Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Preparation

'christmas 2007' photo (c) 2007, christina rutz - license:

Hey everyone, I know that posting has been light the past few weeks, but I have been pretty ill.  This of course has put me way behind schedule on the things that I need to do for my family for the holidays.  I don't even have a turkey yet.  To that end,  I'm afraid that I won't be around much until after Christmas.  Once the holiday rush is over, things will get back to normal at Womanist Musings.  Thanks so much for your patience, it is greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Battle of Words in the War for GLBT Rights

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. 

There are the many battles for GBLT equality, the wars of legality, the struggles for safety, the push for inclusion, for visibility, the fights for recourse, the battles for opinion, for recognition of worth. 

And they all need fighting desperately – but there’s one where I feel we have given too much ground. In fact, there’s one battle where I think we’ve allowed the bigots push us back to cowering in our bunkers, cede ground after ground to them – and I say we need to push this back.

It’s the war of semantics. Yes, words. Because words matter – words are the foundation of how we think, how our opinions are formed, how our arguments are phrased, even how our pleas and demands are communicated and how we express our anger, rage and pain.

And we’ve give up on too many words. We’ve allowed the haters to claim them, we’ve allowed their usage to become mainstream and unchallenged. I think we need to make a concerted effort to challenge their usage and their definition – to retake the language – to argue, refute, pelt them with angry armadillos, slap them with a fish or, at very least, refuse to use them in their context and refuse to acknowledge their groups’ names. 

So, let’s have a look at a few:


We’ve allowed family to become a synonym for homophobic bigotry and that has to stop. I would say at least half of the hate groups have family in their name somewhere –  a word that should be all about love acceptance is being severely abused here. These “family” organisations are the very antithesis of family – they seek to destroy families. They push hatred that causes parents to drive their children out into the street, that cause families to be estrange from each other. They push self-hatred that has caused far too many parent to weep over their child’s early grave. They try to put as many barriers as possible between loving couples, between parents and their children

This is not family. I resent them using the word. In fact, it’s obscene that they dare – this misuse, more than any other, deserves, severe armadilloing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Marcus Bachmann's First Spouse Agenda Is Of Course Homophobic

Okay, can I just say that only in the U.S. could a woman like Michelle Bachmann be considered a candidate for office. This is not to say that Canada does not have it's share of homophobes, because it most certainly does, but I cannot imagine an elected leader campaigning the way these two have and then being taken seriously. All right, back to the hateful couple from hell.

'Marcus Bachmann' photo (c) 2011, Gage Skidmore - license:

“I’ve decided my cause is not going to be happy meals,” he said during a stop at the Family Table Restaurant here, apparently a dig at Mrs. Obama.

“We are going to be the message-givers,” said Mr. Bachmann, who runs a Christian counseling service that has been accused of trying to “heal” gays by persuading them to become heterosexual.

“We are going to get this message across,” he said. “Marriage is between one man and one woman. We are going to promote families.” (source)
This man is the gift that keeps on giving isn't he?  Don't you love how he managed to include a dig to Michelle Obama while pushing his homophobic agenda?  He isn't promoting families, he is encouraging second class citizenship for gays and lesbians, because it helps maintain his privilege. Same sex couples have been getting married for quite sometime in Canada, and I can tell you that has not impeded straight people trotting down the aisle or getting divorced.  What it has however meant is greater benefits for gays and lesbians in terms of being able to have their spouses recognized legally as next of kin, and this of course means like the ability to add their spouses to benefit packages through their employment, and being able to receive survivor benefits through the government.  For all of the gains that have occurred, the one thing I can say for certain is though gays and lesbians can walk down the aisle, homophobia has not lessened.  Gays and lesbians are still subject to harassment, subjected to slurs and beatings, as well as discrimination in employment and housing.  If Bachmann is worried that same sex marriage will bring about a revolution that will lead to the fulfillment of the so-called gay agenda, and the reduction of his fascist Christian privilege, he can rest easy.  I speak from experience when I say that this will not happen, as a citizen of a country that has had same sex marriage for quite some time. 

Yet Another Reminder on Why the Po Po is no Friend to People of Colour

'badge-closeup' photo (c) 2008, Scott Davidson - license:

I have written many articles on how I intend to teach my sons how to behave in the presence of cops, and why this information could someday save their lives.  Each time I write about the absolute importance of preparing a Black child to deal with the ongoing harassment that they will be subject to, thanks to racist police departments across North America, some jackass shows up with statics to claim that the police are justified in their response because of the fact that Blacks are over represented in the penal industrial complex.   This response is racist and denies the way in which minorities are specifically targeted and the effect of racism, under-education and poverty have on those who commit crimes. The truth of the matter is that though there are more Whites in prison than Blacks, Black people still represent criminality in the eyes of the law.  This leads to a lifetime of harassment that can have a devastating toll.

I found the following article in the N.Y. Times
WHEN I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.

One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”

I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground — with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.

Less than two years later, in the spring of 2008, N.Y.P.D. officers stopped and frisked me, again. And for no apparent reason. This time I was leaving my grandmother’s home in Flatbush, Brooklyn; a squad car passed me as I walked down East 49th Street to the bus stop. The car backed up. Three officers jumped out. Not again. The officers ordered me to stand, hands against a garage door, fished my wallet out of my pocket and looked at my ID. Then they let me go.  (Source)
Nicholas K. Peart wrote specifically about his experiences living in N.Y. city, however the same story could be told by many people of colour living in North America, because despite the so-called post racial world that we live in, part of the role of policing today is to enforce White supremacy.  This means the ongoing harassment of people of colour, which for some leads to a lifetime of living in fear.  I would label some of the survivors as existing with PTSD but the fact of the matter is that we still have not entered the era when the word post is an accurate label.

Gender Imperialism

Biyuti is a Bakla Filipina living on stolen Algonquin land. He works to sustain and increase the biyuti of the world through decolonization and through her explorations of the intersections of race with queerness/gender. He also blogs at The Biyuti Collective.

According the San Francisco Trans March’s about page, this was part of the original callout that started the march:
to encourage more trans and gender-variant people to come out; to build connections among ftm, mtf, bayot, crossdressers, sadhin, hijra, transvestites, bantut, drag queens, drag kings, mahu, transsexuals, bakla, travesti, genderqueers, kathoey, two spirit, intersex
Speaking from my particular Bakla experience, I find this list very troubling. The impression you get from this list is that Bayot, Sadhin, Hijra, Bantut, Mahu, Bakla, Kathoey, and Two-spirit are all trans identities (or refer to something gender non-conforming). Now, I do not know about the other identity labels in this list (nor would I want to speak on their behalf, although here is one Indigenous writer saying something similar about the Two-spirit identity, but I will say that I do not believe that Bakla is a trans identity. Or, at least, it isn’t necessarily a trans identity.

In my [email protected] family ‘bakla’ was usually considered to be Tagalog word for gay. This means, within my family, that ‘bakla’ denoted sexuality and not quite a gender expression. Of course, being Bakla sexually did have some interconnected gender norms that would appear to the Western gaze as gender variance or non-conformance. In other words, being bakla was to be gay, but in my Filipina context what being gay meant was not the same as my larger Western cultural context.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Please Welcome Biyuti To Womanist Musings

So... I'm Biyuti. Some of you may recall seeing my fairly infrequent comments. I'm fairly new to social justice activism, so I've mainly been trying to learn and absorb. And, as I've done so, I've been working out my own opinions about various topics of social justice. I've also been trying to decide how I want to participate, which has obviously led me to this point, where I will now be writing for one of my favourite blogs, the incomparable Womanist Musings.

I am primarily interested in race and post-colonial criticism, especially as it intersects with gender and sexuality. Um... although, I must confess that my interests are varied and I may occasionally write about other topics, especially since I believe that minimal knowledge and awareness about all the isms is necessary to achieve a truly intersectional movement for social justice.

You'll notice from my bios that I tend to used mixed pronouns for myself. This is partially due to some linguistic features of English, but also a conscious choice to represent my non-binary gender identity/expression. I primarily identify as a bakla Filipina. I have no preferred pronoun, so use whichever you find most efficacious.

It may also save us all a little time if I detailed, or linked to, some of my other writing that explains how I enter these discourses on justice. First, don't bother criticizing my posts by noting logical inconsistencies or mistakes. I believe that calls for rationality and logical arguments are both sexist and racist. Second, while I note that many isms function in an institutional or systemic fashion, I also hold everyone (including myself) personally responsible for their privileges and how these contribute to the oppression of other people. Last, I'm not all that interested in discussing the issues I cover with members outside the respective communities. Those of us who wish learn about oppressions not our own are often best served by listening, so keep this in mind if I chose not to respond to some comments or respond in ways that do not seem like they promote productive discussion (see also my position on logic).

I'll close this introduction by saying that I believe in the fundamental biyuti and goodness of people. Even those I know hate me. However, I also recognize that we live in culture that essentially corrupts and sullies our basic biyuti. I can be forgiving of ignorance and human error, but I do not forgive willful ignorance or hate born out of a refusal to see all of us as human. Nonetheless, life can be biyutiful and this is my humble attempt to help sustain that biyuti.