Saturday, March 21, 2009

Queerty Needs To Stop Minding Queen Latifah's Business

image Lord knows I loves me some Queen Latifah and happy belated birthday sister.  She has become iconic and her talent is an inspiration to us all.  As you can see from their tag line Queerty a major GLBT blog (and the “T” is questionable) claims to be free of agenda however, this statement is far from true.

image Without a direct declaration from the Queen, they have decided that she is a lesbian.  Note, if the woman is gay that is her business and it is not the right of an organization or an individual to declare her sexuality for her.  They decided to take the following commentary as a justification to declare her sexuality.

I [used to] ingratiate myself to him and then sleep with him. Afterward, I felt disgusting- really gross and nasty … and I hated myself. That feeling was so horrible, I decided I would never do that again."

If she had meant the statement to apply to all men, she would have said so.  Twisting her words to suit an agenda is not only inappropriate, it deprives her of her agency.  I do understand why there is a desire to claim the Queen;  she is not only beautiful, she is extremely talented. 

Like Anderson Cooper there have been non stop rumours about her sexuality for years.  People need to learn what is and isn’t their business. The GLBT community has no problem telling people that the state has no right integrating itself into the bedrooms of consenting adults however, some cannot seem to apply that same rule to others.  If you don’t want people in your bedroom stay the hell out of the bedroom of others.

The need to declare is a part of what keeps the gay/straight binary alive.  Heterosexuality is the assumed default sexuality and gays and lesbians are expected to announce to the world that they are not straight.   If she is a lesbian, living her life on her own terms and allowing people to speculate without commentary flies in the face of the idea that one must announce a sexuality to the world.   The Queen continues to live her life unperturbed by the speculation and this should be acknowledged as an act of resistance.  Unless you are sleeping with the person in question whether they are gay, straight, bi, two spirited, or trans is simply not your business. 

There are plenty of people that are openly gay and lesbian that are leading lives in which they are desperately in need of help .   There is little discussion of the teens that get kicked out of their homes when they come out to their parents.  There is little discussion about those whose appearance is non gender conforming and the issues they face in housing and employment and yet a woman that has not declared that she is a lesbian has been a topic for years within the GLBT community.  Can we take a moment please to get priorities together?

Only In A Woman’s World Frito Lay Goes Girly

There I was happily watching CNN this morning when they reported that women are now no longer seen as a niche market.  It seems that the recession depression has largely effected men and companies are now realizing that it is women that have the disposable income and the discretionary power to spend.  

image Rather than using this as an opportunity to validate women, companies have resorted to ridiculous essentialist pitches to garner out attention.  If you identify as female you must love the colour pink, fluffy clouds, and rainbows.  The utility of the object in question is irrelevant as long as it is pretty, cause you know how all of us wimminez just need everything to be pastel and cutesy.

While it is necessary to some degree to draw on large generalizations to effectively market, creating a single monolithic representation of what constitutes woman is extremely problematic.  The images that we see end up not being about our struggles or our triumphs but womanhood as it is understood through the patriarchal lens.   Advertising in this way quickly becomes yet another tool that is marshalled by patriarchy to discipline women into perform a gender essentialist, submissive femininity.

image image


Each year more women seek post secondary and graduate education.  We are entering fields that were once male dominated, crashing through glass ceilings at every turn and yet Frito Laya has decided that the best possible way to appeal to us, is to pander to our so called obsessive need to count every calorie because of a fixation on our bodies.   These generalizations are not only essentialist, they are highly demeaning.

Frito Lay has even gone on to make webisodes in which these shallow women are featured. 


Notice how every single item is either low calorie or low in fat.  Women of course never just pig out cause hey we all need a good junk food and pyjama day from time to time.   Apparently we are racked endlessly with guilt every time we decide to eat.

Women are so much more than what the advertising industry has constructed us to be.  These images are not innocuous, rather they set up damaging ideas that translate into the devaluation of women.  In a world in which not conforming to ideal body standards often translates into shaming, and less employment opportunities (read: feminization of poverty) such mode of advertising must be challenged.  Commercials like this are made to benefit patriarchy and we internalize these images without thought or resistance we are assuming this unbalanced definition of womanhood.

Just like every other social organization patriarchy is highly dependent on the labour, finances and support of women  We collude daily in small ways in our own oppression often without being cognizant that we are contributing to our own second class status.  While we certainly do not control the media we do have the power to eliminate or reduce the purchasing of items that serve to create woman as the eternal ‘other’;  we not only owe this to ourselves but to our daughters. 

We cannot be post feminist until we move away from the idea that we do not deserve to be treated seriously.   Since the advertising agency has found a new belief in our purchasing power, it is essential that we leverage this to ensure that the degree to which we are constructed as flighty, brainless, narcissistic beings is reduced.  A world in which the full depth of womanhood is equally represented  would lend itself to greater opportunities, and a reduction in the degree to which patriarchy manages to maintain its control.  Woman is a complex identity and can never be fully appreciated as long as it is continually equated with flower, pastels and diet materials.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone.  I would like to say thank you for another great week of conversations.   We may not always agree but sharing of thoughts and ideas leads to a greater understanding of each other. 

If you have not already done so, please stop by and check out this months WOC and Ally blog carnival.  There are some great links.  I am already accepting links for next months carnival so be sure and put in your submissions.  If anyone is interested in hosting a carnival feel free to e-mail me.


As I announced last week, Monica of Transgriot and I have started our own little show on Blogtalkradio show.  The upcoming session will feature Tammy of What Tammy Said.  Ouyang Dan of Random Babble on the 28th at 4pm. EST.  We will be discussing motherhood, a subject as you all know is very close to my heart.

As usual I have some great links for you to check out.  Please show these bloggers some love and when you are done don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

consider asians a threat?

Bottles, Breasts, and Mothering “Choices”

For The Love Of Eve (must read for a laugh)

Legendary Latinas: Bridges, Backs and Borderlands

Look Twice

Piercing the whitening silence

From The Vault: Who Is Black Enough

Thoughts On Castration For Sex Offenders

Allies Aren’t “Homophobes’ Or ‘Transphobes’ For Telling The Truth

Talking With Kija – Thy Mother

When Will We Be Allowed To Denounce Black Male Misogyny Without Losing Our Blackness Card?

An Open Letter To Crystal Deodorant Company 

The State Of The Black Union Sponsor Is Sued By The NAACP

Condoms Kill’. Says Pope


Friday, March 20, 2009

Joe The Plumber Is Horny

Every time I see this man I think of a phrase from Forest Gump – Stupid is as stupid does.

At a speech at last nights Media Research Center's annual "DisHonors Awards" ceremony designed to bash the dreaded liberal elite media, Samuel Wurzelbacher aka Joe this has been the longest 15 minutes in history plumber quipped "God, all this love and everything in the room - I'm horny.”

Why is the idiot who argued against tax cuts that will benefit him, who had a book signing no one attended and has pissed off nearly every single respectable member of media, still being given a platform to speak? He has even talked about running for congress.  If this is the face of the GOP, Obama is going to get another 8 years for sure.  Some people just don’t have the sense God gave cabbage.

H/T Shakesville

Queer Is A State Of Mind

This is a guest post by Silvia Straka

Silvia Straka is a social change agent, educator, capacity builder, and researcher. About to defend her PhD in social work, Silvia intends to use this degree to better serve the community. She Blogs at A Just Society.


Heterosexuality: It’s not just about who you sleep with

Most people think that heterosexuality is about being attracted to the opposite sex. But it’s more than that. Much more.

Heterosexuality is a lifestyle. Even more so, it’s a powerful social construction that shapes and maintains people’s identities. It acts as a lens that filters people’s understandings and experiences of their world. Heterosexuality also underlies social concepts such as normal, family, family values, Christian, moral, sacred…  And of course, heterosexuality occupies a privileged social location  — even more so if you are also male, white, and able-bodied.


Gay liberation: Alternative sexual identities

The Gay Liberation movement of the late 1960s contested the hegemony of heterosexuality. It gave voice to alternative identities of  gay and lesbian. These activists changed society. They created alternative cultures and ways of being. They critiqued the heterosexual norms and fought hard for acceptance and equal rights.

The problem is that gayness was often constructed in an essentialist manner - you are gay or you are straight. The biological argument was important, because if you are born gay, if it’s part of your genetic make-up, then it’s not your fault that you are gay. You didn’t choose to be gay, nor can you choose to be straight. Biological determinism takes sexual identity out of the realm of morality.

The categories of straight, gay, lesbian were often quite clearly boundaried. And they were sometimes defined in either/or terms, with gay being set in opposition to heterosexuality. One could cross over, but only in one direction — from straight to gay.


More categories emerge!

Since then, categories have been multiplying. It turns out that gay, lesbian, and bisexual or not sufficient to describe the range of sexual identities. In Toronto, we currently use LBGTTIQ2 (expanded from the former LGBTTQ): lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and 2-spirited. Each of these identities has its own advocacy groups and support networks to address issues unique to that group.


Crossing boundaries is problematic

The boundaries around these sexual identity groups are sometimes problematic. For example, some lesbians ultimately found they were also attracted to men. They moved from the category of lesbian to the category of bisexual, which has been a problematic one. Many lesbians believed bisexual-identified women were not willing to give up their heterosexual privilege and commit to a lesbian identity. But straight people did not accept them among their ranks either. Thus lesbians who entered into relationships with men were often seen as traitors and shunned by their former communities.

Some of my friends have been through this evolution. For example, my friend Robin came out in adolescence as a lesbian. Her parents were unable to accept this identity, resulting in ongoing conflict. Robin embraced her lesbian identity. She cut her hair very short, wore men’s shirts, jeans, and boots, and became a committed activist to the cause. Her most important relationships were in “the community” and she flourished. But in her early 30s, she began to realize she was sometimes attracted to men. She experienced great inner conflict — was she a true lesbian or a pretender? Was she reverting to an easier identity? What the hell was going on with her?


The shift to queer

Eventually, Robin went away for a while and took time to reflect on these questions. When she came back, her hair was shoulder length and curly and she wore a flowing skirt. I barely recognized her! Robin eventually made a shift in how she identified herself, from lesbian to queer.

Some straight people still have trouble with the word queer, viewing it as a politically incorrect word. It’s not. It has a meaning that is distinct from gay and lesbian. There are even queer studies now. So you can use it — but know what it means.

Queer is an alternative identity to straight. It rejects all other categories of sexual identity. Straight remains normative and has privilege attached to it. Queer encompasses the entire range of non-straight identities — and is not limited to LBGTTIQ2.

Queer views sexual identity as something that is fluid, situational, and shifting. For example, if you come out at age 40, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you were living the “wrong” identity your entire life. It doesn’t mean everything before now was a lie. Sexuality is very complex and multidimensional. Coming out doesn’t necessarily completely annul everything that came before it.


Queer is a state of mind

More than anything, I view queer as a state of mind.

Queer does not have a need for labels. And it recognizes that sexual identity does not necessarily stay static over time. Queer is transgressive and boundary crossing. It undermines and destabilizes identities and categories. That’s one reason why it can be so threatening to straight people.

Queer dissociates itself from heterosexuality. With the important exception of the power issues attached to heterosexuality, straight is irrelevant to queer. Queer is a different paradigm altogether.

Queer does not name the sexuality of other people. It listens and accepts people’s self-identifications. It is open and curious about the incredible diversity of sexual experience. Queer accepts that people can choose what they want to do and not do — not because of societal strictures but because of their own preferences and values. (Please note that I do, however, limit my definition of queer to anything that happens between two consenting adults, as defined by the legal age of consent.)

Let me give an example of how I view queer as a state of mind. I know of a lesbian couple who lives in suburbia with two kids, an SUV, and a dog. They belong to the PTA and they vote conservative. They do not have a critical consciousness about their sexual identity and they will say that they never have a problem being lesbian moms in their community. According to my definition, these lesbians have more in common with straight than queer. They are living a straight lifestyle, they adhere to their community’s values, they have similar opinions on most things as their neighbours. There is nothing wrong with living in this way. But I don’t have much in common with these women.

On the other hand, there are some heterosexual people that I consider to be more queer than straight. If I tell you this, I am giving you a high compliment! Although you may never desire anyone other than your opposite-sex partner,the way you think about the world and about sexuality is open, fluid, shifting, and you have taken time to really listen to people who identify as queer. That’s what I mean when I say that queer is a state of mind.

When Your Doctor Is A Pervert

image Dr Rajinder Aggarwal is a woman's worst nightmare.  When we enter a doctors office we are particularly vulnerable.  We enter a doctors office because we are ill and we are putting our faith and trust in another based in their moral conviction to do no harm. 

It is terrible enough to have to deal with malpractice but the alleged actions of this man amount to sexual assault and the debasement of women.  Not only did he use his male privilege, he exploited the trust that a patient puts in a doctor when they seek medical treatment. 

According to the Mail Online Dr Rajinder Aggarwal was sexually suggestive on more than occasion as well having no compunction about slapping the buttocks of his female clients.

Four women, aged between 26 and 53, have lodged complaints about Aggarwal's conduct in December 2006 and January 2007.

He was working as a locum at the Bluebell Surgery in South Ockchestendon, Essex, and Homerton Hospital, East London.

Prosecutor Anthony Abell told Basildon Crown Court that a woman suffering from panic attacks was 'prodded and pushed around the groin area' by Aggarwal during an examination.

'He told her she was an attractive lady. He asked her when she last had sex and with whom.

'He told her she looked like a million dollars and then gave her these words of advice, "Do you know what would do you good? You should go out and paint the town red and have a good screw".'

The jury heard that the doctor then wrote down his phone number and asked her out for dinner.

Another patient, a student from Sweden, went to see him with a condition. Mr Abell said: 'He pulled down her tights and knickers and began to tap her lower stomach and pubic area.

'As he did this he was pressing his genitals against her lower right arm. She could tell he had an erection.

'He told her to stand up and turn round. Once she had done so he smacked her on the bottom so hard that it hurt and caused her to stumble forwards.'

A 55-year- old patient told the court that she saw Aggarwal after a chest scan and feared she might have cancer.

He partially undressed her and told her to lie on an examination table.

'He felt my stomach. He asked how long I had been married, 33 years, and if I was still sexually active.

'I've never been asked that question before. I thought it was a strange question to ask when I had gone with a pain in my side.'

She added that after she got dressed the doctor asked her to face the wall.

'He went behind me and slapped me across the backside as he walked past. I said, "Ow, what was that for?". It hurt and stung,' she told the jury.

Mr Abell told the court that one of Aggarwal's work colleagues had complained about how he boasted of going to sex parties.

'He then asked how often she had sexual intercourse and in what positions. He suggested that she could sh*g, sh*g, sh*g.'

The doctor was arrested on March 26 last year and denied smacking any of the women or being involved in 'inappropriate conduct', although he admitted giving one woman his phone number when she asked for it.

Yes, this poor innocent man only acted because a woman asked for it.  Where have I heard that bullshit excuse before.  While I understand that a man is innocent until proven guilty, I find it extremely telling that all of these patients with no relationship to each other have similar stories to tell.

From the story it does not seem that he physically penetrated any of the women in question but touching someone sexually without permission is still an assault and a violation.  From the questions that he allegedly posed his interest was clearly not in their medical well being.  No matter how well trained he was, his dick is no cure for any illness.

Despite the research, people still have a tendency to equate sexual assault with sex rather than power.   When someone touches without permission it is because they believe they have the right to violate another for pleasure.   Being a doctor in a world that that has elevated the medical profession means that often one exists with an inflated sense of self worth and when this is combined with the social privilege that is granted with patriarchy it can lead to situations like this.  These women submitted for the purposes of medical examination and not to be part of the sexual game of master/slave that Dr Rajinder Aggarwal so clearly wanted to play.

It is my hope that if the charges against him are proven, that at the very least he will no longer be able to practice medicine.  Such a violation needs to be severely punished.  These women will be triggered every single time they must submit to a physical examination.  It is not something that will be able to forgo if they are to be attentive to their health. 

There are those that claim that we have reached a post feminist world yet clearly men still feel that they exist with the right to assault women at will.  Whether it is the catcalling, the unwanted touching, or rape, to be a woman is to some degree to exist as prey in our patriarchal world.   Often before we have even reached puberty we learn the  lesson that to be female means that our bodies never completely belong to us in the same way that they belong to men. 

When we say no it is not respected and when we say yes we are slut shamed.  The situation is more often than not constructed in such a way to give the male the benefit of doubt regardless of the obvious trauma that the woman is facing.  The more that we assert a right to our bodies the larger the resistance becomes.  Defensively we are called man haters when we resist attempts to violate our persons as though men should naturally be loved and respected, or allowed to posses us at will.  If their bodies were as beaten, bruised, and disrespected, as ours I daresay they would have a better understanding of what it is to feel that one must continually be on guard for the next onslaught. Whether it is walking at night, interacting with family, or in this case visiting a doctor for an examination, a vagina for some will always be an open invitation to become a predator. 

Megan McCain Responds To Laura Ingraham

image Megan Mccain took on Anne Coulter and instead of addressing the issues she raised Ingraham decided that McCain was too fat to be worthy of a legitimate response.

INGRAHAM (mocking): Ok, I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in the Real World, but then I realized that, well, they don’t like plus-sized models. They only like the women who look a certain way. And on this 50th anniversary of Barbie, I really have something to say.

In what world does this woman think that it is not demeaning to reduce a woman because of her body size.  If anything it reveals a complete lack of intelligence and an internalization of patriarchal beauty images.   Ingraham not only did her self a disservice but all women by turning into a ridiculous high school like bully instead of addressing the issues that were raised.

McCain did not take this assault lightly in and in appearance on the view she responded.

Transcript is below the fold.

Meghan McCain:I think with Laura Ingraham the worst part about it for me is that with my personal blog a significant majority of the readers are young women and I can’t say with the daily beast I’ve only been writing for them for a few months but I assume a lot of young women are reading it.  And what do young women think when I speak my mind about politics and I want to have a political discussion about the ideological future of the republican party and the answer is she’s fat, she shouldn’t have an opinion.  What kind of message are we sending young women? It’s terrible, I have a little sister and what kind of example is this setting for her?  Weight is not the … I’m a political writer on a blog and all of a sudden I’m too fat to write ya know.  Everyone from Tyra Banks, to Oprah, to Hilary Clinton to my mother, why are we so obsessed with weight why? I know specifically for me this is so…I’m a pop culture junkie .  When Tyra Banks went on her show in her bathing suit and said kiss my fat ass, that’s what I feel like right now.  I’m like kiss my fat ass. There’s no place for weight criticism of women in 2009.  There’s no place for it and if I have to come on this show and say that there is no place for any woman to have  her weight criticised not matter what age she is.”

 It is a sad thing that McCain had to make such a declaration publicly.  Despite the gains of the feminist movement many women have so internalized patriarchal values that participating in the shaming of other women is still not deemed problematic.

Ingarhams commentary also reveals the degree to which people assume it is okay to fat shame someone.   These standards that we have created only serve to create in groups and out groups.  These in groups use their social power to shame and thereby maintain a hierarchy of bodies in which they are continually privileged.   McCains weight was in no way germane to any criticism that she made of Coulter,  Ingraham only raised the issue because of privilege and a desire to use social power to silence.  

Though her commentary has been called out as asinine and fat shaming, what we should all realize is that fat shaming occurs daily and often with little commentary.   Though it is most often directed at women, men are subject to it as well.   Rush Limbaugh is the perfect example of weight being used as an attack instead of dealing with his ideological positions. He is not ass because he is fat, he is simply an ass and the continual reference to his corpulence only allows him to argue that there is no legitimate defence against his pontificating. The body weight of an individual has no relation to  their ability to contribute to society. 

We should also be cognizant that no only does fat shaming reaffirm our social hierarchy it is a necessary component to increasing the ever growing profits of the diet and exercise industry.   Food that is technically not considered diet food is often marketed to us as low in fat or low in calorie.   We are told to choose a particular brand of cereal not because it is contains essential vitamins but because it is low in calorie. The exercise industry goes on seasonal attacks.  At this very moment they are encouraging people to slim down to get into a bathing suit.  It seems to me that bathing suits come in all sizes and therefore the implication is that if you are fat, you should be so ashamed of your body that revealing it in any form is unacceptable.

In closing I must agree with Tyra and McCain…Kiss my fat ass as well.  You shall not profit from my debasement.

H/T Feministing

Thanks to hip-hop, another Rihanna is a certainty

This is a guest post by Crystal.

My name is Crystal Smith and I'm an editor at I was reading your blog and noticed you posted about Disney's The Princess and the Frog. I wrote a similar piece that discusses the need for more minority leads in children's programming. I thought you and your readers might be interested.

image Images of black women in hip-hop culture make it more likely for them to be viewed as targets to be defaced and abused. History has proven it time and time again — women often get the short end of the stick. They weren't allowed to vote, they didn't have control over their reproductive or sexual health and were confined to the house.

Black women have had it even harder both legally, socially and even within the confines of their relationships with their husbands, boyfriends, brothers and fathers. Even as slaves, black women were subjected to the same beatings and work as their male counterparts, but were also raped and forced to breed children.

Today, black women like Rihanna are on the bottom of the social hierarchy, due to their race and gender. They make less, deal with more and are constantly bombarded with images of half-dressed, booty-shaking, loud-talking, over-sexed black females. Either images of black women are sprinkled into the whole, eradicated completely, or made to appear as though they deserve to be treated without respect.

These images objectify the black female body making it easier for men to abuse them.

Look at the world's inability to stop the systematic rape occurring in the Congo and Sudan. Look at Chris Brown's ability to beat up his even more famous girlfriend and the way the media violated her privacy and plastered her picture all over the Web. Look at the statistics.

In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That's an average of three women every day.

Black women are 35 percent more likely to experience intimate partner violence than white women. In 2000, they made up 18.8 percent to 28 percent of all reported sexual assault victims, according to a report by the Justice Department, even though they represent only about 7 percent of the population.

In order to change the volume and frequency of abuse inflicted on black women, we've got to change the images about them. BET is rolling out new shows, hoping to stop perpetuating negative stereotypes, but what about the damage it and other media outlets have already done?

Rihanna's already been beaten. Malika Calhoun has already been kicked and slammed to the ground by the white deputy. Megan Williams was already held captive by six white racists and made to eat rat and human feces. HIV/AIDS is already an epidemic among black girls and women.
We want to talk about change, riding high on the euphoric feeling of having the first black president, but don't want to admit our involvement in the abuse and violence being inflicted on women.

Going back to Brown certainly shows Rihanna's miseducation, but her choice also points to the larger question: How can a woman have high self-esteem when the world's perception of who she is is constantly being degraded?
In survey conducted by the Boston Public Health Commission, 44 percent of teens said violence was a normal part of a relationship, and 46 percent said Rihanna was to blame for her treatment.

If that doesn't prove my point, I don't know what else can.

Here are more resources on domestic violence:

Oprah's Relationship Abuse Show

BET's 106 & Park Relationship Abuse Special

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Love is Not Abuse

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The American GLBT Community Needs To Look Northward

It has been legal for people of the same gender to marry in Canada for four years,   thanks to work of gay rights groups and unions.  Though it is not often acknowledged, unions were on the forefront in organizing. Workers in solidarity valiantly fought for recognition of same sex benefits in employment.  The gains that are made in union organizing are often eventually recognized in the larger society.   This can not not only be seen with gay marriage but with maternity rights for women.

Though we have made many gains in Canada in terms of social justice many members of our society continue to be oppressed due to our commitment to honouring a false hierarchy of bodies.  It was with great sadness that I was to learn about the gay bashing of 62 year old Richard Dowrey

Lindsay Wincherauk, who was at the bar on Friday, contends the attack contained all the hallmarks of a hate crime.

“His [the attacker's] words repeatedly were, ‘He’s a fag, he deserved it. The faggot touched me. I am not a fag, the fag deserved it; he touched me.’”

Timothy Keating was also at the bar at the time, and called 911.

“I was outside having a cigarette and I heard the thud from outside when Ritchie's head hit the ground.”

Vancouver police said Monday they arrested a 35-year-old man at the scene and charged him with aggravated assault for allegedly striking Dowrey after the two had an exchange of words.

Police confirmed they referred the case to the hate crimes unit, but insist they did so to ensure their investigation is exhaustive.

Though gays and lesbians have the right to marry they are still an oppressed minority in this country.   Marriage has not raised their status or changed the ways in which heterosexuality is privileged.   As I watch the the GLB community in the states push for same sex marriage, I cannot help but think of who will not benefit from a change in the law.  It will not stop gay bashing, increase equality in housing, education or employment and yet it is marriage that has become the focal point in organizing. 

The day after slaves were freed their marriages were legally binding and this did not protect blacks from the KKK, Jim Crow or all of the other indignities that exist in a society that privileges whiteness.   What has elevated the social status of blacks are decisions like Brown Vs Board of education wherein segregation in education was struck down.  Fighting for affirmative action meant that blacks for the first time had the opportunity to work in fields in which they had been previously barred.  Though the African American community has a long way to go to achieve equality, focusing on gains that would effect the everyday living conditions of large segments of the population had meant that whatever gains were made had a larger impact.

While I completely understand why gay marriage is such an issue, I cannot help but wonder if this push is not in some sense myopic.  Everyone needs to eat, everyone needs a job and everyone deserves to be free of violence.  It is clear that despite having the right to marry in Canada people continue to be physically attacked simply for being gay.  The desire to privilege heterosexuality was so strong for Dowery’s attacker that he said, “‘He’s a fag, he deserved it. The faggot touched me. I am not a fag, the fag deserved it; he touched me.”  What is this but unwarranted heterosexual panic? 

These homophobes walk around with the false idea that just because someone is gay that they are attracted to all straight people.  Of course when it comes to heterosexuality people naturally have likes and dislikes but the supposedly warped gays want to have sex with anyone they can.  Such attitudes can only be fought through education.  Schools must be made to teach young children that all people are valuable. Along with Jack and Jill went up the hill children need to learn about Jill and Jill or Jack and Jack to normalize these identities.  

As an ally it is my job to support whatever organizing goals the GLBT community chooses to privilege.  I will continue to do my part to support gay marriage but I cannot help but wonder what energy directed at education, union organizing or ENDA could result in.   I believe whole heartedly in the equality of all beings and only seek the fastest path to residing in a society that truly  lives by its stated values.

Traffic Stop Leads To Police Brutality In Illinois

Smith, 29, and Suelter, 39, were each charged Wednesday with four counts of official misconduct and single counts of battery, mob action and aggravated battery in the alleged May 3, 2008, beating.   These officers of the law allegedly stomped on Scott 20 times because he was not subdued.

Notice how one of the officers appears to smiling as his brother in blue administers brutal kick after kick.   What is this but a gang style beating?  Scott was truly lucky to escape with his life.    As we know many who are brutalized by the police end up dead. 

Beyond the video what was perhaps the most galling was the questioning as to why this case was brought to court in the first place by the attorneys of the defendants.

Voyles questioned Lyons' motives for filing charges 10 months after the incident.

"Specifically, retaliation and revenge or retribution for the local union's decision to back a different candidate for election to state's attorney," said Voyles, who added that prosecutors have known about the squad car video since May.

While I understand that it is the job of the defence to poke holes in the prosecutions case, pretending that  charging an officer after brutalizing a citizen is a political act is beyond disgusting.  

In recent months these incidents of brutality have become more public however,  this has been going on for decades with no real change occurring.  How long are we going to allow these men and women to act as judge, jury, and executioner?  We need to move beyond charging individual officers and recognize that the system is rotten.   Acting after the fact will not save lives, or build any trust between the community and police officers.   If the people charged with protecting us are indistinguishable from the so-called criminals clearly there is an issue that must be dealt with.

Gotta Love Post Racial Education

One would assume that if a student had A's in speech, accounting, chemistry and English composition and a a B-plus, was in pre-calculus that they had more than a working knowledge of English.  Is it even possible for a student to obtain a 3.9 GPA and not be able to read, speak and write english with a high degree of proficiency?  Apparently, if your family is Laotian in Iowa your personal achievements mean little.

Lori Phanachone has been suspended and was told that her college scholarships for $86,000 at Buena Vista University and more at Iowa State University, would be revoked if she failed to take the English Language Development Assessment.  When Phanachone first registered for school she indicated that english was not her first language and this is the basis that her high school, Storm Lake is  forcing her to take a test that is clearly predicated on racist assumptions. Phanachone is determined to honour her mother and her ancestry and feels that falsely claiming english as her first language would be a refutation of her identity. She has been incredibly brave in the face of such obvious racism.

"Mr. Ruleaux (assistant principal Beau Ruleaux) told me I was 'no Rosa Parks' -- that I should give up because I would not succeed in my protest," Phanachone said.
Senior Kristi Davis is one of several students who believe Phanachone is being treated unfairly and that her punishment is too harsh.
Davis called Phanachone "a really smart, very talented person. She has a passion for everything she does."
"Lori has never gotten into trouble or done anything bad," Davis said. "She's always been successful at anything she has done. But she sees this test as incredibly racist.
"Many minority kids don't want to take it. But Lori is the first to actually do something about it."

If a visible minority has proven proficiency through class work, why is it necessary to put them through a four hour test?  You will note that they are not testing students that have failing grades that are white to discover whether or not the education system actually did its job and taught these kids to read and write properly.  They are only interested in asserting difference and not in exploring the ways in which they have let some children slip through the cracks.

It is further disgusting that a principal could tell a young girl who clearly is tenacious about her rights that she is no Rosa Parks.  Well, before Rosa decided to refuse give up her seat on a bus she was no Rosa Parks either.   What separates us from the ordinary is our willingness to stand up in difficult situations and fight for justice.

This story really struck a chord with me as a mother.  The education system continually breaks its social contract be reifying dominant social discourse.  Schools should be a place where the young are taught to honour all bodies rather than serve as a site where certain bodies are once again oppressed.  More often than not education is not about teaching critical thought, it is about enforcing an authoritarian style of conformity upon the young.  We do not praise individuality and we do not praise achievement, however the willingness to submit is highly valued. 

Phanachone may not have learned english from her parents  but what she did learn gave her strength to stand up against institutionalized racism.  Phanachone values herself, her culture, and her history, because these lessons were obviously taught in the home.  While the education system would like her to deny those that taught her one of life's most important lessons – self respect; it is a testament to her strength and her wisdom that she is willing to risk so much to assert her value as a human being.

H/T Random Babble

Some Albertans Think That Bush Is Worthy Of A Shoe

image It comes as no surprise that Bush decided to make his first post white house speaking engagement in Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province.   I am sure he felt quite at home with the elites that have made their fortune in the oil industry.

It is only in this environment that he could comfortably quip, “I actually paid for a house last fall. I think I'm the only American to have bought a house in the fall of 2008."  Perhaps if had not been such a dismal failure as a leader more people might currently be living in prosperity.  At no time throughout his presidency did he focus on the needs of the poor or the underclass.  Under the mantra of responsible conservatism he lowered taxes on the rich and refused to institute any form of oversight or regulation.  In 8 years he managed to not only blow any gains made by the Clinton administration he, plunged the US so far into debt that it will take generations to eliminate it.

He further announced on plans to write a book about his 12 toughest decisions in the white house

"I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened," Bush said.

"I want people to understand what it was like to sit in the Oval Office and have them come in and say we have captured Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, the alleged killer of a guy named Danny Pearl because he was simply Jewish, and we think we have information on further attacks on the United States," Bush said.

I imagine that he is searching for a ghost writer as we speak.  Just from watching his live television interviews it is clear that english is still a second language to this man.  Not only does he invent words, his arguments are often nonsensical in an effort to present a grandiose image of himself.  Bill Clinton did write a book after leaving the white house however, the difference is that Clinton is actually an intelligent man. 

I was completely disappointed when I learned via Monica of Transgriot that my fellow Canadians  actually paid 400 dollars a plate to break bread with a war criminal.  What else can we call a man that lied to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign country?  Of course Bush fits right in, in a province that elected and then re-elected Klein. Alberta may be rich in oil today but plenty of its citizens continue to live below the poverty line.  Its war on the poor to balance the budget meant that those already living on the margins were trampled upon.

Were it not for the fact that some brave Albertans had the good conscience to protest Bushs arrival in the great white north, I might have been tempted to quip that the wrong province wants to secede. In every single city that Bush goes to, the message needs to be sent that he is a criminal and the money spent on helping the homeless and the underclass that he so callously ignored during his time in office.  To those of you that supported a war criminal and cheered his efforts shame on you.  To those that decided to protest and let the world know that not all Canadians believe that this man should be respected, I  would love to share a Timmys coffee in celebration with you.  Next time lets just meet the bastard at the border with either an arrest warrant or a huge stay out sign. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Izrael The Roots Resident Misogynist

I occasionally read the Root but more and more I have become hard pressed to read the writings of Jimi Izrael.  Clearly the man has had issues with women in his life and he seems to have no problem posting barely contained woman hating, MRA nonsense.  I normally would not respond to his what about the mehnz commentary, but when it is used to belittle domestic violence I must draw the line.

He wants us to know that women initiate violence more than we think.  We only get away with it cause we are less likely to leave physical evidence behind of our brutal assaults.  Well guess what Jimi, there is a huge difference between a woman hitting a man and a man hitting a woman.  While I do not believe that violence is acceptable from either party, it is particularly imbalanced when we consider the weight and height differential between the typical adult male and adult female.

Then when I thought the  man could not sink any lower he decided to tackle the incident between Chris and Rihanna.  Note Izrael, referring to them as Chrianna is dismissive and creates an unnecessary connection between victim and abuser.   Whether or not Rihanna checked Chris’s text messages is irrelevant.  In case you didn’t notice he beat the living shit out of her.   Her body was covered with bruises after his vicious assault.   Do you have any idea of how many women die daily at the hands of men that claim to love them?  Do you have any idea how many times women are raped by their husbands and boyfriends?  

You could have used the large platform that you have on The Root to call for an end to male violence against women.  You could have called on black men to start respecting black women as their equals but instead you decided to talk about how wrong it was for Rhianna to check his messages.  Of all of the things that occurred on that day I dare say that the true violation happened when a grown man decided to use his physical advantage to brutalize a woman.  How you can even fixate on the fact that she checked his messages and use that as an argument to justify what occurred is beyond me.  OOOh I forgot you’re conflicted right?  How conflicted would you be if someone had beaten your mother? Enough with your what about the mehnz nonsense.  At some point you need to see beyond your virulent hatred of women long enough to understand that all people matter. 

What’s A Little Sexism In The Name Of Prop 8?

Okay we get it gays and lesbians want the right to marry.  You know what, I support this right however, what I cannot support is the gay and lesbian community continually playing on isms to achieve that right.  Hello…McFLy,  when you reaffirm an ism you only support your own oppression.

This little video seems like an innocuous send up about the role that religious fundamentalism has played in denying same sex marriage until we watch as two pseudo agents begin smacking around a woman.  You will notice that the woman was slapped three times while the man was slapped once.   Even if someone is saying the most vile things, no on has the right to resort to violence.  In a world where violence against women often leads to death showing a man slapping a woman not only supports but  promotes this kind of patriarchal oppression.

Slapping a woman cannot be used to make some kind ironic point ever.  Did the makers of this video even think about the lesbians that have been subjected to male violence and the ways in which this advertisement might have had a triggering effect?  What about their straight female allies that have worked hard to promote gay marriage? The GLBT community needs to stop acting as though the push for marriage trumps every other social issue.  Using people as tools to promote your rights is wrong and it is dismissive. 

H/T Queers United

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Everyone Matters Dignity and Safety For Transgender People

The following video was assembled by Mass Equality, with GLAD and Mass Transgender Political Coalition. I found this video to be so compelling.  It is not often that you get to see trans people tell their story in their own words.  Often we hear from allies or read twisted reports in the MSM.  I  think this is a video that everyone really needs to see because the one thing that all of the haters need to get through their thick heads is that a trans person is no different than anyone else. They deserve the exact same protections under the law as anyone else.   Using gender identity to decide who gets access to health care, jobs, employment and housing is nothing but discrimination and prejudice in a society that claims to be free and equal.

H/T The Bilerico

Teaching About The Laramie Project Will Get You Fired In Oklahoma

image When we send our children to school, it is with the assumption that they will receive an education.  Clearly homophobic fundies have decided that  intolerance and hatred should be be promoted.  Intentionally not mentioning certain segments of a society affirms the normalization of dominant groups through erasure.

From USA Today

The episode began in January, when Debra Taylor showed students at Grandfield High School The Laramie Project, a 2002 film based on the play of the same name, about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The students soon decided to film selected scenes themselves for an in-class project.

Taylor, 50, knew the project was controversial with strong language, but got her principal's permission. A few weeks into it, the principal told her to stop production. After students protested, she held a 20-minute ceremony in a nearby park in which students wrote their thoughts and rolled them into helium balloons, then released them.

The next day, Taylor says, Superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the class. After she complained to a school board member, Turlington put her on paid leave and recommended that she be fired. The school board approved her resignation Friday.

Taylor says she was let go for complaining to the board member, but others say it was a result of the play's subject: homophobia. "They don't want something like this addressed in our community," says senior Matt Ebner, one of Taylor's former students.

Well of course we cannot talk about the fact that murdering a young man because he was gay is wrong; kids might actually get the idea that homophobia is a crime against humanity. We certainly cannot have children internalizing the concept that all people regardless of their sexuality are equal.  Imagine how terribly imbalanced the world would be if we all even from a moment succumbed to the idea that privileging one body over another was inherently prejudicial.

I suppose we are to believe that it was just coincidence that after this subject matter was raised that she was fired.  The school board made no reference to her job performance or even openly stated a reason why she was terminated.  They only rebutted the argument that it was because she decided to educate her students about violence directed at the GLBT community.

Teachers like Debra Taylor are the ones we need to be celebrating.  In so many homes children are not taught about social justice.   Modern families are often more concerned about hoping in the mini van to attend the next soccer game than teaching their children to recognize the various ways in which they are privileged.  Schools often serve as the only hope that children will be taught to think critically. 

The education system is a reflection of our bigotry and biases.  We claim that privilege is a naturalized phenomenon and yet every opportunity that we get, we indoctrinate children into internalizing a hierarchy of bodies.  If we have to teach children to hate or show bias clearly this is not natural.  If we have to strive to justify our undeserved privilege perhaps it should simply not exist.  We have raised generation after generation of automatons in the name of privilege and by so doing we have dumbed down our society.  At what point will we decide that education should be about honesty and integrity?  At what point will we realize that by not teaching the young to value all bodies we are sentencing some to a lifetime (if they are allowed to live) of pain and harassment?

H/T Feministing

Get Your Black Irish On Happy Paddy’s Day

image Did you think that you would come to a womanist blog and find a black leprechaun wising you happy St. Patrick's Day?  It seems kind of weird doesn’t it? What could the Irish and blacks have in common?  Have you people never heard of the Black Irish?

The black Irish are a group of people who have features like dark brown or black hair and dark brown eyes.  Some believe that the Black Irish are descendants of a people from the Iberian peninsula who migrated to both Ireland and Britain over 2500 years ago. Recent genetic research has supported this claim.

Today whiteness includes groups that were not always uniformly understood as Caucasian.  Some to this day still refer to the Irish as the blacks of Europe.  In North America the gradations in whiteness meant that for quite sometime the Irish were treated little better than Blacks. Signs advertising a job often came with the tag line that no Irish need apply.

As the Irish looked around and realized that they did not have the same benefits as so called white society they began to inter-marry and form associations with African Americans.  I have always found it fascinating that when choices are reduced that people that normally would have a tendency to favour certain behaviour patterns seem to have no problem adjusting to ensure that their physiological and biological needs are met.  The existence of the Metis stand as an example of whiteness ignoring its privilege in order to fulfill its biological imperatives.

Whiteness of course cannot allow the dilution of its power in any manner.  As the Irish and African Americans began to intermarry and form associations a slow social shift began to happen.  The category of what was considered white slowly began to grow.   Suddenly the carrot of whiteness was offered to our Irish brothers in the struggle as an attempt to disable the growing solidarity.  The Irish had the choice that African Americans were never offered;  the ability to claim a white identity and be considered part of the dominant group or remain as second class citizens marginalized by social construction.  You can guess what happened right?  They followed the rainbow to the end and picked up the white label instead of a pot of gold.  The luck of the Irish would ultimately mean that they would learn to overvalue whiteness and allow its worship to separate them from their revolutionary behaviour.

When famine descendants like Hannity proudly announce the ways in which their ancestors overcame oppression there is always a failure to recognize that social inclusivity was only possible because of an overvaluation of whiteness.  No matter what skills an immigrant of color has they will always be viewed as less than by dominant white culture in a desire to maintain our hierarchy of bodies and this translates into less opportunities, and sometimes open hatred and aggression.  Today there is much vitriol thrown at the [email protected] community who seek to emigrate to the US for the an opportunity at a financially more stable life. Though resisters speak about protecting American jobs, encoded in their resistance is a desire to maintain whiteness as the populations dominant race both in numbers and in power. 

The Irish were useful because they can/could be constructed as white and therefore maintain the artificial construction of whiteness as somehow  inherently better than the brown/black bodies that it seeks to capitalize on.  When you get your green on today, think about how things might have been different had the black Irish really been black. 

It’s Fitness First Fatty


Imagine after a long day on your feet, that you decide to grab a seat on a bench when you discover that your perch is actually a scale that announces your weight in bright neon red numbers for the world to see.  There is no warning that you are sitting on a scale just the obvious public pronouncement of your weight.

This is the latest marketing scheme from Fitness First which is located in the Netherlands.  Well the diet and exercise industry ever stop shaming people into fitting into body archetypes that are unnatural to gain a profit?  When are people going to realize that one can still be very physically fit and still be fat.  Have people never heard of a false positive?  Weight is not necessarily and indicator of how in shape someone is.  There are people that 5’3 110 pounds who could not jog around a city block and yet somehow miraculously they will be thought of as fit.  Stop the fat shaming for profit it is disgusting and is based on false premises.

Don’t we already have enough young girls starving themselves, and purging to try and match the photoshopped images in popular magazine without reaffirming their fears of unacceptability by publicly announcing to the world that they don’t measure up?  The diet and exercise industry could care less about the emotional trauma that they create because their end goal is always profit.  In these industries we can see the prefect connection of patriarchy and capitalism and the ways in which they collude to not only keep women poor but enforce a constant need to conform to the male gaze.

If this was about anything other than profit and fat shaming they would at least attempt to offer discounted memberships to those that were impoverished.  How many poor people do you know that have memberships to exclusive fitness clubs?  They will sell you the line about tough love, and play on your emotions but the sooner they part you from a dollar they happier their profit margins are.  This is not a out a concern for the public good and continually framing the body image debate in this manner is a strawmans argument. 

H/T The cool hunter

Bernard Monroe Survived Cancer Until Louisiana Police Shot Him Dead

image He could be anybody’s grandfather and in fact he was a great grand father.  This 73 year old cancer survivor was enjoying a barbecue and some family time when the police arrived to question his son Shawn Monroe.  At the time of this incident Monroe had no standing arrest warrants pending.  The media of course make a point of letting the public know that Shawn has a lengthy record.  The fact that someone has a criminal past is often used to delegitimize any of their commentary and set up the ground work for victim blaming.

I certainly do not know how much evidence is needed to prove that we continue to live in a racialized society. The election of Barack Obama for some blacks was a signal of how far we have come but clearly whiteness views his ascension to power as a call to arms.  They have marshalled police forces across the nation to murder blacks upon the flimsiest of excuses.  What are the police but a neo version of the KKK run amok with the freedom to perform violence on innocent civilians at will?

image When they shot an unarmed man, their initial reaction was not shock or sorrow that someone lost their life but to cover up their heinous crime.  This is no different than when officers  attempted to plant drugs on Kathryn Johnston after bursting into her home on a trumped up no knock warrant.  The social myth is that police exist to keep society safe but in actuality much of their job entails terrorizing people of color into submission.  Their corruption often goes unchecked as the blue wall of silence descends to protect white privilege at all costs.

When the police chief of a town can make the following commentary there can be no doubt that race plays a huge role in how the law is enforced.

“If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names,” said [Homer, Louisiana Police Chief Russell] Mills, who is white. “I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested. We’re not out there trying to abuse and harass people—we’re trying to protect the law-abiding citizens locked behind their doors in fear.”

The only thing threatening about this old man was the colour of his skin.  Blackness is often the only provocation that officers need to become violent. When we look at the type of person that is attracted to this kind of work is it really any surprise?  

A young girl gets beaten for throwing her shoe. Jimmy Blackwell got beaten so badly that he lost the sight in one eye. Dymond Miller somehow got confused with a white prostitute .  Robbie Tolan had the audacity to stand in his own driveway when the police decided that no black man could possibly afford to live in that neighbourhood.  Somehow, Oscar Grant despite being in handcuffs was resisting arrest and ended up dead.  Finally there is the story of Adolph Grimes III who was shot 14 times with 12 of the bullets entering his back.  How much of a threat can you be when you are not even facing the officer doing the shooting?

Many have asked when blacks are going to stop using race as an excuse and the answer is simple; when whiteness stops slaughtering us at will.  How much black blood must flow through the streets before these rogue officers are made to pay for their crimes? Their actions are clearly white panic at the mere thought that we could possibly one day achieve equality because surely it must be recognized that though Obama may be commander in chief, race continues to be a divisive issue.

Whiteness can afford to sit in coffee houses and chit chat about race relations; it can afford to wear ironic t-shirt and baffle why blacks just don’t get it but for those of us that are of color, each day we must fear that the next interaction with the long arm of the law could be our last. 

There is not a single responsible black parent that does not speak to their child about how to react when stopped by the police.  Our fear forces us to tell our children that they must announce every action, speak slowly and clearly, never show any forms of resistance, and at all times keep their hands visible.  Following these directions could be the difference between life and death.  While we are having these essential conversations white parents get to spread the lie of officer friendly and how benign he is.

If a 73 year old cancer survivor cannot be safe in his own home, what hope is there for any of us?   Black rage is not unreasonable nor is it unwarranted; it is the expression of every single slight, and every single drop of blood that has been spilt so that whiteness can live with undeserved privilege.  It is not militant to demand equality and it is certainly not militant to demand human respect; only in a world where some bodies are deemed more valuable could this possibly be interpreted as the noise of a discontented rabble.  When Monroe finally gets laid to rest he will simply be just another black men who met his death through violence to uphold our dissonance in worth and value and if that isn’t a sad testament to how little we value life, I don’t know what else is.

H/T Pam’s HouseBlend


Monday, March 16, 2009

FGM There Is A Price To Speaking Out

For centuries female genital mutilation was a practice carried about in secret and mourned in tears and pain.  Though the practice is performed by women the justification is to support a patriarchal understanding of womanhood.  Female sexuality is viewed as so wild and uncontrollable that to avoid  a descent into whoredom it is understood that all sexual pleasure must be removed from women.  In many cases this “procedure” is performed with rusted knives and blades under the least sterile conditions imaginable.  Many succumb to death due to infection. 

image There are those that continue to use the excuse of cultural imperialism to avoid passing judgement on this issue.  According to WHO it is children that are being circumcised. This not an issue about female agency, this is child abuse in it cruellest form.  It is one thing for an adult to submit to the knife and quite another to hold down a young girl, force her to spread her legs and cut her. According to WHO 92 million women a year undergo this torture.

Even as women begin to fight the practice of Bondo male politicians continue to support its continuation. 

A recent Sierra Leone child rights bill dropped any mention of FGM at the last minute, and politicians – including President Ernest Bai Koroma – baulk at the mention of the subject.

According to the Independent women that are fighting to stop this procedure are being attacked as well.  Rugiatu Turay is an activist and journalist who was stripped naked and forced to march through the streets as punishment for her open  opposition to FGM. 

Her organisation, the Amazonian Initiative Movement, tries to protect young girls from the knife. "I picked the name because I am trying to talk about strong, powerful women," she says Ms Turay, who works with her 20-strong staff in and around the northern town of Lunsar. So far, she has persuaded about 400 practitioners of female genital mutiliation (FGM), who are often called soweis, to lay down their blades and stop their role in the traditional bondo ceremony. "Silence means consent. But if you say the truth people listen ... We go to the schools, mosques, everywhere."

As reward for her tenacious efforts, she has received death threats and been attacked by juju men, sometimes armed with magic, sometimes with machetes. She describes a time when more than a hundred people paraded a symbolic corpse outside her home to suggest her own death: "They came right in front of me sharpening their cutlasses."

But so many times has she failed to die, that locals now think she is immune. "Now they believe I have special powers. They do nothing to me."

As westerners we cannot hide behind our so called politically correct politics of non interference when it comes to this issue.  It seems to me that when there is economic gain to be made i.e oil, or precious metals we give little concern for local customs or traditions; it is only when it comes to the most vulnerable that we assert that we don’t have the moral authority to interfere.  Though we do not acknowledge it because women act as gatekeepers, FGM is maintained for the purposes of patriarchy and since much of the world has evolved to support patriarchal norms this issue is not seen as pressing.

We must muster the courage to stand behind women like Rugiatu Turay.  This is a battle we cannot afford to loose.  There are too many lives at stake.  We must find away to help the women who perform these right of passage ceremonies find a new source of income so that they are not dependent on the mutilation of women.  We must sound the alarm continually and with spirit so that no woman will ever have to undergo something so horrific to support male hegemony.  If we can cast aside custom and tradition so that we may have a shiny bauble to wear on our fingers, surely we can choose to do so to save the life of a young girl.  Remember that s/he who saves one life, saves the world entire.

H/T Bev via e-mail.