Saturday, January 29, 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.

Are You Better Off Buying 200$ Shoes?
Why I Need Black Feminism
hate crime rate
A Really Bad Day
"Wonderful White" and "Bad Black"
Get Ready For The Whitest Oscars In A Decade
Dear Pro-Life Men
Today's Love is for Street Are in the Rez
My body of work
Native American Unemployment
Unions and Racism
Who Gets to Define Racism, The Victim of the Perpetrator?

Friday, January 28, 2011

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

If you work a traditional Mon-Fri, today is the beginning of me time.  When I worked outside of my home, I had a pair of pants that I called my "happy pants" (stop laughing). At any rate, I would put them on as soon as I got home and do a little thing we called the "chicken dance" (no you cannot see it) with the boys.  I was wondering, what ritual do you do to celebrate finally having some time to yourself?

Terry McMillian Thinks the Smiths are "Pimping Their Children"

You might be familiar with Ms. McMillian from books such as, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale.  McMillian has also gone through an extremely public divorce with her husband. Through it all, the one thing that has remained constant , is that McMillian has always spoken her mind.  Recently, she took to twitter to share her thoughts On Will Smith and two of his now famous children.

Douchebaggery and Music

Thanks to my sons love of martial arts, I have been subjected to The Karate Kid repeatedly.  I have used the movie as a teaching lesson and pointed out things like the girl asking to touch Jaden's hair is completely inappropriate, though it is normalized in the movie.  I have pointed out the fact that the movie absolutely failed to deal with the racism that he would have faced as a Black child in China.  You see, Jaden suddenly becomes the target of bullies, but in typical non-confrontational Will Smith manner, the larger issues are ignored to present a White family friendly version of events.  I decided that if I must watch this movie repeatedly, I was going to use it as an opportunity to teach.

The movie begins with the song Say What You Need to SayDestruction will often sing along, causing me to smile at the beauty of his voice.  I will sometimes join him quietly, knowing how out of tune I am.  He recently told me how much he loves the song and so I decided to go on Youtube to see if I could find out who sang it for him.

Speech Through Silences.

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.

I got an invite from the Embassy Library this week, inviting me to a dinner they’re holding to celebrate Virginia Woolf’s birthday, the invite carries the stamp of the Bloomsbury Press that the Woolf’s used and there is a quote, “Arrange whatever comes your way”. Had I received this invite two years ago, I’d be squealing with enthusiasm because of the impressive logo, happy that I am a member of a library that holds such dinners — completely unaware of my privilege – I would probably even participate in the auction for the first edition pocketbooks. After all, Woolf was one of my first literary loves, I read every book she wrote in a period of six months at 18; I even presented an extremely gushy paper on her ‘stream of consciousness’ method of writing and how ‘revolutionary’ it was, considering it came from a lady, in a time ladies weren’t attributed to having many ideas or thoughts, how she situated politics of power in the Body amid other fangirly ideas. Today, I want to half-occupy that na├»ve girl’s space, be that ecstatic and genuinely in awe with Woolf, to not have this pesky voice in my head saying, “You know, if Woolf saw you at this dinner, she’d probably ask you to be removed out of the hall”¹; I want to unknow — in parts anyway — how her narratives construct me, always on the fringe, refusing me entry to her world. Today, were I to even forcibly re-inject ‘me’ or what ‘my body’ represents  in any of Woolf’s narratives, it would be a complete waste as her construction of ‘me’ is a void, leaving gaps for Liberal Humanism to come ‘save me’. And to think a woman and a figure that set out Othering people who didn’t match her skin tone is a cult literary feminist icon drives the idea of constructing the DeTongued Third World Woman home; this Third World Woman represents a frame: one without a body or a voice.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An American Sign Language interpretation of Cee Lo Green’s smash hit “Fuck You.”

The person doing this interpretation is not actually deaf and apparently created this video for a class assignment. I absolutely loved it and had to share it with you.

What did you think and did you enjoy this rendition?

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being, Part I: Princesses and The Brown Girl's Dilemma

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

Yesterday, I came across an article on Racialicious about erotica writer Kama Spice. Kama talks eloquently about the power of women-centric erotica, and how she uses writing to heal from the wounds of sexism and racism. I was so intrigued after reading that I immediately purchased her novel 'Tia's War' in e-book form.

See I was always a fantasy-oriented gal. As far back as I can recall, I would indulge in these elaborate fantasies centered around me and my latest celebrity crush. I would be a beautiful warrior, an exquisitely anguished elven princess or a Jedi with long rippling hair. But when I took a Women's Studies class in college, I was introduced to a term that functioned as the proverbial light-bulb on my long time fantasy life: white-normativity. White normativity refers to a collection of processes whereby many of us are socialized into accepting 'white' as the norm, as simply and neutrally human. In every single one of my fantasy worlds, I had imagined myself as a white woman. In retrospect, I don't find this very surprising. Fantasy is, after all, about escape, mental pleasure,and the idealized re-imaginings of our desires in a world where we have the ultimate control over how those desires run their course.

#Hollaback and Fighting Street Harassement

The following is a speech by Emily may of Hollaback that I think many of us would benefit from seeing.  When you are finished, and if you are comfortable in true #hollaback fashion please share you experiences with street harassment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bookclub: No More Inclusion For You

Tami, Sparky and I have an unofficial book club.  Throughout the day, it is not uncommon for me to receive an e-mail about the latest fail in the urban fantasy genre. Last night, I was reading Patricia Briggs, because Tami (yes, I no longer take credit for choosing her work and you know how I need to be right) suggested we read her work.  The following is an actual passage from the book.

Wrong heritage. There was an Indian Vampire in  New York -" He looked at me and grinned. He pressed a finger to his forehead.. "Indian with a dot, not a feather.

What the flying  I was immediately silenced and then driven to send that passage to Sparky.  This woman was apparently deemed progressive because her protagonist is a First Nations woman.  At this time, I would like to publicly say, I release Briggs from any obligation to attempt to be inclusive.  She can freely write all White characters, because no representation would be better than reading something like that.

Your turn. What author would you be willing to give a pass, because reading their attempts at inclusion makes your head ache and why?

Guess Who Might Replace Keith Olberman?

As you know Olberman is no long on MSNBC.  I have like everyone else was shocked when I first heard the news.  It seems to me that Olberman headlined the liberal leaning direction that MSNBC has chosen to go with.  Whether or not Olberman is actually progressive is something that is up for debate.  Liss, over at Shakesville had this to say on the matter:
If he'd actually been the progressive he was always alleged to be, this would be sad. But he is a fauxgressive whose ideas of justice had boundaries extend only as far as whomever he wants to make fun of, be cruel to, or marginalize as unserious or uncredible. He engaged in misogyny and rape apology on-air, and, for all his rap about accountability and self-reflection, he was rigid in his refusal to address his biases against women.

So the only thing I'm sad about is that his replacement is likely to be even worse.
Well it seems that Liss has once again proven to be prophetic.  I was scanning through Jezebel when they reported that Olbermans replacement might be

Vulvar Pain: Not just a white woman's issue

This is a guest post from K, who blogs at Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction. K has vulvar pain issues herself and this has a great influence on how she identifies with feminism. In her spare time, she likes video games and animation.

For the purposes of this post today, I will be focusing on vulvodynia; however keep in mind that there are other causes of chronic pelvic and sexual pain; likewise there are serious sexual problems besides pain which also deserve attention.

Vulvodynia is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms, centered around chronic vulvar pain, lasting longer than 3 to 6 months. Pain (commonly described as burning, stinging, stabbing, rawness and/or irritation,) may occur in the vulvar vestibule, mons, urethral opening, labia, clitoris, or elsewhere in the vulvar area. Not all instances of vulvar pain are vulvodynia, and for some women vulvar pain may resolve on its own.

Vulvodynia does not have one universal cause; some possible causes include injury, sensitivity to vulvar microorganisms (like yeast,) hormonal changes, muscular problems, etc., though for some folks the cause will remain unknown. For some women, vulvar pain is caused by pudendal neuralgia or pudendal nerve entrapment. Everyone is different, so some women experience pain all the time without provocation while others experience pain only when attempting to insert something vaginally. Likewise, for some women, it is still possible to enjoy sexual activity even with vulvodynia, while for others sex will become too painful to engage in. There are a number of treatments available for vulvodynia, but no single cure, so women with vulvar pain may have to burn through multiple doctors and treatments before finding the right one.

Policing Bloggers and Language

Yesterday I wrote an article about megadouche Dan Savage, which predictably brought his sheep out of the woodwork to infest the comment section. I was later to learn that part of the strong reaction was because Joe, of Joe My God, decided to feed me to his readers like raw meat, for daring to criticize the great gay, fat phobic, disableist, sexist, transphobic,White hope. The wonderful thing about blogging is that everyone has a voice, except of course when they use their platform to disagree with you. Frankly, there are posts in the archives I would dearly love to erase, because I am embarrassed by the pure fail in them.  Part of accountability means owning your mistakes, and that is why I resist this urge.  Over time, I have really come to learn that criticism is not important, but good faith criticism is imperative. 

Regular readers know that I will occasionally publish some of the hate mail, or vitriolic comments on the blog.  I feel it is absolutely necessary that I not bear the burden of what it means to run a progressive site alone, and it also serves to bolster the ideas that I regularly try to communicate. If we eliminate the typical "make me a sandwich bitch," and look deeper at the insidious forms of discipline in this medium, what we will find is that the language is attacked, as often as the ideas presented.

Body Modification as a form of Stress Relief

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

A week and a half ago, my sister was once again hospitalized for trying to kill herself. So, I was called upon to be as supportive as possible, which, to be honest, takes its toll on MY mental health. And, I made a discovery. I realized that I use body modification as a form of stress relief. It is actually quite effective, and much healthier than my former method of relieving mental anguish.

I never made the connection between body modification and stress relief until this past week. I found myself at the tattoo parlor three times this past week, and ended up with three more piercings, and two tattoos. And, upon reflection, I recognized that when I am in a trying situation, the first thing I do is make some sort of change in my appearance.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dan Savage Lands MTV Pilot

Entertainment Weekly Reports:

Savage Love may be coming to MTV. Columnist Dan Savage is working on an advice show for the network. MTV has ordered a pilot that follows Savage as he tours college campuses giving his brand of brutally honest (and sometimes graphic) sex and relationship advice. In the format, Savage takes questions from an auditorium audience (similar to his recently completed college tour).
From the Advocate to Joe My God,  gay blogs are buzzing with the news of Savage's new show.  Reading through the comments, what I find disturbing, is the absolute unwillingness to confront the transphobic, bi-phobic, ableist, fat phobic mess that is Dan Savage.  When it comes to him, it seems that many in the community are willing to over look his obvious faults to have mainstream representations of a gay man.  The idea that Savage can and should speak on behalf of an entire community, when he is laden with privilege is ridiculous and yet he seems to be a deified untouchable figure to many.

Toy Story 3: Lessons in Race and Gender

I suppose that we are an oddity as a family, because we have one television hooked up to our satellite dish and only two televisions total.  This is a conscious decision on the part of the unhusband and I, because we want the ability to monitor what the children are watching, and actively engage them in critical thinking.  I have spent a great deal of time talking to Destruction, my oldest son, about the repeated tropes in media, so that he will be able to recognize isms, even when they appear in a covert manner.  Much of the conditioning that children receive is through the media, and without an adult to raise the proper questions, they are easily internalized, thus furthering the project of hierarchy in our society.

The Ken doll makes his first appearance in the series, in Toy Story 3.  He is immediately taken with Barbie and shows her his dream house.  He loves clothes and enjoys modeling them for her, while complaining that no one appreciates clothing.  It is clear that Ken feels as though he has been 'othered repeatedly.'

While watching the movie, what really stood out to Destruction, was Ken's rage when it was suggested that he was a girls toy.  Mommy he asked, "is that sexist?"  First, let me say that I was very happy that he could see that something was wrong with Ken's rage, but as I thought about his question, I realized that answering his question would only be another form of indoctrination, even though my response would be equality minded.  I turned to him and asked, "what do you think?"  He paused for a moment and responded with, "I think it is, because there is no such thing as a girls toy or a boys toys and to be upset because he might be a girls toy, means he does not think that boys and girls are the same."

Spark of Wisdom: Internalized Self-Hate and the Horrible Baggage

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.

And now I'm going to have a rather personal ramble on internalized self-hate and the horrible baggage it leaves. Which, in turn, is why I am slightly obsessive when it comes to demanding decent gay representation in the media (that and the sporks. I hate being spoked I do and it's nigh impossible to avoid if you turn a television on).
When I was growing up I had one series of books that contained a gay character - and they were written by Ann "tent peg" McCaffrey. Television was scarcely much better, the recognisable gay characters being people like John  Humphreys and Lieutenant Gruber - caricatures that existed so straight people could point and giggle at them, comic characters who were funny ONLY because they are gay and simply being gay was just so screamingly hilarious. 

My family didn't talk about anything remotely related to being gay except in the most heavily euphemistic terms (often with strong slants of distaste). The closest they ever came was pouring venom over my uncle Henry. 

I remain the only person in the family who refers to him that way. My great uncle Ralph never married. He lived with Henry for 30 years. The family always referred to him as "Henrietta" though he never identified by that name nor in any way as female. And when uncle Ralph died they pushed him out of the funeral and spoke bitterly about how 'Henrietta' got all of Ralph's money (thankfully Ralph was sensible enough to make a will). I've often wanted to meet him, but after Ralph died no-one kept in touch with him, no-one even knew his last name. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Breaking Down Stereotypes Aimed At the Asian Queer Community

Okay, it's sharing time again.  I came across a great video in which a Chinese trans man talks about his experience of coming out first as a lesbian and then as a trans man.  It is a part of the visibility project.
The Visibility Project is a photographic portraiture series focused on the Queer Asian American identified community.  All participants currently or have once identified as female and the project is inclusive to:  trans, ftm, mtf, genderqueer, bisexuals, lesbian, queer, intersex, andro, two-spirit…  Definitions of Asian Americans is very diverse:  East, Southeast, South Asian, Hapa, transplants, etc. 

The project seeks to break down ethnic, gendered, and sexual stereotypes through the powerful and accessible media of photography and video.

Visibility Project (rough cut): Kit Yan 2011 from mia nakano on Vimeo.

Editors Note: My fibro is kicking in and so if anyone knows of a transcript or has the time to make one, I would be grateful.

Joan Rivers Calls Michelle Obama "Blackie O"

Much of the racist vitriol aimed at Michelle Obama has been responded to with crickets.  The silence was so deafening in the blogosphere, that Gina McCauley, felt driven to create The Michelle Obama Watch.  Even people who claim to be liberal and anti-racist, seem to have no problem ignoring the attacks aimed at the FLOTUS.  The fact of the matter is, that  Michelle's body represents two marginalizations: she is both female and Black, and this makes her vulnerable to those that see Black women as exploitable, "othered" beings whose sole purpose is to serve the needs of patriarchy and White supremacy.

Joan Rivers apparently was recently on the Howard Stern show to promote her new show Joan and Melissa Know Best. Many comedians seem to have a problem telling a joke that does not depend on an ism which attacks marginalized bodies, and it would seem from her comments on the Howard Stern Show,  that she is not immune.  The following a transcript of the conversation and the interview can be heard here.

Palin Free February

I seldom comment about U.S. politics, but when I came across a piece in the Washington Post, declaring February a Sarah Palin free month,  I simply had to share it with you.   
But today is the first day of the rest of my life. And so, I hereby pledge that, beginning on Feb. 1, 2011, I will not mention Sarah Palin -- in print, online or on television -- for one month. Furthermore, I call on others in the news media to join me in this pledge of a Palin-free February. With enough support, I believe we may even be able to extend the moratorium beyond one month, but we are up against a powerful compulsion, and we must take this struggle day by day.

I came to this inner strength by trusting in a power greater than myself: my former Washington Post colleague Howie Kurtz, now with the Daily Beast. A week ago, on his CNN show, "Reliable Sources," I was complaining about the over-coverage of Palin when I found myself saying that "the best thing would be -- it's impossible, of course -- that we in the media should declare some sort of a Sarah Palin moratorium."


Palin clearly isn't going away: "I am not going to sit down. I'm not going to shut up," she told Hannity on Monday. But if we treat her a little less like a major political figure and a little more like Ann Coulter -- a calculating individual who says shocking things to attract media attention -- it won't matter. Sure, we might lose some Web traffic or TV ratings, but we might also gain something. Remember the "Seinfeld" episode where George Costanza, by giving up sex, suddenly frees up brain power to learn Portuguese and Euclidean geometry, to teach Derek Jeter the physics of batting, to become a "Jeopardy" whiz and to solve a Rubik's cube? If we stop obsessing over Palin, we might suddenly become experts in the federal budget or Medicare reimbursement rates. 

Apparently, The LGBT Community 'Has a Victim Complex'

I found myself over at (yes I should have known better).  There I came across an article written by Ashley Herzog. The impetus for her piece is gender neutral housing at university campuses. I know, who would have thought something so innocuous could inspire a homophobic and transphobic rant - scratch that, it's probably my straight cisgender privilege talking.
Some of my older readers might assume this is just a lame attempt by middle-aged administrators to seem cool by allowing male and female students to shack up together. You’d be wrong. These days, gender-neutral housing is mostly a bow to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students who demand their own special dorms. OU’s student newspaper praised the “progressive step,” which is mostly meant “to accommodate those students who identify as transgender.”

The idea that college life is so tough for gay and transgendered students that they need separate housing is preposterous. Far from being uniquely oppressed, the LGBT contingent is often the most catered-to of any group on campus. Administrators go to great lengths to satisfy these students while simultaneously nurturing a victimhood complex. (emphasis mine)

The Weekly Standard’s Heather MacDonald wrote about this phenomenon two years ago in an article titled “Victimology 101 at Yale.” Two months after announcing serious budget cuts to compensate for a 25% decrease in its endowment, Yale rolled out a brand-new Office of LGBTQ Resources.
I am a straight, Black woman but seeing TLBG students referred to as  having a "victimhood complex" was incredibly triggering for me.  Every time a marginalized group fights for their rights, they are immediately attacked by those that refuse to acknowledge that they walk around with privilege.  How exactly does Herzog know that BLGT students don't actually have a difficult time on college campuses?  It seems to me that given the high rate of suicide and violence aimed at the community that the opposite would be true.   But then, why let a little thing like facts get in the way of spreading homophobia?