Saturday, January 22, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone and thanks for another great week of conversation.  Posting continues to be a little light because I am working in pain due to the weather.  Thanks for your continued patience. If you would like to participate more fully in the goings on here, please take advantage of the open guest posting policy.  Simply 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 represents either you or your work.

March 8th is International Woman's day and to celebrate, I would like to do a series of post on women heroes.  If you are interested in participating, please send me a small e-mail naming the woman you intend to write about so that I can ensure that there are no duplicates.  Ideally, the finished piece will be about a prominent woman that you admire.  Final submissions are due February 15th.

Below you will find links to 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.
Woman's Bleeding Violates Pharmacist's Conscience 
On men crying and other things
Booknotes: Dear John, I Love Jane
Pre-Production for a snuff film in Venezuela
This is not a post about yoga
Rejecting the notion of "Black People Twitter"
Pakistan's Lesbians Live In Silence, Love In Secret  
My Enemy, My Ally; If There is a Hierarchy, Food Wins
How To Make Your Husband A Nice Dinner  
Video Response to "Part" Indian
Why I do not want to have "bi-racial" children 
Borders, Scale and Mental Boxes 
white privilege mindset 
Killing In The Name Of
Africans in Ancient China & Vice Versa, Part 3: Zheng He's Star Fleet
Light Skinned vs Darkskinned Death Match: Club Edition
Motherhood After Growing up Quiverfull: Part 1   
"Tiger Mothers" Are Driven by U.S. Inequity, Not Chinese Culture
Berkley Consider Some Trans-Specific Health Care Benefits; Outrage Ensues  
Female Desire and the Princess Culture
Anonymous was a woman  
Just ... Sick
The Left Blogosphere If It Exists 
No Strings Attached  
Julian Bond on the State of Black America
First Speakers: Restoring the Ojibwe Language 

Friday, January 21, 2011

On Peddling Access

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.

This week I heard at an international seminar, “Existing while woman is such a hard thing to do, but I do it because I have no other way out”¹. I thought of saying to this lady, “Existing while woman is indeed hard, horrible, twisted and sometimes oppression’s declassé sibling, Existing While Dusty would be more frustrating, given that we don’t even have Bodies — if I am to see any literature or not-literature that comes out of the West, Center or even Our Core — our bodies are given to us, constructed  with seeds of neo-colonisation, imperialism and capitalism; they’re in a way genetically-socially engineered to ensure we always fit in the shoes of the Other, that this dust you see right under our pores is sewed on carefully so that we remain just where we were fixed so many years ago, and that sometimes I want to sit and bit by bit remove each dust particle out, unravel this debris to see what lies inside, hoping it isn’t yet mutated into something that again just furthers the idea of this epidermal tissue over another”. While I’ve begun to believe in the sacred act of Interruption©, to Not Let People Get Away When They Say Something Inanely-Appropriative, I didn’t say a thing when I heard this, mainly because this isn’t what many Progressive And Liberal-Bending People had come to hear. So if I did foil this plan, it’d foil their money’s worth, as well as make me guilty of having Marxists and other Left-Leaning people think of currency, and that is something my LadyBrain refused to take responsibility for, as there is nothing quite as heinous than having Liberals think they’re being UnLiberal or NotForward even for a second, no? But I digress.

Black Women and Beauty

The following is a video in which British Black women discuss what it is to be beautiful.  This is an important issue to discuss because simply being Black and female is enough to have our gender, femininity and attractiveness questioned.

What makes the Black Woman Beautiful? from Beautiful Woman on Vimeo.

The following are a few quote from the documentary that I thought were particularly on point.

"I mean you don't see a lot of dark skinned beautiful Black women, which is part of the reason why for a time that you couldn't be dark skinned and beautiful.  I thought if you were beautiful and Black, you had to be light, because you cannot be dark and beautiful. So in my opinion I think we need a much more diverse opinion of what it is to be a beautiful Black woman."

"We ought to actively as Black women, make sure that we do out bit to make sure that we don't pass these standards on to our children."

"I think that there is a general confusion as to what Black beauty is.  Trying to make Black beauty so mainstream is a little bit of a shame".

The two most important questions in the documentary were:

1) What makes a Black woman beautiful?
2) What constitutes responsible representation of Black women?

How would you answer these question?

Not only are these questions we should be asking, but actively discussing.

A man, his fat, and his hatred of photos

"Who am I you ask?  The name's Danny and I'm just a guy that's trying to build his own masculinity and his own place in this world and I'm sharing my experiences in hopes that other people will realize that there is no one "right" way to be a man or to be masculine."

I've talked about fat before.  I've talked about being a fat guy before, namely the fact there are a lot of people who really don't want to believe that being fat and being a guy is not a cakewalk.  Well as part of what I'm trying to this year I want to make some real progress and I'm really going to try to get over one spector that has haunted me for the vast majority of my life.

I absolutely hate having my picture taken.

Let me clarify.  A few weeks ago I was at a friend's house with some other friends (we were seeing off a friend that's in the Army about to go to the Middle East) and one friend pulled up a folder of pictures.  When they got to pictures of me I literally turned away from the laptop until I heard him hit the arrow key to scroll to the next picture.

You see as a fat guy people like to draw conclusions about you.  You're an athlete (and let me tell you that assumption is not as cool as it sounds).  You're not very smart (I don't know how the association between fat and stupid makes sense).  You have unhealthy eating habits.  You are gonna die young.  You hate exercise and physical activity (totally conflicting with the assumption of being an athlete).  The list goes on.

Madea's Big Happy Family

Tyler Perry is worse than herpes.  The man just will not go away.  He has become the king of coonery and buffoonery.  Because his movies both support White supremacy and make a profit they continue to be released.

According to Clutch Magazine:
The film, “Madea’s Big Happy Family” is based on Perry’s hit stage play bearing the same name and will star Loretta Devine, Lauren London, Bow Wow, and (super fine) Old Spice pitchman, Isaiah Mustafa. It is set to be released April 22nd, and Perry is hoping it follows in the successful footsteps of his previous films.

“Madea’s Big Happy Family” will be Perry’s 11th film with Lions Gate Entertainment, and will center around Shirley, Loretta Devine’s character, a mother of five adult children who is dying of cancer.
I admit that I have not seen the play on which this movie is based, but judging from Perry's track record, would it really be wrong to assume that we are in for another treat that involves, hueism, sexism, Christian fundamentalism,  and my favorite - racialized drag.  Perry defends his work by insisting that the market proves that he is fulfilling a need and representing people that are often ignored by mainstream media.  I would answer that charge, with the fact that White supremacy sees no need to continue with the project of coonery and buffoonery, when it has convinced Blacks to do the work of oppressing themselves with people like Perry. Wouldn't Amos and Andy be proud?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ghetto Ass Dogs

The above photos are of a rottweiler and a giant pug.  As you can see, they are beautiful dogs.  I was waiting outside of a 7-11 for the unhusband, when a couple approached me with a pug and a rotti on a leash.  Outside of this particular 7-11, there used to be a pole where people routinely tied their dogs up while they were in the store.  The pole in question has since been removed, and upon noticing this, the woman turned to the man and said, "see, if it wasn't for your ghetto ass dogs, you could have come in the store."  I must admit that when I heard the statement, I turned to the side and giggled lightly, but I have found since I first heard this, I have not been able to let go of the phrase.

What is it about a pug and a rotti that have earned them the descriptor of ghetto?  Ghetto is something we largely relate to class and boorish behaviour.  Just as there are cultural markers to wealth, there are cultural markers for poverty and because we live in such a classist society, those without the ability to consume on a large scale are considered less than.  We also associate the ghetto specifically with people of colour, because of their high occupancy of poor urban neighbourhoods.  Not only were these dogs given a class, they were in a sense given a racial identity of the 'other'.

I find this interesting, because any pure breed dog is expensive.  When we first started looking for a new dog, I wanted an English Bulldog, but after discovering that they were about two thousand dollars, I quickly changed my desired breed.  I ended up buying a King Sheppard/Golden Lab cross for 200 dollars.  Sookie's appearance is mostly lab, even though she is a mixed breed.  Labs are very much associated with a middle class lifestyle.  Considering their habit of chewing everything in exsistence (including devouring my leather love seat), for the first two years, it certainly takes money to survive their puppy stage.

Only Women Bleed

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.

Like every other, regular day, Eryn went through her morning ritual of slapping my face, poking my nose ring, and pulling down my shirt to stealth nurse her stuffed animals. I saw her shining inquisitive face through half slits, and she laughed delightedly at my groggy voice telling her that mama would start breakfast after I had gone pee-pee.

Falling out of bed to more delighted laughter, I stumbled my way to the bathroom. When I pulled down my pants I could barely believe what was rudely greeting me so early in the morning and I shouted in surprise. Calling from his refuge under the pillow, the Hubby asked if everything was okay. I poked my head out from the bathroom and said, “I got my period.”

For many, this is no big deal — but for me, it was the first time in two years, and a very unexpected surprise. I’ve been amenorrhoeic due to lactation, and not counting post-partum, this was my first official period post pregnancy. Now I understood why nursing Eryn felt like she replaced her teeth with knives, and why my head was foggy and pounding. When I mentioned that it was disturbing and shocking, just like getting it for the first time, my sister-in-law said cheerfully, “wow, you’ve had quite the prayer stretch, enjoy your little break.”

Despite being the spiritual equals of men, women are forbidden to pray during menstruation — and a woman who decides to pray is told she is sinning and committing sacrilege. The way in which this religious law is dealt with by many scholars, online literature, pamphlet Islam, multimedia lecture series, discussion forums and conferences, directly affects how women understand and relate to their bodies and is also used by men to help remove women from active worship and participation in the community.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Are You Reading?

The one piece of technology that I could not give up is my e-reader.  It's just a little bit bigger than a postcard, but yet it holds my entire library. I actually spend hours reading each day.  A good book can not only educate you, it take you to worlds that you never would have imagined on your own.  Currently, Tami, of What Tami Said and our very own coffee addicted Sparky and I, have formed a sort of unofficial book club.  Though the two most disturbingly are trying to get me to read about tentacle sex, I very much enjoy the exchange and being able to share my passion for urban fantasy.

Since it is hump day, I thought that we could all use a break from the stress and dreary days of winter. Please share what you are currently reading and tell us a few books that you would recommend (note that I said a few, because the last time I asked for one book there was copious whining).  Please feel free to share what series you are most waiting to see return.  For myself, it is the next book in The Hollows series, which is do out next month.  You will know when I finally get it, because there will be no blogging that day until I finish reading it LOL.  Also, if you happen to know any good books in the steampunk or urban fantasy genre that are inclusive and fun, I would really be interested in hearing about them, as Tami is currently on our bad list for the L.A. Banks novels.

Editors Note: I should also point out that should Sparky recommend the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris feel free to throw a book at him.

The Fat Body (In)visible

I was reading What Tami Said when I came across a great documentary about fat women. There is some nudity at the beginning and the end that may make it NSFW.

the fat body (in)visible from Margitte Kristjansson on Vimeo.

What Does Black Twitter Tell Us

There is much angst over the fact that Black folk make up 25% of twitter.  A look at the trending topics often reveals that we are flexing our social media muscle.  At The Root, Patricia Williams wrote an article entitled Black Twitter: Trending Topics Paint the Wrong Picture, in which she seems determined to present the idea that folks are failing to be a credit to their race. 
Of course, not all black users embrace these trends, but the way many of us choose to leverage our loud voice on Twitter speaks volumes about us to outsiders looking in. The source of entertainment for some may be fodder for white tweeters.

Writer Choire Sicha, who is white, even admitted on the Awl to being obsessed with what he termed "Black People Twitter" because of our "hilarious" trending topics. I wonder if Sicha, along with millions of other white people on Twitter, finds himself amazed that this is how we choose to use our power on the social networking site.
Black people are certainly over represented on twitter, but why is it that this is suddenly representative of what Black folks think and feel?  To me, this supposed phenomenon is more of a reflection of racism and White supremacy than anything else.  White people get to be individuals, even when they are committing the most heinous crimes, whereas; one comment from a Black person in a mixed environment suddenly makes them representative of their race.

Bigots Attack Gay Positive Billboards in the Black Community

The We Are Part Of You Campaign originally began as a project by The New York State Black Gay Network and Boston's JRI Health to raise awareness.  The billboards are now appearing in the Schenectady-Albany corridor and are receiving a lot of negative feedback.     
The Rev. Alfred Thompkins, of Calvary Tabernacle, said the “I am gay” billboard message only encourages troubled youth to embrace homosexuality.

“A thirteen-year-old looks at these billboards and says, ‘That must be it, I must be gay,’ ” he said. “That goes directly against God’s purpose. As a resident of Schenectady, a pastor who works with young people, with families, frankly I’m really bothered by the message these send.”

Thompkins compared gay people to thieves and liars, saying he did not want anyone to join the ranks of sinners.

I'm surprised he didn't start quoting Leviticus to justify his bigotry. Statements like these are exactly why as a Christian woman, I cannot support organized Christianity in any form.  The God that I worship believes in love unequivocally. Far too often these ministers abuse their positions and harm the community, rather than acting with love as Jesus would.  Who is he to judge anyone, and furthermore; I find it hard to believe that he is completely beyond sin.  Modern life is not conducive to the conduct outlined in the bible.  A simple check on the fibers in his clothing would probably reveal that he sins everyday.  The truth is, this man is a homophobe and he is using God to justify his hatred. It is very easy to pervert the bible to support any kind of bigotry and I suggest that those that are intent on doing so, do Christianity and humanity a disservice.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Black and Latina

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous, Monica of TransGriot

We all know Black women are beautiful in all their shades from vanilla creme to darkest ebony.

That also applies to Latinas as well.   Contrary to the conventional beauty stereotype, Latinas also come in a wide variety of skin tones, shades and body builds as well.  

There are sistahs in our midst who we are increasingly becoming aware of who proudly claim both their African and Latina heritages.  

Former MTV VJ Alani 'La La' Vazquez and CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien have been vocal about claiming both.   Vazquez even kicked it up another level by writing an essay for Latina magazine that pointed out that being Black and Latina are not exclusive identities.

“A lot of people don’t realize that I’m Latina, which is fine. One thing about being Latina is that there isn’t one look that comes with the territory. I don’t expect people to know my cultural background just by glancing at me.  I do, however, expect that when I tell people my family is from Puerto Rico, that I will be believed and not accused of trying to be something that I’m not. It usually goes something like this: a person having a conversation with me discovers one way or another that I’m Puerto Rican and fluent in Spanish. That person then expresses their shock over these realizations for any number of reasons–common responses are, “You don’t look Latina” and “I thought you were black!” I never said I wasn’t black. And since when does being black and being Latina have to be mutually exclusive?

This Week's Top Troll

I have not done one of these in quite sometime but this is not because the hateful trolls have gone away. Due to hate speech laws in Canada, I was quite concerned that there would be a penalty for publishing these words.  After some consultation, I have been assured that I should be okay. I have decided that publishing a small example of the comments that I have not allowed to be posted on the blog, would serve as a teaching moment for many.  Often those of us that deal with marginalized identities are told that we are being too sensitive or that things aren't really all that bad anymore. The truth is, there is still much that needs to change.  The best way to deal with this kind of hate, is to expose it to the light of day and reveal it for the ugliness that it is.  

As per usual, below you will find a list of comments that were not published.  Please be aware that a substantial trigger warning is in place, because many of the comments are homophobic, racist, transphobic, disableist and sexist.  Please choose the comment you find to be the most abhorrent and if you have the energy, please share why you chose it.

Spark of Wisdom: "Money For Nothing" Teaches The Cost of Hate Speech

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.

Ok, in Canada it seems that playing the unedited version of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing"that has the anti-gay slur "[email protected]" used repeatedly in the song is now a no-no.

And, in general I'm quite happy about that. I don't like the casual use of slurs, I don't like to cringe and wince, I don't like to have this stuff ambush me.

It does matter. I hate turning on the television or radio and cringing. I've just had another cheesey evening watching cheesey crime dramas (while eating cheese no less) go haywire because we were treated to:

Lesbian couple seduces and manipulates men into giving them money before murdering them

Gay man with homophobic parent hates himself so he attacks women and tries to have sex with them but can't (and his lover goes to prison to protect him).Lots of slurs abound.

At which point I turned off the television and opened a bottle, a large one. Because bombardment like this is like a cheese-grater rubbed across my mind, rubbing over all the raw and damaged spots I have. And I don't need that adding to by turning on the radio and having a lot of slurs leap out at me.

And even aside from my raw spots being sporked, I hate to hear casually used slurs. From us deciding they make fun lyrics, to the daily use of "gay" to mean bad - this constant societal reinforcement of the idea that we are lesser - and that referring to us as lesser or with hatred is ok, is frightening. Frightening for what it does to us, to hear what society thinks of us (and what we, as part of society, think of ourselves) and frightening to hear the hatred and the prejudice reinforced, echoed, encouraged at every time. And that's the very same hatred that results in blood being spilled.

Buy a Black Friend for a Day

Yes, that is a real ad. The description reads:
Do you want to feel hip? Did you say something that may have seemed racist in front of someone and want to prove that you really aren't? Need a work out partner? Movie buddy? Got an extra ticket to a game? Well I'm your guy. For one day, I'll be your black friend and we'll party or do whatever you like to do for fun that doesn't creep me out. I'm 22 years old and love longboarding and basketball. Also I'm a huge Knicks fan. Just pick a day and we'll work it into our schedule. You just have to pay for my round trip flight if you don't live in NY. I'll need the payment in my account at least 2 days before I travel. Send me a message before you bid if you have any questions.

Warning: I cannot dance, sing, or jump really high.

Questions and answers about this item

 Q: Would you mind rubbing yourself down with garlic butter for a few days before the appointed day?
A: Let's see. You either want to eat me or do something that is most likely creepy. So that's a no.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fox Nations Asks: 'Was Reagan more of a friend to blacks than Obama'?

I saw the above image on twitter, and I thought there is no way this shit can be real on MLK day of all days, but I should know better than to give FOX News the benefit of the doubt. I did a quick search on google and found that not only is the image real, but it is accompanied by a story that tried to prove that Reagan was better for Blacks than Obama.  

I don't believe in mincing words, and so I will just say without reservation, that Reagan was a racist.  His actions reveal that not only did he have zero respect for Black people, but that he was dedicated to undermining the effort for civil rights.  Republicans like to sanitize history and refer to themselves as the party of Lincoln, but what have they don't for Blacks lately? Thanks to the complete mess that G.W. made of the country, they are constantly casting their revisionist eyes on Reagan and in many cases deifying him.  Reagan was no friend to Blacks and here is why.

Elon James White For the ALCU: What to do if you're stopped by the cops

Elon is back and being the huge fan that I am, of course I had to share.

Creating Our Own Definition of Manhood

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.

Next week, weather permitting, I will be heading east to the Boston area to participate in the First Event conference, a gender conference hosted by the Tiffany Club of New England, where I will present a workshop called “The New Masculinity: Creating Your Own Definition of Manhood.”

I’ve offered this workshop before, at First Event and in other places, and it is basically a group discussion of the many ways that trans men construct their own masculinity and create their own definitions of what it means to be a man. There is always a wide range of experience based on an infinite number of factors, including age, class, ethnicity, geographic location, and life experience.

Some trans guys were never faced with “constructing masculinity.” It came as naturally to them as breathing, and they reflected “traditional” Western masculinity, or the masculinity that was traditional for their culture, from the time that they were old enough to realize that they were separate entities, apart from everything and everyone else around them.

For others, it was a more difficult struggle. Female socialization runs deep and remains with many of us (including me) throughout our lives. In some cases, we struggle mightily against it, only to have it return in times of stress, crisis, or other emotionally charged situations. 

Dr. Martin Luther King: Words For Thought

In his death, King has achieved a level acceptance that he was not granted during his lifetime.  Today, many supposed allies quote his I Have A Dream speech to evidence their commitment to anti-racism.  The cynical side of me sees this for exactly what it is.  You see, when it comes to Dr. King, Whiteness only likes that which makes them feel safe, and not that which holds them accountable for the racial privilege that they continue to possess and perpetuate. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. 
Comforting isn't it?  But the truth of the matter is that Blacks are still judged by the colour of their skin thanks to White supremacy.  We have had some success, but the everyday existence of a person of colour is very much mitigated by the fact that Whiteness continues to exist with unabated power.  I have most often heard the above quote from White people, in an effort to entreat me to be a good nigger and shield my rage at their direct oppression of me.  King wanted equality and I have had that quote used against me to suggest that fighting White supremacy is unjust to White people -- yeah for reverse racism.  Equality to many means silence in the face of continued racism. The appropriation of Dr. King has long been part of the White supremacist agenda, proving that though he sacrificed his life, many have yet to truly internalize his message. Dr. King's dream has not been fulfilled.