Saturday, September 10, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

 Hey everyone, thanks for the great week of conversation.  I hope that all are doing well.  As always womanist musings is open to guest posts.  If there is a topic that you have not seen covered and you feel that you having something to say about it, please free to send me an email to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please feel free to send either an original work or a piece already posted on your blog.  I also welcome tips for interesting ideas to write about.

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please note that a link does not necessarily mean agreement with the piece itself or the blog.  The comments are read at your own risk because I don't read comments.  When you are done, don't forget to drop it like's hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

Childcare costs hold us all back
An Education in Racism
LAUSD's Apartheid Hall of Shame: A View from the Classroom
DOMA & Mississippi Gay Man The Right Sue Spouses Racist Murderer 
Dyslexia and Me
The Devil, Disability and Fatness: How Divorced Are We From Medieval Thinking?
Tyler Perry vs Spike Lee: Black Identity Claims in Film 
I am Not a Secondary Character: Queer Kids in YA, and Why We Need to Do Better
Reasonable Doubt: A Descendant of Slaves Questions Their Faith
Color Struck: Black and Volunteering in Africa
Xena Rewind: Stage One
Five Things We're Already Sick of Hearing About Chaz Bono on Dancing With the Stars
Real Breast Cancer Awareness 
Sex: Talking For Ourselves
The Clitoris, the Vagina and Orgasms: Feelings and Frameworks
Why I'm Not A "Feminist:" An Economic Lesson
The Last Time
Critic's Notebook: Oprah You Need A Break From Reality

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lafayette and Jesus continue to depress me

I've complained before that I just can't agree with the idea of True Blood being as pro-gay as everyone likes to celebrate

But I'm going to go further in a little rant because I am getting really sick of Lafayette and Jesus and their complete and utter lack of intimacy.

I think this season has really hit hard at how sanitised and cold Lafayette and Jesus' relationship is. It's now so glaring that the characters now irritate me immensely and I'm begging to want to skip past their precious little sanitised platonic, don't-put-off-the-straighties 'relationship'.

The most glaring example of it is the lack of any kind of sex or physical contact between them. True Blood is very free with displaying sex and nudity and it’s a very sexually charged show. In this series we've seen Sookie, Jason, Alcide, Eric, Bill and Sam naked. We have seen Sookie straddle Bill repeatedly, Jason spent pretty much the entire first season naked and having sex from numerous angles – and I'm sure we all remember Eric's bondage session in the basement (I know I do). Sex and nudity is extremely common on this show. But not just sex and sexuality, couples, coupling, kissing, intimacy – it's there.

Now look at Lafayette and Jesus. They have yet to share even a serious kiss. Most of the time they don't even touch. Even Arlene, Terry and Andy Bellefleur have all had more action than Lafayette and Jesus. Contrast that with Tara and Naomi - we have gratuitous sex displayed instantly with the same-sex female couple (almost before we knew Naomi's name or any kind of relationship was established). We rarely see them together in a scene when they are NOT kissing, having sex and happily naked – happily pandering to to the straight male gaze.

Read More

Would You Make a Vagina The Star of Your Wedding Day?

The following dress was made by Hazel Moore as part of her degree show for the Glasgow School of Art. I have to admit that when I saw the dress, I had no idea what to think.  When something makes me say huh, that is usually a clue that it might produce some interesting conversation.  So on that note, what statement do you think the dress makes?  Do you believe that the dress is feminist/womanist in its design?  Is it something you would consider wearing on your big day? And finally, we know that phallus images are ubiquitous and is that why when images of a vagina are shown they are understood to be shocking?

 H/T  Feminist Philosophers

Food Stamps At Fast Food Restaurants

'Jacques-Imo's: Food Stamps' photo (c) 2009, Mills Baker - license:

I know that in Canada there are people struggling to live on welfare and they are often forced into the position of paying their rent or buying food for the month.  In many cases these families will make one trip to the food bank per month because that is all that allowed and the rest of their meals will come from a soup kitchen.

There is a soup kitchen around the corner from where I live and the lines are always longer at the end of the month.  Many of these people I know on sight because they are my neighbours.  If this is happening in Canada, I know that it is happening in the U.S.  I also believe that our social safety net is far more generous than what the U.S. and therefore it is a very logical leap to believe that though the roads are supposedly paved with gold, that is far harder to be poor in the U.S. than it is Canada.

In Canada welfare recipients receive a check at the beginning of the month and it is up to each individual to choose how they are going to spend their paltry funds.  In the U.S., individuals and families that are suffering receive food stamps.  Over the years there has been much debate about what should be allowed to be purchased with food stamps.  Everything from pop to fruits and vegetables at farmers market has been up for debate.

In the latest round of policing, the ability to purchase fast food at restaurants like Subway, KFC, McDonalds etc., with food stamps is causing quite the stir.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Letter, Part 2

I am a proud Anishinaabekwe of mixed heritage and I strongly identify with my Anishinaabe/Ojibway roots. I am an author, writer, poet and healer. On my blog, I share my life experiences through my poetry and stories. Areas and interests covered in my writing and poetry include: Anishinaabe heritage and culture, Anishinaabe territory, Native identity, Aboriginal/Native/Indigenous/First Nations issues, Native feminism, matriarchy, the Great Lakes, Michigan, Mother Earth, environmentalism, earth based spirituality, healing and the healing arts.

Note: Listen to this song when reading and you will get a feel for the story.

Why did you do this to me? Why did you take me through your darkness? Power lines... distance... pain... the past... the fire... the decay... the burden...

This time this letter was about the darkness that encircled her. The sounds of torment that trailed behind her through tears and from her heart. The second part of the letter is about releasing the past but also for renewal. She continued to write the letter.

The soul was dark. There was a darkness in the soul. There was darkness from the world that was in the soul. The sounds of torment. The longing for love. The comfort of a mate. The comfort of a companion. The comfort of a lover. The comfort that drifted away, slowly and painfully. I still remember the jeering sound from the city outside as you drove away. People kept shouting in my ear, "get over him, get over him..." until I could take no more. Angels surrounded me but my heart was in pain. I'll listen to the sound of the train go by. The sound on the old heavy rails. I'll throw rocks at the power lines. The lines that connect. The lines that divide. The industry that keeps us distracted. The industry in which the sky turns a color from the haze. The industry in which the sky turns a color from pollution. The industry that destroyed my spirit. The industry that broke down both of our spirits. We could wish for better things. We could hope for a triumph. Except we received a cordial invitation from the darkness of the world. The corruption of buildings with the layers of bricks and mortar. The residue inside that buildings that toppled onto us. We couldn't breathe. We became destroyed. Our innocence and tenderness was slowly undone. Slowly destroyed.

Kathy Griffen Responds to Christian Hate Mail

I know that Griffen has a lot of fans but I am not one of them.  I think she is a shock jock who says things to get a reaction rather than to make a real social point. She has also been known to engage in an ism in order to supposedly fight an ism.  The following is her response to some hate mail that was sent to her.

Why The Tea Party Must Die Video Game is a Problem

StarvingEyes: Viral Advergaming have created an new online game where you have the opportunity to kill “Generic pissed off old white guy zombie,” “Pissed off stupid white trash redneck birther zombie,” “Factory made blonde Fox News Barbie who has never had a problem in her life zombie." If that were not enough the choice targets are: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and a blood-spattered, bra-clad Michele Bachmann. When you finally do die the following is what appears on the screen

“You got Teabagged! P.S. You didn’t have health insurance, so you died. P.P.S. There’s no such thing as God, so you died for eternity.”

Each and every single person targeted in this video game is vile.  At some point, they have all done more than their share to actively oppress already marginalized and vulnerable group.  That being said, I have major issues with this game. 

How quickly we forget what happened when Sarah Palin decided to put Gabrielle Giffords in the "cross hairs".  After the shooting she tried to separate herself from the tragedy by claiming that the media was politicizing the tragedy but there is no doubt in my mind that her violent rhetoric played a role in what happened in Tucson.

There is also the murder of 67 year old Dr. Tiller in 2009. Dr Tiller was a late term abortion provider and he was shot in church.  He left behind a wife, four children and 10 grandchildren.  It is sad enough to lose a loved one, but when the death is violent, it becomes absolutely horrifying.   Prior to Dr. Tiller's murder, Bill O'Reilly, of Fox news went on a campaign against him on the airwaves.  Though he didn't actually call for his death, he made some very suggestive commentary.

Classism and Eating Disorders

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
I didn't envy the models in Cosmopolitan. I didn't even have a scale in my bathroom to track my weight loss. Looked into bathroom mirrors briefly,not obsessing or pulling flesh from my stomach to prove how "fat" I was. I never thought I was overweight or needed to achieve that perfect number. Still, I counted how much I ate everyday. Skipped meals, ate leftovers from friends plates, nothing after school. I slept to avoid feeling hungry. I ate all my dinner- small plates because I "had a big lunch". I was anorexic on and off for years during high school. Somehow I survived between my boyfriend force feeding me pizza and several bouts of major depression.

Books couldn't explain it. I read them all. Read every article, blog and account of anorexia nervosa that I could find. But nothing explained or confirmed my experience. They all told me that I was trying to conform to the oppressive and unattainable myth of female beauty and body that makes girls think skinny is the only way to exist. Experts in the field wrote that I was a product of pop culture and need for control. I was supposed to be white and middle to upper class. I was supposed to cry over calories and munch on celery sticks.

But I wasn't trying to fit in with the other skinny girls in my class

I wasn't middle to upper class dieting my way into the media images that catered to my income status
I was a working class Chicana who had a problem with food and too much guilt. Perhaps it came from my strict Pentecostal upbringing or from living in a constant state of change or from my own depression. Whatever it was, my view of food stemmed from the fear of food scarcity. My mother fed us three meals a day like clockwork. We were poor and I was often hungry, but we had food. It was the guilt that was the problem. I saw how much my parents struggled to find us shelter, make sure we had supplies for school. I saw my mother counting money and looking at numbers, sighing with her head in her hands. It was never enough. As a child I thought I could help. So I would do small things to cut expenses. Not tell my mom that my shoes were too tight- she could save that money for part of the light bill. Save, reuse, steal, and borrow school supplies, clothes, anything that I thought would spare them the expense.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Troy Davis Case Continues to Seek Clemency

This is a guest post from Monica on Transgriot

One of the major problems I have with the death penalty is not only is it being unequally applied, now that we have wider use of DNA evidence in criminal cases it has freed over 90 people from death rows around the nation who were sentenced to death for crimes they were eventually exonerated from.

And we may have had an instance here in Texas in which an innocent man was executed in 2004 by Gov. Rick Perry (R).

I have been keeping an eye on the Troy Anthony Davis case in Georgia since I became aware of it.. He was tried and convicted in August 1991 of murder in the August 19, 1989 death of Savannah, GA police office Mark McPhail, who was off duty working a second job as a Burger King security guard at the time.  He was sentenced to death in that case by a jury comprised of seven African-Americans and five whites, but doubts about Davis' guilt have lingered since then.

He's received three stays of execution because of those doubts about his guilt.   All but two of the witnesses have recanted testimony while others have in later hearings given testimony that didn't line up with what was said in the original 1991 trial. 

In addition, the NAACP, Amnesty International, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament are among the organizations and individuals pushing the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to ask for clemency on Davis' behalf.    They are supported in the effort by a long list of people such as Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI director William Sessions, former congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep Jesse Jackson, Jr (D-IL) and Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter and Jose Ramos Horta.

Can You Sit Like Spider Man's Girlfriend Mary Jane?

Often when women are drawn in comics, either their positions are absolutely ridiculous, or the way their body is built in no way resembles living breathing women. This is why when I saw a contest to replicate Mary Jane Watson's pose I was highly amused.  The following are some of the results.

I give them an A for effort because I am quite certain that I would have simply fallen over and bruised my arms trying to hold my boobs together that tightly.  I mean really, who sits like that to relax and manages not to spill a drop of coffee? I love that by simply replicating the pose that they prove exactly how ridiculous the drawing is. 

I know that comics spring from the imagination however, the depiction of women is too often highly sexist and reduces whatever power these characters are supposed to have.  No graphic artist would dream of posing a male character the way that women are often posed.  I hope that these recent efforts to expose sexism in comics will bear fruit. 

H/T The Awl via Jezebel

Negotiating A Slur

'My name is 
not NIGGER' photo (c) 2009, Quinn Dombrowski - license:

If you are marginalized person, there is a slur that is specifically designed to humiliate you and challenge your humanity directly.  When I hear a slur that is not directly targeted at me, it is easy for me empathize, because in that moment I know first hand the searing pain the second the slur is uttered. Nigger, faggot, spic, cunt, kike, slant eye, wet back, carpet muncher, wop, chink, sand nigger, rag head, retard, etc., (note: cracker and honkey were excluded because they are not slurs)  all exist to construct someone as 'other,' and there can be no doubt that their usage is anything but benign.

Everyone reacts to slurs differently.  I tend to see an instant vision of red, as my body becomes filled with rage.  My ability to think rationally is completely shut off, as I attempt to find a way to defend myself and attack back. My BFF, who is a Black male, completely shuts down and becomes instantly cold and withdrawn. Make no mistake about it, there is never a context when saying a slur is acceptable.  I know some feel that they can get away with saying a slur ironically, but trust me when I say that this is not the case.  It only makes the speaker seem that much more ignorant and hateful.

Time and time again, I have heard the argument that context of a slur matters, and the only time when this is true, is if it applies to someone who is a part of the marginalization that the slur is aimed at.  You cannot use a slur as an attempt to fight bigotry, as Louis C.K. does in the following video.

warning the video and transcript are filled with gay slurs

Now Vogue Is Attacking Asians

Most days I hate the fashion industry for it sizeism and absolute erasure of people of colour.  Today, I am once again in the position to wish that these magazines would just cease printing altogether.

In the above image, White, plus size model, Crystal Rennis is having her eyes taped back by a makeup artist, to create an Asian appearance for Japanese Vogue.  Not only did they decide to give this model a clearly offensive look, someone thought that it was a good idea to release a video of how it was done. Yeah, now White women all over the world can learn how to do this highly offensive supposedly fashionable look all on their own.

This is not about appealing to Asian audiences, because if that were truly the case -- they could have simply hired an Asian model for this shoot.  This was about affirming the dominance of Whiteness and the idea that White women are the standard for beauty.  A simple look at the following graph shows that in the 2010 New York fashion week that the models were overwhelmingly White.

As you can see, Asian women made up a scant six percent of the models employed that week. In 2011 they did slightly better, with a whopping 6.2%. Can I get a yeah for diversity?

Prior studies of portrayals of Asian Americans in advertising have found limited representation and portrayals that are skewed toward technology-based products, business and science magazines, and business settings and relationships. This article examines current Asian American portrayals. Findings indicate that, despite improved representation, stereotyped portrayals persist. The “model minority” stereotype, which suggests that Asian Americans are hardworking, technologically savvy, business oriented, successful, and well assimilated, is clearly reflected in advertising portrayals. Portrayals of Asian Americans in family and social contexts are seldom seen. Moreover, even magazines with high Asian American readership reflect the same stereotypes. (source)
When it comes to fashion, Whiteness has nothing to gain by equality between the races and this is specifically why Asian women, and in fact all women of colour, are decidedly erased. One or two tokens will always rise to the top in an attempt to deflect charges of racism, but their very tokenism only serves to highlight the complete lack of representation for WOC.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There is More to Women's Labour Than Rosie the Riveter

'1942_JHowardMiller_we_can_do_it' photo (c) 2009, Michal Hadassah - license:
In celebration of Labour Day, The Huffington Post decided to publish historical images of women working.  Clearly these photos were taken during WWII, when women were encouraged to leave the domestic life behind to work in factors because the war effort desperately needed labour.  Time and time again these images has appeared and every time I see them what instantly occurs to me is the whiteness of this experience.

There is never any discussion about the fact that for WOC, working outside of the home was standard due to racism and being historically constructed as unwomen.  During this time period because factors were so desperate for labour, Black women did manage to get good factory paying jobs, however they were often paid less than White women and were forced into the most difficult forms of manual labour and yet Rosie the Riveter is constantly thrust into our faces as though she is someone we WOC should identify with.  I cannot now or ever will view the figure of Rosie the Riveter as some kind of talisman to female agency.

Images of WOC working in this time period most certainly exist, and yet the selection that The Huffington Post chose to publish didn't include a single one.  This is absolutely erasure and helps to project the myth that White women's labour is special because they left their pedestal. I am in no way suggesting that benign sexism is a good thing but what I am suggesting is that White women have always had an advantage over WOC and even in situations where women were marginalized, White women have always been seen.

This is also commonly seen in discussions about the the 19th Amendment:
The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution (ratified August 18, 1920), says, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." 

Why Are Your Standards So Low?

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.
I have a huge list of pet hates because it's truly amazing how much privileged arseholery there is out there, but at the moment, swimming its way to the front of the list is:

“It's better than....”

“At least I'm not....”

For I tire of these excuses, I really do. I tire of the bare minimum being considered praiseworthy. And I tire of any prejudice short of the utter extreme being considered acceptable.

I tire of people saying “but it's worse in X country”

Because we're just whining if we're not being executed, right?

“Don't you know, some firms won't even hire gays!” 

Because condescending to give me a job makes you such a good person and makes treating me like shit totally ok?

“It's not like they're out gaybashing!” 

The MLK Memorial: A Misunderstood Quote is Not a Quote At All

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.
When I read Renee’s recent post about Maya Angelou and the paraphrasing of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was going to comment. Then I thought, “Hey, I can just write a guest post!” And so I shall.

Any talk of Dr. King reminds me of the night he was assassinated – because, truth be told, I knew little about him before that time. I had turned thirteen a month before Dr. King was killed, and I was a white female attending a predominantly white junior high school.

I don’t recall Dr. King ever being mentioned in any of my classes – but back then, we didn’t study current events in school, let alone any politically controversial figures, and Dr. King would certainly have been considered that. In addition, I was lost in my own little world of teenaged troubles – not enough boys and not enough clothes and not being rich and not being popular. I was about as far from politically conscious as anyone could get and still be breathing.

Dire Straits 'Money for Nothing' is Back on the Air in Canada

 The Atlantic regional panel of the The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) found on January 12, 2011, that the use of the word "faggot" three times in the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing was in violation of Human Rights and other clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.  When this ruling was released to the public, I had a rare moment of national pride. There is no doubt in my mind that the particular slur in question is hate speech.

Monday, September 5, 2011

True Blood: Soul of Fire

I thought last night's episode wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.  Just when we thought that all of the ties were wrapped up, Marnie invaded Layette's body. I guess with two more episodes still to go, it wouldn't do to have her so easily conquered.  So let's start at the beginning shall we?

When we last left off, Bill, Eric, Pam and Jessica had gathered in front of goddess emporium all dressed in black ready to finally kick some witch ass.  As they gear up to fire on the emporium, Jason jumps in front of them and tells them not to fire, which is met with a round of fucking Sookie from the vampires.  I found myself saying, finally and giggling out loud.  The writers have to know that Sookie's version of spunky agency is irritating at best; however, I didn't like the fact that Pam reduced her to a slit in a sun dress.  Just having the characters say fucking Sookie was enough, there was certainly no need to reduce her in this manner.

When Marnie demands a sacrifice to secure Sookies life, Pam disobeys both Bill and Eric and shoots off the RPG.  This  pisses Eric off, but Pam tells him that she is not worth his life.  I have to say that I agree with Pam.  I get that Sookie is fae, but is that really enough to have someone over a thousand years old happily give up his life for her?  I am tired of the men on this show fawning all over her.  At HBO in the inside the show section, the writers let us know that the rift between Eric and Pam will continue into the next season.  I simply do not understand Eric choosing Sookie over Pam.

Back inside, Marnie kills one of her captives, which allows Jesus and Laffyette the opportunity to drag  the body into the bathroom to plan a magical assault on Marnie.  While this is going on, Marnie looks into the blood and sees her own death.  She attempts to prevent this by having everyone form a circle. The complete circle causes the vamps to be drawn towards the force field ( couldn't they have spent some money on some kind of special effect? The scene itself looked ridiculous) but Sookie uses her mystical fae powers to bring an end to this.  Marnie rewards her by encircling her in fire.

Outside the emporium, Bill and Eric can feel Sookie's fear.  I for one didn't give a damn.  Sookie was in absolutely no danger, just as when Bill, Jessica, Eric and Pam were being drawn into the force field they were in no danger. Someone should send a note to the writers, to let them know that this does not build any tension on the show.  If they have to put someone at risk, they should choose someone the viewers will believe have the chance  of dying.

Jesus finally finishes his spell and forces Antonia out of Marnie's body and she quickly vanishes.  Sensing that the force field is down, Bill and Eric burst through the doors of the emporium and shoot Marnie in the head, but not before she can say, "everybody dies, including you." As they wrap up the dangling threads, Bill and Eric both make eye contact with Sookie.

Read more