Saturday, November 6, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

 Hello everyone, thanks for a great week of conversation.  At Womanist Musings, we try not to shy away from the conversations that most people are afraid to have.  It is my hope that at least once a week a regular reader will see at least one post that reflects their life.  To me, this is the meaning of intersectionality and though it is not always accomplished, please know that it is my goal.  If you would like to aid in widening the conversations that happen here, please feel free to send a link to your blog or your original work.  Please include a three line bio an image representative of you to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com.  The more people speaking out, the more we can tackle the inequities that we have come to normalize.

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.
Kathy Griffin in a headdress
Why Feminists Should Watch Boardwalk Empire
Cash-Transfer Programs Show Remarkable Success In Fight Against Global Poverty 
At Risk Children
Maldives Wedding insult and tourism
Uganda: Women in Danger
'They know how to break all the girls like you'
U.S. Airways tells passenger he's to disabled to fly
Reclaiming Body Acceptance: A Disability Perspective
Members of aboriginal community voice concerns over pornographic website

Friday, November 5, 2010

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

Quite often in the comment section of this blog people suggest that I am simply whining when I write about specific issues.  I am continually asked what I am going to do about a specific issue, even though I have just raised awareness by writing the piece that I did.  This week I would like to know what role you believe blogs play in activism.  I am also very curious to know whether or not you believe given the restraints and trying nature of activist work, whether a person solely blogging is enough to qualify them for the label of activist and if not why?

Angelina Jolie Turns Rape Into A Love Story

Trigger warning for discussions of sexual violence. 

During the Bosnian War, rape was used as a weapon to terrorize and demoralize.  It was an attack aimed specifically at women.  In most cases women were subject to multiple rapes by various men. The following is just a small sample of a U.N. Report regarding the mass rapes.
Brcko was reportedly invaded by Serbian forces in April and May 1992. A camp was set up in a port facility on the Sava river, near the Ina-Luka gas station. The camp housed Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim males and females, there was no effort made to separate the sexes. People were reportedly collected from the surrounding areas, segregated according to ethnic and religious affiliation, and then deported to Luka camp. One hundred to 150 Serbs from Belgrade reportedly worked in shifts of 50 inside the camp. They wore green camouflage and green berets with two eagles on them. These were the only Serbs allowed in the camp. They reportedly carried out interrogations, torture, rape and killings in small offices inside the two warehouses. At the corner of one warehouse was a room called the «rape room» which measured about 2.5 by 3 metres. This room was reportedly where women were taken and raped. Prisoners were taken in and out of the camp every day, and civilian officials visited for a few hours every day. 
The victim selection was reportedly well organized at Luka camp. Several reports suggest that young Serbian woman was responsible for its administration. Reportedly, she brought a nurse to Luka to «prepare the girls and make them calm». According to the nurse's report, she watched as the Serbian administratrix stabbed a girl in the breast and vagina with a broken bottle for resisting instructions. The girl subsequently bled to death. Instructions to the young victims included submitting to sexual exploitation. The process commenced with the camp commander selecting a girl whom he reportedly took to a private location, and then in groups of three or four, the camp guards selected and shared one girl between them. 

The techniques of mistreatment, while similar to those reported in other sections, also included incidents of gang raping. It was also alleged, that on a daily basis, young girls were picked and taken to a canteen where they were raped.  Sometimes the girls would disappear.  One report states that Serbs at Luka castrated 15 young men. One perpetrator confessed that in one day he was allegedly forced to rape 12 women.  According to two reports, Bosnian Serb paramilitaries alleged that they were forced to rape women and kill men to prove their loyalty to the Serbian state.

Additional sources report the existence of a «Rape/Death» camp in Brezovo Polje,  also noted for its organized rape activity. Several sources testified to the sexual violence and humiliation suffered by women, usually Muslims, at this site. Brezovo Polje is also the site where Serb soldiers allegedly rounded up Muslim women and girls and transported them to the Osnovo furniture warehouse in Caparde, Zvornik County. The girls were allegedly raped repeatedly there.

Two sources report on the atrocities allegedly committed at the «Laser Company» restaurant in Brcko.  Several other facilities were reported as sites of mass rape and sexual abuse, including: Hotel Elvis, Hotel Galeb, Restaurant Vestfalija,  Hotel Galija,  Interpler factory, camp at Borovo Polje, camp at Loncari,  bordellos,  Serbian lines, and the Serbian military hospital. Another report suggests that there were about 3,000 ex- detainees in the free territory of Brcko, 1,000 of whom were women. The reporter noted that approximately 500 of these women have been victims of rape.  In addition, a number of girls between ages 15 and 17 were allegedly held by Serb soldiers in three other locations for sexual purposes. They include a coffee house called Westphalia near Stolina, a coffee house near Skijana, and a private house in Grcica. Grcica is in the city of Brcko, while the other two locations are in the suburbs, in the direction of Bijeljina. 

       Most of the reported incidents occurred between April and July 1992.

The Business Of Selling Voices.

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 this is the week of Diwali, most of the Ladies of my house are busy preparing various sorts of obligatory 'Diwali specialties' while the MenPeople take a break from work, colonise various electronic ports of the house -- from the Computer to the TV, in an extremely vapid version of the Matrix -- and more or less just laze around. In traditional feminine spaces of the house (the kitchen, the veranda, the room with the temple) you'll see a lot of bustling activity, hear voices teasing, laughing, sometimes sharp clipped tones when instructions go wrong; the air goes stale here, turns inwards on itself, the cracks speak volumes and there is a constant negotiation of silences. Ironically, such quasi-unregulated 'women's spaces' often leave me claustrophobic --  especially when I'm supposed to don the Dutiful Indian Daughter's Shoes or otherwise -- as these spaces often remind me of Gertrude Stein's famous words describing a box, "Left open, to be left pounded, to be left closed, to be circulating in summer and winter, and sick colour that is grey that is not dusty and red shows an empty length sooner than a choice in colour. Hope, what is a spectacle, a spectacle is the resemblance between the circular side place and nothing else, nothing else"; where femininity is at display in such an obtuse manner that femininity and the Body Feminine becomes a monolithic garment that is supposed to cover us all; that I imagine it leaves a few bodies bare on purpose. Such bodies are always marked, for being different; if you squint really hard you can spot them at a distance too, flitting from one room to another, searching for a place to be.

Unable to stand the noise and the commotion in my room, I left to go to a book sale across town hoping to lift my mood a bit. And sure enough, at the end of the store, the shelf marked as 'Feminism' did make me smile for a while till I processed what it held. Either there were Western feminist texts like The Second Sex or The Feminine Mystique or multiple copies of memoirs of women from Gulf nations, talking about the violence and repression they face there. Maybe I am too cynical, but since when did memoirs penned by White women, based on the life of women from Saudi Arabia constitute as feminist texts? Surely, the voice of anyone anywhere is worth listening to irrespective of gender, class, sexual orientation, colour, caste, ethnicity and so on. But in the transcribing of voices, how much is lost, how much is censored, how much is directed to fit the convenient slot of the Powerless Third World Woman, the Eternal Victim are invisible questions the back of 4th edition paperback doesn't divulge. The way this LadyBrain sees it, writing for the Coloured or Marked Body has become a business, a fetish of sorts to be sold to White as well as hued audiences, as both are reassured that their positions are left unchallenged. I've seen a lot of women reading Jean Sasson's books, many have recommended them to me and I have read each one of them (it's an incurable disease People Of The Olde Interwebes), they are a sort of 'go-to' book sources the moment anyone professes any interest in gender or culture theory. It's rather unfortunate that each book is a memoir about women who undergo the terrifyingly real -- and sometimes even hyper-real -- routine of rape, torture, patriarchal stronghold on minds and bodies, while none of these women write the books themselves. As glad I am that someone is reading or listening to these voices, so much is co-opted in the process that I'm left with a bitter taste of the DoucheColonial Gaze on my skin, that is omnipresent in the text. Also, these books are an excuse for several right-winged groups to say, "Look how those Muslim buggers treat women! At least we don't stone you¹". It's fascinating -- where fascinating is the new grotesque -- to see how 'comfortable' we are reading and even consuming these voices, as long they are far away from our society.  Which is why an anthology like Poisoned Bread made a few too many people angry and eventually defensive (because which god-fearing, self-respecting Hindu would want to be reminded of all the sins zie has committed for centuries on Dalits?) but books like Princess and Daughters of Mayada are fetishised.

Homophobia as a form of Gender Discipline

In C.J. Pascoe's research with teenage boys she concluded that the word [email protected] does not relate to sexuality, but rather it is used as a form of discipline to encourage peers to perform masculinity in a very specific matter.  She explores this idea in her book, Dude, You're a Fag Masculinity and Sexuality in High School.

High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality.
What follows is a video with her discussing her conclusions.  I have specifically reserved comment on this idea because I have neither the experience or the requisite knowledge to proffer an opinion.  I have decided to post this in order to learn from the thoughts of others, if you are willing to share.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Southern Rap Takes A New Low With Wheelchair Shawty

In the interest of transparency I am going to admit that I really don't listen to a lot of rap.  I am more of classic rock girl but when I came across DMoney and Smoove's “Wheelchair Shawty” I was instantly reminded why I left this genre behind.  These able bodied men thought it would be fun to make a video mocking people who use wheelchairs.  As someone who has seen a wheelchair dancer I know that the medium can actually be quite beautiful but when reduced in the manner it turns the art into something downright ridiculous.

There is not a single wheelchair user in the video.  What we see is a group able bodied people pretending to be disabled and laughing.“Do the dance so good you would think I’m special and I look kinda handicap!” He is sure to let us know however, that this is just pretend.  Disability is not a game.  Each day we must negotiate a world that is not designed for us, while telling us to rise above, but of course that isn't fun enough for a nifty little song.  Despite the laws that are meant to  create equal opportunity it can all be done by a single person.

A wheelchair is much more than a disability device.  For those that use one, they represent freedom - they are legs.  They are not a toy and should not be treated as such.  My wheelchair has on many occasions made the difference between being trapped in my home and experiencing the world and I find this song to be hateful. Honestly, I don't know where the fuck these two get off deciding that it is cool to make a mockery of a disabled identity.

Who Speaks for Muslims?

WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns several abayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.

Last week ABC's 20/20 aired a special on: Islam, Questions and Answers -- intended to demystify this peaceful, yet seemingly frenetic religion, by answering the questions of "ordinary" Americans.

There were the usual dramatic voice overs; interviews with anti-American Arabs; heart-string tugging, sweetly smiling children teaching America the basics of Islam; the all-American Arab-Muslim football player who forgets to pray; sympathetic non-Muslim scholars; and peaceful scenes of your everyday Muslim living and working in hometown USA. All interspersed with scenes of foreign Muslims burning American flags, stoning women, scary women in black burqas and the destruction of the Twin Towers. They even interviewed burqa banning French officials, one niqaab wearing American convert and progressive Muslim activists Irshad Manji and (former Muslim) Ayyan Hirsi Ali.

The online responses to the show range from anti-Islam activists saying that Diane Sawyer and co. got Islam wrong by relying on the moderate voices and ignoring the freethinking apostates, to pro-Muslims saying that Diane Sawyer and co. got Islam wrong by relying too much on the progressive voice and ignoring the moderate religious scholars.

While the voices of "mainstream" Islam (whatever that is) were represented mainly through non-Muslim scholars, Muslim community activists like Edina Lecovic and Eboo Patel, there was indeed an overbearing representation of progressive female Muslims speaking on behalf of all women in Islam.  Another problem with the report was that African American Muslims, the largest group of Muslims in America were completely ignored. As were Latino Muslims and converts. Arab Americans were specifically showcased, and compared to overseas, anti-Western Arabs (conflated with Afghani fighters of course -- ignoring in the meantime South Asian, Indonesian, and African Muslims), to set up the problematic, essentialist categories of: American Islam = good; foreign Islam = bad.

I actually enjoyed the show.  It was sensational but it wasn't bad.  However, the dichotomy that Diane Sawyer sets up between "moderate" and "extremist" Islam and the reaction to the show from both sides of the spectrum left me wondering who the Media thinks speaks for Islam. Is it the Conservative scholar? The ex-Muslim critic? The Progressive? The Reformist? The atheist Muslim? The Sufi lover?

When it came to the question on women, paraphrased, "in a religious culture ruled by men, where women are only property, what does Islam really say about women?"  The answer from the progressive representatives acknowledged that women get the short end of the stick in a religion that has yet to deal with misogynistic traditions.  And this is what bothered some Muslims about the show. That instead of concentrating on Ayyan Hirsi Ali who calls for a radical revision of the Qur'an itself, 20/20 should have showcased a "typical" moderate religious woman like Amina Wadud or Ingrid Mattson, who would have focused more on the "Qur'an does support women's rights and no update is necessary because it's all in the interpretation" approach.

The problem I discovered after a lively FB discussion*, is that while valid, Amina Wadud is not "typical."  She's just representative of one voice. One perspective. Sure, her particular, empowered-feminist, liberal perspective tends to resonate with me -- but her perspective shouldn't be used to the exclusion of others.  Irshad Manji and Ayyan Hirsi Ali also have valid perspectives.  And while I wouldn't necessarily only use them to represent Muslim women, featuring them was not a disservice to Muslim women or Islam in America. In fact, Irshad Manji was pretty much on the "let's reclaim Islam from the patriarchal bastards" bandwagon and didn't have anything negative to say about Islam.

There are problems in choosing only one perspective to represent an entire religion. It's one reason why Islamophobia and extremism are so easily spread -- all you have to do is find the right person willing to say that Islam calls for the murder of all non-Muslims, and run with it. Without context and without other opinions on the subject, that one tiny, negative perspective has the potential to influence hundreds in innumerable ways.

"Glee" Gets Naughty for GQ

The first time I watched Glee, was last month for the horrific Rocky Horror Picture Show episode.  Though the idea of a show focused on nerds appeals to me, as I have a tendency to root for the underdog, in all honesty the whole thing just felt far too camp for my taste. Horror of horrors I know -- someone who is not head over heels in love with Glee.  At any rate, the stars of Glee recently posed for GQ.  I find it extremely interesting that a show that supposedly challenges norms by centering those that are socially awkward and some case absolutely "othered" would so quickly return to well played upon tropes.  I am going to put the images below the fold because they are not safe for work.

Monstrous Musings: Where have all the monster movies gone?

This is a guest post from Natalie Wilson

I am a literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. I am currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective. My interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to my childhood fascination with all types of monsters.

I am a big fan of monster movies –  those flicks where hapless humans battle against (or are terrorized by) beasties.

Weaned on the likes of Godzilla and King Kong as a kid, I soon graduated on to Jaws, Aliens, and The Thing. I ate up movies about human monsters such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the Thirteenth and loved to fear the haunted house focus of Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and The Shining. Then, my teen years happily coincided with a sort of vampire film renaissance – The Hunger, Near Dark, Fright Night, The Lost Boys. In more recent times, I loved Shaun of the Dead and got good horror fixes from 28 Days, The Descent, and Jennifer’s Body.

Alas, this Halloween season there was nothing that drew me to the theater let alone the recent DVD rental release outlet (I would have seen Paranormal 2 but I am still recovering from the first installation).

As my children enter into prime horror film age (and as I myself yearn for horror films of old), I am wondering where all the good monster movies have gone. I am not a fan of horror porn like The Hostel. I don’t want pure gore and am weary of shoddy remakes. I want the thrill of new fears, of unexplainable creatures, of the creepy sensation that the house just may be haunted or that the dark hides menacing creatures. The kind of kind of monster movies I crave don’t rely on excessive gore nor on the gratuitous slaughtering of women; they are not sloppy attempts to line more pockets. Instead, they have new and original scares, good effects, maybe some political commentary, and definitely several moments that make me jump or scream.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

KKK Costume Wins First Prize in Royal Canadian Legion Halloween Costume Contest

Every year people use Halloween to put their inner racist on public display.  In multicultural Canada, this is something we perceive as happening south of the border.  In Canada, covert racism is the order of the day, unless of course it's not and we choose to rekindle the overt racism Canadians used to claiming is solely an American characteristic.
A formal apology issued by the local Canadian Legion chapter's president over a racist Halloween costume isn't good enough for one resident.

Mark Andrade says he will never again set foot in the Legion hall after a man in Ku Klux Klan robe and hood holding a noose around the neck of another man in black face during a costume contest.

"You know when you look at something and you can't believe what you see? That was my reaction."

Andrade, who is black and owns Rubbs Barbecue Bistro just down the street from the Legion in the eastern Ontario town, said he left right away.

But soon after, people who came to his restaurant from the Legion on Saturday and told him the pair had won first prize in the costume competition, he said.(source)
Not to worry everyone, the Legion apologized.   This "costume"  mimicked a lynching and still yet won first prize. This tells me that the judges either didn't recognize it as racist, or they simply didn't care about what the costume symbolized.  I believe the latter to be more likely than the former.  The truth is that racist displays like the one that happened in this contest, support White supremacy and whether or not individual White people acknowledge it, they gain personally from the perpetuation of racism.

Heaven and Hell, Organized Religion and Personal Evolution

 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 I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

I was raised in the Catholic Church. From birth to age 16, I attended church every Sunday with one or both of my parents. When I was 12 or 13, I sang and played trumpet in the church choir. I received all of he "sacraments". I remember tears in my eyes during my confirmation in 8th grade, because I was awed by the seriousness of  the ceremony. I remember praying that God would not punish me in elementary school when I scribbled in my religious instruction book. For MONTHS, I was CONVINCED I was going to go to Hell for defacing "sacred" materials.

I have read so many books about the afterlife, and frankly, I do not know what to believe. I have heard that there is no "Heaven" or "Hell", that there are simply higher and lower planes of existence. I kind of like that idea, because I know I have done some things in my life that others say will land me in the fiery pit, and that is somewhere I DO NOT want to be!

I am kind of grateful to my Catholic upbringing for one thing though. All of the times I have  thought that I should just end it all, I have stopped because of my fear of burning in Hell. I was taught growing up that suicide was the one sin that was unforgivable, because you could not confess your transgression and receive a "pardon".

"African" Inspired Clothing

Africa the monolith is a western construction.  There are 54 countries in Africa and according Wikipedia, there are an estimated 2000 languages spoken on the continent. These little acknowledged facts fail to stop designers from creating so-called African inspired clothing.  Celebrities have embraced these new fashions on the red carpet making it seem as though this is just another fashion trend, when in fact it is laced with colonialism, "othering," appropriation, and racism.   This is further problematized when you have White stars like Gwen Stefani going African.

Gwen is not cute in this dress, rather she symbolizes the damage that Whiteness has done on the African continent since it first set foot on it.  The appropriation of culture symbolizes the desire of Whiteness to control and dominate that which belongs to people of colour.  Appropriation is often seen as no big deal, even though POC have routinely said that this is disrespectful and hurtful.  Whiteness does not have a right to our various cultures.  There is a large difference between someone of the African diaspora wearing supposedly African inspired clothing and a White woman.  For us it symbolizes a lost connection that we can not ever mend but for Whiteness it just another example that they can take without considering how it impacts others.  

George Takei Takes on School Board Homphobe Clint McCance

Some people simply get better with age and George Takei is one of them. He is high on my favourite person list and his response to former Arkansas school board member Clint McCance, was absolutely classic.  McCance recently made headlines when in response to Spirit Day, (a day created to bring attention to the deaths of gay teens) he wrote on his Facebook page:
“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide,” McCance wrote. “The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”
In responding to a commenter who wrote, “Because hatred is always right,” McCance wrote: “No because being a fag doesn't give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it.” (source) 
McCance has since resigned stating:
“I'm sorry I've hurt people with my comments,” he said. “I'm sorry I made those ignorant comments and hurt people on a broad spectrum.” (source)
He apologized, but that in no way erases the harm that he did with his homophobic commentary.   Not only was what he said absolutely hateful, he was in a position of trust because he worked with children.  This is exactly how privilege and isms get transferred from one generation to the next.  No child is born believing that homophobia is correct, we actively teach them this on a daily basis.

Much can be said about exactly how wrong McCance was, but I believe that Takei said it the best.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

White People, Whiteness and Senseless Repetition

In the last two weeks, two posts have appeared on Whiteness and the pearl clutching was immediate and intense. Honestly, I am tired of these reactions.  It's not like we just started writing about Whiteness as a phenomenon, but it seems that each time myself or one of the contributors writes about it, the furor that it creates is so ridiculous that I end up writing a post much like I am writing now. White people refers to the individual, whereas; Whiteness refers to the systemic power that is attached to the individual irregardless of their political beliefs because of racism, colonialism and slavery.  In short, no matter how anti-racist a White person may or may not be, they cannot rid themselves of the scourge of Whiteness.

It is the absolute ugliness of Whiteness and a desire to hold onto undeserved privilege that makes the acknowledgment of its existence so difficult for many.  There is a tendency to speak as though POC and Whiteness are on an equal footing, which completely erases the power of Whiteness.  This manifests in whining that POC engage in racism against Whiteness when we speak truth to power, or re-centering the conversation on Whiteness when POC speak about their lived experiences.  In everyday actions like failing to engage with POC or approving of media which affirms White supremacy, White people gain from the so-called invisible actions of Whiteness.

Nothing in the aforementioned paragraph is new.  Not only have I said the same thing in various ways, so have many other anti-racists.  The very fact that I had to take time out of my day and write this piece is proof of the power of Whiteness working upon this blog and myself as an individual.  The power of Whiteness means that POC are constantly defending against it or constantly being forced to explain ourselves.

Spark of Wisdom: In Defense of Going for the Throat

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. 
Now, I've been running across our old enemy, the tone argument, again and I want to take yet another run at it, not least in part because I have so many relatives now trying to contact me to tell me how rude I was to a certain homophobic uncle that they're now tag-teaming.

Now for those who are unaware, the tone argument goes something like this:

Privileged person: *dumps prejudice, bigotry and general badness all over marginalised person, sporking their eyes*

Marginalised person: damn it, you're sporking my eyes, cut that shit out and educate yourself, I don't need it

Privileged person: Oh my god you're SOOOO MEAAAAAN, how can you be so cruuuuuel, pass me the smelling salts I feel faint! *collapses onto the fainting couch* Oh my poor fee-fees.

Privileged people: There there. Marginalised person, couldn't you have been more polite and gentle? Did you have to be so meaaaan?

And lo, this is the tone argument. The idea that a privileged person can stomp on all kinds of sore spots and triggers while throwing sporks around willy-nilly, but the marginalised people must be on their bestest bestest behaviour (despite being angry, hurt, offended and sporked) when calling them out - if they're allowed to call them out at all.

Apple "Tranny" App Is an Epic Fail

When social justice people use the word privilege, we are often accused of exaggerating the amount of oppression faced by marginalized people.  We have normalized to a great degree a hierarchy of bodies, which daily must be reified by ensuring that those that we have chosen to "other" are aware of their secondary status.  

Apple, which is notorious for having high standards for their applications, recently released “PeekaBoo Tranny” for the ipod. 

According to Bill Browning of the Bilerico:
This one made it through the process but a dictionary was blocked temporarily for including definitions for curse words and they still mark most LGBT apps as "contain age-restricted material" that requires you to put in your password to "prove" you're over the age of 17. What's next now that Apple's standards department is okay with stereotypes and slurs?
This app inserts a tranny into a photo.  One need not worry about boredom, because it is possible to purchase multiple trannys.  Now that's inclusivity isn't it? PeekaBoo Tranny even has a twitter page. 

Shortly after Browning’s article and an official complaint by GLAAD, Apple decided to remove the highly problematic application. There was no formal apology for the application.  Tranny is a pejorative and its only purpose is to dehumanize trans people. Though there is some debate in the trans community about reclaiming this word, a discussion of this nature is only possible because it is reasonably understood that tranny is perceived as a marker of outgroup status, much like the N word.

Gender in this case was used as a weapon and this app specifically implied that trans people are falsifying who they are thus making it appropriate to mock them for the sake of entertainment. The genesis of this idea is cissupremacy.  Lisa Harney, defines cissexism as “the assumption that your sex, your gender are superior and more valid than trans people’s sex and gender.” Inserting a cisgender woman into the average picture would not give rise to amusement or give cause for derision because cis bodies are not only normalized, they are expected and respected. Gender is only considered comical when it involves trans people because their identities are not considered real rather trans identities are seen as an artificial and self constructed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Masquerade

Katherine decides to meet the Salvatore brothers at a masquerade ball to attempt to retrieve the moonstone.  For this she enlists the aid of another witch.  How many of you were surprised to discover that once again the witch in question was a WOC?  Is there such a thing as a White woman that is a witch in Vampire Diaries land or does the magic woo woo simply belong to WOC?  Rather than finding this empowering, I find it to be highly racist, but then the show itself seems to literally be one Whiteness celebration after another - hello founders celebrations everyone.

Alaric is tasked with keeping Elena occupied, after he hands over some fancy weaponry to The Salvatores, Jeremy, Bonnie and Caroline.  This is not the dream team.  Stefan and Katherine dance and verbally spar to Mad World at the ball. I have to say, the version of the song played during the episode was really kind of haunting, though I could have done without watching Katherine kill a woman to prove that she meant business to Stefan at the end.

Jermey does his best to stay relevant by approaching Katherine to tell her that the Salvatore brothers are waiting for her.  When she asks why he got selected to deliver the message, he tells her that he is not afraid of her.  I get that Jeremy has the fancy ring which stops him from dying, but it does not make him invulnerable. It was ridiculous to watch this kid tell a vampire that is potentially hundreds of years old that he is not afraid.  To me, that sounded like a bit suicidal. But I digress.  Katherine then approaches Caroline and demands to know where the moonstone is and what the brothers are planning.  Caroline extricates herself from the situation by lying skillfully.

Elena discovers that Jeremy has left for Tyler's faux charity Masquerade (no idea where the money goes, but it's for charity) ball and decides that she has to go and intervene.  Oh dear, what if people got hurt because of her.  Is it even possible to have a female protagonist in this genre that is not completely self absorbed.  No one else could possibly have a reason to attempt to kill Katherine other than protecting Elena. Sure enough, the Salvatore brothers trap Katherine in a room and proceed to try to kill her -- unfortunately each wound that Katherine gets shows up on Elena.  It turns out that Katherine had her witch buddy cast a spell. 

Finish reading here

Editors Note: Tami and I are going to explore this on our podcast tonight at 6pm EST.  Please join us live here.  Don't be afraid to call in, we would love to hear your thoughts. For those that cannot make it, I will post the podcast here when we are done.

Listen to internet radio with Vampires In Mystic Falls on Blog Talk Radio

What Does an All White Room Mean?

Living in a small town means that quite often I am the only POC in a room full of White people.  There is always an undercurrent in these situations, which causes me to be hyper aware of my race.  It does not matter whether or not the White people involved say or do anything racist, race is very much a part of the atmosphere.   There is always the unspoken question of why I am there, because Whiteness jealously guards its space.  

When Destruction was little, I took him to a breakfast with Santa.  When we walked into the room, it was filled with White people.  Though no one spoke to us except for a local politician, it was clear that we had invaded a space.  I found myself thankful to have my Brown child sitting next to me. 

As person who faces multiple isms, I am well aware of the need for a safe space.  A space in which the marginalized can speak to each other openly and honestly; however, the idea that Whiteness needs such a space is ridiculous, when the world is designed to assure their comfort.    An all White space is not about safety, it is about excluding others.  It is about maintaining White supremacy. 

I sometimes wonder when White people gather in groups without a single person of colour, if they are aware of the dynamics in the room?  I wonder how often they drop their guard and stop the so-called politically correct speech?  I question how long it takes before they realize that even in a gathering of friends, such a grouping is a reflection of privilege?  You see, if you have all White friends it says something about who you are as a person.  No matter how post racial we claim to be, most largely still live very segregated lives.  

Black Sixtuplets Don't Warrant Help

Raising one child to maturity can be extremely difficult and therefore, having six at once must create a Herculean task. Times have not changed much since the Dionne Quintuplets were born in May, 1934. Multiple births largely mean money as in the case of Gosselins or exposure as in the case of the Sulemans.  Society is very interested in the daily activities of these families and the children quickly become highly marketable. Kate Gosselin has gotten much fallout for exploiting her children, but the reality is that raising eight children is extremely expensive.

Rozonno and Mia McGhee became parents of sixtuplets in June.  They have a fund set up at Chase Manhattan bank to help with expenses, that was empty as of the beginning of August. Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee sent six Buckeyes onesies, and the Columbus City Council gave the McGhee's a certificate honoring the city's first set of sextuplets. That was the extent of the help that this young family had received until an article was written about them by the Atlanta Examiner.  This, when TLC currently has  2 shows featuring multiple families and one show that includes 19 children.  Diaper companies routinely supply multiple families with free diapers and various other companies that market to infants and children, normally approach with product endorsement deals and various free samples. What makes this family so unattractive that they have gotten little media attention and no help from the community?  What makes them a marketing failure?