Saturday, April 28, 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.

Victorianism without Victoria: on Mexican Steampunk – Guest blog by Hodson & Translated by Miguel Ángel Manzo Martínez
Reclaiming Choice for Native Women
Dreams Deferred, Humanity Denied: The War on Women of Color (part 2)
The Rebuttals. Or Why The US Economy Is Not Biased Against Men
Depicting Need for Assistance as Moral Failing; Benefits Scroungers, Welfare, and the Media 
Jessie J, Cynthia Nixon and female bisexuality
guts & glory
Who Will Revere US? (Black LGTBQ People, Straight Women, and Girls) (Part 2) 
Racist Things Steampunks Are Not Immune To: Dysconscious Racism
Margaret Atwood talks revenge
Silence Equals Death: Sexual Violence and Young Women of Color
Apocalypse Now: Some Thoughts on Race at the End of the World
Representing Sara Baartman: in Academia

Friday, April 27, 2012

The International Day Againt Homophobia and Transphobia isn't a Marketing Tool

'929' photo (c) 2009, Sarah Murray - license:
Often in the writing blogosphere we see various forms of Blog Hops and blog tours and similar promotions to draw attention to authors, their books and let readers connect with authors who may interest them.

One upcoming blog hop is Hop against Homophobia

This is a blog hop of authors of the M/M genre. It allows writers in the m/m genre to gain attention to their M/M books and offer M/M prizes. The site itself explains its purpose:

the purpose is to get readers to a) see your name b) see your books and c) have the option to follow your blog to get to know you as an author and to be kept up to date about your future work.

And to start it off they’re going to set things rolling on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

So, what is The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it says. It is a day where we fight against the damage these bigotries do. It is a day when we look at the damage these bigotries do.

And let us never underestimate the power of this bigotry. There are still a horrendous number of countries out there where being GBLT is a crime. In some of them you will be tortured or executed. Others will imprison you for years and, of course, should you serve your sentence you face being returned to prison since, of course, people don’t stop being GBLT.

People are killed for being GBLT. People lose their jobs for being GBLT (often without any recourse in law). People lose their homes for being GBLT. People are denied any legal partnership rights for being GBLT, people are denied medical care for being GBLT, people are vilified and attacked and destroyed for being GBLT. People turn to drugs and alcohol because of anti-GBLT bigotry and countless GBLT people are driven to suicide every year by anti-GBLT bigotry.

In short, homophobia and transphobia are devastating forces out there and any campaign to battle them (Including this day) is vital and precious and very very important (though we can have debates about the effectiveness of individual days, that is a different discussion).

And these authors have decided to use this day to shill their books. They’re using this day about bigotry against GBLT people for marketing. Worse, not only are they appropriating this day for marketing, the actual purpose of the day they are using does not even remotely have to be involved

From the site itself:
- Talk about the International Day Against Homophobia in your May 17th blog entry (as little as just a mention – your choice).
--- Add the colorful Hop Against Homophobia image to your blog/website with a link to the official hop site:

There, you don’t have to actually do anything about homophobia or transphobia or talk about the day or what it actually aims for – don’t let silly things like that put you off. Don’t let the actual purpose of the day get in the way of your marketing. No, so long as you mention the name (all the better to appropriate it properly) and then you’ll get a giant anti-homophobia rainbow banner as well! Sure you don’t actually have to do anything about homophobia or transphobia, but you get the banner. I wonder if it comes with cookies?

Let me repeat this so we can be abundantly clear – no part of this blog hop requires acting or speaking against homophobia or transphobia, nor does it require being a GBLT member or ally (and no, being part of the M/M genre is not synonymous with allydom. Using us does not make you an ally, writing these books does not grant automatic status as a supporter - far from it). It is not about GBLT rights –it is about advertising, marketing and giving away free M/M stuff to attract more readers and followers.
It isn’t fighting homophobia and transphobia – it’s using it. It’s appropriating the struggle for GBLT rights for its own purposes. I cannot begin to describe how utterly disrespectful, appropriative – and downright homophobic and transphobic this is.

This would be terrible anywhere, but sits even more poorly coming from the M/M genre which already has severe problems with fetishisation, appropriation, people claiming the identity of gay men who are not; and general disrespect for and appropriation of gay men. I have written several pieces about this in the past:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Unwritten Rules, a Comical Look At Being Black in the Workplace

I don't know about you, but I am beyond frustrated with the lack of meaningful roles for Black women in the media.  This is what spurred me to check out The Unwritten Rules.
The Unwritten Rules is a new web series by Kim Williams and is based on her 2004 book, Unwritten Rule: The Diary of a Nigger, Negro, Colored, Black, African-American Woman. Williams is a 15-year vet of the industry and said she wrote the book after often being the only black person on the job.

She describes the show as:

The comedic realities of being an African-American in a predominantly white workplace. Like the novel, the series delves into the main character, Racey Jones’ head to uncover real situations, truthful thoughts, honest reactions, and hilarious moments that African-Americans experience in the workplace.
I absolutely loved the first episode, which you can see below.  It was a relief to see a character that I can identify with.  I have been the one Black person in an all White work place and let me tell you, it's not fun. You are always hyper aware that you are not like everyone else and race becomes the constant focus of your co-workers as they attempt to attribute every negative stereotype to you.  

Watching it, I could not help but compare it to HBO's Girls.  Where Girls fails on confronting race, or having really empowered characters, The Unwritten Rules wins.  The Unwritten Rules dares to say the truth, whereas Girls masquerades with faux feminist angsting.  Girls attempts to present itself as universal of all women, whereas The Unwritten Rules deals with a segment of society that must negotiate race and gender, which continually marks women of colour as "other".  If we are going to have conversations about women, we need to move away from White, straight, cis women as universal.

Please use this thread to talk about your experiences of oppression in the workplace,  whether it is homophobia, sexism or racism.  Also if you have experience being the only marginalized person in your place of employment please share the effect that this has had on you.

Worried That You’re Transphobic? You Might Be.

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

If you’re worried that you’re transphobic, the bad news is that you very well might be. The good news is that self-awareness is more important than a minor case of transphobia, because if you are aware of it, then you can prevent yourself from acting on it – and in addition to some self-regulation, your awareness can help you attempt to make changes.

There are plenty of phobias and isms out there, and most people probably harbor one or more of them. I would guess that almost all of us can take some category of people, stick “phobic” or “ist” after that category name, and claim that label in one way or another. The problem is not so much being able to do that – the problem is not being able to do that.

If we are unaware of our own internalized biases, then there is nothing to prevent us from acting on them. There is no inner control mechanism that stops us before we say or do something offensive, damaging, or dangerous, because we are not aware that we might. There is nothing that prevents us from allowing these biases to continue, within ourselves and within our society.

Sports Fanaticism Does Not Justify Racism

Last night, the Washington Capitols played the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Washington Capitals Winger Joel Ward scored the game winning goal in overtime, becoming the first Black man in NHL history to score a game 7 winning overtime goal in the playoffs.  Check out his moves.

Any hockey fan can tell you that tensions run high during the playoffs because hockey fans are incredibly invested in the team that they support.  The fact that this round came down to game 7 and overtime at that, most certainly increased the angst and the pressure to win.  Unfortunately, some Boston fans decided to take their frustration on the loss of their beloved Bruins to twitter, and that is where the racist vitriol ran amok.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Video: The Life You Want: A Young Woman's Struggle Through Addiction

This video documents the struggles with addiction to Oxycontin on a small Northern Ontario reservation. This small town has 1,200 residents and the community is falling apart due to addiction. There is a long wait time for treatment and many of the options available for most Canadians are none existent in this area. It is my belief that the community's remote location and the fact that the community is comprised of Native Canadians that this crises is not being discussed on a national level.  I know that this video is a touch long but it really must been seen.

h/t Anishinaabekwe

I choose my chair

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. 

I’ve been having pain flares with the added stress of college and being half way across the country. I have grinned and borne it until I couldn’t bear any more. After I went to Emerald City Comic-con and started lusting after power scooters and envying the people who were in wheel chairs because they got to sit down, I started to consider mobility aids more seriously. It was something that had crossed my mind before, but it was never something that I took very seriously. I used my cane, even though I knew that I needed something more.

My first experience with mobility aids was using the scooters in stores. And those made me happy. I could go to the whole store with my friends. I wasn’t limited by the pain in my knees or how tired I was. I could go with them, wherever they went. Some of the scooters were slower than others and some of them made annoying noises when you tried to back them up. Some of them couldn’t corner worth anything, but it was still better than my own mostly defective legs.

Unfortunately, power scooters are very, very expensive. They cost a lot of money and it something that wouldn’t be the most portable either. It would have been my first choice, but due to the cost I tried to research other options. There isn’t much out there that explains which mobility aid works the best for fibromyalgia, or if there is, I couldn’t find it. I wanted to know about how forearm crutches might make my knees better but they could potentially cause issues with my elbows. I wanted to know if long term wheel chair use would eventually result in arm pain.

Restaurant Makeover and the Colonization of Cultures of Colour

'03 digging into the roti - curry goat and potatoes' photo (c) 2008, Jason Lam - license:

For much of the day my television is on the Food Network.  Every morning at 9AM Food Network Canada airs Restaurant Makeover.  As the title suggests, the Food Network team attempts to help failing restaurants by pairing the owners with a top notch designer and a celebrity chef.  The owners typically pay fifteen thousand dollars, with Restaurant Makeover matching them dollar for dollar to achieve a brand new look and a new menu.

The last two mornings, The Food Network has aired episodes in which Restaurant Makeover has tackled West Indian restaurants.  The two chefs involved were Brad Long and Corbin Tomaszeski.  These men have extensive credentials, but neither of the two have had any experience with West Indian food. Both openly commented that they would have to do research before attempting to help the chefs at the restaurants they were trying to makeover. This was complicated by the fact that in Tomaszeski's episode, the owners were asked repeatedly what would happen if Restaurant Makeover rejected their desire to appear on the show.  It came across like begging for White intervention because they were incapable of cooking the food that originated in their culture, though they had been in business for over 15 years, doing special events.

At the beginning of every kitchen segment, the restaurant chef cooks a few meals for the celebrity chef.  In Long's episode, the restaurant chef presented him with roti, which he had never eaten before. Long didn't even know what a roti shell was made from.  It seems to me that having experience with island food and roti in particular, would be necessary to revamp a roti restaurant.  Long is famous for his use of fresh local ingredients in his food, but no island food is local to Toronto.  He had no business acting as expert in this situation.

Dining Out and Racism

'Eröffnung Restaurant Rheinspitz (Altenrhein, 07. Mai 2009)' photo (c) 2009, Poiseon Bild & Text - license:

We live in a White supremacist world which means anytime there is an interaction between a White person and a person of colour, race is always present.  In many cases, this translates into a negative for the person of colour involved.  A new study has revealed that Blacks are receiving lesser services in restaurants. 
Researchers wanted to determine the extent to which customers' race affects the way they are treated at , so the researchers surveyed 200 servers at 18 full-service chain restaurants in central North Carolina. The majority of the servers surveyed – approximately 86 percent – were white.

Survey results showed that 38.5 percent of servers reported that customers' race informed their level of service at least some of the time, often resulting in providing inferior service to African-American customers. Findings show that many servers perceive African-American customers to be impolite and/or poor tippers, suggesting that black patrons, in particular, are likely targets of servers' self-professed discriminatory actions.

The survey also found that 52.8 percent of servers reported seeing other servers discriminate against African-American customers by giving them poor service at least some of the time. Findings also show that restaurant servers share anti-black perceptions through racist workplace discourse, indicating a considerable amount of talk about the race of their patrons. Only 10.5 percent reported never engaging in or observing racialized discourse. [source]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Six Billion Dollar Sex Worker and The Bionic Prostitute?

Danny is a man that is trying to work his through the ups, downs, and all arounds of what being a man is all about. Along the way talks about video games, Japanese anime, computers and lots of other things that make up the whole man that he is trying to discover. He can found at Danny's Corner, Ethecofem, and Tumblr at Danny's Phototherapy 

I came across a FOX News article on a research paper on what the sex industry would be like in 2050 (there is a link to the paper there but its behind a pay wall). This sounds like an interesting idea. Something that will do a lot of good for a lot of people. But how much good will it do, how much harm will it do, and how many issues around prostitution could get pushed to the back burner (which I guess would be a harm in the long run)?

The science fiction blog io9 covered the paper as well. Entitled, "Robots, men and sex tourism" Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars of the University of Wellington's Victoria Management School propose robotic prostitution as a way to combat issues that currently plague the sex industry such as STDs/STIs, human trafficking, sexual abuse, and adultery.

The subject of the paper is the fictional club Yub-Yum, where people have sex with prostitutes who are not people but are androids (and from here on out I'll be using android instead of robot, as an android is a specific type of robot that is designed to resemble a human). Clients are able to choose from a wide variety of prostitutes built in the likenesses of any gender, ethnicity, age or body type imaginable and programmed to perform any act the client desires.

I'm of the mind that the idea of android prostitution would have some good sides.

For one there is risk of infection. With there being no human to human contact in human/android sex (the androids would be made from bacteria resistant materials and cleaned between clients to prevent transfer of disease and infection) the chances of infection would be extremely low.

The idea of android prostitutes could be a great idea for people who for whatever reason are just not very good with people. I suspect the shyness and fear that some people have around other people would not come into play here. This may give them a chance to still experience sex without that fear and shyness creeping up on them.

At the same time though I do wonder about possible negative side effects of prostitution.

As I said above about people who are overcome with shyness and fear of being around other it would be good for them since they would not have to worry about said shyness and fear coming. However there is a chance that instead of facing those problems they may use android prostitution as a shield to protect them from ever having to confront the problem.

Game of Thrones, Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones

We start in the Lannister war camp where 2 soldiers are deciding who is the best sword in the Seven Kingdoms and making gay jokes about Loras and Renly – until a surprise attack by Robb and his army taking out the camp. One of his advisors is pushing for him to torture the prisoners for more information –but Robb won’t give the Lannisters and excuse to abuse his sisters

And we get some rough field surgery of a Lannister soldier to remove his leg – with Robb willing to help even though it’s the enemy. The doctor who treated him has little time for lords and their wars and the cost they bring to common people. Especially since Robb has no plans for the Seven Kingdoms after Joffrey is deposed.
At Kings Landing Joffrey’s supporters are making up outlandish tales for how Robb is winning the war – and blaming Sansa for the loss and having her attacked and beaten in court – until Tyrion arrives and brings the awesome with him – reminding dear Joffrey that the “Mad” King Aerys thought he could do whatever he wanted with impunity as well before he was killed. He also has some masterful threats for the Kingsguard as well and kind tenderness for Sansa. Despite that, Sansa cannot trust even Tyrion.
Unfortunately then Tyrion and Bron discuss getting Joffrey laid to help temper his sadistic tendencies, oh no Tyrion, cling on to the awesome. Why do I think A prostitute will be involved soon?
And yes, the next scene there are 2 women in Joffrey’s rooms who proceed to make out with each other for Joffrey’s viewing pleasure. Joffrey is still a sadist however, and forces one woman to brutally beat the other.
Back with Tyrion, his cousin Lancell brings a writ from Cersei  to order the release of Pycelle. Oh, Cersei, Lancell is no match for Tyrion who threatens to tell Joffrey that Lancel is sleeping with Cersei. And Tyrion has another spy and agent.
At the travelling court of King Renly, Littlefinger has arrived to deal with him. Renly makes his contempt for the man utterly plain. Baelish tries to offer a secret compact with Renly, but Renly doesn’t have much truck with him.
That night, however, he meets Queen Margaery, and starts making several digs about Margaery having to sleep alone and Renly sleeping with Loras. Margaery has to subtly declare her loyalty to Renly for Baelish.

Look at the tokens, don’t look at the bigot behind the curtain

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.

Time to look at another annoying derail that the powers of privilege constantly raise in order to give me endless grey hairs.

“Not all X…” “Look, this X isn’t prejudiced! So all is wonderful!”

Oh, yes, the exceptions waved like a flag. Isn’t it the most common of derails? Whenever you criticise a huge societal force – like Whiteness or straightness – there is bound to be someone rushing forward to say “oh how very dare you!!!” and have little conniption fits because not all white/straight/men are like that!

It ignores the societal powers of these –  of a society that constantly upholds privilege, of a society that encourages entitlement of privilege, of a society that says that privileged people are more important, have more valid opinions, are more worthy of listening to, are more deserving, of a society that constantly frames anyone who doesn’t hold these privileges as less worthy of attention, less worthy of regard and less worthy in general.

And it ignores the gazillion ways that privileged people benefit from their privilege and uphold the system of privilege without even realising it – even when they actively do not want to. It ignores that said privilege cannot be cast aside and it ignores that said privilege is upheld and encouraged since birth.

It ignores that, even when speaking of a vast privileged force you are a part of, the discussion is NOT ABOUT YOU as an individual (albeit, there are definitely things to learn that you can do, be aware of and improve upon and there are very likely individual things you do do that are part of that societal force).