Saturday, June 11, 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. 

No Small Amount of Complexity: Free Blacks Who Owned Other African-American During Slavery
New Research Details Transgender Inmate Stories
Paradox Report
When Debating Circumcision Isn't About Circumcision  (trigger warning for anti-semitism)
Black Ancestry, White Supremacist Confederate Soldier
Our most successful war .... on Black People
Does Good Cancel Out Evil?
Clothes Are Not for Hiding Flaws
Can we hold fellow Black women to blame for sabotaging our image on TV?  
Misogyny - you're soaking in it
Dear Reese Witherspoon: All Girls Are Good Girls
Man gets his ass kicked by SWAT because his wife defaulted on her student loans.   
Identifying with 'Boys Don't Cry'
Don't Be A Rapist: Of Survivor Parenting & Young Males
Colonizability of Africa.
Abrasive is Just Another Word for Bitch 

Friday, June 10, 2011

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

sky 3photo © 2005 Dennis Hill | more info (via: Wylio)

I was talking to two acquaintances of mine and I was shocked to learn that they didn't know what the electric slide is.  I almost feel like I was born sliding?  So, this week's question is what iconic thing have you been surprised to learn that others were not aware of?

Tracy Morgan Goes Has a Homophobic Rant, But He's Sorry

Tracy Morgan 2 Shankbone 2009 NYCphoto © 2009 David Shankbone | more info (via: Wylio)

Last Friday Tracy Morgan was performing at the Ryman Auditorium when he went on a homophobic rant. Kevin Rogers was a gay man in the audience and he wrote his impressions on what Morgan had to say on his facebook page
What I can't take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that "Born this Way" is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because "God don't make no mistakes" (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake).  He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that's just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man.  He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying. He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.  He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. He mentioned that Barack Obama needed to man up and quit being all down with this just because he has a wife and two daughters.  All of this being followed by thunderous cheer and "You go Tracys".  Tracy then said he didn't fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass... they can take a fucking joke. 
According to The Huffington Post, Morgan released the following statement through his publicist:

Charlaine Harris: Chats About the Difference Between the Books and the show True Blood



Charlaine Harris the author of the Southern Vampire series sits down with an interviewer from the Wall Street Journal to talk about the differences between the books and the series.

Below you will find a transcript for those unable to view the video.

Thoughts on Season Three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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

As I mentioned earlier, for the purposes of a project that I am working on, I have been compelled to watch all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I didn't watch Buffy when it was on the air, so my impressions are completely fresh.

I had hoped by season three that Whedon would have given up on the teen angst however, he intensified it.  I don't understand how people could find the whole Buffy and Angel love each other, but can never be together theme in the least bit compelling. When Angel finally walked away at the end of the season, I was filled with a huge sense of relief. Even Spike the so-called bad calculating vampire returned to whine because Drusilla left him. For a show that seems highly dependent on relationships, there is little growth and a triple helping of angst.

The good girl/bad girl binary that was a theme for much of the season and it was highly anti-woman.  Though both Buffy and Faith are both White women, Buffy the blonde (the typical manifestation of the girl next door) was cast as good to Faith's darker bad. We also had two different Willows.  The Willow from the second dimension was a power hungry, sadistic vampire, who was brimming with self confidence. It would seem that to be respected, liked or even loved, a woman dare not step out of the sickeningly sweet good girl paradigm. When Oz and Cassandra found Xander and Willow kissing, Willow's solution was to offer Oz her virginity. This of course was to prove her true love for him for daring to sexually experiment.

I Stand With Planned Parenthood...And I Don’t Even Like Them



Virginia is an unemployed, disabled, married, cisgendered white woman.  She is working hard to recognize all the privileges that come with those labels, but still has a lot to learn.  She has 3 podcasts she's currently working on, all of which you can find on her website "Too Twisted for Color TV."

My one and only trip to Planned Parenthood (PP) was a disaster. 

It was 10 years ago, and I was about to be married for the first time.  I didn’t want to get pregnant, so I thought getting on birth control would be a good idea.  Of course getting on birth control usually requires a pap smear.

[Normally, I wouldn’t over share like this, but it’s pertinent to the story I swear: At the age of 20, due to a gynecological birth defect and a multitude of other factors, I was carting myself off to PP as a virgin. (edited on 4/9/11 to add: I was not aware of the birth defect at the time I went to PP or else I would have gone straight to a specialist.  Just wanted to clarify that!)]

A friend from work drove me over to the local PP office (15 miles from where I lived).  She said that the first pap smear was usually pretty uncomfortable and it might be better to have someone drive me.  She waited in the lobby when they called me back.

The Rights of Trans Prisoners Are A Human Rights Issue

Okay, before I get into it, let me say from the start that I am not pointing this out to start a blog war, but because this is an issue I very passionately believe in, I felt that my silence was not acceptable.

Over at The Intersection of Madness and Reality, Rippa has a post up about Ophelia De’lonta, an inmate who is desperately attempting to get the state to approve and pay for SRS. 
Months after a botched castration attempt, a Virginia inmate wishing to be a woman has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the state failed to provide adequate medical care because it won't perform a sex-change operation.

Ophelia De'lonta, 50, says she needs the surgery to treat her gender identity disorder, a condition in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.

"This is not something that I have any control over," said De'lonta, who was born Michael Stokes. "This is just how I was born."

De'lonta, who developed breasts with the use of hormones won under a 2004 court order, has tried self-surgery several times in the past. Her urges had been kept in check in recent years with the help of hormones and other treatments.

But De'lonta, who has perfectly plucked eyebrows and wears make-up, snapped on Oct. 8 when a jail guard at the all-male Buckingham Correctional Center referred to her as "he."

"I screamed 'She, dammit!' becoming so overwhelmed it was hard to breathe," said De'lonta (source)
I was pleasantly surprised to see that other than making sure to mention what Ophelia was convicted of, the article used the correct pronouns throughout.  I am very used to seeing cissexist language in the media. The truth of the matter is that once someone gets locked up, society is content to pretend that they are no longer human and deserving of basic rights. This is what I saw when I read Rippa's take on Ophelia's struggle.  He wrote:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wanda Sykes Claims It's Harder To Be Gay Than Black

If you are expecting anything but a rant out of this post, move onto another one.  There are many reasons for which I find Sykes absolutely intolerable, but this shit, this shit, just pushes me the fuck over the edge.  For all of you who are primed to type the "it's her lived experience routine", shut the hell up now, I don't want to hear that shit.

I have not like Wanda Sykes since the day she joked that she and her White wife adopted White babies, because she was worried about her wife doing their hair. It seems that Ms. Sykes took it one step further, when she recently appeared on The Piers Morgan Show, and announced that it is harder to be gay, than it is to be Black.



“I’m not talking about the history of black people, of African Americans. I’m talking about at this point right now… I don’t know of organizations and groups like Focus on the Family and such anti-gay organizations who are putting up so much money – millions and millions of dollars – into stopping me from, you know, being black or telling me I can’t exercise my blackness," she said.

"There’s no equality. There’s no equality for the LGBT community.”

Pimp Slapping The Black Confederate Soldier Myth

This is a guest post from Monica of the fabulous TransGriot

As we get closer to the 150th anniversary of the first land battle of the War To Perpetuate Slavery, the First Battle of Bull Run (or Battle of Manassas as the CSA peeps called it) on July 21-24, one myth that needs to be blown up along with the Big Lie that the Confederates weren't fighting to preserve slavery is the myth of the Black Confederate soldier.

According to that getting increasingly debunked myth, anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 free and enslaved Southern blacks served voluntarily, loyally, consistently and as fully fledged combatants in the South.   The lie is so pervasive that it found its way into Virginia elementary school textbooks.

The lie is also used by Southern 'Lost Cause'  history revisionists to promote the even bigger lie that Southern Blacks supported the Confederacy.

All I Really Need to Know I learned In the Club: What Feminism FOR REAL Taught Me About Sex Work and Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism.

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.   
Giddy with anticipation, I tore open the manila envelope that held my copy of Feminism FOR REAL edited by Jessica Yee. It was a generous gift from my girlfriend for my 23rd birthday. I had already read all the reviews and conversations surrounding this gem and was ready to start reading it myself. I tend to go for the titles that catch my attention first, then read around them. Of course the two contributions discussing sex work jumped right at me, and I flipped to those pages eager to hear other sex workers speak and to see what we had in common and what new conclusions and ideas I could draw from them.

The first piece was an interview with Anna Saini, Sex Work and Feminism. It was notable because it gave Saini, a sex worker activist, a platform to speak and not to simply be spoken of. I love the interview format because of this reason. She was engaging in a conversation, which is another practice in consent and negotiation, so I felt like this format mirrored sex workers realities and in this way also deconstructed the academic industrial complex of feminism. I was also excited to see Saini create her own definition of sex work, which set the background for the rest of the conversation. What stood out to me, was the importance she places on the context of sex work and how that really shapes what sex work is -- versus what is actually sexual assault (forced sex work isn't work- its sexual assault). This really speaks to the issues she later addresses about the Savior mentality, that some feminists have regarding sex worker agency, victimization, and their need to save us from ourselves.

The Most Dangerous Place For A Latino Baby is in the Womb

When the Black community was being attacked by racist pro life posters, I knew that it would not be long before other communities of colour were attacked.  The thing about bigots, is that they are very rarely original and often appropriate the language of empowerment, to make their message appear as though they are generally concerned with the welfare of minority groups.
A Latino advocacy group is charging that abortion providers are targeting their communities, making their frustration known with a jumbo billboard campaign in Los Angeles, California.

“It’s clear that Latinos are being targeted by organizations that promote abortion like Planned Parenthood,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, the group behind the billboard. “Many of their clinics are in Latino neighborhoods and communities.”

The ads set to be plastered in LA this week read “El lugar mas peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, 22 percent of abortions in performed in America are done on Latinos, making them 2.7 times more likely to abort than non-Hispanic whites.

The ad campaign is meant to kick off a pro-life event called “Unidos por la Vida” (United for Life) Sunday at the LA Sports Arena. The gathering will be sponsored by the pro-life Latino group Manto de Guadalupe. (source

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When Parenthood Is not an Option

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

I always knew I was going to be a mother. I was going to have six children, and be an at home mother. I was going to home school my kids, take them to play in the park, and on all sorts of day trips: the aquarium, the zoo, the amusement park. I had names chosen for my children. I thought about how I was going to dress my kids, decorate their rooms, equip the backyard and play area. From when I was about eleven years old, I knew I was going to be a mother.

And, now, at 37 I have almost given up on the idea.

I started actively trying to become pregnant at nineteen years old. I was not worried about finding the perfect man to settle down with, I had no problem with being a single mother. I knew that I would have plenty of positive influences in the lives of my children, and that I would be a great mom. Despite the fact that I had been diagnosed with a “mental illness” (I no longer believe in labels when it comes to mental health, hence the quotes), I knew that I would be a parent. And I would do anything for my children and provide them with everything they needed, despite financial circumstances that were not optimal.

Post Secret Disability Fail

I came across this image at microaggressions, and it positively made me ill. In one simple sentence it managed to erase the humanity of people living with disabilities.  This is the perfect example of how easily ableist ideals have become normalized in our culture. Awhile ago, I wrote about my frustration with the fixation on eliminating the R word, without tackling ableism as a whole.  Disableism comes down to more than one word; it is the very idea that people living with disabilities are intrinsically worth less than able bodied people.  It happens every time the word crazy, idiot, dumb, or lame rolls off of your tongue.  It happens when accommodations are perceived as special treatment, rather than an absolute right.  It happens when disabled people are forced to live in poverty, because government disability does not pay out a living wage.

Natural Hair, Community and Loss

Afrophoto © 2008 Shanna Riley | more info (via: Wylio)

It took me a very long time to love my hair.  As a child I thought perming (for white folk: Chemically straightening) my hair was a sign of maturity.  It was something I wanted desperately.  The older I got however, the more tired the routine got.  My hair never took a perm well and my naps would quickly reassert themselves.  Approximately 10 years ago, I did the chop.  The first thing I did was to grow dreadlocks, but after nearly a decade of that, I had had enough and desperately wanted a new look.  Let's be honest, dreds are hot as hell during the summer and a pain in the ass to wash.

After I cut off my dreds, I was forced to figure out once again what to do with my natural hair.  I looked at natural web hair sites, but the best and by far the most informative place believe it or not was youtube.  There I would find Black women whose hair was various textures trying different styles and products.  As I have mentioned before, living in a small town means that I have no access to a hairdresser and therefore; I have to manage my hair myself.

Yesterday, I went to the salon to get my hair coloured and trimmed.  I walked out with a small afro, firm in the knowledge that I still had to go home and oil my scalp, as well as moisturize the hair itself.  I then sat down to the tedious task of braiding my hair, so that when I took it out the next day my hair would have a nice curl. I then put my silk cap on head so that when I slept, my hair would remain neat while encouraging the oils to stay on my scalp.  I only recently learned the silk cap tip.  When you don't have salons that cater to Black hair, the final work will always be yours.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Glenn Beck Television

Glenn Beck by David Shankbone 2010 NYCphoto © 2010 David Shankbone | more info (via: Wylio)

Like many of you, I celebrated a little when it was announced that Beck's show would no longer be on FOX.  Someone who regularly expresses the kind of hatred that he does, should not have access to such a large platform.  It is even more disturbing when you consider that FOX news has so skewed basic facts, that some Americans are actually in doubt as to where the 9/11 hijackers originated from.  There is conservative, and then there is FOX News, which basically makes it up as it goes along.

Thanks to the efforts of millions, advertisers were refusing to spend money to advertise their products during Beck's show, and as we all know, advertising pays to keep everything on the air. It seems that Beck has decided to create his own online empire, to avoid the headaches he experienced with FOX.  I suppose Oprah getting her own network was too much for him, and he decided to settle for the next best option - GBTV.  Yes, an entire  network built entirely around him.  Heaven help us all.

From where I stand

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. 

You are defined as delicate

Fragile

Needing comfort

Safety

Respect

The lines of work

Labor

Pain

Survival

This does not show on your face like they show on those who live outside the margins

You remain unmarked

Mush-faced

As you sit there

Demanding

Comfort

From the world

Admiration

Relief

Praise

You ask for us

To not challenge

To keep you clean

Pure

Coddled

White

While we turn calloused

Marked

Resilient

You remain fragile

When you look at us

Are you not ashamed?

Condescending?

Scathing?

Wretched?

To only love something unless you pity

Unless you’re guilty

Unless cloaked in authority

Really

Does this make you feel

Unafraid?

We are expected

To love

Unfailingly

No matter the cost

I am told

Love.

No matter the searing of spirit

I am told

Love!

For the world

Because you ruin it

So I love with an unyielding fury inside

I love you

To keep myself alive

I. Love. You.

While you resist

And remain

Unsullied

We wait

You remain

Unsullied

We wait

You deny

You ignore

You forget

That there were some who chose

Who gave up

Who tried

Who risked

Who stood

Who died

You

You

You

You would rather be unsullied

Well now

You remain unsullied

Untouched

unsullied

YOU!

Expect me to become occupied with your concerns

While I must swallow all of mine

The Truth About My Big Ole Gay Life

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, I recently had a wedding anniversary. And, by recently, I mean several months ago. Which should probably tell you a lot about how organised I am about writing stuff.

Anyway I had a wedding anniversary and you'd be surprised at how many people asked me "what, you celebrate anniversaries?" (Including family, friends and, most especially, my employers who are most put out that I can't work extra for such piffling little reasons - though not so piffling for my colleagues. Whyyy is that I wonder?)

And, of course, they're right. In Gaytopia we don't celebrate anniversaries, rather we gather round and have an orgy to celebrate the day we pledged to destroy loving families.

What if weddings were not framed as “The Event That Will Change Everything”? (Thoughts on the Breaking Dawn trailer and continuing wedding fervor ala Twilight)

"Natalie Wilson is literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. She is currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective, forthcoming from McFarland in 2010. Her interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to her childhood fascination with all types of monsters."

Rivaled recently by Royal Wedding fervor, the Bella Swan/Edward Cullen union will soon have the world agog in all things weddings.
The recently released Breaking Dawn trailer centered attention on the upcoming nuptials with an almost fetishistic focus on the wedding invitation – an aspect of weddings that is of utmost importance (as anyone familiar with the wedding industrial complex or with planning a wedding surely knows).

The trailer’s framing of the wedding as “the event that will change everything”  is hardly surprising given the way the wedding/honeymoon/headboard-busting has been framed as THE climax (pun intended) of the Twilight saga. More generally, popular culture continues to frame weddings as THE EVENT of a female’s life as in all the shows dedicated to getting married (The Bachelor), to planning a wedding (My Fair Wedding), to brides (Bridezillas) – followed in short order, of course, by the NEXT EVENT – the babies (as in shows such as A Baby Story, Bringing Home Baby, and Baby’s First Day).

Monday, June 6, 2011

There Is More to Rihanna's Man Down Than Violence

There has been quite a bit of controversy over Rihanna's new video for the song Man Down.  It has generally speaking, focused on the fact that a rape victim decides to shoot her rapist in a public place. I am going to embed the video below, for those of you who have not seen it.

The Supposedly Liberal Bias in the Media

Like you, I am tired of hearing conservatives whine about the supposedly liberal bias in media; however, I thought the following exchange on Hannity deserved some attention.



Dan Savage: Post Pregnancy Weight Does Not Justify Fat Shaming and Misogyny

Dan Savage speaking at IWUphoto © 2007 Erik Abderhalden | more info (via: Wylio)

My readers have come to know me very well.  When people like Terrence Howard Baby Wipes, Gweneth Paltrow,  PeTA or in this case Dan Savage says some hateful shit, I can guarantee that my email will be filled with people notifying me of it.   I absolutely refuse to read Savage Love, Dan's weekly column, because the man has failed too many times for me to pretend that he has anything to say that is worth listening to.  In this week's edition of Savage Love he was asked:
Is it better to stay with your overweight wife—who happens to be the mother of your infant daughter—and cheat on her to get sexual gratification (and be a shit of a husband) or leave her (and be a shit of a father)?
Almost Twice The Wife
First, let me say, what kind of megadouche even asks a question like this?  He describes his daughter as an infant and therefore that means what he is actually complaining about is that his wife has not lost the weight she gained during pregnancy. 

At the beginning of his response, I thought Savage was going to do the right thing.  He points out that it was ridiculous of him to expect his wife to loose the weight in 10 weeks, like many of the celebrity mothers do. However, I should have known better than to put my faith in Savage, because of his history of fat shaming. 

Gun Company Produces Special Bullets To Kill Muslims

I think the following story should be filled under hateful shit that you wish that was made up.  According to the Southern Law Poverty Center, Silver Bullet Gun Oil was created specifically to incite fear in Muslims of being defiled because it is made with pig fat oil.
A mysterious company called Silver Bullet Gun Oil has begun selling a line of products for automatic weapons that allegedly contains 13% liquefied pig fat for the expressed purpose of killing Muslims and denying them “a place in paradise,” Hatewatch has learned.

“No longer is paradise guaranteed to the so-called ‘Martyrs’ who die for Allah,” one YouTube video advertisement proclaims in text. “You are fools, on a fool’s mission. Lied to and led by False Prophets and Cowards. … You cannot win, and Will be consigned to Allah’s Hell for eternity if you die from a weapon using Silver Bullet Gun Oil!”


Consumption of pork is forbidden in Islam. So the belief behind the oil is that a person killed with a bullet that travels down the barrel of a gun greased in pig fat would be desecrated. Even if the gun oil is never used, the manufacturer boasts, its mere existence will terrorize Muslims and result in an effective “counter-Islamic terrorist force multiplier.”

It could also provoke violent backlashes from Muslims who feel their faith is being attacked. In early April, at least 20 people were killed in riots in Afghanistan provoked by Terry Jones, a Florida pastor who burned a Koran.