Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chocolate News Thoughts And Ruminations

I have just recently discovered the Chocolate News.  It seems to be an exercise in contradiction.

 

He actually made some very valid points in the above short scenes.  When I first saw them, I thought to myself, Chocolate News might be something worth looking into. I found myself nodding my head with a smile. Yeah, at long last a black situation comedy that has something to say,  until I saw this:

Why we cannot  produce one political or situation comedy that does not resort to this kind of sexism is beyond me. This is not funny or amusing, it is overly sexualizing black women for profit.  How does the failure of the no child left behind policy relate to women shaking their asses?

The producers of this show need to get together with D.L Hughley because clearly they are both interested in pandering to the worst elements in society. Bitches, hos, pimps, and pure foolishness is what they wish to represent to the world.

What bothers me most about this sort of shit, is that it upholds negative social constructions associated with blackness.  Now you just know, that if some bigot runs across this they are just gonna shake their head  yes, because to them this is just confirmation of the spew that Hannity and O'Reilly rant about our idiocy.

I simply don't understand why this is necessary...Can someone tell me why, some people feel the need to live up to the low expectations that are placed upon black people?  Can someone please tell me why some people feel it necessary to reify the social constructions that serve to "other" us by schucking and jiving at every opportunity?  This isn't Chocolate News, this is chocolate character assassination.


Drop It Like It's Hot

In the interest of having more interaction with my readers, I officially declare this a blog whoring thread.  Drop a link to your own blog, or a post you think is a good read....

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When A Joke Just Isn't Funny

I have been repeatedly accused of having no joy in my life. I have been repeatedly told that I have no sense of humour anymore.  This lament has become standard commentary, that I receive almost daily, and it is tired and old.  Let's be honest, a lot of comedy today is based upon "othering" someone, or playing on tired stereotypes that are reductive to human dignity.

Daily as I become more aware of my privileges, things that I would have laughed at five years ago seem horrid to me.  I have come to realize that in many cases,  I am only in a position to laugh because said commentary is not a reflection on my life. 

When I wrote about Chris Rocks latest HBO special, I received the usual lighten up, it's just a joke.  When I listened to his latest screed all I heard was anti woman, patriarchal privilege that left a sour taste in my mouth.  Clearly as a woman I have a vested interest in being treated like a person of value; however that does not excuse Rock or comedians of his elk of routinely resorting to calling women bitches and hos for a cheap laugh.

What many don't realize as they sit there loudly guffawing at the latest homophobic, anti woman, racist etc., commentary is that they are participating in the very hierarchy that in other situations will create them as an other.  Unless you are a straight, rich, thin, able bodied, white male at some point in your life you are negotiating an area of stigmatization.   Hierarchy continues to exist because we continue to affirm it. 

We must come to realize that nothing exists outside of discourse.  From the moment the body is born it is encoded with social meaning that no one individual can escape.  If there is any hope of dismantling the social constructions that create some as less than so that others may profit, we must all actively engage in not only asserting our individual humanity, but our common humanity.

Rape, child abuse, fat jokes, racist jokes, etc., are not funny. This is someone's lived experience and may be a point of pain.  When I hear comedians joke about slapping a bitch, I think of the women in the audience who have fretted over the best way to cover bruises and black eyes.  When I hear comedians joke about spankings they received as children, I remember my own painful dance with the belt.

Comedy is meant to uplift the soul in laughter, not take us to the darkest moments in our lives that may trigger horrible memories.  It certainly does not exist to make us feel that we are less than the person sitting next to us. 

I love to laugh and in fact I do it quite often, I simply do not believe that my personal amusement should come at the cost of the dignity of another.  Language means something, it is how we understand and encode our world, therefore there is no such thing as a simple, harmless joke if it creates someone as 'other'.

I have a long way to go in understanding and accepting the different ways in which my body is privileged and how this affects my view of the world.  When I wrote a post recently about advertising and domestic abuse, as much as I believe in the equality of trans and lesbian women, I did not see the erasure in the advertising.  I admit this openly because it is only in admitting the ways in which we are blind that we can grow.  It had to be pointed out in the comment thread for me to see it.

Even the most vigilant amongst us will make mistakes; however we truly go wrong when we either do not attempt change,  or do not acknowledge our faults when they are presented to us.  As an imperfect being I expect to keep making mistakes and I am quite tolerant of the mistakes of others, my problem is with the select few who purposefully intend to demean another for profit.  When I use the word profit I mean either monetarily, or as an attempt to maintain unearned privilege.

As a species we are not so limited in imagination that we cannot amuse ourselves without resorting to the worst elements of society.  When we stop and laugh, though it is a joyful experience, I believe that we should all take the time to think about whether this joke was really free of constructions that were reductive.  A moment of joy should not be gained through the minimizing of another human being.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Queen Sophia The Homophobe

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It seems that the Queen's biography is a real case of loose lips sink ships. Queen Sophia who has been known for her discretion, and compassion has dropped the mask to share with the world her contempt for gay people.

"I can understand, accept and respect that there are people of other sexual tendencies, but should they be proud to be gay? Should they ride on a parade float and come out in protests? If all of those of us who aren't gay came out to protest we would halt traffic," she said in the book, written by Spanish journalist Pilar Urbano.

Just when you think that royalty could not express, or live with any more privilege; heterosexism raises its ugly head.  Does it really need to be said why straight people don't need a parade? Every where you look irregardless of country, heterosexuality is daily affirmed as normal and good; whereas homosexuality is constructed as deviant. The hetero/homo binary is used to justify the 'othering' of the GLBTQI community.

She need not concern herself with straight people stopping traffic because daily they engage in acts of violence against GLBTQI individuals to support heterosexuality. To come out, to demand to be counted is a human right.  In a world that daily tells you that you are subhuman, it is essential to have daily expressions of self-pride to fight against the negative onslaught.

If only her royal highness had stopped her sexual commentary there. But some people cannot help but to wallow in privilege.

"If those people want to live together, dress up like bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, depending on the law of their country, but they should not call this matrimony, because it isn't," she is quoted as saying. "There are many possible names: social contract, social union".

Isn't it nice that gay marriage is just role playing; no different than children playing dress up.  Of course it could not be "real marriage" because two people of the same sex are involved, and we all know that real love only occurs between heterosexual people. 

The whole separate but equal when it comes to gay marriage is discriminatory. If we have to call it a social union, or a social contract that necessarily implies that there is a difference.  Not calling it marriage implies that somehow these relationships are not as legitimate and not as filled with love.  Language is a powerful tool as it explains how we understand and order our world, and therefore when we decide that only certain groups of people should  be covered under certain labels we are affirming a social hierarchy.

I believe that Queen Sophia should relegate herself to discussing diamonds and crowns because her social commentary is not only homophobic it specifically denies love, which is the most beautiful of human emotions.  Had she been able to see beyond her heterosexual privilege for one moment she would have realized that love does not threaten to destroy, if anything love is our only salvation in a world that seems bent on reducing our common humanity.


MRA Glenn Sacks Applies Pressure To Domestic Violence Shelter Advertising

Well it should come as no surprise to anyone that Mr.Sacks (I won't link to him) is  continuing on with his misogynistic attacks against women.  In his teeny little world, it is all about the penis, and if you don't have one your story does not deserve to be told.  We certainly cannot have a world where women speak out against the violence and the oppression that they face at the hands of men, that would be far to threatening to patriarchy.

The Family Place domestic shelter paid $25,000 for 45 bus-side ads and 300 bus interior ads to appear on DART, the Dallas transit system.  Sacks and his minions have declared these ads offensive to men and fathers.  They have started a campaign to get the ads taken down.

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Sacks is quoted as saying, "I think they should take the ads down," Sacks said. "Domestic violence is still a problem that affects women more than men, but it affects them both. I can guarantee you if the genders were reversed, there is no way DART would have accepted those ads."

Despite the complaints that Sacks has managed to rile up DART  has so far refused to capitulate and the ads will run until Nov 30.   Yes we should all feel pity for the fathers that beat their wives and children, who will daily be reminded that there is a cost to their actions.  Why should they have to face up to the fact that their acts of violence cause real and lasting damage?  If these ads seem ugly it is because it reveals the true darkness that is violence.

Society needs to be shocked out of its complacency when it comes to domestic violence.  We have normalized images in the mainstream media of women being beaten and brutalized.  We have justified male aggression by asserting that in some way that women are asking to be treated this way.  Enough is enough. If even one person is shocked into realizing that they need help, or a woman is empowered to leave an abusive relationship then these ads will have served their purpose.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seal: Obama Is The Change That Sam Cooke Said Was Gonna Come

I am far from a Seal fan and I fully expected to hate his remake of one of my favourite songs of all time, but this is brilliance that needed to be shared with all.  I desperately long for the day when Sam Cooke's promise of change will be a realization for all.  We continue to be divided by race, class and gender and it is these divisions that are directly responsible for much of the evil in this world.

This song is my dream put to music.  I long for the day when we can look at each other and not see difference but a common human soul that simply yearns to experience love, faith and friendship.  I don't know that one man can be the difference for us all, but I do know that for the first time in a long time I am inspired to hope and believe. 

When I look at the world we are bequeathing to our children it fills me with a level of sadness and despair, and yet I know instinctively that there is goodness in all of us.  I truly believe that the essence of human nature is good, we have just lost sight of that goodness in the pursuit of  shiny baubles that have no real value.  That which comes to us through no cost, is what we need to affirm as priceless.  Love is what we need to heal this world.


Sexism Is Worse Than Racism

Despite the fact that there is no such thing as a good form of oppression some people cannot stop themselves from engaging in oppression Olympics.  The desire to rank one social stigmatization as worse than another is a denial of privilege.  It was with much disgust that I came across, "Lesson of the 2008 Election Is That Sexism Is Still More Pervasive Than Racism", by Bonnie Erbe in U.S. News & World Report. 

It is easy for a white woman who has never been subject to racism to announce that sexism is socially more pervasive.  She does not know what it is like to be told, you don't sound black simply because you know words that have more than two syllables.  She has never been directed to cheaper items in a store because it is assumed that blacks are too poor to afford luxury items.  I wonder if she has even been asked to leave a room so that someone could tell a black joke?

Blackness exists with a monolithic identity and therefore being asked to speak as a representative of my race is a common occurrence and yet I have never been asked to speak on behalf of all women.  This has happened in the most liberal of environments because despite the tolerance mantra, for some people not only do we all look alike, we think alike. 

A white woman is capable of asserting that sexism is more acceptable simply because she has never been subjected to racism.  To exist as a body of colour in a world that is predicated on maintaining white hegemony is to daily be marginalized, and 'othered'.

Erbe takes great care to point out that Obama has been the subject of racism but her desire to compare this with the sexism faced by both Palin and Clinton is yet another example of white privilege.  It is telling that her examples of sexist attacks are limited to white women, thus effectively erasing the experiences of women of colour.  When Michelle Obama was called a "baby's momma", by Fox news that was a specifically genderized attack based in race and yet it did not qualify as a legitimately misogynistic to be referenced.  Where is her outrage that an educated, intelligent woman like Michelle Obama is routinely reduced to a bitter, enraged ABW (angry black woman) by the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly? 

For women like Erbe sexism can only trump race because they ignore the experiences of women of colour.   Womanhood is routinely represented by white women and therefore the idea that they consist of a class of people that are uniquely marginalized is not only an exercise in white privilege, it is patently racist and othering.

While stating that, "white men still feel more comfortable sharing power with men of color than they do with white women or women of color", she ignores the role that white women have played in concert with men  in the overvaluation of whiteness.  Simply pointing out one clearly racist statement by Stanton does not erase the racism employed by white women in their bid to elect Hillary Clinton, nor does it eliminate the degree to which white women still profit from racism.  The largest benefactors of affirmative action have been white women and this is not at all accidental.  WOC despite occupying two areas of social marginalization have yet to make the same strides towards having our humanity actualized and valued and yet we are still female.  Daily our cry is still ain't I a woman and it has been generations since Sojourner Truth made that famous speech.

One does not validate oppression by forcefully participating and encouraging the oppression of others.  To truly seek a society based on mutuality and equality all forms of othering need to be eradicated.  Had Erbe wanted to make a true analysis of race and gender she would have listened to the voices of WOC because who are better prepared to speak to this issue than those whose bodies are literally an intersection of both?

No matter how accomplished Barack Obama is, it is a racist supposition to normalize his experience as typical of all people of colour.  If he is elected on Tuesday the racism that POC face will not diminish.  The idea that his election can be used as a litmus test by white people to prove their anti-racist credentials is only proof of the ways in which color is still very much an issue in our society.

Articles like this are going to continue to be written as long as white people refuse to recognize the racism that their bodies operate with.  Continually speaking as though their experience is the norm while ignoring the lived experience of WOC, is not only a direct act in maintenance of privilege, it is offensive to those of whose voices are silenced.

Sexism and racism are terrible scourges upon society; however they cannot be compared to each other in isolation of the ways in which they work in concert to effect the lives of WOC.  Erbe cannot speak to this experience because she has never lived it, but her refusal to even acknowledge that one small fact informs me as a reader, that those of us who understand intersectionality must labour on to ensure that no one is created is invisible.


Support WOC Wear Red

I have known about this day for quite sometime, but I have been resistant to posting about it because of the tirggering effect that occurs for me when I write about my experience with violence. 

In October 2007 people all over the United States gathered physically and in spirit to speak out against violence against women of color. Some of us wore red all day and explained that we were reclaiming and reframing our bodies as a challenge to the widespread acceptance of violence against women of color. Some of us wrote powerful essays about why we were wearing red and posted them on the internet. Some of us gathered with bold and like-minded folks and took pictures, shared poetry and expressed solidarity.

This year, on the first anniversary of the Be Bold Be Red Campaign, we invite you to make your bold stance against the violence enacted on women and girls of color in our society visible. In D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit women of color will be gathering to renew our commitment to creating a world free from racialized and gendered violence, and this time, we’ll be using a new technology called CyberQuilting to connect all of these gatherings in real time. To learn more about CyberQuilting, which is a women of color led project to stitch movements together using new web technologies and old traditions of love and nurturing, visit www.cyberquilt.wordpress.com.

I must admit that I am part of a troubling statistic in that not only have I had to deal with physical abuse, but twice I have been subject to sexual assault in my life. The last 15 years my life have been free of violence, and yet it still follows me like a persistent shadow that refuses to fade. 

To this day with the exception of my children, I don't trust anyone enough to touch my neck.  I am very easily startled and cannot stand it when people are standing behind me.  Being in a line with the inability to see who is behind me can be a triggering experience for me.  The insensitivity with which this is  greeted often makes me angry.

I don't want to have to say to people don't sneak up on me. It's not a joke it reminds me of being assaulted.  I shouldn't have to admit to such a violation to get someone to respect my space, but I have come to learn that because I am black and female, many do not feel that I have the right to exist without invasion.  Violation and black womanhood seem to be synonymous.

It does not comfort me to know that many of my sisters share the same fate. This is a burden I would be much happier to carry on my own.  I don't speak about what occurred to me very often because I find that it leads to terrible flashbacks, but I feel compelled to speak today to say that this violence needs to end. 

After all of the years that have gone by, I have stopped hoping to be healed or getting any kind of closure.  I am very much wedded to my anger and I believe that I will die with it.  Something inside me has been permanently broken and it cannot be undone.  The person that I would have been lies buried in a shallow grave and no amount of mourning for her will breathe life and hope into her.

Oddly enough my body does not carry any psychic memory of what happened but I am sure somewhere it suffers still from the scars that have yet to heal.  Most of the pain I deal with is of a mental sort. A song, a smell or an image can take me to places that I never care to revisit.  Unlike Alice my personal rabbit hole leads to place of such great pain.  Even in my own home, where I have lived for many years there are times that I will remind myself that I am safe here, that no one in this house is going to hurt me.  If there was a way to erase my memory I would do it in an instant. 

When I walk down the street, or raise my voice in protest few would look at me and know that I too share a legacy of violence that is all to common to WOC globally.  I know that I come across as confident and quite self assured but in quiet times when there is nothing to distract me, I once again come face to face with the reality of what happened to me.  I cannot stand silence because inside of it I hear the echoes of my own screams.  I remember tears that I shed in that moment because I have never since that day been able to cry for what was taken from me.

This is my story, this is my pain.  It stalks me like an ever present predator, forever nipping at my heels anxious to consume me.  I ask you to please wear red today not only support of me but for every single woman that shares this unspeakable burden. 

 


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ahh Vagina Solidarity and Voting

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I don't believe that it can be said anymore succinctly than that.

H/T  Electronic Village.

An Ode To Unmarriage and The Unhusband

Well, as many of you know I have been happily unmarried to the same man for over eighteen years now.  On this blog I affectionately refer to him as my unhusband.  There is no doubt in my mind that we are well matched.  I find him intellectually stimulating, fun to be around and an excellent lover (don't let that swell your head sweetie, you're still taking out the garbage).

Choosing purposefully to remain unmarried has not come without its complications.  There are those that cannot resist commenting on our lives.  How can we possibly be happy living in sin?  How do I know that he is committed to me, if I don't have a slave band wedding ring on my finger?  Don't you want to be branded like a cow, share the same last name?  What about your children; they won't have a true sense of family...

Yada, yada, yada... As much as we speak about living in a progressive society, where women have the right to choose what kinds of lives we want to lead, in actuality we continue to be disciplined into participating in archaic ceremonies that tie us to patriarchal institutions.  To be clear the "traditional family" as we understand it today is not only patriarchal, it is authoritarian.  The hierarchy begins with the male figurehead at the top and the children at the bottom.  In some families if the children are male they are placed above their mother.

The unhusband is every bit as unmarried as I am, yet questions regarding the validity of our commitment are always directed at me.  For a man to live with a woman without being married carries no social stigmatization.  Some even joke approvingly that he is getting the milk for free.  Yeah nice analogy, because of course the only reason to be with me is for the gadget between my legs and not the content of my character, or my level of intelligence. 

These kind of aspersions though directed at me are commonly said to many women who decide to forgo the gold ring and white dress.  I have very specific reasons for deciding to never marry which I am not going to get into on this post; the point is that I should not have to justify this decision to anyone. If we claim to have choice, then when someone chooses to do something 0utside of the norm it should not be continually subject to social discipline.

You know it occurs to me that some lesbians are actively fighting for the right to get married and in some countries that right is denied them;  yet my decision not to marry is continually subject to social discipline.  The issue can therefore be understood as an issue of control.  Marriage is an institution to uphold patriarchy and heterosexism and this why it is right routinely denied lesbians.  If no man profits from the relationship then society sees no point in validating the union. 

Simply because something is traditional does not make it necessarily a good thing for all parties involved.  Male headship of the traditional family does not lead to an equal and respectful marriage.  There are those that will continue to walk down that aisle and participate in the wedding ceremony ignoring the significance of what this act means for women.  I choose to wake each day participating in a relationship on my own terms, fully aware that what works for me may not work for everyone.

As women and as feminists we need to stop and think about involving ourselves in behaviours simply because our grandmothers, or mothers actively participated and give serious thought to the significance that it holds in our lives.  I have no plans to put the unhusband out on the curb on garbage day but I can only make that statement because I know that the foundation of our relationship is respect.  No relationship, no matter if it receives the blessing of the state, or a religious figure, will survive if respect is lacking.

So in closing, no I never intend to marry.  I love the fact that I will leave this world with the name I was born with; so you will just have to dip that branding iron in cool water.  Finally, we could not be happier, our love need not answer to anyone and that is a position that should stand for all.


JC Penny's Doesn't Do "Black Hair"

Brenda McElmore went to JC Penny's to get her hair dyed black and was denied service.

According to KTLA, McElmore was told, "We don't do African-American hair." She was then directed to elsewhere for hairstyling needs.  For McELmore it triggered a time of growing up under Jim Crow laws, wherein blacks were routinely denied services based on the colour of our skin.  She has since filed suit against JC Penny.  The company responded by sending the following letter.

"Let me apologize again for the customer service experience you had in our store. As we discussed, our salon receptionist felt that we did not have the technical  proficiency... to perform the service you required. She may not however have  expressed this to you in a way that was not offensive. For this I again apologize. Because customer service is ... so important to our company, we would rather not attempt the service if we cannot perform it as required."

Isn't that beautiful lawyer speak for your hair is too nappy and untamable to deal with.   The woman wasn't asking for a hair treatment, or a hair style that was specifically Afrocentric, she was asking for a damn dye job.  If the salon does not have someone there that can colour hair, then they are not a hair salon. 

You know on second thought, even if she was asking for a perm, corn rows, or a weave, why should she not have been able to walk into a hair salon and expect them to be able to cater to her needs.  Hair care is one of the few industries that continues to be divided by race.  One look at the magazines in the waiting area will let you know if you are in the right place or not. 

This continues largely because black hair is deemed to difficult to deal with. Somehow the white hairdressers cannot be proficiently trained to deal with the high maintenance needs of a black woman....oh no their delicate hands can only deal with the silky locks of white people.  In all of the years I have been going to salons, I have only ever been to one that catered to both white and black women alike.    The segregation is so normalized that black hair care even has its own aisle at Walmart and Shoppers Drug mart.

We never stop to ask ourselves what this means because we have become accustomed to the segregation.  As a woman that lives in a small town that is mostly inhabited by Italians, I can tell you that this has lead me to develop home solutions to any hair issues that I may have because I cannot find anyone to cut, or style my hair.   I have friends that drive 40 minutes to Buffalo from Niagara Falls, On to get their hair done. 

Imagine having to cross an international border to get your hair done because no one can be bothered to offer you a service that you clearly want and or need. Think about the idea of a profession that specializes according to race, and what that means.  By simply refusing to learn specific skills they can daily exclude blacks from patronizing their business; thus creating an all white environment.  The analogy McELmore made to the Jim Crow south is quite correct. 

It is my sincere hope that she wins this suit.  Discrimination by default is not appropriate.  An industry should not be able to legally discriminate by failing to mandate that all who require a license learn how to cater to all potential customers.  

It is time to move away from the point where whites think that they can treat us like we are animals in a  petting zoo; an exotic other to assuage  their curiosity. It is not at all accidental that when the touch is required for the sake of servicing a need, blacks are told to go elsewhere.  Historically blacks have served whites, and for a white salon to "lower" itself to accept black clients is threatening to the social hierarchy that whites have worked so hard to preserve. 

Failing to insure proper training not only maintains a segregated service area, it insures that serving white needs is what continues to remain valuable.  Consider that blacks would have to remit payment for services rendered and still yet we are not deemed worthy of being served.  If payment would negate or in anyway challenge the overvaluation of whiteness if at all possible it will be refused.  Even though it would clearly be in the best interest to learn to serve blacks as it would clearly add to the profit margins, white hairdressers continue to cater solely to white clientele.  This is yet another example wherein racism not only hurts the party that it is being aimed at but the whites that are performing the racist act.  Whiteness is only as valuable as we socially create it to be.


What A Slut

One of the main disadvantages that comes with living in a small town is the constant awareness of the activities of others.  There are certainly areas that have a smaller population than the Niagara Region, but for me this is about as small as I can tolerate.

One of things that I have learned is that people love to gossip.  I suppose when there is not much else to do with your free time, gossip provides good entertainment for some.  The divorce rate here is no higher than any other area, and people are just as unfaithful and yet I am continually being told about some woman's slut like behaviour.

It takes two people to be unfaithful in a marriage, and yet it is always the slutty woman that is to blame.  If only she had kept her legs shut, we could be living Leave it to Beaver lives circa 1950. 

When the conversation starts off with did you hear so and so was caught in bed with so and so, my inclination is to tune right out because I know that it is only a matter of time before the woman in the sexual liaison is subject to some kind of social discipline for her sexual behaviour.

Women are not allowed to fuck who, where or when we want without being hyper vigilante of how this behaviour will appear to others.  We cannot even masturbate in peace because we are taught that touching ourselves is a no no. We are told that our orgasms are given to us by men, and we can only experience them in a controlled environment mandated by patriarchy's desire to control our sexual behaviour.

Even when we receive permission to be sexual, we have to be careful and not cross the line of what is considered appropriate female sexuality.  Don't initiate sex to often because men like the chase, pretend that the missionary position is the most stimulating sexually, though it does nothing for the clitoris, and remember to moan at the mere sight of a penis.  OOOOH erect phallus must display awe and wonderment.

Slut shaming seems to be a social hobby.  Why join a bowling league, take a cooking class or read a damn book when you can engage in acts that ensure that women will forever be constructed as second class citizens? The joy that people take in participating in such malicious gossip is not harmless;  not only does it help maintain the idea that women should all be chaste, it stops people from focusing on why they take such pleasure in focusing on others.

If you feel the need to get off on other people fucking, perhaps you should just throw caution to the wind  and figure out where your own damn clit is. I promise you won't grow hair on your palms, and masturbating might actually make your own sex life a little better.  What someone else does sexually has no bearing on your life, or the content of their character.  Yes, I know that we have been taught that there are only some sexual acts that are acceptable, but my view is that if sex is occurring between two consenting adults, and no one gets hurt, get your freak on with pleasure.

Having a good, active sex life is excellent for our emotional health.  Nothing beats getting sweaty and having  earth shattering orgasms... You know, the kind where your eyes roll back in your head and you damn near swear you had an out of body experience...yeah that kind of good.  The fact that we feel the need to interfere with someone else's pleasure, because of where or how it occurs, only signals that even though sex is everywhere we look,  it is still a highly disciplined behaviour. 

Here is my suggestion to all of you who feel the need to gossip, Stop it. Take all of the energy and angst that you have invested in policing others and  focus on your own happiness.  Gossip never comes from a good place.  Perhaps becoming the town slut and having your own earth shattering orgasms might just be a happier healthier thing to be, than an uptight repressed ninny with a fridge for a twat.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

70 And Back To Work

This story resonated very deeply with me.  Quite a few years ago I worked with a man that was forced to go back to work after the BRI X fiasco drained a large portion of his retirement savings.   Beulah Barton is fortunate to have the health to be able to work.  There are many who are in financial crises whose health will not allow them to re-enter the job market.

When the media speaks about the current economic down turn it often focuses on those that are losing their homes, or are having difficulty finding jobs.  It rarely takes the time to discuss those that were already living on the margins before the crises hit. 

Food banks are having difficulty collecting food, charitable donations are dropping and this is all occurring at time when people need the help the most.  I listen daily as the GOP screams about the evils of socialism in an attempt to blind people from the fact that in difficult times it is our communal efforts as a species that have allowed us to survive and progress to the degree that we have.

As I said in All About The Middle Class, in our bid to hold on to a standard of living that we feel entitled to, we continue to promote the invisibility of the working/under class.  Denying the degree of impoverishment is not going to solve this situation.  Poverty does not occur because people are lazy, or not desirous of working towards their own subsistence.  Poverty occurs because we have institutionalized a system that refuses to actualize the humanity of others. 

How many times have you heard the refrain, in a country as rich as this how is it possible that there are so many homeless, or so many that go without food?  It occurs because for all of the rights and freedoms it still has not been universally decided the food, clothing, health care, education and shelter are basic human rights. 

Life, Liberty and Justice; however life has requirements.  In the Downtown core of any major city the suits rush by the homeless as though they manifest some sort of disease.  The elderly are regularly shunted aside, and children though they are our future, go to bed hungry at night.  Vulnerability in the western world continues to grow as the gap between the rich and the poor increases each year.  This is an obscenity. 

A  3500 sq foot home, with two cars and a swimming pool are not necessities.  To have this luxury understood as a reward for hard work, ignores the degree of exploitation at play in the racist, patriarchal, capitalist system.  A lawyer works no harder than a waitress  in a diner, their labour is simply valued differently.  A SAHM who is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is just as valuable as a CEO managing a fortune 500 company.  It is a disconnect in worth and value that perpetuates the idea  that some should live in splendour while others starve.

Stories like that of Beulah Barton are increasingly becoming the norm.  Mechanization promised a reduction in the labour of all and instead we are working more hours than we ever have.  At the rate that we are going retirement will only occur when we physically exhaust our ability to work or we have significantly exploited the labour of others during our working lives.  For some socialism may be an evil boogeyman; however I tend to believe our inability to lead more communal lives is far more destructive.


An Obama Presidency Facing The Fears

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I came across this image at the Cagle Post Cartoons & CommentaryThis is not the first such image to prey upon the unspoken fears of black Americans regarding an assassination attempt on Barack Obama. 

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According to Feministe this image was sent into PostSecret.  The blocked out section reads "a matter of time".    It is common knowledge that Obama received secret service protection earlier than any other candidate in history.  The public has not been made privy to the kinds of threats that have aimed at the Obama family, but we must acknowledge their existence based on the systemic racism in the United States.

Throughout American history it has been proven repeatedly that black lives are cheap.  Men less famous and "controversial" than Barack have found themselves dancing at the end of a rope for having the temerity to assert their humanity.  Dr. King who preached about equality and judging someone on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin had his voice silenced by an assassins bullet. 

It would be naiveté to assume that these same forces do not also seek to silence Barack.  If one truly listens to his platform it is clear that Barack isn't particularly left leaning, in fact he is a centrist.  What is problematic about Obama is not his message but the colour of his skin.  The same platform run by an Edwards or Kerry would not have aroused the same kind of national ferment.

What is at stake is the traditional right of whiteness to rule.  Barack represents a threat to social hierarchy and those so- called fringe elements that scream nigger and kill him, are all to aware that if whiteness becomes socially devalued their ability to express power in situations wherein they are in actuality functioning with very little social power will diminish.

Each advancement of POC have been ferociously fought against by the white majority; from manumission, to civil rights, to the election of Barack, whiteness has continually acted in its best interests.   It plays out in the everyday slights faced by POC, whether it be invisibility in representation, or in acts of obvious racism displayed by men like Rush Limbaugh. 

Black blood still runs freely and Obama whether we want to confront it or not is a target.  He will continue to be a target as long as the US continues to be a racially divided society.  The only way to reduce the threat factor is to deal with the social angst that is caused by racism.  As difficult as it may be we must soldier on and continue to fight against those that seek to profit on socially constructed difference.

Though whiteness has been offered as a reward in actuality its overvaluation is what is holding under/working/middle class Americans back from achieving real social and economic growth.  It blinds them from seeing  the ways in which the ruling elite manipulate their hate, and their fear, to ensure that there is a continual class of people to be exploited.  

If we see the person next to us as an an enemy instead of a comrade in the struggle, then we will not be inclined to marshal forces to demand our shared human rights.  Things like health care and education are not  a priority for the ruling bourgeoisie who can afford to pay for elite services, they are the concerns of the proletariat.  The myopia of the racists who allow themselves to be engorged with hate to the point of considering acts of violence is terrifying and reductive.  Not seeing the benefit of racial solidarity means that they will forever live lives that are stunted, while POC continue to hope for the safety of our leaders.

 

 


It's Period Time Again

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Last month for the first time I wrote about having my period on this blog. One of things I discussed is the fact that menstruation is treated like a dirty little secret that no one really talks about.  We go out of our way to hide the evidence of it, because we have been socialized to believe that it makes our bodies somehow foul and unclean.

Unless we are being sold midol or being told how to keep our periods from "ruining" our clothing, the period is invisible in everyday discourse.  Have you ever looked at woman and wondered if she menstruating just like you?  Have you ever wondered how she feels about it, and what the process means to her as an individual?  I think that it is time we start talking about this.  I think it is time we start celebrating this.   To that end, on the first day of my period every month I will put up a post inviting exchange regarding our shared experience as women with menstruation.  Please feel free to send me an e-mail throughout the month about specific aspects you would like to discuss on this issue.

 image I will kick this one off by talking about my first period.  Puberty was something that happened very early in my life. I had breasts when I was 8, and got my first period right after my tenth birthday.  I remember the year before I got my period reading Are You There God It's  Me Margaret.  Even though I was younger than the girls in the book I really related with their desire to mature.

I remember the girls in the book doing bust exercises to grow breasts and laughing wildly because at the age of 10, I was a C cup and wanted them gone. After reading this book I frantically checked by  underwear for signs of a period for months until that faithful day in August when I opened the bathroom door and screamed to my mother, "I got it." She smiled and informed me to "stay away from boys".

Seeing that my body was developing my mother had already had theimage conversation with me regarding protection.  With the exception of purchasing tampons for me, she bought different brands of pads and allowed me to choose the ones I wanted to use. 

I had no idea that the period that I was wishing for would last for more than one  day.  I was shocked to awake the next day to find out that I was still bleeding.  I was even more shocked to find out about the cramps that came with it.   I am pretty sure that had I known  about the pending discomfort I would not have wished so desperately for it.

When I think about that day, I smile, and not because I view it is an accomplishment, but because I see it as a time when I was to innocent to understand the ways in which  having the ability to menstruate would effect the ways in which the world viewed me.  On the day I became a woman, I still had no idea that world viewed womanhood as less than.  On the day I became a woman I still believed that attaining womanhood meant having the equal opportunity to stake my claim in this world. 

There have been times when I have looked back wishing for the lost innocence of that day, as the battle has taken its toll on me, but I have come to realize that each engagement, each shedding of my uterine wall  is part of my evolution as personhood. 

If I chose to hide my period treating it like some shameful experience I would be supporting the patriarchal construction of womanhood as dirty and diseased.  My body is not foul nor are the natural processes that occur with my body.  Each time I speak about my period publicly, or commune with other women, I am saying to to the world that all aspects of womanhood are worthy of being celebrated.

Please share your stories of your first period in the comment section.

 


Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey Palin, Some Americans Find The Word Nigger Offensive

Well the McCain campaign said that it didn't support racial politics,he clearly forgot to discuss this with Sarah Palin; who seems to have no problem with the word nigger.  Continuing on with your speech and failing to correct the person who used such inflammatory language only confirms that when she used the term "real Americans", what she meant was white Americans.  Between the taunts of "kill him", monkeys dressed with Obama labels and now catcalls of nigger. is it any wonder that Palin rallies are beginning to look more and more like new age KKK seminars.  News flash: black Americans are citizens who have the right to vote. Continually engaging in racial politics by failing to disavow words like nigger will only only help to ensure that you are headed back to Alaska on Novemeber 5. 

H/T Mattbastard

Where Is D.L Hughley's Mute Button

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Yes, I tortured myself and watched this fool on CNNI went into it with really low expectations and found that Hughley managed to fall below the already low bar that I had set for him.  Just listening to his opening monologue where he engaged in ridiculous stereotypes to infer that Obama isn't "black enough" was torturous. Guess what DL, unlike yourself some black people are educated and even articulate...oops, I should not use big words and Hughley in the same sentence.

I personally would like to know what CNN was thinking giving this fool his own show.  Did they think that black people would be thrilled to hear him say that white people need to learn the black shopping habit of layaway, as he reminded us all that he makes more than 250K a year?  Did they think that we needed yet another portrayal of a black man as a pimp, to help grow our cultural self esteem?

They go on and on about McCain not vetting Palin, but clearly they did not learn from his mistake, as no one vetted Hughley. Hey D.L, if you are the only one laughing and you have a live study audience, that is a huge indicator that you are not funny. I suspect that the next mystery to be decoded is if he will last longer than Chevy Chase did when they gave him his own show.

CNN I have to say that I am shocked.  I thought that only FOX would hire a man that makes a living pushing racist social constructions and making sexist commentary.  It must be CNN's new agenda to attract  a self loathing, internalized racist, shuck and jive dancing, chicken wing eating, watermelon sucking group of people.   In a time when African Americans are daily being assaulted by racism, putting a black man on television that affirms these constructions only bolsters the claims that we are not capable of participating in a serious way in the global arena.

With all of the intelligent black men living in the U.S, other than maintaining white hegemony I fail to see what purpose putting Hughley on the air at such a critical time could serve.  There are no other CNN personalities with Hughleys educational background; and therefore his sudden appearance on air smacks of pandering to the "fringe" element that support McCain who are traditionally viewers of networks like FOX.

I have already given this man more space than he is deserving of.  It is my hope that before Hughley can inflict significant damage on black reporters, entertainers, intelligentsia, and politicians, someone will have the good sense to hit the mute button.  If the only thing that he could get right in the hour that they gave him to blather on, is that he and Palin are on the same intellectual level when it comes to political discourse; it should only be a matter of time before we start seeing Hughley sketches on SNL. 

 


Hey KFC, Newsflash Women Get Hungry

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Even if I were so inclined to eat this artery clogging slop, KFC has wagered that I will never be hungry enough to eat it because I have a vagina and two  beautiful breasts (yeah tooting my own horn). I searched online for the commercial to no avail; and so you will have to take my word for it that no one with any ovaries appears in the commercial for this heart attack in a box extravaganza.

Since nothing in this the box is good for a healthy functioning body, there was a part of me that thought about not blogging about this, but the exclusion of women and its implications was just too much to ignore. 

When we see advertising aimed at women it usually falls into three categories, housecleaning, diet food/ weight loss, and childcareOver and over again, the gender card is played with the confidence that we will pick up the clues and perform as we have been socialized to do.

While skipping a BIG BOX meal certainly is not harmful to anyone, the idea that women are excluded from targeted marketing in this instance is.  High fat meals like this are not targeted at women because capitalism and patriarchy  have much invested in the constant disciplining of our bodies.   

Specifically not targeting women in this ad campaign will not hurt KFC because of course they have already made sure to let us know that when we are stressed out from working our second shift (read: working/parenting) we can always feed our children KFC to reduce our stress factor.  For the sake of family togetherness we will be allowed to participate in the great secret recipe path to the cardiology department; however succumbing to the BIG BOX for our own personal satisfaction, is unacceptable as it has clearly been deemed testicle territory.

It takes a manly man to consume the BIG BOX, that is after all why it was named the BIG BOX.  Women are meant to eat sparingly. How else can we make sure our bodies are suitably fuckable?  Every single calorie must be counted if we are to remain in strict control and maintain the skeleton like frames that we have been told  are so attractive.  Everything in "manland" is bigger, and brighter, than the diminutive pink coded world that women are expected to inhabit.  Masculinity needs the BIG BOX, after all  men have important work to do running the world. 

I swear there are some that would have us fainting like it was the 1800s again. The corset may be invisible today, but it is very much in existence.  By the simple act of exclusion we are reminded of what behaviour is acceptable for women to perform.  Good girls don't sit sucking on chicken bones shooting the shit with their friends.  Nope, we are eating yogurt watching with envy as men are encouraged to satisfy their baser desires. 

So don't eat that BIG BOX.  Keep your figure trim and while you are at it, remember to perform all of the other tidy little behaviours that come with womanhood. Cross your legs, 'cause womens bodies are closed. Remember to scrub that toilet, 'cause women apparently are the only ones with a vested interest in making sure the living environment is sanitary, and most of all (this is really key)  if it looks like it might be deliciously bad for you, and it isn't chocolate, fudge, or ice cream, it's off limits. 


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sarah Palin: The 150K Woman and the Garment Industry

Once again promoting my latest at Global Comment.

It seems as though controversy and Governor Palin are going to be wedded to each other until Election Day. In this week’s startling revelation the public learned that 150 thousand in RNC donations was spent to purchase a new wardrobe, hair styling, and make-up for the Governor.

Who says that McCain didn’t pick her for her potential to be election eye candy?

Much of the conversation regarding this revelation has revolved around the double standard when it comes to appearance between men and women in the public eye. Campbell Brown commented on CNN, “Compare that with the attention given to Senator Barack Obama’s $1,500 suits or Senator John McCain’s $520 Ferragamo shoes. There is no comparison,” she said.

It is clear that for Brown the issue is not about the money that was spent but about the fact that this is only a story because of the inequality that exists between men and women. She went on to further state, “I speak from experience here. When I wear a bad outfit on the air, I get viewer e-mail complaining about it. A lot of e-mail. Seriously. When Wolf Blitzer wears a not-so-great tie, how much e-mail do you think he gets? My point is for women, unfortunately, appearance is part of the job.”

While I would agree that this is indeed a women’s issue, I feel that it is also important to note the women who are not being discussed in this recent controversy. It is well known that the fashion industry is highly dependent on sweat shop labour to produce cheap garments for the Western world.

The majority of these labourers are women of colour and they are invisible, not only in this particular situation, but often times when it comes to discussion about the ways in which the fashion industry can have negative impact on society.

Finish Reading Here

Little Shop Of Horrors My Secret Shame

Well last weeks admissions of secret shame was so much fun I decided to try it again this week.  One of my favourite movies is Little Shop of Horrors.  Now if asked in the real world, I would certainly fib and pick something more along the lines of The Usual Suspects, Dances With Wolves, Malcolm X, or even Fried Green Tomatoes.  Secretly I must admit however that I have a special place in my weirdo heart for Little Shop of Horrors.  I like it so much that I couldn't chose a favourite scene, and so this week I'm putting up two clips.  Hit me in the comment section with your secret shame movies.

If Only Brandon McClelland Had Real Friends

This week the nation was busy paying attention to falsified attack of Ashley Todd.  Certainly the idea of a white woman claiming to be the victim of yet another attack by a vicious, savage, rapist black man is worth repeated mentioning on all the major networks. Even though from the very beginning her facts were nonsensical, the media could not help but jump on this story like sharks in a feeding frenzy. 

Today I learned of the death of  24-year-old Brandon McClelland. As I read about how he was dragged underneath a pickup truck in East Texas, for over 70 feet a sickness washed over me.  For three days along that stretch of road they were finding parts of his body.

His murder has not been declared a hate crime, because he was supposedly friends with the men that killed him.  Let me spell that out F-R-I-E-N-D-S. Now I don't know about you, but the people I call friends like to do things like share a cup of coffee, maybe go to a movie, or if we are feeling a little wild a dinner show, (we're old) but friends do not MURDER EACH OTHERKilling one party in the friendship usually ruins a relationship.  Does anyone else find it eerily chilling that the men that killed James Byrd claimed to be his "friends" as well.

The murder of McClelland is cause for true discussion about race and the ways in which it impacts our lives....A man is DEAD.  A white woman claims that her breast was fondled and immediately we start applying a racial lens.  Conversations initiated in this way keep white people at the centre of the story. It further makes it seem as though their privilege is difficult to live with rather than the systemic racism that blacks live with being difficult to bear.

It disgusts me that a lie should garner more attention, and more concern than the brutal slaying of a black man.  To be clear he was dragged 70 feet to his death and we are not talking about this.  It occurred in an area of the country that is well known for racial division and we are still not talking about it.  What is it going to take for people of colour to get justice in this life?  How long will our murders, and assaults be over looked.  The saying is that life is cheap but in this world I think a more accurate saying is that black lives are cheap.  Rest in peace Brandon, you deserve better than the hand the you were dealt.