Saturday, June 25, 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.  

A Male Chauvinist Pig By Any Other Name Still Oinks
My bisexuality is not an invitation my relationships and my sex life 
First Speakers: Ojibwe Rapper 'Prayers in a Song' 
Embarrassed of being  embarrassed
Real Women
Re: New York Marriage Equality
Classism and Mothers
The Best Advocacy Is Self-Advocacy: The Dangers of Speaking for Others
Detangling the Myths of Natural Hair
Rape Culture - Above the Fold
My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant
Thoughts on Teen Wolf episodes 1-4
Gene Simmons Family Jewels: Hyper Masculinity and Gender Roles can kill a Relationship
Dr. Boyce Watkins: Lil' Wayne is "An Enemy of the Black Community"
Is There Any Helping "The Help"?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Asking For It

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.  
Every now and then I am reminded that the nature of my profession is so feared and hated by society that someone can actually aim to destroy my livelihood, incite violence against me, or simply try to scare me. They remind me that despite my effort to maintain my privacy, through vigilance, using my fake name and information, I'm never really safe. Violence against sex workers is nothing new, although we rarely hear about it. Whether you are a dancer, actor, web cam model or escort, there are significant amounts of people who think you shouldn't exist, and can do real harm to you and your family. Most in this business consider this risk. That's why we take precautions such as using fake names and never giving out real information to customers, and even other sex workers. Of course, no matter what precautions anyone takes, in the sex industry or not, it's not always enough. Anyone can be a victim of rape, stalking, etc., but sex workers are especially vulnerable, because our clients can and do become obsessed with our personas. Reports of stalking (sometimes reported, sometimes word-of-mouth) are extremely common among sex workers. Sex workers are also vulnerable because we are less likely to report crimes such as stalking and rape, due to fear of not being believed, being accused of prostitution and risking jail time, deportation and outing.

Recently, a site well-known to those in the porn industry, leaked the personal information of over 15,000 porn actors.( I won't link or name the site for obvious reasons of not wanting to encourage more traffic and at the request of many of the actors whose information appears on the site). This site gives viewers actors stage names next to their real names, addresses, google maps of their homes, and sometimes pictures, names, addresses and telephone numbers of their family members as well. The site claims to be releasing more information soon, such as actors social security numbers, photos of their id's and birth certificates. Apparently, the site obtained this information through a security breach at a popular health clinic where porn actors go for STD testing. According to forums in a popular sex worker support site, some porn actors have had their STD status made public as well.

Writing Between Lines.

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.

Recently I came across Sara Ahmed’s fantastic essay ‘Feminist Killjoys (And other Willful Subjects)’ and have been re-reading several sections of the essay since. I identify with more parts of the essay than I can count, but one line that never leaves me is “[As a feminist killjoy] you become the problem you create” –- a single sentence that probably embodies the essence of my grandmum’s journals. Part of why I wanted to learn to read and think in my native tongue is because I want to read my grandmum’s journals, written in a pidgin many Gujurati’s. Apart from accounts of food items, daily expenditure and some chants dedicated to Krishna, there are extensive notes on translation and literary criticism of Oriya, Telugu and Bengali women’s literatures — in a different tongue altogether¹ — and her research of many texts banned in the British Empire. Most of the texts that are listed in her journals were banned because of “obscenity” under Section 292 of the Penal Code — not that big a surprise that most of these banned and censored texts were written by women and especially by women of the “lower sections of the society”. I couldn’t find most texts she talks of, but luckily I found Radhika Santwanam written by the Telugu poet Muddupalani in a great aunt’s attic — sadly, the text is in English but there were translator’s notes along with it, explaining their choice of words and consonants. Loosely translated, the text can be called “Enticing or Appeasing Radhika”, an epic erotic poem that talks of Radha and Krishna’s love affair — a text that inverses the male literary tradition of supposing the “male” as a locale of power when speaking of sexual agency.

I spent most of the last month reading this poem, in its many parts and verses, simultaneously shocked and in awe of Muddupalani’s audacity to speak so explicitly about female sexuality, of Radha’s encouragement of Krishna and her niece’s love affair, of the various ways Krishna has to woo and appease to Radha, a text quite “queer” by today’s “re-readings”. While the text is beyond beautiful, with its many deviances and silences, sadly this text has always faced heavy censorship at the hands of the Raj — interestingly when Muddupalani wrote it originally two centuries ago, her autobiographical prologue mentions no objections to the content or her context as a distinguished courtesan of the Thanjavur court². The Empire banned it for “obscenity” and “shamelessly filling poems with crude descriptions of sex” — cannot thank K. Lalita and Susie Tharu enough for keeping a neat account of all the charges levied against Muddupalani, ranging from ridiculous to incinerating and everything else in between — and for about 150 years after the ban Indian scholars maintained the same views about Muddupalani. In many instances, grandmum calls Muddupalani “adulteress” as this is the name she was known by. The more time I spend with grandmum’s journals, her accounts of the Raj’s censorship, read this exquisite poem, the more angry and fascinated — where fascination is the new disgust — I get.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fighting For Hijab

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.

Jab. Feet front. Jab-jab, twist, right hook. Head, body-shot, duck. Attack.

Eryn watched the woman in the baggy sports suit with intense curiosity – at first looking a little perplexed at the complex fighting combinations, and then as her excitement grew, mimicked dancing from foot to foot, ducking her head, and rolling her arms into little baby jabs. This impromptu shadowboxing session was a treat, as neither of us had ever seen a fighter in action.

*Mombasa showed off her skills. She was fast, light on her feet and threw out punches in quick, rapid-fire succession.

I put up my hands for target practice and was literally blown away by the strength coming from her small frame. Despite appearances, as an amateur boxer training for the 112-pound flyweight division, this was definitely not a person to mess with. Mombasa explained that she built up her strength by training with 14oz gloves and sparring with men twice her size.

That’s when I asked if she ever felt conflicted fighting in hijab.

Once again, Muslim women, hijabs and sports have been making headlines. It started earlier this month with FIFA disqualifying the Iranian Women’s national soccer team from an important Olympic qualifying match – citing that their hijabs were a safety concern that did not conform to uniform rules. Then the news broke that weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah of Atlanta may be banned from tournaments because she wishes to compete while wearing hijab, long sleeves and pants. And just this week in Quebec, a muhajabah referee was fired for wearing her hijab on the field – with the Quebec Soccer Federation saying that FIFA bans the wearing of hijab and other religious symbols on pitch.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sagging Pants, Black Skin Means No Flying on U.S. Airways

SCHABAK U S AIRWAYS 767.jpgphoto © 2007 poonchunhung2001 | more info (via: Wylio)

This post is dedicated to all of you post racial believers.  Yes, you people who believe that Obama symbolizes that racism is a thing of the past and that Black exist with so much power that we can actually oppress Whites.  Put down your self denial and White privilege and think it over for a moment. 

Deshon Marman is a 20 year old football player.  Last week he was kicked off his flight for not immediately pulling up his sagging pants upon request.  He was later arrested for trespassing, battery, and resisting arrest.

At 1:59
U.S Airways does not have a dress code but expects passengers to dress in an appropriate manager that does not offend passengers. 

So who gets to decide what is and is not offensive.  If Marman can walk down the street dressed the way he was, and not be arrested for indecent exposure, on what grounds did the airlines find his appearance to be offensive?  What exactly is uncomfortable about sagging pants?

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being, Part III: A Brown Buddhist and a Handful of Mustard Seeds

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.

Recently, after years of leaving it blank, I filled in the ‘Religious Views’ on my Facebook page to read “Pro-Woman Buddhism”. Deciding to reclaim the Buddhist identity I grew up with is the culmination of many things; deciding to reclaim it while located in the global North, and more specifically the United States, is a deeply personal act with political implications.

 In my post on Bin-Laden's death, I briefly touched on the experience of identifying as Buddhist in both majority Islamic and majority Christian locales. In both spaces, the Buddhism I grew up with was read as invalid somehow, a pseudo-religion because we recognized no omnipotent deity as such. As a 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 year old, I was regularly questioned by Muslim classmates and teachers to explain who 'Lord Buddha' was, and why we worship him. I would stammer, look down and burn with shame because I could not find the words to explain myself. Religious persecution and imperialism were early lessons for me.

 Fast forward to my college years in the US, and I was met with the same dismissal/ proselytism/ ignorance that I had grown up surrounded by, except now it was from Christians who would make baldly disrespectful statements like 'the Buddha isn't...anything. Jesus is the son of God' et cetera.

 During my freshman year, I tried to read a book about Buddhism, hoping it would soothe my homesickness and comfort me. The book was written by a white man whose name I can't recall; but what I do recall is feeling confused by and disconnected from his description of Buddhism. There was much focus on individual serenity, 'lovingkindness' and meditation. Looking back, I realize why this white man's interpretation of my people's religion failed to resonate with me in any way: cultural appropriation, and the erasure of cultural context.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fauxgressives: Stealing is ‘rong You Evil Poor Person!

"Brittany-Ann hails from Kentucky, a state known for its tobacco and horses. She navigates it both as a feminist and as a woman with epilepsy, and is doing a pretty fair job of it. She writes at Bookish Beemer."

So, there are some commenters on Dan’s post at Womanist Musings that are pissing me off with their self-righteous indignant ranting.

Basically, the theme is this: “OMG you awful moral-less poor person! You’re RUINING society by stealing food to live!”

Then, after their disgusting moralistic rants, they then offer alternatives.


1. “Go to church! Churches feed poor people!” I would really, really like to know what churches these people are talking about, because by and large, they don’t. The church I attended as a child certainly never did–and none of the others I visited ever did, either. Christian churches do not hold Jesus’ teachings to feed and clothe the poor, and ‘treat the least of these’ as you would Christ himself as their prime sacrament and mission. No. Churches are concerned with getting butts to warm the pews and cash to fill the offering plates. That money never goes to feeding the least of these–it goes to buying shiny new equipment, furniture, or renovations–and paying the staff.

1a. Churches don’t much care for LGBTs, or anyone, really, that come and go “as they are.” They’re only interested in those families who make them look good, and can give a big fat tithe. They’re only interested in minorities, however that may manifest itself, to “save” them and hold them up as a posterchild (aka testimony) of how awesome and godly they are.

Goodbye United States of Tara

 Spoilers Ahead

I am officially declaring myself a television jinx.  The moment I like a show, it seems to be immediately cancelled.  My friends had been telling me to watch The United States of Tara since the first season.  When I did finally give in this year and watched the back episodes, so that I could catch up and discovered I loved it, I should have realized right then and there, that this was the death knell for the show.

Last night the series finale aired and though they didn't plan for it to be the end of the show, because the writers of show have a tendency to wrap up loose ends at the end of each season it actually wrapped up the show fairly well.  Marshall forgave his mother, Charmain and Neal agreed to move to Houston, Kate decided to stay home to be with Marshall, Tara left for treatment in Boston and Max beat the hell out of a turducken and then, most unsatisfactorily it was over.

Roger Ebert: Friends Don't Let Jackasses Drink and Drive

Graffettie against drunk driving in Yakima Valleyphoto © 2010 Robert Ashworth | more info (via: Wylio)

According to Huffpo, shortly before Jackass actor Ryan Dunn died in a car accident, he posted a picture of himself drinking.  In the fatal car crash two other people died.  This inspired Roger Ebert to tweet "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."  This tweet lead to a tremendous backlash and Roger is not trending on twitter because people are expressing outrage.

Perez Hilton, who lives to interject himself into every possible situation wrote on his blog:
We certainly agree that driving after drinking is wrong, we think there's no reason - especially RIGHT NOW - that anyone should be pointing fingers or poking fun at a truly tragic situation.
 I will agree that Dunn's family and friends may have found what Ebert had to say harsh, but seriously, how old do you have to be to know that drinking and driving should never ever mix?  We have had PSA's for years about this fact, and organizations like MADD have worked extremely hard to encourage people to do sensible things, like choosing a designated driver, or taking a cab after a night of drinking.  

You Don't Get a Ticker Tape Parade for Voting for Same Sex Marriage

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 republican blokey in the US, Roy McDonald Has said:   

"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing." after deciding to vote for marriage equality in New York.

Now there are several things I could snark here. I could snark about the fact this guy has finally come to see life in shades of grey rather than black and white at the age of 64 when most of make that transition in our early teens. I could snark that while many things are indeed shades of grey, outright prejudice and bigotry is not.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Calling the Police on the Homeless is NOT helping them

 RIP Homeless personphoto © 2008 Matt Brown | more info (via: Wylio)

As I have mentioned many times, I live across the street from a park.  Currently, a homeless man has taken up residence in the park.  He has been there for five days. I first became aware of him when my neighbour told me that he had chased him off my property for attempting to use my outdoor tap. He has already been chased out of the park once, and some of my neighbours are talking about calling the police on him.  I know that in this situation, the police will not help him and in fact will most likely exacerbate the situation.

I have called all the services in the area, only to discover that there is no shelter that helps homeless men in Niagara Falls.  The only shelter is in St.Catherines which is 20 mins away by car, if you take the highway. Obviously, this is too far of a distance for a man to walk with his meager possessions.  It is my belief that he has taken up residence in the park, because it is close to the local soup kitchen. Today, I plan to take him some lunch and talk to him about moving into a mens shelter that I have found after an hour or so of research. Should he agree, I will buy him a bus ticket to help him get there. Even as I made the calls today, I was fully aware that he may choose to reject my offer which is right but I know that taking a proactive positive approach well have a better end result than simply calling the cops.

On Tonights Fangs for the Fantasy We Interview Author Kevin Hearne

Hey everyone, I thought I would put up a post to let you know that tonight we have a very special Fangs for the Fantasy planned.  The crew and I will be chatting with Kevin Hearne, the author of the fabulous Iron Druid Chronicles.  We will be taking a social justice approach to his latest book Hexed.  Be sure to tune in at 6PM EST.

You can find us on Talkshoe
If you are interested in chatting directly with Kevin, you can call in (724) 444-7444 call code 94601
There will be a chat room set up, for those of you that are unable to call in to ask your questions.  The interview will also be recorded for those that are not able to listen live.

Anti-Trans Intersex PSA Teaches That Words Can Hurt

Transcript Below

White Male: It is not acceptable to call me a tranny or a she. 
White Woman: And it is not acceptable to call me a he/she, a it or a shemale
Black Woman: It is not acceptable to call me a transvestite or a man in a dress
Intersex Person: It is not acceptable to call me a hermaphrodite or a freak.
Together they say: These words are no different than any other minority slur. Don't use derogatory words and remember words can hurt.

I thought that this was a good PSA, and unlike many others it didn't feel the need to lean on other oppressions to point out that bigoted language can hurt. I know that when a minority declares a word a slur, they should not have to explain why these words are hurtful, but I think that when it comes to the general public, a little explanation goes a long way.  I recently had the occasion to call a woman a disablist, and I could see from the look on her face that she had no idea what I was saying.  It seems to me that the public would gain a lot from hearing words like cissexist.  Not only do we need to know that the language itself is wrong, but giving it a label helps to further entrench the idea that this is indeed a valid oppression.  The public needs to know that there is actual language to describe their behaviour because language is how we understand our world, and communicate ideas to each other.  I think that as maginalized people we need to actively ensure that such words become a regular part of daily interactions.

What are your thoughts on the PSA, and the absence of the word cissexism from it?

H/T Monica of TransGriot

Super 8 and the Monstrous Pussy

"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."

As you can imagine, if you search the terms “pussy,” “monster pussy,” or “monstrous pussy” what comes up is links to porn sites.

In addition to its pornified status, the word pussy also has a well-worn meaning: coward. I.e., when someone says, “don’t be such a pussy” they usually mean, “don’t be such a coward.”

And who are the cowards of this world? Why, females of course! Or, men who “act like females” (either by loving other men or being “too feminine”).

I would bet I am not teaching you anything new about the word pussy here.

However, it seems that either Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams (makers of Super 8) are not aware of this terms virulent misogyny OR that they know of its misogyny but don’t care, choosing to go ahead and sprinkle its usage throughout their new film. My guess is the latter.