Saturday, January 30, 2010

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, once again I would like to say thank you for another great week of conversation.   I learned quite a bit from the comments that were made on the blog this week and I appreciate all of the input.  Once again I would like to remind everyone that though we cannot always agree, it is of great importance that comments remain respectful in order to ensure that this remains a safe space for everyone.  I would also like to take the time to remind everyone that Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy.  I cannot possibly hope to cover everything and in all honesty I don’t have the experience or the knowledge to discuss certain subjects.  If you are interested in participating please send me either your original post or a link to your work via e-mail.

This week the Womanist Musing podcast returns with Mr. Larry Hales of F.I.S.T.  We will be discussing the role that colonialism and neo-liberal policies played in the Haitian disaster.  The show will air live at 8pm EST.  You can listen to it here and the call in number is (347) 326-9452.

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Below you will find links to a few interesting posts that I ran across this week.  Please read the comment section at your own risk, as I did not read them myself.  Please don’t be shy about showing these bloggers some love and when you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

“Girlfriend is not synonymous with permanent “sex toy”

Is a diverse environment enough to inoculate against racism?

How Canada tried to purge its queers

O Just Might Like The T More

62 Taser Related Deaths in the United States

Dichotomy of humanity

White people’s roots are deeper than those of ethnic minorities

Sexually Speaking, Men, Women, Are Both From Mars

Woman Rejected and Birds in Flight

Haiti’s Cultural Destruction

Fair Pay One Year Later

Dispatches from Nappyville: The sensual pleasures of natural hair

Fattened by Pills

Why Is Your Son Wearing Pink?

Black History Month By The Numbers

Waiting for Mr Right or taking Mr He’ll do?

Want to Participate in Updating “Our Bodies, Ourselves?”

The religious right and the objectification of women

Love is my Kink

Parents of America, you are on notice

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Friday, January 29, 2010

A Pelvic Exam Without Permission is Rape

According to The Globe and Mail, medical students are performing pelvic exams on unconscious women without consent.  It seems that this is a standard procedure in Canada.

Regardless of your feelings, you should be aware that this is standard procedure in many Canadian teaching hospitals.

Medical students routinely practice doing internal pelvic examinations while surgery patients are unconscious, and without getting specific consent, at least in Canada.

Guidelines in the United States and Britain say specific consent is required but, by contrast, Canadian guidelines state that pelvic examination by trainees is “implicit.”

It is essential for medical students to learn basic techniques, including pelvic examination, in well supervised settings.

The long-standing argument in favour of allowing these exams to be done on surgery patients is that it provides a unique opportunity for students to practice the delicate, invasive examination without causing the woman pain or embarrassment.

There is also an assumption that women would never accept pelvic exams by students while conscious so sneaking them in, while not ideal, is acceptable.

image See how this works,  because they think they will be denied consent they perform the procedure without asking.   This makes this practice highly unethical.  Women have written about medical rape in regards to labour and this practice absolutely falls within this category.  Simply because a doctor is performing this evasion, does not make it any different than if a stranger grabbed you off the street and penetrated you without permission.

They are not really worried about causing pain or embarrassment, this is about who has access to female bodies.  As far as I am aware, no such procedure is performed on men and when we consider that doctors act as gatekeepers, this practice is highly problematic.  The medical profession has a history of discounting women's bodies or pathologizing us at every turn.  Starting with hysteria, our bodies have always been viewed through the lens of patriarchy.

The absence of a no does not equal a yes and instead of focusing on whether or not the woman said no, the question really should be did she say yes and did she do this in full awareness of what she was giving consent to?   The mere fact that the medical establishment does not bother to seek consent means that they do not value women’s bodies.  It is standard operating procedure to view the patient as an object, to disconnect between the patient and the doctor but by doing so we completely remove the humanity of the patient, thus leading to atrocious violation of rights.  If a woman is just a pelvis, an object, a thing, then it is possible to view the examination as no different than checking to see if a piece of fruit is ripe.

 imageThe disconnect between patient and doctor is pushed my medical schools in order to assure scientific nature of their work, however the reality is no matter the mindset of the doctor, they are still dealing with living breathing human beings.  If this happened in any other circumstances, the person would be charged with a sexual assault.  The purpose of rape is not sexual gratification, rather it is to display power with impunity and by examining women without their consent, the medical establishment is asserting authority over women. It cannot be reasonably argued that this is not rape.  I can say without doubt that if this were to happen to me without my consent I would feel violated.

I am further curious to know what the ratio of these violations are between White women and women of colour.  The medical establishment has a history of sterilizing women of colour without proper informed consent and I highly doubt that the way that women of colour are viewed has changed dramatically, though we have been told that we are living in a post-racial world.  Another factor worth examining is how many times has this happened to disabled women versus able bodied women.  Women with disabilities can in these instances be particularly vulnerable and unfortunately the rate of assault is extremely high. 

There are far to many factors to allow this to continue to be standard operating procedure.  When a patient is interacting with a doctor, they are vulnerable and are turning themselves over to the expertise of another and therefore a violation of that trust can in many cases cause women to delay or ignore a need for medical treatment.  It seems that the Canadian Medical Board needs to re-examine the Hippocratic Oath because they are certainly doing harm in the name of good. 


It’s Friday and The Question Is…..

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Woot!  We made it through the work week.  Last Friday I had to go out of town and so I left you with an open question.  I really liked that idea and have decided to turn it into a regular feature.  During the winter, I do a lot of my shopping on the internet because it hurts me to go outside in the cold weather and no new sweater is worth pain as far as I am concerned.  I regularly frequent ebay.  I am currently awaiting the arrival of yet another denim skirt.   When I wear it, I am going to have pretend that I have had it for awhile because in all honesty, the last thing I need is yet another denim skirt.  I can already picture the unhusband giving me the eye.  Right after I bought it, I remember tweeting, why the hell can’t I leave denim skirts alone. If you look through my closet you will find denim skirts for every size that I have ever been.  They just seem to be my thing.  So this week’s question is what article of clothing do you find yourself repeatedly buying?

The People of Walmart an Exercise in Shame and Discipline

Blogging is used for many different purposes.   One of the most common is to create a space in the hopes of viral attention to make money.   This normally results in a book deal based on the subject  of the blog.  If you can come up with the right idea, blogging can be quite lucrative.  Unfortunately the pursuit of viral fame often leads to blogs that denigrate people in the name of good fun.  The internet has spawned places like the This is why you’re fat, and the now defunct Tranny Alert. 

While surfing the web, I recently came across a site called The People of Walmart.   The premise of this blog is to post images of people that are not conforming to the norm and ridicule them. 

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This image is called The Belly Flop. Underneath the photos it says: “Someone go tell this guy what “just hanging out” actually means”.

 

 

 

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This image is called, Put Your Belly On ‘Em Son. The caption reads: “Hey, thanks for making all of the flowers smell like hair and belly sweat, my wife is going to be super excited when I bring them home for her”.

 

image This image is called, Fashionista.  The caption reads: “Don’t worry everyone, I’ve already forwarded this pic over to Burberry. I figured it would be rewarding for them to see this and remind themselves why it was they got into the fashion and design business in the first place. I’m sure they will be ecstatic seeing their vision come to life”.

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This image is called Shore Thing.  The caption reads: I haven’t seen her fist pump, but I bet her Jersey shore name is “Cindy Lou Who”.

 

 

 

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This image is called Flippin’ Some Flapjacks.  The caption reads:  “If you are short enough that a normal 5th grader would be able to look down at your business, then maybe it’s a good idea to take notice of gravity and cover up those sweater puppets”.

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This image is called Feel The Burn.  The caption reads: “I don’t think that whole ‘working out’ thing is really working out”.

 

 

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This image is called, Do You Want Fries With That Shake.  The caption reads: “Shake, shake, shake. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your booty. Actually, please refrain from any further movement. My stomach couldn’t possibly take any more”.

 I suppose by now you get the point.   Many of the people that this site has decided to hold up to ridicule, are those that are fat or disabled.   They also throw in a bit of slut shaming from time to time for good measure.   I believe that this is predicated on what our inner monologue is, as we walk through the world. We are highly invested in judging one another and by so doing we affirm the very same hierarchy of bodies that ultimately effects us all.  A consciously aware person will realize that these thoughts are unacceptable, however it seems to be the purpose of The People of Walmart to perpetuate these biases.

Whether the owners of The People of Walmart realise it, there is also a class aspect to this site.  Individuals shopping at Walmart do not exist with class privilege.  These people usually range from the working poor to the middle class.   Because success is often understood as the ability to consume, those that have limited resources are often held up to ridicule and shamed, even though the system is designed to assure their failure.  Class manifests itself through markers as well as behaviour.  These markers will serve to indicate a persons class position and then they are treated accordingly.  Before the very first picture was taken, the owners of The People of Walmart,  had already decided to shame based in class.

It is quite disheartening to read through the various comment threads and see so many that are dedicated to shaming people that they have never met.   It is like a meeting site directly for the purposes of expressing hatred; Orwell would be pleased as this is not far removed from the two minutes of hatred ceremony.  We claim to praise individuality and yet anyone who steps outside of what we have constructed as the norm is duly shamed daily.   The overwhelming message is conform, conform, conform.  We are highly invested in making sure that discipline is a huge part of our culture.  This site is panoptic because now the idea of being photographed and watched, will serve as just enough incentive for some to attempt to change their appearance, whether or not it makes them happy to avoid ridicule.  In this way, we can see how power is enacted upon each and every one of us.  We are always and forever being disciplined.


Editors Note:  I have been informed the site Tranny Alert is indeed up and running.  It is my hope that it will soon be scrubbed from the internet as its sole purpose is to perpetuate transphobia.

For John McWhorter African-American Just Does Not Make Sense

image People of the African Diaspora have undergone various label changes since the first Black man set foot in the geographic North.  We have been Negroes, Coloured, Black and most recently African-American.  With the exception of the last two labels, each was conferred upon us by Whiteness.  Having the ability to name or in this case label is an expression of social power.  Because of the  disparity that exists between Whites and Blacks, it continues to be important that people of the African Diaspora take control of their image and construct it in a manner that helps to dissipate some of the stigma that Whiteness has attached to Black bodies. 

Just as with any other minority groups Blacks must not only battle those that seek to oppress from outside but those who do the masters bidding.  You may be more familiar with names like Jessie Lee Peterson or even Michael Steele, however John McWhorter has done his fare share to undermine the progress of Blacks with right wing politics, which are clearly heavily predicated on  internalized racism.  On the Book which is a New Republic blog, McWhorter asserts that Blacks should no longer refer to themselves as African American. Such identification in his mind is a form of conceit.

It’d be one thing if it were a hundred years ago and lots of black people still had parents who had been born into slavery and grandparents who actually “spoke African,” as it was sometimes put. But this is a very different time.

A possible objection, I imagine, is that native-born blacks are African in a “different” way than actual African immigrants–but this would be a feint rather than an argument: clearly, the proper formulation, if we are to put it on the table, is that native-born blacks are African to a much lesser extent than African immigrants. In truth, a black man from Jacksonville has more in common with a white one from Tucson than he does with a man three years out of Senegal.

And I would argue that native-born blacks are so vastly less “African” than actual Africans that calling ourselves “African American” is not only illogical but almost disrespectful to African immigrants.

The reason that people of the African Diaspora have so little in common with Africans is a direct result of slavery.  This intermixing of races was not done by choice but by the most brutal possible force.  Let us not forget for one moment that we are the children of those who survived the middle passage.  We are the children of the countless women that were raped and when this resulted in pregnancy, their children were not loved and cherished; their children were livestock.

We are not true Africans and this is because we were not given the choice.  For many families, the fact that they continue to survive and flourish in the harsh landscape of Whiteness, is a testament to our worthiness as a people.  We may no longer legally be considered chattel but it cannot be reasonably said that race is a non-issue in the geographic North.  To do so one would have to ignore disparity in education, housing, jobs, the legal system, government, policing, the media etc.,  In every single social institution race considers to be an issue because the Global North continues to be run at the behest of White Supremacy.

What McWhorter fails to understand is that reclaiming the African part of our identity asserts that even though our physical selves were removed against our will, who we are as a people remains intact.  We may not know our true names, religions or even tribes but we do know that we must continue to survive, not only for ourselves but for every single person that came before us.  Though some have lived to walk again through the door of no return, we have been irrevocably changed.  The peoples of the African Diaspora have been shaped by race relations and as such, to hold onto to Africa asserts that we are truly a people of no home.  We are not African in the same way as the people living on the continent today but we are not yet true Americans or Canadians because we have yet to welcome at the table of plenty.  This split identity is representative of our struggle to survive, when all the world would be content to see us fail. McWhorter may not find it necessary to identify as African-American but then identifying with the oppressed group is counter productive when you are trying to do the bidding of the Master. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monstrous Musings: Why are there no fat vampires?

This is a guest post from Natalie Wilson

I am a literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. I am currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective. My interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to my childhood fascination with all types of monsters.

(Or:  Only hetero white males need apply…)

I have long been interested in which types of bodies count as “beautiful” and “normal” in our world. Perhaps it stems from my thin-obsessed older sister dubbing me “chub” (and labelling me as such in family photo albums). Or, perhaps is it do to living inside a female body, that type of body Aristotle long ago labelled defective and that has been allied with monstrosity/excess ever since. In any case, the image below caught my body aware-eye and got me thinking, are there any fat vampires?

image Here, in an image that is supposed to be funny, the vampire-hunk Edward has morphed into a fat twinkie-fanatic. Interestingly, his body is markedly feminized in this fat rendering of his corporal form – he has what are colloquially known as “bitch tits” (now there’s a hateful phrase if ever there was one) and the saggy belly associated with females who have “let themselves go”and are “in need” of a tummy tuck (or a “mom job”).

In the image, Bella and James look on in judgement, as if to say “Oh, Edward, what have you done to yourself?” Edward looks none too happy – apparently those twinkies are not satisfying his hunger. (Which brings up another fat-hating stereotype this image draws on: fat people only eat junk.) Edward of course can’t possibly be happy with his fat body – that would go against the “thou shalt be thin” commandment.

As Melissa McEwen of Shakesville writes,

“It remains a radical act to be fat and happy in America… If you're fat, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world.”

Here, using the phrase “monstrous self,” McEwen hits on an enduring link between fatness and monstrosity. To be fat is to somehow fail at being fully human in our body policing society; it results in being judged as lazy, greedy, unhealthy and endless other negative presumptions. Fat bodies are decried for taking up too much space, for eating too much, for assaulting the eyeballs of those of “normal” weight. Many movies code fat as monstrous (think Wall*E, Monster House, Shallow Hall, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to name a few…)

Fat-hating comments and actions still function as “acceptable prejudices” with a general disdain for fatness dominating popular culture. And, although we feign to be living in an era that celebrates diversity, the range of what counts as a “normal body” is thin indeed. The explosive growth of plastic surgery, anorexia nervosa, and exercise fanaticism all attest that we are policing our bodies perhaps more than ever before.

So, how does the vampire craze fit into all of this? Well, I have never checked into the “nutrition facts” for a blood only diet, but I am guessing it might accord to the Atkins/BellyFatDiet/SouthBeach diet crazes. I am assuming blood would be low in carbohydrates (and those dreaded sugar carbs) and high in protein… Could one be fat on a blood only diet? According to textual depictions of vampires, it seems the consensus is no.

However, a fellow vampire addict alerted me to Fat White Vampire Blues, which Booklist describes as follows: “Poor Jules Duchon. It isn't easy being a vampire in New Orleans. Potential victims' blood is filled with fat from the rich local cuisine, and so Jules is a whopping 463 pounds. He would like to diet, but, really, his life isn't too bad--until he walks into his house and finds tough-talking black vampire Malice X waiting for him. Annoyed that Jules has been feeding off black victims, Malice tells him to stick to his own kind. Shaken, Jules turns to his stripper ex, Maureen, the vampire who made him. She is as overweight as Jules and can't bear to have him around because he reminds her of her own heft.”

WTF? Judging by words such as “whopping” and “heft” I doubt this is a fat-positive depiction. And if this brief description is any indication, seems like there might be some interesting white privilege/racism issues to examine. I might have to read this one…

I asked around amongst other vampire aficionados, and no one could think of many well known (let alone obscure) fat vampire characters. To the contrary, most vampires are represented as thin in the extreme – and those currently in vogue (Edward, Alice, Rosalie, Stefan, Damon, Eric, Bill) are no exception. Vamps have often been depicted as attractive monsters – perhaps the most attractive - so their representation as muscular and thin is in keeping with cultural norms of the body beautiful. Yet, must all those they bite, turn, or fall in love with be thin as well? It seems so. Mina Harker was hardly curvaceous, Sookie Stackhouse is a size 8, Elena Gilbert is skinny as all get out, and Bella Swan is whisper thin, weighing in at 108.  Perhaps vampires stay thin by only supping on thin women? Perhaps this is why Raaachem of WTForks?! posted Step away from the food with this image

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Ah, there is it again, the notion fat people eat junk and only thin is sexy. Bella Swan, vampire it-girl extraordinaire, seems to agree – throughout the Twilight series she repeatedly refuses food and insists she is not hungry. Her love for Edward, as riffed on in this, my TwiKidTrio Halloween skit, fills her up. Who needs food when you’ve got Mr. Golden Eyes?

Seeing as fatness is still so culturally loathed, I am in hopes there is a fat-positive vampire somewhere. This question seems to dog the imagination of others with many questions posted at Yahoo Answers such as “Why are there no fat vampires”If a fat person was turned into a vampire would they stay fat forever? and  “if u turn a fat person in to a vampire do they still stay fat and just turn beautiful?  However, the comment threads are filled with fat-hating comments like “People are chosen to be bitten by their sex appeal. It explains everything.” Yeah, cuz fat = zero sex appeal. Right.  (Sadly, ruminations on Stephanie Meyer’s weight are also widespread on the internet– most of them insulting. “How dare she, the creator of beautiful vampires, be fat,” the comments imply.)

As recently reported at CNN, fat discrimination is more damaging to one’s health than fat itself! (For many great posts on fat-hatred and even more fat-positive messages, see Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose blog).

Why do fat vampires matter? Or, more to the point, why does it matter that almost all vampires are thin in the extreme? For the same reason it matters that they are also generally male, white, heterosexual, moneyed, able-bodied, etc. Popular culture matters – and currently vampires are having another major vogue – how they are represented shapes how we think of the world and ourselves. And if the most beautiful monsters are never fat, or never WOC*, what does this say about our “post-racial” supposedly diversity-loving society? It says that fat-hatred or sizism (and all the other nasty isms) are unfortunately undead.

*(I am nearly finished with The Gilda Stories, a novel that features a black female vampire protagonist, and will be posting on this soon!)


Blogger Paul Shirley To Haitians: Please Use A Condom Once In A While

image I wish that I could say that the tragedy in Haiti has caused people to recognize Western culpability in the state of that country.  I wish I could say that now that eyes have been opened, that the worldview of Haiti will change but such thoughts are utopian at best.  Even in the worst of circumstances there are always going to be those that hold onto their privilege with a death grip because to do otherwise would mean recognizing that they are not entitled to the life of ease to which they have become accustomed.  Paul Shirley wrote the following at Flip Collective:

I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads “Need You’re Help” is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.

However, it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life. And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe.

And if this were not enough of a stunning display of complete and utter ignorance, he finished with this letter to the Haitian people:

Dear Haitians –

First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?

Sincerely,
The Rest of the World

Only White masculinity (note: the most privileged group in history) would have the nerve to suggest that it had the right to speak on behalf of the entire population of the Globe.  Haiti is poor because its capitol is used to support the hate speech of this former basketball player turned writer.  The problem isn’t that some insist on consuming more than their share, the problem obviously is over sexed Black people breeding at will.  Unlike White children, Black kids are not viewed with hope and love because to do so would mean placing value on Black lives.  Tonight, I will hold my babies and love them all the more because the armour of my mothers love, is all that stands between them and men like Shirley.  If you cannot find room in your heart for the suffering of children, then you have no heart at all.

Nothing that he said was reasonable or “polite” and in fact, he managed to serve as a shining white beacon to the world, that community and service only apply to those who have White privilege.  Children have no home, people are starving and the dead now lie in mass graves but Shirley seeks to shame these people who have less than nothing for their very existence.  Such is the privilege of Whiteness, that it is possible for those who have power to devalue the lives of others. 

What more can be said in response to this?   Unlike Shirley who has no pity and clearly no shame, the people of Haiti sent aid after Hurricane Katrina to the U.S.  This is a country were the majority of the population lives on less than 2 dollars a day and yet they sent aid. Each year in remittance payments, Haiti sends more money to the U.S. than it receives in aid.  These brave people have the heart that most western citizens have never developed. Instead of wishing that Haiti will not rise from the ashes, Shirley should instead pray that Western citizens (or in his case Americans) develop the same sort of compassion and hope.  The one certainty about empires is their eventual failure; the same people you see on the way up, are the same ones you see on the way down.

If you are as sickened by Paul Shirley as I am, he can be reached at mysocalledcareer@gmail.com

H/T feministing and The Intersection of Madness

 


Should The Ladies From “The View” Really Be Discussing Monogamy in the Gay Community?

The moment this conversation started, I knew that it was going to be a problem.  I don’t care how high their ratings are, four straight women sitting around talking about the sexual behaviour of gay men is problematic.  In fact, the only sensible comment came from Whoopie who stated, “We should get some gay folks on and talk to them.”  Um Yeah…and that should not really have been a huge leap, if you are attempting to center a topic on them. 

I certainly loved the repeated assertion that monogamy is something practised by straight people and open relationships exist in the gay community.  Nothing like holding on to that gay/straight binary to support heterosexist views.  There are plenty of people that are straight that do not believe in monogamy.  It does not mean that they don’t value the relationships that they are in, it simply means that monogamy does not work for them.   Here is another leap, there are plenty of gay people that are monogamous.  This does not come down to gay vs. straight but you certainly cannot tell that to The View ladies.

Some people are simply capable of divorcing sex from love and if that works for them, I fail to see how that is anyone’s business.   The only reason to comment about it at all is the desire to moralize about sex.   We may claim to be sexually liberated, however we have not strayed far from our puritanical roots, if every time the subject of sex comes up the first urge is to discipline behaviour in some manner.  It’s JUST SEX PEOPLE and if you are not currently doing it, you are thinking about your next opportunity to do it.

If fidelity were such a big deal, there would not be so many people straying from the marriage bed in search of new adventures.  The unhusband and I have great sex but I can tell you after twenty years,there are times that it’s like going to the ATM, guaranteed to get you what you need but not make your eyes roll back in your head.  Anyone that has been having sex with the same partner for a number of years is going to have the same experience. 

There is no real proof that humans are meant to be monogamous and framing open relationships as just a gay thing, only serves the purpose of creating a gay and lesbian identity as deviant.   It would seem to me that we are far more inclined to  serial monogamy rather than lifetime mating.  Ever heard of the seven year itch?  It exists for a reason.  If we are going to talk about monogamy seriously, then it cannot be reduced to straight people do one thing and gay people do another.  People in the end will always do what makes them happy regardless of what  turns their crank sexually.


The I-Pad Oh My Periods

It certainly didn’t take 28 days for Apple’s new I-Pad to cause a stir.

Certainly the creators of the I-Pad were not thinking about what their product would be associated with when they came up with the name.

image image  image

Yep, pad, pad, pad, pad….Look, we could try and look at this as simple menstrual humour.   Menstruation is usually an extremely taboo subject and therefore the comedy could be construed as normalizing periods, however; I am not quite sure that this something that we should embrace.

imageMoving from we can’t talk about periods because they are dirty to tee hee is not really any form of progress.   Having a period should be considered no different than blowing your nose, urinating, or any other body function…it should simply be unremarkable because it is part of the human existence.  It’s all tee hee and periods because we are not supposed to be talking about pads and periods.    Tee hee we are talking about womens bodies.  In the end it’s simply reductive because it’s still tee hee women are nasty and what was Apple thinking.

Chris Matthews Forgot Obama Is Black

In yet another stunning proclamation from the post racial world, Chris Matthews said he “forgot Obama is Black” in his commentary on the state of the union.   To bad no Black person is allowed to forget for a single day because of the racism that is constantly thrown at us.  This beautiful new post racial world that Obama supposedly ushered in, allows Whiteness to pretend that racial disparity does not exist, thereby freeing Whiteness of any obligation to acknowledge the ways in which it both actively and passively supports the White supremacist state.   

MATTHEWS: You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight, and it’s interesting: He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about.

I was watching, I said, Wait a minute, he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is President of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard — a very subtle fact. It’s so hard to even talk about; maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am.

He was right, he shouldn’t talk about it because clearly he knows nothing about what it is to be of colour in a world where this serves as a visible stigma.  The subject matter allowed Matthews to forget that Obama is Black and  if this is the case, it is only because he believes that Black people don’t have serious concerns about the world.   Would he have seen blackness if Obama had been speaking about the latest R&B hit?   What about if Obama was talking about shooting hoops? When Black men are not understood to be criminals, they are perceived as successful only in terms of music or sports.  These stereotypes allow Obama to be understood by Whiteness to be an anomaly, despite the fact that there are Black lawyers, doctors, dentists, businessmen etc,.

After the furor that ensued from his comments, Matthews qualified his statement by adding praise for the president for “taking us beyond black and white in our politics, wonderfully so, in just a year. … And I’m loving it.”

I wonder why he thought that this statement was any better than the previous one?   Why would moving beyond a problem that continues to exist and has so many negative consequences for millions be laudable, unless Matthews desires to hold on to his White privilege with a death grip?   You can only be comfortable sweeping the issue of race under the rug, if it does not negatively impact your life;  that in and of itself proves the falseness of the post racial world.  Whiteness does not want to confront the horror that it daily creates to sustain undeserved privilege. 

Obama makes many comfortable because he has continually refused to speak truth to power regarding racism.   Some would say that this is because he is the president and should represent all of the people, however; all of the previous White men to hold the office made no qualms about assuring the continued success of Whiteness.   We have always been willing to promote members of a marginalized group, as long as they continue to act in ways that assure that the power structure remains the same.    Obama makes Matthews comfortable because his actions have repeatedly made clear that he is not about revolution.  Obama’s body may be encoded with historical inequity but that is as close as he is ever going to come to holding Whiteness accountable.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

White Entertainment Television, Yes It Exists

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

Whenever you have a situation in which a white person acting in a racist manner gets called on it by African American or other people of color, the first thing that comes out of their mouths besides a weak 'I'm not racist' comment is a tired overused meme.
If you peruse the comment threads for the defenders of racist white people behaving badly, the first thing they'll say is, 'Well, Black people have BET and the NAACP, why can't we have a WET, a Congressional White Caucus or a NAAWP?' or some variation of the above weak line.
Some of you swimming in vanilla flavoured privilege fail to realize that you already have White Entertainment Television. It's called NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, MTV and every other cable network besides Telemundo, BET and TVOne.
And of the three, guess which one is owned by a Black person.
If you said BET, wrong. While Telemundo was founded by Angel Ramos in 1954 it's an NBC network. Black Entertainment Television is owned by Viacom, not Bob Johnson.
TVOne is the Black owned cable network, and thank you Cathy Hughes for not only ensuring Black radio's survival into the 21st century by founding and being the chairperson of RadioOne, but saving us from Buffoonery Everyday Television.

As a matter of fact, the bitterly sarcastic joke in the African American community concerning NBC is that its letters stand for 'Nothing But Caucasians' in reference to its less than diverse programming. The last time NBC had any shows on with predominately Black casts was 'Cosby' and 'A Different World'.
As for the NAAWP, the National Association For The Advancement of White Privilege and the Congressional White Caucus, it exists too.
The Congressional White Caucus is called the Republican Party. The NAAWP is the Republican Party, the Conservative movement and the interlinked spider web of organizations connected to it.
Everything in this culture and our society revolves around whiteness. Because of the Jim Crow segregation you started and maintained for 100 years and the near genocidal level of violence directed at us, for our own edification, safety, survival and cultural uplift we've had to form all Black organizations in which our culture and our people are celebrated, not denigrated.
That's why the NAACP exists. Black newspapers. Black magazines. Black Greek letter fraternities and sororities. Black social clubs such as The Links and 100 Black Men. Historically Black colleges and universities. Black music. Black radio. The Miss Black America Pageant. Black authors and poets writing books and poetry steeped in our culture. Black History Month. The Blackosphere.
Shall I continue?
Y'all already have WET and the NAAWP, so stop trippin'.
TransGriot Note: WET logo from www.joshuardavis.com

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?  Have you seen a great movie?  I am currently reading “Loving in the War Years”, by Cherrie L Moraga.  I only intended to flip through it last night and got drawn right in.  On the complaint list, it seems no matter how much I whine, the unhusband has committed to making me watch the entire season of 24.  Does anyone else feel my pain?  Tell me what’s going on with you and I will meet you in the comment section.

Too Gay for Mad Men

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Mad Men is set in the sixties and it is about of a group of men and women that work in advertising.  From almost the beginning of the show, Salvatore emerged as my favourite male character.  This was an easy position for him to earn, considering that the other male characters consisted of people like the lecherous lying Don Draper, equally lecherous and racist Roger Sterling and the rapist Pete Campbell.  Though married, Salvatore was clearly a heavily closeted gay man. When we consider the times, this was far more common than it is today.

Last season Salvatore was fired when he refused to sleep with one of the agency’s customers.  Talk about sexual harassment.  At the time, Don Draper, his boss seemed to be under the misconception that gay men will sleep with anyone and therefore Salvatore should have acquiesced to the demand placed upon him. It did not matter whether or not Salvatore was good at his job, refusing to sleep with Lee Gardner Jr., was enough for him to be fired.  I find it ironic that this was the end result considering how homophobic society was in the sixties (note: that same homophobia continues today)

At the end of the season a coup was staged and Don, Roger, Pete, Peggy, etc., decided to form their own agency.   Obviously this opened the door to re-introduce the ever fabulous Joan and Sal.  When he did not appear, I began to worry whether or not his character had been written out of the show.  It would seem that my worries at the time were correct.

Now with the shooting of Season 4 set to begin in March, Bryan Batt is worried that he’s out of a job. “I was supposed to be notified by December 31, and nothing,” says the actor. 

Losing Bryan, “was a tough moment for the show, but that’s where we are. I know how people felt about Bryan. I obviously love working with him, and he has been an indelible character since the pilot. But I felt it was an expression of the times that he couldn’t work there anymore. It’s the ultimate case of sexual harassment, ” said creator Matthew Weiner.

I smell something rotten.  At the former ad agency there was already on openly gay man  and therefore the refusal to bring back Batt, in the role of Salvatore is highly suspicious.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Bryan Batt is an openly gay man in Hollywood.  Could this be a case of art mirroring real life?  I find it interesting that on The Sopranos and now Mad Men, both shows on which Weiner worked, the gay male characters have been eliminated. How many disappearances do we need to make a trend?  These plot twists seem awfully convenient to me.  What is up with the outing of gay characters that leads to their swift removal from the hit drama.  Homosexuality is not a plot twist or some device to be used for ratings.  When we consider that there are so few gay characters on television, it certainly seems punitive that they are removed from the show shortly after their sexuality is revealed.  It sends the message that the only good gay character is a closeted one and that smacks of homophobia.


Jihad vs. McWorld: one man’s terrorist…

I have a new post up at Global Comment

On Christmas day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to blow up a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight arriving from Amsterdam in Detroit. Though he is Nigerian, he has alleged contacts with al Qaeda operatives in Yemen. This event would spur a new round of Islamophobia in which western residents would make apologist arguments regarding violence and paint all those of Muslim faith as violent threats to society.

Rather than dealing with the issues that lead to violent action, the default answer has been racial profiling. Birmingham Labour MP Perry Barr Khalid Mahmood, who is Muslim, stated:

“I think most people would rather be profiled than blown up… It wouldn’t be victimisation of an entire community. If people want to fly safely, we have to take measures to stop things like the Christmas Day plot. Profiling may have to be the price we have to pay. The fact is the majority of people who have carried out or planned these terror attacks have been Muslims.”

This mirrors Anne Coulter’s rhetoric: “Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim.” This kind of logic can only be understood if the working definition of terrorist is applicable only to those who practice Islam. It further characterizes all Westerners as good and pure, thereby demonizing Muslims.

On January 4th, it was reported that a Molotov cocktail (bomb) had been thrown inside of largest mosque in Hamilton, Ontario. The mosque is also the home of the Islamic School of Hamilton. The school educates two hundred children between kindergarten and grade eight. Fortunately, no one was injured in the attack. According to the Hamilton Spectator, the police are investigating the attack as a hate crime. This is the second time this mosque has been attacked. Nowhere in the reporting on this incident have the words “terrorist attack” been used.

MP David Christopherson expressed his pleasure that this incident was being investigated by the police and declared, “We have racism in our community, but we are not a racist society.” I suppose it was accidental that both times in which there has been an air attack on the U.S. by a Muslim, this mosque has been attacked. It certainly could not speak to the ways in which Canadians view those practicing the Muslim faith.

Finish reading here

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Spark of Wisdom: Your right to vote does not overrule another's right to exist

image 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.

Voting is one of the core rights of a democracy. It's one of the founding rights that makes a democracy a democracy. It has also been one of the core rights that have been denied over the centuries of democracy's history to disenfranchise bodies from power. It has been one of the most obvious and easily used tools to make it clear that a people are considered less and that their opinion and say has no merit, a way to establish who has a right to lead, who has a right to question the leaders and who were silenced and controlled.

Voting, therefore, is an essential right, a foundation right, a right on which our societies very precariously rest upon. It is also, sadly, one of those rights that have been abused most mightily by those wishing to oppress others. Naturally, we expect many attempts to deny the vote - and history is certainly full of them - as a way to

The right to vote does not mean:

You get to be consulted on every little thing

Very few of us live in a pure democracy (I would say none of us, but I know someone would pipe up proving me wrong). Quite simply because it doesn't work. Seriously - you can't have the whole country have a referendum on every little issue - you can't even have the whole country have a referendum on an issue that is important to someone - everything is important to someone by definition.

We live in representative democracies for a reason. Not holding a referendum doesn't make a decision illegitimate. Not holding a referendum doesn't violate your right to vote. Not holding a referendum is not an act of oppression or violation of your rights.

Your right to vote does not overrule another's right to exist

Also known as the Tyranny of the Majority.

Just because prejudice is so prevalent and prejudiced people make up the majority doesn't mean they can violate the rights of others - or shouldn't. Prejudice does not stop being prejudice just because the majority share it. Bigotry is no less bigotry because it is common. It's not right, it's not acceptable and it's not (or shouldn't be) supported in law.

A right, at it's core, is a base line, a bare minimum, the line we do not cross except under extreme circumstances and sometimes not even then. That means it can't be violated on the whims of the majority. That means if it can be violated and cast aside then it is no longer a right or a protection - it's a privilege or a tradition that is maintained only so long as enough people agree you can keep it.

Because, guess what? The majority don't NEED many of these rights. No straight, cis-gendered, white, TAB, able bodied Christian man needs the right of equal protection. The privileged and powerful are not going to be persecuted, or very rarely at least. They are not as dependent on these shields - and the minute you make rights subject to the whims of the populace, you effectively deny them to all but those who do not need them.

This is why, in so many cases, the battles for equality and justice are fought in the courts, not the ballot box. Because, when it comes to rights, the opinion of the populace is (or should be) irrelevant. Because justice is not a matter of majority opinion and a right that can be voted away is no right at all.

The majority is not always right

Yes you voted. Yes you voted a certain way. Yes most people voted a certain way. But that doesn't make it inherently correct. Someone criticising a vote or decision is not somehow violating your right to vote. Criticism of a vote is not voter suppression. Criticism of a candidate is not voter suppression. Calling everyone who voted for someone/something a brainless bigot in sore need of a slap upside the head isn't even violating your right to vote.

You have a right to vote. You have a right to vote for silly things. That doesn't mean that the vote, when counted, becomes divine writ never to be challenged so-help-me-deity. That doesn't mean you can't be wrong and it doesn't prevent others from disagreeing with you - nor does it mean that the vote should not be challenged with future votes or in the courts.

Denial, oppression and suppression of the right to vote has a long and severely disturbing history. It is one of the iconic battles for freedom our histories share. Do not abuse and disrespect that history, that fight, that battle with whining attempts to use their struggle to allow you to abuse others. Respect what they have won for you - for all of us.

Tune in Tuesday: Our Lady Peace Edition

Who knew there was more to music in the great white north than Brian Adams.  Grab an attack beaver everyone the Cannucks are at it again. Whose house?

Our House

The above is another don’t let the dark skin fool you song.  I remember when I was out with a group of acquaintances and this song came on and  I started to sing ‘cause at the time it was one of my favourite angst songs.  Of course, all the White people had their mouths open like they were fly fishing.  Ha ha ha.  Yes, Black people listen to more than rap and r&b.  Of course they explained it by the White man I just happen to share my life with.  Yep, the Whiteness rubbed off on me ‘cause lord knows that a Black woman would never have chosen to listen to this song all on her lonesome.  Mystery explained, the world is back on keel. Of course I was in to this because I had already left the race.  (head desk fail)

If you are a fan of Our Lady Peace, or simply want to relate a time when you shocked someone with your taste in music let it fly in the comment section.

Man Who Slapped Child in Walmart Sentenced To One Year

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Last year, I wrote about Roger Stephens after he slapped 2 year old Paige  because she was crying at a Walmart.  Paige was crying and irritable, when 61 year old Roger Stevens approached the pair.  “If you don't shut the baby up, I will shut her up for you,” he said.  He did not testify at his trial but  he did apologize to the girls family for his actions. Stephens was sentenced to one  year in jail. He was given credit for the four months he has already served and by March he will eligible for house arrest.

Sliz said his 61-year-old client was blindsided by the media attention his case generated.

"He's absolutely amazed this incident took on such Goliath proportions," Sliz said. "He never in his wildest imagination believed it would mushroom into this."

Sliz called his client's behaviour "the ultimate knee-jerk reaction."

"He put his hands on a child when he clearly shouldn't have, and he realizes that," the attorney said.

Honestly, I can se why Stephens would be surprised.  We tend to give a lot of lip service to caring about the welfare of children but we have a tendency to treat them like possessions.  Parents routinely slap or emotional abuse children while people turn a blind eye.  We don’t believe it is our place to intervene even though we know that there is a real cost to this kind of behaviour.  How can we raise them to be good adults, if we don’t value them from the beginning.

What Stephens did was wrong.  He deserves the punishment that he received but this is just one incident amongst many, when it comes to getting physical with children.  As I wrote in the original post, it is easy  to find rage because Stephens was a stranger to the child but seldom does violence against children illicit the same emotion when the abuser is a parent. 

There is no room for equivocation, slapping a child for any reason is wrong, no matter who is doing it.  It is not discipline and does not teach the child anything.  All it does is relieve the stress of the attacker.  While we are condemning Stephens, we should stop and think of all of the other times we felt it was acceptable to rationalize the exact same behaviour on the part of someone else.

Buying A Trophy Orphan Is Just Part Of The Game

imageThe creators of Miss Bimbo have unleashed a new horror on the world – My Minx.  Players clothe their minxes in sexy lingerie and then they visit the adoption center, where they are encouraged to adopt “trophy orphans” that are based on real celebrity children.

The adoption clinic in a virtual Style City features girls called Pax and Maddox and a boy named Zahara after Angelina Jolie's children.

The virtual youngsters have the same nationalities as Jolie's with Maddox, three, said to be Cambodian and a fan of eating cockroaches.

Similarly up for grabs are Vietnamese noodle-lover Pax, five, and Ethiopian lad Zahara, four, whose favourite food is said to be guinea pig.

The adoption centre also boasts a David Banda, four, and Mercy, five, of Malawi, clearly modelled on Madonna's adopted children.

And there is a Mongolian girl called Jamiyan - based on actor Ewan McGregor's Mongolian four-year-old daughter – who is said to enjoy eating rats.

image Certain that they could sink even lower, they capitalized on the earthquake in Haiti and now you can adopt children from Haiti. The more children that you adopt and the more fashionable you make them, the greater points that you will amass.  Proving that there is always room for more exploitation, once you get your little adoptee fashionably dressed you can sell their images to celebrity magazines for profit.

FAIL, FAIL, FAIL….children of colour are not pets and the racist construction of their identity serves to minimize them even further.  I have spoken repeatedly about the problematic elements of these celebrity adoptions and as you can see by this game, adopting children like you are purchasing Prada purse encourages the belief that children of color have no value.  Why didn’t they just call these children animals because it seems that they are determined to infer this by their actions?  To make the minxes White, teaches little White girls that it is their role dominate POC;  it affirms Whiteness as good and necessary.

To make sure that they have all of their bases covered, the minxes are encouraged to purchase virtual condoms and buy the morning after pill.  What better way to deal with the after effects of clubbing, boozing and hitting on men.  When we consider that this game has players as young as seven, this is indeed a problem.  We actively teach racism  and sexism to children and they are not a naturally occurring force.  Children may see difference but it is society that teaches then to apply value to difference.  What are these little girls learning? This is not just a simple game when it imparts so many harmful messages.  



Monday, January 25, 2010

Bristol Is Taking Levi To Court For Child Support, Of Course This Makes Her A Gold Digger

According to TMZ, Bristol’s lawyers filed paperwork last Thursday in an attempt to secure child support for her son, Tripp.

According to the docs, obtained by TMZ, Bristol believes Levi has pulled in "in excess of $105,000 in 2009 through various media interviews and modeling related activities." The $105,000 figure is significant, because under Alaska law a non-custodial parent must pay 20% of income up to $105,000 a year -- which comes to $1,750 a month.
Bristol says in her sworn statement, "I have received limited and sporadic financial assistance from Levi." Bristol says Levi has forked over only $4,400 over the 13 months of Tripp's life -- $3,000 on September 9, 2009, $1,400 on December 19.

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I decided to read the comment sections on both reddit and TMZ.  There were some that felt that Levi should live up to his parental obligations and then of course there were comments of this vein:

What a F up family.........Maybe Grandmom Sarah needs to also make sure she helps since she is doing nothing for this country except selling books. She is as big of a loser as her daughter. She needs to stop spreading her legs, she and mom need to get a real life. WOW what a F up family all of them.

FOR 1 KID?R U Kidding me...I have 3 and I don't spend that much on them and I am a housewife for 15yrs now! GET REAL GIRL...WAKE UP FROM THE DREAM YOU ARE LIVIN IN.

Geez - $4400 is much more than I've EVER heard of anyone getting from a 19 year old father, and she wants $1750 a month? Why should she get that much? Greedy bitch.

HE NEEDS A DNA TEST TO PROVE HE IS ACTUALLY THE FATHER.
ALONG WITH THAT COURT DOCUMENT, WHY IS THERE NOT A REQUEST FOR PATENITY?
JUST SAYING, HEARD SHE GOT AROUND THE FOOTBALL TEAM

this is crazy. she is not looking for child support she is looking for someone to support her. 1750/mth. is way too much her to get without working for it. she was not used to any kind of life with levi before this that would warrant a change in living standards if she didn't get that much money.

She's a money grubbing bitch, from everything I have seen Palins are all about money. Why do you think she quit? Because she can make more money with her stupid book and being governor of our awesome state was probably below.
She has tried to move the capital from Juneau to Wasilla so all their property values go up, that's it.

How about Bristol pay Levi 20% of her earnings from the "US Weekly" and "Time Magazine" interviews she's done, since they haven't officially decided she gets sole custody anyhow.

She got pregnant. It's her body. Where's her responsibility? She mothered a child irresponsibly and all you can do is blame the man? And now she gets free human welfare every month?

More accurate headline: If you're not old enough to vote, then you shouldn't be responsible enough to take care of a child.

To take money from the male is getting fucking ancient. How about instead of single mothers living off of child support, before a woman gives birth, she should ask the husband if he wants to be apart of it... if he doesn't, then the baby is all yours.

No child support. Equal rights? When and where, cocksuckers.

So if I had a vagina, I could just trap sperm and have someone pay for my college after I pop out another little nothing?

Is anyone banging their head against a wall yet?  One of the major goals of MRA’s is to abdicate the responsibility to financially support their children.  It is a well known fact that women make less than men and if a woman is living alone with a child, she is more likely to be living in poverty.  Their concern is not for the children that they had a part in producing, rather it is wallowing in their male privilege because of their decidedly misogynistic understanding of reproduction.

They use the argument regarding the autonomy of female bodies to suggest that they are being oppressed.  The fact of the matter is that at no point were they being forced to engage in behaviour against their will.  They could have chosen not to have sex and they could have chosen to wear a condom or have a vasectomy.   Throughout the entire process of reproduction, the male body is always in a position of authority and furthermore; their actions do not require a law to ensure that their rights are being protected.

It would seem to me, that Alaska’s twenty percent law is extremely fair.  A child may not cost the 1700 dollars a month that Bristol is requesting, however; a child should be able to to live within the same economic class as hir parents and this is something that the MRA have continually failed to acknowledge.  If a child is living at home with two parents, ze would have take on their class status and receive any ensuing benefits.   Why should the father be able to live a life of extravagance with the child receiving no benefit?  It is a known fact, that the more money a child has to be raised on, the more opportunities that will be available to hir. 

Finally, perhaps what is most disturbing is the idea that a mother who requests child support is just lazy and wants a free ride.  Even if the mother is not working outside of the home and is completely dependent upon support to raise a child, she is still working for the money.  Simply because parenting does not produce  a product that can be sold on the open market for a profit, does not mean that it is not work or that it does provide a measurable gain for society. Unfortunately, for far too many, mothering falls under labour that women are expected to provide for free because we are constructed as the nurturing sex.

Slut shaming Bristol or calling her a lazy bitch is simply reductive and serves the purpose of reducing Levi’s responsibility for their child.  Even though she is currently living with her parents, they are not responsible for raising or paying for that child.  They had no hand in the creation of the child and to suggest that they should pick up Levi’s slack is ridiculous.  They are already providing a home for this child, which is more than he is currently doing.    Paying twenty percent of his income will not impoverish him.  The idea that women should be solely responsible for the financial support of children has one purpose – impoverishment.