Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama Commemorative Plates

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So there I am watching CNN when this ad pops up my television.  This is pure capitalism in action...A Barack Obama commemorative plate, of which you are only allowed to purchase two by the way.

How will the average person be able to restrict themselves to only two plates?  This of course is not some ploy to somehow make this tacky representation seem more valuable than it is.  How could anyone not want a piece of history? This is not as bad as the pocket fisherman, but it certainly is not much better.

Daily Americans are getting pink slips, houses are being foreclosed on but you need this plate as a symbol of faith and hope.  I don't know about you but 19.99 buys a package of diapers, or 3 bags of milk for my kids, or the equivalent of two diners for my family.  I know the value of 19.99.

One message that Obama made clear is that people are going to have to start thinking about money differently, and I think that using his image to promote a clearly ridiculous product is counter to his message.  Now is the time for fiscal austerity.  Having a pretty Obama chachsky on your wall may be nice, but in the grand scheme of things if you voted for him you have already participated in a historic moment.  No cheap plate hanging on your wall is necessary to prove your commitment to his message of change.

I would like to see an end to this exploitative products that prey upon American over attachment to country and nationalism.  Many may accuse Canadians of not having national pride because we do not have the big displays that Americans do; however for us national pride is about action and not display. If you know in your heart that you love your country you have no need of a gratuitous display to prove it to the world.

I do have one other query about these tacky commemorative items, were they made in the U.S.A ? I have done some research and still have not been able to find out. Just imagine  if the symbol of  patriotism was made in Taiwan, just like so many cheap products of this kind?


Drop It Like It's Hot

Well, we all survived another week.  It's been a rough week as both the boys have colds.  The little one is particularly miserable and has been cussing us all out at every opportunity.  I cannot wait for them to get better so that we can return to our normal level of insanity.  As usual tell me about your week and share what you have been reading or writing. Let the weekly blogwhoring begin.

What If You Rape Someone While Sleepwalking

When Fat Hatred, Emotional Blackmail, and a God-Complex Meet...

A New Journalistic Low

Mothers and Fathers Who Murder Get Treated Differently Because They're Different

Safe Haven Laws Are Not Working

Trans Murder Apology

Michelle Obama

Peeve Time: "The Obese" As Walking Dead

Women shouldn't have to fight for their rights

Darfur: When Assault Becomes A Reason For Genocide

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Transphobia Lives In Our Everyday Language

With the announcement of Thomas's second pregnancy, and the death of Duanna Johnson (RIP), I have had occasion to discuss the lives of the transgender community with various people that I interact with.  What I have come to realize is that so many don't understand the ways in which their negative language, and abuse leads to the death of so many.

What astounds me is that the same people who would be shocked and angered to hear someone use a racial epithet, have no problem referring to a trans woman as a man.  Hearing someone utter the word nigger would blind them with rage, but yet the word transvestite falls off their lips like it is nothing.

When I was looking through the list of victims for TDOR, I could not help but notice that many of the victims were of colour.  I have heard about the connection between race, and crimes against the trans community, but reading the list made it so concrete to me.  The connection is real. This  stunned me into silence.

As these people spread the ignorance, laughing and cackling like hyenas about trannies, what they fail to recognize is that they are minimizing the death of POC. If your blackness and culture means so much to you, how can you laugh at this?  It's not funny.  It is not amusing.

Someone once asked me why I care so much.  They told me that, "I was a normal woman", and they could not understand why I "cared about the freaks"... The answer is quite simple really.  When I see a trans woman, I really don't see any difference between her and I.  To me she is a woman struggling just like I am to make it in a world that tells us that we are less than.  I see our shared struggle; and I see sisterhood and solidarity.  To know unequivocally that trans women are victims of such a high degree of assault, only makes me want to speak out more forcefully.

The same things that reduce trans women to less than work against me.  To say that this is not my problem means that I would be blind to the ways in which the isms interact. Racism, Sexism, and Transphobia all have the same parent.

Beyond the connections which to me are obvious, there is also the issue of valuing humanity.  Bodies are rated  differently in this society, but this is the result of social construction.  There is nothing about a trans man or woman that makes them inherently any different than a cisgendered person. Any difference that we see is what we have created to benefit ourselves. 

What difference does it make what someone else's genitals look like? You are not sleeping with them, and they are not taking your body to do their business.  Why is it so damn hard to look at someone and see a human heart beating?

When I hear the terms like trannie, he/she, or it directed at trans people, I know that these are hate words.  I know that they hurt, and that they have real world consequences.  These terms exist to dehumanize the trangender community.  They perpetuate ignorance and hatred.  The fact that they remain in common usage allows murderers to use the trans panic defence. 

When I think about it the usage is so common, that the media does not even bother with code terms the way they do for the black community, or the gay community.  When was the last time you heard a newscaster say faggot or nigger, but yet they have no problem saying transvestite or referring to a trans person by their pre transition name.  In fact they often go out of their way to insinuate that the victim was at fault for "play acting".  Each time these hateful words are said, they reify difference where there is none, and justify the bloodshed of innocent people who are just trying to live their lives.

If you cannot find commonality with the trans community based in race, then find it in our shared humanity. When you belittle their experience you are reducing us all. No one, no matter who they are should live a life where they fear violence.  No one should lead a life in which they are daily marginalized just for being who they were born. Fuck,  I know I keep saying it, but all bodies matter.  Every single one of us is precious with untold gifts to bestow upon this beautiful blue planet.  We will never know peace as a species until we learn that one essential fact.

The next time you hear someone tell a trannie joke, or act like their words have no meaning, remind them that words are how we order and understand our world.  If the words that we use as descriptors create someone as less than, then we are devaluing the life of another.


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Role Of The Hymen In French Marriage

Last June I wrote about a French marriage that was allowed to be annulled because the woman misrepresented her virginity.  The ruling was approved because it was deemed that a woman's virginity was an "essential quality" in her husbands culture.  It seems that when it comes to controlling a woman's sexuality the French government had no problem considering a foreign culture. 

When a Muslim woman  tried to gain French citizenship  she was denied because her practice of her religion did not make it possible to integrate into French culture.  Apparently, wearing a Burka and not interacting with men to which she was not related was deemed  to religious of a lifestyle to integrate into a secular country.

Today I am happy to report that the annulment has been overturned.  The couple is once again legally married, and they must now seek new grounds upon which to base their need for the dissolution of their marriage.

In both of these cases the French government was dictating what is and isn't appropriate behaviour for a woman, while no such standard was put into place for men.  These rulings are highly sexist in nature. 

In these two cases the Madonna/Whore complex collided to control not only a woman's sexuality, but our freedom to lead lives freely.  If both purity and open sexuality are disciplined what room is there for autonomous decision?  It would seem then that behaviour must be approved of by men in advance of action. 

By overturning this decision the high court affirmed that a woman's sexuality cannot be used against her like a weapon.  Whether this idea will translate into wider discourse is yet to be seen.  Patriarchy has much invested in controlling the female body to suit its needs.

The freedom to have sex and not be belittled, or treated as used filth is a right all women have yet to achieve.  On one hand women are expected to be sexually available to men, but if the decision to engage is based on our needs, or our desires it suddenly becomes a shameful act of sluttish behaviour.

A woman should  not be punished for choosing not to engage in sex either.   The decision to cancel the annulment was wonderful, but the ruling regarding the rejection of citizenship based on chastity, and female subservience also needs to be overturned.

While I do not agree that a woman should subvert her will to a man, it is her right to do so.  If we are to respect women's autonomy that means supporting choices that we are not necessarily in agreement with.   Ultimately what a woman chooses to do with her body is her business, and no government body should be able to legislate that right away, or deny services based on those grounds.

It seems that  there are still so many unresolved issues.  While the over turning of the annulment is something for all women to celebrate, it must embolden our efforts to ensure that all women have the right to agency and autonomy.  Until we are freed from the social moors that exist to restrict us, the battle can never end.


When We Talk About Sex We Always Leave Out Masturbation

I told Destruction about the birds and the bees quite some time ago.  Not being the kind of parent to withhold information from my child, we answer all questions he has in relation to sex as openly and honestly as we can.

When he came to us in concern because the fish in his testicles were dying we managed to withheld our laughter, and tell him that he didn't need to feed the sperm that he wasn't even yet capable of producing. 

When he announced at the dinner table that he was planning on remaining celibate for life because a friend told him that an orgasm is like an explosion, we smiled and reassured him that no orgasms don't hurt, and that he would love them when he had them.

Recently what I have been thinking a lot about is masturbation.... Oh I know dirty girl, dirty girl.  You see I realized that we talked to our child about sex and neglected to discuss masturbation.  Self pleasure is something that we joke about culturally, but seldom have real conversations about. (Note to self: talk to kid about masturbation)

Even in our conversations about masturbation are decidedly genderized.  We have various colloquial phrases for when men choose to pleasure themselves and very few for women.  It is assumed at some point a man will choke the monkey, jerk off etc., whereas women are expected never to touch ourselves.

The vagina has been constructed as the dirtiest body part belonging to a human being.  For a woman to touch herself intimately is a secretive act of deviation. We are further not constructed as sexual beings within our own right.  A womans sexuality is framed as servicing a mans needs rather than actively seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure.

Masturbation should not be some kind of dirty shameful act.  It hurts no one and provides us with an excellent understanding of our bodies.  For women who are taught to repress our sexuality, masturbation can be imperative in learning about what truly turns us on.  How can you tell someone how to pleasure you, if you don't know what you find pleasing?

I think it is time that we bring masturbation back into our conversations about sex.  It is time that we move beyond it as a source of cheap jocular humour and focus on the good it can create.  Most of us are sexual beings and masturbation is a legitimate expression of that.  Why deny yourself pleasure based in the sexist idea that your body is dirty or foul, or that you are not meant to enjoy sex?

Getting yourself off can be the greatest gift you give yourself and its free.  So go ahead dim the lights, sip a glass of wine and get down with your bad self.  The only person you are hurting by denial is yourself.

I know that people get shy talking about this so don't clam up in the comment section.  Share what you have learned about yourself through masturbation...reply anonymously if you are to embarrassed but keep the conversation going.


What Do The Homeless Deserve?

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I am sure that the person who came up with this little campaign probably thought that it was a great idea.  Just look at the bonuses, you are not wasting food and a homeless person will not have to dig through the garbage to find food that you carelessly threw away because of your economic/class privilege.

On the face of this so many would think that this is wonderful.  What this is, is class condescension. Sure, just leave your left overs on top of foul smelling garbage for the homeless to eat.  They should be grateful right?  Look at the wealth you are leaving behind.

If you want to help the homeless, and the hungry, take home your damn left overs and eat them yourself.  Just because someone is poor does not mean that leaving your cast offs like this is an act of generosity.

If you really want to help, you'll give them change instead of walking by them like you don't see them.  You will donate to food banks, and I am not talking about the dusty cans at the back of your cupboard, or the weeble filled pasta and rice that you never got around to eating.  How about donating a couple of hours a week at a local food bank, or soup kitchen?

No...just leave them your garbage because they are cast off human beings who should be grateful to eat your leftovers. 

There is this idea that somehow if you live on the streets that you are less than or that food is your main concern, never do we stop and think about the human dignity that we deny them.  Never do we stop and think about the medical treatment that they are not receiving.

A large percentage of homeless are living on the street because they have a mental disability.  We hospitalize, treat and release only to repeat this cycle over and over again.  Hospitals are worried about their bottom line and cannot afford to house the indigent.  On more than one occasion a homeless person has just been dumped as though they were refuse.

There are restaurants that won't let you use the bathroom unless you make a purchase.  Think about it ...every single human being needs to use the facilities and so why not attach a price tag on taking a shit.  Profit whenever possible and screw the indigent who have few options. 

I don't have the answer to the homelessness problem, but I do have enough of a sense of humanity to realize that giving them my half eaten food is not an act of generosity.  Only a self involved, narcissist  would think that this is activism. God forbid we engage with people as though they are our equals.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

GM Bailout: When the Ship Sinks, Joe Six-Pack is to Blame

I have a new post up at Global Comment.

It seems each time the news turns to the financial sector there is a company or industry that’s failing. While economists examine what it means to the economy as whole, ordinary Americans sit in fear that tomorrow will bring a pink slip. While we have a tendency to speak about economics in abstract terms, it has a real world-effect on the average Joe Six-Pack that both Democrats and Republicans wooed ardently during election season.

The witch-hunt goes for a business or entity to blame for the current crises goes on. One of the culprits Anderson Cooper named as responsible for the meltdown was the American consumer. He reminded us of the large homes, financed shopping trips, auto loans and lack of saving. He suggested that it was the American desire for possessions, combined with an easy credit system, that played a huge role in this collapse.

What Anderson neglects to factor into his analysis is why the consumer lives on credit. It is not always a case of wanting to get the latest toy or cute new pair of shoes. Many homeowners have been forced to refinance their homes to pay for medical expenses or college tuition for their children. The availability of credit on demand has allowed companies to gain large profits without increasing the wage of the workers that labour to create their wealth.

With the ability to purchase what is needed with credit rather than cash, many did not see reason to stand behind their unions as they fought for gains. What is the necessity of organizing if your needs are technically being met? It wasn’t until the economic fallout that people have come to realize that credit does not offer a real safety net.

Finish Reading Here

Transgender Day Of Remembrance

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Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I tried to write a post about this earlier in the week but found it difficult to speak about the loss of so many people.  This day is a necessity because trans people are particularly vulnerable in society.  Many have died because of the fear, ignorance and hatred of others.  When I visited Remembering Our Dead, the length of the list was a terrible testament to the violence that trans people have to live with.  As I scrolled through the names I realized how many people I had never heard of.

The media does not cover their deaths, or crimes against them with the seriousness and respect that they deserve.  Instead they are treated like some kind of circus freak show.  In it's starkness Remembering Our Dead tells us what we have lost.  There is an official website which lists events that are happening today, please attend if you are able.  We must remember the dead and pledge in their name to try and end the violence.  No one should be subject to violence due to their transgender identity.


Rick Astley Needs To Roll Barry Manilow

I certainly hope that you were not permanently scared by that.  There are some things in life that are just so ridiculous that they have to be shared.  Feel free to wash your eyeballs out now.

H/T The Bilerico Project

I'm A Blogger What Of It

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I don't know about anyone else but I am getting fed up with the crap that bloggers are getting in the mainstream media.  Every time I turn around some one is making a disparaging comment about the hard work that we do.

Granted not all blogs are equal, PerezHilton, Bossip or Crunk&Disorderly are definitely cancerous for the brain.  They are however not representative of the many blogs that populate the internet.  The "bloggers are loser" commentary has shown up on mainstream sitcoms. Politicians have commented that we are losers in pyjamas, in our parents basements, and reporters have continually complained that we have no credibility.

You know what, I am sick of the childish taunts and the daily belittling of not only the work that I do, but of many other committed individuals.  For many blogging is a labour of love.  God knows, no one is getting rich off it except for an elite select few.  Arianna Huffington may have a yacht, but most of us are slaving away in obscurity.

If you write the kind of blog that I do, you are even less likely to earn any money.  Unlike the Bill O'Reillys and Hannitys of the world, who are masters of lies and deceptions, I write and edit each and every single post.  Each keystroke is a commitment to truth telling and consciousness raising, which is a lot more than I can say some of the garbage that regularly fills the air waves. 

Bloggers are under attack because the media and the ruling elite have not yet found a way to control it.  Anyone can start a blog; they are free.  Anyone can have a chance to have their say, and in so doing perhaps influence someone half way around the world. 

The animosity towards blogging is about a loss of control.  Conversation and free thought are an anathema because it leads to an engaged population.  A citizenry that is concerned with current events and ideas is not easily lead in deception. 

In the precursor to the Iraq war how many mainstream media outlets green stamped the invasion without thinking about the criminality of the act? The only person in the mainstream that stood up was Donahue, and MSNBC quickly handed him his walking papers.  This is not to say that all bloggers function with high levels of integrity, but they do offer one thing that no other form of media does; the opportunity to engage with others.

In a world where true and honest engagement is not encouraged, a space to converse is a valuable thing.  It is something that should not be overlooked, or taken for granted.  Blogging is a form of resistance and this why it is daily demonized.

Bloggers will ask the questions that mainstream media can't or won't ask.  A particularly articulate blogger will introduce you to new ideas and theories.  A good blog is a place where you can learn.  Outside of the library there are very few avenues where one can attain knowledge.  Isn't it interesting that both publicly funded libraries and blogs are being attacked at the same time?  Libraries are being closed to budget cutbacks despite the essential service that they provide, and blogs are attacked as meaningless fodder in spite of the conversations that they inspire.

The elite has a history of attacking anything that threatens its position of power. Anytime you see something utilized by the proletariat that is being attacked the way that blogging is, there is a good chance that it is actually doing some social good. 

I realize as a blogger that I have a very obvious bias and perhaps as a blog reader you share the same bias.  I am simply questioning the sudden impetus to attack a form of media that so many globally have found refuge in.  Nothing happens accidentally and you can be certain that there is an agenda behind this.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prince finds God and Homophobia

image The great purple one has found religion.  Just like many born again people the first order of business for him was to preach hate.  Heaven forbid he latch onto the many biblical passages that preach about love and understanding, no what his purple highness has decided, is that homosexuality is wrong. 

"He pointed to a Bible. But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.” When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough."

I wonder if all those born again who find their salvation in Jesus Christ realize that he never once spoke specifically of homosexuality as a sin. Nope, that was St.Paul who was also rabidly anti-woman. (Sandalstraps weigh in if I am wrong on this one please) 

Do these people really want to return to biblical law?  Honestly, most would find themselves being stoned because no modern person lives this way.   While Prince is busy convicting others he is clearly more than willing to avoid the ways in which the very laws he subscribes to would convict him as well. 

Is the same man who threw a fit because another star said that they "brought back sexy", going to spend the rest of his life not looking at another woman in a sexual light unless he is married to her?  I doubt it, and guess what folks that is adultery. You don't need to sleep with someone in order to be guilty, you only need to think about it.

I believe that he is just using his latest conversion as a cover for long held beliefs.  This is a man who has always wanted the world to revolve around him, and now religion is providing a pulpit for him to preach to the little people from.

With religion you always have a choice.  You can either use your belief system to perpetuate hatred and ignorance, or you can focus on the positive aspects that encourage love, brotherhood, and humility.  The aforementioned are the lessons that people often reject in their desire to convict others of not being Godly enough.  Prince really needs to start think about why he feels necessary to cast the first stone.  As a man who has a camel and needle to think about, the actions of others should be the least of his worries.

H/T Queers United.


For PETA Women Have Their Uses

PETA has a new flash game in honour of American thanksgiving called, Cooking Mama, Mama Kills Animals. Once again women are used as objects to prove a point.  Mama is a bad, bad, bad, girl because she is feeding her family animal flesh. 

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Just look how bloody and violent this image is.  Isn't it interesting that the males that will be consuming this food are conspicuously absent for the shame ritual. Good wives and mothers are the only ones that need to be morally convicted.

image Just look how sweet and happy she is now that she has been converted from a bloody killer.  It's amazing how well bullying and demonizing works isn't it.

PETA claims that is is not about sexism but at every opportunity they use patriarchal tactics to exploit or control womens behaviour or bodies.  Of course the turkeys are dying yearly because it is the evil women who refuse to stop feeding their families flesh. 

The only way to make PETA happy is by being a good girl;  an obedient slave to the cause.  If you are a lowly house frau, your role is to fight in the kitchen; never mind that placing all women in the kitchen is the goal of patriarchy.  Look at the lovely green tofu apron you'll get to wear.  At least the house frau is allowed to keep her clothes on.

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Young attractive white women like Kristen Johnson have other uses.  Yeah their "hot bodies" could not be allowed to swelter in a kitchen green apron or not, when they could be displayed for male consumption.  Of course people will stop and look, she's naked, but how many will then turn and head straight for the butcher shop at the first craving for a burger.  Yes these ads get your attention but they only do so because of the sexualization and not the message.  Showing someone a bare ass and a nice set of breasts does not make them into a vegetarian.  PETA has increasingly shown no conscience when it comes to respect for women, or the roles that they place us in. 

I find it ironic that the message on this one is Don't get taken for a ride, because that is exactly what PETA is trying to do with its marketing.  Don't pay attention to the sexism that we engage in because it is for a good cause.  The journey is just as important as the destination.  If you want people to have respect for living beings the best way to convey that is by having respect in your approach.  I am sure that is all too much work for PETA as it seems for them, that social activism just comes down to how much skin they can show, or how much disciplining of women they need to perform to end up with an animal flesh free world.


When Anger Makes You Deny Privilege

"Black Friendly When We Need You" was cross posted at Feministe.  My experience blogging there has not always been the most pleasant. In fact many times I have felt down right attacked, but I have continued on because I believe that we need to have conversations openly and honestly, if a change is ever to happen.

My feelings on the blame game that resulted from the yes vote on 8 are still extremely raw, actually that may even be an understatement. When I went to read the commentary on that thread, I saw an instant vision of red. In an effort to attack the racism that I view that many are engaging in when it comes to Prop 8, I was blind to my cisgender privilege and made the following comment:

 On a post about coalition building and why it is necessary to examine privilege when it comes to assigning blame, this is the shit I get to read. You know I’m about to say some really honest shit. If you are gay and you walk down the street does anyone know for certain that you are gay? Well??? Guess what no matter where I go my blackness is available for all to see. I cannot hide it, I cannot blend in and I cannot pretend for one moment that it does not exist.

While what I said about colour is most defiantly accurate, what I ignored was the cisgender privilege in that statement. When I made the statement about visibility, I was not thinking about trans people, and the issues that come with "passing" (I hate that term but don't know another to use).  I excluded them in my effort to make a point about racism, and thereby belittled their experience. 

As conscious as I try to be, I mess up.  Now I could  say that I was prodded into that statement by some of the ignorant commentary on that thread, but really I know better. There are no excuses for "othering" anyone in any circumstance. 

My commentary on that thread is the perfect example of what I have been talking about in reference to oppressions being linked, when I accused liberals of not having the courage of their convictions due to the usage of an oppression to fight an oppression.  I wanted people to take racism seriously and I privileged my oppression as a POC to do so.

I have acknowledged my mistake, but where to go from here? As principled as I try to be in the way that I lead my life, I instantly reached for what was comfortable in my rage...hierarchy of oppression; otherwise known as oppression Olympics.  I know that I am not the only person to be guilty of such behaviour, what I am interested in is the why.

Is it because the pain of oppression is so personal?  Is it because of a need to lash out when one feels hurt?  Honestly I have no answer.  I do know that it is wrong. So my question is how do we go about unlearning privilege at times when we are challenged?  It is easy for me, or anyone, in a time of calm reflection to recognize "othering",  but doing so at a time when emotions are raw takes a different level of consciousness.  It seems that I have not reached that point yet. 

I tried to re-engage after apologizing, but my heart was no longer in the debate after realizing my mistake.  Suddenly seeing a reflection in myself of something I am ardently against spoiled my spirit for the fight.  Tomorrow I might feel differently but for now, my disappoint is deep and bitter.  The only consolation that I can give myself is that it was done in anger, and the knowledge that I never would have done that in a state of calmness.  I guess I am just sharing with you a profound sense of personal disappointment in myself.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blogging Awards

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Well I have been honoured by one of the blogospheres greatest, RandomBabble with a super cool award.   Well in keeping with my obligations as award winner I will list the following:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Well it is time to pass on the love and bestow the award on others.

Monica of Transgriot:  This is one of my favourite blogs on the whole interwebs. I read it daily and never fail to learn.  I have probably said this before but if you aren't reading Transgriot you should be.

QueersUnited: I love your word of the gay section.  I  love your dedication to raising awareness.  Also for being my green tea drinking buddy. 

Tanglad:  This is just an awesome blog.  I have learned so much about western privilege and women of the global south.  This one should be on your readers if it isn't already.

Lauredhel and Tigtog of the fabulous Hoydon About Town:  I love this blog for the warmth and sense of community.  I love the great feminist analysis as well.

Octagalore of Astarte's Circus:  This is one master of thought and argument.  When you engage here you had better be on your toes.  I don't often agree with Octagalore, but I love her sharp wit and even sharper mind.  This is a blog you should be reading if you are looking to broaden your analysis.

My Pesky Vagina: Artificial Intelligence Gets It Wrong

So, like any other bloggers, I check to see who is visiting and linking to my blog.  Imagine my surprise when I came across genderanalyzer.com.  Of course My curiosity was peeked and I had to go check it out.  It seems that from analyzing the written material a blog, it can determine the sex of the author.  Nothing like engaging in a little essenntialism.  You would think the name alone would be enough to clue in that a woman is writing....

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Well they may be 80% certain, but my vagina is 100% certain that I am a woman.  Once again more proof that gender and how we understand it is strictly determined by social construction.

My Body Your Business

My friend and I often talk about old island phrases as we are both descendents of the Caribbean.  The following question is one of my favourite phrases:

Did they take your body to do their business?

This is a question I believe we should all start asking ourselves.  If you think about it, it is rather apt. 

We place moral judgement on others as though we are directly affected by the decisions that the make.  If someone is having sex with someone of the same sex, how are you involved?  You are not being asked to witness the act, and you are not being asked to participate; therefore they are not taking your body to do their business.

If a woman is choosing to have sex with multiple partners, why slut shame her?  Why go out of your way to make her feel less than? She is not taking your body to do her business.

The same applies to abortion.  While you might find the idea morally repugnant, it once again does not effect you.  No one in the west will force you to have an abortion against your will.  You will not be asked to participate in the procedure whatsoever.  So once again...how is it your business if a woman wants to control her rate of reproduction?  She is not taking your body to do her business,

People plain and simple need to learn what is and isn't there business.  Advocating to bring an end to the freedom of others or placing judgement on their behaviour is wrong.  Of all the things that we could concern ourselves with, deciding that what someone does with their own body should not be high on the list.

If an old woman across town is hungry, that should be your business.  Seeing the shadow on the face of a child that is being beaten, or emotionally abused, that should be your business.  Noticing that your neighbour is starving and neglecting her/his pet, that should be your business. 

Of course when it is a call to action, on the side of human good, that is when people discover their selfishness.  This is often the time when we become to busy with other more important matters.  This is the time when we decide oh no this is not our business.  When it means that we have to sacrifice some of our privilege and care about another, we collectively decide it is not our business

The next time you sit and think about what is and isn't your business, take the time to reflect upon whether it is based on a desire to express power and enforce  morality upon another, or if it will benefit the common good.


What Constitutes True Social Justice?

I often wonder what it would be like to wake up in a world where liberals believe half of the shit that they regularly spout.  You know the catch phrases, we're colour blind, men and women are equal, children have universal rights, cruelty to animals is wrong etc. We give lip service to so many things and fall so far short of living up to our stated beliefs.

The same people that can walk up to alter crying in front of God and Church that they are redeemed, will in the very next moment use religion to justify their ignorance and xenophobia. 

The west is a culture that thrives on the masquerade. I do believe the only honest city in the U.S.A is Las Vegas.  When you roll into that city, they make it more than clear that their goal is to rob you blind with a smile.  Yes, we'll kiss your ass until you go broke, and then we'll happily put you on the next bus home. The bullshit is right out there for the world to see.

Social Justice is dishonest because it pretends to care.  Equality, is the repeated mantra, and most believe it, until it conflicts with their special interest movement. 

Feminism is all about women, but you had better be white, and privileged.  The MRA is all about men, but once again white and privileged.  The GLBTQI want to be treated like anyone else, but you must clearly understand that the movement itself is white and privileged. 

Do you see a recurring theme here?  Let me have the honour of spelling it out for you, WHITE AND PRIVILGED. Even movements that we do not typically associate with inner discord like disability groups, and fat hatred groups have one major thing in common their leaders are white. 

Due to the fact that these particular groups are fighting to make the world a better place, (with the exception of the MRA) we are not supposed to notice the white power structure. The suffering of whiteness is meant to blind us to the ways in which they participate in the social imbalance that creates their own stigmatization. 

If you support one form of ism and "othering," you should hardly be surprised when the same standard is applied to you.  All forms of oppression are interconnected.  What blinds people to this simple truth is a quest for power.  The overvaluation of whiteness encourages the systemic hierarchy wherein so-called leaders of justice movements continually choose white representation, silencing the members of their group that are of colour. 

POC listen as we are repeatedly told how wrong racism is by the so called avante garde avengers.  We watch incredulously as they pat themselves on the back, and yet routinely silence us in group meetings.  Don't pretend you don't know what I am talking about either.  Time after time a person of colour will make a suggestion about fundraising, or outreach only to have it rejected. Magically before the meeting comes to an end, the same suggestion is re-worded and suggested by someone white and it is hailed as a stroke of freaking genius.

But why focus on race and specifically whiteness when social justice movements are working so hard to make a change?  I continually return to whiteness and race because it is the elephant in the room.

We only want to speak about race in the ways in which we have become comfortable.  To deviate from the liberal belief that we are all post racial, or that the world is colour blind forces us to talk about the ways in which whiteness daily fails to acknowledge that it is indeed an issue in inequality.  Whiteness is neither dormant or passive; it daily engages in preserving its hegemony. 

Liberals hide behind their justice movements and then daily use whiteness to recreate and perpetuate oppression.  Until you can truly say that you are interested in benefiting everyone, you need to stop and think about the ways in which your whiteness informs your behaviour. 

I know that you have been taught that whiteness is the default neutral, or that whiteness does not constitute a race, but that is far from the truth.  If you cannot even acknowledge the ways in which you are an active body, it is because you have become accustomed to embracing the power which is embedded to your body. 

Wanting true social justice and equality means more than owning your unearned privilege, it means actively seeking to listen to the voices of people of colour. It means ensuring that within the movement that you are participating in, that you're not recreating social injustice.  To care about bettering humanity means putting aside your interests and understanding the ways in which you benefit from an unbalanced system.  In truth POC can tell you over and over again the ways in which we have been marginalized, but until whiteness makes a conscious decision that equality, means equality for all, these movements are doomed to failure. You cannot fight one oppression by sustaining another.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Forcing An Abortion Is Still Controlling A Womans Reproductive Freedom

In the west the war wages on to make sure that women have access to safe abortions and reproductive care.  The opposite is true for China.  For decades now, China has sought to strictly control the rate of reproduction by limiting how many children any couple may have according to the area in which they live.

This policy has proven to be particularly dreadful for Arzigul Tursun.  She is already the mother of two girls and as such, has reached the maximum children allowed under China's reproductive policy. 

A STORM of international protest is building over a Chinese ruling that a Muslim Uighur woman who is six months pregnant must have an abortion or lose her home.

Chinese authorities have ordered Arzigul Tursun, who is 26 weeks pregnant, to abort her unborn child ... She is under watch at the Municipal Watergate Hospital in Yining in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which is populated heavily with Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority. Supporters are concerned a forced abortion at such a late stage could threaten Arzigul's health.

Forcing an abortion is just as harmful to womens physical autonomy as denying one.   When the state is allowed to intervene in this way it infantalizes women.  Only a patriarchal culture that believes that womens bodies should be available for forced violation would even contemplate such a policy.

Due to the international pressure that has been levied about this issue, Arzigul Tursun has yet to be injected with a medication to induce abortion.  We need to keep up the outcry over this case.

The medication that will be forced upon her will make her uterus contract until she is delivered of a dead child. Imagine the horror of being forced to go through the pain of delivery against your will.  Imagine the strain of the pushing, only to be rewarded with a child that is dead because the state decided that you did not have the right to control your body.  This emotional and physical torture.  No woman should ever have to undergo such suffering.

H/T Feministe for 2nd link.

Keep Obama In His Place - Sexualize Him

image Beyond being president of the United States Obama is a black man.  Despite how powerful he has become, there are those that seek to reduce him based on the social construction of the black man as purely a sexual being. 

Though he is clearly an intelligent man, to some all he will ever be is a big black dick waiting to fulfill the sexual fantasies of others.

This goes right in line with the colloquial phrase "once you go black you never go back". The Obama dildo and phrases like the aforementioned, help to ensure that blackness is forever sexualized. It reduces black men to a sub-human level.  They are not people just the stuff of fetishes.

For a mere 34.95 USD you can engage in your sexual fantasies of the big black stud. This kind of construction has its foundation in slavery.  Black people were routinely bred like farm animals.  As the slaves stood naked on the auction block, no thought was given to their humanity; only the ways in which they could serve.

Items like this also allow for white women to safely engage in their desire to beimage sexual with black males without spoiling their identity.  There are many that purposefully seek out sexual relationships with bodies of colour, in order to live out some form of perceived sexual deviance.  That's right daddy's pure virginal daughter should never allow herself to be fucked by a black man.  Some white men seek out black women only to be able to engage in an act of pure power; wherein the can envision themselves as slave masters of old raping property.

Not all black/white relations are subject to such construction, but there is clearly a market for an item like this based on the idea blacks have little control over our sexual desires. 

Barack Obama has been elected president and for at least the next four years no matter what his accomplishments may be, racists will work hard to reduce him. At the heart of the issue some whites simply cannot tolerate the idea that they are ruled by a black man.  This upsets what some have come to view as the natural order.

Whiteness as the ruler of all it surveys, must rebel; and therefore must reduce Obama in order to maintain some form of hierarchy.  If one is poor and disenfranchised, the only power available is based in whiteness.  In the absence of hierarchy they would be forced to realize exactly how powerless they are in a world that bases value on your ability to consume. Whiteness as power is what the ruling elite offers in compensation to the poor working/underclass.  As long as the masses are given someone that they can conceivably look down upon they will reject what they have more in common with the poor black person standing next to them, than the rich tycoon that daily exploits their labour power. It is far easier for poor whites to think about the big black dick, than own the fact that they are complicit in their own economic marginalization.

The very heart of creations like this is the maintenance of white superiority.  If a poor man living on welfare is able to reduce even the president of the United States, he will ignore the ways in which the system that supports whiteness exploits him at every turn.

We normally view the phallus as a thing of power in our patriarchal world; however the intent of this particular phallus is not to maintain male hegemony but to demean black men by reducing them to roving penises for hire, in support of a system in which only the rich profit.


The Mehnz Love Womens Spaces: Beware The MRA Invasion

I ran across another link from Glenn king of the MRA misogynists. (once again, google if interested I don't link to men like Sacks) It seems the trolls are busy celebrating because the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled in Woods. v. Shewry that California’s exclusion of men from domestic violence services violates men’s constitutional equal protection rights.

Yes the mehnz are gloating and circle jerking their way to ecstasy.  I can feel the bile rising and creeping even as I write this.  For a true victim of DV, obviously I feel concern and sympathy, but lets be clear, we do not live in a society where men are the ones that are routinely the victims of abuse.  Just because it happens to men, in no way means that they makeup the majority of the victims, no matter what MRA lies get spun.  There aren't enough illicit drugs on the planet to turn their fantasies into a believable reality.

DV shelters are an outcome of radical feminist organizing.  They are a response to the centuries of violence that women have been subject to at the hands of men that claim to love them.  For many, they are a place of sanctuary and safety and to have them triggered by the presence of yet another man is unconscionable.

On one hand the MRA are quick to speak about women leaving shelters because of ill treatment, it seems however the treatment is not had enough for them to accept their exclusion.

This is not about providing a safe space for men, this is about ending a safe space for women.  The MRA are not interested in creating domestic violence shelters, that cater specifically to men.  They are well aware that such an effort would be extremely expensive and yield little results, as men do not make up the majority of DV victims.

Men are over represented in the homeless population.  They are desperately in need of clothing and shelter.  Often products donated are clothing for women and children, and men routinely get left out of the loop.  This is a space where the MRA could conceivably work for change, and make a huge difference in the lives of men living on the margins; however building shelters, job training, counselling and outreach for homeless men are not high on their agenda, because it does not take anything away from women.

They claim that feminists are about gender wars and setting one sex against another, and yet they routinely work against their own interest to maintain a false hierarchy that in the end hurts their own members.  The MRA are racist/classist/sexist/homophobic trolls that do nothing but feed the psychopathic hatred that some men have of women.

A true mens movement would be interested in the needs of all men, not just the ones that exist with race and class privilege.  The idea that an MRA movement is even needed is one of the most ridiculous suppositions I have ever come across. Men control ever social institution, and every path to real power; and yet we are to believe that they are disenfranchised as a group.  The MRA should really get into the business of swamp salesmen because they certainly know how to pitch bullshit; it might save them all from drowning on their unacknowledged privilege.


A Double Colluder Award Week: Are Women Tougher On Rape Victims?

image I was playing away with twitter when I came across this link via  OffOurPedestals.  In an interview, Dame Helen Mirin a previous winner of a colluder award, clearly stated that women are tougher on rape victims in the even of a trial.

Discussing examples of competitiveness among women, she says: “In a rape case, the courts — in defence of a man — would select as many women as they could for the jury, because women go against women.

“Whether in a deep-seated animalistic way, going back billions of years, or from a sense of tribal jealousy or just antagonism, I don’t know, but other women on a rape case would say she was asking for it. The only reason I can think of is that they’re sexually jealous.”

Honestly I take issue with this statement.  I cannot think of one woman that would wish to be raped.  One could only have a feeling of jealousy wherein a feeling of envy of an emotion, event, or possession occurred.  No woman wakes up and says, gee I hope that today is the day that I get violated.

Her statements were corroborated by Kirsty Brimelow, a barrister who has defended many men accused of rape. 

According to the times online she stated:

female-dominated juries were often harsher on a woman, particularly if she had been drunk or the man was an acquaintance or former boyfriend.

“I would reassure a defendant who was worried that there was a preponderance of women on the jury,” said Brimelow. “They may take against the woman instead of him.”

I understand that Brimelows job is to provide her client with the best defence before the law, but is it really necessary to perpetuate the false idea that women will attack based on sexual jealousy?

Some will always blame the victim because they have internalized patriarchal values when it comes to rape, but to claim it is out of sexual jealousy just reaches the point of ridiculousness.  If we have a tendency to victim blame, it is because of patriarchy, and as women we should try as much as possible to point out that rape has no relation to sex; it is about the assertion of power.

After careful reflection I do believe that this week I will have to hand out two colluder awards.  For Dame Helen this will be her second. 

These awards are given for the failure of these two women to consider the role that patriarchy has on our understanding of rape and sexual assault.  The idea that  a woman is asking for it because of the way she was dressed, or that a woman does not have the right to turn down sex originates with a male desire to control female bodies. 

You cannot discuss rape without looking at the way each sex is socially constructed.  Saying that women are jealous is just another way to blame women for actions that are beyond our control and does nothing to break down the awful constructions that allow some men to feel that they have the right to access our bodies on demand.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Burning Lake of Fire: New Orleans Sinks and Montecito Burns

I have A New Post up at Global Comment.

Katrina was a catastrophic event and the American government stood by impotent and unaffected while many were left to suffer. What the Katrina victims had in common was that they were largely poor and black. Katrina made real in a human sense the cost of the soci-economic inequality that has become normalized as part of the American system. Wealth affords more than creature comfort; wealth can translate to life and death.

Today there is yet another disaster burning its way through the United States. As I write this, Santa Barbara is ablaze. The owners of homes in the Montecito area which have suffered the most damage have long since fled. Unlike so many Katrina victims they did not have to stay behind and risk life and limb because they are wealthy enough to own transportation.

When you earn the kind of money that Rob Lowe, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Michael Douglas do, a natural disaster can mean the loss of literally millions of dollars. Unlike the Katrina survivors, other than personal items like family photos and heirlooms, most other possessions are easily replaceable. It is in fact more than likely that the fire victims will not have to dig into their personal finances to replace their losses because most will have insurance.

In a country where many do not have health insurance, insuring property is not even a thought for the poor and disenfranchised. When a natural disaster occurs wiping away your meagre possessions, it can be impossible to recover from. Add to this the economic downturn and poverty becomes a black hole from which there is no escape.

Finish Reading Here:

Sunday Shame: My Feminism Stops Here

image I am very much into empowering women to assert themselves.  As a womanist it is my belief that the gender card is often used to maintain patriarchy thus causing a society that is extremely unequal. 

As a mother it is my responsibility to raise my sons to be aware of the way we perform gender each day, and the effect it has on our decisions.  As much as possible the "unhusband" and I try to disturb traditional gender roles, so that the boys will learn that there is no task that is specifically male or specifically female.  Though I do believe that those that stand to pee should be responsible for bathroom care, (just saying) the tasks are pretty much divided equally.

There is one place however that despite my feminist politics I have drawn theimage line.  Yes I know it is illogical, and highly ridiculous, but I will not take out the garbage. That is right, I shamelessly pull the "I'm a girl" card out of my pocket, bat my eyelashes and look all pretty and sweet to avoid this task.  Every time I am called on it, I shamelessly announce, "I didn't burn my bra I'm wearing it."

Yeah, I know it is wrong. Yeah I know it sets a horrible example but damn it I hate taking out the garbage...so I'm a girl deal with it, and you better not say anything sexist in response either. (that would be me childishly sticking my tongue out now)

Okay what small daily betrayals have you made to your feminist principles because you hate to do a task.  We all do it so fess the hell up.

Just Say You're Sorry Dan Savage

Everywhere I look I see Dan Savage.  He has been on Larry King, and last night he showed up on D.L Hughleys Break The News (yes I know I killed some brain cells watching it)  He is heavily advocating for the passing of same sex marriage on every show.  While I support what he is trying to do, I am still waiting for an apology.

Last night he described the "African American civil rights movement as the large movement capitol CRM and gay rights as fruit of the same tree but lower case crm".  Yeah a little late to start with the patronizing, now that you have already blown your anti-racist credentials. Oh about your threat to move to Canada - Black people live here to, and we attend black churches here as well. Perhaps I should point out the areas that are the most black infested so that you can be sure to avoid them while you reside with us in the supposed great white north. 

Here is another thing, gay marriage or not, homophobia exists in Canada.  That would be because the problems with homophobia are larger than whether or not you can say "I Do". Go ahead and privilege marriage, like gay bashing, and HIV/AIDS, etc don't exist.  Up here, you will just have to learn to ignore when someone makes a gay joke, because hey you can get married, and that is the only real concern for homosexuals right?  It won't take much of our famous B.C weed for you to fit in because you already see the world through a warped over privileged lens.

The first step to reaching out to the black community should be an APOLOGY. It's not that hard really...say after me I'm sorry. Two little words that won't really hurt you but will at least attest to the fact that the racism that you engaged in was wrong.

Here is another thing to note..today is Sunday. Do you know where blacks are? Can you even take a guess? We are in church. I know that Sunday is the most segregated day in North America, but if you really want to reach out to the black community the first place to start is at a church. 

Sit quietly and listen to the sermon.  Are you feeling uncomfortable being the only white face in a black room? Yeah blacks face that everyday.  If the culture and class shock is too much for you, start in a church that has more affluent parisheners that way you will still be in your own class element. When it is over approach the minister, introduce yourself..yeah know, start a relationship. This is how it works.

Perhaps after the sermon you could lower yourself to set foot in a black community centre.  Ok I feel it is necessary to warn you that you will probably be the only white face again.  Walk in, introduce yourself. Explain why you are there.

Visiting churches and community centres is called OUTREACH, something the GLBT community should have engaged in before the election.   Going on D.L Hughley and pleading your case is not reaching out to black people.  Yes the fool is the right skin colour, but it is going to take more than a visit to CNN's resident idiot to prove to POC that you truly want an inclusive movement.

I would love to stroll through any gay community and see images of people various colours.  How about allowing more POC to advocate on behalf of the gay community.  Yeah, I know you must be enjoying the publicity, but believe it or not hearing about the struggle for gay rights from POC themselves might actually help those who voted yes on 8 understand that it is indeed a civil rights issue.  As long as your face and the faces of white men continue to be the dominate images presented to the world in reference to gay rights, blacks are going to continue to see this as nothing more than white men having hissy fits.

The GLBT has an image problem and the only way to end it, is to allow more black faces to appeal to the public.  That would mean ceding control a little and so I know that is not likely to happen.  As anti-racist as white people claim to be there are many that still have issue with seeing a black person in power.

Well Dan, I'm about done.  I've given you some really good tips, and I hope that you listen.  I sincerely hope to see less of you on tv, and more of people that look like me or that show some sort of cultural bond.  Until that day comes I will know that the gay community is just as racist as any other social justice movement.