Saturday, February 12, 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.
Eat More
Who/Where Are the Undocumented in the United States and What About All of those Babies They Are (Not) Having
My current gender and sexuality descriptors and how I came to them
George Washington and his Runaway Slave
Africans in Ancient China & Vice Versa
The Government's Cruel War on Pain Medication
Canada: Is the Conversation Lurching to the Right?
Was the Prophet a Feminist?
Living Single
The ethical corollary of "sex is a basic human need" is that rape is justified
Lady GaGa Brings Cholas Back to Pop Culture - Like it or Not
My Boyfriend the Racist
Post Racial
Race Card: The Racial Divide in the Reaction to Halle Berry's Custody Battle
Body Rebellious; Nonconformance and Intersecting Identities in a Movement
The question, of course, is whether the pharmaceutical industry's marketers actually created bi-polar disorder or merely exploited tentative psychiatric research 
Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Why I am a Pro Feminist Man (trigger warning for descriptions of sexual violence)
Scientology Examined by the New Yorker
Why Black women get pinned with the tail!
QUAINT #6 Hajji Baba from "Hajji Baba of Ispahan" & "Hajji Baba in England" By James Morier
Sex and the Fat Girl: Too Fat to Fuck
oh yes, you're really nice
I'm fat and I'm going to die (eventually)
What Does Being a Man Mean to You?
Girls: Manipulative Bullies or Sugar and Spice
Abortion doula diaries: Do all women feel sadness?

Friday, February 11, 2011

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

My arm was twisted into writing this week's question by everyone's favourite Gus, aka ALLISON MCCARTHY.  We were talking about the expense of buying books, when she chose to remind me that I could always offset this by going to the library, and then only buying the books that I really loved.  In theory, this is a great idea.  The problem is, I am not responsible enough to have a library card.  Right now I owe 140.00 Can dollars in outstanding fines.  Every time I borrow a book, I forget to bring it back, and then get a lovely little notice regarding my outstanding fees.  It is never pretty. So, I have decided that I simply am not responsible enough for a library card.  With the amount of money that I pay in fees, I might as well buy the book.  So, this week's question is: What everyday item are you just to irresponsible to either have or control?

Cartographies Of Struggle

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 the eldest daughter of a Hindu family, I am expected to occupy a number of spaces that intertwine, merge and blur with the larger idea or identity that I like to believe is me, somewhere inside, that will still remain once the layers of cultural expectations, communally re-enforced values are taken away, not to mention that little role-play where I imagine for a while what would happen had colonisation not been a part of my collective history or memory. Very little of what I believe in — politically or otherwise — is designed to fit into this public persona of the Dutiful Indian Daughter™, we’re expected to be infinitely nice, obedient, subservient and perhaps more importantly, as voiceless as possible; all of this erasing and silencing goes down in the name of religion, tradition and customs. There is a clear demarcation between what is publicly acceptable and what isn’t, the moment that line is crossed, we become people like ‘that’; and everything we do reflects this invisible wall. More often than not, whatever is the ‘negative’ is seen as ‘Western’ and by extension it is bad — this list includes being independent, setting personal and bodily boundaries, speaking too much in English, wearing ‘revealing’ outfits, swearing, smoking, drinking alcohol, making ‘funny’ faces while eating ice-creams¹, sitting with one’s legs uncrossed among many other things. Most of these rules exist for bodies that identify or are read as ‘feminine’ — who cares as how people really identify themselves as long as society can can extend the chromatic heteronormativity to any body it wishes? — bodies that identify or are seen as ‘masculine’ get away with relatively more transgressions; in fact the closer they look ‘masculine’ the easier to overstep and discard boundaries. Meanwhile, ‘real’ identities swirl inside, lay hidden for the most part. God forbid you’re Queer in such a mix, then it’s just Dr. Dilbag’s guarantee to cure teh Queer out of your crotch! But I digress.

Our Undog Died Last Night

When the unhusband first brought home our undog, I refused to pet him or interact with him for days.  I was ill the day they went to the humane society to pick a cat, and so I chose one from their internet site that I liked.  As they left to go choose a cat, my last words were, "don't come home with a male orange tabby," and of course that is exactly what I got.

Slowly but surely, he wormed his way into my heart.  He would sit for hours curled on my lap, begging me to keep him safe from the boys who just wanted to love him to pieces.  At night when they were calm, he would take turns sleeping on their beds, proving that there is nothing as peaceful and wonderful as a sleeping child.  I am not a cat person, but Darren was so very special.

Thoughts on Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job

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. This week he has decided to give us an end of the week surprise with his thoughts on Christopher Moore.

My urban fantasy addiction continues apace, yes yes I am and I have devoured yet more books. I don’t particularly think to make a regular habit of writing “reviews” because my thoughts are not nearly organized enough – besides, I snark more than I review. Yes yes I do.   

But sometimes I have so much snark than even the podcast with Renee and Tami cannot cover it all and I just have to have me a ramble.

And this book is certainly one of those times. Recommended by Renee who will be blamed for this (yes yes she will) I have just read A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore on my lovely kindle (which is making reading so much easier and quicker these days. Beloved is complaining that if I’m not watched for 2 seconds I will pull out an ebook)
Reading this book is like eating a big rich chocolate cake – that’s attached to the mains supply. It’s tasty and wonderful but you keep getting majorly unpleasant electric shocks that ruin the whole experience.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is suing the Washington City Paper For Drawing him in an Anti-Semitic Way

Dan Snyder is suing The Washington City Paper because “In its cover art, the Washington City Paper depicted the Jewish Mr. Snyder in a blatantly anti-Semitic way, complete with horns, bushy eyebrows and dollar signs.”  The image can absolutely be construed as Anti-Semitic, but I find it interesting that when it comes to his own self-interest, that Snyder can determine an injustice, however, when it effects his pocket book, continuing to profit from the racist name i.e. The Washington Redskins and the logo, he sees nothing problematic. Oh the irony, it burns.

Born This Way

Every Saturday, I do a link round up post, to direct you to some of the great article that I came across on the internet.  Today, I discovered a blog that I really want to share with you.  It's called Born This Way.  It features images of young LGBT people, followed by a small coming out story. What I love about this blog, is that it breaks down the idea that this is a lifestyle choice, rather than something innate to people.

As a mother, it reminded me to be hyper vigilant when dealing with my children.  I don't believe that there is a stereotypical way of being gay, but I do believe that we consciously direct children to certain activities, because we feel that they are gender appropriate.  I believe that most parents assume heterosexuality with their children, that in some cases leads to years of shame and pain.

There is no Defending 'Madea's Big Happy Family'

The above video is the preview for Tyler Perry's new movie, Madea's Big Happy Family.  I don't see how it is possible to watch it and not be overwhelmed by the coonery and buffonery.  I am tired of seeing the defense that Tyler Perry employs Blacks, when the result of this employment is the suggestion that Blacks are inferior.  It is clear that Perry has been influenced by Amos 'n' Andy. Though we are desperate to see faces that look like ours, if the film does not serve the purposes of uplift, it actually moves the project of achieving equality that much further away.  Our various stores need to be told and this is far removed from speaking truth to power.

History Don't Tell

Itoro Udofia is an artist and writer living in Amherst, MA. Currently, she is attending graduate school to study social justice and education. Her work focuses primarily on the African Diaspora, black womanhood, identity, solidarity, and love. She hopes to continue using art as a tool for social justice. 

History don’t tell my students what they need to know
Students here are dark and poor
History shows them lily white
Shows them men with guns and might
Tells elaborate tales of landed gentry
White male landowners owning all the property
They hear the drones of their declarations, contestations and Modernity
No surprise students start to say, 
“Maybe someday that could be me!”

History don’t let the students know
The resistance of 500 years ago
The people locked out of the American Dream
The people who labored and toiled this earth
While Massa got fat and lived the dream on their backs
History doesn’t tell the students what they need to know
Need to know to fight all that

The red on the reservation
The black on the plantation
The white indentured servant on the field
The yellow on the railroad
The brown migrant worker
The woman and child’s nimble fingers in the factory
The immigrant who met with a rude awakening
The differently abled body who couldn’t fit into the capitalist logic of efficiency
Or the one who loves differently
The supremacy
The divvying people up
For empire dreams
Profit maximizing and expanding on human bodies

History don’t let the students know
The Reality
Of people fighting
Fighting all that
Building solidarity
Voices speaking
Spitting out the Great White Father’s milk
Demanding something else
History needs to let students see
Let students see all that
And see these people as themselves
‘Cause when they go out there
And leave the classroom for good
History should have done it's job
And told them the truth
And History needs to give them the tools to use
‘Cause when they leave
Leave the classroom for good
It’s the same thing

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Week's Top Troll

I have not done one of this in awhile and so I think it is once again time to shed some light on the back of the house.  As always these comments come with a trigger warning for various isms.  I think that these posts are important because they help to affirm that the isms that the co-bloggers and I fight everyday are indeed real and have a huge impact on our lives.  At the end of the monstrosity you will be given the opportunity to choose who this week's top troll should.  If you have the energy left, please share why you made the choice that you did.

Happy Birthday Alice Walker

Alice Walker is the author of my favorite book, The Colour Purple, and today marks the joyous celebration of her 67th birthday.  As her characters leaped off the pages, filling my mind with their lyrical speech, I pondered what it really means to be Black and female.  Are we entitled to love?  Are we entitled to joy and to have a seat at the table of plenty?  In the face of all of the ugliness that has been done to us -- and continues to occur every day -- do we possess the singular strength to rise above and face this world as whole, rather than damaged, beings?

As I continued to read her work, she gave me words for things that I thought only existed in my imagination and I became a womanist - a warrior.  I came to know myself and trust in that knowledge to guide me.  I began to see my body as beautiful, ripe with the beauty that is womanhood.  And most importantly, I learned that my voice can and should be heard.  There is no space which can hold me that I desire to be freed from, because my spirit and indeed the spirit of all women, is a force to be reckoned with. 

As I came to understand, this was a metaphyiscal journey, in that everything I thought I knew before I came to consciousness was understood as the oppressor's truth.  I had to create new ways of learning and understanding this world with the idea that women of colour were central to its foundation and future success.  I had to see that power was not only coercive, but a creative force through which I could ply my work in the name of freedom and equality.  This new body -- one that looked upon the world with large brown eyes -- was forged in fire and from this savage heat, I would emerge rejuvenated with hope and a desire to bond with my sisters.  In this sisterhood, we could share a community and birth a world of our creation, a world that spoke not of the master's truth, but the true divinity of life.

So much of who I am today would not exist without Alice taking the time to mother me with the love, passion, and patience of her words.  To read her work is to learn to rethink how we understand 'woman' and where we really belong in the twisted hierarchy of bodies.  It takes courage to look into face of hatred and speak your truth and I thank Alice Walker for arming me with the strength to say, "I, too, will be heard."  Happy Birthday, Alice.  

White Supremacy Recruits Immigrants to Keep Black Americans “In their place”

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

Much brouhaha was made last week when a woman who describes herself as Ethiopian decided to make a Youtube video telling the world how much she despises and looks down on Black American women. I am not even going to link the video here, because this woman does not need any more publicity than she has already gotten.

While it would be easy to disparage this young woman, to call her a bigot, deluded or even (inaccurately) a racist, the truth is, she is a victim of the same white supremacist system that oppresses American Black women. The tactics used by the white supremacists have convinced her that by cooperating with white racists, becoming complicit in their devaluation of Black Americans, she will somehow gain acceptance and be elevated above Black Americans.

The white supremacists that run the United States have been using this "divide and conquer" strategy to enforce their racist policies for hundreds of years.

When slavery was legal in the United States, the white slave owners used skin tone to keep Black people divided. They pretended to give elevated status to those slaves who were seen as being closer to "white" - those with light skin, straight hair, narrow noses, and other physical characteristics seen as being "European". Though these individuals were still considered mere property to the racist men and women certain concessions were made to help create a "class" of slaves - known commonly as "house Negroes" who were treated slightly better than their darker skinned contemporaries - the "field Negroes". The white slave owners used the "house Negroes" to enforce their oppressive policies on the "field Negroes" in return for special "privileges". And, in some cases, the lighter skinned slaves, the ones who were given preferential treatment, were brainwashed into believing that the white men and women actually had their best interests at heart. 

Madame Noir Recommends Spanking Children

I will occasionally skim through Madame Noir, though it is often full of so much fail, that it is not  worthy of my time.  Yesterday, as I was skimming, I came across and article by LaShaun Williams entitled, 8 Reasons to Spank Your Kids.  I normally have a non interference policy when it comes to other peoples kids, but I draw the line at abuse and this includes spanking.  The following is the list Williams gave to justify violence.
  1. You have to love your child enough to be tough and do what is necessary to get the desired result. Parent first, friend second.
  2.  To be feared (in the sense of reverence) is to be respected. Your children should be weary of going against your rules. It also teaches them to submit to authority regardless of whether or not they agree.
  3. Our destinies are determined by decision-making. Children have the option to obey or face the consequences, and they need to know consequences hurt.
  4. When you are aware of what is on the other side of making a poor decision, it is easier to exercise restraint.
  5. Every decision has an outcome, good or bad. Just as your reward your child for the good, you must also acknowledge and address the bad.
  6. Children need limits to learn how to grow up with restraint. They will never be able to do whatever they want. Teach them to live by the rules set in place.
  7. Western parents seem to assume fragility rather than strength. Spanking your child properly is not going to damage their self-esteem. Accepting mediocrity and dismissing poor behavior teaches them to indulge in being weak.
  8. Some kids need it, period. When time-out, talking and taking away toys doesn’t work, you have to get that butt.

It seems to me that what the author is trying to encourage is discipline.  Those who have to resort to spanking to punish, do so because that is often how they were punished, and they don't realize that there are many forms of discipline.  They are not thinking about what hitting actually teaches children.  The message that kids internalize is that they have no right to bodily integrity, because they are small and that big people can hit little people at any time.  This is not a good message to teach.

My Genital Affirmation

I came across this awesome youtube video, and since I believe in sharing, please enjoy.  As always, you will find the transcript below the fold.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HuffPo and the Global Black are Dedicated to African American Readers

NBC has The Grio, The Washington Post has The Root, AOL has Black Voices. and now The Huffington Post is throwing it's ring into the hat with The Global Black.
The latest HuffPo section slated to launch is HuffPost GlobalBlack, which will target African-American readers by presenting content "through the lens of the black experience," according to a release blasted out Thursday morning. The site is scheduled to go live in March through a partnership with Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.
Really?  Huffpo approached Black Exploitation Television, otherwise known as coonery R us, to reach African American people.  I don't even remember the last time BET was relevant, but oh well.

I have been thinking a lot about creating these separate pages to capture the thoughts, impulses and issues of African Americans.  Can this really be understood as a positive step forward?  It certainly employs a lot of Black writers and in the case of Black Voices and The Root (minus Jimi Israel) in particular, sets forth what can often be considered cutting edge analysis. Adding Black commentary can do nothing but improve (the faux liberal) Huffpo.

Pepsi Max Race Failure

After seeing this commercial, I am once again thrilled that in Canada we saw completely different set of SuperBowl ads than the U.S.  The above advertisement was sent to me by blakdiamon, and after seeing the racist/sexist extravaganza I had to write something in response.

Spark of Wisdom: Homophobia exists, ultimately, because most people let it exist

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.

So this week finds me nursing another bruise because someone's put his fist in my face. It probably doesn't say much for my life history that I've lost count of the times I've been nursing bruises like this.

And in general I feel tired. I can't even muster any particular outrage or fury about this. I've kind of reached a level of acceptance - there are violent arseholes who hate me and sometimes they'll get through, such is life. It's actually ironic that I get more furious with the society that encourages and protects and supports these arseholes - with the hate speech, the silencing, the politics, the moralising, the wall to wall straight privilege and the unrelenting heterosexist nature of the world and all of the bile we've become used to - than I do with the violent arsehole himself. Because a violent arsehole I can almost write off as that. 

If I live to a hundred - if my great-great-great grand children live to a hundred - I still don't think we'll be free of violent arseholes who will hate gay people and like to hurt us. People are arseholes, always have been, and most certainly will always be. And if there is more intelligent life in the universe, we'll never meet them, because the most intelligent thing they could do is keep as far away from us as they can.

Jezebel Circles Wagons Part II

If I had known Jezebel was going to try and fuck me again, I would have put on a prettier dress.  Once you can forgive, but two times is making it a habit ladies.  Apparently, the fact that I don't cream my panties over Jessica Valenti is truly a sin, or at least Irin Carmon writing for Jezebel thought so.
Is it possible to be successful without making yourself generally insufferable, or maybe loathed by a few? Well, supporting your peers and mentoring the next generation, including other women, helps, as does having something tangible to contribute to the world beyond yourself. But even when you've been widely acknowledged as doing those things, as say, Jessica Valenti has, success will always bring someone accusing you of being in it for yourself, as seen in this piece of unvarnished, unearned nastiness. ("She is like every other professional feminist, dedicated to promoting herself.") It's a shame that rising through mainstream channels or getting paid are things that induce knee-jerk sniping from other women, notwithstanding actual substantive criticism.
I am many things, but the one thing I am not is shy.  If you have shit to say about me, say my name and stop playing passive aggressive games. I stand behind what I write, especially when it comes to Whiteness.  Instead of focusing on the argument that certain bodies continue to get ahead, while others labour in obscurity based specifically on isms, Jezebel once again circled their wagons and went into great White lady defense mode.

Monday, February 7, 2011

PeTA Believes Veggies Love Is All About Exploiting Women

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you are well aware of my absolute disdain, nay hatred for PeTA.  In the name of ending animal cruelty, there is no ism that they will avoid exploiting. Last year they offered 3 million to have a commercial aired which was basically one step below porn.  This year they decided to go a cheaper route and simply make a commercial with the out takes from last year. The commercial has gone from looking like stylized porn to badly done home made porn, proving that you can always sink lower.

The following video is not safe for work and is highly sexual.

Mary Harvey is Making Black History by Starting to Think Like a Man S

Genma Holmes blogs about issues that speak to her heart; her wonderful children, the challenges of motherhood and her business ventures from pest control owner to writing and publishing to continuing to work in the fashion industry. She is a lover of the environment and works with non-profits that help young people be the leaders of tomorrow. Her perspective of life was shaped by loving grandparents who practiced social activism that will help change how we see the world we live in for the greater good of all people.

This is the first week of Black folks’ holiest time of the year, Black History Month. As Civil Rights heroes’ sacrifices are remembered, Blacks and white folks are at their best and unified. The finest and brightest are trotted out for twenty eight days before mayhem resumes March 1. White folks give Blacks all the air time they are going to get for the year in February. I was going to blog about the many local unsung heroes that work tirelessly every day of the year to honor the past, deal with present day challenges, and help prepare young people for the future who often hidden in the community. My thoughts were thrown out after l heard Tom Joyner tell Mary Harvey that her ex-hubby, radio host Steve Harvey, was “doing good in the community”. The ugly history of Steve and Mary Harvey’s marriage that has spilled over to You Tube, Twitter, blogs, and now morning drive time is history of sorts that reveals much about the community of color.

I have often shared with individuals that greatest influences in my life were my grandparents. I was raised by country people who believed strongly that what is said and done in their house, stayed in their house. But living in Nashville has taught me that my grandparents thinking come with a price. Interacting with individuals with bottled emotions from yesteryear has led to a subgroup of folks who can come unglued socially because they have unresolved wounds and hurts. Black folks DONOT embrace counseling; they are told by church leaders to pray about it. So many go to church and shout. Steve and Mary Harvey’s very public feud is a byproduct of many issues that face the community that is glossed over by Essence cover stories.

Before I go any further, let me confess, Steve Harvey is an unimpressive comic to me and his wife shows a martyr’s loyalty- till-I- die mentality that I loathe. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the viral video “he said, she said” saga that has gone mainstream.

Motherhood is a Political Choice

On the post about Jessica Valenti that I wrote on Friday, Politicalguineapig had the following to say:
I'm guessing you didn't read mai'a's subsequent responses in the Feministe post. She did take that attitude in the comments. "mama' is still kinda cloying to me, just because it's another of those 'oh let's celebrate our biological functions.' Women have periods, women have kids- neither of them grant the possesor any sort of special insight, beyond personal knowledge of how society treats families/women, and the importance each society places on kids/fetii/eggs.

She also kind of irritated me because it was clear that she didn't identify as anything other than a mom who happened to be involved in politics.

And that blither about 'sending calming waves' just put me on notice that this was not a person I'd ever take seriously. And don't call race on me- I seriously thought she was white, cause she reminded me of a white mom in my neighborhood and a few friends of my mom. (My mom's into all sorts of weird mystical sh*t. Really ought to know better, considering her occupation, but.. whatev.)
I actually slammed closed my laptop so hard, my children asked, "what's the matter mom"?  Please explain to me what is wrong with celebrating our womanhood?  In fact, taking ownership over the myth that periods make us foul and unclean, is a radical act of love, in a world that shames the biological processes of women, while uplifting those of men.  Let me specify here, that I speaking specifically of cisgender men and women.  WOC have historically been constructed as 'unwomen' and by reveling in that which makes them female, it is absolutely an indication of self love.  This is important to me, because we are told not to love ourselves, not to celebrate our womanhood, and that our bodies are somehow deficient.