Saturday, April 21, 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.

How to be a victim…
Black Women Struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
LOST IN TRANSLATION: TATTOOS AND CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Vagina Whitening (That’s Right, You Heard Me)
Toni Morrison: 'I want to feel what I feel. Even if it's not happiness'
When even silence offends. (Part 1)
Bill Cosby: Trayvon Martin’s Death More About Gun Ownership Than Race (Or, Why Bill Cosby is Right) 
The pimp vanishes 
Making Lives Valueless: People With Disabilities and Popular Perceptions
Girls That Television Will Never Know
 'N--ger Cake' Creator Is Black; So What?
Nuance in Black Churches’ Approaches 
 On Being A Dark Skinned Black Woman
 Clark Aided Blacks on 'Bandstand'?
Todd Bridges: Protect Child Actors From Sex Abuse
George Zimmerman's Non-Apology to Trayvon Martin's Family: I am Sorry For Your Loss and That Your Son Ran Into a Bullet Which I Fired
“50 Shades of Grey,” “Fight Club,” and the Complications of Male Dominance
What if you were the minority? Would it matter then?

Friday, April 20, 2012

That's My Man Bitch


The unhusband and I remain one those couples.  Yes, those couples, who irritate you because they are sickeningly sweet.  We tell each other that we love each other several times a day, we hold hands whenever possible and we hug and kiss a lot.  It's nothing to see us cuddled up together. In all of our years together, I have never worried about another woman coming between us, but a bitch is another matter altogether.

It all started when she looked at him with her big brown eyes and whimpered softly.  He knew my position on dogs in our bed. He knew that because of the size of the dog she would eventually grow into, I was adamant that this dog not even be allowed in our bedroom.  The unhusband was crafty by at first sneaking her into our room.  When he would go for a nap, he would take Ms. Sookie with him, claiming that the bed felt empty and lonely without me in it to keep him warm and comfort him.  I allowed him this indulgence, believing that when I entered our bedroom that she would know her place and relinquish my spot.  That was my mistake, I gave the bitch and inch and she took a mile. 

Now when I walk in the room, she has the nerve to growl softly before climbing off the bed and walking around to his side of the bed and whimper about me.  Yes me, as though I am the interloper in their perfect union.  At first she waited until I fell asleep and tried to crawl between us, but quickly discovered that this would wake me and that she would find herself back on the floor where she belongs.  Then she got sneaky and now waits until I fall asleep before climbing onto his side of the bed.   This of course means he has to move over, almost squeezing me out of the bed, but so bewitched has he become by her brown eyes, that he does not have the heart to send her to floor where she belongs.

This Week's Top Troll



The back of the house has been especially repugnant recently and so that tells me that we are due for another installment of top troll.  Once again, I am going to publish some of the comments that did not make it onto the blog for various reasons.  Please select the one that you find to be the most heinous and if you are up to it after wading through the muck, please share in the comment section why you picked who you did.  I know that some of these will be difficult to read but I feel it is important to understand why viewing isms in the way that these commenters do is extremely problematic.

 HBO's 'Girls' Is All About Spoiled White Girls
annie hamilton: As a person from a family with multiple races who loves TYler Perry shows I think it's high time this kind of show GETS some air time - STFU - for the past few years it's been "BLACK BLACK BLACK. get real people.

and what would people do if people actually wanted a "white entertainment television" (like there is a "black entertainment" station? huh? folks would crap. you know you would.
think about that.

seriously....put on your big girl panties and THINK about it for a minute. it's become a very ONE sided now. and it isn't right. I think it sucks.
this from a bi-racial pissed off girl.
More Subway Strife: Black Women Defend Themselves 

Kelley: Aren't we the envious little witchie poo? Your 'privilege' to indulge your own narcissism leaves core principles of your citizenship neglected and Trayvon Martin dead from the retarded head games you've played your whole pitiful lives. I hate black racists as much as I loathe and despise KKK. You're both tumors and have earned lives in Afghanistan. Enjoy your Burqa. I'll bring marshmallows when you're setting yourself on fire to get away from the drug dealer who's pimping you out.

Sincerely,
Your sister in arms whether you f*cking like it or not.
Put Your Woman On A Leash 

master: Lighten up bitch, what, are you on the rag?
It's Easy to Call John Derbyshire a Racist

Jennifer: It may not make a dent in your current beliefs, but white people also suffer from racism. In middle school, I went to a largely black school and was often a target for some of the boys and girls there. The boys constantly shouting "cracker" in my face, pulling my hair and pushing me and the girls telling me that "white women always have to swoop in and take all the good black men" when I was dating outside of my race. It occurs to me now that these 11 and 12 years olds were probably mimicking actions and dialogue picked up at home or on television. Whatever the cause, I didn't deserve it. Luckily, I had some good (also black) friends and black members in my family to stick up for me and tell me not to take it so deeply to heart.

I know that racism is still very prevalent in black communities, but you are not the only group affected. Asians, Whites, Native Americans, etc. all face different forms of racism every day. And instead of segregating our struggles (i.e. black people are always oppressed and whites are always trying to keep everyone else down), why not work together to ensure that ALL RACES practice acceptance, compassion and love for one another?

I don't get upset when other races talk about the racial disparities, but I do get frustrated when they act as if they are the only ones that experience it. From one human to another, I implore you to reach out on behalf of all races. I know, I'm doing the same.

Kirk Cameron Calls Homosexuality "Unnatural" 

jon: The Bible clearly says it is sin and unatural, Romans 1 is very clear along with several other passages of scripture Old and New Testament. The Bible also says to judge with righteous judgment so please be balanced when you talk about judging. Jesus came to die for our sins but also to give us new resurrection life to deliver us from the power of our sinful nature, for who the Son sets free is free indeed (read Eph. 2, Rom. 6). By the way are you not judging Kirk? Shame on you it's OK for you to judge but not him, hmmm. I have heard some powerful testimonies of former homosexuals who got saved and delivered from the bondage of their sin, who clearly say what they were doing was wicked and Christ set them free. Maybe His resurrection only works for some people. Please read the Bible and rightly divide it. In Christ and for Him.
 In Memory of Shaima Alawadi

Albert Camus:  It never ceases to amaze me how self-declared progressives, like so-called feminists so quickly jump to the conclusion that it must have been white supr4emacists who killed Mrs. Alwadi. I guess it fits the trope they are pushing.

And why should it not be our place to question what other cultures sanction? Guess what, all cuktures are NOT equal. islam is a huide bound barbaric philosophy that the world would be better off without. Why? Be cause it is too wed to the past. Unlike other religions, it has never gone through the transformations that made the others tolerant, and truly the religion of peace and love. Islam must either undergo its own reformation, and cast off the old ways, or it should just simply go. 


When it comes to Fantasy, Movies and TV loses to Books

'Trevor Blake: Television' photo (c) 2010, Trevor Blake - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

When reading across the genre we have, obviously, come across many tropes and stereotypes that have raised their ugly heads in books over and over again. We’ve seen a lot of marginalised people reduced to tokens, a lot of offensive portrayals and, above all, a lot of erasure where marginalised people do not appear at all. We’ve also read a lot of books that have failed to address the issues they raised in any real depth - when dealing with marginalisation we’re more likely to see appropriation of real oppressed groups than portrayals of oppression, we’re more likely to see things brushed over than examined.

But while we’ve found this in books, they still stand head and shoulders about the Urban Fantasy series and films we have seen. The books certainly have a better record than anything we have watched - which is very telling, especially when we consider the wider audience that is reached through television.

First and foremost this is shown simply in the series that are chosen to be turned into films and series are ones that do not address issues. And there are Urban Fantasy novels out there that do this marvellously - the Kara Gillian and White Trash Zombie series by Diana Rowland contain awesome analysis on class. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne has a black Jesus.  The Spiritwalker Trilogy has excellent considerations of sexism and class. Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series is a champion for female agency.

We have others that, while not necessarily covering issues in the book, do at least heavily contain marginalised characters and marginalised protagonists: Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thomas Series, LA Banks’s Vampire Huntress Series, Seressia Glass’s Shadow Chaser series, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series and Adrian Phoenix’s Hoodoo Series. These series are out there but they are not the ones being transformed for the TV.

Then we look at what did make the cut to television and film.

In many cases this means the more vapid and erased stories are translated into film for e.g. Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and Secret Circle to name a few. None of these shows offer any depth or analysis or thought to the mythos let alone serve to portray a positive social justice message through real inclusion. Even the Dresden Files - now I love these series both books and TV, but at the same time it’s neither challenging nor inclusive.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris became True Blood. There can be no doubt that there have been occasions of challenging content on True Blood and characters which were either short lived in the series or non existent were added in an attempt to complicate the plot however the addition of these characters has not been altogether positive.  The character of Lafayette was simply a gay cook who died after attending a sex party.  This clearly read as a punishment for daring to be gay.  In True Blood the character has been expanded upon and become a fan favourite however Lafayette is still a gay, drug dealing, prostitute. His very existence is one huge trope.  His lover Jesus was added in season three, only to die violently in season four, after an extremely lackluster romance when compared to that of the heterosexual couples on the show..

Secret Circle and Vampire Diaries actually had to drop in token black characters because their books were so erased. It didn’t really add anything to the television shows since the tokenism (and the poor treatment of those characters) was so obvious but in doing so it really emphasised how erased the books were in the first place.

Even simple matters of inclusion can be fraught - Blood Ties adapted Tanya Huff’s novels to TV but in doing so bisexual Henry appears to have become straight and gay man Tony has disappeared and been replaced by a straight woman. I wasn’t happy with the portrayals in the books - but it’s glaring that they had to be entirely erased to make the leap into television.
 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Hijab Fail


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 several abayas 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.  
 
On Friday, myself and two friends sat in a Starbucks in the centre of downtown Toronto sipping chai lattes and fruit smoothies. We were debriefing and venting about all manner of subject relating to the discerning Muslim feminist: mixed-gender prayer, hijab, work, hijab, school, hijab, hipster Muslims, hijab, single Muslim women as the walking dead, and why-on-earth-do-Muslim-woman-HAVE-to-talk-about-hijab-all-the-freaking-time, or are-our-bodies-nature-sexuality-piety-and-relationship-to-God-REALLY-reduced-to-THIS?

When suddenly, Privilege Denying Dude decided to pay his respects. 

“Are you Muslim?”

We looked up, slightly perturbed at being disrupted by a stranger who decided to interrupt two hijabis and a fabulous, modest Muslimah in the midst of solving the problem of hijab. We stared at him for two heartbeats longer than necessary — because no one really wanted to open the floodgates by misinterpreting the intent of his question. Is he asking because his daughter just converted? Is he asking because he’s curious about Islam? Is he asking because he wants to harass us?

Do The Hustle

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.   
 

Summer time tends to be slow money-wise for me and I thought I would share some tips on how I keep my head above water when money is tight, hope you enjoy!

If you've ever been late on rent, foraged your apartment for a dollar in change, or washed your underwear in the bathtub, you know to appreciate tokens of realistic financial advice. Not the kind that insists you invest your savings in the stock market (ummm, savings? You mean the $20 I was saving for groceries?) or to start saving for your retirement. But those everyday passing-by comments from neighbors, friends, and roomates who speak truth. The ones who give you the number to the guy who set them up with free cable, who burned you that bootleg copy of the last Harry Potter movie, who pointed you in the direction of the local food co-op. Now thats some sane, practical and timely financial advice. So, in attempt to be that friend, I've compiled a list of nuggets that will be sure to hold you over till that next paycheck. You can thank me in baked goods from your corner Family Dollar.

 How to get FREE Food:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creating art and self from the intersections

RVCBard identifies as many things: queer, Black, Jewish, woman, nerd, introvert, and much more. A playwright in the tradition of, That Sounds Cool Let Me Try This And See If It Works, she is currently working on the $1 Play Project to put on a summer production of her play, TULPA, or ANNE&ME. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, she now lives in Brooklyn. To find out more about the $1 Play Project, visit indiegogo.com/onedollarplay.

With the $1 Play Project underway (and if you have 60 seconds and $1.00, you really should give what you can), and way too much to do in not enough time, I want to take a moment (read: procrastinate) and talk about what it's like and what it means to create art from a perspective of intersectionality.

Before buzzwords like “intersectionality” came along, a lot of people assumed that womanhood was White, Blackness was male, and both were straight. When Black feminists and womanists proclaimed that All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave, they created a new paradigm for examining race, gender, and sexuality that centered on the lives of Black women.

When I started writing Tulpa, or Anne&Me in late 2009, I had no idea I'd be doing the same thing for theatre. As much as I like to fantasize otherwise, I'm not really all that brave. I hate pain (receiving or inflicting it), and I am more easily hurt than I often let on. I'm much more prone to shyness, anxiety, depression, and exhaustion than my online persona indicates. My outspokenness about racism, sexism, and homophobia says more about their magnitude and the peril they pose to human beings than about any particular courage or wisdom on my part.

Artist Who Created Racist, Sexist Circumcision Cake Speaks Out

Yesterday I wrote about a cake, which was created by Makode Linde to supposed highlight FGM and women's oppression.  Images and video of his performance quickly went viral, with many quite forcefully calling his so-called art racist and sexist.  Linde has decided to answer his critics in the following series of videos.

How did this idea come about as an art installation?



I have been working since 2004 with the image of Blackness, criticizing different ideas of Black identity within my art. I have been doing this revamping the blackface into different forms and thereby criticizing it. And for the 75 year birthday of Swedish organization, they invited a couple of different artists to design birthday cakes and I was one of these artists, so it felt like the natural and appropriate thing to do to make it in my art series Afromantics -- which is the name of the art pieces where I use a lot of the black faces. I was asked to the cake and I did the cake as a part of my series Afromantics.

Was the Minister of Culture aware of your art installation or was it a surprise?



I think she came aware of that she was going to cut the cake, but she wasn't aware of how the cakes would look and when she saw the cake and found out that it was partially alive, I think she got quite surprised.

How have people responded to you and the art installation?



I think a lot of people saw some images taken during the performance and they saw the images online and took the images out of context. They accused me and the culture minister to be racist against racist criticizing different aspects of just the subject. So I think people who have been upset, about the art piece or about the images they seen, I think that they misunderstood the intention or the agenda of me as an artist.

Gender Differences in the LGBT Community

 Mike is an 18 year female to male transman. He is currently studying psychology at The Evergreen State College between making quilts. He someday aspires to be a social worker, and in the mean time, he wants to fix the fact that not everyone is born with an inherent right to be themselves.

Historically, gay men and lesbians have faced different types of oppression. The gay men have been treated as freaks and abnormal. When raids occurred in gay bars, it was usually men who were arrested. More gay men than lesbians have been assaulted for being who they were. The lesbians were culturally erased, thought not to exist or treated as sexual objects. An example of this dichotomy would be the characters on Glee. Kurt is very stereotypically gay and faces much more harassment than Santana. When Santana is outed, a few songs fix the problem and she moves on with her life. When Karofsky is outed, he attempts suicide from all of the bullying he faces. Kurt got several episodes on coming out, while Santana is lucky to get a few snatches here and there.

The opposite is true of transgender people. Transwomen are far more often assaulted and killed. The mainstream media uses transwomen as the butt of jokes, men in dresses or awful predators out to trap men. They face harassment, stares, and uncomfortable glances - a result of not being able to pass as well. They are seen as predators, much like gay men were and sometimes still are. Transmen, on the other hand, have almost no cultural visibility, although this has changed somewhat with Chaz Bono. They are ignored, perhaps because society tells them that they are unremarkable in their want to be men, because it is assumed that everyone wants to be a man. There is very little available to show that transmen exist at all, let alone what kind of people they must be.

Who Needs Feminism?

I have a new piece up at Clutch magazine



If you’re on tumblr, or Facebook, you might well be aware of a project that was started by sixteen women who currently attend Duke University entitled, “Who Needs Feminism?”  This project was started to help combat the negative associations that many currently have with feminism, as well as assert the ongoing imbalance between men and women.
The site explains:
“Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “S**t.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly on a broad societal scale.”
Many of the comments talk very specifically about things like gender-based violence, gender-based slurs, as well as reproductive freedom.  These issues are something all women must negotiate regardless of class, race, sexuality or ability that it is couched in a need for feminism.

There are always going to be those who say, “I am not a feminist but…” and then give a long list of things like believing in equal pay for equal work, reproductive freedom, and an end to things like slut shaming and the sexualization of female bodies in the media.  The Right has been very successful in constructing the word feminist to mean anti-male, rather than pro-woman and by extension pro equality and freedom.

The problem with this project is that it does not recognize that there is an extreme difference between the people who say, “I am not a feminist but…” and those who eschew the label because of a history of ableism, cissexism, racism, classism and homophobia on the part of mainstream feminists.  There are plenty of marginalized women who believe in what could be called feminist principals, who refuse to identify as feminist due to its continual focus on the needs of the most privileged women.

I am a disabled, working class, straight, cisgendered, Black woman.  This means the four sites of oppression I negotiate are disability, class, race and gender.  Each one of these isms negatively impacts my life and at any moment I can be perceived as “other” based in one of these identities.  These isms cannot be separated from each other because without each one, I would not be the person that I am today. Feminism constantly frames gender as the primary site of oppression, but continues to ignore that even when it comes to gender, though things like slut shaming and overt sexualization are an issue for all women, we experience it differently. Intersectionality in reality is more of a buzzword than anything else.

Read  more

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Racist Circumcision Cake Featured at Swedish Museum Opening

This cake has to be seen to believed.

As part of the installation, which was reportedly meant to highlight the issue of female circumcision, the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris.

Makode Aj Linde, the artist who created the installation and whose head is part of the cake cut by the minister, wrote about the "genital mutilation cake" on his Facebook page.

"Before cutting me up she whispered, 'Your life will be better after this' in my ear," he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake. [source please read the entire article]


Few things leave me speechless but this cake did.  There is no doubt in my mind that this cake, regardless of the motivation behind its creations is both virulently anti-woman and racist.  To watch them laugh and consume this cake is to see an act of violence.

HBO's 'Girls' Is All About Spoiled White Girls



I missed the Sex & The City phenomenon and so I decided to tune into HBO's Girls.  It was not high on my priority list, so I didn't actually watch it until yesterday.  It can best be described as 35 minutes of my life that I will never get back.  As a  thirty something, Black, disabled mother of two, I am not the target audience for Girls, but if I were to wait from something to actually appear on television to be marketed specifically to me, I wouldn't need to own a television.  Being marginalized means having to deal with dominant bodies being universalized as typifying the human experience, no matter how ridiculous the roles they take on are.

Twenty-four year old Hannah, played by Lena Dunham is supposedly the voice of her generation.  Though she has been out of college for two years, she still has not found a full-time job and is dependent upon her parents for financial support. The show opens with her eating dinner at a restaurant with her parents, while they inform her that they are two college professors and refuse to pay for her life anymore.  Hannah throws a tantrum worthy of a three year old, and refuses to see her parents again before they leave New York.

Hannah has been working as an unpaid intern for two years, but when she asks to be paid, she is fired.  This could have actually been interesting because in many cases internship is exploitation.  Companies know that young college graduates don't have the experience to compete for many jobs and internships allow them to add experience to their resume, while the company in question gets free labour.  A good internship can in some cases lead to a well paying job however, the hours of free labour are never recouped.  I could have easily embraced a conversation about this and how this is problem that largely effects young people entering the job market. Alas, it was not to be.

The Arguments of Tolerance.

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.
 
Spending time talking to annoying family, annoying colleagues (now with religious blokey, who has finally deigned to talk to me. Alas.) annoying pub philosophers, annoying straight person who, for some gods forsaken reason thinks I care about their input on my life and, of course, no end of people in the net means I often find patterns in the endless homophobia debates. The same screeds and memes keep being repeated (usually by some clueless straight person who thinks that “Adam and Steve” is somehow ORIGINAL for crying out loud) to such a degree that I have started copying and pasting responses to save myself time.

Some, obvious foamings of hate, are barely worth countering (though, tiresomely, we have to). But today I’m going to poke at some of the terms I’ve seen used by many of our allies to fight for us that make me cringe. I consider them the Arguments of Tolerance and they give me grey hairs they do – let us look at a few.

“We’re all sinners” “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” 

This is a common one. And you know what it says? It says being gay is sinful, yucky and wrong but there are many many many sins out there that people commit every day. So many and we’re all imperfect, flawed, none of us are doing it right so how can you judge someone else on their imperfections? No, better to reflect on the ways you can improve as a person rather than judge others on how they can improve, right? I mean, how can you say other people are doing it wrong when you yourself aren’t doing it right?

A very nice, reasonable sentiment (well in many cases anyway). But not in this context.

Because this sentiment ACCEPTS that being gay is wrong/sinful. Sure it says that you should be focused on yourself rather than sticking your nose in next door and muttering about how wrong/sinful your neighbour is – but it still says that being gay is wrong.

 “You’re also ignoring X and Y sins that the {holy book of choice} talks about” 

A variation of the above – habitually people do pick and choose which verses are still “relevant”

Problem, we’re again letting the message of “being gay is wrong” stand. We’re not saying that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, we’re not saying that regarding gay people as lesser or inferior is wrong, we’re not saying treating being gay like a sin or disease is wrong. No, we’re saying that it is wrong but we can ignore it just as we ignore x and y as well. That’s not an affirmative message. That’s not a message that rejects bigotry. I’m not even sure what the message is supposed to be here – either a message that all these rules are nonsense/out of date/out of context/whatever or a mutual agreement to be slackers.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die



I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

We begin beyond the wall with Craster evicting the Night’s Watch because Jon Snow the Whiney followed him the last episode. Jon the whiny tries to tell Lord Mormount that Craster is killing all the baby boys – but Mormount already knows. But he’s too useful and too needed for them to condemn him.

We also see Sam pursuing his awkward kindness/courting of Gilly with a thimble – something from his mother. It’s actually a very strong, emotional scene and well done – I was expecting much worse.

In Winterfell Bran’s dreams continue – dreaming of being a Dire Wolf which remind him of stories of men who could ride the body of animals – though Master Luwin doesn’t believe in them or the dream he shared with Rickon about Ned’s death. We also get a nice little bit of backstory about the Maester’s chains – and showing that he has studied magic, but that magic doesn’t exist

We move to a new location – the court of King Renly and another tournament where we see the woman knight, Brienne defeat Ser Loras, the Knight of Flowers who, in return, asks for a place in Renly’s kingsguard. And Lady Catelyn the Spunky is there to meet Renly (and his new wife, Margaery of House Tyrell, Loras’s sister) on behalf of Rob, King in the North. There are some attempts to snipe at Catelyn (some particularly catty comments by Loras Tyrrell) but she holds her own admirably.

Renly has 2 of the 7 kingdoms behind him, the Stormlands (House Baratheon) and the Reach (House Tyrell, High Garden) and a huge army; but Catelyn finds them too soft and gentle people.

Later we join Loras and Renly in bed – at last, after episode after episode of breasts we have the 2 gay men in bed together. Except after 10 seconds of kissing, Loras gets pouty and whiny – and points out that Renly needs to sleep with Margaery (Loras’ sister, Renly’s wife) to consummate their relationship. So Margaery arrives and, lo, there are the breasts. Of course. It’s obvious that Renly isn’t even slightly interested – and that Marjorie is well aware of the relationship between Renly and Loras. And we learn that Margaery is far far more crafty than we imagined.

In the Pyke Theon confronts his sister, Yarna, (who shares their father’s contempt for him). Balon’s plan is to attack the north – Winterfell, pillaging and conquering the north while the armies of Winterfell are south fighting the Lannisters. Theon is bitter because he is given a single ship to raid with, rather than a fleet like Yarna. Theon tries to convince them to ally with the North – but his talk of pledging fealty doesn’t go down well with the proud and independent Greyjoys

After much deliberation and considering warning Rob, Theon re-pledges himself to the cruel, uncompromising Drowned God, the god of the Iron Isles. He also changes his wardrobe and looks 10 times rougher, it’s a really well done transformation

In Kings Landing we join Tyrion the awesome and Shea – and Shea resenting how Tyrion keeps her locked up and hidden. And Shea keeps slapping Tyrion down awesomely as he tries to use his clever words to get round her – refusing to accept she’s too foolish to understand and refusing to be regarded as a weakness.

Meanwhile Sansa is having a meal with Cersei and her 2 younger children – talking about Sansa’s wedding day. And we see what gentle, nice children Joffrey’s younger siblings are, and how impossible a situation Sansa is in.

Later Shae goes to Sansa as her new handmaiden – it seems Tyrion has found a compromise. Except Shea has no idea how to be a handmaiden and Sansa has no patience to teach her. Meanwhile Tyrion is being crafty and checking which of his advisors are trustworthy – telling Pycelle that he plans to marry Princess Marcella to the Princess of Dorne, Varys that he wants to marry Princess Marcella to Theon Greyjoy and Petyr that he plans to marry her to Robin of the Vale; all with strict instructions not to tell the queen. Notably, Petyr is someone who needs to be bribed – with lordship of the Riverlands and Lord of Haranhal.

Naturally Cersei hears this and brings her fury down on Tyrion – for trying to send her daughter to Dorne, proving Pycelle doesn’t keep secrets. Time to confront Pycelle (and his prostitute). Pycelle tries to blame Varys but it’s clearly Pycelle – and he’s sent to a cell. Petyr is also very very vexed at being used but Tyrion has other plans for him. He also discusses matters with Varys who has some extremely clever riddles and ideas (y’know, I kind of like Varys).

And we check in with Arya on the road north, and Arya having nightmares over Ned’s execution and talks with the Night Watch guide. It’s another one of those powerful emotional scenes that Game of Thrones is very very good at doing. But more soldiers have arrived – and the guide is killed, but not before he takes some down with him. The boys headed for the Night Watch are captured, Arya frees the prisoners – and saves Gendry by telling the guards that it was one of the dead who was Gendry.
 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Born With A Burden: Are Black, Disabled Children Being Mistreated?

I have a new piece up at Clutch

 Every Black child is born with a burden.  From the moment of their first breathe, they are marked as second class citizens, because we live in a White supremacist world.  If said child happens to face another marginalization like disability, for instance, this burden expands, because they must deal with the twin evils of ableism and racism. The more marginalizations one has to negotiate, the harder life will be.

 Andre McCollins was 18 years old on October 25th, 2002. This autistic young man was on his way to school, when a physical altercation occurred on the school bus, which led to him being shocked and restrained. When he later refused to remove his coat as instructed, he was forcibly strapped down to a bed face down, and subjected to 31 instances of electric shock at the Judge Rotenberg Center.  This torture went on for over seven hours, as McCollins cried, begged and pleaded for help.  The video is extremely disturbing.



Electric shock treatment was apparently used as aversion therapy in McCollins case, and was a part of his court-approved treatment plan.  The Christian Report claims that literature from the Judge Rotenberg Center says  electric shock “feels like a hard pinch, [have] been extensively validated in the scientific literature… [are] extremely effective, and [have] no significant adverse side effects.” Clearly, what was recorded in the video is a far cry from a mild corrective measure.  The treatment of disabled children is allegedly so extreme at the Judge Rotenberg Center that Mental Disability Rights International  made an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2010.

The next day, Andre was catatonic.  Dr. Marc Whaley, who testified in court last week, on McColins behalf stated,  “Now we have an individual who’s heavily medicated, state institutionalized with no immediate prospect of any kind of independent functioning. And all of that turned on October 25, 2002 when his psychotic disorder was traumatized by the 31 or so shocks he got on that day.”

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Can Black Friends Help You Avoid a Charge of Hate Crimes?

Claiming that one has Black friends has become the classic excuse to waylay charges of racism.  Some, like George Zimmerman, actually manage to scare up an uncle Ruckus to come to their defense.  Having a useful fool by your side is not a get out jail free card, and makes the Black person swearing for your anti-racist position look like the sell out that they are.  In the latest manifestation of "I have Black friends", alleged Oklahoma shooter Jake England's attorney's just released a tape in which he claims that despite being charged with the murder of three Black people, that he is not a racist and has....you guessed it, Black friends. It has been reported that just before going on a murder spree, Mr. England took to facebook to attack the murderer of his father, who he referred to using an anti-black slur.  England however wants us all to know that this is a one time only incident and that he has never in the past used a slur to refer to a Black person.  I guess he didn't learn anything from Mark Fuhrmann, who lied on stand claiming not to have used the word nigger in the last ten years. Even if he had Pinocchio's nose, his lie could not be more obvious.

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What people like England don't realize is that even if we believe for a moment that you actually have a friend of colour, the fact that you are more than willing to exploit that relationship means that you cannot possibly value this person.

I have [ fill in the minority] friends when you are accused of an ism is not an excuse, and it does not justify oppressive behaviour.  Though it has been customary to hear this excuse when it comes to race, it happens to every single social minority.  I have gay friends is supposedly a defense against homophobia for instance.  What always perplexes me about this is the fact that the accused is willing to say anything to avoid the charge of ableism, racism, homophobia etc., means that they recognize that ableism, homophobia and racism are bad and do not want it associated with them, but at the same time, they are so wedded to their privilege that engaging in oppressive behaviour is something they actively seek to engage in.

Does Ashley Judd Think She's The Rosa Parks Of Patriarchy?

I came across the following post on Acts of Faith and it perfectly sums up my feelings on the recent media furor over Ashley Judd's anti-patriarchy stance.  I would normally just link on Drop it Like It's Hot on Saturday but this must be read today.  I am going to get you started and you can finish reading it over there.


Puffy or Not Is Ashley Judd The Real Face Of Sexism?

Poor Ashley is having a very public moment. Maybe she’s going through something privately that’s making her a little extra-sensitive these days. I can’t imagine why she’d take the time to write an entire essay about what she purports is a ra-ra sisterhood stance combating misogyny and body-shaming if she’s as rooted as she claims:
The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity, and my relationship with my Creator.
Now that television outlets have picked up on the story this is becoming a huge media circus going into Week Two – amongst those who have time to pay attention. Some people would have women believing we’re lesser-than, oppressed and victims under-siege with no recourse. This time what we need to reassess and discard isn’t part of Blackistan Thought Propaganda but a lopsided distorted feminist ideology. To me all of her righteous indignation reads more like self-indulgent posturing that’s an emotional response for not being considered a Sexy Young Thang anymore.

**Begins crocodile tears and a pout.

She has a mid-season replacement action thriller about a former CIA operative to promote. Since the ratings have dropped, it isn’t likely to be renewed. I didn’t notice that she looked as if she’s had any work done in the episodes that have aired so far. Which might have changed during her press tour and why she responded.  Her gorgeous co-star sidekick character who’s not big and loud but downtrodden with relationship issues Aunjenue Ellis is the same age and you’d be hard-pressed to notice.

Black women tend to age much better. It’s one of the only benefits we get: melanin and oily skin slows the aging process to a crawl. Of course that “double-burden” of gendered sexism adds unnecessary stress. Wanna trade places Ashley? Doubt it!

Affirmative Action For White Women Is Par For The Course

Understand, my analysis is not a complaint but an observation of certain systems in place. Due to built-in statuses, some of these arguments about patriarchal oppression is really a power grab.

The fact that “women and minorities” is part of the social lexicon shows how much has already been won for them. African-American women in particular paid a high price to build this country. Furthermore, the beatings, rapes and abuse the matriarchs specifically endured to secure Civil Rights legislation only to see non-blacks and black immigrants collectively advance in accessing those treasures cannot be ignored.

White women automatically being added to EEOC categories ensured their seat at the table with their so-called ‘oppressors’. So does control of every ‘feminist’ organization.

Aging is part of life, but it’s really hard for beauty queens and actresses, especially American white actresses to actresses to age gracefully. I know – it’s because Hollywood is sexist and misogynistic  – cue the violins – except for all those pesky opportunities automatically afforded them they rarely acknowledge.

It is not a level playing field. There is no ‘equality’. We’re not the same. Women don’t always take the high road with each other. That’s life. The sooner we stop pretending, more women will better negotiate alliances and decide the parameters of their support.

Racism and Sexism Intersect Or Hadn’t You Heard?


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Transition and Access

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.  

So,this post about how race affects queerness (and gender) hit a strong chord with me. Particularly this part:
 It affects my DESIRE to transition. I don’t want to deal with more fear than I already deal with. People are pretty much already looking for any reason they can to attack black men and women. I live my life avoiding ANYONE I don’t know that I perceive to be a man out of abject fear of shit going down. That is bad enough for me. My desire to present properly is far, far, faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar inferior to my fear. That is not true for some black people, and that is amazing and beautiful and wonderful.
I find this is a discussion that doesn’t happen often enough in trans* circles. You hear a lot of discussion about how medical gatekeeping for transition adversely impacts the lives of trans* folk, but nothing about the various issues and societal barriers that can impact a person’s *desire* to transition, regardless of what access they may or may not have.