Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time To Vote


Today begins the first round of voting for the Canadian F-Word Blog Awards.  Womanist Musings has been nominated in the Canadian Feminist Category and so if you have the time I would love a vote.   You do not have to be a Canadian to rock the vote. Thanks so much everyone for your support.

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoove, 11 Is Dead Because Of Homophobic Bullying

 image What a beautiful little boy he was and now the light that once shone in those big brown eyes is no more.   It seems that day after day he withstood bullying at his school.  The kids regularly taunted him, calling him gay and making fun of the way he dressed.  Though his mother called the school, sat in on classes and did her best to intervene Carl hung himself with an electrical chord.

Sirdeaner L. Walker did everything that she could think of to protect her son.  Though schools often claim to have a zero tolerance policy, quite often it is not enforced.  So many adults today still view bullying as part of right of passage through childhood ignoring the lifelong harm that it can cause.  Everyone is entitled to a hostile free learning environment and if schools are not going to provide it we need to hold them accountable. 

I have one child in school and I have borne witness to the cruel commentary that other kids have used against him.  It often makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with the parents of these kids.  What kind of antisocial little monster are you intent in raising that you would infuse a child with such little fundamental respect for fellow human beings?  Where is your accountability as a parent? 

Then I saw this bit of hypocrisy.

imageThat is an image taken at a vigil for Carl held by the members of the New Leadership Charter School Community.  At first you want to feel sorry for these people and their grief and suffering but after more consideration it seems to me to be more an expression of guilt for their complete and utter failure to stand by Carl when he needed them.  The time to care about someone is not after they have left this earth but when they are living and breathing and we can help them. What good are their tears to Carl now? 

While gay was used as a taunt to hurt Carl it is important to note that kids get bullied for a myriad of reasons.  They can be picked on for being of color, fat, wearing glasses, class distinctions,etc., and it is never justifiable.  As I prepare Mayhem to go to school in the fall, I cannot help but filled with anxiety about how he will be treated by his fellow students.  Will I see the warning signs if the situation becomes intolerable for him, and will I be able to intercede effectively on his behalf?  Mayhem has been blessed from birth to only be surrounded by people that love him and I cannot help but be aware what a shock to his psyche it would be to discover the cruelty that some are capable of displaying to mock the hierarchy that has been normalized by adults. 

Carls death is the failure of a school system and a community.  How many times are we going to learn about children feeling so desperate that they believe that death is the only answer, for us to decide to become proactive and firmly enforce a zero tolerance for bullying.  No child should have to be assaulted in this manner and it is a testament to how little we truly value children that we allow this abuse to continue.

Sometimes Disability Is A Shared Identity

Recently I went public with the fact that I have Fibromyalgia, Benign Essential Tremors and Sarcoidosis.   When the weather is cold and damp I am pretty much trapped indoors.  Even on warm days, I am not able to walk long distances, so shopping is something I rarely do anymore.  Thankfully my unhusband has taken over most of these duties without any form of complaint.

image He must now buy things for me that I have always taken care of for myself; this includes my tampons and underwear. I recently decided I needed new panties so I told him the brand and the size to get and off he went to Walmart to purchase them. (yes I know Walmart is evil but I live in a small town)  As he stood there in the section trying to find what I asked him to get, the women started giving him dirty looks and moving as quickly as possible to get away from him.  After finding what I wanted he continued his shopping and happened to run into one of the women he had seen in the underwear section who proceeded to glare at him like he was some kind of child molester.  He had to loudly announce to her that he was not following her and was shopping for his sick wife.

Another time when I had decided to brave the pain and go out I was approached by a Walmart employee asking me if my unhusband had beaten me.  On one hand I was thankful that someone thought to reach out to a woman that they thought might have been battered and on the other I was upset that such an identity could be attached to man that I love and respect because of an illness I have.

It is so easy when you live with chronic pain to only think about what you are going through.  The pain can blind you to all else and leave a shell of your former self.  There are times though when I look at my unhusband who has done all that he can to be supportive, patient and kind and realize that my illness has indeed attached itself to him as well. 

Just as my life is restricted so is his.  There are days he must be both father and mother to our children because I barely have the strength to roll over.  As he cooks (much to the children's disdain), cleans, wipes bums and helps with home work all on little to no sleep, I cannot help but wonder how it is he manages to never be resentful.  The kids are very quick to inform him of every single culinary slight that he makes and that includes forgetting the cinnamon on the French toast. We were an active family that loved to play more than anything else and now sitting at the table playing monopoly is a struggle for me.

We have attempted to find various ways to negotiate my illness so that as much as possible I can continue to participate in family activities but I would be lying if I said that it was even close to what we had or would have continued to have had I not gotten sick. 

image As he patiently tries to talk me into getting a wheel chair so that we can take longer trips as a family, I must weigh my ridiculous sense of pride against spending time with my family doing the things that they want to do.  I know that I am differently abled and yet other than the cane which I use walk there is often very little evidence of how ravaged my body is by my two chronic illnesses.  I am resistant to sit in a wheelchair because I know  I will no longer have the appearance of an able body.  It is the last vestige of privilege that I am holding on to.  I don’t want to be treated differently even though I am.  I don’t want to be offered a seat, or told to rest.  I want to be allowed to fight the pain on my own terms. 

My oldest child is wise beyond his years and knows much more about illness than any child should.  It has caused him to be incredibly empathetic but I cannot help but feel saddened that some of the innocence of his youth has been robbed by my two diseases.  He still wakes with fear at the thought that I might die and leave him, even though I have explained countless times that people rarely die from the diseases I have.  Even when I smile through my tears I know that in my heart he sees the pain that I cannot hide and on more than one occasion has tried in his own way to bring me relief.  Sometimes he will sing Sweet Caroline to me because he knows that it is my favourite song, or he will simply come and cover me in kisses.  From the moment of his birth he and I have always had a special connection.  The love I feel for him really defies words.

image This year he stopped believing in Santa.  He did not find his presents early or decide that there was something wrong with the Santas in the mall.  Unbeknownst to me, he had written Santa a letter asking that I be cured of my diseases.  He copied the address off of the television that Canada Post shows in their commercials and was certain that he had found a way to make everything better for me.  We spent much of Christmas morning crying as I had to tell him that I was indeed still sick.  I will never forget the sorrow in his big brown eyes or the love he showed me that morning.

Having the family that I do makes it easier for me to deal with the day to day pain of having two chronic illnesses.  I know above all else that in terms of love I hit the jackpot a million times over and it is this that pushes me to confront my own desire to hold on to privilege.  Mayhem, Destruction and the Unhusband are everything to me and somehow knowing that I will never be the same is just easier to negotiate knowing that they will catch me when I fall and wait for me when I need to walk slowly.  If we all had just a little bit more of the kind of love my men give me, the world would be a much happier place.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone I would once again like to say thanks to all of you who participated in the usual round of vigorous debates here at Womanist Musings. The interaction here has been challenging and I continue to grow from reading your various different and amazing commentary.

I am once again reminding you to get your submissions in for the WOC and Ally blog carnival.  It will be posted on April 15th at Tell It WOC Speak.  Please remember that the posts don’t necessarily have to be solely about race.  I am very much interested in exploring the different ways the isms interact, so race and sexuality, disability, age etc would be just great.

Today at 8pm EST Monica and I will be doing our bi-weekly podcast with the women of Thistle Farms.  image We will be discussing life after sex work.  I look forward to any commentary that you may have so don’t be afraid to call in and join the conversation.  For those that are unable to participate live, I will post the link to the recorded podcast on Sunday.

As per usual below you will find some links to some of the amazing posts that I ran across this week.  Please show the bloggers some love and check them out.  Don’t forget when you’re all done to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

When Transgendered People Are Assaulted Why Do People Make A Joke Out Of If?

Good English

If I Could Accept My Sister Then I Wish The Whole World Was Like That

KKK Revival And The Fox Talking Heads

It’s All About The Cis Women


teach their children to act white

Disability Identified Through “The Boundness Of Pain”

We Ignore These “Small Insults” To Our Peril

Safe sex – it’s just not the kids that are doing it these days

When Are White People Going To Stop Waiting For A Handout?

Quiverfull: An Interview With Kathryn Joyce

Human Trafficking

Between “Mammy” and “Miss Ann”—The “Problem” With Michelle

“Soft pillows of flesh tucked unseen”…

Speak Softly And Carry A Big Dick



Friday, April 10, 2009

Glenn Beck: Why Don’t You Just Set Us On Fire

Normally I would not bother to  blog about Beck, as he  is obviously the king of idiocy, but in recent weeks he has descended to a low that even I thought was beyond him.

Beck: And President Obama apparently feeling like -- ah, I'm pretty much done, not a lot more to do, you know? I got all those things done. You know what? Why don't I work on immigration reform? Later this year he hopes to create a path for the estimated 12 million illegal aliens here in America to become legal. But yet, we haven't fixed the border and shut the water off! What a sweet, sensitive guy he really is.
...We have Bill Schultz here, he's from Red Eye. And I'm just going to demonstrate at least how I feel, all right? I feel, when I read this story last night, I don't know about you -- let's say Bill is the average American here, and I'm President Obama. This is the way I feel...

This man has clearly lost what is left of his precious few scruples and FoxNews clearly needs to rethink allowing him to preach his virulent hatred to the masses.  His commentary incites violence and promotes a clear devaluation of human life.  It is enough to leave one almost speechless.

This is not a matter of simple shock jock commentary; this is hateful, racialized propaganda designed to privilege whiteness and inspire violence against bodies of color.  His entire rant about hating POC depends on the idiotic belief that they have actual power in the US.  It further ignores the fact that many segments of the US economy are dependent on illegal workers because the so-called “real Americans” refuse to work for the slave wages that many corporations pay.  The so-called jobs that they are taking are not jobs that American citizens  want.  The way of life that Glenn is desperate to protect involves maintaining white male privilege as the dominant structure in the US. 

I question why he finds it so offensive that trading Cuba would raise the standard of living for the average Cuban.  Is it really so necessary to not only exist with untold wealth but to ensure that everyone suffers as a consequence of this greed?   Why does the amount of of abortions that a woman has have anything to do with the state of a country, other than  reflecting that in the state in question the fact that women have the ability to control their reproduction means they are able to take better control over their lives?

Beck is the prime example of the angry white men syndrome and yet oddly enough it is POC that are often labelled with the tag of angry.  Can you even imagine Roland Martin screaming and ranting on CNN like this?   Can you imagine Michael Eric Dyson simulating a burning to represent his disenfranchisement?  No, these are the actions of a whiteness that is desperate to maintain our dissonance in worth and value and it should be recognized for the very dangerous behaviour that it is. 

H/T Shakesville

Turkish Reporter Wears Blackface To Report On Obama


How is everyone enjoying our post racial world? Though Turkey is a very different society than the US, clearly the idea of demeaning another based in difference translates across culture and ethnicity.  What purpose could donning blackface have been other than to devalue blacks?  

One could argue that  the Turkish reporter in question did not know the history of blackface and how racist it is perceived to be by Black Americans however, his ignorance in this case is no defence.  He intentionally meant to point out difference.  You will note that no one thought to put on “white face” when George Bush was president. 

Blackface is a mockery no matter who performs it because it reduces Blacks to cartoon characters.  Not only does this reporter owe Barack an apology, he owes one to every single Black person in the African Diaspora. We are all defamed by such behaviour. 

Tell me again that the balance of power is changing in the world because a Black man is president.   Nothing significant has happened in the last 100 days to ensure that Blacks receive the respect that we deserve. No matter where we go on this planet we are always perceived as lesser than beings and this is because whiteness or the ability to be understood as white is overvalued.   If the president of United States cannot be accorded basic human respect what chance do we ordinary citizens have?

H/T [email protected] Transgriot via e-mail

Why Can’t Asian Americans Have More American Names?


Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.  Unless you happen to be Asian because you’ll never really be American anyway.

Rep. Betty Brown would prefer it if Asians would change their names to make it easier for “Americans” to understand.  After all why should anyone have to be inconvenienced by being forced to acknowledge that America is a country of immigrants and therefore, each group will have names that are reflective of their culture and ethnicity. Nope, American means white and English speaking therefore conformity is a must.

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown remarked.

Wow, Asia is a pretty large continent and yet it is so easy for Brown to turn them all into Chinese “others”.   Notice how she refers to them as “your citizens” as though their residency in the US is inconsequential…

“Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?” she added.

How does it make it easier for Asian Americans to deny their familial and cultural links because ignorant white women like Rep. Betty Brown refuse to admit that they are not the center of the universe.  Imagine how she would have reacted had they suggested that she change her name to make it easier for those for whom English is not their first language.  Whether it is ability, sexuality, patriarchy, or bourgeoisie leaders, groups that have privilege and power assume that no form of concession is ever necessary on their part.  Minority groups are expected to pull themselves up, or make whatever changes are deemed necessary to negotiate a culture that is systematically ordered to give advantages to certain bodies.

According to the Raw Story, A spokesman for the Texas Republican legislator told the Houston Chronicle her comments weren't about race -- she was only attempting to "overcome problems" with identifying Asian names "for voting purposes."

Of course they can declare that it is not a racist suggestion that Asians change their names to more “American” sounding ones.  What are we all back on Ellis Island again? We should all simply ignore the fact that they don’t have the experience to decide what is and isn’t racist or that such a declaration necessarily favours them. MMM… I think I need to move up wind,. How many times have you heard people admit that what they said was indeed racist after being called out? Of course they are not going to admit to being racist because it is the label that is considered bad and not the action.

Whiteness constantly seeks to assert its privilege but when it is called to task for its behaviour, denial is its first course of action. It’s either that they supposedly didn’t know that a comment or an action was racist, or their intent was not to be racist.  The very fact that they refuse to admit that American does not necessarily mean white and English speaking is enough to prove the racist nature of their remarks. Finally, racism is not about intent, it is about how it affects the groups that is being addressed. Until whiteness can stop making itself the center of the conversation we will continue to live in a society in which bodies of color are routinely “othered “to promote underserved privilege.

Boo Yaa It’s Period Time


I was thinking today as I put in my tampon about the various products that have been created for a womans vagina.  I do believe that the vagina is one of the most commodified body parts that a human being can possibly possess. There is  always some sort of special lavender smelling wipe or cream that we are pushed to purchase because hey we need our crotches to smell like a field of flowers. Of course female reproductive organs are seen as filthy they do this:

We are always expected to be doing something with it. From stuffing it with tampons to trimming those unruly jungle bushes I don’t believe that any other body part is perceived to be in need of so much work.  If we are continually dissatisfied with the state of our vaginas, we will spend a fortune trying to rectify these socially constructed faults.  Who say patriarchy and capitalism don’t work hand in hand?

Periods and vaginas are something we whisper about unless there is some way that we can make a profit and shame women at the same time.   I have to admit patriarchy is ingenious.  It first creates fear, guilt and shame and then manages to con women into buying useless shit that we don’t need.  Can you even imagine a man being embarrassed by his ejaculate?  We don’t sell special wipes  to stuff in jocks to eliminate the smell that arises after it is worn for any length of time.  A stinky crotch is a right of passage for men.  Any odour that emanates from the vagina is unfeminine… and blood well, that is just the ultimate evidence of exactly how unclean women are. 

Synchronised Swimming for Aussie Men

Sports are very much divided into gender binaries.  Though women do play all of the same sports as men, often our athletic status is devalued. This was clearly shown in the last Olympics when the media seemed transfixed on the bodies of the female volleyball players than reporting on the serious competition that they were going through.  In fact when it came to the last Olympics it seemed more an exercise in sexualizing women, than recognizing the sheer effort of will it takes to become an Olympic athlete.

Rather than recognizing that this behaviour is completely wrong, essentialist construction of women in sport continues to be perpetuated because it benefits patriarchal hegemony. The above “spoof” is not only sexist, it is completely degrading.  The idea that women can be offered as some kind of prize to men to encourage them to expand their understanding of masculinity, only reaffirms the idea of women existing solely for the purposes of male sexual pleasure.  To make sure that you get the message there are plenty of crotch shots.  That’s right real men don’t want women, they want an available hole.

The second advertisement also plays on the idea of women as reward and has the extra added bonus of being homophobic.  Yeah, two for one on the ism chart of ridiculousness. Prove you’re straight by avoiding the homoerotic behaviour sometimes engaged in by male athletes and the prize is a beautiful young woman in a bikini.  Who wouldn’t want to be a trophy for some jock out to prove his masculinity by possessing women?

This brings to mind a phrase that womanists/feminists say all of  the time, “sexism hurts men too”.  Due to the fact that we have so divided activities by gender there are many things that men may find interesting but simply fear participating in because they don’t want to have their masculinity publicly challenged.  We have made these options appear incredulous and people end up not pursuing their passions for fear of public shame.  Reconceptualising what it means to be understood as male or female would free people to truly pursue their passions in life. We have so few days and to spend them marred in fear seems like a terrible waste of the short time that we are allotted.

H/T groovyjoss via twitter

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Glenn Beck Is Todays Worlds Worst Person

In terms of correctly pointing the fear and panic that Beck generates by his alarmist commentary Olberman is spot on.  I do however feel it necessary to point out that once again while proving an important point Olberman has no problem using abelist language.  It is very possible to point out exactly how damaging Becks language is without “othering” the mentally challenged.

Transcript is below the fold:

Glenn Beck, Richard Paploski killed three Pittsburgh policeman on Saturday because he was afraid of [a friend said quote] a gun ban that is on the way and he quote didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.  When several websites correctly pointed out that this seems awfully like one of Beck’s hysterical rantings or maybe his interview last month with the head of the NRA, Beck immediately went back to his usual speed, high stupid dunged.   image


Ah see here is where you go wrong.  You’re not the flight attendant on the plane. Thanks for invoking that image, you Beck are one of the cowards safely on the ground telling the nutjob on the plane that it is time to [quote] “rise up”.  You remember March 19th right? Actually you probably don’t.



And then you proceeded to read a letter from a woman who said that since the election, she’d gone out and bought a hand gun and joined the NRA.  So when you talk about taking your country back and then you read letters from people that are stockpiling guns, do you think these things are unconnected?  That people even crazier than you, who you are encouraging to do something to take your country back, that they have bought these guns as paper weights.  They bought them to shoot other people with. You, you Glen Beck are personally encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans.  Maybe especially if you are right about your religion not this psychotic in Pittsburgh, maybe he’s not your fault.   I hope not but what about the next one Glenn?  You wanna cry about something on television, cry about the next one.  Beg him to ignore you.  Beg the kids the next one orphans to forgive you.  Glenn Beck today's worst person in the world.

Burger King Kids Meals And Baby Got Back Do Not Go Together

After watching this video I am almost speechless.  I suppose they thought that they would go retro with the sexism.   The original song is all about Sir Mix Alot’s love of womens behinds and what he likes to do with them.  Nothing like reducing women to special parts to make a song a hit.  What a perfect message to appropriate to sell hamburgers to kids.   Just to make sure the message translates well of course you have young girls shaking their asses reminiscent of the video and Six Mix a Lot declaring “booty is booty”.

Tell me again that gender is natural.  We don’t spend every single minute indoctrinating these harmful ideas into the minds of children using innocuous cartoon images do we?  It’s just that boys will be boys and girls will be girls right?  When you are a parent dedicated to unpacking the nonsense that society teaches, little commercials like this that seem harmless only serve to reaffirm the constant barrage of images that teach our children that it is okay to devalue people based in gender and that men have the right to sexualize female bodies at will. 

It is meant to be cute, ‘cause hey the butts are square just like that cartoon irritant Sponge Bob however, it still amounts to reducing female bodies to parts for profit.   While we are at, why not have them shake that ever so young booty for the camera; little girls might as well learn from an early age that their bodies are more important than their minds or aspirations, after all patriarchy likes their women dumb and sexy.  Well, considering we already know how bad Burger King is for the body, this is just one more reason to avoid their food. 

PETA: We Employ Teh Minorities

As many of you who follow me on twitter already know, we recently adopted a beautiful 4 year old tabby named Darren.  He has quickly become a member of the family, while making it clear that he sets the rules of engagement …LOLZ Katz.  Being the pest that I am, I sent PeTA a tweet announcing the adoption and asked what good they had done for the day other than dehumanizing people at every opportunity. Yeah, you could call me a shit disturber.  

Well of course we ended up going at it once again.   Out of all their privilege denial though the following tweets I think speaks the loudest.



Does this argument remind you of anything?  It sure struck a chord with me.  Does it not seem stunningly similar to the “I have black friends and therefore I could not be a racist argument?”  Yeah, I’m thinking it sounds just like that. 

Hello PeTA officials, you could employ 50 thousand marginalized bodies and that still would not make your racist/sexist/homophobic activities okay.  As an organization that is run by white people you do not get to tell a WOC what is and isn’t racist.  You have neither the experience or the right.  

image Follow me down the yellow brick road and learn some anti-racism 101.  What matters is how your activities are perceived by the people that you are addressing.  That’s right, racism is about those it impacts and not those that perpetuate it to present an ideology.

So, when you decided it was a good idea to dress up like the KKK needlessly triggering POC who have a history of being terrorized by this organization, your intent was meaningless in comparison to how it affected the viewer.   Did you apologize for triggering people, hell no. You defended your right to dress up a white man and woman in white sheets and have them hand out fliers.  It was also a nice touch to have a woman of color defend your hatred.  White people do the crime and then have a minority try to justify it cause hey hearing it from one of “ours” is supposed to legitimate it.

Then to make sure that I was aware of their right to oppress and exploit at will, PeTA ended with the following:



Basically despite the fact that they have been repeatedly informed that their methods of engagement are offensive, their ideology takes preference over anyone that might have a legitimate right to be offended.   It is far easier to put your fingers in your ears and deny the hurt that you have done (tactic of privileged bodies) than to own the fact that you play a role in making sure our society continues to be divided by race. sexuality and gender.  What they cannot comprehend is the fact that people do not have a problem with their message, it is the method.   You cannot fight for the rights of anything while employing the Master’s Tools, you only perpetuate the same kind of thinking that you claim to be fighting against. 

Day Of Silence

National Day of Silence is fast approaching.  On April 17th to support our TLBG members spend the day in silence and let the world know that there is a cost to the violence that they are forced to endure because we refuse to believe in the equality of all bodies. 

We need to realize that each day a life is snuffed out somewhere on this planet for the supposed crime of loving another or their gender identity.   It is far to easy to believe that because two marriage amendments were passed in one week that things are improving.  The truth is no matter how many states pass same sex marriage the issues of homophobia and transphobia extend far beyond that.  They include discrimination in housing, health care, education, employment, and in fact every sphere that you can possibly think of.  This is why I am a huge advocate of ENDA.  

What I love most about this idea is that this is an action that we can all participate in to show our solidarity and raise awareness directly in our communities.   So many times people ask what can I do to show support.  Well now you have an answer.  On April 17 you can spend a day in silence reflecting on how are dissonance in worth and value wrongfully privileges certain bodies and allow your silence to speak the words that you may no be able to express.

Really Tyra A Booty Judging Booth?

This is exactly why for the majority of the day my television is on CNN.  Don’t women have enough body issues to deal with without lining them up in a booth and encouraging men to comment on the size and shape of their behinds, talk about reducing women to meaningless parts.  How many times is Tyra going to participate in failure after failure while claiming to empower women?

Men don’t need anymore encouragement to believe that they have the right to reduce us to body parts for their sexual pleasure.  It is not amusing; it is sexism at its finest and the encouragement of such behaviour amounts to collusion.  How many times is Tyra going to wrap herself in the mantle of helping women and then fall prey to the same sexist constructions that patriarchy loves to perpetuate?

This is the same woman that went on her show in a bathing suit crying and complaining when the media called her fat.  Well Tyra when you encourage people to believe that all that is important about them is their physical bodies this is what happens.  

As womanists/feminists we have a tendency to point to men for their sexist behaviour and ignore the various ways in which our actions support patriarchy. Show like this reveal not only how easy it is to reduce a woman to body parts but how often it happens with the collusion of fellow women.  Tyra this is just another failure that you can add to the list of your failures.  Watching your show causes one to immediately have the desire to place their head on a desk and pray for something sensible and woman positive to mute your fauxgressive style of female empowerment. 

National Organization For Marriage Preys On Fear

Transcript:There’s a storm gathering.  The clouds are dark and the winds are strong and I am afraid.  Some who advocate for same sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away.  I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.  I’m part of a New Jersey church group because we can’t support same sex marriage.  I’m a Massachusetts parent helpless watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.  Some who advocate same sex marriage have not been content with same sex couples living as they wish.  Those advocates want to change the way I live.  I will have no choice.  The storm is coming.  But we have hope, a rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage.  Paid for by National Organization for Marriage which is responsible for the content of this ad.”

Oh dear the sky is falling, did someone inform chicken little?  Can you believe teh gays want to end heterosexist privilege?   Look how the sun has stopped shining and clouds are moving in.   If everyone one is equal how will we express power over one another?  We simply cannot have that and therefore the National Organization for Marriage plans on running these ads on CNN, the Fox News Channel, and MSNBC in the coming days.

I understand that advertising revenues are down with the economy in recession depression but to stoop to such mendacious nonsense is disgusting.  These so-called “concerned people” are paid actors..It seems they’re not afraid to pitch their bigotry and hatred but they certainly don’t want to be connected with it to the degree that their faces and personal identities are associated with it.

HRC spokesperson Brad Luna lets them have it:

What’s next for the National Organization for Marriage? Will they hire legendary infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil to hawk their phony agenda? This ad is full of outrageous falsehoods—and they don’t even come out of the mouths of real people.

In my experience if you cannot stand behind your own words, on some level you have already acknowledged that, that which you are advocating is fundamentally wrong.   On some level most advertising is deceptive as it is meant to inspire us to purchase that which we seldom really need however, to start from the premise of outright falsehood to promote intolerance is completely unacceptable and counter to a free society.  What knucklehead in charge of advertising decided that it would be okay to promote this kind of hatred by presenting it to the light of day?

For four years same sex marriage has been legal in Canada and somehow we have survived.   The clouds did not descend, the timmy did not stop percolating and lacrosse remained our national game even though hockey continues to be more popular. 

 imageThat’s right people the only consequence of legalizing gay marriage has been that gays and lesbians are allowed to get married.   They now have the right to have their unions recognized by the state and since we already know that 2 our of three heterosexual marriages end in divorce they can share the miseries of splitting up and dividing property to.  Bottom line is this, denying others their rights does  not protect yours, what it does is create a society in which everyone is less free. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In The Interest Of Disclosure Listen Up RadFems

Just to make sure that everyone hears the truth of what occurred, I am once again going to address the issue of my submission to a radfem carnival that occurred a few months ago.   Yes, in the past I have submitted articles to the carnival.   I keep all of the receipts of all the posts I submit to carnivals, yet somehow strangely enough, I could not find a receipt for this particular carnival.  I do however find it telling that this post, which was clearly not transhphobic in nature was placed in their traditional trans hate section. Since I knew that I had previously submitted to the radfem carnival, I did not accuse them of outright sabotage.  Even they however, have been unable to provide evidence of my submission despite publicly displaying my private e-mail address for the world to see.  My point is that even if I did submit this post (a point which I do not concede) I would never have authorized its usage in this way.

Let me be clear, those of you who claim a radfem identity and then advocate transphobia to perpetuate your cisgender privilege make me positively ill.  Yes, I called you a bunch of bitches and no I will not now or ever apologize.  If you want an apology from me, you can crawl on your hands and knees and personally apologize to each and every single trans person whose life you have made more difficult by the perpetuation of your hatred.  You can admit that the dehumanization of another is wrong and then you can commit acts of contrition and mitigation, though you can never possibly makeup for the damage that you have done.

You can continue  making your cyber voodoo dolls, burn me in effigy, or whatever little rabble rousing nonsense you choose to carry one with but my position will not change.  The audacity you display by thinking that you can bully me into an apology is ridiculous.  Some of you may be used to black women playing mammy but I am one woman that lays down to no one furthermore, you can all kiss my bumptious black ass.

Just in case Valerie decides not to publish the comment I left on her blog regarding the latest attempt to bully me into submission here it is:

Nice of you to publish a one sided version of events. What I said is that I have no memory of submitting the post in question and therefore did not accuse the carnival of posting my piece without permission. I asked for the link to be removed from the carnival because if I did submit it , it would never have been my intention for my work to be used in the way it was. In fact I was completely polite during the exchange with Heart until she annoyed me with multiple questions on this issue.

I further resent you implying that my work is done to achieve political points. I write about the issues that I do because I am passionate about them period. Though I advocate for trans rights they only amount to 5% of write about and in fact my blog covers multiple subjects. I spend my time raising awareness which is more than you hate preachers could ever claim.

In terms of calling radfems bitches yes, I stand by that. Anyone that decides that it is okay to perpetuate hatred against another to maintain undeserved privilege in my mind is at the very least a bitch. You can bully me and write all the negative blog posts that you would like on this issue but you will not be receiving an apology until you crawl on your hands and knees and apologize to every single trans and cis woman that you have offended by regularly and repeatedly calling for their elimination. The transphobic screed that happens on radfem blogs is hate speech. You can be all high and mighty about the word bitch but cannot acknowledge how disgusting what you advocate really is. Too damn bad. In fact I hope it stings.

I will not be addressing this issue again.   Don’t send me another e-mail and don’t bother leaving your screed in the comment section as it will lead to an immediate ban without explanation.  I don’t play nice with haters.  I don’t believe in giving you any leeway to believe that what you have to say is the least bit acceptable. 

Crips and Bloods, Made in America

When we  think of gang warfare the two names that instantly come to mind are the Crips and the Bloods.   The hostility between these two groups has filled morgues and left citizens living lives of fear.  

Stacy Peralta director of Dogtown, Z-Boys and Riding Giants, posed the following question: "If affluent white teenagers in Beverly Hills were forming neighbourhood gangs, arming themselves with automatic assault rifles and killing other affluent white teenagers who were also living in upscale neighbourhoods and were also arming themselves with AK 47s and shooting to kill, what would the response of our society be? Would society respond or would society ignore it? Would our government respond, if so, how would our government respond?"

I believe that were we to answer this question honestly, such a travesty would never be allowed to continue amongst white communities. Instead of actively fighting to end this terrible war that has claimed so many lives, it has been perpetuated by the ending of after school programs and the refusal to unequivocally legislate gun control.  Blacks are constructed as naturally violent and therefore, the social abdication of responsibility is understood as justified.  The truth is that black lives don’t matter.

Children become what they see and if all they are offered is a culture of violence and drug dealing that it is all they will grow to become.  It saddens me to think of the potential lost.  How many of the fifteen thousand dead could have contributed something wonderful to society?  How many of those currently locked up in industrial prison complex could have been the spark for change had they just been offered the same opportunities that are readily available to the white ruling elite?  Gang violence lives because of racism and poverty and until we tackle these two evils, young black men will continue to arrive in the morgue long before their time.

H/T Leslie via e-mail

Mad World: Adam Lambert

Yeah cause I am a mad fan here is your weekly dosage of Adam Lambert

One thing is certain, should he get cheated out of the win,  Adam is going to be a very successful artist. 

Maricopa County Sheriffs Office: When The Truth Hurts

Even if we were to give them the benefit of the doubt, if their statements were at all true they would be the only policing agency in the United States without racist officers.  What are the chances that this rare anomaly is run by Arpaio?  Anyone want to  buy some swampland?

I think it is particularly touching how they inform us that they are protecting the US from the invading dark masses from the south.  What a threat these poor illegal immigrants pose to safety and civilization with their aspirations of escaping poverty and earning enough to feed their families. 

Of course we should believe they are not racist, after all they are white police officers and who better to judge whether or not they engage in activities that involving profiling and harassment than them.  We certainly cannot expect to hear the truth from “the illegal's,” who risk deportation just by daring to file a complaint.  Whiteness is always unbiased about its behaviour.  If only we loud mouth activists who seem to suffer under the belief that no ones human and constitutional rights should be violated would  just shut the hell up so that the sheriffs office could round people up in peace. 

The very simple fact, is that if one does not want to be accused of being a racist, refusing to participate in behaviour that is racist would go along way to ending that charge.  The problem is that these men and women do not want to be held accountable for their actions.   Though calling someone a racist has become a very emotionally charge, accusation, racism is pervasive throughout this society and is hardly an irregularly held belief.  It permeates every single agent of socialization and regularly we are encouraged to validate our dissonance in worth and value.  Though in some instances we have been taught not to act consciously on it; the truth of matter is that whether purposefully or on an unconscious level we constantly make decisions, act or fail to act based in prejudice and a desire to maintain unearned privilege.  Whiteness can never decide if an act is racist or not because there will always be a conflict of interest. 

Power, Bigotry and Racism

image Racism continues to be a scourge in our society. Emotions immediately flare when race is brought into a conversation because for people of color it is highly personal and often for whiteness it is a matter of justifying unearned privilege.  The very concept of race was created to support the oppression and exploitation of people of color. 

Due to the fact that whiteness continues to dominate every aspect of our culture and social life, its influence is felt even when it appears to be directly absent.  When people of color relate to one another the fact that we have been steeped in a culture that has taught us to systemically distrust, label, and degrade each other, means that we not only operate with but dutifully perform, the very hatred that is aimed at us to maintain our dissonance in worth and value.

It is the overvaluation of whiteness that allows hueism to continue to be such a pervasive concept globally.  People of color risk disfigurement with skin bleaching creams desperate to lighten their skin;  in this way we internalize racism and act it out upon ourselves.  Our continual obsession over hue means that we are constantly challenging the authority of light skinned people to identify as POC or shaming and marginalizing those that are considered to be to dark.  Though we do not acknowledge it, this is yet another example of the ways in which we have internalized racist conceptions to the point that we become our own jailers.  When your oppressor can convince you to aid in your own systematic devaluation, it is truly an awesome display of power.

To be racist one must be both prejudicial and exist with power:

People often confuse racism with discrimination and prejudice, but racism is different as it includes the aspect of POWER. Any person, of any colour, can be prejudiced towards another person based on any difference between them (this is not okay, but the term used to describe it is not racism). Prejudice based on skin colour does not become racism until you add social, political, economic, ideological and institutional power. In Canada and Nova Scotia it is white people who hold this power and have control over the education system, the banking system, the court system, the educational system, the media, and all our other institutions.
(Carvery & Bishop, 1994)

image Since people of color do not exist with the social power to reify their prejudices they cannot be racist.   This does not mean that we do not exist with enough power to be hurtful to each other based in a false understanding of power as existing solely as a coercive force.  When one is oppressed there is this belief that mirroring the behaviour of the oppressor will result in an elevation of place however, it simply amounts to supporting our unbalanced system of hierarchies.   When we do the work of whiteness instead of using our power creatively to re-envision new ways in which we can not only work to  create a new foundation based in the fundamental belief that all people matter; with the understanding that we can  systematically change the very concept of what it means to transgress, we do ourselves a disservice. 

We know that racial epithets while often publicly frowned upon, are still very much in use in private conversations.  People repeat stereotypes like the Asian lotus flower, the ball busting Black woman, the hot tamale Latina woman and the Squaw drudge without compunction.  There is this sense that if we are included in these conversations that somehow because it is not directed at our racial group, that we are being given insider status.

In the city in which I live anti-Asian sentiment is extremely strong and often when I complain about the negativity aimed at the Asian community, the common response is, “why are you upset, we are not talking about blacks?”  It is assumed that I have already internalized negative ideas about Asians and that I seek the approval of whiteness.  What is insidious about racism is that not only are we taught to hate ourselves, we are taught to hate all other bodies of color.  When we do the Masters work and display obvious bigotry towards another body of color, we are not being racist we are displaying internalized hatred. 

image It is not possible to declare that an Asian person is more oppressed than an Indigenous person, or that an African American is more oppressed than a Chicano, but what we can unequivocally declare is that as long as we are understood as racialized in a way that is different than whiteness we are stigmatized bodies.  So if we accept the idea that oppression cannot be compared i.e . Oppression Olympics,  we are all socially positioned relative to whiteness disciplined and exploitable bodies.

The heart of this debate is power; how we understand it and how we employ it.  Due to the fact that we see power as coercive we have a tendency to be reactive rather than proactive in our endeavours.  We are taught that inequality is natural and therefore we act upon that basis.  Imagine if we started from the beginning with the understanding that power can be use to create out of nothing, to reconceptualise how bodies are understood.  It is vital that we create new spaces in which we employ power to purposefully rebel against the structures that have been built to maintain white hegemony.   It is an absolute necessity that we actively strive for self determination.  Though the body is necessarily encoded with meaning from birth how we choose to perform our assigned roles can fundamentally change the understanding of what it means to exist as a person of color.  When we internalize racism and display bigotry towards another person of color we are conceding power and it is this that must be remembered.  Relative to whiteness we may not exist with systemic power but that this does not mean that we do no exist with individual power. 

Your Revolution

Sarah Jones Keeping It Real

Transcript below the fold

This piece is dedicated to Gill Scott Harren.  Well he’s the man that wrote the revolution will not be televised and you know how we do in the hip hop generation y’all this is the remix.

Your revolution will not happen between these thighs.  Your revolution will not happen between these thighs.  The real revolution ain’t about booty size, the Versace's you buys or the Lexus you don’t drive.  And though we have lost biggie smalls baby your notorious revolution will never allow you to lace no lyrical dush in my bush.  Your revolution will not be you killing me softly with Fugees. Your revolution ain’t goin knock me up without no ring or no plans and produce little future emcees because that revolution will not happen between these thighs.  And your revolution will not find me in the back seat of a jeep with LL hard as hell, doing it, doing it and doing it well.  Your revolution will not be you smacking it up, flipping it or rubbing it down, nor  will it take you downtown or humping around because that revolution will not happen between these thighs.  And your revolution will not have me singing ain’t no nigger like the one I got.  Your revolution will not be your ass sending me for no VD shot.  And your revolution will not involve me feeling your nature rise up or helping your fantasize because that revolution will not happen between these thigh and oh oh ..No my Jamaican brother your revolution will not make you feel boombastic and really fantastic and have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic.  And you will not be touching your lips to my triple dip of french vanilla, butter pecan chocolate deluxe, or having aka Nellie's dream a six foot blow job machine.  Oh oh you want to subjugate your queen and Ima put that in my mouth just cause you made a few bucks, please.  And your revolution will not be you dying your hair platinum blonde singing bout what we gonna do together all night long cause all you can see is the thong thong thong thong thong thong. That revolution will not happen between these thighs but your revolution makes me wonder where could we go if we could all drop the empty pursuit of props and the ego and revert back to our roots.  And use a little common sense on a quest to make love day la so, no pretence. Your revolution will not include you flexing your little sex and status to express what you feel.  Your revolution will not will not happen between these thighs, will not happen between these thighs.  Will not be you shaking and me (she yawns)  eventually faking between these thighs. Why because when the revolution, when it finally happens for all of us it’s going to be real.

H/T The Jaded Hippy

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Working at 84 Isn’t She Lucky

Mildred Copeland is 84 and is still waiting tables after 34 years.

Copeland: You get to that time in your life when you think I can just sit back and relax a little bit and not have to worry but it’s not like that.  I thank God everyday for a job, for my home, it’s paid for.  That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. 

Ali Velshi:  That woman that you had in your story, the woman that had been a waitress.  I almost wonder whether people who live close to the edge but don’t carry a lot of debt are not as affected by this recession.  They have sort of been living in that state for awhile, there’s not a lot of room that they have to fall. 

Thelma Gutierrez: Ali you’re absolutely right.  I think that’s the lesson here.  You look at somebody like Mildred she’s 84 years old.  She’s still waiting tables but she’s doing it top supplement her social security income.  The most important thing here is that she has no mortgage.  She doesn’t have the monkey on her back that we all have and so she doesn’t have to worry.  She feels that she is going to be able to move through this crises because she lives simply.  She was able to pay off her house and she doesn’t have the big worry that so many people out there have which is mortgage. 

Gotta love it when the media stunningly misses the point.   Mildred is 84 years old and should not have to work another day to supplement her income and yet they portray her as “lucky” to just be able to survive.  It’s like they’re saying, look she can eat and has a warm bed therefore, she has no reason to complain.

Many senior women are living in poverty.  Often times their retirement benefits are based on their husbands pensions because women of Mildred’s age stayed home to raise their children or spent a significant amount of time out of the workforce.  This is particularly problematic as women typically out live their spouses, which leaves them with a reduction of income and or benefits as many plans do not include a survivor clause. In a study of poverty on women that examined the years 1984-2003 between 41%-67& of single women over the age of 65 lived in poverty. The widest gender gap in poverty levels is between senior men and women, with 21% of senior women living in poverty as opposed to 11% of senior men.

Clearly there is a genderized aspect to poverty and old age.  The fact that women spend their golden years struggling to survive after dedicating a lifetime to their families speaks to the fact that we routinely devalue women’s labour based in the idea that we do so out of an innate desire to nurture.  From the moment our mothers place that first baby doll into our hands, we learn that our role in life is to care for others first and it is not until the end of our lives that we realize the terrible cost that we have paid for our self-sacrificing behaviour.

When we factor in that seniors often have the added expenses that arise out of healthcare concerns, poverty can be the difference between life and death.  Clearly, working as a waitress there is high possibility that Mildred is not receiving health insurance and while she is able to supplement her old age pension by working, what will become of her when her body inevitably begins to fail? 

Much of the social programs that used to be covered by the state have either been reduced or cancelled out right.  It is assumed that a senior will have a child that will assume the burden of their care.  Not all senior people had children and not all relationships with adult children are positive.  

An estimated 550,000 people of age 65 or older were abused in 1996 across the country, according to the first National Elder Abuse Incidence Study. The exact rates are unclear because many victims don't seek help and there is no mandatory reporting of elder abuse, as there is with spousal or child abuse. This has become a growing problem. Reported cases are likely a fraction of the actual incidence of abuse. Elder abuse shortens the life of the elderly! According to Dr. Mark S. Lachs, the professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-author Dr. Karl Pillemer, the professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University in Ithaca, between 2 and 10 percent of the elderly are physically or mentally abused. They also figured out that mistreated seniors are three times more likely to die within three years than those who are not abused. Elder abuse is often not recognized, particularly those abused in the home. If only family members care for the frail elderly, how can violence be detected?

The state of senior citizens is precarious in the best of economic times.  During the course of a recession depression when more stress than ever is experienced, it is quite easy to take out frustrations on those that are most vulnerable within a household.  The system is already overloaded and the first round of the baby boomers are just beginning to attempt to retire.   Unless we take concrete measures to ensure a decent standard of living and care I fear that the state of elderly women will reach a terrible state.

H/T The Zoo