Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for another week of great conversation. I wanted to take this time to remind everyone that Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy.  Please e-mail me either an original post or a cross post to participate.  I very much look forward  to enlarging  the conversations here.

On our last podcast, Monica and I had the honour of interviewing Melissa from Shakesville and Cara from the Curvature and Feministe.  Fortunately for us, one of the Shakesville readers gracefully transcribed the conversation.  You can find the transcript here.

Tomorrow, Monica of TransGriot, Allison McCarthy (our favourite Gus) and I will be interviewing Isis King of America’s Next Top Model.  The show will be at 8pm EST.  Please feel free to call in at (347) 326-9452 or ask questions in the chat room.

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Below you will find links to a few 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.

Dr.Phil Stay-at-home mom vs. working mom show

The Demise of Off Our Backs

Picturing the Feminine Divine

Bloemfontein urinators: “we’re not racist!”

Date Rape Drug Testers As Deterrence

Tyler Perry and Chris Rock: Black Film in 2009

How Feminism Can Also Save The Planet

Disability, Gender and Poverty

The Top 25 Erroneous Assumptions About Black Women

It’s Funny You Should Ask

Is Fox News “un-American?”

Fat:Masculinity and Sexist Put-Downs

Dancing between the tables: on the personhood of children

Chinese Canadians protested the perpetual foreigner stereotype in 1979

Coming Out Of My Bipolar Cave …

I Don’t Think Of You As Black, Disabled

A Theory

Food Stamps Why The Shame

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Spike Lee Speaks The Truth on Tyler Perry

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Spike Lee is critical of Perry’s work describing, "Meet the Browns" and "House of Payne" as "coonery and buffoonery."

He has even compared Perry’s work to Amos and Andy.  Lee has always been a controversial figure, however this time he is bang on.

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Perry is the face of coonery with his Madea character leading the way.  She is loud, ignorant, abrasive and downright ridiculous.  Her solution to dealing with problem children is to break out the belt and pray.  She is the mythical mammy that White folks think exist in every Black family.

How exactly does his vision of Black womanhood advance Black people?  The overriding theme in Perry’s movies is that a woman must submit and pray to find a mate in life.  His vision of Black womanhood is sexist and promotes Black male hegemony.  Just like his White male counterparts, Black males seek power through oppression.

It is one thing to show Black people doing the electric slide at a party and another to show us shucking and jiving at every turn.  Perry has responded by saying:

"You know, that pisses me off," Perry tells Byron Pitts. "It really does. Because it's so insulting. It's attitudes like that that make Hollywood think that these people do not exist and that's why there's no material speaking to them. I would love to read that to my fan base."

Of course these people exist, but is this really the image of Blackness that we want promoted.  Is it any wonder that Obama, a Harvard educated Black man can have his intelligence questioned, when this is the image of Blackness in pop culture? 

Black people are hungry to seem themselves reflected in mainstream media.  They are so hungry that they will eat the sand, without every realizing that the images that they are consuming are a mirage.  They eat because men like Perry tell them to and because that is all that is available.  This is not nourishment for the soul. 

Perry wishes to receive accolades for his employment of black bodies.  Well, when White people employ a Black housemaid, should Black people be thankful for their generosity? When Whiteness fills it support staff roles with people of color and saves the well paying jobs for White people, should we be thankful for the hand up?  Employing Black people to participate in the diminishment of Blackness, is not something we should ever be thankful for.

Perry is very resistant to any criticism of his work.  We are expected to ignore the sexism and coonery because it has a Black face behind it.   Being Black does not give you any more authority than a White person to diminish Black people. Whiteness is maintained as a powerful force through the support and collusion of people of color. While Perry is mass producing these harmful images, POC are fighting against them in an effort to get an education and jobs.  If Tyler Perry really wants to do something for Black people, he can ride off into the sunset from whence he came.


White Gay Peeps, Back The Hell Up Off President Obama

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

One of the things I'm alarmed about is increasingly hearing from the African American acquaintances around the country I talk to, various Black GLBT people and family members who know that I interface with the GLBT community is escalating anger in the Black community over the continued attacks on President Obama.

What's feeding that anger? Hmm, where do I start?

*The Black community is still pissed over the displays of overt racist behaviour and being blamed for the Prop 8 loss in California.

*We also haven't forgotten that many of the president's white gay critics were Hillary supporters.

*We remember that many white gay people unfairly attacked the President BEFORE he even entered office in January by proclaiming him as the 'worst president ever on gay rights.'

The one good thing about the Maine marriage fight is that if a loss happens there (and I pray it doesn't) you won't have Black people to blame for it since we're only 1% of the population there.

But with the President in the process of having to clean up the eight years of toxic waste from the Bush misadministration, extricate us from two wars, shut down the Dick Cheney Memorial Torture Prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, get a Supreme Court nomination through the Senate, pass health care reforms, repair and restore our battered national image around the world along with other myriad challenges he's faced since assuming office January 20, it's seen by many Blacks as selfish whining in the context of the major challenges that this country faces when you holler "Obama isn't doing anything for us', "He's all talk and no action' or 'I want (marriage equality/DOMA repeal/DADT repeal) now.'.

Hell, I and other transpeople since 1994 have wanted a trans inclusive ENDA and hate crimes passed. Thanks to you peeps who fought it like right wingers opposing your marriage rights I'm STILL waiting for that to happen.

May I also remind you that Black people have been waiting for full equality for over 200 years now.

I'm also tired of seeing the bullshit meme from white gays online that Black people hate them and don't care about GLBT rights.

No, what Black people hate is you white gays acting like spoiled brats and being called 'racist' or 'homophobic' when Black people of all stripes call your asses out on it. It's not 'racist' to state the fact that President Obama's critics in the gay community are predominately white gays. Deal with that reality.

And oh yeah, pick up a Sociology book and learn the difference between racism and prejudice. Racism=prejudice plus power.

POC's calling out whites for their behaviour isn't racist. Only people who wallow in vanilla flavoured privilege and conservative white males believe that.

Black GLBT people are especially sick of it. In addition to being stuck uncomfortably in the middle between the white gay community and our fellow African descended citizens when you do that, our votes, money and support of Obama helped put him in the Oval Office along with the votes of Black, Latino/a and progressives of all stripes.

It's also starting to piss off the middle class Black people whose support GLBT people cannot afford to lose. You still have much to atone for in the Prop 8 aftermath and much bridge building to do in the African-American community. Constantly attacking a still immensely popular president in our community who has only been in office ten months is seen as unfair by the Black community and it's not politically smart either.

He gets enough crap from the 'white' wing and so many death threats a day the Secret Service can barely keep up with it, and you vanilla flavoured GLBT peeps are complaining he hasn't done enough for the 'gay community'?

Buy a fracking vowel and get a rainbow clue. Last time I checked, the gay community was not made up exclusively of white gay people. We're getting tired and fed up with you vanilla flavoured privilege wielding GLBT peeps not only attacking our community and conveniently ignoring the fact that Black GLBT people not only exist, but we chocolate flavoured GLBT peeps have a diametrically opposed view of how President Obama is doing.

The Black GLBT community is also concerned that your constant attacks are not only pissing our people off and alienating our African American cis and straight allies, you are making our job much tougher in the African American community to make the case why they should support and fight for these issues.

The reality is that Bush left the Obama Administration him a toxic mess to clean up and the man has his hands full. If the rest of us and Stevie Wonder can see that, what's wrong with y'all?

And spare me any spin lines in subsequent commentary of 'you're saying we're 'racist' for attacking President Obama or we can't criticize him.

You can criticize him all you want, but free speech cuts both ways. If you're going to loudly defend your First Amendment right to criticize the president, don't get huffy when I use my First Amendment rights to call y'all out for going overboard on your criticism of President Obama and state the obvious fact about the color of his GLBT critics. Getting mad and attacking Black and other POC critics with the 'racist' and 'homophobic' label because we did so isn't smart either.

Renee's Rule applies to this critique. If it ain't about you, don't make it about you. The people who I'm directing this critique at know who they are.

But seriously, white GLBT peeps. Don't get this twisted. I'm someone who has been in this fight with you for over a decade. I'm a marriage equality supporter and support the repeal of DOMA and DADT, but I also realize that the president can't sign bills to do precisely that unless congress PASSES the legislation. Executive orders can be overturned by the succeeding president as Bill Clinton did to Daddy Bush, Junior did unto Clinton and now Obama is now doing to George W. Bush.

I'm also a proud African descended transwoman who has her antennae up in the Black community, and the chatter I'm hearing is alarming. You can either heed the warning I'm passing along in this post and take the necessary steps to correct this perception problem or dismiss it at your political peril.

But y'all really need to back the hell up off President Obama and give him the time he needs to be the president we believe and know he can be.


Accessibility the Soundtrack of My Life

image The difference between whether or not a venue is accessible, will impact my ability to participate.  I have the ability to push my own boundaries at great personal cost.  This enables the “super crip” mythology, wherein it is suggested that if we try harder, we would be able to participate in the same way that an able bodied person can.  The cost is the part that is never factored into this suggestion.

When I attend Destructions hockey games, it means at a very minimum hours of pain.   The pro shop has a ramp so that I may enter with my scooter but to actually watch the game I have to sit in the stands.  If I were not able to get out of my scooter and climb stairs, I would be unable to get into the stands.  If I decide to sit in the scooter, I am unable to see the games and there is no play by play, so I cannot even hear how the game is going.  This is considered accessible because the pro shop has a ramp.

Often businesses, or public venues, will do the bare minimum required by law and this minimum in many cases does not make a place truly accessible.   Often we hear about the extra cost involved to ensure that all can participate, thus putting money ahead of people.  Being active or interacting with others is essential to good health and yet we are more than willing to exclude others.  Imagine standing outside of a locked door and knocking loudly, only to have no one ever answer your call.

We would never expect the average able bodied person to push themselves to the point of pain to participate in a public event.  Whether I am watching my son play hockey or considering taking my boys to the Santa Claus parade, I must consider how much pain I am able to live with to participate.  Differently abled parents are no different than able bodied parents.  We want to be a part of our children’s lives and yet the barriers that exist often make this impossible. 

Those that parent with a disability also bear the social stigma of being unfit. Social services has intervened on many occasions because of questions about our ability to parent.  Disablism in this case is supported by concern for the children.  It never occurs to many, that if the world were more accessible, that there would be no reason for concern.  The fault is not with the body in question but with the makeup of the world.

My shifting appearance i.e cane to scooter, does not mean that I am able to tolerate more on one day than another; it is a reflection of the fact that though the scooter is best for me, the world has made it decidedly difficult to use it in all situations.  Even having the ability to use a cane versus a scooter, at all times is a privilege  because it means I can choose to enable the super crip script at great personal cost. 

I literally stood with tears in my eyes for an hour to watch my boy play, even as the unhusband furtively whispered please just go home Renee. The thought of not cheering for my son when all of the other children had their mothers cheering for them was too much for me.  I knew that it would mean a day on the couch, with my body racked in pain but my boy means that much to me.  This is the position that the differently abled are placed into everyday.  This is what the super crip myth leads to. 

Rise above means pain and suffering.  Rise above means that accessibility is not a concern.  Rise above means money above human pain and suffering.  Rise above is what we are told every single day and no one outside of another differently abled person can understand the cost of this very damaging social myth.  The demand that we be super human, in the face of everyday exclusion leads to pain.  I cannot be more direct than that.  Pain. Whether it is emotional or physical pain, to demand that someone live with that on a daily basis is to show a true contempt for humanity.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spirit of Harper’s Ferry raid lives

150 years later

By Shelley Ettinger

For the masses of workers and oppressed people in this country—those whose days are consumed with trying to survive and feed their families, keep a roof over their heads and get some kind of minimal health care or education—for the majority, that is, who grab their news in quick gulps on TV or radio, Web sites or tabloid newspapers, Oct. 16 was just another day.

image They never heard a word about its import. That’s not surprising, but it is a damn shame, for Oct. 16 is one of the most important dates in U.S. history. And this year was the 150th anniversary of the vitally significant event that happened on that date.

That event is the raid on the U.S. Army arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Va. This military assault by an armed, well-trained, united band of Black and white militants was intended to be the opening battle in what would then develop into a widespread guerrilla war that would topple the system of chattel slavery.

The troop had written, hashed out and agreed upon a revised, improved Constitution guaranteeing race and sex equality. It was to be a new charter for the new country they envisioned rising out of the ashes of the old one that had been built on the backs of enslaved Africans and wholesale theft of Indigenous lands.  With this Constitution in hand, with a pledge to succeed or die, with almost unimaginable courage, 23 people went to Harper’s Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859, to take on the slaveocracy.

Their leader was John Brown. He was known as “Captain Brown” or “Old Osawatomie” because of his heroic exploits three years earlier, in 1856 in Kansas, where he and his troops waged a series of victorious battles that proved decisive in bringing Kansas into the Union as a free rather than a slave state. Brown’s tactical brilliance; his unwavering spirit and optimism even in the face of the death of one of his sons and disabling of another; an utter absence of the racism that tainted most of the prominent white abolitionists; and, above all, his bone-deep commitment to the cause to which he devoted his entire life—all this led the group that assembled to plan and carry out the raid on Harper’s Ferry to determine that Brown must lead the charge.

The group was unprecedented in every way. It was made up of Black and white together, just as the farming community Brown had founded and led during the preceding years in North Elba, N.Y., was made up of Black and white families—the first such integrated community in U.S. history. Among the Harper’s Ferry squad, decisions were made > democratically, not handed down hierarchically. Black and white combatants took part equally in every way.

The plan of attack was crafted based on Brown’s long years of study of the tactics of Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and other enslaved African-American leaders of U.S.  slave revolts; of the Seminole nation that had resisted domination by colonial settlers; of the Maroons of the South and of Jamaica and Surinam, escaped slaves who fought the settler state forces in daring raids from bases in the hills and mountains; and of Toussaint L’Ouverture, one of the great liberators of Haiti.

In Brown’s view, there were several African-American members of the Harper’s Ferry troop any one of whom ought to take the leadership post for the action. However, the group overruled him, arguing that because of his experience in Kansas and his proven military prowess, it was Brown who must captain their squad.

And so this small band of warriors moved in. They were self-trained. They carried a minimal cache of smuggled weapons. The idea was to seize the arsenal, distribute its contents to the nearby population of enslaved laborers, join with them to liberate the region, establish a base of operations in the woods which would swiftly expand to many bases as ever more freed slaves joined up, and wage full-scale war until the abomination of slavery was defeated for good and the new liberationist Constitution was instituted.

John Brown’s real legacy

The initial steps of the plan went well.  Brown and his troop had the element of surprise on their side. They easily overwhelmed the arsenal’s defenses, took hostages and occupied the site. After these early achievements, however, there was a series of setbacks. The government, initially caught off guard, were able to rally. Ultimately, through sheer strength of numbers and with all the armed might of the state behind it, the Army—under the command of none other than Robert E. Lee, who only a few short months later would take the helm of the secessionist Confederate forces—beat back the brave band of anti-racist heroes.

Commentary from bourgeois historians and military analysts fixes on various faults in the planning and execution of the raid on Harper’s Ferry to explain why it did not succeed.  Most of it blames Brown, tagging him as some variation of insane, a crazed terrorist or the like. This slander against one of the towering figures in the history of the struggle against racism is clearly politically motivated. Even now, 150 years later, racism is so integral, so crucial to the capitalist enterprise, that it is vital to portray the willingness of this white warrior to give his life in the effort to end it as sheer madness.

A truer image of Brown can be gleaned from the words of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm X, all of whom praised him. Or from his comrade and collaborator, the great Harriet Tubman, who years later said he had been her “dearest friend.”

Factual inaccuracies also riddle the standard version. African-American journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal offers an example in his essay “The Neglected Voices from Harper’s Ferry” in a recent edition of “A Voice from Harper’s Ferry” by Osborne P. Anderson. Anderson was the only Black participant in the assault on the arsenal who escaped and survived; so his account, Abu-Jamal points out, ought to be regarded as definitive.  Anderson’s account contradicts those who claim that, before they arrived at Harper’s Ferry, the troop’s attempts to rally support among slaves on nearby plantations were unsuccessful. On the contrary, Abu-Jamal points out, “Anderson was in a perfect position to speak to the issue of slave betrayal. Instead, he sees none. He found the slaves supportive and overjoyed by the revolt, and counts them among the first to fall during the armed conflict. He was among the contingent that visited the plantations, where he found ‘the greatest enthusiasm.’ ” Abu-Jamal continues, “Of the 17 revolutionaries who died at Harper’s Ferry, nine were Black men!” This number includes not only those who had trained and arrived together, but several who must have joined the troop when it swept through the plantations along the route.  In all, “The majority of men who died at the Ferry were Black men; the majority of Black men who fought and died (five of nine) were slaves fighting for their freedom!”

Seven other freedom fighters, including John Brown, were captured. All were hanged before the end of the year. Worldwide outrage and mourning followed.

From Haiti to France to Cuba to Canada, in Detroit, Boston, Chicago and many other U.S. cities, bells tolled, orators spoke, and thou sands upon thousands rallied, marched and cried out in fury at the injustice.

In his jail cell, just before he was led to the gallows on Dec. 2, 1859, the great soldier for human liberation wrote these last words: “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” Indeed, the Civil War began just a year and a half later in April 1861.

As Union troops marched into battle, they sang the newly penned “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with its famous opening words: “John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in its grave but his spirit marches on.” The war had really begun on Oct. 16, 1859. That was the day of the first battle, when a small troop of Black and white guerrilla fighters took up arms against the slave state.

By any honest measure, the raid on Harper’s Ferry was a success. It was a clarion call for freedom, and it echoes down the years.

Read Ettinger’s 2006 “Legacy of John Brown” article in WW at http://tiny.cc/ubc5t.


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.


Wheelchair/Scooter Theft: We Are Immobilized

I was reading Hoyden about Town when I cam across this post.

I came across a link drop that really must be seen, I will get you started and you can finish at Hoyden.

College student’s wheelchair stolen from campus

A disabled college student is having trouble getting around campus, after someone stole his motorized wheelchair. [...] Horus had locked it up and left it charging overnight. When he returned to campus, it was gone – all that was left was the charger. [...] Horus’ wheelchair cost about $5,000 and that means whoever stole it faces grand theft charges.

“It’s really difficult for me to replace it. To replace it, it would take me like a year,” Horus said.

Boys customized wheelchair taken from in front of home

The family of an 8-year-old boy whose wheelchair vanished from the front of their home is hoping the person who took it will bring it back. The family said that wheelchair is a lifeline for their son Mohammed who suffers from a crippling disorder that he developed when he was just three years old. [...]

Mohammed cannot leave his home without the wheelchair. He has already missed two days of school. It is custom-made and costs about $4,000.

Mobility scooters driven like dodgems and destroyed

FOUR elderly couples say they have been stranded in their homes after their mobility scooters were taken and driven “like dodgems” – before being destroyed. They disappeared from properties in Midlothian over the last week, leaving disabled residents unable to leave their homes. [...]

Jimmy O’Donnell, 71, also from Newtongrange, had his mobility scooter taken from his garden shed and later found by police smashed up. His wife Heather, 62, said: “Jimmy won’t be able to go down the street without the scooter – he will be housebound.”

Mother stranded as wheelchair stolen

Thieves have stolen a disabled mother’s wheelchair from the doorstep of a Wolverhampton house, leaving her distraught and unable to move.

Appealing for the return of her “lifeline”, 49-year-old Karen Hughes says she has been reduced to crawling on her hands and knees to get about and is having to be cared for by family members. Health chiefs are hoping to find her a replacement but warn it could be five months before money can be found for the specialised equipment.

When I first got my scooter, I was warned about a high theft rate and to be honest I did not believe him.  Who, I thought would be low enough to steal a wheelchair or a mobility scooter?  This link round up hit me on a really personal level.  Without my scooter simple everyday tasks would be impossible for me to do.  I could not go to the bank or even run the smallest errands. 

When you take away someone's mobility device, you are sentencing them to a life in the house.  They are extremely expensive to replace and waiting for government coverage can take some time, if you are even eligible for a new one. I had the financial resources to pay for my mobility scooter but not everyone is in the same position. 

News stories like this confirm something that I have come to know as true, despite the social myth that the able bodied are kind to the physically disabled, the opposite in fact is true.  When we have our devices we are treated as a nuisances and the theft of said devices stand sas proof that we are expected to be invisible and disappear from society.  Stealing someone’s mobility device is not a victimless crime, or a childhood prank; it is an act of human cruelty and should be treated as such.


Adam Lambert: Not Too Gay To Oppress Women

Adam Lambert was last years runner up in American Idol.  When he sang Queen, he damn near channelled the great Freddie Mercury and I, along with many lost my mind.  There can be no doubt that he is a talented man and certainly the most talented performer to grace the American Idol stage.  During the competition, when it was revealed that there were pictures floating around with him and another man, he remained non committal. That stance has changed and he announced that he is gay for the world.

In his interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, he stated why it was important to him to come out early in his career:

"looking over my shoulder all the time, thinking I have to hide, being scared of being found out, putting on a front, having a beard, going down the red carpet with some chick who is posing as my girlfriend. That's not cool, that's not being a rock star. I can't do that."

No matter how far we have come, being gay is still very much a stigmatized identity, and therefore being out and unashamed is really positive if one can handle the most certain homophobic backlash.  This is what makes the following images decidedly upsetting.

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Really, this is an out and proud gay man?  This is the man that didn’t want to have to hide who he was from the world? Anyone else saying WTF?   The above images are from Details and the accompanying text is:

"Adam Lambert Gets Lucky: Why does every woman in America want to sleep with the American Idol?"

Certainly there are some women that hope that he is Bi because they believe the homophobic trope that a good looking gay man is a waste but let’s be clear; in the above images, it is the woman that is being used as a sexual prop.  Adam chose just like any other guy out there, to play upon his male privilege. He may be gay but  he certainly still has enough privilege to exploit a woman, just like any other man.

Women should not be used as props to sell anything.  It is reductive and highly sexist.   It is further problematic that a gay man would pose for these pictures because it supports the heterosexist society in which we live.  If gay male sexuality is ever to be acceptable, images like this need to stop.  There is nothing wrong with him taking a picture embracing another male if he needs a sexual image, or even one of him alone, but taking one with a woman is all kinds of fail. 

H/T Shakesville



Ronald McDonald Goes Sexay

I am seriously considering starting a series of posts called WTF Files…Everything is immediately made attractive by feminizing it and sexualizing it.  Who cares how such behaviour reduces the value of women as long as men get their jollies.  This is yet another reason to avoid their artery clogging food.

H/T Female Impersonator

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sex Segregated Schools for Children

image Chris Spence, the education director for the Toronto District School Board is advocating for all boys schools.  This is to address the high drop out rate of male children.  He is the author of a report entitled A Vision of hope. 

The following comes courtesy of the CBC:

"The research is pretty clear that for some students, single-sex setting makes a big difference," he said.

Spence said his data shows that boys act out more and get into much more trouble in the school system.

"Boys are suspended far more frequently than girls. The gaps in terms of … achievement indicators is widening in terms of literacy and numeracy," said Spence.

Boys-only classes and a boys-only school would provide a major benefit within the education system, said Spence.

"The results we're getting for our boys right now just are not what they need to be."

When has segregation ever proven to improve the quality of life for anyone?  I further find the simplification of this issue to gender to be highly problematic.  Spence says, "When every bone in their body tells them to move, we tell them to sit."  This is not just the nature of male children, it is in fact descriptive of children across the gender binary.  Schools teach far more that the basic r’s.  They reinforce submission to authority, thereby discouraging free will.  It is the  cookie cutter approach that we take towards education, that leaves so many students feeling disconnected.  Students learn conformity at all costs.

It is also highly reductive to assume that the issue is solely gender.  At what point do we consider class in this debate?  Children that are coming from homes in which parents are working two or more jobs, often suffer from a lack of positive reinforcement.  How many poor children experience a lack of consistency in terms of housing due to poverty?  It is not uncommon for a child to attend several institutions because of their parents inability to pay rent.  Certainly this has an effect on the education that they are receiving.

Schools have also reduced funding to arts and music. The school I attended had two bands, whereas; the one my son attends today has none.  Art and Music are seen as expendable and yet they encourage imagination and critical thought. They can on many occasions, give someone a purpose where none existed.  In fact, music and art can be used in very creative ways to teach other subjects. Not all learning has to occur in a traditional platform.

Addressing a need in education is important but falling back on old ideas that do not work, is not going to make a substantive change.  We claim to be a society of individuals but when it comes to learning, we fail to validate that simple truth.  We barely recognize that some are tactile or auditory learners and therefore the issues that are occurring in a mixed sex environment, are only going to reoccur.  This is not about recognizing that boys are different from girls, but recognizing that we are all unique beings who conceptualize and learn differently.  We further must acknowledge that there are social issues outside of the classroom that effect learning.  There can be no one size fits all solution, when no two individuals are exactly the same.


Does Choice Mean Abortion?

When we acknowledge that women should have autonomy over their bodies, there is always the assumption that we are advocating abortion.  Choice means exactly that.  Women can choose between continuing with a pregnancy or ending it.  Choice does not always end in abortion but it does mean that every child that is born is a wanted child.

Judy the embryo would have us believe that choice kills without ever questioning how many babies are born each day in areas in which women have the ability to choose.  It leads one to believe that women never choose to give birth or that the decision to have an abortion is an easy one.  Having an abortion is quite possibly the most difficult decision a woman will make and to suggest that it is done lightly, is to once again devalue female agency.  Women know what  is at stake and that is why choice is imperative.

Pro lifers like to frame the debate as only choosing abortion when women are given the option because this suits their agenda of infantalizing women, while at the same time legitimizing their desire to control female bodies. We only choose to limit the agency of those we devalue.

image This frame of thought is reinforced when women like Irene Vilar publicise their abortion stories.  Vilar is now the mother of two but has recently written a tell all book entitled Impossible Motherhood, in which she reveals having had 15 abortions.  She has written about a very troubled background which includes addiction.

Vilar says that she has an addiction and that her actions were a reflection of an illness rather than a manifestation of her stance on abortion and choice.  For her, abortion was a form of self-mutilation. 

Vilar says,

Women have a deep need for agency, for purpose and direction and society is not providing natural and healthy channels for creative action.

In school and on TV, every message I get is what I am doing as a mother or wife is wrong. I should be thinking about a profession and not mothering. Everyone is having babies, and yet they don't want to care for them.

Are many of the repeat abortions in part an embodiment of this mixed message? A lost, ambivalent attempt at an act of agency that cannot find its proper vessel?

This is a really important point because even though the decision to carry a pregnancy to term is an individual choice, there are many different factors that influence this decision.  Vilar did not become pregnant on her own and yet we do not hold her husband accountable for his reproduction.  Judgement is placed on the woman because only female bodies can become pregnant. What about the doctors that repeatedly performed this procedure?  Did they not at some point have a responsibility to recognize a cry for help?

Though Vilar does not want to be included in the abortion to debate, by making her story public there will be a rush to judgement. Do we understand her life through the lens of women's’ reproductive choice or do we look at this as a mental health issue and can the two even be divorced from each other?  At what point do we consider the historical ineptness when it comes to validating those that are considered mentally ill and their reproductive choices. Children have been forcibly removed from homes and women have been sterilized against their will.

If we support choice, is there a point when the sheer number of abortions out weighs the support we feel we  owe to all women vis a vis bodily autonomy? Vilar’s story teaches us that even though we may believe that choice is a simply binary, there are many factors that must be considered.  Had choice not been available would she have chosen dangerous back alley abortions?  Would we feel socially better, if she had died in such a procedure rather than undergo repeated abortions?  What does that say about how much we value Vilar’s life?  One cannot possibly think about her life without walking away with many questions.  The very fact that we must question reaffirms that choice is never simple, only the reduction of women to baby producers is.



Don’t Let A Girl Beat You

image Like many Canadian mothers, I am currently attending hockey games twice a week.  Much to the unhusbands chagrin Destruction is playing for the Niagara Falls, Senators…Being a leaf fan I know this burns him to his toes.  Each game he has to yell lets go Senators. 

The league that Destruction plays for is co-ed.  This is something that I really love because it teaches kids to focus on the basic skills of the game.   On his team, there are two girls and one plays forward.  She is extremely fast and has pretty good stick handling skills.   Last night as I froze watching the game, I heard one of the boys yell, “go get the puck don’t get beat by a girl”. All the mothers watching yelled hey and encouraged the young girl to play hard. There was very little male rebuke for this commentary.

We are talking about a league of 8-10 year olds.  Already they have determined at this age that being beaten by a girl is a sign of a lack of masculinity.  It did not occur to these boys, that the girl in question was a better player than the both of them.  These young boys have already learned that they exist with undeserved male privilege.

Children grow hearing phrases like, throw like a girl or cry like a girl and then we wonder why it is that the feminine is so devalued.  We teach  our children sexism, the same way that we teach them to read or write.  In the actions of our youth we can easily read what social constructions we have normalized; if we are willing to take ownership for our actions.  Many still deny that we teach gender and yet the girls isle in the toy store is decidedly pink and filled with baby dolls.

Boys are encouraged to participate in sports because it leads to physical fitness, builds self-esteem, teaches leadership skills, and how to work as a team.  Many of the building blocks that create a responsible outgoing person are built in hockey arenas, across Canada and yet this is something that is not actively pushed for girls.  We offer them ringette. 

Every Saturday many gather around to watch hockey night in Canada and seldom do we consider what a gendered event this is.  All of the players in the NHL are men. What does this say to the young women and girls watching?  Canada happens to have female Olympic hockey champions and yet only their ability to be sexy is part of the national conversation.  If we truly cared about women and girls we would want them to benefit from the skills that organized sports teaches;  instead we hear the whining about how women’s hockey is a finesse game or not as fast and physical as a mans game.  Is hockey really about fighting, and checking someone into the boards, or is it about shooting the damn puck into the net?

image Hearing those boys concern about being beaten by a girl made me think of all the little ways in which women are encouraged not to compete.  To want more or to strive for greatness, has historically been the preserve of men and therefore from childhood we are robbing our daughters of the ability to live up to their true potential.  This extends to all sports and is not simply limited to hockey. Sports Illustrated does not have a male swimsuit edition.  Men are considered the real athletes, while women are only playing.  The real sport is male sexual titillation.

Once a woman establishes herself as an athlete her performance of femininity is even more policed.  She must constantly assure the public that she is heterosexual and willing to be submissive to a man.  If she is unwilling to adhere to this, she is constructed as an “umwoman.” How many times has the epithet tranny been thrown at cisgender athletes who do not perform passive femininity?  Athleticism is only tolerated in a woman as long as she is ready and willing to admit that regardless of her effort or skill,  that she is always and already secondary to a man.  This is in complete contrast to all of the social skills that sports teaches.

As I watch those little girls shoot at the net last night, their faces filled with exhilaration, I could not help but wonder what other lessons they were being taught.  Clearly they have parents that are liberal thinkers in terms of gender roles or they would not be there in the first place, but how long will the concept of equal participation in sports last, when eight year old boys already have the nerve to resent their presence. 


Wednesday What’s Up

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I am always looking for ways to expand the conversation at Womanist Musings.  I have decided that every wednesday, I am going to have an open thread.  Please use it to chat about what ever is on your mind or link to anything interesting.  Who knows where the conversation will go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For Historica Canada Women Of Color Are Invisible

There has been a push for some time to expand knowledge of  Canadian history.  Many function with the belief that the events in Canada are not nearly as fascinating as the US.  To help eradicate this erroneous thinking, Canadian networks have been playing shorts featuring important people in Canadian history. 

They were well aware that given the terrible history of the marginalization and near genocide of our First Nation citizens, that they had to be included and so aboriginal peoples received their own section.   To deal with the sexism that is still rampant in Canada, women also received their own section.  Watching these shorts, I learned is that you cannot be both a woman and be of color.

The women listed are:

  • Jennie Trout
  • Agnes Macphail
  • Laura Secord
  • Nellie McClung
  • Rural teacher (again white)
  • Midwife (again white)

Each of  these women were given a short which airs in commercial format.  This is seen as bringing Canadian history to the masses.  This is particularly important because although we have a very unique identity, we are often  so inundated with American pop culture, that our contributions to advancing equality and human rights are forgotten. These shorts are a decided effort to increase Canadian patriotism.

image Learning that Agnes Macphail, the first female  MP worked tirelessly on prison reform in the face of great resistance and ridicule from the male members of parliament was wonderful, however; given that racism in Canada is a pervasive today as in previous generations, how can the exclusion of women of color possibly be justified? 

Seeing the struggles of Jennie Trout, who was the first woman licensed to image practice medicine in Canada was certainly eye opening.  This is especially important information, when we consider that U of T, the institute from where she got her degree, is still to this day a bastion of masculinity.  This is further problematized by the fact that though the University of Toronto remains one of Canada’s most elite schools, and yet professors of color continue to be a rarity.  What were the struggles of the first woman of color to earn a degree from U of T?  What was her name and what did she specialize in?

image Then we have Nellie McClung, who worked tirelessly for the vote.  Without the ability to vote, women would never have the ability to have any access to power within Canadian society.  McClung held a mock parliament, in which she speculated the ruination of society should men be given the vote, thus illustrating the ridiculousness of sexism in civil rights. She is celebrated today as one our leading suffragettes and yet the vote which she so tirelessly fought for only involved White women.

It was not until 1960, that the federal legislature abolished the last formal restrictions on the political citizenship of Aboriginal women and men.  Prior to that time, in order to vote First Nation citizens had to give up their treaty rights and Indian status.  Certainly, the government of Canada did this out of the graciousness of their heart and no Aboriginal women worked on ensuring that they had the right to vote; or  so one would be lead to believe given their lack of coverage.

These shorts are very much a reflection of Canadian identity as largely White.  Often our First Nations peoples are only grudgingly acknowledged and all others of color are erased entirely.  We proudly announce that a Canadian wrote the Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations, and yet Canada's historical record is atrocious.  To erase the contributions of women of color is to once again colonize us for the befit of upholding a White supremacist state.  There can be no accurate depiction and or understanding of Canadian history, without the inclusion of women of color.   

Though our labour is unrecognized we are the foundation upon which this country stands.  It is our labour that completed the jobs that no one wanted. It was our teachers that struggled to give our children a sense of humanity, when Prime Ministers openly displayed their bigotry and hatred. We have given birth to a nation and a history.  Our blood is entwined in the very soil upon which we all walk and screams for our validation.  Expressing true national pride means owning the sins that have been committed against women of color and honouring our triumphs in the face of immeasurable difficulties.


Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” is having a bad day

image Chris Rock was driving his daughter and her friend home, when his child began to comment on how nice the little White girl’s hair was. On “The View,” Rock stated that he has made a conscious to tell his children that they are beautiful and he was therefore troubled to hear his child’s fascination with White hair. In a desire to discover where the characterization of White hair as good hair originated, he decided to research Black hair. This research became the newly released documentary, “Good Hair.”

In conversations with Black celebrities like Dr. Maya Angelou, Nia Long, Ice T, Raven Symone and the Reverend Al Sharpton, Rock attempted to discuss how Black women feel about their hair. With the exception of one actress, each woman presented either wore a weave or had her hair relaxed. This gives the impression that Black women do not embrace their natural hair, thus perpetuating the idea that we are forever envious of White women. In a world in which beauty is conceived of as a specifically female power, investing White women with the sole ability to marshal said power is deeply problematic.

Casting Black women as envious of White women serves patriarchy and the White supremacist state. In “Good Hair,” Dr. Maya Angelou commented that “hair is a woman’s crowning beauty.” If Black hair is forever considered unfeminine, it cements the social understanding of Black women as “other.” If Black women cannot be understood as women, they are necessarily unrapeable, easy to stereotype as hyper sexual, angry and ugly.

In “Good Hair,” it was suggested that Black women are seeking the idealized attributes of White women and therefore the chase in and of itself, is confirmation that we (read: Black women), affirm our second class standing. One does not seek change, if the present form is acceptable and loved.

Finish reading here

Tune In Tuesday: Nirvana Lithium

Yes, I went through a Nirvana stage.  I did not go full out grunge in my dress but I can say that the music appealed to the angst and turmoil that I felt at the time.  Something about it meant a strange perverse freedom about me. I remember belting out lithium in times of anger and frustration of course the upside with grunge, is that you can be slightly off key ( or a lot in my case) and still not sound to bad.   I did of course get the weird commentary from others, ‘cause of course Black people are not supposed to like this kind of music.  If it is not about bling bling we are supposedly uninterested.

Well you know the deal, share your fav Nirvana song or memory in comments.

Steak and a BJ Day

We were waiting for Destruction to finish with Karate last night, when the unhusband informed me of a new holiday.

Even though it is still October, he wanted my thoughts on Men’s Valentines Day.  It seems that March 14 is steak and a blowjob day.  Of course there was no self interest at all in pointing out this little holiday.  The supposed upside is that Hallmark has yet to acknowledge this holiday and therefore; it has not become overly exploited the way that so many of our other holidays have.  Celebrating it would not mean the purchase of blood diamonds or foreign flowers that are grown in atrocious circumstances.  He informed me that this holiday was really catching on.

Steak and a blowjob eh?  I can see how this would be the perfect holiday for a guy.   All that is missing is a football game for Americans or a hockey game for Cannucks.   Really…I thought this was a great little plot and it did make me laugh. I certainly enjoyed how it is was brought up with the purest of intentions. I’m not promising to celebrate said holiday but it is interesting the lengths that men will go to in service of their penis.

Morehouse Men Don’t Wear Dresses

image We have invested a lot into the male/ female binary and many feel threatened when the line is even slightly blurred. As part of its appropriate attire policy, Morehouse has banned wearing of women's clothes, makeup, high heels and purses.  It seems that Morehouse men are expected to send a very specific message to the world about what exactly Black masculinity entails.

According to CNN, Dr. William Bynum, vice president for Student Services stated the following when questioned about the policy:

"We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men," he said.

Apparently, before this decision was made final there were discussions with Safe Space, the campus' gay organization.  Of the 27 individuals in the room, according to Dr. Bynum, only three were against this dress code. I can see how Dr.Bynum got the idea that there should be a vote on civil rights considering the recent disaster of Prop 8 but the lesson that we ALL should have learned, is that civil rights are not something the larger society should be able to dictate.  If this is to be the case in all circumstances, then we would all live under the tyranny of the majority.  I doubt if civil rights were put to a vote during the 60’s the African American community would have achieved the success that it did.

It took a supreme court decision to desegregate education and one can be certain that had this decision been held up to a vote at the time, that no such radical change would have occurred.  The majority will always vote in favour of their best interests to protect undeserved privilege and therefore, it is impossible to create true equality under these circumstances. 

Even putting this to a vote, is an example of the privilege in which the Morehouse administrators live.   You will note that Dr. Bynum had the nerve to use the phrase the “gay lifestyle”, exemplifying his heterosexual privilege.  Being gay is not something someone chooses and this very basic fact seems to have escaped him. 

At the heart of this issue is the perception of Black masculinity.  Whiteness has gone to great lengths to ensure that Black men are not considered valuable.  We are not far from the days when a grown man could be called boy.  Black men fear feminization because they view it as reductive.  This is further problematic because this means that femininity in and of itself is not understood as the equal of masculinity.  In this story we can see the combination of homophobia, racism and misogyny.

The administration of Morehouse is simply copying what it has come to learn is a successful path to power. To be counted in this society, one must be able to utilize power coercively and this is the path that they have chosen to realize their masculinity.  These are educated men, who are well aware of how such behaviour has historically hurt Black men and to perpetuate this with a dress code, only reinforces power structures that maintain isms.

Rejecting those that are gay or non-gender conforming is not going to increase the social power of these heterosexual, cisgendered Black males.  This action will cause fracture rather than unity and this must be understood.  You cannot discipline Blackness and there is no acceptable way to be Black.  The GLBT community is as much a part of the Black community, as any other grouping of people.  Their sexual orientation does not make them any less Black and a failure to embrace them is to limit the beauty and capacity for growth and radical social change that is imperative for equal rights for ALL people.  I understand the drive behind this decision, however I simply cannot condone it.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Reality TV Obsession Leads to Balloon Hoax

image I was one of those who was duped into watching the invented Heene drama this weekend.  As a mother, my heart broke for those parents.  Never, for one moment, did I believe in the possibility that this could be a hoax.   When it was reported that something fell from the balloon, my heart instantly went out to the parents, as I thought about the pain and fear that they must have been suffering with.

When it became clear that this was simply a hoax, I was enraged.  I didn’t think about the money that was spent chasing this balloon, or even my own personal investment in this story, I thought about the cruelty of this act.  These people created a lie and encouraged their children to participate in this deception.  What are these kids learning in this home? 

It seems that Heenes who twice appeared on Wife Swap, attempted this hoax in order to get a reality television show of their own.  The success of shows like Jon & Kate plus 8, 18 Kids and counting and Little People Big World, has encouraged many people to believe that this is the path to success.  Even the Gotti family had a show called Growing Up Gotti

Reality television is far less expensive than a traditional sitcom for a network to run.  There are no writers or professional actors to hire or pay.  No elaborate sets need to be created because the backdrop is traditionally the family home. If the show is successful, the profit margin is extreme.  This is a win win for a network and often a disaster for the family that is being filmed.  Jon and Kate are the perfect example of the ways in which media exposure, can lead to a hot mess quickly.

These shows are based on voyeurism.  Instead of interacting with our communities we sit and watch families we do not know live their lives.  We then position ourselves as the guardians of morality and critique how they interact, discipline their children, and even have the nerve to question their decision to film the intimacies of their lives.  It never occurs to anyone, that if people stopped watching these shows, they would not be on the air.

It is clear that the Heene family has been caught up in the circus that is reality television.  Can we even blame them when every where we turn there is yet another drama depicting a so-called happy family taking expensive vacations and experiencing events that many can only dream of?  The unhusband and I would love to take our children to Disneyworld, in fact, it is a family dream but I am quite certain that Disney is not about to offer us a free trip.  We would also love to have our children in music classes, but if I were to hold my breath I would die before someone called and offered us a free piano.  You see we have nothing to trade, and no product placement of offer and therefore, these companies would reap nothing but gratitude from us.

Part of what compels these families to participate, is the B celebrity status and the commodities that come with opening their home to cameras.  We don’t find it interesting to watch the struggle of  poor parents in a ghetto  to provide food for their kids.  We want to see the American dream realized, even though we know that such lives are a rarity, rather than the norm.  Can we really blame the Heenes, when we have been lead to believe that this life of excess is the way that things are supposed to be?  What they did was morally wrong, but considering we don’t live in a meritocracy, the path to the streets paved with gold often begins with corruption and or exploitation. The Heenes are a reflection of the Reality TV empire we have all been too quick to embrace.


Poor Rush Limbaugh is a Victim of Reverse Racism

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The above image is from Townhall.com a  masabatory conservative site.   Certainly Limbaugh’s own words were not behind the fact that he was not welcome to participate in the NFL as a minority owner of the St. Louis Rams.  It was a cruel left wing conspiracy that left him out in the cold. 

It’s funny that Limbaugh and his cohorts could even for one moment present him as the victim of racism.  You will note in the above image the "Race-Baiting Rent-A-Cops" are the reverend Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson Sr.  Sharpton and Jackson speak truth to power when they fight for the equality of African Americans and this is what makes them so reviled by Whiteness.  Men like Limbaugh do not want to be called out on their actions.  Whiteness is supposed to be above question and when POC dare to speak, it is considered an affront.

The fact that Sharpton and Jackson are depicted as police inflicting violence on Limbaugh is particularly upsetting.  We know that the justice system in particular is part of the White supremacist state.  Countless Black men have lost their lives due to racism within the system and that certainly cannot be said of White men.  This cartoon is an affront to men like Oscar Grimes and Sean Bell.

No matter how much of a martyr Limbaugh would like to construct himself as being, his heart would not skip a beat if he had to interact with the police because he can count on his race, class, and gender, to speak for him.  Such is not the case for a Black man, as Skip Gates quickly found out.  When he revealed his drug addiction, he knew that he could count on the Whiteness of his skin to shield him in ways that would never occur for a person of color.

No matter how many angry cartoons the right decides to draw, Limbaugh is not a victim of reverse racism.  The term reverse racism is indeed an oxymoron because no such thing exists.  Blacks do not exist with the institutional power to be racist and this is especially so in the case of Rush Limbaugh.  This man has built a career promoting undeserved White privilege and now he has the nerve to want to own the label of martyr and victim.  Really can there be a more ridiculous supposition currently in the news?

H/T The New Black Woman



A Dick Is Not Enough To Get You Laid By A Gay Man

image I’m a little late to this one but I could not leave it alone.  Last week on Mad Man, Salvatore was fired because he refused to sleep with Lee Gardner Jr., the son of the owner of lucky strikes.  Salvatore is married and is very deeply in the closet.  Considering that Mad Men takes place in the 1960’s, it is fair to say that this was a fairly common occurrence for that period.

Don seemed to imply that Salvatore should heave considered the large account and just slept with Lee.  After all, the man has a dick and isn’t that all gay men want?  He even had the nerve to refer to Sal as “you people”.  Though this show is set in the 60’s, this attitude is still alive and well today.  The construction of all gay men as solely seeking sex and not a loving connection with another human being, is just one of the ways in which they are constructed as “other.”  Even though many are engaged in the struggle for same sex marriage, the construction of the promiscuous gay man is alive and well. 

Heterosexuals care about promiscuity in the GLBT community, only because heterosexuality can then be positioned as morally superior.  It seems that because heterosexual sex is socially understood as normal, that this somehow erases the  many lechers, strolling through downtown corridors, with the lipstick of their mistress on their collar. Heterosexuality is not necessarily the path to monogamy.

To further cement the falsehood that gay men do not seek long term relationships, the myth that they will sleep with anyone is circulated.  Yep, every straight man is supposedly instantly desirable to a gay man.  No attraction, no common interests are necessary, one only need  be in possession of a dick. This is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous social myths.  Somehow heterosexuals must feel some sort of attraction to act. but this supposedly magically disappears when it comes to gay men.

You could have one tooth dangling from your mouth, smell like the city dump, and be covered head to toe in hives, but if you have a dick, you’re practically Mr.July on a gay calendar.  Woot, let’s stuff that crotch with one dollar bills. How does human chemistry magically change that much?  Really…Come on… If we are going to circulate bullshit, we should at least go to the trouble of ensuring that it does not stink like the steaming pile of bullshit that it is.

Just like straight men, gay men have a type.  They could be interested in Blondes, Brunettes, the boy next door, or my personal favourite, the tortured artist. What ever their personal leanings are, you can be certain that merely possessing a dick, is not enough to draw the attention of the hordes of supposedly sex addicted gay men.

This scene was set in the 1960’s and we like to believe that socially we have grown and changed, but in fact these very same ideas continue to circulate today. They continue to proliferate because despite the supposed liberalization of society, heterosexual privilege continues to be the norm.  Even when we have obvious proof through the fight for gay marriage, that the GLBT community wants to be in loving long term relationships, endorsed and protected by the state, we continue to circulate the lie that all gay men are diseased sex addicts.  If we admit  that two gay men want to live together and share their lives, we would have to admit that the difference between us is marginal at best and that would not support undeserved heterosexual privilege would it?

So put away your Sunday best, bend over and tie your shoe without fear, your dick does not make you a gay magnate.  I know that this will secretly upset some because it is hard to stop being an imaginary sex symbol, but hey we all gotta face reality sometime don’t we? Trust me, giving up your imaginary sex symbol status ,will be easier  than having to live with the damage that these social constructions cause in the gay community.  And remember, you can always worship yourself in the mirror; great love starts with self love.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

'Star Wars (John Williams Is The Man)' medley - a cappella tribute

I simply had to share this for your listening pleasure

H/T grammercie via twitter

Sunday Shame: So what do you do that drives your household up the wall?

This is a guest post from Sparky. He can found spreading his wisdom at Spark in Darkness.

image Sparky is firmly of the belief the world was created for his own amusement - it’s the only reason it can be so diverting. He spends most of the day alternating between being vastly amused and vastly irritated by the world and much of his energy laughing at it or fighting against it. He is eternally distracted, amused and inspired by his loving husband, boggling family and his truly bizarre law firm.

I find myself somewhat of an artist at this. It seems there are no end of minor things I can do that will drive Beloved to plot my death by porcupines in many imaginative and detailed manners.

Or, as I much rather prefer to phrase it, it’s amazing how many perfectly acceptable and reasonable things I do that he, quite ridiculously and maliciously, takes an exception to. Alas, I am truly a saint to tolerate such.

Around me these battles tend to wage around Beloved’s love of technology and my suspicion of any and all things electrical. Technologically minded I am not - my computer works because there are pixies in the case (it is known) and my television has tiny people inside acting for my pleasure. Beloved insists on surrounding me with technology to which I respond with all the fervour of a rabid luddite with a very large hammer. This vexes him.

In particular he is vexed that I keep turning off my firewall, virus checker and weird safety-searchy thingy (what, you expect me to know the name of this thing? It’s turned off most the time). Because they slow my computer down. Yes yes they do. Beloved rather vociferously disagrees and points out that the many many virus laden trojans plastered with pop-up adds infecting my computer may have something to do with it. I have decided he is wrong (naturally).

My second shameful habit is remote abuse. A note here on Beloved’s shiny addiction - our television, satellite and DVD player have remotes. This is reasonable. So does our stereo. So do our outside lights. So do our wall lights. So does the damned water feature. So does our central heating. Trying to turn over the television frequently results in a psychedelic light show with accompanying music, hot air vents and gets of water. This vexes me.

When one of the remotes I actually want to use dies, I will happily raid the others for batteries (putting the dead batteries in the useless remote, of course. Well, I don’t want to leave them lying untidily on the coffee table, do I?) Beloved has taken an unreasonable dislike to this and suggests I should get some of the fresh batteries we always have stored in the kitchen. I counter that if I were in the mood to stir my backside from the sofa cushions I wouldn’t have picked up a remote in the first place. Oh and I also hide.. err.. lose the remotes I have no interest in. Just because.

My third (admitted) shameful habit concerns plugs. As can be guessed by now, Beloved has something of a fetish for electrical appliances. Our tin-opener plugs in. Our corkscrew plugs in. Our wine cooler plugs in. Our Aquarium full of suicide fish plugs in. We even have plug-in picture frames - in the name of all that is holy why do picture frames need a main’s supply?! There are so many games consoles clustered around the television that I am quite confident they are breeding in some perverse cross-platform orgy. Every wall socket in our house has 4 gangs and 3 ways and dual sockets (all of which sounds far kinkier than it actually is, alas) clustered together in a way that is bound to set something on fire eventually.

I deal with this by unplugging things. At random. Sometimes to plug in something I actually need, like, say, a hair dryer. Or a kettle. Sometimes because having 6,872 plugs in one socket seems rather unwise. For some reason most of these devices seem to resent being unplugged and my doing so causes them to forget the time, be reset to defaults, lose information or dissolve dilithium crystals and explode the flux capacitor. I don’t know, I also have immense difficulty caring since I’m rather more concerned by burning to death in a not-so-mysterious electrical fire.

It occurs to me that if I continue recounting the many irritating things I do on a regular basis just to make Beloved howl that this post would be ridiculously long - so over to you. What maddening, irritating (or perfectly sensible and reasonable) thing do you do that makes the other members of your household plot your horrible death?