Saturday, July 4, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Thanks everyone for another great week of conversation.    We seem to have an uptick in trolls this week.  I can tell you that I had to ban more than the usual amount.  It must mean that the conversations here are challenging to some.

In honour of Canada Day and Independence Day we will be doing a show on patriotism on Sunday at 8pm est.  Our guest will be Matt of the award winning Bastard Logic.  You can access the show through Blogtalk Radio

imageBelow you will find links to some great posts I came across this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are through don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

“Black or white”, “East or West” are not racially or culturally exhaustive.

The pervasiveness of slut shaming

Talking To My Six Year Old Daughter About Death (and Life)

The Stoning of Soraya M.: A Review

Is The Media Or Gay Community To Blame For LGBT Activists Of Color Being Invisible?

Debra Lee’s Circus, The BET Awards

I Am Not Pro-Death: Adventures Of A Gen X Uterus

Asian Women: Rape And Hate Crimes

The Audacity of Spirit: Lessons from a New Modern Woman

40% of ethnic minority women in UK live in poverty - FAWCETT

Big, black booties “intrigues” Jezebel readership

Dr. Boyce: Three Dumb Things About “Reverse Discrimination”

The Appreciation or Depreciation of Michael Jackson

Racism’s Hidden Toll

The Future of Humanity is White and Male (Again)


Friday, July 3, 2009

Another Historic Meeting, Another Melanin Free Transgender Contingent

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica of TransGriot


i went nuclear last year when there was a historic committee hearing on transgender issues and not one African-American transgender person was invited to participate.

There was another historic gathering of importance to GLBT people that took place on Monday. It was in the wake of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that took place June 28, 1969.

This time the host was none other than the POTUS, and it took place in the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that my ancestors helped construct with their unpaid labour.

So did the white transgender community learn its lesson from last year and make sure in the twelve transgender people that were selected to be there, there was some African-American representation?


As usual, the white transgender community was well represented on the transman and transwoman side, and Latino Diego Sanchez was there in his new role as Rep. Barney Frank's chief legislative aide. The NCTE folks were present and we even had one former NTACer in Kathy Padilla there.

But if y'all think I'm not gonna light your asses for making the same dumb ass mistake you made 365 days ago, y'all don't know me very well do you?

This was supposed to be a commemoration of Stonewall, and Miss Major, one of the few African-American transpeople left who are Stonewall veterans is still alive and well.

Why wasn't she there? Come to think of it, there were people in the trans community such as Vanessa Edwards Foster and Marti Abernathey who busted their derrieres in swing states like Ohio and Indiana to help get President Obama elected.

Washington DC itself is 61% African-American, which translates to Chocolate City having chocolate flavoured transpeople. Where were they?
I also have to ask the question who put the list together this time or had input for it, knowing that you'll shunt the blame to the Obama White House for the 'oversight'?

And what pisses me and many African-American transpeople off even more about this dissing is the bitter irony that we weren't invited to an event that an African-American president we helped to elect called to celebrate an event and a movement we helped jump off.

You know, I and the African-American transgender community are beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of the frequency of these 'oversights', the weak excuses that freely flow from white transpeople and their gay-lesbian allies trying to justify them, and the empty promises that flow from their lying lips that they'll do a better job next time to fix the problem.

It's obvious you don't want to fix the problem. You want to keep perpetuating the impression that this is a whites only movement.

If that's not the case, prove me wrong. But it's hard to not overlook the fact that the two major historical media events involving transpeople in the capital that was built with slave labour have had a glaring lack of African American transgender representation.

The ossifying impression of a whites only trans movement are also not helped by these oversights and trans movement leadership ranks that are as lily white as the Republican Party.

And what infuriates me and many African-American transpeople off even more about this dissing is the bitter irony that we weren't invited to an event that an African-American president we helped elect called to celebrate a historic event and a movement we helped jump off 40 years ago.

I wonder what the African-American president and first lady's thoughts were as they perused a so-called diverse group of transgender people that didn't have anyone of their ethnic background represented?

Once again, you vanilla flavoured privileged peeps have demonstrated your utter lack of ignorance, respect and regard for your so called African descended transgender 'allies'.

It results once again in a situation in which another historic meeting takes place that has a melanin free transgender contingent.

Will you people ever learn? Obviously not, and neither does it seem you care to either.

Is Jenny Sanford a Feminist Hero?

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image Unlike other western politicians, American legislators are expected to lead lives of sexual purity. When they step outside of their marital vows, it triggers a feeding frenzy in which members of the press and public line up to consume their pound of flesh. Mark Sanford is the latest politician to allow his genitalia heart make his decisions for him.  He was in a prime position to be the front man to the now-rudderless Republican Party, until recent events changed everything.

There really is nothing new or shocking about Sanford’s story. Each day, countless people are unfaithful; according to The Monogamy Myth by Peggy Vaughan, statistics show that approximately 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage. Today, it is often more shocking to find that a husband is not a lecher. The only real twist to this drama is the reaction of Jenny Sanford, Mark’s wife.

image When Mark Sanford made his predictable atonement plea, he was standing in front of the cameras by himself. Jenny Sanford seems to have declined to take on the role of long-suffering wife awaiting the return of her fickle lover. Dina Matos McGreevy, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards all stood by their men, allowing the public to feed off of their grief like suckling pigs. Edwards and McGreevy even went as far as to write tell-all books, just in case somehow, in all of the public commentary and accusations, you missed essential points of their rise to public martyrdom.

Finish Reading Here

The Convenience Of “Super Crip”

Since coming out as having a disability, the posts that I have written have served as a way to organize my thoughts.  I can only speak from an experiential point of view, as I have never done any real disability studies.   I have been trying to understand how this identity intersects with the others that are encoded to my body.  Now that there are more visible signs of my condition like the scooter and the cane, how people react is very different. 

image Today I had a doctors appointment and to treat myself I decided to pop into Timmys and grab an ice cap; sinful I know, but what the hell.  As I was trying to manoeuvre my way in, the woman in front of me closed the door in my face.  At first I thought this very well may have happened whether or not I was in my scooter because people can be rude on any occasion. 

As I waited at the counter to be served, I noticed how people seemed to do their best to avoid me, as though I had some communicable disease.  One parent went as far as to pull his child away from me.  I was extremely aware of how different I was.  I knew without doubt that the elephant in the room was not my gender or my race, even though I was the only black person in Timmys at the time.

When I was ready to leave, people practically did back flips to help me, even though I was more than capable of negotiating the doorway by myself.  As they were image “helping” me, I noticed that quite a few of them felt that it was appropriate to pat me on the shoulder after I said thank you, as though I was some dog that had returned a ball in a game of fetch.  Ok what the hell is up with that? 

Why would you randomly think that it is okay to touch a stranger because you had the good manners to hold a door?  This is not the first time that I have noticed the assumption of the right to touch.  It seems paternalistic and it feels insulting.  On one hand my body is disturbing because it is not like the so-called “normal people”; therefore , giving rise to revulsion and on the other, the pity that passes for empathy is palatable.

When I am out and about on my scooter, I am not thinking about the fact that I cannot walk great distances; I am enjoying the weather and the moment like everyone else.  Sometimes, I might even be inwardly laughing about the fact that my scooter not only facilitates mobility, it allows me to move at a far greater speed than the average walker. My scooter allows me to participate in most of the things I would like to do access permitting. It is only an unwieldy appendage to those who have never had the misfortune of being trapped in their home.

image When I take my children to the park, I am more than able to keep up with them, in fact being on a scooter means that I will be able to reach them faster than someone who is walking or running and yet if I move to go after them, someone is quick to tell me to rest and that they can do it for me.  I am quite certain that pushing the accelerator button on my scooter to get it to move 20 feet will not exhaust me.   

I appreciate every single time that I have been helped when I needed it and this applies to the time before I became disabled as well.  However, I cannot help but feel irritated with those who believe that they are helping when it is clearly not necessary.  This does not come out of a desire to be a good person; in fact to me, image it seems to originate out a desire to infantilize me.  Not being able to walk great distances does not mean I am completely incapable.  I think I would just like to be asked whether or not I need help; rather, than someone insisting on doing something for me because my scooter supposedly renders me incapable. How difficult is it to utter the words, do you need help?  Disability does not necessarily mean incapable; it may simply mean doing things differently.

I have learned that to the able bodied my disability means helplessness unless it requires a real concession on their part.  If it is a matter of holding the door, even when an automatic door opener is available, the list of volunteers is usually quite long.  If it means displaying patience to allow me to move at my own pace suddenly the empathy disappears.  If my disability requires a real show of patience it is almost certain that it will be deemed time for me to play “super crip”. Though I think that I would make a very cool super hero, (what with the long dred locks and all) how I negotiate my limitations should be up to me and not subject to the desires of those of have become accustomed to having the world tailored to them.

My needs are very simple. Don’t assume you have the right touch me and don’t assume that your help is needed.  My life may be different than yours but that does not mean that I don’t have the right to go about my business like everyone else.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Watermelon For Breasts Oh The Originality


The manufacturers Peshtera angered women’s groups in Bulgaria when they created this ad for their beverage.  The accompanying tag line is as follows:  'the watermelon season is here'

"You can't walk down the street now without some a**hole shouting, 'Hey - nice watermelons' and trying to see if they are ripe," a spokeswoman said.

"The advert encourages sexism and is causing women real harm and humiliation," said one woman.

It is quite easy to see why this advertisement has been considered humiliating.  It reduces women to parts and then encourages men to think that we are as available as fresh produce.  The tagline further encourages open season on women.

There is nothing clever or original in this ad.  Using women to sell products based in sexism and misogyny, has been standard fare of the advertising industry for decades.  They seem more than willing to turn a blind eye to effects of such lines of thought.  

This kind of reduction is exactly what encourages rape, domestic abuse, sexual harassment etc.  It is specifically because women are viewed as secondary to men that our lives are understood to be disposable.

Troll after troll has come to this blog in an attempt to educate me on the ways in which I am wrong to demand equality and respect.  Make me a sandwich bitch is the most common deleted comment on this blog.  It is all in good fun, until someone gets hurt right?

The point is that someone gets hurt every single day.  Even as a write this, somewhere a woman is being assaulted because some man believes he has the right to her body.  Somewhere someone is engaging in apologism because patriarchy refuses to own the results of its actions.  It might be easy for some to look at this and say no big deal, but that is only because they have chosen to ignore the links between debasement and violence.

Not A Mommy Blogger

Eight years ago I became a mother to a beautiful healthy little boy.  Not a day goes by that he does not make me smile.  Four and a half years later I became the mother of yet another gorgeous son.  Today as I try very hard to balance my needs against my competing responsibilities, the one thing that I am sure of is that motherhood is not easy.

Since starting my own blog I have had the pleasure to converse with many wonderful women that are both professionals, bloggers and mothers.  Octagalore from Astarte’s Circus never fails to challenge my assumptions and leave me deep in thought.  Tammy, of What Tammy Said overwhelms me with her brilliance, and BFP, of Flip Flopping Joy humbles me with her passion.  These women come from completely different backgrounds and yet we are all united by the shared experience of motherhood.

Each day we awake to different struggles, sorrows, and joys.  Each of us has a  unique voice and yet the one thing I am certain of after reading and interacting with these women, is that motherhood is an essential part of our lives.  Our blogs cover various topics and we are determined to examine the world around us from the multiple lenses of class, race, gender.  We do not speak with a unified voice and yet we are all mothers.

Mommy blogging has become a cottage industry.  As these women speak endlessly about their children and the challenges that comes from trying to mother in a world where women are expected to be perfect at all times; hawking the occasional diaper genie or changing pad can lead to very big bucks.  Dooce is one of the most popular blogs on the internet and is so successful it now supports a family. 

I guess what I am basically saying is that it does not matter that you may have spent hours walking the floor with a colicky infant, changed diapers until you thought your arms would fall off, or learned the lyrics to to the opening theme of Franklin; unless you are willing to follow the script your motherhood will not be acknowledged in the online sphere.  The highly coveted title of mommy blogger belongs to those that continually post about their little angels. 

You see, once you have given birth your every waking thought must be about your little angel if you are to be understood as a “real mommy”.  If you are not pondering how to get the puke stain out of your angels favourite shirt or wondering how you can hide the vegetables in dinner you are not doing your due diligence and the mommy regulators will be sure and let you know. 

LABELS, LABELS, LABELS, women can wear more than one hat at a time.  It does not mean that if your attention is diverted from your kids that suddenly you stop being a mother or that it is not an important identity for you.  Modern motherhood is about more than adventures in potty training (twitter followers know what I mean).  I’m not ever going to be the stepford mommy that wears pearls and heels to vacuum and whips out cookies like my next orgasm is dependent on it.

I will occasionally lock the bathroom door and hide. Reading for me still involves more than Green Eggs and Ham or Jacob Two Two.  Yep, you can be a mother and read the New York Times, or Time  magazine.  No, you will not get struck by lightening if you refuse to treat Parents magazine like your personal bible.  While I am up on the latest slang thanks to an energetic eight year old, surprisingly I have not give up using words that contain multiple syllables.  As much as the mommy collective would like to create motherhood as an OCD adventure, you can tailorize the experience to your comfort level.

So as I was saying when I started this rant:  eight years ago after a sanity inducing epidural, I spread my legs while my vagina stretched to a size I thought was humanely impossible and gave birth to a wonderful little boy. As life altering as that experience was, I decided that retaining my individuality would be a good decision.  The mommysphere may not think that I am the stuff that good mommy bloggers are made up of but unfortunately I refuse to believe that kool aid is a wonderful drink even when served in a crystal wine glass.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Punishing Female Strippers To Make A Point

The following video comes with a huge trigger warning.

I actually gasped in shock when I saw this video at Shakesville.  Never did I imagine that an animal rights group would exist that would be worse than PETA, however it seems that the Dutch non-profit "Animals Awake" is determined to become the new leader in sacrificing women to prove a point.

When people tune into this video, they are initially tempted by the prospect of Ancillia Tilla removing her clothing only to be treated to what can only described as a violent bloody attack.  You will note that the it is a male fisherman that assaults Tilla.  As she lies on the ground screaming, he produces a knife and proceeds to gut her. 

This advertisement is meant to teach us that the ways in which we kill fish are cruel and inhumane, however  this video reproduces the exact same circumstances that this animal rights group claims to be critiquing? Showing gratuitous acts of violence to prove a point only serves to reify our social glorification of violence.  What these animal rights group continually fail to understand is that violence cannot be used ironically.

If the idea was to relate human stripping with the stripping of animals, why was it necessary to use a female victim?  Men take off their clothes for profit all across the western world and yet Animals Awake chose to play upon the institutionalized sexism and violence that women face to spread their message.  It is further demeaning that a female body was used to titillate the viewer and then quickly punished, when we live in a world that routinely disciplines women for any overt sign of agency when it relates to sexuality.

Finally I am just going to say it, FISH AND  HUMAN WOMEN ARE NOT THE SAME.  Yes this makes me a speciest, however I am revolted by the idea that violence against women is continually employed by animal rights activists to spread their message.  Violence against women should not simply be some tool that you pull out of your arsenal at will, when real peoples lives are destroyed every day.  This ad is beyond a failure; it symbolizes all the ways in which women continue to be highly exploitable bodies rather than inspiring any sympathy for the fish they are trying to save.

Homophobia Who Is Responsible

I found this video at the  Advocate. 

Approximately 15 youths physically and verbally taunted a gay man as he was leaving Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis on Saturday, in an incident captured on video.

The Somali youths asked the man if he was gay, and when he responded yes, the young people yelled "I hate gay people" and reportedly threw rocks at the man, whose name is not known.

On the video various youths can be heard saying "I hate gay people" repeatedly, along with "Gay is not the way" and "Fuck gay people. They can go fuck each other."

About one minute into the video, a police officer can be seen walking through the crowd of young people.

The man who was taunted walked away, telling the kids, "See how I'm not scared at all?"

Let me start by saying that no one deserves this kind of treatment.  People should be able to walk down the street without being harassed for who or what they are

You will note that the author of the piece took great care to point out that the youth gang that was attacking this man were Somali, without any discussion as to why homophobia continues to be such an issue on the African continent.  Homosexuality is considered a perversion engaged in by whites and Blacks that are gay are viewed as internalizing White values. 

When Africans react in a homophobic matter much of the basis of such beliefs stem from colonialism.  When they move westward and see that a GLB identity is once again understood as white there is no reason for them to consider changing their thought patterns. Many African Americans were offended by the commentary of Dan Savage post prop 8 and yet he still continues to appear in the mainstream media as a prominent voice of the GLB community.

Another point worth noting is that some of these children are prepubescent.  They are claiming to hate an identity they may very well become as their sexuality becomes apparent to them.  Everything that they have been taught reifies heterosexuality as good.  In a world that values the expression of power and privilege, the young learn very early that oppressing others is often considered a positive manifestation of all of the dehumanizing lessons that we teach them. 

When the police officer noticed their behaviour and did not intervene, what did they learn but that it is appropriate to harass someone for their sexual identity?  Imagine if these same black youths were publicly taunting a white male with the exclusion of sexuality; I believe it is fair to assume at that point law enforcement would intervene as whiteness is above question in our society unless it is mitigated by a spoiled identity i.e homosexuality.

I worry when I see images like this that it will further cement the divide in GLBT issues when it comes to race and sexuality.  There is no doubt that an intersection exists, however people of color are not uniquely homophobic as often projected by the elite HRC crowd.  What happened to this man was wrong and inexcusable but it is the result of a society that is determined to see difference as unequal. 

These children have been failed by their parents, the education system and every other agent of socialization.  It is easy to look at what happened and feel rage because this man should not have been attacked, however I feel the anger would be misplaced if it is targeted solely at these children.  They are a product of our society and if we feel anger, it should be at the way that we have failed to endow them with a sense of value.  Each and every single person matters and until we can pass this message on to our children, we are avoiding the most basic lesson in how to be a decent human being.

No More Race Talk For Morgan Freeman

Mike Wallace: Black history month you find ridiculous. Why?
Morgan Freeman: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
Mike Wallace: Oh, c’mon.
Morgan Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month? Well, c’mon, tell me.
Mike Wallace: I’m Jewish.
Morgan Freeman: OK, which month is Jewish history month?
Mike Wallace: There isn’t one.
Morgan Freeman: Oh, oh. Why not? Do you want one?
Mike Wallace:No.
Morgan Freeman: No, I don’t either. I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.
Mike Wallace: How we gonna get rid of racism until…
Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

I certainly concur that Black history month is a problematic creation.  By choosing a special month of the year to fixate on Black history,  it sustains an African American identity as separate and unequal.   Pulling out pictures of MLK, or other Black leaders once a year does not create an environment of inclusiveness rather it signals that Black history is so unimportant that we need not discuss it throughout the year. 

Freeman’s solution to ending racism is in a word naive.  Simply avoiding race or failing to acknowledge that difference does exist will not end systemic racism.  This colorblind world is very much what the white supremacist state would love oppressed people of color to believe, even as we must daily endure the humiliation and pain of being understood as lesser than beings.

Freeman is in the enviable position of having class privilege to mitigate his racial stigmatization, even if he is not able to completely  escape the process of “othering”.   Black celebrities have learned very quickly that should they run afoul of the law that the good graces of whiteness disappears.  How quick was the media to darken images of OJ Simpson, their once beloved football hero? 

Race is a social construction and from that point of view a false creation, however the value that we have assigned to difference is quite real.  We don’t look at each other and see another human being because from birth we have been taught to think otherwise.  . 

We cannot just look at each other as individuals because racism is systemic. Race colors our views on must subjects whether or not we are conscious of its insidious nature.  When we look at someone for the very first time, mentally we run through a checklist to assess them and in those initial moments race colors how we expect to be treated. 

There is a power differential between Blacks and Whites and until it has dissipated, an African American cannot afford to let their guard down. Even in the closest relationships, the White party will always have the ability to fall back on their privilege and shame, exploit or otherwise demean a POC.  We must forever be dependent on the ability of a white person to see past race to be understood as human whereas whiteness is automatically endowed with  humanity.

Freeman can put on his colorblind glasses and dream about a world he wished existed, however I prefer to see the world as it is.  I may carry my scars  but a denial of the role that racism plays means a denial of the Blackness of my skin.

It’s Canada Day

Happy Canada everyone.  I hope that everyone is having a huge cup of Timmy’s coffee, and a breakfast that includes maple syrup, and Canadian Bacon. Though patriotism in Canada is something that we are normally very quiet about, on this one day a year I do believe it is time to come out of the corner screaming a little old fashioned red and white; I Am Canadian.  Just to ensure that you are feeling the inspiration check out the following videos.  For you Americans who have never seen the videos, consider yourself warned.

Well on that note…grab your beer, light the barbecue and party on Garth.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finally Rape is Rape In Oregon

We live in a society that is quite content to victim blame.  When it comes to crimes like rape and sexual assault, sexism at the behest of patriarchy ensures that these crimes are not taken seriously.  Despite the liberated post womanist/feminist state that we claim to live in, women's bodies are largely still considered to be belong to the bodies of men. 

In some cases engaging in sex once is enough for many to assume permanent consent.  Wearing clothing that can be interpreted as sexually revealing will also for many imply consent to sexual activity.  Appearing in public intoxicated; thus reducing the ability to respond will mitigate the responsibility of the assailant in the minds of many.  These ideas are not some relic of the pre 1970 understanding or sexual violence and women, they are in fact encoded into law in some states.

image Oregon is now awaiting the signature of the Governor on HB 2343.  Until this bill becomes law, if the victim is intoxicated, or otherwise incapacitated by choice,  instead of being charged with rape in the first degree the assailant will be charged with sex abuse in the second degree.

No matter how many times victims state that rape is rape, if there is inequality factored into the law, justice can never be severed.  While it is important to acknowledge that men are victims of rape as well, it is my belief that the reasons law like this still exist is largely due to sexism.  The majority of rapes are committed against women and when this subject is discussed in the wider social sphere, it is largely understood to be a woman’s issue.

image Rape apologism is part of social discourse.   Just recently Seth Rogan made a film depicting rape and it was brushed off as a joke.  The victim clearly was in no position to consent but because women can be punished for a failure to maintain strict codes of behaviour the rape was understood as appropriate. Unfortunately behaviour like this is far to common.  When we laugh at rape scenes like that depicted in the Rogan film we are diminishing the trauma that rapes causes to the victim.

Until this law is passed it negates the idea that consent must be given enthusiastically.  Coercing someone into sex or taking advantage of an incapacity is rape.  If we are to honour the idea that each individual is entitled to bodily integrity, it must be understood by all that both parties must consent to each stage of sexual activity.  It seems like such a simple concept and yet we routinely fail to honour it because to do so would endow women with control of their bodies.

Who Wants To Play Fetch?

I simply could not resist this.  There is no way to watch this video and avoid cracking a huge smile.

Poor Abu Ghraib Torturer Lynndie England Can’t Get A Job

image There is always a penalty for our actions.  Though Lynndie England received a light punishment for torture (three year sentence), she has come to find that she is no longer welcome in society.  I have  pointed out many times that part of the reason the recidivism rate is so high is because upon leaving prison we refuse to give an ex con a chance to prove that they are capable of leading productive lives.   There are however some crimes that are unforgiveable, no matter if they are performed by a privileged young white mother.

In an interview with AP she stated, “I don’t have a social life. I sit at home all day.” Oh the poor dear.  Imagine being forced to sit in the safety of your own home with no one dragging you by a leash or dehumanizing you in anyway.

She complains that she is unable to find a job because her face is so recognizable.  Though she attempts to hide behind weight gain, baseball caps and changing her hair color, apparently people still find her easy to identify.  The one job offer that she received was quickly revoked when her potential fellow employees threatened to quit if she was hired.

England now relies on welfare and the help of her parents to achieve substance for herself and her four year old son.  The saddest part of this situation is that a child is growing in poverty due to the crimes of his mother.  I wish there were some way to separate his ability to have experiences and subsist from her horrible crimes.

England is not completely without hope because she has written a biography that she hopes will rehabilitate her image.  Of course she feels like a patsy as the larger criminals in the whole torture debacle – George Bush, went with criminal prosecution.  While I agree that there were many responsible for her actions on that faithful day, England still existed with a choice. I was just following orders is never a good enough excuse to commit crimes against humanity.

I must ask what trees have ever done to England that makes her think that they deserve to die so that she can attempt explain the unexplainable?  As for the publishers, I sincerely wonder if we  have real run out of stories to tell therefore making this seem appealing?  By printing, promoting and selling this book the industry is participating in torture by second hand. It is producing a product that will only be used in a racist, and voyeuristic manner. 

How many tales of brown bodies being devalued and dehumanized based in an imperialistic instinct do we need to read to realize that this is unacceptable? Socially we are literally consuming these prisoners.  The story that needs to be told is not that of Lynndie England, but that of the men she willingly chose to violate. By once again centering white women in this event thereby creating these men as invisible and worthless, we are in fact participating in the very racism, and islamophobia that caused these crimes to be committed.

In Praise Of Vibrators

Leaving childhood behind is no reason to put aside toys; it is simply a reason to discover new ones.  For quite some time a puritanical position has existed about sex, even while talking about its supposed filth served as a reason to speak freely. Ironically pointing fingers and moralizing served as an outlet for many to engage in sexual conversation even though they would not recognize it as that.

The more the conversation turns explicit, and the fists begin to shake in supposed revulsion, the more we have become open to expanding our ideas about what constitutes acceptable sexual play.  The New York Times recently reported on the  first academic, peer-reviewed studies of vibrator use, “it is nearly as common an appliance in American households as the drip coffee maker or toaster oven”.

The surveys, conducted in April 2008 and paid for by Church & Dwight, which makes Trojan condoms and a line of vibrators, document vibrator use and the related sexual practices of 2,056 women and 1,047 men; 93 percent of those surveyed said they are heterosexual.

Among boomer women, ages 45 to 60, 46.3 percent reported having used a vibrator at some point in their lives, compared to 59.5 percent of women, ages 23 to 44; and 32.7 percent of women, 18 to 22. For men, 45.2 percent, ages 45 to 60 reported having used one; 51.5 percent, ages 23 to 44; and 15.5 percent, ages 18 to 22.

Who would have thought that the vibrator which was once the toy to be hidden and denied, would be as essential to modern day living as the microwave? Thank goodness we have already invented disposable batteries, can you imagine the landfill waste just so that we can get our groove on?

The article seems to take great care to legitimize the use of vibrators in consensual heterosexual relationships.  This could in part be due to the fact that the study did not focus on gay and lesbian relationships. 

Even though the reported usage of vibrators amongst women is high, the fact that it needs to be legitimized through heterosexual sex, rather than for masabatory pleasure reifies the social discourse of the frigid dirty woman.  Vibrators can be a great source of sexual stimulation but what does it say if we only feel comfortable seeking that pleasure in the presence, or control of men?

Much has been made about the so-called hook up culture.  We move in circles disciplining women’s sexuality by continually employing the Madonna/Whore complex as a shaming tactic.  It is so effective that even in moments of isolation many women are still unable to seek release.  It is the perfect example of panoptic control. 

I am pleased to learn that more women are embracing different methods of achieving pleasure, however until we can reach the point when we seek it for our own purposes we are not yet liberated.  Claiming that we have freed ourselves because of increased use of a vibrator is completely inaccurate.  Celebrating sex means appreciating all of its manifestations.

In the interest of broadening the conversation.  Do you own and use a vibrator and if so under what circumstances does your little friend come out to play?

H/T  The Gender Blender Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

Girls Can Do Anything: Thanks Emily Yeung

I am constantly looking for images of girls defying the gender binary to teach my boys about equality.  I have recently started to talk to them about Emily Yeung.  In the above segment she is learning how to snowboard.  In many of the episodes she is learning all about the world and never do they focus on what she is able to do or what she should like based on gender.  Though these are just small spots shown in between cartoons, they send a powerful message.

The video I wanted to post is about her learning to play soccer but unfortunately it is not up on youtube.  She clearly states in the video that “sporting equipment should be made for boys or girls because girls can do the same things as boys can”.  Hearing her say that just made me want to cheer..

The Emily Yeung spots are a clear example of the ways in which the media can disturb social constructions, if the images are created by a progressive voice.  There are not enough examples of this, and instead our sons and daughters are over ridden with terrible female role models like the bratz dolls.  Even finding a cartoon or a youth geared program in which a girl is not obsessed with boys, make up, or looking pretty, is a rare phenomenon. 

I am further impressed with the fact that Emily is a bi racial child.  Race has never been a subject that the mini episodes have focused on, thereby allowing her visibility to speak for itself.  She is presented as a beautiful, precocious child who is interested in the world around her.  The high visibility of a bi racial child is also very uncommon in media where images are mostly reflective of the white supremacist state in which we live.

As Emily learns about snowboarding, farming and science etc., the audience learns right along side her.  What makes these small spots so beautiful is everything that is not said.  In a an equal world a young child like Emily Yeung would not be a special that is aired that teaches diversity; it would simply stand for a young girl learning about the world.

OOOPS The Blacks Are Chatting On Twitter

Last night was the BET tribute to Michal Jackson.  I am the first to admit that there are plenty of issues with BET in terms of plain old fashioned coonery and sexism, however their attempt to honour Michael came from a good place.  I did not watch the show, as I refuse to pay for that kind of nonsense to be beamed into my home furthermore I am raising two young boys that do not need their heads filled with that kind of nonsense.  A network that can produce hot ghetto mess is not worth five seconds of attention.

image As one would expect many people watched the tribute and were tweeting their experiences.  I tweeted my thoughts of the red carpet which was hosted by Don Lemmon on CNN. (Yeah I know, did you think you would see the day when BET was featured on CNN?)  At any rate, with the number of people watching and tweeting, it quickly became a trending topic. 

Twitter became a bridge for people to come together to share their impressions on the ever controversial BET.  This interactive format gave many people of color an outlet for our frustrations, rather than the usual snarky commentary from a couch that goes nowhere.  Twitter provided a platform for the voices of people of color. 

There are those that found the trending topics disturbing.  How dare black people have the nerve to communicate with each other in such large numbers.  Did we actually forget that the internet was created for whiteness?

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The above are just a sampling of the tweets posted last night.  The rest can be found here. Dear God who let Black people on twitter?  Seriously, allowing these topics to trend is a legitimate threat to white hegemony….Whiteness must be the center of any and all conversations at all time, otherwise uppity people of color might come to believe that their issues are worth serious consideration.

We have moved to such a post racial state that it is not necessary to talk about issues that concern Blackness, Whiteness can function as the default for all. There certainly isn’t any racism or privilege involved in this at all.  WHEEE… My, how things have changed since, slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement and the election of a Black president.

For Carl Jr’s Women Are More Than A Piece Of Meat Until It’s Burger Selling Time

To look this hot in a bikini, I gotta eat alot of fruit.   Especially when it is on a big juicy burger.

Voiceover: The teriyaki burger, with grilled pineapple back at Carls JR

Commercial 2

To look this hot in a bikini I gotta give up like everything.  But there is no way I’m giving up that teriyaki burger.  I’m totally obsessed.  I have to be a little bad.  I call it my bikini burger. 

Voiceover: Carl Jr’s teriyaki burger with grilled pineapple. More than just a piece of meat.

Carl Jr’s clearly thinks that their burgers are more than a piece of meat but unfortunately the same does not hold true on their opinion of women.  Is there any reason to have a woman putting on suntan lotion and rolling around on a beach to sell a burger?  Carl Jr’s isn’t using sex to sell, it is specifically using women's bodies.

The tag line, “more than a piece of meat”, belies the advertising strategy they are using.  Clearly by using this woman’s body as a prop the advertisers are reducing women to mere slabs of meat that may be easily consumed. 

The naysayers will point to the fact that a woman willing participated in this commercial, without acknowledging that it is possible to make decisions that are not in ones best interest.  Simply because patriarchy has managed to find a few women who are willing to collude, does not mean that advertising like this is not sexist at its root.

Sexism in advertising is one of the ways in which the gender imbalance is maintained.   It must be remembered that the media is an agent of socialization and therefore these ideas are quite often internalized and become reflective of our larger discourse. 

Sexism leads to rape, silencing, violence, unequal pay and unequal opportunities.  Commercials like this dehumanize women and by so doing make it possible to justify the patriarchal world that we have created.  There is no dismissing the accuracy of this or the results of such characterizations.  If Carl Jr’s wanted to talk about meat, it should have focused the conversation on their burger; the only real meat shown in that 10 sec ad.

Scooters and Road Rage

I am a differently abled woman due to three chronic illnesses.  Walking a few blocks is enough to tire me out and require hours of rest to recuperate.  I am dependent on a scooter to get around town to do various activities.  For short distances I rely on a cane. 

image My scooter and my cane are absolutely necessary to my existence, and mental well being because they facilitate activity.  Rather than attempting to minimize their function, I have chosen to accentuate them by choosing a very brightly coloured butterfly cane and a bright red scooter.  When I am using them they are not simply accessories, they are extensions of my being and therefore deserve as much respect as any other part of my body.

I have noticed since the cane and the scooter have become permanent fixtures in my life, how differently people treat me in public.  My disabled status often overrides my gender and even racial status as people expect me to disappear from public view as though my very existence is disturbing.  My right to take up space is regularly disregarded, as I am admonished to either speed up or slow down depending on the needs of the able bodied person near me. 

Recently, I struggled to get my scooter into a pharmacy because the doorway was not very wide.  Instead of displaying patience, I was promptly ordered to hurry it up by the able bodied woman standing behind me.  I honestly thought about running over the womans foot because that is precisely what would have happened had I not taken the precautions to manoeuvre slowly.

As I toot around the city, I have increasingly become aware of just how blind the able bodied are to scooters.  We are called a menace when we are on the road and are continually blocked from passing on the sidewalk.  I find that I need to hyper aware, because people don’t really watch where they are walking and it is always me that is expected to yield. 

I even had my first case of legitimate scooter rage when I was almost run over by a car.  The driver could not be bothered to wait to turn into a parking lot as I was tooting along the sidewalk.  After just a few weeks of gaining my mobility with my scooter, what I have come to learn as that despite the size and color of the vehicle in question, it is  “invisible”.  I believe this to be true because we have denied that those that are differently abled have a right to take up space.

Somehow we are always inconveniencing the able bodied and no thought is ever given to the risks that we must deal with.  As I toot around I have noticed the image terrible state of the sidewalks and parking lots.  If you are walking or in a car these imperfections are not a risk, however if  you are in a scooter or a wheelchair, you risk toppling over which can lead to a serious head injury.  Just three weeks ago a man on a scooter tipped over because of a curb that was not smoothed down enough. 

So many stores do not have automatic doors or have a raised step which means that we cannot enter them at all.  When I arrive at places like this and I stand to either obtain entry or leave my scooter outside to finish my shopping, the look of shock and dismay from some able bodied people is enough for me to want to create a new bunch of expletives.  I am forced to move because a facility is not differently abled friendly and they have the nerve to be shocked because I need entrance so badly that I am willing to suffer pain to complete my mission. Sometimes there is even shock because I am able to walk at all suggesting that I don’t really need the scooter to begin with. How about displaying a little shock at the business for being so discriminatory as to not be accessible to all people? 

image I have a lot of learning to do regarding disability scholarship, however in just the few short years since I have become disabled, I have learned that the expectations placed upon my body exist to make life easier for others.  I have learned to see the news stories of those who “rise above” as a sort of “super crip mythology,” meant to force those of us that are differently abled to simply try harder, rather than demanding the accommodations we need and deserve.  I have learned that my scooter makes me a menace no matter how alert I am of others.  You see the exsistence that is always challenged is that of the differently abled person after all life is for “normal” people isn’t it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Shame: Literary Edition

I have always been an avid reader.  From a very early age I discovered books to be a passport to wonderful places.  Today I don’t read a lot of fiction and tend to read a lot of theory but I have not forgotten the time when books were my only escape from the pressures of the world.

Just like everything else, my  taste in books grew and adapted as I aged.  I can now look back in shock that I invested the time to read the work of certain authors. 

Recently I was in conversation with a dear friend, Allison McCarthy, when I admitted to reading and enjoying two series, which she promptly announced were Sunday shame worthy.

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In my defence, I was 14 or so when I read the flowers in the attic series.  I was so naive that I didn’t even understand that the “sex scene” between Cathy and Chris was rape.  Actually I didn’t even get that until Allison McCarthy pointed it out.

As far as the left behind series; it was during my born again phase.  Today I admit that turning to Tim LaHaye and and Jerry Jenkins when one is beginning to ponder questions about God and religion, was probably not the wisest move but at the time I loved the entire series. 

Okay so there it is….my total and very public admission to reading and enjoying what are probably two of the worst series ever written.  I know that I am not the only one who has read some idiot spunk over the years and so I turn it over to you dear readers.  Share your shame in the comment section and don’t you dare leave me hanging out there without some support on this one.