Saturday, April 17, 2010

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone.  The conversations that have happened this week on the blog have been amazing.  I have learned so much and I am deeply grateful for all of your participation.  I love that there has been such a wonderful attempt to be respectful because honestly, difficult topics often turn into flame wars elsewhere on the internet.  

This week I would like to talk to you about something new I would love us to work on as a community.  I am going to call it project Hometown Hero.  It seems to me that in a lot of womanist/feminist/trans/gay spaces  too often look to celebrities to set the standard.  We quibble back and forth whether or not a specific person meets the criteria of hero, and I think that this means that we often ignore people who are right in front of us changing perspectives and fighting the good fight everyday.

For project Hometown Hero, I would love it if you would consider writing in to tell us about someone in your community who inspires you.  It does not matter what gender they are, their sexuality or occupation.  With all of the negative that we see everyday, I think it would be awesome to stop and celebrate the people that we see in our everyday lives that are trying to make a difference.  This person could be someone that you knew in the past, for instance a teacher that left a lasting impression on you, or perhaps ze is someone you still interact with today. 

There is still so much good in this world and I believe it is time that we celebrate.  I am hoping to run project Hometown Hero for the month of May.  It does not have to be a long post, just whatever you feel comfortable sharing.  If you wish to remain anonymous I will honour that.  Please send your post via e-mail to womanistmusings [at] gmail.com

Below you will find a series of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don’t forget to drop it likes it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

Casual Racism

We See Your Greatness….Why Don’t You?

Kathryn Bigelow Wins Breast Director Award

Fat is Contagious

The Problem with Teen Microphone Racism

Taxes and Death

SINGLE, BLACK AND BREATHING

Sikhism – A Feminist Religion?

Listening to the natural world

A Woman’s Right to Sit by Her Partner’s Hospital Bed

Tainted Produce Found in Low-Income Grocery Stores

Today’s Giggle Moment

Clitoraid confusing genuine well-wishers 

Feminist Intersection:5 Native Myths You Really Oughta Know About

Hey, feminist movement!

Storytime

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Liberal Spaces and Christianity

image This week Ope wrote a guest post in which she suggested that the anti-Christian sentiment in some feminist spaces is hostile towards people of colour, because for many us, Christianity is an important part of our culture.   For the purposes of this piece I am going to speak largely about my experiences and what I have witnessed within the Black community and liberal spaces.  This is no way meant to marginalize people of colour that belong to different ethnic groups, or who have had experiences in the exact opposite of mine. Also, for the purposes of full disclosure, I was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist and Pentecostal  denominations of Christianity.

Today, I don’t identity with any one denomination of Christianity and in fact I eschew all aspects of organized religion.  I don’t attend Church services nor do I believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God, but I am still a Christian.  It is very much a part of who I am and informs much of my belief system.   I believe it is absolutely necessary to call out the bigotry that appears in many denominations as well as the hate rhetoric that is often practiced by fundamentalist Christians.

When I enter into liberal spaces, quite often those that have been victims of fundamentalist Christians will attack the validity of my belief system by lumping us all in the same group.  I know that this comes from a place of pain, but purposefully erasing me is also hurtful.  Quite often I am met with the idea that Christians don’t really practice what they preach, and if there was really a conflict regarding bigotry, more Christians would be speaking out.  Well, everyday on this blog I attempt to speak for marginalized bodies.  I encourage everyone through my open guest posting policy to speak their truth. 

On the other side of the equation, I find that I am not welcome in Christian spaces because my belief system means affirming the fact that all are children of God/Goddess and therefore deserve to be treated with respect and love.  I am quick to speak out against the racism, sexism and homophobia that is all falsely justified by faith.  Even though the bible is an extremely problematic document, it is even more complicated by those that claim a biblical foundation for their bigotry where none exists.  Yesterday on “Tyra,” a young woman claimed to be against inter-racial marriage because the bible supposedly says that it is a sin.  This is typical of the nonsense often spouted by supposed Christians because many have not even read the bible cover to cover, or really contemplated the messages that it teaches.  They allow scripture to be interpreted by bigoted ministers or have internalized false proclamations as the truth through the hateful teachings of their community. If you walk into a Church and they speak about Paul and never Jesus, that is a sign that you need to run not walk to the exit.

What I have noticed is that there is silencing occurring on both sides, that often leaves Christians like me completely ignored in the conversation.  Fundamentalist Christians will not acknowledge my belief system because it is not filled with enough hatred to set them foaming at the mouth, and liberals often declare my beliefs either to be nonsense or they have already decided that all Christians are the same and therefore consider my viewpoint to be irrelevant.  How can we answer the charge of not standing up when we are ignored altogether?

I think that because both sides have drawn lines in the sand that the erasure of Christians with liberal views is purposeful. Like most things, a binary approach is taken even though there are people that straddle both groups.  It is much easier to frame an argument from a binary modernist framework than  to admit that there are nuances.  For instance, consider someone like Dan Savage who has been known to be fat phobic, sexist, disableist and trasphobic as representative of the gay community.  How limited would my understanding  of gay rights be, if I were to solely listen to people like him and assume that this represents the totality of gay rights organizing?   Would my view be correct?  When you listen to the Pope, or Pat Buchanan or in fact any fundie that claims Christian beliefs, and then extrapolate to assume that they are representative, you are ignoring people that don’t have access to the same power or platform, but yet still actively fight for justice based in their beliefs.

Many times I have seen other Christians make the exact same argument that I am making in this post and what do they get for their troubles – taunts about supposed Christian oppression.  Well it is not imaginary and it does exist.   Lumping all Christians in one group is no different than demonizing Muslims because some of them happen to have a fundamentalist approach to Islam. The issue is not so much Christianity but fundamentalism, and that needs to be clearly understood.  If you silence voices that would help you, then you are denying a valuable resource that could potentially be marshalled in the cause of justice.  The next time you are thinking of saying why doesn’t someone speak out, remember that I do everyday and it is because I am a Christian.

 

¿De quién vale, su vida?, or, whose life really matters?

image Eugenia de Altura is a female graduate student conducting research on issues of women and gender in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia. Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America with the exception of Haiti, and over 60% of the country’s population is of indigenous descent. Eugenia’s postings explore women’s rights, sexuality, and reproductive health in Bolivia and in Latin America as a whole.

 

On March 4, 2010, a  team of medical doctors in Brazil performed a legal abortion on a nine-year-old girl who was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. Soon after, the Brazilian Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho excommunicated the entire medical team and the child’s mother for participating in the abortion. The young girl was not excommunicated, because according to the Archbishop, “’the church is benevolent when it comes to minors.’”

 This story, and the controversy it has stirred in Brazil, is typical of legal abortion cases in Latin America. Abortion on demand is illegal almost everywhere in the region, with the exception of Cuba and Mexico City, but many countries allow abortions to be performed legally in cases of rape, incest, or when the procedure can save the woman’s life. Despite these allowances, however, it is exceedingly difficult for a woman to access a legal abortion in Latin America. The opposition of the Catholic Church and other conservative elements, even in situations when the procedure should be legally available, often discourages judges and doctors from participating in these cases. Only when the circumstances of the case are so abhorrent—such as a nine-year-old girl impregnated by her own stepfather—do the wheels of justice spin quickly enough to allow an abortion to be performed before the child is actually born.

Rather than embark on the costly, and very public, process of image seeking a legal abortion, most women in Latin America who face unwanted pregnancy after rape simply seek clandestine, illegal abortions—as do women who have not been raped. 31 per 1,000 women in Latin America have had at least one abortion; this number is “two more than the global average” (3/10/10, Upside Down World). In Bolivia, where the procedure is particularly common—most likely due to poverty and lack of access to birth control—6 of every 10 women will have an abortion in her lifetime (Zulawski, 2007). (The rate for women in the U.S. is 1 in 3.) Because these abortions are illegal, and are provided by clandestine clinics whose medical procedures are largely unregulated, abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the region. In Bolivia, it is estimated that 30% of maternal deaths are due to botched abortions.

These sorts of startling figures always bring me back to the lie that is the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion—that of “protecting life.” Whose lives, I wonder, does the Catholic Church deem worthy of protection? Unsafe abortions—which occur wherever the procedure is illegal—are responsible for 70,000 preventable deaths, women’s deaths, every year (Guttmacher Policy Review, Fall 2009, Vol. 12, No. 4). The article just cited also demonstrates that there are fewer abortions performed in countries where the procedure is actually legal. So, if it is “fetal life” that anti-abortion activists are interested in protecting, then legalizing abortion can accomplish that goal, too. But I don’t really think that the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion has much to do with protecting life. Instead, as the Upside Down World article cited above notes, the Church’s opposition to abortion in Latin America has more to do with flexing its political muscles. In fact, it’s really too bad that we don’t have more legal and political advocates in Latin America who truly do care about protecting “life.”

It’s Friday and the Question is….

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I was thinking this week about how much has changed since I was kid.  I think that when my boys look back on their childhood, rather than remembering a favourite toy, they are going to think about a video game that they loved to play with.  This is a reflection of the ways in which technology has become such a big part of our lives.

I know that I desperately wanted a cabbage patch doll when I was a kid. Despite all of my whining and cajoling my parents never did get me one.   There is a part of me that is tempted to hunt one down just to fulfill an old childhood desire (don’t you dare laugh)  This weeks question is: what childhood toy do you remember most fondly, or what toy did you absolutely crave as a kid that you never got to have?

Gunn High School Students Sings Away Westboro Baptist Church

When the Westboro Baptist Church decided to protest Gunn High School and instead of ignoring the Phelps, the students responded with such a heart warming protest.  Please watch the video and grab your kleenex first, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Transcript starting from 1:49

This is done basically just to demonstrate that Gunn is a loving and accepting place.   The gay straight Alliance once they found out they actually set up Facebook page and they invited all of their friends from all schools all in the Bay area and started the conversation that way online.  They decided as a group that they wanted to sing and when the administration decided that they want to plan a lunchtime activity they said great and we’ll sing there too.  They really have stepped up and set a leadership role and set the tone for the campus.

Noreen Likins (principal): “What we’ve done as a community is really talk about this ahead of time with an assembly on Tuesday so that students were prepared and I was able to talk to all of the students –  what to expect and what kind of organization they were  coming here.  I think that that has given them time to process and think about it in a way that if it had just been sprung on them would have been very hard.  I’m very very proud of the kids they did a super job”.

So I think what really affirmed today was what a positive learning environment we have here at Gun and how accepting everyone is.  You know I feel like a lot of people say the word tolerance but it’s not true we don’t tolerate each other until we accept each other.

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….and a little child shall lead them

This has got to be one of the most heart warming displays I have ever seen, of a community coming together to fight intolerance.  There are times as a marginalized body that one becomes so tired, that it is hard to find the strength to keep fighting, and then something like this happens.  The students of Gunn are the next generation and it seems that they have truly learned from our mistakes. Thank you Gunn students and faculty, hope is such a valuable gift.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Please Welcome Eugenia de Altura

image Eugenia de Altura is a female graduate student conducting research on issues of women and gender in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia. Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America with the exception of Haiti, and over 60% of the country’s population is of indigenous descent. Eugenia’s postings explore women’s rights, sexuality, and reproductive health in Bolivia and in Latin America as a whole.

 

“Mucho gusto, or, nice to meet you”

I am very pleased to be joining Womanist Musings to talk about issues affecting women in Latin America. Since I packed my bags and moved to the region for the first time nearly 11 years ago, I’ve been deeply moved by the particular issues that women face in this area of the world.

Latin America has been marked by a history of exploitation: of indigenous populations, of African slaves and their descendants, and of women. Latin American women’s family, property, political, and sexual and reproductive rights have lagged behind those of women in many other regions of the world. The region’s specific brand of sexism—machismo—is largely still accepted as a normal part of everyday life. In the entire region of Latin America, abortion on demand is legal only in Mexico City and in Cuba, and divorce has been permitted in most countries for fewer than 25 years.

For the past ten years, most of my long-term trips to Latin America have taken me to the country of Bolivia, where I

conduct research on issues of women and gender in the cities of La Paz and El Alto. Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America with the exception of Haiti, and over 60% of the country’s population is of indigenous descent. Because of my extensive experience in Bolivia, many of my posts to the site will center on that country, but I also plan to write about the situation of women in other areas of Latin America. Most of my postings will focus on women’s political and sexual and reproductive rights, and I will often use current events in Latin America as a springboard for talking about these issues.

I’m excited to be contributing to conversations about Latin American women here at Womanist Musings, and I hope you all will join in on the debate in the comments section!

Trans Women Must Pay for their Breasts

I stumbled across the following news bulletin and I thought I would share it with you.  Try and see if you can spot the fails.

 Minister: No Free Breasts for Transsexuals

THE HAGUE, 15/04/10 - The Lower House wants men having themselves transformed into women to be given breasts by the government. But Health Minister Ab Klink is not planning to do so.

People who undergo a sex change operation are reimbursed for the medical costs in the Netherlands. This does not apply to secondary procedures, including electronic depilation of bodily hair and the creation of breasts.

The House wants men undergoing a sex change to be reimbursed for these supplementary procedures as well. This would involve about 100 people a year and would only cost 250,000 euros, the House majority argues.

But Klink will not change anything for now. He does not wish to give preferential treatment to transsexuals over and above real women who would dearly like to have bigger breasts and are also not reimbursed.

How about acknowledging the radical notion that trans women are REAL WOMEN.  I honestly don’t know why this concept remains so difficult to understand.  There is no such thing as a fake woman and people can identify as whatever gender that best suits them without being fraudulent. 

I am further disgusted with the idea that it constitutes preferential treatment to pay for breast implants for trans women.  These procedures are not undertaken from a position of vanity, but to affirm their status as women.  The idea that somehow cisgender women are being oppressed because trans women are having their medical treatment covered is ridiculous and it is biased.

Passing is very important to some trans women, and when we consider the violence and ridicule they are often subject to it is completely understandable.  Being read as trans is enough for someone to become violent, because we have so devalued trans lives and because we have insisted on the necessity of upholding a limiting gender binary. I also think that the closer the body reflects the identity of the mind, the easier it is for a trans person to negotiate this life and find happiness.

Klink is not concerned with the well being of trans women.  Cisgender bodies are his priority because the world has taught him that the needs of the marginalized are always secondary, even when the cost is both fiscally and socially insignificant. Incidents like this are exactly why the trans community and their allies must continue to fight, because Cis people will not relinquish their privilege and as history has shown, no privileged group has ever willing done so. To me, seeing my trans sisters gain their equal rights is a positive step for women’s rights, because no one but the individual should be able to decide what constitutes ‘woman,’ or what any female body should look like.

This decision is also extremely biased because transphobia is a large part of why having these procedures covered medically is important.  Trans women often face discrimination in employment, thus making it difficult for them to earn a living, never mind save the capitol required to pay for the procedures that are needed. Not only does the state (note: I am use the word state loosely) support transphobia, it penalizes trans women by not offering the services that would help some women combat the oppression that they face.  It’s a vicious circle that it makes it difficult to determine where the oppression begins.

I have watched in my own country as SRS has become delisted in certain provinces due supposedly to budgetary shortfalls.  It would seem to me that if we are going to ask trans women to pay taxes to support medical services that do not directly benefit them, that we should be willing to pay for their medical needs when it does not benefit cisgender people.  Equal means that everyone should have access to all of the medical services necessary to live an equal and happy life.

 

The N Word and Children

My son  imageDestruction was on the school bus, coming home when another boy decided to point at a bunch of Black kids and say “look at all of those niggers over there”.  When he tried to defend himself and say that the comment was “not nice” the kid responded with, “who cares,” and started to laugh.  If this were not enough, a little girl decided to tell a joke.  “What do you call a bunch of Black kids lying under a red blanket?  A nigger kit kat get it?” 

This incident involved kids from two different schools.  My sons principal was quick to tell me that the language was unacceptable and that the child attending my sons school would be dealt with.  I was unable to speak to the principal of the other school involved.  Apparently when my son was questioned, he was left with the understanding that he was not believed and was making it up for attention.  According to my son, he was pulled off of the school bus and questioned as though he had done something wrong, rather than being the victim of a hate crime.  Kids will be kids I suppose.

Who the hell wants attention for being considered less than human?  In this world, Blacks are always supposedly misinterpreting racism because Whiteness does not want to own the evil that it does.  I would like to know how anyone can misunderstand the meaning of the word Nigger.  Even my nine year old knows that it’s intent is to mark him as less than and ‘other’, even if he is unaware of all of the terrible history that goes with that word.

Last week I wrote about race as it relates to my youngest son Mayhem because I know with absolute certainty that he is about to enter a stage in this life where he must leave the comfort of my embrace and learn what it is to be Black in this world.

 Black children don’t get to remain innocent children long, because they are born into a world that is determined to “other” them to support Whiteness.  This is why I have said many times, that the notion that we support and love all children is absolute bullshit.  We support White children of class privilege and any Black parent can attest to that, in fact, any Black person can agree with that based in the experiences of their childhood.

For their own mental health Black parents have been forced to arm their children to deal with racism for generations.  I have had to tell my child repeatedly that he cannot act like his little White friends, because when a consequence happens you can be certain he will be the one to carry it.  I have had to tell my child not to buy into the bullshit notion that any cop is his friend, because as we well know Black boys are understood as a threat.

He is a gentle, sweet, little boy who is full of love.  He genuinely cares about others and yet the colour of his skin will cause many to ignore what a good kid he is.  As I am forced to slowly pull away his innocence, it hurts me to watch as he becomes more cynical and sometimes angry.  It hurts me to know that he is battling not to take on the stereotypes that others so easily place upon him.  It hurts me to watch him struggle to maintain his dignity, even as there are those that are content to see him fail. In my eyes he is a beautiful angel, but to Whiteness he is a nigger and that is the cold hard truth. 

Like many Black women I am often called angry, as though I have no right to my rage.  My anger is not simply built upon the systemic racism that I face, or the history of racism that has been used to demonize Blacks, it is a mothers rage unleashed in an effort to protect what I hold most dear – my children. For generations Black mothers have fought a futile attempt to shield their children and my experiences reify that the notion that we have advanced so much, or that racism is a thing of the past is a LIE.  It’s a lie and my sons downward cast eyes stand as proof of the pain it continues to cause.

So I am asking all you of so-called anti-racist White people, who claim to be trying to challenge your White privilege: teach your children in real and meaningful ways why it is important not to minimize and demean others.  Teach your children that their Whiteness does not place them above anyone else and that not only should they avoid using obvious words like nigger, but that the little jokes they tell are equally offensive.  I ask you not so much for myself, but for my son who is only nine and deserves the chance to be a child.


Apparently Oprah has Transcended Prejudice

image There can be no question that through much hard work and good timing Oprah Winfrey has become a woman of great power.   A simple mention from her is enough to push a book onto the New York Bestsellers List, or to put your business on the map.  Celebrities go on to promote their new projects and often issues of social importance are discussed on the show. 

Unfortunately there are those who use Oprah’s success to suggest that racism is something of the past.   Oprah it seems is the embodiment of the so-called post racial world.  The following is an excerpt from “The Huffington Post” entitled, “Oprah, Kitty and Me:”

But Oprah seems to have gotten more mistrustful with fame, not less. And she seems to have gotten more race conscious than she was when she was younger. You never felt that Oprah was a professional Negro. She seemed totally unaware of race -- but what do I know about being black? It's not like being Jewish with a Chinese nom de plume.

I believe that racism is far from extinguished in the world -- despite the celebration that greeted the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Racism lurks in our country and all over the world. But people who have transcended prejudice have a special obligation not to carry grudges. After all, grudges hurt the grudge-holder most. We also have a responsibility to set a good example by not holding grudgers.

What in the world is a “professional Negro” and how exactly does Oprah avoid this category?   Since this woman declares that she is not actually Black what right does she have to judge how Oprah performs Blackness socially?  What real understanding can she possibly have of what it is to be Black and female in this world? If the word the author is looking for is sell-out then she is not in position to make that determination because not only is she WHITE, Blackness is not a monolithic identity.

It is interesting that the author can admit that we are not post racial, and yet still profess that there are people for whom class and power mitigates the degree to which they are subject to prejudice, to the point where it is nonexistent. Oprah’s body is marked just like any other Black woman on the planet by both racism and sexism.  The degree to which Oprah has class privilege definitely mitigates the amount of marginalization that she may currently face, but that does not mean that it has disappeared.   For a woman in Oprahs position, it is likely that what she faces is very nuanced rather than extremely overt.

One example that she most recently faced was the backlash of White women after she refused to have Sarah Palin on her show during the election.  The whole we made you and we can break you was bandied about as though Oprah were not actually a person, but a possession created specifically to entertain on command.  The backlash was very public and was quite telling regarding how Oprah’s body is understood by the masses.

Regardless of the economic privileges that Oprah has accumulated the idea that she “should not hold grudges” is ridiculous.  Here we have a White woman lecturing a Black woman on what response she deems is appropriate.  Would she have considered telling Hillary Clinton not to be upset by any sexism that she has faced? This smacks of women of colour are just too damn sensitive.  Enough, however Oprah chooses to respond to ways in which she is ‘othered’ is her business and no White woman has the right to decide what is and is not appropriate because White women have no idea what it is to face racism.

While White people continue to lecture Blacks on our freedom and advancement, they are not above attacking Oprah because Whiteness grants them the power to do so.  This article was racist to the very core and sought to seek fame off of the back of a woman of colour just as many White women have historically received advancement by standing on our backs.  So, yeah racism still exists and White women participate in it everyday while holding tightly to their leftist, equal opportunity cards. As long as one is a person of colour race is never a non-existent entity in your life, and only an over privileged White person could fail to understand this most basic fact.

 


The Men of True Blood?

I turned this title into a question because in “Detail” magazines photo shoot of The Men of True Blood, Lafayette is noticeably absent. 

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Click the image to watch the video.  I once again apologize for embedding difficulties.

It would make sense to me if Moyer and Skarsgard were the only two featured, because these are the two leading vampires in the series.  For the record, I am team Eric all the way.  Including  Ryan Kwaten and leaving out Nelsan Ellis is most certainly a slap in the face.  Jason is not more important to the two story than Lafayette and in fact, the character Jason is little more than annoyance whereas, Lafayette has delivered some of the more memorable lines in the series.  This bit of erasure is not cool and it smacks once again of White male hyper-masculinity at the cost of acknowledging the worth of people of colour.

 imageThis is also alarming in light of the fact that Lafayette will be getting a love interest this season.   Kevin Alejandro will apparently be taking on the role of Lafayette’s leading man.  Lafayette is a character of little note in the book (trying to avoid spoilers) and therefore, the fact that the writers and produces have gone to this length to give him a growing storyline and now a lover, indicates to me that he is indeed one of The Men of True Blood.

And finally, in a display of absolute love for Lafayette’s hopelessly problematic character, I present you with some of my favourite lines.

"Scuse me. Who ordered the hamburger... with AIDS? In this restaurant, a hamburger deluxe comes with french fries, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and AIDS! Do anyone got a problem wit dat? Aw baby, it's too late for that. Faggots been breeding your cows, raisin' your chickens, even brewin' your beer long before I walked my sexy ass up in this mother fucker. Everything on your God damn table got aids. Well all you gots to do is say hold the aids here. Eat it! Bitch, you come into my house ,you gonna eat the food THE WAY I FuckIN' MAKE IT! Do you understand me? Tip your waitress."

"What the fuck is it with white people and Jello?"

"Oh my fucking God, girl! This is about to get ugly."

"I know every man, whether straight, gay, or George mutha" fucking Bush, is terrified of the pussy. "

"No baby you don't know what you’re missing... you can watch it walk away make you wanna slap it huh you wanna slap it"

“That boy is sex on a stick. I don't give a good damn how stuck up he is.”

“Don't get it twisted honey, I'm a Survivor first, a Capitalist Second, and a whooole bunch-a otha' shit after that, but a Hooka' dead last, so if I got even a Jew at an Al Qaeda pep rally shot at gettin' my black-ass outta this mutha' fucka', I'm takin' it; Now whatch' you wanna know?”

“Jesus and I agreed to see other people, don't mean we still don't talk time to time.” (note: this one is my absolute fav)

“They ain't scared of you child... they are scared about what's in between your legs”.

"Shit, y’all bitches don't know what you missing, I got six gears on these hips”.

Yep, Lafayette done said it, as the saying goes.

 


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Britney Spears releases un-airbrushed images next to digitally-altered versions

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The Daily Mail said the singer made the extraordinary move "in order to highlight the pressure exerted on women to look perfect". Britney reportedly wanted the latest Candie's advertising campaign to highlight the use of airbrushing in advertising.

Imperfections highlighted in the original photo include calf blemishes, larger thighs and dry skin on her feet. The airbrushed pictures slim down her waist and tighten her legs, while removing the blemishes. Her bottom is sculpted and a tattoo on her back has been removed.

I really think that this is an awesome move on the part of Spears.  People viewing these images should be aware that they do not accurately represent what she looks like therefore dispelling the idea that the level of perfection that often appears in magazines is not something we should attempt to emulate.

When we uplift these false images, we lay the ground work for the marginalization of women, through demeaning the female body as well as the suggestion that womanhood only comes in certain forms.  

 H/T Feminist Philosophers

Your free pass into the world of dating like a rich person

This is a guest post from Maryanne Comaroto

image Maryanne Comaroto is America’s leading relationship expert. Maryanne is an award-winning author, seminar leader, radio personality and frequent guest on TV and radio talk shows around the country. Her weekly radio show, Maryanne Live!, reaches three million listeners monthly worldwide.

Maryanne is the author of the award-winning book, Skinny, Tan and Rich: Unveiling the Myth. Her newest book is Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers!

Maryanne founded SHOMI, LLC, a personal development corporation, in 1998, and is CEO and founder of the National Action Organization, a 501(c)3 non- profit committed to changing the way our culture values women. Maryanne conducts transformational workshops, lectures and awards the Certificate of Responsible Relationship (CORR®).

To an outsider looking in, it must appear that our dating culture is based around monetary worth.  And that's not too far from the truth - we use money as a tool not only for dating, but for hanging onto a relationship that might otherwise fall apart.  After all the initial daily expenses of food, movie tickets, gas, parking, condoms, hotel rooms, drinks, cover charges at clubs, the price of being with someone only gets more expensive.

The gifts can get more and more extravagant, and eventually more and more personal, as well.  What starts out as buying your lover an iPhone or a mp3 player, can lead to you helping out with their debts, lending them money on a regular basis, or whatever else they start expecting from you.  When you begin a relationship on the basis of your bank account, it can be impossible to shift your worth in the relationship away from just your willingness to spend money on the other person.  The true cost of this?  The pricelessness of selling your soul.

As short a time as it may seem, most relationships begin to decline after six weeks.  There's the initial game of using the tools of insecurity to lure a mate, where texting turns to sexting and, very soon, actual sex.  But then once all those cards are out on the table, there's really nothing left, and when the person you're dating sees that underneath the games, you're just a human being and not some fantasy of perfection, they no longer want to play.  If you're lucky, you manage to leave first, instead of being left.  That's the depressing best-case scenario.

We all dream about how nice it would be to be accepted in a relationship for who we really are, not just what we look like or how much money we have, but most people write this off as an unrealistic fantasy that can't exist in the real world.  But if you look at some of the pioneers who are beginning to dedicate their lives to waking up and living in a self-aware state, you can see that we are actually in a prime position to start turning this thing around, to begin evolving into a culture of people who look within ourselves to find the love and worth that already exists there, dormant and waiting for our acceptance.

This is actually a really lucky time for us to be on this earth and looking for love.  We are at a pivotal time in our history, where we are beginning to accept that there is more to attracting a mate than just baiting someone with physical lust or an impressive bank balance.  We are free to exercise our ability to choose to stop playing the blame game, to accept personal responsibility for how we behave, not only with others but as separate entities.  We are in a position where we can stop following our bodies around, looking for instant gratification, and can instead contemplate our choices, and make healthy decisions based on what we can expect the consequences to be.

And how does knowing this get you into the world of dating like a rich person?  You just have to stop and see where your real value lies.  Because it's not in your bank account, or in your bra cup, or in the car you drive or your willingness to buy gifts for someone.  It's the fact that you are a spectacular, unique representation of divinity, and there is no one else who can be you in the way that you are.  This is a profound realization, and acceptance of it is the greatest and most valuable secret to attracting the mate you really want.  All you have to do is fall in love with yourself, look within you for the happiness you seek, and then put yourself out there for others to see.  Showing the world the positive feelings you have about who you are is your golden ticket, and as I always say, great relationships begin within!  If you want to learn more about starting down the road to your true self, get a copy of Hindsight, What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers today!

Vatican Secretary of State Blames Homosexuality for Abuse

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Click image to watch video due to embedding difficulties.

Transcript: As the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal  Tarcisio Bertone is one of the highest officials in the Roman Catholic Church.  So when he commented on the sex abuse crises in the church at a news conference in Chile it got a lot attention.  The problem said Bertone  is not rooted in celibacy but in homosexuality.

“Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that  there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia.  But many others I was told recently that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia”. 

Cardinal Bertone spoke in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on a week long visit to the South American country.  His comments offended many in Chiles gay community.  The Movement for the Integration and Freedom of Homosexuals, reacted angrily saying:

“The Catholic Church hierarchy will at some point have to apologize for this perversion, for the sinister attitude of this Vatican gentleman.  We are certain that there’s no relationship between pedophilia and homosexuality.”

Bertone also told Chilean Catholics that the Church has repeatedly apologized for the Church’s sex scandal.

“The Pope has asked for forgiveness. He has asked for forgiveness in the letter to Ireland. He has asked for forgiveness in several speeches in the United States, Australia and with the bishops of Ireland. “

On Monday the Vatican posted a guide on its website on how Church officials must handle cases of sexual abuse.  The document states that civil law reporting the cries to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.  It also says that Bishops have the power to restrict the activities of any priest to protect children.

When I first say the title to the video, I thought it must be some kind of sick mistake, but it seems that the Catholic Church is convinced that resorting to homophobia will deflect from the fact that they have repeatedly failed in their responsibilities, and broke their social contract with all of the parishioners who placed faith in the institution.

There is no evidence that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked. Though Bertone claimed that psychologists and psychiatrists had proven that the two are indeed linked, that he did not list any names, or qualify where this supposed research came from.  Pedophile priests exist in the Catholic church because pedophiles exist in the larger society. 

Bertone’s statements are absolutely reprehensible and follows in a long history of the Vatican demonizing gays and lesbians.  What is holy about encouraging the hatred of a specific group to deflect taking responsibility for the years of abuse, while acting to protect financial assets?  Even if the pope were to genuflect in front of every single person that has been abused throughout the numerous years, that would not even begin to come close to making amends for the heinous acts of the Church.

As the scandal rises, I cannot help but think of the Indigenous citizens who were forced to attend residential schools here in Canada and the way in which the Church and the government were allowed to buy their way out of responsibility with blood money and an apology.  Where was the universal denouncement of the Church’s activities then?  How did it even seem likely that priests limited their action to the Indigenous population?  There was no uproar when the victims were Brown, but now that it extends beyond a marginalized group, suddenly people care. 

I cannot help but notice that Catholicism is growing in Africa and wonder what this will mean to the Black and Brown babies living there.   Will we turn away, as we did when First Nations citizens were being abused?  Unless the West has been able to benefit through colonialism, the suffering of Africans has been ignored.

What more evidence do people need to see the perversion that this Church really is?  There is a history of abuse, lies, and obfuscation to protect power.  The Church routinely engages in homophobia and transphobia.  It actively works to curtail women's reproductive rights, with its outdated teachings on abstinence and abortion.   There is nothing Godly or humane in either its teachings or practice. 

The Church is absolutely aware that the sex abuse scandals are indefensible and this is why it has resorted to homophobia.  It is counting on peoples desire to maintain heterosexual privilege to avoid accepting responsibility for supporting years of abuse.  This in my mind is an admission of guilt and each time money is given in support of Catholic Church, without an outright change in doctrine, you should be aware of what you are supporting.  Is this really what Jesus would have wanted?


Body Shaming is now “Entertainment” on CNN

image Hugh Hefner has made his fortune exploiting women.  I won’t argue that some women actively choose to pose in Playboy; however, the magazine actively promotes the idea that women are only valuable for their physical appearance and the degree to which they can titillate men's fantasies.  CNN decided to run an article in their entertainment section in which they encouraged Hefner to comment on what he thought about certain celebrities posing nude in his magazine.

When asked about Kate Gosselin who was referred to as “Momzila” (I kid you not, Momzila), Hef responded:

No! No!" And the original playboy added insult to injury by suggesting he doesn't even know why she's on "Dancing with the Stars."

He explained, "I don't think she's a celebrity." She is the second Gosselin rejected from the porno business. It must hurt to hear that no one wants to check out your goody basket.

Of course Kate is heartbroken, because it must be every woman's dream to pose in playboy, thus driving men to masturbate and spunk all over the picture.  Who doesn’t want to be the inspiration for that.  The rejection must just sting. 

And Momzila…really?  Should I even bother to respond to that one?  It is just another gender based smear to denigrate women.  Kate has eight kids to raise and I am sure the 200,000 dollars she earns from appearing on the show will help with that; it’s not like a traditional 9-5 job is going to come even close to providing subsistence, or that her soon to be ex husband is out there raking in the dough, even as he sues her for custody.  The same assertiveness that we frown upon that Kate exhibits, is the same assertiveness we praise in men. 

Not content to slam Kate, Kelly Osbourne was apparently unacceptable because her body parts apparently need too much work.  Yep, no unrealistic standard of perfection there. 

Way back in 2006, Kelly Osbourne expressed interest in taking it off for Playboy but said some of her body parts "would need some airbrushing." In response, Hugh Hefner said, "I can't see it happening somehow; we don't airbrush to that extent." Jeez, Hef, grow some tact! I wonder if Hef is bummed now that Kelly is thinner, tan, and more Playboy's speed?

Yeah, just think of the spunk that is now going to be wasted landing on ceilings, instead of all over naked images of Kelly Osbourne.  Each little warrior represents dollars lost and that is all that is important to Heff, not how damaging his little company is to women, or the way in which it supports the patriarchal world. Men like Heff are only interested in promoting women’s oppression under the guise of freeing men.

I expect to see this kind of nonsense in some frivolous gossip rag and so I must admit that I was surprised to see that this is what CNN calls entertainment.  Debasing women is not harmless, and to have this kind entertainment on a site that is supposedly dedicated to fair and impartial conversations, suggests that the concerns of women are unimportant.  Despite the fact that Heff is a successful business man, placing him on a throne to judge women’s bodies just affirms his business model as socially valuable, while ignoring the various women that are harmed in the process.

H/t Happy Bodies


Feminism for the rest of us

image This is a guest post by Ope Bukola who is the founder/Editor of a new online magazine for young black women called Zora&Alice.  “From work to health to relationships to politics, when you’re with your sisters, it all gets talked about. It’s a conversation that doesn’t force you to get in a box and stay there. You’ll sound confident and fragile, hopeful and cynical, silly and serious. Your mood will shift. You’ll contradict yourself. Others may see a girl at odds with herself. We see a girl figuring out herself.”

Last weekend, I attended a panel discussion at the Brooklyn museum moderated by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future. The panel, featuring Kates Shulman, Farai Chideya, and Marisa Meltzer, was billed as a discussion of feminism’s future and called “Redstockings, Riot Grrls, and Right Now: Three Generation of Feminism in Conversation.”

Don’t know Riot Grrl? Redstockings? Well, neither did I. Feminist history wasn’t covered in my high school curriculum and I didn’t take women’s studies classes in college.  What I took away from the panel was that, while its values are still relevant, the feminist “movement” needs to go a long way to be accessible to American women today.

The Feminist PR Problem

In spite of how much women have gained since the 1960s, feminism as a movement remains divisive. Admittedly, a lot of mainstream ideas about the movement are rooted in misinformation.  Bra-burning demonstrations, which most scholars agree never happened, have yet to leave the popular imagination. The basic ideals of the movement – equal rights and legal protection for women – tend to get lost amidst all the backlash against “radical, man-hating” feminists.”

Not all criticism of feminism can be choked up to negative media portrayals however. If the panel conversation was any indication, some of the (dis)credit can be blamed on the movement’s relationship with its past. The conversation too often veered into the esoteric: how Ms. magazine or Sassy changed lives, distinguishing characteristics between second, third, and fourth wave feminism, etc.  In the panelists’ defense, both Farai Chideya and Marisa Meltzer offered practical solutions for listening to and engaging young people who don’t necessarily speak the language of feminism. And Jennifer Baumgardner pointed out that many young women are “living feminist lives whether or not they’re using the language to describe it.”

Still, to keep up with American young women, the movement needs to move beyond certain revered institutions (e.g., Ms.Magazine) or sainted causes (e.g., Reproductive Rights).  I support and appreciate the role that both have played in our progress. But I also think the “feminist movement” needs to broaden its messages to stay relevant to an increasingly diverse population.

The Ones Being Left Behind

If they had to describe a typical feminist, I think most people would say obnoxious, elitist, and probably white.  Historically, women of color have struggled to find a place within feminism. (Womanism evolved partly in response to the perceived lack of black women’s voices in feminism).  Third wave feminism, supposedly more socio-economically and culturally diverse, is not the dominant image of the movement.   This is problematic for a movement that wants to thrive in an increasingly diverse country.

Likewise, socially conservative women represent another potential missed opportunity. Religious/Spiritual affiliation among American youth remains robust and the feminist movement needs a better sell to social conservatives.  Can you wear a hijab and be feminist? Be pro-life and feminist? I’d say the answer is yes in both cases but feminists aren’t at the forefront of showing how the movement’s values (e.g., dignity, equality, right to privacy, etc.) can operate in a religious and/or conservative context.  We are quick to defend those who tweet their abortions but mum on how to make an argument for the sanctity of life that still respects a woman’s right to choose.

Why Feminism Still Matters

In spite of its bad rap, feminism is more relevant than ever.   My introduction to feminism came a few years ago when my then 16 year old sister asked for a copy of Ariel Levy’s book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.   Levy’s exploration of women’s self-objectification has only become more magnified withFacebook, YouTube and other media that allow us to broadcast our lives widely.  A greater openness and embrace of sexuality has freed women and girls. It’s also led to a culture where the fun picture a girl takes on her friend and posts on her facebook profile becomes fodder for predators on porn sites.  Last week, I read a story on the US Pole Dancing Competition. I could see the value of pole dancing as a sport that takes as much dexterity as many others BUT I it’s harder for me to reconcile its value as a “sport” when  the athletes (all incidentally women) are wearing 8 inch death heels and next to no clothing. We still need to have some critical conversations on the balance between liberation and self-exploitation. If the feminist movement can free itself from some of the strongholds of the past, it could be well-placed to start and lead the conversations.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Spark of Wisdom: Intersectionality: We're all fighting the same fight

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This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

I've been reading a few blogs, thoughts and damn good rants on and around the subject of intersectionality. This basically touches on people who belong to several groups that face oppression or prejudice (for example: a black woman, or a differently abled homosexual) and there are so many big topics here that I could spend hours talking about it (from the oppression Olympics to the "dilution" argument, to under representation - gods it could take days and most of it has been said before and better - though I may visit them in the future.)

But there's one point that strikes me most about it which I do firmly believe in. We're all fighting the same battle.

Oh details vary, reasons vary, individual concerns vary, history most certainly varies. There's a lot of variation here that we shouldn't dismiss. But in the end there's one unifying message:

People shouldn't be 'othered,' devalued or treated as lesser be that through great big violent oppression and hate or small, subtle but prevalent societal assumptions and pressures.

That is the core. That is the foundation. This is the root of all our movements for freedom and justice. The 'othered' should not be disadvantaged by the dominant privilege and should enjoy the same rights, freedoms, opportunities, respect, position and advantages as they do.

To me, this means every victory is a universal one. Every battle against racism won, is a victory for gays, women, the differently abled, minority religions et al not just for people of colour. Every battle won against homophobia is a victory for all of us. Every battle won against transphobia won is a victory for all of us. Every battle against sexism won is a victory for all of us.

Similarly, it means that every incidence of sexism, ableism, racism, homophobia et al is an attack on ALL of us. In every instance the message is being sent that it is ok to treat people as less for being 'other' in every instance it is saying that the privileged group deserve their privilege and others deserve to be treated as less. Even if we ARE privileged in that specific instance, it is still an attack on us if we allow any 'othered' group to be treated as less. We have a stake in that fight and we have a duty - not just from human decency - but from sheer self-interest to fight against that prejudice.

It also means that if an 'othered' person does something or says something sexist/racist/etc then they are hurting themselves.

The message is Prejudice is Wrong. You can't say "some is wrong" or "it's wrong when used against me" or "this prejudice is ok but prejudice against me isn't" it doesn't work that way. When you are prejudiced or allow prejudice to go unchallenged - even if you don't perceive it as your fight - then you are giving a license to be prejudiced - you are allowing the idea that prejudice isn't necessarily bad. That's a message none of us can afford to send.

In practical terms what does this mean to me?

1) Even if a prejudice doesn't touch me - I have a duty to fight it. The fight against sexism, racism et al may not be directly my fight, but in a wider sense they are. If I allow racism, sexism etc then I weaken the fight against homophobia

2) I have a duty to be an ally. That means being informed. That means being educated. That means not being a burden. That means not being a source of headaches. That means understanding what THEY need not what I THINK they should need.

3) All issues should be aired. I should not allow any 'othered' people to be silenced. I should respect platforms for them to air their views and battles. I should listen. I should not allow any 'othered' groups to be marginalised, their issues brushed aside or ignored - even if in doing so it would garner more attention to MY issue

4) I should acknowledge my privileges - because ignoring them annoys - and try to think past and beyond them and not use them to oppress. I should do all I can not to be part of the problem

5) I should never ever ever ever ever condone the 'divide and conquer' tactics that have been used so successfully before. We're in the same fight - we can't throw our allies under the bus if it will get us ahead.

Othering, prejudice, bigotry is wrong. Always. Allowing it in any instance opens the door for it to be allowed anywhere. If we recognise this we are much much stronger

Obama has a few Words for VA Governor on Slavery

Transcript:

I’m a big history buff and I think that understanding the history of the confederacy and understanding the history of the civil war is something that every American and every young American should be a part of.  Now, I don’t think that you can understand the confederacy and the civil war without understanding slavery, so I think that was a unacceptable omission.  I think the governor has now acknowledged that and I think that it’s just a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion that we better do so thinking through how this is going to effect a lot of people and their sense of whether they’re part of a commonwealth or part of a brother society

On this I have to say that I completely agree with the president.   Those supporting the creation of this so-called remembrance without acknowledging the evil that slavery was and is (slavery is still occurring in the U.S., though it is illegal) have definite racial issues that they need to work on.  The idea that Whiteness needs to be proud and reminded of its accomplishments is ridiculous, when Whiteness is supported  by every single social institution.  Revisionist history is merely an attempt to secure this racial bias.

Despite the argument that we have Oprah and Barack, Whiteness has yet to loosen its tentacles on power and this needs to be clearly understood.  I long for the day when I no longer have to write about race.  I long for the day when I can stop educating Whiteness on the way that people of colour are marginalized. 

The emotional cost of constantly having to defend yourself is never acknowledged in these conversations.  If we don’t fight, Whiteness, like every other power in history will not be inspired to act in the cause of justice and yet each battle that we engage in zaps strength that is so desperately needed in other areas.  The fight is absolutely draining and yet, we can never have a moments peace because someone is always there to say I don’t get it, or why don’t you spoon feed the information because I am too lazy to look on google or go to a library.

I am tired of having White people tell me how I have incorrectly interpreted my experiences because I am just too sensitive.  I am tired of having White people twist facts in order to present the facts in a better light, no matter what it does to the person of colour.  I am tired of being called a racist because I think that I have  value.  I am tired of the rosy coloured but I don’t see race whine, unless of course it benefits Whiteness.  I am tired of my body and the bodies of people of colour being the only ones understood as specifically raced.  I am tired of hearing but Black people are racist too excuse.  In short:

I AM TIRED

Don’t quote Audre Lorde to show me how advanced you are.  Don’t point out that you have Black friends.  Don’t tell me that your favourite authors are all of colour and finally don’t speak about my people in a defeatist tone without ever acknowledging our amazing achievements.

Now that I have said all of this, the one certainty is that I will say that again because no matter how clear my argument or how forcefully POC fight, Whiteness is deeply ingrained in this society. It rolls through the streets like a flash flood devouring all in its path.

 

 


Fat Hatred and Food Disconnect

 

image No matter how many times fat activists explain that weight is not necessarily equal to calories consumed minus calories burned, restrictive diets and unrealistic exercise plans are always proffered as the solution.  They don’t want us to think about the fact that the diet and exercise industries generate a multi-billion dollars per year, even as they shame us for failing to live up to socially constructed norms.  There is a reason that most people yo-yo with their weight throughout their life.  Restricting food to get into a bathing suit is not healthy and yet this time of year, this is exactly what many advertisements encourage.

I have written many times about what a luxury food is.  At this moment, if you walk into my kitchen you will find bakery fresh bread, various fruits and vegetables, as well as good cuts of meat.  My family eats well (when I cook) and that is due strictly to our class status.  While it is certainly possible to eat a healthy diet on a less funds, think beans and rice, they don’t offer much variety for your taste buds.  Most people on limited funds  are forced to choose food which is mass produced (i.e loaded with salt, sugar and various chemicals) that is quick to prepare.  Time is money and this is true no matter how poor you are.

For all the blaming people for being fat, we certainly don’t do much as a society to ensure that food, a vital resource is available in high quality to everyone.  There are neighbourhoods that are food deserts.  We cannot live without eating and yet seldom do we celebrate the pleasure that food is because this takes time and since the hours of the day are highly regimented, for most people food is something to be quickly swallowed while doing something else, or on our way to something else.

image Eating can and should be a pleasurable experience.  It is when we can spend time together as a family and share our experiences.   I made my famous (yes, it’s famous cause I said so) curry beef with rice, apples, and raisins, the other night and as the smell began to fill my home, it brought me a sense of comfort.  It is an act of love to take the time to create something wonderful for the people you love.  The look of pure pleasure as my family began to eat is something that I cherish.

In my home, food is something that brings pleasure and a celebration of our love.  This is indeed a luxury because not only do we have the resources to buy fresh ingredients, when I am physically able to cook time is not an issue.  Though we were promised an era of less work and politicians and pundits continue to whine about the breakdown of the so-called traditional family, we do not support the institution in real and meaningful ways.  If you finish work at five and then don’t arrive home for another 40 minutes or more, what time do you really have to make a healthy meal? 

If we were really concerned about healthy food, we would give people the two things that they need to ensure a balanced diet: time and access to good ingredients at a reasonable price.  It is absolutely hypocritical to spend time shaming people for their supposed eating habits when society is structured in such a way as to ensure that eating a meal has become akin to putting gas in a car.  There is no communion with nature and there is no community and therefore, is it really any wonder that there is no real connection when it comes to food?


Stevens Steps Down; White Men Clutch Their Pearls

I have a new post up at MS

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Justice John Paul Stevens announced on Friday that he intends to step down from the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the belly-aching began almost immediately.  The whole notion that White-men-need-not-apply for the soon-to-be-open seat caused cries of radicalism, presumably because a person of color or a woman in a position of power unbalances the notion that White men are the preordained, natural rulers of all they survey. I suppose this is what happens when you let a “master chameleon,” a “young, inexperienced guy, who is just mad,” live in the house that slaves built–the whole world just goes to hell.

Judging from the racist and sexist attacks that Justice Sonia Sotomayor underwent during her confirmation process, should President Obama dare to once again pick someone for the U.S. Supreme Court who is not White and male, the new nominee will certainly undergo attack. In this so-called post-racial world, we don’t see racism unless White men feel that their privilege is being challenged. And then, of course, it falls under the pattern of reverse racism because that is the only kind of marginalization that counts–even if it is only a figment of the imagination.

To date, there have been three women on the U.S. Supreme Court–Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sotomayor–only the last being a woman of color.  There have been two African-American men, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas (we hate to write those on the same line).  And then there have been 106 White men.

If White men are looking for affirmative action in this situation, it’s only because they want to stake a claim of ownership over the Supreme Court.  Of course they believe they’re the best for the job, because they want the law to be interpreted only through their experiences and their privilege.

Finish reading here

 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trans Man Scott Moore Gives Birth to his Child

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I came across the above photo on TMZ where of course the comment section is a hot mess because people are proudly displaying their transphobia.  Apparently, if you have a vagina and a uterus you cannot be a man and this desire to absolutely define people by their genitalia is limiting and extremely harmful.  Men like Scott Moore are being punished for transgressing the gender binary.

I want to say congratulations to Scott, but even as I was reading his story, I kept wondering why it is that we only hear about trans men in the media when they are having babies?  Remember the uproar over Thomas Beattie?   I know that pregnancy helps the argument of biological determinacy in the eyes of the trans bigots, but I am quite certain that trans men have more issues than whether or not they decide to produce a child.

I really think that the media has a way of jumping on an issue, sensationalizing it, and in the process riling up the public to extreme heights of hatred.   It almost feels as though they are chasing around trans men to find out if they still have their uteruses and if they have had any children, so that the media will have a chance to wallow in its transphobia.

This is once again an exercise in discipline and if the media really cared about trans men beyond the so-called shock value, then they we would hear more trans voices in pubic spaces.   We would be able to understand that there is more involved than how their bodies appear.  Granted, I don’t know nearly enough about trans men and their issues, but I am trying to learn. The purposeful silencing of their stories  to uphold the gender binary, makes it difficult for people that are interested in understanding their privilege and acknowledging trans men as men.

I really hope that I have not messed this up too terribly, as quite honestly this is not something that I have spent a lot of time writing about.   My main concern is that trans men be allowed to talk about their issues without the continual underwear check by the media.  Giving birth may indeed be an issue that is being discussed in their community, I just feel that cisgender people like myself don’t have any business weighing in on it. 

Jezebel Circles the Wagons

image Look, I get how this works, a WOC says something is racist and then the White women show up to deny and derail.  It happens everyday in the blogosphere, so I suppose that I was not at all shocked when Jezebel went into a state of denial and posted this, in response to my piece at The Guardian.

It seems that their main issue is that I referred to Feminsite, Feministing, Bitch Phd and Pandagon as largely run by White women.  The word at issue is largely and so to prove me wrong, Megan Carpentier ran around the blogosphere and counted the WOC.  It was a case of, see we have WOC friends, so we can’t be racist.  It is nice to know that you can just count the bodies and ignore that massive clusterfucks have happened over the years.  I suppose it is accidental that all of these boycotts have occurred and I suppose the arguments in the various comment sections were as tame as high tea. I suppose, it is just my imagination that so many marginalized women don’t feel welcome in these places.  I do however wish to say that out of the blogs listed, that Feminsite continues to be the best at attempting to make real change.

What I absolutely find ironic, is that when Chloe Angyal wrote her piece at “The Guardian,” complaining about women who refuse to identify as feminist (which I was responding to) that she marginalized, silenced and out right ignored the experiences of WOC, trans women, disabled women etc., and Jezebel had nothing to say.  Not one word was issued about this because erasure is never important to dominant bodies, as it helps to maintain their undeserved privilege.  It is only when I, a WOC, said that this is pure bullshit, that Jezebel had something to say.  That’s irony  Megan Carpentier.

Between the two of us, Angyal certainly has the bigger platform as she writes at feministing and yes, that does mean something.  What Jezebel did was to hold me up to ridicule and then hand me over to their largely White readership to pick at my bones.  It was the perfect opportunity for some of their readers to complain about how divisive it is not to identify as feminist, as well as complain that WOC don’t give White women a fair chance.  Oh dear, some poor White woman feels silenced by righteous rage and since she can’t get it anyway, feels that she should not bother. The following comment by Holly is by far and away my favourite:

What is my point? That it's impossible to please. We're told that we could never understand, and that trying to see things from a POC's viewpoint would be offensive pandering. Then we're yelled at when we don't do things from a POC's perspective. I can speak for many in saying we don't know what the fuck to do, because we'll either get called out for ignoring POC, or yelled at for pandering and making assumptions. If we try to address the issues within communities of POC, poverty for example, then we're yelled at as being racist. If we address that many POC do not fit that stereotype, we're yelled at for not addressing the issues of POC.

There is no pleasing anyone, except to just sit here with a sign that says "White Person Punching Bag" and taking every hit anyone can throw at us. I know as a white person, I'm not allowed to feel frustrated regarding issues of POC, but I am.

It’s okay, because I can gain comfort in knowing that Megan Carpentier thought my piece was excellent, though it didn’t seem to be worthwhile to really say why, when there was so much disciplining and silencing to be done, so that WOC will learn to stay in their place.  I didn’t write anything new or shocking at “The Guardian”, and in fact what I said has been said better by other women, I simply think that it shocked them that it was said in such a large platform, rather than in a place where they could minimize our concerns and then go back to ignoring us.  You see, magniloquent promises of doing better while continuing to explain away our concerns has become the norm.  It seems that White women believe that WOC should just accept that they are trying and muzzle our concerns, never mind that their so-called effort is a day late and a dollar short.

White women have been wielding the whip since slavery and have yet to put it down. They can claim sisterhood and solidarity until the end of time, but my back is tired of being scared by their desire to privilege themselves.  My shoulders are tired of carrying the burden of their outright conceit.  How many times has the work of WOC been stolen so that a White woman could play the role of expert?  How many times do we have to be silenced because they are trying to raise their consciousness?  These are the same women that clutch their purses when they see our Beloved sons, fathers and lovers because their purity and goodness is known.

My experiences and the experiences of WOC are not whining, reverse racism,or some new fangled form of oppression and framing them as such is just a determined effort not to listen to our concerns and our experiences. Really, the only good thing that came out of this was the positive responses from WOC and the few White allies that really are trying to learn.  Thank you for embracing me and supporting me. Thank you for validating my truth, it is more than some of these so-called all for one, one for all feminists have ever done.

Editors Note: I didn’t say it at “The Guardian,” but thanks to Gus for directing me towards the Angyal piece and always having my back.