Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time To Clean The Closet: National Coming Out Day

image Today is national coming out day. The Bilerico  Project has some great articles up today. Here I am a straight woman writing about an event that supposedly has nothing to do with my life.   As I went through puberty, I did not have to deal with my sexuality as something that people viewed as strange or deviant.  It was considered normal and natural for me to be attracted to men. 

The unhusband and I have been a couple for over 18 years.  We never think about it when we hold hands in public.  We never think about it when we kiss.  We never think about it when we embrace each other.  Our love for each other is something that we openly display without any concern for our safety, or the thoughts of people around us. 

People will occasionally stare at us and make unkind comments, however that is not because we are a cis, heterosexual male and female engaged in a relationship, but because we an inter-racial couple. Not very long ago a love like ours was something that we would have had to hide.  People would carry  on about the children that we might produce and claim that we were flouting the laws of nature.

These arguments still exist, but not to the degree that they once did. The unhusband and I lead a life that does come with its own set of unique complications, but neither of us feel that our lives are threatened for loving each other.  When I see people struggling for the right to get married it reminds me very much of the struggles of inter racial couples to have our love accepted by society.

Yesterday Connecticut struck down the ban on gay marriageIt really made me happy, but at the same time it saddened me to think that there are still so many  places where gay marriage is not accepted.  There is no difference between the love that the unhusband and I share and those gay couples seeking to get married. 

It saddens me to think that of all of the things that we have decided to police and discipline in this world that love is something we have deemed abhorrent.  Love is the greatest of human emotions. It is love that elevates us beyond our narcissism, cruelties, and petty rivalries,yet it is something that we have decided is socially unacceptable  when it occurs between two men, or two women.  Love between people that are gay is not a threat to society because anytime we feel real love for another we are expressing the best part of what it means to be human.

On national coming out day we should take the time to listen to the stories of the GBLT community and look to see the ways in which they mirror our own existence.  Love should be bringing us together as a people and  not tearing us apart.


Judge Judy Wants To Implant Women With Birth Control: Yeah That Equals Colluder Of The Week

image Most people whom I associate with are well aware of my addiction to reality tv or what I refer to as my daily junk food for the brain.  When I ran across an article about Judge Judy at The Guardian, I just had to read it.

It started off like all mini biopics giving a brief over haul of her life and some small background as to what her positions are on various issues.  Then I hit the part that made me see such a vision of red that the word colluder flashed brilliantly through my brain.

Her idea of solving juvenile delinquency by having every woman implanted at birth with a contraceptive chip, to be taken out only on request, might cause some controversy. But one can see her point. At least every child born would be a wanted child, and not - as she sees it as being in the US - the result of an accident and a bottle of vodka.

I am so sick of women being blamed for the problems of the world.  We all know that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, so why is the answer to implant a device in women?  Where is the male responsibility in her line of thinking?  Why is it that it is always the woman's body that society feels should be available for the worst sorts of violations? 

Let me see if I have this all figured out.  We don't  support single mothers, provide decent education, to say nothing of early childhood education. We regularly introduce children to images of violence, and encourage them from birth to believe that their worth is based in their ability to consume, but somehow none of these things have anything to do with childhood delinquency.  OOOh no, the problem is all these sluts who don't have the good sense to keep their legs closed.  Yeah for the good of all society we are just going to have to implant devices in women from birth so that we can control who can and cannot breed.

It is one thing to witness patriarchy working to keep women second class citizens, but quite another when women actively participate in maintaining the gender hierarchy. Patriarchy maintains its stronghold in part because some women continue to support it in spite of the very obvious fact that it is not in our best interest to do so. This week the colluder that I am calling out is Judge Judy. Shame on you for suggesting that the state should have the right to implant anything in a woman's body.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Donna Brazile Is Not Going To The Back Of The Bus

Not much can be added to such inspiring commentary.  Failure to acknowledge the ways in which race continues to be a divisive issue only exists for the purposes of maintaining white privilege.  Daily the ways in which black bodies continue to be marginalized and exploited are obvious for to those that seek truth about the race hierarchy.  We live in a binary world and the idea that such division would apply to everything else but race is ridiculous.  Good and bad, black and white is the way that we have ordered our world.

I am often amused when people tell me how much better things are getting, after all there is a black man leading the Democratic Party.  The success of one man does not equate to the uplift of an entire group of people.  There have always been those that have been able to defeat the odds and achieve success in certain areas despite race, class or gender but this has never meant that equality.  The fact that some white people view their vote for Obama as a vote for equality in some ways reifies difference.  His body has become our racial limitus test, without the recognition that the problem is bigger than one man.

If Obama is elected in November, inequality in education, housing, and employment will not disappear in January.  Even if he manages to get two terms, racism will continue to be a poison in our society.  Voting for Obama because you believe in what he stands for is a good thing, but voting for Obama because  you think that it proves that you are somehow enlightened and anti-racist only proves the degree to which you still see difference.  Obama is not a cure all for the ills of society.  He is not some shot of penicillin that will cure the world of the virus of racism.

Fighting racism is a struggle that must be engaged in everyday.  It means noticing the little things like whether or not the textbooks your child is reading in school highlights a variety of races and cultures.  It means calling out your friends and associates when they makes racist statements.  It means acknowledging your privileges to the best of your ability and passing on this knowledge to your children.  Pulling the lever for Obama may be the best thing that you can do for you country, in terms of the domestic and foreign policy but it is not necessarily the best thing that you can do to end racism.  The struggle for equality is going to take the work of many an no one, no matter how intelligent or kind hearted can as individual create change on such a large scale. Vote as you see fit but remember the struggle continues on.


When The Reflection Lies

image

Distortion of truth is one of the mainstays of patriarchy.  It thrives on women believing that their sole values lies in their ability to attract and keep men.  It keeps women competing with each other for male attention and continually devalues our contributions to society. 

From birth it is reinforced that our value lies in our physical beauty and when that is threatened, some women loose all sense of self.  This is why when women find their voice and assert their individuality and agency, men immediately attack our physicality.  Suddenly we are ugly hairy man-hating feminists.  The taunt of ugly is meant to unsex us and leave us begging for redemption.  If feminine is the binary opposite of masculine, to be declared 'unwoman' is to be constructed as a man without the power of patriarchal privilege.  It is to be understood as the under appreciated female eunuch.

The moment when you realize that you are whole person, equal to a man, with needs wants and abilities, nothing about your outward appearance changes.  You don't suddenly become grotesque but in the eyes of patriarchy what made you woman is fundamentally gone and in its place is a harridan that refuses to be ruled. 

Just as you have suddenly had a moment of self realization you must resist this new mask that patriarchy is choosing to attach to your identity.  Referring to women as ugly ball busting bitches is an attempt to discipline our behaviour and has nothing to do with our level of attractiveness.  It is nothing more than a tactic of war. 

If you own the identity of the ugly unappealing woman, you are not really valuing yourself or living up to feminist ideals.  The reflection in the mirror is not the real you but the distorted image of womanhood that patriarchy wants you to see.  Rejecting the patriarchal reflections is not an easy thing to do because when you enter the social world, everything around will reinforce the idea that your body is need of improvement. It may be your weight, your hair, or even your smell, 'woman' is never a complete project.

Turn your feminist eyes on your nude body and reconstruct from a place of matriarchal power and inner fortitude.  Revel in what you have been taught to see as flaws.  Recreate yourself from a place of love and strength because every inch of you is beauty reincarnate.  Woman is the giver and nurturer of life.  Woman is a being of mystery and strength.  Woman is you. 

When you hear the call to feminism and answer with an open mind and open heart the reflection that you have spent a lifetime viewing will fade away, and in its place will appear one that is not created from a male lens.  Embracing feminism is about learning what is  best and worst about ourselves and finding love irregardless.  For the first time the mirror will reflect the truth of your identity, because it is created by you.


White Rage

White rage at Obama's lead in the polls is palpable.  Daily it is expressed in racist taunts by average citizenry. The basis of this anger is a fear of loss of privilege.  Obama is threatening not because of the policies he espouses, but because of the blackness of his body.  Some have used the irrational fear of socialism to justify their angst but  at best Obama is a centrist and anyone with even a cursory understanding of Marxism would be hard pressed to describe the man as a communist.

What I find interesting about the rage is that it is not viewed as socially threatening.  Whiteness is entitled to anger at the smallest slight; whereas blackness is expected to accept its second class location and or marginalization without complaint.  White people love the long suffering negro but are not prepared to play that role themselves.

A black person that is willing to subvert their personal will to uphold white hegemony is praised and held up as a role model for all people of colour to follow; whereas one that expresses dissatisfaction is deemed a threat to social order.   Barack is a threat because he refuses to play Uncle Tom to McCain's Simon Legree.

Many of his supporters will not walk around displaying their hatred behind white sheets, but that does not mean that it is not still a covert display.  When they refer to him as Barack Huessin Obama and suggest that he is an 'other', what must be taken into consideration is what the binary opposite represents.  American means God fearing and white.  The resounding wails about the downfall of the American empire are really about fear of the devaluation of whiteness. 

Whiteness feels entitled not only to power but safety, thus when it is inferred that Obama is a terrorist it is an attempt to benefit off of the social construction of black males as violent.  Though the connections are tenuous at best, no real evidence needs to be offered because the belief is supported by the social construction of the black male body. 

In a world where so many feel powerless and unstable whiteness as valuable is one of the few remaining constants.  Whiteness is something intangible that can be embraced as you are losing your job, your home, or declaring bankruptcy.  While the world around you is descending into chaos as long as whiteness remains valuable there still exists a possibility to express a form of power. Racism is the tenacious expression of power where no real power to effect macro change exists.  It is the lie of difference that is sold by the ruling elite to create division in situations that call for unity.

 


H/T Urban Swirl

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gibbs Puts Hannity In His Place and Maddow and Olbermann Break It Down.

You just have to love it when FOX gets some of its own medicine.  Of course Hannity didn't like the allegation but if the Ayers shoe fits, he can wear it.

Wanda Sykes: That's So Gay Is Insulting

The Advertising Council and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network has teamed up to fight the phrase "That's so gay"?  It is time that we stop using peoples lives as pejorative descriptors. Phrases like that's so gay or that's so retarded need to go.  As a matter of simple human decency recognizing that difference need not relegate someone to second class citizenship.

H/T Queerty via The Bilerico Project

Don't You Dare Call Me Out

Anyone who has ever blogged about social justice issues will tell you that it is hard work.  In a case like Womanist Musings, it is particularly tough because I am the lone voice.  Nightly after I put Mayhem and Destruction to bed I hit the computer and lay down the thoughts that occurred to me throughout the day. Sometimes it is about things that made me so angry I am almost irrational, at other times it is about things that made me incredibly sad.  Either way it is just me, sending my voice into the void of the internet.

One of things that I have had to endure is cyber bullying. By that I mean people who enter my space and try to force their opinions on me, or police my space.  As I said in my commentary section, an echo chamber of assent is not my goal for this blog however, if your complaint is because I pointed out your privilege in some way, seriously, do you think it makes since to prove the veracity of my claims by asserting the same privilege that I am deconstructing?

Privilege is something that I blog about a lot because there is not a single person residing in a Western country that does not exist with a degree of it.  Naturally because of our race/class/gender etc hierarchy some  people exist with more than others.  In our post modern world we are trained to think in terms of power as a top to bottom pyramid divided with binaries.  This sort of construction is a recipe for disaster for many segments of our society. 

Calling out privilege leads to indignation on the part of many.  I find most are okay talking about privilege until it refers to their race or class or gender.  When the looking glass reflects us suddenly there is an untruth somewhere, or there are justifications and explanations.  No, I worked hard for everything I have, or you are reading the situation wrong.  My personal favourite is, if your tone were different I would be more inclined to listen.

If you feel the need to justify or explain away why you have certain benefits chances are the proverbial privilege shoe fits.  We do not live in a world where all people are created equal despite the rhetoric that our leaders spew.  No matter the individual effort, no single person can ever level the playing field.  One or two may be the exception to the rule and rise out of poverty, but this is not a common occurrence.  This is not because of an individual failing but a systemic one.  A woman working two jobs to support her family does not work with any less vigour or commitment than Oprah (for eg) they just have been given different opportunities. 

Even this woman who is working two jobs and struggling to raise her children is still a privileged body if not by Western standards, then by global standards.  When one is struggling in poverty, daily battling to keep home and hearth together, it is difficult to see outside of what oppresses us and recognize the privileges that we do have, yet it is so very essential because it will help us to understand how power truly works globally.

The privilege finger pointed in your direction is not an attack, it is a simple statement of fact.  Anger in response is not only a denial, it is a deliberate act in maintenance of said privilege.  Anger implies that no one has the right to call out privilege and that those that do are greedy, blind, incompetent malcontents.  Of course the privileged body likes the status quo because it is to their benefit. 

What they do not realize is that thinking individually in this way is oppositional to the communal dependency that all humans are born with.  Very few would be comfortable with a life of isolation, devoid of human contact and yet daily we commit acts that ensure that we are less and less connected in the maintenance of privilege.  Each act of privilege maintenance or denial lessens our interconnectivity resulting in anomie.

The privilege call out may hurt but it is essential for our social healing.  Social justice is something that is very important to me, but I am no expert.  There have been plenty of times that I have not noticed the privilege that I have displayed.  I know that I can occasionally be ableist and this is something that I was not aware of until some of the commentators here pointed it out to me.  It was difficult for me to accept at first because I knew that my heart was in "the right place", but this does not change the fact that my commentary still 'othered' someone.  What finally made me realize the error of my ways was questioning why this privilege call out made me angry.

I initially felt that no one had the right to question me, when I so clearly worked for justice.  I wanted a cookie and I wanted to be given a free pass for all of my labour.  It was my indignation and my desire that others appreciate me, that made me realize that I was not owning privilege.  Since seeing the error of my ways, I have begun to try and unpack some of the ideas I have about what constitutes ability.  I am still messing up, however I am committed to making a change.  So keep calling me out when I fuck up, I cannot grow unless others show me the error of my ways.  Seeing the privilege finger pointed at you may hurt, but a life of ignorance and disconnect hurts in ways that you cannot even imagine.

What privileges are you struggling with and what are the coping mechanisms that you have used to deal with them?


Food The Global Experience

One of the things that we all have in common is that we must eat to survive.  What we are able to consume often says much about where we stand in the race/class hierarchy.  As a western middle class woman, food is something that I am able to consume almost at will.  There are some items because of their  price, and so-called "exotic nature" that I will never consume, but generally speaking the world is my buffet for the taking.

Due to globalization and the exploitation of third world labour, westerners are privy to various different kinds of food year round.  image A mere 60 years ago a kiwi in New York would be an oddity, and today they are as commonplace as apples and corn.  Of course with these new products we have had to find ways to incorporate them into our meat and potatoes diet...enter the celebrity chefs and the fancy cookbooks.

Almost every step between food being cultivated and arriving on our dinner tables is rife with exploitation.  To ensure that we are able to make use of the  vast cornucopia of items celebrity chefs play a vital role.  If  bok choy is for sale but we have no idea what to do with it, its value will be useless to the companies that are producing it for profit. I use the term companies because most of the food we consume today is the result of agribusiness.  Ask yourself why those that are trained to give us our food passports are primarily white. How many celebrity chefs of colour can you quickly name?  It is not an accidental phenomena that the Jamie Olivers  and Michael Smiths of the world exist. 

Our cultural ambassadors to the exotic are overwhelming white males.  This is nothing less than invisible cultural appropriation.  How is it that a white male becomes expert in a culture that he was not reared in?  How is it that he, and he alone is capable of transmitting this message?  It is because the white male normalizes our exotic consumption. The white male body is embedded with an authority and proficiency  that does not exist in a body of colour.  Just as he has raped foreign lands for profit he is now expert in consumption to facilitate cultural appropriation.

As with every glutinous empire food has become big business. Gorging ourselves has become a hobby as we consume the products of the vanquished.  We don'timage care that at 50 cents a pound per banana, the person that laboured picking it did not get paid, but those bananas are a tasty fruit that can be turned into great deserts. Chiquita has a long history of worker exploitation, aided by the US military, as well as funding terrorist organization to destabilize governments. Our need to consume this sweet fruit out weighs the crimes the company commits to ensure we get our daily potassium. 

We may believe that we are enriching foreign countries by our purchases butimage this is simply not the case. Clinton argued for an end to the Lome agreement which gave favoured status to Jamaica to trade with Great Britain.  This means that Jamaica now has to compete for business with Chiquita and dole on the open market without the benefit of the government subsidies that they receive.  The once flourishing banana industry of Jamaica is a thing of the past.  Land that once provided a decent living now lays idle.

This is just the story of the humble banana.   We now export products like potatoes to warm climates that are perfectly capable of growing this food because we have instituted unfair trade agreements.  image The IMF encourages that farmers plant medicinal herbs or spices for the market.  It would seem at first to be a good alternative to raising food, but when governments are no longer able to sustain the artificially low cost of food where does this leave third world bodies that have been forced to stop producing for subsistence?  Many tropical countries have no dairy industry, and are suffering with a declining produce industry?  When we take our yearly pilgrimages to the sun the food that we are consuming is not indigenous to the areas that we are travelling to.  People are eating Idaho potatoes in Jamaica imagine that.

The restaurants that have opened spreading "American culture", may hire local image workers but they do not use local produce.  For the purposes of standardization companies like McDonalds import everything from the US.   On top of destroying their healthy choice food options, we are introducing high fat, artery clogging alternatives with very little nutritional value.  

Supermarkets are filled with our left overs.  In the states chicken breasts are what are prized because they contain the lowest amount of fat but what happens to the rest of the chicken?  The rest of the chicken is for sale in a third world country.  Along with receiving the cuts of meats that we as westerners reject they also get the chemicals that we inject into our food.  With no other alternatives because we have destroyed their local markets people indigenous to third world countries are consuming our high fat, chemically injected rejects.

This is all occurring because of Western desire to consume.  Not only do we have a sense of entitlement when it comes to food we expect to be unreasonably cheap.  There are many costs to western privilege that go unseen by us.  We do not see the impoverishment that it produces nor we see the damage that it does to the environment.  Changing what local peasants have grown on land for generations to grow for the market is leading to land desertification.  When indigenous people are finally able to return to subsistence farming they will find that the land that they have come to depend on is no longer able to produce what they need.  This we can thank companies like Monsanto for.  Rather than delve more deeply into the ecological costs of development, because that would lead to a paper, I will state for now that the earth was not meant to sustain this form of living.  We are killing ourselves with this reckless path.

We must begin to think about the ways in which we consume food and the companies that we support.  Simply because an item is cheap does not mean that it is a "good deal" for all parties concerned.  It is time to recognize that our grandmothers knew something when they planted their gardens and pickled their preserves.  We need to start to consume locally and demand a better quality of food for all.  Our need for sustenance does not outweigh the right of others to have a healthy life sustaining diet.  This change of consumption is not only the human thing to do, it is the ecologically smart path to undertake.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That One Indeed

Of all the sound bites generated from the second presidential debate, McCain referring to Obama as "that one" is going to be the one that is played over and over again.  He might as well have called Barack boy.  It was insulting and demeaning.  Those two simple words were very revelatory about exactly the kind of man John McCain is.

When that commentary is added to his refusal to make eye contact with Barack during the first debate, and his refusal to shake Barracks hand at the end of the second debate, what else is the viewer to believe but that McCain does not believe Obama to be his equal?  He completely ignored Michelle during the meet and greet at the closing of the event as well.

The GOP party, and McCain's lackeys have engaged in racism from the start of this campaign.  John McCain has denounced these attacks, but from his behaviour at these last two debates, how can we reasonably give any weight to his denouncement?

Maya Angelou famously said, "People will always show you who they are, and you should believe them the first time."  McCain has clearly revealed to the world not only what he stands for, but exactly which bodies he feels matters; it would hubris to ignore this.  These are not simple unrelated incidents that have no basis in the race hierarchy of the United States.  His choice of address, his refusal to make eye contact, and his refusal to shake hands are all the acts of a man engaging in white privilege before the world.  Ask yourself if he would have treated John Kerry, or Ted Kennedy like that....John McCain your whiteness is showing.


Being A Black Male Does Not Give You License To Be Sexist

As a black woman it really warms my heart to hear black men express solidarity with us.  To hear them come to our defence when we are attacked or validate our worth as equal human beings is a truly wonderful thing.  Some men have confused supporting black women with making sexist commentary or reducing us to sexual beings in the guise of recognizing our fuckability beauty.  Guess what, you're not fooling anyone.

They wax on, all smooth about how beautiful black women are rarely taking the time to mention that we are intelligent, or that we have goals.  Some even state openly they prefer black women to white women...yeah searching for brownie points there.  Why do they "prefer" us?  They prefer us because they think that we suffer from such low self esteem because of the race and gender hierarchy, that they can dominate us without resistance.  Black women are expected to just be grateful that we have been noticed and appreciated.  Oh look I get to be his Nubian slave queen. Now where did I put my push up bra?

I don't know how many times I have run across ranking lists of black women done by black men that are supposed to signify that we are desirable.  Abagond is famous for letting us know how much he appreciates us by ranking and posting pictures of black women as a sign of his undying devotion.image image image image

Are you feeling appreciated yet?  Posting pictures of women dressed like this and then ranking them according to how desirable he finds them to be is supposedly not sexist.  Of course I called him out and his response was the following.

This list is neither sexist nor a case of male privilege.

In most cases you can tell if something is wrong or unfair by turning it around. This case fails that test.

After all, if you wrote about your favourite hunks and then ranked them according to how many hits those posts got, I would not be one bit offended. Why should I? In fact, I would find it interesting - because of what it would tell me about women and what they like.

 

Right because women exist with the same power to objectify men.  Another totally irrational justification but hey since it is a "brother" doing this it is supposedly okay. 

Lest Abagond whine and think I am singling him out, he is certainly not the only one to be guilty of such behaviour.

image Yet another black male displaying his love of black women BlackPerspective.net.  This photo is part of his "appreciate" black women monthly montage.

Nice to know that appreciation has nothing to do with the sacrifices that black women make on a daily basis.  It doesn't speak about the difficulties we face in employment, housing, education, economic marginalization...OH NO....It's all about tits, ass and titillation.   Then you get sites like Bossip who are more than happy to confer banger status on women, while reminding them to keep their legs closed unless they are married.  The worst offender by far is Crunk and Disorderly that spends its time disciplining black women when we don't fall in line and show tits and ass on demand or our bodies don't meet with media generated images of women. 

I feel so loved and appreciated.  All I have to do to keep earning that loving is  spread my legs when ordered, put on a push up bra, and smile pretty.  Hey maybe if I'm really lucky I can be fodder for masturbatory pleasures.  Doesn't every little girl just dream of growing up to be the ultimate gizz magnate? 

 

 

 


Dutch Fashionista Prostitutes, Now That's Progress

image Holland, the land of the famous red light district, has decided that it is time to tame their "dirty girls".  To encourage women to give up their lives of prostitution, the state has created a points system for good behaviour.  Can you believe that, a point system, isn't that what parents use with children to reinforce good behaviour? 

According to The Independent, "prostitutes will receive so-called "street miles" that they can use to acquire free designer clothes or furniture, provided they take up an offer by the city council to take steps leading to a career change and a safer lifestyle. Some of the "dames", as they are known locally, have already been given a makeover involving designer clothes to boost their self-confidence."

OOOh golly gee whiz designer clothing, don't all women just want to get dolled up?  It is so easy to achieve as well, as all the whores have to do is keep their legs closed and the state will help them hide their sins by cloaking them in respectability. 

It would seem to me that if you want women to stop engaging in prostitution it would make sense to offer them a little thing like job training, or education subsidy.  Simply offering women a new wardrobe ignores the reasons why they become involved in prostitution to begin with.   How about cracking down on the trafficking that is occurring? Not all women that are working as prostitutes are doing so because they want to.  What about counselling for the women that have been abused, or drug rehabilitation treatment for the ones that have issues with substance abuse? 

In their desire to police behaviour there is no acknowledgement that some women willingly choose prostitution.  They don't feel exploited or abused and in fact enjoy their jobs.  Knowing this,. if the state is truly concerned about women it should also be attempting to to make this job safer.  It should ensure that all crimes committed against sex trade workers  are investigated, as well as working to build relationships between the police and sex trade workers. 

Simply rewarding them with makeovers and a new wardrobe reinforces the idea that the only thing that is valuable about them this is their bodies.  Sex trade workers deserve better than to be the object in a state plan to discipline sexual behaviour.  What they need is to be recognized as human beings with the same goals and desires as anyone else.  To be told to be good girls and we'll make you look prettym only serves to further devalue them and reminds all other women that unless they conform to the sexual chastity that society considers appropriate, they too will be deemed persons of little or no value.

 


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

LGBT Alaskans Come Out Against Sarah Palin

When Sarah Palin speaks about her gay friend remember this video.

H/T Queers United

There Is A Difference Between Being Androgynous and Transgender: Black Voices Gets It Wrong

Intersectionality is something that I am very passionate about. As a WOC I have come to understand how the different social stigmatizations interact to effect my life.  Many in the black community continue to advocate against racism while at the same time participating in homophobia, trans hate and sexism as though it is not all fruit from the same poisonous tree.  All of the isms are related and all have an effect on people of colour.  There is no such thing as a monolithic representative of blackness and therefore when we refuse to speak out about an ism we are participating in the othering of POC.

It was with much trepidation that I decided to read a post at Blackvoices entitled Transgender On TV: Laverne Cox & Isis King Brings On New Reality.  From the very start of the post it gets off on the wrong foot.

BlackVoices.com takes an up-close and intimate look at how androgyny has crossed into mainstream entertainment culture via the work and depictions of transgendered people, transvestites, transsexuals, cross-dressers and gay icons.  Sometimes dramatic, sometimes comedic, and often-times jarring, these gender-bending images leaves a lasting impression on all who bore witness. Take a gander.

Someone who is transgender is not androgynous, they have a specific gender to which they identify with.  The idea that there has been some great transcendence because of two people being "granted" a chance to appear on reality TV is ridiculous. 

When we can see trans women and men on television daily without any need to comment, that is transcendence.  When they are not depicted as poor confused creatures that need to be pitied that is transcendence.  When they are not overwhelmingly played by cis people that is transcendence.  The idea that it is suddenly cool or hip to be transgender in our society is ridiculous.

If you are going to write about the transgender experience it should behove you to understand even just the basics.  Gender identity and sexuality are two separate things.  Gender is in reference to whether they are identifying as male or female or even gender butch; whereas sexuality can run the gambit from straight, gay, bi,  or even asexual.  There is no connection between the two different sets of identity beyond the fact that if you identify outside of the cisexist heterosexual characterization, you are existing as an othered, marginalized body.

Finally please explain to me what the hell a gay icon is?  The very idea of it is ridiculous.  I suppose because of Ellen, the L Word and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, homosexuality has gone mainstream?  Think again. This is all about performing acceptable homosexuality, and not about accepting the idea that sexuality is fluid.  If you are gay and happen to be white, middle to upper class and never show any visible affection to someone of the same sex beyond hand holding, maybe just maybe you can be acceptable for prime time.  I also find it disturbing that all of these so-called icons and role models are expected to perform gayness, that's right perform.  As long as someone who is lesbian or homosexual is acting like what straight people believe a "real gay person" acts like (you know playing up the stereotypes) then it is acceptable.

I am sure that The Blackvoices would like to have a cookie for bothering to engage when so many have not, but if your engagement only serves to maintain misrepresentation then you might as well have remained silent. 

 


No Niggers Allowed

I went to see The Miracle of St. Annas this weekend with my good friend L (and no I am not going to blog about the tofu) Back on topic.  I went to see this movie because of the way that Hollywood and history have erased the sacrifices of black soldiers during WWII, while elevating someone like John Wayne who never fought a real battle.  I went because I wanted to see these men get honoured and feel the kind of connection that is often lacking with the media.

As I sat through this long movie (to be expected with Spike Lee) only one incident really touched me, and it actually had very little to do with the movie itself.  The men went into a little restaurant to get a strawberry float in uniform and were denied service and told to go around back.  When they refused to leave they were ordered out at gun point.  They left but returned fully armed and demanded service.

We no longer have this kind of obvious segregation in our everyday lives but it still exists to some degree.  I found myself really relating to this scene as I recalled the times I have been shown cheaper items, or instructed on the stores layaway policy when asking about certain products.  I have been in restaurants with white acquaintances where I have not been given a fork to eat with while everyone else around me was supplied with eating utensils.  I have gone into empty restaurants and been seated by the washroom.  I have had cashiers refuse to put change in my hand, and even heard waitress argue about not serving me. I have stood in line watched as the white person who arrived after me was served before me.

The aforementioned occurrences are not unique to me.  I am sure any POC has a list of similar degradations that they have had to deal with because of racism.  This is why that scene amongst all others in that movie stood out for me. Despite all of the time that has passed and the sacrifices of so many, to the world at large we are all still no good niggers. 

I am not going to sugar coat it and say the N word because that takes the sting away.  Nigger, Nigger, Nigger, that is what people see when they look at me.  It does not matter whether or not I am a good person, it does not matter whether or not I am educated, or even if I come from a higher class background than the person that I am interacting with.  What matters is that when given an opportunity to exercise racial privilege most people will do so.  They will claim not to be racist, and even loudly pronounce that nigger is a word that they will not use, but if your everyday interactions reify racial bias you might as well forget about policing your language because actions speak louder than words.

Being anti-racist means more than refraining from using racist language. You can scrub every single racial epithet from your vocabulary and still be a racist. If you feel the overwhelming need to cross the street when you see a group of young black men in fear, that is racist behaviour.  If you never think to question when you see blacks portrayed in the media as drug addicted criminals, that is racist.  If you can mentally picture all of your friends and cannot point to a single one that belongs to a marginalized group, that is racist.  If you think that by consuming food from a different culture you are displaying your global ideals, that is racist.  If you believe that you can appropriate cultural symbols and wear them for the sake of fashion, that is racist.  This list can go on and on because daily people participate in actions that are either directly racist, or have racist undertones, with little or no thought to the bodies that it effects.

When you are living a life of privilege you can afford not to make these distinctions. A white person can at anytime limit the amount of time spent with a POC by carefully choosing where to live, what jobs to take and what social events to participate in.  This choice is not available for POC.  We are continually negotiating not only our own marginalization but the hegemony of whiteness.  It surrounds us daily and at times attempts to swallow and destroy our entire being. 

Just when you reach a point where you are individually about to loose all sense of restraint and react in kind, the social discipline arrives to remind you that it is not your place to resist, or feel any form of discomfort with the racial hierarchy because it is naturally occurring.  It comes in statements like why are you so angry, or you know you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.  In essence you are told to swallow the bile because despite your personally indignation, the humiliation is for the good of society.  Yes racism is good for some people.


Hey Sarah Show The World Some Cleavage

BAKER: Did Sarah Palin change your mind? Now, we all remember, Sarah Palin will not be the president. But after watching that debate last night, I am certainly happier that, as the vice president, she's going to have John McCain's ear. I like that little wink to the crowd last night: "Oh, I'm going to try to turn him on that ANWR thing."

PERRY: That was a "come-hither" wink.

BAKER: Was it?

PERRY: Oh, yeah. That was one of those -- that was --

[..]

PERRY: 'Cause I think she was going all business upstairs and then she just went with the high heels for just a little "whoa, wow, hey" --

BAKER: She's always wearing some, ahem, pumps, if you catch my drift. And that's good. Why not?

PERRY: That's exactly what I called them this morning.

BAKER: Very -- you know what, but women do that.

PERRY: Yeah.

BAKER: I mean, come on. Why do women -- why do women have to turn it down? I think she shoulda had a ---

PERRY: I'm not saying she should have to.

BAKER: -- shoulda had a little cleavage going there.

PERRY: No, I just asked if you noticed --

BAKER: Distract Joe Biden a little bit.

PERRY: I didn't say she had to do anything. I just asked if you noticed.

BAKER: A little action. Show your stuff. You know what I'm saying? Use all your assets. Anyway, 65 -- by the way, I noticed a panty line on her.

Here we go again with the sexism.  Like it or not Sarah Palin is in the running for vice president and therefore she should be treated like any other candidate. This means critiquing the policies that she advocates, and assessing the veracity of her statements.  Reducing her to a fuckable object for the sake of entertainment is not a legitimate critique, it is sexist.  No one decided that it was cute to sit around after the debate and ponder whether Joe Biden was wearing boxers or briefs and therefore whatever Sarah has going on under her clothing is none of anyone's business.

There are plenty of things to critique Sarah Palin on; her pro life stance, creationism in schools, homophobia or even  having rape victims pay for their own rape kits.  Attacking her physical person in this way is not a critique, it is slut shaming and it diminishes all women.  I am speaking out on this issue not because I support a single thing that Sarah Palin stands for, but because I believe that this kind of sexism hurts all women.


Monday, October 6, 2008

McCain Campaign Chair in Buchanan County VA, Pens Racist Commentary on Barack Obama

Unlike all other candidates for president, Barack has had to deal with racist attacks against his person.  This election has not been about the issues that plague society, it has been about the various ways in which the black body is problematized to promote white hegemony.  Though McCain has been careful to avoid racist slurs directed at blacks himself, his little minions have no problem doing his dirty work.

By focusing on the blackness of Barack instead of the myriad of important issues like health care, education and the war on Iraq, the GOP have managed to prey upon the racism of white citizens.  Barack can only be deemed a threat if one believes that whiteness is meant to rule.  Time after time he has been racially maligned with the offending party apologizing after the fact.  This does not erase the intent of such commentary.  Once the message has been publicly distributed it cannot be revoked by an apology. 

In the latest affront to Barack and indeed all black citizenry Bobby May wrote what cannot be construed as anything other than a racist tirade.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology classes taught in all churches - raise taxes to pay for this mandate. Put Rev. Jeremiah Wright in charge...."
"DRUG CRISIS: Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base...."
"2ND AMENDMENT: Under Obama will only apply to gang-bangers, illegal aliens, Islamo-Fascist terrorists, and Senator Jim Webb’s aide...."
"FOREIGN RELATIONS: Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative, and let Bill Clinton handle all other "foreign relations" ... As long as Hillary doesn't find out...!"
"THE WHITE HOUSE: Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.” Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint for the job plus spray-paint for graffiti...."
"THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, most of it to Africa so the Obama family there can skim off enough for them to free their goats and live the American Dream...."
"NATIONAL ANTHEM: Change to the "Black National Anthem" by James Weldon Johnson...."
"US CURRENCY: Update photos to reflect US diversity; include pictures of "great Americans" such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (Obama's new Secretary of the Treasury - 50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination)...."
"US FLAG: Replace 50 stars with a star and crescent logo; red stripes changed to green to represent Obama’s tree-hugging radical environmentalism and his lack of experience. Flag lapel pins, having become a substitute for “real patriotism,” will henceforth be banned...."
"STATEHOOD: Extend statehood to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Cuba, Palestine, Freedonia, Bugtussle and the 'Free state of McDowell' and raise taxes..."
"THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so that the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream..."

The rest of his commentary can be read here.

This is the post racial world in which we live.  Comments that are clearly racist and meant to incite hatred are considered social commentary, and legitimate free speech.  Blacks are not allowed to express rage at racism; as we are meant to accept our place in the racial hierarchy.  Any form of dissent on our part is the reaction of an animalistic, irrational being thwarting the natural order.

The white supremacist state needs to be brought to an end.  Many so-called progressive white liberals will look at commentary like this and simply say well look at the source, it's not worth commenting on.  They can safely take this position because it is not their bodies that are being othered.  Each and every statement akin to this that goes unchallenged legitimizes and naturalizes white privilege.  It is damaging to the people that it is aimed at, as it continually reaffirms us as lesser human beings.  There is nothing natural about oppression, and white rule.

The idea that whiteness is constantly under attack belies the degree of power that white bodies exist with in this society. White fear of brown bodies is an ideologically false assertion.  It is not brown bodies that enslaved whites.  It is not brown bodies that established separate and unequal education, that continues to this day.  It is not brown bodies that created a racially biased judicial system.  Whiteness as good is continually reaffirmed whereas anything associated with blackness is constructed a negative in some way.  White fear is about maintaining power and fear of retribution.

H/T Black Political Thought


Michael Savage: Gays Are Ruining The World

During the October 1 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage said: "[Y]ou may say, 'Why should we care about homosexuals trying to destroy families through the mock marriage that they perform in order to mock God, the church, the family, children, the fetus, the DNA of the human species? Why should we care about it while we have a financial meltdown?' Because the spiritual side of the downturn on Wall Street is directly related to the moral downturn in the United States of America." Savage also said: "[T]he government has no right to force people to accept homosexual marriage. It is why the West is dying. It is why we're melting down as a nation. It is why there is no -- why we have almost negative childbirth rate except amongst illegal aliens."

Clearly the commentary by Savage is not only homophobic it falls under the category of hate speech.  This man has continually been given license to spew his ignorance and bigotry on the airwaves, and pass it off as legitimate social commentary.  There are many that would call what Savage said despicable but still advocate his right to engage in free speech.

Free speech is an important tenet of a free and just society.  We cannot always be in agreement but suppression of thoughts and ideas, fosters group think and social malaise.  So highly do we value free speech that we have confused freedom of expression with the promotion of hate.  Savage is not merely advocating social dissent, he is targeting a specific group of people as deficient and in some ways diseased.

There can be no rational relationship between the economy and the sexual behaviour of a group of individuals.   Using the potential demise of the nuclear family as justification is also erroneous. His line of thinking assumes that the family is always a positive for all members involved.  It discounts things like child abuse, marital rape, domestic violence, the unequal division of labour and the authoritarian nature of the child parent relationship.  Simply because something is a common occurrence does not necessarily mean that it is a positive experience for all involved.

The 'society' that Savage fears is  dying is the  white dominated, heterosexist  privileged west.  Why else would he be so panicked by the declining birth rate of white women, and deplore that higher birth rate of the so-called illegal alien?  In Savage's mind these babies are not legitimate, and it is not because of the citizenship of their parents, it is specifically due to the colour of their skin. 

Terming gay marriage, a mock marriage is an attempt to delegitimize it as a pair bonding. Savage claims that it  is a threat because it produces no children, but what about couples that are infertile, or  that wilfully choose not to reproduce?  It is further gender essentialist and racist to assume that all women exist to breed perfect white babies for the cause.

It is quite easy to sit and poke holes in arguments made by men like Michael Savage but does that mean we should continue to allow him and men of his ilk to spread their cancerous hatred throughout society?  Speech like this comes at a cost, it certainly is not "free" to the people that are being targeted.  When a  mosque was sprayed with noxious chemicals last week it was a direct result of hate speech being masked as free speech

The right to individual expression should not come at a cost of human dignity  to segments of society.  Though he is not specifically advocating violence, such speech can inspire violence on the part of others by invoking privilege as a natural right.  It is time to cleanse ourselves of this kind of speech.  The perpetuation of hatred and othering is a malignant tumour.  Michael's right for expression should not outweigh the greater good.


C Is For Cookie

image I clearly believe in ally work.  If one truly believes in justice then it is necessary to advocate for equality for all.  Ally work can be stressful and sometimes painful, but it is the right thing to do.  Some people believe that because they advocate on behalf of marginalized bodies that they deserve a cookie.   Just like a puppy being house broken they want a treat for doing the right thing.  The following is a list that many erroneously believe that they deserve a reward for.

  1. Not using racial slurs
  2. Not referring to women as cunts, bitches, sluts and whores
  3. Not using cisexist language
  4. Not hitting a woman
  5. Not raping a woman
  6. Not using ableist language
  7. Not using ageist language
  8. Not hitting a child
  9. Owning your privileges including but not limited to: race, class, gender, western, straight, cis etc
  10. Not being homophobic

Avoiding the aforementioned behaviour is part of acknowledging the humanity of another.  Expecting the marginalized body to issue you a cookie, or a stamp of approval is yet another display of privilege.  It is really quite simple, you either believe that all people are equal or you don't. 

If you really feel the need for a cookie may I suggest seeing him. image

Now hit me in the comment section with your list of things that don't deserve a cookie.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sarah Palin’s Gay Best Friend

I have a new post up at Globalcomment.

One of the most wonderful things about humanity is that we are social beings. Interaction with each other is absolutely essential to us. In a desire to avoid isolation we spend our lives building relationships with those that we have shared commonalities with.

Many a poet has written beautiful words regarding the value of friendship, and many a philosopher or wise sage has critiqued both its value and necessity. Friendship or non-sexual pair bonding has been in existence since the dawn of humanity. It has survived the rise and fall of great civilizations. Very few ideals have the kind of global and historical endurance as friendship.

What does it say about us that we now take friendship, a relation that we clearly socially value and cheapen it to uphold bigotry, intolerance, and hatred?

Continue reading here

Target Women: Cleaning Products

I am a little late with this one but hey, Sarah still rocks it out.  I am having embedding issues with her latest one on poop, so I will direct you to one of my favourite blogs Menstrual Poetry to check it out.

Okay girl crush moment over, resume blogging.