Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dear Black People WOC Feminists/Womanists Do Exist

It is hard enough as a WOC to advocate feminism or womanism without having our existence totally ignored from our own community.  In their anger at Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferrario,  and NOW, it seems that the erasure of black women from feminism/womanism is deemed completely unproblematic.   The following is from Jack and Jill’s Saturday open thread.

Not to beat a dead horse, but.....
In light of the allegations that Chris Brown beat his girlfriend, Rihanna, as well as the release of the photo of her injuries as a result of this abuse, I just have one question:
Where is Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferrario, NOW and other feminists?

Still, my point was directed towards all of these "feminists" who flooded the MSM to defend HRC against sexism and misogyny, yet why are they M.I.A. in this case? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't seen any "feminists" defending Rihanna on the cable news shows/networks like they were a year ago.
ETA: Angelar, the article you referenced was written on Feb. 20th. The assault occurred Feb. 8th. Is this the first time NOW has mentioned it?

Because "feminism" IS "whites only." Most of the prominent "feminists" who run their ass to a TV screen anytime one of their own (upper class white women) is hurting.
They aren't running to the TV tubes when Crystal, Amber and Becky from the trailer homes are under attack.
They weren't running to the TV tubes to defend Paula Jones when she accused Bill Clinton of sexually harassing her. No, they all but called her a piece of trailer trash!
They aren't running to the TV tubes when any black female politicians are running for president.
They aren't caring about the Hispanic nannies and maids being underpaid by the likes of them.
I'm not saying that all or most feminists don't care about women's issues if it involves non-upper class white women. Just saying the "feminists" who cried loud and hard all of last year about women (Hillary) being under attack couldn't give a hot runny shit about Rihanna or any other non-white upper class woman being beaten.

It is hard enough to enter white dominated spaces  without continually having to deal with the fact that we are invisible to POC as well.  WOC have a long history of activism.  That you may not have understood it as feminism because it may have been based in our motherhood, or employment, the environment, or even anti-racist work, does not mean that it was not inherently feminist. 

Steinem and Ferraro are prominent second wave feminists however, they certainly do not encompass all of feminism, nor do they speak to lived experience of many.  By failing to recognize the work of black women in feminists spheres, you are committing exactly the same crime of erasure as the women at whom you throw vitriol at. 

Where is your remembrance of bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Sojourner Truth, Patricia Hill Collins, Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Maxine Baca Zinn, Vandana Shiva etc and etc… These women work and worked for the advancement of WOC and yet somehow you only seem to focus on the work of white women. 

I am tired.  Like many black women before me, my back has been bowed in the service of my people, only to find that once again our activism is overlooked.  Feminism does not belong to white women even though some are determined to make the issue about them.  By accepting their definition of feminism you prove exactly why WOC have contended that our gender oppression is often ignored.

It never once occurred to these commenters that WOC have largely been excluded from mainstream feminists organizing and therefore must use different avenues to spread our message.  Most recently blogging has provided a platform wherein WOC have been able to organize for change, as well give voice to our concerns.  It was a black woman that started the Michelle Obama and it is WOC who continue to speak out about the various ways in which race and gender intersect. 

Instead of spending so much time railing against white women for their obvious racism, some time needs to be devoted to celebrating the large body of work produced by WOC.  It is in our words that you will find validation of your life because in the intersection of race and gender POC are all validated.  Racism will continue to be an issue in our lives and that is all the more reason that we should acknowledge those that daily do battle with the forces that attempt to create us as “other”. 

Whiteness has always had leadership positions in every single social justice movement and yet it is feminism that is often singled out as uniquely white.  This understanding has more to do with the ways in which we trivialize gender than in the difference of leadership.  It is not because we understand this as a movement of whiteness but because we understand this as a movement of women.  Feminism is diverse and has been from the very beginning.  It suffers from the same faults as every other social justice movement; it is imperfect because it is made from imperfect beings.  It is simply unfair to hold feminism up to a different standard than we do for any other social justice movement.

Feminism is for everyone and not just the rich white women that have loudly claimed ownership.  It belongs to the poor, hungry, destitute, rich, disabled, gay, straight, etc., people of the world.  That we are not heard is not solely the fault of feminism, it is also the fault of the  hierarchy of bodies that we have allowed to flourish.   People are stigmatized for a myriad of reasons and this in turn affects who is deemed worthy to speak and who access has to power.  WOC have continually spoken truth to power despite the various isms that we have to negotiate.  Ignoring our contributions  in the name of critiquing white women on their racist behaviour relegates black women to obscurity.  If you care at all about fighting racism, WOC cannot be ignored.


Drop It Likes It’s Hot

Hello everyone, once again we have had a great week of conversation. I would like to thank all that participated and our guest poster this week.  I am once again reminding everyone that this is an open space and if you have an issue that you would like to post about or cross post please feel free to drop me an e-mail.

I would like to thank everyone for participating in the WOC and ally blog carnival.  There were some truly amazing submissions.  I am going to run it again next month so please either submit your posts here, or e-mail them to me directly if you are more comfortable with that.  Let’s hope that next months carnival will be just as successful as the first.

Once again I have a great list of links for you to check out.  When you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

One Big Happy Family

Taking Responsibility

This Is Not A Piece Of Entertainment

Transexuals In Iran

Muslim Women Fight For Rights Using Islam

National ID Card Petition

Rethinking Privilege

Padded Bras: A Rant 

Where Are Iran’s Working Women?

there, there little girl

image

Friday, February 20, 2009

Georgia On My Mind Now That Police Have Beaten Jimmy Blackwell Blind

I got this story in an e-mail tip from Daisy of Daisy's Dead Air.  At first I was just going to cross post it, but after reading it and realizing how it relates to a post I had written earlier today I have decided to comment.

Image below the jump is disturbing.

I want you to look very carefully at the face of,

untitled

This man was beaten by Patrol officer Bobby C. Mitchell.  He is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.  Mitchell is 26 years old and Blackwell is 51.

Since Obama has been elected our post racial world has gone an vicious war against black men and the police have been used as their soldiers.  Unfortunately there are no witnesses to this brutal beating and the case will come down to Blackwells word against Mitchell, but from the condition of his body how can one doubt that this is clearly a case of abuse of power on the part of a police officer. 

According to the Hartwell Sun, the Blackwell family was not allowed to see Jimmy or inquire about his condition until Feb 17.  Jamiya the sister of Jimmy Blackwell further states that she was threatened with arrest for asking too many questions.

When I look upon the ravaged face of Blackwell I cannot help but think about how lucky he is to be alive, even in his serious condition.  Many black men have met their end at the hands of police and the public outcry if any at all has been short lived.  These men are our sons, father, husbands and brothers and daily whiteness wages war against their bodies.

How many times have we seen images in the media of black men as criminals and abusers to legitimate white fear? I don't even have a clear recollection of a black man being brutalized by a white man in a prime time sitcom and yet we know that this happens everyday. When we consider the history of violence, who really should be living in fear?  Malcolm X once famously said that Plymouth rock landed on us, and today blacks can testify that it has continued in its brutal assault.  When a black man gets pulled over or stopped by a police officer in any district he has more than enough reason to be afraid.  History has shown us that justice has perfect vision in the defence of white hegemony.

POC are continually told that we need to let go of our anger.  Apparently this emotion is counter productive.  Why is it that it is us, that must alter our behaviour when we are routinely the victims? Whiteness has been violent towards us since the first black person stepped off a slave ship and it has never stopped, yet we are never to bring up race because it makes them uncomfortable.  I could give a fuck about your discomfort; I care about POC living lives devoid of violence.  I am going to tell the next person that calls me angry that they are damn right. 

I am angry that our children continue to shuttled into non academic streams, that we continue to live in poverty, that black men continue to be over represented in the prison industrial complex, that black women continue to be understood as unrapeable, and that it is almost easier to buy a gun than a goddamn tomato in some urban neighbourhoods.  Yeah I am angry and I am not going to hide it because it makes you uncomfortable.  Look at that picture of Blackwell and tell me one more time about the post racial world that we inhabit.  Ask me again if someone is playing the race card because they have the nerve to point out your bigotry.  Finally, ask yourself if we are all so very equal, why are you having to read about this on a blog instead of a mainstream news organization....


What Is A Feminist Issue

The following post is based on the commentary of Apostate left at Professor What If.

The feminist blogosphere is VERY correct and proper. There is a huge orthodoxy, on race issues, on sexuality issues, on major progressive themes, on language. on religion. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but it makes it hard to embrace outliers like me who might otherwise contribute to the conversation. For instance, I personally violate the religion orthodoxy (I hate Muslims and Islam and religious people in general), I am not all that sensitive about language (once called an Islam-apologist feminist a bitch, insist on continuing to use verboten words like “lame” and I like my gendered insults, such as prick), I refuse to include Sean Bell in my list of feminist issues, I often say I hate men, I am publicly glad when misfortune is visited upon my enemies (anti-choice Andrew Sullivan is HIV positive - yay! Marc Ambinder is ugly - yay!) and other such horrifying things. No wonder nobody links to me!

She had me right until she declared the death of Sean Bell not a feminist issue.  What kind of ignorance and privilege does it take to make a statement like that?  It is a feminist issue because men like Sean Bell are born to black mothers.  When my child leaves the safety of our home I don't only worry that some predator will try and take him, I have to worry about the armed ones that are supposed to protect us ( read: cops) deciding that his life isn't worth anything. Seriously how fucking dare you imply that my feminism should not include those that I love the most?

This is just one of the reasons that black women routinely continue to object to aligning themselves with feminism.  Am I expected to sit silently if one of my two brothers is brutally attacked because it is not suitably feminist enough? The violence that black men face occurs to maintain white male privilege and it also hurts black women.  Do you think we do not suffer when our husbands are shot dead or hospitalized and we are left to raise our children alone?  Are you even aware that Sean Bell was the father to a little black girl?  How do you think she feels about being robbed of the chance to have her father in her life?  Ooops, sorry this only affects the life chances of a little black girl so why should feminism give a flying fuck?

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen black women disciplined in feminist spaces for supporting black men.  I see no such attack against white women when they supposedly bed down with the patriarchy and support their husbands, brothers, sons, fathers etc... Denying the police violence that black men face as a "feminist issue" is an attempt by feminism to force black women to choose between our race and our gender.  I will not make such a choice and it is racist to even suggest that I should have to choose in any way.

Of course certain sections of feminism want us to choose gender; this way they can promote their issues and their agenda, thus silencing WOC.  Never forget that Radical Feminism which is largely responsible for the second wave only had gender as an area of focus until black women pointed out that, hey we are women too.

I also have not forgotten the ways in which feminism has been hostile to black men because they see them as posing a challenge to their ability to achieve equality with the white male patriarchy.   Read the animosity in the suffragette response to Frederick Douglas when black men were "given the right to vote," despite the fact that this was only allowed in theory and not in practice.  Other than in the works by black women where is the commentary about the many black men that have been beaten and or murdered because they accidentally made eye contact with a white woman.  It was Ida B Wells who lead that fight, white women didn't see it as significant enough to be an issue.

I will not turn my back on the men that I love or the race that I am a part of to join a movement that does not have my best interests at heart.  Each and every single day of my life is enriched because black males (my sons).  My womanism speaks for me in a way that feminism never has; it speaks to who I am as a person.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Black History Month For Sale

image

I found this lovely little ad in this months issue of Ebony.  Why should black history month be any different than any other public celebration?  That's right, commodify the shit out of it and then pretend that we seriously value it.  We certainly shouldn't be taking the time to educate children about the struggles of their ancestors through conversation, or even visit sites that are important in African Diaspora history, when we can conveniently purchase something to prove that we are culturally aware. What better way to celebrate your culture and your history than to down a coke?

image In case you were wondering, you can pick up that case of over sweetened, teeth rotting pop at Walmart, while you buy your blacksploitation flicks.

It seems that there is no need to promote black businesses that are increasingly suffering in this tough economy.  Why should we even bother to attempt to buy black during black history month, when the white owned Walmart has soooo conveniently packaged what is supposed to represent our culture?

We can just ignore all of the poor workers of colour that are being underpaid and exploited, as we stroll pass the greeters with huge smiles on our faces.  Don't stop and think for one moment about the fact that most black owned businesses are small and that Walmart  makes a concerted effort to bring about the closure of every single mom and pop business the minute it opens up a new store. Let's pretend that the opening up of a Walmart does not immediately drive down the price of commercial property, thus making it nearly impossible for small business owners to even sell what is left of their businesses at a reasonable rate. 

I am particularly disgusted to find this ad in a supposedly black magazine.  I understand that just like any other industry publishing is a business however, is it necessary to take an event that supposedly celebrates our culture and allow it to be cheapened for the sake of a dollar?  Could the same thing not have been accomplished by seeking out advertising from black owned businesses?

This is yet another reason to end our so-called celebration of black history month.  Ads like this only further prove the point that this is a cheap additive, instead of encouraging a legitimate discussion of the ways in which the peoples of the African Diaspora have contributed to Western society.  March 1st this little display will be taken down and Blacks will go back to their regular position of being followed around the store as they purchase their cheap items made from the slave labour of poor third world bodies.

You cannot celebrate achievement with more exploitation.  What does it say that the descendants of slaves believe that it is okay to promote purchasing from a company that has no problem participating in neo-colonialism and economic exploitation to maintain ridiculously high profits? Walmart does not give a shit about POC.  The only thing that this corporation gives  a damn about is making sure that it continues to be the largest employer in North America and maintaining its profit margin. If we must participate in this charade can we not at least attempt to pretend that we support each other by promoting black owned and run companies?


The Strong Black Woman Is Dead

Original poem by Laini Mataka is below the fold.

The Strong Black Woman is Dead

On August 15, 1999, at 11:55 p.m.,

while struggling with the reality

of being a human instead of a myth,

the strong black woman passed away.

Medical sources say she died of natural causes,

but those who knew her know she died

from being silent when she should have been screaming,

milling when she should have been raging,

from being sick and not wanting anyone to know

because her pain might inconvenience them.

She died from an overdose

of other people clinging to her

when she didn't even have energy for herself.

She died from loving men who didn't love themselves

and could only offer her a crippled reflection.

She died from raising children alone

and for not being able to do a complete job.

She died from the lies her grandmother

told her mother and her mother told her

about life, men & racism.

She died from being sexually abused as a child

and having to take that truth

everywhere she went every day of her life,

exchanging the humiliation for guilt and back again.

She died from being battered

by someone who claimed to love her

and she allowed the battering to go on

to show she loved him too.

She died from asphyxiation,

coughing up blood from secrets

she kept trying to burn away

instead of allowing herself

the kind of nervous breakdown she was entitled to,

but only white girls could afford.

She died from being responsible,

because she was the last rung on the ladder

and there was no one under her she could dump on.

The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the multiple births

of children she never really wanted

but was forced to have

by the strangling morality of those around her.

She died from being a mother at 15

and a grandmother at 30 and an ancestor at 45.

She died from being dragged down

and sat upon by UN-evolved women posing as sisters.

She died from pretending

the life she was living

was a Kodak moment instead of a 20th century,

post-slavery nightmare!

She died from tolerating Mr. Pitiful,

just to have a man and the house.

She died from lack of orgasms

because she never learned

what made her body happy

and no one took the time to teach her

and sometimes, when she found arms

that were tender, she died

because they belonged to the same gender.

She died from sacrificing herself

for everybody and everything

when what she really wanted to do

was be a singer, a dancer, or some magnificent other.

She died from lies of omission

because she didn't want

to bring the black man down.

She died from race memories

of being snatched and raped

and snatched and sold and snatched

and bred and snatched and

whipped and snatched and worked to death.

She died from tributes

from her counterparts

who should have been matching

her efforts instead of

showering her with

dead words and empty songs.

She died from myths

that would not allow her

to show weakness without

being chastised by the lazy and hazy.

She died from hiding her real feelings

until they became hard

and bitter enough to invade

her womb and breasts like angry tumors.

She died from always lifting something

from heavy boxes to refrigerators.

The strong black woman is dead.

She died from the punishments

received from being honest

about life, racism & men.

She died from being called a bitch

for being verbal,

a dyke for being assertive

and a whore for picking her own lovers.

She died from never being enough

of what men wanted,

or being too much for the men she wanted.

She died from being too black

and died again for not being black enough.

She died from castration

every time somebody thought

of her as only a woman,

or treated her like less than a man.

She died from being misinformed

about her mind, her body

and the extent of her royal capabilities.

She died from knees pressed too close together

because respect was never part

of the foreplay that was being shoved at her.

She died from loneliness in birthing rooms

and aloneness in abortion centers.

She died of shock in courtrooms

where she sat, alone,

watching her children being legally lynched.

She died in bathrooms

with her veins busting open

with self-hatred and neglect.

She died in her mind,

fighting life racism, & men,

while her body was carted away

and stashed in a human warehouse

for the spiritually mutilated.

And sometimes when she refused to die,

when she just refused to give in

she was killed by the lethal images

of blonde hair, blue eyes and flat butts,

rejected by the O.J.'s, the Quincy's, & the Poitiers.

Sometimes, she was stomped to death

by racism and sexism, executed

by hi-tech ignorance

while she carried the family in her belly,

the community on her head,

and the race on her back!

The strong silent, talking black woman is dead!

Or is she still alive and kicking?

I know I am still here.

H/T Acts Of Faith In Love and Life (If you're not reading this blog you should be)


How can I claim to be a radical feminist and yet have an eating disorder?

 This is a guest post by Corey Jones

Corey Jones has an English degree from Georgia State University and is currently the accompanist for Circle of Grace Community Church - the only feminist congregation in the USA!  She blogs at Hope Is Real, and is currently writing about her struggles with mental illness and feminism.

I am hesitant to write about this, but I feel I must, so here goes:

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing in the hall near my therapist’s office writing out her check and I see her out of the corner of my eye help her next client step onto a scale. All at once, I am consumed with envy! And then with shame. How can I claim to be a radical feminist and yet want to be sick? And it’s true. The woman on the scale was crying and I was and am still insanely jealous.

My therapist last week also asked me why I wanted to be sick. That evening, right before my writing group, as I was convincing myself to eat a turkey and cheese sub at Savage Pizza, I wrote out my thoughts on the pad of paper that I carry with me wherever I go. This is what I wrote:

“I feel the need to accomplish something great and that is how I, a radical feminist, can fall victim to an eating disorder-somehow-and I do credit society with this-I have internalized the message that to be superskinny-to be thin to the point of death-is a great and wonderful accomplishment. And I fully blame society for this. When “The biggest loser is a big hit on TV, when Jessica Simpson is labeled fat, when Jessica Alba is lauded for working out so hard to get back to her pre-pregnant weight that she cries, when subsisting on a liquid diet that includes maple syrup and cayenne pepper is deemed a healthy and acceptable way to lose weight (Beyonce), then I have every right to be angry and to blame society for murdering the souls and bodies of people in this land. I grew up watching and idolizing TV and by, I believe, simply growing up in this country with the added bonus of having the mental illness called schizoaffective disorder wired into my brain, it is no wonder that I struggle with an eating disorder. In fact, I believe it is much more miraculous to be doing as well as I am!”

Perhaps I should have said, “media,” instead of society, but I’m not going to change a single word of what I wrote in that moment. Of course, there is more to it than the media. Eating disorders are strongly linked with obsessive compulsive disorder and with family relationships, but I sometimes wonder how my OCD would manifest itself if it wasn’t spent obsessing about food and weight and looks.

2008 was a rough year-I feel like a victim of a war between the gods struggling to cope with the aftermath. I relapsed in my eating disorder and had to be hospitalized; I moved in with a friend, only to realize that she too was unstable and so lived in my car for two weeks; I was sexually harassed by a psychiatrist and by several customers at the store where I worked; all leading me to the conclusion that I could not, at least for now, finish my education to fulfill my dream job of being a music therapist, but must instead leave the negativity that seems to reside in the lovely little town of Milledgeville and move back home.

But I can write and embroider and college and play piano and attend writing groups and get involved with NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness-America’s largest grassroots mental illness advocacy group). And be honest!-which is what radical feminism to me is all about! I no longer care about much about discussing fancy theories, but in telling my truth. My personal is very political! Georgia’s public mental health care sucks and that’s putting it nicely! The insurance from the college I just came from, Georgia College and State University, would not pay for my reviving had I tried to commit suicide! And I tell you, when I first read that statement in my insurance policy, I finally knew what it felt to feel inhuman-that according to law, a person with mental illness (for those who commit suicide do suffer from an illness) is better off dead. As I write this, I feel fury gather in my veins, and I tell you feminists-it is time you include the women and men who live with mental illness-that skinny woman crying on the scale may be your embarrassment, but she is still a woman!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blogging and Conversations

There is a guest post up at Professor What If that has set off a little bit of a firestorm in the blogging community.  I wrote a small response on the post but felt that I really needed to flesh out my thoughts more.  In the interest of transparency, I have decided to respond in full here and link to their post.

Womanist Musings is still less than a  year old and is remarkably successful considering the length of time that it has been in operation.  I have tried to infuse the conversations with both feminist and anti-racist theory in an accessible manner.  Much of what I have to say has  been heavily critiqued and many are highly resistant to the ways in which I have chosen to discuss certain topics.  There have been days when the stress has been so overwhelming, I find myself wondering why with all of the responsibilities in my life do I continue to allow myself to be subjected to abuse.

Being a WOC blogger who is determined to insist that feminist conversations include race means that all of those who do not want to own their privilege often feel very off put by what I have to say.  In my own space it is far easier to respond forcefully, than it is when I guest blog or post a comment on another site.  Whether the naysayers will admit it or not, when they arrive at this blog, it is immediately evident exactly where I stand on certain issues. and my very certainty often leads to discomfort. The fact that this is my space allows me to demand a degree of respect that I certainly  do not receive in the wider blogosphere. 

The comment section of the large feminist blogs more often than not are hostile spaces for WOC bloggers, yet we dare not disengage otherwise the ways in which people ignore their privilege will never be effectively challenged.  As I have noted before, the larger blogs are understood to be white run and this necessarily means that WOC feminist identified bloggers who wish to increase their readership must at some point go with hat and hand to develop a relationship.  We may never openly admit it, but these relationships are never equal because of the imbalance in power. 

This imbalance in power does put one in a situation wherein it can be difficult to call out someone for behaviour that is indeed offensive because one risks being isolated.  On some level this leads to conversations that are superficial at best.  One ends up having to choose between personal principles of calling out  behaviour that reifies difference and a desire to succeed.  I will admit openly that 70% of the traffic that  comes to this blog is from links to other blogs.  Were this sources of traffic to suddenly stop, Womanist Musings would turn into an echo chamber faster than the blink of an eye.

Some have said that I have been fearless in the topics that I have taken on, but in truth I have self censored at times for the sake of my own ambition.  I love to write and a successful blog not only helps me to hone my skills, it opens up opportunities to freelance that otherwise would not have been available to me. Blogging is a constant battle between self interest and exchanging ideas and thoughts with others.  If we are honest, whether it is on the internet or in real life, we  seldom speak without reservation or some form of self censure.  Self interest will often take precedence over communal needs and this in part is a function of our capitalist/individualist  society.

Each person must negotiate these relationships in a way that makes them comfortable.  I have chosen to take stands on issues that are the greatest of importance to me, while allowing others to rest; this certainly does involve some sort of personal compromise, however I do not feel as though I have sold my soul.  Since no one is privy to the inner workings of a relationship, it is certainly not fair to stand in judgement and declare who is and isn’t a token.  The reasons someone may choose to compromise a certain belief may not be immediately obvious and coming from various frames of reference, we all have different priorities.  It is further necessary to understand that it takes a form of privilege to be able to declare the work of another as tokenistic.  It necessarily marks the work of the stigmatized body as somehow incongruent or less important  than the voices that have come to dominate the blogosphere.  No decision is made outside of our individual value systems and therefore declaring tokenism without being privy to all aspects of a relationship is to use power coercively.

I believe there is a continual effort to understand WOC through a lens of victimology rather than examining the various ways in which we deploy our agency.  The simple act of choosing to engage necessarily serves as proof of our active commitment to change.  Power as viewed solely through the lens of victimology is coercive.  When one simply thinks of power as oppressive, it limits our ability to recognize the ways in which power can be a creative force and therefore blinds us to the fact that we are again employing the isms to re victimize. Power as negative is the way in which we have been taught to think and we police others into playing the role of subject rather than object;  it can be as cruel as using the wrong pronoun in reference to gender identity, or refusing to legitimize someone's lived experience.  To belittle another is far easier than acknowledging our shared humanity. 

Though none of us are born outside of discourse, the degree to which we comply with the forces of socialization certainly varies.  An issue ensues when others attempt to behave as though their experience is the norm.  We can see the occurrence of this time and time again in the comment section of the larger blogs however, this is not necessarily the fault of the owners themselves.  They cannot reach through their various computer monitors and force anyone to understand something that is beyond their experience.  Each person only has a responsibility for their own actions.  The very fact that the blogs in question have a larger audience will necessarily mean that they will be far more representative of dominant discourse.  What is important to remember is that there are various truths, and each is as unique as the person that espouses them.

Truth is not static and what today seems concrete, may evolve into a more fluid ideal and or identity.  We have a tendency to believe that systems that mark a person as “other”, are standard across culture, ethnicity, and time, because of our narcissistic desire to place ourselves in the centre of the conversation.  This is why as blogging continues to grow as a platform for change. It is increasingly important that all spaces attempt to becomes as open as possible.  Guest blogging not only serves the purpose of attracting new readers; it broadens conversation and forces us to acknowledge privileges that we may not be aware that we possessed.  It cannot simply be viewed as a numbers game wherein a large blog exploits a small blog because ultimately if these conversations do not occur the chance of progress is slim. 

It is am impossibility to separate online conversations from the real world.  To demand that the blogosphere conform to some way of thinking and or perform discourse outside of the lived experience of the bloggers is ridiculous.  We are attached to our identities and this invariably becomes our politics.  The only demand that we can make is that each of us in our own way make larger efforts to broadening conversations about issues that normally get ignored to maintain the dissonance in worth and value. By releasing control of our various spaces and committing to valuing our shared humanity we can become impetus for change.  To step outside of ones experience is to cast aside power relations and affirm the humanity of all.


Bristol Palin Says Abstinence Is Not Realistic

In an interview with Greta Van Sustren we finally get to here from Bristol instead of having her thoughts “translated” through her mothers PR people. 

Greta: I don’t want to pry to personally but obviously contraception is an issue here.  Is that something that you were just lazy about or not interested in, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it or?

Bristol: No, um I don’t want to get into detail about that.  I don’t know how to out it but I think that abstinences is the main, the main, I don’t know how to put but I think that abstinence is not realistic at all.

Bristol Palin is the poster child for why abstinence only education does not work.  By preaching this highly unrealistic plan to our children we are setting them up for not only teen pregnancy, but sexually transmitted diseases.  In communities of colour where the transmission rates are extremely high, this amounts to a death sentence.

While abstinence may be the surest way to prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, it flies in the face of the fact that as human we are sexual beings.  Children who go through abstinence education, end up having sex at the same rate as those who learn responsible sex education, with the difference being that they usually fail to plan and end up engaging in unsafe sex practices.

I started discussing sex with my oldest child in terms that he could understand when he was three years old.  He knows everything from conception to birth to abortion to contraception.  There is no question that he has ever asked that I have failed to answer honestly, or to the best of my ability.  These programs often tell children lies about sex and reproduction and this misinformation is highly deceitful and breaks down the lines of communication.

For the cost of a condom Bristols life could have been very different today and though she is a child of privilege, being a single mother at her age will greatly impact her ability to achieve her goals and dreams.  It is time we face the facts, teenagers have sex.  We may not like it and we may not approve but that is not suddenly going to turn them into asexual beings.  As adults we should be  offering as much information as they can intake; thus ensuring that they are not making decisions out of blind ignorance or embarrassment.

I have said quite openly that when my child turns 12, I will buy his first box of condoms for him, with the understanding that I don’t want him participating in sex however; if he must act against my wishes I want him to be safe.  I would much rather him have safe sex than to bury him at an early age because he has contracted HIV/AIDS.  I love him enough to understand that my moral position on teenagers engaging in sex is not worth his life.   Should any of you find that to be to early, remember that a 13 year old boy just became a father.

Everything that Bristol was taught was the complete opposite of her lived experience.  We live in a society when children are exposed to sex and sexuality at an early age.  It is everywhere they turn and then we tell them not to engage in sex.  What kind of conflicting message is this?  To compound upon this hypocrisy by not fully arming them with the knowledge that they need to make responsible decisions, is an abdication of our responsibility as adults.

I am glad that Bristol has been able to step out of her mothers shadow to be able to express her true feelings on this issue.  For far to long she has been held up as the  poster girl of the pro life movement, without any real discussion about the reasons why she became a pregnant teen in the first place. 

H/T Feministing


Boo Yaa It’s Period Time

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I woke this morning and just plain and simply felt icky, sure enough my period had arrived.   I jumped in the shower to clean up surprised that a month had passed so quickly.  When I went to get the supplies (yeah I know I really need to order the DIVA cup) to find that once again the boys had gotten into my tampons and pads.  I keep them in a drawer in the bathroom for easy access and because I don't feel that I should have to hide evidence of my moon time.  The boys have gotten into them on more than one occasion and just as luck would have it, the full box of tampons that I thought that I had was gone.  I don’t even know what the hell they do with them.

At any rate this got me thinking about protection.  When we look at commercials for tampons and pads they are always certain to point out “special features” that prevent leaks.  It reminds me of an incident that occurred when I was about 13.  I was playing around with my brothers and my period started. I was wearing white so obviously the blood was very noticeable.  My mother noticed the blood freaked out and demanded I run straight to the bathroom.  She spent the next half hour trying to make me feel ashamed because I didn’t notice I was bleeding. I was meant to feel even more horrified because my brother might have seen it.

The constant paranoia that women are made to feel for having a period is ridiculous.  Is the world really going to come to an end if there is a little bit of blood on our clothing, or our sheets?  Will it cause people to go running down the street screaming bleeding woman. bleeding woman, lock up your first born there is a bleeding woman?

No more shame…I have kinda had it with that.  It seems the only time I hear about menstruation is when someone is pointing out the best way to hide all evidence of its existence as though it is not a perfectly natural occurrence. What is it about my monthly bleeding that is so vile, that the only thing I can read, see, or hear about it, involves  stuffing something in my vagina . It makes me just want to tell the world, I’m on my period deal with it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flava Flav Awards

Monica of transgriot has a right on post up about Ru Paul.  He is one of those people that need to get on the bus, y0u know the one loaded with the black people I would love to give away. In the comment section I referred to him as Flava Flav in heels.  After much thought, it occurs to me that this could be the start of yet another award that Womanist Musings could bestow upon the idiocy of the world.  I therefore present you with the Flava Flav award.

 

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Now isn’t that a site to make you just want to hurl whatever food you happen to have in your stomach?

Those of you that I speak with more intimately know of my absolute disgust for the blog crunk and disorderly.  I can think of not a single redeeming thing to say about it.  The blog is regularly misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic.  The authors of Crunk  have yet to find an ism that they are not ready to roll around in to gain hits.  It is for this reason that I believe the very first Flava Flav award should be bestowed upon Crunk and Disorderly.  When you make coonery an every day shtick to gain a few hits, you are an embarrassment to every single blogger of colour who is out there working hard to ascertain our legitimacy and make our voices heard.

I wish you no ill will, but if you must continue to make an ass of yourself on a daily basis, the least that you could do is hand in your black card and get on the bus.  Black people have a hard enough time in this world without people like you making it harder for us to get by.

Say it with me everyone: Get on the bus toot toot!

Bleeding Red White and Blue: Immigrants, Accelerated Citizenship, and the U.S. Military

I have a new piece up at Global Comment.

Though the U.S. is planning to exit Iraq, the military is still stretched trying to fight a war in two separate countries. During his presidency, George Bush was well aware that restoring the draft to continue his illegal war of aggression would have led to a massive revolt of the US citizenry. The image of young men burning their draft cards has not yet left the American memory. The unpopularity of the Iraq war would quickly have led to massive acts of civil disobedience. No parent wants to bury her child to enrich the already over privileged elite.

Obama’s promise to remove American troops from Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan was a major talking point during his campaign. Using rhetoric and bravado, he vowed to refocus on capturing Osama Bin Laden and challenging Pakistan to end their status as a haven for so-called terrorists. While this may seem at first glance as decreasing the responsibility of the military, the scale of the operation that he has planned is just as large as fighting a war on two fronts.

Afghanistan may be a challenge for the US, however. Americans are dealing with a people that have history of resisting occupation forcefully. From Alexander the Great to the Soviets, many have had to make a bitter retreat after entering and losing an extended war of attrition. Simply announcing itself as a saviour on a mission to usher in peace will not bring about submission in a region that passionately demands the right to determine its own destiny.

Even with all of the efforts poured into Afghanistan by western countries since September 11, Karzai continues to be the president of Kabul rather than the nation. Canadians, who have been largely responsible for the boots on the ground in the region since the US invasion of Iraq, recognize all too well a conflict that cannot be won by traditional means and have started to demand the withdrawal of troops.

The military is very well aware that if there is to be any hope of victory in this region, it is going to be necessary to overwhelm Afghanistan with manpower and it is to this end that they are offering immigrants accelerated U.S. citizenship for agreeing to serve in the military.

America is understood as the land of milk and honey but only because it has secured its prosperity at the cost of millions of lives. People do not flock to the United States because they have a love for all things American, but in a bid to secure housing, jobs, education, and food. Had these same opportunities been available in their country of origin, I daresay many would not choose to immigrate.

Finish Reading Here

PETA Goes Lesbian

Should we ever have a society in which all people are equally valued, PETA would be out of business.  They thrive on minimizing people to gain attention for their cause and ultimately ending up reducing and exploiting the most marginalized members of our society.  Their method of engagement is often so offensive that their message gets lost. In their latest pimping of pussy PETA has decided to stage a girl on girl make out tour. The following image is NSFW

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According to PETA, Why do vegetarians have it all over meat-eaters in the bedroom? For one thing, vegetarians are, on average, more fit and trim and have more energy and stamina than people who stuff themselves with fat-laden meat, dairy products, and eggs. And then there's a possibility of impotence: The cholesterol in meat and other animal products slows the flow of blood to all the body's vital organs, not just to the heart. And speaking of heart, there's nothing sexy about someone who turns a blind eye to the daily suffering of the billions of animals who are raised and killed for food each year.

"What could be more of a turn-on than snuggling up to someone who's both passionate and compassionate?" asks PETA veggie vixen Nadia Elmuanier. 

To ensure that bystanders got the message loud and clear another PETA volunteer held the sign below.

image What a wonderful message to send.  Just give up the meat and you will be this wild sexy love machine.  Nothing else about you matters, only your ability to titillate.

Of course you need to be a vegetarian because you don’t want to take the risk of being a fatty.  PETA has made a point of letting us know exactly how disgusting teh fat is.  An extra roll on the stomach is enough to sentence you to a life of loneliness and despair.

I particularly love the idea that we should make our bodies better for others.  Heaven forbid we should take a moments peace to love ourselves as we are. If you are one of the fatties, you cannot possibly be a good lover.  Gee just imagine all this time I was under the false impression that to be a good lover all you really needed was to be attentive to your lovers likes and dislikes. Who would ever have guessed that a reciprocal exchange was not the best path to contentment.

Oh and if the above didn’t make you irritated enough….

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What do two lesbians need the most?  You guessed it, a bit of the dick to legitimize their activities.  Yeah, it’s not really sex unless somehow a penis is involved.  No matter how much PETA may pretend that this latest stunt isn’t sexist and lesbophobic, clearly the addition of the male proves the point.  All this little love fest shows is that lesbian relationships need validation and that women exist to titillate the sexual fantasies of men. 

Once again Fail, Fail, Fail.

The only animal PETA is concerned with is privilege.  They never fail to take advantage of their privileges to belittle people.  How many times can one organization be homophobic, transphobic, fat hating, and racist without realizing the hierarchies that they are enforcing.? What pisses me off the most about PETA is their ends justifies the means method.  They have been called out repeatedly by various organizations and yet they continue to use the same tactics.  If animals only had PETA to defend them they would be far more exploited than they are today, as all of this inflammatory behaviour only makes people want to dig right into a fillet mignon out of spite.

H/T  After Ellen


Get Your Summo Sex Kitten On

I have been watching this commercial for a few weeks now and getting increasingly uncomfortable.  At first I could not understand what I felt was so wrong about it, it just seemed somehow incredibly inappropriate.

Last night upon viewing it again, I could not help but think, should we really be commodifying another culture in this manner to sell a car?  A summo wrestler is a sex symbol, but they are also highly respected individuals.  If this advertisement had contained Japanese women in this manner we would all be pointing out how sexist it was.  This commercial is demeaning and it reduces Japanese culture to a caricature that can be played with for western entertainment. 

To ensure that we are meant to be confused by these strange “others” they add an elderly white couple at the end to stare at the “playful” summo wrestlers.  Look at what these people find attractive, they’re not like us, is the message this commercial sends. 

I fully admit that I am still trying to work out my feelings on this commercial. I have become increasingly upset each time I see it and yet I cannot fully articulate why.  I am very interested in your thoughts and ideas on this ad. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blind Allegiance To White Women

My truth and my history tells me that blindly trusting white women is a mistake.  On an individual level we can get to know each other and share intimacies but on a systemic level whiteness will always divide us.  Even the  person most aware of their racial privilege will eventually say something racist that will cause a rift in the relationship.  A lifetime of socialization is not easily undone.

Even though we are well aware that there is no such thing as a monolithic woman, we are still approached  solely on the basis of shared womanhood. Black women remember that white women were just as brutal during slavery as white men.  They regularly wielded the whip with no thought of our so called shared womanhood.  When black woman screamed with a mothers lament as her precious child was snatched from her embrace, white women turned a blind eye, viewing us as no different that cattle. When your husbands snuck down to the slaves quarters to rape our foremothers, you anger was unleashed upon us, the victim.  How many of our sons have danced with the rope to protect your honour? 

It matters not what page you turn in history, your whiteness has always been levelled against us like a weapon.  Even in times when you came in the guise of friend, race served to create a hierarchy in our relationships with one another.  Ask the Native mother what it felt like to be told she was unfit to raise her own child?  Ask the Native mother what it was like to be forced to give her child to a white woman to nurture with the knowledge that said child would grow disconnected from their culture and beliefs? 

Have you taken the time to evaluate why it is that latin@ women are thought of as only useful to work as domestics?  With your wealth and your class privilege, you roll your eyes as though speaking Spanish renders someone an idiot.   I remember watching as my favourite professor was routinely spoken down to by her white colleagues, even though they were far from her equal.  It took her twenty years to earn her Phd and she wore each year like a badge of honour and yet those less capable were promoted.   Of course it was never acknowledged that women's studies “needed” to be represented by white women. 

Yes, we are women however; crimes against womanhood are most often enacted on our bodies.  Silenced and shamed we must continually battle for the smallest modicum of respect.  When we demand the right to be heard, we are considered angry and aggressive.  Why are WOC expected to be docile?  White women who rebel against patriarchal oppression are celebrated within women centric circles. Somehow your pain is the only pain that is realized, while ours exists as the noise of savage malcontents.  

When we speak about historical wrongs we are silenced as these crimes are deemed irrelevant to present day, as though whiteness does not live in privilege today because of every single act of criminality that was acted out upon us.  You continue to extend hands in friendship and have the nerve to look confused when we are reluctant accept you at face value.  How can we trust you, when you have been as deceitful as Judas? 

WOC initiate this very same conversation repeatedly and yet nothing changes.  We get a little patronizing, perhaps a momentary expression of solidarity, only to have the same issues repeatedly occur.  White women: you need to listen and learn. Privilege is the rock upon which you continually stumble and it is our bodies that wear the bruises.  Though you would much rather the conversation focus on you and your needs, race must become an issue that is critically discussed, because race is what separates us and marks WOC as secondary citizens.  Tokenism is dishonest and we are not fooled by your lack lustre efforts.

Until you can acknowledge your own whiteness; it will continue to come between us and make any attempt of sisterhood a futile effort.  We hear the words solidarity and sisterhood but your actions continually prove that the only equality you are interested in, is between you and your white male counterpart.  We shall not participate in uplifting you so that you can continue to oppress us at every turn.


Mocking Henrietta Hughes Proves The GOP Has No Heart

Henreitta Hughes is the woman who tearfully pleaded for help at the recent Obama town hall.

I have an urgent need -- unemployment and homelessness, a very small vehicle for my family and I to live in. We need urgent, and the housing authority have two years waiting on this, and we need something more than a vehicle and parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help.

It takes a big person to put aside their pride and admit that they need help.   This woman and her son had been living in a small vehicle.  Is it really any wonder this woman has been struggling in Fort Meyers when 12,000 jobs have been lost and the median home prices have dropped from $322,000 in December 2005 to less than $107,000 in December 2008.  This woman’s story should remind us that there is  a human face to all of the alarming statistics that we have been hearing to foreclosures and job losses.

It is no accident that Hughes a black woman has been particularly hard hit by the financial crises.  Black women represent the very term feminization of poverty and when responsible for raising a child, motherhood and race combine in many instances to create abject poverty.  Even when employed WOC already earn 60 cents to every dollar a white man makes.  Many are employed and still living below the poverty line in the land of milk and honey.

Given the alarming statistics one would assume that out of a shared sense of human decency at the very minimum a feeling of empathy would occur if not an outright effort to help alleviate the needless suffering of a fellow human being but apparently for Republican henchman Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin, recognizing a person in pain is simply impossible.

Michelle Malkin commented, “If she had more time, she probably would have remembered to ask Obama to fill up her gas tank, too. The soul-fixer dutifully asked her name, gave her a hug and ordered his staff to meet with her. Supporters cried, "Amen!"…Well, pardon my unbending belief in fairness and personal responsibility, but why should my tax dollars go to feed the housing entitlement beast?”

Your money should go to help the homeless because shelter should be a human right.  This over privileged ass only cares about herself. Women like Hughes are the foundation of the US and is it really to much for them to have a decent home to return to after spending the day being woefully underpaid and exploited? The problem is that people like Malkin have become so used to their privilege that they have normalized the discourse of meritocracy, as though it applies to all equally. From the moment Hughes left the womb her race and her gender marked her for a life of poverty.  Pointing to exceptional blacks like Obama and Oprah does not change the fact that they are not representative of the African American community as it relates to wealth.

Not to be outdone, Limbaugh of course had to pour his own special brand of vinegar on the situation.

LIMBAUGH: OK. So this crowd, all they want is a kitchen. You know, all they want is a car and he's talking about their medical records being computerized and hiring -- can you imagine most of the people in this crowd: "What's IT? What does he mean IT?" If you're just now leaving the town meeting night and you're listening, IT is information technology. He's going to go out and hire a bunch of keypunchers to enter the data into the national computerized health care database, your health records.

All right, here's the woman. It's really sad. I mean, as an American, this is embarrassing, and it's sad, but there's a reason why -- there's a reason why this woman takes her one chance to talk to the president of the United States and ask and beg for a car and a kitchen.

LIMBAUGH: Do you think that the people who chose these people to ask questions on the Obama staff might have jobs right now? Did they purposely select these people for these questions? Do you think so? If they didn't, then some heads are going to roll. If they did purposely scour that crowd for these kinds of questions -- and there was more than just this one, so you have to assume this is what they wanted -- they want people looking at Obama this way. "Well, OK, going to do everything we can to help you; a lot of people in your position; lot of people; well, we can help you; have you talk to staff after the town hall."

Do you hear the applause when the woman says she needed a car, a new vehicle, a new house? "Yeah." And when Obama, "A lot of people like you." "Yeah." So we can sit here all day long and we can wax eloquent about how this guy comes off and how he's just wandering aimlessly, incoherent, but these people watching him last night, listening today, they think he's going to get them a job.

Okay, clearly he doesn’t get it.  At the end of that show, Limbaugh got into his comfortable car and headed to his warm home with a fully stocked kitchen, popped a couple of Percocet and relaxed, however his life is not the life of the majority of Americans, much less those that look like Ms. Hughes.

He is so busy trying to attack Obama that he forgets a very simple fact, Americans are suffering.  There is a reason that spam is flying off the shelves at the same rate that it did during the great depression.  At a time when most are two paychecks away from serious financial issues can we really blame the poor when even the banks and major industries are crying for bailouts.  Henrietta did not create this situation she is a victim of it.  Poverty is not a sign of an individual failing, rather it is an indication of how warped our sense of worth and values have become.

Rush you lived through the 80’s just like I did, and trickle down economics does not work.  Regan, Bush Sr and Jr worked hard to dismantle the new deal and the end result is that there are no social safety nets in a time of need.  Why shouldn’t she ask Obama for help, he works for her and every other citizen of the United States?  It is time that you finally begin to realize that the wealth that you enjoy is predicated on the exploitation of the poor who make up the majority of the population.  The wealth of a nation is not in its commodities but in its people.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Okay Americans It’s On

Dear Americans;

It seems that you have decided to reject our good faith offer for Obama.  We were kind enough to offer you maple syrup, Tim Hortons Coffee, the province of Alberta and two free skating lessons.  I do believe that this offer was more than generous. 

It seems since I decided to reveal our secret invasion plans you have gone on the counter attack.  It seems that you have forgotten what happened to Washington in the war of 1812.   Sending Bush into our peaceful, beaver loving commonwealth is a declaration of war.  We Canadians shall not take this attack on our sovereignty peacefully. 

I know that your heads have been filled with the bumbling Dudley Do Right, but you would be wise to notice that even in what I can only assume to be a B.C pot stupor, he always got his man.  Rocky and Bullwinkle have been recalled from Commander Tom, and the attack beavers have gone on Deathcon 5.  In case you doubt the power of the beaver, here is a small taste of what awaits you.

Ha ha victory shall be ours!! We may have failed in our efforts to ruin Hollywood with  our William Shatner implant, but we shall not be deterred.  We are fully prepared to dress Don Cherry in normal clothing and send him south.  Before you know it, your whining about Europeans will involve more than freedom fries.

Resistance is futile.  You know that you want to say eh.  Go on say it… Eh, Eh , Eh.  I understand that you chose Alberta because you thought that we were weak there, but seriously my Yankee brothers, is George Bush the best that you could come up with in your invasion plans?  Even in our igloos we wear shoes and he shall be repelled forcefully.

Our Loons are majestic creatures but they are not afraid to do fly by poopies to defend the red and white.  They are on our money for a reason.  You’re feeling the fear now aren’t you?  Didn’t know what you were missing with did ya?  That’s right Americans, you better grab your tukes, cause it’s on like Donkey kong. One sip of our beer and you shall be stumbling around blindly.  The only thing you will see by the dawns early light is a can of Canadian whop ass!

I am Canadian….