Saturday, April 30, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

 Good morning everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  Once again, I wanted to remind everyone that we cannot always agree, and that the point of what goes on here is to be exposed to new ideas from perspectives we may not be familiar with.  It can sometimes be contentious but if we just bury these issues and pretend that they don't exist nothing will ever change.

I wanted to remind everyone that I am still looking for a Latina contributor.  There are issues that are very specific to the Latino community and I as a Canadian Black woman, am hardly fluent.  In an effort to make this blog as intersectional as possible it is my hope that someone will read this and take on this role.  If you are interested in joining the team, please send in two examples of your work and a short note about why social justice is important to you.  This is a non paid position but you must be prepared to blog either weekly or bi-weekly.  Preference will be given to those who are able to do a weekly commitment.  Please send your info to womanistmusings (at) gmail(dot) com.  As always those who are interested in submitting a guest post may use that address as well.  Please include a link back to your blog, an image that identifies you and a small three line bio.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  Remember, when you are done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot, and leave your link behind in the comment section.

"Fallen" Soldiers: Unsolved Death Cases of Black Women in the Military
The Muslim woman as constructed by book cover designs
This is What a Sexless Marriage Feels Like
Hate Groups Cope With Rising Gas Prices
Celebrity Domestic Violence
Sex & The Spectrum: One Asexual Partner & One Sexual Partner
Why I use cis and trans as adjectives rather than prefixes
Five Different Types of Racism Explained
Healing the Hurt and Shame of Native Residential Schools
The Culture of Greener Grass
After The World Stop Turning
Opponents of Social Progress - In The Bedrooms of the Nations II
It's Time to Talk to Employers About Domestic Workers' Rights
i listen to the silence
Slut Walk London
Who Will Vote For The Children

Friday, April 29, 2011

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

So I am going to fess up and admit that I got up at 5AM to watch the royal wedding (yes go ahead and laugh) Would you believe me if I said I watched it because of an interest in the fashion?  Nope, not the dress - honestly, one White dress is the same as another but this:
Maybe it is a Cannuck thing, but I seriously don't get the British obsession with hats, furthermore; the more formal the occasion is, the more ridiculous the hats become.  Can someone please explain to me what Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were thinking?  It goes to show you that class status does not equal taste.  I believe they would have done better shopping in a consignment shop. To make matters worse, they were not the only ones.

Okay, so this week's question is: What physical statement of class privilege do you find absolutely ridiculous?

Mortal Instruments Review

An end of the week surprise from Sparky of Spark in Darkness

Ok as I’ve said before that I’m an Urban Fantasy addict. And that Renee, Tami, Dan and I all get together every Monday over at Talkshoe to ramble about what we’ve watched/read (Renee is always wrong and Dan and Tami need to get more Vampire Diaries in their lives). All our past episodes are over there as well.

In fact on my blog you can see the widget sound thing on the right there *points* where you can click play and hear the latest episode and choose past episodes as well.

Anyway, I am plunging through books at a rapid rate, and advised by Renee (who is blamed) we picked up the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

And I have now finished City of Fallen Angels, which means I’ve read all 4 of the current books in the series. I’m told more are coming… Portents of doom indeed. Yes, I’ve set the tone. I was not a happy dappy fan of this series, I have to say

I’m going to try and keep this largely unspoiled but I don’t guarantee it. So if you’re utterly terrified of minor spoilers look away now.

White Guys Who Miss It (The Point)

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

You know, dear readers, that I can’t stand it when this happens: I am moderating, and a commenter posts “Oh here’s my response!” and me, ever na├»ve, go and click the link to see what was written. So as soon as I start thinking, “Okay, maybe I should give white guys the benefit of the doubt…” THIS COMES IN.

This guy, who I’ll call Trumpbag (pro-tip: New fad, swears and putdowns will henceforth be replaced with Trump because of Donald Trump’s trumpbaggery) took a list that we made a while back where Renee, myself, and Monica ala TransGriot and Sparky made with initial 40 things that white privileged folks should stop saying/doing/etc.

This list was sort of a venting process, and discussed a variety of things from racism, ethnocentrism, to religious phobias, to stereotypes, to sexuality and sexual orientation, cissexism, and other issues. We invited our lovely readers to share their own pieces, and MANY of you responded and provided some awesome ones too.

However, apparently it was not enough for Trumpbag. No. He had to instead, tell US we are doing it wrong (my face when). US the creators of the list, and YOU the folks contributing. His view of wrong? We didn’t explain in nice (cough, see introductionary 101 terminology, cough) detailed reasons why these things were problematic. We didn’t put it into a nice neat package for white people to sample and learn to get some edujoomicashuns (because that’s our job as marginalized folks, 24/7, amirite?).
I point out a mistake (transgendered; again? Really?) and he polices me on some (admittedly stereotypical east coast/MA) language. We engage in some comment banter. But as I read more and more of his tirade, the amount of fails IS STAGGERING that I can’t help but go NO! Not only do majority of his points MISS OBVIOUS THINGS and his witty side banter that basically dismisses these questions (see his responses for numbers 4, 7 [specifically: forgetting trans people], 9, 17, 21 [studies = totes possible truths], 23, 26, 32, 33). Does this guy also fuck a thesaurus, too?

Borrowed Memories And Half-Sounded Syllables

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. 

Last week, I saw ‘A Passage To India‘ with my parents and grandma, it started out as a hilarious exercise in pointing out just how many racist elements could one mesh in a movie — turns out more than we can ever count! — and making cynical notes in my head like, “Not all Indians are always smiling all the time, okay?” and “Not all brown women keep their gaze centered on their feet, no not even always in colonial times!” to the part where my grandma started laughing at the “Silly white women trying to speak Hindi!” and then she started telling us about her school days — some 65 years ago when she was roughly about 12 years old¹ — where she and her friends would race to the Colonial Bungalow near their school in Pune, about running right home whenever they’d hear the horses hooves — for almost always it was the British in their town on horses — and trying to touch the fence of the Bungalow but being too scared to physically try it out, to the time when she and her older sister got caught and were lashed for ‘something’ which she doesn’t tell us. She was laughing at how uneven and rough their Hindi sounded, but didn’t know what the movie was about as her English isn’t as good – partly because of the time she was born in and in part because of her own decision to never ‘learn that tongue’ as an adolescent – and for a bit there, mum was transcribing what was happening on-screen and stripping the dialogue, settings from its inherent racism — pretty ironic for  a woman who once protested against the ‘White Imperial Capitalist Hegemony’ in the mid 80′s I thought — and by the time my grandma fully understood why were the White women speaking to the sari-clad-purdah-observing women, it wasn’t funny anymore to her. It took her a couple of days and a few sleeping pills to ‘become’ herself again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How do you Unlearn Supremacy? Field Notes on Sri Lanka, Sinhala supremacy and Third-world radical solidarity

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.

I've started and abandoned this post many times in the last year. Sometimes, I wouldn't even get as far as typing words, I would just bury the thoughts in my head. Other times, I would stare at the screen while my brain refused to activate my fingers. Recognizing that hate has been planted deep inside you, that somewhere along the way you learned to see a people as less than human, is far from simple. This is why many white people live their whole lives vociferously denying racism, because to admit its existence would necessitate a long, hard look into the hate they are taught to live, breathe and perpetuate everyday. I've written a great deal about whiteness, race and privilege, and yet I keep shrinking from an honest examination of my own ethnic privilege relative to my home nation, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has been racked by the longest Civil War in South-east Asia, and yet as a country we are barely a blip on the radar of the Western world. The only time we are allowed to appear on the hallowed screens of the BBC and the CNN is when increased violence allows ample fodder for First World viewers to objectify more brown bodies and cultures, to feel sorry for us. I say 'us' even though I and my family have never been placed in a concentration camp, lost someone to a suicide bombing or been forced off our home by the military. Do I have a right to say 'us'?

Happy Belated Birthday to Womanist Musings

Happy third birthday Libbyphoto © 2007 Andy Eick | more info (via: Wylio)

Okay, I missed my own blogoversary.  The anniversary of this blog is actually April 21st, and I thought for some reason that it was April 28th.  I decided to write this post anyway, because I think three years of hard work and great conversations should absolutely be acknowledged. 

The following are a few of my favourite posts over the last three years.

A Black Man or a White Woman
All Children Are Not The Same
Baby, Baby You're Too Sensitive
Yes, Disableism and Fat Hatred Do Go Hand in Hand
George Micheal: Celebrity, Body Image and Doubts
What Are We Really Giving Thanks For?
Gay is not The New Black but Gay Rights are Civil Rights
Honouring The Rage
Black Women Get Beat By the Police Too
Terrence Howard is Ebonys Renaissance Man
Okay Americans It's On
It's Canada Day So I Going To Tell You How It Is
Abortion The Choice We Do Not Speak Of
Nelson Mandela Whose Hero Is He?
What Is The Future of Social Justice Blogging?

As I was reading through the archives last night, it really hit me how much I have grown as a person.  I started off identifying as a feminist/womanist when I began this blog to now identifying as a womanist.  Over the years, I have failed spectacularly and in so doing learned a lot. I have laughed and I have cried and it has never been boring.

When I first started Womanist Musings, it was just me writing my thoughts on different events, and it has since grown to include the work of some brilliant bloggers.  Thank you Dan, Paul, Jaded, Tassja, Matt, Joanna, and everyone else who has ever contributed a post to the blog.  A special thank you to those who take the time to read and comment every day.  Thank you all for making my online home a special place.

What's Race Got To Do With It?: An Explosion in Dating Advice Failure

I Got The Fever: Love What's Race Got To Do With It? is a supposed guide on interracial dating by J.C. Davies, a former Wall St analyst.

I must admit upfront that I have not read this book, but I have really good reasons as to why.  Let's start with the fact that the cover is one big explosion of fetishism.  Do really need another image of men of colour fawning all over a White woman?  The fact that this once again uplifts White women to representative of womanhood is not lost on me.   If I was somehow able to look past all of that, the following chapters in the book would be a deal breaker:
  • jungle fever
  • yellow fever
  • salsa fever
 Really?  This is supposed to provide help for Whites dating people of colour?  As a Black woman, it is enough to have me running the other direction.  If you are not yet convinced, have a look at this.

Tropes vs. Women: #3 The Smurfette Principle

Bitch magazine has created a series of videos entitled tropes vs women. The first one is The Manic Pixie Dream Girl and the second is Women in Refrigerators.

So, you know when you are watching television or a movie, and you notice that all of characters are largely male with the inclusion of one female character that the phenomenon actually has a name?  It's called the Smurfette Principle and it was coined by Katha Pollitt.  So as you have probably guessed by now, the third video is called, The Smurfette Principle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Black In Latin America: Cuba the Next Revolution

Episode 2: Cuba: The Next Revolution
In Cuba, Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th-century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro's communist revolution in 1959.

I am continuing to watch the PBS special Black in Latin America.  Last night the focus was on Cuba.  I must admit that I am not very familiar with the history of race relations in Cuba and so this was quite fascinating to me. Throughout the hour long documentary, Dr.Gates continually suggested that Cuba would have been a country of racial equality had it not been for the intervention of the U.S. during it's war of independence from Spain.  It seems as though along with attempting to include Cuba under its sphere of influence that the U.S. exported it's ideas of racial hierarchy and the suppression of Blacks.  Former slaves who had fought in the war of independence with Spain quickly found themselves considered to be second class citizens though there were no official segregation laws. 

Is it a hate crime if they did not know she was transgendered?

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 few days ago, a video went viral on the internet. It was recorded at a McDonald’s restaurant in Baltimore, and showed two young Black women assaulting a white woman while employees stood around watching. There was no context provided as to what, if anything, provoked the assault, but it was a brutal beating that resulted in the white woman on the floor having a seizure. It was very violent, but rather typical of the sort of video that has been so popular since the advent of the youtube craze.
As expected, immediately, white people jumped in to decry this as a hate crime, because of the different races involved. Predictably, there were racial epithets thrown around, and the attackers were derided as “typical” examples of their race. Even though there was no mention of the race of the victim during the attack, and, in my opinion, the attack seemed to have some impetus behind it that had nothing to do with race at all, immediately, the cries about how “white people are victims of hate crimes more than anyone else” began.

Will.I.Am On Proper Women's Behaviour

Les Black Eyed Peas en concert au VIP Room Parisphoto © 2009 nicolas genin | more info (via: Wylio)

There's nothing like a man who thinks he has the right to sit in judgement of women's behaviour. Doesn't it make you feel all warm and squishy inside, when a guy talks to you about your personal hygiene and makes snap decisions on how you choose to protect yourself sexually?  What everyone needs is a big strong man to keep them on the morally hygienic path.

WILL.I.AM recently did an interview with Elle magazine that once again reveals just how determined some men are to belittle women.

ELLE:  If you walked into a woman’s house, what one item would convince you that you weren’t compatible?
W:  If she had condoms in her house, that would just fuckin’ throw me off. That’s just tacky.
ELLE: Well, okay, I could see if she had a candy bowl full of them on the coffee table. But if she’s got a few in a drawer, wouldn’t that simply suggest she’s health-conscious?
W: I just think, like, if you’re into someone and you guys get to that level, then that’s something you should converse about together and say, “Hey, maybe we should get some.” Another pet peeve is wet sinks.
ELLE: Wet sinks?
W: Yeah, like a wet sink. You don’t wipe the sink after you use it? Dry it off! And if she’s got only dry toilet paper and no baby wipes next to the toilet. You ain’t got no baby wipes?
ELLE:  I’ve heard about this particular deal breaker before. Why is that a big deal to you?
W:  Here’s proof on why people should have baby wipes. Get some chocolate, wipe it on a wooden floor, and then try to get it up with some dry towels. You’re going to get chocolate in the cracks. That’s why you gotta get them baby wipes.
To his credit, interviewer Andrew Goldman did try, but WILL.I.AM was absolutely determined to be a douche.  I suppose you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink from the lake of sensibility and anti-sexism.

Stonewall Uprising

PBS recently aired a documentary entitle Stonewall Uprising that I thought everyone might be interested in seeing. It is not often that LGBT history is featured so prominently and I think it is important that we all check it out.  You can watch the documentary in full here

Navel Gazing Concern Troll on Over Drive

Email customized iconphoto © 2010 Keri J | more info (via: Wylio)

I recently wrote a piece about the cluelessness of Gweneth Paltrow.  You would think that writing about that woman, would be enough to spare me from navel gazing concern trolls from hell, but you would be wrong.  Every day my email is inundated with the most ridiculous commentary.  There are days when it is enough to make me want to bang my head repeatedly against a desk.  In the hopes of alleviating some of the stress, I have decided to share the following one with you.

I saw your blog linked on Tumblr, so I read your post and...

You proved Gwyneth correct with your intro:

As I have said before, people love to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow, and to that I must add that it is with good cause.  Could there be a more clueless, rich, cisgender, straight, White woman running around? I know that before I even start reading an article about her, that I am going to be irritated, and yet my masochist tendencies mean that I still read it through.  Of course, this ends with me spewing epithets, while I go on a five minute or so rant, about her obliviousness to the world around her.
It could be your masochism...and it could be that your anger is misdirected. Instead of being angry at someone who is privileged but is working hard to earn her privilege (as opposed to the children of rich, powerful people who spend their days boozing, sexing, rolling around in their money), you could focus on the privileges that you have that someone else envies you for - for example, owning a laptop...used to promote your anger, having 10 fingers...that can type hateful messages about someone, the ability to easily fire.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What makes a good story?

Last night, Tami, of What Tami Said, Dan, Paul (sparky) and I gathered to do our weekly urban fantasy chat.

As per usual, Tami reneged on her responsibility to watch the teen angsty show The Vampire Diaries.  She has also yet to suffer the horror of LA Banks.  Sparky (Paul) was in good form for a change, because he actually agreed that I was right, and Dan bounced around his allegiances.

This week, we discussed Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series, as well Pale Demon, Kim Harrison's latest novel.  Be forewarned that the conversation does include spoilers.  We take a critical look at urban fantasy each week not because we dislike the genre, but because we love it in spite of the  repeated fails.  It is simply impossible to consume any form of media without isms interjecting themselves, and this is why it is important to acknowledge the messages that the media is sending us.

It's Hard Out There For a Poly, Pansexual POC...

 Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

So, readers. I am single! That means dating, clubs, and cute boys buying me pink drinks, right?

Actually, I prefer a quieter scene, I only drink fairly rarely, and how can I screen guys effectively when 90% of the ones being shoved at me are white both locally and online?

As some of you may remember, I announced that I am not dating white folks anymore. I made the decision after giving a long thought to the most effective way to cut down on the amount of race fails I get nearly every time.

But here’s the thing. How can I exercise this when all the dating websites I am on keep showing me guys that are white? 90% of my “immediate matches” are white, and my “quick matches” are also all white. And I know that some of you are like “Well they may be pale like you, Dan!” but I go and check (by using anonymous viewing features) and they are in fact white, since their self-identification on the little quick-info sheet on their profile says as much.

When I contacted the website to ask if there was some sort of filter for this, I basically got a “stop being racist” remark and this:

Privileged Musings: 40 Things People Need to Stop Saying

216/365 Q is for Quietphoto © 2009 stuartpilbrow | more info (via: Wylio)

Due to the nature of blogging and the tenacity of isms, conversations have a tendency to be repeated in this space.  No matter how many times the regular contributors, regular commenters or myself, point out harmful tropes, they have a tendency to keep popping up.  This is because some people jump into conversations before getting their 101 on. Let's have a look at some of the most common pitfalls that  keep popping up, even though they are clueless as all hell because people either don't want to own their privilege or simply don't give a damn.
  1. How come there is a Black History month and no White History month?
  2. It's racist to have a station called Black Entertainment Television, without having a White Entertainment
  3. How come straight people don't get to have straight pride parades?
  4. How come straight people don't get safe spaces?
  5. Whenever there's real danger, men's lives always get sacrificed for women - titanic anyone
  6. I don't want to be called cisgender and while we are at it, what does cisgender mean?
  7. If you can't have a baby then you are not a real woman
  8. Tell me about your genital configuration in detail and if you have had surgery what was it like
  9. It really is deceitful if trans and or gay people don't declare who they really are
  10. Oh, my gaydar is going off and I can always tell when someone is gay or lesbian
  11. Bisexuals are just selfish and greedy, they can't stick with just one
  12. Are you a dot Indian or a woo-woo Indian?
  13. Those [insert Asian group here] are very nice, not like [insert other Asian group here].
  14. Muslim men don't know how to treat their women
  15. Why are people of colour always playing the race card?
  16. They aren't free unless we tell them how to be free
  17. Reverse racism is real
  18. All Asian languages sound the same 
  19. You don't look disabled
  20. You're not REALLY [insert racial/ethnic group] because I can speak your/their language better than you can.
  21. Blacks are uniquely homophobic
  22. Why are Black people always angry?
  23. I'm not gay, but I'll kiss a girl to get a guy's attention.
  24. When did you decide that you were gay or trans?
  25. No, what's your REAL name? Like the name on your I.D?
  26. What are you really?
  27. I can say this because I dated a [insert group here]   
  28. I'm not racist my best friend was Black when I was kid
  29. White people have no culture
  30. The confederate flag is part of MY culture! I'm celebrating history - heritage not hate
  31. Slavery was a long time ago and Blacks need to stop whining about it
  32. Why should I be punished, I never owned a slave?
  33. Stop over eating and watch what you eat and you won't be fat
  34. Make me a sandwich
  35. Blacks owned slaves too
  36. She must be on her period she's crabby today
  37. She was asking for it
  38. If you dress like a hooker, you're going to be treated like one
  39. Today, White men are the most discriminated against minority. 
  40. All fat people are just unhealthy slobs

 As long as this list is, it could be so much longer. If you happen to be one of those who has said or continues to say some of the aforementioned phrases just stop it.  It is not amusing, or empathetic.  Please use this comment thread to list bigoted statements that are often passed off as legitimate discourse that get on your last nerve. 

Why I am NOT watching the Royal Het Fest

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.
Probably my first and last words on this interminable subject. Honestly, it's enough to make one become republican (uh... that's republican in a British context not in a US context. If I ever support the US Republican party, you know I have been kidnapped and a freaky doppleganger has stolen my computer)

I am not a Royal watcher. I don't particularly give a damn about the royals one way or the other. And that counts both ways - I don't give a damn about their happy-dappy shiny moments and I don't give a damn about their disgraces or scandals. The only thing more boring than the random lives of the royals are the random lives of various Big Brother contestants and Katie bloody Price. Sadly, the media seems to believe I should care about all of these subjects to eye-achingly awful degree.

So, I was bored of all the hype about 5 seconds after it was announced and bemused by the people squeeing in abject glee. I'm not excited and I'm amazed at the number of people who seem to think I should be.

I'll not be watching the Royal Wedding or any of the incessant coverage of it and not just because I'd rather sit in front of Beloved's fish tank (which, as predicted, he has completely lost interest in. But I digress) and watch the pretty fishes swim around in circles for several hours instead. No, I won't be watching the festivities not just because I don't think I will ever be that bored, but also because the last thing I need is to see a country-wide het-fest to emphasise just how Other I am.

To Sparky With Love

I am sure that our beloved Sparky is not the only one guilty of this,  fess up people, it's a good way to start the day.