Monday, September 24, 2007

Behind the eight ball - running to catch up

I'm on these late, but I feel the need to at least link to those who are not so behind as me.

If you haven't heard about it yet, there was a huge travesty of justice in Jena, Louisiana. Beginning with a group of black students asking the principle if they could sit under the "white" tree, and culminating in a black student being charged with attempted murder for a fight, when previous white students who had instigated fights walked off with probation. One of those students, Mychal Bell, is still being held in jail after nine months - despite his trial being declared a mistrial - because he was denied bail.

Wikipedia has a run down of the events.

There is a virtual march on Jena in progress along with more information.

Black Amazon writes movingly about some of the ramifications of this incident, among many others non-whites deal with every day. If you haven't already been acquainted with this fantastic writer, I highly recommend you check out her blog. Her poetic style and raw emotion catch me short every time.

In the wake of the attention Jena is (finally) getting, an earlier travesty of justice was brought up by persons I prefer to leave unnamed who objected to the attention the Jena 6, comprised of black males, was getting when another situation, comprised of seven black females, was not getting any.

Brown Femi Power responds with an incredibly detailed and humbling list of posts about the New Jersey 7, who acted in self defense and were charged - and in many cases convicted - with assault for it.

Racism is alive and well. Sexism is alive and well. Both of them are destroying lives with every breath taken. It's not a southerner thing. It's not a black thing, or an Asian thing, or a Native American thing. It's an all of us thing. The only way we can truly live up to the (as of yet unrealized) standards of the USA is if everyone demands equal justice under the law for all people, regardless of culture, skin color, gender, romantic orientation, gender identity, physical capability, or immigration status.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

from Feministe

I was greatly enjoying a bit of back and forth with La Lubu at Feministe in this thread, but I can't publish my latest comment, so here it is. Please feel free to continue it, comment, etc... Please do NOT feel free to bring up that tired, old, ad hominem nonsense about different types of feminist that plagued the original thread; I honestly don't care.

La Lubu @ 546:

It was heady—the idea that I too, could be beautiful—just by going with (instead of against) my natural hair. And all it took was a couple minutes with a comb. … Even the beauty culture can be a site of resistance.

I think this is important – and it’s part of why a multitude of women with a multitude of appearances doing a multitude of things and having both positive and negative characteristics – including racial appearance and culture, and body-ability levels like blind and wheel-chair bound characters.

560: What is feminist beauty? Where are the lines drawn? Who draws those lines? That’s a conversation we need to be having,

Good questions!

I’m an aesthetic, which means I value beauty over just about anything else, morally speaking, so I’ve some serious time invested in defining and understanding beauty as I see it. I think one major facet to feminist beauty as personal expression is that it be coming from an authentic place and that the entire process of being beautiful is enjoyable in of itself, not just as a means to an end. The “live in” aspects of the body needs to be central.

I think the lines are fuzzy around the edges and should be. Personal standards vary incredibly widely; for instance, I adore funky, high contrast looks, even if I can’t wear them (and I can’t – le sigh) but others don’t. The fact that others don’t doesn’t mean that funky, high contrast looks should suddenly be deemed not-$foo.

I think the lines are drawn where the individual meets the society, and change with individuals and the strength of their inner conviction. I can personally find something attractive in the appearance of any person I meet if I look, and while droll and snot completely gross me out, I can admire people who inadvertently do both (babies, for example) with a clean cloth in hand. ;) I'm particularly ofnd of sub-culture conforming appearances, though, like very punky Punks or very gothy Goths.

To tie this back into women and their appearance, there was a recent thread here (I think?) where hair was discussed, and Pam (of Pam's House Blend) 's experiences with her hair and how she found finally a reasonably easy, attractive style for her hair by listening to it, after years of trying to have it conform to an external standard. There is something in taking what one has and building off of it instead of detracting from it that I think is incredibly beautiful, both in appearance and action.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Art and Action

I've been listening to Linkin Park's new cd incessantly since I got it. Yes, I'm a huge Linkin Park fan; yes, you can point and laugh if you REALLY must.

They have several songs about recent events, from a particularly poignant one about Hurricane Katrina (all you've ever wanted / was someone to truly look up to you / and six feet underwater / i do) to several which seem to talk about responsibility, war, and people who send other people to die (i had hope / i believed / but i'm beginning to think that i've been decieved / you will pay for what you've done).

My favorite is still the radio played one, which is unusual for me, with a close second angry-depression song (i bleed it out / digging deeper just to throw it away). I like all of the songs, though, which is fairly standard for me and Linkin Park. The different lyricists speak to me, and their songs often become quite meaningful to me as time passes (while i've cleaned this slate / with the hands / of uncertainty).

I know nothing about the band members personally outside of their music. I tend to not approach musicians out of that context (this is true for me and most artists); art is a crystallization of a single moment and point of view that can't be matched by any individual human (nor should it). So I don't know if these songs are met by any private work, either to help survivors of the Katrina disaster or in protest of the military altercation (Congress never declared war, my friends; only they can) in Iraq that is meeting ever greater protest or in continued work to support the people in Afganistan who we have left in dire straights because we suck (we meaning the USA, which includes me because I am a member of the USA).

So in this contexts of ignorance - is art a political/social action?

Is a song enough?

In the context of Belle's recent post about creaitng new myths, is music a method?

Are words, reminders, notes sufficient?

If not, what then?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Colonial Entitlement vs. Appreciation & Interest

This is the entire post I was going to put in at BA's excellent post but snipped down to the relevant bits.

You know, I really do want to think that this whole debate is about the absolutely relevant issue of how WOC (if not POC) cultures do indeed get transformed and mutated by the dominant White culture, and often at the expense of the original cultures. I really do want to stand with BfP and BA in total agreement that appropriating Black and Brown people's cultures without giving them the proper credit and working to maintain the originals is certainly wrong.

I really would...but it all seems to come right back to baiting middle class White women for their sexual liberalism, and dissing them as "appropriators" and "thieves" masturbating on the broken backs of women of color.

I disagree with this.

Saying "why is it ok when middle and upper class white women do it but not okay when poor women and women of color do it" is not baiting when that's the situation.

The question becomes whether that's the situation. The answer is that one loved by all liberals like me, "It depends."

But when you see people who are not of a cultural group using the clothing, activities, and suchlike of a cultural group, it should give you pause, in my opinion. I expect that when I go out in a Sari. I am perfectly open to being questioned on that and explaining about my Muslim Pakistani friend who introduced me to the best shops and told me how to wear it. I wear it in the summer because it's more comfortable and because having a built in sun-roof is a glorious thing. I am aware that by being pale and wearing clothing not a part of the historical culture of pale people that I open myself to censure and that the censure may be valid, and if it is valid I will change my behavior.

I consider expecting members of a culture I am interested in to NOT be defensive and somewhat hostile, given - you know - history, is an example of priviledge. I am a citizen of a nation founded on colonialism. I am privileged to have knowledge of many, many, many cultures that are not my own. There was a time I would have had the opinion that people should be "grateful" I'm interested in their culture, but I've realized it's the other way around. I'm blessed that so many people have told me their stories, shared their practices, and discussed their knowledge and feelings with me. I'm lucky that I can read other religions' holy books, study their history, admire their art, and then build off of it in my own creative expression. It's not "dissing" if someone labels me an appropriator or theif - from a certain perspective I could be seen as such; it's up to me to be sufficiently grateful and respectful that other people share their lives with me and to appologize and seek to make amends when I fail. It's not easy, it's frequently humbling, and I've failed spectacularly and memerably, but it's worth it.

In addition, one can be sexually liberated without taking cultural markers from other cultures. If the only reason one is interested in another culture is because one can "let your hair down," or "be more natural" or "be sexually liberated" by acting like them then, quite frankly, one is colonializing that culture. One is not interested in that culture from an authentic, curious, respectful stance but from a "what can I get out of that culture" stance, which is a colonial attitude and is, at it's most basic, racist; it is making culture a commodity for sale. If one has to leave one's own culture and racial identity in order to feel sexual, natural, or relaxed - something's wrong with one's culture. Projecting the bits of one's personality that one can't experience within one's culture doesn't free one in any major way, it just objectifies an entire other culture as "not us".

And that isn't healthy for either end. If women of color are the sensual, natural, sexual, erotic, warm examples of being female, that means my pasty ass can't be - and I don't buy that. If women of color are ONLY all of the previously stated, then they're denied their ability to be whole people outside of their sexual identity. It's a severing of the self at a profound level, a cutting off of a major part of being human, and as I said in a previous post, that's one thing I know I don't want.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


This list will be added to as time goes on.

Punctuation note: By and large, I place punctuation outside of the quote marks. This is the English style of grammar and is as valid as the US style of including punctuation not found in a quote within the quote marks. I choose the European style because I don't like altering quotes, even as far as punctuation.

Carrot Shot: Carrotshots Recipe*:

1 oz vodka
1 oz carrot juice
Guilt the person next to you into pouring it down your throat.

*(The management holds no responsibility for actually TRYING this and discovering it is disgusting.)

Also, slang for "carom shot", that is a complaint about something where the target isn't named but the context makes the target obvious. The particular nastiness of the carom shot is that once the target complains, one can say one wasn't talking about the target when one really was.

First Nations: Used instead of American Indian/Native American due to consensus of many tribes in Canada. This designation may be revised per decision of other, extra-Canadian tribal organization that voted to use American Indian as a bludgeoning weapon against the oppressors who misnamed them. Currently on mental review.

Fluffy: Individual which claims a title or designation but demonstrates little to no knowledge about it or the history of it and actively resists learning more in case it undermines said person's worldview.

Internets/Intarweb/Intarwebnets/Intertubes: Geeky and amused terms for the internet. Usually used in phrases such as: "You win teh intarwebs." and "Im in ur intertubes overuzin ur memez."

Kyriarchy: A term coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and brought to my attention by Sudy in this wonderful post. "a neologism ... derived from the Greek words for 'lord' or 'master' (kyrios) and 'to rule or dominate' (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination...Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression" (Glossary, Wisdom Ways, Orbis Books New York 2001).

Living while white: a way to reference that one has white privilege and all of the attendance bonuses and weaknesses, but are rejecting the racial identifier of white.

Pegan: Form of pagan vegan. Known predator is the pegivore. Also: indication that pagan wannabe doesn't know how to spell.

Racial Justice: My phrase for people who are seeking equal value being placed on all humans despite the racism inherent in most cultures.

Racism: Two definitions. The first, colloquial definition is any act of prejudice against another person based upon their perceived racial category; more commonly, this idea is gotten across using the phrase "racial prejudice".

The second, more useful definition is a system of discrimination which privileges people of a certain phenotype while disadvantaging others of a different phenotype. The privileged category is paler in skin, hair, and eyes. Also referred to as "institutional racism" or "systemic racism".

Romantic orientation: Used instead of sexual orientation, to emphasis that the attraction is not just physical but is also emotional and spiritual. This terminology is designed to reframe the issue of sexual attraction that emphasizes aspects other than simply physical sex, but still includes physical sex.

USian: Used instead of American because America is two continents, not one country.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arguments I am Tired Of

All religious people just want reassurance of some kind of deity because they're scared and gullible.

Reverse racism is a serious problem.

Racist, sexist, ablist, and anti-trans rhetoric is free speech and anyone who uses it in a public forum should be lauded for speaking out against political correctness. They certainly shouldn't be critiqued, and firing them is super plus ungood.

It's not FOR you.

Everything was better X years ago. If we could only go back then, everyone would be happy.

Everything will be better X years from now if you do what I tell you to.

Someone used a word I don't like, so now I'm scared to post.

Education is elitist.

I'd try to understand you, but you use words I don't understand.

Talk differently; you make me feel stupid and I don't like that.

Abortion kills a life, but my dinner doesn't.

Humans aren't animals, so they should do X to demonstrate it.

Humans are animals, so they should to X to demonstrate it.

If we just gutted the law, everyone would be happier.

If we just had more laws, everyone would be happier.

Anything happening to do with the misnomer "free trade". Trade has RULES. It is not FREE. The entire point of trade is that STUFF ISN'T FREE. If STUFF was FREE we wouldn't have to TRADE THINGS FOR IT. ARG!!!!

If you can't be OBJECTIVE, don't speak.

It doesn't matter because horrible things are happening over there.

Become the kind of person I tell you that you should be. It's easy and then you'll be happy.

You're just jealous.

If only she hadn't done X, she wouldn't have been raped.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Childhood to Adulthood: The Liminal State and You!

In the recent debates about raising the consent age of porn to 21, I found some interesting quotes and assumptions. They are typified in the following statement at Alas! A Blog: "I notice you’re avoiding the suggestions I gave for why some 18-20 year olds may be less mature, i.e. what it is about college that creates that liminal state."

This statement assumes two things. The first is classist and racist - it assumes all people will go to college. I leave that one as an exercise for the reader, at least right now. What interests me is the second premise - that there is something inherent about college that creates a liminal state.

For people who haven't taken anthropology or psychology, a liminal state is an "in between" state where something is neither one thing or the other. Traditionally (I use the word fairly loosely; request clarification if you need it), liminal states were meant to be temporary as a person transitioned from one status in a community to another (or from one place to another; shamans (athro. meaning) undergo liminal states constantly as they move from world to world to world). US culture, as well as many other modern, Western cultures, have some examples of the brief, ritualistic liminal state; weddings are one; funerals another. However, the coming of age liminal state has been stretched and stretched and stretched until it encompasses years.

Biologically, humans develop incredibly slowly as compared to other mammals (and, indeed, other animals). Humans are born undeveloped so we're small enough to not kill our mother on the way out, and it's two years - or so - before we can even walk. If you look at our closest cousins, you can see the amount of time needed for aging from dependant to independant shrinking as you leave the hominid family and skitter off to other mammalian branches. It's a striking picture of eventual biological result in terms of mobility, language, and tool using skills trumping the temporary need for extra work on the part of adults.

As would be indicated by the slow development of humans physically, the brain has been analysed and found to have a similar slow rate of growth. Around puberty, the frontal lobe - the part of the cortex associated with planning, logic, reason, and abstract thought - begins it's huge spurt of growth and it doesn't cap off until around age 21-23, when we currently assume human brains stop developing (there is some significant evidence that humans who continue to learn continue to have brain development throughout their life and that late age learning can re-start this process, but the research is in its infancy).

These biological realities, puberty in particular, has informed the cultural development of humans. Almost all traditional cultures have the coming-of-age around puberty. Even in US culture, some subcultures continue to have Rituals associated with that age - the Jewish bar mitzvah is a good example of such with the bat mitzvah as an interesting commentary on gender equality in the Jewish community. However, without the social significance placed on such a ritual across the board, it is largely inert in terms of power. The 13 year old before hand has the same reality as the 13 year old after, except ofr some slight shifts in his or her religious community. The ritual has no teeth; the liminal state between child and adult doesn't work.

The US liminal state between child and adult is currently five years long, arguably eight. Rights and responsibilities are introduce gradually, and usually with no relation to each other. For the purpose of discussion, I'm going to use the word "teenager" for someone in the liminal state between child and adult; culturally, one is considered a teenager when one is thirteen or so, and this teenager label continues until one is about eighteen, with a couple hang-on rights for a later age. The timing of rights and responsibilities for teenagers varies surprisingly widely across European culture and its colonial offspring, and i personally think there are too many confounds to use any of these as data for when rights and responsibilities "should" be introduced due to the significant cultural differences even within European culture and its colonial offspring. Here I will be considering US rights and responsibilities timing alone, but I'd welcome comments from other European cultures or colonial offspring given specifics on which you're talking about.

In the US, the rights go roughly like this: right to marry w/parental approval (and have sex with spouse) (12 and up), right to have sex with another teenager (13 and up), right to drive on public roads (15 1/2 and up), right to work with parental approval (16 and up), right to marry (16 and up), rightt o leave school (16 and up), right to have sex (18 and up), right to sign a contract (18 and up), right to enlist in the military (18 and up), right to work (18 and up), right to drink (21 and up), right to rent a car (25 and up w/credit card).

Most of these rights have been put in place recently. Up until the 1900s or so, for example, children could work. In fact, the industrial revolution rested, in large part, on the shoulders of the 5 to 13 set from poor families who had little fingers, would accept a pittance to help their family, and would never think of suing if they lost a few fingers or toes. The life expectancy for chimney sweeps was 15; in other words, they were expected to be DEAD before we would now allow them to legally work.

The laws restricting child employment were put in place to protect these children; somewhat ironically, they made children a burden instead or a help, financially speaking. Outside of family businesses, like farms or restaurants where children can work for the family but not be paid and thus not violate the law, children and teenagers became all but unemployable unless it was under the table (and I've not heard much about under the table being big from the point these laws were put in place on; it makes me wonder if the burden, for once, was placed on the businesses and not the employees - perhaps due to the fact that throwing a child in jail for working never goes over well; if only the same standard were held for immigrants and illegal immigrants).

What this means is that older children couldn't be pulled out of school and put to work to support the family or provide childcare for younger children. Also, with the ascendance of the nuclear family, childcare from the previous generation was/is in steep decline, leaving the entire burden for supporting all children on the parents alone, and a single parent if one of the two decides to leave. What this indicates is an extension of the dependancy of children into teenagehood in order to protect them while simultaniously increasing the burden on the parents to provide for their increasingly dependant children/teenagers.

The educational system, as well, is primed toward keeping children dependant. Vocational Tech is the only tract which even begins to prepare a teenager for adulthood via giving him or her a means of self-support, and it carries the stigma of both intellectual inferiority and low class prospects. No matter that a skilled mechanic or plumber can make quite a lot of money; I would argue that it is the capability for work alone which causes the stigma to be attached; humans tend to value what is most costly in terms of time/money to maintain; a largely empty education aimed at getting more education is such a social indicator, and currently the liminal period of junior high and high school is aimed at being a baby-sitting center while leaving the teenager with no adult prospects, currently not even the ability to REASON, on the other end of the ritual.

College extends the liminal state further; unless the teenager/adult is going it alone (which I, for one, didn't), college is paid for largely by the parents and it is well nigh impossible to get colleges to not take into account the money the parents have without making oneself independant of them legally and formally at 18, instead of the informal adult-but-can-still-be-claimed-as-dependant that I was under until I was 22. The desire to extend the age of consent for being in pornography until 21 does fall solidly within the informal liminal state of the US, then. However doing so, like the limits on drinking, brings into sharp relief some of the values of our country.

An eleven year old can't consent to anything and is not even considered a teenager, but he can be tried as an adult in a court of law if he does something bad enough (English ruling). Teenagers are increasingly being tried as adults. In 1997, the Juvenile Crime Control Act was passed to make it easier to prosecute teenagers as adults. This moved the minimum age possible to prosecute teens down to 14 from 15 in the USA. In other words, before a teenager has the right to do just about anything besides have sex with another teen or marry with parental approval, said teenager will be held accountable, as an adult, for crimes deemed "heinous", usually involving murder or attempted murder. In addition, the timing of the right to legally drink after the right to legally go to war is an interesting one. Adding in the right to consent to be in porn just highlights that death is considered less of a problem than sex or alcohol.

The liminal state imposed on humans by European culture and it's colonial offspring is unrealistic, illogical, and reactionary. Instead of introducing rights, rational thinking, and awareness of consequences, it insulates children and teenagers until they do something "bad enough" to have that protection removed, or if they're poor or have the wrong skin color and do something kind of sort of bad.

Personally, if Garance Franke-Ruta really wants to shut down Girls Gone Wild (and I agree, it's idiotic) one would think that a legal requirement of paying each person who appears on a tape for public sale receives a percentage of the earnings, say 1%, will do wonders for shutting the whole thing down. If 100 people are recorded, suddenly the company is making no money at all. For some reason, that puts a HUGE smile on my face. You'd have to make it specific to video tape sales, so as not to hamstring news programs and daytime talk shows, but the idea is workable and it places the restrictions where they BELONG, on the person doing the exploitation, not on the exploited. (This is my rational for why companies employing illegal immigrants should be targetted while the illegal immigrants shouldn't be as well, btw, and why prostitution should be regulated so that the prostitutes are the most protected while their customers/employers are under heavier restrictions to see to their employee's welfare).

By the way, that's why I don't agree with the comparison between abortion rights and the right to be video taped for a t-shirt; abortion rights is removing legislative power from the bodies of women; I'm not a huge fan of adding more legislative power to the bodies of women, no matter how high minded the goal. In both cases, the removal of legislation allows for individual independance while the adding removes it. Target the exploiters, not the exploitees; history has shown that well-meaning laws are easily turned into increased restriction of the rights of the exploited (yes, I will try to back this up if you ask, but I really don't want to).

I also think the US education system and laws surrounding teenagers need a major overhaul, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

To come back to the initial quote, though: "I notice you’re avoiding the suggestions I gave for why some 18-20 year olds may be less mature, i.e. what it is about college that creates that liminal state." IMO, there is nothing inherently liminal about the college state alone. The entire teenage years are within a liminal state, with the cap off at either leaving school formally, HS graduation, college graduation, or graduate school graduation. Within that liminal state, individual teenagers may mature earlier or later (from what I've seen, the poorer you are the earlier you mature), but in terms of the critical social expectations which shape the post-liminal adulthood state all teenagers are equally expected to be children/teenagers and thus are not treated as adults and thus have no motivation to behave like adults.

Extending the liminal stage doesn't make it more final in any sort of way, it just makes it longer.

As a side note, spiritually undertaken liminal states are very different and often quite, quite brief. European culture and it's colonial offspring also have the longest liminal state I have ever read about anywhere; this does not endear it to any anthropologists I've read who have studied it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Choices and Links

My blog list (folder title Weblogs/Opinions) became too large recently and I had to make use of the dreaded subfolder. Actually, I like subfolders, but this time I was struck with so many thoughts regarding who should go where that it really highlighted how much I've learned in the last few months.

Originally, I had subfolders Feminism and Games/Entertainment (my fluff folder). Now I have Racial Justice and Feminism, Feminism, Racial Justice, Religious, Advice/Etiquette, and Games/Entertainment and the substance of my Feminism folder has shifted.

Originally, many WOC Feminist blogs went under "feminism". That was how I found them and where I put them because it made sense. But adding Racial Justice (orig. title "racism" but I felt that was false advertizing) shifted the dynamic since so many of the blogs I'd picked up for regular reading were about BOTH. One of the issues Black Amazon raised, near the beginning of my stint reading blogs, was that women of color (WOC) have a unique challenge being subjected to two forms of systematic discrimination and were usually asked by one or the other side to prioritize one over the other. Given that concern, I felt I couldn't pigionhole them in one or the other, so the hybrid folder was formed.

Then there was the issue of order. I started with Feminism on top (which is where it usually was) but again, given the new composition of the folder, that just seemed ....wrong. So Racial Justice and Feminism rose to the top with "Feminism" second because I was going to list "Racial Justice" third.

Ironically, given how I tend to check my blogs, this means I starts with An Angry Black Woman now instead of Renegade Evolution.

What struck me most overall, however, was how easily and quicky a perspective can be expanded if one is interested. The issues facing WOC would have been a closed book to me if BA hadn't written so eloquently on the pains and challenges of being asked to choose. It's likely BA's post might have been closed to me if I hadn't previously read one of Andre Lorde's poems (see below) and dwelt on the idea of "the slighter pleasures of their slavery." And all this lead to a change in my bookmarking system that reflected my awareness of the lack-of-uniformity of oppression.

Thanks, BA. I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, April 20, 2007

If you feel like it:

Getting the Word Out

I doubt anyone reads here that doesn't read in the many other places this SHOULD be posted, but I'm linking it anyway. Blackamazon is right.

I've not read deviousdiva's blog before, but some asshats are apparently spreading her offline identity around. This is not appropriate. This is wrong.

And check out her Roma series; it's heartbreaking, and made me want to buy a few thousand miles of piping and a plumber.

Friday, March 9, 2007

From Elsewhere, giving it a home here

I posted this at Renegade Evolution's place, but thought I should give it a home here, too. And correct some spelling and grammar. *ninjaeditor*

Personally, I see THIS as the problem. There is a madonna/whore complex. Real women are affected by it. It permiates a lot and pops up often when you least expect it.

The question begged then is, how do we make it less powerful? Well, no, that's secondary - sometimes I think the first question SHOULD be (but often isn't) what feeds into this false dichotomy.

I personally think a lot of first wave feminism did. There was a perception that women were "more moral" and many sufferegettes (if I'm remembering my history right) banked on that as a reason why they should get the vote - they would serve as a moral backbone for the countries since the menz couldn't.

Ironically, THAT angle is very insulting toward men. Oddly enough, they were some of the biggest supporters of it. 8(

So we have virgin and whore.

Virgin is: moral (whatever that's been defined as this year), natural (ibid), nurturing, asexual, non-violent, and now (via first wave feminism) intelligent, successful, and ambitious. Viewed positively, she is the "angel of the household and the boardroom". Viewed negatively, she is Hilary Clinton. Her power hinges on being beautiful, remote, and untenable in reality. She is celebrated as the superwoman and fails by drinking, desiring sex, or somehow being out of step with what is "moral" or "natural".

The whore is: immoral or amoral (whatever that's being defined as this year), unnatural (ibid), aggressive, sexual, violent, loud, takes up space, demanding, powerful, and self-sufficient. Viewed positively, she is strong, sexual woman. Viewed negatively, she is the object upon which people play out their fantasies of dominance, consumption, and violence. Her power hinges on being an outsider, on shock, manipulation, and sexual allure. She is celebrated as the actress and fails by showing vulnerability or unattractiveness.

Any virgin can and does become a whore by disagreeing with the "people in charge", whomever they may be. And the gods help those who aren't attractive or who are overweight; there's no room in either archetype for either of THOSE traits.

I'd argue that many of the "positive feminine traits" celebrated by many woman's rights and feminists groups fall under "virgin". The woman who breastfeeds her child and doesn't shave and expects other women to do the same, for example, is fitting into the "natural woman" aspect of the virgin. The women who scan agression as "masculine" and nurturing as "feminine" are coding the "whore" as both undesirable and not even female. And so on and so forth.

But I'm still left wondering, how do we break this false dichotomy? Honestly, there are things off of both lists that I WANT and that I try to embody, and that's my small way, but I find myself wishing there were bigger ways to act.

FWIW, I'd say the male examples are the effeminate and the macho man - for any MRAs out there who want to explore their own untenable archetypes that are used against them to control them. Sometime I want to get a listing of the characteristics of those archetypes and see if they scan to virgin and whore the way I think they will. ^^

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm a longstanding livejournal girl, so my coming to the blog-o-sphere was later rather than sooner. I went where I went because of friends, and to be honest that's a pattern I've kept for much of my life. I found lj through friends, found journelfen through The Powah of Snark ( <3 Fandomwank ), half-emmigrated to gratestjournal with friends, found Gaia through The Powah of Geek ( <3 my pixel paper dolly ), and found my first ever blog through friends.

That's actually roughly the progression, too; I found out about Gaia when someone posted about this hysterical wank on there. I love wank.

Anyway. Slacktivist.

Slacktivist was recommended to me by a good friend on Gaia. Amusingly, to me at least, said friend is Catholic Christian and Slacktivist is Evangelical Christian, but both fall under the monikor I will use called "good people". It is more difficult to tell is someone is good people over the 'net, but the category can stand up to some bad apples, so I apply it now to both my friend and Slacktivist.

Slacktivist is here.

I like Slacktivist for lots of reasons, but mostly because he snarks and is funny in directions I agree with most of the time and appreciate the logic of even if I think it's kinda dumb. I mean, we have radically different religions, occupations, etc..., but we both agree that individuals are cool, groups of people are pretty good at being assholes, if you claim to follow something you should be educated on it, knowing things is good, and it's a better idea to be nice to people first if you can. I fail most at the last; I tend to be bitchy. I haven't decided yet if I want to fix it or not, though. A lot of the people I really like are bitchy. I mean, there's being nice to people, but sometimes they're just being DUMB and what's the good of being DUMB if you can't mock it?

Oh, in the interest of full disclosure (I've always wanted to type that) this is an ad. ^^ Go read Slacktivist, because he's funny and cool and sometimes you might even agree with him. And his reviews of Left Behind are both deeply educated in his religion and offer a really nice perspective on things.

I tend to mostly avoid his comment threads unless I really feel the need to speak up on something. Usually this is the tried & lameass "You don't think ZEUS is real, and your god is no realer than him! Har har har!" bit that atheists thing will be so cutting to a Christian's faith played on the much-despised backdrop of "Christianity and atheism are the only two beliefs EVAH and all Christians look like my friend Mr. Straw". But that's a rant for another time, I think.

Next! Another visiting spot of me. Eventually.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Here are some of my favorite poems of all time.

Who Said It Was Simple
by Audre Lorde

There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

by THomas Hardy

If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

Then would I bear it, clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased in that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
--Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan. . . .
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.

Famous Blue Raincoat
by Leonard Cohen

It's four in the morning, the end of december
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New york is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on clinton street all through the evening.

I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You'd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without lili marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see jane's awake --

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I'm glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

We Wear the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Okay, the third is a song, but I love it. Just be glad I'm not forcing Japanese Anime themes on you; then you'd have to deal with translations, too, which would be messy since one of my favorites is in English, Russian, and Latin. Oh, and Hardy is an author as well as a poet; I stumbled across The Mayor of Casterbridge a while back and found it an engaging, if depressing, read.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bleached of color

Inspired by a rant that I (probably somewhat inappropriately) went into at RenEv's place:

I hate the racial term white. I despise it with a passion I rarely feel toward anything with this intensity and for this long, though admittedly that's because it comes up every time I fill out a demographics form or whenever people decide they need to label me.

"You're white." "You're caucasian."

No, no I'm not.

I also dispise the terms Asian (Oriental) and Latino (Hispanic), but with less intensity. Both generalize way too much. The only context I don't despise Black in is with the disposessed in major countries like the USA, where the historical context and identity of some of our citizens was stripped from them by the ancestors of other of our citizens and ancestors of citizens of other countries and tribes. I can feel only compassion and helplessness for

I work with a lot of USians. Some of them have Chinese accents, some of them have Spanish as their first language, some of them have darker skin than I do, but they're all USian. I also work with Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, Saint Lucians, and other citizens of other countries. They are not USian, but that's ok. Some of them want to be, though.

I'm a USian. My ancestry is Celto-Germanic - specifically Scots-Welsh, Scots-Irish, German, and Danish. For those who haven't studied the history of the Scots, the Scots-[whatever] were Scots moved in as landowners and lords of the [whatever] place in order to bring said places under English rule. While there's a chance I have some actual Irish or Welsh in me, since I'm decended of a Princess who ran away with a stagecoach driver and the difference in class implies he was of the people native to the place she was ruling, I'm primarily Scot. I have the tartan and the migration pattern to prove it (Tartans as clan representatives is fairly modern, but my clan is one of the older ones to adopt a tartan).

I am not white. I don't remember a bleached piece of paper of the color code #ffffff on the internet. I'm kind of a peachy-yellow, the yellow coming from an ill-advised tanning attempt in my teenage years that left me looking jaudiced for years.

The term 'white' is a variable thing. It has, in the past, excluded the Irish and the Jews. It's main purpose was to divide two groups of the same general socio-economic status - indentured servants and slaves - during the early years of the colonial development of the Americas. It also came in handy to marginalize the natives of the Americas, since they weren't "white."

Having been born in the USA, I'd rather connect myself to Lame Deer (who was also born in the Americas) than half the yahoos who claim I'm the same color as they are. Not my choice, though; I may admire Lame Deer, but his descendants don't have to feel any sort of kinship to me.

I spent several years working with adults with mental illnesses. I taught classes on how to live, which even then I felt the irony of - me, a recent college graduate living with my parent in order to pay off my loans, lecturing people two to three times my age on life. What I had was education, not living, and so I gave them the benefit of that. The course that I had the most positive feedback on what my cultures course; we'd study aspects of different countries, reading about places most of us will never go. The exercise I enjoyed the most was the color one. We all sat around in the room and one by one said what our "color" was. Then, each person went around the room and said what they saw of everyone else. People started with "black" and "white", but soon were looking closer, and the "milk chocolate," and "cafe au lait" and "dark chocolate"s crept out. At the end, with the lists made on the board, everyone was sort of looking around at each other with new eyes, smiling a little foolishly. I think I grinned for days.

The exercise was inspired by a poem my High School French teacher gave us. He was from Haiti (I still pronounce the name of his country with a French accent, AY-at-ee), though he taught in both France and the USA. Wonderful man, M. D-. We were an advanced class, so he would bring us more unusual things to reach, like Le Petit Prince or this poem. In it, in French, it described the colors of the people in Haiti, from Blackberry to Caramel, and how delicious those colors were for the eyes as those tastes owuld have been for the mouth. It always stuck with me; it likely always will.

So no, I'm not "white". I will allow no labels to bleach me of my history and connections. I will not allow the ease of a label to blind me to the experiences, cultures, and lives of the people around me. The Chinese are not the Japanese. The !Tung are not the Yoruba. The Mayans are not the Iroquois. I find the differences between the accent of Saint Lucia and the accent of Trinidad charming and interesting, not confusing, and I wish for no labels to smooth them together as one.