Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy 11th Birthday Baby Boy

Eleven years ago today, my oldest son Destruction was born.  I cannot believe how quickly the years have passed.  To me it feels like just yesterday that I brought him home from the hospital.  When he was a baby, I was absolutely terrified of him.  Having a baby is a huge responsibility and I thought about the myriad of ways that I could mess this up.  Together we developed a rhythm with him rewarding me with huge smiles and goopy kisses. 

Today, he is almost as tall as I am, and wears the same size shoe as his father.  I still see traces of his baby face, but I have to admit that he is well on his way to being a young man. It won't be long until I am looking up at my sweet baby boy and wondering where this man has suddenly come from. We have our moments when don't get along, but I know deep within my heart that the love between us is true.  It manifests in those looks of concern when he sees me in pain, and in those after school kisses when he asks me about my day.  We laugh and we hug.  To be with him is to be loved in the purest way possible.

Recently, I have started to teach him to cook.  I love being with him in the kitchen.  He has turned into quite the perfectionist, though I have tried to tell him that  mistakes happen all of the time.  I love the look of pride on his face as he presents his food, and cooking together has for us become a way to share and continually renew our connection.

He has given me so many moments of pride.  Destruction is gentle and kind.  He is also extremely astute - dealing with concepts that I have seen so many adults have trouble with.  He has the courage of his convictions in a way that I have yet still to grasp. He is uncompromising in his commitment to justice.  If necessary, he is more than willing to call out his friends, teachers and even us.  He is never shy about expressing his opinion and I have learned from him, just as he has learned from me.  

They don't tell you when you have a baby about the fact that the exchange between mother and child is not one sided. He has acted as my carer since I have been disabled and I know that I can count on him.  He has had to mature much faster than I would have liked, but the result is a remarkable boy that I cannot help but love and more importantly like.  I miss his toothless grin and I miss when he could still sit in my lap, but in return I have gotten a mature, sweet young man who warms my heart. At this rate, one day soon I may be sitting in his lap but I know that whatever the future holds for my sweet son, that it will always involve love.

This year my sweet boy, as always I wish you nothing but happiness and success.  I know that the coming years are going to be very difficult, as you negotiate puberty, but I want you to know that I am always and forever on your side and will do anything in my power to guide you and protect you.  No matter how tall you get, or how far you may eventually go, I will always love you and if you take nothing else from our years together, please remember that. You have given me the purest love and the purest moments of joy.  One of the happiest days of my life was the day you were born and you have given me so many good days just by being you. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Daily Fanpoodle, Drama Queenz Season 1 Episode Four

Into each life a little rain must fall show the roommates have one of those days, where you wonder why you even got out of bed.  It leaves one being thankful that at least there's chocolate.

Okay fellow poodles, what are your thoughts on this episode?


Revamping the Bechdel Test For Disabled People

'Free Freshly Painted Handicap Wheelchair Parking Sign in Parking Lot Creative Commons' photo (c) 2011, D. Sharon Pruitt - license:

The awesome Tami Harris wrote a very interesting piece at Clutch magazine regarding the Bechdel Test, which was created to examine gender bias in media.  Tami took this approach one step further to examine the portrayal of people of colour in the media. Tami posed the question: What is the minimum standard for portrayals of people of color?

In the end, she created the following list using suggestions from myself and self  and several other bloggers of colour: 
  1. One or more named people of color
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. Who don’t act in a service capacity (No magical brown people!)
  4. Who are reflective of their culture and history, but don’t communicate that through stereotyped action, such as an affected accent
I think this is a pretty great start towards better characters of colour in the media.  I was very inspired reading this. There is absolutely no reason each marginalized group shouldn't have their own list of what constitutes a good portrayal in the media.

When I was TAB, I was not very cognizant of the harmful ableism that happens in the media. It took becoming disabled and living with ableism for me to really open my eyes. Learning about disability is an ongoing project for me, and I know I still fail at times to recognize my own internalized ableism when it comes to people who live with a different disability than I do. 

Anna Paquin Is Not Defending Her Bisexuality

'2011-03-18 19:39:22' photo (c) 2011, Kata Rina - license:

I had no idea who Anna Paquin was until I started watching HBO's True Blood.  Being a fan of the show, I have kept abreast of any news regarding the stars. In 2010, Paquin revealed to the world that she is bisexual, though at the time she was dating her future husband and fellow True Blood star Stephen Moyer.

Paquin participated in a PSA along with Elton John, Wanda Sykes, Cyndi Lauper and Whoopi Goldberg in which she came out and spoke out against GLBT hate crimes.

Paquin recently did an interview with Zooey magazine which was covered by the New York Post. Paquin spoke once again about her bisexuality.
"For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision. It’s not being greedy or numerous other ignorant things I’ve heard at this point. For a bisexual, it’s not about gender. That’s not the deciding factor for who they’re attracted to."

Magically Diverse, Humanly Erased

'Multicultural Mural' photo (c) 2011, Michael Coghlan - license:

One thing we love in most Urban Fantasy is a rich world. I have to say that they’re my favourite kind - maybe I’m jaded, maybe I’m greedy, but vampires alone just don’t do it for me any more. I love A world that has a vast range of creatures in it - it has vampires, it has fae, it has magic, it has werecreatures, it has demons and angels and all variety of things that go bump in the night. We have different realms, we have creatures drawn from every corner of the world’s mythology - and it makes for truly excellent worlds and stories. These diverse worlds are great to read, great to watch and among some of our favourite Urban Fantasy products.

Unfortunately, it does make something glaring - we have these worlds with this vast diversity of monsters, but the humans within these stories are anything but diverse. We have these homogeneous worlds lacking in more than a token appearance of POC or GBLT people or other marginalised people. We can have this vast portrayal of every kind of creature imaginable - but only ever one or two kind of people

We see several extremely rich worlds that have, at best, only the slightest of minor tokens. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files has an amazingly diverse world. We have three vast and very different courts of vampires, we have several variations on werewolves. We have the warring Summer and Winter courts of the fae and the vast diversity within each. We have wizards, we have demons (several kinds again) we have an incredibly rich world here. And we have, at best, token, brief appearances of POC and no GBLT characters at all. This Chicago is magically diverse yet incredibly homogeneous.

Speaking of Chicago - Chloe Neill’s
Chicagoland Vampires also have a growing diversity of creatures - vampires, wizards, river nymphs, sirens, wereanimals - it’s all there, each more fascinating then the last. The people, however? As straight and white as they possibly can be.

I absolutely loved the succubus series by Richelle Mead.  I loved that it had a large world that included many supernatural creatures but it did not escape my notice that Mead could not be arsed to even attempt inclusion.  All the characters were White, straight, cis gendered and able bodied.  So much imagination had to go into writing lines for a succubus who was friends with demons, vampires and an imp.  At times it felt like the large supernatural cast was meant to cover for the lack of diversity in the series itself.  

Last year we coined the term the Marginalised Maris. One of the ways in which authors attempt to allude to diversity is by talking about a marginalized character without ever really introducing the character to the audience.  A perfect example of this is the Anna Strong Series by Jeanne C. Stein.  Stein went to great care to create an extremely diverse word which includes, several forms of shape shifters, vampires, witches etc., but manages to do in an all straight, white, cis world. In, The Becoming, we are told about Michael, Anna’s gay best friend.  The only thing we learn about him is that he has been gay bashed. He never becomes a part of the story, he exists solely as a cheap reference for some quick GLBT inclusion.  Stein was far more interested in creating a diverse cast o supernatural creatures than having a diverse cast of marginalized human beings. 

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Daily Fanpoodle, Drama Queenz Season 1 Episode Three Part 1 and 2

Okay fellow fanpoodles, today we are going to discuss both parts of episode three today.

In this first section, the roommates discover just how small the world is.  Living in a home with only one bathroom, I can absolutely relate with the struggle to get in there.  I have been Davis, screaming about the hot water.  Jerimiah seems to be pleased to see Donovan later and the Preston and Davis are not buying the getting together to train routine.  Preston gets a lesson in what not being committed to a relationship looks like.  I do however think it was not cool for his lover to visit his place of employment to throw another man in his face.

In this second part, the roommates learn that when life dishes out bad, that it throws out some good to balance thins out.  Davis gets dropped by his roommate, but runs into that cute stranger from the park.  Preston is upset about seeing his lover with another man, but gets a call back on an audition.

Okay fellow poodles, what did you think of episode 3?

Churches Chicken Has Black Folks Steppin'

Though we tend to get many of the same ads aired in the U.S., I must confess that I have not seen the following advertisements on the air in Canada.

Wow, mom brings home some chicken and so of course the kids have their step routine on and then not to be outdone, Daddy's got to throw down as well.

This time there isn't a full blown step routine, but that doesn't stop the Black kids from clapping and getting their groove on. 

Happy Birthday Monica

Hey everyone, my no corn bread giving, Tim Horton's drinking homegirl Monica of Transgriot turns the big.

5-0 today.

So, in honour of Monica reaching the half century mark I thought we could do a list of things that are older than her:
  • The wheel is older than Monica
  • Fire, is older than Monica
  • The windmill, is older than Monica
  • The Model T Car is older than Monica
  • The Radio is older than Monica
  • and finally, dirt is older than Monica
Alright folks, I got that from one of Moni's fav shows the Cosby Show.  On a serious note, Monica you have been a great friend to me and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it.  I wish you nothing but the best in the years to come, and the world is better place for having you in it all these years, though girlfriend, you need to put down the hose and step away. 

The Unwritten Rules Episode Two

Last week I posted the first episode of The Unwritten Rules, which is a webseries about being the only person of colour in an all White space.  Having been in this position, I can tell you that I really relate with this series.  In the following video, the protagonist brings mac n cheese and oxtail for lunch.  This of course excites the White folk, who cannot help but comment on her food.  One man even goes as far as to offer her a grape soda.  Everyone knows that when Black folk aren't drinking kool aid, we are downing grape soda by the gallon.

For this episode I thought we could talk about the racist incidents that involve food. 

Kutcher Dons Brownface to Sell Chips

If the intent is to make people laugh, selling a product using Brownface isn't in the least bit racist right?

The above image is Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Raj, and Indian character determined to find love.  According to the New York Times, the campaign was developed by Kutcher, PopChips and an advertising agency named Zambesi, and cost an estimated $1.5 million.  I suppose when it comes to Whiteness investing in racism and promoting racist stereotypes, cost is not object. Let's have a look at what all this money bought them.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pastor Sean Harris Advocates Beating The Gay Away

Next week there will be a vote on Amendment 1, which would add a ban on gay marriage to North Carolina's constitution.  Filled with false righteousness and determined to influence the decision, Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, took to his pulpit to advocate strict adherence to the gender binary, and compulsary heterosexuality for all children.  For this bigot, conformity begins in the home and to ensure that children are properly abused, Harris even go as far as to suggest that fathers should punch their sons.
So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, "Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do." You get out the camera, and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female, and then you upload it to YouTube, and everybody laughs about it, and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid, is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Shaming a four year old child for expression is disgusting.  It had me thinking about an incident I had about a month ago in which a parent decided to inform me that I was going to make my youngest son Mayhem gay, by allowing him to wear nail polish and encouraging his love of dancing. As you might well imagine, the conversation did not go well for the bigot.  What Pastor Harris is advocating is so incredibly emotionally harmful for children.  Kids should be free to explore who they are in a safe environment without constantly being policed, and if they do happen to be GLBT kids, no amount of forced conformity is going to change that.  All you are teaching your child is that hate is acceptable, and that you don't believe in unconditional love.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? "You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male."
 So, if ordering a change in behaviour does not work, it's okay to be violent with a child.  I hope to heaven that this man does not have any children. As a pastor, he is supposed to minister to his flock and tend to the weak and defenseless, and instead he is using his power to do the exact opposite.  What ever happened to love one another as I have loved you? No, it's only more violence in the name of God and parental rights.

Daily Fanpoodle, Drama Queenz Season 1 Episode Two

Okay folks, yesterday some of you skipped ahead and cheated.  Bad, bad, bad fanpoodles. I am glad that you are enjoying the series.  I apologize for not warning you ahead of time about the usage of the word "bitch" by the actors to refer to themselves.  As women, we all have different feelings about this word, and I respect your decision to bow out if this bothers you.

Okay, let's hit it in the comments and discuss this episode.  Anyone skipping ahead will be subjected to the eyebrow of disapproval. Be warned this is far more terrible than the side eye. LOL

What Beauty Is

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.   

We had to fill out a values workshop for class. The goal was to circle the things that we most believed in. One of the things I circled was beauty. The word called to me, and originally I was a little ashamed of it. I didn’t want to pick it because it was shallow. I started to think more about why, exactly, I wanted to pick beauty if I really believed it was so shallow. I was reluctant to choose it because I did not want people to believe me shallow and I did not really think that an essay would go well with a one word choice. I did not want a word that was so easily used to oppress both women and men and one that limited people of different colors or sizes. And then I started thinking about what I really found beautiful, what drew me to the word and why it was important.

Beauty is a survivor healing. It is someone seeing that their life has been torn to shreds. This beautiful dream that they have been trying to live suddenly got morphed into a nightmare. There is wreckage to pick up, old habits to ditch and new ones to build up. They are haunted, but they keep going. This persistence in the face of a world that gives them no help is beautiful. There is beauty in the courage that is at the heart of every survivor. The life that they build on top of the wreckage of what used to be will be far more beautiful than anything else, simply because of the struggle that it took to turn the wreckage into something livable.

Mad Men: A Father and His Daughter's Vagina

'243/365: Mad' photo (c) 2009, PlayfulLibrarian - license:

Sunday is must see television in this house.  Right after Once Upon a Time, the unhusband and I sit down and watch the Game of Thrones, and then he makes himself busy while I watch Mad Men.  I have been thinking a lot about a single line from this week's episode.  I'll set the stage for those who aren't familiar with the show.  Sally has been allowed to attend her father Don Draper's award ceremony.  She enters the room wearing a short silver go-go dress, long white boots and makeup.  This is the first time that we get to see Sally move from a little girl, to a young woman.  Don is not pleased and immediately demands that she lose the makeup and the boots or stay home. Don's father in-law Dr. Calvet pipes in that Don must get used the idea that his little girl will inevitably, "spread her legs and fly away". Megan, Don's wife tries to brush his commentary aside as a linguistic issue, since the Dr. Calvet is  Québécois, and says the correct word is wings.
I don't for one minute believe that this was a problem of linguistics. Instead, Dr. Calvets input served as accurate commentary about the constant regret, and controlling manner in which fathers commonly speak about their daughters sexuality.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard men joke about locking their daughters in their rooms until they are 40.  Another personal favourite is the former playa playa who sees having a daughter as punishment for his past sexual antics and history of disrespecting women. Daughters are the curse that come back to haunt you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Watch Drama Queenz With Me

As Sparky can attest, I rarely fanpoodle but when I do, it's ugly.  Last week I fell absolutely in lurve with Drama Queenz, a webseries about three gay Black BFF's trying to make it as actors, singers and dancers in NYC.  When I hit fanpoodle mode, I need to have contact with at least one other fanpoodle, so that we may talk about the precious and squee.  After all, what good is fanpoodling without tons and tons of squee?  So in the interest of much squee, which Sparky has denied me because he has been busy, [yes, he's my resident squee buddy] I am attempting to create some squee.  Check out the first episode folks and let me know what you think.  I am going to post one episode a day until we reach the end.  No fair hightailing it to youtube to see the rest.  We must squee and poodle together.

Christian homophobia doesn't only exist in fringe churches

 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.

I’m going to have a rant here because there’s a huge raft of homophobia that I’m constantly seeing that I am beyond sick of. It’s a form of apologism that constantly denies and excuses homophobia – the idea that Christian homophobia only exists in fringe churches.

I am tired of the “fundamentalist” derailment/deception/apologism I am seeing . I am tired of people pretending that homophobia in Christianity only exists on the fringes. I am tired of people using these words and phrases to pretend that the hatred only lies on the extreme edge. I am tired of people pretending that “mainstream” Christianity, “real” Christianity is homophobia free.

The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the vast majority of Protestant denominations and most certainly the Church of England are homophobic. Does “fundamentalist” now include the vast majority of Christianity?

To characterise homophobia as a problem that is limited to “fundamentalist” “right wing” or “extreme”  churches is to completely ignore and dismiss homophobia as is practiced by the world’s largest Christian denominations – and the world’s largest religions for that matter. The problem isn’t the Westboro Baptist Church – people know them, hate them and treat them with the contempt they deserve. The problem is the Catholic church whose rhetoric is scarcely less hateful (if, in fact, it is less hateful at all – the Pope has just declared us a threat to the future of humanity. Seriously) the problem is the Anglican church which is a major force against our every attempt at equality in the UK and world wide has its fingers deeply in the GBLT genocide. The problem is religious charities like the Salvation Army are continually expected to fulfill the gaps of our endlessly waning social services while at the same time being massive forces of bigotry.

Game of Thrones. Season 2, Episode 5: The Ghosts of Harrenhall

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 start with King Renly, in his camp who was facing off against his older brother Stannis last week. He’s in discussion with Catelyn the Spunky who is assuring him that Robb has no interest in the Iron Throne – and them agreeing that Robb can be King the North but swear fealty to the Iron Throne. In exchange Baratheon and Stark will ally. But, despite Catelyn getting everything Robb could want, she still urges Renly to make peace with Stannis (why? On what ground? They both want to be king, Renly has the larger army – what compromise should Renly offer to a man who is famous for being uncompromising? And why is she even negotiating on Stannis’ behalf?)

However the discussion becomes moot when the evil shadow Melisandre conjured last week appears and kills Renly. Since the shadow disappears that leaves Brienne being blamed for his death – and forced to kill the guards to defend herself. Her grief over dead Renly is extreme and poignant – she always loved her king. Catelyn the Spunky convinces her to flee so she can avenge him later. Meanwhile Loras and Maegery are convinced to flee as well by Baelish.

We later see Brienne and Catelyn riding north to Robb’s camp – and Catelyn’s plan to return to Winterfell. She wants to convince Brienne to join Robb rather than waste her life trying to kill Stannis. Brienne instead swears to serve Catelyn, so long as she is not held back from avenging Renly and killing Stannis and Catelyn accepts her fealty.

To Kings Landing where Cersei and Tyrion are discussing Renly’s death. Cersei is celebrating – but Tyrion is worried because now the whole army is united behind Stannis. Cersei is also bitter about Tyrion’s plans to send Marcella to Dorne – but Tyrion says she’d be safer there – and that Marcella is a sweet, innocent girl (unlike her mother). Tyrion wants to talk about the siege preparations but Joffrey has decided to handle that himself – or so Cersei says.

Of course, Tyrion has other sources even if Cersei is stonewalling him and learn as about her plan to use wild-fire (like Greek Fire) against Stannis’s forces. He also tortures poor Lancel most cruelly (and amusingly).  He walks the streets of Kings Landing considering Tywin’s many losses against Robb and what chance they have against Stannis’s army – pausing at a street preacher to consider that dear King Joffrey is a horrendous choice as well. I’m glad that Tyrion firmly rejects and is angered by being called a demon moneky and manipulating the king – since he is doing his best to save them. He doesn’t just accept it.

Tyrion consults an alchemist to find out about wildfire, something that the Targaryens used to hold onto power after their dragons died – a chemical that burns extremely hot. Bronn, a ware veteran, is doubtful because people panic, even well trained soldiers and there’s a high chance of the pots breaking before they’re fired in the chaos – burning the city down. The alchemist has over 7,000 jars. Tyrion is also wary of wild fire – so decides to take control

Over to Stannis, he is pointedly not grieving for his brother Renly – and Ser Davros is most disturbed by what he saw with Melisandre but Stannis won’t talk about it or any debate about Lady Melisandre. He finally listens and agrees to lead the attack without Melisandre in the face of Davros’s hard truths.

With Tywin’s army at Harenhall, Arya is serving as cupbearer for Lord Tywin. Tywin shows himself to be a very intelligent man with very little willingness to believe what he wants and deny reality – facing the harsh truth that Robb Stark is a powerful force and they can’t keep underestimating him. he also pegs Arya as a northerner and asks her what they say about Robb – Arya tells some great tales about Robb and even mixes in a rather good, subtle threat. Arya also meets again with Jaqen H'ghar, the criminal who was being taken to the wall to the Nights Watch whose life she saved – he owes her 3 deaths. She chooses the Tickler (the torturer) first – I’d have gone with Tywin myself. And later, the Tickler is found suddenly dead.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Jon Hamm Does Blackface on '30 Rock'

Last Thursday, 30 Rock did their second live show.  It featured many stars, but what it will probably be most remembered for, was a scene in which Jon Hamm donned Blackface to make a statement, about the racist actions of media in the past.

As you can see from the above image, Hamm's makeup did not cover his entire face, and so clearly it was meant to be satire. The problem is that Blackface in the media is not a thing of the past, as this skit suggests.  At this year's Oscars, Billy Crystal donned Blackface to impersonate Sammy Davis Jr. Comedian Dave Ackerman chose to dress in Blackface to ask BYU students about racism and black history month.  Somehow, he missed the point that one should not engage in racism, while trying to make a point about racism. America's Next Top Model and French Vogue have also had blackface incidents. Claudia Schiffer posed in Blackface for Karl Lagerfeld, but don't get upset folks, they were only trying to be "edgy" not offensive.  

Sexist Islamaphobes Call Me Things: Guest Blogging While Female at Womanist Musings

Allison McCarthy is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Bitch, Ms. (blog), AlterNet, Girlistic, Global Comment, ColorsNW, The Baltimore Review, Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen, and Hoax, as well as in the anthologies Robot Hearts: Twisted and True Tales of Seeking Love in the Digital Age (Pinchback Press) and Dear Sister: Letters to Survivors of Sexual Violence (forthcoming).  Her guest column for GOOD magazine was selected as an Editor's Favorite for 2011.  She is currently a graduate student in the Master of Professional Writing program at Chatham University and lives in Maryland. 

Last month, I published a guest piece at Womanist Musings, “In Memory of Shaima Alawadi.” The poem was reprinted from my Tumblr account with my full permission.  Per Renee’s directive, I also included a photo and a brief biography of my most recent writing credits.  Given the content and the anti-Muslim, anti-women of color sentiments that pervade the blogosphere, I expected some pushback to the piece. But what happened next went beyond the limits of my feminist imagination and into the realm of Troll-dom.

My poem was based on a video interview with Fatima Alawadi, Shaima’s daughter, who found her mother’s body and sobbed throughout the local news story, calling her mother’s killers “animals without a God.” As a writer and sometimes-poet, I responded to the story via poetry, trying to capture the horror and sadness of a hate crime and the grief of her surviving daughter.  As a white feminist, it troubles me that issues which impact the lives of women of color are often silenced in online communities.  My writing was an attempt to counteract that silence.

Since the interview and the poem’s subsequent publication, there have been questions about the killer’s identity.  My writing was based on the video and activist links from the Facebook group One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi.   I encourage thoughtful discussion and debate; it is what shapes our arguments and makes us more accountable community members.  You don’t have to think I’m a stellar poet (I’m not) or think every word I spout is Gospel (it isn’t) in order to critique my work.

But what I cannot encourage is the outright theft of my image and work –  in fact, such actions are in violation of Blogspot and Google’s Fair Use & Copyright agreements.  After my poem and byline went live, the work was stolen by the blogs BlazingCatFur and AnsweringMuslims.  Renee reported BlazingCatFur to Google and the image was removed, replaced by a large pair of breasts (lovingly decontextualized without a face – because sexism lives on even when Google shuts your sorry ass down and tells you to play nice with the other bloggers!), and the text of my poem links back to Womanist Musings.  At this moment, AnsweringMuslims still has the text of my poem reprinted without my permission or a link back to Womanist Musings.  Pretty brazen violation of copyright, no?

Against my friend’s advice, I waded through the commentary at both blogs, determined to gauge people’s responses.  Keep in mind: the sites I’ve written for thus far are social-justice minded.  Sure, there’s been disagreement, but I’ve never been subjected to anything as personal, vicious, or gut-wrenchingly sexist as the commentary I share with you now.

How Safe Will I Be if I Start Blossoming Into the Lovely Ladyboy That I Am?

Biyuti is a bakla Filipina living on stolen Algonquin land. He works to sustain and increase the biyuti of the world through decolonization and through her explorations of the intersections of race with queerness/gender. She also blogs at The Biyuti Collective and you can find her on Twitter: @JustBiyuti.   

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about (my) gender recently. And, to be quite frank, it is exhausting. My heart is deeply weary from all the hours and energy I’ve been putting into decolonizing my mind and gender. The hours and hours of thinking and feeling being put into trying to articulate who and what I am outside of a white supremacist, colonialist construct of gender.

And I’m tired. Bone tired. My heart is heavy and my brain just wants to stop thinking about all of this. Because it doesn’t just stop at my being able to conceptualize and articulate what my gender is or means. There is all the other stuff...

Stuff like wondering how safe I’ll be if I start blossoming into the lovely ladyboy that I am. Safety is a big concern of mine because of the greater danger that PoC gender minorities face. The stats aren’t good. I need to eat. Have a place to live. You know. Survive. Live.

I took a few steps into the trans* community recently. Like, tiny baby steps. Engaged some people. And it was definitely enough for me to realize that the trans* community isn’t my community.

(Even as I make the mistake of thinking that the people I’ve interacted with are representative of the ‘community.’ But... sometimes decisions like this need to be made. And after my experiences with the queer community [i.e., the rampant racism, femme phobia, etc.], my self-esteem simply can’t take anymore erasure and invalidation.)

The Importance of Webseries

'Powerbook and Monitor' photo (c) 2004, Brian Rosner - license:

I have not been feeling well the last few days, and so I spent quite a bit of time watching webseries. For the longest time I had promised myself that I would watch The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl and so I began there, and then moved onto Drama Queenz [note; I am a complete fanpoodle if this series].  Sparky and I have written previously about the importance of self published books, and I think that webseries are the equivalent in terms of television.  Shows that feature the lives of historically marginalized characters are rare and more often than not, we are relegated to the role of bff/sidekick, that is, when we are visible at all.  If shows featuring historically marginalized people was commonplace, there not have been such excitement surrounding the premier of  Scandal staring Kerry Washington. 

It is absolutely imperative that these shows exist.  Young historically marginalized people need to see themselves reflected in everyday media.  These web series offer this chance, and that is exactly why The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl is threatening to some.  This show beat out 783 other web series to win the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show.   Shortly after the announcement, the creator Issa Rae was inundated with racist tweets. She responded with far more class than I would have. I highly doubt that a show that was written and produced by any other historically marginalized group would have gotten a different response, simply because we are not expected to take up any space.

Webseries give us the opportunity to tell our stories and create media that is true to our vision of ourselves.  We already know that most writing rooms are filled with straight White men and so it is hardly surprising that the few roles that they create for us are normally secondary.  Ironically, when  marginalized people complain about the bias in media, the constant retort is if you don't like it, go make your own.   Well the response to the success of The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl tells us that what they really mean is be quiet and accept what we give you. You see, those that taunt that we should go make our own, are very well aware of the gatekeeping involved in the various forms of media, and so the fact that some have found a way around the many road blocks is infuriating to them.