Saturday, October 16, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone.  Thanks for another great week of conversation.  Things finally seem to be back on schedule and barring an unforeseen disaster, posting will be at a regular pace.  Thank you all for welcoming JuJube this week as our newest contributor.  Hopefully, next week I will be able to announce another new contributor joining the blog as well.  When Womanist Musings first started, it was just me typing out my observations with the occasional bit of snark thrown in for seasoning.  As the blog has grown and transformed, I became more committed to ensuring that it was a truly intersectional place. I want everyone who regularly reads, to see at least one post a week that deals with their issues.  This isn't always easy, because though I try to be aware and get my 101 on, I have a lot to learn.  Our contributors help to broaden the conversations that happen here and I am so thankful that we have become a little blogging family.

For those of you that would like contirbute more informally, Womanist Musings still has an open guest posting policy.  Just send in a link to your blog or your original work via e-mail to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please include a three line bio and an image that you would like associated with your work.

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

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Hurts African American Women The Most
The good wife
fashion fauxs
Indoors
No Apologies
Transgender People and Bullying
For coloured boys, who have often been silent on and off screen
The ‘two spirit’ of indigenous North Americans
Nine months after the quake, a million Haitians slowly dying
“commie”
Still here, still fat, still seeking acceptance
Kim Kardashian: Posing Black Femaleness?
The Mean Girls of Morehouse
On Modification
Intellect as Evasion
He’s Right, But It’s Not Okay
Dear Dieters; A Letter To People At Work
What Part of Human Being Don’t You Understand?
Why Are Black People So Forgiving?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hark! I Hear Whispers Of 'Hysteria' Again*

Jaded16 is a Radical Feminist from India. She writes a humour blog Oi With The Poodles Already’, attempting to make her world a little woman-friendly using healthy doses of irony and sarcasm to de-condition the Indian masses. It is at times like these when she loses all her sense of humour and starts looking for a rock big enough to live under.
 
 As it is required by the Handbook of LadyBusiness, I do have a mandatory LadyFriend who helps me pick out books and bags, nods in agreement after I'm done talking and sometimes talks; and even then only talks about me. Fine, I embellished a little. The truth is, often we agree so intensely on so many subjects, it seems like we're speaking a language only the two of us understand. It's an equally flattering and jarring experience to see yourself reflected in someone else, to such an extent. So a few weeks ago, I was down with what are commonly known as VulvaBlues, where once a month a monster looms over you and everything you say comes out lined with fire. In the middle of one such rant, I lost it and started crying, hysterically. She managed to calm me down after a while and we left it at that. Later that week, she confessed she had these fits of emotions too from raging fury to a suicidal calm, from feeling euphoric to wanting to be left alone, all in the span of a few hours. She thought she was the only one with these "mood swings". Over the next few days as I discussed the same topic of 'Female Hysteria' with my professors, friends and some ex-students of mine, one thing became clear. We're all 'hysterical'. Just like the time in Victorian England, a woman would be silenced and put in the attic -- Who can ever forget Bertha? -- under the notion of being 'hysterical', seems like we are also labelling ourselves 'abnormal'; for this 'fury', 'rage' and 'anger' that we feel can't be normal, can it? Especially when we know just where the problem lies. Or that was the assumption, anyway.

All these women I speak of are either feminist, Marxist, (closeted) atheists,  political activists or involved in some or the other form of an anti-establishment philosophy; in addition to occupying traditional patriarchal spaces of being wives, daughters, sisters, mothers and so many other categories that are too complicated to ever pin down. I don't mean to insinuate that somehow these women I speak of are 'different' -- and by extension inherently superior (Ick!) -- or that women who don't fit any of the above labels have never witnessed the same 'fury', but rather that I identify strongly with these women, I could discuss at length and even seek permission to personalise and localise this collective 'Cultural Hysteria' that we feel. As it turns out, despite being so politically active, most of us lead ruptured lives, where what we are in our Personal Skins is so radically different from what we perform to be in our Family or Public Skins, revealing the TrueSelf only in a few safe spaces, having the Public Performative Identity gulp down huge chunks of our Private Skin. And to say from this fracture between the Public and the Private comes the 'fury' and 'hysteria' would be to easily and anthropologically further fissure our fragmented lives. Also being 'culturally hysterical' myself, such simple unraveling is a tad hard to achieve People of The Olde Interwebes.

Satirical Racism in Colorado

A Colorado billboard is making national headlines for its “satirical” nature, showing the President as a terrorist, a mobster, illegal immigrant and a gay man.

The controversial billboard is displayed off the state's I-70 B highway and according to local news station KJC8, the owner of the billboard wants to remain anonymous.



The artist who designed it however, Paul Snover, had no problem speaking out and told the news station,
"To not put my name on it would be saying that I'm embarrassed or afraid, or ashamed of what I've done…and, I'm not."
Snover says it's supposed to be satirical and shows what many people believe are the President's four faces. (source)
If people actually believe that those are Obama's four faces, they are racist as well as homophobic. I think what continues to bother me is that there are various issues on which the president can and rightfully should be critiqued, but to descend to this level means that these people are not really interested in change, but in maintaining the hegemony of dominant bodies. The very fact that the owner of the billboard chose to remain anonymous, means that ze knows what ze is doing, is problematic on many levels.  It is absolutely cowardly to put such hate into the world and then not claim it. Snover, the artist, had a different reaction to his work because he is an  unabashed bigot. This billboard is not only a shameful marker of Snover's beliefs, but that of society.  There is no pressure on people like Snover to reconsider their actions or beliefs, because society condones the messages he sent out using his artwork.  Of course the Brooks Brothers bigots think as long as the avoid saying slurs, that they don't share the same prejudices as Snover et al., but in truth, thesse isms are systemic and this is why Snover had no fear revealing his identity. We don't discipline for bigotry, we support and promote it.

Sesame Street: I Love My Hair

Hair continues to be a contentious issue for Black women. From birth we are told that our hair symbolizes how ugly we are, because it is curly and vastly different from the hair of White women.  For far too many Black women, it takes a conscious effort to learn to love ourselves and our hair.

 When I came across the following video, of a dark skinned muppet singing about how much she loved her hair, the little girl in me celebrated.  It is no small thing to have a positive representation of Blackness for children to see. It was small step to empowering Black womanhood with the understanding that though we are different, we are beautiful nonetheless.

Whoopi and Joy Behar walk off stage while interviewing Bill O’Reilly

It either takes an irrational dolt or someone who has the patience of Job to share the same set with Bill O'Reilly.  Recently, the Fox anchorman paid a little visit to The View, where his rhetoric so enraged Joy and Whoopi, that they walked off stage leaving Barbara, Elizabeth and Sherri to deal with him.  Hate rhetoric is to be expected when O'Reilly is given a platform, judging from the lies he tells on his television show.  He is nothing but a right wing shock jock, who nightly plays on whatever isms that he can find to incite hatred against marginalized people.

Not only are his opinions offensive, he takes great pleasure in demeaning anyone who disagrees with him.  At one point in the discussion, he interrupted Joy and said, "listen to me, because you'll learn."  This is an interesting point by O'Reilly, because in one sentence he reified the idea that only White men of class privilege are knowledgeable to speak on an issue.  It is further complicated when we consider that due to patriarchy, women are often interrupted by men when they speak, because our voices are considered without value.  Patriarchy empowered Bill to believe that he had the right to appear on a show hosted by women and treat them as second class citizens, when he isn't even fit to make Barbara Walters a coffee. When patronizing does not effectively silence someone, O'Reilly then actively shouts down dissent.  There is no such thing as free speech in O'Reilly's world, unless you are parroting his ideas with a red face and passion ignited with undeserved privilege.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sick Day


Hello everyone.  Both the boys are home sick from school today with terrible colds.  I hardly had any sleep at all last night.  Even our wonderful new puppy Sookie, has diarrhea thanks to a change in her food.  My home has turned into an unofficial hospital and since I up to my elbows in fluids you don't even want to know about, I am going to take the day off.  Be good everyone. See you soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ridiculously Sexy Halloween Costumes

For many, Halloween is a contest to see how far they can push the envelope.  Unfortunately, this often means demeaning already marginalized groups.  I came across the following costumes over at HuffPO.  Honestly, I cannot understand the need to sexualize these costumes simply because they are supposedly designed for women.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles



Brian From Family Guy


Freddy Krueger


Sherlock Holmes


Pizza Delivery Person


CSI Agent



Sponge Bob


 Taxi Driver


Real Estate Agent


I am particularly disgusted with the costumes that represent actual jobs that women do.  Is there a reason for the "sexy real estate agent" and the "sexy taxi driver" and "CSI agent," other than to diminish the hard working women that do these job? Oh, I know that Halloween is supposed to be about fun, but often in our society fun is seen as oppressing others, which is exactly what these costumes promote.  I suppose you could argue that a woman will have to choose to wear these demeaning costumes, but I would counter with the fact that far too may women have internalized sexism to make that a reasonable justification.

Murder In the Name of God

Each day atrocities are committed supposedly in the name of God.  They are terrifying and rather than revealing a devotion to the divine, they show the darkness that is capable in the human spirit. 13 year old Noutene Sidime, died at the hands of her 71 year old father on Saturday night for failing to pray.


Her father, Moussa Sidime, had called 911 last Wednesday. Sidime was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, but the charges could be upgraded, police said. 

The father will remain behind bars until autopsy results are released, at which time the Crown will decide whether Sidime played a role in his daughter’s death. 

Neighbours said Noutene was a polite girl who was often unable to please her elderly father.
Others who live in the apartment building south of Montreal said the girl sometimes neglected to say daily prayers, which infuriated him.



“(He) was mean,” said Karine Girard, who lives on the street. “I’ve seen him grab her by the arm because she wouldn’t go up to say her prayers.” (source)
Time  and time again, women have become the victims of a patriarchal vision of what it means to be submissive to God and man.  In instances like this, we have a tendency to claim that it is the religion that is backward.  Religion is what we see as the site of evil, when in fact the true source of the violence is patriarchy, and a complete lack of concern for the lives of girls and women.  Though the family believes that her death was "an accident", if neighbors knew this man had physically restrained this girl in the past, then I find it hard to believe that her family did not know of her father's behaviour.  An entire community let this girl down because of a fear of getting involved and a belief in the right of others to practice religion.

Gay Adoption Is Now Legal In Florida But Adoption is Still Problematic

Thanks in large part to pseudo Christian Anita Bryant, the LGBT community was barred from adopting in the state of Florida.  
Florida won't be appealing a court ruling that found the state's ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians unconstitutional.


The Florida Department of Children and Families announced Tuesday evening that the state agency would not appeal the September decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeals. 

"We had weighed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to achieve an ultimate certainty and finality for all parties," said Joe Follick, the department's communications director. (source)
Let me start by saying that this is a decision that was long overdue.  Denying someone the right to participate equally in society because of their sexuality or gender identity is bigoted and counter to equality.

The following is the directive that DCF sent to department heads yesterday:
"Based on the ruling that the current law is unconstitutional, you are no longer to ask prospective adoptive parents whether they are heterosexual, gay or lesbian, nor are you to use this as a factor in determining the suitability of applicants to adopt. Focus your attention on the quality of parenting that prospective adoptive parents would provide, and their commitment to and love for our children"
I seriously debated writing this post, as regular readers know, discussing the problematic aspects of the adoption system is extremely important to me.  On one hand, I believe that it is extremely important to recognize that there should never be a right that a heterosexual cisgender person has, that someone who is a member of the BLGT community does not have, but on the other hand, because the adoption industry is rife with issues, it is a right that everyone needs to seriously think about before accessing.  Just because you want a child, does not mean that you have the right to have one.

The Futility of Suicide as a Response to Bullying

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and Inside JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

Recently, we have been hearing multiple stories in the media about gay students being bullied to the point of suicide.  So, now, of course, celebrities, psychologists, teachers, and parents are all jumping in to protest the sort of torment that these students went through due to their sexual orientation. People are donating money to anti-bullying causes and  they are pushing for legislation that penalizes bullies. Celebrities are making public service announcements standing up for the rights of  gay teens. And what is lost in all of this are two things: One, that bullying is by NO MEANS a new phenomenon, and it is only in this new internet savvy world that bullied teenagers who commit suicide  are receiving any attention, and two, that sexual orientation is by no means the sole reason students are bullied.

Where is everyone when a kid gets bullied for being fat? Usually urging the victim to meet with a nutritionist or go to Weight Watchers in order to fit in. Where are the “enlightened” members of the American populace when a child is tormented for speaking differently?  Maybe giving the child pamphlets for ESL classes or speech therapists.  When a  child is tortured for having a disability, what happens? No one listens, and when someone DOES (as in the case of James Jones’ daughter) they are arrested for standing up to the perpetrators.  And the parents of the child are usually advised to transfer their kid to a new school.

I remember being bullied all through my school years.  Every day from 2nd grade up through college.  Kids chanting songs calling me derogatory names. Boys calling me a slut because I was more  developed then other girls my age. Sexual harassment on the middle school bus. Kids pushing each other into me. Spitting at me. Throwing sodas out of car windows as I was walking down the street. I still feel the pain today, though I have been out of school for 15 years. I suspect that I developed Borderline personality disorder as a direct result of the torment I went through as a child.I remember cutting myself over and over again to attempt to relieve the psychological trauma caused by my bullies. I begged my parents to transfer me to a new school, believing that somehow, things would get better in a new environment. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times that I sat at home crying, contemplating killing myself to escape from my torment.

Introducing JuJube

Hello everyone.  I would like you all to welcome JuJube to the blog. She will be a regular contributor.  Her posts will appear every Wednesday.

JuJuBe (Joanna) is a radical progressive blogger living on Long Island. Her primary goal in life is to bring about revolutionary social change by encouraging the dismantling of the global system of white supremacy. A particular passion is the reform of the racist and corrupt criminal (in)justice and prison systems. She also participates in the fight for equality on other fronts, particularly in the areas of size discrimination and the stigmatization of mental health patients.

Reading is Joanna's first love, and writing comes in a close second. She blogs at My Name is JuJuBe and at The Intersection of Madness and Reality. You can contact Joanna at jujube.joanna@gmail.com

Please welcome her to the blog.  I also ask that you treat her with the same respect that you do myself and the other contributors.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spark of Wisdom: Coming Out Day In The U.K.

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.
 

Today is Coming Out day (in the UK anyway, for some reason it's a day different here than from many places).

Now, in general I don't have much truck with special days or months. If an issue is important it's always important not just for some days or weeks of the year. (Actually I can have a long long long debate about the use of such days/months for greater awareness for the invisible vs token gestures, but that's a different point). But they do give me inspiration now and then :)

So, on this day I'm going to ramble on about "Comfort" and Being Out.

See, the "comfort" of straight people has been raised a few times around me lately. See, I'm told that some straight people are UNCOMFORTABLE around gay people. And, bless their little cotton socks, they can't help it! It's because of the way they were raised/their generation/their religion/their star-sign/random commands from the mother ship. 

It's been used to justify complete erasure of any kind of GBLTQ characters in the media, in stories, even writer communities

I've seen it used to justify the idea of "straight only" spaces.

I've had it used repeatedly to justify why certain relatives treat me like shit stuck to their shoes.

And, above all, I've seen it used time and again to tell me and others to be "less gay." Or to outright closet ourselves so as not to upset their delicate sensibilities. Because, aren't we being unfair when they're "uncomfortable" and they can't help that?  

Relief for Haiti, The White Man Will Save Them

Haiti caught the world's attention when it was hit by a massive earthquake.  Celebrities spoke out and people were encouraged to text to donate to the relief effort.  Families were separated and many were unable to bury their dead.  Part of the reason that Haiti was so devastated by the earthquake, is a history of slavery and colonialism.  The average salary in Haiti is still less that 1USD per day.  As I predicted when the earthquake first happened, now that the initial sensationalistic media coverage has ended and the Anderson Coopers are safely behind their desks, the world have forgotten the Haitian people who are still trapped in their rubble.
The Associated Press reports only two percent of the rubble has been removed and only 13,000 temporary shelters have been constructed. Not a single cent of the US aid pledged for rebuilding has arrived in Haiti. In the last few days the US pledged it would put up 10% of the billion dollars in reconstruction aid promised. Only 15 percent of the aid pledged by countries and organizations around the world has reached the country so far.

There is no electricity at all in the camps. Some have lights on poles that work some of the time. Many have no lights at all.

There is no food. The children are terribly hungry. The food aid program was terminated in April and nothing took its place. The authorities cut off the food so people would leave the camps, but where is there to go?

Security is a huge problem. Less than a dozen of the thousand plus camps have official security at night. During the day the police may come around or maybe the heavily armed MINUSTAH UN forces will patrol. But at night security forces vanish. With little or no light at night, tens of thousands of unguarded sheet structures and canvas walls offer thieves and gangs an inviting target. Violence against women and girls is widespread. Women who go to the latrines at night are attacked. Some women talk of carrying rape babies. Others will do anything for the crudest abortion. When they go to the police and ask them to investigate, officers demand money for gas. Even those who pay the police usually end up frustrated. There is a sense of impunity.

There are an estimated 1,300 “camps” of homeless people in Haiti. Homeless people live literally everywhere. People are camped in the middle of many streets. Shanty structures are built right up to the edge of streets. Every park, every school yard, every parking lot appear to have people living under sheets or lean to tents.  (source)
Many people texted their latte money to Haitian relief and felt that they had really accomplished something.  The western world patted itself on the back about its charitable efforts, with no acknowledgment of how culpable we all were in the deaths of innocent people.  It was easy to believe that because an earthquake is a natural disaster, that the west has not been equally devastating to the tiny Caribbean nation.

The Purdue Exponent Makes Light of Rape

 Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault.

Conservatives have constantly railed against institutions of higher education with the false claim that they are overly liberal and brainwashing North America's youth.  Teaching students to think critically is seen as brainwashing, because if done successfully -- they will understand how power and hierarchy really work, thus disabling undeserved privilege over time.  Unfortunately, despite the due diligence of many liberal arts professors, time after time, we have seen that students fail to understand the discursive elements of our social world.  Last week, Eastern Michigan University's paper published what was clearly a racist cartoon and then failed to apologize for it.  This week, The Purdue Exponent, the Purdue University student newspaper published a cartoon in their "sex position of the week” series, that clearly reduces rape to a simple form of trickery.

What happens in this cartoon is clearly not sex, it's rape.  The element of consent is removed because the men switch without the woman's approval.  Consent is what separates sex from rape and it is something that is continually ignored, because of a desire by patriarchy to assert the right to female bodies. This cartoon further promotes our rape culture.  When cartoons like this appear in the mainstream, I find it difficult to understand how anyone could possibly argue that violence against women has not been normalized.  Of course, men's rights activists would look at an image like this and once again remind us that we should be focusing on men, though statistics have shown time and time again that the violence in our society is largely perpetrated by men against women.

Homophobic Pastor James David Manning Strikes Again

I first became aware of Manning during the 2008 and elections.  He had posted a video on youtube, in which he called Oprah a whore and Obama and his then longtime minister Jeremiah Wright  "homosexuals." He further suggested that Oprah was a lesbian and that Obama attended the Trinity Church for 20 years because he had an affair with the Reverend Wright. One of the great things about the digital age, is that it allows people to be connected in ways that were unimaginable a scant 20-30 years ago.  Unfortunately, it also means that people who really should be quiet, are given a larger audience than they otherwise would have had. 
According to Wikipedia:  
Pastor James Manning is chief pastor at the ATLAH World Missionary Church on 123rd Street in New York City. Manning grew up in Red Springs, North Carolina, born to an African American family, and has been at ATLAH since 1981. ATLAH stands for All The Land Anointed Holy, which is Manning's name for Harlem. His congregation, "ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church" is the former Bethelite Missionary Baptist Church. The church is also the site of the ATLAH Theological Seminary, which offers classes on preaching and prophecy.

Manning graduated from The College of New Rochelle with a Bachelor of Arts degree and continued on to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York where he was awarded a Master of Divinity. Manning also holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from his own ATLAH Theological Seminary, an unaccredited educational institution.

Gotta love how he granted himself a doctorate from his own seminary. I suppose that is one way to toot your own horn.  I would love to be able to ignore him for the insipid tool that he is, but because he is Black and claims to represent Christianity, I cannot afford to look away.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Killed or Be Killed

This week opens with a Lockwood tete a tete as Mason and Tyler discuss the werewolf curse.  Mason once again assures Tyler that he does not want to become a werewolf and that the only way to control himself once the moon shifts is to drug himself and tie himself up. The scene shifts and we are taken back a year.  Mason is leaving a bar when he is confronted by a friend.  The friend accuses Mason of cheating with his girlfriend and a fight quickly ensues.  Mason attempts to defend himself but in the process his friend ends up dead and we see Mason's eyes shift.  I suppose I should be happy that at least this time the dead body is not of colour. Mason once again uses this opportunity to press Tyler for the moonstone.

Back at Elena's home, Jeremy asks what they are going to do about Katherine.  Elena reminds him that she promised to tell him the truth but she does not want him involved because it is just to dangerous.  Jeremy shows her the ring and leaves the room.  Is it me, or is it simply ridiculous that Elena continually pulls the paternalistic attitude with Jeremy when she is at most 1-2 years older?  Stefan pops by for a visit and the two plan their next staged fight. 

The sheriff tells Caroline that she plans to help out with the community event that day.  Caroline is clearly not impressed and asks if she is going to play mommy for the day. At the event Stefan approaches Mason and asks for a truce between them.  Mason reminds him that he didn't start anything and is reluctant to agree until Stefan reminds him that there are two of them and only one of him.  He shakes hands with Stefan and promptly tells the sheriff that Stefan and Damon are vampires.  She does not believe him at first and Mason offers to prove it.

Stefan and Elena stage yet another mock fight in Catherine and Damon's earshot.  These two are so obvious.  I have to say that when Nina Dobrev is playing the part of Elena her acting is at its worst. She comes across as a petulant child but then, perhaps the issue is that I simply don't like the character or find much redeeming about her.  Elena goes off with Caroline and Damon and Stefan talk.

Finish reading here.

Editors Note: Tonight at 6pm EST Tami and I will be doing a breakdown of this week's episode.  Please try and join us live For those that miss the show, I will post the podcast on the blog, early tomorrow morning. 

Another Lesson in Privilege for Me


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.
 
It's happened again. Someone does something stupid, and my immediate thought is, “Oh, great. Now they're going to think we're all like that!”

In this case, “they” is the group in power with the power to judge - non-trans people.

And “we” is trans people - the group to be judged as fit or unfit, okay or not okay, acceptable or not acceptable - by “them.”

The most recent incident that brought on this thought was a news item about a woman who returned to her room at a Hyatt Hotel in Illinois and found a male Hyatt employee inside, dressed in her underwear, skirt, and high heels.  She filed suit, of course, and she absolutely should receive some compensation for this extreme invasion of her privacy.

My problem is not with the woman or the lawsuit - my problem is with my own thoughts. But that's okay - it's just another lesson in privilege for me.

I have no idea who this individual is who entered this woman's room and put on her clothes. I don't know anything about him or why he did what he did. But yet my first thought was that his actions were going to reflect poorly on my community.

My reaction isn't baseless. Many non-trans people know nothing about us, and when they read something like this, it's too easy for some of them to make a sweeping generalization about anyone they've ever heard of who has put on a piece of clothing designated for the “opposite” sex.

Conquistadora The Explorer

When my boys discovered Dora, I quickly became their second girl.  It was nothing for them to ask me to hush while her show was on.  Dora is unique in that she is a Latina character cartoon.  She is much beloved though is still a highly problematic character as Lois Leveen points out, in an article for Bitch magazine
Short, broad, brown-skinned, and Spanish-speaking, Dora is phenotypically and culturally a mestiza (racially mixed) revision of the Spanish conquistadors who invaded and pillaged the Americas. Her name—a shortened form of exploradora—and her cartographic skills tie her to the era of exploration when indigenous people and their multiracial offspring were subject to foreign rule. But Dora isn’t pillaging, she’s only returning toys to their rightful owners. And if she captures a few estrellas along the way, at least they seem happy to aid with her adventure—happier, presumably, than the natives captured by the conquistadors were. 


Because Dora’s gender and age never deter her from taking on a challenge, she might seem a far better role model than my generation’s Barbie. Not so, according to Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of Arizona. In an essay titled “Dora the Explorer, Constructing ‘Latinidades’ and the Politics of Global Citizenship,” she argues that the kids’ show creates a monolithic Latino/a identity that appeals to the dominant culture (particularly white parents). Because Dora is not identified as specifically Mexican or Salvadoran, Puerto Rican or Peruvian, she exists outside of historical and political realities—including the debates about undocumented immigrants that have demonized Latino people in the United States. Not only is Dora unthreatening to Anglo audiences because she is a child, her cinnamon complexion and straight hair reflect European ancestry rather than indigenous and African roots. Throughout her adventures, Dora enjoys an unusual geographic mobility, crossing landscapes but never distinct borders, always returning home rather than staying somewhere new. Her animated domain is devoid of references to social class, labor, or a currency-based economy. 

 This idea is further explored in the following video.

This Is Your Brain On White Able Bodied LGBT Privilege

Last week, I wrote a post centering in on the idea that bullying campaigns need to widen their focus, rather than specifically targeting anti-gay bullying.  I was inspired by the story of a young Black disabled girl who was being taunted and physically attacked on the school bus.  In an article on this story, I learned that 85% of disabled kids were being bullied on a daily or weekly basis.  Clearly, this figure is far too high and demands immediate attention.  I had commenters via e-mail, as well as the blog, claim that my call for a more general focus on bullying smacked of the same campaign currently being run by Focus on the Family.  Once again, advocating for an intersectional approach is seen as unsupportive and anti-gay for many.

The following is the comment that inspired this post:
When black and disabled kids are told they're going to hell, we'll focus on them.
When they're told they're going to grow up to be paedophiles, we'll focus them.
When they're told they're disgusting aberrations, we'll focus on them.
When they're kicked out of their home for being disabled or of colour, we'll focus on them.
When national organisations fund campaigns to SPECIFICALLY deny them rights, we'll focus on them.
When disabled and black kids get to turn on the tv or radio, or go online, and EVERY SINGLE DAY they get to hear from mainstream sources how their people are destroying morality, how they're evil and sick, how they're perverted deviants who should be wiped out, how they should be denied funding and treatment to correct how their identity matches their body - then we'll focus on them.

The TAB mother isn't going to set her kid WD on fire.

The black father isn't going to kill his black/mixed kid because of his skin tone.

The gay kids and trans kids growing up with straight, cis parents/teachers/peers have no support, no help, no escape. Gay and trans kids can be black, and disabled, and while they may have support WRT racial abuse or TAB-bullying, they're out in the cold as far as their sexuality/gender identity is concerned.


Check your fucking privilege because YOU are turning this into the Oppression Olympics. You've had your turn, give us ours.


You get to join in when there are official TV campaigns aimed at raising money toward wiping you out, taking away your rights to marry and have children, or to identify how you want. 
The "our turn" argument is often cited to support the exclusion of others.  There can be no denial that anti-gay bullying is horrific and needs to stop, but in no way does it rise above any other sort of bullying; it just happens to be the cause celebre at the moment.  Privileging anti-gay bullying, is like saying every other oppression is less harmful or does not have dangerous side effects.  The person who wrote this is clearly neither Black or disabled, so how exactly would they know what it is to live with either identity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Shame: Pizza Edition

I know that Sparky expected a break because of his birthday, but I am just not that nice. We randomly go through a random assortment of topics each time we chat.  Despite the fact that I have told him by virtue of my awesome Cannuckness, that I am always right and he is always wrong, he still stubbornly retains an independent streak.

Once again, this week we engaged about the topic of:


That looks just perfect doesn't it.  There is nothing like a Hawaiian pizza with extra pineapple. Sweet and savory just work on many levels.  According to Mr (and I use that term loosely) Sparky, pineapple does not belong on pizza.  Normally when it comes to food, with the exception of everyone's favorite Gus, Allison McCarthy, I will say chacun son gout however, I don't believe that a man who eats pizza with a knife and fork, yes a knife and fork, has the sensibilities to discern what a good pizza is.  I know that this is some sort of British eccentricity, but it certainly is an assault to the pizza Gods.

There is an entire system to the appreciation of pizza.  First, one must nearly burn ones hands picking up a slice from a steaming hot tray.  Then one must take a bite, of course burning ones mouth, followed by the ever important pizza pant that involves quickly sucking in air, in the hopes of cooling the scalding morsel in ones mouth.  This is followed by the obligatory sip of whatever beverage that has been painstakingly chosen and the process is once more repeated.  Nowhere in the guidelines does it call for a knife and a fork or the exclusion of pineapple. 

Sparky seems to believe that there is dignity in skipping the whole process and perhaps his stiff upper lip leads him to believe that he has standing here, but the sun has long since set on the British Empire.  No amount of tut tut or cheerio is going to make pulling out a knife and a fork to eat pizza look anything but supremely uncool.  We Cannucks know how to handle our food, because we must battle with the wild moose for its procurement.  The pineapple further brings a hint of the tropics to our frozen tundra.

I have done my due diligence to try to expose him to wonderful ideas like garage parties, crocs and the ever important Hawaiian pizza.  In the name of international relations, I have withheld chortling every time he tries to resist the truth, but I cannot take his denial any more. So I ask you dear readers, to confirm once and for all, that to truly be appreciated, pizza must be eaten by hand and that the pineapple has as much right to be considered a topping, as pepperoni.  What say you all?  While you are at it, don't forget to share your favorite pizza combination, unless it involves anchovies.