Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”





Enough of these disgusting ads already!

25 09 2009

max

Here’s another episode in advertising FAIL. What is wrong with this ad?

1. It objectifies a woman and positions her in sexual submissiveness to advertise men’s shoes, so clearly the gaze clearly is male. When sex is used to sell products, which it often is, the gaze is pretty much always male. Thus women in the ad who are objectified embody a “to be looked-at” ness in which their subjectivity and personhood is denied. They simply exist as sexual objects to satisfy (cis, het) male viewing pleasure.

2. Notice the racial undertones in this ad – the woman who is tied up is Asian. Two stereotypes are being perpetuated here: one is that women are submissive and available for the male gaze and enjoyment; the second is that Asian women are subdued and submissive. She is also wearing a kimono, something that is traditionally and obviously Asian, which speaks to the exoticization and eroticization of Asian women.

3. The woman has a sexy, come-hither kind of look on her face. However, what is sexy about this? She is clearly in a subordinate position (her movement in space is entirely confined seeing that she’s tied up and displayed), sexually available because she cannot resist. She is tied to a shoe, so she is literally attached to an object. Her passivity renders her personal and sexual subjectivity entirely absent. The conflation of female bodies with objects for consumption reinforce and perpetuate rape culture and violence against women by showing that women are readily available and accessible for male consumption. It makes female helplessness seem sexy.

Many people may argue that this ad is just a shoe ad and that all these criticisms are just reading way too into it. My response? This ad does not exist in isolation. It is important to situate it in our cultural context and see this as symptomatic and emblamatic of not only misogyny but racism. We are socioculturally conditioned to be blind to sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. So if you fail to see anything wrong with this ad, you are not examining it critically enough.





Feminist Reader

19 09 2009

Here’s some stuff that’s out there on the interwebs right now.  Check it out.

A piece by Ann at Feministing about the Hofstra case and rape culture.

All female trains in India.

Rush Limbaugh once again being a jackass, says that we should return to racially segregated buses.

Cara at The Curvature does an excellent job explaining why we should not pressure rape survivors into naming their attackers.

Stuff white people do-  feel entitled to touch black women’s hair.

Marvel writer has rape in storyline, then responds to criticism with rape-culture apologism.

Katrina’s lessons are as important as 9/11’s.

In upcoming stuff:  “Sex, Lies, and Gender” will appear on the National Geographic channel Tuesday Sept. 22 at 6 PM.  Check out the airing times near you.  I have seen it.  I will watch it again.  You should definitely watch it too.

ACORN pimp sting, child prostitution, and accountability” by Atlasien at Racialicious

Tenured Radical goes to Washington D.C., offers some thoughts on the Tea Party rally.





How NOT to write about Africa

19 09 2009

This is really well done and totally worth watching.





Caster Semenya to undergo sex determination

29 08 2009

In case you haven’t heard, there has been some serious bullshit going on about Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old world champion runner from South Africa, whose privacy is being invaded beyond belief in a controversy over whether the runner has too many male characteristics to compete as a woman.  On Tuesday, Semenya won the 800-meters race at the track and field world championships, just hours after it was determined by track officials that she would need to undergo sex testing to determine her further eligibility to compete as a woman.  Many people globally are rightfully angered about the public invasion of the young woman’s privacy.

Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, (the organization who ordered the investigation) has admitted that the confidentiality of the investigation was breached, called this “regrettable,” and asked for an inquiry.  However, these words are little comfort to those who are outraged by the implicit sexism, heteronormativity and racism in the investigation.  Controversy and finger-pointing has also arisen over who was the one to raise the question about Semenya’s sex to the I.A.A.F.  It has also been noted that white South Africans seem to be conspicuously absent as Semenya’s supporters.

Leonard Chuene, President of Athletics South Africa, said to The New York Times:   “We are not going to allow Europeans to define and describe our children…The only scientists I believe in are the parents of this child.”

According to a test three years ago, Semenya’s testosterone levels were in the normal range for women, and she was judged to be definitely female.  But regardless of the results, these investigations emphasize how global society continues to denigrate, mock, and intimidate those who do not conform to a rigid binary of gender stereotypes.

The New York Times notes that Semenya has been subjected to harassment about her sex before.  “Boys used to tease her all the time…Sometimes she’d have to beat them up,” said Semenya’s great aunt, Martina Mpati.  Semenya’s high school principal told South African newspaper “The Star” that at some track meets, the other team would demand proof of her sex identity, but after they returned from the toilets, “she would be cleared and the competition would resume.”

But as if physical exams and taunting weren’t enough, her sex has become an item of global attention and speculation, simply because of the way that she looks and speaks.  Semenya should not be subjected to this blatant gender discrimination.  But sadly, Semenya is forced to deal with this discrimination on both a private and public level, and she is being further taunted and humiliated globally because this most recent investigation was made public.

Dave Zirin calls out the “twisted, sexist, racist, and heteronormative” history of track and field in this MSNBC video on the subject.  Check it out.

Zirin also wrote an excellent piece on the subject in which he points out that:

fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that in the case of black women, “the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them — the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites.'”

But it seems that we have remained relatively stagnant on this issue, and it still seems all too often that the athletic success of women (especially non-white women) causes their sex identity or honesty (or both) to be questioned.  The possibility of an endless spectrum of genders, even sexes, seems to be thought of as entirely impossible in a global athletics culture which values only a clear-cut gender binary in which male is the more athletically successful of the two categories.  We must resist this urge to define what is acceptable by these stereotypes of what it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine.  Perhaps only with the erasure of these stereotypes and this rigid gender/sex binary will we be able to stop the further humiliation and degradation of innocent people like Semenya.





August 28th: a landmark day in Civil Rights history in America

29 08 2009

Yesterday, August 28th, was an important and historic day in Civil Rights history in the America.  It is a day that links three prominent men whose lives were and are significant contributions to fight for racial equality and justice in this country.  The three men we are talking about are Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama.

On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, only 14 at the time, was kidnapped and then brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman passing by.  Till lived in Chicago’s South Side and took a trip down to Mississippi with his great uncle and cousin to visit relatives in August 1955.  On August 24th, Till and his cousin stopped at Bryant’s Grocery store to buy candy and while in the store, Till allegedly either said “bye, baby” or whistled at Carole Bryant, the white store clerk.

Bryant’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W. Milam, forcibly kidnapped Till, brutally beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, and then shot through the head.  His mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River, with a 70 pound cotton gin tied around his torso with barbed wire.  Though Bryant and Milam admitted that they were guilty, an entirely white jury acquitted them of murder on September 23, 1955.

Till’s mother, Mamie Carthan Till, chose to have an open casket funeral so that everyone could witness the racist violence that resulted in her son’s brutal murder.  Till’s murder mobilized civil rights activist in protest of the atrocious killing and the racially biased US justice system that let his murderers free.

Eight years later, August 28, 1966, was the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where over 200,000 people attended to pressure then-President Kennedy to take civil rights seriously and to advance civil rights legislation in Congress.  That day, renowned civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.  King said:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

His words resonated powerfully then as they still do now.  His speech was a resounding cry that echoed the sentiment of many like-minded civil rights activists and supporters at the time who demanded racial equality.  However, his vision of a cohesive, united nation in which there is equality and justice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or color, has yet to be realized.

Read the rest of this entry »





Weekend Reads

22 08 2009

Dana Goldstein on the need for a public health insurance plan to provide reproductive health coverage.  Over at The Nation, Sharon Lerner has more on why women need health care reform.

An interesting photo essay that questions and explores what it means to be masculine.  It’s accompanied with an interview with the photographer, Chad States.  The subjects of some of the photos include trans men.

The children’s books industry is a very much white run industry and often children’s books are embedded, subtly and not-so-subtly, with racist undertones.  Read this post on Racism Review about children’s books are very much white-framed and whitewashed.

Here are some thoughts on 18-year old South African runner Caster Semenya whose female-ness was being questioned because she doesn’t conform to traditional western standards of femininity.  Bird of Paradox has more.

Michelle Obama should be allowed to wear shorts without coming under such scrutiny by the media and the public, especially while vacationing at the Grand Canyon.

Being careful with language is very important, especially since language is used to normalize.  There has been much discussion online about language and privilege.  Deeply Problematic takes on being blinded by privilege in these two posts: “Blinded by Privilege”: ableist language in critical discourse and For the Uninformed: Privilege, Perspective and The Little Things That Jab.  Hoyden About Town also has a post on unexamined privileges and unconscious behaviors.

Here is a long but interesting article that contextualizes the use of rape as a weapon of war.  Author Crystal Feimster, a historian at the University of North Carolina, claims that rape was used as a weapon of war way back in the Civil War, which is a new contention.

This one’s more of an uplifting story about a woman in a small West Virginian town, Maria Gunnoe, who took on the coal industry and was victorious.  She was a great community organizer who took action against the coal tycoons and despite threats, harassment and violence, she is not giving up the fight.





Sunday Catch Up

26 07 2009

Here are a few things we missed:

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like.

A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar…

New laws help domestic violence victims.

Human rights violations in U.K. jail.

Women and the Minimum Wage.

Women don’t ask for nasty voyeurism.

Complimentary.

On Gendered Language.

On the word “transition”.

Perhaps Silverton is Not Completely Accepting of their Trans Mayor.

Banning Cesar Chavez: Whites “Sanitizing” US History Again.

Same crap, different day.

Marketing Asian Women to Anti-feminist Men.

When the Outside Looks Like the Inside.





Wednesday Blogaround

22 07 2009

Happy Wednesday!  Here’s what we’ve been reading:

Jimmy Carter protests religion’s treatment of women – Thank you Jimmy Carter!  Last week he issued a position paper opening with “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”  It’s awesome to see such a prominent man of faith take a stance and speak out on sexism in organized religion.

Lessons for Feminists from Sarah Palin – what the feminist community can learn from Sarah Palin: from the beginning when she first entered the political limelight to her recent resignation speech.

Kansas Attorney Sued After Showing Pictures of Alleged Rape After Refusing to Prosecute – Okay, this is fucked up.  A county attorney in Kansas chose not to prosecute a rape that occurred at a party in 2007, but chose to show pictures of the assault to parents of other people who attended that party to prove that there was underage drinking.

Why the planet needs more non-breeders – a post from fbomb, an awesome new young feminist blog, on Cameron Diaz’s decision to not have kids (for the environment) and how women are caught in a double bind where they are judged for both wanting/having kids and not wanting/not having kids.

Racism in Cambridge: Harvard Professor Gates Arrested (Updated) – RacismReview’s take on Professor Gates’ recent arrest.

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination – Last week, Asian American police detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation prior to being unjustly fired.  This is the sixth time that the Burbank Police Department has been sued for discrimination since May.

If You’re Disabled You Cannot be a Customer – People who are differently abled are often treated as second class citizens and “treated like an inconvenience and rushed out of sight”.

On Chris Brown’s Public “Apology” – Or rather, Chris Brown’s non-apology.  “The message [from his “apology”] is clear: beat, bite, punch and strangle your girlfriend, and as long as you apologize, you are a-OK.”





For Your Saturday

18 07 2009

Here are some good posts in the feminist blogosphere to check out:

Lessons from the Rape Culture and a piece inspired by that post.

The Obamas and the Door of No Return.

Hillary’s Challenge – Would putting women first make for better foreign policy?

The Latest Marriage Dust-Up.

Reproductive Rights Matter At Every Age.

Shave and get drunk, because you’re already brilliant.

“Disabled Girls” Video Game.

The Supreme Court and Redefining Racism.





Friday Linky Love

17 07 2009

The Progressive Case Against Sotomayor:

Sonia Sotomayor’s all-but-certain confirmation will be a notable victory for Democrats, and for the cause of diversity on the nation’s highest court. Whether it will be a victory for criminal justice is another question—one that seems to matter little to most of her liberal supporters.

The Rights of Men:

I’ve been half-listening to the Sotomayor hearings all this week, and have been fairly bored—how many times can you listen to a woman answer the same question? But every once in a while someone throws out a real gem, like Senator John Coryn (R-Texas) quoting Martin Luther King Jr. to make an anti-affirmative action point (because that’s exactly what MLK meant when he said he dreamed of a day when his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”)

PFAW on the litany of right wing fringe lies about hate crimes legislation:

People for the American Way has released a document about the tired, hoary, untethered-from-reality pack of lies that the professional anti-gay set keeps spewing about hate crimes legislation, “As Senate Prepares to Take Up Hate Crimes Bill, Far Right’s Inflammatory Claims Should Not Be Taken Seriously.”

Lateisha Green’s Killer Dwight DeLee Convicted of Manslaughter as a Hate Crime:

There is a verdict in the trial of Dwight DeLee for the death of Lateisha Green.  Green was a trans woman who died from gunshot wounds in November; DeLee was originally charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime.

Just minutes ago, the verdict came back and was announced on Twitter (the AP also has a blurb).  A jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime.

Real Bras? They’re not for trans women:

On a slightly less surreal, but possibly more absurd note than the trainwreck that is VWHC’s trans exclusionary policy comes this report in the Vancouver (where else?) section of Xtra West (link here).

See, us trans women, we’re so speshul™ that we even get our own speshul™ underwear now.

“Affirmative Action Increases Diversity by Discriminating Against White Men”:

Only some crazy fringe politician that no one ever listens to or pays attention would say something like that right? I guess only Pat Buchanan on MSNBC. See video below if you can stomach it.

The Brazil Files: Bela or Bust Part 1 – On Gender:

I recognize that to say that the preoccupation with being beautiful for women in Brazil boils down to three separate entities is oversimplifying. Gender, class, and race obviously intersect constantly and are difficult to consider beyond their Venn diagram-like existence. Yet for the sake of clarity and hopefully accessibility, I have decided to discuss this topic in three parts: 1) gender, 2) class, and 3) race.

Ratification of Important Women’s Rights Document Sparks Controversy in Cameroun:

Let’s start off with some good news- Cameroun joined 27 other African countries in promoting the health and rights of women when it ratified the Maputo Protocol on May 28th, 2009.  The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, guarantees the human rights of women throughout the continent.   Adopted by the African Union in 1993, the Protocol calls for the adoption and implementation of national measures that uphold women’s sexual and reproductive rights, political and social equality, and the right to live free from violence and coercion, while providing a comprehensive legal framework for holding African governments accountable for violations.

Eyelid Gluing for a “Western” Look:

I’ve posted in the past about surgical procedures used to give “Asian” eyes a more “Caucasian” or “Western” look. As Alexia R. showed us, though, there are temporary means of getting a similar effect, particularly gluing a fold into eyelids. WonderHowTo posted a video showing the technique:

Is Amitjo Kajla Too Pretty to be a Prison Guard?:

Former prison guard Amitjo revealed to the industrial tribunal in Birmingham that she believes that she was forced out of her job because of her appearance.  She is claiming constructive unfair dismissal. The chief complaints sited against her were the amount of make up that she wore and the alteration of her work uniform.  The work uniform was deemed to be to revealing, while Kajla claims that it was only reduced to be size appropriate.





Media Justice for Sotomayor

11 07 2009

Check out this clip that the Women’s Media Center recently released that documents how poorly the mainstream media and right wingers (like Rush Limbaugh) has treated Sotomayor ever since her nomination. The media has treated her in blatantly sexist and racist ways.

The Senate hearings will begin on July 13th to confirm Judge Sotomayor. Sign the Women’s Media Center’s statement to support media justice for Sotomayor and hold the mainstream media to a higher standard.





When a friend says something stupid and insulting

7 07 2009

I was spending time with a high school friend (who we’ll call Anne for the purposes of this post) this weekend and she was telling me about her older brother and his interracial relationship.   Anne and her brother are both white and Jewish.  Meanwhile her brother’s girlfriend, who he is quite serious with, is a Chinese woman.  Anne has had issues with this from the start because she thinks it’s only appropriate that her brother (and herself) date other white Jewish people.  So during our conversation as she’s expressing her frustration with and disapproval of her brother and his girlfriend, she says to me, “ugh, whatever, it works for him because he needs to be with someone who will just shut up and listen.”

Someone who will just shut up and listen?  This is both a racist and a sexist statement.  It plays into gender stereotypes that women are subservient to men and therefore should/need not assert themselves.  It further plays into racial stereotypes that Asian/Asian American women are sexually desirable because they are especially subservient compared to their female counterparts of other racial backgrounds.

Although I was fuming inside, I did not say anything to my friend and instead just changed the topic.  In general, I dislike confrontation and controversy so I didn’t want to start an argument especially with a friend who was only visiting me for the weekend.  I’m sure that Anne was not trying to be offensive on purpose and I’m not even sure if she realized what she said was wrong and why.  Furthermore, if I were to have said something I don’t know what I would’ve said.

Meanwhile, another part of me was annoyed at myself for not speaking up.  If she was truly ignorant about her comment, then I should educate her especially since as a friend, I’d probably have more clout than some other random person.  She’d be more likely to consider or value my opinion and insight since we’d been friends for so long.  So by not speaking up, in a way I was complying with power structures in society that enable racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, to maintain themselves.

This is a constant struggle that I have – deciding when/how to call out friends on offensive racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. comments or jokes that they make.  Most of the time people use the “I was just kidding” phrase.  Or they accuse me of being overly sensitive or “looking too much into things” and sort of turn it into a joke.

What are people’s thoughts/advice on having constructive and respectful conversations with family, friends or acquaintances in which you point out how their speech or actions are/were offensive and counter to social justice?





Monday Catch Up

6 07 2009

Hope everyone had a good Independence Day weekend.  Here are some things we missed:

Four Freedom Movements You Should Know About This Independence Day.

Renee’s take on Sarah Palin‘s public declaration of her intention to resign.  More thoughts on that here, here, here and here.

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”.

Thoughts on disability and respectful language.

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.

There is no such thing as trans privilege.  For necessary 101, here is a great and important post on vocabulary when it comes to gender and cis.

Stop bullying transgender children.

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!