Saturday, November 15, 2008

Drop It Like It's Hot

Can you believe a week went by so quickly.  At least this week I did not have to fork out another 250 dollars for plumbing issues.  For those of you that don't follow me on twitter, last week my darling little Mayhem (the almost three year old) flushed a bottle of his fathers cologne down the toilet.  It blocked the toilet so badly the plumber had to take it right off to get it out.  I guess that was his way of telling his father that he didn't like the smell of that one.  I tell you when kids aren't making you broke, they're driving you crazy. He is damn lucky he is so cute.

Anyway tell me all about your week and share what you have been reading or writing.  Here are a few articles that caught my attention this week.

The Exception Or The Norm: It seems pretty freakin' clear to me that there is a strong connection between the "fuck all the immigrants, kick them out of the country, all Latinos are immigrants and don't deserve to be here" and a case of SEVEN teens who declare "Let's go find some Mexicans," and consequently beat and stab a man to death because he fits their profile (all Latinos are the same, after all).

My Shawshank Redemption: The ways in which focusing on reform can have a positive effect on recidivism.

The Audacity Of E-Mail: Now that he has been elected should Barack still be trying to raise money?

When Isn't A Penis Sexual: Examining the donation of prosthetic penises to trans man and the conditions that come with it.

The Job With No Paycheck: The media is quick to let Michelle Obama know that she new responsibilities now, but have we ever considered that we are asking her to work without pay?  Why is the labour of women always devalued?

Aspiring To Whiteness: Buying into the American Dream also includes embracing “the views of the dominant white society – including the prejudiced, distorted image of blacks."


Why We Need To Talk About Whiteness and Privilege

So the recent post on WPD caused quite the stir, talking about whiteness usually does.  As stated in both the post and comments white privilege is encoded to the body, and I do mean this literally.  Unless you want to go through the Michael Jackson school of beauty, you cannot rid yourself of your colour.  You also cannot change the way that people respond to you based in colour.  Not having control over others does not alleviate you having the responsibility to own your privilege, or make attempts to mitigate it.

"Now what, now what?"...I get that one all the time.  Of course whiteness wants a solution and people of colour need to provide it.  I am sure this is seen as being racially sensitive, because hey you're willing to listen right, but why should I be willing to serve.  For "now what" to be answered, you would have to have a true understanding of what it means to exist as an "othered" body in the Americas. You would have had to take the time to think about the ways that race/ class/gender/sexuality/ability etc intersect in our lived experience.  That takes work, so why not just get those of us that are considered raced to cough up the answer, so you don't really have to learn anything, but you can convince yourself how progressive you really are.

Socially there is an imbalance in knowledge.  For the sake of survival POC have had to learn about whiteness and how to negotiate it; whereas no such knowledge has been necessary for those that are white.  They can freely go about their days seeing whiteness reflected everywhere as good and positive. Open a history book and you will be immediately astounded by the achievements of whiteness.  Our knowledge of you is unavoidable, whereas yours is conveniently reduced to the month of February and the obligatory shout out to MLK.

Even in our so-called conversations about race we usually discuss how it impacts bodies of colour and ignore the degree to which whiteness is an active participant in maintaining racial hierarchy.  Oh sweet don't get white people riled up with the idea that they continually benefit from racism.  Make sure to walk on egg shells because it will be assumed that no matter what you say, you are calling all white people racist, or suggesting that there is no hope for change. Hell why even talk about this negativity in the larger social sense at all...feelings might get hurt. The illogic of this astounds me. Why initiate a conversation if not to inspire change. Would it not be easier for me to watch Barney with kids than go through this freaking headache every time I dare to suggest we climb the white monolith?

Discussions about racism cannot always be about the body of colour because it is not a one sided issue.  Framing the conversation this way maintains the idea that bodies of colour are always necessarily objects instead of subjects, and it further supports the racial hierarchy that has become institutionalized. 

Ultimately whiteness does not have to invest in the racial debate because to do so they would have to admit not only purposeful ignorance but shame.  OOOOh I wrote the shame word. Now I am not suggesting that you should be ashamed for being white, but how about shame in wilfully participating in a system that daily degrades others? How about shame in daily committing acts that maintain your privilege and support a concept that you claim in your most PC moments to be against? 

Peoples very lives are at stake and now is not the time to claim neutrality, it is passive aggressive and dishonest.  While you may openly say that you are not prideful (gee how sweet), not expressing shame in a system that daily dehumanizes a large percentage of the population residing in the Americas is disgusting.   Neutrality tells me that there is a limit to how far you are willing to invest in the project of equality.  You may claim to "own it," but having the courage of your supposed convictions is one step to far. 

Perhaps I should just order a round of cookies for everyone...hey its cheaper than buying drinks right? The only problem with that is a half assed effort doesn't get anyone anywhere.  Staring at each other from a rift that is wider than the grand canyon, talking at each other, instead of to each other just maintains the status quo.  Now I obviously know that some people are more than happy with the systemic inequality, but for those of you that dream about a time of real equality this impasse must be breached. 

So I say own it, and not on just some liberal look at me I'm PC level, but as a real and honest human being.  Anomie need not be a main feature of our society.

Editors Note:  There will be discussion soon to follow on biracial bodies. I feel that they deserve their own separate post.  Straddling the multiplicities of race should not be just an add on to a post on white privilege.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chief Illiniwek Needs To Stay Gone


I made this photo particularly large so that you could see cultural appropriation in all of its glory.  The University of Illinois ended the use of the chief  as a mascot due to cultural sensitivity issues two years ago.  Unfortunately some of the students have decided that this distasteful tradition needed to be revived.  The Students for Chief Illiniwek, funded the purchase of a new uniform and the chief is set to perform once again this Saturday at an Ohio vs Illinois football game.

According to the Chicago TribuneRoberto Martell, president of Students for Chief Illiniwek, said the group encountered no resistance from the administration. Tom Hardy, a university spokesman, said the students will be allowed to hold the event and that it is not sponsored by the university.
"Chief Illiniwek is a big priority," said Martell, a 20-year-old junior. "It inspired me to be a complete man."

The following is a video of the chief in action at his last official performance.

Cultural appropriation inspired someone to be a man..seriously, WTF. By this definition to be understood as a man, you have to mock another culture; thus those belonging to the culture being ridiculed are relegated to the status of eternal child.  Sounds a little calling a grown black man boy doesn't it? Insisting that an adult person of colour is childlike, is show your bigotry to the world 101.

Professional sports has a history of "othering" indigenous peoples through the mockery of traditional dress and cultural traditions.  We have the Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves (complete with the tomahawk chop), and the Chicago Blackhawks.  Somehow the spirit of sportsmanship gives licence to mock Indigenous cultures.

Many tribes have complained about how offensive  this kind of behaviour is only to be told that it is all in good fun, or just good sportsmanship.  It is exactly the same as telling a person of colour that they are too sensitive when they point out racism.

It is almost the end of 2008, the president is a man of colour and the state that he represented still engages in dress up like an Indian. Am I the only one that sees the cruel irony in this?  Yeah, the US is so evolved that it can elect a black man, but not evolved enough to realize that having a man play Native, and dance around a stadium to loud cheers is offensive.  WOW racism really did come to an end November 4th.

During the election there was much talk about the vote being a referendum on race and equality.  What was neglected is that a true conversation never occurred because many races were excluded from the debate.  How often did  you read about Indigenous issues in the newspaper, or hear about them in the mainstream media?  I actively looked for news daily, and I can tell you that information was scarce period. 

We cannot be bothered to make them part of our social conversation and yet at the first opportunity to mock and degrade some are all to happy to wear a headdress and play the fool.  The fact that traditional dress and dance has meaning in aboriginal communities is apparently meaningless because it is more important to honour the tradition of cultural appropriation.  Chief Illiniwek has an 80 year legacy...that would be 80 years of telling Indigenous people that their culture is so meaningless it is not problematic to use it to rally support for a sporting event.

Making sure that Indigenous people are invisible in a debate about race and inequality, and then presenting racist appropriation to support a national hobby only further serves to highlight the degree of racism that they must deal with.  History has been written from the lens of the victor and in the process all of the deep spiritual connections that have been attached to Native ceremonies have been co-opted.   It is only a colonizer that could view this kind of behaviour as acceptable. 

Contrary to what Martell said the best way to feel like a man is to honour all of those around you.  If you have to stand on someone to feel uplifted perhaps you have further to rise than you thought.

Where Gay Rights Fails


This sign was displayed at a protest for prop 8.  I wonder how the lesbian members of the gay community feel about having it declared that womens rights have been accomplished?  I wonder how the gay people of colour who are daily confronted with racism feel about the assertion that African American rights have been enshrined?

Being both gay and of colour, or a woman will mean that you will face at least two forms of marginalization and yet the white male leaders of the community have no problem announcing that these problems are solved.  Oh I know we have  Obama, and a woman almost won the democratic nomination but the problems of racism and sexism have not been solved.

As I have repeatedly said, one of the problems with the GLBTQI community is that it privileges certain bodies over others. While gay marriage is definitely an important factor in terms of social equality, will it benefit everyone equally across the board, or  will it just create a socially accepted vision of what it is to be gay; thereby causing divergent bodies to continue to be marginalized?

There seems to be the understanding that all gay people are affluent.  When we see homosexuality in the media it is always represented by a well educated white person, and more often than not that person is male.  As I watched Dan Savage on CNN eloquently advocate for gay marriage last night, I could not help but wonder where is your passion for those that are less well off than you?  Where is your passion for those that are of colour?  What about those that are gay that are dealing with a disability?

Gay marriage as important as it is, should not erase the need to organize around other causes.  It is a one dimensional approach aimed at seeking acceptability from homophobic heterosexuals.  While I agree that love is love and that everyone should have the same rights around marriage, I cannot help but wonder why this above all is privileged as the organizing focus? 

Could it possibly be that a gay identity is assumed to be a white, predominately male, able bodied identity?  Could this privileging of concerns have anything to do with the social hierarchy that exists outside of the gay community?  It would seem to me that if  we can agree that hierarchy and oppression are a part of our social interaction, then homosexuality should not be eliminated from the equation of possible oppression supporters.  Being gay does not mean that you are not racist, sexist, or ablesit.  The isms act on you just like everyone else.  Facing one kind of social stigmatization does not mean that you do not benefit from the social hierarchy that has come do define western society.

So, yes to gay marriage but how about a yes to dealing with poverty, racism, sexism, fat phobia, and every other ism that works to create a single human being as less than.  Each and every person is worth something.

Thank You

I missed my six month anniversary because I was so busy blogging about an issue that day.  In 6 months and over 500 posts Womanist Musings has come so far.  I remember how scared I was when I wrote my first blog post and hit the publish button.  With each post I gained confidence that yes indeed, I had something to say.  That confidence would not have been possible without your daily comments and your encouragement.

I love the conversations that happen here.  I know that we cannot always agree and that I have done my fair share of fucking up, but through it all I have learned so much from everyone and I will be eternally grateful for that.  I wanted to take the time to say thank you to everyone who keeps tuning into my daily rants that I politely renamed Musings.  I want to thank you for laughing with me, sharing outrage, and most of all for teaching me.

At the 6 month mark I also feel it is time for a little bit of reflection.  Is there anything about the blog that you would like to see changed?  Are there issues that you would like me to focus on more?  Would you like to see more "special" posts like those I do for Sunday Shame, or the first day of my period? If so what ideas do you have in mind?  As always my goal is to increase the depth of conversation that we share and have a little fun a long the way.  It is my hope that we will continue to grow as a community and learn from each other.  As I have said repeatedly I am a huge believer in conversation.  Until we start really listening to each other there can be no real and substantive change.


As always with love and respect,


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Duanna Johnson Needs Donations To Pay For Funeral

image As many know Duanna  led a hard life that ended very tragically recently. It was heartbreaking to learn that after having to defend herself against physical violence from the Memphis police, that she was found dead.  (note: I am not implying guilt on the part of the Memphis PD for her untimely death) Tonight to add even more sorrow to her tale is the difficulty her mother is having getting her funeral paid for.  I implore you to help if you can. This woman has suffered enough in life, and she deserves a decent funeral.

The balance for Duanna Johnson’s funeral is $1195 and the funeral home is requiring Mrs. Skinner (Duanna’s mother) to pay it by tomorrow (11/14). The cost is a hardship, so we are asking anyone who can to donate. Please send any donations to:
N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home
12 S Parkway W
Memphis, TN 38109

If you want any clarification from NJ Ford, here is their contact number: (901) 948-7755.

Please forward this to as many people as you can!! Thanks!

Edit: Some weirdness/shadiness about the funeral home on the comments on this post

This post comes via Questioning Transphobia.

Dear White Privilege Deniers

Simply because you cannot address your unearned privilege does not mean that the speaker is a racist.  I know that this is a difficult concept for you to understand, but being white means that your body is embedded with certain privileges, and like it or not, you will benefit from.  This by the way is anti-racism 101.

When someone takes the time to point out to you the ways in which you are benefiting from being white, the appropriate response is not to start foaming at the mouth screaming racist, or you hate all white people.  Even if your allegations of racism were correct, the ability of the person of colour to invoke said racism to make your life more difficult, or gain unfair social advantage is non existent, but then you would recognize that if you were not in denial.

Pointing out the ways in which all white people benefit from racism in our society is not being racist, it is being a realist.  Perhaps it would be easier for you to live in denial of your privilege, but for those of us that are daily subject to racism, quite frankly your comfort doesn't amount to a drop of water in a bucket of warm piss.

For people of colour racism translates to poor education, over representation in both the military and the penal system (note: not as lawyers, judges, and officers; those are largely white people) poverty, violence etc and etc.  If one group is succeeding and another is suffering in a system that is based on exploitation (read: capitalism) obviously dear WPD, the problem is the systemic inequality.

I'll bet my last pubic hair (yeah they're a valuable thing in the age of the baldimage muff) that some of you are in denial chiefly because of fear.  What you do not realize is that fear in this case in and of itself is yet another expression of your unearned privilege.  You have enslaved us, raped us, sodomized us, economically exploited us, systematically undereducated us, perpetuated lies and untruths...and you're the ones that are scared. PHuuleeezze. You certainly don't see black people wearing sheets, burning crosses, homes and lynching but you go ahead and tell me what fear is.

image Oh I know, it's because we are just such a violent people. White privilege is necessary because men of colour constantly express violence based in hyper masculinity.  I suppose when I look at Jean Claude van Dam movies, Rocky, Rambo, even George fucking Bush in his fighter pilot suit or dressed up in his hunting jacket with a gun none of that is hyper masculine? Nope, it is just the white man making the world safe for the civilized people.  I guess we know how Jack Bower keeps his ratings so high on 24, the world constantly needs to be saved and only white people can do it. Does being the living embodiment of Kiplings White Man's Burden weigh you down?

Since whites have caused such a high degree of damage, it is a fair statement to make that they need to clean up their mess; however fixing the quagmire should not mean continuing the war on the brown peoples of this world.  Fixing the damage should mean unpacking your knapsack of privilege.  It should mean daily performing acts of mitigation to ensure that as much as possible you are reducing the degree to which you benefit from privilege.   How about correcting your friends when they use racist language around you?  No, I thought not. It is much easier to tell bodies of colour that they are racist when they call you on your privilege. Pssst, I'll share a secret with you, people of colour are  aware of how your PC speech goes out the window when you are in a room of all whites.

I am tired of hearing white people claim to feel attacked the minute someone starts talking about privilege.  Yeah I know you would like everything to remain status quo, but that means that my humanity and my self worth is degraded.  Of course you want people of colour to reassure you, and not critique you because that means that you would get to go ahead and wallow in your privilege like a sow in a pile of mud.  The days of sambo shucking and jiving are over, so you will just have to deal with the fact that instead of talking about you behind your back, black people will now call you on your bullshit to your face.  You should take heart, because this is a sign of progress, at least we respect you enough to tell you that you are fucking up. 

Fish and Pussy How Imaginative


I came across this on stumbleupon.  I have no idea whether this is real or not as I have not taken the time to research it.  For those that don't speak french the translation of the written text is I am like a fish in water.

I highly doubt that Tampax would make an ad that is this disgusting, but that does not mean that some ad agency did not make this on spec for them, remember the Pepsi fiasco?

What ended the Pepsi fiasco was that it was discovered that the advertisement was not real.  What we did not consider is that even though the ad was a fake it still garnered a lot of buzz for Pepsi, the same way that this Tampx ad will garner attention.  An ad may not be made for display, but in the age of the internet they serve the purpose of getting people talking about a product.

Whether it is this Tampax ad, the Pepsi ad, or the Guinness fiasco of a few months ago, all of these images have one thing in common, they degrade women.  It seems that these agencies that create these images on spec, which clearly could not be used for the general population, know that by appealing to misogynistic patriarchal culture it will draw attention to their product. What is the old adage... there is no such thing as bad publicity.

I debated posting this only because I know that by giving it further exposure, I am doing exactly what is desired of me. They count on feminist blogs to raise the rallying cry about sexism; thus causing it to have even more viewership.  Theseimage images quickly spread across the internet, because an image that appeals to the baser elements is far more likely to go viral than a picture of a cute cat.  They will inspire conversation in which the name of the brand in question will be said over and over again. 

The best part about it all, is that the company in question can come out smelling like a rose because  they can honestly deny that they had any connection with the  ad.  Feminists then breathe a sigh of relief and purchase the item with even more vigour; because now they are assured that said company really cares about women. 

If we are going to raise the alert about this kind of thing, what we need to be doing is targeting these so-called spec companies that create these images.  They need to know that what they are doing is offensive.  We are being used and we need to wake up to this fact.  Enough with the wind  the feminists up and let us run routine. 

Using patriarchy and sexism in this manner is disgusting and should not be tolerated.  Pointing out that a fish can feel at home in a vagina is telling us that we stink, thus preying on womens fears of foulness, which was created by patriarchy in the first place.  How many perfumed pads and tampons do we need to purchase to make sure our genitals smell like rose gardens?

I see right through this shit and I am sick of it.  The next time I come across an ad like this, instead of attacking the company itself, I am going after its creator. I am not some marionette on a string that can be played with for convenience.  We may have been put into check but we are not yet mated.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maya Angelou On Barrack Obama's Inauguration Day

I came across this at what about our daughters and laughed my damn ass off, so I thought I would share it with everyone.  We could all use a little light heartedness from time to time.

For Men It's Until Infidelity Do We Part

One of the issues I have with the traditional concept of marriage is the ownership of women by men.  Within the very ceremony are embedded traditions that clearly institutionalize the male as the dominant partner.  Even within the most egalitarian relationships we often end up performing our gender. 

These gender traditions are written into the common law of England.  A man who commits a crime of passion (read:murder his unfaithful wife) is charged with manslaughter.  A woman who kills a husband who has abused her for years is charged with murder.  Clearly there is a gender imbalance.

By charging men with a lesser crime we are agreeing that a woman is property and further legitimizing the fact under certain circumstances male violence against women is acceptable.    To kill a woman for being unfaithful, a man is not punishing her for the violation of her marriage vows, but for sullying property that he has come to view as for his exclusive pleasure. 

Traditional marriage reinforces the idea that we own our partners rather than the relationship being one of free will.  In a patriarchal world where men are routinely violent towards women this is problematic.

How is it that a woman who kills her abuser of years can be charged with murder? How is it that the death of man can be weighted of more importance than the death of a woman socially? 

It is a known fact that many domestic violence situations end in death for the victim.  Even when women manage to escape their abusive marriages many are forced to live a life in hiding, because they are stalked for years.  Even with what we know about the outcomes of these relationships it is still murder.  A pre-emptive act in many cases may be the only thing that saves a womans life.  The laws in most western countries fail to adequately protect victims of domestic violence.  What good is a restraining order when your husband is holding a knife to your throat, or blackening your eyes?

The government is finally looking to overhaul this law.  According to the Independent UK, Harriet Harman, the minister for Women, who is introducing the changes said, "Ending the provocation defence in cases of infidelity is an important law change and will end the culture of excuses." Of course the men are resisting the removal of the right to kill.  Lord Phillips, at the London headquarters of the law firm Clifford Chance, said: "I must confess to being uneasy about a law which so diminishes the significance of sexual infidelity as expressly to exclude it from even the possibility of amounting to provocation. Nor have ministerial statements persuaded me that it is necessary for the law to go that far."

Perhaps dear Lord Phillips needs to see the actual corpses of the women who have been murdered by their abusing husbands for him to realize the seriousness of domestic violence.  Maybe he should sit and have circle time with children who are growing up watching daddy beat mommy for him to realize that domestic violence effects every single member of the family.

A woman that is unfaithful to her husband hurts his pride and breaks his heart but he is is whole.  A man that beats his wife destroys her soul, batters her body, and permanently scars any children that they may have together.  I cannot for the love Christ see how the two could even be comparable. 

As a pacifist, I am not advocating violence.  I do not believe that women should just kill their abusers, however after suffering from years of abuse even a dog bites back.  The simple solution to this is to stop the abuse of women.  The judicial system needs to be more proactive in arresting these men before it escalates to the point of murder. 

This push to have a more equitable law has been described as a feminist agenda, but I must ask why isn't it a human agenda?  How is it that equal rights before the law is considered more an issue for women than it is for men?....Oh silly me the patriarchy isn't about equality, it is about privileging men unto death, and oddly enough that is where we all part ways.

The Death Of Duanna Johnson

To be born a woman of color in this world is a difficult thing; as cumulatively we occupy the bottom of the race and class hierarchy. We are unique in that we have no institutionalized other. Our lives are often filled with violence and poverty. For every Oprah Winfrey or Tyra Banks there are millions for whom each breath is a struggle. For those of us that are negotiating multiple areas of stigmatization life can be that much more difficult.

I first heard about Duanna Johnson when I read about an assault against her by the Memphis police department. As they savagely struck her, they did not see her humanity, and they certainly did not see her struggles. These two white men, empowered by our society, saw a transgender black prostitute that they viewed as beneath them.

Even when medical aid was finally called, they treated her abusers, leaving her to bleed from an open wound on her head. As a prostitute Duanna had added a spoiled identity status to her already marginalized social position.

Being a transgender woman and hearing someone call you a he/she as they repeatedly strike you is meant to further remind you that are less than nothing. This is a message that our so-called black leadership internalized, as the voices of Jesse Jackson and camera-whore Al Sharpton were strangely silent.

One would believe that police brutality would be enough to cause anger in the black community, but few care about a drug addicted black trangender prostitute enough to sound the alarm. Though she was just as innocent as Sean Bell who met his death at the hands of police, her social status was enough for people to justify ignoring her.

Finish Reading HERE

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Arpaio’s Jail Staff Cost Ambrett Spencer Her Baby

The racist, classist, sexist,  Joe Arpaio who calls himself the toughest Sheriff is responsible for the death of an infant child.  Had she still been alive Ambria would be two years old today.

image Arpaio was elected for his stance of being "tough on crime".  He forces inmates to wear pink clothing to demoralize them, is famous for his green bologna sandwiches, forcing youth to work on chain gangs to bury the dead, and his continual war on bodies of colour.

This sack of shit thinks that it is a mark of honour to feed a human being on 20 cents.  Tell me what healthy life sustaining food can you eat for 20 cents, even in bulk?

Well good ole' Sheriff recently let us know of his overwhelming concern for mothers and children by refusing to transport an inmate for an abortion.  To good 'ole Joe the sanctity of life is without question.

Ambrett Spencer was to learn exactly how precious life was the to the Maricopaimage County sheriff, and his staff when she began to experience pain while pregnant in one of his cells.  It took his staff four hours secure the appropriate medical care for her, because the nurse decided that she was not in any "immediate danger." 

Instead of raising her baby girl, today Spencer is a woman who is grieving.  Imagine holding the body of your dead child, that you were powerless to save because some man unilaterally decided that pregnant women only count when they can be used to try and reduce womens reproductive rights. If life really mattered, why did the life of little Ambria not count as valuable enough to be saved? No matter what crime her mother had committed, why was she not entitled to life?  This isn't being tough on crime, this murder. 

Little Ambria died from placental abruption. She had already survived in her mothers womb without prenatal care, or vitamins, but could not battle against a final failure to receive medical treatment. 

If what occurred to little Ambria isn't enough to make you suitably horrified, read about Michelle McCollum and Lilly Lee as well as more detailed account of the death of little Ambria.

Socially there is the attitude that we have been to tough on crime and yet the recidivism rate is rising, as well as the prison population.  Small towns have become dependent on the employment of the prison industrial complex.  Subjecting people to dehumanizing treatment is not going to reduce crime.

Prisons fail because they are not about rehabilitation, they are about punishment.  Though Spencer was serving time for driving while drunk, losing her infant daughter was certainly a price that was to much to pay. 

Good 'ole Joe is not the only one responsible for the death of this child, we all are.  Cumulatively we have decided not to fix the problems that lead to criminal behaviour and we have empowered this man to deal with the problems that our social imbalance leads to. 

Getting tough on crime should mean things like job training, drug rehabilitation treatment, and counselling. Locking people up and treating them as sub human savages only leads to the perpetuation of the problems that led them to incarceration in the first place.

It is not a case of us against them.  If someone is imprisoned, or is a former convict they are still a human being.  Women in prison have been extremely vulnerable to rape, and now we are learning that for pregnant mothers there is an even greater cost.  I cannot help but wonder how many times we need to hear about cases like Ambria, or a woman being raped by a guard to decide that this system needs to be overhauled. 

H/T Feministing

Rape Is Never the Fault Of the Victim


There are those that steadfastly refuse to accept the fact that rape is not about sex, it is about power. Forcing oneself upon another is the worst form of violation. 

Today I read about the terrible story of a young girl who was gang raped because she dared to "disrespect" a gang leaders girlfriend.  The poor child was 14 years old and had to withstand the assault of 9 boys.

The group's 16-year-old leader started an argument with her over a comment she had apparently made to his girlfriend.

One of the youths took her mobile phone and the leader told her she could only get it back if she performed a sex act on him. She was then dragged to a block of flats.

She was forced to take off her clothes and raped.

She fought back but the gang threatened to kill her. The girl was then taken to another block of flats and raped again.

While the judge in the case has said that jail will occur, what I kept mentally returning to was the idea that rape should be used as "punishment" against a woman.

How many times have you heard someone immediately jump to question what a woman was wearing, why she chose to be in a certain location, or even her sexual history?  What we do not stop to question is why we assume that someone should have the right to exert this kind of power over a person as a form of punishment.

Rape is a form of "punishment" routinely visited upon women.


A recent survey on date rape showed that 60% of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught. (Helen Lenskyj, "An Analysis of Violence Against Women: A Manual for Educators and Administrators," Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1992)

According to Statistics Canada, only 6% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police. (Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, November 18, 1993)

A 1993 survey found that one-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence. Almost 60% of these women were the targets of more than one of these incidents. (Statistics Canada, "The Violence Against Women Survey," The Daily, November 18, 1993)

Statistics show one in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Half of these assaults will be against women under the age of 16. (J. Brickman and J. Briere, "Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault in an Urban Canadian Population," The International Journal of Women's Studies, Vol. 7, no. 3, 1984)

United States

The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics -- 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan.

Somewhere in America, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 1996, only 31% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials - less than one in every three. [National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 1997.]

In a survey of college women, 38% reported sexual victimizations that met the legal definition of a rape or attempted rape, yet only 1 out of every 25 reported their assault to the police.

In a study of college students, 35% of men indicated some likelihood that they would commit a violent rape of a woman who had fended off an advance if they were assured of getting away with it.

1 in 12 male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definition of rape. Furthermore, 84% of the men who had committed such acts said what they had done was definitely not rape.

Even as I was amassing these statistics, somewhere a woman was being raped, perhaps even by a man she thought that she could trust. There are those that would tell us that there is no need for feminism, or that we have reached a post gender world.  There are even women that equate feminism as a dirty label.

When I look at statistics like those listed above or read the stories like those of the anonymous girl that was gang raped, I know that now more than ever we need feminism.  We have not moved far from a time when men enshrined us in homes, stole our property, denied us the vote and burned us at the stake.

The burning times have never gone away, we have just ceased to have horror at the crimes committed against women.  There is not a woman that does not walk in the dark and think about the possibility of assault, but secretly we never think that it will be us - until one day it is. 

We never think that a man that we have come to care about, or even love could use his penis as a weapon against us.  We never think that a son that we have lovingly rocked to sleep could be the ultimate betrayer by engaging in sexual violence.

Turn a deaf ear to the what about the mehnz routine because real women are suffering and real women are dying.  It is time for us to unequivocally state it is not okay to violate us.  It is not okay to abuse us. Do not seek to only take back the night, seek to take back every space and make it a safe space for women.  Not only do we owe this to ourselves but we owe it to our daughters.


Monday, November 10, 2008

An Ode To The Mangina

Once again the comment section of Womanist Musings is the inspiration behind a new post.  I was recently honoured by a visit from Barry Deustch aka Ampersand from Alas A Blog.  I am a huge fan of his.  In the comment following his,  he was referred to as a "mangina" by an ignorant MRA commenter who uses the alias MetalOver30.

Since this was a direct attack I briefly flirted with the idea of deleting it until I realized that it was meant to insult Mr.Deustch by inferring that somehow being feminine,or having female sexual organs is demeaning.  Once again we see the rise of the female as pejorative.  It is quite similar to saying someone throws like a girl; thus equating femininity with inferiority.

Despite the rhetoric of equality the MRA clearly feel that women are less than.  This is not unique to this hate group, in fact it is the basis of patriarchy.  Woman as an inferior being allows the privileging of masculinity and the perpetuation of misogyny.  I am sure MetalOver30 did not see the sexism in his commentary because as an "equal rights" activists, the MRA  are only trying to ensure that men are respected.

There seems to be a social idea that a man that has a feminist out look on life is somehow emasculated.  The idea that a man can retain all aspects of his masculinity, while at the same time wholeheartedly agreeing that women are his equals, is attacked by patriarchy because the very idea destabilizes the male inalienable right to control and power based in sex and gender construction. The opposite is in fact true.

For a man to stand up and assert that women are his equal and openly advocate for an end of the systemic inequalities that gender disparity causes is indeed a courageous act.  Consider the attack that a stay at home dad faces.  Though the role of parenting is indeed challenging, when performed by a male it is even more subject to ridicule.  Nurturing and masculinity are deemed to be at social odds.

A man that owns the feminist identity is very quickly attacked as an effeminate loser.  This is just one of the ways that sexism hurts men to.  A masculinity that must constantly present an image of control, aggression and power is limiting in that it does not allow men a wide range of experience or emotion.

While the term mangina is meant to be an insult, I believe that we should see it for what it is, a man that refuses to allow the world to dictate who and what he should believe simply because he has a penis.  It takes a real man to stand up for what he believes in the face of constant attack.  Let us reclaim the magina from the pantheon of pejoratives; thus reducing the stigma attached to feminist identified males.  Having a vagina or sympathizing with women who seek to create a world in which all genders are equal need not be a mark of weakness if we fight against it.

So to all the manginas in the crowd...keep on rocking it and rest assured that there are many who see your daily struggle and applaud you for it.

Mark Oshiro: Protesting Proposition 8, Now You Need Your Allies


This story was sent in to me by a reader.  I had no idea there was violence breaking out at these protests.   According to two videos posted here and here, not only has violence occurred, but apparently wrongful imprisonment. There is a written testimony of Oshiro's  experience on his blog.

I am going to admit to something publicly that I probably should not.  Normally coming across a case like Oshiro would cause great anger on my part.  I don't believe that anyone's rights should be violated.  I believe that people have a responsibility to protest social injustice, and that the government has a responsibility to allow this to happen. 

In the case of Oshiro as much as I believe from watching both videos that this was definitely a wrongful arrest, there is a part of me that is so filled with anger at the racist attacks that have occurred that I am finding it hard to drum up the necessary angst to write the scathing post that I normally would have written.

This is the problem with the racism that was engaged in by some members of the GBLT community, at a time when they desperately need allies they have alienated people.  I have always worn my rainbow ally flag with pride but in the last few days it has been difficult to speak on behalf of a movement that seems to have no problem not acknowledging the hierarchy and white privilege that is a great part of their organizing tactics. 

I recently read this article which was tweeted by Rebecca Walker, and it only added to the conflict I am undergoing, as it starkly pointed out issues that POC that are GLBTQI are currently facing that have not been prioritized. 

It saddens me because the GLBTQI community has always been a second home for me.  I have many close friends that are gay, have gone on pride weekends, and I teach my children that love is love, it does not matter who it is between. Now as I look on with astonishment, this community that I have always considered to be a second home is throwing people like me under the bus.

As I look at Oshiro's photo I want that rage back.  I want back what those racists took from me.   I feel robbed and violated.  Yes I can get married to any man that I choose, but that does not mean that my heart did not break when I heard about PROP 8. 

The idea that the pain of the social injustice at the passing of PROP 8 was solely in the gay community is false.  People that are your allies hurt for you, and those of us that have been targeted by racism hurt even more.

Please help Oshiro if you can.  Despite the hurt, rejection, and pain I know that we cannot  heal until we begin to look beyond what divides us.  He is a human being like any other, and deserves to be treated fairly. 

I know that as POC we are continually asked to turn the other cheek and bestow forgiveness on those that have wronged us. It is painful to continue to extend an olive branch when the same mistakes keep occurring, but the minute we stop forgiving is the minute we admit that no change is possible.

Can A Woman Be Fired From Her Job For Stalking

In Washington, D.C., Attorney Dawn Martin released the following press release on her recent filing in an important case before the supreme court:

"Working while Female:" Supreme Court Will Decide whether to Review D.C. Circuit Decision Holding that a Woman Can be Fired for being Stalked by a Stranger in her Workplace !
Washington, D.C. – Martin v. Howard University and Alice Gresham Bullock, U.S. Supreme Court No. 08-204. As a law professor at Howard University, Dawn Martin was stalked by a delusional, homeless, serial stalker of African-American female professors. The stalker, Leonard Harrison, was searching for the physical embodiment of his "fantasy" wife -- a fictional female character, Geneva Crenshaw, in a book, And We are not Saved, written by Prof. Derrick Bell. Instead of following its own security procedures to ban the stalker from campus, Howard responded to her requests for protection by refusing to renew her teaching contract. Prof. Martin sued Howard, alleging sexual harassment/hostile work environment and retaliation for protesting sexual harassment. Martin is the first case to present the issue of "gender profiling" in the employment context -- or the "working while female" factor. The application of "gender profiling" to sexual harassment cases will also set precedent for racial, ethnic, religious profiling harassment cases.
Ms. Martin filed a Petition for Certiorari in the Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the March 31, 2008 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. See Petition for Certiorari, Howard's Brief in Opposition and Ms. Martin's Reply Brief at On November 14, 2008, the Supreme Court will decide whether it will hear the case on the merits. Roberta Wright, Esquire, representing the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and the other women's advocacy groups, has stated that she will file an Amicus Curiae Brief within the next few days.
Groups that want to be included should immediately contact Ms. Wright at [email protected] and Ms. Martin at [email protected].

Dawn V. Martin, EsquireLaw Offices of Dawn V. Martin, LLC1725 I Street, N.W., Suite 300Washington, D.C 20006

(202) 408-7040 D.C. phone

(703) 642-0207 office

(703) 642-0208 facsimile

Dmailto:[email protected] Website is

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hammer Time: My Secret Shame

Okay, I officially am loving the secret shame thing on Sundays, and so I am adding it as a regular feature.  This week's secret shame came to me as I was thinking about fashion mistakes of the past.  We all have some buried photos of us wearing shit, that we should have known was wrong at the time.  We look back and say to ourselves dear lord what was I thinking.  I don't have a picture of them to show you, but trust me when I swear to it that I once owned and proudly wore fire engine red.....

That is right, like a fool I walked proudly down the street in a pair of rayon MC Hammer pants similar to the ones in this video thinking I was the shit. I even had a dumb ass walk that I would do every time I put them on.  If that isn't some kind of fashion nightmare for the ages, I don't know what is.  Okay your turn, what fashion trend did you give into that you now regret?

Oh The Vulgarity

Though I do not identify as a third wave feminist, one of the things I have adopted is the freedom to swear as I see fit.  Vulgarity does have its time and place; however nothing gets a point across like a direct and to the point fuck you, or fuck off. I don't spend my days spewing expletive after expletive, but I sincerely believe that for many years this form of expression was denied women.

Good girls are routinely told to watch our language.  Swearing was/is understood as manly behaviour and not suitable for a correctly docile female.  Language is a very powerful tool and if certain forms of expression are disciplined by gender, it only reinforces the social construction we have concocted of the ever passive,Victorian like woman.

This post is completely inspired by a comment on Glenn Sacks blog ( again I refuse to link, if you're interested hit google) about me:

You can tell a "new gender raunch", by the language they use. They use the language of vulgar pigs!!

So I guess I'm not a good girl then. I was so hoping Santa would bring me a tea set, and a baby doll for under the christmas tree; so that I could learn to play the acceptable woman.  Since that is not to be, and I am clearly getting coal, I might as well say whatever the fuck I want.

Anyone else find it interesting that the only place where it is acceptable for women to swear is in the bedroom.  If we are moaning, sweating, grunting and saying yeah fuck me, oh yeah fuck me harder, the mehnz are all into it.  After all how "hot" would it be to say insert your penis faster?  (LOL shit I am cracking my own damn self up on that one). Once again this is confirming the passive pussy.  Saying fuck me, or fuck me harder turns the male into the active body and the woman into the passive body. 

(trigger warnings on the video for rape survivors)

We all know that the one with the dick is the one assumed to be the one doing the fucking; despite the bullshit about reciprocity in terms of sexuality.  I swear when it comes to fucking lesbians have the right idea.

The minute we decide to reverse roles and have a dominant female and a submissive male we turn it into some sort of sexual fetish.  Yeah the "big man" is so powerful that the only way he can be diminished is to take orders from a woman. Of course it seems kinky and wrong when our entire society is dedicated to phalocentric worship; every dick is a royal one.

When a woman says fuck you, she is asserting a sense of power that we have socially tried to deny.  She is stepping out of the submissive role and assuming an active body which patriarchy finds threatening. The mehnz immediately go into panic mode and try to remind us our place.  No No little one, aggression is reserved for those with testicles.

As women we need to carve out space for all kinds of expression to be acceptable. When we allow society to dictate what is acceptable based on gender we are allowing ourselves to be silenced. If we are angry or pissed we should be able to say fuck off with confidence and not be shamed for it. We are entitled to our anger and the expression of it is a human right.