Saturday, February 18, 2012

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hey everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  I think that there were some really great conversations that challenged a lot of what has become normal discourse.  Please remember, we cannot always agree but it is important that we stay respectful and committed to listening to each other. Talking at each other, rather than to each other, get us nowhere.

I am still looking for new contributors.  Though I can write about a myriad of things, we all learn best from the people directly negotiating a particular ism.  I am particularly looking for someone to discuss fatphobia and class critically but I am very open to other ideas. Please be aware that womanist musings also has an open guest posting policy, so please feel free to submit a piece or a cross post from your blog.  You can reach me at womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com

Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting this week.  Please be aware that a link does not necessarily mean an endorsement of the article, just simply that I found something about the piece interesting.  Please be aware that I don't read the comment sections so read those at your own risk.  Well start spreading the love, and when you're done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot and leave your link behind in the comment section when you are done.

Unpacking the Fat: People Like Me
real women
Human Monstrosities: Vampires and Villainism
29 Days on Drugs – Day 10: Another FAST Track to Nowhere
Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People
Naming Marriage Between People Of The Same Sex
Lady GaGa's Patriarchal Bargain
School's Out: Honor Codes and Dress Codes
Post-Racial Update: Blacks Receive 60% Longer Criminal Sentences than Whites
flowers in February are haraam
Oh you don't know why Rihanna complained? 
Women bearing cleavage accused of “biological sexual harassment”
Universal Design Does Not Mean Ugly Design
Content theft and free blogging
Shocked headline as fat disabled woman has fun
The Lynching of Willie Earle
What “Rape Sonograms” Are Really About
All Brown Girls Have a Story
29 Days on Drugs – Day 13: Slavery by another Name
Two kinds of whiteness: reimagining white people in fantasy and science fiction
Native Mother Attacked and Beaten in Alleged Hate Crime, DA Doesn’t See It
What If H.B. 56 is Alabama & More?
Job ‘Support’ Programmes and Enforced Poverty

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lost Girl: not as Gay Friendly as it Seems.

There has been a lot of talk about how progressive the Showcase/Syfy show Lost Girl is.  What stands out to many is the fact that not only is there a same sex relationship, there is even a same sex love triangle. There is a ton of GLBT erasure in urban fantasy, even when a show is set in a city like San Francisco, (yes I am looking at you Charmed) gay people are erased.  When they do appear, they often fall into the trope of a bff, and they are decidedly celibate.  Considering this, at first blush, it makes Lost Girl appear to be positively transcendent, and this is specifically why we must take a critical look at the same sex relationships.  Just  because Lost Girl  has one bisexual character, and two lesbians who actually engage in sex, does not make the portrayals perfect. In other words, faulty inclusion does not make up for erasure.

From almost the very beginning of the show it was clear that Bo and Lauren had some pretty heavy chemistry.  Because Bo is a Succubus, she was extremely worried about draining her lovers to death, and it was Lauren who taught her to control this.  These lessons in control included some extremely sexy kisses, and it wasn’t long before fans were beginning to wonder when and if Lauren and Bo would consummate their relationship. Sadly, it was not to be the great scene we imagined and problems abound. The very first time that they had sex, though Lauren claimed to care about Bo, it was because she was ordered to so by the old Ash as a distraction.  The fact that their first sex act was forced, tainted their interaction.  It also fed horribly into the meme of women having sex at the behest or benefit of a man, because sex between two women is only acceptable if it benefits a man in someway.

In fact, the foundation for Bo and Lauren’s relationship from the very beginning has been fraught by deception. Bo didn’t even know Nadia existed for a very long time setting the whole relationship up on a very dubious foundation. There has continuously been something deceptive about Lauren and yet we are supposed to be excited every time to the two of them get it on. The second, and last, time Bo and Lauren have sex, is when we learn that Lauren has a girlfriend - yet more deception. Bo and Lauren have not been allowed to have a moment of intimacy without there being something dark and deceitful casting a shadow over it.

When it comes to Bo having sex with women other than Lauren, I can recall 2 incidents.  In the first she had a threesome with a man and a Fury. And why does she go have sex with them? Why because Dyson (the real relationship) just turned her down. And it all ends up with everyone but Bo dead.

And then Ryan gets her a woman as a gift (do we even have to say how wrong that is?) for her to perform with in front of him (more on this later). These are what we have for same-sex relationships.

Compare this with her relationship with men. Bo/Dyson has been written in the stars since the very first episode. They have definite attraction - and affection - for each other. Dyson cares so much for Bo he is willing to sacrifice everything for her to the Norn - and from that we have proof of his love - because he cannot love anyone else. From the very beginning their love has been dramatic, epic, star-crossed and based on deep mutual love, mutual desire with nothing bringing them together but their love for each other. In essence, this big dramatic love makes it clear that it is primary and any others are just distractions from the true, real opposite sex relationship.

Even Bo’s relationship with Ryan is based on greater honesty than her relationship with Lauren. Ryan may be irresponsible, selfish, reckless, immoral and deceptive - but he has never been anything but honest with Bo about his intentions. Their relationship may have problems but it has always been honest and based on mutual attraction and desire; not the deception and secrets that Lauren and Bo had. Or, for that matter, that lie between Lauren and Nadia since Lauren cannot tell her about her relationship with Bo or about the fae, working for fae or being owned by the Ash.

There is also a bemusing reluctance to actually use any of the language of GBLT people. In fact, in the Syfy interview the actors are proud that they have deliberately avoided using the words lesbian, gay or bisexual.:

Anna Silk: Yeah. And I love that on the show too, we don't - it's not talked about as a same-sex relationship.

Zoie Palmer: It just is one, yeah.

Anna Silk: It's not one could be - yeah, it's just - it's a relationship, and that's that.

Zoie Palmer: The Coke and gay thing or the - it's just the - there is - yeah, that's cool. It's that there's just in the relationship, whichever - whatever it looks like, however it...

Anna Silk: Yeah.

Zoie Palmer: the way that Dyson and Bo are in one, and it's never discussed on the show...

Anna Silk: Yeah.

Zoie Palmer: ...which I love too. I think that's great.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

PeTA Advertises That Sex Which Harms Women is a Reason to go Vegan

Longtime readers of Womanist Musings are well aware from my repeated posts on PeTA that I absolutely loathe them.  There is no ism that they are unwilling to engage in, in order to get attention.  The fact that their tactics routinely hurt marginalized people, is something that PeTA justifies by claiming that the ends justifies the means; and therefore; the harm done by their tactics is insignificant in comparison to ongoing animal cruelty.

In their latest debacle, PeTA has created an ad which tells men that if they go vegan, that they will have the ability to have such wild sex, that it is possible to physically hurt their girlfriend. They have even given the phenomenon a name - BWVAKTBOOM (Boyfriend when vegan and knocked the bottom out of me).  It is described in the video as "a painful condition that develops when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star." They do however suggest that people visit their site to learn to go vegan safely. 

Apparently Jeremy Lin is the Knicks Personal Fortune Cookie

The Knicks are on a winning streak and there has been much excitement over Jeremy Lin, the first Taiwanese-American to play in the NBA. What better way to make Lin feel welcome than to remind him he still considered an "other." MSG decided to display the image below as part of their coverage on the game.

Who says that Asian people don't face racism because they are the so-called good minority?  You pick the race and there is a racist stereotype to go with it. Do I even need to say more about this image?

Ellen Musk: "Everybody is racist in some way or another."

'AUSTRALIA' photo (c) 2011, marc falardeau - license:

For as many ways as there are to do racist thanks  and use racist language, there is a method of justification, which keeps Whiteness from acknowledging their behaviour, and the harm that it causes.  This justification also takes the form of excusing Whiteness from any responsibility for the continued racial imbalance.  After all, everyone knows that being called a racist, is far worse than living with racism.
The only thing more disturbing than Australian model Ellen Musk's recent Facebook posts calling indigenous Australians "c--ns" and "n--gers" is her clueless reaction to the backlash against them.

The 18-year-old told the Northern Territory News newspaper, "People think that I am a horrible racist person, but everybody is racist in some way or another."

She then explained that she was referring to indigenous neighbors who kept her awake late at night. "I don't have anything against indigenous people unless they're rude or carry on like that," she added. [source: please note that the title of this piece is ableist]
So, this racist twit's response is that because everyone is racist, it's okay for her to use racist slurs and debase her neighbours.  I wonder if everyone was setting themselves on fire because it was the new in thing to do, if she would be as quick to participate? Somehow, I think that Musk would stop and think about the sensibility of this action.  When it comes to racism, Musk does not have to stop and think because it benefits her.  Each time a person of colour is attacked, or put in their place, it solidifies the hegemony of Whiteness.

I Apologise

Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled Dear GLBT Community, Whitney Houston Just Died, Give it a Rest Please.  I was called out in the comment section by two different people and upon further reflection, I realize that they were right.  The title of this post is absolutely offensive.  I blamed the entire community for the actions of one.  That was absolutely a reflection of my privilege and I wholeheartedly apologize to all those who I offended.

It is quite ironic that I made this mistake this week, considering a conversation I just engaged in with my BFF about the necessity of seeing ourselves as individuals.  To give you an extremely rough idea, he was in a situation in which a Blatino decided to use the word nigga in front of a largely White audience and he felt shame, because he saw it as a reflection of himself. At the time, I pointed out that only bigots think that one person can represent the entire Black community, and that anyone who associated him with the man in question was most assuredly a bigot.  These words passed my lips approximately 72 hours ago, and yet I turned around and did exactly the same thing with the title of my post. I knew better and still yet I showed the world my ass.

Thank you to those who called out my mistake and for taking the time to force me to question my actions.  I have always said that the Black community is not a monolith, but in many ways I think I have been guilty of seeing the GLBT community as one.  It's a case of not practicing what I preach and it amounts to hypocrisy.  This is one area of my privilege that I definitely need to get a handle on.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dear GLBT Community, Whitney Houston Just Died, Give it a Rest Please

'From the beginning, the camera and I were great friends. It loves me, and I love it. --- Whitney Houston' photo (c) 2012, UggBoy♥UggGirl [ PHOTO // WORLD // TRAVEL ] - license:

I understand the need to have positive representations of your identity. This is particularly the case for the LGBT community, whose history has been hidden, and in many cases erased. I do however take issue with outing someone days after they have died, before they have even been buried.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has expressed his sadness at the death of Whitney Houston – and claimed that she was happiest during a lesbian relationship.

The comments came the following day after Houston, 48, was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel.

“Whitney Houston RIP. She was happiest and at her peak in the 1980s, when she was with her female partner. They were so loved up and joyful together,” Tatchell wrote on social networking site Facebook. 

“It’s important to tell the truth about this aspect of her life. Colluding with the cover-up of her same-sex relationship is not right."

He is referring to Houston's rumour-sparking friendship with Robyn Crawford, whom she described as the "sister she never had".

Their relationship was dogged with lesbian rumours, which they always denied. [source and emphasis mine]
Look, there have long been rumors that Whitney may have engaged in a same sex relationship however, when asked about it, she publicly denied it.  Deciding to assert her sexuality after her death is absolutely without class and shows zero respect for her agency.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being gay, but I am saying that it is wrong to publicly out someone within days after death, with the full knowledge that the person in question publicly denied being in a same sex relationship.  Exactly how does this show any kind of respect for her person?

Is That Really The 10 Greatest Gay Spokespeople of All Time?

An editor at Ranker. com recently sent me a link to one of their posts, which they assumed I would be interested in sharing with my readership.  The post is basically a list of the 10 Greatest Gay Spokespeople of All Time.  Here they are, in the order in which Ranker placed them.

'dscn2340' photo (c) 2006, Alan Light - license:

'Elton John 2011 Shankbone' photo (c) 2011, David Shankbone - license:

'Rosie O'Donnell' photo (c) 1995, Alan Light - license:

'_DSC6916-1 cor1' photo (c) 2010, Beth Madison - license:

'Neil Patrick Harris Time Shankbone 2010' photo (c) 2010, David Shankbone - license:

'Jane Lynch' photo (c) 2008, Greg Hernandez - license:

'Stephen Fry up' photo (c) 2011, Ντάνκαν - license:

'Alan Cumming' photo (c) 2011, CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK - license:

From Top to Bottom: Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Sean Hayes, Rosie O'Donnell, George Takei, Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Lynch, Stephen Fry, Alan Cumming, Paul Marcarelli

As a straight woman of colour, it's not place to decide whether or not the people on the list should be honoured.  This is something for the gay community to decide on their own. What I can however say is that there are some extremely obvious imbalances, which once again confirms that regardless of the marginaliztion being discussed, that there is a tendency to privilege some identities over others.  Rather than say what I see as wrong, I am going to ask you what jumps out at you when you peruse these images.

The Commodification of Blue Ivy Carter

Coming into the world as the first child of Jay-Z and Beyoncé, means that the unlike many little Black girls across the world, Blue Ivy Carter, was immediately understood to have value.  Of course by value, I don't necessarily mean any real respect for her person, but rather value in terms of her potential to make people a lot of money.  There has been a long history of claiming, constructing, and debasing Black women, and despite her privilege, Blue Ivy Carter, will not escape this. 

According to the Washington Post:
On Jan. 26, new parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect the baby’s name — and reserve it for a future line of baby carriages, baby cosmetics, diaper bags and other undoubtedly fabulous accoutrements for the fashion-forward infant.

In the superstar industrial complex, trademarking your baby’s name is just smart business. There all sorts of folks who might try to slap it on some tacky baby bib.

To wit: Fashion designer Joseph Mbeh, who submitted an application to trademark “Blue Ivy Carter NYC” on Jan. 11 — just four days after the baby was born. Another applicant filed on Jan. 20 for “Blue Ivy Carter Glory IV” to use on a line of fragrances. The trademark office has already denied both filings, saying the name belonged to a “very famous infant ” and consumers would falsely assume that the products were approved by the celebrity parents.

Mbeh, who intended to produce children’s dresses, skirts, and underwear using the name, issued a groveling statement after his Jan. 25 smackdown from the feds. A big misunderstanding!: He planned to pitch the idea to Beyoncé and Jay-Z and never, ever, intended to poach any of their baby bucks.

The application by BGK Trademark Holdings — Beyoncé’s company — is pending but is basically a done deal because parents are legally authorized to trademark the names of their minor children, experts say.  
I completely understand the desire to protect one's child from predators. Black children are often seen as surplus population, and in many cases are specifically directed on an educational path that does not lead to college or university.  They only become interesting or deemed valuable when a profit can be made from them.  Shortly after Barack became president, Sasha and Malia dolls were created by Ty Dolls, causing Michelle Obama to complain that this was unacceptable, even as the company denied that there was a connection. They in fact had the nerve to suggest that they simply liked the names. Uh huh.  Considering what happened to Sasha and Malia, it is understandable that Jay-Z and Beyoncé would want to stop someone from getting business cards printed, throwing up a shingle and shelling some cheaply made products with their child's name.

Appropriately Other

Nomade is a 23-year-old Mauritian graduate student living in the United States. She is interested in the areas of Francophone culture, bilingual identity and post-colonialism. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, painting and writing fiction.  

"...and you like the curry with the rice, yes?" insisted my cab driver as we discussed tastes in food. I had just said that I loved making ravioli and pizza but for some reason, he had looked at me strangely. When I didn't respond with much enthusiasm, he repeated himself, as though I had misunderstood - or was lying. He reminded me of people in college who had been disappointed to learn that hamburgers were not a novelty to me and that I didn't grow up on roti.

And of the people who would stare after hearing me speak, as though they had expected me to stumble over my words. Of my friends' parents who would speak extremely loudly and slowly, and then smile and comment on my language, as if they were paying me a compliment.

People of color aren't much better. After a short conversation, an old roommate's friend felt the need to inform me that I was a "whitewashed" Indian. People I grew up with tell me that I am being unfaithful to my "roots" by speaking French, ignoring that my grandmother is French and that it was an essential part of my childhood - and of our collective existence, French relatives or not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anti-racist billboards spark outrage

A twenty-something black woman fed up with the degradation and subjugation black women are faced with each day. It's time we stand up and demand better. It's time for a revolution! You can find me at my blog, New Black Woman.

Some residents in the overwhelmingly white city of Duluth, Minn., are up in arms over Un-Fair Campaign‘s anti-racist billboard blitz. One billboard residents are greeted with include:

The organization has partnered with a number of organizations to promote its message.

The campaign’s supporters, including mayor Don Ness, have taken a lot of heat for the campaign. However, Un-Fair Campaign is sticking by its message and points to Duluth’s glaring poverty as the culprit for such inequalities:
The Un-Fair Campaign, which launched with the billboards last month and so far has spent $4,600, didn’t set out to shock or offend people, although organizers are glad they got the community’s attention, said Ellen O’Neill, executive director of the YWCA of Duluth, one of the campaign’s 15 sponsors.

She said the sponsors, which also include several colleges, worked with a PR firm to come up with the messages, which they hope will help white people try to imagine what it’s like to be non-white in a place like Duluth, which is 90 percent white.

“It’s possible to never interact with a person of color here,” O’Neill said. “It makes the problem more invisible.”

O’Neill said the campaign is directed at people 18 to 30 years old because market research indicated that people of that age group were more likely to lead behavior-changing movements, such as anti-smoking or recycling campaigns.

She said the stakes are high because only 25 percent of Duluth’s black students and 34 percent of American Indian students graduate from high school in four years, compared with 80 percent of white students. Similarly, she said, census data indicate that only 18 percent of the city’s whites live in poverty, compared to 67 percent of blacks and 56 percent of American Indians.

“How is our community going to prosper and grow if such disparities exist?” she wrote in a recent op-ed article in the Duluth News-Tribune. “How can we accept such inequality?”

Sympathise don't Empathise!

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, I was talking about how Beloved’s parents aren’t exactly super-duper thrilled about be, or mine about him for that matter – and I was quickly informed by an empathetic person that they totally understood, they didn’t get on well with their in-laws either. See, they understood what it was to be rejected by your loved one’s family.

But it’s not a matter of my in-laws not liking me or my parents not liking Beloved. Even if Beloved or I were completely different men, our parents would still be hostile. We cannot have a relationship that would possibly meet their approval. Every potential relationship is wrong. It would actually be better for us not to have relationships, in their eyes, than have any of the relationships open to us. Our very capacity to love is flawed in their eyes. They weren’t just rejecting our partners, they were rejecting us. And that is so extremely different from your in-laws not liking you very much. 

I spoke about the difficulties of the closet and the evils it perpetuated on us. And someone told me how they understood because they were “closeted” about their political position (in fact. The Tories actually ran an advertising campaign based on the concept). 

See, they wanted to say, they understood how hard it was to be closeted, because they had to hide too!

Except there is a world of difference between political opinion and actual being. Except they didn’t have to live with constant societal rejection and invisibility. Except they didn’t have the shame and self-loathing and the history of conversion therapy, bullying, suicide, substance abuse, familial hatred and everything else that goes into the soul-destroying closet. They had none of this context behind them to make such a gross statement.

In Honour of Valentine's Day: The Wedding Dance

I am warning you right now, do not watch this video without kleenex, you will cry at the end.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Diaspora and the loss of language

 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. She also blogs at The Biyuti Collective and you can find her on Twitter: @JustBiyuti.

I feel like many of my posts at Womanist Musings have been about language. Particularly as it applies to trans issues... Although, I would like to spend a moment talking about language a little more generally since the limitations of english (and language in general) has been troubling me.

For those of us PoC born in an English speaking country, or in some other country where you end up speaking the colonizer’s language as your first (and, especially in NA, only) language. And the article (find link) noting that many trans* people dislike the terms or language available to those of us who speak english makes me think...

I do (poorly) speak a language that isn’t English, but I rarely get the chance to use it. Moreover, I only started learning (Mandarin) Chinese (in part) because Tagalog was unavailable to me (they don’t really teach it any where in NA other than the University of Hawaii). And I would still love the opportunity to learn it. Except, at this late juncture the thought of learning another language exhausts me and I’m not sure that I would have either the time or the energy to do so.

A Valentine's For Homophobes will give 5¢ for every Facebook “Share” & Twitter tweet of this video – up to $5,000 – to , a project that will give thousands of free “OK4U2BGAY” T-shirts to school kids to fight bullies, suicide and H8 in schools.

The Walking Dead Season Two, Episode Eight: Nebraska

This episode begins right where we left off, with Rick shooting Sophia and everyone standing and crying. As Hershel and his family head back to the house, Shane who is not dead, loses his top and starts screaming that they knew all along.  When he moves to get into Hershel's face, Maggie slaps Shane. This had me cheering because it's about time Shane got put into his place. I am sick and tired of him bullying people at will.  Of course, Shane who is not dead, is not content and accuses Rick of not handling the situation, because he believes that Rick had them out in the woods looking for a little girl that was dead all along.

As Andrea covers Sophia's body, Darryl approaches Carol in the RV.  In the house Glenn questions Maggie about Sophia being in the barn.  He tells her that this is for the best, and now they can move on. When Maggie asks what happens now, Glenn simply says that they will bury Sophia. It's so clear that what Maggie really wants to know is what Glenn's intentions are.  Outside they agree to bury the bodies of the ones they love and burn the rest. This is further proof of their detachment from the walkers.  At this point they are just monsters with no remnants of humanity attacked to them.

Laurie pulls Rick aside to offer words of  support.  She assures him that he did everything that he could. Considering Lori's history, this is obviously going to be temporary and in fact, I crack it up to shock at finding out that Sophia was in the barn all along.  Rick says that he is broken, because he believes that people are counting on him, but he had them chasing a ghost in a forest. Honestly, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.  Until some sort of resolution was found for Sophia, she always would have been an issue in the group. There would have been those who would never have forgiven him, had he halted the search for her.

When Shane goes to get the truck to move the bodies, Dale is staring at him.  Shane reminds Dale that he had the chance to shoot him and that he didn't.  He also makes a point of saying that he does not believe that Dale is doing enough to keep everyone safe. Things are clearly coming to a head between these two, but I don't see how far they can go, considering Dale has already made it clear that he will not shoot Shane. I think that if Dale continues making his hatred obvious, it will put a target on his back.  With the death of Otis, Shane has proven that he will always put his well being first.

With the exception of Carol, they all gather for the burial.  Carol feels that Sophia died a long time ago, and that she didn't go hungry, she didn't try to find her way back to them, and she didn't cry herself to sleep at night. Carol's pain in this scene was absolutely heartbreaking, and as a mother I found myself feeling her pain.  A parent is not supposed to outlive a child.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rest In Peace Whitney Houston

This morning I awoke to the extremely sad news that Whitney Houston had passed on. At first I assumed that Twitter was back to its games of declaring people dead, but when I came across the news at CNN, I could no longer deny the truth.

Growing up in a largely White neighbourhood, Whitney's release of her first album was a godsend. Finally, finally, the kids were singing the music of someone who looked liked me, and praising her as beautiful.  For me, in many way, Whitney was a princess. 

In recent years, her extremely public struggle with her addiction and her divorce from Bobby Brown had diminished her bright star.  There were performances in which she stumbled across the stage, leaving her fans wondering where her beautiful voice had gone, and if anything remained of the talent that so many had once embraced. 

Whitney may have be down, but she was not beaten.  She had recently released a new CD, and apparently had plans for a movie.  As I heard the news of her death, I could not help but wonder if the world realized the talent that we have all lost.  Whitney was far from a perfect woman, but it is absolutely undeniable that she left behind a legacy, in terms of her music, that will continue to give joy to all of those who are fortunate enough to hear her sing.  

Rest in peace, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest