Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is expected to be the biggest block buster of the year.The movie is based on the novel by the same name, written by Suzanne Collins.  It's directed by Gary Ross and stars, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Other notables include, Amandla Stenberg, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson.

The Hunger Games is set in a post apocalyptic North America, which has been divided into 13 sectors.  Each year, 24 tributes - 12 boys, and 12 girls are sent to fight to the death in the arena.  This is retribution for an uprising that occurred 74 years ago, and is supposedly meant to remind them of the horrors of war. When Katniss' sister Primrose is chosen, Katniss volunteers in her staid. Also chosen from district 12 is Peeta, the son of a baker.  Katniss and Peeta come from sector 12, which is a poor mining district.

They are provided with Haymitch, the only tribute ever to win from district 12 to train them.  Peeta understands immediately, that part of surviving is playing the game and being as likable as possible, while Katniss is only focused on the mechanics. Haymitch at first doesn't not seem very concerned with their well being and is only interested in getting drunk.

The capitol is very rich in comparison to the district. They have the latest in technology and the people seem to have time to groom themselves ridiculously. Katniss and Peeta prepare for the games, firm in the knowledge that only one of them will live, as there can only be one winner.  In the preparations, Katniss is stiff and it is only through the help of Cinna, the designer played by Lenny Kravitz that she manages to catch the crowds attention.

The novel is told entirely from Katniss' point of view, but the movie seems to tell the story without any introspection at all.  This gives the viewer no real reason to invest in Katniss or want her to win.  We know that she hunts for food, but we don't get any real sense of how hard her struggle is.  There is no background information on her relationship with Gale, and he could easily be her cousin, boyfriend or friend.  If I had not read the book, I would not have had any idea what their relationship was about.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Friday and the Question is?

It's been awhile since we have done one of these.  I chose this question because Sparky has committed a terrible faux pas and sided with the unhusband against me.  Just wait until the next time his husband gets under his skin and see if I come to his defense. Yes, power tools for everyone.

For the majority of the winter months, I am trapped in my home due to my fibromyalgia.  The cold weather causes my body to become just one big ache.  As soon as spring comes, other than being in the house to blog, I am out doing things.  Even if it's just taking my scooter to Niagara-on-the-Lake to feel the sun on my skin, I simply don't want to be in the house.  Part of this change involves getting my girl on.  I love makeup and I have a particular love for nail polish.  I currently keep my nail polish in a tool box, because I have so many and of course, I still want more.  I do my nails on a nightly basis.

The unhusband decided to complain about my massive collection. I was actually shocked, I mean what's 20-30 bottles between friends?  I thought for certain that Sparky would side with me on this one, but nope, he agreed with the unhusband and suggested I only need 3-5 bottles.  What would I do with 3-5 bottles of nail polish?  This btw is the number he factored in to match with my clothing on any particular day.  Now, of course the unhusband feels empowered that he finally found someone to agree with him and is running around the house crowing in victory.


I say again, Men!

This is why I was forced to get a female dog.  I need more estrogen in my life.

So the question is, what is the one thing that you do in your grooming ritual that you could not be without.  While you`re at it, feel free to tell Sparky and the unhusband how wrong they are.

Dialect and Prestige: Re-thinking basic French-language education

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.  

As a child, I would often spend Sunday afternoons at my grandmother’s. White, French and deliciously snobbish, she always made a point to correct any mistakes I made and to compare my pronunciation to my cousin’s. Unlike my cousin, I did not start life speaking French. It wasn’t until I was five that I hesitantly began to acquire the language, because although I had a Mauritian – and therefore Francophone – father, I had an Anglophone Kenyan mother. For many Sundays, I was acutely self-conscious about my way of speaking and made it my goal to be as native-like as possible. I met this objective in my late teens and for many years felt a blush of pride whenever a French person heard me speak and asked me whether I was French. It is only now, when I am completely at ease with the way I speak the language that I realize that modifying my accent wasn’t quite as essential as I once believed, and that there is a lot more to this experience than an insecure young girl and her comme il faut grandmother.

My grandmother is a product of our culture as are the French teachers who instruct students on how to pronounce words “correctly”. She is a product of a culture which places France at the centre and the rest of the Francophone world on the margins. She is the product of a culture that venerates the image of the White Parisian woman walking down the Champs Elysées speaking in the clipped tones typical of Paris with her Hermès scarf trailing behind her. She is the product of the same culture that urged me to imitate a piano teacher who was educated in France and develop a crush on him at the age of sixteen. Culture is pervasive, invasive. However, we are not powerless before it; culture doesn’t just happen at home or at street fairs. Culture is perpetuated through media and institutions like schools. This is why I propose making changes to the way college students are taught French, especially in introductory courses. These students are particularly impressionable and vulnerable to internalizing reinforced stereotypes about what it means to be “true” native speaker of a language.

The Friday Discussion: Katniss Everdeen: The Good Kind of Poor Person

This is a guest post. Tom Houseman was born white, straight, male, cis, and rich. He has done a lot of work unpacking and understanding his many forms of privilege. He is far from perfect, and still says wildly ignorant and inappropriate things on occasion, but he is learning. Mostly he just sits down, shuts up, and listens. He writes film reviews and analysis for

The Hunger Games is a great book, and its exploration of the impact of class, wealth, and status on the world, both socially and politically, is remarkably complex and mature for a work that targets a young adult audience. The ways in which the government dominates and subjugates the districts while placating the citizens of the capitol is fairly spot on as a allegory for modern society, although in The Hunger Games the government is the sole perpetrator of these wrongs, as there are no corporations in this communist dictatorship.

Our protagonist is Katniss Everdeen, who lives squarely under the heel of the boot of the capitol. She is one of the poorest citizens in one of the poorest districts, and yet she is able to fight back against the oppressive government and help lead the rebellion. She is smart, clever, self-reliant and brave. She is, in fact, everything you could ask for in a poor person.

Several people have written about the idea of good poor people vs. bad poor people. Elizabitchez sums it up very well regarding the idea that we have about how a poor person is supposed to act to earn our sympathy and respect. This is an idea that is true of many marginalized communities, especially the overweight. One of Chris Rock's most famous standup bits perfectly articulates the idea of the good black person vs. the bad black person (Black People vs. N***as). Rich people and conservative politicians have so many ways of arguing that poor people deserve to be poor if they can't pull themselves out of poverty (without quality education or healthcare, of course), and if any poor person embodies any of these characteristics, they are written off. But Katniss manages to avoid all of these pitfalls, which is why we have no reason not to care about her and root for her. Here are some of the reasons why Katniss Everdeen is the perfect poor person.

1. She is Young and Pretty
Thereby obviously making her more worthy of our attention than a poor person who might not have been born with similar aesthetic qualities or who is too old to be worth caring about. In the movie they even make her whiter (her skin color is described as “olive” in the books) just to increase our sympathy for her.

2. She is Articulate and Well Mannered
Katniss is very well spoken, both in her dialogue and in her first-person narration in the book. I do not know if Suzanne Collins intended for Katniss to have an accent. It is never implied in the books that she does and she does not have one in either the audio recording of the book or in the movie, despite the fact that District 12 is located in the Appalachian Mountains. Certain kinds of accents (Southern, Cajun, Cockney) are often associated with people who are poor and uneducated, and these people tend to be mocked for their accents. Having a General American accent precludes Katniss from this kind of ridicule.

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Whipping & Spanking Are Not Cultural Discipline, They’re Abuse

I have a new op-ed up at Clutch magazine

From Sinbad to Eddie Murphy, Black comedians have made largely Black audiences laugh by telling jokes about being whipped as a child, and this is because doing the dance with the belt, or in some cases whatever is handy, has very much been normalized in Black culture.  It is easier to turn these memories into comedic moments, than to deal with the emotional and physical pain that they caused, or the fact that physical violence between parent and child is a betrayal of trust.  I’d argue, the constant denial of harm is a form of social malaise.
Black parents are tasked with the job of ensuring that their children don’t become a statistic. White supremacy is not interested in educating or promoting advancement for our children, and is more than happy to place a Black child on a path which leads to incarceration, dropping out of high school and low paying jobs.  Being a Black parent is daunting — and for some — it leads to feelings of helplessness and desperation. Children raised with violence in their homes, are more likely to be violent themselves and become violent adults, thus becoming the manifestation of their parent’s worst fears.
According to Fox news, 40-year-old Yolanda Womack was arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent, when her son was forced to flee their home after being beaten with an extension cord for wearing sagging pants, in violation of his schools dress code policy. The fashion of wearing sagging pants originates in the prison population.  Clearly, this is not a positive fashion choice, or a good association for a child to make, but does it merit being whipped across the chest, back and face until he is forced to run to his neighbors to escape the abuse?
Reading the comments on the original article, as well as at Bossip, it is clear that there is a lot of support for Womack’s actions.  The chief defense employed by commentators is the fact that corporal punishment of children is very much a cultural phenomenon among African-Americans. Some see it as their Biblical responsibility as parents to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline. Parents who employ methods like time outs, verbal explanations, or groundings are often perceived as weak disciplinarians. Those who did find fault with Womack’s alleged actions largely limited their concern to the fact that the child’s face was involved in the physical altercation.
When 16-year-old Michael Taylor was whipped by his uncle Lamoine Ward, and forced to put the video on Facebook, as a refutation of his claims of gang affiliation, the positive responses were quite similar to those currently being given to Yolanda Womack.  Many thought that this action would set Taylor on the straight and narrow, and it was professed that kids need to be beaten to keep them in line.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Puberty, Sex Education and Heterosexism

'#  BORN THIS WAY  PUT PAWS Up!' photo (c) 2011, @martiinlurent - license:
Though I have a very open relationship with both of my children, I realize that there are going to be things that they will not want to talk to me about.  It could be something like a wet dream, or spontaneous erections, or it could be same sex attraction, being asexual or polyamourous. When you have children approaching puberty, it is my belief that as a parent, the number one gift we can give them is acceptance and assurance that we love them unconditionally.

I recently bought a few books on puberty for my son.  I know what it's like to go through puberty as a girl, but I obviously have no experience with dealing with puberty as a male.  It is absolutely vital that children receive the correct information so that they can make the decisions that best suit them.  I don't want him to feel shame about his changing body, or his sexual desires.  I want him to know that everything that is happening, and will happen is natural and normal.

I went through several books on puberty and the one thing that they all have in common is the complete and utter erasure of marginalized sexualities.  This insistence on talking about puberty through a very straight lens must be extremely othering to gay, poly, asexual or lesbian teens.  The authors in question may have felt that they were writing a one size fits all guide, but erasure means creating those outside of this very narrow norm as deviant.  Puberty is a very difficult time in the life of a teen, and those who are not straight or cis, are particularly persecuted.  These manuals through erasure teach them to believe every negative social construction of their identity.

As a straight cis woman, I most certainly do not have the answers.  Though I have done my best to let my children know that my love for them is unconditional, and that they can talk to me about anything, the absence of this necessary information means that there is a void in their education.  I have done my best to talk to them, but even as I do so, I am highly aware that my privilege is a huge stumbling block. These so-called guides to puberty and sexuality for children are perpetuating ignorance, not fighting it.

Our Murders Aren't Hate Crimes, They're Acts of Terrorism

'graveyard' photo (c) 2005, Emmett Tullos - license:
In the west, these days we are taught to think of terrorism as something fundamentalist religious Brown men do to us.  Ask the average person about terrorism and they will probably bring up 9-11.  I agree that it was horrendous that all of those people died; however, it is equally terrible that the common acts of terrorism go unacknowledged as such. Terrorism happens everyday within the borders of western nations, it simply goes unacknowledged, because its victims are those we have chosen to "other'.  Not all life is deemed equal or precious, no matter how much we profess this as truth.

Last night I was thinking about connections, or more specifically what I see as terrorism and realized that there are acts specifically designed to terrorize entire communities of people, based simply in their identity.  When these acts of violence happen, only one person dies, but the community is deeply effected and it becomes part of their / our communal psyche. They force us to admit that we are not safe and that we are often powerless in the face of hatred.

Being marginalized we learn that we must perform in a certain manner, if we are to have even the most remote chance of being deemed one of the acceptable minorities.  This may mean altering our speech pattern, ignoring barbs specifically designed to demean us, not doing anything that could potentially cause an association between us and stereotypes that assault our sensibilities, hiding our personhood and individuality -- and generally speaking -- as much as possible fade into the crowd.  To some degree all marginalized bodies perform and what more, most of us are conscious of what we are doing even as it occurs.  We do this in the hope that we won't be the next statistic.  We do this to avoid pain, and violence and yet the daily farce in the name of self preservation still hurts us deeply.

There are undeniable connections between Trayvon Martin, James Byrd, Brandon Teena, and Matthew Shepard. The isms these people faced in life were different; however, their deaths had the exact some effect on the communities to which they belonged - terror.  Trayvon, Brandon, James, and Matthew were killed for who they were and there was absolutely nothing that they could have done to avoid their terrible fate. Any gay man could potentially be Matthew, any trans* person could be Brandon, and any Black male could be Trayvon or James.  The only thing that separates us from them, is that we weren't in that location instead of them at the time of their death. With the news of each murder, we grieve for their families, we experience anger, and we experience fear.

Remembering the body police

WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns severalabayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.

It all came rushing back when I heard him screaming: "You're not a woman! You're a BEAST. B**** if I ever see you here again I'll f******* kill you!"

This was my home. My best friend lived down the street. I ate pizza and chips in this square every day. We were punks with tight black jeans and metal t-shirts. I wore a skull ring on my finger and shaved my head into little spikes, just because my mom wanted me to wear my hair curly and puffy in an unfortunately popular late 80s hairstyle.

To this day I have no idea what prompted the attack. I can only assume it was based on my looks. Moments before some of my friends met up with a group of high schoolers from a neighbouring town. We floated through saying "hey," trying to bum smokes. Someone gave me a cigarette. I lit it.

Then I felt spit on my head and some guy said "you look like a lint-brush." And that's when I found myself bleeding on the ground.

Fast forward to a local coffee shop in 2002. Two of my dear girl friends and I were enjoying coffee and cookies when I noticed a large man staring at me. Being one of four hijabis on campus, I didn’t think anything of it. I was used to the stares and the occasional ignorant or curious comment. I ignored him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scott Terry's Prop 8 Project

Terry created an amazing sculpture, using yeson8 campaign signs.  It is absolutely poignant and must be seen.

We Don't Need a Debate on Abortion in Canada

Those close to me know that I was absolutely disgusted when Harper was re-elected with a majority government.  I nearly took to my bed in sickness, but calmed myself when I remembered his promise not to re-open a debate around same sex marriage and abortion.  These are obviously issues that are extremely important to me, because they involve human rights - a subject that conservatives in Canada have a history of devaluing.  Harper as it turns out is just like any other lying politician.

OTTAWA — A controversial proposal from a Conservative backbencher to legally define fetuses as human beings — and reopen the abortion debate — will have its day in the House of Commons.
Tory MP Stephen Woodworth wants Parliament to create a committee of politicians whose task it will be to review a law that stops short of defining unborn children as “human beings.”
A committee of MPs has agreed to give Woodworth at least one hour of debate sometime in April. He will receive a second hour of debate sometime either in late spring or early fall.
If parliamentarians agree to Woodworth’s request, a special committee would review Section 223 of the Criminal Code, which says a child becomes “a human being . . . when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.” [source]

What in the world is there to debate?  Did the process of reproduction change in some way that I am not aware of?  Did women suddenly become incapable of making decisions about their own bodies and ability or desire to mother?  What Woodworth is suggesting is the removal of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.  His argument about when a fetus becomes a child is a specious attempt to remove women's agency and rights to control our own reproduction.  Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1998 and I see no reason for this to change, because some uptight over privileged White man has issues with women's freedom.  His comments about a child being aborted five minutes from birth are particularly specious, as late term abortion is not legal in Canada.  He is simply ringing the gong and hoping to pull heart strings in the hope of eradicating our reproductive choices.

A day in the life

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. She hails from Fresno, CA and is a poet and aspiring film maker. You can find her more personal writing on her blog.   

I love dancing in this city. It’s bright life and blatant debauchery make me feel at home and comfortable at being a contradiction myself. If you don’t know where I’m talking about, it doesn’t matter. It could probably be anywhere. The types of customers I entertain are the same everywhere I’ve been. And I don’t mean that in the allmenarepigs sort of way. But that my body, my identity, my job sometimes force reactions out of people that I can’t help but notice. I get two types of customers often. The ones that want an experience with someone different from them. Someone they would otherize in any other context not related to sex. And the other are what I call the saviors. They are just the men who want to whisk me away from the evil, soul-crush of the club. Probably to fuck me for free.

I’m the only Chicana in the club. The only one they’ve actually hired. Maybe the only one dancing on Bourbon street. I dance to Shakira sometimes because her music makes me feel like shaking my ass even on an empty Monday evening. But that explanation seems to get lost on customers who are there to fulfill fantasies. I get the what-are-yous? often and try to steer that conversation towards the private $30 booths in the back. I’ll tell you what I am while I grind on your lap. You’ll smile and say you knew it and tell me that i’m rare around here. Like a rare meat. Or laugh and say you thought I was “something more exotic like Asian.” Don’t talk politics though, this is just about sex. This moment you feel up my breasts and the next day you scoff at the morning papers article on the DREAMers. Where are you from? “California.” He nods his head like that was the answer he expected, like why even ask, I already knew.

Trayvon Martin and The Fear in a Black Mothers Heart

Please bear with me readers, this post is incredibly hard for me to write.  If you have been following the news, then you know about the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin.  Trayvon was on his way back from the store when he was followed and subsequently shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman first called 911 to report a suspicious person in the neighbourhood, and though he was specifically told not to follow the person, and that the police were on the way, he followed Trayvon and killed him.  In the 911 tapes, which the family had to sue to get released, Trayvon can be heard begging for his life and screaming for help.  Several of the neighbors called 911, but no one left the safety of their homes to help this boy.

From the very beginning, the police attempted to correct the statements of witnesses.  Zimmerman confessed to the murder of Trayvon, but he has since claimed self defense.  Trayvon was actively trying to evade Zimmerman, as was revealed by his girlfriend, who he happened to be on the phone with moments before he died.  How can someone running away present a clear threat?  Trayvon was only a 17 year old boy, and because he happened to be Black, he is now dead.

When I first listened to the 911 calls yesterday, I cried in my unhusbands arms.  Before his death I had never heard of Trayvon, but his death struck me so deeply.  His murder reflects my greatest fears for my sons and I found myself holding them closer and being more protective recently.  What happened to this innocent young boy is so horrific that it defies words. He died alone and afraid for nothing other than being Black. Zimmerman apparently identifies as Hispanic and has "Black friends," but the mode of thought employed to easily assign Tryavon a violent and suspicious motive has its roots squarely in White supremacy.  The murder of Trayvon, is a crime that has reverberated through the Black community and left us angry, and so very deeply wounded.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that his family is currently going through.  It is a terrible thing to lose a loved one, but to lose them to violence - there are simply no words.  What I can tell you about is how this has effected me.

The happiest days of my life were the days each one of my precious sons were born.  I remember looking at them as this overwhelming feeling of love washed over me.  I didn't know at the time of  their birth that this would only be a starting point.  Though my children have given me much joy, I have already had many sleepless nights worrying about their future.  The world has so many negative realities for a Black child, and no matter how much we love them, or strive to protect them, the truth of the matter is that we are helpless in the face of White supremacy and racism.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Urban Fantasy: Escapism When the Real World has too Many Minorities

'Question mark' photo (c) 2005, Marco Bellucci - license:

Erasure is one of the more prevalent phenomenons in urban fantasy. Many times we hear the excuse that because a book is set in a rural town that the percentage of the population comprised of historically marginalized people is so insignificant as to make inclusion pointless. We want to make it utterly clear here that this is not an excuse either and any erased book can be extremely damaging. Inclusion is never pointless, and even in rural areas, marginalized people live and prosper.  

When the story moves from a rural area to a larger city, there is even less justification for exclusion and, at times, it becomes nothing short of farcical. If you have a story and choose to set it in a place like Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Montreal, London, Manchester, Brighton etc., population demographics quite obviously indicate the presence of historically marginalized people.  To some degree to read and enjoy urban fantasy, one must suspend belief, however to be expected to just accept that marginalized people don’t exist is not about suspending belief; it’s an exercise in privilege.

Atlanta appears in several books and series, it’s one of the Urban Fantasy hubs we’ve noticed. Now, real world Atlanta has a whole lot of POC, and specifically a large African-American population. There are also a significant number of GBLT people, yet on The Walking Dead, we are presented thus far with complete GLBT erasure and two token men of colour. This is made problematic because we are dealing with dystopian fantasy and this then suggests a genocide.  Ilona Andrews’ wonderful Kate Daniels’ Series? Again, token inclusions. What happened? Do zombies love the taste of black people? Did the magic wave decimate GBLT people and POC?

Las Vegas also makes a regular appearance in Urban Fantasy - Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac Series is entirely in Las Vegas and how many POC? Well, in the real Las Vegas, that would be more than half the population. In fiction? Let’s just say you won’t need to use both hands to count - and you don’t have to worry about holding your breath for their complete screen time.

Chicago also shows up on a regular basis in Urban Fantasy - Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden Series, Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires, both set in Chicago, allegedly. Never mind that Chicago is only 40% white - the POC are few few few and even farther between. And don’t look for the GBLT people.

Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London follows a truly bemusing city - firstly it’s empty. And if there’s one thing London is not, it’s empty. But it’s also extremely straight and white - this is a London I can’t even picture, a city where only about 60% of the people identify as White British and it has been a centre for GBLT culture since time immemorial.

We see San Francisco presented in both Alcatraz and Charmed. Where are the GBLT people? Since when is San Francisco the all-het capital of the world? Riyadh has a more open gay population than this San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay area is only 50% white - where are the POC? Where are the Asian people? The Latino people - we have, what, Dr. Soto? Is that it?  

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There is a Difference Between Attraction and Fetishizing

Recently, there has  been a spate of young women taking to youtube to share their racism with the world.  Who could forget the UCLA student, who decided that youtube was an appropriate venue to complain about Asians in the library?  A new video has gone viral, and instead of spouting the customary vitriol, the young women have decided to declare their love of Black men.

I am fine with people getting their swirl on -- if that is what makes them happy -- but listening as these four young women decided that fetishizing Black men equalled a compliment sickened me.  Even as I write this, I am aware that many will perceive what I am about to say as yet another complaint about White women stealing our men, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Why Did I Get Married

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.

Or domestic partnered *eye roll*. Yes this is another question that came out of family mixing from an unmarried (yet partnered) cousin who doesn’t know why I bothered. But it’s come up a lot from various people over the years.

Of course, the sad thing was, as ever, the blinkers of privilege; she could have just looked round and seen the reason for herself. She would have seen how the whole family treated her relationship of 11 months as a long term partnership – but still acted like my decades long marriage was a temporary fling, a passing insanity, something I’d grow out of or all about sex. I have done everything legally possible in the UK to make my relationship “official” and I still have to fight to have it recognised even by my own family. Let alone official institutions, work colleagues or the public at large.

See, this is one of the things that irritates me when straight folk don’t understand the fuss about marriage. They can take the protections, legal rights and status of marriage for granted because they not only have them – but they don’t always need them either. Even for non-married straight folks, our society provides a level of respect and legitimacy for heterosexual pairings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Katy Perry Covers Kanye West's Niggas In Paris

If a song includes lyrics that you cannot say without being accused of being a rabid racist, you would think that this would be a sign that your White ass should leave it alone.

So she changed the word nigga to ninja and that supposedly makes it alright?  Umm fuck no.  It's still gross cultural appropriation and seriously who needed to hear this in the first place.  I am sick and tired of White people stealing from people of colour. We don't need your take on our culture, our music, or anything else that belongs to us.  The entire culture is built around Whiteness and yet that is not enough for them, nope anything that clearly belongs to a culture of colour has to be up for grabs as well. Perry can go and fuck herself.

Human Safaris (also known as tourism)

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.  

Until recently I had never noticed how very creepy white people can sound when they are talking about travelling. I heard a conversation recently about travelling and one participant talked about how they could sit for hours in Mumbai just watching. Watching people. Talking all about how different everything was over there. Which is interesting in light of a story on India on human safaris. On hearing this discussion over tourism and travel, I wonder if there is a substantive difference between going on an actual human safari and any tourism by white people in PoC countries.

Now other people have written about the problems with tourism. And there are many. But I really just want to talk about how creepy it sounds. It is poverty porn, treating cultures of colour like they are commodities to be consumed; it is exotification, etc. This is most visible white photographers taking pictures of poor Black and Brown people (often without consent). But it is also visible in the travel narratives most people use when describing their trips. There is a tendency to focus on differences and to convey aspects that the audience will find shocking (e.g., “What? You can smoke in elevators in China? Amazing! They spit a lot in China? Gross!”). It is othering. And it is creepy as shit.

Can Race Play Really Be Classified as a Kink?

'No Slavery Vector Illustration' photo (c) 2011, Vectorportal - license:

When it comes to sex what gets a person off varies and normally I am not one to judge, but raced based S&M doesn't just irk me, it disgusts me to my very core.  I believe that what happens between two consenting adult partners should not be an issue for the outside world, but at the same time, I refuse to pretend that race is something that we can play at, when it continues to negatively impact the lives of people of colour across the globe.

Jezebel recently put up a piece entitled, When Prejudice Is Sexy: Inside The Kinky World of Race - Play.  After reading the entire article and the comments, I found myself saying please erase us I beg you.  Jezebel's audience is largely White and so are it's writers.  I don't understand for one moment how they believed they had the inside track to even attempt to discuss this. This appears to be yet another instance of Jezebel trolling for hits, no matter who they manage to trigger or offend in the process.
Mollena Williams, who blogs at The Perverted Negress, has done race-play both for her own pleasure and as a demonstration at kink conventions. She's also currently in a relationship with a "sort of white" man (he's also part Native American), where she's the slave and he's the master. Williams told me her interest in slavery started early. She remembers seeing Roots on TV at age eight and thinking to herself, "wow, I have fantasies about really bad things." When she became involved in the kink community as an adult, many other kinky black people were critical of master/slave relationships — some threatened violence toward anyone they saw treating a person of color as a slave. She describes this time in her life as "really difficult," but she ultimately said to herself, "I will not, after so many years of struggling, have someone who doesn't know me dictate my sexuality." She adds, "if you go back and look at what feminism is about, it's about us taking charge of our bodies and our destinies." And she sees her ability to choose a master/slave relationship "with intent" as "a mark of how far feminism has come." [source]

The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode 13: Beside the Dying Fire

This episode opens with walkers leaving the city in what an only be described as a herd, to head towards Hershel's farm. They stop when they hear a gunshot and start moving towards Rick and Carl. Daryl returns to the farm and tells the rest of them that they found Randal and that he had become a walker.  Daryl tells them that Shane and Randal's footprints were right on top of each, and that means that they were together. Since Shane was most certainly not a tracker, this means that Shane killed Randal.

As Carl asks Rick how Shane died, Rick turns his head when he hears the walkers.  The two of them make a run for the barn.  Inside, Hershel demands that they cut the lights, as Daryl points out that a herd that size will take the house done.  Maggie and Hershel start loading weapons, and he says, "this is my farm, I'll die here." Daryl expresses surprise at the way that Maggie handles a gun, but she reminds him that she grew up on a farm.  It was brief moment, but it was still nice to see a woman behave in a competent manner.

Inside, Lori finally notices that Carl is missing.  You would think that living through a zombie apocalypse would be enough to make one keep a close eye on one's child.  Carl and Rick climb up into the rafters and then drop a lighter, setting the zombies on fire.  Outside, the others get into their vehicles and drive around killing as many walkers as they can.  Even on fire, the zombies continue to try and climb the steps.

The fire is working to distract the zombies, but when Jamie drives over to help Rick and Carl off the roof, he is bitten and eaten alive. Carl and Rick run into the woods, as Carol and Lori panic about not being able to find Carl.   Hershel is standing on the lawn empting his rifle and he ignores Lori as she tells him that it is time to go.  The  others jump into vehicles to escape, and it is only when Rick shoots a walker intent devouring Hershel, that he is finally convinced to give up his farm.  In the process, Andrea and Carol are left behind, but fortunately for Carol, Daryl waited on the sidelines until he could pick her up. To be honest, I was absolutely shocked to see Hershel live through this season.

Maggie and Glenn are driving away from the farm, and Maggie is clearly freaking out.  She keeps talking about wanting to return to the farm to look for survivors, but Glenn assures her that there is nothing to go back for.  Part of the reason this is so overwhelming for Maggie, is because this is the first time she has seen how bad this new world is.  Glenn tells her that he loves her, and that he should have said it a long time ago.

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