Saturday, December 6, 2008

Women of École Polytechnique we have not forgotten you

For women across Canada, December 6 is a day that we are reminded that despite the gains of feminism and women’s work to end gender based violence; we are still marginalized and vulnerable bodies. It is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. On this day we think of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

To ensure that there was no confusion as to why he felt the need to enter École Polytechnique and massacre 14 women, Marc Lépine left behind a detailed three page letter in which he blamed feminists for being “so opportunistic they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can”. He considered himself to be “rational” and therefore felt his rage against feminists was justified. He went on to state in his suicide note,” why persevere to exist if it is only to please the government. Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men.” Lépine was so angry at the loss of unearned male privilege due to the advances of feminism; his letter also included a list of nineteen other women that he also wished to see dead.

After such a horrible event there were many that felt that this terrible act of violence should be looked upon as the actions of a sole mad man, who had lost the capacity to reason. While it might be comforting to look at this as a singular incident, to do so would mean ignoring the degree of violence that Canadian women live with on a daily basis.

Lépine was the product of domestic violence, having grown up in a home where he spent his early childhood with an abusive father that routinely told him that women existed to serve men. Is it any surprise that after having been indoctrinated in this way, in his formative years, that he would come to see any woman with agency as a threat to what he considered traditional gender roles?

Even knowing that the end product of such an environment for children is dangerous, in that it produces men like Lépine, socially we still exist with the idea that a clear distinction between genders is necessary to our well being. We use colloquial phrases like boys will be boys to justify violence, or aggressive behaviour in young males, while encouraging docility and submissiveness in young girls. The discord in worth and value between men and women is systemic.

Finish Reading Here

Black Caucus On Gay Rights

To all the members of the gay community who seem to feel that it is okay to appropriate our story for your needs, you do yourself a disservice.  In the wake of the Prop 8 vote, all I have repeatedly heard about is the racism of the black community; totally erasing the gays and lesbians of colour, as well as your black straight allies.  I hope that you watch this video and open your eyes. 

If you continue to use racism to press your message this is what you stand to loose. You cannot call on people for support and alienate them on a daily basis. Respect begins by respecting the humanity of others. 

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone, once again it is time for the weekly blogwhoring.  It was yet another uneventful week. We are starting to gear up for Christmas.  I am finally going to get the tree up this weekend.  The kids are getting anxious and their lists keep getting longer. At this rate Santa is going to need a part-time job. The following are links to a few posts that I really enjoyed this week please check them out. Alright you know the routine, tell me what you have been reading, writing, and doing for the last week in the comment section. 

Of Prison and Redemption

Black + Tall + Male = Basketball

Unequal Rights For Haters

What Happened? A Nigga In Charge Of The World

Walking Through Fire

Why feminists shouldn't have to keep mum

On Gayness

Sex Workers Self Identifying

Dead Inside

The nun and the burqa 

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Gay Is The New Black

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Quick someone tell me I am being to sensitive. Someone tell me that I didn't have a point talking about the racism of some members of the gay community.  Since the passing of Prop 8 even though I am a staunch gay rights supporter, I have been astounded by the racism that some members of the community have been willing to employ in an effort to achieve their rights. 

Of course I am delusional right...somehow their oppression gives them the right to "other" blacks.  I have come to the realization that the fault is entirely my own. You see somewhere along the line I had assumed that as a person of colour the degree to which racism effected my life was a serious matter, but apparently it works better as a slogan to fight the oppression of others. 

Gay Is The New Black: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle: I wonder if they bothered to inform Indigenous Peoples that their struggle was over.  How about women; we can happily declare that there is no reason for feminism because certain members of the gay community have announced their struggle to be the last one.   How about the disabled, has society stopped practicing abelism? MMM ageism and fatphobia anyone?

This speaks exactly to the point I was attempting to make regarding playing the "it's just like Rosa Parks card."  Even though the gay community is made up of people of different ethnicities, races, cultures, and class backgrounds, it's public face is pure over privileged white male. Right after the passing of prop 8 all over the news the white male gay leaders came out in force to verbally protest. 

On one hand it was the blame the blacks meme for the passing of this horrible legislation, and on the other it was why can't you understand we're just like them. Just like them - except that there are POC who happen to be gay...hello McFly. In one fell swoop they erased the lives of  POC that are gay as well as insulted every single POC who has worked staunchly as an ally to secure gay rights.

POC are "a them" to the people that are running the gay rights movement. As much as they demand that we recognize their humanity, apparently it is quite acceptable to play the privilege card and deny our humanity at every fucking turn.  You know what, I am sick of it and I am angry. 

From the minute I started vocalizing about the ways in which some members of the community were more than willing to stand on the neck of POC to get their rights, I have faced nothing but resistance.  Privilege can always find some excuse to justify maintaining  the racial hierarchy. But there are similarities has been the excuse... Yet when you try and discuss the supposed similarities you are homophobic. 

I have been called homophobic more in the last month than I ever have in my life.  All of a sudden, all of the effort that I have put into being active in the community (in real life), and being an online advocate count for nothing because some people want the right to claim a narrative that does not belong to them.  I am supposed to shrivel up in shame now that I have been labelled a homophobe. It is meant to silence me into acquiescing to this down right racist assault on my people.

Suddenly everything that I say is wrong. I am not allowed to question.  I must openly say that yes master your struggle is all that counts, this uppity Negro is out of place.  I am blinded by heterosexual privilege and that is why I cannot see the error of my ways.  Any excuse that can be clawed together to silence POC is employed. 

This racist appropriation of the civil right struggle will continue to be used because white people feel that the best way to achieve sympathy is to point out that they are being treated like blacks.  Wow isn't that an upset to the natural order of things---everyone knows white people are too good to be treated like niggers. Three fucking cheers, way to be an ally.

H/T Feministe via Shakesville


Call In Gay.

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According to the official website:

The worldwide media attention surrounding our massive grassweb efforts for gay rights has been tremendous. Join the Impact was a HUGE success and will continue to thrive because of our efforts.

We've reacted to anti-gay ballot initiatives in California, Arizona Florida, and Arkansas with anger, with resolve, and with courage. NOW, it's time to show America and the world how we love.
Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love.

On December 10, 2008 the gay community will take a historic stance against hatred by donating love to a variety of different causes.

On December 10, you are encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in "gay"--and donate your time to service!

I love this campaign, not only does it raise awareness about the discrimination faced by the gay community it seeks to raise awareness about the various forms of human suffering.  Each ism works with another and therefore what oppresses my neighbour directly effects my life experience.

Barbara Walters Talks Sense To Idiocy: A Conversation With Rush Limbaugh

I must say that Walters took good care to call Limbaugh on his idiocy and false logic.  Rush of course fell back on his stable of lies to justify the misogyny that he engages in on a daily basis.  Almost every word that comes from his mouth is laced with arrogance, and unacknowledged white male privilege. 

Imagine a man making millions of dollars having the audacity to state that he is not a member of the elite.  If a multimillionaire is not a member of the elite circle,  then my over worked black ass wants an invite to do tea with the Queen.   His commentary ignores the struggling of everyday people who are trying to decide weather or not it is more important to have electricity, or heat in their homes this winter.  Yeah, just another ordinary guy...Hey Rush how many 100 dollar bills does it take to wipe your disgusting lying ass?

Then came this little bit of clear delusion, "I am the most unthreatening, tolerant, lovable guy you could ever meet."  I know that he did not graduate college, but certainly he learned the meaning of the word tolerance in middle school.  Clearly tolerance, peace, and love, are not things that he embraces.  He talks about tolerance but Rush has always been about pushing an agenda. 

Limbaugh wants to ensure that white male hegemony continues to be a way of life.  That this might negatively effect others is none of his concern.  Wrapped in the lie of meritocracy he props up social imbalance and encourages those poor whites who do not have his class advantage to support an ideal that is not in their best interest.

I commend Barbara for the self restraint she displayed in this conversation with a man that is quite honestly one of the nations biggest douchebags.  Faced with such falsehood and lies, I doubt that I could displayed the same restraint. 

Limbaugh is a dangerous man.  There is a tendency for those of us that have liberal, or progressive views to simply dismiss his commentary as the ramblings of an idiot, but this is a mistake.  Rush has a huge following, and it increased significantly during the election campaign.  The US is currently in a recession and during tough economic times, people always look for someone to blame for their suffering.  Rather than focusing on the ways in which the elite daily exploit the common person, Rush redirects their angst towards marginalized bodies of colour and women.  That these groups do not exist with the kind of institutional power to be responsible for the current economic strife is unimportant. 

With his capacity to fan the flames of hate, Limbaugh is a dangerous man.  We cannot afford to ignore the lies that he so disgustingly spouts on a daily basis.  As infuriating as his commentary is, there are people that are listening and believing his brand of false political discourse as truth.  It is for this reason that we must continually speak out against men like Limbaugh. The elite wins when we allow them to foster division amongst the middle/working/under classes.


Tell It Sisterhood: When White Women Speak Out

This week Jill at Feministe re-posted a blog entry I wrote entitled Pearl Clutchers and StrawWomen.   As the argument in the comment section became heated, the usual straw women appeared, to desperately latch on to their pearls and employ any rouse to derail the thread.  Pearl Clutching is a hard habit to break, and if in the process you can turn the conversation to what about meee, it is all the more tempting.

The other group of women that were quite vocal spoke out in support of the point I was trying to make.  When a space becomes hostile, I cannot help but be thankful for those voices that are willing to wade into the muck, and question the privilege denial  of others.

I am getting to the part where it all gets a little sticky. Octagalore and I finally agreed on something (huge yeah for that one).  Before I get into this, let me just say that this is an issue that I find very difficult to discuss.  Let's start with Octagalore's comment:

Not to suggest that even those who stepped up here have totally owned their privilege, just that over-dramatic and over-inclusive nets of blame miss the entire problem here, and whitewash (pun intended) the fact that there are different behaviors of white women being exhibited.

Falling too dramatically on ones sword is another way of derailing attention that should be focused elsewhere. While it seems like we’re being humble and self-effacing, and certainly a little of that is merited, it avoids the responsibility of taking a finer look at the actual OP and analyzing its nuances, in favor of a showy display.

While I am totally thankful for the support of those that own their privilege and  demand that women of colour be given a space to speak, there is also a line that is sometimes crossed that makes the conversation uncomfortable.

Octagalore referred to it as "falling on ones sword", and I believe that to be the most apt description of what I am trying to address.  At some point self depreciation becomes disingenuous and smacks of condescension. 

This is an issue I have often thought about, but have never had the courage to address; because I do not want to discourage someone when they are trying to negotiate their privilege.  The process of decolonizing your mind is a difficult one, and to have to worry about your tone, when you have finally worked up the courage to engage, must feel like just another barrier blocking a true conversation.  As a WOC I can also relate to how frustrating it is to have someone police your personal expression.  I do not want to impose the same limitations that have been placed upon me

That said, I would be dishonest if I did not publicly address my own discomfort.  It makes me feel as though I am playing the role of mystical Negro.  When you first start to critically engage in race it must seem so intimidating.  This is something I personally can relate to because I am actively seeking to learn about different forms of oppression; however adoration without critical engagement helps no one.  The compliments are wonderful and great for the self-esteem; however the awe factor sours quickly because no momentum is gained.

In the end this means that we are not really talking to each other.  I know that I have continually said STFU and listen, but there is also a second stage.  I realize now that I am a guilty of stunting conversation.  While I do not feel that my tone should be disciplined, I realize that perhaps my approach does not encourage engagement. 

A conversation involves more than listening, and perhaps what we need to do is not only listen to each other, but learn to converse with each other.  For this to work though, we all need to engage in good faith.  This is a difficult task due to a history of mistrust and betrayal, but it is not an insurmountable challenge.

So hence forth, I will try to be more approachable.  I still don't want to play mystical Negro; however in an effort to move the conversation forward, I will try to be more open to the words and ideas of others.  Your history may not be the same as mine, but that does not invalidate it.  As long as we approach each other with respect, I am confident that we can build a bridge.  We have too much invested in feminism as women, to allow a construction (read:race) to come between us and unity. 


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who Is Duanna Johnson and Why The Black Community Should Know Her Name?

The following is a piece I wrote for publication in a black magazine which of course was rejected.  I have decided to publish it on the blog because someone needs to say it.

Duanna Johnson was the most famous Trans woman in Memphis. She garnered national attention when she was assaulted by two Memphis PD. Officers. For the offense of refusing to respond to the derogatory terms of faggot and he/she, she was repeatedly struck by an officer who utilized his handcuffs like a set of brass knuckles.

Duanna did not allow this assault to turn her into a victim. Like many strong black women who have been abused by the white male patriarchy, she chose to stand up and demand that those that violated her be made to pay for their crime. She was in the middle of a 1.3 million dollar lawsuit against the Memphis P.D when she was found in an alley shot in the head.

Duanna had lead a very difficult life, and was undergoing some extreme financial problems when she died. For much of her daily needs she counted on the kindness of her neighbours. In her home she had neither, running water, or electricity, but each day she awoke determined to soldier on in the face of poverty and social marginalization.

Across the blogosphere many progressive bloggers have documented her story in an effort to raise awareness to the difficulties that trans women of color daily negotiate. One group has remained silent...the black community. Duanna was our daughter, and it seems as though her assault and subsequent death, has once again served as evidence of the ways in which the black community, has chosen to systematically ignore the violence and hate that are directed at our transgender members.

In the wake of the racism that has been revealed in the GLBTQI community since the passing of prop 8, it would seem that now should be the time for the black community to stand as a group and continue the struggle on behalf of one of our sisters. Not only would this stand as the impetus to building a more inclusive civil rights movement, it would usher in a new era; wherein the struggles of one black person constituted the struggles of us all.

Many people are reluctant to call out the community on its homophobic/transphobic tendencies, because to do so one risks being called a racist or a sell out, however is being called a racist any worse than contributing to the factors that maintain transphobia? This is very much an issue that affects our community. Upon visiting the website remembering our dead, what immediately becomes clear, is that people of color are over represented on the list of those that have lost their lives to ignorance and hatred.

What the black community as a whole must begin to acknowledge, is that despite our commitment to the church, when we choose to ignore the plight of the GLBTQI community, we are turning our back on our own people as well. Duanna’s transgender status, does not erase her blackness, if anything, Duanna’s blackness made her all the more vulnerable to police brutality, and the life of poverty that she led.

The “isms” interact with one another to create social stigmatizations. As a trans woman who was of colour, Duanna occupied the bottom of the race and class hierarchy. To pretend that racism did not affect her life and assume that her trans status was her only area of marginalization is to create a one dimensional understanding of blackness.

We socially exist with the idea, that the black identity is a monolith; and that is far from the truth. The color of one’s skin does not necessarily predispose anyone to think or act a certain way. Each of us has a separate and unique history that comes to bear on our decisions and actions. Though we share a common bond in terms of our cultural history as decedents of slaves, the ways in which race is an issue varies due to things like class, sexuality, gender, ability and even age.

In owning the identity of a black female Duanna gave up whatever patriarchal advantage she had as a black male. She chose to embrace her truest self, and it is more than likely that this is what brought about her untimely death. If we deny her part in our community, we are only reifying those that seek to reduce the multiplicity of blackness. We are confirming that we are all subjects of group think, by not having the courage to stand for the most marginalized members of our community.

A civil rights movement can only be strong when all members stand up and speak in the cause of justice. The ruling elite wants to see division in our community. It serves their needs and purposes each time we turn away from each other in disgust. Each time we turn away from someone because their sexuality or gender identity makes us uncomfortable, we are leaving them vulnerable to attack and undermining any possibility for us to progress as a people.

An employer cannot fire someone for being black and they cannot fire someone for being female, but a black trans woman can easily lose her job based on her trans status, because that is not covered under job discrimination laws in various states. Blacks already routinely make less than whites and when trans status is added, the struggle to avoid poverty can force some to make decisions that they might not otherwise have made. Equality in employment has been one of the cornerstones of black organizing and yet the disparity and clear injustice when it comes to our trans members is yet another shaming wall of silence.

Trans Women are subject to high levels of violence. Their deaths are often not properly investigated or ignored altogether. When the mainstream media bothers to give them any kind of coverage at all, often the report is filled with oppressive and demeaning language. Referring to a trans woman by her male name rather than her chosen name, using the term transvestite or steadfastly refusing to use the pronoun to which the victim identified, are common ways in which the media attempts to reduce the victim.

In the Duke Lacrosse rape case, where a young black prostitute accused a group of white males of rape, the same shame the victim tactic was applied by the media. The difference between this and what happens to trans women, is that the black community was there, loud and proud to speak in her defence. It was clear to all that no matter what this young woman chose to do for a living, that her body should not have been violated. Her blackness overrode the spoiled identity that often accompanies prostitution enough for the community to be able to speak in solidarity. Had she been a trans woman violated in the same way, the silence would once again have resumed.

In each aspect we look at, those negotiating a trans status must face additional inequities over and above the racial disparity that cisexual people of color must routinely negotiate. Our silence convicts. Our so-called black leaders have no problem allowing their megaphones to collect dust when a trans woman is murdered, even though we know that this also supports violence against cisgendered black women. Where is the NAACP? Where are the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? If it is their mission to speak on behalf of the black community then it should be about the community as a whole, and not members that are deemed acceptable by our homophobic, trans hating, sexist, patriarchal society.

Duanna Johnson mattered and not because she was a trans woman, or a twin victim of police brutality and a violent death, but because she was a human being. In our quest for civil rights what we must focus on is achieving a common humanity for all. Duanna has become yet another one of our sisters who has met an untimely end and if we do not speak for her, no one will.


Hooray For Natural Breasts

Officially I blame Judy Bloom for my breast issues.  That part in Are you there God it's me Margaret, where the girls get together to do breast exercises to increase their bust sizes really had an effect on me.  I developed early and was a C cup by age 10, and I am now a DD. 

I know that a lot of small breasted women believe that having bigger breasts is the solution to the insecurities that they feel, but trust me being large busted has its own issues.  We worry about sagging, and I cannot tell you how many occasions I have had to inform some drooling toad exactly where my eyes are.

Having breasts is a difficult thing.  No matter what size they are many of us feel like there is something wrong with them.  This is due to the amount of "corrective surgeries" that are done every year.  No woman has globes on her chest that don't move with tiny nipples.  Those kind of breasts are the creation of plastic surgeon and not nature.

It is time for us natural breasted women to reclaim our breasts from the scalpel. Loving our bodies the way that they were created is one the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves. 

When you think about it there is an industry that profits from every form of female insecurity.  The diet and exercise industry win when we obsess about our weight .  The medical establishment wins when we obsesses about the size and shape of our breasts, nose, hips, hell they have a "fix it" for every body part. The beauty industry wins when we believe that our natural looks need to be covered by make up, because somehow we are not presentable the way nature made us.

Well, I invite all the women reading this blog to reclaim the female body one part at a time.  There is nothing wrong with the way that we have been created.  We are all beautiful in unique and wonderful ways, and it is time we start to accept that rather than lining the pockets of industries that seek to profit off of our insecurities.

To that end I would like you to all check out this site.  It is a gallery of natural breasts.  One look through the photos will reassure even the most doubtful that there is no such thing as a uniform breast but they are all uniquely female, and stunning.

H/T Bitch via twitter


Hueism: No More Paper Bag Test

 

As though life isn't difficult enough living as a person of colour in this world, Blacks have another added dimension hueism/colorism in our society.  We tell ourselves that black is beautiful, but do we really believe that when we elevate the lighter skinned amongst us?

When we look through black celebrities, particularly those that are female, many of them are lighter skinned.  It is a though we have decided as a community to elevate those of us that are closest in resemblance to the white mans pride; white women.

We have no cultural beauty standard of our own; instead we have co-opted features based on a Eurocentric concept of what is considered attractive.   For women this is particularly problematic as there are very few paths to power. Though beauty declines in value as we age, black women are not able to leverage the power of their bodies in the same way as white women. 

The drive to reduce the melanin in our skin became an imperative the moment it was understood by black slaves, that it was what served as a marker of difference.  Despite hundreds of years of struggle the lack of equality still causes people of colour to covet whiteness. 

It is not that Eurocentric features are any more beautiful than those typically inherited by those with African American genes, as in most instances it comes down to social power.  As Foucault said in everywhere and in everything there is always power.  We desire it and constantly act in pursuit of it.

The unfortunate part about the internalization of white values as a path to power, is that instead of uplifting us as a community it has become a Quixotic quest.  We cannot obliterate our blackness, and we cannot assume whiteness.  The racial black/white binary will continue on as long as we seek to mirror our oppressors.

Yes, the power of whiteness is seductive.  Whiteness need not apologize, it can simply consume bodies of colour like a cancer, destroying our sense of identity, and human dignity.  In what cannot be described as anything other than feckless adoration, we pander along like simpering puppies  awaiting the scraps from the masters table.  We fight amongst ourselves for a seat at table that offers us nothing more than poisonous fruit. 

Drunk on the chalice of whiteness we fight amongst ourselves declaring each unworthy by standards not created by us.  We do not even realize that by our self hatred we are doing the masters work.  Instead of working to free ourselves from the chains the bind us, we only wrap them tighter around ourselves at the behest of another. 

Though we are appear to be free, socially our minds are still colonized. Mental slavery is how our bondage lives on today. For the first time a black man is going to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania ave, and yet the visceral self hatred continues.  Though Obama serves as an excellent example of the potential of blackness no one man can uplift us.  This is not biblical times, and his middle name is not Moses, Joshua, or Jesus.  He is a man just like any other.

It is up to the individual to find the strength within hirself, no mystical messiah is going to alight the throne that will change the power relations within society.  The only path to power is to reject the indoctrination that we are fed.  We must free ourselves one slave at a time.  Power will come not from imitating those who seek to profit from our marginalization, but by standing up and declaring ourselves free.

We are the lost children.  We do not know ourselves, nor do we recognize each other.  From childhood we are taught to reject the face that greats us each morning in the mirror. We put poison in our hair to tame its beautiful wildness, and toxic creams on our skin that destroy its beautiful glow. Blackness will achieve power when we decide that black is power.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prop 8 The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

H/T Bitch Magazine

Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting

I have a new post up at Global Comment.

The added benefit of having Barack Obama as president, is that Michelle Obama becomes the first lady. For the first time in American history, an African American female has been uplifted as symbol of grace, beauty and intelligence.  Michelle is setting trends, and has been compared to the likes of Jackie O.

Though Michelle has openly stated that her job is to be “mom in chief”, she cannot be oblivious to the terrible burden that she carries of representing black womanhood to the world.  Every step, every word, and every expression that she makes is carefully scrutinized in an effort to cast her, and all African American women, back into the role of social obsolescence.

Never has the world watched the actions and the decisions of a black woman the way that it has watched Michelle Obama.  We have had our share of sheroes that deserve acclaim, and recognition, but none have been forced to play representative of a race, and a gender, in the way that Michelle has.

Michelle is the quintessential “mystical negress,” and whether she likes that role or not she will have to play it.  As a BUPPIE she is a figure that white people of privilege can relate to with a certain amount of ease.  It is only when she reveals her blackness and questions the systemic inequality that makes her experience the exception rather than the rule, does discomfort begin to enter the equation.

Finish Reading here

Sean Avery and Sloppy Seconds

As you know I am a cannuck, and therefore at some point  I must post a hockey related item.  Sean Avery is known for his mouth.  His goal is to piss off and distract the opposing team.  Today he used sexism and officially went one step too far.

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," he said. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."

This commentary was aimed at Dion Phaneuf, who happens to be dating Avery's ex girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert of the television show "24".   Isn't this just classic woman hating bullshit. Avery decides to lash out a man but of course the best way to do it is to insult his girlfriend.

"I like to push it to the edge, no doubt about it," Avery said this summer, according to ESPN. "That's how I play. That's how I live. That's what I'm all about."

In a move quite unexpected to me, both the team and the league denounced Averys commentary.

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Despite what can only be describe as a great move on the part of the NHL, many are complaining that this should not be an issue that warrants a suspension.  On a hockey forum that the unhusband visits, the sexism and misogyny in an attempt to keep their favourite guy on the ice is disgusting.

Yes asshat the best way to play the game is to demean women by referring to them as sloppy seconds.  In his little mind slut shaming and hockey go hand in hand.  Was Cuthbert to get herself to the nunnery after the two of you split up? How is it that she is considered used goods, and this piece of work is just another hot cock out for a walk? 

Why isn't he considered used goods for engaging in sexual activity?  Virginity and chastity are something that he clearly does not think highly of because he does not practice either   unless..ummm let me think, oh yeah that's right women are worthless unless we are pure.  This is right out of  Valenti's,  He's a Stud She's a Slut.  In Avery's world anyone with testicles gets to be as sexually liberated as they want without any form of repercussion; wheres women are to be publicly shamed for the exact same behaviour. 

Doesn't the issue of sloppy seconds just bring to mind a vile vision?  Why are there no equal terms that are applicable to men?  They certainly are never referred to as sloppy no matter how many sexual partners they have. We don't even have a term that is separately aimed at men for promiscuity, slut and whore are associated with femininity. 

When we discipline male sexuality it is because of a failure to perform.  Calling someone a limp dick is enough to rile any man because male sexuality is about the ability and the quality of performance.  As a male ages his masculinity is questioned should he chose abstinence, while a girl is encouraged to save herself for marriage.  Her value is closely associated to her purity. What Averys comment did is reaffirm the idea  of male sexual freedom and the prison of socially enforced chastity for women.

Not only am I completely disgusted by Averys commentary, but at those who  who have stood on their head to defend it.  Yes he had a right to his freedom of speech but we socially have a right to fine that speech if we find it offensive.   Well Avery it is my hope that each and every time you decide to be an asshat the NHL will remind you that there is a penalty to pay. Decent human beings with a modicum of class do not demean another based in gender.


We Shall Overcome: Gay Rights and Civil Rights

I was inspired to write this post because of the commentary on a thread written by Bobby at Shakesville. Rather than continue to argue with those who cannot look beyond their privilege, I simply decided to retire to my own space to speak my peace. 

Anyone who is remotely familiar with this blog is aware that homophobia is not something that I tolerate.  I believe unequivocally that we should all have the same rights.  I believe intensely in the value of people.  That said, I would be an idiot if I was not cognizant of the ways in which we socially devalue certain elements of society to hold onto unearned privilege. 

While being a huge supporter of gay rights I have not been blind to the fact that it is a largely white led movement.  The common representation of gayness is in fact not only white, but male.  This is hardly surprising considering that we socially mimic what we have grown accustomed to.  White male headship has been the traditional embodiment of power and the gay community is no different in this regard.

What this has lead to is the silencing and othering of POC both within and outside of the community. Even though gay white males are certainly a group that are socially oppressed, that does not necessarily make them an ally, or any more sympathetic to other social justice issues. 

Like it or not, we continually reproduce and repeat dominant social constructions.   This can be seen with the desire to compare the struggle for black rights with the gay rights movement, otherwise  known as the its just like Rosa Parks argument.

I firmly believe that comparing the gay rights movement and the black
civil rights movement
is wrong for various reasons.  It smacks of look how bad things are for us, we are bring treated like the blacks. As I have said on many occasions, heaven forbid someone white be treated like a black person.  Lets just be honest about one fact, when we view race we think in terms of hierarchy and the so-called white race has always been on top, with blacks firmly at the bottom. 

I further resent that blackness is being used as referential for the downtrodden as though there are no other groups that have been marginalized.  We are the litmus test for oppression and this needs to stop.   It is a continual reminder not of how far we have come, but of exactly how marginalized we still remain. It smacks of you have our equality now give us ours.

Using the Just Like Rosa Parks card is racial appropriation.  You cannot take on the experience of another unless you have walked in their shoes.   Coming from a community that charged blacks with homophobia, this unacknowledged bit of racism is extremely divisive.

I believe that it should be approached as an issue of human rights.  If someone is beaten up for being gay they have had their human dignity and body devalued there is no need to say it just like beating blacks received, furthermore no gay person that I know of has been tied up and beaten with a rawhide whip for failing to serve a master quickly enough.  Gay people did not watch on television as their churches were bombed, nor have they had to watch while hoses and dogs were trained on their children.  The struggle for human dignity for black people is hundreds of years old, and it is nowhere near complete. This is not to say that gay rights are not equally as important as the blacks civil rights movement.  Human dignity is an equal issue for all.  They just simply are not based on the same kind of history.

Yes I admit that my approach makes it clear that any comparison in this way is wrong. If I had seen the community make reference to other groups continually over the years I might not find it so offensive today.  This coupled with the fact that gay and lesbian community is overwhelmingly represented by whiteness further causes me to question its commitment to seriously consider race as an issue.

If some feminists can recognize the importance of intersectionality then the gay and lesbian community can as well.  Taking an intersectional approach means realizing that POC need to be in leadership positions as well.  It means not using language that is "othering" or belittling in anyway.  It means realizing first and foremost that you cannot exclude race from your bid for emancipation.  There are gay POC, and there are POC gay allies that you risk offending by steadfastly engaging in this kind oppression Olympics.

There is no need to resort to appropriation to make a point.  The idea that something is wrong or oppressive can be made by making the issue personal to people.  Ask someone how would you feel if you were not allowed to marry who you loved.  How would you feel if what should be a basic right for you was put on a ballot instead of instantly recognized as important.  The best way to drive a point home to someone is to put it on a level that they can personally relate to.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alec Grevin: Jr MRA

image Well it seems it is never to early to start acting on your male privilege.  Nine year old Alec Grevin has written a book entitled , "How to Talk to Girls" It is pitched by the publishers as dating advice for the young by the young.

With those beautiful blue eyes, and devilish grin he appears charming and engaging.  It is not until you learn what he has marketed as dating advice is straight out of the MRA manual on how to devalue women that your stomach begins to knot.

According to the New York post, the fourth-grader from Castle Rock, Colo., advises Lothario wannabes to stop showing off, go easy on the compliments to avoid looking desperate - and be wary of "pretty girls."

"It is easy to spot pretty girls because they have big earrings, fancy dresses and all the jewelry," he writes in Chapter Three.

"Pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil."

He advises, "The best choice for most boys is a regular girl. Remember, some pretty girls are coldhearted when it comes to boys. Don't let them get to you."

That's right the man cub has spoken.  Make sure you get yourself an ugly girl that you can control.  The pretty ones will use their looks to control your behaviour.

Even this 9 year old budding sexist knows that socially we have decided that all power should be in the hands of men.  He has already claimed his unearned male privilege, and to make matters worse by publishing his words we have taught him that it is acceptable to take this approach to women.

Grevin may have been raised to believe that, “Girls win most of the arguments and have most of the power.” but as women who must struggle daily to avoid being beaten, raped, economically disenfranchised, sexually discriminated against and silenced the truth is that power lies firmly ensconced in male hands.

I cannot help but to look at him and think that his parents let him down.  As a feminist mother each day I struggle to ensure that Mayhem and Destruction are aware of their unearned male privilege.  Teaching male children that masculinity can be valued without diminishing feminity is a daily struggle.  Socially boys are encouraged to be adventurous, and dominant.  It is quite a radical act to encourage them to express all aspects of their personality.

My home is a safe space, precisely because Mayhem and Destruction can, garden, cook cry, sing or dance as they see fit.  Whatever they choose to embrace we support because we realize that the attachment to hyper masculinity is ultimately damaging.

Of course the MRA would like us all to believe that there are essentialist traits that are inherent to each sex, but in fact it is the way that we raise children that causes these traits to become socially ingrained.  This little boy is clearly been taught to preserve his male privilege at all costs.  It saddens me to know that this little guide on how to be a sexist is a success. 

What have we taught the young but the false lie that patriarchy does not exist, and that the source of woman's power is her ability to attract dick. As adults by celebrating this nonsense we have only ensured the marginalization of yet another generation of women.

H/T Bikerernie's Weblog


All The Single Ladies - Yes Again

What is it about this video that makes people need to get up on youtube and do their thing?  Hell what is it about this video that has me watching people copy it over and over again...I might be in need of an intervention.

That was the last time I pinkie swear. LOL


Pink and Badass: The Gulabi Gang

image In India pink no longer stands for a weak symbol of femininity.  The women of the Gulabi Gang are donning pink saris and demanding respect. In the face of police corruption, and violence they are showing extreme courage and strength.

According to the BBC, two years after they gave themselves a name and an attire, the women in pink have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor.

They have also stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

"Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers," says Sampat Pal Devi, between teaching a "gang" member on how to use a lathi (traditional Indian stick) in self defense.

After generations of abuse, women are taking the law into their own hands.  While this may seem like it is in support of anarchy, what we must consider are the living conditions under which they have been forced to survive.

I believe that this is a movement that needs to be celebrated.  We have to often  licked our wounds and dreamed of a better day.  For these women the better day is today.  If this is what it takes for men to recognize that their violence, and their oppressive acts are damaging, then this is what it takes.  I will not sit in judgement of their methods.  If a public beating, or shaming of a male  stops his routine abuse of his wife, or daughter in a country where women are so devalued that they die under the worst conditions then so be it.

There is no oppressor in history that has willingly given up their power to a weaker party; and therefore it is ridiculous for us to expect patriarchy to turn its back on the power that comes with male privilege.  Women have a right to have a life free of violence.  We have a right to respect and if it will not be granted, then we have to take it.  If men will not take responsibility for their actions then they must be forced to. 

After learning about these women it gives a new understanding of pink as something soft and feminine.  Here's to all the badass warriors in us all.

You know, the last two sentences were supposed to be the end of this post until this thought occurred to me.  As feminists those viewing this post are probably excited seeing such strength in women; however I feel that part of the thrill of this story comes from our western construction of so-called third world women as victims.

Women of the global south have always been active in the fight to secure their rights, and it is only from a biased western perspective that these efforts have been overlooked in the effort to paint the west as enlightened.  When we consider the  Gulabi Gang we should look beyond patriarchy and keep in mind that this is also a message to western feminists not to discount third world women.  When we construct them as lifeless beings without agency, to take a position of moral authority we are just as guilty of subjugation as patriarchy.


Sexist Pet Peeve: You Guys, The Male As Generic

As I have regularly pointed out, language is extremely important.  It signifies the way we order and understand our world.  I must admit that there is one particular pet peeve that has just gotten to the boiling point with me.

I simply cannot stand to be a part of a group and be addressed as you guys. It makes me want peek down my pants to make sure my favourite gadget is snug and in place.  When you use the colloquial phrase you guys, you are automatically setting the masculine as the default human identity. Since fifty percent of the population is female by  birth, or identity as women, socially we are creating women as less than.

Before you start on me about being a part of the language police, I ask you to consider this one fact.  The male is generally speaking the default position while the female is used as the pejorative.  Does anyone want to be told that they throw like a girl, or do anything like a girl in fact?  Of course not because womanhood is conflated with weakness, imbecility, and docility.

As independent, active beings we want adjectives that are tough, engaging and strong.  Look at the way balls are celebrated in our culture.  If you have the balls to do something you are courageous.  When we want to add real emphasis we say that someone has huge balls.

Have you ever heard someone being called a pussy and seen it accepted as a compliment?  Of course not. A pussy is a weak, whiny, defeated individual. To declare that someone is a pussy  is a call to arms.

Every time I hear balls said as an affirmation of someone's personhood  it makes my stomach cringe.  This kind of jocular language is not innocent.  It is part of a daily denigration womanhood.  If everything attached to masculinity is good, and everything attached to femininity is negative; what we have is a gender binary that works to reinforce a patriarchal construct.

As the proud owner of a pussy, I know that it is damn valuable thing.  As a woman that has to put up with more than my share of bullshit, I know that being female is a ticket to struggle in this life.  Every where I look, I see my sex daily denigrated to profit those who would exploit me.

I am well aware that the MRA have an argument about the portrayal of male idiocy by the media to offset the position that I take; but I feel it is necessary to point out that those caricatures are created by males.  They further usually occur in a context wherein the males supposed stupidity leads to the woman assuming more than her share of responsibility.  Of course this kind of power exchange only happens within the household.    As soon as the scenario changes to a place of business, somehow the male characters suddenly regain all their cognitive skills.  Then the mystical male becomes ballsy enough to be the superior alpha dog that patriarchy has breed him to be.

I think that it is time we start to excise this kind of sexist language from our everyday discourse.  When women use it without thinking we are only reaffirming our second class status.  In every single thing that we say, or do we need to affirm that women matter.  The colluders might be happy being weak little pussies to their  cretin, troll like, MRA partners, but I for one know that I am too damn bad ass to be constructed that way.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Brand New Commenting System

I have finally introduced a new commenting system to the blog It allows you to reply directly to a comment  If you register for the system it allows you to edit your comments.  You will still be able to post anonymously if you choose, as well as post images and video in your comments.  There are  many more options with this new system. 

In the interim if you wish to comment on the old threads you will have to click on the post a comment written in tiny black letters.  I know that this is an inconvenience for the posts that have great conversation already running, but it is the cost of implementing the new system.

How about we all give this a try for a month and see if this works for everyone. It is my hope that this will reduce the amount of spam on the blog.  For the first time I will be able to ban abusive users (trolls you have been warned) and this will help to create a safer space here. 

Thank you for your patience,

Renee

The Gender Power Shift

Monica of Transgriot has so graciously authored this post.

When you transition from one gender role to another, you do more than just swap bodies and sometimes genitalia.  You are also picking up all the cultural and societal expectations and baggage associated with that gender role as well.
Race and class also enter into this mix as well in terms of the differing reactions we have in terms of transition for white male to female transwomen and male to female transwomen of color.

One of the things I noted when I first transitioned back in 1994 was how much White transwomen lamented transitioning.   I was the lone African-American along with a Latina in my gender group at the time, and she and I discussed in our conversations how so many of the discussions for some of them centered on laments about how much money they lost after they transitioned, pining for the executive jobs they held, or how shocked they were about how nasty and virulent the discrimination they were facing for the first time in their lives was..
It was my first exposure to The Gender Power Shift.

Basically, in Western societal structures, it’s all about the White male.  Even if they have a PhD, a GED or no degree, they grow up with a sense of entitlement based on their skin color that makes them feel as though they are superior to anyone, much less a mere person of color.

And as I have stated for over a decade, the GLBT community is a microcosm of society at large.  Whatever problems and ‘isms’ are prevalent in the parent society are manifested in our little subset of it.

Some carry those attitudes into transition feeling that they’ll have their new gender role, the cash and the power to go with it.   They get a rude awakening from their former brothers in arms, which see them as delusional for willingly stepping down from the role as a White male and angry because in their eyes it’s one less white male to help procreate and keep whites in the majority population against the surging tide of rising minority birth rates and immigration.

To punish them for their ‘crime’ of voluntarily stepping down from the white male club, they get busted them down to white women power levels and face heightened levels of discrimination to keep them there.

Now, at the bottom of the societal power structure is the Black male.   They’ve been told their whole lives by the parent society they’ll never amount to nothing, they’re predisposed to criminal activity…well, you get the drift.    So when a Black male transitions, the parent society doesn’t care as much, but the end result is that it’s a power upgrade for that individual.

Black society is matriarchal based and power is shared somewhat equally between males and females.  So when a Black male transitions, while we’re seen as less of a threat to the white power structure than we were as males, it’s conversely a step up in terms of power and prestige because of our new gender role.

In addition to that, being a Black woman is liberating to the person that chafed at being stuck in the Black male gender role.   They get the benefits of no longer being considered a ‘menace to society’ with the corresponding improvements in quality of life.  So to them, transition becomes a step up in class and power levels and it’s reflected in their perceptions of it.

The reactions of biowomen to transwomen are also different based on race and class.    White transwomen are battling the burden of getting whacked with the anti-transgender feminist backlash instigated by Janice Raymond and Germaine Greer in the 70’s and 80’s and their radical feminist disciples.  They are seen as interlopers in women’s spaces still seeking to wield WMP despite being in female bodies.

The reaction of Black biowomen to their transsisters is totally different.   Black women have had their own bruising battles with those same Raymond-Greer radical feminists, and for the most part reject their philosophy.    They are womanists, and reject the demonization of transgender women as espoused by the radical feminists.

As long as Black transwomen immerse themselves in and take seriously the role of Black womanhood, we are down with the goals of uplifting the race and advancing the causes of all women, we are accepted for the most part as women by the biowomen in the Black femininity club.

In addition, Black transwomen because of lack of capital, not only have extended transitions, they tend to focus more on perfecting the inner femininity first before they get to the point of dealing with surgical issues.   That helps us hone the social skill we need to smooth our acceptance into the ranks by some Black biowomen.

White transwomen, who tend to start with more capital, blitz through the transition process, get SRS, then focus on the internal femininity issues.   Their progress is also retarded by the resentment that some White biowomen have toward White transwomen as well for various reasons.

And in case you’re wondering, White transmen have noted their increased societal power gain after they transitioned, and Black transmen have noted the increased negative perceptions of them post transition as well.

So yes, race and class affect transition in many ways, and the Gender Power Shift is only one small example of it.

For more Monica check out transgriot.


Making the A List Means Abusing Women

How do you know when you have reached the top of your game?  How do you know that you have been placed in the category of the elite?  When you get to display violent, racist images of women like some kind of trophy in your office. Pirelli is a tire company that each year produces a calendar which it hands out to those that it deems the creme de la creme.  This years images can only be described as disgusting. They are located below the jump and are not safe for work.  They also have the potential to trigger those who have experienced sexual assault, so please use caution in viewing.

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This is our post feminist, post racial world.  There is the claim that we have moved beyond the need to fight for liberation but if images like these can be created as some form of reward clearly we have not reached the point where we universally believe that all bodies matter. 

H/T Sociological Images via Hoyden About Town


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Secret Shame: My Inner Child Is Disappointed

I think slowly overtime my children are turning me into my parents. When I was a kid, and my mom or dad would say something, I would swear up and down that I would never do that to my kids....

Well it seems that despite my best intentions I am finding out that my mom and dad were right about a lot of things. Now that I pay the bills, it's really not cool to have the house lit up like a Christmas tree.  It is also not cool to be heating the outside and leave the door wide open.  Yeah,  a little body only needs to be so clean, why are you running my water like that?  No I'm not rich, and I will not buy you that over priced piece of plastic crap. I am your mother not your friend recognize the difference. Oh,  when your little friends come here if they cannot even bother to say hello, then I cannot be  bothered to let them in my house. Finally, my least favourite but the most correct, pride feels no pain.

I have developed my own woe is me when I was kid I used to walk 12 miles in the snow stories.  The only difference is mine are bullshit; whereas my parents had legitimate hard times. 

I have come to the conclusion that it is children that bring this shit out in you. A parent may start off with the best of intentions but slowly over time as they plug your toilet with foreign objects, refuse to pick their underwear up off the bathroom floor, speak in slang that makes you feel old, and generally give you grey hair with their lack of fear, children bring it out in you

The only consolation I have, is that when or if Mayhem and Destruction become fathers, they will repeat all of the things that I have said to them because their own children will drive them nuts.

Okay what have you said or done that you swore that you would never do?


Love Is Love

For all of you yes on Prop 8 voters who just don't get it. Look at it from this point of view.

H/T GayWallet