June162014

George Will, Take Note: “There is No Survivor Privilege, Only Survivors”

There's something about George Will that just screams "asshole," even when he's not saying anything.

There’s something about George Will that just screams “asshole,” even when he’s not saying anything.

I learned to loathe George Will very early in my political consciousness. That means sometime back when Reagan was president. It’s not that he’s more contemptible than all the other conservatives, but my dislike for him is unique in its quality, if not necessarily its quantity. His entire image,…

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June102014
drivenbyboredom:

Topless Tuesday is that weed or are you just happy to see me edition.

In the Bay Area, it’s hard to know which part of this picture someone will look at first.

drivenbyboredom:

Topless Tuesday is that weed or are you just happy to see me edition.

In the Bay Area, it’s hard to know which part of this picture someone will look at first.

June72014
“Jamila Bey, the communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, summed up the concerns of many in a recent interview: “There are people who say, ‘Why are we talking about racism? We would rather argue that Chupacabra are fake.’ And fine, that is their right. On the other hand, I don’t get to divorce my critical thinking from my blackness, from my femaleness, from my position as a mother. So when I see the only affordable child care in my community being offered at churches, that’s an issue for me that makes me say ‘Wait a minute, there’s a problem here. Why am I not being afforded the opportunity for my child not to be indoctrinated just so my kid has somewhere to play and meet other children?’ I can’t divorce my whole life from my skepticism and for anybody who says, well , talking about female issues or talking about issues that impact black people, oh, that’s taking away from skepticism, I go, well that’s really easy for you to say. This is my life. I can’t divorce the issues. You can choose to not care about them or whatever, but don’t tell me I’m diminishing skepticism because I’m talking about the reality of what my life is.””

Forget Christopher Hitchens: Atheism in America is undergoing a radical change - Salon.com (via sinshine)

I really wish they hadn’t chosen this title; everyone seems to think that I was trying to do a hit piece on Hitchens, when the whole point is to move away from making him and the others the focus of atheism. But my thanks to Jamila Bey for this quote; I think that it really sums up the whole point of the article.

(via sinshine)

May302014
New Goal: Write Shorter Stuff

My latest goal: I’m going to try to force myself to write shorter posts, and to be happy with them.

New Goal: Write Shorter Stuff

My latest goal: I’m going to try to force myself to write shorter posts, and to be happy with them.

March302014

Anonymous said: is genderqueer an appropriation of trans identity and experience?

A lot of very interesting ideas going back and forth here, and I’ve wondered about it myself with certain very specific people. However, being neither trans nor genderqueer, it’s kind of not my place to work out most of the bigger issues.

skysquids:

umruik:

skysquids:

for genderqueer to be an appropriation of trans experience, genderqueer people would have to be cis.  so, short answer:  no.

there is a larger issue here, and trans women talk about it with each other, but many of us are hesitant to speak publicly because we get shit on for standing up for ourselves.  for faab people, adopting he/his pronouns can be an act of subversive gender performance - which is not how i feel about being a woman.  there are plenty of faab people who adopt clothing, haircuts, and pronouns in limited capacities in their lives and who adopt trans as a description of themselves.

for me, i share being trans with trans dudes.  i share being a woman with cis women.  but i usually do not feel a sense of shared experience with faab genderqueer people, with a few exceptions.  i feel that i have much more in common with cis women.

i am not in a position to say who is trans and who isn’t, and i absolutely don’t want to be in that position.  however, i will say that when many genderqueer people describe their experience as transgender, they seem to mean something fundamentally different by the word ‘trans’ and the word ‘gender’.  i think its fine and good that there are a variety of trans experiences.  this is positive.  i respect genderqueer folks’ genders.

however, because we mean fundamentally different things by ‘trans’ and ‘gender’, our political and community goals & needs are often very different and sometimes opposed.  i believe that trans activism must center trans women of color or else it is fucked up.  if white genderqueer faab people use their positions of relative privilege to direct trans activism away from the interests of trans women of color, of trans folks of color in general, away from trans women, away from systemic violence, ect - then i think these folks are doing something fucked up by appropriating the hard experiences of trans women of color who primarily face the transphobic violence of our society.  this attitude and redirection of trans activism, the re-centering onto people who are not trans women is the major conflict that i have with faab genderqueer folks.  i think many trans women are frustrated by this and that frustration is sometimes voiced as calling out genderqueer folks for this appropriation.

there’s another thing going on here as well: the near-complete capture of the term “genderqueer” by female-assigned folks (largely white and expensively educated) to mean a specific, extremely limited range of their gender and style expressions.

when “genderqueer” was first being used (as far as i know) in the mid-1990s, it was a very broad umbrella term covering the whole space that we’d now refer to as “nonbinary”, as well as to some extent non-trans genderdeviant folks and trans folks who don’t have conventional gender expressions (butch trans women, fem trans men, etc - a zone we still don’t have good language for, except maybe by taking serano’s distinction between cissexual and cisgender more seriously).

"genderqueer" was very consciously created as a political project like "transgender" or "queer", aiming at bringing together a very mixed group of people, not on the basis of ‘shared identity’ but on the basis of an analysis of structural power. in this case, an analysis of the enforcement of binary gender, as something that specifically targets women and other folks who are seen as imperfect men, and that affects in specific ways folks who aren’t easily read into a conventional masculine man/feminine woman box.

and it’s worth saying: a lot of the folks doing that creating were trans women. just like with “transgender” and with “queer”.

but within ten years, the meaning of “genderqueer” had been narrowed down to where it usually is today: a very limited microidentity for female-assigned folks. if i remember right, rocco bulldagger has a nice account of that shift in an issue of Bleached Blonde Bimbos from years ago…

the effect, of course, was to marginalize male-assigned trans and genderdeviant folks, further valorize conventional masculinity within dyke communities, make it easier for folks in dyke communities to maintain a double standard for trans men and trans women (as ‘not *really* men’ and ‘not *really* women’), and to actively depoliticize the term.

( parenthetically: i’d argue that this is at heart just a particularly blatant version of a general problem with a shift in the 00s from an expansive, strategic identity[-with…] politics (rooted in women of color feminist/womanist work and in the GLF/STAR/ACT UP lineage) to a boundary-policing, purist identity[-as…] politics (rooted in cultural nationalist movements, niche-marketing & liberation marketing, and TERF lineages). )

alongside that, though, i think the elimination of “genderqueer” as a usable umbrella term has encouraged more male-assigned nonbinary trans and genderdeviant folks (nonbinary trans dykes, in particular) to identify ourselves more actively with trans women, and to insist that the category of ‘trans women’ be expansive enough to include us.

thank you for the historical perspective on this, i appreciate your words here.  it frustrates me that the group which has cornered ‘genderqueer’ is also seeking to corner ‘trans’ through a similar political strategy.

i think the distinction you make between political alliance politics and personal identity politics is important and instructive.  this is what i’m also trying to say:  on a personal level, i do not share identity with most faab genderqueer people.  on a political level, i often find myself in conflict with them as they claim authority over trans experiences that they so clearly lack any experience or knowledge about.  and again, i am speaking primarily of the “very limited microidentity for female-assigned folks.”

March222014
brutereason:

I saw this outside a store selling plus-size clothing and it makes me sad. The urge to dismiss women who conform to societal ideals as “fake” is totally understandable, but the hierarchy of “real women” versus “not-real women” still keeps the focus on women’s bodies and what they do with those bodies rather than questioning that focus itself.

brutereason:

I saw this outside a store selling plus-size clothing and it makes me sad. The urge to dismiss women who conform to societal ideals as “fake” is totally understandable, but the hierarchy of “real women” versus “not-real women” still keeps the focus on women’s bodies and what they do with those bodies rather than questioning that focus itself.

February92014
February42014
melissa:

I get email from women [her named edited for privacy]. My reply:

With all due respect, this is a sexist response to one woman speaking her mind. Why do you need to criticize my appearance to make your point? Why twist what I said about “control” to make it seem like I have none? The control I speak of is having to contend with people who presume to be able to speak for sex workers better than we can speak for ourselves. Thanks for proving my point.

melissa:

I get email from women [her named edited for privacy].

My reply:

With all due respect, this is a sexist response to one woman speaking her mind. Why do you need to criticize my appearance to make your point? Why twist what I said about “control” to make it seem like I have none?

The control I speak of is having to contend with people who presume to be able to speak for sex workers better than we can speak for ourselves. Thanks for proving my point.
February12014

jennbrissett:

gradientlair:

This week in The Nation an article (not linking it here; there are donotlink links on Twitter though) was published called “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars,” by Michelle Goldberg, the same woman who wrote a piece defending Lean In (which bell hooks critically examined for what’s really going on) and worse, a piece defending Justine Sacco (remember her, the White woman who thinks its a hoot that AIDS is an epidemic in Africa). Though the title would make it seem like this piece is about the abuse that feminists of all backgrounds face, and how it is acutely different for Black women, women of colour, trans women and sex workers for example, no, it was not about this. It was about ignoring structural power, downplaying the history of racism in mainstream feminism, and pretending—once again—that intersectionality is not about what we LIVE but an inconvenience for White women. It’s primarily false equalization and a lack of accountability for how White privilege shaped their feminism and feminist projects in 2013. The gaslighting is strong in this one. 

I sent the tweets above when I first encountered the article, which specifically names @Karnythia (I mentioned her in my Top 20 People On Twitter and Top 25 Tumblr Blogs In 2013 post) and somewhat posits her as some sort of “leader” of the “problem” of feminism, versus a passionate, brilliant, critical thinker who is hilarious, kind and focused on her community. I addressed a similar hit piece (which also named @Karnythia; this isn’t an accident; #solidarityisforwhitewomen is her creation; her work is meaningful, powerful and has reach; some within mainstream feminism want her silenced) in my past essay: Requiring Accountability For Racism and White Supremacy Is Not “Bashing” White Feminists

Let’s be clear, this is a BUSINESS for White feminists in the mainstream. @redlightvoices pointed this out in her piece: “Misogofeminists” and The White Men Who Profit From Silencing CritiquesThis isn’t just about Goldberg’s piece, but a pattern reflecting a system that benefits the State. In response to Goldberg’s piece, @Crommunist wrote: On “Toxic Feminism” - The Nation and The People and @prisonculture with @andrea366 wrote: Interlopers on Social Media: Feminism, Women of Color and Oppression. Both are worth reading. 

When White feminists’ greatest “fears” are responses to their NATIONALLY PUBLISHED ARTICLES and openly shared politics (as they hide behind the White supremacist construction of “the delicate flower” who is “afraid to speak,” that the “angry Black woman” [an ableist construction by the way, let alone misogynoiristic] is out to get) for which any reader can respond to—and that “fear” becomes magically acute whenever the person responding is a Black woman, yet their greatest fear is not someone like Hugo Schwyzer (who magically escaped being deeply critiqued in the toxic feminism article; how?), it is clear that White supremacy matters more than anything else. Oh, speaking of Hugo, he supported Goldberg’s article. As did Joss Whedon and Dan Savage. Not surprising. Liberal White men LOVE feminism when it is about White supremacy. It ends up affirming their power anyway, versus deconstructing patriarchy. (I don’t want to hear a thing about Savage being gay. He still has White, cis, and male privilege. He still regularly shits on the rest of the LGBTQIA community who aren’t White and gay.)

If the discussion is not going to include structural power and media representation, how feminism as a business model reaffirms White supremacist capitalist patriarchy, how White feminists themselves falsely equalize the misogynistic abuse that they get from White men with Black women rejecting their racism (which I discussed in: When Some Of The Cis White Women Who Are Abused Online Are Also Abusers) or the simple fact that they are doubling down on treating Black women and other marginalized women as intruders in "their" feminism—as problems that are ruining their “calm” echo chamber in the hall of White supremacy—then there really is not a discussion. 

I’m not going to write any suggestions for “resolving” this because White supremacy is the hinderance, not my “tone” when I reply to White supremacy. Besides, right after #solidarityisforwhitewomen, @Karnythia herself wrote about what it would take: After #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen: So You Want To Be An Ally, Now What? Apparently this is not of interest to many White feminists. Why would it be? It’s much easier to cash a check from careers built on centering their privilege versus dismantling oppression. 

Black women are a common target in and outside of feminism—targeted by just about everyone—because of the social location that we occupy. While people may spend time arguing about how Black women’s “tone” when responding to oppression is not “nice” enough, people would do well to remember who actually has what power. Even as social media broadens who can speak (which naturally upsets the privileged), it is does not eradicate structural power. White women use the White supremacist construction of their womanhood as a weapon against Black women (as @bad_dominicana pointed out before) even as they suggest that White men oppress them with that construction. Harm us and then claim they “fear” us. Use the enormous power that they have while claiming that they are without power. This is violence against Black women. This is what is toxic. And it existed long before Twitter ever did. 

Related Essay List: 2013: A Year Of White Supremacy and Racism In Mainstream Feminism

*edits after the fact: Correct spelling is ‘Sacco’ not ‘Stacco;’ correct co-writer for @prisonculture is @andrea366. not @andreagrimes

(Source: gradientlair)

January212014
"Consent to Sex is not consent to pregnancy." Yes to this. Our dialogue on sexuality would be so much changed if we could only have this as a given.

"Consent to Sex is not consent to pregnancy." Yes to this. Our dialogue on sexuality would be so much changed if we could only have this as a given.

(via hellyeahscarleteen)

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