Saturday, December 27, 2008

Drop It Like It's Hot

What a crazy week this was.  I somehow survived Christmas once again.  The boys got almost everything on their Santa lists, so they were very happy.  The unhusband cooked a wonderful turkey.  I wasn't feeling well that day but he stepped right up to the challenge and dinner was saved.  I have a couple of days of leftovers to look forward to but I am pretty pleased with how the the holidays went and of course the rum and eggnog went a long way to making me jolly ;)

You know the routine, the following are the posts I found interesting this week.  Please check them out and then tell me about your holidays in the comment section.  As always this is an open thread so remember to leave your link behind.

Class and Hard Work

Black Bigotry and Straight Supremacy

trans musings

Dear Pope Ratz

The Unmothered Mother

Dogs and women are not allowed

Get Ready Next Week The Weight Reduction Industry Will Stick Their Hand Out

Honouring My Moon Time

Black Women And Weighty Issues About Weight

Feminists On High Horses, pt 1   

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The Policing Of WOC

Blogging is something I clearly love to do.  I actually devote quite a bit of my free time to editing and writing posts for  Womanist Musings.  When I hit the publish button, it is always with the best of intentions, but often times my efforts are met with discipline and control.

When I talk about race or white privilege I am often called a racist.  The key here is the accusation is not that I said or did something racist, but that I am a racist.  When I speak about the racial appropriation of the blacks civil rights movement, or the fallacious blame the black meme for Prop 8, I am called homophobic.  Finally when I speak about unearned male privilege I am a misandrist.  All I need is a few more labels and I can be the seven faces of Eve.

Each time I am called one of the names, my accuser gives an account of my failings.  I am either living in the past, not seeing clearly, or base my opinions on irrational hatred.  It seems that no matter how well thought out my argument is there is always some huge gaping fault when it challenges any kind of privilege.  If I wasn't so racist/homophobic/man hating I would be able to see the truth that my accusers have laid out before me. One of my personal favourites is that I am creating an issue where none actually exists.  Yep the hysterical female argument.

Blogging is at times a thankless craft, and those that engage in it from a marginalized position are often targets of hatful attacks.  It is an attempt to silence anyone that steps outside of the status quo. 

On one hand having an engaged comment section is important to a blogger because it allows for a conversation, an exchange of ideas it you will; however if a commenter is not engaging in good faith, which often happens on blogs written or maintained by WOC the medium becomes one of oppression rather than one in which free dialog is of the utmost importance.

One of the wonderful thing about blogs, is that for the price of a computer and internet connection, those who normally would have been inconsequential in terms of social and or political discourse are afforded the opportunity to give voice to their concerns.  Unlike traditional forms of media where expression and relevance are largely controlled by the white elite, blogging provides a platform for people of colour to express themselves freely.

It is this very freedom that is an anathema to those that seek to maintain their privilege.  Enter the helpful hint commentary, which is usually along the lines of if you had expressed yourself like this, your message would be more palatable. While the person giving the advice may legitimately believe that they are engaging in good faith what they do not see is that this is once again an attempt to control the medium and the message.  

Bodies of colour are routinely required to perform their race to the satisfaction of whiteness.  When we decide to take the step of demanding our voices/issues or concerns become a priority the silencing attempts occur with the force of a tsunami.  When we stay in our own sphere publishing the kind of nonsense that BET regularly does, there is little threat perceived; and therefore little to no discipline applied. 

I read every comment left on this blog and I must say that even though I do not respond to each individually, I am often astounded by that audacity of whiteness.  Imagine entering someone's home and then informing this person that you are in control. This is exactly the kind of privilege in action behaviour that occurs time and time again, yet these same people would cry foul if an MRA attempted to behave in the same manner.   Blackness or colour is only good when it is being used as a tool to uphold white hegemony.

In an earlier post I spoke about the need for an exchange of idea between white women and WOC and I still whole heartedly believe in the necessity of this conversation.  I simply believe that as a proviso to these conversations, one should be aware that silencing, or attempting to control the space of another does not constitute conversation.  Accusatory statements that label another when they are disagreement, rather than a specific commentary on the issue at hand, constitutes silencing behaviour.  Attempting to delegitimize the emotional damage by declaring that something isn't racist is counter productive to a good debate.

Yeah we need to talk, but some people need to check their privilege at the door. I don't have time to waste on educating you in basic human decency, nor do I want to hear the same bullshit that I can see on the news, or on my local street corner.  Now I have some hard truths to say, and they might just sting the sensibilities, but we cannot move on until we deal with some of the bad blood from the past. 


Heterophobia

Reagan Fox

Transcript below the fold

Each year my 83 year old pop ponders why I have chosen to be gay.  He'll ask Reagan have you ever slept with a woman, I say no, and then as if he has figured out the great conundrum of the century he'll exclaim how can you really know.  To which I reply dad have you ever fucked a guy? Oh this little game we play is never stopping, bunny hopping, biscuit sopping, hetero cropping, under the rug mopping, brother topping, hours ripped and ribbed for my pleasure and it would be to easy to ask you to consider the discourse of homophobia, so instead I implore you to gallantly gallop into a world of heterophobia.  In this world monday night football is replaced with friday night theatre. You're known as the funny straight poet and after  people find out that you fornicate with people of the opposite sex they say things like no no no I'm cool with it I have a straight uncle.  What's it like being straight? Is it like being gay just different?  Imagine straight is a term so derogatory that gay people call each other straight and mean it as the lowest of insults, the bottom of the barrel, the harshest of blows. Imagine one day waking up and innocently turning on your television, only to hear the new of a five foot five eighteen year old straight boy in Larmie Wyoming who was tied, no not tied crucified to a fence and pistol whipped, whacked and cracked so severely his skull was turned into fine powder and the last words he heard were, you fucking straight piece of shit you are nothing.  Through this lens doesn't the choice to be straight sound so exotic? But the plain truth of the matter, the fact jack is we live in a homophobic world and as it stands Matthew Sheppard was gay and the last word he heard were you fucking faggot, just as I heard each day walking through the halls of high school.  And it is not straight peoples parents who ask them year in and year out asking them why they're straight, it's my father asking me if you've never been with a woman, how can you know.  I know, this much I know .


Friday, December 26, 2008

For My Brothers

Transcript below the fold

There have been no words no poetry in ashes south of canal, no prose and truck driving debree and DNA.   Evident out my window an abstract reality, sky where once was steel, smoke where once was flesh. Please God let it be a mistake,the pilots heart the planes engine.  God, please don't let it be anyone who looks like my brothers. I don't know how bad a life has to break in order to kill.  I've never been so hungry that I willed hunger.  I've never been so angry as to want a gun over a pen.  Not really, even as a woman, a Palestinian never this broken.  Ricardo on the radio said in his accent thick as yuca, I will feel so much better when the first bombs drop over there.  A woman crying in a car, parked stranded and hurt, I offered comfort.  A hand she did not see before she said, we're gonna burn them so bad. My hand went to my head, and my head to the dead Iraqi children, the dead in Nicaragua, in Rwanda who vied with fake sport wrestling for Americas attention.  People saying this was bound to happen, let's not forget US transgressions.  Hold up I live here, these are my friends and family.  Me in those buildings, do not support Americas bullying, can I just have half a second to feel bad.  Thank you woman who saw me brinking cool and blinking tears. Open her arms before she asked do you want a hug.  A big white woman, and her embrace only people with flesh can offer.  My brother is in the navy I said and we're Arabs.  Wow you got double trouble, word.  One more person ask me if I knew the hijackers.  One more motherfucker ask me what navy my brother is in. One more person assume that no Arabs or Muslims were killed.  Assume that they know me, or that I represent a people or that a people represent evil, or that evil is as simple as a flag or words on a page. We did not vilify white men when McVeigh bombed Oklahoma, give out his family's address, or blame the church, or blame the bible, or Pat fucking Robertson.  Networks air footage of Palestinians dancing in the street, no apology that hungry children are bribed with treats that turn their teeth brown.   Correspondents edit images, archives facilitate lazy journalism. When we talk about holy books, hooded men and death, why never mention the KKK,  If there are any people on earth who understand how New York is feeling right now, they are in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Bush has waged war on a man once openly funded by the CIA.  I've read to many books to believe what I'm told.  I don't give a fuck about Bin Laden, his vision of the world don't represent me or the people love, but I've signed petitions for years to out the US sponsored taliban. Shit is complicated and I don't know what to think, but I know who will pay women, mostly coloured and poor will have to bury children, support themselves through grief.  In America it will be those of us who refuse blanket attacks on the shivering, who work towards social justice and opposing hateful policies.  Either you are with us or with the terrorists, meaning keep your people under control and resistance censored, meaning we got the loot and the nukes.  Never felt less American and more Brooklyn these days.  These stars and stripes represent the dead as citizens first not as family, not lovers.  My skin is real thin, my eyes are darker, the future holds little light.  My brother is a man now, on alert, praying five times a day that the orders he will take are righteous and now weigh his soul down from the afterlife.  Both my brothers, my heart stop, not a beat disturbs my fear.  Muslim gentle men, born in Brooklyn and their faces are of the Arab man all eyelashes and nose, and beautiful colour and stubborn hair. What will their lives be like now, over there is over here.  Across the river burning rubber and limbs, rescuers traumatized, skyline brought back to human size.  No longer taunting Gods, I cried when I saw those buildings collapse upon themselves like a broken heart. I have never owned pain that needs to spread like that.  There is no poetry in this, causes and effects symbols and ideologies, mad conspiracy here, information we'll never know, there is death here and promises we'll never know.  There is life here, anyone hearing this is breathing,maybe hurtin but breathing for sure. If there is any light to come it will shine from the eyes of those who look for peace and justice after the rubble and rhetoric are cleared and the phoenix has risen.  Affirm life, affirm life, we've got to carry each other now.  You are either with life or against it, affirm life. 


iboobs on iphone

NSFW

I came across this disgusting video at BlackManWithBlog. He twitted the link and so I decided to check it out.  Once viewing the shaking disembodied boobs, I was to reach a new level of disgust when I read his description, "lol thanks Questlove for sending the link to this very funny to me but cool."

Disembodied women are not funny.  It is not at all accidental that these images are for the most part female. It maintains patriarchy, and reminds us that we are meant to be little more than play things to amuse men.  BlackManWithBlog found this hilarious, fucking ha ha ha.  I suppose if there was something on the iphone that reduced black men to their baser elements this fool would be enraged, but he seems to have no problem laughing at the reduction of women.  HELLO ASSHAT CAN YOU HEAR ME: ALL OF THE ISMS WORK TOGETHER. This means that the same things that make racism dangerous and cancerous to the human soul, are the same things that make sexism cancerous.

It drives me insane to watch one marginalized group prey upon another.  Some feel that this is a form of elevation because in certain instances they have the ability to "other" another group of people.  BlackManWithBlog was expressing his male power to debase and demean women; however what he did not realize is that in the process he was keeping alive the idea that we should attack others based on difference.  This kind of behaviour maintains a hierarchy of beings and is exactly what the ruling classes count on to maintain our continued disenfranchisement. Go ahead and play dupe, but the next time you see black men being attacked, don't scream to loudly because your actions are helping to maintain the dissonance of worth and value.


Time Begs For An Obama Boy

What better way to celebrate the holidays than to announce to the world that girls just aren't good enough for the west wing playroom.  It seems no matter how bright, outgoing, or charming, the first daughters have been, Time magazine will not be satisfied until the walls are painted in a triumphant blue, and testosterone reigns supreme. Yep, Time wants to deck the halls with balls.

How can the US compete on the global stage if the men that they  elects do not produce male heirs?  Can we say overvaluation of masculinity? The American people, supposedly exist with a unique state of evolvement  because unlike other nation states they have the courage to elect leaders who have not produced male progeny. 

Time however, does not hesitate to suggest that Michelle should throw out her birth control and take one for the team.  Since she has already given up a high powered career, why wouldn't she want to get pregnant; God did after all give her the ovaries.  Why else do women exist if not to take one for the team. 

This suggestion is further problematic, as it is occurring in a country in which the breeding of black women was once common place.  From forced pregnancy to forced sterilization, the reproduction of black women is something whiteness has always sought to control. It seems no matter how great the achievement, blacks are still little more than farm animals that can be forced to mate, to benefit another.  Time of course didn't see the correlation.  They were just wishing for boys; but in the process they turned the president into a stud and the first lady into a brood mare.  Isn't it ironic that the Obamas are the first black family in the white house and yet they are being treated as though they belong to another century. 

Though this article did discuss the history of first children; one cannot help but notice that when the incoming first children are little black girls, suddenly the call is to produce a male heir.  Black women occupy the bottom of the race and gender hierarchy, and this innocuous little piece by Time, affirms that black women are less than.  Little black girls have little to no value socially, and we have seen this time and time again.  From the Obama gals, to "sassy" Sasha, to Michelle as baby mama, the female members of the first family are continually disciplined and constructed to maintain white privilege.  Few even realize that Michelle graduated with higher honours than her husband, yet somehow being born black with a vagina, gives people license to dismiss their worth and intelligence.

To assure us that this gender division is such a noble thing, Belinda Luscombe, quotes Meg Meeker,  to add authority to her  essentialist list of gender traits to explain the gender disparity in the white house children.  "Boys are generally more competitive, risk-taking and defiant, which makes them less manageable." Potential candidates with male heirs don't get elected because of the distraction that their sons cause on the campaign trail.   Boys are incorrigible; and therefore present an overwhelming challenge to their politician fathers. 

Pretty, pink, and submissive, daughters can supposedly be counted on to lead their dads right to the white house. Is there anything more darling than a princess looking up adoringly at her father. "Girls want to please their mothers and particularly their fathers. Their dads can take their daughters places and do things with them and the girls won't act out." Little girls apparently intuitively know when it is time to stand there and smile.  This is bred right into our ovaries.

After reading this piece of crap, I could not help but hope that Luscombe and Meeker ended up with a lump of coal; until I realized that with the current price of coal that would be to valuable of a gift to give for this crap.  Gender cannot be broken down into simple little categories that we act out.  There is some degree of performativity due to the indoctrination of gender specific behaviour from birth; however gender is a spectrum.  It is not the neat little binary that  Luscombe and Meeker would have us believe. 

This kind of gender binary promotion is harmful to everyone.  It encourages women to be docile and obedient creatures, while dismissing negative actions of the part of males because "boys will be boys."  With all of the inventiveness of the human mind to reduce us to these neat little categories is ridiculous.  Though we repeatedly attempt to discipline behaviour throughout childhood, so many "fall of the wagon", that it is clear these characterizations are not naturally occurring. 

I understand that during the holiday season that there are precious few big and entertaining news stories, but is it really necessary to descend to this bunk?  Light and fluffy filler is one thing, but nonsense masquerading as quasi intelligent thought is another. 

H/T iluvblackwomen via twitter


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

I would like to take this time to wish you and yours a safe and happy  holiday.  May the wine be dry, the turkey juicy and your family safe and happy.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza.

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I'll see everyone on Friday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

According To HuffPo Michelle Obama Is A Gal

When you make your living through the written word, one would assume that you would have a respect for language and an understanding of how important words are.  It seems for HuffPo that the meaning that language conveys about a person is completely unimportant.

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Michelle Obama graduated Suma Cum Laude (yes better than her president elect husband) She is an accomplished lawyer and a mother of two.  Let me tell you what she is not.. SHE IS NOT A GAL. 

HuffPo could have said Obama and his family, but instead they chose to use the word gal.  Does it really need to be said that referring to a grown ass woman by a term that is usually used to designate immaturity, or childishness is demeaning.  Does it really need to be said, that one of the ways that white people have historically chosen to reduce the legitimacy of black adults is to refer to us as boy, girl and gal. 

It's easy for an organization like HuffPo to engage in this kind of behaviour, because few will bother to call them on it.  People today seem to feel that racism is solved because someone will more than likely be called out for saying the word nigger, burning a cross, or wearing a white sheet in public.  This allows them to ignore the smaller coded messages that daily infer that people of colour are less than. 

Referring to Michelle as Baracks gal, further infers that she is not his equal.  Since they had already decided to demean the woman by calling her gal, I guess it was an easy slam dunk to bring patriarchy into the fold and push male headship. 

It seems like such a simple statement doesn't it, "Barack and his gals,"? There is so much history behind those words, that they cannot and should not be dismissed.  Recently I have heard a lot of backlash about PC speech.  It seems to me that the real problem is that people do not want to think about the ways in which language is often offensive to others.  They want the right to minimize and "other" certain segments of society to maintain their privilege.

Some have become so accustomed to verbalizing their biases and privilege that any call to reconsider what is acceptable is seen as infringement.  The idea that they do not matter any more than someone who is of colour, transgender, disabled, etc., is astonishing.  No one should exist with the right to demean someone to maintain their unearned privilege.

Well Huffpo, this is  a fail.  I am sorry to be the one to have to inform you.  Michelle Obama deserves more than this.  I know that your aim is to get more pageviews and maintain your number one rank, but is it necessary to be so inconsiderate and thoughtless regarding the language that you use?  Blogging is a brand new medium and you have a great opportunity to set a new standard. How about you not blow it, and really think about what you are choosing to put on the web.


Don't Tell Me That You Know

Barack Obama the Sex Symbol

It first started with the release of these pictures.

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Look how young and hot he is. Young mack daddy, Mr.Cool.  The droolfest that went on when these never before seen photos were released actually bordered on the ridiculous.  I specifically hate the top left photo with the cigarette, as it plays upon the "cool" hypersexual masculinity that is often attached to black men.

The media is intent upon sexualizing him. 

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This image has been all over the internet and splayed across our television screens by the major networks.  President Elect hottie they tell us.  It amazes me how quickly the media decided that it is acceptable to sexualize the President of The United States the minute he is a black man. 

Unlike the last few men to hold the office, Barack is in good physical shape, but is it necessary to reduce him to a fuckable object to portray that message?  The man graduated Magna Cum Laude, was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, is a Senator and is President elect people, not your latest pin up boy of the month.  He is more that a big swinging black dick for your sexual pleasure.

There is a tendency to sexualize people of colour regardless of their achievements.  It is meant to remind us that regardless of our successes in life that we still constitute people of  little value.  Barack is the next President and his body is still quickly constructed for the satisfaction of others.

There are various world leaders including past presidents who have had active sexual liaisons while president, prime minister etc and yet their bodies are not reduced in this way.  White male sexuality is never seen as hyper sexual, no matter how aggressive, or arrogant the male in question is. Hyper sexual white male behaviour is deemed being "one of the boys" and natural.  Barack removes his shirt to go swimming with his family, and suddenly he is President Elect hottie.

This is debasement because of the ways in which we have constructed sex.  If we socially viewed sex as a natural beautiful celebration, instead of animal like, shame filled behaviour, the connection of Barack with sexuality would not be reductive.  It is further problematic that this reduction is racialized.  What we view as sexy when it comes to black men comes from the idea that they should be performing for the pleasure of others and not from a sexuality that is based in reciprocity.  It is based upon this that the white run media feels that it is has the right to consume his body despite his direct wishes to the contrary.

It seems that now that it is official and he is President, whiteness must come to terms with the outcome of the election in such a way as to continue to assert power over bodies colour.  A reduction of Barack tells those of us that are still struggling to see the mountain top, that the peak is not our destination.  We must travel onward if we are to dismantle that which seeks to remove our human dignity. 

Cocky

I love her honesty.  We don't often hear this honestly what it feels like to be a transwoman negotiating the rigid gender binary that we have constructed. 

Cocky
We are often told that we are living in a mans world, and this culture no image represents power more than the phallic symbol and if the penis equal power then I am illegally armed. My body full of freckles and curves is like a stealth bomber, I fly just under everyone’s radar, but only because they choose not to see me. Only because no one wants to believe that a sweet petite green eyed girl like me could ever possibly be packing heat. They say it’s not the size of the wand but the magic that it does. Well after many months on estrogen my penis is pretty darn small, but she has supernatural powers. She is like some pissed off ancient Greek goddess. My penis changes the meanings of everything, and because of her every single one of my ex heterosexual girlfriends has slept with a lesbian, and every guy who hits on me these days could be accused of being gay. Because my penis bends everyone who is straight and she can make the most entitled catcallers and womanisers scurry away with their balls between their legs. All because of six small words, I used to be a man. And being a transsexual I realize that most people see my femaleness as a fa├žade, as an elaborate hoax, but I am more real than any of them could ever hope to be. I am real because unlike them my gender is not based upon what other people think of me and that may make me an object of ridicule but I am not the butt of anyone’s joke, because I know that people make fun of trannies because we are the one thing that they fear the most. I am more badass than any gangster, more dangerous than any marine core , my penis is more powerful than the cocks of a million alpha males all put together. Because when a man is defined as that which is not female and a woman is defined as that which is not male, then I am the loose thread that unravels the gender of everyone around me. They say it’s not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean, well my penis gives most people sea sickness. It makes people dizzy because most people are not secure enough in their own masculinity or femininity to serve a night in the sack with me. My penis turns simple sexual pleasures into political acts. She turns biological impossibilities into cold hard facts. My penis is the curiosity that you have been told will kill your cat. See, my penis can be deadly, especially to me, and I have hear d almost every true story about what frightened macho boys do to trannies; every bludgeoning and mutilation, bodies beaten beyond recognition and I have imagined it all happening to me first person. Everytime I get up in front of a crow to perform one of my outspoken word pieces, I can feel myself morph into a slow moving target. After the show when I walk back to my car I will be holding my breathe half expecting that inevitable blow to the back of the head. Sometimes I wonder why it hasn’t happened yet, and sometimes I wonder why they just don’t get it over with and sometimes I just wish I was dead, I wish I was dead. You see I never wanted to be dangerous and I spent most of my life wishing that I didn’t have a penis. I used to hate my body for not making any sense to me and these days I often hate it for being so in between. Some mornings I can hardly get out of bed because my body is so weighed down with ugly meanings that my culture has dumped all over me. You see I have made to feel shame and self loathing so that everyone else can take comfort in what their bodies mean. And if I seem a bit cocky it is because I refuse to make apologies for my body anymore. I am though being the human sacrifice offered up to appease other people’s gender issues. Some women have a penis, some men don’t and the rest of the world is just going to have to get the fuck over it. If I am destined to be the loose thread that unravels the gender of everyone around me then I am going to pull and pull and pull and pull and pull until everyone is exposed, till they all finally see that all along that they were merely wearing the emperor’s new clothes . I know that people don’t like it when I turn the tables on them but what the hell else am I supposed to do, play a hand from a deck of cards that was stacked against me? If I seem a bit cocky, it’s because I have spent my entire life being backed into a corner and like a frightened animal packed full of adrenaline and sick of hunger and hiding I am finally desperate enough to come out fighting

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Pope: We Need To Save Humanity From Homosexuals and Transexuals

I almost entitled this blog post fuck the pope.  Those were the words that ran through my mind as I read this.

Pope Benedict said Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

The Church "should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration.

"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound."

The pope said humanity needed to "listen to the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behavior beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work."

He also defended the Church's right to "speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected."

The world is coming to an end because of how people choose to love and what gender they identify with.  What utter nonsense.  He conveniently forgets to mention things like poverty, illegal arms sales, systemic rape of women, child abuse (probably didn't want to bring that one up), disease, pestilence and war. 

His holy asshole wants us to focus on what people do with their genitals.  Even if somehow you could magically "convert" every single gay, lesbian and transgender person living on the planet to straight, cisgendered people the above mentioned issues would still exist.  Those are the real issues humanity is dealing with.  Those are the real crimes.  Loving someone of the same sex is a manifestation of the best part of us.  Anytime one human being can love another there is just a little bit more hope in the world because another has managed to move beyond their baser instincts to truly bond with someone else.  No matter what form love takes, it is beautiful.

If God is love, how could a man of God preach that any kind of love is some form of depravity?  He is using religion to cloak his own intolerance and hatred.  Pope or no pope, he is not more aware of the intention of God/Goddess than any other mortal. God/Goddess does not make mistakes, and s/he created transgender people and gays and lesbians, who is anyone to diminish them. 

Before the Catholic Church points fingers at anyone and declares them an abomination, it should examine its own history and the ways in which it has committed crimes against humanity and the word of God it claims to adhere to. Nothing pisses me off like a religious bigot.  They continually twist the message in the books that they claim to live by picking out what will apply to others and not themselves.  So seriously, fuck the pope and his hate filled message.


A Mothers Will

image Latina gave birth to her first child on the day that she graduated from high school.  Against doctors order she got up and walked across the stage to collect her diploma.  That speaks of young woman who refused to be beaten or deterred from her dreams.

Life for a single mother is incredibly difficult.  The pro life movement encourages women to have their children but does precious little to help them raise their kids.  They don't think about the midnight feedings, potty training, diapers, sleepless nights, daycare issues, expense and poverty

Even in a two parent household raising a child is a daunting task.  There is no such thing as a day off and society is always available to tell you of the various ways that you are failing your children.  We claim to care about children but we routinely fail them by failing to provide accurate support for their mothers.  If a woman is poor, so are her children and this can lead to serious issues in childhood that will last a lifetime. 

image Latina is a mother of three children with three different fathers.  Only the father of her most recent child is playing an active role.  She has been living with her 57 year old mother while attending law school.   Often studying with children hanging off of her, Latina refused to give up. Of the 1,175 of the Wichita Bar Association only eight are African American and today Latina is a member.

She is all set to move into a house for which she helped build through Habitat for Humanity and is now earning 45,000.  Hers is a story of the triumph of will and determination. Time and time again she found the strength to get out of bed and continue on even as the world was beating her down. 

While I am truly inspired by her story, it reminds me of just how difficult we make it for single mothers to succeed.  They are treated as though they are a drain on society.  Clearly Latina had the ambition and strength of will to pursue this difficult goal while raising three kids, but could we not have made this task a little easier for her? 

Imagine if we had invested in Latina instead of making every single day a struggle.  Even know she labours with 100,000 dollars worth of debt, and the profession that she has chosen to enter is not very woman friendly, never mind making adjustments for motherhood.

Most women need to work and when they are single mothers the struggle to get ahead and eek out more than a marginal existence can literally swallow you alive.  If we are going to reduce access to birth control and abortion we must realize that without any accommodations we are sentencing not only the mother, but her children to a lifetime of poverty.

While stories like Latinas are wonderful and heartwarming, they are hardly the norm.  There is a tendency to want to point to women like her and say see you an do it too, but the reality is that not every woman can.  If this were the case single mothers would all be in professional occupations rather than constituting the poorest members of society. 

Poverty is  largely a feminized state because we refuse to acknowledge the reproductive labour of women and offer them solid opportunities for advancement.  If we want to support life we need to start to understand that life means from birth to death, and not just the nine months in the womb.


One Voice Doesn't Fit All: How the Media Promotes Gay Stereotypes

Guest Post by Genia Stevens

Recently, the HRC bashed President Obama for choosing anti-gay Rick Warren as an inauguration speaker.The HRC stated that Obama had insulted gay Americans everywhere by choosing someone like Rick Warren to be the opening speaker at his inuaguration. The media jumped on the HRC's open letter and falsely stated that gays everywhere were upset with Obama. That wasn't true. I'm a gay American and I wasn't upset with Obama. In addition, the gay Catholic organization Rainbow Sash released a counter statement that said:

While we respect the wonderful work the Human Rights Campaign Fund and Equality California has done on the part of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Community, we must voice a different opinion. We echo Obama's call that we must all come together even when we disagree on social issues. Obama said "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is about". The call for "Common Ground" is deeply felt and understood among members of the Rainbow Sash Movement and our allies.
Several weeks ago a Black lesbian blogger made statements to the media that were repurposed and presented as two generalizations: (a) all Black gays hate white gays and (b) marriage equality is an issue that only white gays care about. Those generalizations are false. I am a Black lesbian and I don't hate white gays. I am a Black lesbian and I believe marriage rights are an important issue - not just for me, but for a lot of other Black gays and lesbians.
The LGBT community is full of diverse people who have diverse opinions and deal with diverse issues. When the media chooses one person's opinion to present as the opinion of an entire community, I am deeply offended and troubled by that. A lot of straight white women don't want radical Jew-hatin' Ann Coulter speaking on their behalf - just because she's a straight white woman. A lot of Christians don't want Fred Phelps, the founder of GodHatesFags.com, speaking on their behalf - just because he calls himself a Christian.
The HRC does not speak for me. One radical, anti-white, Black lesbian blogger doesn't speak for me either. If you want to know how I feel about something, you should probably just ask me.
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About the author: Genia Stevens is a lesbian mom of two teenage boys. For 6 years, she's authored the blog SistersTalk, which she describes as a lesbian blog with liberal tendencies. She's the founder of GayWallet.com - a social network that consists of LGBT people and straight supporters who all agree that the LGBT community deserves full equality.

The Illegal Hijab

image The Hijab is not a simple garment.  It is complicated not only by its meaning, but the ways in which it is perceived across cultures.  Many westerners approach it from a position of xenophobia and attach their hatred and fear of those that they have "othered" for gain to this garment.  Lisa Valentine, also known by her Islamic name, Miedah, was to learn this when she accompanied her nephew to deal with a traffic issue.  She was ordered to remove her hijab.

Her husband Hall said Valentine, an insurance underwriter, told the bailiff that she had been in courtrooms before with a scarf on; that removing it would be a religious violation. She became frustrated, then turned to leave and uttered an expletive, Hall said.

That’s when the bailiff handcuffed her and took her to the judge’s chambers, Hall said.

She was sentenced to 10 days in jail by Judge Keith Rollins.  Valentine is not the only woman to undergo such treatment by judge Rollins. Sabreen Abdul Rahman was removed from court when she refused to remove her hijab. 

“I can’t. I’m Muslim,” she mouthed silently to the bailiff, who then removed her from the courtroom, Rahman said.

“This is a religious right,” she said. “This is unconstitutional. And humiliating.”

It seems that the women were removed because wearing a hijab violates a court policy of no headgear, according to Chris Womack, deputy chief of operations for the Douglasville Police Department.  This law as applied is racist and sexist. I find it ironic that we are not hearing complaints about men wearing yarmulkes or turbans.  Surely they count as head coverings in the same way that a hijab would.  This is not about safety, this is about expressing power over women and using their religious observance to manifest xenophobia.

If this law were to be followed, no practicing Muslim woman would be allowed to enter any courtroom; thus making this laws application discriminatory.  But this comes as no surprise as it was the intent from the beginning to be discriminatory.

Western men have continually expressed a desire to decloak women that wear the hijab.  Their desire is to possess them, foul them, and disturb them from their path.  They reach with hands outstretched not in friendship, but as colonial conquerors from a bygone age.  They have mystified the hijab and refuse to honour it as a religious symbol; instead they view it as a barrier that keeps a distance from that which they feel they have the right to - woman.

Let's be clear in what occurred.  A judge penalized two women for failing to disrobe at his pleasure.  Would he have felt compelled to demand the same sort of subservience from men; the same form of nakedness before the world?  Would he have felt similarly compelled if another religion were involved?  The current rate of Islamophobia in the US, causes me to believe he would not have been this strict with another culture, or another religion.

The attacks that Obama withstood in his campaign even after declaring himself a  Christian because people linked him with Islam reveal only a small sample of the ignorance many feel a right to display.  Just this fall someone threw a bomb into a mosque where children were gathered.  Women in hijabs have been banned from sporting competitions, accused of indoctrinating children in an educational setting, and they have been denied jobs.

Muslims are always constructed as being from somewhere else.   Without ever having read the Qu' uran many Americans declare it a violent religion, ignoring the crimes committed by different faiths across the world. Proudly they declare the US a Christian country; forgetting the many times American leaders invoked God as they committed crimes. 

Even as Sabreen Abdul Rahman spoke of the violation of her rights what she failed to see, is that no matter what the law says it will always conform itself to those in power.  The current climate in the US is islamophobic; and therefore as an expression of power she was jailed.  It is the very visibility of the hijab that  made her a target.  The fact that she dared speak for herself and demand respect further exacerbated the situation.  Patriarchy wants conformity from all women, but demands it from some. 

What occurred was the perfect intersection of race and gender.  From his position of privilege it is doubtful that judge Keith Rollins recognized how oppressive his ruling was, or the impetus behind it.  This was no simple or arbitrary decision, it was an action in maintenance of the current power structure.

H/T Feministing for video


We Made It

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Shame: Christmas Ends With Alcohol

image Well the big day is fast approaching.  My tree is up, along with the lights on the outside of the house.  I still have three gifts to buy, 1 trip to the liquor store for "essentials", 3 dozen cookies to bake, 1 mac and cheese casserole to bake, 1 turkey to cook and stuff , 1 sweet potato pie to make, pounds of potatoes to mash, turnip to cook, gravy to prepare, 1 massive Christmas breakfast for four with all the trimmings, and one gingerbread house to decorate.  Somewhere in between all of this I still have to clean the house and make it look shall we say a little less lived in. 

image I am lucky in that the unhusband will help with a lot of this, even while he is getting on my very last nerve.  The next couple of days will pass in a whirlwind, as I come to terms with the fact that once again I cannot avoid seeing my in laws this year.  I will put a smile on my face, pretend to be happy while mentally wishing I had mailed myself to Hawaii for the duration.  This is our traditional Christmas Eve torture and for me it ends with alcohol. 

The key here is to strike a delicate balance.  You don't want to drink too much, because the next the day you still have a ton of work to do to "officially celebrate" the holiday. (see above list) but at the same time you don't want to be so sober that you think about cracking some members of the outlaw family in the head.  While some call it the Christmas spirit, for me alcohol is a necessary ingredient in surviving the yearly visit. 

The next day will be filled with work for me.  I want my children to have wonderful memories of Christmas.  While they play with their new toys and we watch Christmas movies a lot of my time will be spent in the kitchen making sure that our supper is perfect.  By the time the turkey hits the table I will be so tired, I will not enjoy a lot of it.  I will happily open a bottle of white wine and begrudgingly pore the unhusband a glass, thinking that I deserve the wine more than he does, but I'll share anyway. 

image When the dishes are done and the kids have finally gone to bed, I will proceed to get completely shit faced wondering how I survived yet another year of insanity.  So yes Christmas ends with alcohol, but when I think of the work that goes into making it a perfect day for those that I love the most can you really blame me?   I am sure I am not the only  mother who by 9 pm is completely shit faced with relief, so fess the hell up.   How many of you depend on "Christmas cheer " to get through Christmas?


Boo Yaa It's Period Time

image

It's the first day of my period.  This morning I awoke to find my monthly visitor had arrived.   I suspected that it was coming soon because the last couple of days my lower back has been aching.  That is always a warning trigger that my body is going through the process of getting ready to menstruate.

On my first day I don't like to wear a tampon.  I prefer to bleed freely as the flow is really low and quite honestly I have never like the feeling of a tampon shoved up inside me.  This morning Destruction my 8 year old announced "mommy you smell like blood." I responded, "its because I have my period honey."  It's funny up until now all of our discussions about bodies always revolved around masculinity. He knows that I have a vagina and not a penis, but up until today he was relatively unaware that it meant that there was a vast difference between us.

I don't think that I approached the conversation any differently than I would have, had he been a girl.  To me it was important to impart that this was a natural part of my biological process and that it was a beautiful expression of my womanhood.   With my boys I really want to disrupt the idea that we are dirty and foul when we menstruate.  I want them to embrace women with the understanding that though we are different, we are equal and valuable. 

He was surprised to learn that this has been happening to me for years and wanted to know why I kept it a secret.  I don't know that I kept it a secret, I just never had extended conversations about it at home because other than myself my household is male.  I realize now that by not talking about it and assuming their disinterest, I might have somehow fostered the idea that this was a shameful secret, or that it was something to fear.  As of today I intend to discuss my period more openly in the hope of conveying not only its naturalness, but my comfort with it.  If I want them to love all the intricacies that create "woman" I must be their guide.

Today I would like you to share how you learned about menstruation and if it effected how you would come to understand it.  I think how we learn about our bodies ultimately effects our understanding of womanhood.  If we are to dismantle the many negatives attached to our moon time, I believe that not only must we embrace it, we need to share our stories with everyone.  How can we tell men to honour this time in our lives if we do not honour it ourselves?


I Cried As If I Were His Daughter

This video comes with an extreme trigger warning as it discuss rape in vivid terms.

I simply have no words but I knew that this must be shared.

I Cried As If I Were His Daughter  (transcript)

He held my fingers to my mouth and said hush little girl because right now only me and you exist in this world. He took off his pants and began unzipping mine. I cried while thinking this isn’t the way I envisioned my first time but when I saw the blood pore from my legs, I thought if it wasn’t me the tears another girl would shed. I looked him in his eyes and realized that he was old enough to be someone's father, so I cried as if I was his daughter, as I felt my insides being slaughtered. I cried like she cried at night, locking her door praying for the illuminating existence of sunlight because when night came he came, pain came. Hoping that a bath could wash away the shame, hoping that a bath could wash away the sores that her vagina bore when her hymen was torn. Her bath washed away the semen but it didn’t wash away the memories of when he forced her to get on her knees and suck his – so I cried as if I was his daughter because of that rage and that possible AIDS between my legs, it could never add up to her pain, her distortion and her three different abortions and that one suicide not that she wrote saying mom, “I gotta go, don’t find out why I did this I love you. Even though I felt all alone just find a way to continue to be strong.” As he rammed his fingers in me I thought of reaching in my heart and pulling out my soul, now my ninety-eight point six degree body turned cold. I cried as if I was his daughter, lying there trying to hide her privates. This gave her reason to believe that God didn’t exist. Her mother knew that she heard sounds in the other room but she forced herself to believe that they were only cartoons as he licked my body up and down. I hope that he would ejaculate enough that in his own semen he would drown. He carved his name in my uterus so that my first born child could on be as cursed as ..inaudible.. thinking that this only happened in movies, she was the main character in the (inaudible) when she cried and he opened her credits. Too scared of the night, that is why she wished for ongoing sunlight. When he got off me I swear, I stabbed myself like his daughter cried because another pain wouldn’t feel good right now. I stabbed myself like his daughter cried because I could no longer look in the mirror. I stabbed myself like his daughter cried for him making me want to be gay. I stabbed myself like his daughter cried over the 160 babies that would be raped the next day. I cried as if I was he daughter because of that rage, that possible AIDS between my legs it could never add up to her pain, her distortion her three different abortions . That one suicide note that she wrote saying, Mom I gotta go. Don’t find out why I did this, I love you. Even though I know all along, but honestly nothing more tragic could help me write a better poem . I looked him in his eyes and realized that he was old enough to be someone’s father, but I looked him in his eyes and realized that he was old enough to be someone’s father, so Mom I died because I was his daughter.