Saturday, February 5, 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.

Re: Kanye West is Not a Feminist but....
#DearJohn: Military Women, Civilian Women, Shouldn't Have to Justify Their Choices
Identity Through Ancestry
Fat and Pregnant: 10 Weeks
The Gay Revolution on Television Isn't Exactly Inclusive
People of Colour on The Vampire Diaries: Witches & Dead Bodies
Towards A Unified Theory of Blogging: What If Sarah Palin were Black? The Sequel
I am not your cautionary tale
What if a hate-speech paper comes to your campus
crossing the line
Another View of Ableism
HOW KERMIT GOSNELL GOT OVER -and Poor Women of Colour Paid the Price
It's Official I'm Black
Looks like my generation will be the last to actually enjoy sex

Friday, February 4, 2011

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

I have never been a winter person and this week has done nothing to change that.  I find myself dreaming about running away some place warm and fun.  As a result of not being able to go outside I have been spending an inordinate amount of time watching television.  I must admit that my taste all often falls into the you should know better category.  Even as I write this, I am watching last nights Outsourced. I know, I know.  So, this weeks question is what questionable programming are you watching and why?

So Long Jessica Valenti, I Won't Miss You

Alright, a look through the archives will show that I have long been critical of Feministing.  I no longer read Feministing and so I learned about Jessica's departure, from a post Jill wrote on Feministe.  Once again, Valenti and Feministing were deified, though that site has been full of fail for a very long time.  Let's be clear shall we, Feministing has a history of transhphobia, classism, lesbophobia, racism, and cissexism.  There have been countless boycotts over the years and none of them were started because people felt welcome at Feministing.  Valenti has been loathe to be held accountable by her critics. As the editor-in-chief, the buck stops right at Valenti's door and while she may not want to wear the burden of her creation, facts are the facts.

Jill suggests that Valenti has been "great at giving opportunities to other writers," and I suggest that Jessica has trotted to the top of the line on the backs of marginalized women.  Do you think if Valenti were lesbian, trans, of colour, or disabled, that she would be where she is today?  What Valenti is, is a good business woman.  She realized that there was a void in feminism and used the rise of blogging to her advantage.  All along the way, she has traded on her ability to be a part of mainstream bodies to make a living. Instead of truly tackling the -isms, she has directly benefited from them.

Rather than challenging people to change and disturb norms, everything that Valenti does supports them.  I won't miss her at Feministing, because I no longer read it, and I certainly will not read anything else that she does, because I am tired, absolutely fucking sick and tired, of women like her being given opportunities that marginalized women are not.  There is nothing special about Valenti other than the fact that she was in the right space at the right time.  She is like every other professional feminist, dedicated to promoting herself. 

Cataloging Gray Areas

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 a person who is born and identifies as a (dusty) lady, noticing how my ‘body’ or the space it occupies is as natural as breathing; though this space is hued coloured over and eventually pushed to the fringe. As I’m considerably tall, it would be hard to not see me, one would assume. In fact, there are so many places where I slip in and out of corners and rooms without anyone noticing, sometimes this sort of partially-cloaked-conscious invisibility surprises me too. At first, this un-seeing of my body — whether consciously done or otherwise — seemed liberating. I could spend hours in my room reading or writing before my mum or aunt would come to check in and see what I was up to, generally hours would pass before they’d notice, or at libraries I would take in the smell of old musty books without the clerks giving me cold stares. Lately, this is changing as I’m “growing up” and my “womanly assets” are becoming more evident¹, but this hasn’t affected my (in)visibility. All that has changed is a few parts of my anatomy now stand for my whole person, and I remain as faceless as ever in most public and private spaces. I was self-absorbed enough for a while to think I Was The Only One and yesterday when I heard a lady behind me yelling at a rude dude who brushed past her, “Can’t you see I’m standing here?” When it hit me that being or identifying as a feminine body is more than enough to render anyone (in)visible. Interestingly, even when I’m in NotIndia, my body is more-or-less (in)visible, but what glows is my epidermal tissue. The Feminine Body — assigned or chosen — is more or less voiceless, especially if we’re hued bodies — how else will infinite access and possession be assumed univerally?  – and this is the voicelessness of a privileged, able-body. Which is exactly why hearing about the women in most psychiatric wards left me numb and horrified last week. I thought I was (in)visible partially, when these women are seen as bodies devoid of complete agency.

African vs African-American Part II

Well you would think that after being soundly attacked for daring to put such hateful ish out for public consumption, that it would serve as a learning moment, but you would be wrong.  Here is round two of an Ethiopan woman, once again engaged his a hateful diatribe against African Americans.  The video does not allow embedding so you can find the link here, and as always the transcript below.

Cornel West Talks Race and Black History With Craig Ferguson

I am a huge fan of Dr. West and so when I came across the following interview I simply had to share. Dr. West makes some absolutely brilliant remarks that I hope will inspire you as it did me. As always, the transcript can be found below the fold.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Author Recently Surprised You?

As I am sure that you have guessed by now, I read voraciously.  If I can get my hands on a good book, I just want to tune out the world, until I come to the end of the story.  I have been pleasantly surprised to see, that just like myself, many of the regular commentators here are avid readers themselves.  Since the piece I wrote about Meyer's The Host, was based in how surprised I was to discover that she actually had something relevant to say, I thought that it would only be fair to ask what book are you reading or recently finished that really surprised you and why?

African vs African American

The above video can be seen here, and below you will find a transcript plus discussion on the topic at hand.

Is Stephenie Meyer Critiquing Classism in 'The Host'?

Okay, you all know Meyer from the Twilight saga.  Many have raised very legitimate critiques of the series.  Today, I would like to talk about her lesser known book The Host.  First, let me start off by saying that Meyer does not include a single marginalized person in the book.  There are no LGBT characters, no disabled people, and no POC.  The premise of the book is that the earth is invaded by aliens, and of course it is left to White heterosexual, able bodied, cisgender people to carry on the human race.  I know that this is complete erasure, but given Meyer's former forays in writing characters of colour, I am relieved that she didn't even try.

What I would like to talk about is the make up of the world in Meyer's book, now that humans are no longer in charge.  Everyone on earth has a job and are allowed to pursue the calling that best suits them.  Everyone takes their turn cleaning the streets and doing menial tasks, that allow the environment to be clean.  If one is hungry, it is a simple matter of going into a grocery store and taking the food items that are needed off of the shelves.  If one is sick, it is a simple matter of traveling to a healing center to be cured and no cost is ever incurred for treatment. Both men and women work, though women or at least human women, remain subservient to males.  Sports are played without violence and at the Olympics, everyone is given an award.  There is no war and there is no violence.

When Hijab is About Privilege

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.

Once when I was a young and naive new Muslim, I had a terrible conversation with a woman who was sincerely trying to learn about the hijab.

After saying hello, she very nicely blurted out her question: why do you wear that head-scarf-thing?  Thinking I was being witty, I decided to relate a particularly inspiring story I had just read online:  When a woman receives a diamond engagement ring and shows it off, everyone compliments how bright, beautiful and wonderful it is. More and more people, even strangers see the diamond and shower the woman with praises. But soon, the excitement of the diamond slowly starts to fade, and it becomes common. It grows dull and nothing special. But what if you hide that diamond and keep it secret -- showing it only to the people who truly love and care for you? Then the brightness of that diamond never fades and is valued each time it's shown. A woman's hair is a beautiful adornment, just like a diamond. And is so special that it should only be shared with her father and husband -- not with any strange man that comes along.

She smiled, and seemed to accept my explanation. I was elated -- and armed with more gems from Imam Internet we continued our chat. She asked, "aren't you hot in that thing?"  Without skipping a beat, I smiled and said, "Hell is hotter."

Our conversation slammed to halt. It's no wonder she glared at me and stopped smiling. I don't think I could have been any more ignorant, arrogant or rude.

A good portion of English, online sources about hijab are geared toward converts or aim to convince women to take on the hijab. Their arguments use sparkly, treasure imagery, presenting women as precious pearls who deserve to be safeguarded from the evils in this world. Women need to be proud and empowered. Hijab can do that for you. Islam asks its followers to behave modestly. Hijab can do that for you. Women deserve to be respected. Hijab can do that for you. Western notions of beauty require you to spend hours on your hair, make-up and starve your body. Hijab liberates you from superficial notions of beauty. Hijab makes you confident, allows you to move freely in society by removing your sexuality, protects you from assault, raises your status among believers, and helps people judge you for your words and actions, not your body.

Until it doesn't. 

Now, yes -- absolutely yes -- for many, hijab is about power. In certain communities, hijab can allow a woman to enter into public spaces to work and support her family, whether she believes it is a religious requirement or not. People do indeed choose to wear it for religious reasons, cultural reasons, identity reasons, as a form of protest or fashion expression and feel empowered by this choice. Women who may otherwise feel pressure by their community to cover up, may in fact feel confident, respected and protected by covering -- and may even garner a level of power within that community. Of course, people also use the hijab to oppress, restrict and control women, and it is absolutely a target for Islamophobia and an excuse for prejudice.

Often we hear about how hijab is about choice, oppression, culture, or religious freedom. But I've been thinking lately about certain examples where hijab is also about privilege.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Put A Purity Ring On It

Because I believe in the policy of sharing that I learned in kindergarten, I present you with the following monstrosity.

Description: The video begins with a young girl being sitting in a car, being pressured to have sex with her boyfriend, while she is reading the bible. He informs her that he has the house to himself and that she should come over.  She then enters into what can be described as nothing but a nightmare to the tune of Beyonce's Put a Ring on it.   The lyrics are essentially about promising to choose and love God and making the choice to wear a purity ring to keep herself pure, because this is what God wants.  When the scene shifts back to the car, she tell him she won't be joining him because she has, "already put a purity ring on it."
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. A mid-week surprise from Sparky on his rightful distaste of author L.A. Banks.  

As anyone would guess given what I have spoken about reading in the past, I am something of an Urban Fantasy addict. Yes yes I am. I devour them at a great rate of knots, especially now I have my Kindle (loves this thing sooo very much). From reading (Laurell K Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Ann Rice - yes, even Stepheny Meyer. I read it, I love some of it, hate others - and snark about it all) to watching (True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Lost Girl) I have a love of the fantastic, the cheesey and the fun :) Yes I admit it. In fact, every week Renee and Tami and I gather together every week to ramble (and snark. Oh yes and snark) about what we've been watching and reading lately (and, of course, analysing from a social justice standpoint. Because it matters). There are months upon months of archives :) 

And in our endless daring and recommending each other what to read next - I was advised (by Tami. BLAME HER!) to read the Vampire Huntress Series by L A Banks. 

I have read the first 2. The Awakening and the Minion. I feel the need to rant before tackling more.... 

I wanted to like these books. I heard good things about them, they were praised highly and I was looking forward to them. They were especially praised in progressive circles. And was sorely disappointed as I struggled through them - and struggling was the word, these books were damned hard work.  

Walmart Plans to Sell Anti-Aging Makeup to Tweens

I have often referred to Walmart as the great Satan. Though it is the largest employer in North America, it regular abuses labour laws, and much of the products sold there come from highly exploited labour. I understand that because of poverty, many do not have a choice about avoiding the box store evil, but for those that do, here is just one more reason to reconsider giving your money to Walmart.
Some women believe it’s never too early to start an anti-aging beauty regiment, but an anti-aging cosmetics line geared towards eight to 12-year-olds have many questioning whether such products are necessary, or healthy for children’s self-perception.

Little girls won't be needing to dip into mommy's purse to play with lipstick and blush, Wal-Mart is rolling out a new youth preserving line called “Geo-Girl” consisting of 69 cosmetic products.

The brand includes everything from exfoliators to blush and mascara, all aimed towards the “tween” ages, who have an estimated $2 billion in buying power. (source)
Yes, you read that correctly, Walmart is selling anti-aging makeup to 8-12 year old girls.  Is it any wonder that so many women grow up riddled with self doubt?  We tell girls from a very early age that they are imperfect, and are in need of improvement.  We create this need, and then fill them with empty promises and products that largely do not create any form of change.   I have girlfriends that won't even consider leaving their home for a moment without makeup. 

They have tried to cover the damage that they are doing by pointing out that even the packaging is recyclable and that all the products are natural.  They don't want to admit that what they are doing is cultivating future customers, who are going to feel inadequate without performing some beauty ritual beyond washing their face daily with soap and water. 

Starting Over

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
Well, I have finally come to the conclusion that I am in a serious rut in my life, and I need to start over. And for me, that will take a change of scenery. It is way too easy for me to remain in my same, old stagnant patterns of behavior living where I live right now. My sister lives about a mile from me, and that has made me complacent about becoming independent. She allows me to use her car at least once a week, so I use that as an opportunity to go grocery shopping and grab some fast food. The rest of the week I sit in my apartment, alone with only my computer and my cats for company.

So, I really need to make a change in my life, and I believe that moving to another environment is the best way to “start over”. I have a very close friend, who I have been speaking to on the phone for a little over a year, and I have decided that I will be moving to the city he lives in. Everyone is getting on my case for “moving for a man”, but that is not the only reason I have made this decision to relocate. Yes, I do have very strong feelings for this man, but I already know that there is no potential for a romantic relationship between him and me. 

Snowmageddon Has Closed Everything Down

Just as the weather man predicted, we were hit with snowmageddon.  My kids are in super giddy mode because of having a sudden midweek day off of school.  Posting will be light today, so please bear with me.  Hey, does anyone know if Wharton Willy saw his shadow?  If he did that groundhog and I have some serious issues.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black Lesbian Drama "Pariah" Comes to Sundance

I have not been able to learn much about this movie even after visiting the website. What I have to offer is a tiny preview and the words of Rod McCullom of Rod 2pt0.

The film is about 17-year-old "butch" lesbian Alike discovering her sexual identity with which contrasts with the feminine, obedient Christian girl desired by her family. Focus acquired the film for "less than $1 million", adds the Reporter. The studio has a good track record of financing critically- and commercially-successful independent LGBT features, such as Brokeback Mountain, Milk, and The Kids Are All Right, currently nominated for four Academy Awards.

A White Nun Falsely Accuses a Black Man of Rape

Let's just set the stage shall we:
A Brooklyn nun from a fringe Christian sect has confessed to an unholy lie: telling cops she was sexually attacked and left unconscious in a snowbank, sources said Monday.

After a police search for a hulking black man was launched, the 26-year-old white woman from the Apostles of Infinite Love convent in East Flatbush recanted, the sources said. (emphasis mine)

She told cops she made up the story in an attempt to cover up a consensual sex romp with a bodega worker inside the Glenwood Ave. residence.

A woman in religious garb who answered the door at the convent said the nun, identified as Mary Turcotte, suffered an "emotional break" and made everything up - even her excuse.

"Nothing happened, none of it," said the woman, who declined to give her name.

"It was all proven to be false. It wasn't her fault. She is going to move out and we are going to get her some help."   (source)
Let me start by saying that false rape reports are not the norm, though they have been presented as such by MRA's.  Navigating the criminal justice system, is something that is completely overwhelming for many assault victims and quite often they are shamed for being raped.  Socially we have not moved beyond the vicious myth of a rape victim asking for it, though bodily autonomy should be considered an absolute right.

Why I am Skipping Black History Month

Today is the first day of Black history month.  Schools throughout North America are going to spend the next month educating students on the history of the people of the African Diaspora.  Teachers will pat themselves on the back for having inclusive pedagogy and many students of colour will only feel further 'othered'.  White supremacts will spend the month whining about the fact that a Black history month exists, and will therefore call it racist and exclusionary.  While they are at it, they may even through in a few digs at BET. 

When I was a child, Black history month consisted of the traditional lecture on Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, because heaven forbid we actually admit that as an English colony, Canada had slavery to.  Many Canadians grow to adulthood and never realize this historical truth.  Because the underground railroad has become such a fixation, it has allowed many to have the false belief, that unlike our American cousins, that we were far to civilized to engage in this great crime against humanity. Instead, we will focus on the fact that Harriet Tubman's church still stands in St. Catherine's.  We don't want to talk about the fact that White Supremacist Canada was hardly welcoming to escaped slaves, or that our Prime Minsters were not fans of people of colour.  Instead, we will wag our fingers and scowl about American founding fathers owning slaves.

Spark of Wisdom: Not to Privileged to Avoid Violence

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.

Humanity confuses me at times. With this bruiser on my face I think I've had the following conversation several times.

Person: *gasp* what happened to your face?

Sparky: Someone hit me.

Person: *disapproving look*

Yes, they appear to disapprove of my face being in the way of someone's fist. Yes yes they do.

Maybe they disapprove of my inability to dodge?

Maybe everyone around me secretly believes I am a secret agent or a trained martial artist - maybe I look so cool they can't imagine anyone could possibly lay a finger on me without me ripping them limb from limb while delivering terribly witty one liners?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Victoria's Restless For Soap Diversity

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica of Transgriot

I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria Rowell during my airline days and watching her on one of my fave soap the Young And The Restless.

Now in conjunction with the Urban League's Marc Morial and Dr. Cornel West,  Rowell is working tirelessly on a mission to fight the decline in diversity in the daytime television world in front of and behind the cameras.

She played Drucilla Winters on the most watched soap amongst African-American viewers, but is distressed about what she calls 'Soap Opera Apartheid'

The author of Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva was getting major pushback from people in that world as well.
“I was proactive around closing the chasm at the lack of diversity behind the lens as well in front of the lens. There is tremendous pushback behind the lens not to bring me back,“ Rowell said during an interview back in August .  “Because I will put in play what has now disappeared. In 38 years, there has never been one Black writer, producer or director and it goes on and on. We have no Black hair or makeup [person].”

Chris Brown Wants Rihanna's Restraining Order Modified

Before Brown decided to beat on Ri Ri for daring to check his phone, I had never heard of the man.  Unfortunately, since that time I have become all to aware of who he is because of his sexist, colorist homophobic rants on twitter.  Yes folks, sometimes twitter is not your friend and erasing your tweet does not mean that it disappears. Who ever does public relations for Breezy B should really get him off twitter.

Well it seems that his royal highness heinous is once again troubled by being held accountable for his actions.  It seems that he would like to amend the order that forces him to keep his distance from Ri Ri because as his lawyer suggests, "It makes it difficult at award shows and such."  After all, Brown has completed completed 581 hours of community labor and his 52 week domestic violence counseling, why should he be further inconvenienced?

The Approaching Snowmageddon

Starting tomorrow my region is expected to receive 20cm of snow.  In the winter I obsessively check the weather, because it accurately predicts the pain I am going to suffer and the degree to which I will be housebound.  Even if I were able to move around pain free, the fact that people refuse to shovel their sidewalk, means that I am forced onto the road with my scooter and this is dangerous.  I have to think carefully before running a simple errand like going to the bank or the bakery.

I decided to write about this today, because I have found that there is little room to talk about chronic pain and what it is like to live with it.  When people become used to hearing you say that you are in pain, they tune out.  Pain is not something that you can ignore, but yet you are expected to pretend that it does not exist, so that others can just move on to topics that make them feel comfortable.  Even when they can clearly see the pain on your face, it is easier for them to look away, as though it is somehow contagious, or you are magnifying it for the sake of a love of drama.  I know this, because I have experienced it.

The Green-Haired Man and a Lesson on Appearance

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

I have had many lessons in my life on the utter meaningless of physical appearance as a way to gauge anything at all about a person, but one in particular continues to stand out, and it is the one I think about whenever I catch myself making an assumption based on how someone looks.

Many years ago, before I transitioned and when I was far more deeply entrenched in U.S. mainstream culture than I even realized, I was walking out of a dry cleaner's in my neighborhood. I live in an extremely diverse neighborhood, and there is no one who is really “out of place” here, no matter what that person looks like. 

However, on this particular day, as I stepped outside, I saw a young straight couple, probably in their early twenties, walking by with a toddler struggling to keep up. The woman appeared “normal” in the context of mainstream sensibilities. The young man, however, was “different” - he was dressed in black leather, with knee-high leather boots, a black jacket, several chains hanging from various parts of his clothes, a variety of piercings, and a neon-green Mohawk that rose about a foot in the air.

Now this young man's appearance was not particularly unusual for my neighborhood, and it didn't surprise me or necessarily stand out to me. But what happened next is what I try to keep in mind, even to this day.