Saturday, August 20, 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.

Fat Ladies in Space; A Body Positive Colouring Book
Birth Matters: Getting Back to Our Indigenous Roots
Coming Out When People Don't Have A Clue
When we are very wrong
On Respecting the Boundaries of Gay Men
Shut Up, Moby: How the But I'm a Vegan" Problem Is Ruining Progressives
Breast Cancer Marketing Has A Pink Problem
Books Behind Bars
Helping White People Understand the Black Beef with "The Help"
Confessions of a Reality TV Junkie
The Heather Grey, Jersey Knit, Racism of Fashion
How to be a Friend to Trans Folks Without Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth: A Guide for Cis People
Development Initiatives and the (In)visibility of Power
Performing Wonder Woman
So now we're back to 'is Obama Black Enough'? Really?
Carlos Santana: Grammy Academy is Racist for Cutting Award Categories
Our Sense of Entitlement

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 19, 2011

Yoga For Black People

I was tweeted a link this morning about a young Black woman Chelsea, who has been attacked for daring to criticize the following video.

Yoga for Black People - watch more funny videos     

A Forced Eugenics Survivor Speaks Her Truth

When North Carolina's Eugenics program ended in 1974 more than 7,600 people were sterilized.  North Carolina had one of the most coercive eugenics program sterilizing people for "epilepsy, sickness and feeblemindedness."  Though the aforementioned were the stated reasons they also sterilized for promiscuity, homosexuality and so-called criminal intentions.

The Winston-Salem Journal obtained and examined thousands of these documents. It found that:

  • More than 2,000 people ages 18 and younger were sterilized in many questionable cases, including a10-year-old who was castrated. Children were sterilized over the objections of their parents, and the consent process was often a sham.

  • The program had been racially balanced in the early years, but by the late 1960s more than 60 percent of those sterilized were black, and 99 percent were female.

  • Doctors performed sterilizations without authorization and the eugenics board backdated approval. Forsyth County engaged in an illegal sterilization campaign beyond the state program.

  • Major eugenics research at Wake Forest University was paid for by a patron whose long history of ties to science had a racial agenda that included a visit to a 1935 Nazi eugenics conference and extensive efforts to overturn key civil-rights legislation.

  • On March 8, 2011, Governor Beverly Perdue established the five-member, Governor's Task Force to Determine the Method of Compensation for Victims of North Carolina's Eugenics Board. The following is the testimony of Elaine Riddick who was sterilized at the tender age of 14 when she became pregnant after being raped by a much older neighbor.  Not only was she sterilized but she was deemed promiscuous.

    Signs And Signifiers.

    This is a post by Jaded16

    I’ve been pretty busy moving and settling in a new city these past three weeks, I couldn’t keep up with people, let alone the internet — thus thankfully missing debates around whether Mumbai should have slutwalks or not. One of the organisers asked me whether I’d be willing to help organise as we’ve worked on a few things together before. She was quite taken aback when I declined her offer (given that Slutwalk Mumbai ends up taking place) as we usually agree on most things when it comes to activism and organising. She asked, “But don’t you love your freedom? How can you pass up an opportunity such as this to see and know how far we can push boundaries?” and then I didn’t have any answers for her as I was, and am still caught up in thinking how for her, and a lot of people Slutwalk™ has come to symbolise the sum of all feminist rioting considering  Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Mumbai (from time to time) have had walks and pickets by feminists and people involved in gender justice, for causes ranging from more college seats for women to raising awareness about sex-selective abortions — each issue that emerges from our specific caste, gender, class conflicts in each specific city long before Slutwalk™ became an enterprise. Since this exchange, the rhetoric behind supporting slutwalks has become intertwined with “respecting and loving oneself” — where love¹ (of the self, of the ‘community’) is continuously intertwined to the extent that any opposition to slutwalk today is to “hate” freedom — and peculiarly, this ‘freedom’  that SW represents has to move away from anything “recognisably” Indian — whatever that means to people individually and collectively.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    A Day in The Life of a Web Cam Model

    This is a guest post from Eva Rivera

    Camera ready. Lights on. Pink mesh top and matching thong loosely tied. I smile and sweetly greet my morning customers with bright eyes. I'm a web cam model four days a week. I'm also a writer, a fast food employee (night shift), a daughter, a sister, and partner to my co-worker who sits next to me in a matching pink rhinestone bikini. My mom calls every week to check up on her baby across the country. Always asking me about my "waitressing" job and if I'm working too many hours. I make vague replies about rude customers and not enough sleep, trying to sound casual. I'm out to my mother as lesbian, as a college drop out, as having experimented with drugs even. But not this. She knows I've had sex with multiple partners, knows I used to volunteer at Planned Parenthood, but she will likely never know that I get paid to have sex in front of strangers. Why should she? "Occupation" left blank on clinic forms, leasing applications, whatever second job application I fill out. Friends don't ask, though they suspect. Once you are a sex worker, you can't erase that past. Too many people have seen you. You can't run for office, can't apply for a high-ranking position, there is no corporate ladder for street walkers.

    Yet, I do it still. Every morning that I don't feel exhausted from the heavy silicone toys' repetitive motions, I'm patting on glittery makeup getting ready for the days work. Yes, work. I guess most people don't understand that it's just as tiring as any number of your eight-hour days. I would know because I've worked nearly every job imaginable. I clock in, just like you, and clock out. I take off my makeup and costume and heels and become myself again. I make dinner, make love to my girlfriend, write an article. I'm not my job. Just as you are not a bank teller after 5pm. The difference is that you get to push your name tag into a drawer and not worry about it till your next shift. No matter what I store away, I'm always going to be a sex worker.

    For Nivea Afros Aren't Civilized

    That above image is racism in action folks.  The head that the man is throwing away has a beautiful curly afro and the face that it supposedly not civilized tells us that Black folks must make sure that the appearance as Euro-centric as possible to be considered acceptable. The claim that he didn't care about himself with his afro is an insinuation that daring to be your natural self is a reflection of low self esteem when the opposite is in fact true.

    The afro is threatening simply because it is a product of the Black love movement that began in the 60's.  During that time, wearing a gravity defying afro was considered a symbol of embracing Blackness and a pride in being Black.  Whiteness has always rejected this approach because a colonized mind is easier to rule.  To be clear, an Afro is seen specifically as threatening.

    I am sure that Nivea is going to respond with the usual, we didn't mean to be racist, we didn't know it was race and if anyone is offended we apologize routine. The faux apology has become a staple of big business when they mess up. The problem with this approach is that it minimizes the harm that has been done, and I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can look at the above image and not see the implicit racism.

    Power and Accomodation at the Mosque

    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.
    Men and women pray side-by-side at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia
    It was a terrifying and thrilling experience the first time I crossed the line and tip-toed my way into the men's section of the mosque. The area was brighter and cleaner -- and books containing authentic religious knowledge gleamed in the sun. There was no broken stereo system, no screaming children, no dusty carpets and no barrier. I kept looking over my shoulder hoping that no one would notice me. Once I grabbed the book I wanted, I flew back to my section of the mosque -- heart pounding, relieved that I wasn't caught. I was completely paranoid, but left that space feeling like God was closer in the men's section.

    So I almost understand how the bloggers at felt when they trespassed into the women's section of the Little Rock, Arkansas mosque. Uncovering the mystique behind women's hushed, gossiping voices in the back corners of mosques, entering into a space denied to men and exposing the exotic and colourful "religious garb" that hide women away from sight was just too delicious to ignore.

    For three years now 30mosques has endeavored to visit 30 mosques in the 30 days of Ramadan -- sharing the variety of culture, practice and people within Muslim America. It's a brilliant project with some truly inspiring stories. Presumably, the visit to the Arkansas mosque was not motivated out of a desire to champion women's rights within mosque culture. More likely, is that they listened to the many suggestions from fans and followers of the project to include some female voices.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    See, Crocs can be cute

    I found these crocs on ebay and I absolutely love them.  I am very much considering buy them.  I decided to show them to Gus AKA, Allison McCarthy and this is what she had to say about them:
    Why do you insist on making your feet uglier than they are? I should rephrase, your feet are not inherently ugly I am sure, in fact, that they are the loveliest in all of Canada as they belong to you but!  crocs?  HIDEOUS ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD
    I don't get how anyone could not love these shoes. Aren't they cutest things you have ever seen?  I am counting on you Womanist Musings readers to put Gus in her place.   

    Guys and Dolls: The Power of Silence and Activism in the Margins

    If you happen to be a woman, you and I probably share the same pet peeve - not being allowed to finish a thought.  The unhusband is quite normally quite repsectful of my speech, but every once and awhile, he stops listening and interrupts me at will. For the most part, I can say that I have this sort of incident with most of my male friends from time to time, which is why the one male friend who routinely stives never to interrupt me, and in fact encourages me to finish my thought really stands out to me. It seems like such a small thing, but when you are used to being cut off, or spoken over, it really does make a difference. I absolutely love this about him.

    I found myself thanking him recently because how much it means to me to be able to finish a thought uninterrupted.  I believe that most of the men that I interact with would say that they are not sexist, or that they actively work to combat sexism, but the fact that they will on occasion interrupt me, or show a lack of patience for my speech, while assuming that what they have to say is of the utmost importance, speaks largely about how far they still have to go as far as challenging male privielge.

    In everyday interactions between men and women, sexism is omnipresent.  It does not have to be overt for it to have an impact on the interaction.  It appears in actions like cutting a woman off, treating her like a wilting flower, assuming the right to take up more space than a woman. This is because women are often viewed as objects, even by those that care about them the most. In its most extreme example, women become objects to be possessed, because men believe that they have a right to our bodies.

    I found a documentary that aired on BBC that examines the phenomenon of Real Dolls.  These dolls are designed to replace women and are anatomically correct. The men who buy these dolls claim that they are necessary to their lives, because women are unattainable, and have a history of using them.  Some of the men who purchase these dolls nurture them with things like foot massages, expensive wigs and makeup, but eventually all end up having sex with these dolls.  The dolls are designed to the specifications of the owners down to, the shape of, or lack of pubic hair.

    the rest of the documentary is available on youtube.

    Whiteness as a Colonizing Force

    Whiteness as a colonizing force is a discussion that does not happen regularly and yet Whiteness either directly colonizes people of colour, or appropriates our cultures and changes them until they are no longer readily recognizable as ours.  For many cultures this has been absolutely disastrous.  Even in the face of this horror, there has always been resistance.  History having been written by the oppressor has completely erased this in order to feature the complicity of some people of colour as justification for the continued imperialistic acts. 

    For some the idea that people of colour would and have rejected Whiteness is shocking simply because Whiteness has been constructed as benign instead of the cancerous infection that it is.  There exists no group of people of colour who have not been adversely effected by the proliferation of Whiteness and though we have been forced to adapt, it does not mean that we accept a status of conquered beings.  It is not racist to openly attack Whiteness; it is self preservation.  The defense aspect is often over looked in order to push the idea that POC are racist against Whites, though Whiteness is guilty of unspeakable crimes.  The very first step to emancipation is to name and know your oppressor and if in the process some feelings are hurt, is far less painful than living through marginalization and erasure. 

    Often times Christianity is used to sugar coat the true intent.  Even as a Christian, I can recognize that when coupled with Whiteness that Christianity is not a message of peace but a declaration of war.  A simple look through history will prove that Christianity has been used to specifically to enforce docility.  When missionaries bring the so-called word to people of colour, it always comes from a position of educating the savages, rather than sharing an experience.   It functions as a mechanism to destroy other religious beliefs, which often serve to loosen the ties that bind one to culture.  A rejection of Christianity under these circumstances, is not proof of being uncivilized, but in fact speaks of a soul that refuses to be conquered. 

    Listen as the people of Papa New Guinea speak their truth.

    (this video has subtitles)

    Tim Wise offers a solution to racial acrimony

    'Anti-Racism Marlborough 20' photo (c) 2007, Robert Thivierge - license:

    Instead of reading the work of people of colour regarding racism, far too many White people turn to Tim Wise and believe that their work is done.  Tim Wise has said many things that I believe in but much of what he has to say misses the mark.  I also think it is important to note that while White allies are necessary, placing them into a position where they once again are authority figures does not destabilize racism and it also does not deal with the fact that even with the best intentions the very nature of existing with White privilege means that critical mistakes are bound to happen.  To illustrate this point, take a look at a section of Wise's most recent piece:
    So while the immediate responsibility for these attacks must be placed upon the young people who perpetrated them, the larger problem is one of deeply-ingrained racist stereotypes against people of color, which then create parallel and opposite stereotypes about whites, the latter of which can, in cases such as this, actually increase the likelihood of white injury. To end the latter, we have to attend to the former.

    Likewise, to the extent folks of color (especially young black and brown teens) may be inclined to see whites in a negative light, there is an easy solution, which would not only likely dampen such bias, but would also help build antiracist solidarity among young people generally; namely, rather than talking less about racism and its history (as the right would prefer), we should talk more about it, but include the stories of white allies throughout history as well.

    After all, if young people of color and young whites learned that there have been, in every generation, whites who stood with black and brown folks and challenged racial injustice, how might youth of all colors respond to one another differently? If white youth learned that there were role models in their community who they could follow in this regard, how might that change the racial attitudes of white people, and their willingness to challenge racism? And if young blacks in places like Milwaukee learned of those persons — as with Father James Groppi, who stood shoulder to shoulder with black leaders in that city to fight racist policies in the 1960s and 70s — how might such knowledge effect their perceptions of their white brothers and sisters?

    In other words, teach not just about racism but antiracist resistance, including that engaged by whites, in Milwaukee and across the nation. Doing so would promote allyship, break down stereotypes on all sides, and encourage the kinds of solidarity that troubled and divided cities like Milwaukee need in order to move forward.
    Black children, like all other kids first see racial difference, but they don't immediately apply value to difference.  They learn through lived experience that Whiteness is no friend to the Black person.  Despite being taught in school that everything White is not only normal but good, some Black children grow to be prejudicial against Whites, and others to be extremely distrustful.  Sitting them in a class and pointing out that there are some good White allies, is not going to change their lived experience.  When they walk out of that class, and face the real world, they will once again enter a society that views them as second class citizens.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    The Kid

    I know that I said that we would have a discussion about The Kid today but because of circumstances beyond my control, I am going to have to delay the bookclub.  I waited until this weekend to buy the book because I read very quickly.  I didn't think that it would be a problem because the book is available at the sony e-store.  What I didn't realize is that the book is not available for purchase outside of the U.S.  I then tried Diesel, another online bookstore to discover that once again the book was not available for purchase outside of the U.S.  I have now ordered the book from betterwold books and as soon as it comes in, I will start the reading group.  I cannot understand why I can purchase the paper copy but not the e-copy.  I apologize for the inconvenience. 

    Sexuality is Not Monstrous, Heteronormativity Is: Musings on Jack Harkness’ Sex Scenes in Torchwood: Miracle Day

    Natalie Wilson, a Women’s Studies and Literature professor at Cal State San Marcos, is author of the recently released Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga.
    She pens one of the academic blogs analyzing the saga at She is also author of the blog Professor, What if? and writes regularly for Ms Blog, Girl With Pen, and Womanist Musings. Her home page can be found and her Twitter handles are @seducedbytwi, @drnataliewilson, and @professorwhatif.  

    My children and I are big Dr. Who fans so, when Torchwood came out, I read around, talked to fans of the series, and felt the content was age-appropriate for them, especially as I would watch and deconstruct the show with them. Well, after watching the first “death by orgasm” episode, I promptly changed my mind and shelved the hope of watching Torchwood together until they were older.

    Happily, the new Torchwood: Miracle Day series is less “adult” than the original show and helps us bide our time as we anxiously await the return of Dr. Who in late August.

    Alas, when discussing the show with another parent recently, he asked if I was concerned about the homosexual sex scenes from a few weeks back. Though rankled by the underlying suggestion that only “homosexual sex scenes” are “concerning,” I held back on my desire to launch into a treatise on the horrors of homophobia and the pervasiveness of heteronormativity, and instead calmly asked “Well, the heterosexual sex scenes were just as graphic. Are you suggesting those are okay for my kids to see, but that I should be ‘concerned’ with the scenes between Jack and his lover?”  “Well, uh….” he prevaricated, “but those types of scenes are everywhere.”

    I agreed, noting that though I don’t approve of the hypersexualization of most media, I would prefer that such hypersexualization at least be more diverse, and represent the wide range of human sexuality and desires.

    It's A Turtle's World

    You can't show "For Coloured Girls" or "Hair Story," but "The Help" is Okay

    As many of you already know, I live in Niagara Falls.  This means that anything specifically related to Blackness is difficult for me to find in my area.  Just a few weeks ago, my best friend and I went to see the play top dog/under dog at the Shaw festival, simply because it was the only Black play they decided to show this season.  I go out of my way to support anything Black, in the hope that they will begin to cater to the Blacks more often. 

    When the movie The Help came out, I decided that even to write a scathing review of the movie, that I would not spend my hard earned money on it.  I am tired of seeing Black women play maids.  I am tired of the faux relationships that Hollywood chooses to present between White women and Black women. To support Black art, whether it is movies, or plays, my best friend and I generally have to drive to Toronto, which is just under two hours away from where we live.  We do this because we realize that it's the only way to fight the notion that Black art is not bankable. To see For Coloured Girls, Precious, The Hair Story, The Miracle at St. Anna, Jump the Broom etc we have had to drive two hours.

    Just out of curiosity, I checked the listings at Niagara Cinemas this week, only to discover that The Help was indeed playing there.  Even if I were inclined to spend my money on this movie, which I most certainly am not, the fact that they cannot show a Black movie except when a Black woman plays the role of a maid would be enough for me to boycott.  A Black woman in the role of a maid is not threatening to Whiteness, and is therefore acceptable in this small bigoted town. The one Black movie that aired out here was Dream Girls, but only after Dream Girls had proven that it was successful whereas; no White movie has had to live up to this standard. So much for the invisible hand of capitalism ending bigotry.

    True Blood: Spellbound

    I really looked forward to this week's episode but in the end, I found it quite disappointing.  Jessica got quite a bit of screen time this week.  The episode began with Jason bursting through the door to save Jessica from the sun.  I suppose this makes them even, because now they have both saved each other.  Jason cradles her and takes her back downstairs. While she is sleeping she dreams of breaking up with Hoyt.  The Hoyt of her dreams is pathetic and begs her to stay, but she bashes his head in, and then goes outside where Jason is waiting for her in a truck.   When she finally does tell Hoyt, he tells her that she is not good enough for him and that he wants a woman that isn't an eternal virgin and can give him children. He then revokes her invitation when she tries to reason with him.  Though what he said was absolutely cruel, he certainly has come a long way from the Hoyt who couldn't take a breath without his mother's approval.

    Believing that she is free, Jessica then approaches Jason.  To his credit, he tells her that Hoyt is his best friend and that nothing will happen between them.  He then revokes Jessica's invitation and she goes flying out the door.  I have to admit that I really do feel sorry for Jessica.  She went from a controlling home with her parents to becoming a vampire.  She never really had a chance to get a firm knowledge of who she is and what she wants. It's so easy to over look the age difference between Jessica and Hoyt but he is asking things of her that she would have a hard time being ready for even if she wasn't a vampire.

    In our musty moment of the episode, Sookie offers Eric her blood.  I never thought the day would come when seeing Eric on the screen irritated me.  It was particularly rough because Skarsgaard provided a lot of eye candy this episode however, the drug trip that they both took due to consuming each others blood really did not do anything for me.  Listening to Eric once again declare how much he cares for Sookie and his desire to run away with her, really turned me off.  It was almost a relief when Sookie told him that he is a warrior and would never forgive himself if he ran.

    Alcide and Debbie participate in a pack gathering, where the alpha tells everyone that they need to stay out of the budding war between vamps and witches.  Debbie makes Alcide promise to stay away from Sookie but no sooner do the words pass his lips than he is off to make sure that Sookie is safe.  I have to say that I know that Debbie is not treat.  She is possessive, violent and quick to anger but I don't understand what is so special about Sookie that all the men in the area drop anything and everything to come to her rescue.