Saturday, September 27, 2008

PETA'S Favourite Animal Is Pussy

I wrote a piece about PETA requesting that Ben and Jerry's switch to breast milk from cows milk.  As I said in that post, and every other post I have written about PETA, exploiting women is their stock and trade.  They have also engaged in fat hate, racism and trans hate.  Even with all of the evidence of their willingness to encourage isms, and reduce people to the status of  'other,' some people still refuse to acknowledge what a truly horrid organization this is. It is not a matter of simple sensationalism, they are preying on the worst elements of human society to gain attention, and at the same time reifying the existence of isms.  

I don't know whether PETA is aware or not, but in their fight to end cruelty against animals, they are hurting animals. Human beings are animals and their campaigns are damaging as they marginalize  members of human society.  They operate like a Fascist organization, cruelly targeting those that they are either unable to use, or that don't fit into their neat little vegetarian/vegan empire.  Though many are quick to dismiss PETA as an extremist group without any power, it would be dangerous to do so.  When groups akin to PETA are ignored the messages that they send out fester, and cause rot and disease within our society.  The best way to fight such hate is to expose it to the light of day, it is to that end that I present a compilation of PETA ads.

image

Of Course the Olsen Twins are Ugly because they refuse to succumb to PETA's demands.

image image  image      image image                      image 

image image image What more evidence could possibly be needed of PETA'S willingness to exploit women to send their message about animal cruelty. It says that they believe that the only purpose women have in this movement is to supply the tits and ass.  These images are demeaning and reductive. 

 By posting these images, I am no way negating animal cruelty, but I feel it is important to implicitly state that the tactics employed by PETA, time and time again do not serve the purpose they intend.  People do not become enamoured and suddenly adopt the cause of animal rights, instead they are disgusted by seeing women, minorities, and trans people, face such obvious bigotry.  As long as PETA continues too employ these tactics they will not gain potential allies, they will gain enemies.  They are a horrible reflection on the animal rights movement; as other groups are quickly associated with PETA and dismissed.

The sexist twerps that see these images and get excited do pay scant attention, but only for as long as it takes to rub out an orgasm and clean up with Kleenex.

image

So with all of the respect that you deserve PETA, ....FUCK YOU and your sexist exploitation of women.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Cafferty On Palin

When someone is as bang on as this how can you argue with them. Cafferty nails this one.  This is also a perfect example of how to discredit Palin without resorting to sexism.  Give her enough rope and it is clear that she will hang herself.  Even Blitzer  could not resurrect her from this huge gaffe.

Wanda Sykes on Jay Leno: Bailout & Palin

I damn near wet myself watching this. I so had to share it with everyone. Enjoy!!

Thanks Feministing.

So I Named My Imaginary Friend Vagina

Imagine my surprise to discover while surfing the net, that my vagina is a figment of my imagination.  All these years I thought that it was a real and concrete as any other body part.  What exactly have been protecting all these years from assault and abuse?

On top of being a person of lesser value Saudi Clerics apparently think that women are delusional too. 

The viziers, all experts in modern Saudi scientific fields such as astrology, water divination and alchemy, were speaking at the launch of their new study, 'Between the Cracks: Stop Fannying About With Our Women', which has set out to prove that the 'vagina' is nothing more than an extension of the buttocks.
"Everybody knows that women are non-sexual creatures," said team leader Prince Abdul Abdul Abdul. "This fantasy about a female sexual organ, this subversive and frankly repulsive idea of a 'vagina', is yet another assault on our values and customs by the West."
Senior researcher Abdul Saud agreed. "Ask any man in the Kingdom if his wife has ever showed the slightest bit of enjoyment while fulfilling the nasty but essential work of spawning a male heir, and he will tell you that sex for women is, and always has been, utterly joyless."
"Until now, we naturally assumed that this lack of pleasure was the fault of the woman partner, perhaps due to some inherent psychological handicap shared by all women," said Grand Vizier of Numerology, Professor Faisal Abdul Saud. "But now we have shown that women are not only stunted psychologically, but physically too."

Of course they established all of these facts without interviewing women.  Why would they be the least bit interested in speaking with the people that possess the body part in question?

If Saudi women are not responding enthusiastically, which I doubt is true of the entire female population, perhaps it has in part to do with the fact that the men are such shitty lovers.  Maybe just maybe it is because female sexuality is  so shamed in their culture, that they have come to view sexual response as a dirty thing. hmmm I think this makes more sense than women are like ATMS just waiting for a man to deposit sperm.  But hey if they think that Vaginas are non existent, is it any wonder that women aren't cumming? Yet more nonsense wrapped in an archaic, outmoded religion to shame women.  OOOH before you get your self tied in knots, the same applies to Christianity.


Louisiana state Rep. John LaBruzzo: These People Are The Problem

Well he announced a plan for voluntary sterilizations and then claimed it had nothing to do with race, so who are these people supposed to be? Considering that he referenced hurricane Katrina, wherein those most adversely effected were POC, I am guessing that these people stands for the darkies. 

POC are to blame for poverty, and not the white supremacist state.  This this idiot wants to be recognized for having the courage to speak out about illegal aliens taking American jobs.  I wonder where he gets his sheets laundered?

H/T Feministing

Eulogy For Mammy

image Goodnight Mammy and may flights of angels fancy bring you to your eternal sleep. Rest now weary one, for you have laboured hard in the purpose of upholding and maintaining white hegemony.  Let your face hang limp now, the forced smile and the gleaming teeth no longer need to be displayed.  Dust to dust and ashes to ashes....

There are many that will wail at the news of your passing.  Who will wipe my tears now that Mammy is gone?  Who will put my children above their own now that Mammy sleeps with angels?  Who will exist simply to make sure that all of my creature comforts are met, now that Mammy has been laid to rest?

image White people love Mammy, that fact cannot be denied.  As long as she existed in their imagination, black women could indeed be understood to embrace our status at the bottom of the race and class hierarchy.  As long as Mammy's booming laugh could be heard in the wind, black women could be said to love their precious white folk.  Love is the most wonderful of human emotions, but in this case, it amounts to nothing but a perversion, a symbol  of internalized racism, because it allows  white people to signify all that is good and pure in this world.  Mammy's love of whiteness necessitated a complete denial, and hatred of all things black.

There are black men that will also weep at the news of her passing.  For them, Mammy justified some of the misogyny in the black community.  That Mammyimage existed without real power was never considered.  To black men Mammy represented a woman who daily performed race traitor behaviour.  That she may have had children of her own to feed necessitating many of her actions was never considered due cause.  Mammys very existence gave black men reason to blame black women for the continuation of white power.  Though they loudly railed against her, Mammys existence gave them cause to silence black women. We could not be trusted to act in our best racial interest, so long as it was perceived that we loved our dear white folks.  This gave credence to the idea that black men should lead.

image Mammy slaved over many a hot stove, refining culinary wonders that would never pass her own parched lips.  Mammys hands were dry and cracked from the bleach used to sterilize and purify homes, that would not open their front doors to her.  Though Mammys body was bountiful, its girth was not built from scrumptious morsels, but from the high fat table scraps that she managed to pocket. Loved and yet despised Mammy bravely soldiered on, her true thoughts an enigma to us all.

As a black woman, I have run screaming from your image, desperate to wash the taint of what you symbolize from my skin.  I feared your reproach, but I was more afraid of accepting your existence, and thus as a black woman I have not emerged unscathed at the news of your passing.  Knowing that you did what did to feed your children, or to secure some kind of favour that benefited your family, has not made the social hatred of you any easier for me to fight against. Even the times when you acted in revolt, poisoning your masters food when you knew the penalty was death,  have been overlooked as true actions of agency.

We never really knew you Mammy, only what you embodied to others, and in truth that is the existence of all black women.  Many endeavour to speak for us, deconstruct our actions, or deny that we even have minds capable of thinking.  We are strangers to the world because just like you we exist more in peoples imaginations, than in reality.  Black womanhood has come to be understood as the collection of thoughts created by other bodies, and not what we as black women actually claim ourselves to be.  Had you been empowered with a voice that could really have been heard Mammy, would the simpleton, sexless image of you still exist? 

Though this parting of ways is long overdue, as you are not meant for the modern age, I shall endeavour to reflect upon you often.  I shall close my eyes and see you, as you would like to have been seen, rather than remember you as others made you out to be.  Mammy though despised and loved by so many, you cannot be forgotten, because to forget you is to deny a significant part of black woman's history.  Perhaps one day we shall look back and reclaim you from the abyss, but until such time as black women may walk in the sunshine without shame....sweet dreams.


Gender or Race? You Simply Must Choose.

Both Black men and white women constantly tell WOC, that we must choose which part of our identity we are most troubled by.  Both completely refuse to acknowledge that even asking us to make this choice is an expression of privilege. What other group are constantly told that to have one part of their identity validated, they must repudiate the other. At various times I have called out black men for their sexism and white women for their racism. Intersectionality is not something I can afford to pay lip service to  because my body represents the very concept. 

When I enter into a hostile situation, it is not always clear whether or not I am dealing with racism or sexism,  sometimes it is a combination of the two. Black women occupy the bottom of the race and class hierarchy, and therefore we have a unique understanding of the ways in which oppression and privilege work.

To ask a person of colour to discount the relevance of race in their lived experience is beyond hubris, it is to be wilfully obtuse and racist.  On a post I wrote entitled Why Is It Always The White Women, the following comment was left.

Perhaps women of color have too much invested in defending men, rather than overthrowing male supremacy. I've always wondered how this particular blind spot can be so all pervasive, but then the truth that men everywhere -- black or white are truly the people who rule the world.

Who are these men that we are meant to rail against?  Who are these men that we are meant to turn our backs on.  I will tell you who these men are; they are our sons, fathers, brothers, and friends.  A black man may not understand every nuance of my existence due to male privilege, but he will understand what racism means to me.  These men that we are told to abandon are not only our loved ones, they are our compatriots in the struggle.

I am addressing this issue today, because I read about an image of Barack Obama being lynched.  Barack and Michelle are clearly people of class privilege, but an act of utter evil and hatred reduced them to 'othered' beings.  To those feminists that are intent that black women should choose gender I ask, will you weep with us when our black sons become victims of racism?  Is my mothers pain woman enough to justify their deaths  as a feminist issue?   What about Baracks daughters, do you feel the pain of the child that watches helpless as their father is reduced to a caricature, and tuned into fodder for racist ideals?

"Black males have the greatest chance of dying before they reach twenty. Although they are only 6 percent of the U.S.population, black males make up half of male prisoners in local, state and federal jails. An overwhelming majority of the twenty thousand Americans killed in crime-related incidents each year are black males. Over thirty-five percent of all black males in American cities are drug and alcohol abusers. Twenty-five percent of the victims of AIDS are black men. Fifty percent of black men between sixteen and sixty-two are not active in the labor force. Thirty-two percent of black men have incomes below the poverty level." (Gibbs, as quoted in Dyson 96)

Racism effects more than high profile men like Barack, and it is only because white women are in the position to wield privilege, that they do not see it for the evil that it is.  You may accuse black women of collusion with black men against the horrors of sexism, but I accuse you of collusion with white men in the furtherance of racism, and the white supremacist state. Unless you are daily, actively striving to mitigate your privilege, and working against racism, calling black women to the mat for supporting those we love when they are being victimized, is supporting the very system that makes sexism possible.

I will not choose between my blackness and womanhood.  To do so would not only splinter my identity, but it would support the isms that work to construct my body, and those that I love as less than.  The taunting about solidarity is not a call for action, it is a request for denial and betrayal.  You shall not alight the mountain of justice, with POC hauling your weight. 


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are You Poor? Here's 1Thousand To Get Your Tubes Tied

image Rep. LaBruzzo has discovered how to end  economic disparity.  The answer that we have all been waiting on is...drum roll please....paying poor people to undergo sterilization.  An old fashioned idea to an ever increasing crises. Do you smell the stink of white fear?

Eugenicists have historically argued that it is the poor, disabled,  defective and bodies of colour that are stagnating the growth of the country.  With an economic crises looming can we really afford to keep supporting those that wish to spend a lifetime sucking on the government teat? 

Remember that the current housing crises is the result of people who could not afford to pay for their mortgages.  When you try to give the poor a helping hand they always fall back on old habits and shirk responsibilities.  The liberal media would have you believe that it is the banking institutions themselves that are at fault for being blinded by greed, but seriously everyone knows that banks only have the interest of the common man at heart.

What Labruzzo and men of his ilk want people to believe is the lie that is preached in every single elementary school across the country; meritocracy.  The streets are paved with gold, and if you work hard enough each person has an equal opportunity to succeed.  If people are poor it is because they choose it and this is a choice that the government can no longer continue to support.

These suggested sterilizations encourage us to believe that parenting is not about the time and love that you invest in a child, but the money you have.  A mother that sits and does homework with her child, reads bedtimes stories, and kisses boo boos is not bad because she cannot afford to pay the landlords extortionist rent.  A woman is not a bad mother because she must find work in an economic system that says that her work is worth 77% of a mans.  Poverty is the result of an economic system that continues to privilege the elite while declaring each failure an individual one rather than a systemic one.

This hypocrite leaves no doubt as to where his class allegiance lies. While advocating sterilization for the poor, he had no problem suggesting a legislative pay raise.  It certainly is acceptable for a white male elite to gain from the government purse, but a poor woman was put on this earth to suffer and she should accept her role.

Labruzzo is living up to the legacy of his seat well.  His riding is the same district that used to be represented by David Duke.  The pupil has outstripped the sansei.  We are to believe that there is no racial overtones to this suggested policy, when the government has a history of forced sterilizations of WOC?  I wonder how much he sells swampland in Louisiana for?  Racism is still a very big part in American society and therefore it would hubris to assume that it would not play a role in which bodies got sterilized.

Despite flashing the all American boy next door smile, Labruzzo's suggestions  come from a place of true malice.  He does not actually believe in ending social injustice or he would advocate for things like socialized daycare, education subsidies for single mothers, and more rent control.  Labruzzo seeks to maintain white male elite privilege at any cost. I don't believe the lie of the post racial world ideology that we are being fed, but I certainly recognize race and class privilege when I see it.

 


H/T Victoria, thanks for emailing me this story

Colour An Indian: The Struggles Of An Anti-Racist Parent

My little guy Destruction started grade two this year.  Each night his father and I sit at the kitchen table with him and supervise his homework.  We consider this family time and are both equally invested in making sure that our child is learning.

scan001001 Tonight little Destruction brought home a page to colour of an Indian. It described her as living in the forest behind his school.  There are no Native children in his grade, and I cannot help but wonder if there were, would the teacher still have found this "image" acceptable?

No matter what the teachers intent was, colour an Indian, is unacceptable.  I quickly informed Destruction that he is to say either Native Canadian, or Aboriginal person.  I also reminded him of a Native family that we have been friendly with for years, and asked him if they looked like this horrendous picture.

He said, "no they look like you and me." I told him certain clothing is worn to celebrate traditional Native holidays, but it is certainly not representative of the ways in which Natives dress today. Then he brought it up...the Disney movie that is on my list of top 10 hated movies...Pocahontas.  We then spent the next 15 minutes explaining to him everything that is wrong with that movie, and why it is not representative of Native peoples.

Each day we must struggle to impart positive messages about race to our child, and to find out that the school is subverting our work in this way is infuriating.  With thanksgiving a few weeks away, I suppose I should not be surprised that the education system sees this as an opportunity to spread falsehoods about Native Canadians.

I am already preparing myself for the false tales of the long suffering Jesuit priests who tried desperately to Christianize the heathens, all the while ignoring the broken treaties, the stolen land, the murders, child abuse etc.  The colonization of Native Canadians continues to this very day.

They are over represented in our prison population, Native Canadian women suffer from the most amount of rapes, they largely live in poverty, and have high rates of obesity.  Colonization of Native Canadians has real and lasting effects, and this will all be over looked as our children learn about the great explorers Samuel de Champlain and Jacques Cartier.

I intend to inform my children of the history that the government would like us to forget.  I will remind them that the land on which our home is built is not ours; it is Native land.  I will remind them that the comforts that they take for granted were paid for by Aboriginal blood. 

Being an anti-racist parent means a commitment to telling our children the truth. Much of Canadian history when it comes to race is actually quite ugly though we collectively would like to believe that we are not "that bad".  You see, discursively many Canadians develop an identity by seeking to assert difference between us, and Americans; rather than admitting to a true and distinctive identity that has its own issues.

Tomorrow I will send this little homework assignment back to his school, informing his teacher that my child does not, "colour Indians".  My child is being raised in a household where all bodies matter and we will not tolerate the reduction of anyone based in ignorance.  


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Carnival of Feminists

The most recent Carnival of  Feminists is up at Green Garbo.

Here's just a taste of what's inside:

  1. Owning privilege is not about feeling ashamed, it is about acknowledging the benefits that one receives without having to work for them.
  2. And now today an excited colleague announced that he had just discovered this totally new concept on the internet: white privilege! Even though I've been teaching the idea for over a decade, and it's even discussed in our textbook, it was news to him.
  3. Not a lesbian, not homosexual, but 'gay' with such venom I swear her eyes turned red, smoke came charging out of her ears and she was probably trying to get god to strike me down to hell where I stood.
  4. Given that, one would have to wonder, what would a chimp do with human breasts?
Go and check it out. There are definitely some very interesting posts in this one.

PETA: Breast is Best

Will PETA never come to the end of their lunacy?  I have been posting about the various ways in which PETA has used sexism to sell their message against cruelty to animals.  They have continually sexualized women, see here, here, and  here. In their latest assault they have suggested that Benimage & Jerrys switch from cows milk to breast milk.  It seems that they are concerned about the living conditions, and the cruelty that dairy cows undergo to provide milk for our population.  The solution is not to speak to people and get them to boycott dairy products....oh no...we should hook women up to machines, and get them to pump the milk that we need.

In a letter addressed to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Cofounders, Tracy Reiman the Executive Vice President  lists quite accurately the inhumane treatment that cows suffer in order to provide us with milk.

Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months. After several years of living in filthy conditions and being forced to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally, their exhausted bodies are turned into hamburgers or ground up for soup... Because male calves can't produce milk, dairy farmers take them from their mothers immediately after birth and sell them to veal farms, where they endure 14 to17 weeks of torment chained inside a crate so small that they can't even turn around.

I truly understand why there is a need to raise attention to this issue.  No animal should be forced to endure inhumane conditions to sustain a human desire.  What I find equally galling, is that PETA continually has no issue privileging animals over women.  Social change on the backs of women is not social change, it is just reaffirming a social hierarchy wherein women are already marginalized and exploited.

The breast is best! Won't you give cows and their babies a break and our health a boost by switching from cow's milk to breast milk in Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Thank you for your consideration.

The solution for animal cruelty is for women to turn into dairy cows for the image nation.  Of course unlike animals, using women for their milk would not be in the least bit exploitative?  Women were born to lactate, so why not just use us to make sure everyone gets their daily dose of calcium.

Cows are suffering so let us not take a moment to consider that if this insanity was actually instituted, that it would be the poor women that would be turned into lactating slaves.  I pity the dairy cow, but I pity more the woman that would reduced to this state. 

This lunacy was inspired by a Swiss restaurateur that has decided to replace cows milk in his food with breast milk. Though he is paying women, this still amounts to exploitation.  The women are certainly not receiving any where near the profit that this man is, and you can be quite certain that women that are selling their milk are not comprised of the middle/upper class.

Whether it is to titillate the palate of the rich, or to end the suffering of dairy cows, it is not acceptable to exploit women in this fashion.  This is literally eating the other.  The idea that womens bodies can be and should be consumed in this fashion creates us as slaves to biology, and further marginalizes women that subsist in poverty. 

The more I see of PETA, the more disgusted I become.  There is no level that they are unwilling to sink to.  While their goals may be laudable, they are lost behind the misogyny that is used to transmit the message.  I may believe in the value of an animal, but I have a far deeper commitment to women. 

H/T lauredhel, who left the link in the comment section.


My Kingdom For An Orange

I was visiting Shakesville when I came across a post entitled,  A Quick Question.  It was posted by Deeky on Saturday.  His question is as follows.

I was just at the grocery store, wandering through the produce aisle. I wanted to buy some fruit. I looked at the oranges and thought, hey aren't these supposed to be… umm… you know, orange?
They were a sickly pale yellow color.
I'd like some decent citrus, please.

The thread is filled with people waxing on about fresh fruit and vegetables, and what is available where.  As of this time, there are 53 response and outside of my commentary on the thread, there are no references to western privilege in this conversation. 

Yes I said privilege.  In the west we take it for granted that we can walk into ourimage  closest grocery store and purchase fruit, vegetables and top quality meats.  We may complain from time to time about the rising cost of food, but the fact remains, we are only limited by the size of our wallets, and even the poorest amongst us still has a staggering choice when it comes to food.

image The audacity of a western person having the nerve to complain about the colour of an orange when there are children that have never seen, never mind held an orange in their hands is something that needs to be acknowledged as privilege.

We have so much food that we regularly discard it as waste, or leave it to rot.  Some people have realized the wealth that we consider garbage and have begun dumpster diving.  By going through the garbage bins located outside of grocery stores they are able to feed themselves.   Western nations discard tons of food daily, while in other nations people die from starvation.  We should all pay attention, Deeky wants an orange that meets his specifications.

The African Horn is currently undergoing the largest humanitarian food crises since 1984. The Word Food Program (WFP) has requested 460 million USD to feed 9.6 million people who have been affected by the drought and high food prices in Ethiopia.  In Somalia half of the population (3.25 million people) are also facing starvation. 

Even before the recent hurricanes Haiti, there were many that were eating one meal a day or surviving on mud fried in butter.  Fish has rotted in local markets because the population simply did not have the funds to purchase it.  Now that the country has been devastated by two hurricanes those that were already living in margins are in a terrible state. At this time the WFP estimates that an excess of 5000 metric tonnes of food is needed monthly to sustain the population and evade the threat of civil unrest.

In May I wrote about Zimbabwe.  The situation is so dire there, that women are trading sex for food. According to the Globe and Mail, "the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed in the last decade, with inflation now running at 165 000% and the unemployment rate at 80%. The women who spoke to AFP said they were drawn by the possibility of earning money to send home, but most of them struggled to earn the equivalent of $20 (€13) a day. At times they get paid as little as 50 US cents for sex acts."

I could continue listing the hungry and the starving but I trust  that my point has been made.  When we engage in conversations we should always be aware of the privilege that we are expressing.  Complaining about the shape of a fruit or the colour is ridiculous when we examine the global disparity. 

We do not have a food crises, we have a distribution crises.  Is it really necessary to have super sized meals, or all you can eat restaurants?  Think about the concept of an all you can eat restaurant....eat and eat, not until you are full, but until you are so over stuffed that you can barely move.  These restaurants don't just appear from place to place, they exist in all large cities and in most small towns. Our portion sizes keep increasing, even though few westerners actually perform the work necessary to justify this kind of caloric intake.

We have come to view food as more than a necessity; it has become a sport for pleasure.  We want it cheap, fast, and abundant.  Very rarely is there a thought of the true cost of the meals that we consume.  We have become decadent and greedy and with a reflection that is truly as ugly as Dorian Grey; is it any wonder that we refuse to look at a mirror?  My right to sustenance does not supercede that same right to a person living in Haiti, or Ethiopia.  Good luck with your produce shopping Shakesville commentators, I truly hope that it meets your specifications.  Along the way should any of you stumble on this post, remember that the orange that you discard would be priceless to a hungry child.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yes, Feminists KNOW Sarah Palin Is A Woman

I have  new post up at Global Comment. I will get you started and then you will have to go there to finish up.  Thanks Natalia.

As the first woman nominated by the Republican party to the vice presidency, Sarah Palin has achieved a form of celebrity status. It is simply not possible to tune into any news program for an extended period of time without seeing an image of her, or catching a daily sound bite. Publicly we have become obsessed with discussing her virtues and her failures.

Many feminists actively supported Hillary Clinton and so when Palin implied that she could be substituted for Hillary many looked at her credentials and declared her resoundingly anti-feminist. With the introduction of intersectionality, modern feminism has expanded to cover the life experiences of a diversity of women.

No matter what feminist theory one chooses to advocate, each focuses on improving the lives of women through the validation of women’s agency and the affirmation of women’s bodily integrity. When we consider Palins positions from a feminist lens, she is clearly not a feminist.

Some in the media have taken the rejection of Palin by feminists to mean that somehow she is not considered a woman by us.

Finish reading here

Congratulations Diane Schroer

Friday was a historic day for Trans people in the United States.  Diane Schroer won her her discrimination suit against the Library of Congress.  She had applied for a job and been hired,  but when she revealed to her supervisor over lunch that she intended to have sex reassignment surgery, the offer of employment was rescinded.  The Library had defended its discrimination claiming that  transgender people are not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws.

"It is especially gratifying that the court has ruled that discriminating against someone for transitioning is illegal," said Schroer in a statement from the ACLU, which represented her in court, as reported by CNN.

"I knew all along that the 25 years of experience I gained defending our country didn't disappear when I transitioned, so it was hard to understand why I was being turned down for a job doing what I do best just because I'm transgender. It is tremendously gratifying to have your faith in this country, and what is fundamentally right and fair, be reaffirmed."

Even as I read this report, feeling great joy and relief that she had received justice through the court system, I could not help but notice the language in the story released by CNN. Since language controls discourse, how we speak about an event, person, or concept, has  real significance to our culture.

At the time of the job interview for a position as a senior terrorism research analyst, David Schroer was a male. He had been a onetime Army Special Forces commander.

No David presented as male but she was always a she.  She had once been a Army Special Forces Commander. Once you know the correct pronoun to use, you should always refer to the person by that pronoun.

Even the wording from U.S. District Court Judge James Robinson was problematic.

"The evidence established that the Library was enthusiastic about hiring David Schroer -- until she disclosed her transsexuality," Robinson wrote. "The Library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally and physically, a woman named Diane. This was discrimination 'because of ... sex.' "

Until she disclosed her transgender status is how that should read.  The library revoked the offer when it learned a transwoman formerly named David intended to have her body realigned to match her gender.   Just a few small changes but they make such a difference to how this is understood.  Even though Judge Robinson was affirming her legal rights he still fell prey to cis privilege.

The language we use is the embodiment of not only our privileges but our unchecked discriminations.  It takes time and effort to learn to speak about bodies differently, but this is an attempt that we should all make.  The transgender members of our society are worthy of the same respect as anyone else.  Though this article attempted to remain free of transphobic language, it still made some critical errors.

Someone very close to me asked me a few months ago, "Why do you care about those freaks?"  The answer is quite simple, they are not freaks and I see no difference between myself and someone who is transgender.  We feel the same pain, we both suffer from discrimination and we are all just doing the best we can to get through this life.  Respecting someone even though they may appear to be different from you is the mark of someone who realizes that these so called differences only exist to maintain some bodies as privileged and some bodies as marginalized and disposable.

Congratulations Diane Schroer.  Even with this victory as a society we still have so far to go.  If you are interested in learning more about transgender rights please check out TransGriot and Questioning Transphobia.  They have been excellent resources for me in terms of recognizing my own cis privilege, as well as learning the day to day struggles that a trans person must go through in this life.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Becoming An Ally

Hi, my name is Jack. I'm not crazy about introductions, so let me jump right in.

I've noticed that Renee has been met with a lot of resistance when posting about privilege. I want join the discussion by offering my perspective as a straight, white, middle-class male.

I had an easy childhood, and I assumed that this experience was shared by most people. As I grew, I extended this assumption to other experiences--having an easy time in school, being comfortable with my body and personality, having positive role models in popular culture, being able to speak up for myself whenever I wanted, always having enough food on the table, feeling safe at home, and so forth.

Eventually I became aware of oppression, and decided that I wanted to work to support women, people of color, and other folks who cannot count on society to have their back, but I had no idea how to do this. Like many commenters on this blog, I felt that I had not personally done anything wrong--that I was not a part of the problem--so I didn't know how to be part of the solution. Who could blame me? I had no idea what it was like to be a woman or a person of color, so how could I know that I was reenacting their oppression every day?

To understand my role in the fight against oppression, I had to understand my privilege; to do this, I had to understand what life was like without it. This isn't something I set about to do, because I didn't know I needed to do it. I was lucky to have close female friends who trusted me enough to be comfortable calling out my sexism, knowing that I wanted to grow and change. This is a remarkably difficult thing for women to do--because it is so easy for women's objections to be delegitimized as petty complaints--and I am infinitely grateful to these women for trusting me to hear them out.

And I did hear them out, but it took time. They said, hey, you dominate conversations, and don't give women space to speak. I said it's not my fault women aren't more assertive in conversations! They pointed out other things, and I kept saying it wasn't my fault. Then they said you're right, it's not your fault, but that's not an excuse to do nothing when you can help. And that got through. Female voices are dismissed even when they speak rightly, and my voice has been valued even when I have spoken wrongly. I deserve no praise for my ability to be assertive in a conversation, and there is no judgment on women for struggling to find their voice. We are not responsible for how society has conditioned us, but once we are aware of it we have a responsibility to work toward equality. That means I need to be aware of whether or not I am speaking at the expense of a woman.

And it means I need to be aware of a thousand other things, because society gives me preferential treatment in a thousand areas. The choice of whether or not to be a part of the problem hinges on whether or not I recognize my privilege, because unrecognized privilege will only repeat the patterns of oppression. I am not ashamed of my privilege because I am not responsible for it. We do not need guilt. We need humility. We need to work every day to understand how we have been affected by growing up in a society that values money, masculinity and lack of melanin--and for folks with privilege that means understanding how we have been trained to be oppressors without even realizing it.

So I must recognize that my life is made easier by unearned advantages. But it can't stop with recognition, I have to understand that my privilege is a direct result of others' oppression, and I have to commit to dismantling a system that does not treat all people equally. Giving it up is not an option, because privilege is conferred externally by society. So where do I fit in? My job is to use my privilege to further the goals of the anti-oppression movement, where those goals are determined not by me, but by the very folks who are enduring the oppression. That is what it means to be an ally. That is how I can be a part of the solution. Here are some examples:

  1. An ally supports women and people of color in leadership positions.
  2. An ally backs up oppressed voices when they are dismissed, but does not speak for them.
  3. An ally listens in order to treat people the way they want to be treated. 
  4. An ally respects cultural symbols.
  5. An ally is conscious of his or her own prejudices and works to dismantle them.
  6. An ally gently challenges racism, sexism and classism in daily conversations.
  7. An ally is humble about accomplishments that were made easier by privilege.
  8. An ally has conversations where everyone feels comfortable participating.
  9. An ally avoids cutting down other privileged folks for the appeasement of their own guilt.
  10. An ally does not want any praise for being an ally--it's not about us.

***

Thank you, Renee, for letting me share my thoughts here, and thank you, readers, for lending me your ears, or eyes as the case may be. If you found this post interesting, feel free to check out  my blog. I look forward to your comments.


Sandra Bernhard: Racist and Colluder

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"Now you got Uncle Women, like Sarah Palin, who jumps on the shit and points her fingers at other women. Turncoat bitch! Don’t you fuckin’ reference Old Testament, bitch!" Bernhard said. "You stay with your new Goyish crappy shiksa funky bullshit! Don’t you touch my Old Testament, you bitch! Because we have left it open for interpre-ta-tion! It is no longer taken literally! You whore in your fuckin' cheap New Vision cheap-ass plastic glasses and your [sneering voice] hair up. A Tina Fey-Megan Mullally brokedown bullshit moment."

I know that some people believe in word reclamation, however I feel that this is nothing more than using the masters tools.  As repellent as Sarah Palin is, calling her a bitch and a whore are unacceptable. These are terms routinely used by patriarchy to demean and debase women.  Why should what she chooses to do with her vagina have any baring on her value as a person?  In case you're forgetting Ms. Bernhard you also have a vagina between your legs. 

This kind of commentary is not new or cutting edge. It is circa sexism from the beginning of time immemorial;  that's right since the first time a man thought it was okay to beat a woman, rape a woman, or abuse a woman because he has a dick.  When women employ this kind of attack, all they are doing is reaffirming patriarchy's instance that we should be held to this kind of ridiculous standard. If it applies to Palin then it applies to all women. 

"A Man’s World, It’s a White Man’s World, It’s a F–ked Up White Man’s Racist World"

Glad to know that she believes in the white supremacist state, but when it is followed with a warning for Palin to stay out of Manhattan least she be "gang raped by her black brothers", it certainly promotes the very racism she is decrying.

All black men are rapists, hungrily craving white female flesh.  They simply loose all sense of self at the mere thought of white pussy because they are one step above the beasts.  This kind of thought pattern is exactly what Sandra is promoting.  It is dehumanizing and racist. 

No matter your position on Palin threatening her with rape cannot be deemed as anything less than assaultative speech, meant to remind women that if they don't obey "the men" and properly perform womanhood, the penalty is rape.  Oh yeah, and if you are a really bad girl we will get the "darkies" to rape you. Remind me again how this shit is remotely feminist? 

Yeah Sandra, what you said was racist, and it was in collusion with patriarchy; hence I am handing out yet another colluder award. The next time you have verbal diarrhea take some Immodium,  the world really should be spared this kind of crap.  

H/T Black Political Thought and Shakesville


Bee Movie and Invisible People

image As the mother of two little guys, I have spent countless hours watching cartoons.  Some have made me laugh and smile, while others have left me with countless moments of reflection.  I recently suffered through The Bee Movie with Mayhem and Destruction.

Isn't Barry the Bee the cutest thing you have seen in a long time?  Well Barry is not only cute, he is about making a change.

"A recent college graduate, Barry wants more out of life than the inevitable career that awaits him, and every other worker in the New Hive City - a job at Honex...making honey.  Barry jumps at the chance to venture out of the hive, and soon encounters a world beyond his wildest dreams.  When Barry inadvertently meets a quirky florist names Vanessa (Renee Zellweger), he breaks one of the cardinal rules of beedom - he talks to her. A friendship soon develops, and Barry gets a guided crash course in the ways of the human race. When he shockingly discovers that anyone can just buy honey right off the grocery store shelf, he realizes that his true calling is to stop this injustice and set the world right by suing the human race for stealing the bees' precious honey."

From this little synopsis it would seem that children would gain a lot of positives from viewing this movie.  They would learn about the need to stand up for personal beliefs, the interdependency cycle of the environment, as well as the importance of agency and autonomy.  Not bad for a DreamWorks flick...That is until you realize that what they mean by human is white.  That is right, all of the main characters that are not bees are white.

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Making POC invisible even in the imaginary world of cartoons is racism.  Why should my 7 year old not be able to see himself reflected and understood as human?  The very idea that Bee is suing all of humanity, should mean that various races, creeds, religions, sexualities and abilities receive equal representation .

The idea that able bodied heterosexual white people constitute humanity erases the experiences of many, and this is the invisible message that comes along with our little friend Barry.  Shame on you DreamWorks, though I must admit that I am not all surprised.  I am sure that they felt that using the voice of Chris Rock to portray a character was enough, but when POC are so visibly absent what does the presence of one POC indicate but tokenism?

Daily cartoons like this teach our children what people they should value.  Whiteness as a representative model, and the erasure of bodies of colour is a common theme in media.  It has become so normalized that we rarely question why these bodies are missing.  If POC are only represented as "ghetto" (see Chris Rock character) does that not encourage the idea that a race hierarchy is normal and natural?

Jerry Seinfeld is the creator of this little innocuous flick.  This man has a history of ignoring POC, or using them as the punch line in a joke. On his smash hit Seinfeld, there were only two recurring characters that were black - the lawyer and the owner of the coffee shop that they visited.  It can therefore come as no surprise that when he turned his attention to children's media, he continued this trend.  If presenting white people as the main focus can "work" on the small screen, of course it should translate well to the big screen.

Lest we forget, we can also credit him with publicly coming to the support of Michael Richards on the David Letterman show, after his famous racist attack. Yeah, my buddy is a good guy and didn't really mean all of the racist shit that he said.

White parents want their white kids to see positive representations of them.  Whiteness as good is an important message that must be reinforced if the white supremacist state is to be maintained.   I am tired of spending my hard earned money in the support of white supremacy.  My body matters, and so do the bodies of my children.  Barry may have been concerned about humans stealing, but I am more troubled by the idea that certain bodies don't count as human.


In The Category Of Gratuitous Sexism, The Emmy Goes To...

So, like many TV junkies I sat through the Emmy awards tonight.  For TV viewers the fall means the return of beloved sitcoms, enjoying new media offerings, and the endless cycle of award shows.  As a closet television addict, I certainly could not miss the Emmys.

image In the first twelve minutes of the show, I found reason to be disgusted.  Considering that the media is full of sexism, perhaps 12 minutes is a long time to go without doing something that demeans women in some way.  The five presenters this year were, Ryan Seacrest, Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Jeff Probst. 

In what will probably go down as one of the worst openings for an award show ever, they rambled aimless attempting to be humours for a few minutes.  They did however build a failsafe into their routine. Tom Bergeron commented on how covered Klum was.  At the beginning she was wearing a  tux, just like the other hosts.  I believe that she actually looked quite fetching, and I loved the fact that it was gender neutral.  Of course that could not be allowed to stand.  A woman at an event has to be wearing something eye catching and sexy.  People are after all, not tuning in to see their favourites get an award, but to see the famous tits, and long legs, hanging out of designer gowns.

To ensure that the viewers got their share of Klum, William Shatner was invited on stage where he along with Bergeron proceeded to tear off her tux, revealing the appropriately sexy little black dress.  Thank goodness, because all that lack of flesh was so upsetting to my gender normative sensibilities.

Thank heavens there will always be sexism to bring about a cheap laugh and thrill when comedy fails.  Enter Brooke Shields, who is an accomplished woman by most accounts.  It is wonderful that the writers thought to comment on her achievements, but I was even more delighted with the line, "having my hand on your behind is a sign of respect," from her male co-presenter.  Gee Whiz, would squeezing your balls till they oozed semen be considered an equal sign of respect?

These award shows are all about integrity.  They go to great lengths to make sure that the viewing public is aware that all of the ballots are secret and appropriately accounted for.  You know this because the accountants who were escorted by beautiful trophy escorts told you so.  These men could not come on stage and assert that everything was on the up and up...nooooo, such a thing could never be allowed because masculinity needs a trophy vagina to be recognized as valuable. Yeah I truly believe these men, and everyone knows that to be a legitimate man of power you need a hottie on your arm.

image Final niggling point...Do we really need to keep splitting the categories into male and female?  Are these ACTORS doing something different because of the gadget between their legs?  I do believe that Kyra Sedgwick is more than capable of standing up against Bryan Cranston. It is further troubling that the female awards are always presented first.  It is a great way to build momentum and excitement for when the "real awards" are given out; you know the ones given to the men.

So, I watched the Emmys, and was once again unimpressed. This years award  (at least until the Oscars) for promoting sexism and maintaining gender binaries on an award show goes to....drum roll please....The 60th annual Emmy Awards. Cue bad orchestra music.....


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Amen and Pass The Bullshit: Religion and The Obama Campaign

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Blacks against Obama made their displeasure known  on Friday during a speech by Barack at the University of Miami during a speech.  The signs read, “Obama endorsed by the KKK,” “Blacks Against Obama”, “Obama for abortions”, “Obama for gay marriage

They managed to disrupt the event for a short time before being escorted out by security.  As Americans it is their right to protest however the signs do not reveal the level of twisted ideology believed in by this group and their leader, Michael Warn. (Editors Note: The Video has been removed and replaced with this link because it plays uncontrollably on IE, and I will not have that filth be the sound effect of this blog)

The following is from his website:

WOMEN TOOK OVER IN AMERICA
When America gave women the right to vote. How? Because they out number men 40 to 1, women have the voting power in
numbers, the majority. There are two hundred and sixty million people in America. Black LILITH has a thirty million person
block vote.  Other nations of people consist of two hundred million people but they are separated. Ex. There are five million
Irish, seven million Germans, eight million Scots etc. They all vote against each other, then LILITH the evil woman takes her
thirty million block vote and join on to the women of other nations of the two hundred million voters under so called women
issues, out numbering men completely.  When she is grown 6+6+6=18. She takes the power of 666 in Rev. 13:18 being the
majority in America.  She takes her numbers and vote her men in who will do her will, and make the laws in her favor. Ex.
Deut.19: 15-20 says you must have two witnesses to bring charges against anybody but now look at America. One woman can
say you said something sexually negative to her eight years ago and destroy you. Rom 1:25 says who changed GODS TRUTH
into a LIE to worship the creature (LILITH) instead of GOD.  But fret not for Dan. 7:9 says, “I beheld till the thrones were cast
down (LILITH’s MEN that she put in power through her majority mob rule votes).”
Now that this BOOK OF TRUTH has revealed the DEVIL (LILITH), Rev. 12:12 says, “The DEVIL is coming down with great
wrath because she knows she has but a short time.” Rev. 12:10 says, “The DEVIL will accuse the brethren before GOD daily,”
Ex. Look at all of the TV TALK SHOWS THAT BASH MEN EVERYDAY. Prov, 7:24-27 says, many strong men have been
slain by her, for her house is HELL and DEATH. Rev. 12:1-4 says: The DRAGON (LILITH) STANDS READY TO SLAY US
(The BLACK MAN as soon as we are born Into Success). Notice the strong men that have been destroyed and tried to destroy.

 


Throughout the entirety of the video and the passages listed on their web site religion is used to justify their perverse views.  Women and specifically black women are are attacked as destroying society.  He goes on to attack homosexuals, and abortion. 

What this is, is a perversion of Christianity to promote a black patriarchy.  The issues of the world cannot be solved with hate and ignorance.  When we see groups like this, it is important to be aware of exactly what they stand for. They are not harmless, they reify the social imbalances and act as a virus to society.

Religion is an agent of socialization, and as such many perversions have been committed in its name? How many people must die, be defamed, raped and destroyed in the name of God?

It is certainly within their rights to protest but it is our responsibility to be aware of the underlying message that they are spreading.  This is no simple pro choice GOP political positioning, this is a fringe group displaying cult like behaviour meant to uplift a group on the backs of another.  Remember that the largest of hate groups started from the smallest amount of members.  The KKK was a small group of friends when it began, the Nazi party nothing but a collection of drunken friends and we are all aware of the influence these groups of have had on this world.  Religion can only disguise hate if we are intent to ignore the obvious evidence before our eyes.

H/T Pandagon



Daniel Edwards Re-Envisions Michelle Obama: Art and The Reduction of Womanhood

Daniel Edwards has made quite a name for himself sculpting famous figures.  Art is meant to cause us to step outside of ourselves  and touch us on a very personal level.  We are meant to question everyday actions, and what they truly mean.

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"The bust, entitled "Michelle Obama's Makeover for America" goes on display at the Leo Kesting Gallery in New York on October 1."  According to the telegraph Edwards said, "The goal is to create a look for Michelle Obama that eliminates excessive comparisons to Jackie Kennedy."What does this bust accomplish but to reify the construction of Michelle's body as other? Yes, the African Queen masquerading as a "real" American.

With an afro pic in her hair and the American flag carved into her flesh, depicted this way she does not resemble the accomplished, confidant woman that she is.  The despair on the face with the half closed eyes reveal a person who is defeated.  A broken, and angry woman who has been subject to repeated abuse is what this bust represents.

As a WOC despite her current class privilege, Michelle has been subject to racism and sexism, however this has not made her into the broken vessel of misery that this bust portrays.  This is the woman that racists and sexists would like Michelle to be; to downtrodden to fight the good fight.

This "art" does not challenge, it seeks only to recreate the marginalization that already exists.  Those that carry racists and sexists beliefs will feel reassurance at having their image of Michelle elevated in this way.  WOC will once again bare witness to our social 'othering' wondering silently, when will a black woman be worthy of being shown in her full glory?