Saturday, February 27, 2010

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy and if there is an issue that you would like to call more attention to, please send me a link or your original post via e-mail.  Below you will find links to a few posts that I found interesting this week.  I did not read the comment sections of most of these, so read those at your own risk.  When you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

perpetuate the idea that “gay” or “lesbian means “white”

Leave a number and let me know if its safe to call you

Ideas for pointing out white male privilege

What the World is Curling, and Why Am I So Obsessed With it? (laugh of the week)

Black Male Privilege

how the war on drugs is a war on class

Size Doesn't Matter: Israel's Porno Tourism Promotion

When Depression Strikes the (Black) Superwoman

 Canada is multi-racial,not anti-racist

Misreading Lolita

RACE IN THE CARNIVAL AND MARDI GRAS COLOUR FACE

 eight years ago…… and Contributor Nat Roslin

Rape Survivors Aren’t Guinea Pigs

British PSA About Dangers of Cabs Implies Rape (Trigger Warning)

Today in Fat Hatin’

In Things Dr. Seuss Would Rather You Didn’t Remember

Anti-Choicers Target Women of Colour: How Should Pro-Choicers Respond?

 

image

Friday, February 26, 2010

PeTA Uses Tiger Woods to Advocate Spaying and Neutering

There can be no doubt that unwanted animals continues to be a problem.  It is highly irresponsible to have a pet without ensuring that it is spayed or neutered, unless one has purchased the animal specifically for breeding purposes.  PeTA of course has found a way to make this highly important message problematic.

image

The above billboard has been created without Tigers consent and PeTA plans to place them in Windermere, Fla.  Tiger Woods has recently come under fire after it was revealed that he had engaged in sex with numerous White women.  His lecherous behaviour has become part of the public conversation, even though it is clearly a private family matter.

PeTA has absolutely no right to capitalize on his behaviour and to associate him with spaying and neutering displays no sensitivity regarding the ways in which Black bodies have been sexually stereotyped.  There is also a history of Black men being castrated for having relations with White women.  This advertisement suggests that Tiger should be castrated for having consensual sex and therefore supports White hegemony. The above advertisement could actually be triggering to some people, but of course any discomfort is cast aside for the ability to be sensationalist  and racist.

PeTA has never shown any kind of racial sensitivity in their advertisements.  In fact, PeTA has no problem supporting any ism if they can twist it to suit their agenda.  Animal rights do not out weigh the right of human beings to be treated with respect. 

People that would be inclined to support their goals are turned off because of the way that PeTA presents their message.  This means that PeTA is actually  damaging the animal rights movement.  PeTA is such a large organization that even when animal rights groups speak out against them, their voices are often drowned out. At this time, it may seem pointless to continue to advocate against PeTA; however, if we decide to stop protesting their actions, silence will infer approval.  All bodies matter, even if PeTA refuses to recognize this.

H/T Gus via gchat

 



Abercrombie & Fitch Allegedly Fires a Woman for Wearing a Hijab

image Abercrombie must have a crack legal team on retainer because it seems that other than selling clothing, discrimination is its stock and trade. Hani Khan, 19, of Foster City was allegedly called into a meeting with the district store manager and told that she was not supposed to wear her scarf to work and that it violated the company’s “look policy”. A week later she was fired from her job.

Khan contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group. On Tuesday, the organization filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Abercrombie & Fitch, which operates Hollister stores.

The commission cannot confirm or deny the existence of a complaint, a spokesman said. Abercrombie & Fitch officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Khan, a political science student at the College of San Mateo, said she wore her hijab to her job interview before she was hired as a part-time stockroom worker in October. She said her direct supervisors had no problem with her headwear, so long as they were of the company's colors - navy, gray and white - which she said they were.

Time and time again Abercrombie has discriminated against people of colour, the disabled and fat people.  The “look” that they seek to perpetuate is thin, white, and able bodied.  Each time we wear an item from this company, we are supporting discrimination and so I encourage everyone to boycott Abercrombie until they dedicate themselves to ending discrimination in their employment practices.

When they are not firing employees for a failure to meet their standards, they place them in the stockrooms and reduce their hours.  Hiding them in the stockroom creates marginalized bodies as literally invisible and supports the idea that they have no right to take up space.  This policy further normalizes dominant bodies and in a culture that is determined to maintain a hierarchy of bodies, this affirms undeserved privilege.

There will be those that will say that Hani was well aware of the company policy before applying for a job; however, a company policy that exists for the sole purpose of discrimination should not be tolerated by anyone.  Hani had every right to expect fair treatment in employment and when we factor in the high level of Islamphobia, all this does is inflame the desire to treat Muslims as “other” and ultimately threatening. 

The hijab is a complicated article of clothing and few westerners will acknowledge that for some women, veiling is actually a sign of personal choice, thereby affirming female agency.  Hani’s example shows us that the hijab is not always forced, and that women do indeed choose to veil for their own reasons.   Religious intolerance is just as high in the west as it is in the Middle East, though it is never framed as such.  There have many attacks on mosques and women have had hijabs forcefully ripped off of their heads.   The tolerance we preach are just words because it seems more often then not, when we are offered the opportunity to put meaning to our words, we opt to discriminate

That Abercrombie chose to discriminate is hardly surprising because of their history.   What continues to be disturbing is that despite numerous instances of out right discrimination, that people continue to support this business by purchasing their clothing.  The very same people that will preach equality will do so in an A & F shirt.  As long as companies like this continue to proliferate, we have no business pointing the finger at other countries claiming a moral high ground.  Either all bodies matter or they don’t.

H/T Angry Asian Man


It’s Friday and the Question is….

image

I am a creature of habit and as such I tend to do the same thing at the same time each day. Everyday at 5 pm I watch “The Golden Girls”.  The entire house knows that I am doing this because I belt out the theme song.  Today’s question is, what television theme do you have to belt out when you hear it, or what theme song do you still know by heart, even though it’s been years since the show was on the air?

Editors Note:  Sorry everyone I changed the question and then decided that the original was better.  I will not mess with the Friday question again.

Canadian Women Win Gold In Hockey

image

I want to say congratulations to the Canadian women’s hockey team for owning podium and winning gold.   They played an excellent game last night showing the world whose game this is.   I would like to thank the American women for showing up; not to worry silver is pretty as well.

Our Game, Our House. 

 

Feel The Thunder

Thursday, February 25, 2010

George Lopez is helping to bring Speedy Gonzales to the Big Screen

image Speedy Gonzales is a 1950’s Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes cartoon.  The speedy mouse was removed from the air by the cartoon network in 90’s because of fears that it unfairly stereotyped Mexicans; however, after a campaign to get the mouse returned to the air, Speedy made his reappearance in 2002. New Line producers intend to update Speedy’s image, in a way that they contend will remove the problematic racial elements.

"We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s -- the racist Speedy," Ann Lopez said with a chuckle. "Speedy's going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he's a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he's good at."

That path becomes clearer once Speedy befriends a gun-shy race-car driver.

Many of cartoon shorts that featured the little mouse are filled with highly racist and xenophobic messages.

There are admittedly a percentage of the Mexican community that support and embrace Speedy Gonzales; however, it is possible to suggest that representation of Mexicans in the social discourse and even more specifically the media, has been so severely limited that it has lead to support of Speedy.  There are many that feel a bad representation is better than none.

Speedy and his little entourage often portray slovenliness, drunkenness, and laziness.  Many of the shorts place him and his entourage in direct confrontation with Whiteness and America.  Speedy regularly crosses the border, evading guards in the form of Sylvester et al,. and  this clearly matches the modern meme of all Mexicans supposedly seeking access to the states to take commodities, jobs etc., 

Though Speedy is sometimes understood as fighting against injustice, this depends on who is watching the cartoon and their understanding of Mexican bodies.   Nowhere in the cartoon does Warner Brothers attempt to interrogate the crimes committed by the U.S. that are directly responsible for the disparity.

Even though Speedy is getting a makeover, once a label or in this case an image has been firmly understood in a negative matter, reclamation or in this case re-typing will not alter the original concept. This redesign will only further ensconce the racist tropes that Speedy presents in the mind of the viewer because the two will be irrevocably attached. No matter how much we wish to disempower an image or a label that is harmful, its continued existence only serves as marker of our desire to “other”. It is further important to note that though George Lopez has been contracted to play the title character, one man cannot legitimize how an entire group of people is represented.

A more affirming project would be to create a new cartoon featuring a Mexican character.  Do we really need to continue with the idea that Latino’s can only be portrayed by chihuahuas and mice?  Even if we were to remove every single racist trope in the Speedy cartoons, the fact that a Mexican can be represented by a mouse/vermin is extremely racist.  This new cartoon will be aimed at children and they will add this construction to that which already proliferates media representations of Mexicans, causing yet another generation to conceptualize Mexicans as “other”. 

Aiming racist stereotypes at children is scurrilous because they accept without question the world around them, unless they are specifically taught to look for racism and privilege. We must also concern ourselves with how such representation will effect Mexican and indeed all Latino children.  If the only time they see themselves represented it is in the position of the other, what are they to conclude but that they are without value?  Speedy Gonzales may seem sweet and harmless, but the cost of his continued existence is another generation children believing that Mexicans are secondary beings.

H/T Shakesville

 


Nadaya Suleman Is Not Done Having Babies

Ms. Suleman recently made an appearance on “The View” where she was grilled by the ladies.  I was not  able to see the interview; however, I did catch the disturbing analysis of the interview on CNN.

image

The video begins with Nadaya stating that she is done having kids unless someday far in the future she falls in love and meets someone who would like to have another.  She made it clear that she did not want any more children by herself but would not close the door to having more children in a committed relationship.

Leslie Marshall @ :52 :  You know if we can’t lock her up, how about we lock up her uterus.  (emphasis mine) I mean seriously, I’m just thinking that a guy is gonna be like look I love you I want all of these children and now let’s make more.  Again how do you pay for all of these kids?  I don’t know if she just said that to be so provocative, she wasn’t thinking or she’s really believing the Cinderella,  snow white, prince and the castle, forgetting all of the kids she already has. I think she clearly needs more help.

Because the subject matter was Ms.Suleman, these women felt that it was acceptable to question a woman’s reproduction.  Though the commentary regarding locking up her uterus was meant as a form of sarcasm, the reality is that Leslie was openly advocating for forced sterilization.  When we consider that the U.S. already has a history of violating women's bodies through forced medical procedures, this is indeed truly disturbing.  The issue is that Leslie disagrees with Ms. Suleman’s reproductive choices and therefore, she has taken it upon herself to sit in judgement, without realizing that once we begin to question the right of a woman to have children, we place the state and society as the ultimate adjudicator of women's bodies, thereby removing individual agency.

Brooke @ 1:22: I think she needs to take a step back and look at what she’s saying objectively and realize this is not in her best interest,  the best interest of her fourteen children or taxpayers, speaking of how she’s paying for a lot of it.  Meaghan I think that the octomom needs to get a grip.

Repeatedly in conversations about Ms. Suleman’s reproduction the issue of how the family is being financed becomes an issue.  Financially supporting these fourteen children is not going to amount to even 1% of a state budget, never mind the miniscule impact it will have on the federal level.   Tax payers repeatedly pay for government programs that they don’t necessarily agree with and receive very little return on their investment.  These fourteen children will grow to actively participate in society and given the right support, their ability to contribute is limitless.  Supporting children is the best return that any state can possibly make.  Human capitol is an extremely important factor in any economy; it is only because we have so devalued the individual to support corporate capitalism that this is so easily ignored. 

As the women continued to chat they questioned Ms. Suleman’s mental health.  Nadaya admitted that she was delusional when she decided to have the children on “The View”.  She made it clear that her mental health is fine now based on her ability to deal with the day to day challenges of raising fourteen children.  Just like every other area of Ms. Suleman’s life, her mental health is something that others feel free to debate at will.

Leslie Marshall @ 3:22: What do they say a lot of people have to do first when it comes to any kind of mental illness or an addiction – is admit.  And this is a woman, clearly in denial about how many issues she might have mentally and emotionally because obviously you have issues to want this much and need this much attention, unconditional love for that many children uh etcetera.  ‘Cause she said she would be drowning but I think she is drowning to a degree, if nothing else financially. 

Once again we see another dangerous trope.  The ability of women who are disabled to parent has constantly been up for social debate.  The U.S. also has a history of sterilizing disabled mothers and or removing children from their care.  Ms.Marshall is making judgements based on one interview and a few sound bites regarding Nadya’s mental health and this reveals a high degree of able bodied privilege.

Note that once again money is raised in the conversation.  Ms. Suleman’s class standing has no bearing on her mental competency; however, a spurious link is created to once again validated the right to discipline her.  How many children can a woman have before her mental state is called into question and who gets to decide?

What makes this conversation so troubling is that you have three women of race, class and able bodied privilege repeating many of the same harmful social constructions that have left many women vulnerable to shaming and medical harm.  They take the position that they do because they cannot envision that someone could potentially apply the same arguments to them and their reproductive decisions.  When we separate ourselves from women and declare ourselves superior based on some form of perceived privilege, we are opening ourselves to attack and thereby potentially reducing the rights of all women. 

Throughout the conversation these women engaged in sexism and ableism.  Yes, women can be sexist because just like men that have internalized patriarchal values.  Women of privilege long ago learned to parrot dominant discourse, even though it marginalizes other women because they count on their privilege to make them exempt from attack.

Like any other ruling force, patriarchy needs the co-operation of the oppressed to maintain its position and that is why when women parrot the nonsense that these three did they are given a platform and presented as though their thoughts and ideas are definitive of an issue.  The oppressor will always give voice to those that collude with their own oppression.  You can see this pattern repeatedly in women who argue for the reduction of women's rights and POC who declare an incident to be free of racism to benefit Whiteness. 

It is this collusion that stops us from banding together to create substantive change.  Instead of focusing on the oppressor, we find ourselves engaged in conversation with each other.  Even if I were to spend my last breathe proving these women wrong, no change will have occurred because they were the focus of conversation, rather than patriarchy whose sole purpose is to maintain women as colonized bodies.

The question then becomes at what point do we end fighting with marionettes to focus on the root of the oppression? Bait and switch is a tactic that patriarchy has invented and it is time we start to focus on solidarity because without that our grand daughters will be having this very conversation.  Perhaps we should ask these women as they sit at the table of plenty where their solidarity lies because when we allow them to frame the conversation, we are only giving voice to the oppressor.

 


Monstrous Musings: Patriarchal Baddies and Smokey Goodness? Musings on the Monsters of Lost

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.

image

Though I am not sure what genre-bending category to assign Lost to, one thing is for sure, the show has its fair share of monsters. As with other island narratives, (such as William Golding’s Lord or the Flies,) one of the key narrative questions is just how monstrous humans will/do become when divorced from civilization. 

While Lost is notable for its diverse cast and complex characters, it sometimes veers towards displaying people of color as either more monstrous, more “backwards,” or less important than white people. Just as “Vanity Fair Doesn’t Like Black People,” Lost seems to have a troubled relationship to blackness.

While Lost is certainly an improvement on most television shows in terms of diversity (and certainly 200x better than Disney), it seems white male privilege still rules the island. The show gives the most narrative attention to LWMs - or lost white males – and people of color are often presented stereotypically (Republican Guard/torturer Sayid, over-controlling and “English-challenged” Jin, simpleton Latino dude Hurley, folksy wisdom Ruth, oppressed Sun, etc). As Bao Phi points out in Why I Still Watch Lost,” Lost’s “characters of color sometimes toe the line towards stereotype.” As proof, he cites Season 3’s Stranger in A Strange Land” episode, which “manages to portray every ugly stereotype of a Southeast Asian country as seen through a white male tourist.”

To its credit though, the show features many complex, sympathetic characters of color. Sun and Jin are fan favourites, as is Sayid. Yet, as Phi points out, though the inclusion of Asian characters is laudable, “There is still a shortage of other characters of color in the show… It’d be great if they were joined by actors from other communities of color.” I agree. As that doomed flight headed out from Australia, how about some aboriginal characters? And why is the only regular black female character (Rose) relegated to a sidelined role?

Thus, though notable for its racially diverse cast (which as Megan’s Minute jokes, aligns it with Obama’s administration), the real power of the show (both in terms of protagonists and in terms of island authority) lies with the white dudes – Jack, Sawyer, Ben, Locke, Alpert – and, a few white women, Kate and Juliet.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville reads the LWM’s as patriarchs, writing: “The Lost fathers (Benry, Widmore, Paik, Shephard the Elder) are archetypical patriarchs—rich, powerful, well-educated, well-connected, straight, and white…It is within the battle among these patriarchs that everyone else is caught; it is to their whims, and their arbitrary rules and preferences, that everyone else is subjected.”

But, can we also read patriarchy as THE monster the island presents us with? Male rule is far from benign on the island, and those given less island power (females, POC) often seem to be the heroes/saviours – or merely to have the best survival skills (Kate’s bad-ass jungle know-how, Sun’s garden growing, Sayid’s techno-savvy, Hurley’s realization humans need humour and fun).

As I write elsewhere, though the island is certainly patriarchal, one could make a strong case that male-rule is not such a good thing for (island) society. McEwan, in her discussion with fellow Lost fanatic, Brad Reed of Sadly, No!, agrees, stating “the show looks increasingly to be making an oblique but advanced commentary about the patriarchy.”

In fact, couldn’t we argue that most of the bad/evil things happening are associated with the island patriarchs – Jacob, the Man in Black, Ben, Christian, etc - ? The fact we don’t know who is good and who is evil seems to accord with this reading. Within patriarchy, the white father (also redolent of “God the father”) is framed as a rightful and just leader, but Lost questions the white male leaders – is Jacob good or evil? is Jack a hero or a sad-sack?

Yet, even though the show troubles the patriarchal waters and blurs the distinctions between good and evil, it often still problematically frames monstrosity as black, dark, Other. In so doing, it taps into a historical tendency to associate black with evil. Perhaps this can be best illustrated with reference to the black smoke monster. Now, I can already hear the “OMG! Next thing your gonna say Darth Vader is a racist representation!” naysayers. Well, in truth, I think many (most?) black/white textual representations have racial undertones.

Just imagine for a moment if the smoke monster were white. Would there be more debates as to whether Smokey was good OR evil? Would there be a tendency to read Smokey as benevolent, as a Godlike smoke angel, as a holy spirit carrying out necessary island justice? You bet there would!  But, since the smoke monster is black, the assumption s/he/it is evil is taken for granted.

As media consumers, we get the message black is evil in all sorts of forms – villains wear black cowboy hats, evil characters are often clad in black, cartoon baddies either have darker coloring and/or black clothes (for example, Lion Kings Scar, The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, Twilight’s black-caped Volturi, and, yes, Darth Vader). We hear black is bad in the language we speak. Calling the kettle black. Black sheep of the family. Black market. On the flipside, white is usually represented as good – a point Sawyer recognizes as indicated in his comment to Kate that "I wouldn't be surprised if Jack didn't find himself that horse of yours and start leading the charge in a big white hat."

Given that Lost has various religious undertones, William Sierichs article “The Christian Origin of Racism: That Old Black Devil” also seems worth noting. Sierichs, arguing that “Christians had equated the color black with evil as early as the second century,”  cites “equation of evil, darkness, and blackness” as “a source of later racial stereotypes.” Hmmm, is this why viewers so readily read the black smoke monster and the Man in Black as evil?

In Lost, this white is good, black is evil meme plays out in multiple ways. Heroism, leadership, purity, and faith are mainly associated with whiteness – both through the white skin of our island heroes (Jack, Locke, Kate, Juliet) and via white symbols – the “beautiful, white light” Lock sees in the eye of the island, Claire/Aaron as white virgin Mary and Christ-baby, Jack’s white shirt, the representation of white chess pieces/rocks as symbols of goodness. Yet, in Lost fashion, these white symbols/characters are not wholly good – can the show thus be read as trying to question the association between whiteness and good?

On the flipside, the symbolism of darkness/blackness often plays into a black is bad conception – the black smoke monster, the Man in Black, the Black Rock, the deadbeat dad (Michael), the gold-digging heart-breaker (Walt’s mom Susan), the murky, dark temple water that infects Sayid who now has “a darkness growing in him.” Further, it seems that for the most part the darker your skin, the sooner you die and/or exit the show – Walt, Michael, Eko, Ana Lucia – and now Rose has terminal cancer and Claire just axed Aldo! But, Sayid lives on… Can his survival (and that of SOME females and POC characters) mean that the show might wrap with a one-two punch, delivering one blow to patriarchy and another to cultural conceptions of whiteness as pure/good/heroic? I sure hope so… I am routing for Smokey because I refuse to read her/his/its blackness as bad!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lauren Ashley, Miss Beverley Hills Believes God Wants Gay People to Die

image

It seems that California beauty queens are on a roll.  It was only last year, when Carrie Prejean offended the LGBT community and their allies in her rambling and near incoherent commentary to Perez Hilton. Following in the footsteps of her hero, Lauren Ashley has decided to use the bible to justify her bigotry.  Is anyone surprised to learn that she went straight to Leviticus?

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.' The Bible is pretty black and white," Ashley told Pop Tarts.

"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."

I wonder if little Miss Perfect realizes that the bible is full of rules that many modern Christians do not follow? I wonder if she had bacon for breakfast or wore clothing with multiple fibres today?  I wonder if she has ever told a lie because I am pretty sure that bearing false witness is a sin as well.  Has she always honoured the Sabbath day and kept it holy?  Has she always honoured her mother and father?  And most importantly, has she even given a thought to judge not lest ye be judged?

Christian fascists love to quote Leviticus; however, they continually ignore that Jesus did not utter one negative regarding homosexuality.  It is said that God became flesh to die for our sins and open a new covenant and therefore; don’t you think if Ze had such a huge issue with teh gay, Ze would have said so?

Unfortunately, Ms. Beverly Hills did not end her commentary with death wishes.  When asked if she was concerned that her commentary could potentially reduce her bid to become Miss. California she replied:

"That isn't really the issue. I have a lot of friends that are gay, and ... I have a lot of friends who have different views, and we share our views together," she said. "There's no hate between me and anyone." (emphasis mine)

Let’s see, she just asserted that God wants all gay people to die, but there is no hate.  Also, don’t you want to meet the imaginary friends that are supposedly giving her permission to be a homophobe?  Haven’t White people learned from the whole Black best friend trope, that you cannot use a relationship to excuse bad behaviour and hate speech?   There is a difference between having a difference of opinion with a friend over the national debt and actually believing you have the right to nullify their very existence.  My imagination cannot possible stretch to the point of believing that little Miss. Perfect just magically came across someone that self hating.

Finally there is this:

“I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke weed or cigarettes. My definition of partying is a little different," she said. "I feel like my body is the Temple of God and it's my temple so it's really good to treat it well. I also feel like sex was made for marriage. You really show your future husband or wife respect and you build a lot of trust before you get married. You don't have sex with other people, so that should definitely build trust, because you waited."

Is anyone surprised to hear that she is a purist?  Look, I have no problem with virginity.  If you want to take the risk that love will grant sexually compatibility in marriage, purity waltz yourself all the way down the aisle.  What I do take issue with is the idea that she is biblically pure because she does not have sex, drink or smoke.  I am sure somewhere along the line that little Miss. Perfect has lusted after a man.  The bible makes no distinction between lust and copulation and therefore; if she is going to hold an archaic biased standard against others, I do believe we should apply it to her - of course, I think she might object if people started picking up stones as they circled her.  Stoning is the penalty for adultery and I am sure little Miss Perfect would object to biblical standards, if they applied to her then.

It seems to me that Lauren Ashley should be running for Miss Uganda, rather than Miss California because what she represents is hate and hypocrisy.  Though the director of the Miss California pageant Keith Lewis believes that opinion should have no baring on the contest, Ashley's  statements should not be reduced to mere commentary because they amount to hate speech.  When you advocate the annihilation of a group or a person, I don’t see how it could possibly be understood under a different light.



Wednesday What’s Up

image

Consider this an open thread to chat about whatever is on your mind. Are you reading anything interesting have you seen a great movie or play, here is the place to share.

Dear Americans He’s Ours

image

This is what happens when you grow up on a steady diet of maple syrup, hockey, attack beavers and hiding from angry moose. Eat your heart out ‘cause he’s all ours hahaha. Whose house?

Our House

Editors Note: It seems I made the wrong assertion regarding actor Jon Hamm.  He was born in St. Louis.  It seems he is only expressing a desire to be an awesome Cannuck.

White Girls Can Use Microscopes if they’re Pink

image

Isn’t it wonderful everyone?  Now girls can be into science too and we know this because everything is a wonderful shade of pink. Yep, pink just screams girl.  I suppose I should see this as a leap forward because these sorts of toys are usually aimed at boys, but it irritates me that the creators felt that simply having girls on the package was enough to signify femininity. 

I would remiss if I did not point out that though these two little girls are cute, they are White and blonde.  It seems that it is okay to encourage girls to succeed, only if they fall within certain criteria.  White women are oppressed due to sexism but their race privilege often opens doors that are closed to little girls of colour.  No matter how much we claim to value children, socially not all children are equal.

When we talk about toy departments as womanists/feminists, we always take note of the gender differences.  Boys aisles are always blue and girls aisles are always pink.  In the girls aisle, you will find baby dolls and toys that generally reinforce the idea that girls are to nurture or be concerned about their appearance.  Very seldom will you see commentary about the races on the boxes because Whiteness subsumes all other races, thereby creating POC as invisible. 

Toys that denote a lower class status are targeted at children of colour, thereby teaching them what role society expects of them in the future.  Race and class play very distinct roles in how we socialize children and yet we see this as naturally occurring forces.  We don’t equip children for excellence and then reinforce this idea by never encouraging them to dream about making positive gains in their social status. 

There is more at stake then simply seeing gender disparity and the pinkification of everything female.  Even the lack of pink and its association with girls of colour teaches them at a very early age that they will eventually grow into the ultimate “umwoman” that has come to signify Black femininity.  When we talk about issues facing girls and children, what we really mean are White girls and White children.  When we consider the poverty that many children of colour are growing in, the social myth about respecting childhood is revealed to be mendacious and truly scurrilous.

Unless a parent of colour has enough class privilege to force integration, a child will forever be excluded from opportunities that will enrich the mind.  In my sons dojo, there are three children of colour and two of them are my kids.  On Destructions hockey team last season, there were ten kids and two of them were of colour.   I am sure when the boys start music classes this fall, the ratio will be the same.  The absence of children of colour in his activities is not indicative of population, it is directly related to class position. 

Class and race constantly intersect in the life of a child of colour and therefore; focusing the conversation solely on the basis of nurture vs nature, serves to erase their experiences and their struggles.  Gender can never be the sole site of integration because it privileges Whiteness and leads to a myopic understanding of social phenomenon.  It is not enough to fight for the inclusion of girls in areas that have been historically  considered masculine, unless that inclusion is for ALL girls.  White girls succeeding, while Black girls flounder is not a positive step for womanhood unless one believes that children of colour do not matter.

H/T Feminist Philosophers


Judge Joe Brown and the Shaming of Black People

One of my very bad habits is watching reality television.  Between two and four pm each day the baby goes for his nap and I watch “The People’s Court”, “Judge Mathis”, “Judge Alex” and “Judge Joe Brown”.  I flip back and forth, watching the cases that interest me.  After watching several episodes of “Judge Joe”, I could not help but notice a disturbing trend: the constant shaming of Black people. 

Eg. 1

In the above episode we have a man admitting to selling meth.  He is the father of several children that he cannot support and has a lengthy criminal record.  If that were not enough, he also appears to be under the influence.  At one point in the proceeding he breaks down in tears and is clearly emotionally unstable.

Eg, 2

Transcript starting at 2:58

Young man I’m a seasoned and mature man.  It would do you a lot of good in your journey through life to pay careful attention.  Don’t role your eyes like you are a woman.  You are a man, stand up straight.  I hope you are a man, stand up straight.  I don’t know a lot of folk are down low these days. 

4:10 Keep quiet and I will tell you what you lookin like and why I made that comment.  You see what I used to see was when there was a man  standing at the podium what he was doing was behaving in a certain way and I saw the young ladies and they would act in a certain way and what’s interesting is over the last twelve years I’ve been doing this particular arbitration thing I’m doing right now and considering the twenty years that I’ve done this before, I have noticed an interesting transition: the boys are starting to act like the girls used to in terms of their body language, rolling their eyes, head up, hand on hip moving around.  Women since time immoral have talked over someone who is trying to address them and you are talking over me just like you are a woman.  When you starting acting like one, moving like one , sounding like one them I’m going to put it out there. 

When he is not arbitrating cases in which Black people can be constructed as thieves, prostitutes, irresponsible parents and drug addicts, he resorts to shaming them before they can even present their side of an argument. Homophobia, sexism, and classism are his stock in trade and with these tools he claims to be “protecting womanhood and uplifting manhood.”

Judge Joe Brown seeks ratings like any other show on television; however, the fact that he continually stoops to the lowest common denominator is indeed a problem. When we factor in that he represents the law, which has very much institutionalized racism, his performance  indeed reifies why why a Black face is not necessarily a friendly face.  Here we have a Black man openly shaming Black people in a system that has proven to be prejudicial to the point of death.

For far to many Blacks of class privilege, power  is often manifested by shaming members of the community that are uneducated and poor because they are afraid that their Blackness will cause them to be related to them in the mind of others.  Judge Joe is constantly shaming people for being uneducated without considering the road blocks that are placed by the system to ensure that people remain ignorant. There are teenagers graduating with 3.0 average from inner city schools that will have trouble acclimating to the first year of college because they were not taught the skill set required.

Whenever the opportunity to arrives to slut shame a woman he makes it his priority.  These women stand in front of him for less than 20 minutes, but based on the number of children or the men that they are involved with, he makes snap judgements about their moral fibre.  This isn’t justice, it’s about enforcing social discipline on people at every turn.

Judge Joe Brown is a tool of the system and he is a tool of Whiteness.  It has always been easier for a ruling group to maintain control by convincing members of the out group to police themselves in a way that benefits the oppressor.  His behaviour serves two purposes: as an authority figure he is able to punish those that refuse or are unable to comply to norms and as a racialized body he allows Whiteness to claim that because there are Blacks in positions of power, that the system is no longer biased.  He is a marionette whose strings are constantly being pulled.

I believe that Judge Joe has a choice as to what his show will entail.  He could choose to promote the good in the way that Judge Milan does, or he can be ringmaster of a revamped “Jerry Springer Show”.  When coin and praise are heaped upon a marginalized body they often lose contact with the community of origin, thus allowing the person to believe that they are beyond the stigmatization that other POC face.  It seems to me that it is time for Judge Joe to try and hail a cab without his robes and gavel because then and only then will he figure out that his power only goes so far.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lady GaGa Shows The World Her Dick

image

There has been constant media speculation regarding Lady GaGa’s genitalia.  This month Lady GaGa has decided to grace the cover of Q magazine with a faux bulge in her pants.

The Sun quotes GaGa as saying:

"We all know that one of the biggest talking points of the year was that I have a d***, so why not give them what they want?

"I want to wear a d*** strapped to my vagina”.

"When a guy says, 'Oh I f***** all these chicks this week,' there's a high-five and giggling. But when a woman does it and its publicised or she's open about her sexuality or she's free or liberated, it's, 'Oh, she must have a d***.”

Even though she has posed for this photo, people will not stop speculating about Lady GaGa because in so doing it disciplines not only her but all women.  Part of the issue with Lady GaGa is that she does not conform to social norms.  Women who refuse to be good girls and flout their agency and sexuality, are always viewed as a threat and this is why patriarchy has so much invested in shaming women akin to Lady GaGa.

The very idea that GaGa rightfully views herself as an independent person is enough for many to cast aspersions regarding her gender.  Violating the gender binary in any way is always threatening.  Despite our supposed freedom, we have socially decided that some characteristics are feminine and others are masculine; that this is limiting to the individual is not considered and all are expected to perform their gender at all times.  Women who are viewed as aggressive or sexually independent are constructed as men because we view these to be masculine traits.  This kind of limited understanding of gender harms both men and women, though we claim it is based on nature.

Lady GaGa is about fluidity and self determination.  Many will look at her fame and her bank balance and declare that she cannot be oppressed; however, this can only be understood as true if we agree that class privilege out ranks gender based oppression.  GaGa’s fame and wealth will indeed negate the overall impact of sexism but this does not mean that she is not effected by it.  It further does not take into account how the sexism aimed at Lady GaGa effects other women.  Can we really state that oppression does not matter because a person has privilege in another area? If this is the case then no one is ever truly oppressed because each of us lives with some form of privilege.

Would the above image even have occurred had speculation regarding Lady GaGa’s genitalia not been the topic of conversation for over year?  The fact that she felt that the need to respond is proof of the fact that sexism acted upon her.  We are always under a disciplinary gaze and no matter how privileged a person like lady GaGa is, we are constantly reacting to the world around us.


Tune in Tuesday: Cyndi Lauper True Colours

In times when I have felt unsure about myself I have played this song.  As a woman, it is sometimes so easy to buy into the negative.  I have been to fat, too slutty, to mouthy, to quiet, to everything and this song helped me to remember that no matter what  people think I am, I am truly beautiful. I am so very thankful that this came out when I was young girl and it saddens me that there are no equivalent anthems of acceptance for young girls today.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories about this song or simply why you like Cyndi Lauper.

Abortion: The Choice We Do not Speak of

 image Christine Taylor became light headed after a conversation with her estranged husband and fell down a flight of stairs.   Paramedics who arrived on the scene declared her fit; however, Ms. Taylor decided to go the hospital to confirm the health of the fetus.  While there she had a conversation with a nurse, in which she admitted to having thought about an abortion or adoption.  The nurse relayed the conversation to a doctor on staff, who in turn questioned her.  The medical staff then notified the police and Ms. Taylor was charged with attempted feticide.  It seems the doctor and the nurse believed that Ms. Taylor had intentionally thrown herself down a flight of stairs.

According to Iowa state law, attempted feticide is trying "to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy." At least 37 states have similar laws.  The district attorney declined to prosecute when it became apparent that Ms. Taylor was at the end of her second trimester rather than at the beginning of third as the hospital believed. 

Ms Taylor is currently unemployed with two kids already and is estranged from her husband, is it any wonder that she considered not having this child?  Abortion is a legal medical option and yet we do not speak about the times we have considered abortion or when we have had the procedure.  There is still much shame around this issue, even in womanist/feminist circles where the right to choose is considered to be of paramount importance.

This story rang a particular bell with me because of  the story of a former acquaintance.  She is in her forties and pregnant for the first time.  When the child is born she will be a single mother.  The road ahead is daunting for her.  I have two kids and I am in my thirties.  Mothering is the hardest thing that I do each day; however, I have the good fortune to have a spouse who is equally engaged and committed to sharing the work load with me.   When it became known that she at one time had considered not having this child, she immediately became shamed within the community.  The fact that she considered abortion is enough for many to declare that she will be a terrible mother. Part of what makes her situation so terrible, is that much of the shaming and the judgement is being done by women.

The decision to abort or to have a child should never be made lightly and if a woman has truly considered her options, it means that whatever decision she has made is what is best for her.  Even though abortion is a legal, it has become this deep dark secret that we can never talk about.  Even acknowledging that one thought about abortion, after successfully giving birth, is enough to cast aspersions on one’s ability to mother.

Pregnancy does not always happen at the most convenient time in ones life.  Despite the social myth that a uterus means one automatically craves becoming a mother, there are numerous women who opt out every year.  Sometimes an abortion happens because of a struggle to support the children a woman already has.  This decision is not seen as one based in love; it is almost always constructed as a selfish act. We can always find a reason to shame a woman for considering an abortion because we privilege a fetus over the lives of those who are already living. 

We shame.  Even those who believe in the right to chose will shame and this is why abortion remains one of those rights we simply do not speak of.  When I became pregnant with my first child, I was terrified.  Even though I had a good job and was in a very stable long term relationship, I worried whether I had the skill set to be a good mother.  Abortion is something I seriously considered.  I know that the decision that I made was the right one because I took the time to consider all of my options.  My child is a wanted child, simply because I had the right to choose.  I know that I could never admit this to even my closest friends because despite the fact that many think I am a good mother, the mere fact that I once thought about forgoing motherhood altogether would be enough to cast doubt on how I raise my children.

This is my secret.  It is one I can never share.  I have too often been involved in conversations with other women who claim to support abortion; however, it is always understood as something that is fine for others.  We separate ourselves from the decision as much as possible.  It’s always I support abortion but I could never have one.  It is this separation and shaming that cause women to hide their stories from each other, thereby; affirming the social desire to control female reproduction.   If you are considering terminating a pregnancy, it can be the loneliest time of your life and this is incredibly sad when we consider that this is a time in which support is greatly needed. 

We need to start to talk to each other about our reproductive decisions without shame or judgement.  When we separate ourselves from each other, we are participating in the process that denigrates women for taking control of their reproductive lives.  It is dishonest and cruel.  Not everyone immediately starts to glow the minute it is revealed that they are pregnant and to have this as the social myth belies the fact that women are cognizant that motherhood is the most difficult, under appreciated job that they will ever take on. Many women quite rightfully approach the role with great trepidation.   I love my babies and I have no regrets; however, my decisions are not applicable to everyone else and I owe other women my truth because though each story is different, each one is tied together in the struggle to reify women's reproductive autonomy.

 


Spark of Wisdom: I am who I am - I don't need instructions on how to be a gay man

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  feature a post from Sparky.

This is probably going to be less reasoned than my average post. Largely because it comes from a whole lot of anger that has roiled in me.

I am so very tired of being told how to be me. I am tired of being told how to be a man. I am tired of being told how to be gay. I am tired of being afraid of "doing it wrong" and I deeply regret the foolish things I've done in the past in an attempt to "conform" to some standard.

I am a man. All I need is what is in my head that tells me I am male. I am not any less of a man because I am gay. Yes I'm short and yes I'm slight. I'm not going to bulk up in the gym because it would look awful on me. My slight stature makes me less manly. I'm not going to cut my long hair to fit some narrow definition of what a man is supposed to be, because men don't have long hair.

I like to look good, though I eschew fashion labels, I'm not going to wear stained rags because it's somehow more "manly" to look like a tramp. I'm not going to pretend interest in sport (well, any sport that doesn't involve speedos anyway) because that's what "real men" do. I'm not going to be fascinated by DIY or sports cars or power tools and I still think BBQs are a damned inefficient way of cooking. I will not feign interest in "manly" things to conform to how a man "should" be.

I look back and regret the times I avoided cooking - because a man didn't cook and if I cooked it would be proof of how gay men weren't real men. I regret the tedious hours I spent trying to garner the slightest interest in sports - because I feared failing as a man. I remember the endless doubt and shame about my clothes, about my appearance about my hobbies. I wouldn't discuss my taste in music, even with close friends, for fear that my taste would reveal me to be less than a true man, that it would show that I was the homo, the poof, the queer, the fag.

I reject a ridiculously narrow standard of what it means to be a man. I reject that a man must meet these foolish, harmful standards. And when I don't meet that standard, it's not because I'm gay. It's not because a gay man is less of a man. My "effeminate" or "less manly" behaviour or tastes most certainly does not somehow prove some trait about gay men everywhere. I am my own person and it is an absurdity to infer anything about other gay men by my actions.

I am a gay man. The fact I am a man solely attracted to other men, and that I identify as gay is enough to make me a gay man.  I am not any less gay because I am not flamboyant enough. I am not closeting myself because I don't wear glitter or rainbows or pink (pink? I look AWFUL in pink). I am not refusing to embrace my gayness by not wanting to wear drag. My monogamous life and preference for monogamy is not some kind of betrayal of what it means to be GBLT. It doesn't make me a wanna-be heterosexual. My domestic partnership (gah I hate that ridiculous term - my MARRIAGE as it should be) doesn't make me somehow not truly gay.

I am gay by all pertinent definition. Trying to force us into a horrendously narrow box of a series of connected stereotypes is damaging and insulting to all of us. We are more than this, we are greater than this - we run the full range of all things human. You can't squeeze us into a tiny box - we don't fit and you'll hide so much of us - that which you don't cut away to force us in.

I am a gay man. By definition I am doing it right - both being gay and being male. Because that is WHO I am. You can't tell me someone else does it better, knows it better or that I am somehow doing it wrong. I can't get being me wrong.

I don't need instructions for being me.

And all being me tells you about... is me. No-one else. Just me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dear Americans: Canadian Forces smoke U.S. in ball hockey

I was devastated watching the men’s hockey yesterday. In fact I am sure that I invented new curse words during the third period.  I cannot blame our team because in all honesty, they ran the ice and the U.S owes its victory to a better goalie. The shots on net prove the aforementioned statement to be true.

The road to the podium will be that much harder because we must now play Germany on Tuesday and then Russia if we win against Germany.  Though today I have been receiving taunts from you yankees, I have tried to take it in good stride, though some of you really are attempting to poor salt into my wounds.   Reading the news today, I did come across a little gem, that I thought you celebrating Americans would appreciate.

Asked if his team was willing to "cry uncle" after Canada jumped out to a big lead, Brig.-Gen. Ben Hodges, the top U.S. officer in southern Afghanistan, replied: "You guys can quit whenever you want to."

Getting into the trash-talking spirit of the occasion, Canada's Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, predicted before the game that his lads would "destroy the American team. We are not here just to play, but to win."

Canada was not only victorious on the scoreboard. Although Americans have greatly outnumbered Canadians at the base since U.S. President Barack Obama began a surge of tens of thousands of troops into Afghanistan last year, flags bearing the Maple Leaf were far more numerous at the rink than Old Glories adorned with the Stars and Stripes.

Nearly 1,000 troops took in the match. Many of them stood on massive armoured flatbed trucks and other Mad Max-looking vehicles designed to thwart improvised explosive devices.

Two cherry-picker trucks, normally used to install electric wiring, supported an enormous Canadian flag. With much more to cheer about, the Canadians, for once, made a lot more noise than their U.S. allies.

16-2

Wow, did that hurt a little?   Unlike your measly 5-3 victory, our 16-2 actually says something.  Are you feeling schooled yet?  Always, remember whose game this is.

image

Is that thunder I hear?

Male Figure Skating Highlights Homophobia and Sexism Canada

image

Figure skating continues to be a contentious event at the Olympics, even though a new scoring system has been implemented.  There will always be those who question the scoring but when critique is based on homophobia and sexism, clearly the debate has reached a level that needs to be discussed.

In an interview with Salon, three time world medal champion Elvis Stojko, made clear that the greatest danger to figure skating is the feminization of male skaters.

It basically started about one year ago, when Skate Canada said that they weren't getting enough young boys enrolling in skating. People tiptoe around the topic, and I was like, "You know, I'm just going to say it: Effeminate men's skating is not my style of skating. In men’s skating I like to see power and strength."

Effeminate men’s skating is the issue with male figure skating.  WOW…Of course Elvis believes that it is only right for people to get upset if they are called gay.

Some guys get into the sport because it's difficult — the spins, the speed — and they like to showcase that within the music. When you're not appreciated for that, it takes its toll. And then when people call them effeminate, they get pissed. People call them gay, and some people don’t like to be called that.

If you want to open up figure skating to another audience, you need to create something that's going to allow everyone to watch. If you have a male masculine person watching it, they need something to relate to. Other guys relate to Johnny Weir’s thing. You need to have guys doing jumps, so a person who also watches NASCAR can identify with it and say, "Hey that's awesome — how many rotations is that?" or "How fast did he spin?" instead of, "How pretty was that guy?"

Being called gay can only be a bad thing if you have a problem with homosexuality to begin with.  Why should it be considered threatening to anyone's masculinity?  He makes it sound as though gay men are destroying the sport by not being suitably butch.  Don’t even bother to get upset about his commentary because gay people need to just accept their second class status, according to Elvis.

People in the gay community have to realize they’ve got to take themselves out of it. It's not against anybody. I've been getting heat for this, but there are people behind me saying that they appreciate it. It's about what people can identify with when they're watching the sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with gayness. Effeminate men can identify with effeminate skating. Masculine men can't identify with that. When I watch it, I can't identify because I don't move like that. My consciousness doesn't feel like that.

Of course there are people supporting what Elvis has to say, it takes no leap to understand the support when it is a well known fact that despite legalizing same sex marriage, Canada continues to be a heterosexist society. I have spoken with many gay and lesbian activist in the US regarding their aspirations for same gender marriage only to repeatedly point out that marriage will not bring the social acceptance that they are seeking.  Canada serves as model of the ways in which institutionalized heterosexism can still flourish in a society that approves of same gender marriage.

As a skater, Elvis wants to ensure that he is able to take advantage of his heterosexual privilege.  Rather than using this as an opportunity to raise awareness about the ways in which bodies are stigmatized for being understood as gay, he chose to infer that gay males should simple closet themselves and or leave the sport altogether.  Its the same old refrain, for the greater good the marginalized body is expected to be invisible.  It never occurred to Elvis that there are young gay males that are watching skaters like Johnny Weir, with excitement.  They need role models to.  They need to know that they are talented and have much to contribute.

I further find it interesting that he refers to sports like nascar and hockey as though there are no gay athletes in those sports.  It is the culture of heterosexism that causes many gay athletes to remain closeted but that does not mean that they are not actively participating in all sports.  Athletes like Johnny Weir are important to sport in general because his example teaches young people that their sexuality has nothing to do with their ability to compete on a world class level. 

Unfortunately, Elvis is not the only person to cast aspirations of gay male figure skaters.  Quebec sports casters Claude Mailhot and Alain Goldberg kicked down the door that Elvis opened:

"This may not be politically correct," Mailhot said during the segment, in which Weir, known for his extravagant performances and fashion flair, was shown sporting a semi-sheer, pink-and-black costume he designed himself. "But do you think he lost points due to his costume and his body language?"

Goldberg replied that Weir's feminine style may reflect badly on other male figure skaters. "They'll think all the boys who skate will end up like him," he said. "It sets a bad example."

In earlier RDS coverage of Weir, Goldberg and Mailhot also brought up South African runner Caster Semenya, who was forced to undergo gender testing following her 2009 win at the world track and field championships in Germany.

"We should make him (Weir) pass a gender test at this point," Goldberg said and Mailhot then jokingly suggested Weir should compete in the women's competition.

They have since offered an apology for their statements; however, the fact that they made the aforementioned comments in the first place really speaks to the ways in which homosexuality is very much still considered a stigmatized identity in Canada. They are using figure skating as a foil in order to protect undeserved heterosexual privilege.  One is always able to find a reason to engage in bigotry, if the goal is to maintain a hierarchy of bodies. What we can learn from all of this is that though marriage is legal in Canada, it is not the end of the struggle for the GLBT community. 

We should also take the time to interrogate the sexism in the arguments presented by both Elvis and the sports casters.   As much as their arguments present to be about homosexuality, there is also an air of sexism because male athletes are being attacked for presenting as too feminine.  If we respected women or even believed in the idea that women are equal in all spheres, then a feminine presentation would also be unproblematic.

Women in figure skating are not viewed as athletes much the same way that all of women’s sports is regularly understood as secondary to celebrate men’s sports.   If we have a chance at a gold medal in hockey this year, it will be with Canada’s women and yet that is regularly cast aside to fixate on how the men are doing.  Women train for years to represent their country and their dedication and skill level is no less than male athletes.

Gender is a fluid identity and yet we are dedicated to the understanding of male/female as immutable categories because it presents the opportunity to engage in patriarchal oppression.  There is much good to be gained from participating in sports; however, that should not cause us to ignore the ways in which sports institutionalizes sexism and homophobia.  In fact, because much of traditional sports is a bastion of straight, cis gender masculinity, it needs to be vigorously interrogated.  It is not just the agony of defeat and the thrill of a win, in many cases it amounts to the normalization of bodies that are already steeped in privilege and therefore, with every cheer we are also supporting a social grouping that marginalizes many.

 

 


Vancouver Games & First Nations resistance

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image

Friday February 12, marked the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The ceremonies were attended by the Four Chiefs who represent the Squamish, Musqueam, Tseil-Watuth (Burrard), and Lil’wat (Mt. Currie, part of St’at’imc) band councils, because the Olympics are occurring on Indigenous land. Despite their presence, many in the Indigenous community are still opposed to the Olympics:

“Because we have no treaty with Canada, the imposition and encroachment of Whistler – their hydro lines, their highways, their railroad, in fact all infrastructure development for the 2010Games – in our territory is illegal,”

says James Louie from the St’at’imc nation, Whistler.

First Nation dancers welcomed the athletes and the world to the Vancouver Olympics, and thus the lie that Canada not only recognizes Native rights, but is proud of our Indigenous citizens, was upheld.

The participation of The Four Chiefs was vital, because the tribes have never ceded control of their land to the crown. Carol Martin, speaking on behalf of the resistance movement and the tent city, challenges the right of these chiefs to act on behalf of the Native People:

“…Elected chiefs get a pay check, the best houses, they get to travel around; they are almost like token Indians to showcase a group of people who are more privileged than the people that live in the real world. They don’t bring our interests to the forefront; they are more like puppets on a string. They are supporting their own families. There is a lot of divide and conquer in this strategy by the government.”

Phil Fontaine, former head of the Assembly of First Nations, who now works as an adviser to Olympic sponsor Royal Bank, carried the torch. When asked about the protests by the indigenous community he responded:

“There are people who see this as an opportunity (for protest). I see this as a celebration,” he said at the Long Plain school following his torch run.

“It’s really a celebration of indigenous cultures … We represent a very positive presence in Canada. We’ve been significant contributors to Canada’s well-being. We will be important, as we’ve been in the past, to Canada’s future. The world should be aware of that.”

Native leaders like Fontaine have been very vocal about the opportunities that the Olympics offers First Nations citizens. However, there are many within the aboriginal community that raise the concern that the Olympics amount to further exploitation of Native peoples.

Finish reading here

Just Another Monday

image

It’s officially Monday and that means forty hours to go until the end of the work week.  Please use this thread to chat about your weekend or in my case whine about the Team Canada loss last night.