Friday, November 25, 2011

Dear Ian Somerhalder When You Have Money It's Easy to be Well Meaning

While Ian Somerhalder is an activist on many issues and is highly well intentioned - the fact remains that intent isn’t flawless and there’s a lot wrong with this - and a whole lot of unexamined privilege and paternalism

First and most glaringly is one of class and wealth. While Ian Somerhalder is, of course, in a position where he can cavalierly ignore sales bargains, having a net worth of $14,000,000 and being paid $40,000 per episode of the Vampire Diaries. That’s $720,000 per year (note: this figure does not take into account monies earned through modelling and his modelling agency). Performing in one episode of The Vampire Diaries earns him far more than many make in an entire year. For many, black friday represents the only opportunity they will get to buy that special present or afford that indulgence. And while we can criticise the materialism of that - it’s easy to criticise the materialism when we can casually afford whatever we want.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remember When All the Dudes Were Hot

I am an anarchist, atheist, adopted, jewish, bilingual, woman with a degree in Latin American Latino Studies and a head crammed full of the history of the Americas. I spent a decade working in the law in Florida and another decade working for nonprofits in California and DC.  I know more than your average person about the history, policies, and human rights violations related to the food system, drug prohibition, the prison industrial complex, immigration, and (inexplicably) cowboys.  I believe that justice, peace, and understanding are possible.  I blog at

Some economist named Glen Whitman wrote a post called Pan Am and the Economics of Hot Flight Attendants. In it he claims that deregulation lowered air fares and made paying for hotness in your employees prohibitively expensive.

Since I have read that piece, I have been racking my brain to think of a similar situation for dudes. Is there a career out there where hotness was required of the dudes and where we are all decrying the current lack of hotness?


Megan McArdle, responding to the post, theorizes that a whole bunch of things (like unions and anti-discrimination laws) made it impossible for airlines to fire people if they gained a couple pounds or hit the ripe old age of thirty (Oh, the horror!). Moreover, as more women were flying, less airline customers cared “whether the stewardess has a nice rack.”

Monstrous Musings: Race Lessons from Breaking Dawn: Part 1 – Or, How to be a “Good Indian”

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

While in other recent reviews I have discussed the problematic anti-abortion messages in Breaking Dawn: Part 1  (as here), the ode to lavish wide weddings and weak females (as here), the icky imprinting scenes (as here), and what I see as the best and worst bits of the film (as here), in this post I will focus on race.

In short, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 does Pocahontas one better – but this time the Native falling for the white colonizer is an indigenous male named Jacob BLACK, and instead of singing to animals, he IS an animal.

Near the opening of the film, Jacob runs furiously from his house, throws Bella and Edward’s wedding invitation to the ground, rips off his shirt, and then transforms into a wolf. We will see him again later, saying to Bella “it’s weird to be back on two legs” and then erupting in characteristic tight-jawed, flared nostrils anger when he learns Bella plans to have a “real honeymoon” with Edward.

Not only does Jacob continue to be framed as more angry (m)animal than rational human, he also comes off as disturbingly controlling in these scenes, saying to the white-frocked Mrs. Cullen, “You can’t be serious, Bella. Tell me you are not that stupid.” Then, he grabs her furiously, causing her to shout, “Jacob, let go,” which draws the attention of Edward, Sam, and Seth. Turning his attention to Edward, Jacob says, “Are you out of your mind? You will kill her.”

Thus begins the depiction of Jacob as traitor – not only to Bella and her desires, but ultimately to his wolf pack and tribe. By the end of the film, he has declared himself Alpha of his own pack, more or less taken up residence with the Cullens, and imprinted on baby Renesmee, sealing his entry into the Cullen family where he and Renesmee can eventually have a pack of “white and delightsome” offspring (for more of this line of argument, see here).

Meanwhile, his wolf-mates are presented as treaty-breakers in contrast to the good doctor, Carlisle Cullen, who insists “we won’t be the ones to break the treaty.” What a nice change from real-world history, where treaties with indigenous tribes were never kept. Well, nice in that it breaks the historical trend of the US government not abiding by treaties with indigenous peoples, but not so nice in that it yet again frames Native Americans as untrustworthy– as murder hungry savages intent on killing nice white humans and their miracle-savior-babies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Will Chris Brown Ever Getting Tired of Playing Victim?

'Chris Brown' photo (c) 2008, Gemma Mary - license:

Chris Brown Mr. Newage Ike Turner, has been whining about how the public views him since the moment it was released that he decided to beat RiRi in a fit of rage over a few text messages on his phone. Since then he has publicly and at least one time violently, lost his shit at any mention of this incident.  

You would think by now that his publicist would have told him that spending time on twitter, allowing people to see the your new age Ike Turner beliefs is not good for your career.  According to Clutch magazine, Brown has once again taken offense for the suggestion that he is a woman beater via Twitter.
“Don’t say sh– to anybody and everyone feels its cool to attack me. GROWN ADULTS!!!! That sh– happened three years ago. TWITTER GETS WACK REAL FAST! I LOVE ALL THE POEPLE WHO SUPPORT MY MUSIC! i never said i was a LEGEND. people please grow up. Ive never dealt with so much negativity in my life! its to the point now that its just ridiculous! IM NOT A POLITICIAN! MY MUSIC DOESNT PROMOTE VIOLENCE nor will it ever! only thing it will increase is the pregnacy rate! I wake up thinking of living my life….. YOU wake up thinking of me! NOW I REALLY CANT WAIT FOR THE AMA’s! u dont have to respect me now… but u will.

Chris added: “I know a lot of you wack ass (OLD) celebrities probably wanna f— my ex, but talking sh-t on me wont get you far! and to be REALLY HONEST, ya’ll wonder why ni— spazzes all the time?”
Brown quickly deleted the series of tweets, and at the time of this posting, his twitter feed says he has made 9 tweets.  It looks like his publicist is only good at acting after, Brown Mr New Age Ike Turner had already put his foot in his mouth.

Discipline and Positive Reinforcement

'Belt' photo (c) 2010, Aurimas - license:

I know that I have written an awful lot about my family recently, so please bare with me.  My oldest son Destruction is 10 years old.  He loves being in the kitchen with me.  It's our shared time together.  He has taken to calling me his sous chef, now that he is actually cooking dinner once a week.  Yesterday, because I had to do our Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, I started dinner early, which meant that there was nothing left for him to do by the time he got home from school.  This upset him alot, because he wanted to make dinner last night.  I suppose that for him, just like me, cooking is an expression of love and self care.  I know that he sees being allowed to cook dinner as a reward for good behaviour.

I think that this last point is essential.  Recently, I received an email from yet another pro spanking commenter, suggesting that my children are not disciplined because their father and I don't hit them.  This could be no further from the truth.  I think not spanking your child forces you to really get to know who they are intimately.  I know what my son enjoys intimately and so saying to him, you will not be allowed to cook dinner for a week, is actually a punishment.  This is a child that watches cooking shows, is learning about different spices and how they flavour food, and has selected his high school already based on their culinary program.  To him, being denied access to the kitchen means a loss of an activity that he loves, and a chance to have my undivided attention for however long we are cooking together.

The other major form of discipline we employ are extra chores.  The house is never as clean as when the boys are grounded.  This can and does include, weeding the garden, sweeping and scrubbing the kitchen floor on hands and knees, scrubbing the bathroom including the toilet, vacuuming, etc., Of course, helping out around the house is something they both have to do, but actually doing extra work is not something either of them enjoy.  What I like about the assignment of extra work, is that it leads to a positive result.  In the end, if they do a good job, we always give some sort of positive reinforcement. When they are done, they always have a sense of accomplishment and feel redeemed for whatever it is that they have done to earn the punishment in the first place.

Beckham Calls For End To Racism In Soccer

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

I'll be rooting against David Beckham and his LA Galaxy teammates when they play my Houston Dynamo in the MLS title game on Sunday but he definitely gets a thumbs up from me for speaking up and speaking out about the long festering problem of racism in international soccer.

'The beautiful game' as it's called has a ugly side in terms of the virulent racism that rears its head in matches.  In some European nations they make monkey sounds or throw bananas at players of African descent.

Even some of the superstar players aren't above using the N-word during a match multiple times to taunt players and it ain't a new problem.

I remember reading a December 1978 EBONY magazine story about Erwin Kostedde, a German soccer star who was the first African descended player and superstar in the Bundesliga.   The article chronicled his search for his American GI father and there was a paragraph in it that referenced the crowds shouting at him 'Du fauler Neger" (Lazy n----r) when he had the ball taken from him during a match.

A firestorm of criticism has erupted in Britain after FIFA president Sepp Blatter made comments during an interview broadcast on CNN in which he minimized the racism in international soccer and said it should be settled with a handshake.   It also comes as Britain's Premier League is investigating charges that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Chelsea defender John Terry racially abused black players during league games.
Asked if he thought there was racism on the pitch, Blatter told CNN: 'I would deny it. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that. 

'He should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.  I think the whole world is aware of the efforts we are making against racism and discrimination. And on the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game, the game is over and you have the next game where you can behave better."
Um Sepp, if racism isn't a problem in football, why are you still running commercials during World Cup and international friendly matches for the Say No To Racism campaign?

Talk about your same-sex partner over the turkey.

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

So, GLAAD has a new campaign in favour of awkward thanksgiving. In not censoring oneself and speaking up about your life at the family dinner table.

Oh and didn’t that strike a chord with me!

Obviously, being British, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (I also understand that this means we’re subjected to the Christmas music, decorations and adverts a good month before you guys over the pond. Damn it, I have envy. I’m already developing a swearing reflex every time I hear Slade and Wizzard. Gods above I hate those songs) but I can most certatainly relate to this campaign.

Sadly, I have a very large and closeknit family. And I say sadly because that brings me little comfort and I’m slowly dissolving the ties I have. But we’ve certainly had no small number of family gatherings – be they hatches, matches and dispatches, important birthdays, anniversaries, reunions or “Gimme an Excuse We Want a Party”. They’re major events in our family, we’re always looking to get the whole riotous clan together (so they can then Argue with each other and Hold Grudges because what their Ethel said about our Eileen 26 years ago is Important).

Monday, November 21, 2011

"bought colored kids"

I came across this livejournal piece recently.  It's an older post but if you have not read it, I think it is well worth the read.  I am going to get you started here.

Along with dreadlocks and a non-white lover, the coolest accessory of the white liberal “left” these days is a bought colored kid.

How many times have you walked into the office of a union organizer, or a professor of the humanities or social sciences to be confronted with a picture of their adopted non-white kid hanging on the wall (along with other random pictures of non-white people and some photos of more “famous” non-whites)? How many times have you marched with a white person in a rally against war who is holding up a sign that says “Down with US imperialism!” while they wheel their purchase—oops, I mean child—along? (and of course, these people never see any contradiction between their slogan—“Down with US imperialism”—and the non-white child they purchased) How many times have you seen LGBT white individuals and couples respond to homophobia against LGBT parented families by buying a colored kid, neglecting to consider their access to white supremacy even as LGBT people?

How many times have you been sitting in an activist meeting to have a white parent stand up and urgently talk about the racism that his or her “child” experiences as a person of color? How many times have you had to sit and watch how these white people are so delighted to tell non-whites what their child experiences as a person of color? How many times have you been confronted by a white person who demands access to a people of color space and use their bought kid as an entry pass (similar to when they use their non-white lover to get into places)?

Whatever the case, a white “liberal” or “leftist” person who adopted a colored kid is still a white person walking around with a purchased body of color.

Now of course, I can see some corny white people (along with their cornier non-white friends and lovers) getting all red in the face and telling me how much they have provided for the child, how lucky this child is to have a home, to have food. Then, the white liberal or “leftist” will put out their information and historical knowledge on the structural conditions colored kids face. Then, they give their speech about what the children go through and how they’re saving non-white children. All the while the white person is about to have an orgasm from the pleasure of “schooling” non-white people about their history and conditions.

Thanks, but I think a lot of us—adopted or not—already know what the kids go through. We live lives as non-white people, and many of us come from the conditions and countries whose histories you know so well and love to tell us about.

For myself, I am quite aware of what the trade off was. By buying me, my white parents “saved” me from sleeping on a concrete bed in the South Korean orphanage I was housed at until I came to the US when I was three and a half years old. This transaction gave me the “opportunity” to live a middle-class upbringing and to have an entry into the lives of white people.

Of course, I was never really a full member of the household. That is, it was clear that my presence in the house was something to be both ignored and monitored. On many times my family would say stuff to me like, “I love you. I don’t see you as Korean. I see you as my daughter.” Or, when debating immigration, my family would be quick to point out that my presence in the US was fine—it was all the other immigrants that had to “get the hell out of the country” (our presence is always “allowed” if white people can regulate it and determine the terms of acceptability). Often, my beloved family would make fun of how Asian people talked by speaking in a mock “Chinaman” voice, never batting an eye but getting really heated when I said something to them about it. Once, my father told me to “Get your wok and go” in front of his new wife, and they laughed and laughed.

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Re: Transgender Day of Remembrance

I wish to apologize to the trans community for not posting about Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I had planned to do one, but I got caught up this weekend, and it completely slipped my mind. I know that the fact that I did forget and get caught up, is completely a sign of my privilege.  I am so sorry, and I absolutely recognize the importance of this day.

At this time, I would like to share with you a piece that Monica of Transgriot wrote:

Heavenly Father,

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  We humbly ask that you lift up the people who are mourning the loss of a friend, a loved one, or a family member to anti-trans violence on this day.  Give us the strength and determination to make this world better than when we first encountered it for your trans children.  

Help society, our own trans people, our rainbow community and the world to see that transpeople are part of the diverse mosaic of human life.  

Continue to lift us transpeople up in love and truth and help us realize that we are your beautifully made children. Give us the strength to make it through this day and every other subsequent one that we are blessed with and never forget the people who died just for being their true selves.

Bless our friends and those inside and outside our community who curse us.  Move their hearts so that justice and peace will reign and we can live the lives and the exalted name that you promised us we would have if we kept your commandments.   

Give us the fortitude and strength to create a better world for your transgender children and all who dwell in it.

We ask this in Jesus' name,  Amen.
To that I would like to add, each year the list of the dead gets longer and this is a symbol of exactly how institutionalized cissexism is.  As cis people, we need to begin challenging our privilege, speaking up when we see transphobia and asserting that all trans people have the right to live in peace in security.  The cis community supports and maintains its privilege and therefore, it our job to attempt to make a positive change. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not point out that on this terrible list, trans women of colour are over represented.  As a member of the cis Black community, I see this as a sign that we need to put trans rights on the agenda.  Trans people did not give up their racial identity because they are trans, and in fact, it is because they are of colour and trans that they have been specially targeted for abuse and murder.  In this coming year, as we fight against anti-racism, we need to make a special effort to put trans issues on our agenda as a people. 

All Is White in So-Called Multicultural Canada

'Santa Claus Vector Image' photo (c) 2010, Vectorportal - license:

So, Saturday was the annual Santa Claus parade in Niagara Falls.  I am not a big believer in Santa, because I don't like the idea that this benign White guy travels around and grants wishes.  I think I would be more amenable to the idea, if Santa was occasionally a person of colour.  I always think of Santa as just another manifestation of Whiteness, and we all know that White men are not exactly lining up to do people of colour any favours.  At any rate, after writing their letters to Santa, we headed off to the parade.

We have been going as a family for the last seven years, and so my kids were super excited.  We always have a big breakfast, watch the parade and then go out to lunch.  It's really a family day of fun for us. Each year, the people participating in the parade hand out treats to the kids lining the parade route.  This year, my kids sat down on the sidewalk next to two White kids, with their hot chocolate and blankets to watch the parade.  They were just brimming with excitement.  As the parade got going, we noticed that the participants would hand candy to the two little White boys sitting next to the left my kids and the White girls on the right, but not to my sons.

When they were skipped time and time again, my kids would look back at us to ask what was going on.  Neither of them could understand why they didn't receive candy, while the White boys on their left did, and the White girls on their right did.  The unhusband finally asked me if I thought race was a factor, and I told him of course it is.  Despite the bullshit lie that we tell ourselves about all children being special, marginalized children are just seen as surplus population.

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Six: Secrets

The episode opens with Carl up and about, and Lori feeding the chickens.  A young woman breaks the legs of a chicken, and heads to the barn to feed the  dead. They immediately pounce on the chickens, when she drops them from a ledge at the top of the barn.

As Glenn looks through binoculars, Maggie approaches him with a bucket of sundries and he accuses her of trying to bribe him.  He asks her why Hershel has a barn full of walkers and Maggie demands that he keep that information to himself.

Alone in his tent, Andrea gives a book to Darryl and asks him to forgive her.  He tells her that she was trying to protect the group and that he is fine with it.  I think this was just one more scene in the reformation of Darryl. Gee look how good he is, he forgave Andrea for shooting him.

Glenn approaches Lorri and asks if she told Rick that she was pregnant. He offers his food and she says that she does not want it.  He then tells her that she has a medical condition, and offers to go back into town to get her anything she needs, but Lori tells him that he needs to be quiet about this. I thought that this was more of Glenn's paternalism.  It really is not his place to tell her what she needs to do about this. 

Carl is finally looking like the Carl of the comic books. He asks Shane to teach him how to shoot and Shane tells him that it's up to his parents.  As Carl is walking away, Shane realizes that he has a gun tucked into the waist of his pants already. Lori is livid and she learns that Carl lied to Dale to get access to the gun.  She does not want Carl to have a gun, but Rick clearly thinks that she is being over protective. Lori angrily says that he is not mature enough to handle a gun but  Carl interjects and that that he wants to look for Sophia, and that he wants to protect their camp. He knows that he cannot accomplish either goal unless he is armed and knows how to use the gun properly.  Lori tells him that he has to take it seriously and that he must act responsibly and then acquiesces to Carl's request. I can understand Lori's concern but times have changed and Carl having a gun might be the one thing that saves his life one day.
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