Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is 1500 Too Much For Shelter?

image This little house was designed by the students of Emily Carr University.  It cost less than 1500 CAN in materials to build.   Though they are no larger than 64 square feet, they provide shelter from the cold and a place to store belongings.  With several of these in one place they would foster a community.   They are currently being used by the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Society.

image Tent cities are flourishing across North America.   The system is overloaded and day after day the unemployment rate is rising.  Those who were living in poverty before the recession depression started are extremely vulnerable.  As the ranks of the homeless rise governments are at a loss for how to provide basic necessities.  The students who designed these homes have suggested that 10-12 of them be placed together with a communal kitchen and bathroom in the middle.   This  plan was rejected by the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster.

Quite often as in the case of Toronto, when the homeless set up temporary shelters and communities, the city rushes in to destroy their homes and remove any stability that they have managed to create.   We continue to turn people away from shelters night after night.   Even the lucky few that are able to find a bed are often subject to violence.  Is this really the way that we expect people to live?

Why is it we somehow find it more acceptable to have people sleeping in cardboard boxes with newspapers as blankets than affording them some form of stability?  The list for government housing  can take years and in some cases the buildings are so run down that the provincial government is no worse than a slum lord.  Though the divide between the rich and the poor is smaller in Canada than in the United States, it continues to grow each year.

As  long as we live under a capitalist system we are always going to have a number of people who for various reasons are going to be homeless.   It is time that we admit this very basic fact and work towards solutions that will provide permanent shelter and a decent amount of human dignity for all people.  There is no reason in a society as rich as ours for people to live in this kind of misery, especially when there are workable solutions available. 

If we were to incorporate a community garden along with the communal  kitchen and bathroom, at least some of the food would be self sustaining and healthy as well.  There are viable options but we cannot afford to pretend that this broken system is even marginally meeting the needs of those that it supposed to help.  With a little ingenuity and a  helping hand these homes could be just the beginning that a homeless person needs to regain the dignity that we socially strip from them because of their poverty.  A small place to call ones own, a door that locks, and a place to lay ones head, says I matter in this world.  If we can find money to wage war in Afghanistan, we can find money to build homes in Canada. 


Final Round: The Canadian F-Word Blog Awards

image

Hello everyone, the final voting for the Canadian F-Word Blog Awards has started.  If you have the time, I would certainly appreciate the vote.  Womanist Musings has been nominated in three different categories and it would be great to grab a badge.  So if you get the chance please hop over there.  Matt Bastard is also nominated and I am sure he could use some support for his excellent blog as well.

Keith Olbermann: President Obama, You Are Wrong

I do believe that once again Olbermann makes some very salient points that require consideration. The Transcript Is Below The Fold.

As promised a special comment now on the presidents revelation of the remainder of this nightmare of Bush administration torture memos.  This president has gone where few before him dared.  The dirty laundry, the illegal , un-American, self destructive is out for all to see.  Mr. Obama deserves our praise and our thanks for that and yet he has gone but halfway and in this case in far too many respects half the distance is worse than standing still. 

Today Mr.President in acknowledging these since fiction like documents you said that:

image

 image Mr President you’re wrong.  What you describe would not be spent energy but catharsis, not blame laid but responsibility ascribed.  You continued:

 image image Indeed we must Mr.President and the forces of which you speak are the ones lingering with pervasive stench from the previous administration.  Far more than a criminal stench sir, an immoral one.  One we cannot let be recreated in this nation.  One President Obama it is your responsibility to ensure cannot be recreated.  Forgive me for quoting from a comment I authored the night before the inauguration but this goes to the core of the presidents commendable but wholly naive intention here. 

This country has never moved forward with confidence without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past.  In point of fact every effort to merely draw a line in the sand and declare the past dead has served only to keep the past alive and often to strengthen it.  We moved forward with slaver and the declaration of independence and the constitution  add four score and nine years later we had buried six hundred thousand of our sons and bothers in a civil war.  After that wars ending we moved forward without the social restructuring and without the protection of the rights of minorities and a century later we have not only not resolved anything but black leader were still being assassinated  in our southern cities.  We moved forward with Germany and the reconstruction of Europe after the end of first world war.  Nobody even arrested the German Kaiser, let alone conducted war crimes trials then and nineteen years later there was an indescribably more evil Germany and even more heart rending second world war.  We moved forward with the trusts of the early 1900’s and today we are at the mercy of corporation which are  too big to fail.  We moved forward with the Palmer raids and got McCarthyism.  We moved forward with McCarthyism and got Watergate.  We moved forward with Watergate and junior members of the Ford administration realized how little was ultimately at risk; they grew up to be Paul Wolfiwitz and Donald Rumsfield and Dick Cheney. 

But Mr. President when you say we must come together on our common future, you are entirely correct.  We must focus on what we got right in the future as opposed to what we got wrong in the past.  That means prosecuting all those involved in the Bush administrations torture of prisoners even if the results are nominal punishments or just results in new law.  Your only other option is to let this sit and fester openly because sir someday there will be another Republican president or even a Democrat just as blind as Mr. Bush to ethics and this countries moral force and he will look back at what you did or did not do with Mr.Bush and he will see precedent or as Mr.Cheney saw he will see how not to get caught the next time.  Prosecute Mr. President even if you get not one conviction, you will still have accomplished good for generations unborn.  Merely by acting you will deny a further wrong that this construction will enter the history books; that torture was legal, it saved the country, the end.   This must not be.

imageMr.President you are making histories easiest, most often made mistake.  You are accepting the defence that somebody was just following orders.  At the end of his first year in office Mr.Lincoln tried to contextualize the civil war for those who still wanted to compromise with the of secession and slavery.  The struggle of today is not altogether for today it is for a vast future also.  Mr. President you have now been handed the beginning of the vast future.  Use it to protect our children and our distant descendants from anything like this ever happening again.  By showing them that those who did this were neither unfairly scapegoated nor absolved.  It is good to say we won’t do it again it is not however enough. 


Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone thanks for another great week of conversation.  Once again we had a small troll infestation however, I believe that is the cost of daring to challenge the false social constructions under which we live.

On Sunday at 4pm Monica of TransGriot and I will be appearing on The Best Of What Tammy Said to talk about black femininity: how it is defined, how it is marginalized, stereotypes, appearance, sexuality etc.,  Be sure to tune in what I am sure it will be an hour of really good conversation.  Check us out at Blogtalk Radio.

The latest instalment of the WOC of and ally blog carnival is up at Tell It WOC Speak.  I apologize for the  late posting but it has been a rough week.

As per usual below you will find the links to a few of the great posts that I discovered this week please stop by and check them out and when you are through don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

What If Michelle Obama were white?

Confessions of a rough sleeper  (This is a must read)

Why Steve Biko Wouldn’t Vote

Babies and Bibles

Hate crimes against homeless people – is there a solution?

Healing The Legacy Of The Boarding Schools 1879-2009

Springing Forward

Bruises: A Litany

Life Before Transition

Women: You Can Pay Them For Sex Now The NY TIMES REPORTS

Queer Kids Don’t Exist Action Needed

Dear God, Seth Rogen, Rape Is Rape

Your ‘orgasm face” Cosmo and the pornification of women

Susan Boyle, Class, Age and Prettiness

call black people “canadians”

101: A Note To Able Bodied Readers

image

Friday, April 17, 2009

White People Problems

While this video does not take into account the degree to which white privilege can be mitigated by things like class, ability, sexuality, I do believe it makes a good statement about the privilege that whiteness lives in, in comparison to POC.  

Is Boycotting Jamaica The Solution For GLBT People?

image Many in the LGBT community have called for the boycott of the Island of fun and sun, Jamaica.  To state that the island nation is inhospitable to those that identify as GLBT is an understatement.  StacyAnn Chin documented her struggles coming out as lesbian and the brutal sexual assault that she endured in her book The Other Side Of Paradise.  To be openly LBTG is to risk not only rape but literally life and death.

Much of the negative attitude towards the TLBG community resides in colonial ideas, religion, patriarchy  and a hyper sexuality that is understood as normal.  Politicians have accused the LGBT community of leading armed gangs and have denied them the right to be represented in government.  Clearly this situation cannot go unchallenged but I must question if a boycott is the right solution.

For all of its beauty, Jamaica is a third world country highly dependent on the tourist industry to survive.  Much of the produce that it was able to export due to the Lome agreement has ended since Clinton fought to have it declared an unfair trade practice.  On an Island that is more than capable of producing food for subsistence much produce is imported as local farmers watch the fruits of their labour rot because they cannot compete with the food prices that western agribusiness is able to set due to subsidies it is able to procure from their governments. When you travel there on vacation, chances are that you are eating Idaho potatoes, rather than potatoes grown on native soul.

image As North Americans, we look at Jamaicans' as relaxed because they seem to lead a leisurely lifestyle; what we do not consider is that such a concept of time and leisure is imposed because of a lack of jobs that pay a living wage.   If you don’t have a job to rush off to is there a need to be running around madly trying to make use of every single spare moment the way that North Americans do? When Tommy Hilfiger had his free zone factory on the island he paid 15 dollars US per week out of which the employee was forced to buy their lunch at the company canteen, as well as pay taxes.  The dairy industry has been so decimated that powdered milk has become common. 

Poverty of the locals is everywhere you look, if you care to move beyond the luxurious resorts built to turn the island into a western playground. This means that LGBT Jamaicans are also poor.   Due to the obvious bigotry and prejudice that they face, the chance that they are able to achieve and maintain a subsistence level is even worse, if they are open about their sexuality and or gender identity.

When we call for a boycott of a place or items, we need to consider the direct and indirect consequences of action.  Tourism is the major industry in Jamaica and in boycotting the island not only are those that are homophobic punished, but the BGTL community that work in the industry as well.  Consider that when the United Nations instituted sanctions against Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein, it was the population that suffered.   Cuba has been under an economic embargo since the Kennedy administration and Fidel has managed up until recently to stay in power; it is the people that deal with the poverty. Though not quite the same circumstances third world workers in Nike factories have asked that westerners not boycott their products because it will affect their ability to make even the slave wages that Nike pays.  When we choose to abstain from purchasing out of moral indignation we need to consider the consequences for all concerned.  Boycotting their major industry means that those that you wish to aid will also suffer under the economic retrenchment.

image Jamaicans are well versed in global economics and are very aware of exactly how damaging the IMF and the world Bank have been to their economy however, unlike  these institutions, the presence of TBLG peoples on the islands who are vulnerable means that they will be able to take out their frustrations directly upon those they see as making their already hard lives that much more difficult.   Forcing conformity by threatening to reduce their ability to subsist is not going to lead to any real and substantive change.  The violence may  reduce because it is highly visible but that does not mean that discrimination, which is potentially just as harmful will end.  We consider North America to be more tolerant of the GLBT community and yet we know that hate crimes continue along with various forms of discrimination. 

Targeted boycotting of music known to promote homophobia and transphobia, and placing pressure on the Anglican, Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist  Church to change their bigoted practices in support of human rights would go further in having an effect on the population than attempting to starve them into submission.   When we consider the large percentage of the population reached each Sunday and Saturday through ministry, the ability of a minister or priest to create change is large.  It must be remembered that black communities across the Diaspora have a long and lasting tradition of engagement with and on behalf of the church and therefore; if their leaders were to begin to preach tolerance, acceptance, and love, this could have the potential to lead to radical change.

Education is something that really needs to be focused on.  Unlike North America, parents must pay school fees for a child to get an education.  If the GLBT community were to subsidize some schools in which students were taught critical thinking and social justice as part of the curriculum not only would they present an image to the population of being vital to the community, they would ensure a future of potential leaders that would be sympathetic to their causes.  This is not a matter of imposing North American culture as much as it is teaching the young the correct information about all bodies and the importance of treating everyone with respect.  There are those that would accuse me of cultural imperialism for such a suggestion however, I do believe the end result would be beneficial to all parties concerned.   I will admit at first when this idea occurred to me I thought about Madonnas building of Kabbahla schools in Malawi but I don’t believe that teaching critical thinking skills and equality necessarily interrupts Jamaican culture, as much as it forces people to question why they believe what they believe. 

In the end I cannot say I have any hard and fast solutions to this issue but I do believe it needs to be multi-faceted. There is no doubt that the situation cannot continue uncontested however, we must take into consideration how the action that is taken is going to effect those very same people we are attempting to help and if it leads to more harm than good perhaps we need to consider other methods.


Only 4.99 To Own A Racist Black Bobble Head

In yet another stunning example of how post racial our world has become. DealExtreme has decided to sell the following dolls.

image                   image

image

image

Yeah…. it’s funny ha ha to make fun of people because of race and if you can somehow manage to make a profit off of your racism so much the better.   I’m surprised they didn’t have a collection of Mammy salt and pepper shakers to go with the bobble heads.

Every time I hear that blacks need to get over the past because Obama is president I think of images like this.   We have not progressed if  people believe that such “toys” are acceptable. 

As a sit here watching my cursor flash on the screen I cannot help but wonder if I really need to say anything else.  Does it need to be said that these dolls are hurtful?  I often get called angry, and hostile by those that seek to discipline me but what they refuse to acknowledge is the pain that comes from having to look at images like this with the knowledge that they are meant to specifically demean Blacks.  I think about my young children sleeping peacefully in their beds and know that the world that I brought them into is filled with hatred towards them, despite the fact that they are beautiful little boys.

For now I am able to prevent them from seeing dolls like this but in the future they will come to know that they, through the legacy of my womb, are considered second class citizens. It will affect not only how they view the world but ultimately how they view themselves.  As much as it pains me as a person, as a mother it hurts me even more.  I know that in the future my boys will face racist images like this and I will be unable to protect them from the hurt and the pain.  These dolls are not harmless and the 4.99 that people spend purchasing them supports the idea that Blacks are less than and limits our ability to lead lives free of discrimination.

H/T Pams House Blend Via Random Babble


Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Don’t Believe In PC Speech

image Quite often when I am forced to warn a commenter because the language that they have used is either racist/homphobic/ablist or sexist, I am told that I am intolerant to opposing points of view.   Fists begin to shake at the thought that I am imposing so-called “politically correct speech” on another and therefore in violation of their right to free speech. You will notice that the onus is always on their right to foul my space and not on my right to defend it.  Before the conversation can even rise to a level of interaction, the speaker has already used a modernist binary mode of thought to construct active and passive bodies because this is the only way that they can conceive of discourse.

I have repeatedly said that I believe that there is a difference between free speech and hate speech.   Anytime that we resort to language that “others,” we are doing so from a place of privilege wherein; the purpose is to ensure that our hierarchy of bodies continues.  The reason people are resistant to considering how harmful such language is stems from a desire to maintain undeserved privilege. 

It is not just the language that  is hurtful; it is that the language implies that the person being referenced is a lesser than being.   Though we have naturalized the idea that some bodies are worth more than others, if we really stop and pause very few people lead a life in which they are not negotiating at least one area of stigmatization.  It is this oppression that causes us to seek out power to mitigate the degree to which we are hurt by the daily assaults.

Imagine a world in which we truly valued all people;  there would be no need to compensate by making another feel less than.  Even though the hurtful language is meant to demean another, it is also hurtful to the speaker.  If we spend a lifetime continually regurgitating negative thoughts and ideas, it certainly has an affect on how we view the world and ourselves.  (Don’t worry I am not going down the road of the secret)

Consider this little gem left in the comment section by proudfatty:

Retards are dumb. That's a fact. I don't hate them, but if they weren't dumb they wouldn't be retards. I have a cousin who is severely retarded, and I do everything I can to make her life as happy as possible, but at the same time I wouldn't want her running the country. Just as I would rather have an "able" person than a quadruplegic trying to pull me out of a burning building. Does that make me an "ableist" or just a sane human being?

When people use words like nigger, retard or faggot and then complain about being ostracized it is the fear of rejection that is at the root of their complaints.  It is the fear of being seen for the truly imperfect being that they are in a society that demands that we exist without flaws. 

This morning I awoke to the following e-mail from Traber.Schroeder (be thankful I am not publishing your e-mail address)

Aren’t you tired of being angry at everything all the time?  My god, you are so full of outrage and offense, I couldn't read more than five minutes of the tripe you call your thoughts without unquestionably knowing that you are fractally wrong.  Fractal, as in - wrong on every level of resolution.  Get off your high horse and stop being the ivory-tower liberal everyone hates.

It is my outrage that is unacceptable however, hir desire to oppress is clearly image coming from a place  of logic and tolerance.  Dominant groups have decided that the appropriate response for oppressed groups is to accept our marginalization without complaint.  To resist is to upset the “natural” order.   Hir hate is based in the fact that not only do I demand respect for myself, I demand it for others.

The final touch that I most adore is that I am an ivory-tower liberal.   S/he feels inferior because of the education that I have received and therefore hir response is not to attempt to mitigate the differences between us but to shame me for having the privilege of an education. This is a clear expression of an inferiority complex manifesting itself.  When I speak about using power coercively this is exactly what I mean.  Traber has power and yet instead of using it to construct positively, s/he sees no alternative but to oppress to counter what s/he views to be a personal failing.   ‘

When we see negative stereotypes and shaming proliferate throughout a society, it is not about the group that it is being aimed at, rather it is a direct reflection of the fear and inferiority of the oppressor.  Just as we are a product of the social world that we are born into, so are they.  While dealing with an “ism” does not give one license to demean another, it is important to understand the impetus behind the actions, rather than dismissing the speaker as irrelevant. 

We need to start having conversations about power and how and why it manifests itself, if we are to make any form of substantive change in our social structure.  There is far more power in resistance than in conformity and this is a lesson that we must actively teach each succeeding generation.   When we create, we have the ability to place ourselves in the center of the conversation rather than acting as dupes to those that seek to oppress, marginalize. and exploit for gain.  To those that have spent a lifetime in the shadows discovering that not only do they matter but that they are worthy of being the focal point in a conversation based in positive rather than the negative can truly change ones perspective on the value of social stratification.  Power must begin with self love for us to truly transcend that which ails us.


The Art Of Self Pleasure Makes it to Oprah

I have a new post up at Global Comment

How do you know when you’ve made it these days? When you show up on Oprah, of course.

On April 9th of this year, masturbation had its big coming out party and became the subject du jour as part of a special on talking to your children about sex. Of course, it was still far too controversial to be referred to by its correct name and so the usual euphemisms were employed by the guests. At least we were spared the all too common “vajayjay” references and the female anatomy was correctly named. If we are going to have a discussion about masturbation, making up names for our body parts means that we are talking around the issue and not being as open as honest as we need to be. This would be far from the best way to empower women or young girls.

Sexual health is an important factor in overall happiness and when 40% of women report some sort of sexual dysfunction, clearly there are issues that need to be addressed. We already live in a society that shames women when we are sexual outside of patriarchal power structures and therefore masturbation can be an important tool to teach women about their bodies and furthermore, encourages a form of sexuality that is not dependent upon performing or sharing with a partner. In a world where sex is conceived of as something men do to women rather than an act of reciprocal pleasure, a sexually informed and aware woman can prove threatening to patriarchy.

Finish Reading Here

Hueism Blocks The Path To Unity

To advocate passionately as a womanist means confronting issues in the black community that we have long been resistant to speak publicly about.  Hueism continues to be an ongoing issue and it affects both light skinned and dark skinned women differently.

 image Often our light skinned sisters will receive underserved privilege by whiteness, simply because of the color of their skin.  One need look no further than at the models that are promoted by the fashion industry to discern that to even have the smallest chance of being considered beautiful, if one is of color, it is necessary to be born with light skin.  There are rare exceptions like the stunning Alek Wek however, beauty is still measured by how closely one manages to match the ideal femininity that has been constructed for white women.

To be a dark skinned black woman in  a world that values whiteness, is to be daily “othered” and otherwise ignored. From a very early age the dark skin girl learns  that she is not beautiful regardless of how supportive her family may be and in a world where beauty is one of the few ways in which women express and or wield power, this can lead to feelings of anger and resentment.  To actually rise above the anger that is created by discovering that through an accident of birth one is deemed socially irrelevant, is work that for some women takes a lifetime. 

image This anger often manifests itself by challenging the worth and or the blackness of lighter skinned women.   Light skinned women may find more acceptability around whiteness but when they must relate to members of the African American community, issues of undeserved privilege will arise.  They will be asked to prove their allegiance to POC and black men will actively seek them out as trophy wives.   I cannot  imagine how difficult it is to identify as a WOC, only to have that identity challenged repeatedly.  Some will become extremely militant as a way to counter act the exclusion that they face. 

As we do battle amongst ourselves to maintain a sense of self worth, the issues that plague us most deeply are not of our creation.   It is whiteness that began this divide and whiteness that continues it with the aid of our collusion in the form of internalized racism.   We know that light skinned blacks were often treated better during slavery.   The very first blacks that were able to achieve higher education were also light skinned.  To look at images from the first black sororities, is to see a historical record of those that would become the first blacks to achieve social mobility and a degree of prestige.  Some families so valued the lightness of their skin, they purposefully denied their children the right to marry a darker skinned person.

In places like New Orleans blood quotient was studiously counted.  Blacks would announce whether they were octoroons or quadroons, loudly proclaiming their proximity to whiteness.  Some families worked diligently to ensure that each generation they became lighter, until they were barely recognizable as black.  The ability to pass as white meant that one would not have to deal with the ugliness of racism. The darker skinned amongst us watched as light skinned blacks either were granted privileges or disappeared into white society never to be heard from again. 

Today though we have had a civil rights movement and have elected the first black president hue continues to divide us.   One of the reasons openly stated for loving Michelle Obama is the darkness of her skin.  Not only is she embraced for being black but for being visibly black. As I read the commentary of praise, I cannot help but wonder how it makes our lighter skinned sisters feel. Yes, some have become accustomed to privilege due to the lightness of their skin however, bringing balance to the community cannot be achieved by falsely praising darker skin. 

We need to move beyond gradations in color and finally acknowledge that whether dark or light skinned, black is black. We only see difference because we have been taught to do so by whiteness.  When we continue to argue amongst ourselves over who is legitimately black or who is worthy to advance based in hue,  we are distracted from battling the racism that we all face.   Whiteness does not want us to actively assert our humanity and therefore; any method that they can employ to ensure that our focus is not on the systemic ways in which racism hurts us will be encouraged.   This is not a new tactic, simply looking at the Tutsi’s and Hutu’s is a perfect example of what happens when we allow whiteness to decide what constitutes value amongst black people.

Divide and conquer is a game that whiteness plays well and when we foolishly consent to engage as though we are powerless to resist the grading of color, we cede what little power we have.  There are many situations in life in which we are presented with options that lead to negative consequences however, deciding to  love all of the manifestations of blackness is asserting a power that whiteness would love us to abdicate.   In the 60’s we rallied around the phrase that black is beautiful and the time has finally come for us to live it.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Born To Be Wild: Adam Lambert

Did you think I forgot your weekly dose of Adam Lambert?  Of course not, it just took me awhile to find a video that didn’t come from youtube.  I didn’t want to have to battle with it being taken down right after I put it up.

Adam Lambert all of the way WOOT!

Jamie Foxx On Miley Cyrus: Make A Sex Tape And Grow Up

Jamie’s comments stem from learning that Cyrus threatened to “ruin Radiohead”, after they refused to meet her backstage at the grammys.  What should be noted is that Foxx is a 41 year old man and Cyrus is a 16 year old girl.  There should be a difference in maturity level between the two but clearly one of them needs to go grow the hell up quickly and by that I do mean Foxx.

"She's gonna ruin Radiohead's career?" Foxx asked before ripping into the teen star. "Make a sex tape and grow up. Get like Britney Spears and do some heroin. Do like Lindsay Lohan, start seeing a lesbian, and get some crack in your pipe; catch Chlamydia on a bicycle seat."

What is this but blatant slut shaming of a young girl for immature behaviour?   How does his response make him any better than her?  Miley may be spoiled however, the correct response is not to refer to her as a bitch.  

On the Tonight Show he issued the following apology:

"I so apologize ... and this is sincere," he said on the "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Tuesday. "I am a comedian, and you guys know that whatever I say, I don't mean any of it."

"I have a radio show... We're really the black Howard Stern. We go at everybody. There was a situation with Miley Cyrus, and I just want to say, I apologize for what I said. I didn't mean it maliciously. You know I'm a comedian. You know my heart."

Yeah we know his heart all right, play upon the “isms” for a cheap laugh.  Why wouldn’t someone's drug addiction, sexuality, mental health issues, and STD’s be funny?  Though he has apologized, his behaviour is far too common for many comedians.  They prey upon oppressed groups and then when people complain they are told that they don’t have a sense of humour, or are far too sensitive. 

From In Living Color on down this has been Jamies shtick.   Anyone remember Jamie’s genderized show as Wanada?

Yeah, black woman don’t have it hard enough without being turned into caricatures by the men that are supposed to be supporting them.  Week after week Jamie donned the dress to make us look foolish and this was fodder for comedy. 

His recent comments only serve to prove that he has not grown one bit as a man or a comedian since the In Living Color Days.   Reducing people never has or ever will be funny and this is one lesson that Fox has failed to learn.   He may have taken off the dress but he continues to be an ass.


Judge Mathis: Prison Rape Is Part Of The Game

image Judge Mathis has become a household name since the release of his autobiography "Inner City Miracle." In the book co-written by Blair Walker, Mathis speaks about growing up in the inner city and his membership in a gang.   From this horrible beginning he rose to become the youngest judge ever in state of Michigan.   He can be seen regularly on television dishing out his special brand of justice on the Judge Mathis show.  

On several occasions I have watched his show only to notice the various times he engages in sexism and classism to push his pull yourself up by the bootstraps ideology.  While Mathis embodies the conservative dream come true, he is not afraid to send harmful messages in an effort to prove that everyone can achieve positive mobility if they just follow his leadership.

His latest attempt at corralling the “little people” is a new video game entitled, Street Judge.

"The main difference between our game and Grand Theft Auto is that players will have to deal with the justice system and consequences for their actions," explains Mathis. "When you go to prison, you gain credibility when you come back on the streets. On the other hand, when you go to prison you can also be raped. So take your chances. We may see young people who make the wrong choice and go to prison and are assaulted repeatedly (in this game)."

Where to even begin with this misadventure.  The idea that rape should be included as part of entertainment is distasteful to say the least.  Yes, prison rape occurs but it is something that we should be fighting against not normalizing as part of the penal experience.  Telling people that if you go to prison that part of your punishment is rape turns the victim in the guilty party.  No matter what heinous crime someone has committed rape should never be justified as part of the punishment.

I wonder if Mathis thought for a moment about how the image of repeated rape as part of entertainment would trigger and effect victims? 

The game will supposedly give gamers "the choice between good and bad through in-game video sequences and narration, [and] the Judge will be the source of reason for gamers."

What does this teach us but that we are responsible for our own assaults.  Does society not do enough victim blaming, without setting up a game which teaches that if you make the “right decisions” you can avoid rape?   I shudder to think of the young girls playing this game whose behaviour is already disciplined, once again learning that their safety is dependent upon choices that they make and not a society that is committed to declaring unequivocally that sexual violence is unacceptable. 

When the Attorney General of Alaska can state,If a guy can’t rape his wife…who’s he gonna rape?”   How can there be any doubt that we live in a rape culture.

Not every thing is fit for entertainment.  Mathis is attempting to teach that there are alternatives to crime and yet in the game, the punishment for not performing is a crime. How did he miss the irony of that one?  No matter where a person is, it is not legal to violate their physical person by assaulting  them.  Rape is not about punishing someone rape is about expressing power over another individual.

People will consume this game and talk about the message that crime does not pay without ever realizing that it reinforces the rape culture that we currently live in.   Whether it in movies, video games, books or magazine daily we are shown images of rape that minimize the damage that it causes.  It is continually justified as humour, or legitimated as a response to the behaviour of the victim seldom is the blame ever placed upon the rapist.  If Mathis really wanted to teach about crime perhaps he should start with the premise that it is never the fault of the victim and that there is never any justification for rape.


The Eagle, The Flag, The Pledge Of Allegiance and Now Tea Bagging

Quote of the Day, “Who wouldn’t want to teabag John MCcain.”

Yes I lost my mind laughing but honestly who ever thought the day would come when Republicans would be advocating tea bagging.  How Rachel made it through this without putting her head on a desk and losing her mind with laughter is really beyond me.

Shelter From The Storm

 

Every year in Canada up to 360,000 children witness violence in the home and nearly 100,000 women and children seek refuge in a shelter.

Shelter from the Storm is Canada’s largest national campaign dedicated to ending violence against women. From April 13th to May 10th, 2009 you can help the Canadian Women’s Foundation raise funds to support more than 450 shelters for abused women and their children, across Canada.

image Shelter from the Storm t-shirts are $12.99 and available at Winners and HomeSense stores nationwide. The shirts come in white, purple and black for women, and white, grey and black for men. Shelter from the Storm teddybears are $12.99 and re-usable totes with lunchbags are $4.99. Net proceeds from the sale of these items will directly support shelters for abused women and community violence prevention programs.

You’ll also be helping to fund community programs that assist women as they rebuild their lives after abuse; that teach young people about healthy relationships; and that counsel children who have witnessed violence, to help them heal and prevent them from becoming victims or abusers themselves.

Another campaign highlight occurs on May 7th when Rogers Media radio stations across Canada will broadcast live radio-thons to share survivors' stories, raise awareness of the issue and encourage listeners to donate. And for the first time ever, City TV in Vancouver will broadcast a 4-hour live telethon on Breakfast Television. Winners and HomeSense will also hold "Shop 'til it Stops" on May 7th; a cross-Canada sales event in which a percentage of the day's sales goes to Shelter from the Storm. When shoppers use their BMO(R) MasterCard(R) an additional percentage will go to the campaign.

Canadians can make a donation any time during the campaign online at www.shelterfromthestorm.ca or at any Winners, HomeSense or BMO Bank of Montreal branch.

I know that things are rough for everyone right now but please do what you can to help.  No one should be forced to live with violence. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Limbaugh: "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society"

This is a strange piece, but, nevertheless, this piece, if it gets wide distribution, will set feminism back 50 years.
It's a story from a website called BitterLawyer.com—BitterLawyer.com: "Law professors won't tell their female students this, but one method some women use to get ahead in the corporate world has nothing to do with grades, or professionalism, or hard work—just fake boobs. In a recent Bitter Lawyer poll, 58 percent of those asked said that boob implants could only help a woman's career; the remainder of respondents were split on the matter. Just over 23 percent of those polled paid—said that such cosmetic changes were 'irrelevant'." [reads more of the article, which is, in actuality, largely about the relationship between subtle breast enhancements and self-esteem]
"…In other words, if she feels sexy, she'll be more confident (in the bedroom and at work), and success will likely follow." Can I redirect you to feminist truth number 24—undeniable truth of life number 24—written by me in the mid-80s? Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society. It's proved practically every day in our modern culture.

I found this over at Shakesville where Liss commented, “let me just issue a reminder to be better than him: His weight and addiction have nothing to do with his diarrheic vitriol.

When people criticize Limbaugh they have a tendency to fat shame him.  While I agree that fat shaming is wrong, we should not ignore the fact that when people bully others it comes from a place of insecurity.  Limbaugh could quit the radio business tomorrow and lead a life of comfort with the wealth that he has amassed and yet for fifteen hours a week he dives willingly into an emotional black hole to attack marginalized bodies.   No one is spared his vitriol as he attempts to situate himself as a voice of authority.   If one is secure in who you are as a person, there is no need to attack others.

Limbaugh is a college drop out, far from conventionally attractive, and has an issue with previous drug abuse.  All of these factors play a role in making him who he is today.   We should not ignore them simply because we know that society tends to shame people that are obese or are recovering addicts.   I believe that we can take these issues and discuss them respectfully without ignoring the role they play in making him the horrid insecure man that he is.

When he speaks about ugly women, I do believe that it is a reflection of how he feels about his personal appearance and his inability despite his wealth to secure a lasting love connection with a woman.  Feminism is problematic to him precisely because it empowers women to make choices.   Limbaugh falls under the category of old school misogynist wherein money and power should equal female companionship however, because of the fact that today women now earn their own money and have a high degree of independence, we are less likely to put up with oppression in order to secure subsistence. 

Limbaugh's anger and vitriol have everything to do with his inability to convert his white male privilege into real social prestige, despite the  power that he exists with.   He lashes out at women, people of color and the poor, all in an attempt to express a power that where it not for his wealth he would be unable to wield.  If Limbaugh were a poor man despite being white he would find that his weight, lack of formal education and history of drug abuse would mitigate the degree to which he is able to benefit from white male privilege.  Though at times he is intentionally obtuse he is will aware of how power, privilege, and hierarchy work, as these are social elements that he regularly plays with on his show.  Limbaugh feels entitled because everything in his existence tells him that he should be respected, and yet due to our ability to fat shame and mitigate his white male privilege in many circles he is little more than a cosmic joke. 

Looking at picture of Limbaugh from his younger days reveals that his weight has been a life long issue.  Knowing that obesity often means a stigmatized identity, it is not a leap of the imagination to suggest that he has had to deal with negative social experiences based solely on his appearance.   There are those that deal with oppression and marginalization by internalizing the hatred and there are those that lash out at everyone around them.  Limbaugh falls into the latter group and what  has become clear, is that rather than dealing with his issues he has decided that offering society another group onto which to target its desire to oppress, somehow serves to lessen the hurtful attacks that are aimed at him.  It is a classic bait and switch strategy.  Yes, he is a pompous, ignorant ass, of epic proportions but he like everyone else is a product of our society.


Introducing Darren

Hello everyone, I know it’s been a long time coming but I thought I would introduce you to the newest member of our zany family.  Last week we adopted a four year old tabby named Darren from our local humane society.  So far it has been quite the adventure for Darren, as he seems to spend his time making sure he is never on the same floor with the children when they are awake.  He really is a sweet kitty but their desire to love him to bits, clearly drives him around the bend.

DSCF1169

 

 DSCF1172

These photos were taken by Destruction, who btw loves photography.  Darren is in my favourite reading chair and was trying to nap.  Of course the junior photographer demanded that his subject pose and once again poor Darren fell prey to the whims of the boys.  I predict he will soon be the most photographed cat in history.

For those of you that are wondering, I have not joined the feminist kitty collective.  I am still an avid dog lover and intend to get a puppy when the boys are older and more responsible.  Mayhem has attempted to teach Darren to bark but has had little success thus far, so our dog loving credentials are still in good order. 


Michelle Obama: The People's First Lady

This is a guest post by Janice and Andrea. 

Janice Formichella is a second year graduate student at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. She will be graduating with her MPA in May and looks forward to a career advocating for the rights of women. You can0 read more from Janice at Feminist Friendly.

Andrea Hance lives in New York City and works as the Education Coordinator at the New York Tolerance Center.  Andrea has been an activist most of her life and one of her past projects include working for the Obama State Senate race in Illinois. Andrea is the author of the blog Progressive Plaid

image image

Michelle Obama: The People’s First Lady continues the legacy of the People’s Princess.

By: Janice Formichella and Andrea Hance
The Obama’s trip to England last week was a significant highlight in the first hundred days of the Presidency. What the trip truly served as, however, was a red carpet introducing Michelle Obama to the world. The headlines soon shifted from the G20 summit to Michelle Obama’s performance as First Lady and the fact that she overshadowed her husband during the trip. This became front-page news after Michelle made a memorable visit to a local girls school after a historic and even eyebrow-raising audience with the Queen. As images of the visit were flashed over news programs and evening papers, many started to sense the presence of the late Princess Diana in the behavior, grace, individuality, and public awe that Michelle commanded. By the end of the day some reporters had modified the comparison between Michelle and Jackie O to perhaps the more appropriate comparison of Michelle and Princess Diana.
Some of us also felt Diana’s absence. Having grown up watching Princess Diana we found the comparison between her and our new First Lady intriguing. Ever since her untimely and tragic death in 1997, no one woman has emerged to take Diana’s place as an inspiring, intelligent, courageous, graceful woman the entire world can to look up to. Given the significance of both women it is worth taking a look at the similarities between Princess Diana and her heir apparent.

One aspect of Diana’s legacy that Michelle has already started to embody is her willingness and ability to raise awareness for issues that, while critical, gather little mainstream attention. Consider the issue of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. In 1987 not only was Diana one of the first high profile celebrities to be photographed with someone afflicted with HIV, she was the first member of the royal family to do so. Diana sat with AIDS victims at their beds, held their hands, and helped to educate the public about the disease—which was very misunderstood at the time. While much of the world (not to mention the U.S. President) was turning away, Princess Diana was giving a human face to the devastation of HIV.

The First Lady seems determined to use her notoriety in the same way.
It is encouraging to see that Michelle is selecting issues that impact women and girls directly. Prior to becoming the first African American First Lady, Michelle championed for pay equity in the workplace and spoke about the importance of work/life balance; two issues that while important, rarely gain celebrity attention. In addition, Michelle has publicly discussed the importance of women owning their professional achievements while still being proud, responsible mothers. In a society were mothers face exorbitant expectations and pressures, the importance of someone such as Michelle Obama talking openly about this dilemma women face cannot be understated as it impacts so many families.

One striking similarity between Princess Diana and the First Lady is their ready, open arms. This is something about Diana that we will never forget and something about Michelle that is seducing the entire world. After addressing the students last week, Michelle ignored the secret service and launched, arms open, into the crowd of ecstatic girls at Elizabeth Garret Language School. This impulsive response invoked images of Diana emotionally clinging to babies stricken with HIV or children disfigured by landmines. This readiness to act on impulse and challenge the status quo allows these women to appear human to the world and will endure them to the public for a hundred years to come.

Michelle embodies the same valuable legacy of loving and responsible motherhood that Diana was so well known for. Both mothers have instilled a sense of personal responsibility in their children and managed to keep a sense of normal childhood for them while growing up in the public eye. It is important for young women that Michelle is making active motherhood such a strong focus while also promoting progressive ideas about women, careers, and families.

Princess Diana and Michelle Obama both gained notoriety through their marriages to powerful men. Both women also quickly transcended the label of “wife” and became influential in their own right. This similarity also represents a large difference between the women, and one of our greatest hopes. While addressing the school girls last week, Michelle told the girls that the men in her life taught her “what a respectful relationship should look like between men and women” and “what a strong marriage looks like.” It was these remarks about men and relationships that were possibly the most significant yet the most under reported. In an era of wide spread degradation of women, and visible, even tolerated domestic violence, hearing the most iconic woman in the world address healthy relationships is astounding and shows remarkable foresight on her part. Aside from the fact that Michelle is willing to bring attention to a subject that most would rather treat as a non-issue, the Obama’s portray a relationship that is respectful and equitable. When the President makes comments about his marriage such as “as you build a life of mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person” (1) the couple is setting a wonderful example for young men and women all over the world.

Perhaps this is one issue that Diana wished she could have addressed or portrayed differently. Unfortunately Diana’s marriage was tabloid news for its lack of honesty and mutual support. She rocked the royal family by divorcing the Prince to regain her independence and self-respect. Now, we see Michelle demanding and enjoying these things within a solid relationship.

As young progressive women we are hopeful that Michelle will continue to use her influence to bring awareness and action to causes that impact women disproportionally and continue to demonstrate courage in doing so. It was revealed last week that Afghanistan is in the process of passing laws that will strip women of several fundamental rights. Surprisingly, this shocking turn of events has prompted little outrage from the world community. Given her growing influence, we ask Michelle to publicly condemn these actions and press for U.S. intervention. If Michelle has the courage to take the lead on some of these sticky issues, she will not be alone. A legion of women, equipped with a leader, will gather around her to sound the alarm—yes we can, and yes we will!

It is truly a tragedy that the world was not able to witness the meeting of Princess Diana and Michelle Obama. It certainly would have been the beginning of a dynamic friendship. Instead we will remember the example that Diana set for all young women of the world and will watch with anticipation as Michelle continues to dazzle and impress us.
1. http://www.newsweek.com/id/184773

Editors Note:  Though I am in complete disagreement with comparing Michelle Obama with a white woman born into privilege, I have decided to post this piece so that a variety of perspectives may be reflected on this blog.


Of Course Something Is Wrong With Your Vagina

Whoever heard of a healthy vagina?  If you were to believe the common discourse, a vagina is diseased, smelly place that men only brave long enough to get off.  For daring to brave such intimate proximity to the “naturally corrupt” female genitalia, some have donned a badge of courage because only the bravest man would risk himself to confront the mythical toothed vagina; that seeks to devour penises out of sheer envy.  The vagina is so problematic that most times it is referred to by some sort of euphemism and  it can even be thrown as a vile insult.  No one is ever happy to be called a cunt or a pussy.

What should one do, if you have been born with the misfortune of  possessing one of these pesky things?  From the moment you start to become a realized being, it will be your responsibility to tame this wild body part.  You will be forced to make sure that it smells rose garden lovely, is attractive look at, suitably tight enough to pleasure a penis and is always available on demand.   Considering all that comes with possessing a vagina it can be overwhelming.  As a woman you  have your double day to work, all while making sure you retain your suitable aura of submissive femininity and therefore;  we should be thankful that modern technology has created tools to help us poor afflicted beings with our issues.

Drum roll please….Introducing……

 

image

St.Botanica Lady Secret Serum

Tighten & Restore the grip of Vagina

Product Features

1. Firms and tightens the vagina naturally at the same time to give more pleasure and comfort.
2. Contains estrogen helping to restore lubrication solving the problem of vaginal dryness.
3. Help in restoring the vagina suppleness.
4. Helpful in protection from microbial pathogens.
5. Also increase vaginal secretion and contraction of vaginal channel.
6. Reduce excessive mucus of the vagina.
7. It is an anti-inflammatory that stop swelling and dispel unpleasant odor.
8. Contracts and reshape the vaginal walls to intensify intimate pleasure.

Experience the Pleasure of young age again with St Botanica Lady Secret.

Are you feeling the same relief that I am?….Finally something that will make my unkept, unruly vagina into the perfect place of male satisfaction.  My womanhood can finally be complete and all it will take is spending my few disposable dollars on this remarkable item to fix everything that nature got wrong with my girly bits.

image

Isn’t the combination of ageism and sexism absolute perfection?   Not only are you born with a “deficient member”, it only gets worse as you go through life. I personally love the fact that it stimulates your libido on top of it all, ‘cause you know it’s your duty to have sex even if you don’t want to.  Only frigid women turn down the opportunity to be a cum receptacle upon demand.

I am sick and tired of being shamed for being born with a vagina.  It’s an awesome body part.  What else can expand to give life to another human being? What else is capable of producing so much pleasure?  What else is so beautiful and intricately crafted?  It certainly is no penis; it is a wonder unto itself.  The problem is not the vagina; the issue is that we have overly invested in the penis to support patriarchy.  While it is not good to reduce women to body parts, I do feel that it is necessary to point out that the female body is a wonder and when we dishonour it, and contort it to support patriarchy we are only  taking on a colluder status.  So on behalf of all of us problematized,vagina bearing beings….St.Botinca keep your noxious spray away from my goddess perfected, beautifully shaped, vagina. 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Acknowledging Abelist Privilege Takes Daily Work

This is a guest post from Nem

I'm 23. I graduated from university in June 08 where I discovered and began a love affair with women's/gender/feminist history. I'm a feminist and recently realised pacifist. I live in Edinburgh with adults with learning disabilities who are teaching me what it means to be human.

I’ve been reading Renee’s blog for just under a year now; I rarely comment, instead preferring to lurk.  It was a particularly hard blog to read in the beginning.  I remember being outraged at the content which called out my privilege.  I wanted to shout that I was a good person, that I had friends who were POC, that I wasn’t privileged etc.  But I decided to stick with it and it has really opened my eyes to my own privilege.  A lot of what Renee, and others, discuss on Womanist Musings has become very real to me over the last 6 months.

In late September I moved into a house, which was part of the L’Arche community in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I share the house with three adults with learning disabilities, two of whom have physical disabilities, and three other assistants.  There is another house of a similar size and then a flat where George lives with two assistants.  My role as an assistant is to facilitate daily living.  L’Arche places an emphasis on real relationships and friendships, and while community living isn’t always been the easiest of things I really love it.

So what have I learnt? I’ve learnt that people with learning/physical disabilities are still marginalized. While cities have become more wheelchair accessible, people’s attitudes often haven’t evolved.  There was the bus driver who was incredibly rude when Kirsty and I didn’t get off the bus in time, because manoeuvring a wheelchair on a packed bus is terribly easy! Or the women who came up and told Kirsty, who is in her 30s, to smile while pinching her cheek. There are the people who refuse to speak to George when he starts chatting to them or the driver who honked at Gordon and I when we at a pedestrian crossing and we didn’t walk fast enough. There are also the people who can’t see people with learning difficulties as adults and so talk to them and relate to them as if they were young children, or the fact that there are women with LD (learning disabilities) who will never have a period because it was decided that they couldn’t cope with them. One incident which really broke my heart was when Jonathan and I went to the supermarket and a local kids football team were packing people’s shopping to raise money.  Jonathan, who has downs syndrome, loves and I mean LOVES pound coins and yet with great gusto presented his pound to the eleven year old boy and went to high-five him.  The boy refused to look at Jonathan or acknowledge him until his father made him. 

I think therein lies most of the problem; certainly in the UK.  I grew up never knowing anyone with a learning difficulty.  I never came into contact with people with learning disabilities.  The first core members here in Edinburgh came from an institution, with most of them having been placed there from childhood.  While there is an increasing emphasis on people with LD being part of the local communities, many of us are scared of interacting with people like George, Alison or Jonathan.  We don’t know what to say or how to be.  I can understand such nervousness but in propagating such segregation, whether it be informal or not, we lose the opportunity for incredible friendships.

And it’s difficult because spending time with people with LD makes you realize that you’re not such a nice person.  It’s made me realize how I enjoy wielding power, how impatient I am, how inflexible I am about my time and my space.  My life and work are the same thing and I’ve had to stare my privilege in the face, acknowledge how much power I as an able bodied person have, particularly in my role as a carer, and it’s pretty uncomfortable.  I’ve wanted things to be done my way, when I want it to happen and got mad.  I’ve then had to come back and apologise to Jonathan for being an ass.

This isn’t the most eloquent blog or the most profound but such insight would come from knowing, amongst others, Jonathan, Alison and Kirsty.  I guess what I want to say is that next time someone live George tries to chat to you on the bus why not respond; high-five Jonathan- he’s one of the warmest people you’ll ever meet and talk to the person in the wheelchair, not just the person pushing them, because if they’re anything like Kirsty they have a great sense of humour. And if you’re not meeting people like his, maybe your world isn’t as wide or accepting as you perhaps thought it was.


When The Police Attack The Victim

The following video comes with an extreme trigger warning.

Hope Steffey's called 911 for help and her night ended with her being stripped searched by the police and left alone in a cell.  As she screamed at the them to stop and questioned why they were stripping her against her will, the seven male and female sheriff's deputies and jail workers ignored her obvious terror.

"This could be your wife or anyone's wife," Greg Steffey said.

"You don't treat people like this," Greg Steffey said. "I don't think murderers are treated like this much less people charged with disorderly conduct."

The last two deputies to leave her cell were male.   Clearly this is a violation. If a strip search is required by law it must be conducted by officers of the same sex as the inmate.  Their concern was not upholding the law or ensuring that Hope’s rights were not violated.

Though Hope has yet to make a public statement on this  gross violation, her husband reports that she feels as though she has been raped.  After watching the video of what was done to her, I can more than understand why she feels this way.  Assault need not include penetration for it to be understood as an assault.

How many incidents do we need to see of police violating the rights of citizens that they are supposed to protect before we admit that the system is broken?  The average person has more reason to be afraid, than to look at them as a agency that can be counted on in a time of need.  Just last week there were reports of an officer assaulting a deaf man when he tried to tell him that he could not hear. People of color have a history of being not only being physically abused but murdered in cold blood.

These officers of law are nothing more than armed terrorist groups and it is time that they be brought under control.   They use the blue wall of silence to protect and shield each other.  These are not isolated incidents; they have occurred nation wide and therefore; at some point we must agree that there is some kind of connection.  It is time to begin to look at the kind of individual that is attracted to police work because clearly helping others is not a quality that our current officers possess. 

As I watched Hope be violated in a way that no human being ever should be, my heart just burned with anger.   Her husband is quite right, how does disorderly conduct merit this kind of treatment?  Quite often when someone ends up in the penal system we turn our backs on them because we assume guilt however, we should realize that how we treat those that are the most vulnerable is representative of the kind of society we live in.  No one deserves to be dehumanized in this manner, no matter what they have allegedly done.