Saturday, September 3, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

 Hey everyone, thanks for the great conversation this week.  I hope that all are having a lovely long weekend.  I for one am excited for Tuesday morning when my kids hop on the bus.  I have been walking around the house singing Freedom and It's the most wonderful time of the year.  The kids for their part are looking miserable and wondering how the summer came to an end so quickly.  I predict one or two more weeks of light posting, as we get adjusted to the new schedule, and so I thank you in advance for your continued patience.

Below you will find links to posts that I found interesting this week.  Please note, a link is not necessarily an agreement with the post itself, and the comment section is read at your own risk as always.  When you are finished showing these bloggers some love, don't forget to drop it like it's hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

On Fat Hatred and Elimination
Stop Picking on the Black Middle Class
Exercise hurts! But Competing Doesn't 
Sexual Assault of Black Women: A Non-Issue for Black Organizations?
Dear Blogher: Transgender Is Not A Sexual Orientation
The $43 Million Islamophobia Machine
Arguing With Strawmen
Feminist Musings on Showing Up
"I'm Not Straight, I'm Not Gay, I'm With You: What Does Orientation Mean to YOU
Chaz Bono on TV: Explaining Heterosexual Dancing to Children
Upcoming Trans Day of Silence on DADT Repeal Day
Reasonable People Might Agree
Feminists Are Not Your Enemy

Disability's No Fairytale: Stop Treating Disabled People Like Sleeping Beauty
Kreayshawn & V-Nasty: The Unholy Thing Rap Created  
In Defense of Period Sex
Is Mad Men a "Soap Opera?"
Death Threats and Hate Crimes, Attacks on Women Bloggers Escalating
Are White Women Mutilating Themselves Trying to Look Black? An Analysis 
A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Racial Profiling First Hand
Ignoring the Epidemic: Contemporary Native American Issues Neglected

Friday, September 2, 2011

To Sparky With Love

This is what you get for all of those moose references.  I hope the tune stays in your head for days and days to come LOL.

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

'Remnants' photo (c) 2009, David Goehring - license:

As many of you are aware, we lost our beloved undog about 6 months ago.  As a family we recently decided that it was time to get a new undog.  We went to the humane society yesterday and this is the kitty that warmed our heart.

Isn't he just the prettiest undog evah?  We still have to have a talk with the kids about responsibility and the importance of helping our new undog adjust to our hectic schedule, but if everything goes well, we will bring him home next week.
Since we already have White Sheppard/Golden Lab named Sookie, I think it would be appropriate to name our undog Bill.  The unhusband and the kids however think that this is creepy and that I need to let go of my love for urban fantasy but I think he looks like a Bill.  At any rate, in the interest of fairness I thought I would open the blog up to name suggestions.  So this week's question is, What name do you think we should pick for our new undog?

What if we raised kids to care?

'Free all Political prisoners banner - Refugee Children in Immigration Detention Protest Broadmeadows' photo (c) 2011, Takver - license:

Every time I write about my kids, a few people will show up to tell me that I am reading too much into things, or that I am destroying their childhood. They tell me that childhood is a time of innocence, and that kids shouldn't be burdened by having to think about social justice issues.  The problem with this approach is that childhood is not nearly as innocent as we have constructed it to be.  From the moment a newborn babe opens their eyes, they are sent various messages, which tell them where they rank on the scale of social hierarchy, and who they are to actively oppress.  Because we are immersed in this culture, it appears naturally occurring, rather than the systematic effort to dismantle innocence that it is.

Some have repeatedly told me that the project to raise critical children is in and of itself another form of indoctrination, and to some degree they have a point.  There is however a line between telling your children your moral positions, and asking them what they think and why.  Asking why, is one of the greatest tools a parent possesses, because it causes the child to interrogate the world around them, and when we consider that so much time is invested into teaching them to be automatons, this is a revolutionary act.

Why encourages them to engage with ideas and to decide for themselves if they are being sold a line of nonsense.  There should be nothing in their childhood that is above question, with the exception of rules for the purposes of safety and health.  Many parents see questions as threats to their authority, when what it really is, is a desire to understand the way the world is ordered.  Sometimes the questions will be painful because to answer, because a parent must confront their own unacknowledged privilege.  The temptation to say, you'll understand when you are older is great, because it gives us an easy exist from a subject matter that makes us uncomfortable. I have learned however, that with patience and speaking at their age level, there is little that they do not understand.

I talk to my kids about social justice issues because I love them, and because I view it as my responsibility as their mother to help them see the world as it really is, rather than the utopian post racial, post feminist, post sexuality, post gender identity universe that we are told that we live in.

When we talk about the rights of a child, much of the conversation centers around the right to food, shelter, education (limited to school) and of course, to be free of violence.  The right that we most often ignore is the right to be taught to think critically.  Children are born into a world where everything around them is already coded, and to burden them with our own prejudices, is to place undue hardship upon them. This childhood innocence that we supposedly seek to maintain is selfish, because it is simply a reflection of our own desire not to change the status quo, or at least not alter that which benefits us directly. The moment children begin to actively interact with the world around them, they are no longer innocent.

It is an act of love to deconstruct that which has been normalized, because it empowers children.  When we ask them why, not only do we encourage them to think about the world around them, we send them the message that they think matters.  This centers the child in a way that passively or actively teaching them to respect and respond to isms does not.  Asking why lets them know that they are valued and everyone, regardless of their size or age needs to know that they important to someone.  Why also opens the door to dialogue in a way that driving them to soccer games most certainly does not.  When they grow, kids will not remember the endless times you acted as a chauffeur, but they will remember that you took the time to listen when others were quick discard their speech and ideas as valuables.  I ask why because to me, my children matter.

As DADT Comes to an End, Please Remember the Trans Soldiers Past and Present

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica of Transgriot

TransGriot Note: DADT goes bye bye this month.  But there's one segment of the community who once again will be Left Behind as the GL segment of the community gets civil rights that the trans community as Autumn Sandeen demonstrated helped them fight for.   TAVA President Monica Helms in this guest post talks about the moment of silence being organized to remind the GL community and our allies the fight for transpeople to serve openly in our military isn't over.  
September 20, 2011 will go down as one of the most pivotal days in LGB history. On that day, gay, lesbian and bisexual service members will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation from the US military. LGB people will be allowed to enlist (or reenlist) in the military, and those already serving will be able to openly say who they love if they wish to.

However, for the trans community, September 20 will be a bittersweet day. The “sweet” will be because we will all be thrilled to see another wall of discrimination crumble into history. We will celebrate along with our LGB brothers and sisters, and thank all of those who have served our country proudly. Our thanks will also go out to those who will step forward to join their ranks. Tears of joy will flow that day from all of us.

The “bitter” part comes when the celebration is over and trans people will still face discrimination from the US military. Trans service members will be ejected because the military says we have a “psychosexual condition,” which they put in the same category as “exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias.” No trans-identified person will be allowed to enlist for the same reason.

Do You Agree With Dr. Maya Angelou About the MLK Memorial?

'My Heroes - Maya Angelou connected with countless people through her powerful poetry' photo (c) 2009, Adria Richards - license:

Maya Angelou will be remembered as one of the most profound women of our time.  Over the years she has shared many sage wisdom's that absolutely resonate with the soul. When someone with such an awesome track record speaks, I found that it is always wise to listen.

As many of you are already aware, the official dedication of the Matin Luther King Memorial was postponed due to hurricane Irene, however the monument on The National Mall is open for visitors.

Originally the memorial was intended to have the following quote:
“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
 Due to a change in the design plans the quote was turned into a paraphrase and it now reads:
I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Dr. Angelou had some choice words to say about the changes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cassandra Clare proves that all Inclusion isn't Good

There are two problems we see a lot in looking at Urban Fantasy from a social justice mindset. One is the defenders of books and series rushing in to decry any criticism of their precious - and I can understand that. We fanpoodle in Kevin Hearne’s name after all. But when fanpoodles deny that there are problematic and prejudiced elements in their favourite works, they diminish and demean the damage these portrayals can cause and internalise them without thinking

The second is the repeated acceptance of token characters - even high problematic token characters - as being proof of inclusivity. Just having a POC/GBLT/Disabled/Female character is proof that the book/programme is inclusive and wonderful. Would that it were true, but as we’ve discussed before sometimes erasure is better than some inclusion.

Which brings us to Cassandra Clare’s novels that are repeatedly hailed for their gay inclusion and any questioning of the portrayals has been vehemently opposed. And as we did with similar sentiments expressed about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, we have to speak on this. Because this inclusion? This is not all good.

Alec exists to serve the straight people around him. Despite being older, he has far less kills than Issy or Jace (and Clary mocks him about this about him being weaker) and it is said this is because he exists to protect them. There are at least 2 occasions in the books where he severely risks his own life to protect Jace. Alec being gay is used as a reason for him to fawn after Jace, jealous and desperate - it’s an old trope and it’s a dull one that needs to end.

If Magnus were portrayed as any more flamboyant he’d wear rainbows and shoot unicorns. Alec, similarly, is portrayed as self-effacing, whiny and weak - especially compared to Jace and Issy. Though we are told repeatedly that Magnus is an extremely powerful being when the straight people call (Read: Jace and Clary) he is quick to not only respond to their requests, but comply. Like Alec, he exists to serve the straight people even though he normally charges a considerable amount for his services. The only time he is portrayed as dominant is when he is juxtaposed to Alec, thus making him the top and Alec the bottom.

Alec & Magnus’ relationship has much of the “weak child/male parent” dynamic that is so common in slash circles (trying to clumsily impose clumsy gender dynamics or grossly offensive yaoi style “ukes” and “semes” into gay male relationships). Especially in the last book, Alec is whiny, childish, pettish and inclined to sulks and tantrums while Magnus chides him like a sulky child.

Culture Changes How Easy it is to be a Religious Muslim

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.

"Yalla, yalla, what's the holdup?" There's a group of young Kuwaiti teens standing in the doorway to the movie theatre. Final Destination 5 has just started and I'm anxious to get to my seat and enjoy my caramel and salt popcorn. I can't understand why they're just standing there pointing to the screen and flashing their mobiles -- and just before I start pushing my way through the group, my sister-in-law holds my arm and says, "they're waiting for the usher."

The usher?!

We ordered our tickets online this afternoon, thankfully rejecting The Smurfs and unfortunately also saying no to Captain America (I like my superheroes). Once we decided on the movie, we chose our seats -- specifically opting for the mixed "family section" over splitting our group between the two gender segregated "male/female bachelor" sections. Then at the theatre, helpful ushers escorted everyone to their properly assigned seats without stepping on anyone's toes.

As action packed, gore-fests go, it was a pretty entertaining movie. I was a little surprised when a couple of youths cat-called and whistled when the sexy groupie character showed up in hot pants and fishnets, but was more surprised when none of the sexual innuendo or swear words were cut out of the film. To keep a level of public decency, almost every screened film is censored for physical intimacy -- including kissing, but excluding hand holding and "wink-wink-say-no-more" references. So I missed that one scene where the main couple kiss and perhaps even a sex scene or two, but I wouldn't know and it certainly didn't affect my enjoyment of the film. No one else seemed to care either.
Sex or no sex, we all cringed and yelled together with each horrific death scene.

As far as modern, first-world regions go, the constitutional monarchy of Kuwait is just like Canada... only Muslim. But flashier. With taller, more modern buildings. A massive disparity between the very rich and the extremely poor. Mosques and malls on every street corner. High-end fashion malls. Really expensive cars and ridiculously cheap gas. Overwhelmingly Arab and South East Asian. Really hot.
Okay, Kuwait is nothing like Canada.

In 'How to Love' Lil' Wayne Gets "the Stipper Life' Wrong

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. You can catch her more of her here

Lil Wayne's newest song and video, How to Love, is essentially not any different from most of his other videos which objectify, vilify and degrade women. The tempo is slower, the mood intended to be an ominous setting for an important social message. I am sure most readers can expect this kind of video from him even as the mainstream media applauds him over this heart wrenching life lesson. I'd like to comment on how this video is merely an extension of patriarchal demands of female bodies and how patriarchy still has power over how female bodies are used and seen. Yes, there are some tired tropes here. It's obvious that he is portraying an inaccurate and popular stereotype of "stripper life" and reinforcing the image of the poor sex worker in need of someone to save her from a life of pain and contracting HIV.

The first half of the video portrays a girl growing up in a single parent home, being sexually abused and turning to a life of stripping and escorting. She looks miserable, lonely and pathetic and finally hits rock bottom when testing positive for HIV. The second half of the video is her alternate life. We get a tour of how her life is different when her mother marries instead of staying single, she stays in school, graduates from hair college and happily becomes pregnant.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

True Blood Comics

Hey everyone, I thought that I would cross post some exciting news from my other blog Fangs for the Fantasy.  As you all know, Paul, Tami and I, are huge fans of True Blood and so it seemed fitting to do a True Blood giveaway.  Is the curiosity getting to you yet?  Well, one lucky person has a chance to win:

That's right, the True Blood Tainted Love series by Andreyko, McMillian and Corroney.  I know that with the season winding down, and a new book not due out until next spring, the ache of the impending loss of one of our favorite series, has got to be setting in. One lucky winner is going to receive comics one through six, to help them make it through the impending hiatus.

Head on over to Fangs for the Fantasy for the details.

Randy Roberts, Jay Bakker and Don Lemon Talk Sexuality, Religion & Politics

I really thought that these two interviews yielded some valuable learning lessons. What are your thoughts?

Peter Pan and What Makes The Red Man Red

'Peter Pan's Flight' photo (c) 2009, Loren Javier - license:

Even though I have a major beef with Disney, I quickly learned that there is no way to really avoid it and so I have sought to talk to my children about each movie critically.  The kids recently watched Disney's Peter Pan for the first time.  I decided to remain quiet throughout the movie to see what they would come up with on their own.  Destruction squirmed as he watched, and I could tell he was uncomfortable, but he did not say anything until the end. As the credits rolled, he looked at me and said, "that's an awful lot of racism for one cartoon.  What were they thinking?"

He was particularly concerned with the treatment of Native people.  He pointed out that calling them savage is like calling them animals, and that the song What Makes the Red Man Red was one of the worst songs that he had ever heard. He further went on to point out that Captain Hook is a White man and that calling Natives, red men was absolutely racist. Can I take a moment to have a bit of Momma's pride?  I knew that Destruction understood a good deal about racism as it applied to Black people, but I wasn't sure if he understood that racism is something that can happen to all people of colour until that moment.  Even adults constantly miss this point, because inevitably conversations about race become a binary in which White and Black are constantly debated, while other minorities are specifically erased from the conversation. Race cannot be reduced to Blackness vs Whiteness, but people of colour versus Whiteness or White supremacy.

As person who negotiates several isms, I am aware of how easy it is to get caught up in the one ism that effects you.  Even people who share the same marginalization face them differently and that is enough to cause a divide, which ultimately benefits Whiteness.  There are some people of colour who will sit and listen as another racially marginalized group is attacked, believing that if they are not talking about their race in particular, that no harm has been done however, that is not the case.

Who gets to be unbiased

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, there have been a few cases now and I feel moved to rant... err, I mean comment. 

During the eternal meandering of the proposition 8 trial it was revealed that judge Waker was gay. And the haters were up in arms, frothing and furious! We can't have a gay judge decide that case! He'd be biased! How can he possibly be fair!? The whole case must be scrapped and re-decided with a fair (straight) judge!

And then we have a case of a gay prison inmate on trial for attacking a prison guard – the prosecution is quick to remove a lesbian from the jury. Uh-huh.

And of course, they're not isolated cases, nor for that matter, are they limited to one country. It's not limited to one marginalisation for that matter. There's a pervasive idea that to be unbiased you have to be privileged. Simply because we are GBLT, we are inherently biased. We cannot be trusted to be fair, to make reasoned decisions, to be anything other than self-serving and selfish.

Now, question question –  why are straight people never considered inherently biased because of their straightness?

I mean, I think it's a fair question considering how much of our life, our rights, our existence is in the hands of straight people – how we, as a society, seem to  think straight people have the right to make decisions over our lives. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Are You Reading?

'Books (118 / 365)' photo (c) 2009, Casey Fleser - license:

Every once in awhile I like to do these threads because they always leads to excellent book suggestions.  As usual, the Fangs for the Fantasy crew would love to hear about any urban fantasy books that you are reading.  For the project that I am working on, I am currently reading a lot of urban fantasy, but I am also reading Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective by Kelly Brown Douglas.  So, what books have recently read or are currently reading and what book are you the most anxious to see released?

Transnational Desi Pride

 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.

"There is an unexploded land mine heart in us

under every breast chest
waiting for breath
tears a moan
to crack the land open
and let the stories come walking
out of the scar"
-Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha "landmine heart"
For my island Desis, exiled from the ocean for years, chasing foam wings in our dreams and awakening with the memory of feet sinking into sand.

For the Desis who haven't seen our parents, best friends, brothers, sisters, cousins in too long, counting the days weeks months pennies years

For my Desis who know what missing a country, a land, a soil, a people with every drop of blood in our veins, feels like

For Hindu Desis who must watch the ancient rites of Yoga packaged and sold and gobbled up

For Muslim Desis walking courageously through the warzone where racism and Islamophobia intersect.

For Desis who watched the celebration of Bin Laden's death and asked ourselves: now will the stamp of criminality be removed from our passports, our skin, our people, already knowing the answer

Blogging women and money

'My Hard-Earned Winnings' photo (c) 2008, locusolus - license:

Feministing has a post up entitled: The feminine mistake of blogging unsustainably by Courtney.
When I described some of our successes and challenges, there was a palpable sense of relief in the room. Imagine fighting for the feminist movement for decades and truly not realizing that there was a whole new generation coming up behind you, innovating new ways to take on old issues, and identifying new issues to take on borrowing old strategies. I was waxing poetic about our work and then one woman asked, “So what’s your economic model?”


It’s not the first time I’ve thought about the fact that what we do here is essentially unsustainable. All of us have either full time work formally, or the equivalence of it in freelance terms. All of us struggle to make a living to various degrees. All of us stretch ourselves pretty thin to keep this blog populated, radical, and running. And I know we’re not alone in this lack of sustainability. We’ve had lots of ideas about how to attempt to solve this, but mostly we’re too busy keeping the blog going to actually step back and make a plan (I’m not convinced we could actually succeed with any for-profit model anyway.)
This really struck a chord with me, because I imagine that this is a topic that many of the bloggers that I interact with, think about regularly.  Sometimes I think that I simply chose the wrong niche in which to invest my time and energy, from simply a profit making perspective.  The truth is, spaces that raise awareness or are dedicated to social justice do not make money, and yet they require patience, passion and strength of will to maintain.

True Blood: Burning Down the House

Last night was a bit of relief after last week.  I was actually beginning to wonder why I continued to watch this show. It was a relief that this episode had less obvious fail. 

Sookie was irritating as usual this week.  She stops Eric from killing Bill my a magical burst of fairy power but later tells him that she still loves Bill and never promised to his.  Okay, here we go again with the ongoing triangle.  I know I should be caught up in this, but the truth is I am just plain tired of it.  Perhaps, it's because Sookie gets on my last nerve.  
Bill gets into it with Nan because she is only concerned about she is going to spin what happened at the hotel rather than actively proactively to fight Antonia.  Finally, he decides to blow up the emporium.  I have mentioned previously that it makes absolutely no sense that the vampires have been so passive.  Antonia has the potential to be deadly but she is no king Russel and the vamps acted far more proactively when he was a threat. I have to say that I am with Bill on this one.

Speaking of Antonia, it turns out that Marnie is the one in control and is using Antonia's power to exact her revenge.  I find this to be very convoluted.  From almost the beginning of the season, we have repeatedly watched the replay of Antonia being savagely raped and then murdered by vampires to establish causation for actions and yet when it is revealed that Marnie is the one truly in control we are given no reason beyond the fact that she has hurt fee fees. Ummm really?  Don't we deserve a little bit better than that? 

Another inexplicable moment came in Tommy's death scene.  Tommy is a rapist and as such I found that I could not sympathize with him in the least.  What I felt was relief because this means that we have now officially seen the last of all of the Mickens, unless Joe-Lee decides to haunt Sam from the grave in those horrendous yellow drawers.  I don't understand Sam's interaction to Tommy's death.  He just finished throwing him out of his house for raping Luna, and now all of a sudden he loves him deeply and will remember him forever.  How is it that he suddenly forgot that the first time that they met, Tommy tried to kill him. Nope, it's time to go all dirty Harry get his revenge on Marcus.  To me, this smacks of having too many characters that need something to do and so to keep them active writers are forced to conjure bullshit that distracts from the main plot.