Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood
A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track
A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally
Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood
A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track
A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally
Back on March 27, 2008, Carol Ann Kotsopoulos, a 38 year old transwoman from Meaford, Ontario, was escorted out of a ladies’ bathroom in Casino Rama in Orillia by a female security guard. Kotsopoulos was in the bathroom, taking care of business of in a closed stall, when a female security guard yelled at her, “Are you a woman or a man?”
Kotsopoulos responded in a joking way, “I’m a transgendered woman, do you want to look?”
The security guard told her, “You cannot use this washroom, you’ll have to use the unisex washroom” although Kotsopoulos said, “There is no unisex washroom that I have ever seen there.”
The guard then escorted her to a public area where she was surrounded by four other guards. Apparently the first guard was called over to the bathroom because another patron had complained.
Kotsopoulos was humiliated, shocked and traumatized, and she filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that is pending mediation with Casino Rama and an adjudicator, which will likely occur in the fall.
This is deeply disturbing and bears witness to the rampant transphobia that still persists throughout the world. First of all, what kind of question is “Are you a woman or a man?” And who the heck thinks it’s okay to yell that at someone while they are peeing? That is plain rude, insulting and degrading.
Besides, was it really necessary to have five guards? Isn’t that a bit much? All she was doing was minding her business in the bathroom, not wielding a large knife or pointing a gun at anyone. Sigh, these guards need something better to do with their time.
Says Monica over at TransGriot:
The casino is not only owned by First Nations peeps, it sits on reserve land. You would think the last place a transperson would face such disrespect is in a First Nations owned casino due to the concept of two spirit people that is part of First nations culture.
The casino is managed by a US based company called Penn National Gaming in Wyomissing, PA. The Casino Rama is also the largest First Nations owned commercial casino in Canada and the only one in Ontario.
I understand where Monica is coming from, but at the same time First Nations culture is not a homogeneous and monolithic group so it might be unfair to lump them all together. She continues:
Would Ms. Kotsopoulos gotten that type of disrespectful and humiliating treatment from the Casino Rama security staff if she was a high roller dropping big money instead of the smaller amounts she could afford based on her small monthly disability pension?
So clearly this is not only a trans issue, but it is also a class and physical ability issue. Like we’ve said before, oppressions are all interconnected and they function together to maintain the status quo, and this is just one more testament.
Let’s hope that Kotsopoulos’ case proceeds well in the fall.
Hope everyone had a good Independence Day weekend. Here are some things we missed:
Racism takes a toll on the health of African Americans living in a predominantly white society.
How Racism Works – people mistakenly de-contextualize racism and perceive it as something that functions in individuals rather than seeing the big picture of how racism is institutionalized and structured in our daily lives in society at large.
A good 101 post on Three Dumb Things About “Reverse Discrimination”.
Arab TV Soaps Reinforce Gender Bias and normalize violence against women.
This is old news, but good news nonetheless – last week, an Indian court decriminalized homosexuality.
Trigger warning – Sexual Abuse of Female Inmates in Oklahoma.
Carnival Against Sexual Violence has worthy reads you should check out.
Gift giving by stereotypes – an interesting look at the intersection of stereotypes we have about age, class and gender.
Sunscreen’s shady business – a look at the $1 billion a year sunscreen market.
It’s easy to watch a documentary (like Food, Inc.) and be inspired to take action, but often times we may get back into our daily routines and be stunted from any activism or we may simply just not know what to do or how we can help. So to counter that here’s I Saw Food, Inc. Now What?
All right, happy reading everybody!
It’s the first weekend of June…my, does time fly! Here are good posts to check out this weekend:
The mainstream media has covered the opting out debate a whole lot. But what’s missing from this coverage is that opting out, leaving one’s professional career to raise a family, is something that only women with privilege can truly do. Ann Friedman has a piece out called When Opting Out Isn’t an Option that discusses the need to shift the conversation about women and work. She includes women who don’t have the luxury to opt out, the majority of women in this country, in the picture and discusses how the recession can be an opportunity to reframe the opting out debate.
There’s a great op-ed in the New York Times today about Ann Lohman, an English midwife who emigrated to New York and committed suicide in 1878 after years and years of anti-choice harassment. She called herself Madame Restell, sold herbs and pills designed to end pregnancies, performed abortions if the herbs and pills did not work which she charged on a sliding scale depending on her patient’s ability to pay, taught sex education classes, provided shelter for pregnant women, delivered babies and set up an adoption service. The op-ed examines Lohman’s legacy as a a champion for reproductive rights and illustrates how anti-choice violence continues to threaten those who do dedicate their lives to defending reproductive rights.
One of the reasons why people reject feminism is because it historically, and continues to, exclude certain marginalized bodies like the LGBTQ community and people of color. Racism Review tackles this issue in Gloria Steinem, Where Are You Now? During Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign feminist activist Gloria Steinem wrote a piece in the NYTimes condemning the mainstream media’s sexist treatment of Clinton. However, Sonia Sotomayor has been the target of countless racist and sexist attacks ever since her nomination but prominent white feminists who have publicly condemned sexism before, like Steinem, have been silent. Why have none of them spoken up for Sotomayor?
Transphobia and violence against the trans community remains persistent throughout the world. There have been many recent violent hate crimes against trans people in various countries: the U.S., Honduras, the Dominican Republic, India, Turkey, Canada, Serbia, Peru and Venezuela. Bird of paradox reports that this year alone in Venezuela, there have been more than 20 trans people murdered so far. This is deeply saddening and upsetting – launching violent assaults and murdering people are not appropriate or acceptable ways to treat the trans community.
Privilege is something that we continually think and write about. But what exactly is privilege? One way that people think of privilege is “You haven’t thought of these issues in the same way that I have because they don’t affect you in the same way.” Another way to think about privilege is “You don’t have to think of these issues because they don’t affect you.” Echidne of the Snakes has a post titled Thoughts on privilege (by Suzie) in which she discusses privilege and how it plays into our lives.
There’s a post on Womanist Musings about how an eight year old girl from Winnipeg showed up at school with her arms covered with white supremacist markings like swatstikas (which were “sun wheels that represented peace and love”) and “H.H.” for “Heil Hitler”. Her parents taught her that Hitler was a “good man ‘for killing lots of people that didn’t belong there’”. When a detective asked her for her parents’ thoughts on ethnic minorities, she responded that they felt that ethnic minorities “‘should be killed or go back to their country’”. She also said “Some people from Pakistan carry AIDS and they could kill you”. Remember that these insidious words are coming from the mouth of an eight year old. Her parents clearly are not setting a good example in perpetuating their bigotry.
It’s unofficially the start of summer. Here are some good weekend reads for you to peruse as you enjoy the nice, sunny, warm weather (hopefully it won’t get too hot or humid).
The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More – This may not come as a surprise to many of us, but this is an excellent “primer on the economics of poverty”.
You have to be rich to be poor.
That’s what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don’t understand.
Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don’t often explain.
What has recognizing your male privilege done for you lately? – Twisty has a great post up about male privilege, which is infused with her usual wit, charm and general badass-ness.
It really clogs the Twisty lobes to consider that there are maybe six guys on the whole internet who don’t need need to be told, among about 894 other obvious things, that
a) the entirety of feminism is not invalidated by the fact of that they personally love their mom, and
b) freely expressing their fancy-free male privilege on heartwarming nature crap blogs is experienced by the heartwarming nature crappists as aggression.
Why We Must Investigate Torture – Torture is not a debatable issue. It is just plain wrong and should never happen. PortlyDyke invites us to join her in a letter writing campaign to congressional reps, President Obama, and the UN.
So, this post is my first step. It presents the reasons I believe that we absolutely must investigate, and an invitation — because I want you to join me (action item at the bottom of the post).
As a citizen of the United States, I consider myself a “cell” in the body of this nation – a nation that I believe is very ill at this point. If I am to help my nation heal, I have to become an active agent in its healing. So, here are (some of) the reasons I believe that we must investigate Torture:
Reason #1 – Because There is a Festering Wound in My Nation’s Heart
Reason #2 – Because There Is an Enormous Log In My Nation’s Eye
Reason #3: Because We Said We Would, and then We Said We Would Again
What the Guantanamo Speech Means for Civil Liberties – an interview with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, on his thoughts on the implications of Obama’s recent speech on Guantanamo.
Since Obama’s inauguration, the American Civil Liberties Union has been one of his most consistent critics. At every turn, the ACLU has challenged policies that it see as circumventing Constitutional protections. Anthony Romero, the organization’s executive director, shares his thoughts regarding the Barack Obama’s speech on Guantanamo yesterday. He also discusses the president’s proposed changes to national security policy, the difference between the current and prior administration, and the ACLU’s plan to challenge some of Obama’s stated policies through the court system.
$1 Trillion and Counting… – $1 Trillion is the monetary cost that we’ve spent on fighting wars since September 11th 2001. This in itself is staggering, but factor in the human costs as well which are more difficult to measure. Our national budget is a reflection of our nation’s morals and values. What does it mean that we spend so much money on war?
On September 12, 2001, could we have predicted spending $1 trillion for wars allegedly fought in response to the tragedy gripping our nation? Could we have imagined the human as well as economic costs?
Today, US forces are profoundly engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with approximately 200,000 troops in the two countries and more than 21,000 additional troops requested for Afghanistan by the Obama administration. US military and Afghan and Iraqi civilian casualties increase daily as the economic cost-of-war counters roll on.
MRA, Feministing, and Racism – Feminism is still not fully as intersectional as it can/should be, and therefore angers and alienates many women of color. Renee’s gotten a lot of shit thrown at her for calling out white privilege (very un-ally behavior) which is incredibly incensing, but I do applaud her for handling it gracefully and responding with such eloquence.
I’ll bet the above is a bit of a shocking title. Here’s the background knowledge that you need to be aware of. May 19th was Malcolm X’s birthday. He is a man that I have a great deal of respect for. I had intended to write a post regarding his work with the women of the Nation of Islam, however time got the better of me and I simply posted his eulogy which was written by Ossie Davis. That day I roamed around the blogsphere and noted that he was not mentioned on either Feministing, Feministe, or Shakesville. In my opinion this is not a small oversight.
The next day Samhita put up a post a feministing wishing Malcolm a happy belated birthday and as I read it, I became angry. My issue is not that the post was poorly written but that it fell once again to Samhita to cover an issue that is important to POC and that the post was a day late. The following is the initial comment I left on the thread.
Damn Denny’s And “Errbody” Else, Let My People Pee – Monica writes about Denny’s and a racist policy they had in the 80s where managers were ordered to not permit “too many Blacks to congregate in their restaurants”. This was so entrenched that in 1993, a federal court ordered Denny’s to end their discrimination against black customers. She links this to the recent case involving Brianna Freeman:
I’m taking this trip down Moni Memory Lane again because those images of past discrimination were on my mind when I heard about the Maine Human Rights Commission case involving Brianna Freeman.
The commission ruled on Monday that an Augusta, ME Denny’s franchisee store was guilty of discrimination when it barred Ms. Freeman, a regular customer of the restaurant, from using the women’s restroom until she had surgery.
Okay, I and the rest of the transgender community are beyond sick and tired of this bull feces ‘bathroom predator’ meme the Forces of Intolerance and other ignorant folks who hate on transpeople are pimping these days because they have no logic based argument they can us to deny transgender people their civil rights.
Missing the Point Awards, Manchester Poster Edition – An advertising poster (completely PG) featuring a little girl pretending to breastfeed a doll is criticized as “disgusting”, “highly offensive”, “the sort of picture that a paedophile would show a kid”, “wrong”, “depraved”, “inappropriate and unnecessary”… WTF?!
Councillor Jean Ashworth, who is a healthcare assistant at Rochdale Infirmary, says she is offended by the image.
She said: “Promoting breastfeeding is fine, but this is just offensive. “I wonder where it will stop, if these are the lengths the Trust will go to. I am in no way against mums who want to breast feed at all, but I think to see such a disturbing image of a child like that is inappropriate and unnecessary.”
What are the other idiotic comments people have made?
Once Again: Rape is NOT Your Personal Metaphor – I’ve blogged about this time after time after time, but there are those out there who still don’t get it and constantly misuse the word “rape” and throw it around all the time. Here’s Cara’s take on why it’s not an acceptable or appropriate analogy to compare rape to developing a television show:
So remember how we were having a conversation fairly recently about assholes who throw around the word “rape” to mean anything but? Well I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to know that not every person on the internet read that discussion about how horrifying, triggering, pointless, blatantly misogynistic and fucking stupid such a use of the word is.
Including, even more shockingly, the fine folks at that upstanding blog known as Gawker (which, I believe I was recently reading, doesn’t currently have a single regular female writer on staff?). Because this is how CajunBoy decided to describe the awful, no good, very bad experience of . . . wait for it . . . developing a TV show! (Below the fold, and again, Huge Trigger Warning)
Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed published in yesterday’s New York Times about the plight of mothers in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Around the globe, too many women die of childbirth when they shouldn’t have to because these deaths are preventable. Kristof writes:
According to the World Health Organization, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality in the world, and in several African countries, 1 woman in 10 ends up dying in childbirth. It’s pretty clear that if men were dying at these rates, the United Nations Security Council would be holding urgent consultations, and a country such as this would appoint a minister of paternal mortality. Yet half-a-million women die annually from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth without attracting much interest because the victims are typically among the most voiceless people in the world: impoverished, rural, uneducated and female.
He later builds on this:
I’ve seen women dying like this in many countries — on the first win-a-trip journey in 2006, a student and I watched a mother of three dying in front of us in Cameroon — and it’s not only shattering but also infuriating. It’s no mystery how to save the lives of pregnant women; what’s lacking is the will and resources.
What is being done about this? Well, President Obama has restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund which renovates hospital wards, provides free medication and works to ensure that poor women in labor don’t die because they can’t afford to pay $100 for a Caesarian section. Organizations that are working on this issue include:
There has also been a bill introduced earlier in March, the Newborn, Child, and Mother Survival Act, which would champion the United States as a leader in the global community in improving the health and lives of newborn babies, children and mothers. Unfortunately this bill has not been given prompt or due attention.
As always, there is a lot of interesting reading out there on the feminist and progressive blogosphere.
Who is going to replace Justice David Souter?
President Obama is considering a list of more than six contenders for the Supreme Court that is dominated by women and Hispanics, one that includes judges and leaders from his administration who have never donned a judicial robe.
Monica at Transgriot weighs in and aptly points out:
Since the founding of the United States, there have been 118 people who have served as Supreme Court justices. Out of the 17 Supreme Court chief justices, all 17 have been white males.
In terms of the 188 past and present supreme court justices, only two, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor have been women. Only two have been non-white, African-Americans Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas*.
The general consensus that Obama’s choice is going to be a woman is not a bad gamble, since women make up more than half of the American public, one-third of all lawyers and thirty percent of lower federal court judges, but occupy only one seat on the current Supreme Court. Troublingly, though, there have been murmurings that this will be Obama’s “woman nomination,” and the “racial nomination” will be next – as if women can’t be both women and of color, and as if the nominees will be little more than tokens.
Thoughts on Gentrification:
In “Your Money or Your Life: A Lesson on the Front Stoop,” author Douglas Rushkoff writes of the time he was mugged in his own neighborhood and the following stream of thoughts he had.
“Saying ‘Hi’ in Bed-Stuy” has more on social interactions among residents in gentrified spaces. The author writes:
In my twenty interviews, one wish came through stronger than friendliness. People want diverse neighborhoods, including different races, ages, and sexual orientations, with an array of careers, representing different socioeconomic classes. Brooklyn native Tyrone Harris said, “The diversity in the neighborhood is so good, that we can learn about the whole world in just one neighborhood, because we have Chinese, African American, Latino, and White. We have everything here. Puerto Rican, Spanish—you name it, we got it. But the thing is, are we using our assets? Or are we just sitting back saying, ‘We don’t like this or we don’t like that.’ See, it’s easy to complain, but the question is: What do you want to do?”
A look at our education system -
American high school students learn that people around the world with dark skin are violent, dirty, and poorly dressed.
No wonder American kids grow up to be American adults whose voting habits reflect the view that American foreign policy should be paternalistic.
The discussion/debate on why people don’t identify as feminists is ages old, but it’s a topic that’s worth revisiting. There’s an older post on Oh, You’re a FEMINIST?! that addresses this, and Womanist Musings has an interesting post up today called “I Am Not a Feminist”.
The post on Oh, You’re a FEMINIST?! opens with, “My question to ya’ll: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but doesn’t identify as a duck, is it a duck?” She then goes on to discuss the “I’m not a feminist but…” label and lists reasons why people fail to identify as feminists:
1. “Feminism has an image problem” – Feminists are stereotyped as fat, hairy, ugly, man-hating lesbians with no sense of humor. And with these stereotypes running around along with the whole “feminiazis” label, many women are hesitant or reluctant to identify as feminists:
Are people so scared of all the negative stereotypes and so insecure with themselves that they aren’t willing to embrace all the positives of being a self-proclaimed feminist? Identifying with something and self-labeling means that you are surrendering part of your identity to that specific group and allowing the group to define you. This is in terms of what those within the group and those not within the group want to believe of the group. As far as feminism is concerned, although many feminists realize how empowering it is to self-identify, due to the negative stereotypes associated with feminism, others chose to reject the label.
But the point is, “feminists can look and act however, it’s the beliefs and social action that count.” This is true. As long as people are turned off by feminism because of all the negative stereotypes associated with it, the stereotypes will continue to work their power. It’s important for people who identify as feminists to not be afraid of or deterred by these stereotypes.
2. Younger women are afraid of the word “feminist” – In an older interview with Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti, Valenti said, “Part of me gets so angry at younger women who are nervous about feminism because they’re afraid that boys won’t like them.” This statement is heteronormative, but reflects “a fear that people will think you are too intense or ‘read into things too much.’ You’ll scare others (boys and girls) away because you’re constantly looking at things differently, and critically.”
Based on personal experience, I have encountered that this holds true. I’ve had friends who’ve said things like “we can’t watch this with you here because you’ll probably get too offended”, or “you’d probably read too much into this and talk about the power dynamics or whatever instead of just enjoying it”. On a similar note, it can be frustrating and annoying to be the token feminist in your classes or among your group of friends. In non Women’s Studies classes I’ve taken, whenever I pipe up about feminist issues I have often witnessed eye rolls or looks of “there she goes again”. I have even been called “the gender girl” by some people I’ve had classes with.
After September 11th, then President Bush told us all to go shopping. Because America is a nation of consumers, and consumerism is the prime constituent or definition of our identities. But it’s no secret that consumerism is evil (and that it’s not the best way to deal with a traumatic terrorist attack). Everyone should watch The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. It is a short and excellent video that breaks down American consumerism and sums up why “stuff” and buying stuff is such a major problem in this country.
Leonard starts with extraction – using the planet’s resources for all of our needs and wants. What’s the problem here? Well, we are using too much stuff, especially more stuff than we need, and this creates inequities in the world where people are deprived of basic necessities while we are basking in luxuries of stuff we don’t actually need. Not only are we using a ton of stuff that we don’t need, but we are also selfishly hogging up that stuff and not sharing with other people or countries that need them. The way we get all the stuff that we don’t need is harmful to the planet, and we’re extracting stuff at a faster rate than the stuff can replenish itself. This is not sustainable.
The second part of The Story of Stuff is about production. So many problems here. Most production occurs in factories with toxic chemicals and severely underpaid and mistreated workers. First of all, toxic chemicals = toxic toys for children, toxic food for everyone, health problems for workers, environmental problems, etc. Secondly, since the US realizes that toxic chemicals and poor working conditions create serious health, environmental and ethical issues, we outsource this to other countries. Aren’t we brilliant?! We bring our toxic chemicals and wastes over to other countries where we can exploit people and their resources.
Next is distribution – this is about actually getting our stuff. The point of this is to transport and to sell stuff as quickly and cheaply as possible. The price tags on the stuff we buy do not accurately represent the cost and human effort that went into making them (this is called externalizing the costs). So while prices may seem dirt cheap (like a $4.99 radio that she mentions in the video) and like great bargains, they actually are not. The expenses (our environment, our children, ourselves) of having such cheap prices (Walmart) are high.
Sorry posting has been slow these past few days… It’s been a busy week, especially with packing up and moving out. But here are a few good reads to catch up with:
“Mad pride”? People are rejecting pills and other prescriptions in our hyper-medicalized society.
Former soldier Steven Green is found guilty for premeditating and carrying out a gang rape of a 14-year old Iraqi girl and then murdering her and her family.
Done asking, done telling, and now done serving? The first Arabic linguist was dismissed from the Army for coming out on television.
More barriers to health care for same-sex couples.
Racially charged images in Gisele Bündchen’s latest photo shoot.
Dick Cheney, we are done with you. For the last time, please shut up.
An interactive map of hate groups active in the United States, as compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
No, we are still not a “post-racial” nation.
Happy Mother’s Day Michelle Obama! (And mothers everywhere!)
An interview with Kathryn Joyce about her new book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.
An interview with Kim Longinott, feminist documentary filmmaker.
America is NOT a Christian nation despite what the Christian right wingers keep saying.
A female celebrity has gained weight?! Gasp! How dare she!! Unsurprisingly, more fatism in the media.
42% of homeless youths are LGBTQ identified. More on why/how homelessness is a critical LGBTQ issue and what can be done.
Here are some interesting reads for a Sunday afternoon:
Old news on how Fox News is not where you should be getting your news coverage from.
Only 2% of reported rapes are false reports, so why do people still argue that crying rape is so common?
Okay, so I’ll admit that I absolutely love Spongebob and I am a huuuuuge fan. So when I initially saw this commercial I thought it was quite hilarious:
But it’s really just another way of using humor to normalize sexism and the hypersexualization and objectification of women. When you see this, you’re supposed to just laugh it off and be like oh, it’s just Spongebob, nothing serious. And that is exactly its power – that it disguises itself as just a cute and innocent laugh.
Also notice the prominent yellow 99 sponge-like thing in the back which is supposed to advertise Burger King’s cheap food. It is obvious that this commercial is targeting lower-income people of color. Poor people of color tend to eat fast food the most because it is cheap and quick. They do not have access to nutritionists or the income to buy their groceries at Whole Foods. Here again we see that food and access to healthy, nutritious food is clearly a class issue. And because class is so closely tied to race, it is also a race issue.
Using Spongebob to market Burger King is also supposed to mostly appeal to children who watch Spongebob, and it’s not surprising or novel to have a hypersexualized commercial that commodifies female bodies geared towards children. And is the immense amount of female booty shaking really necessary?
Besides, the Burger King guy dancing is just plain creepy. Especially when he just goes up to one of the dancing women and measures her butt. This also demonstrates how men feel like they are entitled to female bodies and the idea that a woman’s body/sexuality isn’t hers to own but instead is up for grabs.