Saturday, July 3, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone.  I am continuing to tweak the new template.  The blog roll has been moved to the top and I have added a new tab which has a blurb for each regular contributor as well as contact information should you wish to contact them directly. As with anything new it is going to have its hiccups, so please feel free to let me know if something is not working properly is difficult to use.
Part of what makes Womanist Musings so great, is the fact that there are a variety of voices speaking about their experiences.  If you would like to participate in the conversation, please send in either your original work or a link to a blog post via e-mail to womanistmusings [at] gmail.com.  Please include a small three line bio and an image that you would like to associated with your work.  The more people we have talking, the wider the topics of conversation will be.

Below you will find a list of blog 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 like it's hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.


Conservatives and the Misunderstanding of Nazi Germany
Mel Gibson: Unsurprising but still shocking 
Farm Workers Dare Xenophobes to Take Jobs
Structural Racism and Mass Deportation
Human Rights Violations at the G20
The Final Statement
Nursing and nuance: breastfeeding isn’t creepy except when it is
fail to see how struggles are connected to one another
Flibanserin:Is a ‘Female-Desire Drug’ a Bad Thing?
Male geeks reclaim masculinity at the expense of female geeks
Slutty Celebrity Quote (and Photo Shoot): Hellen Mirren
Testosterone and Sex Drive: My Second Adolescence
Out of the (Gene) Pool: Disability and Biological Children
Mel Gibson, save your apology
Stupid Things I Am Told
Indigenous Activists Take-On Canadian Government: Successful Resistance to G8/G20 Summits
The “End Of Men” Isn’t The End of Racism
stay a while….

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Friday and the Question Is......

So, by now you know that Mel Gibson must be competing to be the largest douchebag in Hollywood. The first Mel Gibson movie that I ever saw was "Braveheart", Even though it was filled with many historical inaccuracies, I fell absolutely, 100% in love, and it became one of my favourite movies -- and then I heard about his Anti-Semitic tirade -- and I found I could never feel the same way about it again.  I cannot foresee a time when I would ever invest my time or money into one of his movies, because I don't support assholes.  So today's question is, what actor has so ruined their public persona that you can never again watch one of their movies? 

Queen Latifah, Chris Brown and Forgiveness


By now I am sure that you have heard all about Chris Brown's performance for the 10th annual BET awards.  Yes, the new age Ike Turner got emotional singing Michael Jackson's man in the mirror, and now we are all supposed to say let bygones be bygones. 
I have much love for Queen Latifah, but Dana honey, you were wrong when you made the following statement:
"I thought Chris Brown's performance was amazing, just amazing," she raves. "Not only was it a knockout performance, but his heartfelt emotion ... you can't plan that, you can't write that, it's just truth."

She also thinks that it's time to forgive Brown and move on. "The guy is a young guy and he made a big mistake and he needs to bounce back from that. And he needs an opportunity for a second chance," she says. "We can't condemn that kid. He's a kid and he needs to correct the mistake for the future, not live in the past."

To put it bluntly, she says: "He needs to be forgiven. Enough already. We can't keep beating him up. She's [Rihanna] going to grow and he's going to grow and we have to allow them both to do that." [source]
 I cannot believe that she said the phrase "We can't keep beating him up," in reference to the public's refusal to continue to support Chris Brown's career. In case the queen forgot, the only one that got beaten up in that relationship was Rihanna.  It is her body that was covered in bruises, when Brown decided that he had the right to lay hands on her in anger.

Gambling With Welfare Money, is it Our Business?

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Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com


Transcript: 

You know even in hard times you find people hitting the casino, but what if we told you your hard earned tax dollars are being gambled away?  A shocking L.A. Times report shows that California's welfare recipients are using state issue debit cards at casinos statewide.


Stephanie Zepelin: California welfare recipients using state issued debit card withdrew more than 1.8 million dollars in tax payer cash on casino floors starting October of 2009 right up to May 2010.  The revelation is outraging California residents.  Los Angelos Times  reporter Jack Dolan broke the story and indicates the problem could actually date back to 2002:
"officials at the department failed to notice for years that welfare recipients could use the state issued cards..
...to withdraw taxpayer cash at more than half of the tribal casinos and state-licensed poker rooms in California."

On NPR Dolan described the extent of the problem and what the state said about the revelation:
"Our review of state records show that it was slightly more than half of the casinos in...these smaller poker rooms in the state have ATMs that accept the welfare benefit cards.  And that they simply had not noticed that money was being withdrawn on gaming room floors."
The Consumerist puts the amount discovered into persepctive:
This amount represents less than 1% of the total welfare spending in the state during those months. 
In his column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Bob  Barr says:
"California clearly didn't put the proper safeguards in place. Are these government officials so naive themselves  that they actually believed that in issuing virtually...unrestricted debit cards to people on welfare that they would use the cards only for purchasing bread, milk, and eggs?"

So what do you think of this latest revelation, an honest mistake by the state, or a major screw up that could result in big changes?

First, let's start with the often overlooked fact that casinos amount to little more than a tax on the people that can least afford it.  They are a vacuum that sucks up capitol and gives back very little in return.  They further feed on an illness - addiction to arrive at their profit.  They draw people in with shiny advertising, flashing lights, and loud sounds.  They scream come in, something exciting is happening here. Once you are inside, the floor plan is specifically designed to keep you in the building. The layout of the slot machines and table games are set up like a maze.  Windows are in short supply, so that patrons are not aware of the passing of time -- and finding a clock is like looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

What is often most hard for people to understand, who have no experience with gambling addiction or the gaming industry itself, is that the rush from gambling does not come from winning.  I repeat, the rush of gambling does not come from winning; it actually comes from losing.  This is why before even placing a bet, most gamblers will tell you that they are down hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the day. Ever wonder why a gambler cannot leave ahead?  It is because they have not gotten the adrenaline rush from losing -- a win does not feel as though anything has been wagered.  These casinos are specifically designed to ensure that they take every last dollar of disposable of income that a person has. They are predatory from start to finish.

Why would a welfare recipient be drawn to a place like this?  A casino sells dreams.  It makes you think about having enough money to do whatever it is that you want in life.   It tells you that the very next pull of the slot machine, turn of the card, or roll of the dice could make you richer than your wildest dreams -- if only have the guts to take the risk.  There is not a single game on a casino floor that does not have a bet in favour of the house, and in fact most people that gamble don't even know what the best bet to make is of their losing options.  They ignore the red/white on roulette or blackjack (which btw when they play they will still continue to pull cards thinking that the object is to get as close to 21 without going over; it's not as simple as that) They will sit and play longshot games like red dog, Caribbean stud, or Let it Ride, too fooled by the pay out odds to realize that they be better off  just writing the casino a check.

Shedding Some Light on the Back of the House


I have written recently about the horror that gets caught by my spam box, (thankfully before it hits the blog) and some of the less than pleasant e-mail that I get.  I thought today I would share some of it with you; consider it a sample of what I look at everyday.   The back of the house at Womanist Musings is a very ugly place, and one that pains me to look at. As I was reading these over, I honestly could not decide who was the most vile, so I will leave it up to you.  If you still have the spoons left, please share why you made your selection in the comment section.

D.A.D.T. BEFORE D.A.D.T.


Robert L. Danforth is a freelance writer and blogger for BONIFACE NOW.BONIFACE NOW is a multi-media weblog launched during the summer of 2009. The blog spotlights news and people surrounding popular culture in the U.S.A.
Danforth is a published political commentator at Advocate.com.
He lives in New York City.


"I was summoned by my commanding officer and he directed me to report OSI, Office of Special Investigation. I sat in a small room, where I waited for more than an hour. Finally, a man dressed in civilian clothes came in and introduced himself as a special agent of the OSI. He said allegations had been made against me. What allegations?” I asked. “For being a faggot,” he said in those exact words." Robert LeBlanc, a gay combat Marine who fought in the Vietnam War as quoted online from Staff Sergeant LeBlanc.


Marine Robert LeBlanc

Long before Lieutenant Dan Choi, there was Staff Sergeant Robert LeBlanc. Unlike Choi, until recently I had never heard of LeBlanc, but last weekend, I received a message from him on my Facebook page. I was immediately inspired by his story and want to share it with you.

In the late 1960's, Robert LeBlanc was a combat Marine who fought in the Vietnam War. He became a decorated solider bravely fighting for this country, but after the war he came home to America to face discrimination and bigotry at the hands of the Marine Corps. who suspected he was gay. 

LeBlanc endured interrogations by military officials who pressured him to divulge his sexuality. He was forced to take numerous lie detector tests and faced administrative reviews attempting to discharge him because he was gay. He challenged the system by refusing to answer their questions; a story which is the root of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that we have today. "During interrogations [Robert's] inquisitors repeatedly asked if he was homosexual and [Robert] continually replied "you have no right to ask me the question," says Pam Daniels - author of 'Silent Drums'. 

In the 1970's, LGBT people had no humanitarian groups, supportive council or protective laws to back them, but LeBlanc still fought against military discrimination. His story highlights the challenges that  gay men and lesbians in the armed forces face even today. And whether he was gay or straight, the military had no right to ask him a question of his sexuality at all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Monstrous Musings: A Review of Eclipse


"Natalie Wilson is literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. She is currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective, forthcoming from McFarland in 2010. Her interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to her childhood fascination with all types of monsters."'

I saw Eclipse last night, in IMAX, with a “Twi-virgin” – a woman who has not read the books, seen either of the first two movies, or been caught up in any way in Twi-mania. Yes, they exist!

Having been immersed in the series for the purposes of my forthcoming book, Seduced by Twilight, a feminist analysis of the phenomenon, it was nice to see Eclipse through a newborn’s eyes, so to speak. She liked many of the things I enjoyed most about the film – the well-done back-stories of Jasper and Rosalie, the wolf/vampire drama and action, the fleshing out of Victoria, Riley, and the newborns, Jane’s icy red-eyed villainy, the creation of a visually stunning world that FINALLY didn’t make Edward look like a sickly corpse with too much red lipstick.

Then came a part where she physically cringed. I thought she was going to throw up. It was the “oh marry me Bella. I am old-fashioned and want to sip lemonade on a porch with you. Marry me, marry me, marry me” scene that had my feminist-self internally writhing in dismay.

It’s not that I am anti-marriage nor that I don’t get Edward is supposed to be from “another era” (one that I might add was not near as gentlemanly as nostalgic mythmakers like us to believe). Instead, it’s a whole combination of things – their age, the “sex will kill you” vibe, the eroticizing of abstinence, the suggestion that sex for the sake of sex rather than within a marriage for purposes of reproduction is a modern disease “gentleman” like Edward can cure us from. And, of course, the awareness that the author’s religion FERVENTLY supports marriage only for some and that she tithes a percentage of her profits to an institution that names same-sex love as aberrant and sinful – as a disease to be cured. I SO wanted Bella to go all Brangelina and be like “we can’t get married until everyone has the right to get married, Edward.” Yeah, not gonna happen.

Naomi Campbell's Bald Spot Speaks Volumes

Gawker seemed to take joy in posting a picture of Naomi Campbell's bald spot, without thinking for one moment about how traumatic this might be to Black women.
"Naomi Sweats!" is the headline, but I see no evidence that the magnificent monster that is supermodel Naomi Campbell shed a single crystalline drop of sweat from her flawless pores while modeling a fur vest in New York's 90-degree weather yesterday. There is proof, however, that Naomi's natural hair is either nonexistent or buzzed. Apparently this is big news, but did anyone actually think those waist-length flaxen locks were real? I guess they could have been a mere weave, but the tightness of her immobile center part has always read "wig" to me. Then again, I don't know enough about weaves to make a definitive statement here. Fake hair enthusiasts, proceed to the comments section and let 'er rip.
Let's get this straight from the get go: Naomi Campbell has issues.  No one ever doubted that she wears weaves but she probably does so to protect her hair from the blow drying, yanking and hairspray that  has become standard at a fashion show.  Black hair is fragile and breaks easily.  Even wearing weaves stresses the hair because of the weight and the fact that it pulls on the hair.  Does this mean she should be held up and shamed? 

Gates and Crowley Share Blame

I am sure that you all remember the media storm that occured when Professor Gates was arrested for attempting to break into his own home.  It lead to the great beer summit, where Obama elected himself to play arbiter on race relations.  A report has now been released concluding that both Crowley and Gates were to blame for this incident. 
Because neither Crowley nor Gates changed their attitudes, even after each realized that the other did not pose a threat, the encounter continued to deteriorate and reached an unfortunate ending, the committee wrote.

“Professor Gates could have tried to understand the situation from the point of view of a police officer … and could have spoken respectfully to Sergeant Crowley and accommodated his request to step outside at the beginning of the encounter,” the report said.

“The Committee believes that Sergeant Crowley missed opportunities to find a better outcome,” the report said, once Crowley saw proof of Gates’ identity. “Crowley could have taken greater pains to explain the uncertainty and potential dangers of responding to a serious crime-in-progress call.”
How original, blame a Black man for being a victim of racism and then not having the good sense to properly shuck and jive for authority.   I fail to see how Gates was in the wrong when he was standing in his own home, violating no laws.  In fact, he is lucky to be alive, because many a trigger happy cop has ended Black lives.  Of course the committee did not take that into consideration.   So brazen are cops that one is suing the Sean Bell estate for being injured during the police shoot out that led to the murder of Sean Bell.

It’s Canada Day, So I Am Going To Tell You How It Is

Today is Canada Day.  Last year I put up a series of great videos that celebrated Canada and this year I thought that I would share with you some of the ridiculousness that Canadians have to put up with, as well as a few of the ways we absolutely rock.

This is a raccoon.

Can someone can please tell Gus, AKA Allison McCarthy, that just because Arizona does not have raccoons, does not mean these little bandits aren't tearing their way through our garbage every night.

 

This is bacon: You know real CANADIAN BACON

Right this second your mouth is watering.  I know it must be terrible to live with a weak ass over salted substitute that they call bacon in the U.S. or the U.K.  I know that Americans and Brits try to call it ham because they are living in denial -- but it is time to face facts, Canadian bacon rocks and all else is just a tired sad imitation.

Maple Syrup

Our maple syrup is rich, flavourful, and sweet. It is practically ambrosia...Perhaps if you grovel nicely, I could be convinced to share.

 

Beaver

This is one of our famous attack beavers.  It may seem like a humble hard working creature, but it is far cuter than any English bulldog I have ever seen and shames the eagle with its majesty.  I know that you have been taught that your national animal is a winner, but I assure you that this is just indoctrination; the beaver rocks.

 

Hockey

Do you see that beautiful sea of red?  Do you notice which flag is raised high?  That is the Canadian men celebrating their OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL WIN in  Vancouver.  And in case you forgot:

image

The Canadian women owned the podium because this is OUR GAME-- AND IT WAS PLAYED IN OUR HOUSE

I know that a few delusional Americans (MONICA ROBERTS), thought that you actually had a chance and attempted to throw some smack-- but you really should have just stayed away from the cheap ass malt liquor.

 

James Tiberius Kirk

image

Not only was he the original captain of the starship Enterprise, he was the best one.  What captain can boast of sleeping with so many green women and inserting such awkward pauses into his speech?  He is good because he is awkward yet arrogant. All else pale in comparison.

 

Canadian Health Care

 

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Greedy right wing Americans will point northward at us, and rail at our ridiculous socialism.  That’s right, when we get sick, we don’t have to think about insurance or bills because we have socialized medicine.  The father of our medical system is Tommy Douglas -- and he was voted the greatest Canadian.  I think that this says something wonderful about our social values.  My taxes are not cheap, but it is worth every single dollar that I have ever paid.

 

Tim Hortons

 

image 

We here in Canada believe in drinking real coffee.  It is so good, that most cities are populated with Tim Hortons coffee shops and we send it overseas to our troops.  Timmy’s serves it hot and cheap -- and Cannucks are far to wise to pay for the overpriced burnt mess that Americans slurp down at Starbucks.  This coffee is so good that we have started to invade the United states: 500 locations and counting.  We don’t need army bases, we simply need to plant Timmy’s franchises to rule the world. VICTORY IS OURS.

 

Money

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Above is an image of a Loonie, a beautiful Canadian one dollar coin.  Notice how it features the majesty of a loon.  This celebrates the wonder that is the Canadian wilderness.  And then we have:

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I know that you have George Washington, your first president on your one dollar bill, but really that has got to be some of the ugliest money on the globe.  Would a little colour hurt you? And then there’s this:

 

image

Well I suppose your money is more colourful than American money, but would it be so hard to get a little personality?  And just think of the changes you are going to have to make should Charles ever become King. Do you really want those ears on your money?  Don’t think that the man is going to allow himself to be by-passed either; he has been waiting for his mother to die for decades now.

 

High and Happy

image

What other country would create an Olympic cauldron that looks like four blunts on fire?  Yep, we Canadians were using subliminal messaging to announce to the world that our pot rocks. You are getting the munchies just looking at the cauldron aren’t you? BC  weed is known as some of the best in the world.  We don’t say iree mon, but we sure as hell say eh whenever we inhale. And maybe someone should tell Bill Clinton we know that the reason he didn’t inhale is because Americans smoke hay and dream of real pot.

 

For our birthday, I think that the world should arrange to allow the immigration of certain Canadians that are killing our buzz:

image image image image

 

We’ll throw in Alberta to the nation that takes all four

 

image

 

 

 Happy Canada Day everyone: Eat, Drink, and beware of Moose

 

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Apologies and a Cock in a Box


For many years now I have been trying to unpack my het/cis privilege.  Even though I originally thought that I did not have any biases, because I believe that all people were created equal, decolonizing my mind has been an incredibly difficult task. I thought that since I am  far more liberal than my social group, that clearly I have my shit together.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post in entitled, "What Kind of Gay Man is Obsessed with Pussy?"  I meant the title to reflect what I felt was the incongruity of someone like Perez Hilton using sexism to shame het/cis females.  It was inspired by the sexism that I have faced from gay men -- and the fact that I feel that it too often goes unacknowledged.  In the process, what I absolutely did not even consider was the fact that trans men have vaginas.  I got my back up and was totally resistant when someone said that this was cissexist; however, after some consideration, I can see that I was absolutely in the wrong and I want to apologize to all who were rightfully offended by words.  I was a terrible ally in that moment, and I totally erased people to focus on a form of oppression that I have experienced.

As I continue to unpack my cis/het privilege, what I have learned is that I don't know anything, at least not enough to speak with any kind of authority or write the nuanced pieces that I do regarding things like race, gender, sexism, class or disability.  This is solidly based in the fact that all of my learning is from reading and it is not experiential.  This is something that should have come to me as no surprise, because I have often seen failure when people outside of my labels make mistakes; however, it is a sign of own arrogance that I did not  believe this applied to me.
This lesson was driven home even further when I read a post on Slog (no I didn't go there intentionally, I followed a link on a trans blog that I was reading).  Dan Savage was giving advice to a gay man regarding his trans male lover.  He referred to the trans man's vagina as a "cock in a box".

Different Kind of Border Patrol (Of Bodies and Borders Part III)



This is a guest post from Tassja

I'm a 23 year old Sinhalese woman in Minnesota by way of Dubai by way of Sri Lanka. I am a Womanist, and part of my womanism is figuring out how to be in solidarity with my transnational sisters worldwide. I'm a daughter, a sister, a partner and a writer. I'm a brown girl who knows Shakespeare by heart and devours anything Toni Morrison. I believe in radical, revolutionary living and loving.  I blog at Irresistible Revolution. 

As a decolonizing Womanist, global race relations are something I try processing every day. I spent most of my life in Dubai, which was, among many things a transnational hub made up of a largely expatriate community, a capitalist’s wet dream, and a city of labor abuses so appalling that the government engages in active misinformation about the reality of human rights violations.
 
Even before I attended college and read critical race theory / post-colonial theory and politicized my experience, I lived with a burgeoning sense of frustration, of limitedness, of anger. I realize now that this comes from being a marginalized body. What I want to discuss in this post is how marginalized bodies experience restrictions on their mobility that privileged bodies never have to consider. For example: I am attending college in the United States, and once a year I visit my family in Dubai. My family is middle-to-upper middle class and can afford to fund my plane tickets. But, if I want to transit through Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Heathrow, I need an ‘airport transit visa’. This is a visa stamp you have to obtain on your passport from the embassy of the respective European country. It costs close to 200$ and is only valid for one transit. So if you have a return ticket, you need to obtain a transit visa for the way back. The visa section of German, Dutch and most European embassies are only open for about four hours a day, which is your only window for getting an appointment so you can pay them 200$ to sit in an airport for two hours (the transit visa explicitly states ‘Not Allowed to Leave Airport’).

Of course, not everyone needs a transit visa; the requirement is only for nationals/ passport holders of ‘specific countries’. This is the list of specified countries requiring a transit visa for Frankfurt: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan,Syria and Turkey.

Notice, of course, that all of the countries are majority non-white, that most of them (including my own, Sri Lanka) were until recently occupied by European colonial forces, and wield considerably less political and economic power globally than the likes of Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, England et al. When I talk to American citizens about this, most of them are surprised and unaware about the necessity of a transit visa. In fact, most of them are surprised and unaware that not everyone can travel the world with little to no hindrance. Nearly all of my friends in Dubai, who are of color and middle-class, can relate stories of frustration, anger, downright discrimination and degradation at the hands of European consulates and visa officers. My cousin was recently denied a student visa to attend college in the US for no identifiable reason than that the visa officer felt like it.

Questions Not to Ask People with Chronic Conditions

I had to go downtown to get a prescription filled when I ran into a former co-worker, who I will cam James.  I normally try to avoid interacting with people that I used to work with, because I have very little in common with them.  Unfortunately, we ran right into each other and in the interest of good manners, I was forced to acknowledge him.  His first comment to me was congratulations on "figuring out how to fake an illness," so that I could get a pension.  Keep in mind, that he was talking to me while I was sitting in my scooter.When I said that "I am not faking I have sarcoidosis," he of course just nodded his ignorant little head. 

You see, since it is a disease that he has not heard of, it could not possibly be legitimate. This by the way, is a common response when I tell people what I have.  I have actually developed a little spiel to explain my various conditions even though  I know that five minutes after they walk away from me, they will forget every single word that I have said.  I cannot tell you how it irritates me to have to explain my health condition, and to watch people nod their head like they care or understand.

To prove that an understanding has not been reached after my canned spiel, I usually get, so how do you catch this and are you contagious?  Trust me, James did not disappoint;  he followed true to form.  It makes me want to say, yeah it's like the bubonic plague, here let me breathe on you. If what I had were contagious, would I really be riding around in public interacting with others?   You don't catch a chronic illness. To me this seems so very basic and yet so many are clueless when it comes to this.

Dead Body Warning



RavenScholar from ravenscholar.blogspot.com is a fairly new blogger on the Internet. She (re-)discovered feminism and comics at about the same time she started blogging, and has great fun writing about both. She has lots to say, lots of artwork to show, and likes hearing other's opinions.(warning: this post contains a graphic image below the fold)

A Field Guide for Female Interrogators by Coco Fusco (interview here) is a disturbing book. I heard about the torture at Abu Graib, but I had not heard about this.

The military decided to use female soldiers to inflict sexualized torture on their Islamic POW's, because they felt that Muslim men were more likely too break under those sorts of conditions.

Let us examine what is wrong with this situation:
  1. Torture. The obvious one.
  2. Racism. The military assumed that the Islamic men would be more susceptible to sexualized torture because of ideas held by the radical sects.
  3. Sexual assault/abuse of the Islamic men by the US Military women.
  4. Degradation of the women involved in the sexual torture.
  5. Perpetration of sexist stereotypes.
  6. Military secrecy and lack of media coverage.
I shall assume that most, if not everyone, reading this agrees with the statement: 'torture under any circumstances is wrong'.

Who else is tired of the military and the government in general profiling (ie stereotyping) Islamic/Middle Eastern people? First off, it assumes the fact that every Middle Eastern POW holds the idea that women's bodies are unclean in some way, as well as other sexist notions. The military beleived this so much that they decided to use a special form of torture to get information. This of course discounts the fact that there are people who are able to lie under torture. Mostly, this is another example of how good the military is at epic fails.

Time for a quote:
"Much speculation has taken place over the last three years about whether the intelligence community developed these sexual tactics because of sexual stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs that have achieved the status of truisms in military circles. Veterans of military intelligence who received training in the early stages of the war have noted they received lectures on the so-called "Arab mind", in which it was argued that when it comes to sexuality, Muslim men are more vulnerable than Westerners. Outdated anthropological arguments become the basis for the development of tactics..."
The author of the book, Coco Fusco, is fond of saying that "when male interrogators perform such, acts on non-consenting subjects it is understood as sexual assault -- but when women do it, it can be authorized as invasion of space". Talk about a double-standard in reverse. The whole argument reminds me of the old idea that women are somehow paragons of virtue (so logically, they couldn't be let outside the home or given room to think for fear of spoiling them). When someone sexual insults another: "forcing them to engage in humiliating acts", forcing them to look at their exposed bodies, and perform sexual acts on them without their consent; it is generally understood as sexual abuse and assault (except the first, which is merely sexual harassment). However none of this applies when it is a woman preforming the aforementioned acts on a man that did not consent.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's a Little Rape Analogy Between Twilight Buddies?

Robert Pattinson should really keep his comments about women to a minimum, considering his little joke about how much he hates vaginas, however; it seems that channeled Edward when he decided to play prince in shining armor when he ran to the defense of Kristen Stewart, after her rape analogy came under criticism in the press. Okay, all you twi fans take a moment to oooh and aaah before I burst your bubble.  The following is a quote from Us.
"What you don't see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction," she tells the new issue of Britain's Elle. "The photos are so... I feel like I'm looking at someone being raped.
Just no! Nothing feels like rape accept being raped.  I am sick and tired of these analogies because they reduce the seriousness of rape. The word rape is casually tossed around as a descriptor and yet when an actual victim stands up to report her violation, she is slut shamed and questioned.  This woman has no idea what it feels like to have your sense of self ripped away from you, to feel the fear, or the violation, but she can casually toss around the word because rape is meaningless socially, due to the fact that we live in a patriarchy.

Then I read:
 "I'm so sensitive about stuff like that ... I used the wrong word. I should have said 'violated."
Really?  No shit Sherlock, but you should have added the words I am sorry.  You see, usually when people mess up publicly, the proper response is to admit what you did and apologize.  In case you think I am being to hard on your poor socially inept Bella, what follows should cement my point.

I am not Defending Tyler Perry But.....


The Blackospehre is all a buzz about "The Boodocks" Tyler Perry episode.  We know that names were changed, supposedly to protect the innocent (Ma Dukes = Madea), but they weren't fooling anyone. I originally saw the episode on Sunday, and hesitated about putting it up on the blog for various reasons, but now that MediaTakeOut, is reporting that Tyler Perry allegedly fired his staff for revealing "inside secrets," I really think we need to have a conversation about this.

SynopsisGrandpa wants to be a celebrity and so he auditions for the new "Winston Jerome" play.  Apparently, he has always dreamed of becoming as star. When he talks about this dream to his grand kids, they tell him he has to pause and say, "no homo because what he said sounded gay". When he arrives, he is told to take off his shirt and is offered a variety of lotions to oil up with.  Jerome lives on a big compound, on which all the actors are forced to stay during production.  He calls his grandchildren and tells them where to find some change to tide them over until he can return home. When his grandsons attempt to save their uncle, they are met by a woman who says she needs to get some kool aid.  The compound is described as a cult by the grandsons.

Winston Jerome says that Jesus is his writing partner, and that God called him to write plays.  In one scene, he claims that God has instructed him that MaDukes needs to kiss the grandfather because it is time for her to have a love scene.  When the grandfather balks at this, he is told that he is not really kissing Jerome, but the character MaDukes.  They perform the play and the grandfather does kiss MaDukes on stage.  At the end of the play, he is greeted by two less than attractive women outside of his dressing room and is upset that he did not garner more attractive fans -- so he decides to confront Jerome.  Jerome admits that the plays are all a ruse so that he can get some man on man love.

There is no doubt, after watching the entire show, that "The Boondocks" is clearly parodying Tyler Perry.  It has long been speculated in the Black community that he is gay.  In fact, when he announced a few months ago, that the reason he was not in a relationship was because he could not stay faithful to one woman, the common response was we all know why.   Many view his work as hypocritical because of its heavy Christian slant and his perceived homosexuality; however, it is more than possible to be gay and Christian.  Simply because there are many denominations of the Christian faith that attack the GLBT community, does not mean that there are not gay people sitting in the pews and directing the choir.  I think we all know, that in many cases the choir director is gay, and it is a surprise to find out he is straight.  His alleged homosexuality, does not make him a hypocrite, anymore than Chris Browns heterosexuality makes him a woman beating new age Ike Turner.

Protest at the G20: Is It Really Toronto the Good Anymore?


I have a new post up at Global Comment
Saturday June 26th, as dignitaries were arriving in Toronto Canada for the G8/G20, the streets of the downtown core were erupting in a violent protest. At first it was a fairly passive display, with women’s groups protesting Prime Minister Harper’s failure to include abortion in his presentation about women’s health, as well as various labour groups protesting for workers rights; however, embedded in the crowd was an alleged group of anarchists intent on destruction. They quickly separated from the so-called official protesters and began to break windows and turn over police cars in the downtown corridor.

Toronto is one of the largest cities in Canada and is therefore not immune from protests; what makes this event stand out is the level of violence. In Canada, cars turned over in the street and public violence are a sign of a Stanley Cup loss, not a part of social commentary. Prior to the summit, Harper came under fire for refusing to include abortion in his maternal health initiative in his flagship policy proposal at the G8/G20, as well as the money spent on hosting this international event. Proving that arrogance was very much a part of his personality, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France declared, “With regard [to] the French G8/G20, even if I can’t confirm the figures that you are talking about in Canada, I can say that in France they will be 10 times less.”


As Gord Martineau blithely asked if this violence means that Toronto no longer deserves the nickname “Toronto the Good,” store windows of multinational corporations were being smashed with anything that protesters could find. In a special show of love for Dov Chaney and American Apparel, excrement was thrown into a broken store window. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair tried to comfort those who were upset with the violence, stating:
“We have seen windows broken and police cars burned. It is very regrettable that such vandalism and violence could not be prevented. I want to assure you that the persons responsible will be held accountable.”
Toronto Mayor David Miller blamed a bunch of thugs for the destruction, claiming that:
“People are calling them protesters. That is not fair to the people who came to protest,”
Of course, it had to be outside agitators causing this violence because this would destroy the myth that peace-loving Canadians are at all discontented with the government, state of the economy, or the increasing separation between rich and poor. Such violence and anomie is something we assume happens only south of our hallowed borders.

Finish reading here

A Spark of Wisdom: The Closet is not an Asset

This is a guest post from Sparky, of a 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.
 

The closet, one of the most enduring and unpleasant aspects of being GBLT and a source and consequence of so much GBLT oppression. It is also a subject of no shortage of privileged, clueless and purely homophobic commentary from straight people.
 
I honestly have lost count to the number of times - perhaps especially in progressive circles - where I have seen homophobia and transphobia dismissed or diminished because of the closet. The idea that GBLTs can hide (and, let's be clear straight off, not all of us can. And all it takes is us being PERCEIVED to be GBLT to face hatred) - so prejudice against GBLTs isn't all that bad, right? It's not as bad as "real" oppressions - because all we have to do is hide, right?
 
It is used to diminish homophobia and transphobia - and it actually makes the closet, which to so many of us is an utterly toxic place that brought us no small amount of misery - seem like some kind of ASSET.
 
The closet has it's cost. Being able to hide (in as much as we can) comes with a terrible price.
 
The closet, being able to hide, comes with the demand TO hide. If we actually presume to be us then we are "flaunting ourselves" or "ramming it down people's throats." We can hide, they say, so why don't we? Why don't we wear the mask to spare the straight people the sight of us? Why do we parade ourselves, our vileness so? It is seen as being RUDE to simply be.
 
The closet comes with a denial of our existence, a doubt that we're even what we say we are. Hiding what we are comes with a disbelief that what we are even exists. Being trans is still considered and listed a mental illness far too often. Being gay was considered as mental illness by the WHO as recently as 20 years ago.

How many times do people talk about the "gay lifestyle?" How many times do bigots prate about "homosexual behaviour" that it's not about people, it's about actions? How many times do they doubt our identity? how many times do they treat what and who we are as a kink or a fetish? An inclination? A hobby? A vague preference?
 
How many times is our very being diminished and demeaned as some kind of act of rebellion? Our identity reduced to the actions of a teenager acting out? How often is it presented as deliberate sin? As a deliberate attempt to shock, appal or insult the world? Because it's all our actions and it's all about them and how it upsets the straight world - never about us and who and what we are. Our identities, our beings are lost in the closet and they only see deeds not people.

Monday, June 28, 2010

True Blood: Beautifully Broken



This episode begins with Eric getting shot when he jumps in front of the werewolf as Sookie as trying to shoot him.  In the struggle, the werewolf thinks about Jackson.  Eric kills him when he refuses to tell him who his master is, and then buries him in a graveyard.  Eric tells Sookie that fresh graves are the best place to hide a body because no one notices that the earth has been disturbed and you can just place the body right on top.  I found myself thinking, if only Jessica had realized that last week. Sookie tells Eric that she is going to Jackson to look for Bill despite his warning about how dangerous this is.
In the next scene we find Tara having sex with the mysterious vampire from the bar.  He seems to be using some kind of mind control on her judging from the dilation of her pupils and rapid blinking. Tara seems to feel the need to explain why she did this saying, I never do this. It real bothers me that Ball put this words into her mouth when he has shown Sookie enthusiastically enjoying sex without the need to justify it. When Lincoln begins to ask her where her rage comes from and if she has a husband or a boyfriend, she jumps out of bed thanks him and leaves.

Sam says his goodbye to his family making sure to tell his brother that he didn’t appreciate that he tried to kill him.  It is clear that he is not comfortable with his new family. His father stands there in his underwear and says one of the most sexist lines of the episode, “Don’t ever get married Sam,' cause then they start to woman you.”  Sam tell his brother to take care of his mom and I do believe the choice of words is very deliberate. I think that the class statements that Ball is making about Sam's family is atrocious.  Poverty does not necessarily mean the kind of behaviour that they engage in. It like watching a slightly twisted version of the Fox show "Married With Children" than watching "True Blood."

Vacant headed Jason decides that he has paramilitary training and would be perfect for the police force. Hoyt is quizzes him but he cannot seem to get a single question right (big surprise there).  When Hoyt asks him what he thinks Jessica means "when she says its to late for them to be together", he is disturbed that his testing is being interrupted, thus once again proving that selfishness and arrogance is a family trait.  Of course he knows the solutions to Hoyt’s problem.  Are you ready for this?  Jessica left Hoyt because she could not handle his heat.  Yes, and this is the same person that thinks he should be given a gun and a badge.

The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency: The Comfort of Blackness

Last week when I took two days off, I finally got around to watching “The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency”.  So, those of you who have been sending me e-mail mentioning how great this show is can now stop,  and Monica you can stop your phone harassment.  I figured when this many women of colour are excited about a show, there has to be something worthwhile there.  Normally when I think of Black shows my mind goes straight to coonery and buffoonery (Meet the Browns, or anything else on the WB).  “The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency” was a joint project between HBO and everyone’s favourite auntie The BBC.  It stars Jill Scott (yep, that woman is a triple threat), Anika Noni Rose, Lucian Msamati, John Kani, Desmond Dube, David Oyelowo,  and Nikki Amuka Bird.   It is set in Botswana and  series is based on “The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency” books by Alexander McCall Smith.

The first thing that caught my attention, is the fact that it is set in Botswana.  Often when westerners see images of Africa, they include but are not limited to, the rape of women in the Congo, starvation (must have emaciated child covered in flies), and anti-GLBT sentiments.  It is very rare to see positive images of Africa and even more rare that a specific country is targeted rather than referring to Africa as if is a monolith rather than a collection of various countries with a multitude of countries, religions and cultures. “The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency,” makes a point of focusing on the Botswana's culture through music, dress,food and inter-personal interaction, as well as the absolutely beautiful landscape.  Quite often I wished that I could just jump through my television screen and have a cup of bush tea with Precious (played by Jill Scott)

The story begins on Precious' father's deathbed.  The loss of this relationship really saddens her because he appears to have been her only parent and he really invested in his daughter.  He took pride in teaching her everything that he would have taught a son.  He left her a rich woman by leaving her a huge heard of cows, which she sold as seed money to start her own business.  Here, we have an example of a positive daughter father relationship -- and a wonderful adult Black female character that is full of agency.

Growing up Jewish – Kosher Edition

This is a guest post from Broadsnark
I am an anarchist, atheist, adopted, Jewish, bilingual, woman with a degree in Latin American Latino Studies and a head crammed full of the history of the Americas. I spent a decade working in the law in Florida and another decade working for nonprofits in California and DC.  I know more than your average person about the history, policies, and human rights violations related to the food system, drug prohibition, the prison industrial complex, immigration, and (inexplicably) cowboys.  I believe that justice, peace, and understanding are possible.  I blog at www.broadsnark.com

I’ve shared with you all the tortures of Sabbath and Passover.  But I have not yet shared with you the biggest torture of all.

My mother keeps kosher.

Being kosher means no shellfish and no pork.  Shellfish and pork are, as you may have heard, an abomination! The food that you can eat is classified into three different categories – meat, dairy, and parve.   Parve is neither meat nor dairy and can be eaten with anything (think fruits, veggies, grains…).  If you pull out a random food from your cabinet, you might notice a U with a circle around it.  Sometimes it will also say “parve.”  Now you know.  (OMG, they control the food system too!)

It is very important to know what is meat and what is dairy.  Because mixing of meat and dairy is absolutely verboten.  You can eat the meat from the cow.  And you can drink the milk from the cow.  But you cannot do both at the same time.  I believe it was the consumption of a bacon cheeseburger that actually set off the chain of events leading to the holocaust.  So this is some serious shit.

You might think figuring out meat, dairy, and parve would be easy.  But they like to throw in a few tricks.    For example, chicken is meat, but eggs are parve.  I don’t know why the chicken is meat, but the egg that comes out of its ass is not.  Maybe it’s a riddle or a Jewish version of the zen koan.

In Minnesota, debtors’ prison is not a thing of the past

I have a new post up at Global Comment

The term ‘debtors’ prison’ immediately conjures images of the mid-nineteenth century, when both men and women were locked in prisons until their families could afford to pay off their debt. For some, it will bring up images of a city like Dubai, where a form of debtors prison exists today.  Overall, the idea of being arrested because of debt — or having your property seized –is quite unfathomable to most Americans, and yet it is happening around the world on a daily basis.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently printed a great investigative piece in which they documented this phenomenon. 

It seems that debt is being sold to collection companies for pennies on the dollar, who then go to extreme measures to collect. In many cases, this debt is several years old. Essentially what happens is that a company tries to contact the debtor and after several failed attempts, they get a summons for the person to appear in court. If the person does not appear in court, a warrant is issued for their arrest. At this point, the law then aids the company by arresting and jailing said debtor at the tax payer’s expense.

Warrants are acted upon in jurisdictions where law enforcement can spare the manpower to act upon them. There is clearly collusion between law enforcement and these companies, because judges have reportedly set bail in the amount of money owed.

Apparently, incidents of individuals being arrested for debt are on the rise and it is hardly surprising given the state of the global economy. In many cases, people do not recognize the name of the pursuing company and are less likely to respond to collection attempts, because it is not the same business by which they were originally indebted. According to the Star Tribune, people are most often not even aware that an arrest warrant has been issued in their name.

That this is even happening is yet more proof of the irrationality of the capitalist system. The poor are specifically marketed high-interest loans that are beyond their ability to pay.

Finish reading here

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Shame: Can’t Separate an Egg Edition

image When I write about bad cooking, nine times out of ten it is to shame the unhusband; however, this week Gus AKA Allison McCarthy reached such a level of shame, I just had to share this with everyone.  Allison and I love talking about food because we both love to cook.  I was watching “French Cooking At Home,” a cannuck cooking show on the food channel, when I mentioned to Allison that I saw a great recipe for Artichokes with Brown Butter Hollandaise Sauce.  Just watching that made my mouth water. Is there anything on earth more heavenly than butter? Okay I need a moment to drool.  So, as we were oohing and awing over the butter (note: this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter) Gus aka Allison McCarthy asked me how to make the sauce.  When I explained that it required 4 egg yolks, she informed that she cannot separate eggs. Who cannot separate eggs?  I mean really…

I was forced to tell her about this product.

image Click the above image to see a demonstration of this product.

When I first saw the EZ cracker advertised on television, my response was are you freaking kidding me.  Who cannot crack and egg, and who cannot separate an egg?  I even sent it to Sparky as a suggestion for a new kitchen toy for his Beloved, because he is constantly going on about his husband’s love for gadgets.  In the commercial they make people cracking eggs look so completely inept that it is ridiculous.  Never did I see this as anything other than a gag gadget until Gus aka Allison McCarthy mentioned that she cannot separate eggs.

Since her birthday is in February, I will have to invent some other reason to send it to her.  We cannot have poor Allison suffering from an inability to separate eggs or having to buy cartoons of egg whites to make up for this deficiency.  I wonder how she bakes, if she cannot separate eggs?

Alright, what seen on tv product do you secretly want or need, and what common everyday skill are you unable to do?  Don’t leave poor Gus AKA Allison McCarthy hanging out here by herself, share your shame.