Saturday, December 12, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, thanks again for a great week of conversation. I would like to say a special thank you to our guest posters, your contributions help to vary the conversations that take place here.  If anyone would like to guest post here, please send a link or a copy of your original work.  Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy. 

The postings this week were light because I am suffering with a terrible head cold and fighting pain from fibro.

Below you will find links to a few posts that I found interesting this week.  Please remember that a link does not necessarily mean agreement with the opinion sited but that I found their approach and or argument interesting.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out. 

Of Sterilization and Birth Control: A Rant

Beyond the Binary: Forms

The Magical Negro Extended

Math

The journey so far…

Invisible Identities, Part 2: The Default Human

Stilettos, Sissy Boys, and the Limits of “Gender – Neutral” Parenting Advice

Personal Lasting Of Sexual Violence

The ugly things people say about FSD  (Female Sexual Dysfunction)

Girls Gone Wild or Wild Women? or:  We Never Had Nasty Sluts Like This When I Were A Lad

Since When is Being Called Gay a Malicious Rumour?

Attention, Ladies! A Man is Here to Help

What’s with the mixed messages on male sexuality

A Black Criminal and a Dead Body Does NOT a Teachable Moment Make

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Friday: Open Thread

image Happy Friday everyone.  We all survived the work week.  I have a terrible head cold and my fibro is acting up because of the cold.   I am going to pack it in early today, so I thought that I would leave you with this open thread.  Please feel free to chat about your upcoming plans for the weekend or simply to do a happy dance that the week is an end.

Something Has To Be Woman Only

As everyone knows, I live in a house of males; even the cat is male.  I have often pondered if this is some sort of cosmic joke because I am such an ardent womanist.  There are certain things that I thought I could assume because I am the lone female in house.  I never thought I would have to line them up and yell at them about missing tampons.  It seems they make great bumpers for dinky cars, never mind that they have another purpose.   I have given up on the idea that the bath tub is an inviting place, after constantly hearing MOM in a shrill whiny tone, every time  they can’t find something, have engaged in a licking war, or are hungry. (Why oh why must they lick each other and why should I care?) I won’t even tell you about the fracas after I finally insisted on a working lock on the bathroom door.   Some would say that I should be pleased because my men clearly find me necessary in their day to day lives, however; the multiplying grey hair on my head tell another story.

I recently discovered these really awesome vegan soaps.

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Taking a bath with these is absolutely luxurious.  You only need the smallest amount to come up with the most delightful bubbles.  I turned to them because the men would never give me enough peace to sustain a wonderful bath.  It seems that seeing the jars in the shower has just become to tempting for them.  I went to use my pumpkin pie one, when I discovered HUGE CHUNKS taken out of it.  It seems that the men like to smell pretty as well.   I should have known that if messing with tampons was an irresistible urge, that they would not leave my precious vegan soaps alone.

I just ordered a few more jars and I intend to hide them when they come in.  Something in this house has to belong to me.  I am worried that no matter where I choose to hide them they will hunt them down.  You see, the men are crafty.  Just recently the baby poured a glass of water on his bed so that he could sleep with us for the night.  He knew we would not make him sleep in a wet bed or force him on his brother and he is is only four.  He climbed in like he was the king of the castle, stretching and smiling like a cheshire cat the whole time.  See what I am up against….Someone somewhere has to feel my suffering.

They are lucky I think each one of them is adorable and that I am outnumbered.  In this battle of the sexes I fear that I have already lost.  From tampon thievery to requesting that I lift the toilet seat when I am done (yes you read that right) the men have run amok. I shall have to marshal all of my available strength to guard my precious soap.  Perhaps yelling I am woman hear me roar will distract them long enough for me to go on the offensive, rather than continually playing defence.  War has been declared and I may not emerge unscathed but something in this house has to woman only.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eminem Plays With Words To Disguise ‘Faggot’

image Eminem has repeatedly made it clear to the world that he is a misogynist and a  homophobe.  There are those that would declare him the best free style rapper of this generation but when his words are laced with hate speech, who cares how well he rhymes? 

In his new song “Elevator”, Eminem uses the words “fake it” to refer to Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert. The implication is clear.

Sorry Lance, Mr. Lambert and Aiken ain't gonna make it
They get so mad, when I call them both fake it's
All these fucking voices in my head I can't take it
Someone shut that fucking baby up, 'for I shake it
You're standing adjacent to Jason's last slut, they're facing
Together makes 'em, a fucking bad combination
I lashed at the doctor in my last operation
Shoved the weiner snitzel up his ass, hopped away some-
body please stop the patient, get the cops to mase him

I would love to be able to ignore Eminem and his issues but because he is such a musical phenomenon, his words will carry great importance to his young listeners.  When we talk about the ways in which an ism manifests in a systemic way, there is no greater evidence of this than the words of artists like Eminem.  With each word that falls out of his disgusting mouth, he is creating and informing a discourse.  The children that listen to his music are learning that homophobia makes you cool and rich. 

Eminem may have had a hard life growing up, but there was absolutely no reason for him to turn that difficulty into hate.  It is as though  he  looked around for someone that was considered lower on the social ladder than himself and then specifically sought out ways to demean them.  Growing up poor and White had to have been difficult on Eminem but relative to others in the same class position as him, he had privilege.  Poor WOC, poor disabled people etc suffer marginalizations that he could not even begin to comprehend. As a heterosexual Eminem need fear being subjected to physical violence because of his sexual identity.  He can walk freely down the street and hold his lovers hand.

Eminem is White, male, cis gendered, able bodied and now rich.  His every breathe is privilege and this is often reflected in the hatred that he chooses to spew.  Despite all of the power that he has, he consistently attempts to demean others and this is because he has failed to understand that to be powerful one need not spew the rhetoric of hate.   He has many personal issues, which he clearly must deal with but he does offer us all a lesson.  When we feel attacked by someone or a group, reaching for hatred as a response does not heal the pain; it only perpetuates that idea that cruelty and hatred have a place in this world.    Somewhere in the rage that we feel at our marginalization, we need to realize that even those who lash out against us are themselves somehow demeaned in this existence.



How Can We Contribute To Society If You Won't Hire Us?

This is a guest post from Monica of TransGriot

One of the things that's a recurring theme amongst transpeople no matter where we reside is job discrimination.

While some areas have tried to rectify the problem with local ordinances prohibiting such discrimination, there are wide swaths of the country in which we are not protected form the ignorance and bigotry of people when we seek employment and are subjected to outright disrespect when we do apply.
And too many times, it is transpeople of color who shoulder much of the trans discrimination burden, with the Zikerria Bellamy case in Florida only being the latest example of it.

If you peruse the TransGriot archives and the archives of other trans blogs you'll find various stories of transpeople being denied employment.

I followed the story of Izza Lopez back home who was hired by River Oaks Imaging, then had the job offer rescinded when the employer found out she was trans.

Rochelle Evans tells in her Dallas Voice interview of her attempts to find work being met with blatant discrimination in Fort Worth. That should hopefully lessen for her now that Fort Worth's anti-discrimination ordinance now covers trans people.

But the larger point is that as human beings trans people need food, clothing, shelter and health care. We have to have money to get that, and as people who wish to avoid entanglements with law enforcement for obvious reasons, we wish to get that cash through legitimate means.

So that leads me to pose this question once again. It's one the transgender community and our allies are impatiently waiting for an answer to from our lawmakers and the business community.

How can transpeople contribute to society if you won't hire us?

Are Women As Horny As Men?

Fair warning: this video is not safe for work. 

Because I am easily amused I thought I would share this video.  A man and a woman are sitting in a bar arguing whether or not women are as horny as men.  Of course the man denies that this is truth and right on cue, the woman declares that women are equally horny.  Then comes the dream sequences showing women objectifying men, including an interesting pole dance routine LOL.

H/T broadsheet

Barack Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

imageThis morning Barack Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize.  A link to his speech can be found here

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: It merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. Kings lifes work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naive in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitlers armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaidas leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

And thus begins his justification for enlarging the war in Afghanistan, while promoting the American right to police the globe as it sees fit.  No where in this speech did it mention the history of atrocities that America is responsible for.  He found time to praise Regan and Nixon, both of whom engaged in actions that were illegal and horrific.  As I read over the speech in its entirety, I once again found myself asking this is the man that represents peace?  His speech was all about justifying war.

Obama has openly admitted on several occasions that he does not believe that he deserves this award and I have to agree with him on this assessment.  If it was offered to him in the hopes that he would rise to the challenge, his escalation of war has already made that effort mute.  Obama is better able to wrap his message is florid prose, however; the message of war and aggression is still quite clear.  If the mission of The Nobel Peace Prize is to reward those who battle in the name peace than handing it to Barack Obama completely undermines its purpose.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Slavin & Sons Charged with Discriminating Against Black Males

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It’s seems that Slavin & Sons missed the announcement that we are supposedly living in a post racial world.   If you are going to discriminate, you need to do so in the covert manner that has become popular in the rest of the globe.  Getting caught with your hands in the cookie jar is a no no because it denies Whiteness reasonable deniability.

According to the EEOC’s suit, some of the owners and managers of M. Slavin & Sons subjected male employees, particularly black employees, including both black Americans and at least one immigrant from Africa, to ongoing harassment. The misconduct included groping their buttocks, putting fish hooks into their buttocks and unnecessarily rubbing their bodies into the employees when passing them by. The owners and managers also made numerous crude, obscene sexual and/or racist comments. One owner used the term “n----r” and another manager made comments such as “African b-----d” and “Let me see you run like you are in Africa.”

The lawsuit also alleges that employees left these positions because of the harassment and that the man who originally complained faced retaliation. To punish him for complaining, the EEOC said, managers instructed other employees not to speak to him, yelled at him when he spoke to others, assigned him more frequently to garbage duty and sent him home when he did speak to others.

It sounds like Slavin & Sons is a charming little business to work for.  There is nothing like going to work each day and being reminded that you have no value.  Of course, we only recognize this when managers act in covert ways, however; people of color know all to well that their co-workers know exactly where the line is and they frequently dance right up to it.  Yes, just far enough so that it is difficult to prove the hostile environment that the workforce is.  Isn’t  it wonderful that so many large corporations have those wonderful harassment seminars?  Now bigots  can be certain that their hatred does not go far enough to start a law suite. Just far enough to stress you into an early grave.

With today’s economy being what it is, many will hold on in the face of hostile treatment for fear of losing their jobs.  This makes marginalized workers all the more vulnerable to harassment.  There are those that will look at the fact that a complaint was filed and see it as a sign that the system works without ever wondering how many people fall through the cracks every single day.  If you are undocumented worker how well do complaints the EEOC work for you.  Then the issue is not the criminality of the harassment you face but that status of your citizenship.

Racism is an issue in employment because we live in a racist society.  Sometimes it manifests in the treatment works allegedly faced by Slavin & Sons and sometimes you don’t even get a change to get your foot in the door period.  Various studies have proven that if you have ethnic sounding name that you are less likely to be called for an interview.  Asian workers having multiple degrees face challenges because employers believe they don’t have a good grasp of English.  Yeah, somehow despite living her for generations so many believe that Asians are recent arrivals to the land of milk and honey. 

No matter how many laws are on the books, racism continues to be a pervasive problem socially.  The world is only post racial for those that are intent to flex their privilege at the cost of the humanity and dignity of another.  Racism is like a disease that daily flourishes and until we are committed to dealing with both the overt and covert methods it will continue to be an evil. 

Feminism is not a dirty word but it is exclusionary

image If we were to ask whether or not men and women are equal, the answer would be an unequivocal no.  As much as feminism has made great strides towards ending inequality, there are still great gaps between the genders, which manifest themselves economically, socially and through violence.  Because certain protections have been enshrined in law, there are those that believe that feminist organizing has reached the zenith of it achievement, however; what can be granted by law, can be taken by law.

The issue with feminism is that by locating gender as the singular site of oppression in the lives of women, it ignores the ways in which class, sexuality, disability and race also form the basis of marginalization.  In a piece written for the Sidney Herald,  Georgina Ibister chose to state her defence of feminism:

I'm not going to deny that the word feminism hasn't become problematic. But the reasons for this are predominantly superficial.  (emphasis mine) The denial of feminist identification seems to be based not in resistance to feminism's goals of gender equality, but in the replication of outdated and exaggerated feminist stereotypes.

Feminism today means working towards changing cultures of entrenched misogyny within universities and workplaces, pushing for maternity leave — which many women still cannot access — child-care availability and equal pay. Feminism is a tool that opens up avenues for gender liberation that allow us to move towards a fairer and more equal society.

Equality in all realms of our lives is not just something that appears on the supermarket shelves as a commodity to buy. As a community we have a responsibility to strive for equal rights as well as ensure the continuation of the rights we have gained. Maintaining and building upon gender equality must be an ongoing process. (emphasis mine)

Feminist concerns are at the heart of our everyday lives, in our relationships with partners, family, friends and colleagues.  If we all managed to take into consideration the gender dynamics and possible inequalities present in our own lives and change them for the better, we would contribute to changing attitudes within society.  Feminism offers all of us the opportunity to strive and hope for gender equality in all places,  This is its core ideal, thus we must reclaim feminism. (emphasis mine)

I suppose if you are white, able bodied, cisgender and straight, this little treatise would be inspiring, however; if even one of the above marginalizations marks your body as “other”, clearly Ibister’s vision of female solidarity is meant specifically to exclude your concerns.

Feminism is not irrelevant because women have achieved equal rights, it is irrelevant because it routinely fails to consider and affirm that a monolithic woman does not exist.  This is precisely the critique that WOC have routinely voiced regarding feminist organizing and feminist theory.  Gender cannot be the only site of oppression because we all experience it differently.  A White suburban mom and a disabled woman living alone are going to have very different issues.  It is so readily evident and yet White able bodied, straight heterosexual women, continue to frame feminist organizing in a matter that best suits their needs and their desires.  Feminism isn’t just about equality for these women; it is about gaining the ability to oppress in the same manner that White men have historically oppressed. 

The concerns of WOC, the differently abled, lesbians and trans women are not superficial.  As marginalized women we face greater threats of violence, poverty, discrimination, etc., Only a person of extreme privilege could possibly trivialize these issues in this manner.  When marginalized bodies enter feminist spaces our concerns are routinely ignored.  Why does it have to always be about race, or I don’t like the word cisgender.  In common everyday speech feminists who claim to care about women’s issues, will question why they have to stop using words like, lame, idiot, crazy or dumb as descriptors.  It takes to much effort to be concerned about the needs of marginalized women, but let a man use the word bitch and the birkenstock brigade is armed and ready to do battle.

How can marginalized women identify as feminists, when our concerns are ignored to preserve the privilege of a small group of women?  Instead of diluting feminism to create a more inclusive space, we are called out for our betrayal.  How can we not see the issues of gender disparity?  Well, I got news for you lady, we live it ever damn day but we also know that our scars involve so much more than that.  If these over privileged women want to hold onto their dear feminism, they need to expand the issues that feminism focuses on.  Intersectionality cannot just be a tag word to get liberal credentials; it must make up the majority of feminist scholarship and organizing.  Until we understand that the path to equality is multi-faceted, we are only normalizing certain bodies at the expense of others.

I am not a feminist.  I believe in the equal rights of women.  I believe that we have a long journey ahead to fully dismantle the systemic role that patriarchy plays in the devaluation of women, however my identity involves more than my womanhood.  I am Black and I am disabled. I will not privilege gender so that women who already exist with privilege can stand on my back as they break through a glass ceiling. Glass shards shall not cut my back like the sting of an overseer’s whip, so that I can become complicit in supporting this short sighted vagina solidarity. 


Rachel Maddow takes on Richard Cohen The King of the Ex Gay Movement

Unfortunately I don’t have a manuscript for this

First let me start out by saying I have so much respect for Rachel Maddow because I am certain that I could not be as calm with someone whose work could potentially cause the death of so many.   Rachel took great care to point out that man is NOT licensed and yet he is being touted as an expert by the Ugandan government. 

Richard Cohen is as full of self hatred as it gets.  It would be one thing if he spent his days cleaning spider webs in his own closet of hell but to advocate that for others is truly harmful.  From the snippets of his wasted trees treatise book it is clear that man is grasping at straws.  Divorce and race cause homosexuality? Really what causes heterosexuality, ooops I forgot that is nature right?  I didn’t have a choice but every gay man and lesbian did.   I know why the man has brown eyes; he is literally swimming in his own shit.  cough. 

No matter what the marginalized group is, there are always those that are on the wrong side of the page because they have discovered that by making their personal self loathing public, that they stand to gain financially.  What men like Cohen don’t realize, is that even their so-called allies in hate cannot stand them.  No one likes a sell out but they will use one if it suits their political agenda.  Cohen is a self loathing colluding pawn and instead of speculating on the supposed agenda of the GLBT community, perhaps he should look at his own. Fake doctor, please heal thy self before you get anymore blood on your hands.

H/T Pandagon.


Wednesday What’s Up?

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It’s officially hump day.  After today the worst of the work week is hopefully over.   Please consider this your open thread to chat about whatever you would like.  Are you reading anything interesting?  I’m reading the Sookie Stackhous novels.  Have you seen a good movie or play? Let it all hang out and I will see you in comments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tune in Tuesday: Queen Latifah Ladies First

After reading Renting space in aunt Esther’s Head, this song came to mind.  As a Womanist blogger I often engage in conversations that make many people uncomfortable.  You see it is easier to live in a world of illusion, than face the fact that not only is the society we live in deeply flawed but its human inhabitants as well.  To some degree we all exist with a modicum of privilege, even as we are often faced with multiple sites of oppression.  It is far easier to recognize the ways in which we are oppressed because it effects us personally, than to realize the ways in which we maintain a hierarchy of bodies, which is the root of coercive power. 

Black women in particular face a unique set of challenges in this life because we are marginalized by both race and gender.  At times both isms may combine to create us as disposable, unrapeable, oversexualized, angry etc.,  When we respond to these stereotypes with justified rage, the desire to silence is quick.  Those that should be our natural allies are often well schooled in the discipline of betrayal.  These are simple basic truths for which much explanation should not be necessary.

In attempting to speak to our own humanity we must engage in battle.  This battle comes at a cost to us because even when we do prove our point, it is trying on the soul.  Whether it is hate e-mail or nasty inaccurate blog posts from others, the constant need to defend is part of how the master wears down hir opponent.  There are days when I simply have no desire to engage, or I have become weary of stating the same 101 facts REPEATEDLY.  It is far easier for an oppressor to live with assumptions based in an uneducated opinion than to take the effort to learn.  Why should I give you freely that which has come to me at a cost?

Ignorance is a choice and unfortunately it is a choice that far to many make on a daily basis.  Though most of the language that I use is fairly common, much of what I write comes from a theoretical position.  There is a difference between theory and opinion.  Theory is based in research and while I do not negate the importance of the personal narrative, theory certainly has its place in our discussions.  My issue is that the narrative that is often employed has it basis in othering thereby placing privileged bodies in positions of control.

Ayo, let me take it from here, Queen...
Excuse me but I think I'm about do
To get into precisely what I am about to do
I'm conversating to the folks that have no whatsoever clue
So listen very carefully as I break it down for you

It is a sign of privilege that you enter a space and expect to be taught.  It is a sign of privilege to assume that you have the right to demand answers as though we exist for your servitude.  It is a sign of privilege to deny the ways in which you benefit from a systemic ism even as you attempt to make the conversation about you.  It is a sign of privilege that you can deny the pain that your words and or actions inflict upon others and then claim that they angry, bitchy or oversensitive.  You cannot stand for social justice until you recognize that even as you hurt others hurt alongside you; as you are a victim so to are you a victimizer.  No hands remain free from of stain because we are all steeped in the politics of oppression from birth. 


Disliking Tiger Woods Is Not A Reason To Laugh At Domestic Violence

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I saw this image over at Danny’s Corner of the Universe last week.  I have thought about it repeatedly while reading the commentary regarding Tiger Woods in the last few days.  Tiger has become the water cooler hot topic since it was released that he has engaged in multiple affairs with women.  Late night comedians and blogs have used his lechery as fodder for comedy.

Without evidence, it has been suggested that Elin, Tigers wife, took a golf club to him when she learned of his alleged indiscretions.  Some have gone on to claim that this was a positive blow for White women.  It is believed that Tiger chooses White women because he feels that they are servile and Black women are dominating and therefore; by reacting with violence, it has been suggested that Elin taught Black men everywhere that White women will stand up for themselves.  Tiger has emphatically stated that Elin did not assault him but this has not stopped the conjecture.  

What I find disturbing about this so-called comedy is that it reduces domestic violence to something that is not serious, damaging and LIFE THREATENING.  Clearly, statistically the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women in heterosexual relationships but this does not mean that there are not male  victims.   In some situations men DO get beaten by their wives.  Domestic violence is also a facet of same sex relationships.   When we laugh and create images of a man being beaten, we are victim shaming and making it even more difficult for male victims to step forward and get the help and counselling that they desperately need.

Men in particular are shamed if they are beaten by women because it is understood as emasculating.  Male rape victims are silenced in exactly the same way.  Just as we have normalized false truths about womanhood, we have constructed and enabled a masculinity that is deeply flawed.  Never is there a more clear example of the ways in which sexism hurts men too than when we deny their victim status to preserve a form of masculinity that never has moments of weakness, emotional trauma or doubt.  Would we find the above image even remotely funny if the victim was reversed?

We know that Tiger was not the victim of domestic abuse however turning violence into the butt of a joke only perpetuates the idea that the terror that it invokes in households across the nation is not serious.   Creating images like above only serves as evidence of how disconnected we have become from the realities of violence in our so-called evolved culture.  It does not matter whether the victim is male or female, no one has the right to lay their hands on another.



A Spark of Wisdom: I am a homophobe

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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.

I am a homophobe

Ok blink, you read it right. No go back and read it again, trust me it's not a typo. I am a homophobe.

Not something you usually expect someone to admit to. Far less a gay man. So let me explain myself before you all wonder if Sparky has started drinking early today.

It would be probably more accurate to say I have absorbed homophobia. I, like probably 99% of everyone reading this (and I only leave that 1% because I have a powerful dislike of certainty) grew up in a homophobic, hetero-normative society. My parents, my vast extended family, the media I consumed and consume, the books I read, the schools I attended, the college and university I went to, my work colleagues and bosses - in short everything around me for my entire life is hetero-normative and on some level rejects, diminishes and others homosexuality to varying degrees.

From the invisible, to the stereotyped, to the hateful venom, to the empty pity to the endless assumption that you are/will be/should be heterosexual we live in societies that are steeped in homophobia.

And that leaves a stain.

It has stained me. Some of the stain is from being homophobia's victim. There are places I fear to go, people I avoid. Despite being out and proud, I still fear touching or hugging Beloved in public. At times in conversation I still use careful gender-neutral speech rather than out-right saying my partner is another man. I am harshly critical and angry with homosexuals who do ridiculous things or commit heinous crimes because I know I will be judged by their actions.

But homophobia itself has also stained me, not just living in the shadow of it. I have laughed at homophobic jokes before my brain caught up and replaced mirth with rage and hurt. I have pandered to stereotypes. I have played up to them. I even spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to follow stereotypes for fear I was Doing Gay Wrong. I make assumptions about my gay friends that I would slap people for if they assumed it about me (or at least give them a stern and long winded lecture. Trust me, the slap is more humane).

And the people who spend the most time with me are the same. The people who have taken the greatest pains not to exclude me, not to hurt me and generally not whack me round the head with their straight privilege - still do so on a depressing number of occasions. Friends and certainly family (my parents alone have filled up stacks of bingo cards - and many a sleepless night of pain and sadness) have all taken their turns bludgeoning me with privilege, thoughtlessness and homophobia

My point?

After much rambling, my point is - the chances are you're stained by homophobia too. I know the instinct is to deny that - I do the same thing. Some people complain about those sensitive gay folks (or women or black folks or any other marginalised body for that matter) who are seeing homophobia/sexism/racism/etc everywhere. They don't realise that we see it everywhere because it IS EVERYWHERE. Even on ourselves.

Denying it won't fix it. We all carry the stains our society leaves upon us.

Some of it is our privileges - enjoying a world that is tailored to us in so many ways we don't even notice or realise how much things are designed for us. Or the ways it is NOT designed for those that do not share our privilege.

Some of it is normative behaviour - we assume that a certain state of being is the norm - whether it's cisgendered or able bodied or heterosexual or the thousand other normative assumptions we make. We assume and impose a norm that excludes those that don't fit it.

And some of it is active harm. Intentional or otherwise, it's behaviour that hurts and devalues people. It doesn't just cast them as other (though that is bad in itself), it casts them as LESS.

These are the stains society leaves - stains we all carry - even those that are harmed by them. It's tempting to say "but not me." It's much easier to say "I'm gay! How can anything I do be homophobic?" or "I'm an ally! Of course I'm not homophobic!". But if we look in the mirror we all know there have been times - and will be times - when our own stains are showing.

And we need to recognise that.

We need to recognise the times when we hurt people and work to change our behaviour, school our language, challenge our assumptions that are so deeply ingrained - otherwise we just add to that stain and ensure the next generation will carry its smut.

We need to recognise that we WILL show that stain from time to time - and when people correct us they're trying to help us wash it out. That there's no need or call for anger and defensiveness.

And we need to recognise that others will show their stain - and that doesn't mean they're a die-hard spreader of hatred and filth (though they may be - and if they are it's time to start scrubbing, because there are some vile people out there that will never come clean) but nor does it mean we can let them spread the stain of prejudice without challenging them.

In the end, my point (rather rambly and severely strained under the creaking weight of a rather rusty metaphor) is that prejudice is EVERYWHERE - and so the fight to remove it has to happen everywhere - sometimes even our own heads.


Monday, December 7, 2009

When Black Men and White Men Partner in Sexism

There are a multitude of difference between White men and Black men, however; the opportunity to oppress women never fails to bring them together.  April Ryan dared to question the press secretary and he clearly had no problem reducing her in front of a national audience.

Gibbs repeatedly told Ryan to relax and breathe.  He further compared her questions to that of a child, thereby infantilizing her.  Can you even imagine for a moment, a White male reporter getting the same sort of treatment?  We cannot ignore the simple fact that he is White and male and she is Black and female.  Gender and race played a huge role in the way that she was treated.  Had Gibbs felt for one moment that he was engaging with an equal, he would not have attempted to behave in the same manner.

From birth Black women must battle against both sexism and racism to live their lives.  These are two distinct marginalizations that work to construct Black women as other.   Often the rallying cry from Black men, is that we should join them in the fight against racism because it actively effects our lives, however; when sexism raises its ugly head. they see it as unimportant and are quick to invoke their patriarchal privilege.  In the end, Black men want more than freedom from racism, they want the freedom to act with the same sort of privilege that has historically been the preserve of White men.  Equality in this instance, means the ability to oppress.

Since I believe that seeing is believing, I offer into evidence the commentary regarding the heinous behaviour of Gibbs, at the Black male run blog The Intersection of Madness:

Black Women: Learn when to shut the fuck up! Or learn to communicate!!

I'm sorry, and I realized that April Ryan was doing her job as a journalist asking the "appropriate" questions. But it seems to me, from where I'm sitting, she could have been a bit more tactful in her approach. I don't give a shit that she's black and he's white, or the fact that she's a woman and he's a man. The bottom line for me is that, she should have been more tactful, personable, conversation-able, rather than coming off as the wannabe "Super Bitch" cop in an interrogation.

Clearly she attempted to take the "conversation" in a direction Gibbs didn't feel was necessary, and I think he did the right thing telling her to relax and breath. I mean, had he said "Sit'cho ass down and shut tha fuck up bitch!!" Or slapped the shit out of her with his pimp hand, I could understand all the negative talk in favor of April on this one. But in truth, Gibbs was clearly the adult, or the bigger person in this situation.

But let some people tell it, him having a penis and being white he was wrong.
In sales and marketing  there's a theory called Rape vs. Seduction. What April did as far as communicating was RAPE the shit out of Robert Gibbs, or at least tried to. Had she used a "seductive" approach, she may have been able to control the conversation and have her questions answered instead of having to rebut Robert Gibbs and leaving the angry black bitch perception on the table. Yep, especially when she felt the need to "check him" after he attempted to gain control of the conversation from her badgering.

Rippa’s commentary on this incident clearly stems from his desire to protect undeserved male privilege.  The post in question is accompanied by the following image:

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What does this tell us but that Black women are wild, and unable to present an image of rationality and control?   This is the basis of many of the attacks often faced by Black women and yet Rippa had no problem promoting this to serve his agenda.  In no way did April Ryan display a loss of control, despite the obvious reduction of Gibbs and yet it was easy to imply that her tone, or her language justified his minimization of her.  Had April been addressing the subject of race, the issue of tone would not have arisen from a Black man; it was that she dared to confront a White man about an issue that was deemed unrelated to race, that caused her questions to be vilified by Rippa.

Lecturing a woman about her tone and calling her a bitch is sexist.  There can be no denying this very simple fact and yet Black women are routinely called to task if we do not immediately jump to defence of a Black man. How can this imbalanced relationship possibly be called an equal partnership?  When Black men refuse to acknowledge the sexism of their behaviour, they are supporting the idea that a group can and should be targeted, thus cementing their own marginalization.  You cannot gain freedom by continually employing the masters tools.

Lest anyone confuse this as a personal attack, I wish to make it clear that this kind of sexism in not unique to Rippa and in fact he stands simply as an example of the kind of action that is routinely engaged in by the Black male patriarchy.  Always remember that as bell hooks famously said, A Black man may face racism in the public sector but that does not mean that he does not go home and beat his Black wife.   Until sexism is seen as an issue worth fighting for by Black males, it will continue to divide us as a people, thereby; destroying all efforts in the fight for equality.


Only in Alberta Could Hate Speech Against the LGBT Community Constitute A Victory

 image There is a difference between free speech and hate speech.  The later not only reduces a marginalized group to an other, it normalizes their position.   Once it becomes acceptable to show discrimination towards a group of people, history has shown dire consequences are the result.  The LGBT community constitutes a minority and a marginalized group due to rampant heterosexism.   This has lead to job discrimination, housing discrimination, violence and in some cases death.  Allowing hate speech against the GLBT community will undoubtedly promote this sort of behaviour.

Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter in 2002 entitled, Homosexual Agenda Wicked, which was subsequently published by the Red Deer Advocate.

Our children are being victimized by repugnant and premeditated strategies, aimed at desensitizing and eventually recruiting our young into their camps. Think about it, children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.

Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that men kissing men is appropriate.

Your teenagers are being instructed on how to perform so-called safe same gender oral and anal sex and at the same time being told that it is normal, natural and even productive. Will your child be the next victim that tests homosexuality positive?

Come on people, wake up! It's time to stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness that our lethargy has authorized to spawn. Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.

Regardless of what you hear, the militant homosexual agenda isn't rooted in protecting homosexuals from "gay bashing." The agenda is clearly about homosexual activists that include, teachers, politicians, lawyers, Supreme Court judges, and God forbid, even so-called ministers, who are all determined to gain complete equality in our nation and even worse, our world.

Don't allow yourself to be deceived any longer. These activists are not morally upright citizens, concerned about the best interests of our society. They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives. Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.

The homosexual agenda is not gaining ground because it is morally backed. It is gaining ground simply because you, Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual, do nothing to stop it. It is only a matter of time before some of these morally bankrupt individuals such as those involved with NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Lovers Association, will achieve their goal to have sexual relations with children and assert that it is a matter of free choice and claim that we are intolerant bigots not to accept it.

You will note that part of Boissoin’s fear, is that the BGLT community would become equal, thereby; vanquishing his heterosexual privilege forever.    He compares gays and lesbians to pedophiles, while speaking of a gay and lesbian identity as diseased.  These are clearly hate trigger words and yet a judge ruled that such commentary was hateful but not extreme.

The Criminal Code of Canada:

Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to:

Advocate genocide, publicly incite hatred and wilfully promote hatred against an “identifiable group.”  An identifiable group is defined as any section of the public distinguished by: color, religion, race, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation.

Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression to all Canadians. However, all Charter rights are subject to reasonable limits that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Ultimately this case is about what can be considered a reasonable limit to free speech. When the constitutionality of this was challenged by a teacher who taught that the holocaust did not occur and that it was part of a Jewish conspiracy, the constitutionality was upheld.  It is ironic that such hate speech against a marginalized group like the TLBG community is now found to be acceptable given that under the right conditions the resultant violence could end in death repeatedly.

As Canadians we have become far to polarized with American issues to realize that our own protections are being stripped from us.  Simply because same sex marriage in Canada is legal, does not erase the many battles that the GLBT community must face in their drive towards equality.   We need to refocus our efforts on the battle happening with our own borders.  This ruling is a wake up call because now hate speech has become enshrined in law.

This should also serve as a lesson to all of the LGBT activists in the United States. Marriage is only one step towards equality, however; it will not eliminate heterosexual privilege.  There are many aspects of life that marriage alone will not cover.  The battle must be fought on many fronts and no path is a singular solution.

Alberta is one of Canada’s most conservative provinces but we should not take comfort in that fact.  Anywhere that a marginalized group can be attacked simply for existing is amoral and wrong.  There should be no place for this kind of thought within Canadian borders.  A few weeks ago our Prime Minister spoke out about a law in Uganda that subjects gays and lesbians to death.  Clearly he saw this as wrong, however; until we acknowledge that hate speech is what supports and creates these ideas, are we any different?


Just Another Manic Monday

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Please use this thread to talk about something you did or to whine about the fact that it is Monday and there are forty hours left to another bout of freedom.  I’ll see you in comments.

Tiger Woods gets no love from the Black community, again

I have a new post up at Global Comment

At the age of twenty-one, Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament, and never had the African American community been so excited about golf. Nike built its advertising campaign around this exuberance by producing the “I am Tiger Woods” commercials. Yet not since Mohammed Ali, have African Americans been so ultimately polarized by a sports hero. For a time, Tiger was the shining prince who allowed Blacks to celebrate his achievement, thus reminding the community of other Black figures whose struggles radically changed the perception of what it is to be African American. That time has come and gone.

When he was asked on the Oprah show if it bothered him to be called African American, Tiger answered in the affirmative: “Growing up, I came up with this name: I’m a ‘Cablinasian” (Caucasian-Black-Indian-Asian).

There are those that would argue that as a bi-racial person, it is his right to identify as he chooses. Yet to the Black community, these words symbolized a rejection. Colin Powell responded to Woods commentary by stating, “In America, which I love from the depths of my heart and soul, when you look like me, you’re black.” The perception of Tiger as an outsider solidified when he chose as his wife a White Swedish woman, following in the steps of many male African American celebrities who marry outside of their race.

It was announced last weekend that Tiger got into a car accident. Like most incidents involving celebrities, this quickly became headline news. The paparazzi circled like vultures, sure that there was more to the story than a simple traffic incident. One by one, women stepped forward to allege having extra-marital affairs with Woods. Embarrassing text messages came to light, revealing the extent of Tiger’s lechery. Suddenly, the man that led such a private life found that no amount of begging for privacy would erase his name from the headlines, or from Black blogs.

For many, it was easy to ridicule Tiger. He did, after all, refuse to identify solely as Black. Beyond his message of hope, declaring for the entire world that he is African American bound Blacks to Barack Obama. The kind of relationship that the Black community has with Black leaders and celebrities was something that Tiger failed to understand when he made his fateful statement.

Mr. Cablinasian became an instant punchline as many refused to embrace him in the manner that they had supported stars like R. Kelly and Kobe Bryant. Recently, Tiger jokes became huge on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner show for the past week. In one parody it was stated, “The question everyone in America wants to ask you is, how many white women does one brother want?”

Finish reading here

Impossible Motherhood: A Conversation With Irene Vilar

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Please click the above image to go the podcast for this episode.

This week Allison McCarthy, Monica Roberts and I interviewed Irene Vilar, author of the book Impossible Motherhood.  It was a challenging conversation in which she talked about reproductive choice, colonialism and addiction.  Ms. Vilar recently front and center in the abortion debate when she wrote about her multiple abortions.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Shame: Deep Fryer Edition

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My neighbour recently knocked on my door to enquire on whether or not I owned a deep fryer.  Years before my unmonther in-law had given us one for Christmas but I left it behind in one of our moves.  The deep fryer has never had a fascination for me because every time I see one, I think of my arteries clogging.

It seems I am quite alone in my fryer disgust.   He went on to list the “wonderful” things that can be produced in the heart attack machine.  I DON’T GET IT.  Why in the hell do people need to deep fry chocolate bars, or fry ice cream.  Doesn’t Mac N Cheese have enough fat in it without breading it and then tossing it into a deep fryer?  Just the thought of that is enough to curdle my stomach.

This past Thanksgiving the unhuband even tried to talk me into frying our turkey.  Turkey is one of the leanest meats that y0u can eat, why oh why, would you want to cook it in a vat of oil?   It is probably the most healthy item on a Thanksgiving day plate.

I absolutely refuse to replace the deep fryer.  If the kids want French Fries we can bake them in the oven.  I have no desire to deep fry a meatloaf or any other concoction that the unhusband may come up with.

Okay you deep fryer fanatics…what are you dousing in oil?  I want to hear about your homemade corndogs and any other concoctions that you have come up with.  I will probably not eat much today reading this thread, but I have to admit that it fascinates me to know what people are frying.