Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drop It Like It’s Hot

 Hello everyone, I would like to thank you for another wonderful week of conversation.  This week I decided to attempt to make the blog more accessible by increasing the size of the font.  Please let me know how this change is working out for you. 

I also wanted to remind everyone about the open guest posting policy here at WM.  Please feel free to either send your original work or a link via e-mail if you would like to participate.

Below you will find links to posts that I found interesting this week.  Please note that I did not read the comment section.  Please take the time to show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

Use of Gender Based Statistics in Calculating Damages in Personal Injury Cases

The Republican Conservative Dichotomy

The NHS funding EX GAY THERAPY

Why Do So Many Men Die As A Result of Domestic Violence?

The Miracle Woman

The Thirteenth Carnival of Feminists

The Eyes Have It

Black Mystery Month

When the people that claim to help are the problem

Prince of Peace, My Ass

The Ugly Art of De-Gaying

“Million Dollar Blocks”: Incarceration as the New Jim Crow

Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Black Folks

Rights- Uganda: Fugitives In Their Own Country

Do You REALLY Trust Women?

Babies going once, going twice…SOLD! (To the nice A-merry-can with the two car garage.)

Temporarily Able-Bodied: Useful, but not always true

The (Troubled) Black History of the Oscars

Why Online Gaming is a Hostile New Frontier

Handling Internet Ike Turners

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Call for Submissions: Queering Sexual Violence

An anthology of LGBTQ writers, survivors and activists confronting heterosexual privilege and the gender binary system while creating a dialog about the limitations of the anti-sexual violence movement in hopes of creating change.

Edited by Jennifer Patterson

Queering Sexual Violence seeks 20- 25 LGBTQ writers who are interested in submitting pieces that confront the current state of our anti- sexual violence climate. Part memoir/ part criticism/ part call to action, this anthology seeks to address the limitations of a society that is not only unequipped to deal with rape culture but also unable to look at it without the lens of heterosexual privilege and through the interests of a gender binary system.  The anthology seeks to destroy the image of the “perfect survivor” and motivate the anti-sexual violence community to embrace a more radical perspective in order to foster sustainable change.

For general purposes, the definition of Sexual Violence attached to this anthology is as follows:

Sexual Violence is an unwanted or non- consensual act, whether completed or not, that is sexual in nature and violates a person physically, emotionally, spiritually and/or politically.

To be more clear, Sexual Violence can be a range of non-consensual sexual exchanges, from unwanted interactions on the street, to non- consensual rape from either a stranger or within a relationship, to incest or also invasive sexually based comments in regards to ones gender presentation or identity, among many other things.

The pieces submitted should be of the writer’s personal experience and explore the intersections of ability, sexuality, race, class, religion, citizenship, gender identity, sex, age, ethnicity and how these either magnify or minimize your experience/ work and your history with sexual violence. I encourage you to write about living as a  “survivor” but also the ways in which you navigate and celebrate not being a “typical” survivor (as I am sure most of us are not, by the larger societal definition.)

I believe that organizing from the center of our many different and overlapping marginalized communities could do nothing but improve the current anti- sexual violence movement.

I am looking for pieces 1200- 2000 words, Times New Roman Size 12, double-spaced in length. Upon publication, I will supply moderate compensation for pieces picked.  Also, please provide a short bio (150 words or less) with your submission.

Please send submissions and/ or questions to queeringsexualviolence@gmail.com by March 31, 2010. For extension requests, please write.

It’s Friday And The Question Is….

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Spring is fast approaching and in my neighbourhood this means the return of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Mormons.  Each year despite my sarcastic commentary, they decide to knock on my door in an attempt to convert me.  At any rate, I am looking for new lines in preparation for the invasion of what I like to call the God squad.  What do you say when you open the door and find Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons attempting to convert you that gets them moving quickly?

Do Black Women’s Reproductive Rights Even Matter?

This weekend Focus on the Family Plans plans on running a Pro-Life advertisement during the super bowl.  From the moment that this was discovered, it received national attention.  Groups like NOW and the feminist blogosphere waged a real effort to challenge this threat to women’s reproductive rights.  The Center for Reproductive Rights wrote a letter to CBS pointing out that Ms. Tebow lived in the Philippines at the time of her supposed choice and therefore her only real option was to have the baby because abortion was and still is illegal there.

At the same time that this battle is being waged, another is going quite unnoticed.  An anti-abortion group in Atlanta is targeting Black women by putting up billboards stating that Black children are an endangered species.

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As proof of this claim they offer the fact that Blacks account for 30% of the general population and 56% of the abortions. When we consider the fact that Black children are universally devalued, this campaign has the possibility of being really effective.  Over the last two years campaigns specifically targeting the ability of Black women to choose have been on the rise and yet there has been little to no commentary from White feminists regarding this issue and so I ask, whose reproductive rights matter?

These organizations repeatedly point to the fact that Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist and it seems that rather than countering this claim with the fact that Faye Wattleton, an African American woman was president of Planned Parenthood from 1978–1992, there has been a resounding silence.  Is Planned Parenthood suddenly not worth defending when it is about Black women having abortions?  It seems to me that highlighting a former Black president would go a long way to fighting the claims of racism.

How about the fact that Black women are impoverished due to racism and sexism?  We already know that a woman living alone with a child is more likely to be poor and therefore when we factor in racism, it is quite obvious that poverty would increase.   Would it really be so hard to suggest that part of the reason that the rate of abortion is so high is because Black women are already aware of the herculean task and are simply opting out due to a lack of community support and government funding?

Another factor to consider is education. The way to stop abortion is not by outlawing it but by ensuring that sex education is offered from an early age.  We already know that schools which are located in impoverished neighbourhoods fall short in terms of education.  Is it not possible to suggest a co-relation between this fact and a lack of good sex education?

I do understand that some White women may be reticent to enter this debate because it is framed as saving a Black child, who we know to be universally undereducated and invisible. Even when Black women place their children for adoption, they are less likely to be adopted and so it would appear that Black women are really reduced to two choices, abort or raise the child themselves.  Even if we validate that point, there is still the issue of placing a priority on women's agency when it comes to reproductive rights.  We do not have the right to question these women on their decisions.  No one chooses to abort without putting great thought into the matter and if we truly respect the right to choose, it must apply to ALL women.

Finally, as scared as White women may be to interact because of the racial undertones of this argument, I must ask don’t Black women matter?  All of these campaigns revolve around saving the Black child and this is predicated on the idea that the child is infinitely more valuable than the mother.  If abortion were to be outlawed tomorrow, more children may indeed be born, however you would also see a rise in the deaths of Black women due to back alley abortions.  The Black woman has a right to life and this must be forcefully asserted.

I will continue to blog about this issue because I believe that choice applies to all women but  I must ask where are the voices of my white sisters in arms?  If you truly believe in choice, it is irresponsible to ignore the ways in which Black women’s reproductive rights are increasingly being challenged. The issue is that you either do not care enough to sound the battle alarm or that race is once again a sphere in which you are unwilling to engage because of a desire to center the concerns of White women.  Here’s an idea for you to chew on, if abortion was ever revoked it wouldn’t apply solely to Black women, it would restrict your rights as well.  I suppose that some of you may have the capitol to travel to Canada or Mexico to assert your choice, but invariably some of you would find yourselves in the same alley as a Black woman.

 


NBC Seasons Black History Month Lunch With Racism

image Above is a photo taken by  Questlove, drummer for the Roots, NBC employee, and leader of the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon band.  He posted the image on twitter. Well, it didn’t take long for the Black History month racism to begin did it?   I wonder where the watermelon and malt liquor is? Also, I think Black folk put cayenne in their cornbread and not jalapeno.

I suppose the other eleven months a year they serve White food.   Of course White food consists of what everyone really eats.  It has been so normalized that there is no need to label it White food, it is simply understood as such.  Everyone knows that White people don’t eat fried chicken.

Kevin Goldman the NBC's vice-president of communications had this to say on twitter, "The sign in the NBCU cafeteria has been removed. We apologize for anyone who was offended by it."

He apologized so it’s all better right?  Here’s the deal, every year we celebrate Black History Month and every year Whiteness finds a way to center itself in the conversation through racist thoughts or deeds.  Instead of elevating Blacks, more often than not, Black History Month has become a tool which is used to denigrate Blacks.

Ideally Black History month should be a time to give voice to those whom society has chosen to silence, however; it is regularly used to assert difference thereby reifying an outsider status for Blacks.  “Othering” is not celebrating or uplifting.

I am quite sure the special meal was planned to give White people a warm and fuzzy feeling.   Gee look how progressive we are, we’re going to eat Black folk food and herein lies the problem.   For the other eleven months of the year there isn’t even the slightest pretence of equality and the one month  that is dedicated to uplifting Blacks is still centered quite a bit on Whiteness.  There isn’t even a real attempt to get it and by doing these racist displays of inclusivity, it forces Blacks to once again be on the defence.  Not even during Black History month do we get a break from explaining to Whiteness about the racism that it engages in daily.  Whiteness does not intend to learn from Black History month but it will take the liberal street cred for pretending to care.  I can just here it now, we promote racial diversity, we even served black eyed peas in February.

Enough already. 


Mehcad Brooks: Eggs Anyone?

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I was just tweeting how much I miss “True Blood,” when I came across Mehcad’s new advertisement for Calvin Klein.  Honey Chile, the man could serve me some eggs anytime.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Raging Grannies Rip Into CBS For Anti-Choice Super Bowl Ad

Alright, I want to be a raging Granny when I grow up.

Transcript: Sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice

CBS, CBS,
Corporate bull shit, corporate bull shit!
They won't take ads from MoveOn or the like
but take 3 million from right-to-life.
They're hypocrites and they won't give a voice
to women's choice. (Repeats)

Is A Bikini Responsible For The Rape Of A 9 Year Old Girl?

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Trigger Warning.

Goa, India is a popular destination for tourists due in part to magnificent beaches.  Recently, Goa has received negative attend for a slew of rapes culminating in the alleged rape of a nine year old girl.

Instead of seeing this for the horror that it is, Pamela Mascarhenas, Goa's deputy director of tourism, is quoted by New Delhi's Daily Mail as saying, "You can't blame the locals"; rather, the assaults are the fault of foreign women who don't show adequate "modesty," which "is bound to titillate the senses." Other officials join in by excusing the attacks as caused by "culture shock."

What is this but blatant victim blaming?  Not only does she fail to show solidarity with these victims, she uses their status as foreign women to further stigmatizes them.  While it is true that these women may have been ignorant of the cultural norms, their behaviour did not lead to these alleged rapes.

Rape is an act of power.  India, much like the rest of the world is a highly patriarchal society and therefore  the desire to oppress and control women is very much a part of their discourse.  Victim blaming is commonly how rape is dealt with and this is why rape continues to be a part of worldwide culture.

You will note that she took particular care to mention what the victims were wearing.  This line of questioning is seen repeatedly in the West.  It manifests itself in questions regarding attire, blood alcohol content, and even why a victim was at a certain location.  All these question exist for the sole purpose of making the rape victim responsible for their own assault.

A nine year old should not have to worry about her appearance and in fact no grown woman should either.   A heterosexual man may find himself to be sexually stimulated by viewing a woman in clothing that is unfamiliar to him, however; that is not the genesis of his desire to rape.  If we were to use Mascarhenas explanation that would mean that men were not capable of controlling themselves.  This line of defence not only makes the victim responsible but it is reductive to men because it reduces them to mindless animals.

The way to end the high incidents of rape is not through victim blaming because no matter what a woman is wearing, if she is alone with a rapist, the end result will be rape.  Rape can only actively be challenged by dismantling patriarchy.  Men must be made to see women as their equals and in so doing understand that they do no have the right to access female bodies at will.

In much of the commentary on this story, I have seen the argument used that those people don’t understand how to treat women.  This ignores the fact that rape is a daily occurrence in Western countries and that race has no bearing on this issue.  There is not a country that is rape free because patriarchy is a global and systemic force.  Pointing our finger and declaring those people as savage only allows rape/misogyny to be used as a defence of racism. 


Vanity Fair doesn't like black people

This is a guest post from Rippa of the Intersection of Madness and Reality

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My 16yr old daughter has dreams of becoming a big star through acting one day. Like almost all teenagers she has the fantasy of living in Hollywood and living the glamorous life. But for her, it’s more than a fantasy; she has already started along a path to make this a reality. She has taken acting classes and is currently looking into enrolling at one of this countries prestigious school of the arts upon High School graduation. Oh to be sixteen again and have big dreams I tell ya. I love my daughter and it pains me that I have to tell her to give up any hope of success outside of being in a Tyler Perry movie; what father wants to do such a thing. But according to the good folks over at Vanity Fair there’s no future in Hollywood for black women or women of color – at least for the next decade, as evidenced by the obvious absence of any black women on the cover of their March “Young Hollywood” issue. Nine women on one cover and they couldn't at least photoshop a black person/woman into the shot?

The real irony of this is that they pulled this crap right at the beginning of Black History Month. The nerve of these people! They put a “brother” on the cover who doesn’t even consider himself black one month before Black History Month posing like an iron pumping convict in prison. And the next month they throw up a cover with nothing but white chicks as representative of the future decade of Hollywood? See what you did Soul Plane? Lemme guess, there’re no young black actresses to throw into the mix? Oh my bad, Gabourey Sidibie who played the lead in Precious is just a tad bit on the too dark and over-weight side, right? Yep, and that’s not good for Hollywood unless you win an Oscar because then you can be airbrushed like another plus size entertainer recently. That is, unless your mom and dad are Tina and Mathew Knowles, and you wear padded underwear when you perform on stage to make your booty look bigger than it actually is.

So I really don’t know how to really go in on this one, folks. Parts of me wants to take the route of my man “Buggin Out” the nice looking angry Negro fella in my blog header and scream at the top of my lungs “How come ain’t any black people on the wall,” and then grab my man “Radio Raheem” and wreck a pizza joint. But then there’s this side of me that thinks “Who gives a shit.” Hollywood isn’t important nor is the presence of black women, or people of color for that matter. What’s important is Essence Magazine having the audacity to put Reggie Bush’s ass on the February black love issue when everybody knows he’s currently dating a white woman. But then again, can’t really get too mad; white folks aren’t exactly bitching about being on the covers of Ebony and Jet magazine these days.


Gay and Lesbian Mormon Suicides

The Mormon Church actively worked to outlaw same gender marriage in California.  Much of the activism surrounding the church deals with its staunch anti-gay activism and rhetoric however gay Mormons are often invisible in the conversation.  They struggle each day to find a way to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and for many this leads to death.  Confronting the Mormon Church should not solely be based in their resistance to same gender marriage because it ignores the fact that for many, the Church’s homophobia leads to death.  This is about more than marriage, this is literally a life and death struggle.

It is important that these stories be told so that people understand the cost of their hatred.  Below you will find a list of gay Mormons that have committed suicide. This list was compiled in order to deliver a reconciliation petition to the LDS.

Martel Anderson (1970-1991)
William Badger (1925-1988)
Daniel Britsch (1973-1993)
Duane Catten (1965-2001)
Mark Coon (1957-1982)
Michael J. Green (1961-1986)
Farrell Hurst (1952-1986)
Jon Inman (1969-1995)
Scot Jensen (1975-2005)
Brad Lauritzen (1947-1971)
Carlyle Marsden (1921-1976)
Clifford Martell (1951-2000)
Stuart Matis (1967-2000)
Marshall Myers (1983-2008)
Jacob Orosco (1980-1997)
Boyd Paul (1963-1989)
Jay Peterson (1966-1998)

Jared Pomroy (1968-1998)
Emery Prickett (1948-1985)
Christopher Ricksecker (1982-2003)
Bryan Smith (1983-2004)
Steve
Douglas Stewart (1973-2006)
Lynn Stewart (1957-2005)
DJ Thompson (1967-2000)
Joseph Timpson (1965-2007)
Randall Watkins (1962-2005)
Steven Wheeler (1949-2000)
Clay Whitmer (1965-2000)
Kathy Worthington (1950-2007)

Scott Allred ( -1989?)
David ( -1982)
Suicides of 1965
Suicides of 1976
Suicide of 1984

Each one of these names has a story.  Each person left this world because of homophobia.   The Mormon Church must be forced to acknowledge the cost of the hatred that it supports.  Even if the Mormon Church were to end its anti-gay activities tomorrow, its failure to accept those within their community who are members of GLBT community has dire consequences and therefore they must be forced to see what they have brought about in the name of God. 

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. . . . You are precious and honoured in my sight, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:1-4)

If all are indeed precious in the eyes of God, then the hatred of gays and lesbians is counter to Christian beliefs.  The idea that you can hate the sin and love the sinner is ridiculous.  Just as heterosexuality is part of the identity of a straight person, so to is homosexuality part of the identity of a gay or lesbian person.  Each is a part of the whole and all are precious in Hir sight.


Celebrate Black History Month By Relaxing Your Hair

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The above image is from Sociological Images.   It appeared in a Family Dollar ad from last February.

There are many Black women who continue to relax their hair, however; it is important to note that this product has its genesis in the internalization of racial hatred.    The desire to be as close as possible to Whiteness made Madame CJ Walker the first Black millionaire, however; today Black hair care products are largely owned and marketed by White companies. 

In essence, this ad represents White companies telling Blacks that in order to celebrate Black History Month, that we should internalize Whiteness.  How nice and self-serving.  Many would prefer that Black History Month cease to exist because they refuse to acknowledge that the rest of the eleven months of the year are dedicated to promoting Whiteness.  This advertisement suggests that if we must celebrate Black History Month, that we should find a way to center Whiteness, thus once again supporting White Supremacy.

Hair continues to be a contentious issue within the Black community.  For many, it is a signifier of what we are not and the fact that we continue to attempt to force our hair into submission to match White beauty standards, speaks of the ways in which Blackness is still considered undesirable.

A Black woman wearing her hair without a relaxer is making a political statement because it tells the world that she has fully embraced Blackness.  Loving yourself as you are, can only be considered a radical act, if one believes that Whiteness has the right to rule.  This is why women who wear their hair natural are often called angry; Whiteness is determined that all should submit. For Black women, hair will never be a simple matter.  It is filled with traditions, bonding between women, internalized hatred, racial pride, political statements, sexuality, beauty, etc., Black women's hair speaks volumes.

Whiteness is not maintained solely by White people.  In fact, people of colour labour to ensure the continuation of White supremacy, even though it acts to marginalize us.  The easiest way to rule is to convinced the oppressed to work on the behalf of the oppressor and these ads present this opportunity to Black women.  Not only can you internalize Whiteness through the straightening of your hair, you can also enrich a White owned company.  The only ones that lose in this scenario are Black women but then Whiteness has never intended for Black women to come out ahead.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rush Limbaugh For Mr. America

Limbaugh continues to be a douche of epic proportions.  It is only Wednesday and already he is a candidate for TransGriots shut up fool award. I must remember to suggest him to Monica the next time we talk.  At any rate, behold the unchecked sexism (via Think Progress) that Limbaugh released at the Miss America Pageant.

 

CARLSON: So for those who were critics of you in judging this pageant, and saying that you haven’t been a supporter of women in the past —

LIMBAUGH: Oh, I’m a huge supporter of women. What I’m not a supporter of is liberalism. Feminism is what I oppose, and feminism has led women astray. I love women. I don’t know where all this got started. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it. This idea that I don’t like women is absurd. This is Miss America. And if there’s a Mr. America out there, it’s me.

This kind commentary explains exactly why every woman that he has managed to convince to marry him  has made a break for the hills as soon as it was expedient to do so.  Nothing like throwing in a little sexualization to prove how much you love women.  Limbaugh needs to walk around with his own mute button as he seems to lack the ability to censor himself.  The world does not need to be continually subjected to his inane chatter.

 

Wednesday What’s Up

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Well, we’ve made it half way through the work week. It’s all downhill from here.  Please use this thread to chat about what’s going on with you.  Are you reading anything interesting have you seen a good movie?   I know that many people spent three hours last night watching LOST.  Yes, I’m guilty of that as well and if you would like to discuss the show have at it.  Also I thought I would throw out a little theory.  How many think that Jacob is now inhabiting Sayeed’s body? 

 

SNL Failure: The Really Hot Black Girl

Transcript starting at :37

I got so laid last night.  I was at this club and I went up to this really hot Black girl and I was like hey, anyone ever tell you, you look exactly like Beyonce?  Then I went in for the kiss and I noticed that she had like a full mans moustache and I was like, let’s do this thing….

Can we just stop with the reductive jokes at the expense of Black women?  Really..didn’t John Hamm just take one for the team sleeping with a Black woman with a moustache?  Isn’t he courageous everyone? And honestly telling a Black woman that she looks like Beyonce is really going to work because lord knows we are all so desperate to get a man. 

This is not to say that there isn’t room to tell jokes about Black women; it is simply tiring to see that we are consistently the butt of the joke.  The fact that race became a factor when SNL decided to construct a woman as man-like is certainly based in the idea that the Black woman is understood to be the ultimate un-woman. 

You may be tempted to say that this is just a harmless joke, however when this sort of construction is repeatedly part of the social discourse, it leads to “othering”  You will also note that he met this woman in a bar and all that she was good for was a good fuck. 

In a world in which Black women are decidedly devalued, continuing this form of conversation only serves to reify the fact that Black women only exist for the purposes of sexual gratification, when we are understood to be women.  When we consider the history between White men and Black women Hamm’s little joke is far from harmless.

The power difference between White men and Black women continues unabated and therefore when Hamm told this little joke it came laced with a history of social imbalance.  The White man is historically the most privileged group and for Hamm to make a reductive joke about Black women serves to maintain this warped social hierarchy. The race and gender imbalance exists in part because each day we labour to ensure that the foundation remains solid by repeatedly ensuring that certain bodies are understood as less than.   For Hamm and the SNL writers, this may have just been innocent fun, but for Black women who must struggle each day to assert human dignity, it is just another example of the myriad of ways that we are devalued.

Comedy need not be reductive to be funny, however SNL long ago gave up on this concept to achieve an easy laugh.  Of course a White man being out of it enough to sleep with a Black woman that is described as man like is hilarious because he is lowering himself to engage in copulation.  See, see what happens if you get drunk and follow your dick? You end up sleeping with someone beneath you. 

Comedy as a tool of oppression is far too common in our discourse and yet when it is questioned, the marginalized body is being too sensitive or cannot take a joke.  If your life is continually the butt of the joke or the comedy reifies social conditions which serve to mark you as less than, why is it unreasonable to decide that your personal value is worth more than a punch line.   SNL will continue on and few will bother critique the ways in which it uses humour as a reductive tool. The bottom line is that it supports a hierarchy of bodies and we have all become far to comfortable using power coercively to understand that tomorrow the joke may be at our own expense.

 


American Apparel Is Searching For The Best Bottom In The World.

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Well ladies, now you have the chance to make your behind world famous.  Can you imagine the glory?  You simply need to take a picture of yourself wearing American Apparel underwear and submit it.  YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

Exactly who do you think they are appealing to with this little contest?  We can say that women are choosing to submit these photos, however American Apparel is going to net a tidy little profit once again from the sexualization of female bodies.  It is further disgusting that they are staging a contest to decide who they are going to exploit.

Women’s activism is daily constructed as unnecessary and yet we still have ridiculous promotions like this that reduce women to body parts.  You’re not a person with a functioning brain, no you are a hot sexy ass. And of course, there is no such thing as the social disciplining of women’s bodies; this is just a harmless little contest.  This contest couldn’t possibly enable the idea that if you don’t look a certain way,  that you are somehow less than right?

It couldn’t possibly maintain White hegemony could it? It is just accidental that  Black women who have been historically considered the un-woman of the world, just happens to account for 1/10 of the images in the top ten.  This contest couldn’t also maintain skinny privilege because it seems to me that there just happens to be an absence of fat women.  I also have to wonder where all the women with physical disabilities are?   I suppose the value of your ass declines if you are paralysed or have a prosthetic leg.

Yeah, there is so much about this idea that is full of fail.  A contest judging women’s bodies that is going to normalize a certain kind of body while disciplining those that don’t fit; what’s not to love?  Isn’t it wonderful to see the way in which so many benefit from a best ass competition?  American Apparel’s marketing team  must be so proud.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Urban Outfitters Now Has An Obama/Black T-Shirt

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To me the shirt looks grey but apparently it is “Obama/Black”.  Isn’t it refreshingly hipster? Let’s just turn a human being into a colour ‘cause it is ketchy and might just sell a few t-shirts. What I want to know is when are they coming out with a David Duke White?…Oooops that probably isn’t hipster enough right?  The whole purpose is to appropriate marginalized bodies because people are so cool now that it doesn’t really matter and therefore because Duke is White he won’t get a shirt named after him. 

Fail Fail Fail

I am sick of hipster culture.  I am sick of this shit.  I cannot believe I am dedicating my time to pointing out that naming a t-shirt colour Obama/Black is wrong. 

A Spark of Wisdom: Think of the children they cry. We must protect the children!

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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.

What about OUR children?

What about the GBLT kids and teens?

Homophobic and transphobic bullying is toxic in the playground. Stonewall reports 2 in 5 PRIMARY school teachers witness homophobic bullying. 2 thirds of GBLT kids in secondary school are bullied - and 40% beaten up. Homophobic bullying is second only to weight in terms of frequency and 9 out of 10 secondary school teachers have witnessed homophobic bullying.

Outside of school GBLT kids grow up in a world that demonises homosexuals and trans people. Even with the best family in the world, the homophobia and transphobia and  the cis/heteronormative world is presented everywhere. On television, in books, in games, in the playground, from the pulpit (ye gods, definitely from the pulpit) and from the seats of government. 'Gay' is one of the most common pejoratives there is, especially among the young. It seems hardly a week goes by without some celebrity merrily letting the word 'fag' spill from his lips. Ministers and religious leaders don't pause for a second in spouting the most virulent homophobic bigotry. Nations around the world think it's acceptable to kill us - and the BBC think it's acceptable to debate whether we should be killed or not.

The message of hatred is always there. It's poison that seeps into kids, corrodes them, damages them, destroys their sense of self worth, self-esteem and even will to live.

And they are ALONE. Unlike many marginalised groups, homosexuals, bisexuals and trans people rarely grow up in a house with people who share their marginalisations. Their parents are cis-gendered and heterosexual. Their siblings, their grandparents, the vast majority of their family - they're all cis-gendered and heterosexual. There's no support net. No understanding. No advice. No experience. Nothing to counter the constant poisonous message that they're diseased, broken, wrong.

And we're not allowed to counter the message. Teachers receive next to no training in dealing with homophobic bullying - and the mere mention of homosexuality in schools is considered so taboo it's nearly impossible to counter the bullying, the prejudice and the language of hate. How many kids are told how damaging using "gay" as a pejorative is? How many are even told that "fag" is a grossly unacceptable slur? How many are told that "tranny" should never pass their lips? How many kids are taught that anti-GBLT hate is NOT ok? They grow up in a world that is saturated with anti-GBLT prejudice and straight and cisgendered privilege and no-one ever tells them it's wrong, no-one tells them the damage it causes - even educating them on the hurt is considered immoral. They will absorb hate unless we work to counter it - unless we're allowed to work to counter it.

Is it any wonder our kids hide? Is it any wonder we closet ourselves? But then, that makes for even less chance to seek help. How can you connect to the GBLT community when you're terrified of being outed? How can you complain to your parents or your teachers that you're being bullied or assaulted or abused when it would mean outing yourself to them? How do you go to the police when you are afraid of anyone finding out?

Is it any wonder so many of our young are depressed? Is it any wonder so many of them self-harm? Is it any wonder so many of them are homeless? Is it any wonder so many of them turn to drugs? And we can't even begin to imagine the full scale of pain they fall to - how many resort to destructive relationships because they think they're worth no better? How many live empty, hollow lives pretending to be straight and/or cis-gendered and hating every day?

Is it any wonder that so many of our young kill themselves?

So, righteous homophobes - you want us to think of the children? We are - and we'd appreciate it if you'd stop killing ours!

Tune in Tuesday: Gordon Lightfoot If You Could Read My Mind

On this weeks Sunday Shame, Sparky and I participated in an epic battle regarding whether or not 80’s music is better than 70’s music.  I noticed that in the comment section, that quite a few people made reference to Gordon Lightfoot and I decided to oblige this week by posting my favourite song by him.  Once again we have an example of yet another Canadian making good music.  Enjoy all and please feel free to share any memories you have associated with this song.

J Crew Seems To Like Erections

image Well we have seen many different marketing schemes to get us to buy clothing.  The most common tactic is to sell sex with the hope being that the customer will assume if they buy a particular item that they will have the good fortune to have a sexual experience. Advertising has had to become more and more daring as the amount of disposable income has decreased due to the large number of people out of a job.   The following is something I never thought that I would see from J Crew.

Anyone remember when Calvin Cline underwear ads were thought to be risqué? Well, the following certainly puts a new spin on things.

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You can tell me I’m wrong for asking but since this is not porn, how was this state achieved?  Well they say that sex sells and this time there can be no doubt of what tool them mean to employ (yes pun intended).

Looking at this images makes me think of the ways in which women’s bodies are often objectified to sell products.  If you want to sell a computer put a pair of big boobs next to it.  Are you interested in selling peanuts – sure no thing, put a pair of big breasts next to the jar.   What I find curious about this ad is that it is clearly sexualizing the male body but you will note that the product that they are attempting to hawk is directly related to men in the first place.  You could say that perhaps they were looking to attract the interest of gay customers but even with that in mind, the utility of the item in question marks it as different than the ways in which female bodies are used in advertising.

What are your thoughts on the above images?

H/T  The Bilerico


Disability: When Accommodations Are Imperfect

During the summer if I wanted to go somewhere, I would just hop on my scooter and go.  I loved having my mobility and independence.   Now that the ground is covered in snow, even wearing multiple layers it is still quite cold.  The city is not very quick to remove the snow from sidewalks and this means I am often trapped in my home.  Due to the cold and snow, the unhusband suggested that I attempt to take the bus instead of taking my scooter directly to a location. 

image Well, the buses are not nearly as accessible as they claim to be.  If you are a wheelchair user it is fairly easy to negotiate the ramp and the narrow aisle.  If you are on a scooter, it is next to impossible to negotiate the ramp or guide your scooter to the side so that it is out of aisle.  The unhusband literally had to lift the scooter to adjust its position to get it on the bus.  Of course this meant that I had to get up to allow him to do this.  The whole time that this was going on I heard the sighs and saw the eye rolling.  Yep, its all my fault for deciding to ride the bus and didn’t I know that people had places to go.

So do you see how this works?  Create a circumstance that is supposedly accessible and then grumble grumble when it turns out that its not and you have to wait for the differently abled person to find a way to negotiate it.   I tried not to feel the eyes that looked at me with impatience and condescension.  I tried not to feel embarrassed and ashamed but it was unavoidable.  In that moment, I knew that I had made a big mistake in the eyes of the able bodied, I dared to take up space.  My being was impacting the speed at which they were able to traverse through this world and this is the point at which most people suddenly lose patience with the differently abled.

I suddenly realized why it is I have never seen a scooter user on the bus;  it is inaccessible without the aid of a strong able bodied person.  I remember when the announcement was made that the buses were going to be accessible.  There was a huge ribbon cutting ceremony and the mayor was there to make sure he got his mug in the shot, but in the moment that I realized that once again a space was not designed to include me I felt alone and I felt shame.  This is how exclusion works; it relies on shame whether or not the person who is being othered has any real reason to feel ashamed.   I will not get on a bus again.  I simply do not want to have that feeling again thus making me one less person who is willing to try and force a change that is so badly needed.  It is enough for me to know that when I get to the location that I am going to, that  I will probably face some form of disablism, without making the entire trip stressful for me.

Unlike the U.S.,  Canada does not have the equivalent for the American with Disabilities Act.  This means that businesses do not have to have ramps, automatic doors or other accommodations.  We are made to feel as though we should be grateful for the few places that make minor accommodations because they do not have to.  If the accommodations are imperfect, well that is still our problem because they tried right?   More often than not any changes that are made are surface level, just enough to allow for good publicity without granting real access.  To ask for more is to seem ungrateful even though simply demanding the space to exist can be a humiliating enough experience as it is.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Black History Month: I Love Black People

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Well it is February first and that means it is officially Black History Month. I will probably spend quite a deal of time this month dealing with the issues that I find problematic about Black history month but I thought that in honour of the first day, we could all use a bit of positive energy .  In that vein feel free to yell:

I Love Black People

See didn’t that feel good?  I KNOW it did.  Ha ha ha…seriously folks happy Black history month and hopefully the lessons learned this month will extend to the other eleven months of the year.

 

Woman Allegedly Starves Her Baby Girl Because She Is Worried That The Child Is Fat

It is quite a normalized activity to shame and discipline fat bodies.  They are continually seen as disgusting and have often been used as an analogy for much that is wrong with our society.  Fat is synonymous with gorging oneself and therefore many are more than willing to subject their bodies to all sorts of horrors in the hope of avoiding becoming fat.

image Samuel Labberton, 24, and Brittainy Labberton, 21, are charged with third-degree criminal mistreatment for allegedly starving their daughter and feeding her laxatives to ensure that the child did not become fat.   When they took their child to the hospital to seek medical treatment, doctors became suspicious and contacted child protective services. 

According to probable cause documents, the Labbertons' daughter, identified as A.L., was born in August 2008, weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Doctors had instructed the Labbertons to feed her regularly to keep her healthy.

A.L. was hospitalized less than two months later after she failed to gain sufficient weight, say investigators. The Labbertons allegedly told doctors that their daughter was fussy and threw up food.

"When you have a baby that is so sick and in pain that all she does is scream and cry and throw up her formula like the exorcist, I kid you not," said Brittainy.

But doctors say they saw no signs of that when the girl was in their care and she was described as "happy." Since then, A.L. has been in foster care, with the Labbertons given supervised visits.

According to papers from the prosecutor's office, Brittainy said "Oh My God she's fat" and "I have a fat baby" when A.L. was up to to 13 pounds, 7 ounces in December 2008. She allegedly indicated that her husband has a weight problem and did not want her girls to be fat.

Brittainy tells it differently.

"I was so concerned she was gaining the weight so fast. I didn't care that she was gaining the weight. That is fine. But too fast, it scared the crap out of me," said Brittainy.

In January 2009, the Labbertons had a supervised visit with A.L, after which, the foster parent indicated that A.L. was fussy and had diarrhea. Prosecutors say tests on the bottle indicated the formula was more likely a laxative. Since then, CPS says it is no longer allowing the Labbertons to make bottles for the child.

As a mother, I know what it is to worry about the health of a child, however if it is proven that this woman was truly motivated to harm her child because of a fear of fatness, clearly we must all acknowledge the role that social conditioning played in her actions.  Almost everywhere we turn fatness is stigmatized.  Fat bodies are constantly erased from discourse, unless the purpose is to shame or promote them as decidedly undesirable.  Few even recognize what a real female body looks like because society promotes  plastic surgeries and photo shopping.  It is the idealized images that we have to blame for the actions of Samuel and Brittany.  Because of the hatred that we routinely display towards fat bodies is it any wonder that Brittany sought to protect her daughter?   No parent wants their child to experience pain of any sort.  Fat women in particular are viewed as sexless pathetic beings and no matter how hard we try to have a positive attitude towards fatness, the fact remains that just like any other marginalized or oppressed body, life is not easy for someone who is above what society considers to be a normal weight.

The other issue that is being obscured in our desire to attack Brittany is the fact that she was suffering from post partum depression.  Women are not slaves to their biology, however it has been scientifically proven that a woman suffering from post partum depression is capable of acts that she would not have otherwise considered and this being the fact, Samuel had the responsibility to act in the best interest of his child.   In much of the coverage surrounding this case, the media has been quick to assert Brittany’s culpability, while ignoring the role that Samuel played.   Even if he did not actively place laxatives in the child's bottle, if he did not act to prevent harm, he shares her guilt and unlike Brittany his only reasoning is fat hatred. 

In the instances of child abuse in which post partum depression plays a role, the media has been quick to give men a pass on their parental responsibilities because child rearing has historically been the role of women.  Women are demonized in part because of our social construction of the long suffering mother who is incapable of causing harm.  Motherhood does not suddenly make one immune to social conditioning or illness.   Brittany’s fall from grace is that much more than Samuel because of gender.  Men are expected to play a secondary role in parenting and it is this that has caused this story to be framed around Brittany. 

As long as there is a woman that we can blame, we will not look at the ways in which fat hatred lead to the harm of this child.  We will not examine the ways in which gender often serves to protect men from the consequences of inaction or passive parenting.   It is clear that Brittany currently presents a danger to her child, however it is equally clear that society played a very strong role in creating the conditions which caused her to believe that her actions were an act of love. 

What If Scott Brown Were….

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There is really nothing remarkable about this photo.   Scott Brown recently ran and won the seat of the now deceased lion of the senate, Teddy Kennedy.   What is interesting about this image, is that it did not become synonymous with what he stood for.   It did not serve as an indicator of his morals.

What I mainly want to ask about this photo is simply this, what if Scott Brown were a man of colour?  How would our understanding of this image change?  Can anyone even imagine for one moment what would have happened, if an image of Obama posed like this had surfaced during the primaries?  Scott Brown was able to display his body and still win an election because White male bodies are not viewed as threatening.  Had Obama posed for the same image, we would have heard commentary regarding his aggressive sexuality.

Whiteness controls social discourse and as such the ability to frame this image as benign is well within its power.  Heterosexual White male sexuality is understood as naturally occurring and because we have so normalized it, Browns picture is not understood as problematic.  Whiteness and masculinity frame our understanding of the image.

This image is further interesting when we consider what would have happened had this been a female politician.  When Hillary Clinton wore a blouse that revealed cleavage the commentary was shaming and yet she clearly revealed far less skin that Brown did.  No woman could be elected for any position if she had posed for a nude photo.

This photo tells us many things about society.  It tells us who controls discourse and what bodies are naturalized. Brown is able to look at this photo with no regrets because he knows that he will always be viewed as more than a body, whereas; a woman or a man of colour will always be reduced to only their physical bodies, no matter what else they have to offer.  Even in his nakedness, Brown is not truly vulnerable because White masculinity works to shield and uplift him. 


Julie Bindel Is Not Being Oppressed By Trans Women

Time and time again, the oppressor dares to announce that it is being censored or oppressed, when marginalized bodies refuse to accept a secondary status.  On Sunday Beatrix Campbell wrote the following for The Guardian:

It is getting as hard to catch sight of her as it is of Aretha Franklin. Bindel is, in effect, being banned. Airing the complications and troubles of transgender politics is being traduced as "transphobia". Transgender people who used to live as men and now live as women persuaded the May 2009 NUS women's conference to mandate its officers to share no platform with Julie Bindel. Proponents say they are offended by Bindel's critique – aired in the Guardian since 2004 – of "trannies"' perceived cultural conservatism and anatomical violence.

The NUS women's campaign shows no solidarity with women who are offended by the presence in their safe spaces of people who used to be men telling them which women they may listen to and who qualifies as queer. This month, her enemies mustered a picket outside Queer Question Time in a London pub. They're not censoring her, they say, you can read her, they say, just don't go to hear her. That renders her "audience" passive consumers but not engaged debaters. By the way, the blogger's sexual semantics are interesting: women should "have the balls" to stop Bindel speaking.

They're offended? So what? Offensiveness is a discourse shared by both politics and comedy. "Offendedness" is a privileged, protected category in the NUS against, specifically, rightwing extremists, racists and Julie Bindel. The women's officer Olivia Bailey insists this is "not no platform" for Bindel. "The expression of transphobic views directly discriminates" against "valued members of our campaign." It's just that, "We welcome our trans sisters" and a group of them "had been made to feel uncomfortable". Again, so what? This solidarity does not extend to women who feel unsettled by the presence of people who used to be men in women-only spaces and services.

Bindell has described trans women as men in dresses, advocated against supporting SRS and has claimed that they have psychological problems.  If that were not enough, she has repeatedly used the hateful slur tranny.  Gee, how could anyone possibly make the incredible leap that the woman is transphobic?

The idea that trans women are just men parading around in dresses is offensive.  Trans women have always been women, they just happened to have been born in the wrong body.  When we exclude trans women from women only spaces, we are expressing our power coercively.   If women are offended by their presence, it is because they are transphobic and refuse to give up their cisgender privilege. 

What Bindell advocates is hatred against a specific category of women and it is no different than White feminists who have a particular aversion to allowing women of colour to voice their experience due to racism.  No space can be defined as safe, as long as hate is allowed to be understood as free speech.  You cannot debate the existence of a person.  The moment we begin to assign someone out group status, we are laying the foundation for oppression.   This is no harmless conversation, when we consider that trans women are already subject to an extremely high rate of violence.

White Cisgender women have historically acted as gatekeepers of feminist spaces and as such have been able to control the conversation and direct it to focus primarily on their needs.   The category of woman is not a monolithic identity and despite the sisterhood mantra, such a narrow view of womanhood is far from inclusive and in fact sets the feminist movement up to participate in the very same form of oppression that it continually accuses patriarchy of.

Hate mongers like Bindell are not being oppressed by not being allowed to spread their hate.   This kind of argument can repeatedly be seen by racists who claim that people of colour want special privileges or by homophobes who wish to wish to question the masculinity or femininity of a gay or lesbian person based solely on sexuality.  What Bindell seeks is the right to assert special privileges for cisgender peoples.  Cissupremacy is not naturally occurring, it is supported daily through the concrete actions of people like Bindell and if we are ever to move away from the idea that it is right to deny the worth of another, such language must be forcefully understood for what it is – hate speech.  True oppression is having your very right to exist questioned, not having your undeserved privileges challenged.


Just Another Monday

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Well here we go with the start of another work week.  Forty hours to go until freedom.    Please use this thread to chat about your weekend or to simply whine about the fact that it is Monday. 

This weekend, Destruction did his test for his yellow belt.   Yeah, I am all proud Momma.  The presentation is today and he worked very hard for this.  On the Womanist Musings podcast we interviewed Larry Hales from F.I.S.T. regarding the impact of colonialism and racism in Haiti, you can listen to it here.

Finally, to all of you who laughed at my love of Bey Bey and All The Single Ladies, I would like to point out that it won song of the year last night….Who’s laughing now?

That’s right, I love me some Bey Bey. 

I do feel the need to add after last night’s Grammy awards, that Taylor Swift needs to send a HUGE thank you note to Kanye.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Shame: 70’s vs. 80’s Edition

I spend quite about of time chatting with Sparky.  As I have said on previous posts, the man is hilarious.  In fact as proof of this, I offer the fact that in a recent conversation Sparky claimed that 80’s music is better than 70’s music.  I repeat 80’s music better than 70’s music.   I suppose everyone is allowed to just go right off the deep end occasionally but WOW….From fashion, to movies to music, the eighties is the decade we are busy trying to pretend never happened.  I don’t think the earth will ever forgive us for all of the hairspray used during that decade alone.   I get that big hair was needed because with the boxy clothes and shoulder pads, everyone looked like their head was the size of a peanut.

The 70’s were the decade of Motown, great classic rock, as well as a few awesome disco hits that people are still getting their groove onto.  Yes I said it.  Even disco tops some of the shite that we were told was music in the eighties.  As proof I offer: The Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive

 

Then of course you have Classics like The Wall, released in 1979, so yeah it counts ha ha ha ha

 

Of course I have to offer some Motown because they were busy makin everyone feel good.  How many babies were made to Let’s Get it On?

 

What would a conversation about the 70’s be without a Rock anthem that the decade was famous for?  That’s right, Kashmir Led Zeppelin

No matter what genre of music that you look at in the 70’s, you will find something innovative and memorable, whereas the 80’s were filled with big haired rock bands putting out the same sort of clone music over and over.  The 80’s are the decade that should quickly be swept away by the sands of time.  And with no further ado, I turn you over to Sparky because I feel that I have more than made my point.

It is rare that Renee and I disagree about things, in our random exchanges of randomness we can cover a lot of topics (quite randomly) and we seem to read off the same page most of the time - so imagine my horror in discovering that  Renee (quite possibly as a result of severe trauma from a beaver attack) has truly distressing taste in music.

While this can be advantageous - she has offered to kidnap me a sexy Canadian if I will ship her George Michael (I'm looking for the perfect candidate) - it does not compensate the sheer horror of her defending the 70s. The 70s people! The era of disco and blah rock! Help me start an intervention already!

Now I thought my love of the 80s was pretty worthy of a Sunday shame  - after all, I am a fan of Roxette, Meat Loaf, Heart, Vixen, Alice Cooper, Bon Jovi, Rainbow. I'll even listen to Bonnie Tyler - (Though I will fiercely deny under torture any allegations about singing into hairbrushes *ahem*) I think everyone will agree that no-one with that line up is exactly shame free. (And yes, I know some of them are a little 70s-ish. but they're good 70s. Because I said so :p)

So, I present the following to counter  Renee's insomnia-remedying offerings and recruit help in setting her feet on the right path. I challenge anyone to watch them and NOT want to belt out the song at the top of their lungs. (using hair cares accessories as microphones optional)

Heart – Alone

 

Alice Cooper - Poison (yeah he was in the 70s - but THIS was 80s. So it counts)

Bon Jovi, of course, has to get the nod

 

And of course, one of my all time favourites -Meat Loaf. One of his many many EXCELLENT songs

Well dear readers the epic battle is completed and it is time for you to weigh in.  Which one of us should truly be ashamed of our music choices?