such evil. 

I constantly tell Destruction, my 7 year old, that life is not about the accumulation of commodities, it is about the accumulation of experiences and personal growth.  When you immediately cut yourself off from others due to privilege, laziness or ignorance not only only are you reaffirming our biased social hierarchy, you are forestalling the opportunity to grow as a person.  Life's tapestry is so beautiful, if only we could all learn to see with the eyes of a babe; and remove ourselves from the equation.


What Gender Is Your Brain?

While surfing the Internet I came across a questionnaire that professed to have the ability to determine the gender of the brain.  Of course you know that I simply could not resist taking the test.

Your Brain is 33% Female, 67% Male

image

You have a total boy brain
Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts
And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...
You never like to get feelings too involved

The "unhusband" scored: 27% Female, 73% Male

The "unhusband" thinks I make a pretty hot guy...HAHA.  What these ridiculous little tests rely on for accuracy are essentialist traits.  Notice that because I was deemed logical and detailed, the quiz  decided that I was male; therefore women are illogical and disorganized.  The male thought processes are determined by reason and only the irritational female allows herself to be ruled by emotion.

Any thinking, independent autonomous woman would have been deemed male by this ridiculous test.  This is just an asinine internet quiz, but I feel that it is very indicative of the ways in which we understand gender in this society. 

Logic and reason are not a contradiction of my womanhood, rather they are a contradiction of how we have socially constructed femininity.  Just as De Beauvoir theorizes, one is not borne a woman but becomes one.  Our understanding of gender is what allows the perpetuati0n of the social hierarchy wherein males are continually privileged.  My brain is female because I am a woman.  Despite the fact that society has encoded my body with a problematic identity, rationality and independence are a part of my identity.  


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Save Bitch

Bitch Magazine may have to close shop if they are not able to raise 40K by Otober15.  I know that this is a large amount of money to raise, but if everyone were to donate even 5-10 dollars, it would make a huge difference.  Bitch magazine covers the issues from a feminist perspective and it is non-profit.  If we believe in supporting womens voices, Bitch is definitely worthy of our time and our money.

Canadian Government Passes Law Banning Gay Blood Donation

I have a new piece up at pinke.biz . As always I'll get you started and then you can follow the link to finish up.

With an election looming in Canada, there are many important issues to consider. For the GLBT community the re-election of the Progressive Conservatives is particularly problematic.  The PC's have made it clear that it considers some bodies particularly diseased through the passing of legislation which bans the donation of organs and blood from gay men that are sexually active.  According to the CBC, "the donor will be excluded if they have had sex with a man in the last five years."

Not only is this decision discriminatory, it further jeopardizes the lives of those who are desperately awaiting new organs. So entrenched is the homophobia that the government is will to overlook the health of the population. Canadian Blood services which recently ran a blood drive reported that "900,000 donations a year [are needed] to meet hospital demand in Canada. Last year there was a 2% growth in demand for blood and blood products - the largest in ten years."

Finish reading the article here.

Oprah: We Made You and We Can Break You

I don't often speak about Oprah because to be honest, I have fallen in and out of love with her a multitude of times over the years.  While I appreciate her significance as a WOC, the classist nature of her show can sometimes turn my stomach. 

image For the first time in her career, Oprah decided to embrace a candidate.  Whether or not you agree with her choice, it was still her choice to make.  Each election cycle celebrities declare their allegiances to the different candidates, and the public gives said endorsement the weight that it thinks is necessary in their decision making process.

Barack has graced Oprahs stage twice, and both times were before he declared his candidacy. Since the nomination of Sarah Palin some womens groups are insisting that she be given the opportunity to appear on Oprahs show. They feel that this would allow for balanced representation, even though Barack has not appeared himself since winning the nomination.  The Florida Federation of Republican Women has launched a boycott against Oprah Winfrey’s TV show and magazine because the talk queen has said she will not have Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. This is a classic case of bend to our will, or we will break you. 

No other celebrity is being held accountable for their political choices; Oprah is the exception rather than the rule.  Gee I wonder what would make Oprah different from all of the other celebrities that have endorsed either  McCain or Obama? Let me think.  Could it be...no.. it couldn't be her race could it? When she first endorsed Barack over Hillary, pundits declared that she would alienate her viewership which was largely white women, and now it seems that there is some veracity to their point of view.  As long as Oprah was neutral and not taking an active stake in the political world, the white majority were content to embrace her.   The moment she dared to speak for her own hopes and dreams, suddenly she was the great betrayer of women. 

Why is her voice, or her hopes any less important than that of Melissa Ethridge, or Madonna?  Why is it her body that must bear the brunt of their anger?  There is no call to boycott anyone else, only the backstabbing black Jezebel who dared not to do the bidding of her largely white audience. 

When people say that we reside in a post racial world they are specifically excluding examples like this.  That white women think that they can still bully WOC into performing behaviour to please them, is a signification of the entrenchment of white privilege.  White women have become accustomed to the loving worship of mammy like figures, and to this day still expect WOC to fulfill their every desire, whether or not it is in our best interest.  One day I intend to write a eulogy for Mammy, because now she only lives in the imaginations of those that continue to think that their needs, outweigh the needs of anyone else. Good for you Oprah, I may have to watch now just in spite.


No Really It's Not Me, It's You

Thoughts, ramblings and musings....Where to begin today.  As a blogger not only do I write Womanist Musings, I enjoy visiting other blogs.  What I have noticed is that some people (and you know who you are) love to derail a perfectly good post  by making it all about them,  or they insist on having some ridiculous point validated. that is not central to theme presented for discussion.  It's not cute, or amusing.  What it is, is classic  silencing behaviour.

It is quite easy to write a blog about basket weaving, or the latest recipe, but to truly engage with people and challenge their perceptions takes courage and commitment.  Society loves the conformist and blogging is no different.   We do not embrace originality in thought, or deed because we have embraced the cult of docility.  The status quo is safe and for those existing with social privilege it  is advantageous to maintain.

Time and time again when WOC attempt to engage in the feminist blogosphere, we are silenced.  When we dare to demand that our experiences be validated, our knowledge is discounted. We are held to a different standard with a larger requirement for factual data than is demanded of other bloggers.  Of course we are told that this is all about standards. 

The elusive standards...why is it that WOC never seem to meet the standard?  If you dare to speak about race, and what it means to your life, you are an ABW (angry black woman). If you speak about class, clearly you are not rational because capitalism is working so well.  If you dare to speak about women, well you don't classify as one.  To see oneself daily othered for the maintenance of privilege is a difficult thing for the heart to bear. 

The internet is supposed to be the great equalizer.  Everyone with a modem can potentially have their say...well you can have your say, but unless it is reflective of dominant social ideas you will be dismissed and discounted.  We are constantly lectured about our tone as though our anger, or thought process has no basis in reality.  It is not our tone that is problematic but our message. Even if I were to use the softest, most flowery language to articulate my point, the message would still be dismissed because to embrace me, or women like me, would mean owning your privilege and admitting the ways in which you profit from our social positioning.

When white women strip and loudly protest in the streets for PETA, they are not called angry women.  When white environmentalist tie themselves to trees to protest clear cutting. they are not called angry.  Anger is used against WOC as a means to keep us from articulating our point.

The other common silencing tactic is quite passive aggressive and could pass as the comforting words of the ally to the uninitiated. A WOC will invest her time writing a particularly moving piece. only to have white people relate it their lives, once again making their experience the referential.  You cannot learn to unpack your privilege if you constantly refer to yourself.  The only way to truly learn is to listen to the experiences of WOC and validate our truths.  When I wrote about black women and our hair, I was rewarded with a discussion of white people and dread locks.  There was barely any acknowledgement that this was counter to the topic at hand, or of the co option that had taken place.  Some people do not truly seek to learn, they seek to reinforce the audacity of whiteness.

I post this today not to point fingers, or make accusations.  It is simply a record of my observations. Just as in real life, the online exchange continues to privilege certain bodies.  Even those that claim to be liberal and progressive still actively seek to maintain the status quo.  They present themselves dogmatically with an air of didactic formality, however the real message is not in what is produced but how they respond to the writings of others.  Principles only mean something when you stand behind them in all circumstances.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Even Fox Doesn't Believe McCain on Economy

When even the Republican mouth piece cannot sell your lie, you should know that you are in some serious trouble.  Liar Liar pants on fire and even your good buddies at FOX say so....

John McCain Is White; Talk About THAT, Rep. Westmoreland

So I have another piece up at Global Comment, thanks Natalia. I will get you started and then you will have to go there to finish.

John McCain is white; conversely Barack Obama is African American. It is an obvious but important statement to make.

McCain’s whiteness is often ignored in the mainstream press. Conversations about race and the election centre on Obamas blackness as though the whiteness of McCain is an insignificant racial fact. The galvanizing power of whiteness is clearly obvious from watching the Republican National Convention where the delegates were mostly white. Even the protesters were white.

McCains whiteness is normalized and invisible because white hegemony thrives on invisibility. The fact that his body is just as problematic as Obama’s black body will not be acknowledged, because to do so would force a conversation about the ways in which white power is maintained.

Discursively there is the proposition that we live in a post racial world but this is an impossibility because we continue to fail to discuss whiteness. We react to statements like, “Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity.” which has been attributed to Rep. Westmoreland by The Hill as racist against blacks. But what does it say about whiteness?

Westmoreland can make the aforementioned statement because it is assumed that power belongs to whites and any usurpation on the part of an ‘other’ is thwarting the natural order. Not only is McCain seeking the presidency for the privilege of ruling, he seeks it to maintain white hegemony.

Since the United States became a country it has been run officially by whites with blacks and other bodies of colour functioning in a support staff role. With a tradition of white headship that is over 200 years old, the idea that white rule is natural and normal has become ingrained in American society. The construction of whiteness as meant for power is daily reinforced by the agents of socialization, thus when McCain announced his bid for the presidency we viewed it as a standard affair.

Finish reading it here.

A Wedding Ring Doesn't Mean That It Isn't Rape

“MADISON, Wis. - Police who videotaped a man having sex with his comatose wife in her nursing home room violated his constitutional rights, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

David W. Johnson, 59, had an expectation to privacy when he visited his wife, a stroke victim, at Divine Savior Nursing Home in Portage, the District 4 Court of Appeals ruled. Therefore, police violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches when they installed a hidden video camera in the room, the court said.

“We are satisfied that Johnson’s expectation of privacy while visiting his wife in her nursing home room is one that society would recognize as reasonable,” the unanimous three-judge panel wrote.”

The woman’s sister is upset that prosecutors brought charges against him, Kelly said. “She believes her sister’s husband was merely expressing his love for his wife and was trying everything he could to bring her back to consciousness,” Kelly said. MSNBC via Feminocracy

This report starts off from the wrong premise by calling what occurred sex.  For  two people to have sex, both parties must consent to the act, in absence of consent it is rape. Clearly this poor comatose woman was violated.  It is irrelevant that the man that did was her husband.  A wedding ring does not entitle him to life long access to her body.

How his supposed right to privacy could possibly outweigh her right to bodily integrity is beyond me.  To compound this horror, her sister is calling her rape an expression of love.  How can having a penis inserted into your body without your express permission be an act of love?  If this were an employee of the institution in which this woman was staying, there would be no discussion about love, it would simply be recognized for what it is...RAPE.

And people wonder why I have such issues with "traditional marriage". This is exactly why.  It is assumed that when you walk down the aisle no matter the advances produced by feminism, that your ownership is being transferred from your father, to your new husband.  From beginning to end everything about marriage supports patriarchy. 

Until feminists fought for marital rape laws, it was deemed impossible for a man to rape his wife because they were considered one body.  Conveniently the one body clause always seems to apply when the woman is the victim.  In the name of maintaining traditional family values women have been beaten, raped and murdered.

Women who are date raped have difficulty achieving justice under the law and are regularly subject to slut shaming.  How much more difficult is it for a lawfully married woman when it is still socially assumed that her body is the property of her husband?  Who is going to speak for this woman when her own sister seems uncommitted to justice.  His right to privacy does not extend to providing the means for his continual assault of his wife.  A restraining order needs to be issued against his continual invasion of her body, and he needs to face justice just like any other rapist.  When he took his wedding vows and promised to honour, love, and cherish, he clearly did not take it seriously.


Shall We Have A Conversation About Anger and Injustice

It's been almost six Wait cue Black Hole Sun...need some thinking music...

In my eyes
Indisposed
In disguise
As no one knows
Hides the face
Lies the snake
The sun
In my disgrace
Boiling heat
Summer stench
neath the black
The sky looks dead
Call my name
Through the cream
And Ill hear you
Scream again
Black hole sun
Wont you come
And wash away the rain
Black hole sun
Wont you come
Wont you come

Now I know you are wondering where the fuck did that come from. Well as I started to say, almost six moths ago I started writing Womanist Musings with the goal of raising awareness and having conversations about topics that are ignored.  I have not missed a single day, such has been the level of my commitment. 

Cue Metallica ....Enter Sandman...howl at the moon time...

Somethings wrong, shut the light
Heavy thoughts tonight
And they arent of snow white
Dreams of war, dreams of liars
Dreams of dragons fire
And of things that will bite
Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight
Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
Off to never never land

I realize that this is a longwinded way of getting at my point so please bare with me.  I am sick and tired of the you're so angry and your blog is filled with so much hate routine that I get each and every day. This world is not a pretty place for many people and that is the reality of the situation.  Do you think you can dress up rape, and murder with pretty platitudes, and make it smell like a bunch of fucking roses?  How about hunger? Would it all be better if we just kept the conversation to how much the cost of food is growing in the west without dealing with the fact that people in third world are eating fried mud?  You pissed about your minimum wage job? What about those that have to sneak across the border daily to feed their families and get paid way below minimum wage? What about the workers that are getting paid less than 1USD per day?

Does it make you feel better to talk about things as though they are post our reality. You know what I am talking about. Those idiots that insist that we are in a post racial world, or a post feminist world.  If it is all so post why do we still have honour killings, rapes, beatings, missing women, murdered pregnant women, domestic violence.  Yeah right now, even as I type this, some poor woman is being beaten half to death with her children in the background screaming and scared.  But it is all a post feminist world right. FUCK YOU and your post feminist shit.  Until the day occurs when not one single woman is subject to violence because she had the misfortune to be born with a vagina between her legs, feminism is a necessity, and you can tell your fucking colluding ass, idiot bitches, I SAID SO.

As for you post racist bigots.  Are you enjoying your racial privilege? I realize that you have neatly packed your white sheets away but you are not as invisible as you seem to believe. POC recognize you the minute we lay eyes on you. The stink coming off your body fouls my senses.  The worst part about your hatred is that it isn't even about us.  It is about your greed.  You feel that you have the right to have the best of everything in this world; and therefore walk around with an entitlement chip on your shoulder.  Then you have the nerve to accuse us of being angry.  Tell you what, how about I imprison your youth with racist laws, ensure that they are undereducated in schools that are falling apart, introduce a drug that is highly addictive into your communities, make sure that your children see images of themselves each day that teaches them that they aren't worth a drop of fucking spit in a bucket of piss, make sure that food in your neighbourhood is disgustingly high fat and expensive, refuse to hire you even though you are clearly over qualified for the position, and then blame you for all of the shit that is of my creation. You are like fucking Lucifer on earth.  God may or may not exist, but you racists leave me no doubt about the reality of evil.

Then there are the perverts that daily concern themselves about what I am doing with that evil contraption between my legs. Who and how I fuck is none of your goddamn business.  I may identify as a straight woman but that does not mean that I cannot see your evil homophobic and trans hate for what it is.  They are just another group that society has chosen to hate because certain people get advantages.  The whole time you stand there and spew your hatred getting totally orgasmic about it; I often wonder what you think it has to do with you what two people do with their bodies, or what gender a person wants to identify as.  If two women are fucking you don't have to watch. Chances are they don't want your interference anyway.   It's not about you, so stop making it about you.

Change of Tune Lenny Kravitz I Wanna Fly Away....

I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly
Id fly above the trees
Over the seas in all degrees
To anywhere I please
Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

Really I do wish, I could run, and hide somewhere until the ugliness and hate is over. When I had my kids I promised them that I would never surrender. I looked into their little eyes and promised I would do my best to make their lives a little easier than mine.  I promised with all of the love in my heart that I would fight the good fight, so that they could be counted as whole real people regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.  The one thing I have never done is lie to my  children; and therefore I write womanist musings for them.  My passion for justice is based in nothing but the purest of love.  When I look into their eyes, I want them to know that their mother did what she could to make it a little easier not only for them, but for everyone who doesn't get a fair shake in this life. So for all of you people who want to refer to me as angry and hate filled, you could not be more wrong.  What you see daily is a mothers angst, a mothers fear, and a mothers love.

Finishing with a Little Pearl Jam.....Alive

Oh I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey...oh...

 


Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Most Segregated Day In North America

Today is Sunday and it is indeed the most segregated day in North America. Whites will go to their churches, and black to theirs, and never the two shall meet. Each will preach sermons of uplift directed at their specific congregations and nothing will be said about the one sidedness of the message.

I was raised in the Pentecostal and Seventh Day Adventist faith (Parents couldn't agree on a family religion) and both were largely black denominations.

God is love and colour blind; I have heard this over and over again.  If that were truly the case, why do we feel the need to segregate ourselves to worship her/him? (yes I am going to use a gender neutral approach) When people close their eyes to pray they don't envision a God that is without race, they envision a God that either reflects them, or a God that is white because western society has made whiteness representative of Divinity. Think about how many mainstream black Jesus', or black virgin Mary's you have seen?  There is a good deal of evidence that Jesus was a man of colour, and in fact in early Christian imagery he was not depicted as the blonde haired blue eyed Jesus that we recognize today.

The white Jesus is reflective of the white power structure. Creating a God that is white empowers whites to act on her/his behalf because of course they are his "chosen people".  Whites have skillfully used Christianity to keep blacks docile in hopes of reward in the great hereafter.  Slavery, one of the greatest crimes against humanity was justified by religion.  Whether this is a perversion of the original message, or a signal of the inequality that is inherent to Christianity I cannot say. It could simply be a matter of the ways in which racial stereotypes and power dynamics have been attached to theology.

What I do know, is that until society becomes cognizant of ways in which race is divisive there can be no unity on Sunday.  Fellowship will remain segregated because we don't truly believe that the person standing beside us is our equal. This is true in terms of race, class and gender.  The platitudes that we pay lip service to on Sunday have no real meaning in the larger world, as we daily engage in acts that contradict the very messages we claim to embrace on Sunday. 

Worship is more about division than solidarity.  Those of upper class standing do not attend churches in poor neighbourhoods.  Though Jesus was a poor man, mixing with different class elements even to praise his name is a rare phenomenon.  Ask yourself why we must dress in our Sunday best to commune with God.  I remember one church I attended that was more like a fashion show for Oscar de la Renta than a gathering together of like minded beings.  I quickly realized that I did not make enough money to be able to practice my faith (now I am agnostic) there.  Each week there would hushed whispers about what people were wearing. Those that did not meet the appropriate standard were dutifully shamed.

As this post is already long enough I won't get into the gender issues that come along with Christianity but sufficed it to say there are many.  I simply want people to think as they head off to their respective places of worship today, about why they have chosen the church that they have and what it says about their connection to God. Are your intentions as pure as you think they are, or are you simply repeating racist/classist/sexist behaviour that has become commonplace in western society?

H/T Stuff White People Do for The Youtube Video