Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  I hope that you gained as much as I did from it.  What makes Womanist Musings a great space is the varied topics.  As a Canadian, Black, heterosexual, cis gender, disabled woman, I am far from an expert on everything.  This is specifically why Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy.  If there is a topic that we are not discussing, feel free to send in a guest post.  Please include a three line bio and an image that you would like associated with your work.   The e-mail for the blog is womanistmusings (at) gmail..com.  The work can either be original or a link to your blog.   This blog works best, when many voices are speaking together in a fight for justice.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  I am not necessarily endorsing the work or suggesting that the comment section of these pieces are safe, but I do think the work itself asks some very interesting questions.  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. 

Dear White Lactivists
New Feature: Honeymoon cystitis
Bigots and the “Ground Zero Mosque”
Eat, Pray, Love and Leave?
The Root The Other Mad Men
Ask Matt Monday: Trans Guys and Phalloplasty , Part One
Ask Matt Continued: Trans Guys and Palloplasty, Part Two
Trans Active III: Advocating for Trans People if Not Trans
The piccaninny stereotype
Remembering the 1965 Watts Riot
Race in Film: The Joy Luck Club
In Illinois, Doctors Refusing to Treat Women Who’ve Had Abortions
The worst commercial ever made
Pink Imperialism
wondering about wage labour
Size Matters: Bigotry's Last Stand
Back to School Fat Fears
An open letter to my incarcerated son

Friday, August 20, 2010

Erasing Invisibility One Step At A Time


Jaded16 is best described as a 'Radical Woman of Colour' in words other than her own. When she isn't swooning about one book or another, she can be found over at her place 'Oi With The Poodles Already', a humour blog on most days; while on some days is just a place for her to thinly veil her rambling LadyFeelings into semi-sensible posts. Obsessed with Literature, Possessed by Poetry and Devoted to Activism, she hopes to be a lot of things. As of now,  getting her graduate degree in Literature will do though. 


As a pure defense of the well-being of my lobes, I tend to interact with fellow feminists more than I do with UnFeminist people under the (misguided)  assumption that at least, Ze feminists won't make me want to puncture my own eyeballs on an alarmingly regular basis. I can be such a half-turnip sometimes! This doesn't mean that many feminists haven't been accused of  endorsing harmful tropes like classicism, trans-phobia, racism, ableism etc -- from Margaret Sanger to Mary Daly. Even today we will find someone who will insist theirs is the "right" kind of feminism and anyone who deigns to disagree with zie needs a brain transplant right away. All said and done, when I actually meet one of these Self-Proclaimed-Dispatchers-Of-Feminist-Privilege, I'm always shocked, then outraged and ultimately undergo too much chafing of my BrainCells.

This week at a conference on the Renaissance Women of Maharashtra, I came across these revolting lines -- There has never been a 'real' feminist movement in India. They further explained this conclusion because there have never been any "Waves", just tiny "ripples" in the stream of women's rights. While their facts seem to be correct, the conclusion they drew was hasty and contrived. If I were to put it delicately, they were WRONG. When I contradicted their statements, they managed to drown more in quicksand of their own doing. Apparently the reason it's not a real movement because it's "nothing like the Radical Wave of the 60's in the U.S" --  the doctrine of gag reflexes? It fits in right here. Then the speakers said something else too along the lines of "the wave in Europe and U.S. can only be called a movement; as there is a collective desire and agenda of change". I confess, I didn't bother to listen to anything after that but it can't have been anything good judging from my fellow speaker's disgusted looks. Once again, in a conference -- the most academic of its kind--  we forget the contribution of the so-called "lower caste" women as they don't represent "the normal demographic". I invoke the omnipresent gag reflex again.

Big Brother: What Does It Mean To Be A Good Gay Person?

Holly had the brilliant idea of blogging "Big Brother" this summer.  I must admit that I knew how much I would hate this, having stopped watching "Big Brother" years ago.  As with every year, this year there is a token gay male on the show.  Nothing like fake diversity to really make you think that CBS gives a damn about marginalized people.  This year, Reagan is fulfilling this role. Oddly enough, of the atrocious house guests participating in what I like to call the summer torture, Reagan is by far the most real and the most likable. He seems very unafraid to be himself and on a show that is extremely contrived, trust me when I say that this is a rarity.

Last week Rachel, the woman that Big Brother fans love to hate was eliminated.  Unfortunately, this week she was allowed back for 24 hours to spread her special brand of ignorance, once more through the Big Brother house.  I am sure by now you are wondering why I am bringing up this show.  Well, Rachel and Reagan had a huge fight in the backyard and I think that it will lead to a very interesting conversation about homophobia and heterosexism.  Even as Rachel claims to love gay people, watching the video will quickly make it evident that she is as rude, hateful and ignorant as they come.

Sofia Vergara of Modern Family in the Latest Edition of Esquire

The following image irks me for quite a few reasons.

 At first glance this photo doesn't seem bad does it?  She is not grossly photoshopped, the way we have been accustomed to seeing images in the media.  What the hell could I possibly have to complain about right?  Well, how about the fact that they have placed her in a kitchen in panties and freaking high heels.  Magazines don't have to use photoshopp to demean women; they simply need to put them in situations that are sexist.  A lot of women cook, but how many do it with a smile, in panties and high heels.  This photo is ridiculous and it is a reflection of the patriarchal lens with which women have been constructed in the media.  How many times have you heard some asshole say, get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich? I know I get a comment mirroring those exact same words several times a day.

To Vergara, this was probably just a simple little publicity shoot, but I look at this image and I see all the ways in which women's labour has been devalued.  She is an actress on a hit show, and yet what do we get?  Her in high heels and panties pretending to bake.  Women's achievements are continually being devalued.  Have a conversation about a woman in an upper management position, and I guarantee you, some jerk will imply that she got they got there on her back and not through merit. Women are expected to restrict our conversation to hearth and home, when we are allowed to get a full sentence in, because men love to interrupt us. Women are constantly being sexualized and that is because we are viewed as male property, who exist for the sole purposes of fulfilling male needs.

Vergara is currently a nominee for an Emmy in the role of Best Supporting Actress on a comedy show and Modern Family, is also nominated for an Emmy.  The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have named her, one of the most talented and powerful women in Hispanic entertainment. This is a woman that is at the top of her game, but why focus on that, when her sex appeal can be placed front and center?  According to wikkipedia, Vergara is a natural blond, but dyes her hair brunette upon request, "to make her look more stereotypically." Latina. This is about type casting her into the ultimate Latina fantasy woman.   Yep, hot tamale over here.  Why even bother pretend she is more than a fluffer?

This Week in Blackness - The N Word

Last week for the first time I shared with you Elon James White's hilarious take in a video series he calls, This Week in Blackness.  This week, he takes on Dr. Laura.  Before you start to grown about the fact that you are sick of reading about this and hearing about this, I really think you should listen to what Elon has to say on the N word.  He points out that one of the issues Dr.Laura's tirade raised, was who can say the N word. We all know that Blacks say nigger every single day.  Sometimes it is used as a term of endearment and sometimes it is used for the purposes of derision.  It's regular usage is enough to give bigots like Dr.Laura the feeling that they are being excluded, because many oppose her use of such a hateful slur. However, what Dr. Laura ignores, is that even as there are some Blacks who routinely use this word, there are many, myself included, who would never dream of using it in casual conversation.  I don't believe a single member of my family uses the N word casually and I have a lot of family.  I have never had a single Black friend use this word casually.  We can step out of my circle and look at famous Blacks like Oprah Winfrey, who has on many occasions spoken quite forcefully of her hatred of the word.  There is no universal agreement on the word nigger, despite what bigots like Dr. Laura has to say.

When Whites were enslaving, raping, beating, murdering, over working and under educating Blacks, nigger was the word on their lips.  I positively fail to see why one would to celebrate the terrible history of such a word, by keeping it in the popular lexicon and therefore; it is my opinion that when White people complain about the inability to use the word nigger without receiving a negative backlash, their concern is about a reduction in social power and the decline of White Supremacy.  One of the largest manifestations of power, is the ability to act without impunity and if Whites must now in some instances be held accountable for their actions, it means that people of colour have made some positive gains.  Today, the word nigger is about the maintenance of White supremacy and it is mendacious to suggest that a failure to allow White people to use such a word is a symbol of social inequality, when the word itself is designed to exclude Black people from the human race.

News From the Editor


Hello everyone,  the posting will be normal today even though I am going out of town for a doctor's appointment.   I will not be able to moderate any comments until the afternoon, so if your comment is stuck in moderation please be patient.  If you are a regular commenter, now would be a great time to set up an Intense Debate account.  If you create an account, you will not have to wait for a manual approval by me.

Have a good day and be good to each other in my absence.

Renee

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Racism Masquerading as Comedy at David Hasselhoff's Roast

Comedy is used as a cover from many atrocious isms.  Want to say something sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, or racist?  Just call it a joke and watch how quickly this supposedly tolerant society goes silent.  When marginalized people complain that such language is anything but amusing, we are told that we are hyper sensitive. We simply need to learn to take a joke -- never mind that the attitudes being expressed are the reason that we remain second class citizens. Offensive comedy is about the right of a dominant body to ridicule a marginalized one.  Never are we to consider the social imbalance in this situation, because this is all about making people laugh, however; laughter is not a salve for everything.  In this case, laughter is dangerous because it is a sign that we have learned to view the oppressed person as less than.  The moment we begin to challenge someone's equality, we have stopped recognizing and acknowledging our shared humanity.

Comedy Central recently hosted a roast for David Hasselhoff of "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch" fame. (Of course you know I had to use an image him sucking in his gut) Being a fan of celebrity roasts (or in the case of Hasselhoff -D celebrity) the unhusband sat down to watch this.  Never have I been more thankful for the invention of headphones.   At any rate, it did not take long for so-called off colour humor to turn racist.  Here are a few examples:

Kiddie Perm Gone Wrong

When I saw this video, ten year old me did a dance inside.  I remember begging my mother for a perm at that age because all of the girls had one.  I felt left out with my natural hair and had started to view it as ugly.  I had no idea of the consequences and so I am very thankful today that she said no.  Many people still put kiddie perms in their children’s hair, which leads to disastrous results. Normally, this brings about a vicious round of mother blaming, but taking this route ignores the way in which our White supremacist culture teaches us to hate our kinky natural hair.  We are taught that good hair, is hair that is straight.  We are taught that anything Black is ugly and bad, and therefore; when these mothers put relaxer in their children’s hair, it is important to recognize that they actually believe that they are doing something good.  Below you will find a video  of one child’s journey from beautiful natural hair to a relaxer and the terrible results.  (note: the video already has a transcript)

I have had natural hair for over a decade and have no plans to ever turn back.  My natural hair is part of how I love and embrace my Blackness.  My natural hair sends the message that I am unapologetically Black and for many this translates into a radical political nature before I even open my mouth.  Black hair is political.  Let me say that again because it is worth repeating, Black hair is political.  No matter how we choose to wear it today, we are subjecting ourselves to the judgement of others.  When it comes to a Black woman, hair is never just hair.  What we should be considering is how to make sure our hair is healthy and well groomed and instead the narrative is about what our hair says about us.  Does a woman with a relaxer really love her Blackness any less than I do?  Does this really make her a dupe of the White supremacist state?  Though we know that using a chemical relaxer can have very negative consequences, as this video eloquently demonstrates, given that we live in a society where people make decision each day that are not necessarily healthy, should we  stigmatize relaxers over and above other products?

Though this child’s perm had disastrous results, I believe we should support the agency of Black women in their hair care choices.  The question of whether or not to relax should not be the center of the conversation, instead we should focus on asking what makes us feel beautiful. We must take control over the hair debate.  We are not deceptive if we wear weaves or hair extensions and we are not sell-outs if we choose to straighten.  This video teaches us that we need to make informed choices about our hair care rituals. It teaches us that we have to know ourselves and know our hair. 

A Gay Version of The "True Blood" Rolling Stones Cover

Yesterday, I posted the real cover.  Apparently, the gay horror blog "Camp Blood" created the following image after requests from its readers for a gay version of the cover.

I still say that Stephen Moyer needs to get out of the way because he is blocking my view of my man. Yes I said my man; I have claimed him. Alexander Skarsgård recently gave a statement to US Magazine:
"I don't want a sock around it, that feels ridiculous. If we’re naked in the scene, then I’m naked. I’ve always been that way."
Yeah, my mind is racing. Of course Moyer wears a sock, "out of consideration for others."  I am just not buying that, considering the man is now famous for sucking in his belly the moment he has take off his shirt.  My guess - performance anxiety after seeing the Alex in all his glory.
 
Enjoy your thursday view.

An open letter to Joss Whedon (or, “I love Buffy, but…”)

Rosel Kim recently completed her Master's in Cultural Studies at McGill. Her writing has appeared in Vancouver Magazine, Maple Tree Literary Supplement among others.

Dear Joss Whedon, 
you’ve provided me endless hours of awesome space action during my Research Paper-writing breaks with Firefly. And in my Summer of Unemployment 2010, you’ve given me much kick-ass female inspiration (and high school/undergrad nostalgia) with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As far as depicting strong femininity, I think you are definitely committed to portraying strong women who are not just looking for a heterosexual union and domestic bliss. It’s refreshing.

But….let’s talk about the race issues in that show, because I think there’s more for me to say there.
First off, I found the Thanksgiving episode (Season 4, “Pangs”) so problematic that I almost stopped watching it. It was your one and only time of trying to deal with native American history, and while I feel you tried to acknowledge the colonialist history of America and the brutality of white settlers, the ultimate message ended up being: angry native people are bad. Yes, white people may have had a hand in making them into one-dimensional caricatures/archetype of BAD that white people must then again “tame” or “kill.” Willow defending the native American people looked like an irrational and emotional (dare I say “typical”?) woman, while Giles – a British man, nonetheless – had to come to his “rational” (aka “colonialist”) senses and tell Buffy that yes, she must kill the native people again.

I am also a little troubled by this notion of “American” ways being the “best” ways. This is repeatedly affirmed by the frustratingly incompetent/inflexible presence of stuffy British men/women and a slayer who is a woman of colour of vague origins and an insufferable, affected accent that sounds like a Jamaican accent, but 20 times slower (or, as my boyfriend likes to call it, “it’s like Joss Whedon told the actress, ‘do a Jamaican accent, but speak SLOWLY so everybody UNDERSTANDS you.”). Buffy is the most quick-thinking, adaptable and ultimately the BEST SLAYER OF THEM ALL because of her “American” upbringing of having a loving family and friends. This is reinforced by stating that Kendra the Woman of Colour Slayer’s (in Season 2) strict parents who abandoned her to her slayer training. To say that the American way is the best would be okay, if that American-ness weren’t coded so exclusively as white.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I hire White people

This is a guest post by Gemnna of Gemnaspeaks

Feminist blogs have expressed disappointment with Essence Magazine for controversial issues over the last few years. But last week, the blogosphere was fired up when it learned that Essence had hired a White fashion director, Elliana Placas. This revelation was brought to us via Facebook, became viral on Twitter, and crossed over to mainstream media when the former fashion director, Michaela Angela Davis, shared with her Facebook friends this message:

“It’s with a heavy heart I’ve learned Essence Magazine has engaged a white Fashion Director. I love Essence and I love fashion. I hate this news and this feeling. It hurts, literally. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people—especially women. The 1 seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole (+ me) is now—I can’t. It’s a dark day for me. How do you feel?”
 
Michaela Angele Davis was the Essence fashion director with the crazed hair, who dressed as if she had no fashion sense. Her messiness on Facebook got her booked on morning news, afternoon talk shows and radio programs across the country claiming that Essence, a magazine for Black women, should not have hired a White woman to work for them. Not only is Ms. Davis messy but she is delusional. She is on national television telling Black people to practice racism when we are at a moment in our country where race-baiting has become nightly theater. What nonsense!

Before I go any further, let me disclosed my relationship with Essence Magazine. I have been featured in Essence. I have also been a conference speaker at the Essence’s Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit. When I was chosen to be featured in the magazine, I was asked to come to New York for the photo shoot. I decided to use a Nashville photographer and makeup artists instead. The photographer was a close friend, Blair Morgan, and Nora, the makeup artist, had worked with Blair for many years. Curse me, both are White. In 2006, Angela Burt-Murray, the editor-in-chief of Essence, and I, along with 38 others, were chosen as the country’s most influential African-Americans under 40 by Network Business Journal Magazine. I spent two days in New York and conversed with Angela several times. She was energetic, full of bright ideas for the magazine, and filled with joy about her role as the new editor. Since that time, our paths have crossed at annual Essence events and at New York fundraisers.

The outrage that has been fanned by the former fashion director is not worth the login time to respond to her on her Facebook page but I will anyway. She has led many astray with her backwards thinking. Black Enterprise, Ebony, and many other national and regional ethnic publications have all hired White folks to work for them. The target markets for those publications maybe race-specific but the writers, the graphic designers, the sales team, the distributors, and many others are not limited to one color. Black publications, especially, should not practice what is done at so many non-color publications around the country: avoid inclusion.

Dr. Laura Schlessenger Ends Radio Show To Regain Her First Amendment Rights

Dr. Laura Schlessenger used the N word several times in a conversation with a woman who called to complain about the racism in her inter racial relationship.  She went on to say that the woman was hyper sensitive and now she feels that she has been silenced.  It seems Dr. Laura feels that there is no place for her to be the voice of dissent any longer. By now we are all  a bit tired of hearing about Dr. Laura.  The media has latched onto this with iron jaws because it feels that they have evidence of a racist because of her repeated use of the N word.  Many media outlets have gotten on their high moral horse to scream racist, without examining the ways in which they perpetuate racism every single day.  Racism is about a lot more than not using the N word.

It is interesting that Dr. Laura has decided not to renew her radio show on the heels of this incident.  There is a part of me that seriously wonders how much of this decision was her choice.  I don't believe for one moment, that the station for which she worked did not receive pressure because of the vicious media backlash that occured.  We will just have to see if  in a few months her language is as forgotten as Don Imus' "nappy headed hoes."

I am absolutely fascinated with the idea that Dr. Laura suddenly feels restricted.  Though she is framing her argument in the first amendment, what Dr. Laura really wants is the right to be a bigot without consequence.  As far as I can tell, her rights were not impeded.  She engaged in a conversation in which her language was obviously racist but somehow she is being stifled and unable to dissent.  What people like her want is not freedom of speech, it is freedom from consequence.  You see the issue here is that freedom of speech applies to everyone.

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgård Pose Nude For Rolling Stone

Well since it is hump day I thought that we could use a little treat.  Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgård have posed nude on the latest cover of Rolling Stone.  I think I just might have to go out and buy my first copy of that magazine as a little bloody keepsake.  For those of you that cannot wait for it to hit the stands here's a little hump day happy.

  Now if only I could push Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer out of the way and have Skarsgård all to myself. 

Can Your Fat Ever Be Your BFF?

It seemed for awhile that everyone I turned people were talking about "Huge" on ABC family.  I have read both good and positive about the show, but the fact that so many were engaging in conversation about it is what finally spurred me to watch it.  "Huge" is about a group of teenagers spending the summer at a fat camp.  I expected just from the location alone, for the show to be filled with problems.  While "Huge" is not perfect, it is still filled with positive aspects.   Rather than doing a straight up critique of the show, I would like to focus on a line said by Will, one of the fat campers when she was forced to wear a bathing suit for weigh in.  You see, Will's intention at the camp is not to lose weight, but gain weight.  She is constantly talking about the fact that we only view certain bodies as acceptable, leaving the rest to be stigmatized.  In keeping with her position on her fat, Will announces that her fat is her bff. Now that is fat positive.

This is an absolutely revolutionary statement on television, when we consider that fat people are constantly ignored. Except for fat positive areas, fat is stigmatized; it is not welcome.  Fat bodies are seen as gluttonous unattractive blobs; we are told we are unlovable.  Everything from eating in public to buying clothing is difficult.  The world is specifically designed to ensure that those that are outside of the very narrow parameters that we have constructed as 'normal' are shamed, even if conformity is something outside of the individual's control. So, trust me when I say that a fat woman saying that her fat is her bff brought up a myriad of emotions in me.

Society wants us to hate our fat.  We are meant to turn away from our bodies in disgust and closet ourselves in our homes.  Fat is a word many are taught to use as an insult, even though it really is only a descriptor no different than short or tall.  Fat is never socially neutral, it is always seen as a reflection on the personality of the fat individual.  This is why a character expressing love for their fat and claiming that their fat is their bff sends a very strong message.  To love what society tells you to hate takes strength of character -- and even in our most quiet moments, it is hard to escape the doubt that is planted daily.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dr. Laura, interracial love and confronting White supremacy

  I have a new post up at Global Comment

The internet recently went into an all-out furor over a segment of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s radio program, in which she used the N word repeatedly, while telling a Black woman who had called for advice about her interracial relationship that she was “hyper-sensitive.” I could probably spend 10,000 words talking about why what Dr. Laura said is wrong, but since the media has spent so much time dissecting her use of the N word, I believe that perhaps someone should address the purpose of the call. The caller originally reached out to Dr. Laura because she felt that her White husband ignored the racist comments their so-called friends made.

Anyone who has ever been in an interracial relationship will tell you that they are very difficult to negotiate — whether it is two people of colour, or a person of a colour and someone who is White. Though segregation is no longer the law of the land, many people still lead very segregated lives and this means interactions are often fraught with difficulties. Though we are supposedly post-racial, each day people of colour are assaulted by racism — even from those who we may call friends, because they have not learned to challenge their undeserved privilege.


For an interracial relationship to work, both parties must be committed to confronting race in all of its positive and negative aspects. It means a constant conversation with both parties really listening to each other, because without communication, race will become the barrier that breaks the relationship. The divorce rates already indicate that the likelihood of two people being lifetime partners is not high and therefore, if the added extra burden of negotiating race is included, then the relationship has even less of chance of being successful [PDF]. Not only will the couple have to deal with misunderstandings between themselves, the outside pressure of family or friends often leads to the dissolution of the love that seemed so full of hope at the beginning.

When Dr. Laura advised that “if you are hyper-sensitive, you shouldn’t be in an interracial relationship,” she chose to assert White supremacy. A relationship cannot work if one party must always be submissive to the other, because this eliminates the possibility of a truly equal coupling. It may seem from the outside at first that the White person is being submissive to the person of colour, because they must radically change not only their thought process but their behavioural patterns as well. In truth, this is just bringing a level of equality to the relationship that is not in existence in society when people of colour interact with White people. How can you love and deeply commit to someone, if you believe whether unconsciously or not, that they are less than you? This is absolutely not possible and is a recipe for disaster.

Finish reading here

Racism and Social Responsibility, aka Why I can’t ‘just enjoy’ a movie


.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.

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

  But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,

  So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.”

                                                                                              -Kahlil Gibran
So I’ve been home (in Dubai) for July, and as per tradition, my brother and I bond by watching horror flicks. He is a horror aficionado and continuously scours the Internet for whatever creepy fare celluloid has to offer. I myself enjoy a well-made scare, and I list “The Omen” and “The Ring” among my favorite movies.

But, being a committed social analyst, I can’t ever just ‘turn off’ my perspective when I’m watching a movie. Consequently, I have always been fascinated by how horror movies employ otherness to maximize fear and revulsion in their audience.  The filmic devices employed to create horror, say a great deal about what the filmmakers’ intended audience is, and their assumptions about what things are commonly feared and reviled.

Race, gender and sexuality are often deployed, both subtly and overtly, in the delineation of monsters, killers, rapists, ghosts, werewolves, vampires et al. In the context of US race relations, horror/ fantasy flicks are a prime medium for examining how white privilege/ normativity is constructed, perpetuated and reinforced. Additionally, considering that horror flicks are often touted as cathartic experiences, we need to question how our fear, suspense and culminating relief are orchestrated, and how this reflects our real-world approach to crime, deviance and punishment.

Whenever POC talk about racism in movies, naysayers are quick to retaliate with  ‘oh whatever, it’s just fantasy’ or ‘there are white villains/killers/ psychopaths too’. What they don’t acknowledge, is that whiteness is not what’s employed to create fear and disgust.  In Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, mental illness is the horror. In the recent flick ‘Orphan‘, an un-American, Eastern-European quality are the markers of otherness.

Shut Up Sandra Rose, Men Loving Men is Beautiful

A large part of the reason I continue to work so hard to educate myself about the issues the LGBT community face, is because I strongly identify them as Black issues.  You see, you cannot claim to love Blackness, if you do not embrace every single way in which it manifests.  This means that when same gender loving people of colour are harassed, it is my damn business.  They didn't lose their status as Black people when they realized that they are gay.  In fact, being Black and gay means that they are facing multiple oppressions and therefore require the support of the Black community as well as the GLBT community.  This is something that I am very passionate about, despite the social meme that Blacks are uniquely homophobic. 

If you use twitter, you might be aware of the following twitpic making the rounds entitled, "#no excuse I don't give a fuck how sleepy you are."


When I saw this photo it made me smile.  Too often the face of young Black masculinity is violent or associated with drugs and prison.  Very rarely do we see Black men loving each other and showing concern for each other.  Think about how many gangsta movies have been made with the screen awash in Black blood.  Whatever the reason these two men found to show love to each other is enough for me.  In a world so overwhelmed with hate, I fail to see how loving anyone could possibly be considered a bad thing.  Love elevates us, it makes us more than the sum of our parts.

Unfortunately, Sandra Rose was unable to simply enjoy the love in the above photo.  I decided to write this post because her blog is a large Black gossip blog and therefore carries some weight within the online community.  From Bossip to Mediatakeout to SandraRose, homophobia seems to be a mainstay with the Black online gossip community, and it has to stop.  Commenters do speak out about the homophobic posts, but this has not stopped them from being published.  What kind of LGBT ally would I be if I didn't take the time to comment regarding the rampant homophobia often seen in these spaces.  This is not funny, or even remotely amusing, because homophobia often leads to violence and death.  I have had too many of my TLBG friends, tell me about the ways in which their lives have been touched with violence simply for exsisting to ignore this.  I don't ever want to attend the funeral of a friend due to someone else's ignorance and hate -- and so I am going to do my part and say stop the homophobia.  Stop it now.

Spark of Wisdom: Responding to missteps of privilege, language, ignorance and carelessness


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.

(Forgive me again for the possible atrocious typing and excess linking in this post. Typing one handed is vexing me a great deal).

Sometimes things come in waves - the same issue arises in several locations and gets me to thinking. Recently, in 3 separate forums, I have seen the same (or similar) debate raised - how marginalised people react to a privileged/offensive/prejudiced comment and whether they are right to do so. 

In particular, people have complained about marginalised people responding to missteps of privilege, language, ignorance and carelessness that often leads to so much offense, pain and triggering - those times we feel like we have our eyes sporked because someone has dropped some painful, often prejudiced ignorance.

In particular, people have complained about marginalised people responding to missteps of privilege, language, ignorance and carelessness that often leads to so much offense, pain and triggering - those times we feel like we have our eyes sporked because someone has dropped some painful, often prejudiced ignorance.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I’m not particularly exotic, but I’m working on it

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

I was a heterosexual female for 42 years before transitioning to male 13 years ago (I’ll do the math for you: 55 and still kickin’ – myself, mostly). In 42 years, I had never felt an attraction to women. Even after I transitioned, I went into the “gay community” as a gay trans man.  

But a funny thing happened on the way to gay – I realized that I found women attractive. This was an unexpected phenomenon with many possible explanations, but the bottom line is that, while I still consider myself gay, I have a newfound appreciation of the beauty of women that I didn’t have before. And, over the past 13 years, I have found many, many women attractive.   

That’s why, although I didn’t comment at the time, I was intrigued by one of Renee’s “Friday Questions,”  which was: “How come all WOC are supposed to be ‘exotically beautiful’? So beautiful that they can't see it, till some White Dude literally oohs and aahs over your beauty like you're exotic yogurt.” 

In the past decade-plus, when I have been busy finding many women to be beautiful, I have never thought of any woman as being “exotically beautiful.” But when I read the question, I was able to relate in my own way, because “exotic” is a term that I have been fighting against myself as a trans person.  

True Blood: Everything is Broken

For the very fist time we see Eric panicking when he flies into Fangtasia after staking Talbot.  I was personally shocked by this, because Eric has always been in control no matter the situation and this means that he was overcome with emotion when he sought revenge.  Watching Russell desperately clinging to Talbots remains shows that despite the bickering there was love between these two.  After watching Talbot's histrionics for weeks, I was somewhat reassured to see that there did indeed exist a true love relationship between the two.  To some degree it helps to mitigate the circumstances of his death at the hand of Eric.

Unfortunately for Eric, he is stopped from making his escape to human quarters by Nan Flanagan.  He is forced to tell the details of what transpired over the last few days to "the authority" via live video streaming.  It seems that the death of the magister did not go unnoticed.  Nan does not believe Eric, because Russell just made a rather large donation -- proving that no matter the realm, money talks.

The last episode ended with a steamy sex scene between Sookie and Bill and so of course they have to clean up (read: fuck like rabbits in the shower).  Beyond the sex this is an interesting scene, because their blood, as well as the werewolf blood is shown by the camera to be washed away.  It reads like some sort of re-birth or cleansing of their relationship.  This moment of passion does not last because Sookie quickly realizes that once again her house is a mess and there is a dead body lying on the floor. She finally questions Bill about the secret file that he created on her and he responds,  it was because he wanted to know why Eric is so interested in her.  It was for her protection.  Thankfully Sookie does not bat an eye and says, "Okay see, I don't know how you do things in the 1800's, but keeping a file on the woman you love is creepy."  Well it is about time she acknowledged his must protect Sookie, creeptastic nature.  This is not romantic. This is the stuff stalkers are made of. I hope you took a hint Stephanie Meyer. She follows with, "You have to stop thinking of me as a thing to be protected.  I'm not afraid to spill a little blood anymore.  I took care of Debbie Pelt by myself." I think the most important word in that exchange is thing.  Sookie is asserting her autonomy and her unwillingness to simply play damsel in distress.

90 Year Old Grandmother Raped In Detroit.

Trigger warning for sexual violence.

I can tell you first hand, that rape is a terrible violation of not only the body but the soul.  Even though rape is ultimately an act of power that manifests sexually, society still uses rape against women as a weapon to control our behaviour.  Have a little too much to drink one night, wear a short skirt or a revealing top, and for many this is an invitation to be violated.  Rape is no respecter of age, class, ability or sexuality.  It can happen to anyone at anytime.  All that need happen for someone to be violated, is to be alone in the room with a rapist.  This is an absolute fact and yet we socially express shock when an elderly woman is raped.  Like many myths we function with, there is a  false belief that we respect the senior population and yet they are subject to much abuse, infantilization, exploitation and oppression.  Anyone that we view as marginalized in this culture is always vulnerable, because we privilege dominant bodies - we privilege the strong. 

When we learn that a senior woman has been raped, we don't stop to question where she was, what she was doing, or even what she was wearing, because we assume the rapist to be scurrilous. This attitude needs to extend to every single incident of rape.  The victim is never responsible for the actions of hir rapist.  Let me say that again because it bears repetition, the victim is never responsible for the action of hir rapist.

Steph Jones: The Gays Are Coming

Musician and hip hop artist Steph Jones has been releasing a series of videos on youtube regarding his thoughts on various issues.  His most recent deals with his thoughts on the LGBT community.  Steph is a straight, cis man and that must be taken into consideration when listening to what he has to say.  It is also important to note that the community to which he belongs has never been openly accepting of the LGBT community and so this video was a risk for him to create.  He is making these series of videos to start conversations.

Transcript:

Scrolling on a black screen are the words:

My intentions are to start up a mature dialogue amongst others. I realize everyone won’t agree with my views which is why I welcome any and all comments…enjoy

What’s going on world?  This is your boy Steph Jones and right we are in the storage.  The storage is where we talk about anything that has to with real related.  We deal with real people, real problems, real comments, real requests.  None of this filtered and I am trying to reprogram your mind.  This is what’s really going on amongst real people.  So this is what were going to talk about. So a very very popular topic is the gays.  Some of y’all with throw out the word gay is it if had some kind of poison attached to it.  (Graphic of a head saying, the gays are coming everybody run.  The gays are coming oh no.  The gays are coming.) Really, is it really that bad?  Gay people aren’t bad.  My favourite uncle Duane R.I.P. he was so awesome and when I was younger I didn’t understand the concept of what gay was.  I just knew that he wore a lot of bright colours and he was very happy all the time and had a lot of energy.  So shout out to to uncle Duane R.I.P. (he looks upward) man eh I’m repping for you homey.  Don’t think I ain’t repping for you. 

Screen fades to black and the following words appear in purple.

Steph why did you the NOH8 campaign?

Yes I shot the no hate campaign and a lot of my friends was like why would do that, it’s just no right?  Like why would you take away somebody’s right?  If they’re in love I don’t care who you fall in love with.  First and foremost I’m in support of it.  I’m in support of anybody that’s falling in love. Like, honestly do you know how hard it is to fall in love with somebody who you can consider your soulmate—or somebody who you want to spend the rest of your life with?  So if you’re a dude and you fall in love with another dude, that has absolutely nothing to do with me.  I don’t care what anybody else says.  You go and y’all live y’all happy lives for the rest of y’all life and just be happy.  I want people to be happy. There’s so many miserable people in the world, rich poor, it doesn’t matter.  Some days I go down the street and people just got this mean look on they face. It’s like oh man brother you stressing away years, and years and years.  And so if you need to find that in a man and fall in love, then you go out and do that.  If I could issue a marriage for y’all to get married, I personally would do it.

Screen changes to multicoloured draped with the words:

SO SUPP SAFE SEX

followed by a gong and the words:

I ALSO SUPPORT SAFE SEX

A comment bubble appears with the words:

4 both black men and women, having unprotected sex w/a man is the leading cause of HIV infection. Among black men living w/HIV, 43% were infected through male-to-male sexual contact.  Among this group the young are particularly affected.

We’re in 2010, this ain’t 1955, this ain’t 1988 and things are constantly changing.  If you would have told me 30 years ago that there’s going to be a cell phone, that I can get on twitter – talk to all of this different people and then get on Ichat and google chat and do all these different things, I would be like man, get the hell outta here. But as evolution set in, things just happen.  You just have to learn to deal with it.  The people, the naysayers that just literally want to go by the book and honestly in my opinion I’m like what, what book.  And I am not referring to the bible but I’m just like what book.  It’s like there’s so many people the right in their own mind to live their life.  They want to follow certain patterns.  You follow certain patterns you will get the same thing.  You already see that all life is messed up, so why not change something different?  My father always told me, “if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got.  In other words change it up.  Change it up.  Change brings growth, says Mr. Michael Maddox. So my thing is I love the gays.  I love the straights.  I love the lesbians. I love the transexuals.  I just love people in general and this is no ploy to gain popularity.  I’m on here just speaking my heart. I genuinely love people; the greater good of people.  So do you, do you honestly, don’t worry about what all these other jokers say.  And y’all gays I know y’all been taking punishment for a long, long, long, long time.  Y’all have to stop being so sensitive. Grow some tough skin, cause people goin talk, no matter what.  No matter what you do, no matter what I do be it good or bad.  Jesus is said to be perfect and people hate on him every single day.  So just live your life, be happy.  And if people aren’t happy around you, then surround yourself around an environment that’s gonna be happy.  You have my support, I love y’all. Umm uh what else?  I even learned so new lingo.  The kids, work, you’re giving be life.  I actually use these things, so we can work together – that’s all I’m saying.

Screen fades to Black and the following words appear in a bold pink:

STEPH!! RUMOUR HAS IT THAT YOU PUT A GUY ON YOUR COVER

Yeah and so for the cover of single beautiful I, you know me I’m always inclusive.  I just like for people to bond together because I just want people to bond together.  And I didn’t just want all women on my cover.  I know people are going to be shocked when they find out that I actually put a man on my cover.  His face got cut off just because the balance of him at the top was the thing but I’ll show the actual photo and he’s doll face barbie on twitter and youtube.  And I when I first asked him, it kind of threw him off, cause he was your single is about beautiful ladies and stuff like that.  I was like man you come down here and represent for your people brother.  And that is just how I am .  I don’t care if somebody tells me not to do it.  This is my song that I’m a vessel for,that I was created to show everybody that self love helps then and their sense of beauty – cause everybody has a sense of beauty.  You may not see it but the next man that’s coming around the corner be like (big gasp) Now that’s beautiful. You see what I’m saying?  There’s a person out there for every last one of you: gay, straight, transexual, lesbian.  It don’t matter.  Those are people.  Those gays have a mother and a father, just like you and I.  So you should really thing about that ‘cause they are people to; they’re not aliens.  So shout out to my lesbians, shout out to my gays, shout out to my trannys.  Whatever preference you are, shout out, how about that? And um yeah, that’s just what it is.  This is real life 2010.  Very progressive, very creative, and at the end of the day, I don’t care gay, straight, queer, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if a man respects you, then you respect him back.  If he disrespects you then that’s a whole different story.

Screen fades to black and the following words appear in a bold gold font:

STEPH!! DID YOU REALLY DRESS UP LIKE A GIRL FOR HALLOWEEN?? HOW COULD YOU??

I will be the first to tell you that I dressed up like a girl for halloween. I was actually supposed to dress up like David the naked dude with the leaves and the bush (Actually it was Adam not David scrolls across the screen) I couldn’t find the right leaves, they was too small – but that’s a whole nother story.  So I was like, what can I wear that is going to be very impactful, that’s going to be on every blog? I was like I’m a have to dress up like a girl.  I dressed up as a girl, had the makeup done, had some tights on and a bad weave with my naps poking out in the front. And it was a showstopper, it was everything I wanted to do.  I actually posted the pic that like when people saw it, they were like OMG I can’t believe Steph you dressed up as a girl.  The people loved it and some of you people hated it.  They were like, my man would never do that.  That’s because your man ain’t as secure as I am.  I don’t care, that’s the problem.  I don’t care.  You can say whatever you want about me.  You can say anything you want about me.  You’re not stopping me from paying my bills.  I’m having a good time on this earth, one time – live it up.  Have fun.  I jumped out of a plane on my birthday.  I jumped out of a plane – crazy. It was the most riveting experience I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Y’all you really have to learn to live your life.  Stop focusing on everybody else.  How you goin focus on everybody else and not focus on yourself?  That’s like a plant trying to grow fruit without even being planted and the leaves growing.  How you going to do that? Focus on your own plant and grow and then when the fruit is produced that’s when the seeds come out and then that’s when you can plant the seeds.  So, but focus on your own life.  So if other dudes – if a dude want to go marry a dude then let the dude marry a dude.  And if a girl wants to marry a girl, then so be it.  Eh, if you are happy in your own skin, then just be happy. Those of you that are concerning yourself with everyone else’s life, I think you should slap yourself with a bag of nickels and then wake up to reality.  2010 focus on your own life, and then figure out what your own right path is and then go for it.  And then make your own mark in this life because date when you are born and the date when you die means absolutely nothing without that dash in the middle.  Make that dash your legacy so it’s born in 1985 died in 2040 but the dash in the middle is what you need to make the best of.  Let the gays be gay, let the straights be straight – it doesn't matter.  I’m happy for all y’all just be happy – one big happy family.  And as you and I both know we’ll never live in a perfect world, but at least we can make an effort to try you know.  If everybody acted exactly the same, this world would be so boring and my post would be boring.  I would just be like okay well, that would be just like a big field of robots that had no personality.  It would  just be a boring thing.  So I love all of y’ll people.  I love the haters. I love the naysayers. I love the supporters.  I love the people who are nonexistent that are soon to be existent.  I am grateful and appreciative for all of you guys.  And so until next time this is your boy Steph Jones.  We’re in the storage with real people, real stories, real everything. 

Steph certainly had a lot to say and I think that it is a great jumping point for conversation.  I showed this video to Sparky and Monica of TransGriot, because I was concerned whether intent excused some of the problematic message in the video, they had the following to say.

Sparky:

I think it’s positive. I like it. Hells, i think it’s a whole lot better than Benjamin Jealous’ speech - he should take notes!
Oh he says some things that make the odd flinch - “sexual preference” and “trannie” and telling gay people to be less sensitive (which so not a good idea). He uses “gay” as a noun which some people don’t like but, personally, I’m not bothered by “the gays” (though “a gay” isn’t as fun) because “gay people” all the damn time is awkward as hell.
But it is heartfelt, it is real, it is positive. Yes, he isn’t informed or fully aware - but how many people are? He is brave and courageous to hold this views in a genre that is hostile to them. His message is extremely positive, his passion is real - and it’s a genuine, real, belief that this is right - not for PR (because it won’t help him) not for kudos (because he won’t get them)
I like it. it’s not perfect but it’s good and positive and it’s forward and its refreshing. I do think it is over all a good thing - yes there are issues, but they don't, in my eyes, overwhelm the generally positive of it. It shinies, the shadows don't hide that

Monica:

The message in Steph Jones' video was refreshing, timely, needed and very positive.   It's also cool that it's coming from someone in the hip hop community   
The only problematic part of it from where I sit as a trans person was his using a word to describe us that some transpeople consider insulting or a slur in 'trannie' .
So keep on preaching the message, Steph.   It's one that needs to be heard, especially in the hip hop community..  
But heads up.  If you wish to continue being a supportive ally for the trans community,  please don't use that word to describe transpeople..  

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on what Steph had to say, given the culture that he is coming from, is intent enough to erase the false steps he made in his activism?  Do you view this as a positive sign coming from the hip hop community? 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Shame: Some People Shouldn’t Do Drugs Edition

It’s been quite some time since I was forced to shame Sparky; however, his recent drugged up state leaves me no choice but to hold him up for ridicule once again.  As you know, poor Sparky had a terrible accident and fell down a set of marble stairs leaving him terribly injured.  When he is not whining and his pain pill kick in, he can be quite a trip.  Some of you may be old enough to remember, the eighties commercial this is your brain on drugs.

image If only Sparky’s brain were so easy to tolerate.  But like everything else, he once again has decided to be difficult and make sure that everyone suffers alongside him.  There is an ENTIRE OCEAN between Sparky and I, yet it could not protect me from him when he is drug fuelled. I know that you are probably wondering how bad it could possibly be – well no need to worry, I plan on sharing with you.  Picture this, Niagara Falls Ontario 2010 ( yes I just channelled Sophia petrillo) a young and startling beautiful Black mother sits scouring the internet for news, when an overly high English fellow decides to share this:

Now that seems pretty harmless doesn’t it?  I could have forgiven this because no one is really themselves when they are hopped up on pain meds.  I tried to humour him but he insisted on sharing some more.

What the hell did I ever do to deserve this?  I have had some pretty ridiculous drunk dials in my life.  Gus AKA Allison McCarthy I am looking at you.  I would rather listen to a dentist drill than that terrible llama song.  Sparky almost seemed filled with glee at the pain he was causing, but since Canadians are known to be polite, I politely discouraged him, while secretly plotting how long it would take send an attack beaver over the pond to bring an end to this terror.  Even as I was busy calculating, Sparky still had more to offer.

Okay readers, now that I have shared my pain with you, I need a ruling.  How long is someone expected to tolerate the brain fart that emerges from a friend when they are either hopped up on pain meds or decide to drunk dial you in the middle of the night to tell you how much they adore you?  Even as I was saying good night and threatening to shame him today, he thought that everyone would be amused.  Can you believe that?  The llama song alone is enough to make me want to bang my head against a wall.

Okay weigh in y’all.  I am sure I shall once again emerge victorious and that Sparky shall be forced to hang his head in shame.  After you are done speaking your peace, don’t forget to share your most embarrassing inebriated moment -- or the most irritating drunk dial you have ever had.