Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Queen Of Mean

image Being a social justice blogger can be emotionally very trying.  I believe each one of us gets our share of hate e-mail and negative commentary.  At times it can be difficult to deal with and at others, believe it or not, it can be downright amusing.  I was recently awarded the fucktard troll of the week in a post entitled The Queen of Mean.  It seems the author believes that I truly hate white people and that I am a racist.

I've had the honors of receiving the "woman" as an offender a couple of times this week. The applications are flowing in.
Anyway, the "woman" that I speak about evidently likes to leave racist comments about "white folks" on other's blogs. Even though every blog that I had visited to verify this has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with race period.
Dani Cally's take on this woman:
I think personally that there's way too much racism in the world. I also believe that because she's not "white" and can vocalize this, most people seem to accept her sorry ass views instead of telling her to shut the fuck up.
The blog : Womanist Musings, which in turn makes me really want to change my gender and my race!!
This wannabe woman seems to envy Angelou Maya so much that she literally degrades her own thoughts and views while blogging her hatred towards "white folks" in EVERY blog post as well as comments.
My answer to her/it : This " half whitey " is quite proud of what she is, I'm sorry my dear that you are not !!
So on that note with your "abolish whiety's views", you have won the Fucktard award.
Enjoy, but P.S it was created by a white woman..
PPS. Your "donation" button is very tacky as well as degrading to us folks that actually work.


I wonder if they have visited Pat Buchanan’s website to tell him to take down his donation button, considering he certainly makes several times more than me?  Oh, I guess when white men spend their lives spreading hate, and racism, while attempting to legitimize undeserved White privilege, it’s just business as usual and is nothing to be concerned about…. Sorry not feeling any shame over that one, especially when the screed reads like house slave 101.

The author claims to be half Black and if this is truly case I too would like to issue my own award.

imageShall we call it the Jesse Lee Peterson coonery award.  Yep, that’s right you self hating negro; if the shoe fits wear it.  While  I’m at it, do you believe that 95% of Black people hate Whites as well?  I knows boot lickin is hard work and I commend ya for ya efforts. I would tell you to get your 101 on but remedial classes are where you belong. 

I have spent the majority of my adult life speaking truth to power and for some this is a difficult concept to grasp.  When a mind is colonized it can be hard to actually believe that there is value in Blackness, or even in the basic humanity of another.  It is threatening to move outside of the constructs that we have built in part because some believe that their already low social positioning could become worse, however; whether it is a black conservative (yeah I know oxymoron) like Peterson, Booties Everywhere Television, or the idiot owner of the blog in question, coonery is coonery.  It is self serving and as addictive as crack cocaine.

I have been linked by white supremacist groups and men's rights groups, both of whom have no right bitching about a damn thing in this world, but this nonsense only serves to prove how ridiculous their arguments are.  From the bottom of my supposedly racist, man hating heart, I appreciate the award;  it affirms that I am on the right track.  When someone goes to the effort to write a hate post, obviously I have touched a nerve.  Oh BTW enjoy the hits that this post will give to your negative technocrati blog, yet more proof that you are about as relevant as a stank fart on a hot summers day.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for participating this week.  Many of you made some very interesting commentary that really challenged some of my ideas and for that I am truly grateful.  It is my hope that Womanist Musings continues to be a learning experience for us all.  Thanks to all who guest posted here this week.  Please keep in mind that Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy, simply e-mail me your cross post or original guest post.

This week Monica, Allison and I will be interviewing Dr. Susan Stryker, historian and author of the Transgender History.  Allison wrote a great review, for those who are not familiar with her work.   This will be a great show for those hoping to learn some great 101 information as well as for those who are interested in leaning more about issues of oppression within the community. We will look at feminism, historical figures, basic terminology, current struggles and past victories.

image The show will be August 2nd at 8pm EST and can be found here live on Blogtalkradio.  The call in number is (347) 326-9452.  Monica, Allison and I look forward to taking your questions live.  For those that are unable to listen to the show I will post a link so that you will be able to listen to the recorded broadcast.

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

Post-Racial My Black Ass


Buying Home: The story, the Story, the Story

On the internet I can pass as white, but at a cost

Middle Class Values Don’t Solve Poverty

I Took My Wife's Last Name

The Land Where Rapists Go Free

Little Things

Extenze for women—so the men already taking Extenze have something to fuck

The Shadow

Choosing Pets Over Shelter

11 Things Nobody Told Me About Motherhood

Kyle and Jackie O re-traumatise a child rape victim on air

The problem with back faces and books

allow the “label” white to obscure their actual color


Friday, July 31, 2009

Owning Heterosexual Privilege: What If Gay Were Considered The Norm?

No matter how empathetic a heterosexual person is, they can never truly understand the persecution that gays and lesbians go through.  The following video asks us to image a different world – a world where gay is the norm and heterosexual is considered “other”.

I cannot imagine a society in which I would have to hide my love for fear of rejection, or in some cases violence because this has never been a part of my life. I have always known that my relationship would be validated because we privilege heterosexuality. I have never feared owning my relationship publicly.

No one deserves to be “othered,” because of their sexual orientation and I do believe this video gives heterosexual people a small taste of what life would be like if suddenly their/our love was considered unnatural, or unworthy.  It is privilege that normally causes us to avoid placing ourselves in untenable positions that we are often all ready to create for those that we consider to be other.

H/T QueersUnited

New Stencil by KM Stitchery: This is What a Womanist Looks Like

This is a guest post from everyone’s favourite Gus and queen of the Sunday Shame, Allison McCarthy

KM Stitchery is an Etsy shop run by Lindsay Keating-Moore, a Minneapolis-based artist who designs stencils of womanist/feminist icons.  Lindsay was inspired to start her shop after noticing a trend of popular t-shirts featuring male sociopolitical icons, yet few of the shirts she saw portrayed women. 

 image One of her most recent stencils is especially innovative in its recognition of womanism.  Lindsay uses images and text to provide an image of Alice Walker, who originally coined the term womanism in her book In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose.  As a play on the popular “This is what a feminist looks like” slogan, Lindsay’s design will hopefully spark conversations for those wearing the shirts, who may now be able to explain to curious-minded individuals how womanism differs from feminism, as well as the critical work being done by womanists today.

Renee has obviously written quite extensively on womanism, as well as explaining why white feminists should never self-identify as either womanist or pro-womanist. Although there has been controversy within some feminist communities around the distribution of “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts, I think this stencil brings positive recognition to the womanist movement without the designer attempting to reclaim womanism for white feminists.  Providing Alice Walker’s name beneath the image allows the statement to be credited to Walker rather than to the wearer of the t-shirt. 

Her company is dedicated to promoting green-living, so she uses recycled t-shirts from overstock at thrift stores.   “No need to buy new clothes when there are so many used ones out there that need a home,” she writes.  “Being environmentally friendly and sweatshop free is important to me!”  Likewise, her packing materials and hanging tags are also made from recycled materials.  Like many DIY artists, Lindsay handles all aspects of her business from selecting the recycled t-shirts personally to designing the stencils and then advertising and shipping all of her orders. 

image Currently, the shop features 18 stencils of noted womanist/feminist activists and writers such as: Emma Goldman, Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman Hughes, bell hooks, Simone de Beauvoir, Lucy Stone, Audre Lorde, Susan B Anthony, Angela Davis, Yuri Kochiyama, Victoria Woodhull, Gertrude Stein, Alice Paul, Frida Kahlo, Bella Abzug, Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gloria E. Anzaldua, and Alice Walker.

“I feel strongly about have stencils of women of color because I believe in diversity and combating racism, and all types of women have struggled for women's rights, not just white women, so of course, a variety of women should be represented,” says Lindsay.  “From what I've read, during second-wave feminism, [feminism] seemed like an exclusive group that was racist and classist; it almost seemed to define feminism as a movement for only upper-middle class white women, a movement that did not include ALL women, only some.  I was reading Ain't I a Woman?  by bell hooks and she spoke to the racism in the feminist movement and the sexism in the civil rights movement.  I tried to imagine what it was like to be a part of both movements but simultaneously feel excluded from both.”

Please check out KMStitchery for great womanist/feminist designs, environmentally sound clothing, and a chance to support an individual artist rather than a clothing corporation.

“More to Love”: That means FAT GIRLS, too!

I have a new post up at Global Comment

If someone was unfamiliar with the demographics of the United States and watched an evening of television, they would be likely to believe that no overweight people actually exist within the nation’s borders. With the exception of Camryn Manheim on “Ghost Whisperer,” one would be hard-pressed to find a character portrayed by a full-figured woman. And even in her highly visible role, Manheim is simply the long-suffering friend and is certainly not constructed as a leading woman, or one that is sexy and adventurous; such roles are left for skinny actresses.

image This week, FOX debuted “More to Love” – its answer to the erasure of full-figured women in prime-time television. The show has been advertised as a reconstruction of “The Bachelor.” the supposed twist being that this time, women that are considered fat are allowed to pursue a man. The role of “The Bachelor” on “More to Love” has been assumed by a former college football offensive lineman, Luke Conley, who stands 6′3″ and weighs over 300 pounds. He is twenty-six years old and works as a successful sub-contractor. He is also a prominent real estate investor in California, his home state.

Luke professes that the reason he came on the show was to find love, and that he has not allowed hang-ups about his body to keep him from being successful. While large men face their own types of discrimination, the nature of male privilege ensures that their plight can’t be compared to the body-policing that women endure daily. Even women who are considered beautiful often appear in fashion magazines Photoshopped to appear even slimmer, whereas fat women are commanded to utterly hide themselves from view.

On “More to Love,” each buxom beauty was given a brief spot where she was able to articulate her dating traumas to Luke. In a sea of tears, many revealed that their skinnier girlfriends always seemed to land a boyfriend or go home with the guy, while some claimed they had never even been on a date. Their failures, of course, were blamed on the rampant fat hatred that is socially condoned. The contestants reeked of desperation for anyone possessing a penis to legitimize their existence.

Finish Reading Here

Obama Naked With Unicorns (NSFW)

Below you will find a series of paintings created by Dan Lacey.  He lives in Minnesota and his work can be found on his blog Painter of Pancakes. I am posting them because I am very interested in your response.  Do you like them, are you repulsed by them? Do you find them strange? What do they make you think or feel?

image image

image image

image image

image image

image image

The images were reproduced with the permission of the artist.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Today in Safe Sex News

Some of you may have seen this before but I think it is worth a second watch. It makes you think twice about working out your jones.

Review of Transgender History

This is a guest post by the ever brilliant Allison McCarthy. Her most recent work is,

La Otra España: Reconciling a Daughter’s Bilingual Confusion ma

image The Seal Press Studies series provides concise primers on womanist/feminist issues, combining sidebars, images and text into an easy-to-read format of five chapters and 150 pages. Historian and author Susan Stryker has compiled an introductory text for the series, Transgender History. Like Shira Tarrant's Men and Feminism, Stryker brings together a unique blend of academic and conversational perspectives into an important discussion on trans history, political movements, and the critical issues facing these communities today.

Despite the daunting amount of material Stryker surely must have sifted through in preparing this book, the author effectively incorporates her extensive background knowledge on trans activism with 101-level concepts. The first chapter, "An Introduction to Trans Terms and Concepts," offers a glossary to explain both the past and current uses of concepts such as cisgender privilege, gender identity, genderqueer identity, and a host of other essential terms. She also notes that even the term transgender contains meanings which are "still under construction," suggesting an intellectual movement of savvy terminology which continues to evolve.

Susan Stryker is first and foremost a historian, so her extensive research really shines through in this book. Her second chapter, "A Hundred Years of Transgender History," summarizes the momentum of the trans movement from social, political, and medical perspectives. I found this section to be the most enlightening, as I learned about important figures such as Lou Sullivan, an activist for transmen in San Francisco who compiled a guidebook on making the FTM transition. In the final chapter, she also denotes the attempts at erasure of "T" in LGBTQI discussions. Before reading, I had almost no idea of the threats and intimidation used by some mainstream gay and lesbian groups who insisted that transgender movements had no place in the struggle for same-sex rights.

The author's strong intersectional lens shines clearly on all of the history covered. Throughout the text, Stryker critiques the mainstream trans movement's erasure of communities of color, as well as those whose sexual identities were seen as politically transgressive. Sylvia Rivera's contributions, for example, are often overlooked because of her status as a woman of color, despite her having thrown the infamous beer bottle which ignited the Stonewall riots. Stryker also notes the class privilege which enables expensive surgeries for transitioning, as well as documenting how those who choose not to transition via surgery are frequently Othered within transgender movements.

If only the book could have covered more! It's obvious that Stryker is a fiercely intelligent and well-versed in transgender history and theory, yet the book's brief format constricts her from elaborating on certain topics, such as Trans Liberation. The book is not as U.S.-centric as some feminist texts, but a wider global perspective is missing, which I again attribute to the book's length. I greatly look forward to Sunday's podcast and the chance to hear her thoughts on radical feminist opposition to transgender activism. This is a book for womanists, feminists, and all allies who hope to broaden their base of knowledge on transgender history.

Editors Note: On Sunday Allison, Monica and I will be interviewing Dr. Stryker on our blogtalkradio show at 8pm EST.

Kid Rock: Twitter is Gay

Well like the brilliant sage that he is, Kid Rock has rendered his most valued opinion on twitter.

"It's gay. If one more person asks me if I have a Twitter, I'm going to tell them, 'Twitter this [bleep], mother[bleep]er.'

image What, like gay as an happy or gay as in I am such an uneducated douche, that taking peoples lives and using them for a descriptor somehow seems acceptable.  I suppose creating songs in which the lyrics include saying his  name over and over again, is simply so mentally tasking that actual thought is beyond his capabilities.  Oh if only he had stopped there……

"I don't have anything to say, and what I have to say is not that relevant. Anything that is relevant, I'm going to bottle it up and then squeeze it onto a record somewhere."

He certainly is right about the relevant part.  I am sure I could gain more wisdom and insight from a magic eight ball.  

Alright moving to the serious part of this post.  Insulting Kid Rock is far too easy. What attracted me to this little blurb were not his thoughts on twitter but the fact that he was so quick to use gay as a negative descriptor.  Though many gay rights activists have worked heard to spread the word that saying, “that’s just gay” or “that’s so gay,” is insulting it continues to be part of the common vernacular.

Those with privilege have a tendency to avoid thought about the ways in which language is used to perpetuate difference. Many consider it an affront when they are asked to think about how the ways in which they speak is harmful and most cases detrimental to the ability of others to live lives free of discrimination.  One need not say, “God hates fags” to engage in homophobic language.

When we think of hate speech, we think of epithets like “nigger”, or “spic ,” rarely do we realize that using terms like “tranny,” is a conscious decision to “other” another human being.  It is a sign of privilege to tell an oppressed body that they are being to sensitive when they find a negative descriptor insulting.  Simply because one has a desire to demean, does not mean that a marginalized body must accept such treatment.

Much of this conversation is wrapped up in a debate on what is and is not politically correct speech, though the term itself is largely a misnomer.  Instead of thinking of it as politically correct, what we should be acknowledging, is that factoring in the ways in which privilege grants us certain rights, means that centering the desires of a marginalized body in our  conversations means a conscious decision to respect the basic humanity of others.   This is about equality.  This is about understanding that the systems of oppression effect us all in different ways and by not paying attention to the language that we use, we  reproduce many of the elements that lead to negative social cohesion.

It is not a hardship to avoid using terminology that marginalized bodies find oppressive and yet those with privilege continually behave as though they are being asked to hand over their first born child.  The resistance is based in the fact that we view the expression of coercive power as a signifier of our social status.  Only the truly powerful are able to oppress without consequences and the degree to which we are able to participate in such behaviour, is a marker of our position in our social hierarchy.  No one wants to occupy the bottom rung. 

What we must begin to understand, is that instead of  reproducing systems which we know to be harmful, that the best way to subvert or disturb hierarchy is by a refusal to participate.  Owning ones privilege can be a difficult process however, in the process not only does it allow for a greater respect for humanity, it is a step toward conquering the ways in which you as an individual may face oppression.  We are not disconnected beings and each affirmative action we make towards acknowledging our common stake in our social organization, the better world we will create for future generations. 

Nappy Hair In the Jolie-Pitt World


Those of you who have read this blog know from my previous posts here, here, and here, that I am not a fan of Angelina.   I was attracted to this photo because of Zahara Jolie Pitt.  She is clearly happily going on an excursion with her mother but even at her tender age, she cannot escape the typical criticism that is aimed at Black women across the globe.


I wonder what treatment that s/he would like little Zahara to get…somehow I think it involves either a hot comb or some kind of chemical straightener.  Judging from the use of the word Nappy, the above commenter seems most offended that Angelina has not seen fit to encourage the child to be ashamed of her natural hair, the way other “good little Black girls” are.

imageWhile braids and bows are certainly one way to treat hair, again why is it so unacceptable that Zahara is allowed to have her hair flow freely? 

image One of the first thing a little Black girl learns is that unlike White children, her hair is automatically assumed to be a problem to be managed.   Rarely are we taught to marvel at the gravity defying shapes that it can take on and before we can articulate any coherent feelings on the matter, the world has already encouraged us to internalize a negative concept of Black womanhood.

Our beauty is never assumed, in fact it is considered a work in continual progress.  The goal posts are moved to ensure that we are always chasing something that is elusive and forever unreachable.  Black women spend millions of dollars per year on our hair and it is no accident that the first Black millionaire Madame C.J. Walker sold hair care products.

Internalizing that our natural state is ugly, means that companies are able to profit from our unease and it affirms the racial hierarchy that we have normalized.   Natural hair is purposefully constructed as savage and uncouth. Nappy and or kinky hair announces to the world that one is unapologetically Black and in a society in which bodies of color are devalued, social discipline is the swift and unrelenting response.  Black women are not allowed to assert agency or demand that they be accepted for who they are. 

If we were  truly valued, the ruthless profiteering from  our so-called deficiencies would have to halt and since much of western society is built upon the exploitation of bodies of color, this is simply unacceptable.  Poor little Zahara is only a child and already many are attempting to make her aware that despite her class privilege that she is still Black and therefore unworthy. 

My heart aches for the little Black girls who cannot play in the snow for fear of their hair “turning back”.  I feel sadness for the girls that must restrict their movements to limit they amount they sweat, all in an effort to ensure that no naps appear.  They are slaves to their hair, just as certainly as their foremothers were forced to work in a White mans kitchen.  Submission is what our natural hair teaches us because we cannot conquer it; Black hair will always demand a return to its natural state, mirroring the ways in which we as people have always known struggle in our life.  In a world that favours long silky tresses, there is no room for hair that will not be orderly and uniform.  Whiteness as a standard leaves no room for difference.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cute Undog Of The Day


No, I am not joining the kitty collective but I could not resist this picture.

Lesbian Kissing Will Destroy The WNBA

image Women have fought a long hard battle to have their athletic endeavours legitimized and accepted as just as thrilling as male athletes.  The WNBA is struggling to stay afloat and is therefore trying to cultivate a family based fan attendance rather than the lesbian spectators that it currently gets.  The moment one begins to appeal to “the family”, suddenly the best interest of teh kiddies becomes an issue.

It seems that the Washington Mystics don’t have a kissing cam because the sight of two women kissing might disturb heterosexual privilege and cast us all into a world of unsightly dissonance. 

“We got a lot of kids here,” Sheila Johnson, the Mystics’ managing partner, said when asked last week at a game. “We just don’t find it appropriate.”

Yep, the moment people begin to assert the normalcy of members of the GLBT community, the right wing response is what about “teh kiddies”.  Hear is the deal fellow moms and dads, you would not have to worry about “teh kiddies,” if we took the time to finally acknowledge that being part of the TLBG community is as normal as any other identity that we are born into.  It is because we have constructed cisgendered, heterosexual bodies, as normal that this is even an issue to begin with.  If you aren’t having this “talk” with your children it is because you harbour homophobic and or transphobic thoughts.

BTLG people are born into heterosexual, cisgendered families and therefore the identity that you are failing to normalize may even present itself within your family at the onset of puberty.  I know that many do their best to raise a little homophobe or transphobe  , in the hopes of continuing heterosexual privilege but history has proven that regardless of the actions of the parents, if one is indeed LGBT it will indeed assert itself.   Unless you belong to 1% i.e. white heterosexual male of class privilege at some point your little darling is going to face some form of oppression, would it not be better if they didn’t learn at home that oppression is something that is acceptable and normal?

“We wouldn’t broadcast on our Jumbotron about abortion issues because of the religious and political conflicts it would cause,” said Lindsey Harding, the team’s point guard. “It’s a similar, sensitive subject. We don’t want to put anything out there to turn down certain fans.”

Yep, cause love between two women is the same as choosing to terminate a pregnancy.  Love, in a world convinced that hatred and intolerance is acceptable is naturally controversial.  Heaven forbid we promote the best part of humanity – our ability to love and share.  We daily subject children to thousands of images of violence and yet it is the image of love that needs censorship.  Am I the only one that sees the idiocy of such a policy? Where is the what about “teh kiddies” when it comes to seeing rivers of blood or decapitated bodies for sport? 

Since they were old enough to understand, I began affirming that love in all its manifestations is beautiful with my children.   Though it has been difficult, I have actively sought out positive representations of the LGBT community to counter the negative messages that they receive.  It has not been an easy battle and their father and I must fight everyday, but I firmly believe that teaching love and acceptance is far better than encouraging them to celebrate an undeserved privilege, that means so many are erased and violated.  What about “teh kiddies” indeed.

H/T Pandagon

Malkin: Obama is a ‘racial opportunist’

Racial opportunist indeed. Does this woman own a mirror?  She would not be where she is today were she not an internalizing fool.  This woman has made a career out of identity politics; in which she regularly argues the position of over privileged White men who would be more than happy to throw her to the wolves.   I suppose she believes that since she was able to achieve success by “tomming,” that all POC should be willing to behave in a similar manner.  I will agree that achieving success and financial security is something that many desire but the cost that Malkin pays is far to high.

White neocons want Obama to ensure them that they are not facing a revolution.  They want to believe that the current change in population demographics will not lead to a reduction of their power or authority but despite being president of the United States he can not assure them that the crimes of their ancestors will not indeed be their Achilles' heel.  They will never state so explicitly but what they want from an Obama administration to prove that their is indeed a possibility of a great White hope.

Even when he focused on being as racially non threatening as possible, they still believed an anger was simmering just beneath the surface ready to consume  them.   You will note, that just recently Limbaugh referred to Obama as an angry Black man, as though any rage he may feel  would be illegitimate. 

The talking points currently are all race based.  From throwing the race card, to angry; White republicans are displaying their fear and hatred at every opportunity.   They fail to see that the same charges that they levy at the Obama administration are more rightfully left at their doorstep.  Like a dying man grasping for breathe, they seek to pull all into a vortex of anger and frustration.  The legacy of Whiteness that they were promised at birth seems somehow less brilliant, in a world were people of color are continually demanding that our rights be respected and it is this that is the root of their continual ferocious attacks upon the Obama administration and all POC. 

The identity politics that the  neocons practice is only acceptable when it is in the service of White hegemony.  Should a POC at anytime assert their worth, they are immediately delegitimized because equality is detrimental to their position.  They speak about meritocracy as though it were a fact and not a figment of imagination.  Generation after generation the old White boys club has worked to ensure that capitol and prestige has been transferred between White hands and yet this not understood as affirmative action.  What the hell would you call the presidency of George Bush but affirmative action run amok? When a man graduates thank you laude, after being a legacy student, runs failed business after failed business, and then somehow manages to become president of the United States, clearly this is White privilege in action.  

Malkin is more than willing to ignore that the Bush administration looked like a dinner invitation list to the George H. Bush residence.  No cronyism there.  Of course, George W  did have the self hating Condi to back up his inclusive claims but what greater way is there to police the inmates, than by having a fellow inmate lead the charge?  Makin, like other people of color who take her position are on the wrong side of history. There was a time in which it was advantageous to perhaps play the game but the tide is turning and the rules are changing.  Limbaugh et al may shout and rattle their cages but they have no power to stop the inevitable.  Martin Luther Kings dream shall be realized and we all shall sing, free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last. 

The LGBT Community and Media Representation

There have always been characters in the media that the public has been able to image perceive as gay, even when it has not been explicitly said.  One such example can be found in the movie Ben Hur (yep Charlton Heston didn’t even get it at the time) . When Judah Ben Hur is reunited with his childhood “chum” and they embrace, it is clear that more went on than sharing childhood follies. 

Today, being a member of the GLBT community means that you still exist as a body that is “othered”.   The instances of gay bashing or assumed heterosexuality, prove that we have a long way to go to ensure that we have a tolerant and equal society.  The media is an agent of socialization and therefore; the more normalized images of the GLBT community become, the greater chance there is of  influencing those who still exist with prejudicial beliefs.

According to the New York Times:

Glaad reviewed more than 4,900 hours of prime-time programming on the five major networks and more than 1,200 hours on 10 cable networks, such characters are represented in 42 percent of HBO’s programming hours, and 26 percent of Showtime’s. ABC led the broadcast networks with 24 percent, with CW at 20 percent, Fox at 11 percent, NBC 8 percent and CBS 5 percent.

You will note that Fox was excluded but judging from their record of “fair and balanced programming,” one can hazard a fair guess as to why it was excluded. I think that it is encouraging to see that HBO came out at 42%; it certainly signals that the cable network is interested in diversifying who it chooses to give attention to.

Hidden within these statistics though is a lot of erasure.  Many times a GLBT identity is represented by a gay white male and this simply recreates the same image form of exclusion that GLBT activists have spent lifetimes fighting against.  If an increasing GLBT presence in the media means creating more images like the movie Milk, it ensures that those members of the community that are of color or transgendered, are being ignored to privilege the identity of the oppressed white male.

It is a rainbow flag for a reason; a GLBT identity encompasses all bodies across race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, and age.  The one dimensional view that the media portrays continually makes the diversity of the community invisible thereby further marginalizing POC, and trnasgendered people  amongst an already oppressed group.  Even within oppressed groups, we continually take on the master’s tools because that is how we have been trained to think.

When was the last time you saw a differently abled lesbian of color represented and yet they most certainly exist?  How about an older gay man, who was not busy chasing young men or whining, over his misbegotten youth?  It is not enough to press for more representation, if it continues to make vital members of the community invisible.  It is inaccurate and further builds divides in a community that needs every single member to engage in the battle for equal rights.

When we look at the criticism of Barack Obama, what we constantly see on the news shows is a White gay male pitted against a Black male (sometimes gay as well) on opposing sides.  Why are people contributing to the angst between same gender loving people of color and the rest of the community by participating in something that is clearly designed to be racially divisive?

Why is it acceptable for the media to continually portray members of the GLBT community as affluent, when we know that many suffer in poverty?  Where is the call to hear their stories and the ways in which homophobia has reduced access to things like jobs and health insurance? 

While I’m at it, what about the silent B and T?  You will note that the representation of openly bisexual and transgendered characters is ridiculously low. One or two characters on HBO cannot represent the wonder and achievement of these people and yet there is silence about their erasure.

Some may see the above statistics as a positive sign of change however; I see much still needs to change.  I should not have to struggle to show my child positive images of the GLBT community in the media.  Acceptance means portraying the community equally and ensuring that all voices are heard.  Until that day happens we are not far removed from the 1950’s Leave it to Beaver model that conservatives love to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rick Rolling Nirvana

Thought I would share my horror with you…talk about apples and oranges.

Meryl Streep and A Lack Of Sexiness

The commentary in question begins at 2:45 minutes into the video.

Editors Note: The above video has been removed from youtube but can still be seen at the Jezebel link below.

Conan O’BrienIn those early years what length did you to through to try and get a part because now you would think that people would be dying for you to be their movie, but back then before you were established what did you do?

Meryl StreepI did this thing once when I was auditioning once for Out of Africa, because I had done some movies but I wasn’t famous or famous enough or something to get this big part.  So I was auditioning and Sydney Pollack who was the director, let it be known to my agent that he didn’t think I was sexy enough to play Isak Dinesen, this Danish writer. You know, who was like fifty when she published her first book.  So I went and bought a sweet little dress at my local K-mart kind of thing.  It went off the shoulders and then I took a lot of paper towels and I stuffed them in my bra. 

Conan O’Brien: You stuffed your bra?

Meryl Streep: Yes. So that it would mound up.

Conan O’Brien: Oh I know what it does, yes.  Exactly what you’re talking about and it worked I guess.

Meryl Streep: Yeah I got the part.

This bit comes across as comedy, but really it reveals that no matter how talented you are, as long as you are a woman, your ability is always questioned.  Imagine that sexiness was an issue for the movie Out of Africa.  Did they wonder if Robert Redford was sexy enough? Somehow I doubt it.

No matter what it is that we endeavour to achieve it is always questioned.  We are either too sexy or not sexy enough.  Our bodies are continually deemed for male consumption and can be considered either a detractment or an enhancement to the task at hand in a way that males are never positioned. Men get to exist simply as they are.  No matter the privilege for women it all comes down to the same thing…negotiating a patriarchal sexist world while attempting to maintain our dignity.

As for Pollack, he is clearly an idiot.

H/T Jezebel

Nadya Suleman Gets Her Reality Television Show

image It was clear from the very beginning that Ms. Suleman planned on having her children star in a reality television show to offset the cost of raising them.  It seems that she has finally gotten the contract that she was looking for.  If a judge approves of the contract that she signed, each child will earn 250$ per day, adding up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per child over the next three years.  According to the law, fifteen percent of their earnings must be held in trust until the child reaches the age of eighteen or is legally emancipated.

As with Jon and Kate one can be certain that the cries of stop exploiting children will begin.   They will point to the spectacle that their lives will become and the fact that the children had no say as to whether or not participate in the show to begin with.   The 15% or 37,500 that is mandated to be put into trust for them will not even pay for their college tuition. 

Perhaps these naysayers would be happier if these kids were to grow up on food stamps, wearing second hand clothing and worried each month whether or not their mother can pay the rent on their place of residence.  Nope, it far better for these children to live a life of obscurity no matter the poverty that it will entail. Even if they were growing in a two person household, which they are not, supporting fourteen kids would be extremely difficult.

We have become far better at judging others than actually offering aid in difficult situations.  It is far easier to stand on the side lines and wag a finger, than to consider that our inability to see children as our communal responsibility leads to situations where women like Nadya have no choice but to turn their families into cash cows.  When the octoplets were first born there was no end of commentary regarding the irresponsibility of their mother in their conception. It was argued that because she could not afford to care for them, that she never should have had them.  Never was it considered that she could be a good mother, or that parenting is about more than finances. 

We behave as though we don’t have a stake in how these children turn out by our unwillingness to finance their childhood.  Why should my tax dollars go to support her selfishness is the common refrain, as though tax dollars do not routinely go to the support of reprehensible items.  Let’s remember that tax dollars financed the torture at GITMO, the Iraq and Afghan war, and sordid other crimes.  There are far more offensive things than raising a child that tax dollars can be directed towards and yet Suleman has been treated as though she has committed the worst sort of crime.

Placing the children on television will eliminate the poverty that they would otherwise be destined to live in.  In spite of the judgement and the finger wagging, people will tune in because a desire to consume will ensure that every moment of their little lives become public fodder.   They will of course take the time to discipline Suleman for her decision but not take the time to critique the fact that our very desire to consume the bodies of these babies is exactly why this opportunity exists in the first place. 

Police Taser Disabled Man Antonio Love for not Leaving the Bathroom

This is a guest post from RMJ at Deeply Problematic

image In Mobile, Alabama this week, policemen used lethal force on Antonio Love, a deaf and mentally disabled man, who would not come out of the bathroom.

Their excuse? He had a lethal weapon umbrella.

Love was in the bathroom, a place where everyone should expect privacy and respect. . In Love's words, given in sign-language, he had "a badly upset stomach last Friday and went into a Dollar General store to use the restroom."

When he had been in there an hour, store employees called the authorities, which is reasonable enough. The police appropriately identified themselves, but Love, who was scared and believed the Devil was trying to get in, did not respond.

They responded disproportionately to the absence of any apparent threat by spraying pepper spray through the door, using a tire iron to open the door Love was trying to keep closed. After they realized he was deaf and disabled, what did they do? Did they...apologize profusely and let him go? Was ... disciplinary action taken against the authorities who overused force?


They laughed at him.

And proceeded to charge him on disorderly conduct.

The right of disabled persons to function fully and exist with respect in our society is consistently deprived of them. This is obviously a difficult situation to navigate, but it's the responsibility of the authorities to be calm and careful and to restrain themselves from using force in a situation where there is no apparent harm. When they are dealing with someone who is unable to recognize themselves, they need to move slowly and deliberately to make sure that they are not doing ... exactly what they did.

Contact information for the Mobile police department can be found here.

Tune In Tuesday

As with last week I am going to offer you a song and tell you about the memories I have associated with it.  Please feel free to share in the comment section what memories you have associated with it.

This is from the first movie I ever saw with the unhusband.   Kind of appropriate that I saw a gushy romance with what was to be the love of my life.  I remember him asking why the hell women think it is so romantic that  a man is willing to die for them, as this was the tagline of the movie and the song. Being the “rational” thinker that he is, he of course pointed out that after the guy is dead, the relationship is over.  In what was to be the first of many times, I called him a DUD and told him to go with it.

If I believed in weddings, this song might actually have been our wedding song but since I have decided to forgo the horror of the white dress, I’ll just have to remember it as the song of one of our first dates…No, it’s not “our song”, which oddly enough is all about breaking up; don’t ask, nothing we do is ever simple.

Black Men and Crime What’s The Story?

I came across a page reflecting crime statistics that gave me a moments pause.

imageEach day, the New York Police Department announces major crimes, including most homicides, in the five boroughs. This data is compiled from those reports, in addition to news accounts, court records and additional reporting.”

If we believe these statistics to be true, in the majority of the crime committed in New York City the perpetrator is of color.   It is by now common knowledge that POC are for over represented in the prison population relative to the percentage of the population that they make up. Whites are quick to point to statistics like above to justify racial profiling in police work; to them it only seems common sense to target POC because statistically they/we are the criminals. 

image White panic is behind much of the tough on crime rhetoric despite the fact that most of the victims of crime are men of color.  This is in direct contradiction to the medias portrayal of Black men assaulting various members of society.  If any alarm should be sounding, it should be in the Black community because these statistics reveal that we are largely dying by our own hand.  We are loathe to discuss the amount of intra-racial criminal activity within our communities but we cannot ignore that we have lost two generations of young men to either death or the penal system. 

It is easy to look at the statistics and claim that POC are predisposed to commit crime; White fear is predicated on that very same erroneous fact.  When a child is born it has just as much potential as any other baby, the problem is that we have so stratified our society that not all children are able to live up to their innate potential. A child born into the suburbs with parents who are either middle class to upper middle class will have a completely different experience growing up than a child that is born into poverty.  Even having one parent versus two will remarkably change the life course of many infants.

A child of the middle/upper class will not have to dodge bullets, avoid gang initiation or even burry a friend before their twenty first birthday.   Education will be encouraged in their home and parents will have the income to supplement learning opportunities that are offered through school.   A simple thing like having clothes that fit and a stomach full of nutritious food is a luxury to many children growing in poverty.

The issue is not that Blacks are predisposed to crime but that the circumstances of existing as a body of color in a society that is determined that our children fail leads to these criminal acts.  There are more middle/upper class Blacks than ever before but poverty continues to be a nagging reminder of the ways in which White privilege ensures that there is a divide between the races.  We cannot all pull ourselves up by the bootstraps in a system that is designed to ensure that Blacks remain at the working/under class level.  To this day, if a Black man and a White man are standing next to each other in identical clothing, it will be assumed that the Black man is functioning on a menial/service sector position.

As damaging as these statistics are they only speak a partial truth.  A POC is far more likely to interact with the police thereby increasing the possibility of a negative interaction.   It is a well known fact that police regularly harass communities of color whereas they act as gatekeepers in rich or affluent neighbourhoods ensuring that no “darkie” is there for a nefarious purpose.

Statistics no matter how comprehensive do not explain social facts.  Simply by looking at the figures can never account for things like racism, or classism which are known to be rampant in society.   To save young Black boys action must be taken on many levels.  Were such damaging statistics to be aimed at young white boys one can be certain that action would already have been taken.  The fact that this is allowed to continue proves that MOC are socially devalued.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ode To Joy

Bet you cannot watch this without smiling.

Most Controversial Moms


(click the image to watch the video)

Of course the most controversial dads were not an interesting enough topic of conversation.. No need to point out that there are men who have babies by several different women and then do their best to avoid paying child support.  We certainly cannot discuss the men that are not candidates for daddy of the year. Only the mothers that are not attending mommy and me classes, in their finest designer clothing, while planning their child’s next play date deserve our derision.

Being a mother is not an easy job. I have had to clean up the most disgusting messes, explain why water is wet and keep up with the latest slang.  I am a soft shoulder to cry on and the heavy that lays down the law.  The majority of my grey hair is the result of the kids and they never cease to comment about how old I am getting.  I have the good fortune of not parenting under the glare of a camera, and for that I am thankful.  No matter how hard we try, no woman will ever be the perfect mother because we are all imperfect beings and yet no leeway is ever given for that.

Nadya Suleman’s big crime was having too many kids.  It seems perfectly acceptable to ignore the fact that if we lived in a society that truly cared about children, fertility, and reproduction, would be a non issue.   Madonna’s motherhood issues of course surrounds her desire to play “White saviour” by rescuing African children.  And finally there is the gossip rags favourite girl to beat up, Brittany Spears….they know damn well that the woman has mental health issues but what the hell, just drag her to mat one more time.  Nothing is more fun that continually stomping on someone from a position of privilege right?

Mother shaming is just as perverse as slut shaming or victim blaming.  Any role that women choose to take on in life is highly regulated and should she for whatever reason fail to live up to constructed norms (ignore that they keep moving the goal posts), one can be certain that the finger wagging naysayers will not be far behind.  Imagine if we invested half of the time that we spend mother shaming, actually creating support networks to help mothers and children. Imagine if we actually gave a damn, instead of pretending to care to make it appear as though we are maintaining our end of the social contract.

We also continually fail to acknowledge how genderized our discussions on parenting are.  Parents magazine and other bathroom literature of its ilk are specifically aimed at women.  No matter how liberated we claim to be ,we still overwhelming insist on pushing the hunter gatherer form of family, as though this is even still functional in a society where two parents must work. 

Motherhood does not happen outside of the patriarchal construct and therefore the delegitimizing of the work or stress involved is deemed appropriate.  By continuing to critique it in the manner that we do, we keep women performing under impossible circumstances, as though there is some possibility that they can ever achieve acceptance, or even five seconds of gratitude for the work that they do.

Is it any wonder why increasingly women are opting out of choosing motherhood as a viable option.  If we are not being shamed for our supposed failures, we are critiqued for our inability to turn1 dollar into 5 for a bag of milk. Parenting is supposed to be a shared job and personally I am sick and tired of seeing how easily we turn a blind eye when men abdicate their  duties or watching as society  pats them on the back for changing a diaper.

Many will over look this list of controversial mothers  because it is simply business as usual; shaming and disciplining women, however a failure to say enough of this kind of nonsense, simply supports the idea that motherhood needs to be subject to censure.  

Refugees and Canada

This is a guest post from Lindsay.

The other day I went to a talk about refugees. I thought I would share what I learned. This is a topic I didn’t know much about until the other day and there’s still a lot I don’t know. It’s interesting that this talk came in the middle of two changes Canada made in order to discourage refugees from coming here.

Refugees are people who have had to move to another country because their country has war or they are being persecuted in some way. In Canada, many people from Mexico attempt to be refugees. Refugees who make their way here on their own and then hope they will be allowed to stay here are called claimant refugees. They arrive in a city with the right office and make a claim that they should be allowed to stay in Canada as a refugee. It can take a year or more to find out if they can stay in Canada. They cannot apply to be considered refugees at the border or they will be automatically turned away and sent back to Mexico. Recently, Canada has changed the laws so that visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic require a visa. This is supposedly because a lot of claimant refugees from Mexico are not actually being persecuted but are coming for economic reasons. Also, they say there are too many cases and they cannot handle them all. Refugees who know they will be allowed to stay here are convention refugees.

The main myth about refugees is they come here to get things for free. The government of Canada actually gives refugees a loan. They are even expected to pay back their plane tickets that brought them here if they came by plane. They cannot work until they have a work permit which can take 5-8 months. However, I am not sure if we get money from claimant refugees who are denied and have to go home. According to one article, they cost us billions per year because of their living expenses and paying the people who decide whether they can stay.

It can take a year or more for claimant refugees to find out whether they can stay in the country. This decision is made by one person in a trial-like hearing. There is no appeal process. If you cannot stay in Canada, you are sent back home. Some refugees get a “friendlier” interview type hearing, particularly if their case is taking longer. Who stays in Canada is based in large part on politics. It is unlikely for Columbians to be denied and unlikely for Mexicans to be accepted.

We were told the story of a Mexican who looked out his window at the wrong time and saw two people dealing drugs. Because he saw them, he was a target. His brother was mistaken for him and murdered. I believe he is currently in Canada hoping to stay here but the odds are against him.

A couple days ago Canada changed the laws so that if a person from Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Zimbabwe landed in America first, they cannot apply to be a refugee in Canada. They cannot cross the land border from U.S to Canada and apply for refugee status.

I recently watched Lost Boys of Sudan. It is a documentary that follows young Sudanese men as they adjust to life in America as refugees. I recommend it. It shows life is not easy for them but it’s certainly not entirely terrible. It does touch on the issues of education for refugees that America needs to work on.

These are just some bare basics about refugees who come to Canada. I have found it is hard to get all the facts from newspaper articles. Some articles seem to assume people have background knowledge. Many articles on google news are opinions pieces but people might not realize this.

I still know so little. I advise everyone not to assume newspapers have all the information about refugees. Or that they offer a neutral view. Even if an article is supposed to be objective, the author can choose which facts to report. Refugees are a complicated issue. I’m sure not everyone who comes here hoping to be a refugee is about to be persecuted. That is what we must figure out as fairly as possible. How to be fair and not deport people who will be killed or tortured is not an easy question. I do wonder how much our government cares about being fair and how much we just want to discourage as many refugees as possible from coming here. There are many negative opinions about refugees, as shown by comments to online articles so I want to encourage people to get as many facts as possible about refugees and encourage others to do the same.

CNN’S Black in America 2: Today’s Pioneers

I have a new post up a Global Comment

CNN has aired the final part of its new four-hour documentary, Black in America II. Out of all the Black in America segments, this one was the most incoherent. It seemed as though the network was attempting to shove as many random facts as possible into one episode without making any significant connections.

The first part of the segment began with a focus on marriage in the black family. It was reported that in 1963, 60% of black families were headed by a married couple, while today, that figure measures at less than half. It focused in on the efforts of the Wedded Bliss Foundation to encourage communication in marriages.

The foundation’s services are completely free of charge and are open to those considering marriage, as well as those who are currently married. While the subject matter was interesting,  there was no discussion about why the destruction of the patriarchal family amongst African Americans was necessarily detrimental. To add to the problematic depiction of marriage as the ideal formation of a household, no same-gender loving families were featured. If one is truly concerned about “the black family,” acknowledging all of the ways in which it manifests itself should be a priority. This episode seemed to be more about enforcing heterosexuality as the preferred example of coupling.

In what was perhaps the most informative segment of the entire special, Soledad spoke with Dr. Lisa Newman of Michigan University Hospital. Dr. Newman’s work centers on studying triple negative breast cancer or what is known as TNBC. It seems that it is harder to detect because, unlike other cancers, the traditional markers do not exist. TNBC also overwhelmingly affects African American women. Fifteen percent of White women and thirty percent of Black women diagnosed with breast cancer suffer from TNBC.

To understand why this virulent form of cancer is attacking Black women, Dr. Newman travels to Ghana, where 60% of the women with cancer have TNBC, to collect DNA samples, which she then compares to African Americans. African Americans are used to having their health care needs ignored and to see a woman dedicated to ending the suffering of Black women is absolutely inspiring. Dr. Newman’s work is essential and she certainly deserves as much support as we can give her.

From the illuminating work of Dr. Newman, the documentary reflected on incarceration by focusing on the life of Chris Shurn. Shurn got his GED in prison and had started taking college classes. He promised before his release that he had no intention of ever being incarcerated again and planned on completing his education. As an ex-con, Shurn was not entitled to either subsidized housing or welfare. Through a program entitled Project Choice, he was able to secure a job. However, Evert Highbauer, the lead caseworker, had serious doubts about Shurn’s ability to succeed, considering that his girlfriend was pregnant with a child and the couple was already supporting several other children.

Finish Reading Here

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Shame: When I Am Alone Edition

image I was fishing around for a topic for this weeks Sunday Shame, when a friend suggested fessing up to things that we do when we are alone, that are understood to be  socially unacceptable.  I thought about it and figured it would be kind of boring, until he verbally gave me his confession….LMH confessed that he bites his toe nails.

I have never for the record bitten my toe nails.  Even if I were so inclined, I am not that flexible sober.   Needless to say my stomach absolutely turned.  It actually reminded me of a former music teacher of mine who used to collect his ear wax. I sat there and tossed and turned and must admit that I cannot top that bit of grossness, though I am sure that some of you can. 

image The worst I can admit to at this point is screaming Free Willly after taking off my bra on a hot day.  I will then proceed to stand in front of the fan lift my breasts and take advantage of the breeze.  On a hot day it is heaven and I don’t care how weird it looks.  The “girls” just do not like the heat.

You now have two weird confessions to play off of and it is your turn to share.  What secret practice do you have when you know no one is looking?  Let your shame fly in the comment section, and remember you can always leave your comment anonymously should you be overwhelmed with shame.