Saturday, September 24, 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. 

Stereotypical Asian Caricature in "Teachers of Philly" Game
Refereeing Serena, Racism, Anger, and U.S. (Women's) Tennis
The Professor Who Schooled Tavis Smiley
This is what patriotism looks like 
Acting Queer: Dis-Jointed Thoughts on "Playing Gay"
Constructing Beauty
The Beatles Said "No Way" to Segregated Audiences.
In Defense of Fat
A Life of Ease
Women are raised to have low self esteem
Kanazwa is just a racist who went as far as to get a phd in order to impress upon the world his prejudiced views 
On the executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Russell Brewer
Media Depictions of Trans People
The Consequences of Ruin Porn
Will DC Comics' New Gay POC Hero go Over the Top?
Quelle Surprise: French 'Burka Ban' Makes Life Worse for Niqab-Wearing Women
"Born As" is Cissexist BS
The Death Penalty, Racism and the American Practice of Lynching
Race Themed Events at Colleges (Trigger Warning)
the attachment to "Capitalism"
The One Million Moms Protest "Pornographic" Lane Bryant Ad

Friday, September 23, 2011

For Transpeople, Having A J-O-B Is Fundamental To Human Rights

This is a guest post from the ever fabulous Monica of TransGriot
'We talk a lot about human rights, but I don't know of any human right that is more important than having a job' 
William Norris said that in an April 1978 TIME magazine interview and that is still as true today as when he spoke these words back during the disco era.  Having a job is fundamental to survival in society and especially in the United States because everything flows from it.  The money you earn from that job helps pay for food, shelter, clothing, and the other necessities of life.

That point is backed up by the right to work being mentioned in Article 23 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 23.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
I guess the GL community agrees with the UN Declaration.  When they sought to secure civil rights coverage for themselves anti-discrimination measures for employment were the first thing tackled (and you gleefully cut transpeople out of in many cases) before you started in 2003 on this all marriage all the time push. 

why I repeatedly make the point when I talk about in rainbow community discourse what we should be focusing on strategy wise, I'll continue to assert that having a J-O-B and laws in place to protect it is far more important in the TBLG activism scheme of things than the ability to get married.  

Screaming Queens: The Riot at Comptons Cafeteria

Dr. Susan Stryker: "What really happened that night a Compton's Cafeteria, has been all but forgotten. It wasn't a cat fight between screaming queens; it was a riot and it kicked off a new movement for human rights. In 1995 I stumbled across an article in the archive of the gay and lesbian historical society that described an event that I'd never even heard of - the riot at Compton's Cafeteria. The story had been written down several years after the fact and I wasn't sure if it was accurate or even true, but if it was, that riot might represents the transgender community's debut, on the stage of American political history." 

"I tried every way I could to verify that story. I scoured the archive looking for clues and I searched the streets of the tenderloin for people who might remember what happened that night.  When I finally pulled it altogether, the story was even bigger than I imagined."

Screaming Queens - The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria from Laurie Lezin-Schmidt on Vimeo.

The Big Bang Theory's Season Opener: Slut Shaming and Racism Are Funny

'Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock' photo (c) 2009, elrohir ancalin - license:
The Big Bang Theory is one of the few comedies that I continue to watch.  I know that it has its problematic elements, but sometimes you have to say, hell with it I like it; however last nights episode really upset me. In the season finale, Penny and Raj end up in bed together, and so of course the big to do was whether or not the writers were going to let them become a couple.

This incident occurred when Penny was obviously drunk, and so the writers used this incident to do the usual slut shaming.  When Penny let's Amy Farrah Fowler enter her apartment while holding a measuring cup with wine it, Amy says," I see you're keeping accurate count of your alcohol intake - smart idea considering how trampy you get when you've had a few." Right, cause it's funny to slut shame a woman.  Penny then goes on to say, "God I screwed up everything, I hurt Leonard, I hurt Raj. What is wrong with me? I feel like two totally different people, Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Whore.

So, Penny is a dirty slut, but Raj finally managed to score and does not feel extremely guilty, though his actions also hurt Leonard. Nope, Raj was just doing what comes naturally to an Indian man. Isn't this just classic, he's a stud and she's a slut with a side of racism thrown in for extra seasoning?

Not content with the slut shaming, the writers decided to go for a solid round of racism.
Amy: Do you know the story of Catherine the Great?
Penny: No
Amy: She ruled Russia in the 1700's and one night when she was feeling particularly randy she used an intricate system of pulleys to have intimate relations with a horse.
Penny: I'm sorry, what does this have to do with me?
Amy: She engaged in inter-species hanky panky and people still call her great. I'm sure your reputation can survive you shagging a little Indian boy.

The Jasmine Diaries Part II: 'Exotic' is not a Compliment

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.

Tell me, Maria, why I see her dancing there
Why her smoldering eyes still scorch my soul.
I feel her, I see her, the sun caught in her raven hair
It's blazing in me out of all control"
--"Hellfire" from Walt Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

Images are one of the most powerful forms of social control. Images tell us stories about who we are, where we come from and what our place in the world is. Images narrativize and normalize history and shape our collective social conscious. In a not-so-post colonial, white supremacist, heteropatriarchal world, the images we see are often shaped by intersecting oppressions, and without critical consciousness we risk imbibing and perpetuating the lies of the oppressors.

Princess Jasmine is an image that exists at the crossroads of multiple oppressions: a Brown, Middle-Eastern/South Asian woman who is sexualized and objectified, created by the hands and imaginations of privileged white men. In the first post of this series I briefly discussed the colonial-sexual history that gave birth to Jasmine's image; this post will look at how her image, juxtaposed with the menagerie of white Disney princesses, shaped my sexual self-awareness and relationship to my body.

The white Princess is an image built off the devaluation and dehumanization of women of color, constituted in opposition to our supposed unfeminine and undesirable qualities. As WOC, we are the savages, the whores, only good for fucking, the sleeping dictionaries that exist as perks for colonizing white men, only to be tossed aside of course in favor of the elevated white women. Throughout the history of European colonization, white men have raped, abused, enslaved, used, fucked, had children with and lived off the labor and bodies of WOC, but they have never even come close to acknowledging our power, dignity and humanity.

Mainstream understandings of connotative femininity - helplessness, purity, grace, softness -are racially coded, and exist so that the majority of the world's women can be erased and exploited. White feminists often decry the influence of Disney princess images on young (white) girls, but they rarely take an intersectional approach to understand what those images mean for WOC. It's one thing for white women to recognize and reject a falsely idealized image of themselves, but how do WOC 'reject' or 'resist' images that don't even acknowledge our existence, and that are specifically designed to oppositionally demean us?

As a young, bookish Brown girl growing up in Dubai, even though Jasmine was the closest in appearance to me, I chose to identify with the 'real' princesses, whom I implicitly knew needed to have flowing golden hair, European-style ballgowns and blue eyes. Those were the princesses universally adored, who only needed to raise their helpless white hand for a bevy of people to rush to their side. I sincerely failed to see the problem in identifying with/ fantasizing about being a white Princess. I continued to believe that as soon as I started dating, despite my skin color and ethnicity, that I would encounter a bevy of Prince-like men who would treat me like the Princess I knew I was: beautiful and kind, sensitive and delicately feminine. I soon learned otherwise.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Are You Reading?

'Reading at the bookstore' photo (c) 2003, oddharmonic - license:

Hopefully you are all reading The Kid along with me, but every once and awhile I like to have an open thread about what we are all reading.  Your recommendations have introduced me to books that I otherwise would have missed, and I hope that you have discovered some great titles this way. As always any urban fantasy recommendations are greatly appreciated but please feel free to share and discuss what ever it is that you are reading why you believe that it's good or bad.

In terms of urban fantasy, I am currently reading The Rift Walker, the second book in the Vampire Empire series by Clay and Susan Griffith.  I am just under 100 pages in and I love it so far.  It technically falls under the category of paranormal steampunk.

I also recently received Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life by Samhita Mukhopadhyay of feminisiting and plan on reading this when I done with Rift Walker.

Keeping our leaders accountable

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. 
“And do not befriend the Christians and the Jews.” This is what the Qur’an says. Youth, please remember this while you’re in school: keep Muslim friends. Having Muslim friends is important. We are mirrors unto each other. When I see you doing something wrong, I will remind you. When you fast and pray, I will be encouraged to fast and pray. The Christians and the Jews will only lead you astray. This is why it is important to have Muslim friends in this country of unbelievers. We remind each other to hold true to our Islamic values.”
What. Since when does holding true to Islamic values mean vilifying others?

I looked around at the other women spread out in our private section of the mosque. No one seemed to be listening. No one was engaged or looked up at me as I tisked and shook my head. A couple were propped up against the wall reading Qur’an; another was trying to control her son who really just wanted to run around in the large carpeted area; but most were just sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking down at their laps, clicking prayer beads, picking dry skin off a toe or dreamily gazing at the one-way, mirrored glass that kept us hidden from the men.

Just another consequence of gender segregation. Though, from what I hear, most men are just as disengaged with the Friday sermons. It’s a rare gem to hear a khutbah that gets you fired-up, excited and shouting praises to God.

I looked over at Eryn who was modelling perfect mosque behaviour for the rambunctious boy. She was sneaking glances at him while making her sock monkey touch its forehead to the ground in mock prostration. I was so thankful that she was too young to understand the hate speech coming from the pulpit.

I sat through the rest of the sermon absolutely seething and thinking about how I had to cut short a meeting with an amazing non-Muslim friend (the fabulous Renee!) in order to make it to Friday prayers on time. And here the khateeb, the community volunteer delivering the sermon, was telling me to stop associating with my friends, my parents, my interfaith partners and my colleagues. Because Muslims are somehow better, more righteous people.

Yes. I can think of many Muslims whom I love hanging out with, who help me become a better person and who are lovely reminders of what it really means to be a tolerant, socially engaged, pious Muslim. People who make me love Islam and who, most importantly, make others feel welcome no matter what.
And then there are those I could do without. Like people who tell me my hijab is wrong, that I shouldn’t touch men and that listening to music, wearing flip flops, makeup or nail polish is haraam. That I should change my name to something more Islamic or Arabic because certainly being named after the smart Charlie’s Angel is a disservice to my faith. That I should work harder at converting my family because I do want to spend the rest of eternity with them, don’t I? Or those who simply deny that there is anything wrong within the Muslim community – that Muslims don't steal, murder or abuse loved ones.

Toronto Father "Shocked" by School's Progressive Planner

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'm not a parent so I'm not going to speak to this issue as someone who has to educate children about social justice. The point of view I can speak from is that of a someone once educated in a formal and crumbling U.S. education system and who grappled with my sexuality as a lesbian, my loneliness as a child of color in a mostly white school and girl growing up in a working class home.

Here is what seems to be the issue. A father in Toronto, Canada is appalled that the school district chose to insert days of significance into students planners (including his 6 year old son) which, god forbid, highlight hugely problematic, dire, and largely unaddressed social justice issues. He is particularly offended by the inclusion of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, LGBTQ Pride Week and World AIDS Day along with a few other "shocking" reminders that most people don't actually benefit from a white-western-male-cis-straight privilege and have to negotiate marginalization and violence on a daily basis.  He felt that his son was too young to be "exposed" to such issues saying to the Toronto Sun, "He's six. I want him to enjoy being six." The father voiced his concerns to the Toronto District School Board and was assured that the issue would be investigated. Naturally, the conservative and religious groups have taken this and ran, decrying the school's LGBTQ "agenda" and urging their readers to call, write and otherwise demand an end to this leftist indoctrination.

Review of Sapphire 'The Kid" Part One: I'm Nine

The Kid is the sequel to Sapphire's smash Push.  When we last left Precious she was on her way to independence through learning to read and dealing with the legacy of HIV/AIDS from her abusive father, as well as a history of sexual and emotional abuse from her mother.  Her dreams were simple, a good job, someone to love her, and a place where she and her son Abdul could be safe and happy.  Considering all that she went through, she really asked little out of life.  If I could only use one word to describe Clarice Precious Jones, it would be survivor because in spite of everything, Precious was not defeated.

The Kid begins with the death of Precious.  After everything that she went through to die at the age of 27, two years before finishing college was just heartbreaking to me. On the day of her funeral her notices her immediate absence when in the presence of her friends he is allowed to eat bacon, a food that his mother repeatedly told him was not good for his heatlth.  In his head he hears her talking to him and he really believes that she is not gone.

Whether it is the death of a child, parent, lover or friend, as long as you cared about someone deeply, death is a loss.   Abdul does not know how to deal with this loss and so all he can do is wish repeatedly that his mother will jump up and tell everyone that it's April Fools and that she was just playing with them.

As a parent I have had many sleepless nights worrying about my kids.  Just the very idea that something could potentially hurt them seriously is something I don't even want to imagine.  I must however admit that I have never thought about the other side of the equation very deeply.  What would it be like for my kids to live without my love and protection.  In the case of Abdul, all that stood between him and a world determined to destroy and hurt him, was Precious and when death cruelly stole her from his embrace, it left him extremely vulnerable.

It is telling that at her funeral Jermaine Hicks had the following to say:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Reminder - Our Book Club

Hey everyone, I thought that I would put up a reminder about tomorrow's book club.  We will be discussing Book One - I'm Nine, one and two of Sapphire's The Kid

Haute Études Commerciales (HEC) Celebrates Frosh Week With Black Face

In Canada, many function with the myth that we are not racist because our racial history is different from the U.S. We celebrate the underground railroad because that makes the nation look tolerant, while ignoring that slavery was for a time legal in Canada.  Just like any place on the globe, Canada has deep rooted racism that often manifest in the most overt manner and similarly to anywhere else, they are often constructed as isolated incidents.

Imagine how it must have felt to McGill student Anthony Morgan to come across the following "celebration"

Morgan has quite rightfully filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission.  I can only hope that they will rule in his favor because what occurred on that campus is without doubt racist. This was a planned event and I believe that they had to know what they were doing was racist but chose to participate anyway.

In spirit of Troy Davis and all those who fight...

 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.

Praise Song
Family in the Niger Delta
Your removed daughter sings you praise
As battles must wage from where our feet land
The struggling Diaspora rests on our persistence
To sing the battle hymn from where we stand

The externalities of pollutants, disease and suffering
Remain unnamed on the capitalist’s death toll
As land is plundered, mined
You see oil mixing with water
Deeming it contaminated

Yes! The true logic illuminates
Leaking its dangerous flaws
Into everything it touches

they hide the externality behind steel bars
In heavy metal bracelets bound together 
To make black hands relive the slave catcher’s nostalgia
For the “good ole days” of the plantation and forced labor

Industry booms on the sweat of our skin
And we count the tolls
Note the numbers
Track the bodies
Of our lost
Our stolen
Our dead
Comparing what truly robs us of possibility
From where we are
We have marked our common enemy

Your daughter draws spirit from your will
To show us the example in your fight
Exposing the looters from their backside

We march on and fight
Whether waged from different terrains
We are on the same side

Copyright Itoro Udofia

Rick Santorum Whines to Google About Dan Savage

'Republicans Debate' photo (c) 2011, - license:
I am not a fan of Dan Savage, but who can deny that his treatment of Rick Santorum had been in a word, brilliant.  It began when he created a new definition of Santorum.

When you google Santorum, Dan's page is the third response.  He has since gone on to create a site called Spreading Santorum.  You would think that a politician would be used to political dissent, but apparently, it's all become too much and has hurt his wittle fee fees.  Awww poor Santorum, is being bullied and how dare a marginalized person, not put up with being actively reduced and denied rights.  All is not right with the world when a privilege man can get attacked for affirming his privilege.  My heart just bleeds.

Back to School and the Unintended messages.

The kids have been back at school for two weeks now, and the sexism  has been ratcheted up a notch yet again. During the summer they largely interact with their father and I, and so we take opportunities to teach them to be cognizant of various isms.  In the summer, we actively teach them about their privileges and work hard to make sure they understand how destructive isms are, but invariably, the first two weeks of school happens, and it feels like all the work that we have done disappears.

Because Destruction is older, this year he held onto a lot more of what he has been taught, Mayhem however, went into total regression mode.  He is back to telling me how certain toys are for girls and others are for boys.  He even asserted that he cannot do certain things because he is a boy.  As a family, we have corrected each one of his erroneous claims. I love that when I miss a comment, Destruction can be heard instructing his little brother on how equal boys and girls are, and that he is being silly.

We don't homeschool our children, and this means they are exposed to various ideas from both their teachers and fellow students.  Playing with other kids their age is important for their emotional growth, even as it exposes them to ideas that directly confront and declare our family morals to be wrong.  A lot of times when we talk about homeschooling in the media, it is about families that choose to homeschool for religious reasons. I don't agree that religion should be the impetus to homeschool, but I do understand the difficulty of trying to impart specific morals, only to have them actively challenged by others.  Children are impressionable, and they desire to fit in amongst their peer groups.  At the heart of it, Mayhem wants to be like all the other boys in his class, and to do so means conformity.

Some would say that this is an expression of his innate masculinity, while I see it as his him learning that conforming means acceptance, and being different means being subject to attack.  This is a boy that loves to paint his nails, play restaurant, dance and color.  He is vibrant in every since of the word. It is simply not possible that sexism is an innate part of his being.  It would be one thing if he were naturally attracted to specific toys from the start, but this is not what his statements are about.  He is actively asserting that there is a natural way to be a boy, and a natural way to be a girl. This is not an idea that stems from the home, and in fact it is continually contradicted in the home by both of his parents and his older brother.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A couple may have their obese children removed after social services ruled they had not lost enough weight

It is very rare that I don't have the words to tackle something, but this cut me to the bone, and left me absolutely speechless.  I am going to get you started, and then send you over to The Big Fat Blog to finish.

From The Telegraph, Obese children to be put up for adoption; A couple may have their obese children removed after social services ruled they had not lost enough weight, by Nick Collins:
The mother and father of seven children, six of whom are overweight, face the "unbearable" prospect of never seeing their four youngest again if authorities act on a threat to remove them.
Three girls aged 11, five and one, and a boy aged five, are to be put up for adoption or "fostered without contact" because their parents failed to help them slim down.
This means the parents will be unable to trace them and the family could only be reunited if the children attempt to find their family when they are grown up.
Social services warned the couple three years ago that their children would be taken away from them if they did not bring their weight under control.
According to an article in The New American, Obese Children Removed from Home in Scotland, by Raven Clabough:
The family lived in government housing for two years, called a “Big Brother” house, where they were the subject of government scrutiny. A social worker was present during all meals to monitor the family, and imposed a strict curfew as well as set of rules regarding their lifestyle.
This 2008 story from the Mirror, Parents told to put their six obese children on a diet or face having them taken into care, by Mark Smith, appears to be about the same family.
A couple have been given three months to get three of their six overweight kids slimmer - or have ALL of them taken into care.
The warning centres on their fattest children - a 12-year-old son who is 16 stone, his 12st sister, 11, and a girl who weighs four stone aged just three.
This is taking place in Dundee, Scotland.

Finish reading 

Tokens Will Not Solve Erasure

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.

After the much reported homophobia in YA fiction (or, should I say, after the long term homophobia in YA fiction's publishing became noticed and more shouted about) following 2 authors being called upon to de-gay their story there has been a lot of talk about it. A lot of people expressing outrage at the erasure of GBLT characters from YA – and especially the utter wrongness of publishers demanding that GBLT characters be removed or made straight before publishing.

Many things have arisen out of this – not least of which is a lot of authors coming forward with their own stories of publisher demands and erasure. It's good to see some attention being paid and hopefully we can see some changes.

A one thing that has arisen is book lists. Lists of YA books with GBLT characters as protagonists. I approached the lists with – ok, not glee because I'm far too cynical for that now. But cautious optimism and certainly a hope to increase my reading lists.

And then I looked at some of the lists and... was saddened

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. Aside from the fact I found these books extremely homophobic, I boggle at the idea that you can consider Alec to be a main character of the books. He barely even qualifies as a side-kick.

Parole board denies clemency for Troy Davis

'pictures' photo (c) 2008, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty - license:

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to commute the death sentence of Troy Anthony Davis. (Note: This piece is not about the guilt of innocence of Davis, but rather the outright cruelty of the death penalty.)
The Davis family said through a spokeswoman they were not ready to comment on the decision Tuesday morning but may hold a news conference later in the day. They are still planning to visit Davis at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson, the location of the state's death row and execution chamber.

"It’s the wrong decision," said one of Davis' attorneys, Jason Ewart. "It’s a mistake."

He said the five-member board ended its presentation after three hours while the other side -- prosecutors and the MacPhail family -- was given at least four hours.

“It sounds like they [prosecutors and family members] just brow beat them [the board]," Ewart said.
Davis' lawyers said they are considering launching yet another  last-ditch round of appeals.
"I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice," Brian Kammer, one of Davis' attorneys, said Tuesday after the decision was announced. (source)
Davis is scheduled to die on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. What the state has planned for Davis is cruel and unusual punishment. No one should know the date and hour of their death.  The constant march towards the chambers, combined with the many stays of execution, must be torturous for this man.  Imagine if you were told that you had just over 24 hours to live, and that those last hours were to be spent behind bars and strictly regimented.  He will be offered one last meal, which can cost no more than ten dollars, before being sent to his death, and on his death certificate the coroner will enter homicide as the cost of death.  At that time, the state will be guilty of the exact same act that it is punishing Davis for. It will have created a whole new cycle of victims, built from all of those who love Troy.

Alec Baldwin Tweets the Word Niggas But Black Folk Aren't Allowed to be Upset

'DSC_5466' photo (c) 2010, Viva Vivanista - license:
When I think of the phrase pompous douchbag, Alec Baldwin is one of the first people that comes to mind.  I know that he believes that he has a veneer of a liberal, but his anti-woman behaviour coupled with the fact that he has publicly claimed to be a men's rights activist is enough to put him on my douchbag list.  Baldwin is White, male, cis, straight, seemingly able bodied and has enormous class privilege.  When it come to the top of the food chain there can be no doubt that he is riding high.  Typical of men like him, Baldwin recently decided that he had the right to attack a marginalized group when they dared to suggest that him using a slur was inappropriate.

The following are Baldwin's tweets:

For the record the people complaining that his language was racist were Black and yet he had the nerve to describe them as "a disgrace to the human race."  Of course he's not racist, he did after all profess his love of Kanye West.  As long as you have one Black BFF that apparently gives you a pass to use all kinds of racial slurs.  I wonder if West knew that he was signing up to be Baldwins magical pass when he did something racist?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Premier, "Happy Birthday Elena"

Now that True Blood is done for the season, vampire fans are forced to resort to the teen angsty CW's The Vampire Diaries to get a fix.  Last Thursday was the season premier and we would be remiss if we didn't cover the show.  Do you see how much we sacrifice for you readers?

Two months have passed since Stefan took off with klaus in exchange for curing Damon of a werewolf bite inflicted by Tyler Lockwood. Elena, Damon and Alaric have spent the time looking for him. Each new tip that Elena gets, she passes it on to Damon but what she does not know, is that Damon has been following Stefan the ripper through the news articles detailing his murders.  He didn't want to share the news with Elena because of the extreme violence with which Steffan feeds.  Apparently, he feeds so hard that his victims end up decapitated and then he feels remorse, so he puts their bodies back together. 

Much of this show was spent angsting over Steffan's involvement with Klaus. I know that we are not supposed to like murdering, blood drunk Steffan; however, I think it is a far sight better than mopey musty Stefan on animal blood.  At least he is interesting and a touch bad ass, when he is not moping about how he is going to get Damon and Elena to stop tracking him.

Caroline planned a huge eighteenth birthday party of Elena. How old does this make Jeremy? I had to laugh at this because the idea that Elena is only 18, yet never attends school except to be front in center in some founders day celebration, and goes to bars and drinks, though the legal age for that is 21. At seventeen she went where she wanted when she wanted, up to and including romantic getaways with her boyfriend. I don't understand for the life of me why the writers didn't just make the cast 21-25.  They would still be young enough to be considered in the YA genre, and it would make more sense in terms of what they have the characters doing. 

Caroline and Tyler still have some pretty interesting chemistry though Damon has warned her that being friends with a werewolf is dangerous, because werewolf bites kill vampires. In one scene they discuss how they are always horny thanks to their awesome werewolf and vampire powers.  If they are always horny its because their teens.  Teenagers are one walking hormone so how about we dispense with the woo woo explanation.  Tyler tells Caroline that he is bringing a date to Elena's party and she calls her slutty Sophie.  Nice CW, real nice.  Tyler can't be a slut for wanting to get laid, because of his werewolf nature, but Sophie a human girl is most definitely a slut for having sex without attachments.  This is probably why I didn't feel terrible for Caroline, when she was shot with vervain needles by Carol Lockwood, while she was attempting to do the walk of shame, after sleeping with Tyler.

Speaking of women in this episode, did anyone else notice that when women weren't actively being slut shamed, they were victims of violence?  After Klaus found out the location of the werewolf that he was hunting, he left Stefan to feed on them.  As he walked away, we could hear the women screaming.  I know that this is meant to be excused by Stefan following his true vampire nature, or even the bad influence of Klaus; however, violence against women, should not be so easily excused.  This is something that we see quite often in this genre.  Unless one is a love interest of the supernatural creature in question, one is considered disposable.  I further found it disturbing that one of these women, was a woman of colour.  Outside of the opening sequence when we see Bonnie on skype with Jeremy, there are no other women of color in this episode.  That combined with the that people of colour are routinely considered snack food for the vampires of Mystic Falls, just makes this woman one more example of The Vampire Diaries negative treatment of people of color.

When it Starts to Burn, it's Time to Put Down the Creamy Crack

Unless you have gone natural all of your life, at some point you must have had an occasion where you thought the perm was gonna eat your scalp right off.  I don't know about you, but I used to believe that I had to suck it up and deal with the burn until one day, it burned my hair and scalp so badly that the hair was burned to my scalp. Yes, burned to my damn scalp. 

You would think that after that experience, that I would have given up on the creamy crack, but you would be wrong.  I actually kept straightening my hair for another 3 years.  I have to admit that part of the problem was that I had no idea how to care for my natural hair, and the other was that at my place of employment at the time, natural hairstyles were considered radical and therefore not allowed.  You would not believe the amount of racism and negotiation that went into getting my employer to allow me to wear my hair in its natural state. 

I recently came across the following video of a home relaxer gone wrong, and decided to post it because I know that so many will be able to relate to it.

My Last Remaining Generalization

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.

I don't usually generalize any feeling I have about one person's actions to an entire population. I don't like it when it's done to me or to the groups to which I belong - and, of course, it's damaging, and it's patently untrue that any member of a group represents that entire group.

Most of the time, it's easy for me not to generalize. But there is one situation in which I find it extremely difficult, and that is with the politically conservative population. I consider myself far left politically - radically liberal, I guess. And when I hear about something appalling that one or more conservatives has done, I tend to let my horror and disgust run free, unconfined to the particular person or people who did the deed.

In the most recent scenario, several people attending a debate of Republican presidential candidates cheered when the commentator asked Rep. Ron Paul if he believed that society should just let a man die if he goes into a coma and doesn't have health insurance. According to news reports, these people in the crowd shouted, “Yeah!”

Review of Push by Sapphire

In order to prepare for our reading group this week, I decided to read Push.  It is only 181 pages and I am so thankful for that, because it was an extremely difficult read.  The book is written from the point of view of its protagonist Clarice, Precious, Jones.  She is a fat, Black, poor, abuse survivor who has had little formal education despite actively attending school.  Clarice represents all those who have fallen through the system.  The language represents the vernacular that someone like Clarice would use on a daily basis, for example, instead of saying ask, Sapphire had Clarice say aks as well at toof for teeth or tooth. This helps to make the book feel extremely authentic and aids with identifying with the protagonist.

Clarice's father started to abuse her from a very early age.  At school, she was teased for being Black and fat and so she began to recede into herself.  Even though she was wetting herself long past an age when bathroom accidents are inappropriate, teachers expressed frustration with her instead of seeing this as a sign that something was horrible wrong in Clarice's home.  It had me wondering how many victims of child abuse slip through the cracks in just the fashion?   The system absolutely re-victimized her by ignoring the fact that she was a child in desperate need of care.

At the age of 12, Clarice becomes pregnant with her father's child.  She enters labour in the kitchen cooking dinner for her mother but when she collapses with labour pains, instead of seeking help, her mother begins to kick her. Were it not for the intervention of a neighbor, Clarice never would have received medical help.  During labor the paramedic that delivers the baby on the kitchen floor is nice to her and she holds onto his image because he is the only one who has been actively nice to her.  A nurse at the hospital becomes aware that Clarice's pregnancy is the result of rape but when the police arrive she refuses to talk to them about it.  This is not uncommon when it comes to victims abuse.  In Clarice's case, as a Black woman raised in Harlem, she has not reason to believe that the police are there to actually help her. This is yet another example of how social institutions have let down this young Black woman. If there had been more rapport with the police, perhaps her father could have been held accountable for his actions.

The scenes in which Clarice writes about the sexual abuse are absolutely shocking and horrifyingly real.  We learn that much of Clarice's lived experience are disembodied.  As her father rapes her she goes to hide in her head until her body orgasms and she is forced to return.  Her father sees her orgasm as a sign that she not only desires sex with him but enjoys it when it happens.  As difficult as these scenes are to read, I think it is so important that Sapphire wrote about her climaxing because this is something that happens to a lot of rape and sexual abuse survivors. It often adds yet another layer of shame to an experience that is all about the loss of power and violation.  Even if the mind knows that rape is occurring that does not necessarily alter the body's physical response.  Throughout Push, Clarice had to negotiate the fact that she not only enjoyed having orgasms but wanted to have them again, just not by her father. I think the fact that Clarice never has a relationship or another orgasm speaks to exactly how much her father stole from her.