Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Whoopi, Polanski IS a pervert

This is a guest post from Gemna of Gemna Speaks

image I watched Whoopi Goldberg defend Roman Polanski and heard her state that Polanski did not commit “rape rape” of a 13 year old. I wondered immediately if the world of stardom included their lack of reading and comprehension of life outside of their limo rides and dressing rooms. It was as if all of “Hollywood” had taken a page out of politicians’ handbook and were using the same talking points to defend one of their own. Several times throughout the day, I heard the newly coined “rape, rape” referenced. I had the sudden urge to fly to California and rent a jack hammer and disfigure all stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

A quick internet search yielded the actual documents that detailed the crimes that Polanski was accused of committing. I did not get very far in my reading because he did more than rape a child, he stole her soul. As his hideous acts of indecency to a minor child were there for all to see, I wondered if Whoopi had read any of the recent accounts of Jaycee Duggard and Elizabeth Smart. Not cases from thirty years ago but more recent headlines and foul details of men Polanski age that did the same revolting unforgivable crimes to underage girls. No, Polanski did not kidnap his victim but his criminal behavior was the same as Garrido and Mitchell. They did not have hot tubs full of famous friends but their victims have lived to tell what was done to them. Polanski may have won numerous awards for his talents as a film maker but he also deserves another award, sentencing to jail.

Since Whoopi has recanted her early statement (the hate mail was overwhelming); let’s look at her original words “rape rape” and see how Polanski actions are similar to other creatures that have the same DNA from Satan.

1. “No, please don’t”. Polanski, Garrido, Brian Mitchell victims begged for mercy before they were kidnapped, raped, forced lewd acts upon, and/ or sodomized. They were afraid, terrorized and forced against their will.

2. Elizabeth Smart 14, Jaycee Duggard 11, and Samantha Geimer 13 were not of legal age to buy drinks, tobacco, let alone “have sex” with Mitchell, Garrido, or Polanski willingly.

3. Each offender was in relationships with women who enabled or defended the actions of each pervert. Mitchell‘s accomplice in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart was Wanda Ileen Barzee. Phillip Garrido was married to his enabler, Nancy Garrido. Garrido met his wife while she was visiting a relative in prison. Garrido also had a neighbor who defended him publically while ignoring the missing child posters that were revisited once Jaycee was found. Polanski despite his criminal charges later married and his chorus of supporters included famous celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Debra Winger and fellow famous predators like Wood Allen.

4. Polanski, Garrido, and Mitchell were all able to blend into society appearing normal while holding down jobs in plain sight. Polanski continued to make movies and even gave interviews in the last year where he spoke about his crime as if he was dismissing a fleeting fling. Garrido gave tips once on how to keep your child safe, and Mitchell was allowed into homes as a handyman. Mitchell did not bother to hide; he boldly walked the streets with Smart!

5. All of these men have justified their actions. Polanski said it was consensual in spite of the grand jury testimony by Samantha Geimer and hospital reports that show otherwise. Phillip Garrido, who has served time for rape and torture of women and young girls, believes that once all the sordid details of the 18 years of Jaycee’s captivity are revealed, you will hear a wonderful redemptive story. Wth? Mitchell also gives scriptural highlights for his repeated rape of a 14 year over a nine month period who he “married” in the middle of the night after he kidnapped her.

The similarities between the men are endless. Whoopi initial words revealed an evil code of silence that needed to be scrutinized. Stars live in an alternate universe that we help shaped; the rush to stand so unashamedly behind Polanski should make all of us think twice about wanting to idolize anyone.

Yes, Polanski victim wants us to move on from this story and that is understandable. But Polanski crimes and lack of punishment tells us that until our society cherishes our young and women, these crimes will be committed again and again; openly, without shame and unpunished. We cannot “rename” rape and allow it to be swept under Hollywood’s red carpet.

Samantha Gruier grand jury testimony in 1977:

The girl testified that she left the Jacuzzi and entered a bedroom in Nicholson's home, where Polanski sat down beside her and kissed the teen, despite her demands that he "keep away." According to Gailey, Polanski then performed a sex act on her and later "started to have intercourse with me." At one point, according to Gailey's testimony, Polanski asked the 13-year-old if she was "on the pill," and "When did you last have your period?" Polanski then asked her, Gailey recalled, "Would you want me to go in through your back?" before he "put his penis in my butt." Asked why she did not more forcefully resist Polanski, the teenager told Deputy D.A. Roger Gunson, "Because I was afraid of him."

Elizabeth Smart testifying against in Brian Mitchell in 2009:

Asked by a prosecutor to describe Brian David Mitchell, the self-described prophet accused of holding her captive for nine months, Ms Smart replied: “Evil, wicked, manipulative, stinky, slimy, greedy, selfish, not spiritual, not religious, not close to God.”

Elizabeth’s description of Mitchell could be said of Garrido and Polanski. We must be proactive and protective our young from predators even the ones who walk the red carpet.


The Onion Proclaims Smoking is so Gay

I get that this is a play on the ridiculous homophobic tirades of the conservatives, however; I don’t think that this works.  It is not really clear that they are attempting satire because they are not poking fun at the homophobes for their beliefs directly, instead they are presenting them seriously.  Unless someone is of the opinion that homophobia is wrong, they are not going to understand the point that is being made here.  Simply repeating bigotry without analysis really does not accomplish anything.

This video does not inspire discussion about why homophobia is wrong. It does not delve into undeserved heterosexual privilege.  The images of the supposed lesbians, is further troubling because it points to gender policing without every really explicitly making the point that sexuality and gender to two very different concepts.  Instead of critiquing gender policing, it instead affirms it. 

The onion often gets a lot of things right but I do believe this video is a failure. Homophobia can never be treated in an ironic way.

Fat Hatred and Disability on The Cleveland Show

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The above image is Kendra from McFarlanes new series, The Cleveland Show.  In the segment in question, her husband Lester is offering her a meal of dog, which he refers to as Chinese Food.  Her response is that he read her stomach.  This was one moment of racism in a show that had many offensive incidents. 

From the moment I saw this episode, I kept returning to this very brief scene.  I know that it triggered me and caught my attention, because like me, Kendra is fat and in a scooter.  Seeing someone with a visible disability is a very rare occurrence on prime time television. When people with disabilities are visible, they are often props for a comedic routine. There is an assumption on the part of many, that if fat people would just get the hell up out of their scooters and walk, that weight would no longer be an issue.  It never occurs to people that weight is the not the illness but simply an outward manifestation of other problems. People don’t use scooter because they are lazy but because they have no other choice.  Think about the simple pleasure of strolling along a beach, or a walk in the fall and hearing the leaves crunch under your feet; those small pleasures are lost.  Even the ability to run and feel the strength of your own body as your legs propel you forward, is a pleasure not fully understood until it is lost.

Riding in a scooter is not the easy way out, that it seems to those who have never been forced to use one.  Stores that  able bodied people access without a problem often have steps that bar access.  Even those that have a nice flat access, sometimes don’t have an automatic door opener. To enter my favourite market, I have to wait outside and wave my arms until someone inside notices that I need assistance. 

Sidewalks that are functional for an able bodied person are not necessarily useable to someone in a scooter.  Poles that can be easily navigated when they are stuck in the pavement, are not necessarily easy to move around in a scooter. Often curbs are not turned down. Sidewalks are carelessly blocked off by cars hanging out of drive ways, and let’s not forget those who think that they don’t have to shovel their walkway in the winter. My personal favourite are those that believe the scooter rider should always yield when faced with a pedestrian on the sidewalk.

All of these incidents will force a scoter user onto the road which may mean risking their lives as drivers seem to think  that because they are in a vehicle, that they always have the right of way. Each year many scooter users are killed because they have no protection when they are hit by a car.

Fat hatred spurs hateful images like this that reinforce the idea that the problem is not disability but laziness.  Many people are both fat and active.  It is quite possible to be healthy at any size depending upon what issues are going on with the body.  I am certain that this image is meant to demean people who are fat due to rampant fat hatred of the entire episode.  Laughing at fat people is very normalized and considered to be a very acceptable part of any comedic routine.

What MacFarlane and his crew of insensitive aids probably did not consider was the ways in which this construction is highly ableist.  If one is not able to move due to illness, it is nearly impossible to remain thin.  If this is coupled with medication like prednisone, short of outright refusing to consume food at all, gaining weight is a given.  Gaining weight should be the last concern when you are fighting a debilitating disease. For short-sighted people like MacFarlane, making a mockery of peoples lives is acceptable. Never once does he give a thought to the very real difficulties that many must deal with.

Good comedy need not resort to belittling someone for being different.  The approach engaged in by MacFarlane only serves to reify difference, thereby perpetuating undeserved privilege. I don’t believe that MacFarlane would be in the least bit amused if it was him in a scooter, fighting pain to get even the most basic errands completed.  He certainly would not be amused if he was subjected to stares and jeers simply for existing. When you have to sink that low, comedy is neither ironic or amusing; it is simply cruel and in incredible poor taste.



The Great European Milk Protest

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Check this story out from the N.Y. Times.

This caught my attention because it seems that even with the subsidies that these farmers  receive, that they are have trouble earning a living.  Obviously for European farmers this is a right and we should all ignore the ways in which these subsidies have destroyed local farmers and markets in the so-called third world.  I bet Jamaican farmers wish they still had a dairy  industry to speak of.  Oh well let the powdered milk flow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#Nestlefamily, Bloggers & Race: Why It Matters

This is a guest post from Blacktating

If you are on Twitter and following me or any one of the many breastfeeding advocates, you probably noticed us tweeting with the hash tag #nestlefamily. If you’re not up to speed, I’ll try to break it down succinctly. Many large corporations, like General Mills and Hallmark, have begun inviting high-traffic bloggers (often so-called “mommy bloggers”) to their corporate headquarters on all-expense paid trips. In return for food, lodging and airfare, these bloggers give the company their opinions on its products. The company then uses this information for marketing & PR purposes. At the end of the day, the company is trying to make money. Focus groups are nothing new, but with women, particularly mothers, making the majority of the buying decisions for their families and social media becoming a more important, effective (and cheap!) marketing tool, it’s a safe bet that these types of trips will be offered more and more frequently.

Nestle recently planned one of these trips for about 20 bloggers*, a list of whom you can find here. The event is currently taking place in California, but for weeks, attendees have been tweeting with the #nestlefamily hash tag on Twitter. I first got wind of this event when someone I follow on Twitter used the hash tag and I decided to search it and investigate further. I found that a woman who I thought of as a breastfeeding advocate was attending the event. Her name is Jennifer James and she is the woman behind The Black Breastfeeding blog (now defunct), Mom Bloggers Club, and the historical breastfeeding blog on Mothering magazine’s website. When I asked her why she would ever align herself with this company and attend their blogger junket, her response was that she never said she had a problem with Nestle. Maybe so, but I think she should have a problem with Nestle.

Nestle has long been thought of as one of the most corrupt corporations in the world. They are a huge multinational and have their hands in almost every aspect of the food business. They produce and export many of the “ethnic”and international products you probably eat or grew up eating. They own the largest share of the infant f*ormula business. They recently acquired the Gerber brand. They sell bottled water. They make candy. At Thanksgiving, you probably make your pie with their canned pumpkin. On a diet? You’ve probably stocked up on their low-calorie frozen meals. They are blatant WHO Code violators and aggressively market their infant f*ormula in developing nations. They used to send sales reps to developing nations in white uniforms and call them “milk nurses.

These reps would convince mothers to use f*ormula instead of breastfeed and would provide them with freebies just long enough, until their milk ran out. So now you have a woman who is impoverished with a hungry baby and no breast milk. This led to watering down of f*ormula (which still happens to this day, right here in America). These women often didn’t have access to clean water so they couldn’t sterilize their baby’s bottles or nipples and had to mix the powder with contaminated water.

Besides their unethical formula marketing, they have also been accused of using child slave labour in the Ivory Coast to make their chocolate. In 2000, the BBC produced a documentary on children who were stolen from their families and forced to work on cacao plantations where Nestle buys their cocoa. The children were often starved and beaten, and some claim those who tried to runaway were murdered. Then there’s Nestle’s stake in the water business, where they sell local communities’ water at a huge profit, while people who live in the area end up paying through the nose for their own local water.

There has been a lot of condemnation of Nestle in the blogosphere lately and many people are learning things about Nestle they never knew. Many have decided to boycott the company, which I applaud. The conversation about Nestle has been great, but one thing missing from all of the discussions is the racism implicit in many of Nestle’s business practices.

I’ve been told by mom bloggers that it doesn’t matter if people are dying because of Nestle and their products, because it’s only people in Ethiopia. And those enslaved children making the chocolate Nestle buys? Don’t care about them, because Crunch bars are delicious! Nestle pulls shit in the developing world that they would never dream of doing in Europe or the Americas (unless it’s targeting Hispanic moms: in 2004, they marketed their formula heavily in Los Angeles & Houston, specifically in Spanish-language magazines and radio.) They market their f*rmula as protecting against diarrhea in Africa, when studies show formula-fed children are 25% more likely to die from diarrhea than breastfed infants. They also sell a cereal there as a complementary food for infants that contains honey, when we all know honey should not be given to children under the age of 1. In Laos, they use the same logo on their f*rmula as they do on their coffee creamer. Since there is such a high illiteracy rate in Laos, paediatricians discovered parents were often mixing up the two products when they found babies were suffering from protein malnutrition. You can even see the racism in their subsidiaries, like L’Oreal, which was found guilty of racial discrimination by France’s highest court in June. Do a search in Google for Nestle’s marketing practices and you’ll find again and again how they specifically target poor people of color and that these practices result in sickness and death. I will state it unequivocally: Nestle is a racist company.

It’s easy for Nestle to prey on these black and brown people, people who are impoverished, oppressed and often uneducated. It’s bad enough to aggressively market f*rmula to women who have the resources to make a relatively informed decision and have access to clean water. But what kind of company targets the most vulnerable, the easiest to manipulate because of fear and ignorance?

So what of the women of color who chose to participate in this blogger junket? Although it may not be fair, I’m even more disappointed in them than the rest. With all of Nestle’s infractions in Africa presented to them, they choose instead to believe Nestle’s PR team and tweet about how great it is that Nestle has water wells in Africa and built a whopping THREE homes there for poor people. Well, shit, it’s the least they could do, but it still doesn’t absolve them from all of their piss poor practices around the world. As a Latina, does it not bother you that they created a campaign just for Hispanic women, thrilled because the population boom in your community means big bucks for them? As a black woman, do you really have no regard for women in Africa burying their babies because they can't afford to feed them? That their babies will die and they will still choose to feed the next one Nan because Nestle says it's better? Maybe you don't believe Nestle is racist, but just greedy. But does that make it any better?

*It’s important to note that many more bloggers were invited and turned down the invitation because they didn’t want to be associated with Nestle. I commend those bloggers on taking the time to research the company before accepting a free trip from them and taking their money.

Update: People are questioning the validity of my claim that there were racist remarks on Twitter aimed at the activists trying to educate people about Nestle. Please see this post for coverage of the racist things being said by mom bloggers.


Maury Povich Exploits Domestic Abuse For Ratings

 

Maury may have dressed himself up as a kinder, gentler Jerry Springer but just like most of these daytime talk shows, ratings come before people.  If this show is scripted it is heinous and if it is real it is equally as heinous.  Domestic abuse is one of the most horrible things that a woman can experience. 

Povich brought a man on the show named John who demands that his spouse brush his teeth, bathe him, cut his toenails, and have sex with him three times a day.  When she fails to perform her prescribed duties, he responds by punching her or locking her in the basement with the dogs.  Of course, Povich expressed rage by calling the man a bully and announcing that there was such a thing as marital rape, however; how different is he from the man that complained about, when he clearly has an agenda by bringing them both on the show?

Scripted or not, I think it is also very interesting that Povich chose a Black couple to spotlight.  John in particular played out every single negative social construction of Black masculinity.  Most abusers are not as vocal about their activities as this man.  The process involves separating the woman from her support group and then slowly overtime escalating their violence. To the world at large they appear to be caring men but in the privacy of their homes they are tyrants.  This is the model to which I most accustomed to seeing played out.

What I would like to know is where exactly Maury feels his obligation to help these women comes in.  Sending their partners to bootcamp will not solve the situation.  The moment John admitted to striking his wife, he had confessed to a crime.  Where was the legal intervention in this case?  Why was there no discussion about helping her, rather than forcing her to publicly allocute the ways in which her life was made a living hell, by the man that professed to love her. 

John repeatedly said that he was the man to justify his behaviour.  Maury did not attempt to dissect the ways in which patriarchy is directly responsible for the abuse of women.  Men exist with power because society is structured to benefit them at all cost and this has tragic results to all women.  This often leads to victim blaming.  Maury did not hold the women directly responsible but by putting them on the show, he sought to use his privilege to gain from their exploitation.

Generally speaking I do not watch shows like Maury because of the obvious exploitation.  Shows like this have made benefitting from pain their stock and trade and yet people continue to watch.  It is though by consuming these images we can convince ourselves that our shitty live are not so bad because some poor sop has it worse.  It turns pain and suffering into a carnival.  Domestic abuse should never be a topic for the purposes of entertainment when it so often leads to death.  Whether this show was scripted or real, using womens lives in this way is offensive.  We need to have discussions about power, violence and gender but not in a circus like fashion that ignores the very real issues involved. 


New “Old Navy” Commercials Offend…Just About Everyone

This is a guest post from femonade

this is the “true hollywood” -style background story to the newest old navy ad campaign known as “the supermodelquins.”

The most recent instalment in this campaign playing in my neck of the woods features a “model” hawking sweater-coats who gets separated from her legs at the airport.  HER LEGS.  WTF?  seriously, watch the whole series if you have the time.  These commercials offend nearly every vulnerable population there is.  Starving actors, the unemployed, women, POC, and the disabled are the ones I noticed first, although perhaps not in that order. More videos are embedded below.

  • the human element…where did the real people go?

First, as the economy continues to suffer and more and more jobs are lost, it bothers me that yet another franchise has taken to using non-actors to fill roles in their money-making schemes, also known as television shows, and commercials.  While this may be at the very bottom of anyone's particular list, the failing economy has rocked my own corner of the universe.  for reals.  and while I am not an actor, I can certainly empathize with professional actors that have been hip-chucked out of their industry and left unable to earn a wage, and had their medical benefits lapse, due to long-term unemployment.  (the screen actors guild (SAG) has been quantifying the harm that reality-television has caused working actors since at least 2005.)

This newest old navy campaign has made living, breathing human beings obsolete, (at least in front of the camera) and i think most everyone would agree that particularly in these times, that decision was unethical.  Not to mention hypocritical, where old navy is relying on the disposable incomes of its customers to make its own living, but they aren't giving anything back.  In fact, where reality franchises have replaced union workers with non-union ones, saving themselves the money and hassle (also known as ethics and regulatory oversight) of having to deal with SAG, old navy’s decision to forgo the human element altogether seems particularly self-serving, and cruel.

now, as to the content of these ads.

  • unachievable beauty standards

Most obviously, while the beauty standard for any actor to appear in a television ad is all but unachievable for a real person, mannequins seem to accomplish the task effortlessly.  But that's because they aren't people.  Sure, old navys clothes are going to hang just right on them:  they have no lumps, no superfluous bumps, and no premenstrual bloating.  Similarly to the Barbie franchise, making girls and women believe for decades that the perfectly-proportioned body would be one that would make a real woman keel over from top-heaviness, one cannot help but wonder what young girls and tween-girls are thinking when they see these images.  Whatever it is, its not based in reality, and real girls will literally never measure up.  and that cannot be good.

  • racism and misogyny intersect

Unfortunately, unachievable beauty-standards may be the least of the problems with this newest campaign.  Here's another ad in this series that's particularly troubling, called “the midtown flash“.

Here, we have a black female mannequin, that has all the same problems as the others (as in, she's not real, is taking work away from human actors etc).  But this unfortunate woman suffers the additional humiliation of literally being stripped naked in the middle of a public place.  WTF?  Contributor tolu olorunda breaks it down well in his piece in the daily voice, “is the new old navy commercial racist?”  notably, the author also criticises the highly sexualized nature of the racism here, but fails to fully grasp the intersection of misogyny and racism that has clearly occurred:

Through mediums like commercial hip hop, and the venues which promote it, African American women are prostituted as eye-candies and video-vixens, and exhibited as attractions, meant for the delight of a majority white audience–commercial Hip-Hop’s dominant patrons.

To address what this author has missed…it will surely be a cold day in hell before old navy’s marketing department decides to show the full-frontal nudity of a white woman or a man of any race, in any of its ads, ever.  Failing that, it would almost certainly be another woman, of whatever race, not a man, that's next in line to be publically stripped.  in other words:  don't worry, dude.  The black guy is probably safe.

And it’s telling, isn't it, that the black “man” took action not to cover the now-naked body of his wife…but went to great pains (without moveable joints) to cover the eyes of the white male gaze–while everyone else, including her own child, could still see her.  Clearly, the humiliation/victimization that was occurring between the men was of primary importance, as if her husband’s right to not be embarrassed, and his right to not have his property violated by another man’s gaze were more important than the woman’s own victimization, or anyone’s bothering to cover her up, or her covering herself.

To that point, was her own failure to act here due to the fact that she, as a plastic figure, had no agency?  Or are we supposed to believe that she enjoyed what was happening to her?  troublingly, but necessarily to the “fun” tone of the ad, the black woman seems complicit in her own humiliation when she asks “what, like you’ve never seen plastic before?” (if it was “just plastic”, why was it only the black, female plastic that was revealed?)  and as is always the case when considering images in commercials or television, it was surely a bunch of wealthy men, probably also white, who created these images and storylines to begin with.  How and why they made the decisions that they made, particularly regarding who was stripped; the presence of the (white) male gaze; and the agency and attitudes of the black couple, since this storyline revolved around them, are questions that need asking.

  • sliced and diced

Here are two more short clips, first “ghost town proposal” and then “Amy's awkward surprise“:

All these ads are troubling because of the way they address the human element: there isn't one, but that's almost beside the point.  It’s disquieting that these mannequin-bodies are so obviously expendable.  Their parts are quite literally interchangeable.  And they are frequently broken, and then separated, and reunited with their own parts (or someone else's).  Nip/Tuck anyone?  (I am reminded here of the very misogynist TV show, as well as the surgical procedure).  One even has brown legs and a white torso, while two more have been severed at the waist.

I was particularly troubled with the “love story” aspect of the first video, between “Kelly” and “Josh.”  as Josh recalls, when they first met, Kelly was “being wheeled by.”  Huh?  With the actors’ pained and ineffectual movements, and their stiff and broken bodies, it almost plays as an insensitive disability-storyline, except of course that the characters are all disabled (or none of them are) and most of the time when someone needs to be “wheeled” anywhere, as opposed to wheeling themselves, that person is in a coma, or otherwise incapacitated and unable to give consent.  problematically, it’s this “meeting” that starts the Kelly-Josh love-affair, after which the two become “inseparable.” Next, their romance is documented by someone taking pictures of them against different backgrounds, as if they had traveled together, because that's what mannequins do.  Without any agency, they are there for the consumption of the viewer.  But the characterization of a picture-taking campaign done for another’s consumption as a “romance” in which the actors actually and consensually participate reminds me of something.  Porn?  I know that might be a stretch…but so is old navy’s premise with these ads.

In the end, as we all live within a corporate and consumer culture that creates our desires and appropriates our cash, we all have to ask ourselves, “what are the effects on the rest of us?”  old navy’s marketing department aren't idiots, and they likely have every reason to believe that their newest advertising campaign will cause their sales to increase, or they wouldn't have done it.  But while this corporate giant is making a profit by utilizing offensive images, the rest of us are left to shoulder the burden of having been exploited.  We have allowed offensive racist, misogynist, and ableist imagery into our homes, and there will be consequences to that (how could there not be?)

And not as if this even really matters, but has anyone even been into old navy lately?  Their clothes are getting more cheaply made, just as the stores are getting dirtier.  And those town-gowns would make even a stick-figure look pregnant.  sadly, if old navy ends up crossing any line easily observable to the mainstream, it will be that one:  their products suck, and shopping there isn't “fun.”  for the record, neither are these ads.



Tune In Tueday: K.D. Lang Sexuality

The video would not embed so please click the image to get to the youtube page

imageSexuality is my favourite song by K.D. Lang but honestly the woman could sing twinkle twinkle little star and I would be captivated.  To me she is absolutely our national treasure.  That’s right Americans you cannot have her. Every time I hear her voice, my body gets covered in goose bumps and my heart rate increases.  I can think of no other singer that has this effect on me.

I love that she is out and proud.  I love that she is herself.  When I heard this song for the first time I had to acknowledged that I could be aroused by a woman.  The woman just brings out the wild side in me.  I don’t want to use the term girl crush but let me just say, I would not toss her out of bed for eating crackers. I remember one video where she was riding a motorcycle in a black jacket and she stopped to check out this woman and I thought to myself that is just fucking hot.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some sweat and drool to clean up but do feel free to share your K.D remembrances in the comment section.  It can be about this or any other song that she sings. 


Monday, October 5, 2009

Black Hair and the Confessional

image Many people are quite anxious to see Chris Rocks new documentary on hair.  What I found interesting when he was on Oprah, was the fact that women were encouraged to tell their “hair stories.”  It sort of smacked as a form of confessional.  If we are not performing Blackness, we are confessing to it.  Hair is political because Black female bodies are devalued.  It is said that hair is a woman’s crowning beauty and in a world where Whiteness is held up at epitome of beauty, where does this leave Black women?

Why is it necessary for Black women to confess our beauty secrets to the world, as though we are committing some form of deception?  If you wore a weave or hair pieces, you gotta own it.  If you burned your roots out with a relaxer, the world has to learn about it.  If your ears have permanent scars from the hot comb and you can still hear the sizzle of your hair being fried, you gotta tell the world about it.

What we should think about is who we demand the confessional from.  Bodies that are understood to be normal are not viewed as hiding anything.  If a White woman has blonde hair on her head and brown pubic hair, we don’t consider that an oddity.  The GLBT community is expected to confess their sexuality because of heterosexist assumptions and Black women are expected to confess their so-called oddities due to White supremacy. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by White women about my hair.  When they are not attempting to touch it, they are making commentary about how they wish they had hair like mine that would do so many interesting things.  I am sure while they were wishing for Black hair, not for a moment did they consider how patronizing and rude they were being..Wish for Black hair do you…Do they at all realize that it goes along with Black skin?  Don’t even give me this particular line of bullshit.  Not for a moment do you actually wish to give up the undeserved privileges that go along with Whiteness. 

This shit literally cracks me up.  It is like White people lamenting that they don’t have a culture.  Gosh darn there isn’t anyone left to oppress me, so I think I will take my ball and go home.  Or the self depreciating commentary about how they have no rhythm or suck at sports.  Uh huh, this shit is Black positive alright, if you ignore all the ways this constructs a Black identity into a Basketball ball dunking, moon walking super freak.

Yes, I have had many different hair styles over the years, but name me one woman that is still rocking the same hair cut that she had when she was four.  We change our appearance as we age and as style changes.  This is not something unique to the Black community or something that needs to be confessed to the world.  How many White people would proudly pull out pictures of them in a mullet?  Why is it necessary to talk about the highly flammable soul glo days? Even if you wore a fade or asymmetrical Salt N Peppa hair back in the day, times have changed.  It is not some deep dark secret that anyone needs to feel shame about (except for maybe the Jherri curl, that was bad even when it was good LOL)  Black hair, is what it is and I am not about to turn it into some exotic journey for the voyeuristic tendencies of Whiteness.


Stephen Harper Gets By With A Little Help From His Friends

According to CBC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper performed at a National Arts Centre Gala in Ottawa on Saturday night.  His performance has caused uproar in the artistic community given his previous commentary on the arts.

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see … a bunch of people … at a rich gala, all subsidized by taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up, I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper said then.

Well some may see the hypocrisy of his actions or even the convenient attempt to soften his image with the threat of a no confidence vote, however; I believe what we should consider is his song choice.

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends

Does anyone else see the social aspect of the song that Harper chose to sing?  I find this an interesting choice considering that conservatism is not about building social relationships but preserving undeserved privilege.  The only “friends” that Harper is interested in “getting by with,” are those that look exactly like him, and possess the same economic privileges. 

Harper does not support the arts and this is not because he sees it as a fiscal waste or an affront to struggling Canadians, but because good art challenges the status quo and causes us to consider our way of thinking.  You cannot have a nation of automatons encouraged to think for themselves and question their government. Two people may look at the same painting and have a completely different understanding of the image they are viewing.  Art speaks to us on an individual level; it certainly is not about maintaining or upholding social mores.

A daresay no Beetle would be in approval of a Harper government.  Each of them were or in case of Macartney are, politically progressive in their leanings.  No matter how many ivorys Harper chooses to tickle, it is deceptive even in jest to use the music of a group that is the antithesis of everything he represents.  Singing with Yo Yo Ma does not make Harper more approachable or even relatable it simply makes him look like what he is – a desperate conservative once again lying to the public about his intentions. A leopard does not change his spots.


My GLBT Brothers and Sisters are My Family

First, it must be stated that the sexuality of POC has been used against us as a weapon.  Black women have been understood to be hypersexual jezebels, constantly in search of the next available penis.  Black men have either been understood as thug rapists, or as highly effeminate.  In each instance this has been to promote White supremacy.  POC are not allowed to experience their sexuality as naturally occurring, rather it exists simply to satisfy the needs of others or to promote our bodies as a continual threat to Whiteness.

Due to the White leadership of the mainstream GLBT community, many have refused to accept and or embrace our same gender loving members.  Homosexuality is not a White thing; it is not a perversion of bodies of color.  Many believe that by rejecting homosexuality that they are rejecting Whiteness, when indeed what they are truly rejecting is our OWN PEOPLE.

imageThe marriage of Michael and Jamil set of quite the firestorm in the Black community.  A Morehouse College administrative assistant Sandra Bradley sent the following e-mail.

"I can't believe this wedding. It's 2 men. They don't smile in a lot of pictures and they look like a few brothers I've seen in the streets looking STRAGHT. Black women can't get a break, either our men want another man, a white woman (or other nationality that's light with straight hair), they are locked up in jail or have a "use to be" fatal disease. I'm beginning to believe Eve was a black woman and we Black women are paying for all the world's sins through her actions (eating the apple)."

Some may view this e-mail as simply a commentary regarding the difficulty of young professional Black women to find a successful Black mate and others see homophobia.  It certainly cannot be denied that Black women are likely to remain unmarried or will partner below their class level.  This has to do with the ways in which Black femininity has universally been devalued.

The sexuality of Michael and Jamil has nothing to do with the supposed drought of eligible men.   It would seem to me to be a very basic fact – Gay men are not attracted to women and any coupling with them would be unsuccessful based on this one simple truth.  To belittle them, or question their masculinity is to misplace anger.

When AIDS first became a serious threat many in the Black community, so many refused to speak out and claimed it was the price for engaging in “lifestyles” that were either patterned on White behaviour, or displeasing to God.  The very same people who express rage at the genocide that occurred during the middle passage, easily ignored the deaths of thousands.  These people had much to contribute to our community and now their voices have been silenced forever, without even a murmur of regret. 

Whether someone is same gender loving or trans they are still Black.  Their color did not disappear because they chose to live their lives not hiding who they are.  We speak about the Black community but what community exists when we deny the happiness and well being of our members? Same gender loving people marched alongside Dr.King for our rights.  Same gender loving people are subjected to racism and hatred just as any other person of color.  They did not give up their race because they decided to be true to who they are.

When I read commentary like the above I wonder who they think wins when we decide that the same gender loving people in our community do not deserve to be embraced.  In fighting and divisiveness serves Whiteness. We must speak with a unified voice to demand equality and by choosing to silence those in our community that make us uncomfortable due to undeserved privilege, we are supporting the very same system that keeps us all  understood as secondary citizens.  You cannot claim to love Blackness or Black people, if you do not love openly all of its manifestations.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Shame: Holiday Edition

image Thanksgiving is fast approaching and that leads ones thoughts to Christmas.  Each year on Boxing day, I vow that next year will be different.  I seem to be organized about everything else in life, but when it comes to holidays everything goes out the window.  Thanksgiving is a week away and I still do not have a turkey in my deep freeze.  I have mental menu planned but have not moved beyond that.  We have a small family and do not need a large bird but each year I wait until the very end and get stuck with this enormous turkey that would feed twenty people.  Because I am paranoid about waste, this  means my family is subjected to turkey stew, turkey pot pie, turkey quesadillas, turkey stir frys and any other concoction that I can possibly think of.

I am no better when it comes to Christmas shopping.  One year I ended up hip checking a woman for the last power ranger.  I had promised it to my nephew and it came down to her or me.  I really don’t care if there is a present under the tree for me, I simply want to see the people I love smile.  I could have picked up the damn thing in September without a fuss…but oh no, heaven forbid I ever be prepared for the holidays.

image One Christmas about 8 years ago, I thought I had finally gotten my shit together.  It was Christmas eve, the unhusband and I were relaxing, the house was perfectly decorated and even spotlessly clean. This year Christmas was to be at our house for the first time and I was sitting on my couch proud of the fact that I had actually gotten my shit together.  I could not shake this nagging feeling that something was missing though.  I walked around and kept double checking until it dawned on me like a flash…I HAD NO TURKEY.  There it was 4:30 in the afternoon on Christmas eve, I was expecting a house full of people and had nothing to feed them.   We rushed out to Zehrs where I begged and pleaded for them to let us in.  The store was closing and the employees quite understandably wanted to start their own holiday.  I shamelessly displayed my pregnant stomach and began to cry.  Fortunately, they let us in and it was a disaster barely averted.

Even as I am writing this, I making a mental promise to myself that one way or another I will get Thanksgiving and Christmas perfect.  We always laugh at the mess I manage to create and then snuggle and watch some holiday movie where a fictional wife and mother gets it perfect.  To be honest, I am convinced that holidays only go perfect in the media.   For me it’s either the dog making off with the unrguarded dark meat or gravy that is so salty that it could compete with the dead sea.

Now that I have shared with you a few of my holiday disasters, feel free to share some of yours in the comment section.  That means you way in the back, who forgot to take the neck out the bird before cooking it; after all, what would a holiday be without a little bit of disaster and a whole lot of love.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hey everyone.  Posting has continued to be light because I am still not well.  I am trying to rest and take it easy in the meantime.  Last night in in my codeine infused haze, I cut off the dreadlocks that I had been growing for 7 1/2 years.  It’s amazing how light my hair feels today.  The baby was a bit concerned this morning but after I let him play hairdresser, he declared I was still his pretty mommy.  With that seal of approval, I am quite happy, though I am not sure how weird they will feel when I start dying my hair wonky colours.  I have been wanting to die my hair blue for a awhile now.  HEHEHE.

Below are some posts that I found interesting 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.

In Which I Argue for the Homoerotic Potential of Mainstream Porn

Thoughts On Feminism: Children Edition

Why I’m Fat

Anger at the Register

A Prostitute I am

You don’t see colour – Is something wrong with your eyes? Do you need me to bring you the emergency eye wash?

Ghana’s Kayayo girls do the heavy lifting

Next on the list of things that really annoy me

No one wants to be The Slut

An open letter to Gordon Brown (Magdalene Homes are wrong)

Legal and Official Rape in Iran Prisons

Gay men are men, and some men are sexist

Women and Gay Men Are Sluts. Jealous Straight Guys?

Utopian Promise of Porn

Why The C Word is Loosing Its Bite

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Jon Gosselin May Someday Put His Children First

image Since it became clear that Jon and and Kate Gosselin were experiencing marital troubles, the situation has been a hot mess.  The media initially took Jon’s side, painting Kate as a shrewish harpy incapable of experiencing happiness, unless she was ordering Jon around as though he were one of her sons instead of her husband.  Even though John engaged in what could clearly be determined as playboy behaviour after their separation, it was Kate that was lambasted by sexist attacks after she refused to pose for playboy.

Well it seems as though all of the playboy, man on the make behaviour has suddenly caught with Jon.  TLC announced that the show would be changed to Kate plus 8 and that Jon would appear in the occasional episode.  I saw that decision coming a mile away.  For this to work it has to be a family based show and if Jon is running around judging bikini contests, he hardly makes a positive representative of the ideal dad.  Ward Cleaver would be very disappointed Jon, very disappointed.  Jon could not take this news sitting down and much like a child screaming, I’m taking my ball and going home, he issued a cease and desist order through his lawyers.

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Jon was suddenly expressing concern that his children were being exploited.  Funny how these objections were not raised until he was dumped from the show.   Jon’s lawyer Mark Jay Heller, told the Insider, “Jon realized his family was like a trainwreck, so he decided to put the brakes on the divorce and on the show … because if he didn’t the family would be in a mortal accident … the victims of a trainwreck.”  Perhaps, Jon should have thought about all of that before he undid his zipper. His sudden concern is touching, though not in the least bit believable.  Year after year he seemed to have no problem allowing his children to be filmed while he scored freebies from companies.

TLC released the following statement in regard to Jon’s actions:

"We are aware of Jon Gosselin's recent statements, and remain deeply disappointed at his continued erratic behaviour. He and the family were shooting as recently as last Friday, without incident, and his latest comments are grossly inaccurate, without merit and are clearly opportunistic. Despite Jon Gosselin's repeated self destructive and unprofessional actions, he remains under an exclusive contract with TLC. Direct filming of the children has been currently suspended, pending further conversations between both parents."

Looks like super dad struck out.  It seems Jon believed that TLC would be forced to their knees to keep the kids on the air.  I guess he should have had a look at the ratings before he decided to play hard ball.  If he had not acted like an ass repeatedly since the announcement of the divorce, TLC would have had no reason to attempt to center the show around Kate. 

Just like any other “reality” show on television, Jon & Kate was highly edited to produce a certain message and attract a specific viewer.  Even with all of that mind, people quickly chose sides the moment the impending divorce was announced.  It was not until the constant glare of the TLC cameras lifted that we got a semi-accurate view of either Jon or Kate.  As time has passed, Jon has revealed himself to be a self concerned child.

Regarding Jon’s recent actions, Kate stated:

"I do the show for my family because I believe it provides us opportunities we wouldn't otherwise have," she said. "Jon used to share that belief until as recently as the day the network announced the name change of the show and indicated that Jon would have a lesser role in the show. It appears that Jon's priority is Jon and his interests. My priority remains our children and their well being."

As much as he seems to resent the fame that he has gained from the show;  it appears that he  craves the money and the status of D list celebrity.  Jon may believe that he is only using his constant media interviews as an opportunity to defend himself, however; those of us that are routinely subjected to his idiot babble see it as nothing more than a bid for an attention.  Any parent can recognize a temper tantrum when they see one.  Though he is still a fairly young man, it cannot be fun to have a mid life crises during a 24 hour news cycle.  Much of what he is currently experiencing is of his own creation.  I really do hope that he can finally start putting his children first.  TLC may use them for ratings but he is exploiting them for celebrity status and shiny baubles. 


Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide

I have a new post up at Global Comment

Who would be mean to someone with a disability? We function under the belief that we take special care of those that are differently-abled, because of their vulnerability, yet the truth is quite opposite of that. Ableism has become a normalized part of the social discourse, which often leads to disastrous results for those whose bodies have been understood as different and therefore “inferior.”

According to MSNBC:

“Fiona Pilkington suffered more than a decade of abuse from a gang of youths who terrorized her family by urinating on her house, taunting her developmentally challenged daughter and beating her severely dyslexic son.

Despite repeated calls to police and desperate letters to her local lawmaker, no one intervened to stop the persecution, and Pilkington killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter when she set fire to their family car in October 2007.”

Here we had the tragic loss of two lives because of the abuse of people who were neurologically atypical went unchallenged and unheard. Socially we protect those who we value, and a refusal to intervene can only be understood as a desire to make the Pilkington family disappear. Each time Fiona reported these incidents and they in turn went unchecked by local authorities, the behaviour of her abusers was encouraged. Now, following a lengthy inquest, Leicestershire police have been found partially responsible for the tragedy. It’s too late for Pilkington and her child, though.

The differently-abled are understood to exist without power because some of them need accommodation to negotiate the world today. The accommodation can come in the form of alteration, to make the environment physically accessible and it may also come in the form of a refusal to subject themselves to the same sort of standards as a neurotypical person, depending upon the circumstances.

How many adults would stand idly by while a four year old girl was being abused by a gang? I daresay any adult within eyesight would intervene, yet the police force ignored the hate aimed at Francesca Hardwick, Pilkington’s daughter, who had the mental development of a four year old girl.

Finish reading here

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Surrey Used Bird Feces To Scare Away Homeless

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I am a bit late to this story but it certainly deserves commentary.  Once again the generosity and caring of the Canadian government must be heralded for the world to see.  It seems that the city council, in conjunction with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and local business owners decided that the best way to reduce the visual presence of the homeless, was to spread a concoction of chicken feces and dirt.

According to RCMP watch:

On Aug. 14, witnesses saw City of Surrey staff pull up to the Front Room Drop In Centre in the 10600-block of 135A Street and line the building with putrid poultry manure. The desired effect was to create a smell so repugnant that it would repel vagrants who were hanging out around the building.

The dung was spread around a social services building and a park. Somehow the foul stench of feces was deemed more acceptable than homeless people.  If the city and the RCMP are so disgusted with “the homeless problem”, they should actively create programs to reduce poverty, instead of attempting to shove them off to a different location.  The homeless are not cattle to be herded, they are flesh and blood human beings. 

David Eby of the Vancouver Sun states:

Someone at the city clearly forgot to check in with legal on this strategy to render public property unfit for human use. It's surely illegal 10 different ways at least, violating human rights codes, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, environmental laws, the property rights of private property owners and leaseholders, police and public employee codes of conduct, and on and on.

Clearly laws were broken in this terrible solution to the homeless problem, but the greater crime is that the city literally decided to value feces over people.  How much lower can we possibly sink than that?  The homeless are considered the underclass of our society. In some provinces we have criminalized their very existence, rather than understanding that the failure is not theirs but ours.  Canadians routinely brag about the social services that are available but the continuing presence of the homeless, serves as evidence of how much further we have to go to ensure that all of our citizens have a decent standard of living.

Many of our homeless are neurologically atypical and face revolving door treatment that leads to extended periods of living on the streets.  They are treated at hospitals until the symptoms are under control and then released.  Many then either stop taking their medication by choice, or are forced to stop taking their meds because they cannot afford them and quickly find themselves back on the streets.  How is it that smearing feces is preferable to treating someone who needs help?  Is chasing people from our vision the greatest offering of socialized medicine?

Not only are the actions of the RCMP and the local Surrey government a stain upon their community, they are a stain upon ALL Canadians.  This action is purposefully fostering anomie within the community.  It encourages citizens not to care for one another and to value aesthetics over people. If homelessness is really so disturbing that we simply cannot stand the sight of it, don’t we owe these people more than throwing a pile of shit at the problem?

H/T change.org



Dr Allows Patent To Die In Order To Steal Rolex Watch

 

When I first came across this story, I must say that I was completely horrified.  It seems that Dr. Cleveland Enmon, a former emergency room doctor at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, stopped doing CPR and then allegedly stole the dead man’s watch.  It was apparently a shiny presidential rolex.  A nurse reported the watch missing and security was notified.  The doctor later left the building and was recorded throwing something into the bushes.  The watch was later found in the same location.

image Enmon, 32, of Hermosa Beach is now facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the adult children of Jerry Kubena, Sr.  The last thing a person should have to worry about when they go to a hospital for care, is the loss of their possessions. 

According to News 10:

In the civil lawsuit, Kubena's family is suing Enmon as well as St. Joseph's and the hospital's owners Catholic Healthcare West for wrongful death, conspiracy, negligent hiring and supervision. The suit alleges St. Joseph's attempted to cover up Enmon's crime after he was removed.

The family's attorney, Jeff Silvia, told News Ten, "The family is completely appalled. They expected the hospital would have hired a doctor concerned about the well-being of his patient and not about his personal gain. He abandoned his effort to resuscitate their father."

Normally this is not a story that I would blog about, however; the alleged actions of Enmon are so disgusting, that I could not help but to post about it.  It is so tempting to hide in a shell and focus on our issues.  The ugliness that we are capable of as human beings can be so very hard to take at times.

I have not been able to blog about the terrible beating death in Chicago of an honours student, nor have been able to blog about the rape apologism in the Polanski arrest.  There are days when all I see before me is the devaluation and hatred of others.  Humans function at a very high level and yet we routinely sink to the lowest common denominator to hurt another.  At times there are background issues like poverty, racism, sexism or ableism that serve to explain, if not absolve the behaviour but in the case of Enmon, all I see before me is greed.

We have placed a monetary value to this rolex watch and apparently to Dr. Enmon, that price was worth more than the dignity and life of a fellow human being.  We say that life is cheap and incidents like this help to reify that.   We are raised to believe that the individual is worth more than community and it is this attitude that serves as a basis for the devaluation of human life.  This is why we can walk past the homeless on the street or not give a damn when the senior woman across town does not have enough food to eat.

When we feel a moment of guilt, we may donate a few hours at a shelter or throw a few dollars based on name recognition to a charity but seldom are we inspired to take the next step.  To care about another, or to put the best interests of another above ourselves even temporarily, seems to be more than many can do.  It saddens me to think of our beautiful earth soaked in blood that never should have been shed.  We do not take responsibility for each other and ironically this leads to the death of the individual – the person we claim to care so much about. Humans are social animals.  This is an unarguable fact and yet daily through acts of violence, rape, racism, ableism, homphobia, and transphobia, we deny this essential truth.  When we commit crimes against one another, we rupture the delicate collective that we are dependent upon.

Enmon stole a watch from a man whose care was entrusted to him.  He may or may not have been responsible for his death in the process, but what is certain, is that his alleged actions stem from the inability to see the man lying in front of him, desperate for help, as someone of value. With each breathe we extinguish and each shiny bauble we lust after, we diminish ourselves.  Enmon may have acted as an individual but his actions will be felt by all in ways we may not immediately recognize.


Laughing in the Face of Same Gender Love

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The Wedding of MICHAEL K. COLE & JAMIL SMITH COLE

I am not a fan of weddings but I do enjoy seeing people in love. Clearly this couple are celebrating their love for the world to see and that should be enough to make even the most cynical smile.  It is very rare that we see gay Black men out and proud and that makes these images all the more special to me.

If this were a world of tolerance, images like  above would be celebrated rather than ridiculed.  Don’t we have enough issues in the Black community without hating on our own because of sexuality?  Of course, Bossip does not seem to think so.  For those who are not aware, Bossip was ranked number three on the Black blog rankings last month.  It is a blog that is clearly widely read by the Black community, and therefore; the messages that it sends out are of great import.   Homophobia has become a mainstay of Bossip and I for one find it to be absolutely disgusting.

Michael and Jamil were referred to as “flaming fellas” and the title of the post was, “What in the hell is wrong with these images”? There is nothing wrong with Michael and Jamil and if anything the problem is with Bossip.  They are participating in a wedding, which has been a part of our traditions for generations.  What Bossip has an issue with is two men showing their love for each other. Enough with the homophobia.  I don’t know why this site cannot stick to putting out trashy gossip and why it has to continually resort to this kind of hatred.

Who exactly are Michael and Jamil hurting by loving each other enough to get married? I think that they make a beautiful couple and seeing them this way reminds me of the good that exists in all of us.  Whether love occurs between people of the same sex, opposite sex, from child to adult, or adult to child, it elevates us and makes us more than the sum of our parts.