Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anti- Racist Bingo

Often drive by trolls show up who have not had the decency to get their 101 on.  Many of us have long ago moved ahead of  the 101 level and it becomes frustrating to have to routinely repeat the same basic facts.  In the comment section, one will often simply see the word BINGO, rather than a long involved comment. 

The following Bingo card appeared at The Angry Black Woman on September 22nd, 2009.  

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Looking over the above Bingo card, it became clear to me  that it accurately described comments often seen on this blog.  People really need to think about the ways in which they display their privilege.  These comments may seem innocent, but they are the basis of the racist world in which we live.

I thought that we could use this thread as a starting place to discuss and or list various comments that regularly appear, which should be considered racist but are invariably understood by the speaker to benign.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

 

Another Saturday has rolled around bringing the end to a lot of great conversations here.  The trolls has been out in full force and the Spam box is begging for mercy.  Should I miss a comment, please hit the report button.  Let’s not pretend for a moment, that these people are here to engage in any sort of conversation.  Free speech will never include the right to hate speech on this blog.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting.  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.

On the execution of John Allen Muhammad

Cast in Bronze

 White people think they know all about you from reading a book

“The flipside of this charming worldview….”

Pro Choice

Black Students Told To Act Like Slaves

Limits

Coming In From The Cold

The Greatest Man Perms Of All Time: An Evolutionary History By Max Reddick

Do I Really Have To Explain Why Push/Precious Normalizes Black Depravity

Hotsy Totsy

Bingo

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Carrie Prejean Masturbating Is A No No

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From the moment Carrie Prejean was catapulted into fame for homophobic remarks, I have ardently wished for the end of her fifteen minutes of fame.  No one should become a household name for preaching hate.  Despite the reason for her fame, defending her has become a necessity because many of the attacks launched at her have been based squarely in sexism.  GLBT rights are not advanced by using another ism to attack her.

Recently it was revealed that TMZ is in possession of a sex tape featuring Prejean.  When one hears the words sex tape, a flurry of images instantly rush to mind.  It would be wrong to shame her for filming a sexual act with a man, but I find it even more problematic that she is being shamed for masturbation.  It seems that she sent a tape of herself to a former boyfriend, who decided  to make the tape public.

That this betrayal of trust is now celebrated, is a gross display.  How many of us have former lovers, that could potentially reveal something embarrassing because at the time of the relationship, we trusted them implicitly?  There has been little to no discussion regarding how he violated her trust for a quick buck. Unlike Carrie,his name remains private.  Too many women have been publicly shamed by ex boyfriends, who have surfaced after they have achieved fame. 

Prejean’s sex tape is a recording of her masturbating.  How is this a violation of her supposed Christian beliefs? Men and women across the globe masturbate and  this is only understood as immoral because the person in question is female.  Women are taught never to touch themselves.  Our bodies socially are understood as belonging to men and therefore when we touch ourselves, it is constructed as a filthy vile act.

It is assumed that men will masturbate from the moment they enter puberty.  Women are encouraged to remain chaste and deny any and all sexual impulses they may feel.   We are told repeatedly that our vaginas are dirty and that it is a filthy act to touch them beyond basic personal care.  In this way, female sexuality is highly disciplined. In a culture in which female sexuality is highly controlled, masturbation can be a radical act. Not only is it a reclamation of sexuality, it is a reclamation of ones physical body.

Carrie Prejean is a woman filled with much negativity and hate, however; the slut shaming of her for masturbation is completely unacceptable.  A man would never be reduced for daring to pleasure himself.  There are many reasons why it is acceptable to be critical of Prejean, however masturbation is not one of them.  Don’t tell me that these people screaming hypocrite, have never engaged in masturbation. 

The right makes its case by obfuscation, shaming and playing upon isms.  If we agree with them on this issue, we are supporting sexism and are no different than the people we seek to criticize.  It is not enough to  have principals when it benefits us.  To have the courage of ones convictions, we must stand up and defend our stated beliefs, even when it means supporting someone who is abhorrent.  It is for this reason, that I have stood up for women like Sarah Palin, though I would fight her beliefs to the end of my days.  Principals only mean something, if we can apply them fairly across the board.  Sexism can never fight the virulent hatred that Prejean preaches, however standing behind ones stated beliefs, displays a consistency and conviction that the right wing fundamentalists have yet to engage in.



It’s All About Gender, No It’s All About Race

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I cannot believe that I am writing this post yet again.  I have covered this subject repeatedly, but it seems some people need to see it yet again.  Black women are in a unique position, in that we struggle with two identities, which are marginalized from birth.  When one is born Black and female, at any moment of any day, one may be targeted by either racism or sexism.  It is this binary, that is the foundation of much angst between us and our supposed allies.

White women will engage us with arms outstretched, talking about sisterhood and solidarity.  This is all well and good, until race raises its ugly head.  In that moment, Black women are expected to ignore the ways in which race serves to mark our bodies as other.   While their mothers and grandmothers were fighting the battle to get out of the kitchen, we knew that our place was firmly ensconced at the stove, forever the helper and the foundation. 

When White women worried that breast feeding might ruin their figures, it was to our ample bosoms that they turned.  Yes, they can do it all, as long as they have a Black woman to exploit.  Go girl power my ass.  To this day, the voices of WOC are largely silenced within the feminist movement and yet it is supposedly about advancing equal rights for women.  Tunnel vision regarding gender, to the exclusion of anything that specifically address issues of race, class, ability and sexuality, informs much of present feminist discourse, despite the mantra about intersectionality.

All you see is race we are told, or why must everything be about race?  Of course, they can’t see the importance of race because no one ever looked at them and called them a nigger.  No one ever spit on them because of the color of their skin.  No one ever decided that were angry, slutty, irrational, unrapeable or aggressive, all based solely on the color of their skin.  (In case you are wondering, I have experienced all of the aforementioned).  If you don’t know why race matters, perhaps the issue is not me, but your own unacknowledged privilege.

We are blind to gender oppression we are told, because sometimes defending ourselves again racism, means standing in solidarity with Black men.  Black men are not just some abstract gender, they are our fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, cousins, uncles and friends.  Our attachment is one of blood and shared pain.  You have a history of being silent when White men abuse us but the moment we stand up for our men, we are betraying the cause. Yep, no agenda there.  White women may be oppressed by gender, but they have always been able to use Whiteness to their advantage.

Okay, on to Black men.  Uplift the race is the mantra that you try and sell us.  This is the supposed key to equality.  I have about as much faith in you, as I do a snake oil salesman.  There can be no doubt that racism affects us both, though differently.  There can be no doubt that we must fight against racism; if not for ourselves, then for our children.  Even with these truisms, how many men think that the path forward, is by ignoring the ways in which their sexism is specifically harmful to Black women?

You love us when you want a booty call.  You love us when you want a meal cooked or your clothes cleaned, but where is the love when it is time to defend our humanity or laud our accomplishments?  Where is the love, when you strike us in fits of rage?  A Black man may face the terrible forms of racism in the public sphere, but he can always come home and aim that brutality directly at his Black wife.

As much as race serves to bond us together, gender disparity acts as a divide.  Why is uplifting the race always based in supporting patriarchy? Black men seek equality with White men and this means the ability to act with impunity.  Demanding our silence, so that you may present an aggressive masculinity that serves no one, is not the path forward.  Demanding that our needs are secondary, to focus on issues that solely benefit you and couching this as defending the race, is nothing more than an obvious display of sexism. 

We are not bitches and ho’s; we are your mothers, sisters, and daughters.  More than any other betrayal Black women face, yours hurts the most because it is on our breasts that you suckled.  It is your tears that we have kissed away for generations and how are we rewarded?  Affirming every negative stereotype that has been created about us, does not uplift the race; it simply affirms your desire to express patriarchal power. 

Black women stand in the middle of two dynamic forces, which seek to claim us for their own purposes.  Neither side wishes to validate our identities and neither side can claim to love us outside of an agenda.   You don’t know us and in fact never sought to because in doing so, you would have to admit that we are more than a political tool.  Perhaps, it is time for you to look for new shoulders to stand upon.  If anyone is tired in this life, it is the Black woman. Judas at one point claimed to love Christ and your protestations ring even more hollow. 


Was Malcolm X Gay or Bisexual?

image Malcolm is still to this day considered a very complicated figure.  I believe this is in part due to the fact that his life was cut short.  At the time of his death, he had severed his relationship with the Nation of Islam and was clearly moving left in his politics.  Unfortunately, because of his popularity there will always be those that seek to claim him as theirs.  You see, in his death, his words have become more palatable to many, even as they engage in the same acts of racism that he denounced in his life.

A good example of this neglect is the denialism surrounding the bisexuality of one of the greatest modern black liberation heroes: Malcolm X. The lack of recognition is perhaps not surprising, given that some of his family and many black activists have made strenuous efforts to deny his same-sex relationships and suppress recognition of the full spectrum of his sexuality.

Why the cover-up? So what if Malcolm X was bisexual? Does this diminish his reputation and achievements? Of course not. Whether he was gay, straight or bisexual should not matter. His stature remains, regardless of his sexual orientation. Yet many of the people who revere him seem reluctant to accept that their hero, and mine, was bisexual.

It is not problematic that he may have been gay or bisexual; the issue is that he did not publicly declare this identity in his lifetime. Malcolm is not reduced by being gay or bisexual and sexuality in this case is irrelevant. His sexuality has little to do with who he was as a person and what he fought for. He was unapologetically militantly Black, in a time when self love was frowned upon.  He encouraged us to love each other as he loved us and it is this, that  ultimately stands as Malcolm’s legacy.

Had he not been murdered in 1965, Malcolm might have eventually, like Huey Newton of the Black Panthers and the black power leader Angela Davis, embraced the lesbian and gay liberation movement as part of the struggle for human emancipation. Instead, to serve their homophobic political agenda, for over half a century the Nation of Islam and many black nationalists have suppressed knowledge of Malcolm's same-sex relations. It is now time for Black History Month to speak the truth. Malcolm X was bisexual. Get over it.

Right, Black people are the only ones with an agenda here.  We are supposed to accept the motives of a largely White run community that has done nothing but demonize us at every turn.  Let’s not forget the open and unapologetic appropriation of Black history.  We have openly said that this is offensive, only to be called homophobes.  Gay is not now, or every will be the new Black and using Jim Crow imagery to illustrate homophobia is insulting.  A White run movement, has no business believing it has the right to use Black history for its own benefit, when it is filled with so much pain for us. If these messages were used by same gender loving people of color, it would send a completely different message because this is our shared history.  When it is used by White members of the GLBT community, like The Advocate or the HRC crowd, it smacks of racism and appropriation.  The same as you meme means don’t treat me like a nigger.

image Here is where it gets sticky. We already know that assumed heterosexuality is a dangerous thing, however; assumed homosexuality or bisexuality supposedly isn’t?  Please give me a break. Over the years, if there has been the slightest suggestion that a Black star is not straight, there have been continual calls to out them. Queen Latifah anyone?  Some GLBT websites  don’t even question her sexuality anymore and have completely claimed her.   Queerty has long been known to dally in her personal business as though they are warming her royal bed sheets. In an interview with The New York Times the Queen stated, “I don't have a problem discussing the topic of somebody being gay, But I do have a problem discussing my personal life."

Unfortunately, we live in a world where a GLBT identity must be declared because of homophobic and transphobic assumptions.  This does not mean that anyone has the right to make assumptions about someone else’s sexuality to score political points.  If Malcolm was gay, fine.  I could care less because I never slept with the man.  If Queen Latifah is a lesbian, that is also fine with me, I am not sleeping with woman.  What they did sexually will never ever be my business to speculate on because it does not effect me personally. 

There is a difference between saying Malcolm may have been gay and declaring to all the world that he was. Get over it you say?  Just accept your word as truth; when you have shown so little regard for our history, or us as a people?  I think not.  It’s funny how marginalized groups always seek to express power coercively, even with the knowledge through personal experience how terrible this can be.  What is this but an expression of privilege, to believe you have the right to declare what the identity of another is? Especially one who is long departed from this planet.

If Malcolm had wanted people to know particular details about his sexuality, he would have stated so.  He had the opportunity on many occasions, including when he partnered with Alex Haley to write The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Many Black men of that time period lived openly as gay men.   Malcolm was born at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance.  This is particularly noteworthy because this explosion of African American culture, was lead by Black GLBT members like Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. No aspect of African American culture remained untouched. In addition, it would foster a cultural shift that continued for decades to create a space for our same gender loving family members, culminating in leadership roles, in what would become  the civil rights movement.  But then, certain White GLBT  members would know that, if there were not so busy appropriating the parts of our history that it found  helpful in pushing a political agenda.

Even with the rampant lesbophobia today, I daresay that Queen Latifah can make the same decision for herself assuming that she is lesbian.  She certainly would not be the only out Black lesbian in Hollywood or the entertainment industry. Wanda Sykes, Karen Williams, Michelle N’degeocello, Tracy Chapman, Alice Walker, and Stacey-Ann Chin would be her compatriots.  The Queen is quoted in People magazine as saying, “Nobody gets that. I don't feel like I need to share my personal life, and I don't care if people think I'm gay or not. Assume whatever you want," she added. "You do it anyway."

If Queen Latifah chooses to remain private regarding who she is sleeping with, I fail to see how this is anyone’s business.   She has not declared her sexuality and it is not anyone's place to make declarations on her behalf.

When you tell us what our identity is, it takes away our agency.  We have fought to long as a people to have our voices and experiences legitimized.  To this day, our lived experiences of racism are continually discounted to privilege Whiteness.  Speculate all you want on who is sleeping with who because we cannot stop you, but when you think that you have the right to make  unsubstantiated assertions about anyone’s identity, as though you have slept in their bed, then you have gone too far.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jim Gaffigan Cake Comedy

Filtthygrandeur sent me this link via twitter and I laughed till I had to go pee.  Of course I had to share it with you.  Enjoy.

The Cleveland Show: Why MacFarlane Needs To Stop Writing About Marginalized Bodies

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This is supposed to be funny?  A Black man doing a rap at the behest of a White kid.  Of course no rap segue would be complete, without a Black woman shaking her ass. This is not the kind of comedy that says I am laughing with you. No, MacFarlane is laughing at us.  He is not putting these images out there to challenge stereotypes, he does so to get a cheap laugh. 

People have repeatedly defended MacFarlane by claiming he is attempting to show how ridiculous these stereotypes are, but if there is no larger conversation to explain why this is damaging,  it never gets placed into a context that encourages deconstruction.  MacFarlane cannot even hide behind the label of satire, to justify the racism and sexism that he regularly engages in on The Cleveland Show.  This is exactly why White people writing Black characters, is always going to be problematic. 

We are raised in a racist society and therefore; anything that MacFarlane writes, will always necessarily be infused by his White privilege.  When you write outside of your own experience, without openly acknowledging your  personal biases, media like The Cleveland Show is the result.  The Cleveland show is even further complicated  because it is a cartoon.  We still function with the idea that cartoons are not damaging because they began as children's entertainment. 

It would be a terrible thing, if The Cleveland show only focused on racism, however; it seems that MacFarlane aim, is to reduce as many people as he can, within the span of thirty minutes.

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Every time this character is in an episode, she is eating.  What is this but a manifestation of Fat hatred?  Of course she feel asleep with the tub of ice cream and has litter surrounding her.  Of course she has no life and lives to eat. 

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That is all that she has now that she is so big, that she cannot fit through the doorway of her own home.  There are certainly obese people that are housebound, but this character not only reifies every single negative belief about fatness; she has no recognizable human personality.  She exists to consume food.  It is dehumanizing to construct a character like this.  People are encouraged to laugh at her physical body. Since she exists solely as a consumptive entity, we need not be concerned that she might actually have real feelings. 

Even her mobility device is a source of humour for MacFarlane.  Had he the slightest understanding of the prejudice and ableism that is aimed at those that are dependent on scooters, he would see that this so-called humour, supports othering and able bodied privilege.  People don’t ride scooters because they are lazy, but because they allow for a freedom of movement that would  otherwise be restricted. There is often a disability hidden behind the use of a mobility scooter, regardless of the weight of the person involved. Why is someone attempting to negotiate an ableist world and having a productive life, so threatening that it must be ridiculed at every turn?

It would be easy to turn off the television and not watch shows like The Cleveland Show.   Unfortunately, not watching does not mean that the dissemination of such open hatred and ignorance will not touch you.  These shows have a tendency to support undeserved privilege and those that do watch, cannot help but manifest such behaviour in their interactions with others.  You can turn off the television, but the moment you interact with the outside world, there will always be those, that feel that they have the right to be oppressive.  The media is an agent of socialization, in that it both informs and supports hegemonic discourses.    What we choose to devalue in fantasy, often reflects that which we have socially devalued.  Good comedy need not demean in order to be funny, but this is something that MacFarlane has yet to learn.



Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence Put On The Dress For Sheneneh

It seems that Black men cannot stay out of the dress long enough to respect Black women.  Martin Lawrence and Jamie Fox are getting together to star in a movie.  Apparently they play the role of “modern independent women, trying to make it one bank robbery at a time.”  Other than being birthed by a woman, what the hell do these two know about life as a woman?  Of course, this is all comedy, so we should just look the other way.

Black men have a history of donning the dress, to specifically demean Black women.  Being the same race does not excuse the inherent sexism in this action.  Foxx intends to breathe life into the Wanda character made famous on In Living Color.

Can there be any doubt, that a movie involving this character will be nothing more than another genderized minstrel show?

For his part, Martin Lawrence intends to breathe life into the hideous character of Sheneneh .

When damaging stereotypes of Black women are repeated, we need look no further than Black men, to see them supported and accepted.  Head swinging, proper ignorant, and masculinised, is exactly how we have been constructed.   When racism rears its ugly head, Black men are the first to demand our solidarity. We need to uplift the race.  We need to challenge White hegemony, but they are not above reducing us to comedic routine, if it means they are able to express the same patriarchal power as White men.  Movies like this prove that Black women have no institutional other.  Even as we are reduced by racism, sexism rears its ugly head to ensure that whatever is left of our dignity is destroyed. 

What kind of partnership can possibly exist, when Black men make sure to inform us that even within the marginalized community, we are decidedly inferior.  This is not comedy, it is designed specifically to be reductive and only in a world in which women are devalued, could this be considered even remotely amusing. By saying that there is truth in the stereotypes aimed at Black women, Black men are enforcing the same on themselves.  This is cutting of your nose to spite your face.  Sexism and Racism are very much related and each is damaging.  That Black men may not face sexism, does not mean that they do not know what it is to be demeaned.  The fact that they are willingly participating in this reduction, speaks of the ways in which they have internalized oppression as a path to power.

Texas prisons and those “crazy” H1N1 vaccines

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image The escalating death rate, coupled with the shortage of the vaccine, has fuelled a public panic surrounding the H1N1 virus. The limited supply of vaccines has caused the U.S. government to focus on insuring those who are considered high-risk are the first to be vaccinated. The impoverished must depend upon free clinics or look for a venue that offers a sliding-scale payment.

According to MSNBC, the state with the largest population of either under-insured or uninsured is Texas. Texas has a rate 41% higher than the national average of incarcerated adults per 100,000. Considering that Texas has the highest rate of under/uninsured and also has the highest rate of incarceration, class and social positioning clearly plays a huge part in who society feels should receive priority treatment.

The government has a responsibility to ensure that prisoners are receiving adequate medical care. Prisons are a breeding ground for influenza, because of overcrowding and close quarters. Employees of prisons interact in the larger community, thus presenting the opportunity to pass on communicable diseases. Furthermore, the prison population experiences a constant shift in bodies, as new people enter and leave each day. Those prisoners who are paroled or who have finished serving their term also present the threat of transmission. This must be factored into the debate when we consider how overall medical care in prison facilities effects the general population.

Lt Governor David Dewhurst of Texas released the following statement:

No Texan should, or will, be second in line to receive the H1N1 vaccine behind prisoners in our correctional system. I have been assured by The Texas Dept. of State Health Services that prisoners are not a priority group to receive the vaccine, with the exception of some who meet strict, medically at-risk criteria as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

Using medical risk as a determinate of vaccination means that someone currently on death row could potentially receive the vaccine before someone who is not in jail. This has created a public controversy. Online commentary at Texas newspapers have been filled with negative commentary. One such example can be found at the Beaumont Enterprise where one reader had this to say:

“If you’re pregnant and can’t find a place that gives flu shots go down to the Stiles Unit and tell them you just shot someone. You get to go to the head of the line.”

Another stated:

“This is crazy!! There are children that need the inoculations before these prisoners!! LET THEM SUFFER! I do not feel sorry for these guys pregnant or not. Our government is so screwy. This shouldn’t happen!!”

Similar responses can also be found in Amarillo, Texas. Criminality is conceptualized as bad enough to invalidate someone’s right to receive medical care. When someone is incarcerated, they become a living embodiment of their crime and thus their lives are systematically devalued. When we consider that the justice system has a history of being racist and classist, the demonization of prisoners mirrors an unflattering reflection of how deeply we have internalized our problematic social hierarchy.

Finish reading here

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lou Dobbs Leaves CNN

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Please click the above image to hear Lou Dobbs goodbye speech.  Personally, my thought is don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.  His rabid anti- undocumneted worker screed needs to be recognized for what it is, RACISM.  This kind of vitriol does not belong on any responsible news station.  Here is hoping that soon Glenn Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh will follow him into the sunset.  What passes for opinion in the case of the aforementioned men, more often than not is blatant racism, and sexism.  One down a few more to go.

Wednesday What’s Up

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Well it is officially hump day and after today, the work week is all downhill. Please use this open thread to chatter about whatever is on your mind.  Are you reading a good book, have you seen an awesome movie, or do you have any news that you would like to share?  This is the place for it, have at it and I will see you in the comment section.

Columbia Professor Punches Woman In The Face In Argument About Race

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Columbia professor, Lionel “Mack” McIntyre was engaged in a conversation with Camille Davis, a Columbia employee, when he lost his temper and allegedly punched her in the face.  It seems that over the course of weeks, that they had engaged in conversation in which  Ms. Davis made racially insensitive commentary.

McIntyre had squabbled with Davis several weeks earlier over issues involving race, witnesses said. As soon as the professor threw the punch Friday, server Rob Dalton and another employee tossed him out.

"It was a real sucker punch," Dalton said. "Camille's a great lady, always nice to everybody, and doesn't deserve anything like this."

No one deserves to be punched in the face and it is even more problematic that a man punched a woman, but lets not turn her into a great lady.   If she was continually refusing to own her undeserved privilege and making racist commentary, I would hardly call her a good person. Her actions cannot be excused because his were atrocious and wrong.

I don’t approve of McIntyre’s action but I do understand it.  There have been plenty of occasions when my body has been so filled with rage, that I have had to walk away.  People will look you in the eye and say the most racist things and then have the nerve to wonder how you could possibly be upset.  When you are forced to deal with this day after day, to say it is trying on the soul is an understatement.  The feelings can intensify, if you find that you are repeatedly having the same conversation with a person.

McIntyre should have left the bar.  He should have walked off his anger but I do understand why he was upset and how he could have been driven to act on his impulses.  MLK was a great man but unfortunately he gave people the impression that Blacks would always turn the other cheek.  It never occurs to people that eventually, even the most tolerant being will lose their temper.  Some have become so accustomed to flaunting their racism, that they believe that Black people will just accept it as the norm.

The thing about hate speech, that often goes unrecognized, is that it is a form of violence.  We don’t recognize it as such because much like other forms of emotional abuse, it does not leave evidence of the harm that it does.  Language that demeans or that is designed to specifically invoke a privilege, leaves the listener feeling reduced and dehumanized.  There is a reason that Blacks die before Whites. The stress of dealing with racism wears on someone over time.  It is like living under a constant assault.

Recently, I was chatting with someone on twitter, who told me that he has to move because each day on his way to work, he has to drive by a protest where people carry signs saying God hates fags.  Each day, a little part of him feels angry and a little bit more defeated. This is what hate speech does, slowly in the most incremental fashion, it leaves you feeling empty and hopeless.  How many times can you explain why something is prejudicial?  Even on this blog we have the same conversations and inevitably some idiot will show up to display hir privilege and claim oppression where none exists. 

If we are going to recognize physical violence for the terrible occurrence that it is, we need to also recognize hate speech and or emotional abuse. Words hurt. The stick and stones nonsense that our parents told us is just that, nonsense.  We act as though language does not play a huge role in the foundation of our society.  Language is how we express ideas.  Language is how we breathe life into concepts.  How can we possibly ignore its import because challenging it disturbs someone’s right to be oppressive?


White People Are Uniquely Homophobic

After same sex marriage got voted down in Maine, I expressed my sympathies and waited to see what the fall out would be.  It seems that for many, the consensus is that the Catholic Church is to blame for the terrible outcome.  You see, unlike California, Blacks comprise less than 1% of the population, so we could not be blamed on mass, though the community did manage to find one African American to blame.

imageI do realize that Obama has come down in favour of civil unions and not marriage but he did not cause the vote to restrict the rights of Gays and Lesbians.  He is not God, he does not walk on water, nor can he control the minds of  U.S. citizens enough to force them to vote in a specific direction on any issue.  Keep blaming him though, if it makes you feel better.

What I would really like to know, is that since Maine is mostly a White state, where was the claim that White people are uniquely homophobic?  When California revoked gay marriage, all you could hear for weeks is that it was the fault of ignorant homophobic Black people.   How could we not recognize oppression, when we had suffered so much as a race?  White GLBT members shook their heads at us and heaped scorn upon us as though we were responsible for them losing the ability to marry and in the process they erased same gender loving couples of color within their ranks.  When Blacks tried to protest either in solidarity or because they were directly affected, racist vitriol was thrown at them.  Well, we had nothing to do with this one.  It was all White people and suddenly race is no longer an issue. 

OOOh but there is no racism in the GLBT community.  This is all about fighting oppression, so certainly their members must recognize racism when they see it right?  Where was Dan Savage with a rant about how homophobic White people image are?  Where was his statement claiming that he was done pretending that the homophobia of White people didn’t effect him personally in order to be politically correct?  Did I miss him on CNN? Please explain to me why White people are not considered uniquely homophobic, when they vote repeatedly en masse against gay marriage?  They not only vote against it, they actively organize and fundraise to ensure that a GLBT identity remains highly stigmatized.  I guess racial membership has its privileges huh?

I expect to catch shit for this post because the one thing I have learned is that you can speak out in favour of gay marriage, talk about how damaging homophobia is and even encourage people to think about the heterosexist messages they are teaching their children, but if you are critical about a single thing, you are a homophobe.  There is always some reason why you cannot ever question the motives, leaders or actions of the White LGBT community.  If they did something wrong, it’s always straight people either did it first or straight people do it too.

I don’t think, nor will I ever believe that homophobia is correct but I am not about to support something that is harmful or demeans me as a person so that someone can feel equal.  I know what the “just like you” meme means.  The failure to discuss race when it is largely White people speaks volumes. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PeTA Gets Into Bed with Glenn Beck

Starting at :19 seconds

Beck: PeTA has been trying to get Al Gore off his addiction of eating animals for quite some time.  In fact I don’t think anybody has ever asked him and he’s answered.  Well we had to call PeTA. I have to tell you I don’t agree with a thing PeTA says, however the only two organizations that I have ever found consistent, that don’t play the Washington game or special interest group, they just mean what they say and say what they mean, PeTA and the NRA. Other than that I always find that they are just doing special interest stuff.

51 seconds in: It’s a strange thing isn’t it Ingrid that you and I, I mean we can unite on principals.  It’s amazing isn’t it?

Ingrid: No I think it’s rather good actually.

There you have it.  PeTA has always been shameful in their organizing tactics and so it comes as no surprise, that they would get into bed with someone as scurrilous as Glenn Beck.  How can this organization possibly be taken seriously and lauded for their “principals,” when they continually deny the humanity of marginalized groups and are willing to align themselves with a well known racist, and misogynist.   Oooh but it all makes sense, because PeTA has been willing to engage in racism, transphobia, homophobia, classism, and misogyny, to get their message out there. Perhaps, a partnership with Glenn Beck was a dream in the making.  Congrats PeTA for always choosing to align yourself with the worst segments of society.

If you wish to congratulate PeTA, or share your utter disgust you can reach them on twitter at @officalpeta

Disability and Finding Your Voice

I was not born differently abled.  After contracting Sarcoidosis and Fibromyalgia, my body was changed irrevocably.   It has been a learning process.  Not only did I have to learn my new limitations, I had to deal with disbleism for the first time in my life.  As a person who had previously lived with two areas of marginalisation, by inhabiting the body of  Black woman, it would be easy to assume that marginalization would be something that I could easily deal with.  That assumption would be wrong. 

Being differently abled is not like my other identities.  People make unique assumptions, that I was neither prepared or equipped to deal with. I was also very heavily engaged in the process of grieving for the life that I had lost. I further had to unpack the ways in which I personally still carried many ableist ideas.  Speaking up about disability did not come naturally to me at all.  In fact, it is still something that I very much struggle to do.

image This weekend when I went to the liquor store to buy a bottle of wine, I was shocked to find that while they had automatic doors, the space to navigate was so small that it was virtually impossible to get out, once you had gotten in.  A man had to stand behind me and realign my scooter for me to get out.  It was completely humiliating and the liquor stores are owned and operated by the government.  If the government cannot run an establishment that is fully accessible, what hope is there that other venues will consider the needs of the differently abled?

To say that I am angry is an understatement.  I pay my taxes and I am entitled to have the same services as any other Canadian.  This thought stayed with me for the last few days, as I once again began to ponder why it is that the needs of the differently abled are so ignored in this country.  I find myself envying the AMA. There are so many stores that I cannot enter.  The sidewalks are narrow and so horribly cracked, that I worry that something will happen to the wheels of my scooter.  There are curbs that aren’t even turned down.  It’s as though my right to lead an active public life is unimportant.  The invisibility of the differently abled is purposeful.  When you create barriers to access, it means that we cannot participate.

Last night as I was headed to the dojo to pick Destruction up from karate, I noticed two women walking abreast of each other pushing strollers.  I decided to pull to the right thinking they could walk single file and pass me.  I was on one of the few sidewalks that would allow this to happen.  As these women walked passed me they yelled at me and told me that I should be on the road.  Seriously WTF. When I ride on the road I am risking my life as cars treat me like I am another vehicle and people scream at me to get on the sidewalk.  When I am on the sidewalk people scream at me to be on  the road.

Technically, by law I can be on either the sidewalk or the road.  On busy roads, I always use the sidewalk and after dark I also always use the sidewalk.  I am tired of having to justify my choices to people.  I turned to the woman and said, “thanks for telling me where I am supposed to be, ableist much?'”  This is actually the first time I have had the courage to speak back to someone.  The point of her instruction was to inform me that I was in the way.  This is part of the purposeful erasure of disabled bodies.  We are always in the way because our very existence challenges the right of those who walk around with able bodied privilege.

I will have to struggle to continue to have the courage to speak out.  I know that I do not have the luxury of silence, when everywhere I go my body is seen as an affront.   I should not have to be impressed when stores like Shoppers Drug Mart ensure accessibility for their patrons, this should be the norm.  Walmart has scooters for patrons to use but the clothing area is so cramped, it is impossible to manoeuvre enough to by a damn sweater. Half hearted efforts at accessibility inform and support the attitude of that woman.  It is not too much work to ensure that we can participate and a refusal to make a change is a refusal to see the worth of the disabled.


Michelle Obama and Fashion: A Complicated Conversation

This month Harpers Bizarre features the top ten outfits worn by Michelle Obama in the past year.  In a world in which Black women are still not seen as beautiful, the elevation of Michelle has done much to reinforce a more feminine identity.  Black women have always struggled to have our womanhood validated. 

Many news stories have focused on Michelle Obama’s fashion.  When she was in France, the media worked up a mock fashion war between her and Carla Bruni.   This totally ignored the fact that they were talking about two incredibly accomplished women.  The erasure for Michelle Obama is particularly damaging.  Black women have always had to work hard.  When White women were trying to untie their apron strings, Black women had been employed for generations and already burnt out.

It is important to recognize that Michelle is not only beautiful but hardworking and extremely intelligent. If we ignore these other factors, we are not telling her whole story.  Barack is president because Michelle supported their family financially and raised the children largely by herself for years.  Michelle’s journey to the White House has not been an easy one.  Too many people forget that Michelle graduated with higher honours than her husband.

It is insulting to reduce Michelle Obama to the clothing that she wears and assume that this is elevation.  It is insulting to sit there and compare her to Jackie O, as though the two women have even one single thing in common.  Michelle may be the first lady but she comes to this position with the experience and life of an African American woman.

It seems that when it comes to Michelle, they don’t want to look outside of the cookie cutter pattern for covering first ladies.  She brings something to the office that no other woman before her ever has and this should be openly discussed.  If we are truly excited about the first African American FLOTUS, then why isn’t the media actively recognizing the difference between her and her predecessors? 

It seems that once again the monolithic woman wins out.  Though women share a gender, we all come at it differently.  Race, class, age, sexuality and ability must be considered because when we look through a single lens something important gets erased.  The media may not see the inherent racism in covering Michelle as they would any other FLOTUS, but then they have never been good at ensuring the African American experience gets the coverage it deserves.


Tune in Tuesday: I will Survive Gloria Gaynor

  

I consider I Will Survive to be the woman’s anthem.  Living in a house where everyone is male, including the cat, I have had many occasions to sing this song to myself, to reduce my instinct to mush them.

Yesterday, I got my period and reached into the drawer to get a tampon, to once again find the damn box empty.  There should have been half a box left over from my last period.   For those who are not aware, my boys have a habit of using my tampons as bumpers for the dinky cars. It is not uncommon to walk into their bedroom and find tampons mixed in with their toys.  I know that there are those that are cheering, because I have boys that don’t find tampons and pads to be icky but when you actually need one and they are not there, it is irritating as all hell.

I sent the unhusband to the store to get me a brand new box.  When he arrived home, I read them all the riot act.  “There is no reason for any male person in this house to be using my tampons,” I announced.  "I have absolutely had it and from now on Mommy’s tampons are off limits”.   Of course they stood there with their heads down denying that they were playing with them but I have picked up one too many tampons on the bedroom floor to believe that shit.

So yes, somehow I Will Survive.  Tampon theft is not something I anticipated having sons but this goes to show you that having children will drive you around the bend.

When do you sing this song and what memories do you have associated with it?  Please share in comments.

A Spark of Wisdom: Ignoring or not being emotionally affected by marginalisation is a privilege.

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This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. This week, Sparky is giving us his take on why it is necessary to focus on the various marginalizations that we live with. 

I've seen a few of these round on the internet lately and my head aches a little with them. On one forum I was accused of being hedonistic because I defined myself by my sexuality (and my sexuality is totally about having sex, it seems) while he, a heterosexual, didn't feel the need to.

In another venue I see many men tutting and finger wagging at an angry woman during a debate about sexism - her tone is wrong, she's too emotional, she's overwrought and making it personal.

Elsewhere I have seen any number of marginalised people criticised as whining, being emotional, being too critical and noisy and angry and selfish.

I'm sure with a few minutes search or remembering I can think of a few others and I know people reading this most certainly can. Because one of the hallmarks of privilege is not being involved, not having to worry about it and, on some level, not caring.

I am privileged. This is an unavoidable part of being white, male, cisgendered, able bodied, neuro-typical, comfortably well off, educated and no doubt many other privileges that I am extremely lucky to possess.

I don't approve of prejudice, ill treatment or devaluing of  people who do not share my privilege. I try to be an ally.

But to me it will always be, on some level, an intellectual exercise. I can be disgusted about a vile piece of racism, but it won't hurt me. I can be angered at the sight of some repellent misogyny but I won't be wounded by it. When someone's waving their able-bodied privilege around I can be exasperated and irritated but I won't be upset and diminished by it.

And sometimes I don't think about it. There are hours, days, weeks when I can go without ever considering race or sexism or most marginalisations. I try to make a point of doing so - but that makes it a conscious choice, a luxury. And if it gets uncomfortable or unpleasant or I simply become tired, then I can stop.

Because when you are a member of a privileged group with one of your descriptors you don't NEED to think about it - because everything around you is set up to cater to your privilege. Just as an able bodied person doesn't have to think about being able bodied while someone in a wheel chair does, just as a white person doesn't think about how race affects them every day, but a person of colour is far more likely to find it being a relevant considerations, just as a woman has to be more alert to gender issues than a man is - and just as a straight person never has to think about sexuality but a gay person has to be so terribly aware.

Yes we think about our marginalisations. Yes I define myself by my sexuality in that I - we - pay more attention to it as a descriptor that straight people do. That is not something we choose nor is it something we want to do - it's a necessary adaptation to a world that is hostile to us.

IF no-one cared what my sexuality was, IF I had all of the same rights as heterosexuals, IF I could hold hands with my husband, have a picture of him on my desk, hug him in public, IF I could choose my holiday destinations without considering whether a country would imprison or kill me for my sexuality, IF I could go through my life without enduring derogatory or insulting comments about my sexuality and relationship all the time, IF society didn't spend no small amount of effort calling me a freak or lesser or a second class citizen, IF I could be sure I would be safe from discrimination, prejudice, hate crime and bigotry...

IF all these things were true then I WOULDN'T think about sexuality either. If I had the privilege of not having to think about my sexuality then it wouldn't dwell so much on my thoughts and it wouldn't be such a dominant descriptor. It wouldn't be such a dominant descriptor because it wouldn't effect my life so much, it wouldn't be something I would have to constantly take into account, it wouldn't be the worry that preyed upon me, the concern that dogged me, the constant nagging fear that I - and every other homosexual - can NEVER be rid of - at least not in my lifetime.

My point?

My point is that marginalised people have to think about their marginalisation, have to consider it and have to get involved in issues connected to it. It means marginalised people have to define themselves by their marginalisation and have to see how it effects everything around them

It means marginalised people cannot choose not to think about it.

It means conversations about marginalisation are conversations about their lives. They're deeply personal and vitally important to them. It means they don't have the luxury of being detached, unemotional or uncaring.

Which means

Which means marginalised people have good reason to think about their marginalisation, be alert to it - and damn good reason to be angry

Which means whenever you say a marginalised person is 'obsessed' by their marginalisation or 'sees it everywhere' or talks about it excessively - then you are probably wallowing in privilege.

Which means whenever you criticise a marginalised person's tone, whenever you say they are 'angry,' 'hysterical,' 'emotional' or taking it 'too personally' - then you are probably displaying your privilege.

Which means if you think a marginalised person is too obsessed or too emotional or angry or taking it all too personally and it bothers you then work towards a world that doesn't FORCE them to 'obsess' or that doesn't hurt or anger them. Chiding them on their 'tone' and their 'obsession' only highlights not just your privilege - but also your ignorance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Phelps Family Protests The Obama Girls

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The Obamas have done their best to keep their daughters out of the political limelight, to ensure that they have as normal as possible of a childhood.  They have kept the press away from the girls.   Michelle Obama in particular has viciously defended her daughters and even sent an official letter, asking for the production of dolls named Sasha and Malia to end.

The Phelps family of the Westboro Baptist church have become famous by protesting at military funerals.  They believe that the wars that the US is engaged in, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, are a punishment by God for the tolerance of homosexuality, which they view as  sin.  They even went as far as to protest the funeral of Matthew Sheppard who was murdered for being gay. They are staunchly anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-Obama.   The Phelps family intend to picket the Fort Hood memorial services this Tuesday. They carry posters saying things like thank God for 9/11. To say that the Phelps family is a manifestation of evil and intolerance is an understatement.

This morning the Phelps family decided to protest outside of Sidwell Friends, the school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama.  One of the protesters posted this picture on twitter.  Tomorrow they plan on protesting lower Sidwell where Malia matriculates.  They stood across the street and held their signs up.  The school did nothing to stop them.

The Phelps are protected under the First Amendment.  What is understood as free speech, is definitely hate speech when it comes to the Phelps.  It is one thing to disagree with someone’s position but the Phelps take this a step further.  It is their intent to dehumanize people, to preserve a privilege which supports a damaging social hierarchy.  Not every idea is healthy for a society.  When language promotes hate it is damaging and those that pay the cost are usually members that are already marginalized.  While there may be many who abhor the tactics employed by the Phelps, there are still far too many that sympathize with their point of view. 

Everyday homophobia is ignored because people can point to the Phelps and claim that they are not that extreme.  You hear things like, I don’t mind gay people but I don’t want them as friends or I have nothing against gay people but I don’t think that they should be allowed to marry.  This is homophobia and allowing the Phelps the freedom to spread their particular brand of hatred, allows people to delude themselves into thinking that their brand of heterosexism is less harmful.

We need to take a stand against this sort of hatred.  To allow it to fester and grow is akin to allowing cancer to go unchecked in a body.  The slippery slope argument that permits this behaviour, also supports the idea that people have the right to preserve their undeserved privilege.  We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that this hatred is any way healthy for a free society.  This kind of hatred is what leads to murders like  that of Matthew Sheppard and Angie Zapata.  How much blood must we have on our hands, so that some people can express power coercively?


Once Again Carrie Prejean is Slut Shamed

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After answering a question regarding same sex marriage posed  by  Perez Hilton, in a manner that clearly reflected her homophobia, Prejean quickly became a highly recognizable name.  Hilton did so many tantrums (note: refers to language used and not the reason for his anger) in the mainstream media and his blog, he insured that more people knew the name Carrie Prejean, than knew the name of the actual winner of the pageant. 

Of course, Prejean claimed that it was her Christian values that caused her to possess such clearly homophobic beliefs.  The fundamentalists quickly embraced her.  In the beginning she looked very appealing.  Here you have a young woman that is a beauty queen professing conservative values, what’s not too love.  Conservatism has had an image problem for quite sometime now. 

It was then released that she has posed for some racy pictures as a way to progress her modelling career.  Immediately, the left shot back with hypocrite. With each new revelation it became possible to cast Prejean as the antithesis of her stated beliefs.  The heaviest hammer had yet to drop but with the announcement of the breast augmentation combined with the racy photographs Prejean was already considered damaged goods.

During negotiations with the Miss California USA pageant the skeletons would finally come tumbling out of Prejeans closet. 

The video the lawyer showed Carrie is extremely graphic and has never been released publicly. We know that, because TMZ obtained the video months ago but decided not to post it because it was so racy. Let's just say, Carrie has a promising solo career.
We're told it took about 15 seconds for Carrie to jettison her demand and essentially walk away with nothing. As we first reported, the Pageant is paying around $100,000 to her lawyers and publicist -- a fraction of her bills. She pockets nothing in the settlement.

Pam of Pam’s House Blend referred to her “as a living breathing hypocritical clichĂ©”  and Joe Jervis of Joe my God wrote:

Hey Maggie Gallagher! Did I just hear your tires squealing? Since, as you say, God was speaking directly to Carrie during her anti-gay pageant answer, what was he saying during her double-penetration scene? I kid, I kid. I only HOPE there's a double-penetration scene!

What is this but slut shaming of Prejean for performing in a sex video?  It is completely understandable to enjoy seeing someone's fall from grace but considering the sexist society in which we live the reason for this fall is extremely problematic.

Prejean is being shamed for being a sexual being in a world in which chastity in women is highly prized.  We may claim to be a sexually liberated but the disciplining and slut shaming of women’s bodies proves quite the opposite.  Those that are gloating about her downfall, do not realize that they are supporting an ism that enables homophobia.  All isms are interconnected and therefore if we celebrate sexism we are promoting the idea that it is acceptable to marginalize or demean someone based a lack of conformity to hegemonic standards.  Is it really a good idea for the GLBT community to chastise someone’s sexual behaviour when that is exactly what heterosexism does to create homosexuality as “other”?



Impossible Motherhood A Review

This is a cross post from Allison McCarthy’s  column entitled Intersectional Feminist at Girl with Pen

Monica, Allison and I will be interviewing the author of Impossible Motherhood, Irene Vilar, as part of our Womanist Musings BlogTalk Radio Podcast on Sunday, November 29th at 8 pm EST.

Impossible Motherhood is a new memoir by Irene Vilar, editor of The Americas series at Texas Tech University Press and a writer who uses the history of her life and the lives of her mother and maternal grandmother to highlight critical relationships between colonialism, sexism, reproductive rights, and motherhood. But this will not be the headline that captures the interest of the public. Vilar’s fifteen abortions in fifteen years, on the other hand, seems to be causing quite a stir of attention.

In many ways, this is a memoir about misery. Throughout the book, Vilar critiques the idea that her success on paper — early graduation from high school and a move from Puerto Rico to the U.S. at the age of fifteen, marriage to a Syracuse University professor, book publishing – has not kept her from suffering with severe issues of depression, abuse, self-mutilation, and addiction. Her marriage to a highly regarded, intellectual writer several decades her senior, who defines “independence” by keeping her forever at an emotional distance from him and insisting that the couple cannot have children together, triggers a downward spiral which culminated in twelve abortions in an eleven year relationship, followed by three others with another partner after the dissolution of her marriage. However, with intense therapy and a happy second marriage, Vilar overcomes her painful ambivalence toward biological motherhood and gives birth to two daughters.

The seemingly happy ending of Vilar’s tale of thwarted motherhood will still raise ethical and moral red flags in readers, causing us to squirm uncomfortably as we embark on the author’s lifelong journey of recovery.  Vilar does not go for pat answers or self-satisfied conclusions about her decision to repeatedly abort unwanted pregnancies rather than utilize birth control (which was available during her time in the U.S.).  Instead, this a complex, emotional account of one woman’s emergence from cycles of oppression into an acceptance of her unique identity and experiences.

Cover of Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict by Irene Vilar

Vilar’s unhappy childhood – a distant philandering father and a mother who committed suicide when Vilar was only eight years old – contributes to her feelings of abandonment and a need to please authority figures, if only to ensure her survival. Vilar is not claiming to be a representative for pro-choice or pro-life arguments, though she does offer this disclaimer in the prologue:

“This testimony… does not grapple with the political issues revolving around abortion, nor does it have anything to do with illegal, unsafe abortion, a historical and important concern for generations of women.  Instead, my story is an exploration of family trauma, self-inflicted wounds, compulsive patterns, and the moral clarity and moral confusion guiding my choice.  This story won’t fit neatly into the bumper sticker slogan ‘my body, my choice.’  In order to protect reproductive freedom, many of us pro-choice women usually choose to not talk publicly about experiences such as mine because we might compromise our right to choose.  In opening up the conversation on abortion to the existential experience that it can represent to many, for the sake of greater honesty and a richer language of choice, we run risks.”

Reproductive justice movements, particularly in the U.S. and its territories, often have a tumultuous history with communities of color.  But many readers will likely approach the book with little, if any, background knowledge of reproductive justice movements in Puerto Rico. So how did colonialist policies and a U.S.-driven abortion counselling, abortion services, and abortion outreach contribute to these decisions?  In an interview with The L.A. Times, Robin Abcarian observes that:

“Puerto Rico, at the time, was a living laboratory for American-sponsored birth control research. In 1956, the first birth control pills — 20 times stronger than they are today — were tested on mostly poor Puerto Rican women, who suffered dramatic side effects. Starting in the 1930s, the American government’s fear of overpopulation and poverty on the island led to a program of coerced sterilization. After Vilar’s mother gave birth to one of her brothers, she writes, doctors threatened to withhold care unless she consented to a tubal ligation.  These feelings of powerlessness — born of a colonial past, acted out on a grand scale or an intimate one — are the ties that bind the women of Vilar’s family.

How did the pro-choice movement fail to help a survivor of abuse like Vilar?  Is there a theoretical and activist disconnect between three major intersections — martial strife/violence, psychological trauma, and reproductive justice?  Pro-choice communities would do well to examine books like these and form outreach for women who have experienced multiple abortions.  Vilar understands the stigma which confronts women who have had multiple abortions and does not shame these women, but tries to provide a lens of her own experiences with repeat abortions as a way to personalize this sensitive issue.  In a 2006 Salon.com Broadsheet post, Page Rockwell notes that:

Liberal message-makers would probably have an easier time if repeat abortions were rare, but the truth is, they’re not: According to a report (PDF) released last week by the Guttmacher Institute, which we found thanks to a flare from the Kaiser Foundation, about half of the women who terminated pregnancies in 2002 had previously had at least one abortion. (The report notes that because many women do not accurately report their abortion experiences, these findings are “exploratory.”) Rates of repeat abortion have been on the rise since Roe v. Wade, and ignoring that fact isn’t doing women who need multiple procedures any favors.

In the anthology Making Face, Making Soul, Gloria AnzaldĂșa wrote that, “[W]omen of color strip off the mascaras [masks] others have imposed on us, see through the disguises we hide behind and drop our personas so that we may become subjects in our own discourses.  We rip out the stitches, expose the multi-layered ‘inner faces,’ attempting to confront and oust the internalized oppression embedded in them, and remake anew both inner and outer faces…. We begin to acquire the agency of making our own caras [faces].”  This is one of those books that rips out the metaphoric stitches and exposes Vilar’s process of mutilation and healing, addiction and recovery, for readers to examine.  This is not an easy or light book; it will trigger and it will probe and it will leave readers feeling as if they’ve been punched in the stomach, repeatedly.  But it also has the power to transform and expose previously hidden oppressions.

The outer face of Vilar is a brave one and so is the inner face.  Impossible Motherhood is a book for any pro-choice believer who wants a deeper understanding of the complex issues surrounding reproductive rights in the U.S. and its territories in the twentieth century.  This is also a book for people who believe in the power of personal redemption.  It will leave readers aching, hopeful, and perhaps a little more empathetic to Vilar’s life.


Just Another Manic Monday

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Please this as an open thread to chat about your weekend or complain that Monday is here and you have another forty hours to go until freedom. 

Good Hair/Bad Hair Whatever Hair

On Sunday night, Monica of TransGriot and I had the honour of chatting with Shaha Sharron and Patrice of the blog Afrobella.  It was a rather spirited conversation in which we discussed the politicization of African American hair, Hair care history, the economics of the African American beauty industry, the potential permanent damage of chemical relaxers, etc,.  It you were not able to join us live, please click the image below to listen to the podcast

image As an extension of our work as socially minded writers, Monica Roberts, Allison McCarthy and I attempt to discuss topics in a way that promotes equality, thus fighting the negative stereotypes, which allow certain segments of society to be “othered”.  Please feel free to join on us on our next show where we will be chatting with Irene Vilar the author of Impossible Motherhood.  If you like what you hear, please don’t forget to favourite or friend our show. 

Editors Note:  At this time, we are unable to provide transcripts for the podcast, however; we are actively searching for a way to make this possible.  If anyone knows of any programs that do voice recognition, we would be very appreciative.  It is our hope to make the podcasts as accessible as possible.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Shame: Kids Movies

As regular readers know, I have a three year old and an eight year old.  My boys are really sweet little guys, when they are not driving me around the bend.  For most of the day I let them control the television.  Even when they are not in the room, I dare not change the channel because upon their return, I know I will be subjected to copious whining. 

Each day, Destruction, my eight year old subjects me to

imageMayhem, my darling little one has his own particular brand of torture.

 imageWho says kids are nice to their parents?  This nonsense is aging me before my time.  The only good thing about the above shows, is that they can only watch them once a day.   Of course my boys are not content to torture me for thirty minutes a day each. 

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The first time I saw each of these movies, I thought they were really cute.  I especially love Dori in Finding Nemo.  “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”. Now that I have seen them for the zillionth time, I really just want to set the DVD’s on fire. Yes, yes I do.  The unhusband and I don’t even say the N word (read: Nemo) for fear that they will drag out the DVD. 

The unhusband and I have come to realize we have two choices; we can either hide the movies or break the DVD player.  My vote is to break the DVD player.  I know that if we hide the movies, they will eventually find them and the torture will begin again, or even worse; they could pick brand new movies to torture us with.  I carried them around for nine months, I’ve cleaned their poop, I’ve chased monsters out of closets and from under beds, I let them drag me around the neighbourhood Halloween night, stood in the freezing cold for the Santa Claus parade, kissed boo boos, read books that I cannot stand, and stepped on more lego than I can tell you, but I draw the line of being subjected to hours of kiddie torture at a time. Yes I said it, kiddie torture. 

There are some that would say that this makes me a bad momma but I say at some point self preservation has to come first.  Isn’t it enough that I have to hear Mom he licked me, kicked me or is mean to me?  Really, how much can any one take.  (Note: the licking wars are particularly gross. This must be the unhusbands genes kicking in.)  At any rate, what movies or television shows do you watch that drive your family around the bend?  You can also share the ways in which the viewing choices of your family irritate you. Yep, if you watch  soap operas, I expect you to own it.  Finally, if you have any suggestions for our Finding Nemo/Cars dilemma please share, as the unhusband and I are contemplating running away from home.