Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Vampire Diaries Season Three: Episode Ten: The New Deal

The hiatus just seemed to fly by didn't it?  When last we left Mystic Falls, Elena had finally decided to give up on The Ripper otherwise known as Stefan, after he fouled the plans of the scooby gang to kill Klaus.  For his part, Stefan finally got proactive and kidnapped Klaus' family, whom he had been carting around in coffins for centuries. Now that is a dysfunctional family.

 Once again Mystic Falls is a hotbed of action, because Klaus wants his family back, Elena wants to be safe and Stefan wants revenge.  In an effort to find Stefan, Klaus talks Tyler into hanging out with Jeremy.  This of course concerns Elena and she attempts to forbid them from spending time together.  Jeremy rightfully calls her a hypocrite and invites Tyler in.  I don't even know where Elena got off giving Jeremy that speech, when she spent the entire summer trying to save The Ripper - a man who kills so savagely that he tears their heads from their bodies and then writes down their names in order to have an accurate record of his kills.  I think Jeremy made a great point when he suggested that they should leave Mystic Falls.  When you think about it, there is no logical reason to stay. Bonnie is a witch and Caroline is a vampire, which means that they are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Elena is staying because she likes the excitement and wants to stay in the thick of things.

In other news, Elena decides to call Bonnie to talk to her about Stefan having the coffins.  Bonnie tells Elena that she should stay out of it, but two seconds later, she is ready to do Elena's bidding.  I would like to point out that this is twice in one episode at this point, that Elena has been given perfectly good advice that she has decided to ignore.  Once Elena gets to the house, she tries to reason with Stefan, and even goes as far as to say that Jeremy is in danger, but Stefan will not budge. Damon comes up with the plan of each taking the time to deal with their own sibling.

We learn that Stefan ended their little plan to kill Klaus to save Damon.  When Damon wants in on the plan, Stefan rejects him.  This, believe it or not is actually a sensible decision.  The moment Damon got involved, he would only run to Elena, who would interject herself into whatever Stefan is trying accomplish, firm in the belief that she knows better than anyone else.  We all know that logical planning is not high on Elena's priority list.  It was only a few weeks ago she thought it was a good idea to approach a group of werewolves on the night of the full moon in an isolated location.

Tyler finally gets around to confronting his lord and master.  Would you believe that he actually expressed shock that Klaus would kill someone to get what he wants.  I get the whole blood bond thing, but his faith in Klaus at this point is ridiculous.  If he was so sure that Klaus wasn't really all that bad, then why did he knock out Caroline and have her physically removed from the party, at which they tried to kill Klaus?  I suppose consistency is too much to ask for on The Vampire Diaries. I don't understand what they are doing with Tyler's character at all?  They went from building so much empathy around him becoming a werewolf to turning him into an empty beast without the ability to think.

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Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  There were a lot of great point raised this week and I hope that we all learned something from each other. In recent weeks, we have had three new contributors join Womanist Musings. Each one of them will add something new to the conversations that happen and here.  Thank you all for welcoming them.

At this time, I am still looking for new contributors.  I would specifically like someone who is interested in discussing fat phobia, and class.  These are subjects that don't get the attention that they deserve in this space.  As always, Womanist Musings has an open guest policy, for those that are looking to post a single piece, either on a one time only basis or occasionally. The piece in question may either be your own original work, or a cross post from your blog. Please include a short three link bio and an image that you feels represents you. Please remember that the more marginalized people we have talking in this space, the larger the conversations here will be.  It is my hope that eventually, at least once a week, there will be a post with which you can identify with personally. You can reach me at womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com 

Below you will find links to posts that I found interesting this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check out their work.  When you are done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot, and leave your link behind in the comment section.
Hundreds March in Oakland on Anniversary of Oscar Grant’s Killing
Black Women’s Biopics We’d Love to See
Private Danny Chen and why I will never reach out to OWS about something that matters to me
Now THIS Is Some Mental Health Bootstrapping
Happy Kwanzaa Black Trans Style-The 2011 Remix: Compilation and Contemplation
Little Girl Out Analyses her Dad
Eye of the needle and all that shit
Racing the Rez Documentary
Colorblind Ideology is a Form of Racism
Driven to Predatory Loans
Conversations about the Patriarchy: Part 1
Why Hasn’t Octavia Butler’s Work Been Adapted?
Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists
Why Gay is NOT The New Black
African-American Actresses Decry the Lack of Good Roles
Embracing Black Feminism: “Ain’t I A Woman?”
"Being Undocumented Wasn't a Choice" ( coming out stories by minority and immigrant LGBT youth.)
Pain Medication Comments That Annoy Me
Today in fat Hatred
 Round Table: LGBTQ Edition ( four POC novelists held a round table discussion which tackled the challenges that authors of color have to face in both the publishing industry as well as the media in general in terms of race, gender and orientation.)
The politics of gender studies research
Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline
“Manorexia”, “Metrosexuals” and belittling male experience of eating disorders.
20 Years of Black Lesbian Cinema

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Friday and The Question Is ........

'What is this all about?' photo (c) 2010, Roger Price - license:

I have not done one of these for awhile and I kind of missed it, so I thought that I would bring this back. One of the best things about the weekend if you ask me is Sunday morning. I don't know about you, but Saturday is usually spent cleaning the house and running errands, and Sunday means rest. With that in mind, this week's question is:  What is your favorite way to spend Monday morning?

Disrespect Of Black Womanhood Is Why I'm Not A Feminist

This is a guest post by the ever amazing Monica of TransGriot

Chelsea Sayre, my fellow columnist at Transadvocate and editrix of the Trans Femmergy blog wrote an interesting post entitled It's Bigger Than Your Womanhood.

It was in her words 'a rant directed at the trans women who want absolutely nothing to do with feminism (no one in particular) because a mean, scary woman somewhere called you a name or the wrong gender.'

Well Chelsea, I'm one of those transwomen who wants nothing to do with feminism and the disrespect it aims at us.  

I'm about to tell it like it T-I-S is as to why I feel that way and expound on my reasons for saying thanks but no thanks to feminism.   They are bigger than the loud and wrong group of transphobic radical lesbian separatists still stuck in the disco era.  

If you were wearing my Afrocentric shoes, explain why should I have any respect for or rush to join a movement that has repeatedly shown it has no respect for me, my cis African descended sisters and doesn't care about any woman that isn't a cis white one?  

Too many feminists fail to recognize they exist with white privilege they gleefully exercise when it suits them while ignoring how race and class issues affect non-white cis and trans women. 

It's why like many Black women who have had the same epiphany about feminism I pivoted to and eventually became a womanist

If we're 'all women' as I hear repeatedly said as a talking point  in some quarters of the feminist movement and the feminist blogosphere, why the cricket chirping silence in terms of the sexist and racist attacks on the First Lady that have been ongoing since 2008, but feminists leap to the defense of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann if any man even looks at them cross eyed or says a disparaging word about them?

If 'we're all women', why does a white transwoman who is beaten at a Roseland, MD McDonald's get a rally while a little over 100 miles away a Black transwoman who gets beaten outside a Fredericksburg, VA 7-Eleven doesn't?

Don't even get me started on the feminist cricket chirping silence over the nastiness, transphobia and oppression that white radical lesbian separatists and radfems have engaged in and aimed at transwomen of all ethnic backgrounds since 1979.

Hey Jimmy Kimmel I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present

Kimmel encouraged his viewers to give their kids terrible gifts, videotape it and send it.  You can find the first round here.  Apparently, even after they ran the segment and called quits to the gag, people continued to do this thing.  Honestly, if I had known, I would have participated myself.  For those of you who are saying that this prank is mean, may I remind you that my grey hair is the direct cause of my children and not even my tampons are sacred.

Please Welcome Our New Contributor April Scissors

April Scissors is a writer and cultural critic. She works to explore and uncover the historical and present implications of faulty representations of people of color, women, and other marginalized groups in politics, popular culture, and media. Find more of her work at and on 89.5fm in Chicago where she is a frequent guest and contributor.    

Hey Womanist-Musings’ readers and supporters! My name is April and I fancy myself as a cultural critic and an all around pop media enthusiast. For me, “popular culture” and “pop media” are nice little buzzwords that encompass the generalities of politics, television, movies, etc. that bind us as a national unit. I take all of those commercials, political commentary, moments on TV shows, and scenes in movies that you quote, love, laugh at, and cry about and point out all of the lovely ways they protect, uphold, enhance, and perpetuate racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, heteronormative, white supremacist, and thoughtless stereotypes and ideology. Despite all the big, fancy words in that last sentence, I often struggle with much of the language used in academia to describe what’s going on in the world outside of the institution. That language definitely has a place, but as I desire to reach the larger public, I’m constantly in search of ways to take what I’ve learned in graduate school and from theorists and apply it to the realities of everyday life. 

Some may argue that “Oh, it’s just television!” Or, “it’s just a movie! It’s not meant to be taken seriously!” And in one regard those statements are true; popular media and culture do largely serve the purpose to entertain, and thus should, on some occasions, be taken with a grain of salt. However, as someone who has often witnessed and been a victim of people not being able to draw the line between reality and entertainment, I believe that we must explore, investigate, critique, analyze, and problematize that which we are supposed to accept blindly. As a fairly young nation with some deeply rooted biases, I am humbled by how far we’ve come in our understanding of ourselves and the individuals or groups surrounding us. However, I also recognize that we have so far to go. Every time Donald Trump gained attention for demanding President Obama’s birth certificate, or when Megyn Kelly justified excessive use of pepper spray because it’s “a food product, essentially;” or Rick Perry’s belief that marriage equality equates to a war on Christmas, we regress as a country in our racial, social, gender, and cultural politics. Through my writing—on Womanist Musings and elsewhere—I hope to provide thoughtful and respectful analyses that encourage readers to look at how the past deeply influences today, but that it does not have to dictate how we understand and constructively engage one another in the future.

Spunky Agency: Fake Empowerment and not-so-strong Female Protagonists

Spunky Agency is a term that we use quite often on this site.  We have included a cursory definition in the Fangs Lexicon, but because it is in such regular usage, we thought that it would be appropriate to create a post clearly defining what we mean by this term, with an example of some characters that represent spunky agency..

A character possessed of Spunky Agency, is one who makes the most impulsive decisions that often are reckless and put her in ridiculous danger.  This of course is meant to frame said protagonist as a person of action. Quite often you see the term strong used to describe this kind of action when in fact a better descriptor would probably be, “does not have the sense that God gave cabbage.“

These protagonists use their agency in such ridiculous ways that it undermines their agency. Their decisions are so poor we wish they wouldn’t make them at all - these characters aren’t strong, because their “strength” is so misapplied. We have so many classic examples in the genre - Sookie Stackhouse has made some incredibly poor decisions, starting with deciding to investigate a serial killing in vampire bars and just getting worse from there. Clary from the Mortal Instruments virtually embodies this trope with her clueless portal jumping without knowing what’s on the other side. Claire from the Morganville Vampires constantly makes decisions that make my headache (checking out the curious, locked lightproof room in the library in a town filled with vampires? Really?

Of course, bad plans are not the only element of Spunky Agency. How many times have we seen a group make a plan and then Spunky Agency decide she’s going to sneak off and do her own thing instead? Yes, I`m looking at you Elena from the Otherworld series. How many times will she pretend to agree then go against everything decided? The Spunky Agent decides she knows better than her fellows and feels she can discard their input on a whim.

Similarly, the Spunky Agent will often refuse to accept any other input. She presents a fait accompli, a “my way or the highway”. Her agency is only realised by dictating to the others - even when they are often more experienced and knowledgeable than she is. Elena from Vampire Diaries frequently forces Stefan and Damon to accept her ridiculous plans. Jayne (oh thee of faux french names) from the Blacksun’s Daughter Series knows she should not be in command and yet still leads around the experts; making reckless plans that needlessly risk other people’s lives.

Another common element of Spunky Agency is poor impulse control - or outright random violence. Keillie Riviere from The Hoodoo Series so epitomises this that we’ve actually named the trope after her. To prove how strong and confident and determined she is, she punches people. She punches Augustin, the leader . while she may be the most in need of anger-management therapy or some goal time she’s hardly alone. How many times has Anita Blake got up in someone’s face at the slightest provocation?

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do Black Women in Afros Date White Guys?

Do Black Women in Afros Date White Guys, is written by Halima Anderson, the blogger who also writes, Black Women's Interracial Relationship Circle. It is not an accident that the URL for this blog is I am going to tell you upfront that I have not read this book, nor do I have any intention of doing so ever.  I am writing about it based on the synopsis that can be found on her blog.


"Do Black Women with Afros date White Guys?"

About the Book
Are you a white man who is beginning to think about what it could mean to date a black woman?
Or, have you had a puzzling experience with a black woman or two and would like some idea of their views on white guys? Do you want to get clued up in general about their feelings on race, on relationships and even on interacting inter-racially? Could you do with a bit more understanding of black women by exploring key social realities for them as a group and the social expectations placed upon them by their communities and by the wider society?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then this book will get you off to a good start!

The aim of this book is to lay a knowledge foundation that will assist genuine white men in a better understanding of the black women they interact with socially, and the many reactions they might encounter, so they can forge successful relationships and friendships with black women.

Written in an easy question and answer format, the book is also interspaced with full chapters dealing with issues like; why black women and white men appear disinterested in each other, how to get connected, the background on the current fraught relationship situation between black men and women, how third parties affect interracial dating, racism and working through your own issues around race. 
What a pile of essentialist crap.  First off, I don't understand how Halima Anderson, a Black woman, would think for one minute that it is appropriate to lump Black women into a group to sell a book.  This book makes it appear that we all think alike, and share the same experiences, simply based on the colour of our skin.  All women of colour may confront racism, but identities such as class, ability, sexuality, or age, greatly change how we perceive the world, and how the world perceives us.  As a cis woman, I can guarantee you that my experiences are different than a straight Black trans woman.

White Marine Vet Intervenes When Black Passengers Use the N Word

'BEST OF THE MARINE CORPS - May 2006 - Defense Visual Information Center' photo (c) 2006, Expert Infantry - license:

The media and blogs have all been a tizzy over the story of a White marine who got into a physical altercation with Black passengers on a bus when he asked them to stop using the word nigger and referring to White women as, "White bitches."

Usher's Ex Wife Tameka Takes Her Homophobia to Twitter

I don't know what Usher saw in this woman.  She seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.  Tameka Raymond decided to take to twitter to talk about her feelings on the oft discussed "down low."

 I really feel that the 'undercover' gay guys that LOOK str8 should wear a bright wristband. Cuz this isn't really fair.  Timbs. caps. vests?

Oh no she didn't.  The very idea of suggesting that gay men should wear markers to publicly identify them is absolutely disgusting.  Has the woman never taken a history lesson in her life?  There was a time when gay men were forced to wear pink triangles and that resulted in their internment in concentration camps and wholesale slaughter.  As a woman of colour she should know that such public identification of marginalized bodies is absolutely wrong.  How would she feel if she was forced to going back to carrying a pass signifying that she has permission to be where she was, as Blacks had to do during slavery?  What about the passbooks that Blacks had to carry during apartheid? 

These bracelets that she suggests are a mechanism of control and it is a reflection of her straight privilege that she could take to twitter with such a hateful suggestion. Gay men present no threat to her and that is doubly so for one who is closeted.

Tameka's comments imply that closeted people are being deceptive and this of course is a common meme aimed at gay men. It did not even occur to her that it is the culture of heterosexism that causes gay men to lead closeted lives.  Being read as gay in certain circumstances is enough to lead to things like discrimination in housing, employment and violence and even death.

Thankfully, Tameka was rightfully called out for bigotry and instead of apologizing and attempting to educate herself like a moral human being she not only went on the defensive, but a full out attack.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Openly Gay, Niagara Falls High School Student Inspires Protest After Being Told to Remove his High Heels

'High heels' photo (c) 2010, Markusram - license:

Why is it the moment a child appears to be gender non-conforming that the status quo always attempts to force change by claiming that the child in question is a distraction? Tyreese Maye likes wearing what he refers to as, "girl shoes," and thought that it would not be a problem for him to wear high heeled shoes, because the girls wore them.  Well what is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.

"I wore some high stiletto red heels and I had many girls wear them, too, just to see who they would pick out first. I didn't even last a period because I went to breakfast and they told me to take them off. It was an administrator and he told me to take them off and I told him, 'Tell this girl to take her heels off.' And he said, 'No, I'm making you take yours off first.' And I said, 'That's not fair,'" said Maye.

He first refused to take them off, but gave in after he says he was threatened with suspension in the principal's office.

Student Autumn Gotel said, "I had on heels yesterday all day long; they let me wear them walking up and down the stairs all day. There's about five or six of my friends had on heels they didn't say anything. They say the reason Tyreese couldn't wear his heels was because it was distracting."

Maye argued, "How is this a distraction? There are girls that are half-naked in school. That's a distraction."

Administrator James Spanbauer says it was partly a safety issue in case of a fire in the four-story building.

"I would say there probably are some students who go through the day without us addressing, but our intention is to keep everybody safe and administer the Code of Conduct equally across the board and we do the best we can with 1,900 students and when we see things that are inappropriate we address it," said Spanbauer, who denied there was a double-standard for boys wearing heels.

Shit White Girls say ... to Black Girls

Okay, I have to tell you that this video had me cracking the hell up.  Any Black woman can tell you a multitude of stories of overtly racist things said to them by their White girlfriends and this video montage hits quite a few of the most common.  It start the talented and outrageously funny Franchesca Leigh Ramsey. For those White people who are shocked by this video, yes, White people do at times say the most racist things.


Why Paula Patton Should Not Allow Husband Robin Thicke To Speak on Interracial Love

'Robin Thicke' photo (c) 2011, sergio_leenen - license:
Essence magazine recently published an interview with singer Robin Thicke about his relationship and six year marriage to actress Paula Patton.  If I were Patton, after reading that interview, Thicke would be couch surfing, until he learned the good sense that good gave cabbage.  Being in an inter racial relationship for over 20 years, I can tell you that they take work and there is continuously outside pressure, no matter how long you have been together as a couple.  Not only is it important that you both work to grow together as a couple, race is something that continually needs to be negotiated.  Even after 20 years in a relationship, it would not be worth my time to invest in brochure printing, or e-publishing to create a guide, because while all couples will experience some of the same problems, many of the issues are dependent upon how much work each person has invested into understanding race and gender dynamics.  There can be no guide because no one group is a monolith. I know that it is romantic to think that love solves all, but it would naive to think it is some magical elixir for understanding racial dynamics, as we will see in the following comments.

First and foremost, it must be understood that it is Black women that listen to and support Thicke's music and therefore some of his comments must have been made with that in mind, especially considering that this terrible interview took place in Essence magazine. The first thing that Thicke does is establish his difference from Black men:
What I realize about the difference between me and my peers -- you know, Chris Brown and Drizzy Drake and all my musical peers -- is that they haven’t been with the same woman for 18 years and I’ve been with a Black woman for 18 years. I’ve never dated a White woman. Don’t want to. I’ve never been on a date with a White woman.
You'll notice how he pledges his love and respect of Black women, and makes a point of saying that two Black men have not done the same.  What is this but divide and conquer? His attraction to Black women reads like fetishism to me. If that does not creep you out enough, he goes on to say that he and Patton refer to each other as mommy and daddy.  He claims this is because they both have issues with their parents, but to me, an outsider, a White man calling a Black woman mommy, brings up images of mammy and all of the negative history that it entails. In this case however, mammy is also a sexy beast.

When asked what he would whisper in his wife's ear, he had the following to say:
I can’t wait to get you home and love you up for two to three hours. I like to try to get her into double-digit orgasms as much as possible. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when I’ve got my mojo and my swag, it happens. Every few months it’s just like bam -- repeated. Repeated! I like her to just be going crazy in the bedroom.

In Defense of the South

"An autonomous, analytical, adopted, anarchist, atheist who likes the letter A."

There were a couple of interesting pieces out in the last week. One was an outsider’s view of  southern plantation tourism, where slavery is never mentioned and everyone wants to be Scarlett O’hara. The other article was written by a southern woman who pushes back on the usual northern/western/coastal take on the South.

Reading the articles made me think of how many times I find myself defending the South from people who “hate” it, despite the fact that many of those haters have spent little or no time there.

Technically, I’m from the South. But South Floridians don’t really think of themselves as southern. Southern people are those backwards, redneck, white supremacist, country bumpkins. South Florida is urban, suburban, diverse, Latino, Caribbean… Right?

Except that Florida is the South. You can find all of the southern stereotypes in Florida, even South Florida, if you know where to look. I mean I grew up in a suburb called Plantation for Pete’s sake. But you can also find pretty much everything else in Florida. I think maybe I thought Florida was the southern exception, but it isn’t. The South is much more complicated than movies, television, and pundits would have us believe.

Not every person who lives in the South is a white supremacist. Even if every white southerner was a white supremacist, not every person in the South is white. Damn near 40% of the state of Mississippi is black.  Damn near 40% of the state of Texas is Latino. There are indigenous communities and immigrant communities. There are incredibly rich people and incredibly poor people – with all kinds of backgrounds.

I’ve run into a cafe full of Guatemalans in the middle of Arkansas. I’ve seen the former cronies of Papa Doc throwing their cash around in New Orleans. I’ve learned Spanish colonial history at a Seminole reservation. And I’ve watched an Asian family learn about John Brown at Harpers Ferry. All of it in the South.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tampon Company Uses Transphobia to Market Their Product

I know that I am late to this, and that many of you may have already seen this commercial, or read commentary about it, but in good conscience, I felt that I had to throw in my two cents as it were.

Two women are standing at the mirror of a public bathroom. The trans woman on the left is heavily made up, while the cis woman on the right's make is very understated. They both begin to apply mascara with each taking turns looking at each other. They then proceed to both apply lip gloss with negative looks being exchanged.  The cis woman on the right pushes up her breasts and then the trans woman on the right does the same, with her clearly larger bosom. The cis woman is clearly frustrated by what appear to be her inability to compete and so she smiles and pulls a tampon out of her purse and waves it at the trans woman.  The trans woman gives her a dirty look, throws her purse over her shoulder and leaves.  The tag line there appears: Libra gets girls, love libra.

This add is so blatantly transphobic and sexist that it's disgusting. Let's start with the most obvious suggestion, the idea that menstruating defines you as a woman.  I am so sick and tired of this ridiculous suggestion.  First, not all cis women menstruate.  There are plenty of women who have to take medication in order to have a period to get pregnant, and of course those of us who do menstruate regularly will eventually reach menopause. The idea of menstruating defining womanhood means that plenty of cis women would be excluded.  Menstruation as the determinant of womanhood is a fallacious argument at best.

This argument is further sexist because it reduces woman to the ability to bleed once a month.  Seriously?  Is that all there is to say about women?  It is extremely reductive and offensive. I also think it is worth mentioning that the idea that women are always looking for opportunities to compete with each other is sexist.  Who stands in a bathroom and compares themselves to another woman so blatantly? From my experiences, most people simply want to do their business, clean up and leave as fast as possible. 

Homophobic Commentary Does not Deserve a Polite Response

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, in the aftermath of the holidays, I’m pondering again on the nature of “good manners” and “rudeness”

No no, I’m not just repeating a post I made a long time ago.

No, I’m actually wondering when “polite”  became a matter of whether you used an angry tone or not? I’m confused at this idea that absolutely anything can be polite so long as you say it nicely? Or so long as you use the right words?

See, after the joys of the holiday season (my pills, oh my pills how you saved me) I have irritated many more family members with my rudeness. And I’m somewhat bemused here as to why I’m considered the rude one.

I question, for example, how it could be anything less than rude to say “you’re 30 now, shouldn’t you stop playing and start a real family?” to anyone. I really don’t see how that can be expressed in a manner that isn’t considered so shockingly rude that it would cause a hundred Victorian ladies to faint in fluster of petticoats.

“Death of the Tragic, Scientifically Less Attractive, Unmarriable, Single Black Woman Narrative”

Teaching a Child to Refer to her Genitalia as the C Word

'I made this clay vagina for a guy I was dating this past summer.' photo (c) 2011, Loretta Lime - license:

Every parent eventually has to make a decision regarding what to teach their children about their genitalia.  Some people simply cannot bear to give their children the correct anatomical names and instead make up cutesy nick names for them.  In doing so, what they don't recognize, is that they are introducing the idea of shame when it comes to both the physical body and sex and sexuality.  As the years pass, it sends a strong message that certain body parts are dirty and not to be spoken of.

The unhusband and I made the decision to tell our sons that they had both a penis and testes. This should not have been a controversial decision; however, when they entered school, one teacher  asked my oldest son to refer to his genitalia as his wee wee, because his forthrightness about his body made her uncomfortable. What should seem like a straight forward decision, can at times become complex depending on the people that you and your child interact with.

I recently came across the story of a feminist dad who decided to push the envelop when it came to talking to his daughter about her genitalia.
I really never thought this would happen. I had a vision that I was going to be able to raise my kids differently than anyone ever had, that they’d grow up free of racial prejudice and television and only wearing pink and all the other bad stuff that’s wandered into the head of any other kid, ever.

Sadly, that is not always the situation. Case study #1: Language.

In college I read Inga Muscio‘s amazing book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. (I was a feminist! I was the only guy in Womyn’s Issues Now! I could do anything!) Essentially, the point of that book was that the word “cunt” used to be an honorific term for the female ruler of a country, whereas the word “vagina” is an Old English Latin word meaning “sheath for a sword.” And, in the earliest days of changing nappies and learning how female people wipe, I was quick to teach my gurgling baby proto-feminist girl to say “cunt!” instead of “vagina” — or instead of whatever other term you’d use.

No matter what anyone else said, or how they looked at me when I said it. In fact, because of how they looked at me when I said it. (source)
I think there is a good argument to made that teaching a little girl to refer to her genitalia as only a vagina, is teaching her to refer only to a specific part of her anatomy.  It is based in the idea that the only part of our genitalia that matters, is the opening that allows penetration by a man.  I would fully support teaching a child to use vulva instead; however,  I believe that cunt is not the appropriate choice to thwart the limiting social construction of what female genitalia signifies.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Goodbye

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 was both flattered and honored when Renee contacted me and asked me to become a guest blogger on Womanist Musings approximately two years ago. I love this site, and I love the diverse community of bloggers and readers that Renee has brought together. Writing for Womanist Musings has been a highlight of the last twenty-four months.

Unfortunately, I have told Renee that I can no longer be a regular blogger (I will always remain a regular reader). My life has gotten a little out of hand, and I need to downsize and pare down some of my commitments. 

In 2011, I started teaching at the community college level and found it to be wonderful, but challenging and time-consuming. I also intend, in early 2012, to finish the book that I have been working on and had hoped to finish by now. In addition, I have some other part-time jobs (community college is a labor of love, not money).

Renee has been an incredible person to work with. She has been very generous about not censoring what I write, while still letting me know how I might be coming across to readers. This is such a valuable blog highlight so many different points of view and experiences that I wish everyone out there in cyberspace would discover it. 

Renee has let me know that I can submit posts to her in the future, and I really appreciate that. She has given me a fantastic platform, not only to spout off on trans issues, but on other topics that have meaning for me. I will be forever grateful, both to her and to the people who have read and commented on my posts. Please feel free to stop by my own blog, Tranifesto, any time. Everyone is welcome. 

Your unborn baby — or your job.

'Rep. Antonio and Others Stands Up for Womens’ Rights ' photo (c) 2011, ProgressOhio - license:
The year is 2012 and women's reproductive choices are still up for debate.  There are two sides to every story but if the following if true, it is extremely disturbing.
Catherine Rizzo, 25, says there was no way to misinterpret her supervisor’s ultimatum at Cooky’s Deli in Bohemia in May.

“The owner’s daughter pulled me in the office, and basically told me if I didn’t have an abortion, I wasn’t going to have a job,” Rizzo told The Post in a tearful interview.

“It was very, very clear,” she said.

“I have two other kids I have to take care of, and I needed my job,” Rizzo added.

Cooky’s Deli owner Martin Marsilio, 69, vehemently denied the allegation, calling it “a total lie.”

The struggling single mom said she was barely getting by on the $400 to $500 a week she earned at the deli counter — and knew she couldn’t afford to lose her job.

“As a direct result of this serious threat, approximately one week later, [I] was forced to terminate [my] pregnancy,” Rizzo charged in a lawsuit filed on Dec. 19 in Brooklyn federal court. She seeks unspecified damages.

The unthinkable choice capped months of harassment, Rizzo said.

A co-worker regularly cursed at her, pushed her and told Rizzo she was “a lowlife and a bad mother,” the Sayville woman claimed in her lawsuit. (source Note: comments are disturbing)
I originally found this story at Clutch Magazine, where there was significant doubt expressed about the validity of Rizzo's claims.  We already know that women are discriminated against in the workplace, if they express any desire to have children, or simply based on fact that they are of reproductive age.  We also know that women with children are also penalized for not being able to dedicate the same time as other employees in the form of long hours.  Mothers are the ones most likely to take time off when a child is sick.  The truth of the matter is that women with children are continually penalized though we claim that children constitute a protected class. This can result in anything from firing, to denial of promotions as well as unequal pay with their male co-workers.

It is quite reasonable to assume that her employer simply informed her that if she took maternity leave with this present child, that she would not have a job waiting for her when she returned. One need not express a demand that an abortion occur to force an abortion to happen. Though this is an illegal demand to make of an employee, many employers will push right pass the law, if they believe that they can get away with it.

Another Innocent Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

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

I am a little late to this story due to the Christmas hiatus, but I still believe that it is worthy of discussion.    

Sentenced to life in prison in November for armed robbery, LaDondrell Montgomery insisted he was not the shadowy figure on surveillance video. He swore the eyewitness identifying him were flat wrong.

If only the 36-year-old habitual offender had an alibi. If only he could remember exactly where he was that day of the robbery.

A week after jurors sentenced Montgomery, his attorney was researching the felon's lengthy rap sheet.

In that file was a report that had details about a 2009 arrest and an iron-clad alibi: He was in jail.

Released from custody about nine hours after the December 13, 2009 crime, Montgomery was actually innocent.

"We didn't know," said attorney Ronald Ray after the conviction was thrown out Thursday. "We didn't learn that until several days after the trial."

Ray said Montgomery was in and out of custody so many times he did not remember exact dates. The defendant even testified in his trial and never brought up the startling fact.

"He couldn't remember. We asked him where he was on all the cases he's been charged with," Ray said. "He just couldn't remember, for that particular date, where he was." (source)
I don't for one minute believe that LaDondrell Montgomery is a good man, considering his lengthy criminal record, but I do believe that he is both a product of our society and our warped criminal justice system. I suspect this is yet another incident in which Montgomery was failed. 

Let's begin with the fact that he was convicted of a crime he didn't commit.  We have all seen the news reports where inmates have been set free thanks to DNA evidence and the work of Project Innocence. In Montgomery's case, all that was required was a simple look through his rap sheet, and this is something that his attorney and the prosecution both failed to do.  Each person is promised a defense, but what they are not promised is a good defense.  The prosecution is not interested in anything exculpatory and simply seeks to convict. They feed quite like sharks, single minded in their approach and ignorant to anything outside of their very restrictive purpose. This of course makes historically marginalized people particularly vulnerable.  They are like chum in the water. 

Imperialism by another name

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.
Is still imperialism. Recently, my (and many others’) Facebook and Twitter feed was full of people happily congratulating the USA and Hilary Clinton for this  regarding queer rights in the big, wide world. Most of the commentary I’ve read has been all happy about how great this is...