Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Nine: Homecoming

This was an extremely action packed episode and finally, we have some movement on the plot.  The day has arrived for the big homecoming dance and the most excited is of course Rebekah.  I have yet to figure out why the hell a 1000 year old vampire is so keyed up about this event.  Rebekah did mention that she didn't have time for highschool before, because she and Klaus were always moving around but I still fail to see why she sees that as lacking considering that during her human life, there was no such thing as high school.

Cue the big convoluted plan to kill Klaus, with a side of teen angst for extra flavor. Elena stabs Michael so that Stefan can tell Klaus truthfully that he saw Elena stab him, thus luring him back to Mystic Falls.  When he asks for confirmation Rebekah concurs.  For his part Michael holds onto the weapon from the ash tree to ensure that Damon stake out of his heart.

When Michael awakes alone in a room with Rebekah, she tells him to impulses that he is feeling.  He tries to tell her that he was not hunting her, only Klaus because he killed their mother but Rebekah still blames him.  It seems that she holds him responsible for making Klaus a murderer and for turning the family into vampires.

When the crew arrives at the gym, it turns out that it has been flooded and so Tyler moves the party to his house.  When they arrive, Klaus is with the band.  It seems that he does not entirely trust that his father is really dead and so he brings with a few hybrids to ensure that he is protected.  When he tells Tyler that Elena's plans won't succeed, he injects Caroline with vervain and asks Matt to make sure that she gets home safely.

When Michael shows up at the door, he taunts Klaus to draw him out of the house.  When that does not work, Michael grabs Elena and threatens to kill her, which would mean would be unable to make anymore hybrid, Michael tells him that he will be all alone and only surrounded by people that he has compelled for the rest of his existence.  Elena begs Klaus to take Michael seriously, but Klaus calls his bluff and tells Micheal to kill her believing that he won't because Elena is all of the leverage that he has.  Michael stabs a knife through Elena's back and in the shock that occurs, Damon sneaks up on Klaus with the dagger and attempts to stab him and is thwarted by Stefan.  In the confusion, Klaus grabs the dagger and stabs Michael who promptly bursts into flames.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Joe Paterno Hurt Children, Too

Coca Colo is a graduate student in economics who researches gender issues and international development.  She has white, cis, hetero and US privilege, but is also a religious and ethnic minority.  She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  All these things inform her writing.  She blogs occasionally at and can be found more frequently on twitter @femonomics.

Child sex abuse is perpetrated by criminals, but enabled by thousands of adults who perpetuate a culture of shame and self-doubt for its victims.  One of those adults is Joe Paterno.  The University Board was absolutely correct to remove him as head coach.  He had an opportunity to prevent harm from occurring to children, and he chose silence, shame, and rape culture over that opportunity.  A University is in the business of educating young people to be responsible adults.  Right now, at Penn State, their role models are few and far between.

The crime of childhood sex abuse is two-fold, each piece doing its own part to damage the child’s psyche: first, the abuse itself, then the cover-up.  The cover-up is integral to the crime, and in fact part of the crime itself, because most childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone close to the victim—a relative, a friend of the family, a religious leader…a coach.  The abuser knows that to the child, sex is shameful, and uses this as a weapon to enlist the child in the cover-up.  They also use their authoritative position, whether simply as an adult, or as a mentor, teacher, parent, or coach, to convince the child that the abuser’s behavior is normative, and that it’s the child’s perceptions that are out of whack.  The child comes to believe they have done something wrong, because if not, why can’t they talk about it?  This shame and isolation on top of the abuse itself causes irreparable harm.

In the case of this particular cover-up, Sandusky couldn’t have imagined that he would have so much help.  So many other adults had internalized the idea that sex is shameful, and thus sex abuse something to be hushed up, and authority is not to be questioned (especially not football authority!), that they covered up Sandusky’s crimes for him.   And in doing so, they, too, hurt children.  They participated in the second crime of sexual abuse, just as damaging as the first.

When Will American Transpeople Be Able To Openly Serve?

This is a guest post, from the fabulous Monica of TransGriot

Today is Veterans Day, when we take a moment to honor the people who have served in our nation's military during peacetime and in combat situations. In some cases, they have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

I wanted to take a moment to especially show some love to transgender vets today.  There are those who proudly served, and those who unlike their GLB brothers and sisters must stay in hiding because DADT repal didn't cover them.   

While the afterglow has faded from the celebrations of DADT being repealed back in September for our gay, lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters in the military, we transpeople are now burdened with what they they had to deal with in terms of living with the fear of being outed or not being able to openly serve our country.

GLB comminty, if you repeatedly told anyone who would listen that hiding who you were was an intolerable situation for you, how do you think transpeople feel about that? 

Lest We Forget

In loving memory of my father in-law who served in the army core of engineers during WWII

'Poppy favorites' photo (c) 2009, DM - license:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields! 

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium,
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Ableism and Adelaide in American Horror Story

Every week American Horror Story manages to grab our attention with it’s gripping story of a family living in a house that is colloquially known as the murder house. We have been introduced to a plethora of interesting characters who each has a unique story and history that is intimately connected with the house. One of the most interesting is the character of Adelaide, played by Jamie Brewer.  

In the pilot episode we are first introduced to Adelaide as she stands outside of the murdering house, delivering the dire warning of “you’re all going to die in there,” as two young twins enter the home with baseball bats.  As it turns out, Adelaide is quite correct.  Adelaide enters the house at will and is able to see and recognize the ghosts for who and what they are at any given time.

Adelaide stands out not only because she is one of the few disabled characters on television, but because she is actually disabled herself. Quite often when disabled characters appear on television they are played by able bodied people. The only other disabled actor that I can think of playing a disabled character is RJ Mite, who plays Walt Jr, on AMC’s Breaking Bad. It is seen as convenient for an abled bodied person to play disabled in order to effect the miracle cure.  We have seen this time and time again, when a blind person suddenly gains sight, or a paralysed person is suddenly able to walk.  A recent example of this phenomenon happened on Glee, in the episode Dream On, where the disabled character Artie not only walks, but appears in a dance number.

At first it was wonderfully refreshing to see the character of Adelaide, but whatever joy we experienced quickly became lost in the rampant disablism that has been constantly aimed at her.  It first began when her mother, Constance, played by Jessica Lange, referred to her as the Mongoloid, and makes it clear that she sees Adelaide as her burden to bear in a conversation with Vivien, played by Connie Britton, who owns the murder house. To be clear, American Horror Story goes to great lengths to ensure that it is understood that Constance is an evil person; however, this does not remove the ableism from her statements. Simply being an evil and unpleasant person, does not mean the words the character says instantly lack impact, or are understood to be cruel, unacceptable, prejudiced or otherwise wrong. For her actions to be truly thought of as wrong, it is necessary for Ben and Constance to actively make it clear that her language is unacceptable, rather than positioning themselves to appear uncomfortable in Constance's presence.  In fact, Constance’s general unpleasantness makes it hard to differentiate distaste for her ableism, from simple distaste for her as a person.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do We Need a Plus Size Barbie

According to Huffpo,
Daily Venus Diva did some research and found that yes, there are a few plus-size Barbies (and Barbie-esque dolls) to be had.

Turning up in Daily Venus Diva's search was an Effie from "Dreamgirls" doll, whose memorable curves are clad in a glam brown gown; a Rosie O'Donnell Barbie, who wears the sort of baggy blazer the real-life TV host sports; and The Emme Doll, made to resemble plus-size model Emme Aronson (who these days spends her time blogging for us).

Then there's the curious "Ciotka Kena" Barbie, which in Polish means' "Ken's Aunt." Apparently in Poland, Ken has an aunt with voluminous blonde hair and a white lace teddy -- and real-woman curves. A limited edition, "Ciotka Kena" Barbie would most definitely be considered plus-size stateside.
Naturally, Ellie Krupnick posed the question at the end of the piece of whether or not a plus size barbie was actually needed.  Talk about an invitation for people to get their fat hating on. Anytime children can see bodies outside of the norm that aren't being actively stigmatized, this is a good thing.  There was everything from the excuse that these dolls would encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, to the supposition that it would ruin the fantasy of playing with something beautiful.

Jamie Kilstein on Gay Marriage With Lewis Black Ron White And Kathleen Madigan

Published without comment.

A "Friendly" Reminder: In response to the Occupation Movements

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. 

Yes you there flapping your gums
Darting words out so quick
that Thought and Insight can’t get through
I’m talking to YOU
(well at least I’m trying too)
The advocate
The ally
The do gooder
The liberal
The more conscious one
The “Well, I’m better than that…”
The “That’s not me!”
The radical
The comrade
Well we got problems don’t we?
Of a historic condition
Can’t seem to work efficiently
Unless with assumed permission
that you’re the one who’s doing the leading
And doing none of the listening
(well…unless it’s watered to a tune that fits your disposition)
But I ain’t deterred (“friend”)
Though I’ve been burned many times
‘Cause you won’t shake the assumption
that I got to walk two steps behind
And still I show up everyday
to look you in your face
To show you that without my presence
you can’t make your case!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

R.I.P Heavy D

Heavy D was one of the few rap/ hip hop artists that I absolutely loved and so I was sad to learn of his death just a few minutes ago.  Heavy was one stylin' ass negro. He loved his flashy suits and the man was light as hell on his feet.

Madame Noir Strikes Again: Single, Looking and Don’t Know How To Cook: No Wonder You Don’t Have A Man

I know, I know.  Every time I write a post about an article at Madame Noire, I swear that I am going to stop reading the rag, but the truth of the matter is that there are so few magazines aimed at a Black female audience that it is difficult to simply walk away, even though I am disgusted. In their latest bit of failure, Madame Noire published a piece by Charing Ball, about the importance of being able to cook, to get a man. Are your eyes rolling yet?  Wait until you read the following quote.
However, outside of a few friends, I am somewhat shocked to discover that not that many women today really enjoy cooking. In fact, not that many women actually know how to cook.  Okay, I have a few girlfriends that are on Top Chef-status and can really – and I mean really – thrown down in the kitchen. However, I also know of quite a few girlfriends, who can’t even figure out how to turn on the stove properly let alone boil a pot of water. And who could blame them? Especially with the wealth of fast food, deli and frozen packaged food, upscale restaurants that now do deliveries, why go through the trouble of learning to cook at home?  Unless of course you are trying to snag a man and if that is the case, than you might be in trouble.

It may sound like I am just perpetuating the male dominated patriarchal culture but as many guys will tell you, and believe me I asked a bunch,there is nothing worse than dating a woman who doesn’t know her way around the kitchen. I don’t care how physically bad or astute you are in your sexual prowess, a woman who doesn’t know how to burn it up in the kitchen is a definite turnoff.  As my friend and fellow writer Ricardo Hazell said, “Charing, that country thickness would make me think she could cook in the first place. I would be sick if she had “cakes” and “cookies” and didn’t know how to bake real ones. NO! Cooking is a top 5 quality for wifey.” And that, ladies is a hard truth coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

Sure there are many men, who enjoy cooking just as much as some women. And sure if she was on Halle Berry or Beyonce status, a man might be willing to overlook it – at least for a short time period. However, for men, the idea that a woman without culinary skills sparks an instinctual impression that she might be selfish, not very independent and less than nurturing, which is a deal-breaker for any man looking for a relationship of the long-term value.  As the old saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It may sound cliché but at the bases of any formula is a universal truth. (source)
Let's just start with the obvious shall we, not all women are looking to catch a man.  Some women choose to remain single and others are simply not sexually attracted to men at all.  Leave it Madame Noire to turn to a reductive understanding of what constitutes 'woman'.

For me, cooking is an act of love, but there are many ways in which I show my family that I love them. Cooking should not be a determination of how much we love them.  It is one thing for a woman to re-claim cooking from patriarchal forces and another thing entirely to be told that cooking is a requirement to be a good mate.  Ball suggests that one is only unable with getting away with not being able to cook if one is as beautiful as Beyonce or Berry and this suggests that unless you fit a very narrow stereotype, that the only way to be deemed of value is to perform gender through servitude.

As Ball was writing this piece, I wonder if she thought about the fact that the only time women are actively encouraged to cook is in the home. Once cooking because elevated to a business, filled with chefy nonsense, suddenly, it becomes the preserve of men.  A simple day of watching the Food Network is evidence of which gender is elevated.  In professional kitchens across the globe, head chefs are more often men than they are women.  When it comes to Michelin stars men still outnumber women and is it any wonder when you have chefs like Gordon Ramsey saying things like, “There are huge numbers of young women out there who know how to mix cocktails but can’t cook to save their lives,”while having the nerve to suggest being enlightened for promoting a woman to head chef.  The prestigious Beard awards are also extremely male centric.

The Difficulty With Trusting Straight People

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

I've been accused of many times of not having any faith in humanity. Though, in truth, “accused”  suggests I am denying the charge when I pretty much accept that as an accurate description. I don't have much faith in humanity.

And many people can accept that – but then turn round and are surprised when  I apply that lack of faith to them – especially with the implications for what that lack of faith means when it comes to trust.

I keep a lot of secrets. There are many parts of my life that are unknown to those around me. There are certainly many parts of my past that are buried pretty deeply.

I lie a fair amount. About where I'm going, what I'm doing, who I'm with and why, what my plans are and most certainly what I'm thinking and feeling.

There are some things I'll only talk about with GBLT people. There are some things I'll only talk about with gay men. There are some things I'll only talk about with Beloved (much to the irritation of therapy blokey).

I've offended and angered people because I won't go somewhere without making sure several people know where I'm going and with who. I've offended more by simply refusing to go anywhere alone with them. Some people don't like that I don't like them standing too close, others get annoyed because I don't like them to touch me.

Gay Muhammed Says, "Love is Stronger than Hate"

These images really should give one a moment's pause, because there is a lot wrong with them despite the free speech defense that is currently being employed to support them right now.
Last week, the editorial offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo were firebombed after the release of an issue "guest edited" by Muhammed. ("100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!" said the cartoon Muhammed on the cover.)

The magazine's website was taken over shortly after that by a Turkish hackers group, who left a threatening message reading, "You keep abusing Islam's almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech...Be God's Curse On You! We Will be Your Curse on Cyber World!" Politicians and the media came out in support of the magazine's right to free speech, while French Muslim groups decried racism. Amidst it all and against all odds, the newly homeless Hebdo got its next issue out on schedule. Yup! There it is, the new cover, right above us. This is not going to end well. (source)
 I know that this is going to piss off the atheists, but defiling someone's religion is simply not cool. If someone is using their religious beliefs to justify bigotry against a historically marginalized group, then I think that we all have a responsibility to speak up, but outside of that, specifically targeting someone based in their religious beliefs is just wrong.  It is well known that Muslims find images of Muhammad to be offensive and tagged with the line,"100 lashes if you don't die of laughter," it is impossible to suggest that Hebo had any other intent.  Even after receiving what is clearly a negative reaction, Hebo decided to up the ante and draw an image of Muhammad in a same sex kiss.  This is supposed to be funny because all Muslims are homophobic right.  We'll just ignore that there are practicing Muslims who are themselves gay or lesbian.  We'll just ignore the texts that they have written and their fight to be recognized.

Ableism on 2 1/2 Men, Who' Surprised?

Even when megadouche Charlie Sheen was the star of 2 1/2 Men, I was not a fan of the show.  I occasionally catch an episode, when the unhusband is watching the show.  Last night's epsiode served as proof that even though Sheen has left/been fired, the writers are still determined to present a hot mess of isms as comedy.

The season opened with the funeral of Charlie Harper.  From what I can tell, this new season has focused on how the characters adjust to the loss of Charlie.  This week, Charlie's brother Allan Harper, has one can only be described as a mental break.  Alone, he says, "I never told you while you were alive, but I would have given anything to be like you, even for a day".  Moments later he begins his break with reality and this escalates as the episode progresses. This involves sleeping with a beautiful woman that he does not know, smoking cigars and drinking bourbon, and even wearing Charlie's clothing. Clearly this a form of depression based in grief, and is an extremely serious matter - now everyone laugh at how silly he is being. 

I am not one that believes that grief cannot be turned into something to find some kind of joy, or even comedy in however, turning mental illness into a joke for ratings is disgustingly ableist. At the end of the episode, Walden Schmidt, played by Ashton Kutcher, drives an unsuspecting Allan to a mental institution under the guise of taking a trip to Vegas together.  As soon as Allan gets out of the car, Walden drives off, with the tires of the car squealing.  Alone in his hospital room, Allan is still disconnected from reality and so he pretends to call room service. Using his hand to function as a phone he calls room service and requests, "A bucket of ice, a bottle of scotch and two Asian hookers. You know what, they're small, make it three. Winning."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Slutwalk Toronto Releases a Response to 'The Woman is the Nigger of the World' Sign

At the New York City Slutwalk on October 1st a woman held up the following sign which quickly lead to a storm of racism, and disagreement.

The apology in the aftermath left much to be desired.  Slutwalk Toronto decided to weigh into the discussion, based in the idea that Toronto is the home of Slutwalk, because the sexist incident that inspired the campaign occurred there.  The following is a snippet of the what the members of Slutwalk Toronto had to say.

People of Color Speak About Diversity in The Occupy Movement

Filmmaker Obatala Mawusi spoke to Black participants while documenting the New York city occupy movement and the following video is the result.  The most important message that they all seemed to have in common is that we all are the 99%. The video is well worth the watch

There is no excuse for GLBT or Cultural Appropriation

'Cultural Appropriation Bingo' photo (c) 2009, Liz Henry - license:

You may have guessed by now that I have a very little tolerance for appropriation.  Recently it was revealed that an author in the m/m genre, faked a gay male identity, which included paying someone to make public appearances with a fake boyfriend, writing a coming out story, and writing about an instance of gay bashing.  This moves beyond the concept of taking on a pseudonym for the purposes of publication and cannot be seen as anything other than outright appropriation.  On Spark in Darkness, this is what Sparky had to say:
I will say that using an identity like this is out of line. When you pretend to be a marginalised body you are claiming an experience you haven't had. At the most basic, this is like putting “Dr.” before your name when you don't have the qualifications to back it. But it's worse than that – because you're not only claiming an experience you don't have – but you're claiming a marginalisation you haven't experienced – your claiming an insight into a persecuted body that you do not have. You are exploiting our persecution for your own gain.

But further, I will say that I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that it's difficult to nigh impossible to find an actual book about gay men written by gay men – especially if it's a romance. There are only a relative few gay male writers in this genre I can say that I know are gay men with any degree of certainty. Oh there are many with male names and many with male biographies – but how can I trust that? How can I pick up a book and know it's my own people's stories and not Julian McHomo, the pan-name of Suzy Nym?

And, yes, that matters. Not because all books with gay male characters written by women are horrible and unworthy (far from it and it was straight female writers in the genre who first saw and called out this particular arseholery) – but because I want to read stories from that experience, who have lived it from men who have been there to a man who has been there (and from men who have been there to young men and teens who are there and are going to be there). So please, ye gods, please don't dismiss this, don't say “it doesn't matter whether the author is straight or not” because to many of us it does, it matters a lot – it matters to have our stories told by ourselves.

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Four: Cherokee Rose

Carl wakes up and asks if Sophia is okay, and the crew arrive from the highway. During Otis' funeral they ask Shane to speak for Otis and he says, "I'm not good at that," but his widow begs him to speak saying, "please I need to know that his death had meaning." He lies and says that Otis volunteered to take the rear and cover him. Clearly, the guilt is getting to him and really it should.  What he did was despicable no matter how he tries to justify it to himself.

The crew gathers around the vehicle with Herschel to set up a plan to search for Sophia but Hershel tells them that Rick has given too much blood and that Shane's ankle isn't ready for that kind of pressure yet.  Hershel tells them that he does not want them to carry guns on his property and Rick promises to respect his wishes, which does not make Shane happy. Shane asks what happens if we find her if she is bit and Rick responds, "you do what has to be done".  Then Shane goes ahead and announces that Dale is going to keep watch, of course ignoring what Herschel just said he does not want guns on the property.  Rick turns and smoothes it over by saying that "people would feel more comfortable with this situation". Where does Shane even have the gall to attempt to take a leadership position after what he just did?

Shane asks Lori if she meant it when she said stay and Lori responds that she meant it.  I suppose after saving her sons life, the fact that he tried to rape her is forgivable (yes, much snark).

Of course, Andrea is not happy about laying down her gun and arrproaches Shane.  He then shows her how to take apart her weapon and she smiles. I hope that this is the start of turning Andrea into the sharp shooter that she was in the comics, because as it stands, her character is downright petulant, though she has a point about the men being the only one allowed to carry weapons.

Hershel tells Rick that once Carl is fit for travel and they find Sophia, that they need to move on. they have an exchange in which Hershel points out that though his life has been hard recently Rick has had a lot of good fortune and sees that as God's work.  Herschel is clearly a man of deep faith, but Rick is not moved.

Glen and Maggie go to the pharmacy to get supplies, but before they leave, Lori asks Glenn for a specific item, but him promise to be discrete about it.  Lori tells him to look in the feminine hygene section for the product.  Those who have read the comics knew immediately that the item in question had to be a home pregnancy test.

In the field getting water, T-dog and Dale have a chat while they are getting water from the well.  T-Dog is intent on letting Dale know that he is going to pull his weight in the group.  T-Dog says, "I'm not weak. Up on the highway I don't what that was, I don't know where that came from, that wasn't me. If' it's okay, I rather you not tell anyone about that stuff I said."   Really? No, seriously really?  How much more are they going to undermine T-Dog?  First they have Glenn dismiss every valid thing that he said, and now T-Dog himself is backing away from it.  Darryl is a redneck good ole boy and we all know that po po are no friend to the Black man, furthermore, he is in the south surrounded by White people but his concerns about racism are not valid?  This is just pure shit. 
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