Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

Thanks again for a marvelous week of conversations everyone. I am so sorry about the light posting on the blog the last few weeks.  The boys are off school for the summer and I am trying to adjust to the new schedule while blogging.  Please be patient and hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

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.

The Truth about the Civil Rights Era
Meet the New Gender Police - Same as the old Gender Police
What if male superheroes posed like Wonder Woman?
They want to do real bad things to you: Class war on True Blood
What do you mean when you say you want strong female characters
On the UK Riots, Part II
Literary Asexual Couple: Bertie Wooster and Jeeves
Bachmann's Views on Slavery are Worse than you Thought
Always disappoint with transphobia
Ten Tips for Tickling Without Trauma
Persecution Revisited - The Mansfield, OH Sodomy Sting of 1962
But surely all friends bring benefits
Every You Bring The Gay, You Crush a Writer`s Dream
The Kaiefing Jews
What if Cowboys and Aliens offers the same old message wrapped in a "new" alien package. 
A rant about street harassment
Confirmation Bias and Anti-Asexual Sentiment
White Man-Based Solution To Black Marriage Panic Hits Wall Street Journal
Your Approval of History is Irrelevant and Meaningless

Editors Note:  A link on this page is not necessarily a sign of agreement with the post and as always, the comment section is read at your own risk.  Sometimes links are to problematic pieces that I did not have time to blog about, and sometimes it's because I found something interesting in the position but in either case, a link is not necessarily a sign of support. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

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

'?' photo (c) 2009, Quinn Dombrowski - license:

As a marginalized person I have found that in order to have relationships with people who have privilege, or more specifically the ability to use their privielge to harm me, I must make constant compromises.  Sometimes this means swallowing back something bigoted they said, or avoiding certain topics because past history tells you that they will fail.  So this week's question is: how long do you let the fuckery go on before you call your friend out or end a relationship?  Is there a particular trigger that you have that means no forgiveness or understanding?

Editors Note:  This is your reminder that our first book club discussion will be Monday.  For those who still want to get in, we will be discussing the first section of Sapphire's The Kid.

White Woman Teaches the World How to be Asian

You would think that this woman would have learned from the UCLA student who decided to go on a racist rant about Asians speaking to loudly and just generally taking up space in her lily White world, but it seems that some people just have to learn the hard way.

Note: Video NSFW  at 1:48 to naked Asian women squat to urinate on an octopus

Food: Culture and a Source

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.

Perhaps I am spending too much time with my new girlfriend Kit talking about food, or because of the Ramen Every Night budget I’ve been running on, but I felt the need to talk about food. Kit, a Vietnamese immigrant, has promised me an Asian feast when I visit. In turn, I have told her that my Vavo will make her kale soupas and bacalhau (codfish balls) and whatnot. In our mixed-race, mixed-ethnic relationship, I was highly aware of how easy it was to talk about food and possibly eat food with Kit. In fact, I think it’s a first for both of us since we mostly dated white people.

Here’s a little secret: I eat with my hands. A lot. I am used to big portions, and majority starches/carbs. That’s just what you ate in a Portuguese household. Before I learned to hold a fork, I had a bread roll in one hand and pieces of potato or linguica in the other. Feeding other people wasn’t bad either; I had to help feed kids and elderly individuals before I even hit second grade. I was taught to cook from a young age because I was often in the kitchen with them as I was being taken care of. Kit also admits to eating a lot, and has boasted the ability to eat jalapeno peppers straight from the jar.

Admittedly, both of us have gotten stares, comments, and other things from mostly white individuals about our food. I was admittedly shy to invite friends over the house because our house would “smell weird” because Vavo was making kale soupas, or some other pungent Portuguese food. The smell of fish never bothered me, but I could see the faces on people who walk past our house. I also knew that there were two different ways of eating; it was rude to not use a fork and knife to cut your food. Eating fruit with your fingers was rude. Burping was rude. Of course, I was also picked on because I had reduced lunch and each day the teacher would openly announce when it was time to collect our money at the start of class.

Thoughts on Season One of Supernatural

When Sam Winchester is six months old, is father walks into his nursery to find his mother stuck to the ceiling burning.  Sam's father John, orders his brother older brother Dean to take Sam outside.  After Mary's death, John raises Sam and Dean to hunt supernatural predators in the hope of one day killing the demon that is responsible for Mary's death.

In the opening scenes Sam retrieves Dean who is attempting to get into law school and create a different life for himself because John has gone missing.  Sam promises to help for one weekend but quickly gets drawn back into the life. They move from town to town hunting and killing predators for no pay.

I know that this show is set in the mid west but it is extremely White with the exception of episode 9  and episode 13.  In Home (episode 9) Loretta Devine makes an appearance as a wise cracking psychic.  Devine is an extremely talented actress and she is absolutely wasted in this role because she is nothing but a sidekick with sass. To make matters worse the entire episode is spent trying to save a White woman and her children from a spirit living in Sam and Dean's childhood home.  Apparently, Devine has spent years watching over that house, while John, Sam and Dean were out kicking immortal ass.  She knew the Winchester men would need her help one day.  Yeah, I am not impressed by this at all.

In episode 13 Supernatural decided to deal with race.  It was enough to make me thankful for the previous erasure.  In this episode, Dean was contacted by his girlfriend.  Her father died under mysterious circumstances and this concerns him.  It seems that there is a racist truck killing Black men in the city.  When the ghost tries to kill Dean's girlfriend her mother reveals the awful history of racism in the town and tells everyone that her father killed a White man who was disturbed with their inter racial relationship.  To make matters worse the ghost that is killing Black men also burned down a church filled with people before he died.  Does anyone else recognize the history?  For me it brought up visions of the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  In fact, I am quite sure that this is where the writers got their inspiration and it is wrong.  How dare they appropriate from one of the most heinous civil rights era terrorist acts to tell one of their little ghost stories. To virtually erase Blacks from the story only to have them hunted by a ghost and then saved by two White men is absolutely racist fuckery.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Don't Ask Don't Tell Isn't A Step Forward For Everyone

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

With the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" drawing closer, I felt it was the perfect time to examine the effects of this repeal and what it means for queer service members and Gay Rights overall. I certainly have my own opinions about the military as those of you who have read my personal blog already know, but for this inquiry I decided to look to those who it affects in a more direct way. My sister, Ana* and her girlfriend Maya* are both active duty military personnel and were generous enough to talk with me about their views of the repeal of DADT, what effect it will have on their relationship and life in the military.

Ana and Maya met in the Army doing the same kind of work and with many of the same aspirations. Ana wanted the discipline, stability and rigorous routine and environment she felt only the military could offer. Maya decided to join to get money for a college education, to aid in gaining her citizenship and to become a more independent person. They fell in love shortly after a cautious period of dating and have been together for a year now. I imagined they would be ecstatic about the repeal of a policy that would erase their relationship and silence their identities and was surprised to hear them question how truly progressive the repeal is.

Ana explains that the culture of the military, branch and rank have a lot more to do with acceptance of sexual orientation than the repeal of DADT. Being queer is being "different" and that simply goes against the uniformity that the military strictly enforces. Much like in the civilian world, you choose who you are out to carefully. Ana and Maya both see sexual orientation as something personal and professionalism and personal privacy is a must while in uniform no matter how you identify. Their experiences being in the closet while serving has forced them to always watch what they say and who they interact with. Even giving me an interview was a risk that required hiding. However, they don't feel the repeal of DADT will change any of this. 

Should Sesame Street Let Bert and Ernie Get Married?

'Bert and Ernie: Let me tell you a secret / 20090917.10D.53994.P1 / SML' photo (c) 2009, See-ming Lee - license:
Like many kids, I grew up watching Sesame Street.  I loved the songs, the bright flashing colours and Oscar the grouch. Years later, I would sit in front of the television and watch Sesame Street with each of my boys.  Now that they have outgrown Sesame Street, I hope that it will be around should they decide to have children one day, so that I can share it with my grand kids. As a child, I never thought about the fact that Bert and Ernie lived together and slept in separate twin friends.  In fact, I never thought about the nature of their relationship at all, because it all seemed very normal, for lack of a better word. Children often don't see certain relationship as problematic, and have to be actively taught what they are supposed to perceive as normal.  This is why I believe that the new petition at to out Bert and Ernie is important.
In this horrific age of LGBT kids taking their own lives, they need to know that they ARE BEAUTIFUL and their lives are worth living. Aside from those that are committing suicide, the bullies that facilitate these tragedies need to learn that homophobia is NOT okay. They need to know that acceptance of their fellow human beings would indeed plant a seed of peace that will reverberate throughout the world. We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful. Only that they allow Bert & Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different. Let Sesame Street and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives. Please visit our Facebook
If all kids see are images of straight couples, that becomes the norm for them. If you think about it, Fred and Wilma Flintstone have the exact same living conditions as Bert and Ernie, and they are understood as husband and wife and therefore, it would not take a big leap to plan a wedding for Bert and Ernie. Bert and Ernie could continue to sleep in their separate beds and their relationship could be acknowledged as a loving one, similar to Fred and Wilma.

What is Stimming?

The following video is about something called stimming, which seems basically to refer to the movement of the body in a specific manner.  This includes rocking, shaking of hands and wrists, walking back and forth rapidly.  The video is made by young woman who has autism.  She discusses stimming and why it happens.

"So why would anyone do something so silly? There are several reasons and none of them has proved to be the right reason -- they're just some thoughts that people have and what people have to say about their own experience.  Information and sort of sensory information can be sort of hard for people with autism spectrum disorders. Like, ummm, a lot of the time they have trouble seeing the big picture they can just see pieces of what's going on but they don't really understand how to synthesis that information and take out the important part. Umm just like loud noises and a lot of things to look at, ummm like being in a mall for example, can be really upsetting to an ASD person because it's like a lot to take in - so much that they feel overwhelmed. It's possible and it's my experience, that going like this (flapping her wrist) or rocking a little bit somehow makes things feel a little bit more orderly and makes it easier to try to focus and makes you feel less overwhelmed by all of the information because you are doing this one leg (bouncing leg) very orderly simple thing."
Honestly, I learned a lot from watching the video and hope that you did as well.  What if anything stood out to you?

The Keepers of God's Word

 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.

Out of the darkened room, a single light glows.

Qul a'udhu bi rabbin-nās.

Her clear voice commands my full attention. The recitation folds in over itself, echoing and reverberating. I'm transported from a tiny New York apartment to a concert hall – as if I'm experiencing a live event instead of a digital recording from a computer.

Everything around me disappears.
Min sharril waswasil khan-nas… Alladhi yu-waswisu fee sudoorin-nas… Minal jinnati wan-nas.1
It's beautiful. I have chills and her voice tugs at my soul. It's ethereal and the feelings the recitation invoke of me are ineffable. I'm frozen in this one moment of praising God.

Suddenly, a voice from the audience: WOO!

My senses snap back and I snicker. Excited by the awesomeness of the recitation, a concert-goer shouts out his appreciation. Packaged in that one WOO, I could hear a giddiness, fan excitement and maybe even a touch of exoticism upon hearing Arabic erupt from the sound mixer. I'd like to imagine he slapped his thigh and thought, “oh man, this is my favourite Qur’anic verse!” But after speaking with the performing artist, I know that he was probably just an unknown factor in a crowd, sharing his appreciation of music.

The Qur'an isn't just read. It's lived.

Last month I had the unusual opportunity to speak with Sajida Jalalzai – by day a brilliant PhD student at Columbia University and by night a talented trip-hop, indie singer with the New York band A Bit Cagey.

I was intrigued when I heard that she opened a recent concert with the recitation of the Qur'an.
While it's not surprising to hear that a practicing Muslim would want to begin an event by evoking the sacred text, even during a non-religious event – some would definitely be surprised to hear that a female artist recited the Qur'an in front of a mixed gender audience:
I know that I don't really reflect the "norm" of Islamic etiquette, but I have absolutely no problem with women reciting Qur'an in front of non-mahrem.
The first divine injunction given to the Prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel was to "recite," and I think that this is both a privilege and charge given to every Muslim, both men and women. I think that if a man is sexually aroused by a woman reciting a holy scripture, he's got more problems than I can help him with.
Over 1, 400 years ago in the month of Ramadan, the first verse of the Qur’an was revealed, "Recite! Read in the name of your Lord who created you..." (96:1) And ever since then, Muslims have been reading the Qur’an in melodious and breathtaking recitations.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Twenty Five Years Later, and Bullies Still Are Not Taken to Task

 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

It all started out innocently enough. I was a 13 year old freshman in high school, and a bunch of us in my honors English class were writing song lyrics on the chalkboard, waiting for the teacher to come back into the classroom. I was a hippie chick, into music from the 60s and 70s (even though this was 1987), so I chose to quote some lyrics from "Turn Turn Turn" by the Byrds. Everything was going fine until I wrote the line "A time to kill..." Well, that certainly got my classmates attention!
The other students in my class started looking at me strangely, asking me why I decided to write that specific lyric on the board (completely ignoring the fact that that it was probably the 5th or 6th line from that song I had written). So, over dramatic teen that I was, I decide to really shake things up!
I started telling my fellow students that I there was going to be a revolution, that the "nobodies" like me were going to rise up against the "popular" students. I said that some of us were sick of being treated like crap, and we were going to change things! I even made some fake posters, and showed them to some of the kids in my class. Over the course of the day, things really snowballed.
Pretty soon, the entire student body was whispering about how I had threatened to kill a bunch of kids. They even spread the word that I had a list of students who were going to be the first to die. (I didn't, and I had never even met some of the kids who approached me in anger over the course of the day angry at me for daring to put their names on the list.)

THE HELP is not my kind of movie

Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist and poet Kola Boof has been an agent for Sudan’s SPLA and was the National Chairwoman of the U.S. Branch of the Sudanese Sensitization Peace Project.  She has written for television and her many books include, “Flesh and the Devil,” “Long Train to the Redeeming Sin,” “Nile River Woman” and “Virgins In the Beehive.”  She blogs at Kola Boof. com

Filmed and projected images almost always socialize the eyes beholding the images.  Whether they be movies, magazines or music videos; the repetition of these visual images socially condition the watching eye as to what that particular society considers good and bad; what is to be loved and valued; what is to be valued as beautiful and impressive; what is to be coveted—and; and—gazed at from the tower of one’s own status in America—what is to be pitied and felt sorry for; no matter how noble and courageously it is presented on screen. I find living in America where movies such as “Precious,” “The Help” and “Martin Lawrence in Drag” are consistently financed and given major releases—yet Angela Bassett isn’t allowed to play Cleopatra—that the majority of Americans of all races institutionally view what I would call the Authentic Black Woman (the dark skinned black woman) as “The Maid,” “The Wallflower,” “The Backup Singer,” “The Thing We’re Glad Not to Be.” And it doesn’t matter how impressive or accomplished these type of women are (including Oprah; including Michelle Obama; including Naomi Campbell, Iman and Angela Bassett)—the Hollywood filmmakers, to my Egyptian-Sudanese-American eye, always finds a way to cast said type woman into that status—that lower station—no matter who or what the circumstances on film are.

      We get to “feel sorry” for her station in life…and in doing so…we mistake feeling sorry as delivering justice.  It lets us off the hook, because after “feeling sorry” for her—what else does she want, change?  No. We did that while watching the film. Now as we leave the theatre—we’re done with her.  

      That is why, no matter how much I love and idolize the stunningly gifted Viola Davis (truly one of my favorite actresses), I won’t be going to see the newly released motion picture “The Help”—and I didn’t care worth a damn for Kathryn Stockett’s well meaning novel either.

The Great Popcorn Cuss Out

'Popcorn' photo (c) 2009, Janet Hudson - license:

A few days ago the unhusband went shopping with the kids.  When they returned it was clear that Destruction was very upset.  When I asked him what was the matter he answered, "he bought no name popcorn mom, who does that?  He is just so cheap?"  I laughed and let it go thinking it was no big deal, however a few days later the popcorn would become a huge issue.

When the kids asked for a snack, I told them to go ahead make the popcorn.  A few minutes later they both came back into the living room announcing that the popcorn would not pop.  "It's because it's no name," Destruction said.  "This is what happens when you are cheap."  The unhusband quickly reached into his pocket and gave Destruction five dollars to go the store and get a snack to share with his brother.  While Destruction was at the store, Mayhem decided that he had to add his two cents to the occasion.  I will never forget watching my five year old who stands three foot nothing cuss out his father who stands six feet tall.  I was absolutely roaring with laughter as the unhusband stood there not saying a word with eyes downcast as the baby gave him what for.

I was just reaching the point where I thought that I would just burst if I didn't stop laughing when Destruction came back from the store and pushed me right over the edge.  "You do realise that if you had just bought the good popcorn to begin with you would not have had to give me five dollars," he said. "You didn't actually save a dime. Cheap, cheap, cheap and this is what cheapness gets you."  I absolutely roared as once again the unhusband took his cuss out without saying a word.

Dealing with relationships is not a surface endeavor

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.

Traditionally, in american society, it is the members of oppressed, objectified groups who are expected to stretch out and bridge the gap between the actualities of our lives and the consciousness of our oppressor. For in order to survive, those of us for whom oppression is as American as apple pie have always had to be watchers, to become familiar with the language and manners of the oppressor, even sometimes adopting them for some illusion of protection
                                                                                                                         Audre Lorde

This essay seeks to deal with human relationships in a complex manner. And please note, dealing with relationships is not a surface endeavor. Especially when we’re trying to look at the political, economic and social nature of the ways we react to one another. As poverty, homelessness, unemployment, hunger and crisis becomes a fact for most of us living in the world. The question of, “Who is actually eating?” will become of prime importance as we look closer into these power dynamics. Therefore, my goal is to talk frankly about this, as I want to see a world where we all have bread. More importantly I crave a world where the power relations present change, and to destroy the historic, unyielding consciousness buried deep in our exploiters psyche that believes one must plunder, abuse, control and manipulate human life to realize its own.

 As a result, this essay is a way to openly name the silences around these complex power relations, which many of us who stand on the margins have named in the comforts of others where “oppression is as American as apple pie.” In these private spaces, we have told these stories as a way to soothe the unbearable pain of helplessness and build new tactics to keep resisting. 

I think most about these relationships in the struggle of political organizing and working within the field for social justice. Many people, in particular, us women of color here, as well as us in the Third World, have recognized this relationship all too well. Where even within organizations that preach our liberation, we are constantly cast into subordinate roles, where Whiteness can thrive and generate their income from our suffering and degradation. When it comes to seeing us as true equals, people worthy enough of holding power, shaping policy, deciding what to be done with what most poor, dark, woman, child and Other produce for the world, anytime the question of true self-determination surfaces, there always seems to be a problem.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"What Do We Do About Transphobic Feminists?"

"Ally Clarke is a blogger and activist for, among other things, the rights of trans women. She/Zie lives in New York and runs the blog 'Nuts and Bolts: A Project to End Transmisogyny,' and is an avid weirdo, kinkster, role-player, and online gamer."
Transphobic feminists occupy a lot of my time. They really do–one of the biggest factors of Kyriarchy in the oppression of trans women (especially non-hetero ones) is the fact that our safe spaces, full of other women more or less just like us, are behind walls of angry political bad blood. So we do what we do best–we organize the small scraps of trans rebellion together and bring our sights to bear upon the source of our discontentment.
I, for one, am willing to consider the concession that this isn’t the way we should be going about it. Today marks an interesting day for N&B, because I’m about to tell you to do something I would feel uncomfortable about doing myself. See, the thing is, transphobic feminists may be transphobic, but they’re also feminists. We don’t have to agree with them about trans stuff. There’s plenty of other things I won’t agree with them about–sorry, but I don’t agree with proscriptive feminism, sex positive or sex negative.
There are a few things I do agree with them about, though. I agree with them that there are times that men need to give us a safe space. I agree with them that we need to take everyday steps to combat oppression, and not just hang around in whatever liberal mass happens to be near you and expect them to listen to us. That, sisters/ziesters/cisters and brothers, is what makes us radical feminists.

Oral Sex and Dealbreakers

'Oral sex' photo (c) 2008, Ben N - license:

I know that I linked to this piece for last week's Drop It like It's Hot, but the conversation on Feministe yesterday really made me think that it deserves more than just a casual link. To be clear, I am going to discuss this from a heterosexual, cisgender perspective, simply because I don't have the education to discuss it from another point of view, but please feel free to include other perspectives in the comment section.

With the exception of porn, in popular culture, oral sex means men receiving and women giving.  Much of this has to do with the social construction of the vagina as a filthy place and that men performing cunnilingus is emasculating.  To read a post about a woman clear enough in her sexual desires to decide that simply giving was not enough for her is indeed transformative.

Some of the issues raised in the Feministe thread were:
  • Does a partner have the right to expect reciprocity in all sex acts
  • Would we deem the demand for golden showers, anal sex, BDSM in the same manner?
  • Does a demand for oral sex or even more specifically, sex place undue demands on the body of another
  • Do asexuals have to disclose their sexual orientation at the beginning of a relationship?
For the purposes of disclosure, I feel it is important to state upfront that I am a sexual being and so my perspective will obviously be skewed by this.  For people who have sexual desire, sex is an extremely important part of our lives.  It isn't just about having an orgasm; it's about sharing something intimate with someone.  It's about feeling a connection and about feeling desirable.  I would go as far as to say that it's a need.  We are not always sexually compatible with our partners, but two people committed to each other, who want to see the other person be happy, can usually come up with some sort of compromise.  It is absolutely selfish to believe that one should simply be noble and live without for the sake of love.  Sex is not some arbitrary thing that people just happen to desire, for those of us who do desire it, it's a huge deal.

Curiosity is just a way to exoticise marginalized people

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.

Ok, so I'm going to chew off another of the excuses that seems to be increasingly used when privileged people are confronted with various issues they've perpetrated - this one is Curiosity.

Now, this was recently raised as an excuse in Renee's recent post about people pawing black hair (and believe me, those unabridged comment threads would have been comic if they didn't destroy your faith in humanity).

I've also seen it invoked when I've complained about personal, sexual and otherwise invasive questions being asked of GBLT people that are none of the questioner's damn business and I can't imagine in what possible universe they thought it'd be an appropriate question to ask.

So, let's poke this curiosity thing and see why, as excuses go, I find it several steps behind "I didn't intend it that way!" as being reasonable and acceptable. I don't promise this to be an exclusive list of all that annoys about this excuse, but here are some that get on my grey hairs.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lonerism: the Misunderstood 'Condition'

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.

Imagine this - more than 100 people packed in a conference room intended for 40, holiday music playing, a couple dozen private conversations creating that “crowd buzz” background noise, and everyone lining up to load their plates with ham, turkey, and other pot luck items before squeezing into one of the chairs around the room's perimeter and settling in for the office “holiday party.”

If this sounds like a lot of fun - the more, the merrier, after all - then you're probably not a loner. It's not surprising - we're a minority, statistically speaking.

Supposedly, about 25 percent of the population scores as introverted on the Myers-Briggs personality-type inventory, and in this case, introvert does not mean quiet or shy - it means people who get their energy from being alone and inside themselves, as opposed to extroverts, who get their energy from other people and the outside world.

Introverts need hours - maybe even days - alone to recharge from a hectic schedule or a major social event. They have a few close friends and don't mind doing things alone. Even so, there's still a difference between an introvert and a loner. And while I would bet that all loners are introverts, not all introverts are loners.

I am both of these things. And I have found that “lonerism” is about as misunderstood as transsexuality, and often as curious or contemptible. Wanting to be, needing to be, and usually preferring to be alone on most occasions is seen as pathetic at best, and is frequently interpreted as either snobbish or antisocial. I am none of these things.

When people discover that I am spending Thanksgiving or Christmas alone, they usually feel very sorry for me - pathetic, they think. And they invite me to come to their own family celebration. It's not that I don't appreciate the invitation - I do. It's very thoughtful. But I prefer to be alone. My “more-the-merrier” friend finds this extremely puzzling and somewhat sad. I'm not sure that she'll ever be convinced that this is my preference, not a situation to be pitied.

"An indigenous Assyrian response to how white-supremacist Anders Breivik appropriated our struggles

 "Maegan BetEnvia is a queer indigenous Assyrian-Iranian-American women of color currently working towards a Master's degree in Social Justice. From her hometown of New Britain, Connecticut she works in her own Assyrian community as well as surrounding communities of color to address domestic violence, homophobia, and police violence."

Anders Breivik. You do not get to appoint yourself the voice for the millions of ethno-religious minorities that have faced genocide in the Middle East. You do not get to work our tragedies and struggles into your manifesto of white-supremacy and extremist Christianity. Islam is not our enemy, the imperialist neoliberal policies that devastate our countries are. You do not call yourself our ally and then declare your intentions to wipe out our brothers and sisters in Turkey, Iraq, Europe, America, etc. Before being Christian we as Assyrians are first and foremost a Semitic people, ethnically closest to our Arab sisters and brothers. Our culture, our traditions, our history, and our language are for us to protect and negotiate with those surrounding us in our HOME countries of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. As refugees in the western world we have rapidly assimilated, our Christianity being the only thing our HOST countries accept about us.

You see Anders, you are so very wrong. We do not need a white savior, it is white saviors like you that brought about to the massacres we faced throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
First the British colonized our homeland Iraq, they wrote about us as an inferior people, easy to manipulate through our Christianity and that desperate desire for our own country.  We are an indigenous agrarian people, we lived primarily in small villages and in the mountains.

They gave us food, they educated our youth, they asked for our men to serve in their armies, all while promising to support us in an international bid for a nation-state. They wrote about how ugly and animalistic we were, how our interpretation of Christianity was laughable. They knew that placing us above other Iraqis (both Arab and ethno-religious minority) would create a division so strong that all would remain distracted once they’d pulled out of our countries. It worked, we still massacre each other and most refuse to see how our western saviors caused our genocide. Remember Rwanda? Remember how imaginary identifiers were created by the British to divide the same people? The same was done to us. We were told that above all else, we must strive to bring back the Assyrian Empire so we could once again be great (like the British of course). We were told to resist any unification attempts of our home countries, that there could not be a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country for us.

In Iran it was similar, troops weren’t allowed in so the west infiltrated our countries in the form of Christian missions. These missions served to gather information while “helping” only Christian minorities in the region. These missions educated our young people, slowly replacing our cultural narratives with their own Christian imperialist interpretations. Again, the departure of the west sparked a series of nationalist based genocides against the minorities (Assyrians, Armenians, etc) resisting unification. As an indigenous people that faces rapidly dwindling populations, our personal and cultural safety are of critical importance. In the west we are being assimilated out of everything but our Christianity just as quickly as we are being massacred for it in our home countries. We need safety, we need cultural preservation, but not at the expense of others. We live in our home regions and we have grown tired of your meddling. We do not need another western man manipulating our struggles so that he can feel safe in his white-washed, capitalist, monoculture. We have lived in multi-ethnic, multi-religious, regions throughout our history and will continue to do so.

As population of around 3.5 million, living in this globalized world, we refuse to accept your twisted fantasy of closed borders and white crucifix carrying armies. I am as much Persian as I am Assyrian, and like many stateless people our identities are varied and overlapping. We will not be tempted like the Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, to rapidly assimilate into our HOST countries’ racist practices. Whiteness and Christianity won’t be dangled in front of us, won’t tempt us. We know where we came from and we know who we are. Our language, our foods, our beautiful traditions won’t be eradicated in your endless quest to assimilate only those that can be squeezed into your sick dream.  Ours is just one of many cradles of civilization, there in central Asia, where we began farming. You try to claim our achievements as your own, citing that your “Western Civilization” began with our slow colonization of the earth."

True Blood: Cold Grey Light of Dawn

The very end of last night's episode left me screaming noooooo at my television.  Alan Ball, you sir are a supreme tease.  With Jason stopped by Bill's security will he manage to get away long enough to pull Jessica inside the house?  There are a lot of characters that I think are extraneous to the show but Jessica is certainly not one of them, though I could do without the Hoyt, Jason, Jessica love triangle.

Last night we got a lot of Eric and Sookie getting it on in various positions.  I wonder if Sookie has enough peas for her yahoo palace after that much shagging.  I don't know about you but the whole Eric mooning over Sookie thing has gotten old.  I love bad ass, take no prisoners Viking, and not the musty I don't want my memories back because you may not love me anymore Eric. Perhaps Sookie just brings the musty out in men.

When we last left Tara she was in the middle of a huge fight with Pam.  Fortunately for Tara, humans arrive and start taking pictures, causing Pam to leave.  After sending her girlfriend away Tara wonders along the road until she is stopped by Marni/Antonia and asked to join the coven.  As I watched Tara chanting in the circle I could not help but wonder if this is going to be her last season.  There have been rumors that someone big is going to die this season, and now that Tara has aligned herself in a real way against the vampires, I fear it might just be her. 
If you think about it, this season is far more complex than any other season, because it is filled with grey rather than just pure Black and White.  The humans that align themselves with Antonia have been raped, beaten and savaged by vampires.  Unlike Russel Edgington,  the quest is not about power but justice and revenge. On the otherside we have our vampires.  Antonia's plan is to have all vampires walk into the sun whether or not they are actually guilty of any crime at all, simply because they are vampires.  Even Bill the king is guilty of terrible acts and though Eric is being constructed as innocent thanks to his memory loss, his own past is awash with blood.  How can we root for either side?