Friday, August 3, 2012

50 Shades of Grayskull - Jimmy Fallon

I simply had to share this! See if you can watch it without giggling.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The T is Not for Token (Or why the gay marriage campaign makes me angry)

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.

It has become the norm to refer to anything involving gay and lesbians as involving the LGBT community. This can be fine, because including bisexual and transgender people is important. The problem is that a lot of the time transgender people AREN’T included. Whether or not the piece being written or filmed has anything to do with the transgender community, the acronym LGBT is used.

The biggest example I can think of is the gay marriage movement. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that the only thing that matters for marriage is that it is between two consenting adults, but the gay marriage movement is something that is extraordinarily frustrating. It is a “safe” cause, one that celebrities can endorse without taking too much flack. The Human Rights Campaign focuses primarily on gay marriage. It is also the cause that many “allies” take up when they want to prove that they are down with gay people. It is something that average people will agree with, even if they know nothing about transgender rights or anything to do with the rest of the LGBT community.

Gay marriage is also a glamorous issue. It involves true love, lifelong commitment, and the sadness of partners who have been together for decades who cannot get married. It plays into the romance stories and fairy tales of our society and gives people an opportunity to create a happy ending. There is perhaps nothing more enticing to the ordinary person than being able to make a love story come true. This also means that the media coverage for gay marriage tends to be a whole lot more respectful towards those involved than the coverage for transgender people. There are stories of couples who have been together for years who were first in line for a marriage certificate and tasteful pictures. The same respect is not given to transgender people, who must show before and after pictures, as if to prove their trans* ness to the world around them at large.

the Unwritten Rules: Ep.5 "The Whack Girl"

Hey everyone, below you will find the latest episode of The UnWritten Rules.  I am a huge fan of this series so I just had to share.  This episode deals with being to Black to blend in with your White co-workers and not deemed not Black enough to fit in with the other Black employees.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just cannot catch a break.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can we stop treating gay people as pets?

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 think I need to check the local pet shops to see if they sell Gay Treats. After all, there are so many straight folk out there that treat us as pets that I’m amazed there isn’t someone trying to make money off it.

I have reached a point where I simply cannot be surprised any more by how condescending straight allies can be. There is so much head patting, so much petting and so little attempt to treat gay people as actual adults. I want to say a general “can we just stop?” can we stop treating gay people as pets, or children, or toys? Can we just stop with the constant diminishing language and dismissive treatment? Can we stop being treated as negligible people? But there are specific instances in particular that are getting on my last nerve and these need to stop.

The Whole “Gay Best Friend” Bullshit

I have ranted about this before but it isn’t going away and I am past tired of it.

I am tired of endless television shows and books having straight women with a gay man as a servant or side-kick. Usually clogged with stereotypes, this man exists to serve and support the straight woman – usually in trope laden ways (fashion usually, but also her latest romances). They’re not people, they’re pets, servants.

And it’s bled over into real life – magazines from O Magazine, to Teen Vogue have extolled the virtues of accessorising with a GBF (Actual Quote: The must-have items for her fashionista classmates included a Proenza Schouler tie-dyed top, a shrunken military jacket, neon-bright chunky bracelets, and. a gay best friend). Celebrities are showing off their GBFs – and we have a whole culture of straight women using gay men as servants, toys and pets. I have been introduced as “my gay friend” I have had near strangers believe I am their bestest friend ever because they simply “must have a gay”. Who I am, what I do, my personality, opinions, my profession, even my full name are not only unknown to many of these people, but they’re irrelevant as well. I’m not a person to them.

We’re toys. We’re pets.  We’re not people. When you treat us like this, you are not an ally, you are not a friend – you are a homophobe. And no, you don’t have to be a violent-slur throwing arsehole to be a homophobe.


My pet hate. And definitely one I have mentioned before. And again. And again and again.

The number of people who think that thinking GBLT people are oh-so-sexy and make for viewing pleasure somehow makes them the greatest ally ever is staggering. Just because you aren’t running screaming at the sight of a same-sex kiss doesn’t make you the most pro-gay person ever, nor does it mean you aren’t a homophobe.

It’s creepy, it’s fetishistic and it reduces us to poseable objects for your amusement. And, again, it bleeds over into real life. People expect GBLT people to perform for their amusement. They go into our spaces to drool, to make horrendous suggestions and, ye gods, to take pictures.

We’re things, objects, ornaments –  not actual people.

Monday, July 30, 2012

True Blood Season Five, Episode Eight: Somebody That I Used to Know

True Blood opens at the hospital where the man Sam caught is being taken away from the hospital by Andy in handcuffs.  Luna is extremely upset because to her, they are everywhere.  Sam tries to calm her by saying that he is on it that she has police stationed outside her door, and then leaves for the station.  This does not calm Luna down and she shifts into Sam and promptly passes out.  

The vampires are still higher than hell from their night of debauchery, save Eric who is looking at them in a shocked state.  He has to ask Bill what happened and Bill tells him that they saw Lilith, but Eric is not convinced because they are high.

Jason confronts Sookie who says she is dumping all of her fairy light because she is a freak and wants to be normal.  Jason tells her that if she were normal that she would never have met Bill and he points out that they had real love, which is something not everyone gets. He reminds her that she got to talk to their grandmother one last time and that doesn't happen to normal folk. He even points out that her fae power is a legacy of their parents and that nothing is going to feel right until they find out who killed them. Once again, someone is there to save Sookie from herself. I know that he is her brother, but at the same time, it irks me that someone is always there for her when she is resistant to spending even two second focusing on someone else.  Given her penchant for getting into trouble, how much sense did it make to get rid of the one thing that gives her power?

Back at the hospital, Luna is coming to and is shocked to see herself as Sam.  She walks out of the hospital telling the cop to mind his own God damned business.  When Sam Trammell is given the opportunity to try something new on the show, he really invests in it.  Watching him sashay out of the hospital actually had me cracking up a little bit. 

At Fangtasia, Jessica is doing her thing, when a man starts to come on to her, tempting her with his blood.  I still very much like this new naughty Jessica, who is in control of her wants and needs.

At the authority compound, the vampires are discussing how they never really believed in Lilith until last night. Of course, Russel steals the moment by saying "God has the most beautiful tits I've ever seen."  He then declares that he is born again along with Steve Newlin.  Salome believes that this is a sign that Roman's death has been sanctioned by God. Steve is sent off to gather up a few humans and Eric bows out saying that he has had enough fun for one night. Before leaving, he and Bill share a very pointed look, but Bill remains with the other vampires.

Alcide is very busy getting his wolf thing on and can I say that I am impressed with the fact that True Blood actually decided to depict cunnilingus, because this is an act that is highly erased from sex scenes in the media.  Sex is often portrayed strictly from the male gaze, and this often precludes acts which give women pleasure. 

Salome sets up a late night snack for Bill and when he refuses, she demands that he feed on this woman as God has commanded.  Bill says that he has fathered children and cannot take this woman away from them, but Salome counters with the fact that he didn't make them vampire and keep them with him forever. We get a flashback to Bill's daughter's deathbed.  She asks him to make her like him, because she does not want to die, but Bill says that he cannot because immortality is a curse. She cries that she can feel herself rotting and begs him, as Bill pulls away from her.  Salome says that God chose to make vampires in his own likeness to transcend human notions of morality and that to refuse God's gift is blasphemy.  Bill decides to drink from the woman, as Salome says a prayer of thanks.

Hoyt arrives at the hideout of the human shifter killers and finds that Jessica has been silvered to welcome him to the group. Apparently, they targeted Jessica because she broke Hoyt's heart. They show her a gun with six shots of wooden bullets and then hand the gun off to Hoyt. They start to pressure Hoyt to kill Jessica, saying that it will feel good and then walk out of the room, leaving him alone with her.

Sookie and Jason head to the fae club hoping to find the vampire who killed their parents. When they are resistant, she asks loudly if they have any idea what it is to have someone you love murdered by a vampire.  Umm hello, Claude's sister was killed by Eric last season -- of course they know -- but Sookie cannot be sensitive when she wants to get her own way. Claude tells them that they have a bond and that he cares about her.  I for one have no idea why he would actually give a damn about little Miss Self Important.  They agree to meet at the bridge where her parents where murdered.

Lafayette is driving back and sees the wounds on his lips from them being sewn shut. When he pulls out the first aid kit behind the visor, he finds that the kit has a picture of Jesus on it. With tears in his eyes, he pulls out some V and applies it to his lips so that they can heal.  Jesus appears in the car beside him and he says thanks.  When Lafayette asks if Jesus is real, Jesus says it doesn't matter and offers him his hand. This scene was so brief, but it touched me because it reminded us of everything Lafayette lost and how deep his pain goes. 

At the station, Sam and Andy are questioning the suspect but when he refuses to talk, Andy asks for a minute alone with him. Andy says it's illegal but he leaves anyway. When Sam starts to undress, the man says "I ain't no fucking homo" and Sam responds, "neither am I," before turning into a snake. I guess it would have been too much to ask for True Blood to just have one stinking episode without some homophobia thrown in.

The Problem with Awarding Victoria Foyt’s Save the Pearls

I have a new piece up at Clutch magazine.

Each day between indie and professional publishing, thousands of books are released. Most of these novels will never achieve notoriety, but a select few manage to rise above obscurity and create a space in our collective imaginations.  Victoria Foyt’s Save the Pearls is one such novel and it recently won the prestigious Eric Hoffer award in the category of Young Adult.  This novel first caught my attention when I noticed several people of color tweeting about the racism in the plot and expressing horror that such a novel could possibly receive a literary award.  The following is Eden’s (the protagonist) mating video, in which she lists what she wants in a partner and why.

As you can see from the video, Eden is wearing blackface and this is because Foyt’s work is set in a dystopian world wherein Pearls (read: White People) are actively oppressed and outnumbered by Coals (read: Blacks).   Humans live in caves and fear something called the Heat, due to the destruction of the environment and ultraviolet rays. The amount of melanin in one’s skin is the primary indicator of which bodies are considered valuable and who is most likely to survive. Essentially, in Foyt’s vision of our future, there will be a role reversal in terms of social and institutional power, as blacks benefit directly from the skin color which has plagued us since humanity decided to apply a negative value to difference.

In her piece at the Huffington Post, Foyt makes it clear she subscribes to a color-blind mentality and suggests that her book has not received many negative reviews in spite of the subject matter. Foyt goes so far as to discuss a positive reaction by African-American reviewers and argues against negative reviews by saying that the youth are more progressive. Though  Foyt makes it clear that she is cognizant that we are not post racial, she heavily implies otherwise by suggesting that generational riffs have resulted in youth who have not experienced Jim Crow and in particular segregated public education.  So Foyt’s understanding of black youth is that they are detached from the racism they experience and view relations between blacks and whites as negligible.

Her suggestion that Save the Pearls “will give those who have never experienced prejudice the opportunity to think about it in a new way, especially in terms of how our decaying environment one day may turn around the status quo” highlights one of the many problems with this novel.  If one has never experienced oppression based in race, how exactly can one accurately put into perspective what it is be stigmatized because of the color of one’s skin? This turns the subject of race into something abstract  because from this perspective, it becomes a theory rather than something that meaningfully affects lives.  Black people are the best people to argue about the oppression based on race that we face, and no amount of white liberal guilt will impart a level of expertise beyond our lived experiences.

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