Saturday, October 10, 2009

Moore illuminates evils of a corrupt system

Published Oct 10, 2009 7:07 AM

By Easton Smith

 image When the words “capitalism” and “socialism” appear in newspapers and magazines in the United States it’s a sure bet that we are in the midst of some sort of economic crisis. This crisis, as terrible as its impact is on the people of the world, has made a slight opening in the lasting McCarthyite cage surrounding dialogue about alternative economic systems or the faults in the current one.

Michael Moore’s new movie sports a title with that until-recently taboo word: capitalism. Going about as his pranksterish self, Moore attempts to illuminate the evils of a corrupt system, specifically the evils affecting the everyday, all-American family. Moore, being true to his style, focuses on specific instances to exemplify the larger picture.

One could say Moore takes the anti-“Kapital” approach to exposing capitalism’s flaws. Where Marx explained the inherent flaws of a self-defeating and evil, yet “perfect” version of capitalism, Moore focuses on the specific instances of failure that plague a corrupted version of capitalism.

Moore interviews a woman whose spouse’s death put thousands of dollars in the pocket of his employer through “dead peasant” life insurance. He talks to a family as they clean their own foreclosed home for the very bank that is kicking them out, burning furniture they cannot take with them. He exposes corruption on the highest and lowest levels, from President Ronald Reagan to small town judges.

Moore’s explanation for this corruption and greed, however, places the blame on a series of sleazy politicians and CEO’s, on policies that deregulated banks and investing, on the New York Stock Exchange, and on just about everything but the very core values of an inherently evil and self-defeating capitalist system.

His solution, he says, is democracy. However, the movie contains a more specific solution than he openly expresses. It centers on fixing a wayward version of capitalism by way of reform.

Moore’s interviews with priests, who perhaps most accurately explain the “immoral, obscene, outrageous” nature of capitalism, are followed by praises for the New Deal and President Franklin Roosevelt’s dream of a better society.

Moore tapes off the banks as crime scenes but doesn’t get very close to the CEOs on Wall Street when he tries to make a citizen’s arrest.

Many critics, and Moore himself, champion “Capitalism: A Love Story” as the final, logical culmination of Moore’s previous movies. From “Roger & Me” to “Sicko,” Moore brought brutal truths, all of which stem from a capitalist system, to a very broad and comparatively apolitical audience.

Despite his remarkable achievements, Moore’s latest film fails to really expose the root of the issues his previous movies covered; there is no thorough explanation about the flawed assumptions of “rational maximizing beings,” perfect markets, or the need for constant expansion that truly rotate the wheels of brutal capitalism, and there is no focus on any of the imperialist invasions from that of North America to Vietnam that were sponsored by capitalism.

Moore’s film, in part due to the timing, and in part due to his small scope style, feels more like a movie about Wall Street, AIG or foreclosures than about capitalism. It is perhaps the logical next step for Moore to begin questioning the overriding system through the context of the current economic crises, but “Capitalism” is far from a culmination. It makes one wonder how the film, begun before last September, would have turned out if the economy had not collapsed.

To be sure, and to be fair, this movie will inspire people to think more critically about the economic system that has come to eclipse democracy in this country and around the world. This movie will inspire investigation and doubt. Perhaps Moore’s avoidance of capitalist fundamentals was conscious, because he believes the U.S. is not ready for revolution, or because he believes in reform. Perhaps it was unconscious. Either way, his comical and informative movie was entertaining and educational, even if its title is misleading.

Smith is an activist in the youth group FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone.  I wanted to say thanks again for your patience with the light posting.  My entire household is now sick and we are making ugly faces at each other.  We have yet to assign blame to the individual who brought this plague into our house.  LOL  Sunday is thanksgiving and there is some doubt as to whether or not we will even be able to taste our meal.

Once again my dear blog has suffered a cruel troll infestation.  These people do not argue in good faith.  Please try not to feed the trolls.  They need to find sustenance elsewhere.  I have had to do a lot of deleting and banning this week.  Please don’t be shy about reporting a comment I missed.  I don’t always catch them all and I do not want anyone fouling my space. Above all, Womanist Musings needs to be a safe space for those society has decided to “other”.

On Sunday at 8pm EST Monica of TransGriot and I will be interviewing Cara of Feministe and The Curvature, as well as Melissa of Shakesville, regarding our rape culture.   Here is a link to the show page.  Please feel free to call in or make use of the chat room. We will also be discussing the denial that has taken place since the arrest of Polanski.  I hope that you can join us live, but if not, I will put up the podcast for you to listen to on Monday. Allison McCarthy, our favourite Gus is taking the week off and will return for our next scheduled show.


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


The Problem with Hoping Rapists Will Be Raped

Beloved is a wonderfully intelligent man   Followed by Oh look, he fixed it  (yeah, made me laugh again)

Can A Half Black/Half Asian Woman be  an “idol” in China?

Open letter to feministing

The scarlet Letter: Shunning The Homeless

Mad Man Blogging: Grazie

Love/Hate: Desire, President Obama and the Right

Keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means

Dear Boy in the 2nd Grade Lunch Line

‘Off Our Backs:’ white supremacist feminism

Anti-sex worker event “Feminism in London” this weekend

on slutty witches, slutty nurses, slutty pilots…

African or American: What does your ancestry mean to you?

Some Simple Steps to Being Trans* Inclusive: Part I (Understand Cis* Privilege)


Thriller House Spices up Halloween



The reaction to Michael's display has been mostly positive. While we were there, about four families stopped to take a look. They all were enthused, especially the children, who kept yelling for their favorite skeleton or spider to make a glowing appearance.
Over the top? Absolutely, but when I asked Michael why he takes an entire week off work to set this production up, he had the perfect answer.
"We're making memories here," he said. "You know when you were a little kid, you always went out with your family, and there was always that house that you had to go to every year because it was decorated over the top. And you know what? That's this house."
He smiled. Happy Halloween.

For more about this wonderful house see here.  I certainly wish I could see this live.  Just watching the video on the internet made me smile. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rooting Against America: Nobel Peace Prize Edition

I do have some very real concerns about the Nobel Peace Prize.  I think this has to be a far more nuanced conversation and therefore for now, I am going to post this video and leave the thread open to your thoughts.  There will be more to follow on this issue later.

H/T DaisyDeadhead and Polerin via twitter.

Why We Need LGBT Equality: The lonely death of Lisa Pond

By Caleb T. Maupin

Published Oct 8, 2009 10:37 PM

Like much of the media, the government and other voices of the wealthy ruling class at the top of U.S. society, the Jackson Health System says it does not discriminate against or oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. This profiteering enterprise that treats ill people who can afford to pay for it, says that they have “taken great pride in serving everyone who enters ... regardless of race, creed, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.” (Miami Herald, Sept. 29)

Like the capitalist-controlled government, the capitalist-owned media, and every other voice that claims that the oppression of the LGBT community does not exist, the Jackson Health System was lying and distorting the truth.

They made this statement after being sued by Janice Langbehn. When Langbehn’s partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, was dying of a brain aneurysm, Langbehn and the couple’s three children were not allowed to visit her. Pond died in her hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, alone. Jackson Health Systems was protected by the capitalist courts when they recently dismissed the lawsuit brought against the hospital.

“The hospital took the position that we thought was pretty extreme—that it has no duty, no legal obligation, to allow visitors [of any sort] in the hospital. The court agreed,” said Beth Littrell, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights group representing Langbehn.

Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn certainly loved each other just as much as any legally married couple, but in Florida, like in so many other states, this love is considered second-class. The couple did not follow the unwritten rules that capitalist social relations impose on LGBT people in patriarchal society. They did not deny their sexual feelings in order to satisfy the dictates of this profit-based society.

Pond and Langbehn loved each other, and even though they could not legally marry, or even make love in some states until 2003, they did not deny this love. They lived together and were the parents of three children. When Pond was struck with the fatal aneurysm, they were preparing to leave on a vacation cruise exclusively for lesbian and gay couples and their families.

For their rebellion against the established patriarchal family structure, mandated by the system of private property, Pond and Langbehn were punished severely. Pond died alone in her bed. Langbehn lived on, having been unable to spend the last few hours with her loved one before she died.

This case should raise several questions in people’s minds. What exactly did Langbehn do to deserve to lose the love of her life in this horrific way? What did Pond do to deserve to die alone in the hospital, away from her partner? What kind of system do we live under that basic human rights and dignity are denied to LGBT people? How many others must die alone?

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Editors Note: I felt compelled to publish this piece.  I cannot imagine not being with the love of my life in his final moments.  This is one of the most cruel examples of the heterosexist society in which we live, that I have ever heard of.  My heart breaks for them and nothing can ever bring back those precious few hours.

OOOH Questions About Boobies

[Video opens on "KGB" logo, followed by a close-up of man's hands poised to squeeze the breasts on a mannequin modeling a lacy bra.]
Saleswoman: Hello.
[Customer turns to face saleswoman, his hands still cupped.]
Customer: How can I tell my girlfriend's bra size?
[Close-up of saleswoman's cleavage through customer's cupped hands. Camera pulls back; she looks down at his hands, then back up at him. He looks completely idiotic, with his mouth hanging open.]
Saleswoman: Maybe you should ask someone.
Customer: Oh. Good idea.
[He reaches into his pocket and fishes out his phone; starts typing in a text message: "How can I tell my girlfriend's bra size?" Swishy edit, as if to "KGB headquarters."]
Man in "KGB" jumpsuit: I got this one. [Cups hands as if to squeeze breasts.] You take your hands—
Woman in "KGB" jumpsuit: Actually, the best way is to compare them to a piece of fruit. Are they apples, oranges, or grapefruits?
[Another woman in "KGB" jumpsuit walks by. Man in "KGB" jumpsuit stares at her exposed cleavage. Cut back to customer, who has received his "answer" via text.]
Customer: They're MELONS!
Saleswoman: I have those. [She turns, as if to walk into the back room and retrieve a "melon"-sized bra.]
Voiceover over text: Text your question to 542542. [Additional text reads: "Answers cost just 99 cents each." Plus some fine print. Cut back to "KGB headquarters."]
Man in "KGB" jumpsuit: [points at busty woman he was staring at] How do you like them apples?
Woman in "KGB" jumpsuit: Those are grapefruits.

Okay, this high school humour is not amusing.  Women are not just body parts.  I know that the titays are amusing and jiggly, but ya know this tired trope is just plain old.  Believe it or not women hold office, run businesses, are educators, are scientists, are explorers, are lawyers and doctors.  Somehow we manage to do all of that, even though we have boobies. 

Breasts are not just for the sexual pleasure of men.  They actually have a biological function. Yeah, that’s right testosterone based life forms, breasts feed babies too.  Who would have thought.

When we consider that we are supposedly in a He-cession, one would think that it makes sense to consider women in advertising.  Who do these people think are supporting families today?  Supporting patriarchy in its reduction of women seems to be far more important than the bottom line.  Tell me again that capitalism is rationale.

H/T Shakesville and transcript provided by Liss.

Chicks with Dicks


The website “This is why you are fat” routinely covers food that is absolutely disgusting.  The site is problematic because it suggests that people are fat based solely on consumption.   Normally, this is a site that I would avoid but my dearest brother sent me the above image.

Yes, the meal presented is disgusting but the name is far worse.  I am sure that they thought naming this monstrosity chicks with dicks was highly amusing, after all, only fatties and trans women would be offended. We all know where they stand in the social hierarchy don’t we?

You know, it occurs to me that despite the fact that some bodies seem to be despised, it is not considered problematic to make a buck off of them.  Unless they are providing fodder for the amusement of dominant bodies, those that we have chosen to '”other” are expected to remain silent and invisible.

Oh look, it’s just a gross sandwich right…why get so upset?  Every time shit like this happens, someone is there to say, oh it’s no big deal. Get a sense of fucking humour.  Well, these incidents over time add up.  It is not fucking funny, or even slightly amusing that daily certain people are reduced to punch lines and a joke for your amusement.

It is the everyday small slights  perpetuated by dominant bodies that maintain a hierarchy of bodies.  When one does not fit into the particular group being “othered,” you are expected to laugh and have a good time, thereby  ignoring the fact that when such ignorance is aimed at you, it is based in the very same principles.  “Chicks with Dicks,” on a site that perpetuates fat hatred, is what is known as a twofer; double the ignorance and hate for your pleasure.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hey Hey Saturday Night: White People In Blackface Is Racist

I woke up to a lovely tweet this morning leading me to the following video.


Daryl Somers: When you were very kindly judging red faces, I noticed that when we had the Jackson Jive on, that it didn’t occur to me until afterwards that I think we may have offended you. I deeply apologise on behalf on all of us. To your countrymen that is an insult to have a blackface routine. So I do apologize to you.

Harry Connick Jr: I just wanted to say on behalf of my country, I know it was done humoursly but we have spent so much time trying to not make Black people look like buffoons that when we see something like that we take it really to heart.  And I know it was in good fun and the last thing I want to do is take this show is to really a down level cause I love this show and this country but if I knew it was gonna be a part of the show I definitely wouldn’t have done it. So I thank you for the opportunity. I give it up cause Daryl said on the break you need to speak as an American. Not as a Black American or a White American but as an American I need to say that, so thank you for the opportunity. 

First, I have to say good on Harry for speaking out on this issue.  Too many people would have been happy to go along with this racist routine and not say a word.  It takes courage to stand up when it is clear you are the only dissenting participant.  Though I disagree that the US has invested in reducing the amount of racism in its daily discourse, this skit was clearly offensive.

What the hell were the producers of this show thinking?  I don’t believe it is acceptable to say that because this show is Australian, that they were not aware of how offensive this routine would be.  They simply did not care and Blacks have always been an easy target across the globe.  Australia, much like Canada, is rife with racism and has particular issues in reference to its indigenous peoples. Belittling another based on race, is simply a part of their social structure because it maintains undeserved White supremacy.

There is no laughing at this caricature.  In no way can any Black person be accused of being overly sensitive to a routine that was clearly designed to reduce us.  I am tired of White people offering apologies after their racist behaviour, as though it were in the least bit possible to undo the harm that they have done.  It is especially trying when such behaviour was clearly calculated and thought out.  You cannot say you sorry after you are called in your racist BS, when you intended to be racist in the first place.  We know that you are not in the least bit apologetic for your actions.

How many times are Black people supposed to turn the other cheek while we are diminished? The moment we get angry we are accused of being irrational and are viewed as a threat, yet the daily actions on the part of Whiteness are not understood to be universally harmful.  Each and every single Black person viewing this minstrel show is hurt and dehumanized. It is not irrational, if after years of kicking a dog, the animal suddenly decides to bite back. Whiteness expects Blacks to daily return to the whipping post and never react to the pain and suffering. From the start of the skit to the end, the producers essentially screamed nigger repeatedly for the world to hear.  There are plenty of ways to do comedy about the Jacksons without resorting to racism.  Parody, satire or comedy was not point of this minstrel show; unabashedly displaying anti Black sentiment for the world to see was the goal.

“Mini Doctrine”: A Case of Morals

Jay Smooth hits it right out of the park with this one.  I could not agree more and no further commentary is needed.

Let's Talk About Trans Faith

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

image One of the things I still chuckle about from time to time is the November 2007 JCPS school board hearing.

We were fighting to get the board to adopt an employment policy that protects GLBT people in JCPS employment (unfortunately trans people were cut out of it.) I still spoke in favour of it despite my pissivity over trans people getting cut out of the proposed policy.

Marti Abernathy sent me a link a month later to a YouTube video of my JCPS school board speech. When it got to the part of my three minute speech that noted that I was a proud African American and Christian, I heard somebody loudly shout in the video, "No way!'

Yes, way.

I was baptized in my home church in H-town on August 2, 1972. My faith has gotten me through some tough times in life and my own transition.

One of the things that I'm concerned about now we've got the undivided attention of the Forces of Faith-Based Intolerance, is their repeated attempts to twist scripture into a baton for beating up on trans people.

And these scriptures from Deuteronomy (where else) are the weapons of choice:

Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 23.1 No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.

So I guess y'all won't be letting Lance Armstrong or anyone else whose has testicles removed because of cancer or other reasons in your hate churches any time soon, much less any women wearing pants or pantsuits?

Oh by the way, right wing Christohaters, the words 'love the sinner but hate the sin' you peddle as your justification for your homophobia/transphobia do not appear together in a scripture anywhere in the Bible.

Thanks for playing, Catholic Church and fundies, but we have lovely parting gifts for you.

You've got two major problems in trying to run this 'use the Bible to beat up on transpeople' game.
The first order of business is that you have to make a case that transsexuality is wrong.

If you claim that I am a divinely inspired and divinely created being, how can me or any transperson simply living our lives be wrong, especially when the medical evidence is swiftly mounting that transpeople are part of the diverse mosaic of life?

The second part of that does not compute conservalogic is as a friend better versed in theological issues pointed out in this Rain and Clouds blog post, you have to show that being trans makes it impossible to have a relationship with God.

Wonder if that's why you fundies are desperately trying to rewrite the Bible and make it more conservative? Only proves to me the moral bankruptcy of the conservative movement because truth, as you are acknowledging by this attempt to rewrite scripture, has a liberal bias.

But since you fundamentalist peeps believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, that cuts both ways.

First up for the scriptural evidence leaning my way, Psalm 139;1, 13-16

Psalm 139:1, 13-16
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Okay, now we'll move on to the scriptures that talk about the Biblical day equivalents of transpeople, the eunuchs..

Isaiah 56:4-5
4For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Then there's the story in Acts of Philip interpreting the Isaiah prophecy about Jesus to a eunuch on the road to Jerusalem from Gaza, and subsequently baptizing that eunuch.

Acts 8:26-39

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

And if you're wondering what Jesus had to say about the issue, peep Matthew 19:12

For there are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Since we know there are many places in the Bible in which scriptures contradict and cancel each other out, here's the antidote for whenever a Reicher throws Deuteronomy 23:1 at you.

Mark 9:43-47
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.

But if you're a real Christian, these two scriptures are the ones that matter.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Greek nor Jew...there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Christian does not mean 'white'-wing, fundamentalist, intolerant, gun-fetishist, Republican-voting, homeschooled, ignorant Know-Nothing. But that's what your crap over the last 40 years brings to most people's mind whenever the word is mentioned.

As a Christian trans person, I'm tired of my faith being used as a weapon to beat me and other people down with, a shield for ignorance and intolerance, and a vehicle for sowing division and discord.

Fortunately there are other Christians across many denominations who are just as tired of the crap as well and are seeking to include us and understand our issues instead of exclude and reject us.

It would surprise you to know I'm not alone in being a trans Christian. If you walked into our major trans conventions most of the people in attendance will not only repeat the same things I'm articulating in this post, but can also tell you what the Transgender Child's Prayer is:

Lord, please let me wake up and be a girl(boy) forever.

My faith has only become stronger as I've transitioned, become more confident in who I am and more spiritually attuned to the person I was born to be.

I am a Christian in the tradition of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who combined his unshakeable faith with superior intellect and a curious mind.

I am a Christian who believes that we should do more to include trans people and not exclude them.

I am a Christian who despises 'prosperity gospel' and thinks it has sidetracked the Black Church from its historic message of speaking truth to power.

So I'm naming and proclaiming this day that I am a Christian who happens to be a proud African descended transperson as well, and I'm not waiting for your right wing flavoured dogma to catch up with reality.

White Man’s Bitch

White Man’s Bitch is by Aisha Sekhmet.  There are those that would refer to this video as angry and problematic.  I certainly disagree with her repeated use of the word nigger but the larger point of the song is quite on point.  We cannot deny that there are  people of color who refuse repeatedly to act in their own best interest.  The list includes men like Jesse Lee Peterson and Michael Steele. They routinely put individual profit over racial solidarity.

This argument is often confused with the whole blacker than thou statement.  Their behaviour does not make them any less Black because there is no such thing as acting Black, but it does make them self hating negroes.  Why shouldn’t we call them out for what they are.  Their internalized racism has very real effects on the entire Black community.  When the conservative idiots on faux news (read: Fox News) are busy justifying the need to maintain a White supremacist state, the first person they reach for is not the grand dragon of the KKK but a self hating negro in a suit and a tie.  Even when men like Michael Steels are publicly humiliated and told that they are on a short leash, they continue to serve those that would have them in chains, shucking and jiving for survival.

Part of the reason that racism continues to have such a strong hold on our society is the support of POC.  Whiteness figured out a long time ago that the easiest way to maintain control is to have us police each other.  Even during the time of the civil rights movement, there were Black ministers speaking out AGAINST Dr. King. They felt that he was moving to fast and recommended compromise.  Whose interests did these men serve?  I wonder how Condelleza’s daddy felt seeing her in a job, that she would never have had, were it not for the movement that he did not support?  The irony about these people is they are always first in line to accept any gains made from the struggle but can never so much as lose a drop of sweat to help the effort.

H/T T.R Xands

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


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


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.