Saturday, June 4, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

Thanks again for a marvelous week of conversations everyone.  It has long been a goal of mine to make Womanist Musings a truly inclusive and intersectional site and I believe we are finally well on the road to that.  It is my hope that at least once a week all readers will see an issue that directly effects them discussed on the blog. I really want this to be a space for marginalized people to gather and discuss issues safely. We may not always get things right, but please trust that a good faith effort exists.

I am currently seeking someone to join the team to talk about issues related to fat activism.  I would like someone who feels comfortable talking about their own experiences, as well as taking an FA perspective to conversations around body image.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team, please send an email to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com with two samples of writing and an explanation as why it is important for you to explore this issue. Please note, this is a non paid writing assignment.

As always, Womanist Musings retains its open guest posting policy.  If you are interested in sharing an original piece or work that you have previously published on your blog, please use the above email.  Please include a small three line bio, and an image that you feel best represents you.

As usual, below you will find links to stories that I found interesting this week.  A link does not necessarily mean endorsement, it simply means that something about the piece caught my attention.  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 you link behind in the comment section.

Why an Apology from Obama on Geronimo is Unlikely
Virginity and Religious Narratives and Elisabeth Smart
"The Sikh Pioneers of North America": The Punjabi-Mexican Americans of California
And If We Cry
How to Make Love to a Trans Person
Being Pushed 
I'm Not Racist But 
The war on drugs is a joke, we know it's a joke, so why don't we change course?
Thoughts on co-dependency in Relation to Latin American women
Honoring African American Civil War Soldiers, But Still Searching for the Myth That is "The Black Confederate."
Egypt: "virginity checks" performed on women arrested after protest
The pregnant pro wrestler: 'You can't fully blame it on her'
I'm Only An American At Your Whim
Close, But......
And If We Cry
Nigella Lawson is right. Baking is a feminist act.
Women of Colour in Burlesque: The Not-So-Hidden-History
Retroactive drug sentencing is change we can believe in
You are such a tease: Are there gender dimensions to all the Breaking Dawn Teaser Trailers
Overcrowding in California Prisons

Friday, June 3, 2011

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

What?photo © 2010 Véronique Debord-Lazaro | more info (via: Wylio)

As everyone knows, I am in the middle of watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  One of things that continues to weigh on my mind about this series is the fact that it has been off the air for years and yet, it still has such dedicated fans.  Very few television shows have that effect on people. With that in mind this week's question are some of your favourite shows, and what programs do you continue to watch, even though they have long since stopped making new episodes and why?

Thinking In Tongues.

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. 

Lately I’ve been very busy translating things — French things to English, diluting some literary Gujarati with the help of my grandma and strangely, also my thoughts from English to my native tongue(s) as this summer break she helps me read in a few tongues that have been rusting inside me since the past few years.  For a long time, English has been my go-to language and my native tongues occupy a secondary position, of horrid pidgins that mix many tongues and dialects – which are hilarious at best and painful at worst — and a language I must use with family, with people who aren’t fluent enough in English, a language that is substituted for English and even then I barrel this tongue with English words — I don’t see this as a necessarily bad thing, just illustrating how no matter how hard I try, my native tongues come to me as an after-thought. Sometimes, my grandma will ask me to read પાની and instead I read “water” in my head, and to save face say the Gujarati word out loud — but she knows anyway that it doesn’t come to me ‘naturally’. Generally we smile at each other when this happens, she asks me to try again and I instruct myself to think in my mother tongue, and it works for a while. Then in about two minutes, she asks me to read a whole sentence and I am again judging it by English syntax and grammar forms. I don’t need to learn to speak read write in these tongues, those I did as a child either in school — where the State you belonged to dictated the tongues you’d learn  – or at home where we speak our mother tongue. It’sthinking in different tongues that I am working on and so far, miserably failing.

Rest In Peace Dr. Jack Kevorkian

The cause of his death was not immediately known, but local media reported that he had suffered from kidney and respiratory problems and that his condition had been worsening in recent days. His death was confirmed by Geoffrey Feiger, the lawyer who represented him during several of his trials in the 1990s.

Dr. Kevorkian, a medical pathologist, challenged social taboos about disease and dying, willfully defied prosecutors and the courts, actively sought national celebrity, and spent eight years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder in the death of the last of the more than 100 terminally ill patients whose lives he helped end.

From June 1990, when he assisted in the first suicide, until March 1999, when he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Dr. Kevorkian was a controversial figure. But his critics and supporters generally agree on this: As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States, and physicians have become more sympathetic to their pain and more willing to prescribe medication to relieve it.(Finish Reading)

So Why I'm Waiting Till I'm 26/27 to Have Kids

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.

 Either by carrying them myself to term or fostercare/adoption, I’m gonna have kids. I got into this discussion with an LJ acquaintance, and while a big rant PC feminist they are very anti-mother and confused by the concept that I’d want kids biologically (and thus questioning, yet again, if I am really trans). Of course, she also is hating on the fact I said that right now, I want to date/get involved with POCs and other Natives, not white people anymore. Really, 98% of those I’ve dated, white as a cucumber. My kids will already be mixed with me, what’s the harm with adding some more in? I am not afraid of having other little POCs running around, but some feminists sure as hell act like they are.

My mother had me when she was 26-turning-27, and continued to work. Hell, she was working and taking the bus full 9 months and fucking walked to work too. I learned this ethic from my mother, and the fact that it is possible (hard, very hard) to be a parent and a worker. Both parents worked in my family, and often I was in the care of my Vavo. Living in a situation of multiple people providing is not unusual to me, and something that is ideal to me and how I want to raise my own kids. 26/27 is a good time. Why? Because by the time they are my age, I’ll be 50. Like my mother. And I’d like to be that age for them at their age of 22, where I can still kick shit and take names. (Running joke is, if I reach 90 I am driving off a cliff saying “BYE HATERS TROLOLOLOL!”)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Islam grants women the right to be political leaders

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.  

“Isn’t she one of those feminists?” The word rolled off his tongue tentatively – as if saying it was like swearing or backbiting. As if it was a bad thing. In light of the situation, calling my sister-in-Islam a feminist was part of a smear campaign geared toward suppressing our opposition to the barrier, which had just been installed in our local university prayer room.

This was a young man – impressionable, uninformed and obviously using the word as he heard it used by others. He just wanted the inside scoop on our barrier protest. Being one of a handful of hijabis on campus, meant that some people just naturally assumed I was more religious, pro-barrier and rejected certain social movements.

I brushed him aside saying that the moment the Prophet championed women’s rights and emphasized equality – he became Islam’s most influential feminist.

My sister in question didn't wear the hijab and was a vocal organizer against the barrier – so she took the brunt of the slander. Any authority and power she could have wielded was suspended because her dedication to the religion was made questionable. Now, no one called her a woman of loose morals. No one accused her of being an enemy of Islam. No one said that her western education threatened the very fabric of Islamic tradition. They just needed to call her a feminist, and innuendo took care of the rest.

Glee PSA Misses the Mark

I know that I am late to this, but I think that it is worth the conversation.  Glee actress Jane Lynch  appeared with disabled activist Lauren Potter in a PSA, which attempted to explain why the R word needs to disappear from our popular lexicon. I absolutely agree with this, though I take issue with the way that the message was expressed.  The following is the PSA in question.

(Note: The video comes with a transcript but please be aware that slurs are used if you are playing it at work or in mixed company)

At the end Lynch says, "The R word is the same as any minority slur, treat it that way and don't use it." I can get behind that statement; however, by having people of different marginalizations state emphatically the slurs that they find offensive, it sets up the idea of comparing oppressions. It is enough to say that this word is a slur and is absolutely inappropriate, without juxtaposing it to words like, fag, kike, nigger and spik. As a viewer, it felt very much to me like Lynch and Potter were justifying why this word is offensive, rather than just saying that a word is offensive.  How does this promote tolerance and respect?

Sex Work in the Media: What if the Star of "Pretty Woman" Was a Woman of Color?

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. She hails from Fresno, CA and is a poet and aspiring film maker. You can find her more personal writing on her blog.
I have been thinking about reviewing and deconstructing films which depict sex workers and a few movies instantly came into mind: Player's Club, This Girls Life, and Monster, but growing up in the 90's, one movie in particular felt like it became somewhat of a cultural symbol. Pretty Woman stands out not only because of the attention it got from both Academy and Golden Globes, but also because it's one of the only movies about sex work that actually has a "fairytale ending". Even though it feels a bit dated, I think the issues presented in the movie and the fact that it had such wide acclaim and mainstream approval still holds much relevance today.

I believe it has everything to do with the fact that the actress who plays the part of the escort, Julia Roberts, is a white, able-bodied cis-woman. This made it possible to introduce the concept of sex worker agency to a mainstream audience. I don't want to dismiss the work of white female sex workers as something that is insignificant to today's discourse, but I find so much lacking when skimming through dialogues, texts and blogs that discuss sex work from this perspective. Critical examinations of sex work are often very much focused on white, cis-gendered, able bodied, straight women, like so many other themes of feminism. As a lesbian Chicana feminist, I feel it's my responsibility to expand what feminism means and what sex work means as well. Here is my take on what Pretty Woman would have been, if the actress was anything BUT.

Thoughts On The Iron Druid Chronicles

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the person who recommended Hounded for our little book club, but I would officially like to say thank you on behalf of Sparky, Tami, Dan and myself.  It was an absolutely awesome read from the very first word, and I cannot say that about a lot of the urban fantasy books that I have recently read.

Hounded, which was released May 3, is the first in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  Hexed, the second book in the series is due out June 7 and Hammered, the third book in the series is due to be released June 28. I am already counting down the days until Hexed is available.

Unlike many books in this genre, not only is the author male but the protagonist is as well. Atticus O'Sullivan is a 2000+ year old druid, who draws his power directly from the earth and lives with his Irish wolfhound Oberon.  This is going to sound weird, but Oberon is one of the best characters that I have come across in a very longtime.  He is able to communicate with Atticus through a psychic link and is absolutely hilarious.  He goes from an obsession with Genghis Khan, to wanting to get it on with French poodles.  He is without doubt comic relief and is given some of the best lines in the book.  I found myself wishing that I could talk to my dog the same way. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dark Girls

The following promotion for the movie Dark Girls has been making the rounds on Black blogs but I thought that I would post it for those of you have not had a chance to see it yet.  Dark Girls is set to be released later this year and talks about the issue of colourism (or hueism) within the Black community.

Same Sex PSA Deemed Harmful to Australian Children

According to Queerty:
THE SHOT - A safe-sex campaign poster removed from Brisbane, Australia bus stops after 47 followers of the Australian Christian Lobby complained that the posters went “against prevailing community standards” and introduced “sexuality to young children through forced exposure in public.”
If this advertisement had involved a heterosexual couple, there would have been no what about the child panic.  The truth is that children in this case are being used as a tool by bigots to squash any public sign of same sex love, because there is nothing remotely sexual in the advertisement.  Quite honestly I hate the what about the children routine, because it is used to oppress the LGBT community, while completely avoiding the violence, neglect, and poverty that far too many children are forced to live with.  I refuse to take bigots like this seriously, until they can prove that their concern is really about protecting children.

Thoughts On Season Two of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy on the Wallphoto © 2007 Bart Naus | more info (via: Wylio)

As I mentioned last week, I am watching all seven seasons of Buffy for a project that I am currently engaged in.  Yesterday afternoon I finished season two.  First, let me say that this season they gave Whedon a budget to work with and the special effects are much better than the first season, though I seriously doubt that Buffy hit anyone with a single punch or her over used roundhouse kick. I seriously do not buy Sarah Michelle Gellar as the ass kicking type, though she is supposed to inspire shivers of girl power.

This season I learned that going to a frat house with older boys will lead to trouble.  See that girls, if you are attacked, it is all your fault for putting yourself in that position in the first place.  Good girls never date or are attracted to older men.  This is once again played out in Buffy's relationship with the ever so musty Angel.  It is no accident that the moment that she decides to sleep with him, that he lost his soul.  Are you paying attention kids, there is a cost to teenage sex, no matter how much you lurve him. The very fact that Angel's first act as a non feeling vampire is to slut shame the hell out of Buffy is telling.

What's In A Name?

I don't read Essence very often and so I am a little late to the following story, but it still needs to be discussed.  In March, Essence published a satirical piece by Siebra Muhammad in March that declared that a judge had decided to make it illegal for Black women to name their children because of the propensity of supposedly ridiculous names. The following is a small snippet of the piece in question.
In a decision that’s expected to send shockwaves through the African-American community—and yet, give much relief to teachers everywhere—a federal judge ruled today that black women no longer have independent naming rights for their children. Too many black children—and many adults—bear names that border on not even being words, he said.

“I am simply tired of these ridiculous names black women are giving their children,” said U.S. Federal Judge Ryan Cabrera before rendering his decision. “Someone had to put a stop to it.”

The rule applies to all black women, but Cabrera singled out impoverished mothers.

“They are the worst perpetrators,” he said. “They put in apostrophes where none are needed. They think a ‘Q’ is a must. There was a time when Shaniqua and Tawanda were names you dreaded. Now, if you’re a black girl, you hope you get a name as sensible as one of those.”

Few stepped forward to defend black women—and black women themselves seemed relieved.

“It’s so hard to keep coming up with something unique,” said Uneeqqi Jenkins, 22, an African-American mother of seven who survives on public assistance. Her children are named Daryl, Q’Antity, Uhlleejsha, Cray-Ig, Fellisittee, Tay’Sh’awn and Day’Shawndra.

Beginning in one week, at least three white people must agree with the name before a black mother can name her child.

“Hopefully we can see a lot more black children with sensible names like Jake and Connor,” Cabrera said.  (continue reading)
What constitutes a sensible name?  Though this article is satire and no legal judgement has been declared, Black names have come under criticism in the mainstream. Black names are an attempt to reclaim what has been lost.  The children of the diaspora have the names of our slave owners and anglicized first names, and this is a direct result of a complete and utter loss of our culture.  To then turn around and demonize attempts to create names that reflect this loss is racist, and in the case of ridicule by other Blacks represents internalized racism.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Apparently, Fat Shaming Is Worthy of an Award

Tthe above image  recently won a Clio award, and apparently the space was sold before the man was revealed completely in the nude.  What I find completely disgusting, is that it suggests that the nudity of a fat man is something that we should fear; that it would be unspeakably horrifying. To make its point, the advertisement is absolutely dependent upon fat hatred.

This kind of public shaming is something we normally see aimed at women.  Even now advertisers are busy pitching us healthy food and gyms so that we can have so called bikini ready bodies.  This advertisement plays on the same theme.  Fat people are expected to disappear from public view because our bodies are supposedly disgusting.  No matter the weather condition, only being covered from head to toe to ensure no visible skin is deemed appropriate, in order to avoid upsetting others with our unseemly flesh. It has absolutely become normalized to express disgust at the sight of a fat person.

No Tolerating Intolerance

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 last week I saw another round of that old old game - "you aren't tolerating the homophobes! You terrible intolerant person!"

Because we, as marginalised people looking for tolerance to survive, are hypocrites because we don't tolerate those who attack us.

Firstly I think I need to be clear that I'm not big on tolerance anyway. I've said this before. I'm not interested in being tolerated. I don't want to be tolerated. I'm not a blight or burden for you to endure.

I don't ask for tolerance. I demand acceptance.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Entertainment in heaven

 Because I am easily amused....THIS

Step into a slim jim

Judging The Homeless Will Not Save You From Poverty

Brianna Karp, the author of The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, recently did an interview with Rick Newman for Yahoo Finance regarding her experiences as a young homeless woman. Karp lost her job in 2008 and after working temp jobs and living paycheck to paycheck she decided to move in with her parents.  The article on Yahoo does not make it clear but there is a history of abuse in her relationship with her parents and it therefore hardly surprising that given this fact, she decided to move into a trailer that she parked at a Walmart parking lot.

She published a book about her experiences and used the small advance to pay personal loans to friends who have helped her along the way.  At present she is still homeless though employed as a marketing assistant for a local nonprofit theater group.  At present, she still does not make enough money to pay her rent but she feels good about what she is doing. 

We live in trying economic times and the middle class security that many of our parents had was a thing of the past.  Gone are the days when a four year degree meant immediate access to a good job.  Knowing this fact the degree of blame that we place upon individuals for their financial issues is ridiculous.  Let's have a look at some of the comments on Yahoo.

Staceyann Chin’s — If Only Out Of Vanity

If only out of vanity
I have wondered what kind of woman I will be
when I am well past the summer of my raging youth
Will I still be raising revolutionary flags
and making impassioned speeches
that stir up anger in the hearts of pseudo-liberals
dressed in navy-blue conservative wear

In those years when I am grateful
I still have a good sturdy bladder
that does not leak undigested prune juice
onto diapers—no longer adorable
will I be more grateful for that
than for any forward movement in any current political cause
and will it have been worth it then
Will it have been worth the long hours
of not sleeping
that produced little more than reams
of badly written verses that catapulted me into literary spasms
but did not even whet the appetite
of the three O’ clock crowd
in the least respected of the New York poetry cafes

Will I wish then that I had taken that job working at the bank
or the one to watch that old lady drool
all over her soft boiled eggs
as she tells me how she was a raving beauty in the sixties
how she could have had any man she wanted
but she chose the one least likely to succeed
and that’s why when the son of a bitch died
she had to move into this place
because it was government subsidized

Will I tell my young attendant
how slender I was then
and paint for her pictures
of the young me more beautiful than I ever was
if only to make her forget the shriveled paper skin
the stained but even dental plates
and the faint smell of urine that tends to linger
in places built especially for revolutionaries
whose causes have been won
or forgotten

Will I still be lesbian then
or will the church or family finally convince me
to marry some man with a smaller dick
than the one my woman uses to afford me
violent and multiple orgasms

Will the staff smile at me
humor my eccentricities to my face
but laugh at me in their private resting rooms
saying she must have been something in her day

Most days I don’t know what I will be like then
but everyday—I know what I want to be now
I want to be that voice that makes Guilani
so scared he hires two (butch) black bodyguards

I want to write the poem
that The New York Times cannot print
because it might start some kind of black or lesbian
or even a white revolution

I want to go to secret meetings and under the guise
of female friendship I want to bed the women
of those young and eager revolutionaries
with too much zeal for their cause
and too little passion for the women
who follow them from city to city
all the while waiting in separate rooms

I want to be forty years old
and weigh three hundred pounds
and ride a motorcycle in the wintertime
with four hell raising children
and a one hundred ten pound female lover
who writes poetry about my life
and my children and loves me
like no one has ever loved me before

I want to be the girl your parents will use
as a bad example of a lady

I want to be the dyke who likes to fuck men

I want to be the politician who never lies

I want to be the girl who never cries

I want to go down in history
in a chapter marked miscellaneous
because the writers could find
no other way to categorize me
In this world where classification is key
I want to erase the straight lines
So I can be me

H/T Oi With The Poodles for the video and transcript 

Storm is probably not a “genderless child”

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.

There’s a Storm currently brewing in Toronto – a child whose parents are raising hir without revealing hir sex to the world. Four-month-old Storm is being billed by the media as a “genderless child,” which isn’t entirely accurate. In all likelihood, Storm has a gender – we just don’t know what it is yet.

And truly, it’s none of our business. Most of us don’t even know this family, so they really owe us no explanation as to the sex, gender, or even favorite foods of their children. But that doesn’t stop the media and the blogosphere from its relentless criticism of these parents and its hand-wringing concern over the fate of this poor child.

One blogger even went so far as to call Storm a “genderless ‘It’ child.” Now that certainly shows compassion for the baby, doesn’t it? “It” is the most dehumanizing word in the English language for a person – and as someone who has been called that as an adult, I can’t imagine starting out in the world with the offensive pronoun already on my permanent Internet record.

Whiteness as the Default

Whitephoto © 2010 J. Enokson | more info (via: Wylio)

Tami has a great article about White people feeling excluded from conversations about diversity that I really think that you should check out.  This article struck a very particular note with me, after a very uneventful shopping trip yesterday.  I decided that I wanted to buy some makeup.  This is abnormal for me, but I have really felt like getting my girl on recently.  When I went to the largest chain pharmacy in Canada to pick up a foundation, I was absolutely shocked to discover that there was not a single one to match my dark skin tone.  I eventually had to order a product from the states. 

After more thought, I realized that this should not have come to a surprise to me, because the only place that I can buy Black hair care products is at our local Walmart.  There are multiple products for White hair and yet one leave-in conditioner for Black hair and maybe 3-4 shampoos. If the few products that they have don't work on your hair, then you are out of luck. There is not a single salon that caters to Black women with processed hair, let alone natural hair. The closet hair salon for me is in either in Buffalo, NY (40 minutes away) or Hamilton, Ontario (40 minutes away).

For even basic needs and wants, I experience exclusion, and so the fact that some White people are worried about not feeling included in conversations about diversity really freaking irked me.  There is no place that you can turn where the needs and wants of Whiteness are not central.  Even in situations where a White person directly confronts an ism, like sexism, classism, ageism, etc., they can count on their Whiteness to make the experience less difficult than a person of colour.  Whiteness is valued, because it is in all situations the marker of a default form of humanity.