Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hey everyone.  It has been another great week of conversations here at Womanist Musings.  Thanks so much for engaging everyone.  Please continue to send in your guest posts.  I can only see issues from my frame of reference and the different positions that guest posts provide allow for a much wider conversation.  Feel free to e-mail in your posts or cross posts.

Tomorrow the WOC and ally carnival will be up at Tell It WOC speak.  Please make sure to check it out and thanks so much to all of you who spread the word.  It is my hope that this will be the first among many successful carnivals to come.

As usual I have a number of interesting links for you to check out.  When you are done going through the list, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot in the comment section and leave your links behind.

Castro’s Daughter Helps Cuba's  Transgender Community Come Out Of The Shadows

Thoughts On Feminism, Class and Context

Pretty in Pink

Freedom To… Starve

Was Lincoln A Racist?

I’m a feminist but,

Rambunctious Blood

Are We Ready to Rise Above the “Welfare Queen” Label?

A History Of Menstrual Activism

Feminism, Sex, BDSM & Other Sore Subjects

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Bitch, Cunt and Other Niceties

I riled up the rad fems by referring to one as a bitch.  There are basically two different ways to look at words like bitch and cunt.  One is to decide that they are sexist terms no matter who utters them and try to socially discipline them out of common usage.  The other is an attempt to reclaim the word and bestow power to those that these words have been used to hurt.

The decision that you make in this regard is a very personal one.  To me for something to be sexist there must be an element of power involved.  If two women are in conversation, it is my belief that power differential no longer exists therefore removing the sexist element to the word bitch. 

I have used the word cunt on occasion.  Most times it has been a direct reference to my genitalia, but I will be honest and say that I have been angered enough to refer to another woman as a cunt mentally.   Cunt is still a word that I am on the fence on.  I find it highly offensive regardless who says it, but at the same time I feel it is important for women to attempt to reclaim power in whatever ways that they can.

Cunt to me is very similar to the word nigger.  I don’t use nigger in a conversational manner at anytime and I simply detest it; however I do understand why certain blacks are attempting to reclaim it.  It is a word that is filled with so much pain that anything that can be done to reduce its sting should be done.  I don’t necessarily agree that reclamation is the way to go simply because the minute a white person says this word the pain begins anew.

In the end it is up to each person in the minority group to decide how to negotiate these words in a way that makes them feel comfortable.  Some of us will make compromises from time to time and others will stand steadfast to the belief that these words need to be eradicated.

Being the complicated person that I am, I have chosen to still use the word bitch, think the word cunt from time to time and never say the word nigger.   I made the decision as to which words to use and what to avoid based on my level of personal comfort.  For some, all of the aforementioned words are detestable, for others any and all of the words are acceptable.

My choices are my choices.  As feminists we are continually trying to validate the agency of women, and I therefore find it ironic that the language police are more than ready to jump on many forms of expression. 

Time and time again when I say the word fuck I get hit with oooh noez you said teh bad words.  Yes, I swear and I do so because I find it to be a part of functional language.  If I say to someone fuck you, there can be no misunderstanding of my intent.  I could probably beat around the bush and throw in a few niceties however, life is short and fuck you gets my message across quite nicely thank you. 

What I have noticed is that the language I choose to use is highly disciplined by those that chose to engage with me on this blog.  Feministing, Shakesville and Feministe regularly use profanity to get their point across and yet my language is intolerable.  What these new age language police do not realize is the racism implied in their responses to me.  Whether people like to admit it or not, many whites still expect blacks to defer to them.  I have never been, or ever will be, the mammy type.  I do not subscribe to the idea that whiteness is entitled to anymore respect than any other group of people on the planet. 

If you step to me with shit, then it is on.  I don’t see how it is possible that someone's racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic language is somehow more acceptable than the word fuck. When I say fuck you, I am not demeaning an individual; whereas, when someone resorts to isms to promote unearned privilege they are being reductive.  With the many various ways in which we have of demeaning another how disgusting is the word fuck really?

I am sure the language police will be right along to to dissect this post and humbly put me in my place.  We certainly cannot allow the balance of power to be disturbed by permitting a WOC to express herself as she sees fit. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Radical Feminism

I received an e-mail from Margaret Jamison regarding my response to having my post improperly placed in their transphobic carnival.
I left a comment on your blog, but it didn't take for some reason (appeared then disappeared).  I just wanted to say how terrible I think it is that you write stuff like this:
“I don't think that these women are lunatics, they are simply hateful bitches.”
In your zeal to dissociate from radical feminists and our views, I really don't think it's necessary to resort to using misogynist language against us.  If I can write about transsexuality without calling transsexuals names, surely you can distance yourself from radical feminism without calling radical feminists "hateful bitches"?  We have a difference of opinion.  That doesn't make me a bitch.  But your calling me a bitch - and every other radical feminist too - does say something about *your* character, I'm afraid.  And just because your transsexual friends won't call you out on it (never have seen any of them denounce actual misogyny - just "transphobia" anyway) doesn't mean it's not problematic.  Of course, the fact that your transsexual friends *won't* call you out on it says something about *them* too, but I don't expect anyone other than a radical feminist to understand that.
MJ
I notice that she didn’t bother to deny that she and her crew are hateful.   I also noticed that she decided to use the term transexual with the full knowledge that, that term coming from a cisgendered woman is inappropriate.  Of course in her warped logic she is distancing herself without name calling.  She was so busy disciplining me (yeah, I’m a bad, bad girl), that she could not bother to hide her contempt for people who are transgender; which is why I objected to their hateful little carnival in the first place.
Women of her ilk cannot seem to stand that those of us that actually believe in equality find their behaviour detestable.  I could give a rats ass if you call me a patricist, or a sexist.  I will sleep just fine with the full knowledge that I am not welcome in their little coven of inequality.
We don’t have a “difference of opinion”….I don’t believe in using polite terminology to describe what separates us.  Of course only a radical feminist could understand her pain and her suffering…hooo fucking hoo.  Yes I called you a bitch, and I stand by it.  Bitch, fucking bitch, and you know what for full measure bitch again.  Was I clear enough? BITCH.  You can dedicate as many blog posts as you would like to denigrating me, but that will not change my opinion, or force an apology.  For bitch to be sexist, it would have to be uttered in a conversation in which there is a power differential.  Sexism equals privilege plus power, but you would know that if you were really about challenging the patriarchy.

I find it ironic that the same bitches (mmm want to make sure that I get my point across) can refer to trans women as men in dresses, transexuals, continually use the wrong pronoun, have organized to reduce their access access to medical treatment, banned them from Michfest, and generally just deny their humanity, would have the nerve to give me a lecture about using the word bitch.  Of course these radical feminists bitches are filled with a sense of entitlement.  The only form of oppression that counts is theirs.
That's it. We won't call male people female. We aren't hurting them or slandering them in any way (after all, 'male' is not an insult - just a fact, like 'short' or 'hazel-eyed'); we're just not calling them female.
Will these bitches ever get a clue?  It is not for the the person in the position of privilege to decide what is and isn’t hurtful.  If a trans person tells me that being called by the wrong pronoun is hurtful, I believe them.  Who am I to stand in judgement of another persons feelings, especially when I am not in the body of the one being attacked?  Radical feminists cannot see that.  They run around expecting every one to tow their line and refuse to bestow upon others basic  human decency.
Did anyone else notice her complete erasure of trans men from her dense little tirade?  Of course Rad fems find them acceptable because they refuse to acknowledge their masculinity.  Trans men are allowed to perform at Mich fest, a supposedly woman identified space…anyone see the contradiction there?  These women that are so into fighting the patriarchy are allowing men into their hallowed space while denying entry to fellow women. 
I cannot even begin to wrap my head around their ridiculous reasoning.  Rad fems are bitches not only because they denigrate trans gender women, but because they feel that they have the right to speak on behalf of a movement that does not solely belong to them.  Your understanding of justice and equality is simply about creating a new hierarchy of beings in which you are at the top rung of the ladder.  What the fuck is so damn radical about recreating systems which we already know to be dangerous? 
Radical is believing that beings are equal and deciding that unequivocally all people matter?  Radical is fighting for all of those who are oppressed by our warped system of values. 
Since I am running out of congeniality, I will end simply by saying, you can have an apology when you make the radical decision to stop being hateful bitches.

Backstabbing Feminism

I was contacted by a feminist organization because they are in the midst of a protest against the sexist ads on display by Virgin Radio.  After examining the ads myself and determining them to be sexist I wrote a post and encouraged people to sign the online petition.  I felt great about being able to do this, after all part of feminism is standing up to sexist attacks that all women face. 

My positive feelings were short lived when I read the following comment by the woman who had reached out to me raise awareness:

Let me just say, if these ads were racist they would (a) not be accepted, and (b) would never be posted. Notice the lack of women of colour in the ads. Clearly Virgin considered that adding women of colour would cross a racist line. Either that or they don't consider people of colour to make up their desired audience. For some reason in our society racism is not tolerated but sexism is. Why?

Yep, time and time again this happens in feminist circles.  White women reach out to women of colour for help based in the idea that we are all women and suffer from sexism only to invoke their racial privilege in the very next breathe.  I feel absolutely insulted and used. 

Gee why is it again that WOC routinely refuse to own the feminist label despite the fact that sexism is clearly an issue in our life?  Remind me again of how inclusive feminism is?  Tell me one more time that feminism is dedicated to ending racism?

I am absolutely sick of this shit.  There isn’t a single woman of colour that actually engages in feminist circles that will not tell you about the racism and exclusion that we have faced. 

I even have to tolerate these so-called allies invading my space telling me that I don’t have the right to get upset.   They loudly declare that something isn’t racist because of course they as the “rational” thinkers, would be in the best position to know.  I only face the world daily as a WOC; how could I possibly be trusted to decide if something is or is not racist?   I find it ironic that those that have not faced racism, seem to think that they are the best judge as whether or not something is racist or not

Dear white women, seriously get a clue.  More often than not your fight against sexism is about assuring that you have the same right to oppress as white males.  The whole “we’re all sisters” line is just a convenient ploy that is used to enlist the help of WOC.  Enough! Until feminism can clean up its act, it will continue to alienate women of colour. 


Baby Wipes Terrence Howard thinks Chris Brown Is A Great Guy

image Seriously baby wipes needs to just hire someone to tell him when to shut the fuck up.  How many times can one man put his foot in his mouth?  Jamie Fox has already put him in  his place but apparently that was not enough for this tired ass man to learn.

When asked about the Rhinanna and Chris Brown domestic violence incident his response was the following:

"It's just life, man. Chris is a great guy, man. He'll be all right. And Rihanna knows he loves her, you know? They'll be alright. 'Cause everybody gotta get out of the way."

It seems that dumbass has since retracted his statements, claiming he didn’t know that this was a domestic violence issue.  Man your eyes should have been brown instead of green, cause you are full of shit and then some.

Unfortunately baby wipes isn’t the only person to either come out in favour of Chris Brown or issue some kind of apologist statement in reference to this incident. 

I really had no intention of blogging about Chris and Rihanna.  I leave celebrity blogging to others like Bossip.  After roaming around the internet and reading the various responses to this situation, I have come to the realization that this isn’t the typical celebrity spat, this is a case of domestic violence.  

Domestic violence happens across the globe and the only reason people are paying attention this time is because it involves celebrities rather than a concern for the women who lives are brutalized by violent men.  Repeatedly I have seen the question, “when is it okay to beat a bitch?”   The apologism in this case has been astounding. One post in particular really caught my attention and it was written by the raving black lunatic.

What I meant was, given the various rumors flying around, was this incident a sign that Brown thinks putting his hands on women is normal, or was this a momentary lapse of control sparked by extraordinary circumstances. See, if Chris Brown was the second coming of Ike Turner, well I had no sympathy for his high-yellow ass. But, if he was somehow put under incredible stress before cracking, then I might understand things a little more.

I think that the above statement best encapsulates the arguments that have been circling around the blogosphere since the news hit the airwaves about the alleged assault. 

When it comes to celebrities because we see them on the news, watch their movies ,and hear their songs on the radio, many feel that they have a relationship with these people that in fact does not exist.   You don’t know Chris anymore than you know the mayor in a town three thousand miles away.  It is a false sense of familiarity.  You don’t know that he “isn’t like that” because you danced to his song at some club you frequent.

The idea that if he did it he was forced to by Rihanna is simply apologism.  Even if Rihanna put on her best boxing gloves and went at him, his responsibility was to extricate himself from the situation, not trade punches.  If you believe that it is wrong for a man to hit a woman, then it is wrong in all situations.  A woman cannot provocative this kind abuse.

I am particularly disgusted with the black women that are looking for a reason to excuse Browns behaviour.  Hello McFly, if you believe that it is okay for a man to hit a woman under “certain circumstances”, you cannot come crying when your man gets a little heavy handed with you.  Stop being a colluder and supporting the black male patriarchy.  I don’t care how cute he is, or how damn heavy is wallet is, and abuser is an abuser. 

Didn’t we learn anything from watching that rapist R Kelly walk out court?  How many times are we going to watch our black sisters get abused and support the abuser?  Where is your self esteem? Yes, the world will tell you that a black woman ain’t shit, but that does not mean you have to internalize it.

Rihanna is a beautiful, talented black woman and if we cannot support her, who can we support?  How long are we going to let these Neo Ike Turners beat on us? I will tell you straight out, the man that lays a hand on me better kill me cause any how I get up ….. enough said.  When is it okay to beat a bitch my ass.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When the Fauxgressive is on Your Side

I have a new post up at Global Comment

I am black and I am a woman; this means that I face two areas of stigmatization. My body is controversial because for some it exists solely as a thing that can be exploited for personal gain. Whatever feelings I may have in regard to the exploitation are irrelevant in a society that daily reinforces a hierarchy of beings. I am complicated because I refuse to submit to those that believe that my life should be spent increasing their creature comforts.

When you have more than one area of stigmatization, it is easy to become an invisible other. To speak out, one risks being cruelly disciplined in some way. So dearly do we hold the right to oppress that for those us that are marginalized, we risk death simply by daring to breathe the same air on a planet we all share. It’s ironic isn’t it, that intangibles like diamonds, and gold, are understood as valuable but yet another human being can be deemed disposable amongst a species that is clearly interdependent.

Meanwhile, today it is the cool or the “in thing” to be progressive. All you need to do is slap the appropriate coloured bracelet on your wrist, learn some quotes that you don’t understand, and look appropriately pissed off at the correct times. If you want extra brownie points, you wrap up your message in esoteric language while declaring that it was not your intent to obfuscate. The elitist with a thesaurus is pompous, bumptious, and just generally annoying.

It would be a much more pleasing world if we could all afford to ignore such obnoxious behaviour. Every time I see a fauxgressive moaning about the unbearable lightness of being, while inside secretly saying gee I’m glad I’m me, wearing their best American Apparel, I just want to hit the mute button and bang my head against the nearest desk over and over again.

Finish Reading here

Prince Harry Knows What Real Blacks Sound Like

image I admit it I follow the ridiculous drama that is England's royal family.  It stared when I woke up early as a kid to watch lady Di get married and my curiosity only intensified when I developed an interest in history.  It seems Prince bigot Harry has decided to become this generations disaster.

Clearly the over privileged fob, has an inflated sense of self, which is no doubt encouraged by the idea that someone is somehow distinctly superior to others based in familial ties.  Ooooh Harry, your shit stinks to.

At the age of 24 it is no longer possible to ignore his commentary as that of a youth unfamiliar with the ways of the world.  He may have had a sheltered childhood however, as man Prince bigot Harry, has had ample opportunity to travel the world and see first hand the ways in which the isms interact to create many as “other” to support a hierarchy of beings. 

Shortly before Holocaust memorial day in 2005, Prince bigot Harry decided it would be fun to dress up in an Nazi uniform. Yeah! Why not poke fun at the 6 million that died in the gas chambers, and the millions that died fighting the evil of the Nazi’s.  One would think that after such a public display of Anti-Semitism, someone would have sat the little bigot Prince down and explained to him, that everything the Nazi’s stood for was wrong.  I supposed being a member of the royal family made it difficult to understand why the concept of racial purity is ill conceived to say the least.

Well he did apologize for the little “stunt”. Lesson learned we thought,  that is until Paki and raghead left the lips of his royal bigot highness.  Why oh why would anyone get offended with that sweet little term of endearment?  He is after all only asserting his royal and white privilege by using racial epithets.

image Finally when I thought I could not possibly feel any more contempt for prince bigot Harry,  it was revealed in the Telegraph that he congratulated Stephen K Amos on his performance by saying, "You don't sound like a black chap."  Well apparently all of us black folk sound the same.

Only an ignorant little bigot like Harry could conceivably think that this is a complement.  He has clearly associated blackness with uneducated, and ignorant.  In this one sentence he revealed exactly how backward he truly believes us (read: blacks) to be.  I find this completely ironic coming from a man whose only claim to fame is being the result of a lucky cum shot and a supposedly royal egg.

We have a tendency to believe that those that live a life of privilege are somehow entitled to it; they have either worked harder, are more beautiful, intelligent, or just plain special.  In Prince bigot Harry we can see that certain ideas have clearly been fostered from birth to naturalize the idea that he and his family are somehow  entitled to look down upon others.  Due to the fact that there is indeed nothing special about the royal family, Prince bigot Harry must fall back upon social constructions to prop up his both unearned and undeserved privilege.

Prince bigot Harry will probably apologise for this latest gaff (read: racist incident), the public will temporarily be enraged and all will soon be both forgiven and forgotten.  The sting will remain amongst the communities of colour that he saw fit to reduce to reinforce his social power.  Enough with the mock rage and false surprise.  When you a raise a child to believe he is better based in race, class, and gender, this is the end result.  Forcing a false apology out of him and patting him on the head does not chastise him in anyway for his behaviour. 

Prince bigot Harry needs to be forcibly reminded that his position is nothing more than an accident of birth.  Continually fawning on his every word and action only reifies in the mind of this under achiever that he is entitled to behave without consequence.  He exists as a shining example of just how skewed our sense of worth and value really is.


Behold The God Of Rock: Virgin and Sexism

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This pleasing little ad is the work of Virgin Radio.  The caption reads, "Lock up you daughters the gods of rock are now in Ottawa"

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These ads are apparently plastered all over Ottawa. 

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It seems that the Advertising Standards of Canada, and the city of Ottawa fail to see why these ads are offensive.  

Hmmm could it be the whole idea that women need to be locked up, otherwise they’ll engage in teh sex?  Of course this is combined with the whole look how miserable you are now you pregnant slut.  If you had kept your legs closed, you wouldn’t be bringing a bastard into the world.  There is also the idea that these co-called Gods of rock are so irresistible that women simply could not possibly say no.   As natures dick holders it certainly isn’t possible that some women are lesbians and have no use, or desire for the great phallus. 

There is nothing redeemable about these ads.  They deny female agency, promote phallus worship, erase lesbians and slut shame all at the same time.  If you think about it, that is a pretty mean feet for one poster ad.   To all you naysayers who believe we have moved into a post feminist world, think again.  The fact that Virgin Radio could wilfully display these ads in the nations capitol and expect them to drum up good business, shows exactly how normalized treating women as second class citizens has become.

If perchance that you agree that these ads need to go, don’t shake your fist angrily at your monitor sign this online petition instead.  Women are not the powerless little dupes that patriarchy believes us to be.  It is time we stand strong with a unified voice.  No more tolerating this kind of demeaning garbage. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not All Princesses Need A Prince

This is a guest post by Holly

Holly is a writer, obsessive blogger and activist who lives in Pennsylvania and has a somewhat freakish connection with her cat.  She writes Menstrual Poetry, a blog that focuses on feminism, (mostly US) politics, and questioning authority.  She strongly believes that knowledge is power and religiously reads books of all kinds.

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Parents read to their children all the time; in fact, some expectant mothers read to their children while they are still in utero and one of the most popular things that parents read to their children are fairy tales.

One thing you will be slapped in the face with repeatedly while reading any fairy tale is that all fairy princesses find their prince and then live happily ever after.  Of course most fairy tales were written so long ago that sure, finding a man and living your life together was the standard; but what you can absorb through watching just one episode of Sex and the City is that finding a man and living "happily ever after" is no longer the standard.  Now, women can be without a man and still go on to pursue their careers, own their own home and most of all, be happy with who they are without needing the validation of having a man--And now there's a fairy tale for the modern day life.

Princess Bubble is the fairy tale story of a princess who sees her friends find their princes, get married and live happily ever after all the while being told that she too must go out and find her prince charming.  After searching high and low for the man of her dreams, she finds that she is happy just how she is--She has a career as a flight attendant, she has her very own castle (that is decorated just the way she likes it and she didn't have to give up an entire room in that castle for her prince to make into a den or a rec room, by the way,) and best of all, she is happy with herself and her life without needing to find a prince.

This story is a must-read for both children and for adult women, in my opinion.  It is a cute story and it validates women for the wonderful people that they are--And not because they attracted the attention of the right man.  What I also liked about this story is that it did not mention that in order for Princess Bubble to be happy living her life without a man, she had to go out and get a lot of cats.  The crazy cat lady stereotype may now be put to rest!


White Women Black Men, Rape and Historical Complexities

image This weekend I learned about the case of Timothy Cole.   He was recently exonerated post humously for the 1985 rape of Texas Tech sophomore Michele Mallin.  Reading over the facts of the case, what is quite evident is that neither the police or the District Attorneys office were interested in justice. 

He was identified as the suspect in this brutal rape even though he was asthmatic and the rapist was a chain smoker.  He also had a very solid alibi but the testimony of the victim was given more weight than those that saw Cole studying in his room on the night of the event.

In all fairness Mallin could not have made her identification had he not been pointed out by the detectives investigating the case however, for the black community this will stand as one more time when one of our sons has been made to pay with their lives to redeem a white woman.  In 1985, Cole had his whole life in front of him and it was cut brutally short by an incorrect victim I.D.

The Cole family has been remarkably forgiving and has embraced Mallin.  There are those that believe that this should simply be a natural outcome of this case however, what they fail to consider, is the relationship between white women, black men, violence and death.  In this incident there does not appear to have been any malicious intent on the part of Malin however, the black community has had to witness the brutal murder of their sons time and time again to the false claims of white women.

There are very few blacks that are not  still  disturbed by what happened to Emmett Till.  To this day, images of this young boy who died for allegedlyimage whistling at a white woman continue to haunt us and serve as a reminder of the threat that we face.  While it would be nice to simply brush this off as just another case of police misconduct, to the black community it is yet one more reminder of why we must teach our children how to interact with whiteness.  Learning to not be noticed, speak in a measured tone, and avoid suspicion can be the tools that will ultimately save your life.

There have been many incidents in which white women have falsely accused black men to cover for sexual behaviour that they willingly participated in,  with the full knowledge that they would be believed regardless of what evidence pointed to the contrary.  This is no way implies that all rape victims are lying however, when seeking to understand rape and rape allegations that involve a white woman and a black man race and racism can never be removed from the equation.  We do not live outside of history, we are the continual product of it.

It might be easy for some to simply point to statistics about cross race ID, however what the black community sees is the race of the two people involved.  While Malin is certainly not solely responsible for the wrongful conviction of Cole, her very whiteness serves as a reminder of the ways in which the criminal justice system unfairly treats bodies of colour.  Let us not forget that despite having a good alibi Cole was still convicted.  Without malicious intent her white privilege helped to create the criminality of a young black man. 

White privilege is insidious in the ways in which it behaves to maintain its hegemony.  If you are not actively working to combat your privilege, while benefitting at every single turn, you are guilty of racism.  Malin need not have been malicious to have been guilty.  Simply trusting the justice system and ignoring the ways in which blacks have been especially targeted is an act of privilege that Malin could afford to make. While she claims to have been interested in ensuring that the right man was sentenced for raping her, she was not concerned enough to ascertain the facts of her own case.  Even though she is also a victim, at what point do we decide that she also had a responsibility to make sure justice was appropriately meted out? When whites and blacks interact with the criminal justice system whiteness should be particularly aware that justice is never blind and certainly not impartial.

H/T T Love via e-mail.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PETA Dresses Up As KKK

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Does this outfit remind you of anything?  PETA will stop at nothing to push its agenda no matter who it marginalizes, no matter who it hurts.

The associated press reports,

“Crowds gawked at a table set up outside Madison Square Garden on Monday afternoon, where People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was protesting the start of the Westminster Kennel Club show. PETA contends that the American Kennel Club promotes pure-breeding of dogs that is harmful to their health.
“Welcome AKC Members,” read a banner hanging from the table — with AKC crossed out and KKK written above it. Two PETA protesters dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, while other volunteers handed out brochures that read: “The KKK and the AKC: BFF?”
“Obviously it’s an uncomfortable comparison,” PETA spokesman Michael McGraw said.
But the AKC is trying to create a “master race,” he added. “It’s a very apt comparison.”

The amount of insensitivity it takes to dress up like the KKK and attempt to draw a link between the breeding of animals to the terror that blacks have lived with for generations can only be described as the audacity of whiteness.  It mattered not to these ignorant over privileged fools, that seeing people dressed like this in a public place could be terribly triggering to POC. 

This is not going to be the kind of post were I try to  make a larger connection to social injustices faced by people of colour.  The mock KKK uniform that they are wearing stands for itself.   Human Beings are also animals and continually performing wilder and wilder stunts in which the most vulnerable members of society are targeted could hardly be called ethical.

The KKK is a terrorist organization.  It has murdered, stalked, raped, abused and committed so many violations against humanity that I could not possibly list them.  This is what PETA wants to be associated with.  In some ways they are not far off the mark because they are an organization that is built on nothing other than hatred.  Their actions reveal a hatred of POC, women, and transgender people. 

PETA has been called out time and time again on their behaviour but they are so blinded by their various privileges that they cannot or will not see the damage that their actions cause. 

I can barely think rationally because I am so fucking incensed.  Seriously FUCK YOU PETA.  Never will I contribute a single dollar to your cause.  I believe in preventing cruelty against animals but not at the cost of dehumanizing the weakest members of society.  Each one of these little campaigns that PETA runs does more harm to their cause than good. When people think of animal rights they think of PETA and immediately get turned off.  Who wants to associate themselves with a movement that continually creates the vulnerable as “other.” What this campaign tells me, is that to PETA I am less than a dog.

I simply have no words. Time and time again we are told that we have moved into a post racial society.  We are supposedly equal and if only blacks could let go of the past and forgive all, things would be better.  How the fuck can I even consider forgetting what was done to my ancestors, when day after day I have to be reminded that at any moment whiteness can decide that I am not worthy of any respect? 

H/T Stuff white people do


Is That My Foot? No, It's My Penis

This is a guest post by AnneMarie

AnnMarie Kneebone aka Rev Johnny identifies as a GenderQueer lesbian, is passionate about ending oppression of all kinds (racism, classism, heterosexism, ablesism, etc.), about building a just and peace filled world, and about doing those things in ways that are not oppressive and violent. AnnMarie posts at http://annmariekneebone.blogspot.com/. Rev Johnny posts at http://revjohnny.livejournal.com/.

I have a vagina. I'm still not sure how I ended up with it instead of a penis. As a female-bodied genderqueer who chooses a more masculine presentation, I need to remember to love my vagina even though she confuses me.

While my body is not shaped the way that makes sense to me, I have decided that I need to care for myself lovingly. Not only my vagina/cunt/genitalia, but also my wide hips, my breasts, and my hairless face - all these markers of being "woman" I have to care for lovingly.

For awhile I questioned why I identified as genderqueer, wondering if maybe I was being complicit with the misogyny of our culture - hating my  body because I was told by the patriarchy that it was disgusting and vile. I did a lot of thinking, praying, and talking. Come to think of it, I still do all those things. It's a tough decision. Am I trans or am I a misogynist?

So far I have decided to not take "T", reconstruct my chest, have a hysterectomy, or have any of the genital surgeries. That means I have decided to continue living as a female-bodied person. I don't hate my body. That was important to discover and it is important for me to remember. I am not happy with the shape(s) my has taken, but I do not hate myself.

Renee, thank you for the way you write about being a woman. I notice that you include all women in your writing, those born with a vagina and those not born with a vagina.

This piece of writing began as a response to your post, "You Can Talk About Your Foot, But What About Your Vagina?" In that post you mention that cisgender men "worship at the throne of the phallus" I want to add that worshiping at the throne of the phallus is not exclusive to cisgender men. I have to fight the urge to compare my masculinity to the size of my penis, either the ones I keep in my dresser or the one that is on my body - my clit. Neither of these comparisons gives my ego a boost. It is so easy to get caught up in the inertia of our culture. Sometimes I think it would be easier to reconstruct my body than it is to reconstruct my expectations and ideals.

I know some men absolutely need to reconstruct their bodies and I applaud them for their courage. But for all of us guys, cis and trans alike, sculpting the body is only part of the transformation. It is vital that we redefine our norms, our expectations, and our ideals. It is vital that we love our bodies. They are more than a "shell" which houses our essence.

Maybe if men learn to love (rather than idolize) our bodies it would be the first step to loving other bodies. If I have a penis and I see it as a tool or as the vanguard of my masculinity, then everyone's body in relationship to my body is something my tool can or cannot relate to and/or everyone's body hails or threatens my masculinity. I need to love my body and respect my physical nature as an essential part of me.

A penis and a vagina, a vagina and a vagina, a penis and a penis need to be in relationship with each other as more than body parts. Only then, I think, will society stop playing the rock/paper/scissors game with human genitalia.


Diary Of A Tired Black Man

Well black men are fed up.  After dealing with the ways which they have been negatively stigmatized, economically exploited and generally relegated to secondary status they have decided to target the oppressor – ball busting angry black women.  The rage of black men is explored in Tim Alexander’s super low-budget film,”Diary Of A Tired Black Man

According to KansasCity.com Alexander declares, “There’s an epidemic of ABWS, and it’s threatening the very soul of African-American culture.”   Seriously the man needs to give himself a shake.  With all of the issues facing the African American community, his fixation is on those evil black wimmin, who refuse to  hold their tongue.  Black men have historically equated equality with the ability to act in the same manner as the white male patriarchy.  Isn’t it convenient that the best way to uplift black people is to replicate patriarchy in all of its manifestations.  Now who would that really benefit? HMMMM excuse me if I am a little bit sceptical about the gender neutral nature of this desire.

Alexander — he says he’s been a victim of ABWS — acknowledges that many women have reason to be angry after being abused and used by their men. (He also chides women for choosing “bad” boys when there are plenty of decent guys out there.) But so many women have become so angry that they cannot appreciate even good, upstanding black men, he maintains. And angry women rarely enjoy lasting relationships.

Is it me, or does this man not seem like he has quickly become the master of double speak? ..The ministry of truth would be so proud. We have a right to be angry at the men that have abused us, BUT it is still all our fault because we chose them in the first place.  He manages a perfect combo of victim blaming and misogyny all in one sentence.  Gee, why is it all of angry women cannot get over the bruises, emotional trauma, and broken bones, and worship the men that manifest their male privilege in so-called benevolent headship?

Truly, I am sick of this shit.  If black women are angry, then we have a right to our anger; it is not as though we have been walking the earth with the most favoured person status.  Throwing a legitimate emotion like anger at us, in an attempt to discipline us into performing a passive femininity will not work.  Even if we were to morph into the most submissive women on the planet, it would still not alleviate the problems of the black male patriarchy because we do not function as the power behind the social hierarchy, elite white males do.

The major issue that Alexander fails to address is power.  Instead of seeing power as a creative force he can only envision it as coercive.  In a society that daily affirms a hierarchy of beings, the ability to express power functions as signification of worth and value.  The more one is able to oppress, the more the self becomes realized and since none are born outside of discourse, gender exploitation is often chosen by males.  What Alexander seeks is not uplift but power.  He can never claim it as such because to do so would be to admit that what he seeks means the debasement of the very women whom he claims to want a partnership with.  Privilege and power go hand in hand and it is only the intentionally obtuse who fail to make the connection.

Black women are not to blame for the problems facing black men.  We did not set up this system, we have only been assaulted by it.  What I find most irritating about this refrain is the ways in which it fails to acknowledge the work that black women have done to defend black men against lynching's, high rates of incarceration, drug abuse and racism.  We have stood shoulder to shoulder with them in defence of their rights, against a system that has seemed determined to swallow them whole because they are our fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers.  To be told once again that we need to shut up and obey is offensive.  Black men were not looking for obedience when we openly risked ourselves for their benefit. Black men were not looking for silence when we  howled in righteous indignation at their suffering.  Loving you does not entitle you to blind allegiance. 

H/T Lis via e-mail

 


Monday, February 9, 2009

Nadya Suleman and the Choice We Never Respect

I have a new post up at Global Comment

When life begins is a question that has continuously been up for debate in our social discourse. If life begins at conception, do women have the right to terminate a pregnancy even though the foetus is incapable of living outside of the womb? Pro Life and Pro Choice groups continue to argue over who has the right to decide the aforementioned question with little actual conversation about what to do with the children already living.

We recognize that children need the protection of adults to survive and yet there is much social rejection of responsiblity for the most vulnerable members of our society. Children often get caught between our understanding that we as humans are communal creatures and are therefore interdependent, and the social discourse that we have created to support our capitalist economy that privileges individualism.

Nadya Suleman and her octuplets are the living manifestation of our social conflict. On January the 26th of this year Ms. Suleman added 8 new babies to a family that already included 6 children. She is a single mother that currently resides with her parents.

Much of the media coverage regarding this event surrounds the debate as to whether or not it was medically ethical to implant eight embryos in a woman of her age, who already had six children. Though Ms. Suleman was offered the opportunity to terminate a number of the pregnancies, when it was discovered how many were viable, she refused.

No one pauses to consider that Ms. Sulemans approval of what occurred indeed legitimized the events:

She was not forced to carry these babies to term; it was an active decision on her part. If, as feminists, we can argue that women have the right to choose to have an abortion, then the right to choose motherhood should be equally validated; furthermore the right to privacy extends to Ms. Suleman’s decision as well.

Choice does not only involve abortion, it also extends to actively seeking to reproduce. While we may feel dismay at the number of children Ms.Suleman has conceived, the moment we begin to question whether she had the right to make this decision, we invalidate the argument that reproduction is a private issue and that a womans body should at all times be under her control.

Finish Reading Here


The S(h)ame Old Thing

This is a guest post by Natalie

Natalie writes under mzbitca at What A crazy Random Happenstance.  She teachers college classes within Prison and runs a Rehab home for women with drug addictions.  Her writing is based on critiquing popular culture from a feminist perspective.

As previously stated, I love the show House, but man, are they dropping the ball with their female characters lately, and I mean BIG time.  I have previously posted on how I feel about Hadley's character arc (which REALLY hasn't improved), but now even Cuddy's character is being decimated and ridiculed.

Earlier I had posted about the episode revolving around Cuddy attempting to adopt a baby.  I said it then and I still say it now: that episode was disgusting in it's privilege and the one where she finally gets a baby was not much better.  They had a great chance to touch on bullying and lack of resources for teen girls but instead Cuddy got a baby and the teenage slut girl got taught by dying without any screen time involving sympathetic music (that's how you know you matter.). However, now that Cuddy has succeeded in fulfilling her womanly duty by somehow getting her hands on a baby, everyone knows what comes next....SHAME THE WORKING MOTHER!

In "Painless" the privilege meme is still going strong.  Cuddy can't handle her job and her baby because her nanny called off!!!!!!!  However, her case worker takes two steps around her house and tells her she is fine because she has money and cares if her house is clean so is therefore “better” than the other foster moms he sees. Way to forward the stereotype that foster parents are just after the gov’t check and don’t care about the kids at all and ignore the fact that most of them don’t have nearly as much money and resources as Cuddy. Of course, this is not enough for Cuddy because she has her standards, which are higher than those "other" foster mothers. Wilson yells at Cuddy that she does not have to do it alone and that she should have help and that he doesn’t understand why “women make everything harder on themselves.”  Maybe because society views a man that uses a sitter so he can work as a hero and a woman who uses daycare as a failure but nah, it’s probably just our simple female minds. 

By the time "Big Baby" aired though, the writers were no longer content to just have Cuddy make herself feel guilty, they wanted others to judge her as well. Cuddy has decided to stay home to be with her new baby and Cameron is taking over her job for the time being.  Unfortunately, Cuddy is having trouble bonding with her baby and is beating herself up over it.  Again, this is a really good angle that could have been handled appropriately and she could have gotten great support.  Instead she has Wilson worried she's going to hurt the baby and the horrified look that Cameron gives her when she finds out.  But don't worry, it all turns out okay when she touches her baby and she stops crying.  I also loved how a mother’s frustration at bonding with an infant or dealing with a crying infant must mean she does not love the child.  I do not have children but I remember my mother’s friend once saying about her son “I love him to death but there are days when I swear I could throw him through the window and not think twice about it.”  Obviously she didn’t mean it literally but it was a way to show that just because a child is yours doesn’t mean it’s easy or that your love for them is always the emotion that wins out.  I know there were days when I was growing up that, even though my mother loved me, she wasn’t too sad when I left the house to go out with my friends.  Wanting relief and experiencing frustration are normal things and to pretend otherwise is ridiculous.

Of course, since apparently the writers have lost any ability to write a well-balanced and nuanced character arc, now Cuddy is almost physically incapacitated at work because she loves her baby SOOOOOO MUCH (remember ladies, you don't really love your baby unless you stay at home).   She acts like an idiot; blames House because she created a monster only she can handle, and watches her baby on the computer instead of doing her job.

I just don't understand what is so hard or confusing about presenting a single mother (who has way more resources than most) who still works full time and has a child and manages to feel fulfilled.  I am okay with the occasional guilt story line as raising a child alone is hard but that doesn't mean it's impossible or only a "bad" mother will do it.  Last season, when the Mormon guy (sorry don't remember names) was discovered to be a single dad it never seemed to be a big deal except for the one time he had to leave work early.  He didn't feel guilty for trying to make money to support his child. He was a good dad doing his best to survive.  However, Cuddy is a single woman, who adopted a child, without a man in her life at all (unless you count House), which is the trifecta for the game called "shame a woman for what we would praise a man for doing"


Cotton Picking Day

When I wrote in an earlier post on why I take issue with black history month, I believe that I ruffled a few feathers.  I know that this is a sensitive subject matter however, I must reiterate my original point; rather than making black history important, black history month is reductive and it turns  all Africans of the Diaspora into “others”..

As a black woman, I take black history very seriously and as a mother of two half black children the passing on of our achievements as a way to inspire the young means a great deal to me.  As I stated earlier, though this month is meant to uplift blacks, in the end we often are often mocked, while in the process our struggles are delegitimized.

I was not at all surprised to come across an article in the clarionledger detailing a less than positive celebration of Black History Month.  The students of Lillie Burney Elementary were invited to dress as slaves in celebration of …you guessed Black History month.  To add insult to injury, the day was officially named cotton picking day.  Great way to teach children about the horrors of slavery – dressing up as slaves. 

This event is so special that kids get charged a small fee to be able to mock the millions who lived through the humiliation and human degradation that was slavery.  Don’t get too upset though, you can all rest a little easier knowing that the money that is raised goes towards charities or school fundraisers.  I wonder if instead of the national anthem, that day the students will be taught to sing Pick a Bale of Cotton.

Gonna jump down
Spin around
Pick a bale of cotton
Gonna jump down
Spin around
Pick a bale a day
Gonna jump down
Spin around
Pick a bale of cotton
Gonna jump down
Spin around
Pick a bale a day
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale of cotton
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale a day
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale of cotton
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale a day
I said
Me and my buddy gonna pick a bale of cotton
Now
Me and my buddy gonna pick a bale a day
I said
Me and my buddy gonna pick a bale of cotton
Now
Me and my buddy gonna pick a bale a day
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale of cotton
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale a day
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale of cotton
Oh, lordy
Pick a bale a day

According to the article, the principle could not be reached for comment..big fucking surprise. No problem belittling POC until your sorry ass gets called out on it.  How the hell could anyone even conceive of this idea, without realizing how demeaning it was.  This is right up there with the binding of a young girl to teach her class about the middle passage.

Slavery is not something you can ever simulate and treating it like its casual Friday infers that it was not damaging.  Many whites would love blacks to forget about the horrors of slavery but the fact remains that much of our current day living conditions exist because  our ancestors were enslaved. Our manual labour created the wealth of the western world and we have nothing to show for it except disproportionate rates of poverty, high drop rates, over representation in prisons, high teen pregnancy rates,  and alarming HIV/AIDS statistics.  Turning it into “dress up day” not only  dishonours those that lived and died in slavery, but all the blacks in North America that continue to battle against racism.

Incidents like this only make my conviction to teach my child about his history throughout the year that much stronger.  Imagine sending your children off to a school that your tax dollars support, only to have them pay for the honour of being mocked.  This is exactly why people of the African Diaspora need to demand that our history be taught year round.  We are not some “special subject” to be trotted out once a year to “prove” how inclusive you can be.


RadFem Carnival

Dear Readers,

It was brought to my attention that a post of mine has appeared in the latest Radfem carnival.  I was alerted yesterday morning via twitter.  Much to my horror, when I went to check for myself,  it was buried in the middle of their usual transphobic screed.  In all honesty I cannot remember submitting to the carnival.  Even if I did submit a post, the kind of disgusting trans hatred that these women adhere to is something that I could never support.  

If any of you have come across this carnival, I wish to apologize for any disturbance this may have caused.  Please, please believe me when I say how horrified I am to have my work associated with such hatred.  I have worked hard to be a trans alley and to build trust.  I would never knowingly participate in something that debased another human being in this way.

It is my hope that the post will be removed, but if it is not, please know that I share your pain and your anger.  I am utterly ashamed and embarrassed by this.  It literally flies in the face of all that I believe in

Renee

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Am A Womanist Because…

One of the things that I am very adamant about in my role as an activist is realizing that most, if not all issues connect with one another.  This is a lesson that is hard for many to realize because they are too consumed with privileging their experiences.  I may not always correctly articulate my position but in all things my goal is to recognize our shared humanity. All people matter.

This means that each of the following are my issues: class, gender, trans rights, gay rights, disability rights, ageism etc and etc.  Each one of these isms has the same foundation and they all work to ensure that a hierarchy of beings is alive and well in our society.  When we refuse to speak out about the suffering of another, we  degrade our own hope of achieving equality.

Feminism continues to bother me because of the obvious race and class bias that exist inside of the movement.  Now that much of feminism is housed within academia, it has become inaccessible to the masses, even as it ignores poor women that could most be helped by a concerted effort.  Education is essential however, it is necessary to note that  daily living your feminism is just as important as the dissertation that leads to a degree.  Theory is a way of organizing thoughts and principles but spilt blood, tears and sweat is its own form of real life accreditation.  A high school drop out struggling to make a living has just as much right to speak for feminism as the Phd.

As a WOC I find that I must struggle to find a space within feminism.  What I have to say is regularly challenged or met with great hostility.  Obviously I am not expert on all subjects however, the continual demand that I supply academic papers to legitimate my work has become tiresome.  Why must my work be validated by another, while white feminist bloggers are not held to the same standard?  My work is often based in theory however, blogging is not an academic format and it is for this reason that I believe that the repeated request that I provide citations for my work is a sign of elitists trying to control a format that should be equally open to all. Just as academia discounts the voices of women of colour;  the blogosphere renders our positions illegitimate and without value.

Intersectionality is a word that falls easily from our lips and yet is so seldom practiced.  As bloggers when we chose to advocate feminism, we take on a responsibility to ensure that we are doing so in good faith.  What does it say about our movement when groups are regularly silenced or ignored?  What does it say that we do not actively attempt to make changes?  Time and time again women complain that they cannot see themselves reflected in feminism and yet we do nothing to make this movement more inclusive.  Feminism should be more than a pulpit upon which you stand to preach to others about.  It should be a place where we all come together because in so many ways our issues intersect. It should be a safe environment because have we all been hurt and damaged in someway by all of the isms in a specifically genderized way.

My feminism/womanism is about more than me; it is about the woman across town and the woman an ocean away.  Though there are differences across race, class, gender, and ethnicity, we are all women and not a single one of us lives in privilege in comparison to patriarchy.  My sisters pain is my pain because I realize that sexism is systemic, racism is systemic, classism is systemic, every damn ism is systemic.  This means that none of us, regardless of what other privileges we have been blessed with can escape being marginalized in some way.

When I opened up Womanist Musings to guest posts, it was because I was seeking ways to have larger conversations.  We talk at each other and never listen.  It is nothing but arrogance to assume that only your view is relevant despite the fact that so many operate with unacknowledged privilege.  I cannot know the pain that a trans woman feels when she is wrongfully rejected and stigmatized but I can listen and I can empathize and I can ask how can I help.  I will never know what it is to work in the sex trade and have a john become violent, but I can say I support you and actively work to end violence against women and support the rights of sex trade workers.  The key is to put yourself in the shoes of another and realize that pain is universal.  We all feel it and some of us never recover from it.

The unhusband often tells me that I have an unrealistic view of human nature because I deeply believe that all people at their base are good.  We all exist with the potential for change and positive action.  Feminism/Womanism appeals to me because it is about the best in all of us.  If we can simply see beyond our differences long enough to listen with an active heart and open mind, so much positive change could occur.  I am a womanist/feminist because I believe in goodness, why are you?


Honduras: Transgender women beaten, threatened and murdered

Amnesty International has put out an urgent appeal on behalf of a Honduran transgender woman who was arrested by the police, beaten up and threatened with death if she reported what happened to her.

The attack on the woman follows the murders of three other transgender women in Honduras since last October. The women were all working as sex workers near Palmira when they were attacked. Transgender women who work as sex workers are frequently attacked by clients or police officers. No one has been brought to justice for these killings.

Amnesty International UK LGBT Rights Campaigner Kim Manning-Cooper said:

'Transgender women in Honduras must be terrified right now. Their community is experiencing serious violence and the authorities are not doing enough to protect them.

'If these killings are not thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice, then a very clear message is sent that violence against these women is acceptable and can go on without punishment.'

It is alleged that on 20 December 2008 police officers approached the transgender woman (who has asked Amnesty International to withhold her name), who is an HIV/AIDS campaigner and sex worker, in the Palmira district of the capital, Tegucigalpa. The police officers tried to rob her but, when she resisted, they grabbed her by the hair and repeatedly smashed her head against a nearby window, breaking the glass. She received numerous cuts to her face and knees.

The police officers then arrested the woman, took her to a police station and then to a health centre to be treated for her wounds. Because she was bleeding the woman informed the officers that she is HIV positive, to which they responded by calling her an 'AIDS bitch'. She was then taken back to the police station and released without charge. The officers threatened her, 'if you speak out we will leave you dead in the countryside.' Despite this the woman has filed a formal complaint with the Human Rights section of the Public Prosecutor's Office about this incident.

Amnesty International believes that the woman's life is at serious risk and has issued an urgent appeal asking its members to write to the Honduran authorities calling on them to guarantee the woman's safety and to order swift investigations into all incidents of harassment and killings of transgender people.

Three transgender women have been killed in the last three months while working in the area of Comayagüela, near Palmira. Jazmín Zelaya was killed on 30 October 2008 and her body was found along a road. Another transgender woman was killed on 17 December 2008. Cintia Nicole Moreno, who was also an activist working for the promotion of the human rights of transgender people, was killed on 9 January 2009 at around 1am. No-one has yet been charged with these murders.

Amnesty International is asking people to take action by emailing the Hondruan authorities from the following link:
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=563
you can find out more about Amnesty's work to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt .