Saturday, June 5, 2010

Which True Blood Character are you?


- Find more at TVLoop

I was really, really, really hoping to get Lafayette, Tara, or Eric, but of course I got stuck with Bill Compton.  STOP LAUGHING, so what if some quiz says I am like a musty old vampire . I am starting to think that I am not doing these tv quizzes right, because I always end up with a character I don’t want to be. Who did you get?

Drop It Like It’s Hot

 Hello everyone.  Thanks for a great week of conversation.  Once again Womanist Musings was invaded by trolls.  Apparently. the very idea that a urinal that is shaped like a woman’s mouth is sexist was just too much for them to handle.  Interestingly enough, when I hit the publish button I pretty much figured that they would come crawling out from under a bridge, and they certainly did not disappoint.   As it is summer and I am working on a large project, I am not always as quick to catch trolling, so please feel free to hit the report button if you notice a comment that I missed that is absolutely abusive.  As always, please don’t feed the trolls because it only encourages them to believe that they have a valid point to make.

At this time, I thought that I a quick reminder regarding the guest posting policy here would help to encourage greater participation.   Please feel free to either submit your original work, or a link back to your blog if you would like to participate.  If this is your first time guest blogging, please include a small three line bio and a small image that you would like to represent your work.  The more people we have participating, the better the conversations around here will be.  I would like to thank all those who guest posted this week.  You added wonderful commentary to the conversations here, and Womanist Musings would not continue to progress without your contributions.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please take the time to show these bloggers some love and when you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave you link behind in the comment section.

No, really, the word “no” isn’t that confusing

Miss USA: Why do we care so much about a beauty queen anyway?

WEALTH, RACE AND GENDER

Tiwonge and Steven are not a “gay couple” – but are they a “straight couple”?

I AM a BLACK WOMAN

When did I stop being white?

forget the black origins of “memorial day”

Fatties, I Challenge You; In Fact, I Dare You

 Props William Hung

 Who Is The Victim Here?

The Mysteries of Marriage

Oscar Grant Jurors Asked: Can You Overlook Race?

Vilifying Palestinians, Easing Movements

The State is Taking my Child’s Support

Not Again!!!!!

 On Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter: It’s not okay for police to immobilize PWD for questioning 

Challenging “The Dominant Story of Masculinity”

 Selling out, caving in or something else? Self-sexualization of successful women in a man’s world.

 

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Motherhood is not the same for everyone

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I have been talking a lot about motherhood recently, because I feel that it is time to have conversations about this role in a non essentialist manner. For the purposes of this conversation, I am going to look at a comment made by Bagelsan, on a post I wrote earlier this week called, I won’t deny my motherhood.

However, much like the abortion debate, the women who choose to abort have historically faced a lot more shit and hassle from the patriarchy than the women who choose to keep the pregnancy. That's why a lot of feminists focus on supporting that more-frowned-upon choice. Similarly, women *not* having to do domestic chores is still a very new and not-a-little-threatened concept; it seems natural that many women would direct their energy towards the less secure and patriarchy-approved option.

Even though many feminists can come across as dismissive of the domestic sphere (including, at various times, myself) I think the world overall is much more comfortable seeing women as wives and mothers rather than workers, and in the kitchen rather than out of it. Enjoying being a mother is only a radical position within a relatively small and far-left group; in general it's still a very feminized and default and acceptable role. (empahsis mine)

I selected this particular comment because it falls into a narrative that is far too prevalent in progressive spaces of class privilege.  The idea that we need to support abortion over motherhood is indeed problematic, because it is based in the idea that women all mother under the same circumstances. 

The differently abled, Black women, First Nations Women, Latina Women and Poor women have all been subject to forced sterilization, as well forced birth control.  This means that becoming a mother has historically been something we have struggled to achieve.  Only White able bodied women of class privilege have had the benefit of near universal acceptance of their pregnancies.  This is not to say that these women have not suffered at the hands of fathers who have murdered them, rather than take on the responsibility of parenting, but it does suggest that the notion of motherhood as an unchallenged right is certainly not universal.

Even when we do miraculously become mothers, the process of raising a child is extremely difficult. Not only must we negotiate a world which has determined that our bodies are insignificant, our children are viewed as meaningless surplus population.  Marginalized women have had to mother under some of the most difficult situations imaginable.  During the violence of the 1863 New York Riot Draft, it was unarmed Black women who stood against angry mobs that destroyed property and were violent against them.  These women knew what was at risk, and those that were not able to defend their children, were forced to watch as their heads were beaten in.

First Nations women, and Black women have all been forcefully separated from our children. Supposedly, for the purposes of civilizing them, our children have been ripped from our breasts, and when we cried with a mothers grief, White women pretended not to hear us.  You see, White women of class privilege have always been considered more knowledgeable and more capable of raising our babies than us. White able bodied women of class privilege do not want to face the ugliness of the history that they have participated in.  They have never had to make the choice of murdering their child or allowing her to be returned to slavery to be raped and abused. Their choice was only how to spend the profit from the sale of our babies.

It was White women who sought independence that organized the tenement movement.  They came up with the idea of scientific domestic labour, and used their standards to attack poor immigrant women.  Their racial biases can clearly be seen in the reports that they wrote.  Families that had yet to be categorized as White, such as Italians and the Irish were constantly found to be substandard, even though these women were raising their children in a manner that was culturally appropriate for their countries of origin.

Even today, the idea of who is considered a legitimate mother can easily be seen by looking at the average parenting magazine. The stories are all about White women of class privilege, and the images are routinely overwhelmingly White.  Blogs that are considered “mommy blogs” are written by White women. Though women of colour write about their experiences, they are never considered the norm and none  have come close to achieving the same success as Dooce. Am I to believe  that there is not one good marginalized writer, or is it simply just another example of the ways in which motherhood as an identity is associated with White women of class privilege?

Marginalized women have historically had very little social power. We come together to share, love and commiserate at our kitchen tables or over the seasoning of a big meal for the family.  Though White women of class privilege dismiss this because they associate domestic labour as gender based performance, for poor women and women of colour, it is a time of community.  This is a woman's space and something to be celebrated in a world that is dominated by men.  Why should we reject this space, or even this role when it has brought us generations of joy and companionship?  This is the kind of sisterhood that marginalized women recognize as validation, but because it has not been the experience of White women of class privilege it can be demeaned and rejected.

When we ignore motherhood, or act as though it all falls under the same essentialist experience, we are once again erasing marginalized women.  This is quite common in so-called feminist spaces. From declaring a hatred of children, to a failure to talk about motherhood in real and critical ways,  we are failing to support women and once again throwing marginalized women under the bus. Able bodied, White women of class privilege can afford to dissect the roles of fathers, or speak about parenting instead of motherhood, but we who have struggled to have our motherhood validated cannot give ground, because to do so would dishonour all that we have been through. 

If we are going to talk about women, motherhood is essential to the conversation.  Domestic labour must be elevated, and it must be clearly understood that there is value in what we do.  When you dismiss mothering, caretaking or nurturing work you ignore our struggles and our pain to once again privilege your agenda. 


Welcome To Internalised Misogyny : Part One In An Infinite Series Of DoucheBaggerey

This is a guest post by Jaded 16

image Jaded16 is a Radical Feminist from India. She writes a humour blog Oi With The Poodles Already’, attempting to make her world a little woman-friendly using healthy doses of irony and sarcasm to de-condition the Indian masses. It is at times like these when she loses all her sense of humour and starts looking for a rock big enough to live under.

What did you want when you were six? I wanted to read Roald Dahl's 'Matilda', beat my brother at Boggle and I wanted a pet kitten. I thought babies came form the sky and parents would 'choose' which baby they wanted; thus loving the baby forever. Such were my thoughts at six -- a tiny glimpse into my privileged world. Now, I don't think every little kid my age was as happy or fortunate as I was; I certainly never expected this.

My friend showed me this news exposé last week (linked to Headlines Today) and I got the wind knocked out of me, just sitting in front of my computer screen. Here's a quick background report -

  • A few reporters noticed a skewed sex-ratio in one of the interior villages of Rajasthan; where the ratio was 23 girls to 19 boys. Far from thinking this is a cause for celebration, this ratio obviously is entirely unnatural as most states of India prefer the Y-chromosome. There are many campaigns and NGOs that try to revert this scale; however we see a clear difference.
  • Upon further investigation, we find these villages have been dubbed as the 'prostitution hubs' of the state. Apparently, the flesh-trade is a tradition of this village; as most of the people are actively engaged in it. Like the devdasis, this tradition is only the burden of the Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes; call it a residual gift of the caste system, if you will.
  • The police and other administrative authorities turn a blind eye towards this because this is a 'tradition'. Many openly acknowledge that the revenue of the entire village is dependent on women's bodies.
  • This village also has a history of kidnapping girls from all over the country and raising them there. Sometimes, babies as young as six months old are kidnapped and brought to the village. Till about the age of six years old, they are showered with 'love', 'affection' and even proper nourishment (in fact, boys in this village go malnourished).
  • From the age of six to ten, they are pumped with the hormone Oxytocin. Usually this hormone is injected in cattle to make them yield more milk. The same dose is administered to these girls to make them mature faster sexually so they can be sold off in the flesh trade. This hormone is available over-the-counter for less than a rupee.
  • Oxytocin is also called as the 'love hormone' as it induces feelings of love, lust, trust, affection in these girls.

For the last few months, Greenpeace in India has been rallying to make sure artificial hormones aren't injected in vegetables as it's not healthy for the environment and neither does it support the goal of a sustainable future. We signed petitions, wrote letters of protest to the Home Minister, opposing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India bill. We don't support Genetically Engineered (GE) crops but not a word about this blatant abuse?

These girls are as young as my second and third grade students who will learn alphabets only if drawn inside hippo bellies. Only, their days aren't spent speculating on just what to do with their crayons. They look like they are fifteen, have the sexual maturity of adolescents while they are six-year old mentally. They are smuggled to places like Mumbai, Dubai and Gulf countries. They are sold off as sex-slaves. They send a steady income home till they are 30. If they haven't contracted any STD's, AIDS and are still alive, these girls come back home to be married off to pimps and other lowlifes.

They don't have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood, never know just how much fun it is to make bubbles, play with other children their age, never have silly fights, never just be. We make such a fuss about the 'innocence of children', read books like Peter Pan and the Little Prince even well into adulthood, reveling in the beauty of the childhood dream. But when faced with this reality, we'd rather turn a blind eye to such mass exploitation.

Prostitution is the oldest trade in the world; that I know. There is nothing wrong with selling one's body if one has to, if CONSENT is involved. Please note that I'm not condemning sex-workers or the very act of selling one's body. What is important to see here is the complete and total violation of consent, tainting the very potential of a childhood. Also note, this trade banks exclusively on the bodies of little girls.

Why is it so easy to take away the agency of women's bodies? Is it because our culture believes the woman's worth is less than her Y-chromosomed counterparts? Why is the sale of a girl's body considered a tradition? What gives anyone this right to just take away these girls childhood? Have we become this inhuman? If so, I don't want to be a part of such a world.

P.S. If any one knows of any Human Rights Organizations that can help these girls please contact me here.

 

It’s Friday and the Question is…

Lyrics:

Begging Benny he’ll borrow everything you’ve got:  a shoe, a lamp, a three cent stamp, or a coffee pot; he don’t care what.  Begging Benny we’re glad they’re aren’t many like you.  It happens every time, he gives you the same line: Hey buddy  do you have a dime, or maybe a brick, a clock or even a stop sign.  Begging Benny he’ll borrow anything you’ve got:  a shoe, a lamp, a three cent stamp or a coffee pot; he don’t care what. Begging Benny we’re glad there aren’t many like you. He’ll borrow all your toys, and then ask what else you got. He’ll even borrow your glasses, whether he needs them or not. Begging Benny he’ll borrow anything you’ve got: a shoe, a lamp, a three cent stamp or a coffee pot; he don’t care what. Begging Benny we’re glad there aren’t many like you. Begging Benny he’ll borrow anything you’ve got: a shoe, a lamp, a three cent stamp or a coffee pot (sound fades away)

I am pretty convinced that we all know a “Begging Benny;”  someone that does not know their boundaries and is either constantly in your space, or borrowing things from you.  I passed kindergarten and agree that we should all share. This is especially important now that economy is bad, but supporting someone’s lifestyle is another thing entirely.  You know who I am talking about, the person that isn’t really in need but has better things to spend their money on.

This week’s question is how have you dealt with the “Begging Benny’s” in your life? Have you tolerated them and dropped subtle hints or did you just bite the bullet and say enough is enough?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Monstrous Musings: Is it better to be feared than loved? White ogre identity in Shrek 4

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.

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Shrek is obviously rife for gendered critiques, but it also speaks a great deal to race. While others have touched on how the Shrek series can be read in relation to cross cultural marriages (as here), to feminism (here), and to its exploration of cultural norms/boundaries (here), I have not been able to dig up many posts that focus on Shrek as an ogre-of-privilege.

I don’t know why this writer sees Pinocchio’s wearing of women’s underwear as “objectionable,” but I do agree with Melissa McEwan of Shakesville that the Shrek franchise plays on negative racial stereotypes. However, Shrek’s character ( indeed playing into Scottish stereotypes), is coded as white. He has a lot of power (so much so that all the fairy tale creatures run to him for help in the first film), he has quite the invisible knapsack of privileges (brains, brawn, humour, a bevy of sidekicks to help him), AND he gets the white/green princess-ogre in the end.

Donkey, in contrast, variously plays (as argued here) the native, the slave-figure, and the clown. As Daren C. Brabham argues,

    “through the character of a donkey… blackness rings loud and clear, conveying historical, stereotypical ideas of black experience to the audience. Furthermore, Donkey is a sidekick, an unwanted chatterbox accompanying Shrek in the historically white narrative of fairy tale.”

Though I agree that Donkey’s character plays into racialized tropes, I think there is a definite element of satire that cannot be overlooked. Eddie Murphy, as the voice of Donkey, exaggerates Donkey’s “blackness” if you will – making it clear he is playing (and making fun of) a type. What seems more problematic to me is the lack of color – other than green – which is really white – in the films.

If Disney is anyone to go by, green is the new black (as in The Princess and the Frog). Yet, even though Shrek is a cultural outsider, he (and his green love Fiona) are white in their human forms. In fact, all human characters in the film as far as I can recall are depicted with white skin. Far Far Away also seems pretty damn white ( but, to be fair, it is displayed as sickeningly materialistic -via Farbucks Coffee, Pewtery Barn, etc -  perhaps this is why Shrek and Fiona prefer life back at their less pretentious suburban “swamp”).

So, why is it that animation, a genre that relies on COLOR, can’t include a wider diversity of SKIN COLOR? I imagine that, as back in early Disney days, most animators are white males. And, judging by the majority of animated films, it seems we have not come all that far from the jive-talking monkeys and crows of The Jungle Book.  
However, what does all this have to do with monstrosity?

Well, ogres seem to have their origins in Northern European folklore, and are usually depicted as excessively hideous, devouring creatures that enjoy feeding on humans. Shrek of course twists this, making the ogre an endearing, funny being and turning the humans (for the most part) into rather unlikeable beasties. Flipping “Otherness” on its head, the film encourages us to route for this green Other. Alas, when we take into account that Shrek is in fact a very white character (voiced by Mike Meyers) whose animals-of-color sidekicks are not given the same narrative  chance to rally against oppression, it seems that Shrek plays into the “I am oppressed as a white person” meme.

This is where my title comes in – in the 4th instalment of the saga, Shrek is quite annoyed that no one any longer fears his ogre monstrosity. After a Hollywood style tour bus takes to putting his home on their daily sightseeing trip and a young boy keeps insisting “I wanna hear the roar” at Shrek’s triplets birthday party, Shrek has had it. He longs to be, Machiavelli style, more feared than loved.

If we read Shrek as a white-middle-class ogre (as his accent, house, etc convey), what does his desire to be “feared” convey? He seems to be suffering from the malaise of the privileged white male, bored with his eyeball martinis and suburban life. He longs to be all swampy again. It’s SO HARD having a nice home, healthy kids, a wife who loves you. While his dismay is rendered understandable in the film, might we read his desire to be feared as analogous to the white kid adoption of Ebonics or hip-hop style (as theorized so well by Michael Kimmel)? Shrek, a sort of ogre-Eminem, wants to get his “tough guise” back.

Alas, the alternative universe Shrek enters after his shady deal with Rumpelstiltsken allows for a more nuanced exploration of racism and minority ogre status. Yet, the ogre revolution is sidelined and our focus is turned, predictably, to the white Rumple, his white Pied Piper, and his cadre of black-wearing but greenish-white-skinned witches.

Don’t get me wrong –  I quite like the Shrek films. What I fear is that their cleverness cloaks quite a bit of racialized stereotyping and a message as old as the ogre myth itself, that whiteness is to be protected, championed, and lionized – even when it’s green.


Calling Someone the N Word Can get Expensive

When hate mongers scream in defence of free speech, they do so from a desire to maintain their ability to spread their hatred without consequence.  Even though we refer to nigger as the N word, how many times have White people whined because Blacks can say it and they can’t? OOOOOh poor babys; what an extreme violations of rights.  Despites centuries of Blacks making it clear that this word is hateful and carries with it a history of extreme racism, there are those that will not remove it from their vocabulary. 

A truly equal society holds people accountable for their actions.  Speech is not always free, and often hate speech carries a serious burden for marginalized bodies. Once in a very rare while, racists are forced to pay a price for their hate speech.

The harassing and threatening voicemail messages left on Allen Jones' mobile phone are nothing short of vulgar.

"This shouldn't be tolerated," he said. "Nobody should have to experience what I had to experience."

Debt collectors from Advanced Call Center Technologies, LLC left eight messages for Jones in August 2007 trying to collect what it said he owed on a credit card.

Most messages were laced with profanity and spewed racial slurs:

"This is your mother******* wake-up call you little lazy a** b****," a collector said on one. "Get your mother******* n****r ass up and go pick some mother******* cotton fields."

Jones is African-American.

"If we did not have tapes, no one would ever believe that this happened," Mark Frenkel, one of Jones' attorneys said.  [source]

The story made a point of stating that Jones denies that he actually owes the money in question.  While the reporter clearly decried the racism that Jones faced, the focus on the legitimacy of the debt falls into line with the social idea that people that are unable to pay what they owe are somehow worthless.  High risk loan companies, as well as credit cards that have ridiculous interests rates target African-Americans. African-Americans were also heavily targeted in the sub-prime mortgage fiasco that has left so many people homeless. Many times these companies amount to nothing more than legalized loan sharking.

Even when these collections agencies are not making racist comments, they obfuscate facts and call with such a frequency that it can amount to harassment.  Often the law and social convention support the position of these creditors, because the debtor has been deemed to be in violation of their end of the social contract.  We know that real wages have not kept up with the cost of living, and that the rate of unemployment is higher for African-Americans than Whites, yet the inability to pay debts is still looked upon as a personal failing, rather than a symptom of systemic inequality. 

The U.S. has long run on credit and this has allowed employers to continually devalue the labour of workers. Racism ensures that when people of colour do get jobs, despite education and experience they earn less than Whites. The management of the credit system is a reflection of the perversity of the capitalist system.  When debt collectors from Advanced Call Center Technologies, LLC, engaged in racism they deemed it to be acceptable because capitalism has been used as a weapon against people of colour for centuries to maintain White Supremacy.  I am quite sure they never imagined for one moment that a significant cost would be assigned because of the long standing relationship between capitalism and racism.

Friday afternoon, a Dallas County jury awarded him one of the biggest verdicts of its kind.

He won $50,000 in mental anguish and $1.5 million in punitive damages.

Though this is a victory, it is a small one.  Whiteness can afford to make small concessions like this because it does not require the overhaul that the system really needs.  This judgement will erroneously be used as evidence that racism is truly not tolerated, much like Barack and Oprah are held up as proof that we live in a post-racial world, while Blacks continue to be victims of White supremacy. 


Thank You For Being A Friend Rue McClanahan

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It was with great sadness that I read that Rue McClanahan has passed at the age of 76.  I am most familiar with her as the Southern belle Blanche Devereaux on “The Golden Girls.” According to her manager Barbara Lawrence, she died of a stroke at 1AM June 3rd.

I must admit that beyond her role on the Golden Girls I know very little about her.  According to Wikipedia she was one of the first celebrities to support PeTA (Well no one is perfect), and she leaves behind a body of work that includes the stage, film and television.

My condolences to her loved one and to Rue thank you for a having the wit, beauty and charm to play a role that continues to encourage me, amuse me, and delight me.  I still watch the Golden Girls and five days a week at 5pm. If you’re close enough pop by and listen to my rendition of the theme song,  I promise no glass shatters, but a few dogs may or may not be barking in protest.

'Worst President Ever' On GLBT Rights? I Don't Think So

This is a guest post from the ever brilliant Monica of TransGriot.

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"We must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. "No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability." President Obama during the Byrd-Shepherd Hate Crimes signing ceremony.

The griping has been loud and long even before Sen. Barack Obama took the oath of office in January 2009 from predominately white GLBT people that he would be 'the worst president ever' on GLBT rights.

And Black GLBT people haven't and won't forget y'all were selling those woof tickets before Obama even sat down for his first day in the Oval Office.

White GL pundits, gayosphere bloggers and people in the community two years later are still screaming that bull feces even as the evidence mounts to the contrary.

But then again, Black politicians have always been to impossibly high standards by white people they hypocritically don't hold white politicians to.

That 'worst president on GLBT rights' assertion not only is irritating to African descended GLBT people, it's proving to be ludicrous as far as my section of the LGBT rainbow is concerned. From our vantage point, Obama has been the been president ever when it comes to highlighting the 'T' part of LGBT.

Whether it's passing and signing a hate crimes law that covers gender identity and sexual orientation, one of the legislative Holy Grails for trans people, drafting guidelines barring workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees, or appointing qualified people such as Amanda Simpson for federal positions, President Obama has stepped up for the trans community.

But since y'all been too busy screaming about an 0-34 same gender marriage push and DADT, y'all may have missed the lifting of the decades old HIV travel ban that has kept the United States from hosing international HIV/AIDS conferences, much less kept people with a non American HIV infected partner from being able to emigrate here to live with the person they love.

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Here's the list, compiled by openly gay DNC treasurer Andrew Tobias.

1. Reversed an inexcusable US position by signing the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

2. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees

3. Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide full partnership benefits to federal employees

4. Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act

5. Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010

6. Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamation since 2000

7. Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history

8. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King

9. Appointed the first transgender DNC member (Diego Sanchez) in history

10. Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign service employees

11. Committed to ensuring that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity

12. Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders — the nation’s first ever — funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAGE

13. Testified in favour of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA

14. Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history

15. Supported lower taxes for same-sex couples who receive health benefits from employers

16. Hired and appointed a record number of qualified LGBT Americans, including more than 10 Senate-confirmed appointments

17. Sworn in Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa David Huebner

18. Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department, and the Department of Education

19. Appointed Sonia Sotomayor, instead of a conservative who would have tilted the Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation.

To wit (quoting McCain): “I’ve said a thousand times on this campaign trail, I’ve said as often as I can, that I want to find clones of Alito and Roberts. I worked as hard as anybody to get them confirmed. I look you in the eye and tell you I’ve said a thousand times that I wanted Alito and Roberts. I have told anybody who will listen. I flat-out tell you I will have people as close to Roberts and Alito [as possible]”
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The more liberal progressive (and younger) Supreme Court judges we get on the Court now, the better position we'll be in when cases critical to the advancement of GLBT rights percolate up to the SCOTUS.

Do you want a 5-4 conservative majority deciding those cases?

Thought not.

Continue, Andrew.

***

20. Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)

21. Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer)

22. Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the President’s historic NAACP address

(“The pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”) . . . to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation (“Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things”) and his Mothers Day proclamation (“Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by two parents, a single mother, two mothers, a step-mom, a grandmother, or a guardian. Mother’s Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate these extraordinary caretakers”) . . . to creating the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies . . . to including the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of Goldman Sachs in the small audience for the President’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange . . . to welcoming four gay couples to its first State Dinner

23. Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell . . . repealing the so-called Defence of Marriage Act

24. Spoken out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast

(“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are — whether it’s here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”)

25. Dispatched the Secretary of Defence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell, in the meantime dialling back on discharges.

26. Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study.

27. Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four Commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

28. Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage

29. Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons

30. Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights.

***

Crumbs, you say? Can you Obama detractors pull up a comparable list of positive for the TBLG community GW Bush misadministration accomplishments early in the first term of a presidential administration?

I'm betting you predominately white, Hillary-loving GLBT Obama haters can't.

And hello, bear in mind Obama still has to get past the 2010 and 2012 election cycles in addition to cleaning up the toxic waste the Bush administration left behind.

You may want full civil rights and equality now, but my peeps have been fighting that battle for over 200 years. We've had spectacular successes and dark periods of fighting tooth and nail just to avoid any slippage when conservative governments and Supreme Court majorities get ensconced with the task of rolling them back.

From where I sit an an African descended trans person, I'm always in favour of any expansion of civil rights because it benefits me as well.

To you white gay peeps, you don't care what party is is power because as beneficiaries of vanilla flavoured privilege, Republican policies are aimed to benefit your ethnic group even as your civil rights are stagnated or rolled back.

As a person of color I'm painfully aware that Republican governments are detrimental not only to my civil rights, but my wallet and community as well.

So no, voting for Republicans, a disorganized third party or sitting at home on Election Day is NOT an option.

A question for you peeps to ponder. If you were in his shoes facing the same political landscape and a looming 2012 re-election campaign, would you be inclined to risk your entire presidency for a group of people that for the most part, weren't in your corner or reluctant supporters to begin with, and have a history of throwing allies and people of color under the bus?

I'm more than tired along with many African-American GLBT people of hearing that played out 'Obama isn't doing enough for GLBT rights' line. What you mean is that he isn't moving fast enough for you lukewarm supporters satisfaction to advance the cause of GLBT rights.

I also want to see as a proud African-American the first African-American president get two full terms in office, if for no other reason than to flip the Supreme Court script to liberal-progressive control. Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas aren't getting any younger, and neither is Ruth Nader Ginsburg.

So chill with the lie that he's the 'worst president ever' on GLBT rights.


I won’t hide my motherhood

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Yesterday afternoon I remembered that I had four bananas that were singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot.  I have been trying to get my family to think about the various ways in which we waste food, and I decided to turn those bananas into a huge banana bread.  As I stood in my kitchen mixing butter (God/Goddess’s true gift to us all) with flour, baking soda, and eggs, I couldn’t help but think that this is my place.  My childhood is filled with memories of my mother in her kitchen cooking, and I hope that my children will one day associate me with the meals that I prepare.  You see, every single meal that I make for them is filled with my love. 

Ten minutes before Destruction came home from school I took the banana bread out of the oven.  He walked in smiled and said, “mommy it smells beautiful in here.”  I cannot tell you the joy that this simple statement brought me. After supper as I watched my men divide the banana bread with relish amid comments of, “oh this is so good”, I felt their pride in me.  I felt their love and appreciation of me.  I made this banana bread with my swollen hands, standing on swollen feet, because I wanted to make them happy.

If you have not guessed it by now, my family is my world.  I love to see them smile and play.  I love to spend time with them.  I love to cuddle with them under blankets on rainy days, and I love the water wars we get into on steamy hot summer days.  My family is a place of safety, acceptance and above all respect.  I love that we are a team and that we can rely on each other.  We each have specific roles that we play that are suited to our personal likes, dislikes, and abilities -- and somehow, amid all of the zany idiosyncrasies we make it work.

So far this post may not seem very political to you, but in fact it is being written with a very specific political perspective in mind.  Gone are the days when women could openly say that they take pride in cooking and cleaning for their family without being ridiculed.  Gone are the days when a mother’s happiness of watching her family consume her labour of love means anything significant.  This is domestic labour and though it has never meant much in the realm of economics, at least it had its place in the social world.

I am a mother.  I am not the type of mother that makes crafts (oh alright makes crafts often), or is on the PTA, but I do the nurturing work for my family and I am proud every single day of the results that it yields.  I give magic kisses to heal ouchies, and my hand is always ready to wipe away a tear.  I always have a smile ready and I am excited to cheer what may seem like the smallest victories, or offer words of love in support. 

But none of this is acceptable because we have glass ceilings to breakthrough.  We need to be concerned about buying RRSPS ( or 401k’s for you Americans).  We need to prove that we are the equal of every man and turn our energy outward rather than inward to fight the years of oppression that women have suffered at the hands of patriarchy.  We need to study hard, play hard, and  live hard.  We need…we need… we need…. But somewhere in there we forgot that for some women, women like me, all that matters at the end of the day is the shared joy over a simple banana bread, because this is what makes me happy; this is what makes me feel whole.

The kitchen is my kingdom and when I am well I rule it with an iron fist.  Providing food has been women’s work for centuries, but that does not mean that there is not power and dignity  in it.  It is a beautiful thing to make someone smile.  It is a beautiful thing to make someone truly happy.  And if this joy costs me just a little bit of time, (and a small measure of pain  due to my illness), it is my right to celebrate this as my own victory.  I have made a lot of mistakes in my life.  There are chapters, doorways, alleyways that I never want to revisit, but my decision to spend my life dedicated to loving my men is something I don’t regret and have no desire to hide.  Mothering is not something that women should ever be ashamed of, because for some of us, it brings out the best of who we are.

Dedicated with all my love to my men, big and small.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Help Redesign the F Word

The following is a guest post from Jess McCabe of the F Word

I am the editor for the UK online feminist magazine/blog The F-Word. We are trying to raise money for a redesign of the site, and frankly we cannot do it without you: the wider international network of women's rights supporters/womanists/feminists.

Next year The F-Word will be 10 years old. I know that many readers at Womanist Musings are familiar with the site, because we get a steady stream of readers coming our way from this blog, so I hope you don't mind us reaching out like this.

Our current design has served us well, but we want to go into the next 10 years with a fresh, repurposed site, which does even more to create a platform for underrepresented voices. Our new site will be more accessible, more interactive, and generally help us amplify the voices of the 400+ contributors to the site even more.

All of this is going to be expensive - we are working with an excellent company already, Quilted. It is an ambitious target for us, as a grassroots feminist media site which is run only by volunteers. But we can easily reach our target if those who have loved the site over the last nine years chip in a little bit. Every little bit is sincerely appreciated.

Everyone who donates will be listed on a dedicated Thank You page for supporters on the new site - unless you want to be anonymous. Also, everyone who donates will be entered into a prize draw (look out for more info about the prizes on the blog in the coming weeks).

Click here to donate

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The oil spill is NOT “Obama’s Katrina”

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image Oil has been flowing into the gulf for over a month now and it seems that a resolution continues to remain just out of reach. The disaster is now openly being compared to Hurricane Katrina – and while both of these events have caused a tremendous amount of damage, they are vastly different. In an effort to assign blame, politicians as well as the public have lashed out in anger at the Obama administration. The president has answered his critics in a recent press conference by stating that, “I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.” This statement is in line with his pledge to increase accountability and transparency in U.S. government.

It was not Obama who made the mantra “Drill, baby, drill” a household refrain. Sarah Palin trumpeted those words on the election trail during her failed bid to become vice-president. According to Time Magazine, Palin has now changed her line of attack by accusing Obama of being in bed with Big Oil. This is quite ironic, considering the Republican Party’s long involvement with oil — George Bush’s work with many failed companies and most notably, Cheney and Haliburton.

Rather than a display of real sorrow for the environment that is being destroyed, the concern of the Republican Party reads more like political posturing. The Republican Party chose to ignore the suffering of impoverished Blacks in the wake of Katina, and it now fails to offer concrete solutions to bring an end to the worst man-made environmental destruction on U.S. soil.

Before the oil spill disaster, Obama planned to open the U.S. Atlantic coast to offshore drilling for the first time in more than two decades. He did, however, cancel a planned lease sale in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, because it is considered too environmentally sensitive, and he delayed two others. Unlike the Bush administration, which originally planned the sales in Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the potential environmental damage was at the forefront of the decision. Proving once again that the environment is of primary concern, Obama extended a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling by six months in the wake of BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “Drill, baby, drill,” has never been a part of the Obama lexicon because the president understands that there are consequences to each action.

Hurricane Katrina stands as evidence of the ways in which the Bush administration privileged big business over people and thus remains a symbol of ignorance, incompetence and neglect in the American consciousness. Katrina was anticipated by top government officials and yet nothing was done to prepare the citizens for the onslaught that they would face. Shortly after the hurricane, a video surfaced showing Bush attending a top-level meeting in which he did not ask a single question. The population of New Orleans pre Katrina was predominately Black, and Bush’s reaction to the fell in line with his response to the murder of James Byrd, once again proving that Black lives meant nothing to him.

Finish reading here

McDonald's French gay ad: Venez comme vous êtes!

I have watched this commercial many times trying to decide how I feel.  I think that it is great to have a gay character in a McDonalds ad, particularly because McDonalds has worked hard to have a family image.  Family includes all of our GLBT loved ones; however, the fact that the character is still so clearly closeted is disturbing.  Why not take the next step and have him be out to his father? Would it really have been that hard to show a loving relationship between an openly gay teen, and a parent? Depression and suicide rates are particularly high amongst LGBT youths, and I think the more positive representation the better.

I do think that this video does serve as a teaching moment for heterosexual parents. In the commercial the father assumes his son is straight. 

Too bad all there are only boys in the class, you get all the girls

This sends a message to his son that a gay identity would be a disappointment, thus making it harder for this child to come out.  Straight parents need to think about the heterosexist assumptions we make in everyday conversation with our children.  It could be perceived as us not loving them for who they are, if they don’t identify as straight.  Small things like talking to your son about his future wife assumes an identity for him that may not in fact be his.  Using gender neutral terms like future partner helps to ensure that your child knows that they are loved no matter what.

I don’t think McDonalds hit it out of the park with this commercial, but I do believe that it is the start of a conversation.  Once again, LGBT representation in the mainstream is aimed at dominate bodies and not a marginalized group, and that is also a problem.  Not only does the community need to be represented, it needs to be done in  a way that is not always about teaching straight people about homophobia, but as an affirmation that being gay and lesbian is indeed a good and indeed normal.   Imagine how this commercial would have changed had he stayed on the phone and told his father that he was talking to his boyfriend -- and then they proceeded to eat the heat attack on a plate McDonalds together.  That scenario would have sent a far more positive message for all concerned.


What Tami Said can save you $8: My review of "Sex and the City 2"

This is a guest post from the marvellous Tami, of What Tami Said.

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[Maybe there are spoilers in this review. I don’t think so. Frankly, I think there is nothing I could possibly do to make the shitfest that is Sex and the City 2 worse.]

Allow me to save you $8. Here is the plot of Sex and the City 2: Four privileged white women take a break from relentlessly moaning about their privileged lives to go on an Orientalist fantasy excursion to Abu Dhabi, where they are each assigned a brown servant to wait on them as they maraud through the country, dressed like assholes, exoticizing people, mocking culture, flouting religious custom, rubbing yams on their bodies and, on occasion, because they are our heroines, “saving” the natives with their American liberation and largess.

SATC was always only about a certain type of woman, despite media attempts to make Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte into everywomen. The series presented a fictionalized view of white, wealthy, female Manhattanites. But the friendships between the protagonists felt universal. And as cartoonish as the individual characters could be, I saw pieces of them in the women around me, if not in myself. When the show first debuted, I was single in the city myself:

When "Sex" debuted in 1998, I was single and 20-something in a big city and it was fun to watch single, carefree women, who lived in a bigger city with bigger apartments, cooler jobs, more money, better shoes and more sex with hotter guys. It was fun fantasy. Read more…

I got older. And so have the characters in SATC, but it occurs to me that the franchise’s male creators aren’t quite sure what to do with women over 40. And so they have taken four flawed but generally likable women and made them repugnant.

Two of the franchise’s characters seem emotionally stunted: Charlotte’s chirpy childishness—always a little icky—seems gross coming from a twice-married woman with two children. Carrie’s self-centered flakiness and drama-whoring is exhausting. Samantha and Miranda are unrecognizable—Sam having gone from an independent woman in charge of her sexuality to a desperate caricature fighting to hold on to her youth. (Note: Chris Noth, who plays Mr. Big, is two years older than Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha. Interesting that Samantha is portrayed as fading, while Big still gets to be…well…Mr. Big) Miranda quits her job because the new partner at the firm is a sexist jerk. No fight. She simply gives up, which seems completely out of character.

Meanwhile, as the main characters go from iconic to pitiable, there exists a faux girl power thread running through the film. The protagonists even, inexplicably, sing “I Am Woman” in an Abu Dhabi karaoke club. SATC was never as feminist as it was made out to be. It sure as hell wouldn’t pass the Bechdel Test. But now it seems as un-empowering and pandering as a those pink “girl” computers by Dell.

Privilege on parade

The action in SATC 2 is more eye-roll inducing than relatable.

Charlotte, a full-time mom with a full-time, live-in nanny, snaps when her older daughter gets finger paint on the vintage couture skirt Charlotte is wearing while making cupcakes in her deluxe kitchen. Later, she and Miranda patronizingly offer a toast “to them,” mothers who don’t have help, that is.

Now that she has snagged her Mr. Big and is settled into a two-year marriage, Carrie, as ever, seems to want something else. She grumbles that the couple stayed in for dinner “two nights last week.” She kvetches when Big gets her a flat-screen TV for their anniversary, demanding diamonds instead. (Note to my husband, if he should read this: Our anniversary is next month, and, unlike Carrie, I would not give the side-eye to a flat screen.) She gussies up and goes out for dinner with her ex-fiancee. She escapes to her old apartment for two days, then pouts when Big suggests that maybe a weekly break is what their marriage needs. She is petulant and childish, then regretful and teary.

When Samantha, who is fighting off aging with pills by the bagful, drops her panties in her glass-walled office to rub some elixir on her vagina (Yeah, you read that right.), the movie viewer doesn’t relate to the difficulties of female aging, but rather feels sorry for her female assistant who has to work with her arrogant and clueless boss’ lady bits in her face.

Gays and brown people and Muslims…oh my!

The women of SATC spend very little time in their whitewashed New York City during this film. But they are there long enough to attend the wedding of Stanford and Anthony, friends of Carrie and Charlotte respectively, who have until this film hated each other passionately. The “girls” treat the marriage like the fortunate pairing of two accessories. “My best gay friend is marrying her best gay friend!” Charlotte pipes to a saleswoman, sliding the invitation to the GAY WEDDING toward her as proof. It feels incredibly othering. I wonder if the guests at my wedding favoured the staff at Marshall Fields with stories about their soon-to-be-betrothed “best black friends.” BLACK WEDDING…Whoooo!

But it’s when the fearsome foursome arrive in the Middle East when privilege, racism and ignorance meet in an unholy trifecta. Here is what we learn: All you need to know about Arab countries, you have already learned in “Aladdin.” If you have a Jewish married name, do not use it on a trip to Abu Dhabi. In an Arab country, be sure to wear expensive clothing reminiscent of the aforementioned cartoon. Two words—gold harem pants. Arab men are either frightening crazy-eyed religious fundamentalists or hot menservants. By the way, it is not at all creepy to accept the services of said hot, brown menservants+. Oh, and if one such manservant is gay…Jackpot! Two new accessories for the price of one! Refer to him as Paula Abdul. No woman ever follows the tenets of Islam by choice. All women who wear abaya or niqab are oppressed and secretly want to be white, wealthy, American women who wear revealing couture. Arab women who are not oppressed may be belly dancers in Western-styled nightclubs. It is feminist to travel to Muslim countries and expose yourself, simulate fellatio on a hookah, grab a man’s penis in a restaurant and possibly have sex on a public beach. If you are trying to communicate in an Arab country and cannot find the right words, saying “lalalalalala” will get your point across. It is always good to award your magical brown person with material gifts in exchange for their mystical wisdom, because they are, obviously “less fortunate.” (Last film, Carrie gives poor, black Jennifer Hudson’s character an expensive purse for her services. In this film, she leaves her poor Indian servant money to fly home to see his wife. People of color, on the rare occasion they appear in SATC, are never equals to the main characters.)

The movie is plain bad

Now, I am sure there are those who will say that I am thinking too deeply about a movie that is meant to be a bit of fluff. For you, I will share that SATC’s problems are not all about the portrayal of women, privilege, race or religion. Before any of those things pricked my nerves, I was already sighing at the films stilted dialogue, awkward group dynamic, hackneyed situations and corny jokes that beg for a sitcom laugh track. And then there was the spectacle of seeing Liza Minelli performing “Single Ladies.” Yes, Liza with a “z” sings Beyonce with a “B.”


Woman has her mobility scooter taken by police

image The weather is now warm, and the yearly war on those of us who use mobility scooters has once again begun.  In the winter a scooter is more difficult to use because walkways and sidewalks are often not cleared properly, which forces the user onto the road.  It is quite easy to get stuck in a snow drift in a scooter -- and I know this first hand. 

A disabled woman from Ayr in south-west Scotland had her scooter seized by the police after falsely being informed that she needed to have some form of insurance, and that she was not allowed to take her scooter into shops.  Realizing that the impounding of her scooter would leave her housebound she began to cry, but that did not stop the officer from hir path.  This officer essentially stole her legs from her.

I don’t think that you can possibly understand what this means until it happens to you.  In the winter I must fight depression, because even if I am able to negotiate the terrible road conditions, the cold is extremely painful to me as a person with fibromyalgia.  Yesterday I took my scooter to a doctors appointment -- and I could not help but marvel at the beauty of nature, and my ability to be part of the world because I know that my time to enjoy this is incredibly limited.  Being housebound is a terrifying prospect for anyone. 

I am fortunate because I do not live alone, but that does not mean that spending all of ones time in the same space does not cause incredible pain.  Being housebound makes you dependent upon others for even the most basic things.  It also limits your ability to socialize with others – and while the internet can at times provide a great outlet, it is no replacement for sitting and chatting with other people.  The internet can only give the smallest measure of release because ultimately we are social creatures and human contact is absolutely essential to our health and well being.

The police officer that stole Mia Spalvieri’s scooter did not think about the impact of immobility, because as an able bodied person the ability to be mobile can easily be taken for granted.  I know this personally because I did not think about how important it was to me to move at will, until it was taken from me.

She explained: “He told me this would cause more hassle for him than it would for me because he’d get stick from the guys back at the office. I can’t walk but he felt the situation was worse for him.” [source]

Constructing scooter users as a threat is just one way in which we attack the disabled.  We are not wanted on the road because we slow the progress of cars, and we are not wanted on the sidewalks because people who are walking have to be conscious of our presence.  There is always some excuse as to why we are not welcome in public spaces, and this is a classic example of disableist behaviour.

According to My Mobility:

[T]he officer was wrong in his judgement and the Strathclyde Police, which is one of the biggest organisations of its kind in the UK, was required to ring her at home and apologise over the incident, as well as paying £300 to get the mobility aid back.ADNFCR-2649-ID-19810135-ADNFCR

While I am quite sure that this brought a measure of relief to Ms. Spalvieri, it cannot undo the damage that was done to her. This was no minor mistake on the officers part, but often actions that are clearly disableist are seen as inconsequential, even though we function with the lie that society is kind and generally tolerant of the differently abled.

There have been several occasions where wheel chair users have been handcuffed and had their chairs taken away.  This is not seen as the violation that it is because society expects to be able to control maginalized bodies at all times. The officer in question cannot know what it is to be differently abled, but at a very minimum ze should have been forced to attend some sort of sensitivity class, because if he can remove a scooter from a differently abled woman, heaven knows what other violations that he is capable of.

H/T Hoyden About Town


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yeah, It’s Not Cool To Use a Woman’s Mouth Like a Urinal

I am still in shock that I had to write the above title.  I mean really, does it need to be said that this:

imageis not acceptable?   I get that plenty of people play water sports in their sexual activity, but the everyday act of encouraging men to pee in women’s mouths is simply degrading and wrong.

According to Yahoo News, it took a year of protest before “The Honest Lawyer,” a restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, finally came to its senses and removed the disgustingly sexist urinal.    Protests “sparked a letter writing campaign that attracted almost 1,100 people, including Ontario's NDP leader and Hamilton's mayor”.

This offensive urinal is manufactured by Bathroom Mania! in the Netherlands.  It is called the “Kiss Toilet”.  This is not avante garde and it certainly is not art.  What it does is encourage the average man to belittle women.  You pee on someone that you think is less than you, not someone you think of as an equal.  I still cannot believe I had to say that.  Bathroom Mania describes its creations as transformative:

Kisses!' transforms a daily event into a blushing experience! Works better than aiming at the fly! This is one target men will never miss!

Right, because men know that their penises are just naturally associated with a woman's mouth.  Women are not beings to be respected; we are simply receptacles for the various male body fluids. And since the bottom line is to take men to that special place, who it impacts women can be soundly ignored.

Sanitary ware has been standard white and strictly functional for ages. But standard is not what Bathroom Mania! opts for! In our busy and demanding world the bathing-experience is the moment for reflection, peace, a bit of rest and for simply dreaming off into another world. Take a journey into your own imagination, with sanitary ware that is innovative, playful and exciting.

Yes, a toilet shaped like a woman’s mouth will take you to a world in which men are never questioned for their violations against women.  And none of this is at all harmful, because we supposedly live in a post sexist world, even though women suffer various kinds of violations at the hands of men every single day. 

Perhaps instead of focusing on Kiss, they should have gone with a Little Alice Cooper, because Only Women Bleed

Man's got his woman to take his seed
He's got the power - oh
She's got the need
She spends her life through pleasing up her man
She feeds him dinner or anything she can

Black eyes all of the time
Don't spend a dime
Clean up this grime
And you there down on your knees begging me please come
Watch me bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed

Good art or social commentary challenges norms, it does not cement ideas that are oppressive to specific groups for profit. The world we should all be dreaming of, is one in which everyone has a minimum standard of treatment based on a firm belief that all bodies are equal.

H/T Black in Alberta via e-mail.


When studies and debates are insulting

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

When it comes to gays and lesbians, there are no shortages of debates and studies and research. Lots of questions to ask, lots of information for the boffins to process, lots of ethics and morals and cause and effect to analyse in detail.

People have researched whether we make good parents or whether our children are worse off than the children of heterosexuals. Repeatedly. Over and over. We have studies and investigations about us adopting, surrogacy and the terrible bad naughty things we do to vulnerable little kiddie brains.

People have considered whether gay men should give blood, or whether our gayness will pollute the precious straight bloodstream (yes, it bothers me, you may have guessed).

People have studied if we're more prone to domestic violence.

People have studied if we're more prone to abuse children.

People have studied over and over and over again whether we can be "cured."

People have debated on whether gay families should count and are due the same respect as straight ones.

Even now, there is a study (yet another study) in America looking at whether openly gay soldiers are a major dire badness (and there has been no shortage of those either) and scourge on the military despite the presence of openly gay soldiers in so many militaries that it's laughable that it's still debateable.

Then there are the debates. On the internet, on forums, on TV, in newspapers. In endless opinion pieces as lots and lots of (straight) people weigh in on these big gay issues

And we criticise many of these studies, debates etc. We criticise them because they use horrendous bigots as 'experts' (like CNN using Richard Cohen or just about anyone using George Rekers), we criticise them for their biased reporting and obviously prejudiced and clueless assumptions. We criticise them because they're always used as an opportunity for the bigots to have a hate-fest.

But we rarely criticise the study itself. We never say how offensive the question being asked in the first place is.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether I would be a worse parent simply because I am gay.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether my being gay makes me more prone to abuse children.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether my relationship is as valid as a heterosexual relationship.

It is offensive to consider my sexuality an ailment in need of treatment.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether I am more evil, more flawed, more broken or simply wrong just because I am gay.

Why are these questions debateable? Why is my fitness as a person considered a topic for scholarly discourse? Why is whether I am evil considered something that needs analysing?

These questions are not just questions - they're attacks. They paint us as not only less, but as evil. And they frame considering us as evil as a reasonable position to hold. Our humanity is not assumed - it's something that is open to debate. The people who hate us aren't presented as bigots - they're held as having a differing opinion - a rational, sensible one even!

And I reject that. These questions don't need answering, there's no reason even to raise them. It's like sitting around and considering whether torturing kittens is a valid pass-time. Why are we asking this? Why do we need to debate and study this? Why are we presenting bigotry as a reasoned, sensible position worthy of scholarly consideration?

The only time I've seen people finally driven to say "why are people even ASKING this question?!" is when the BBC asked "Should Homosexuals face Execution?"

And that worries me. It worries me that the questions have to be this extreme, that the topics have to be this obviously offensive for us to realise that the debate is wrong. It worries me that our existence can even remotely be considered a subject for debate. And it worries me that this is still considered acceptable, mainstream discourse.