Friday, February 29, 2008

Womens' center under threat of closure; or, once again, "our needs are Universal; you're just a special interest, and can be subsumed"

via BlackAmazon:

Southall Black Sisters
, in their own words,

a not-for-profit organisation, was established in 1979 to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) women. Our aims are to highlight and challenge violence against women; empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence; and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom. For more than two decades we have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender violence locally and nationally, and campaigning for the provision of support services to enable women and their children to escape violent relationships.

We manage a resource centre in West London that provides a comprehensive service to women experiencing violence and abuse. We offer specialist advice, information, casework, advocacy, counselling and self-help support services in several community languages. We are managed by a group of women with long experience of women's struggles and commitment to women's rights.


...are now in danger of termination, because

of our local authority’s (Ealing) decision to withdraw our funding as of April 2008.

The local authority’s decision is based on the view that there is no need for specialist services for black and minority women and that services to abused women in the borough need to be streamlined. This view fails to take account of the unequal social, economic and cultural context which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for black and minority women to access outside help or seek information about their rights.


This is the letter they've sent, at womensphere:

Ealing council suggests that we either extend our service to cover the needs of all women in the borough or that we set up a consortium of groups to provide such a service for the same sum of money. The amount of funds available to the voluntary sector in Ealing has shrunk year in, year out, but the withdrawal of funds to SBS will have a number of far reaching consequences:

* The attempt to compel us to meet the needs of all women will mean that we will have to reduce our services to black and minority women across London and the country. Abused black and minority women, who already face considerable racism, discrimination and cultural pressures, will no longer have access to a specialist service.

We have never denied our services to any woman who contacts SBS but our focus has out of necessity, and in recognition of the demographic composition of the area, been on meeting the needs of black and minority women who continue to be one of the most disempowered sections of our society. The suicide rates of Asian women for example, are already three times the national average and homicides - where abusive men and families kill their wives, daughters or daughters-in-law - are also high within some black and minority communities. In all likelihood, any reduction in our services will see a rise in suicide and homicide rates amongst black and minority women.

* We will no longer have the same national impact in terms of our input in policy and legal development in relation to black and minority women, which has been highly effective over the years. Our campaigns in such critical areas of work as forced marriage, honour killings, suicides and self harm, religious fundamentalism and immigration difficulties, especially the ‘no recourse to public funds’ issue, will have to be drastically cut back...



***

BA's commentary:

Why is it that whenever we think of streamlining or making things more effective, somehow magically and mystically it involves eliminating, streamlining or destroying the resources and avenues for women/people of color?

ESPECIALLY ,ESPECIALLY IN SEXUAL HEALTH AND VIOLENCE response.

It's not like a women who reports her husband for domestic violence is more likely to get taken in herself if she's brown or po...

Wait a minute she is!

...If you can for a minute in your day take a perspective and or " look at the big picture" of

a) someone believing YOU SHOULDN'T EXIST in as few generations AS POSSIBLE
b) or structures believing and improved FLOW chart is more important than you hearing love and support in Gujurati BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY LANGUAGE YOU KNOW AND YOUR HUSBAND BEATS YOU EVERYDAY WHILE IMMIGRATION DENIES YOU SERVICES

...Because you see this isn't about the fact that WOC need saving or do nothing.

No this is the case for WOC doing something , surviving thriving reaching back to help and aid each other across race , linguistic, socio economic barriers and being told that it's not what's needed.


***


request for help:

We would be grateful for any support that you can give us. If you do not have time to draft a letter, please contact Hannana Siddiqui or call 020 8571 9595 for more information. Please let us have a copy of any letter you send and any reply that you receive.

If you are able to support us in any other way please contact us. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Pragna Patel
Chair of Southall Black Sisters

Add: Southall Black Sisters, 21 Avenue Road, Southall, Middlesex UB1 3BL
Tel: 020 8571 9595
Fax: 020 8574 6781
Email: southallblacksisters@btconnect.com


Update: Louisefeminista has a report on the protest here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Over a quarter of a million served.

As of today, I have received somewhat over 250,000 unique hits on this here blog thing, according to Statcounter.

in celebration, I think I will...um...go eat lunch. Yes. Lunch.

"I can't go on, I'll go on, and make lasagna."


This is possibly the most awesome thing in the history of awesomeness. Garfield minus Garfield.

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.




via hexpletive.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why? Why? Why? Why has lightning not just struck O'Rly? part XXXVI in an ongoing series

SOP for this shitsucker of a campaign season as well as fucking fucking O'Rly, I suppose, but really.

O'Reilly says:

"I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels."


I don't know how his "hard facts" about how the woman is supposed to feel about whatever it is--oh, right, something or other she's not patriotic enough now or something, blah-- would be gleaned. Maybe Tom will lend him an e-meter or something. God knows if anyone's infested with stubborn itchy body thetans, it's gotta be BillO.

also, it is sweet that he is concerned about the "militant woman's" anger problem, is Bill.

but, yes, good of him to hold off on the LYNCHING PARTY, i feel. you know, till he can ascertain, in his fair and balanced way, whether she -deserves- it. oh, metaphorically, of course; it's not like he actually suggested she deserved the -literal- act, like whatsisstupidname, has-been Seinfeld comic with the "fork up your ass" thing. He just, what, chose an unfortunate turn of phrase for the smear campaign he's preparing to launch on a black woman, for not loving America enough, that is. And now everyone's jumping all over him just for that, right? Poor little soul. Typical, typical. Everyone out to get him for no reason. Almost like o i don't know a LYNCHING PARTY it is, really.

won't someone please think of the O'Rly?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On the problem of being for the People whilst simultaneously not liking or trusting people very much

In the course of a post responding to one of mine, which I won't go into the main gist of which so as not to get too circle-jerky with, anyway, putting aside the immediate context, which you can find there, Raven has this larger point, which I thought important enough to highlight:

There is something deliciously erotic (pun most definitely intended) about believing that we and we alone are intelligent, while those who think differently are helpless dupes. And it really isn't a bad thing, all in all, to reinforce ourselves and our fellow thinkers that what we believe is right. That's a good thing and an important thing in the activist community.

But I've found something thrilling and exciting in communicating with people who hold different ideas about politics. I don't want this to come off all self-righteous and full of self-praise, because that really isn't the point. Instead, I want to focus on the value I've found in deciding that people who hold political beliefs opposed to my own have well-thought-out reasons for their beliefs.

I had a co-worker who considered himself to be a conservative just to the right of Genghis Kahn. He understood that I was a pinko commie. Yet there were so many issues upon which we agreed. His explanation was that we each were so far outside the traditional boundaries that we had come full circle and met on the far side of the moon.

His thoughts thrilled and excited me. I loved the fact that we both were thinking and drawing conclusions about the realities we faced. Some of our conclusions were opposite, but our thinking processes were similar and useful and stimulating. One thing we had in common was that we had a basic fundamental belief in the intelligence capabilities of our fellow human beings. We mistrusted stereotypes. We mistrusted politicians. We trusted our fellow human beings to be able to think, reason, and see through the bullshit.

Honestly, I do not think I could bear believing that the world was full of idiots. That's a form of pessimism even my depressed soul cannot embrace.


Specifically, I wanted to focus on that last bit:

One thing we had in common was that we had a basic fundamental belief in the intelligence capabilities of our fellow human beings. We mistrusted stereotypes. We mistrusted politicians. We trusted our fellow human beings to be able to think, reason, and see through the bullshit.

Honestly, I do not think I could bear believing that the world was full of idiots. That's a form of pessimism even my depressed soul cannot embrace.


This is key. It's not just "pessimism" that's the problem with believing that the vast majority of people are idiots, "sheeple" (bleah), default to petty cruelty and ignorance, etc. It's not even all that much of a problem for anyone but you and your immediate circle if you're just some jaundiced dude or dudette with a lantern and a sardonic wit. Hell, the world probably needs a few of those, for balance's sake.

No, the problem is when you have the "people are mostly idiots" stance combined with a deep, passionate, burning commitment to CHANGING THE WORLD.

Because, here's how it plays out:

Whatever you come up with, ultimately, it's going to be profoundly anti-democratic (small "d" obviously). Why?

If you think people are basically idiots and also want to change the world, what's the obvious next step? Well, certainly don't put change in the hands of the "idiots," obviously. Clearly we need either

1) a select few, oh, carefully chosen, we won't make the mistakes of last time, who know what's best for everyone

2) an infallible Ideology, which is above the influence of any one flawed human or group of humans.

Of course, some flawed human or humans will still have to be the ones to interpret, implement, and enforce the social contract implied by the Ideology; see 1).

lather, rinse, repeat.

The times, they are a-changin'

Into what, well, remains to be seen.

but:

Castro stepping down (brother probably taking reins)

Pakistan's ruling party voted out


and some things sort of don't:

more trouble in the Balkans: Kosovo


power corrupts, etc:

The Supreme Court rejected an ACLU challenge to Bush admin's wiretapping/domestic spying program

Saturday, February 16, 2008

gah.

Elizabeth is right, of course. It's not something most of us want to know about, no, that's quite right.

Hey Feminists, Christians, Activists, LGBTQ, the political left, the centre and the right, and any other group you want to throw in this powerhouse of US and Canada they call North America (Mexico must LOVE that) listen carefully: We, the sick, the people with disabilities, those with impairments, the ill are not going away or going to remain invisible for a simple reason. WE are YOU. If you don’t have time to put us on your agenda then you don’t have time to care about yourself, your partner, your children, your parents or your friends. And sadly, it seems you don’t.

...In Cleveland last week, three 12 year old students, two boys and a girl beat a student because.....he had cerebral palsy. The attack was so severe the boy had to have a testicle removed. The boy had been bullied repeated before solely based on his neurological condition.

The school Superintendent Myrna Corley's response: “It's an unfortunate situation.”

Unfortunate.

On Tuesday, though I have no fine motor control of my hand and limited gross motor skill I was trying to make a complaint about discrimination on disability AT a disability vocational center when the manager would only accept the complaint if I did it MYSELF, in WRITING. This was a painful and very slow process, of over 20 minutes for three minutes of writing. Later the manager apologized saying, she had made me do that because, "I had made her angry." The full story is here.

Gosh, I guess I should hope she doesn't get angry often....


from the comments section:

Though I visited people in hospital, and from my church and sent cards I never once thought, "That could be me." Nope, I was the giver, never considering I would be the dependant. Never really considering they were equal to me in inviduality and emotion (as you say), or desires, or ambitions, or FRUSTRATIONS, or fear. If you know 3000 people then you will know several people with MS, at least 1 with Lupus or Crones, several with Fibro or CFS/ME, several with breast cancer, a few with other types of cancer, a couple dozen with arthritis (minimum), and several more with chronic conditions, as well as hundreds to 1,000 who have at least one episode of major depression, are within the ASP (austism spectrum disorder), bipolar, or other mental illnesses. That doesn't even count just getting old. It is what is means to BE human, in many ways.


There is that. Helplessness is part of the human condition, and for those who have a temporary reprieve from it, the prospect of returning to it is fucking terrifying.

Why is it fucking terrifying? Well, partly it's an existential thing. My mother is currently watching -her- mother, my grandmother, slowly deteriorate mentally as well as physically. The term "regression" applies. It's not supposed to work that way, right? Growth is supposed to be linear, a goal is reached, one doesn't go backward. One doesn't become parent to one's parent and child to one's child. Does one?

But that is, as EmC observes, maybe the least of it. Or, well, not all of it.


from the BBC piece:

There is something so tempting, so easy in humiliating someone with a disability, particularly when you know their limitations. Take away their crutches, their wheelchair and watch them crawl. Refuse to make allowances, refuse accessibility, to accommodate because you can. Even when you are paid to help and understand them, in the end they aren’t like you and if they make you angry, just tell them they have to write it themselves, no not type…write it, and watch them painfully toil. I don’t know if it gives satisfaction, or a feeling of superiority to watch someone strain as they make a complaint that Triumph is treating People with Disabilities as sub-humans.

It is easy when you are paid to assist, to withdraw that, and no one will know. No one will know you used the medical information a PWD gave you to hurt them, to try and break their spirit, or their pride, or what you consider willfulness, or what you see as arrogance. You weren’t even “Just following orders” like the person I was complaining about, you did this because you could and you wanted to. Though I struggled it wasn’t me who lost my dignity, nor my humanity, but you.

I wonder how often someone “makes you angry.”


Yeah. Of course we don't want to be dependent, because we know -just how fucking dependable- our tender fellow creatures are, don't we?

We're better than that ourselves, of course, each and every one.

Aren't we, though?

Yes, you're right, asshole, I'm Memorex. We all are. Now sit your ass down.

oh, three guesses. Specifically, the woman RE has linked to, there (follow the trail of breadcrumbs, not throwing the extra link her way).

'Spread'emism' (spread-them-ism), as radical feminist S.M. Berg (creator of Genderberg.com) so wonderfully put it, is "the misleading idea that women can fuck and get fucked into political, academic and social equality with men via prostitution and pornography".

'Spread'emism' is how all the pro-pornography and pro-prostitution so-called "feminism" should be named...

...Tell me, pro-pornstitution "feminists", do you seriously think this is feminism what you're doing? Real feminism?

Well, Renegade answers the woman's various points pretty damn thoroughly, as do a number of the commenters.

-snip-

RE:

...What is the plan, anyway? You know, a lot of us are taking hits for saying “The sex industry? It’s not going anywhere, so let’s work for harm reduction and getting those who want out the help they need, and leave those who want in alone…” So yeah…what is the Amazing, Super Secret Plan to Rid the World of the Sex Industry? We’re dying (figuratively and literally) to know. In the mean time, what with all the talk of not allowing it to be normalized, without ever accepting it as work, without ever giving sex workers any sort of legal status and voice…well, women are being abused, raped, killed, dehumanized, and marginalized...

And yep, I am biased. I am a woman whom has chosen, of my own free will, to make my living in the sex biz…without having been raped, sexually abused, beat up by a man or a junkie. Please, do not attempt to save me from myself! I freakin’ cheer every time I hear of some sort of normalization, the real deal, and not the Hollywood drama y’all seem to take as such, because then it means in some legal sense, well hell, we almost get to be treated like humans! And until I hear this grand plan, that’s what I’m concerned with. That’s where my loyalty, money, and voice go. I will stand with those working to help sexworkers, in the here and now, rather than pretend that the abolitionist plan will not have scores and scores of victims, won’t lead to more cases like this, won’t become Big Sister is ruling my body rather than Big Brother. I am all for making a difference, right now. Choice and right of Domain over ones body goes beyond abortion after all.


(tee fucking hee)

from commenter thene:

*raises hand* Pro-porny who hates porn and never watches it, right here.

...From the post you linked:

"The first failure of pro-pornstitution "feminism" is that it totally capitulates to patriarchy. [...] Many women are socially trained to conform to cultural instruments of sexual brainwashing"


-going along with the long-standing hate that our dear Christian patriarchs have for sex workers *is* capitulating to patriarchy and it is sexual brainwashing.

"Women are commonly trained to please men in this culture. Thus, it is no wonder that among women who are interested in feminism, some will choose a type of 'feminism' that doesn't bother men or does not look like a real threat to men, because these women want to be appreciated by men in what they do."


Yeah, just like that. The sex industry is liek 95% geared towards men and what they like to watch and do, so wasting this many black pixels on describing in detail how awful it is, while all the while there is no plan and the industry is expanding all the time, is hardly 'threatening to men'. It's more like putting them in the middle of your feminism and showing them that your life still revolves around them, really.


from dw3t-hthr:

So long as a whore is subhuman, abuseable, ignorable, discardable, women can be kept in line by the threat of converting them into whores. That's what I see as the essential dividing line, the essential -- if the feminists will forgive an outsider making the comment -- feminist issue here.

One can't fix that problem by abolishing whoredom, even if there were a magic wand that made it possible to do so. That still means that the category is forbidden, and anyone who crosses into it becomes an unperson, a nonentity.

The only thing that can touch that threat, that can unravel it and undo it and make it something without teeth, is normalisation, is treating sex work like work, making sure that its abuses are controllable (which cannot be done under a prohibition standpoint, to send a postcard from Obviousville here), to treat sex workers like people.



*******

What I have to add, myself, is nothing new for anyone who's been following along here; but apparently repetition is important, so here we go again.

1) if cutesy endearments like "spead-em'ism" and shit like this is real feminism, why does it sound so suspiciously similar to the toxic bilge that comes out of your average reactionary fucked-up misogynist?


2) if "pro-pornstitution feminism" is public enemy number one, then clearly this stuff is...well, it has nothing at all to do with what we're talking about here, of course. And I mean, it's not like "real feminists" ever ally with the authoritarian, patriarchal State and/or the Religious Right in the pursuit of "pornstitution."

3) oh goodie, nothing i love more than hetnormativity.
It just never gets old.

And really, we all NEED sexual shaming; wasn't that a song or something? It's so FEMINIST. Especially those of us who're queer, not that this matters in the all-important Battle Against Men, which is of course defined by angry straight women. And it's not like there's any intersection between transhate and whore-bashing, not to mention good old fashioned sex panic, classism, racism, ableism, etc., etc., etc. etc.

4) Finally, in answer to the burning question of whether I call all this "feminism."

Supporting women regardless of whether or not I "approve" of their "choices." Not trying to police other peoples' most intimate selves. Not putting -my- ideas of how things -should- be over what actually -is.- Yes, I call that feminist. More important, however, I call it human. Because when it comes right down to it, the actual people are more important than the fucking label.

On edit, a coda:

That last goes, by the way, for everybody. I've heard people (mostly women) I respect on both sides of the aisle expressing a wish for people who haven't been there or done that to kindly step off. I can't really argue with that, actually, and no, I understand that this isn't just a fun academic exericise. People who are adamant that they're sex workers, that they'd rather be doing what they do than something else, I'll call them "sex workers." People who do not want any such term applied to themselves, who are clear that they found the experience degrading and abusive and harmful, I will use the term "prostituted woman" or whatever they prefer. Questions of policy aside, really, really trying not to define anyone else's experience here, wouldn't even if I did have a similar tale to tell.

I'm just tired of seeing that happen to other people I care about.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the creative expatriate; or, huzzah, another member of the First Church of the Easily Amused

Bollybutton has some advice on what to do with too many olives.



2) Ladies, kiss that pasty skin goodbye. Mash up some black olives, spread liberally over skin, rinse off after two days. Voila! Home-made self tan (you may end up purple but purple is IN this year)

...

12) Sick of being cat-called in the summer? Wear a pair of bicycle shorts and fill with olives all around. Walk down the street complaining loudly about your cellulite.


13) For that god-like feeling, purchase thousands of pairs of googly eyes and glue a pair onto each of your olives. Cover every surface in your house with your little minions staring up at you in awe and adoration....

Natalia's right: sometimes even a committed cynic needs to look on the bright side

Paul Potts, whom I'd not before seen or heard of, as I live in a cave & don't watch wotsit, I guess. his shining moment. thanks for sharing, Natalia.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Okay: you want media accountability for talking heads making sexist remarks? Now's your chance.

Media Matters has a petition going to MSNBC, wrt Chris Matthews' hateful misogyny, among others'.

...what about the less publicized incidents of sexist and misogynistic commentary that have gone unacknowledged and uncorrected by NBC News and MSNBC? Media Matters has documented scores of examples. Just last year, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson said of Sen. Clinton: "[T]here's just something about her that feels castrating, overbearing, and scary." Further, Carlson has said of Clinton: "I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs."

Just how seriously are these issues being taken?

With Americans going to the polls this year to select the next president of the United States, news organizations like NBC News and MSNBC have a sacred duty to be good stewards of accurate, balanced, and responsible political discourse...

read it and weep.

scream, vomit, go numb...

megan_julca
has the story.

Basically: Sanesha Stewart, a young trans woman of color, was stabbed to death on Saturday. An alleged sex worker, which, if true, would of course would mean she had it coming even more than she already did. And really, what else could she possibly be anyway? Either way: not human, certainly. As m_j puts it:

naturally it's her fault; after all, she was a "man who dressed like a woman" who "was known to wear stylish, provocative outfits with towering high heels," "was a ... flirty presence," and "had surgery to 'give him [sic] larger breasts and other female characteristics'" even though "it was clear Stewart was still a man." I mean she was just asking for it, amirite?

I mean "the suspect was apparently surprised by the victim's true sex" so it's perfectly acceptable to expect that he would respond the appropriate way and stab her to death in a fit of rage.


See, anyone who *wants* (frivolous, sexualized, appearance-oriented) female characteristics like artificially enhanced larger breasts for hirself, or *chooses* to "wear stylish, provocative outfits with towering high heels" is clearly catering to men, who in turn want nothing but sex, whether or not they are, in fact, entitled to it, that's all they WANT, this is axiomatic;

and even (or especially!) a man is entitled to at least not be -surprised- by finding unexpected body parts and/or Secret Pasts on a person he fancies or even shares any sort of public space with, certainly wimmin are so entitled to that much at least, even if they would never go so far as to physically hurt or -kill- a trans person because wimmin don't do such things, ever. As for denying transfolk access to such things as rape crisis centers: that's merely self-defense. Which is totally different from what we're talking about, here. Certainly no such excuse has been or will be employed when it comes to actual -murder- of a trans person, will it? Self defense. Oh, wait.

Because there's nothing worse than finding out you are sexually attracted to, hell, even had fond feelings about, is there? a person whose gender and/or sex is not the gender and/or sex you are SUPPOSED to be attracted to, according to God or your parents or the lads or the Sisterhood or the feverish little rabbit running your brain. Who doesn't understand -that-? the raw revulsion, the terror, the PANIC leading even unto VIOLENCE that such momentary existential cage-rattlings provides. It's only human.

and in fact, it is the very inherent or-might-as-well-be-it's-so-firmly-entrenched-by-now baseness of Man that creates such situations in the first place, is it not? Clearly only some debauched sick sexual desire would lead any -man- to take on the appearance or identity of a woman, much less sell his body to strange men, who in turn are only behaving in the way that is to be expected, animals that they are.

It is up to women to lead men to their better natures; any woman who doesn't do so but instead "chooses" to do sex work for a living, not just because she has to but actually -flaunting- her patent lack of victim status, or even wear towering high heels and stylish, provocative outfits and PLASTIC TITS is clearly a) falling down on the job b) a male-identified Enemy of Women c) a danger to herself, other women, other womens' husbands, and society, not necessarily in that order d) deserves whatever she gets. Not, you understand, that we would ever say such a thing in so many words. Except when we're forced to.

As for -men- who flaunt stylish plastic tits and towering lack-of-victim-status, even for a -second-, well, first of all, men are men and women are women and therefore a man who pretends he (never she; it is a terrible imposition to have to call a person what she wanted to be called, even in death) can be a woman -also- deserves whatever he gets, even more so, whether that's because he's betraying his Sacred Manhood or violating Sacred Wimminz Country or both at once.

Not that we would ever say such a thing. Unless we have to.

Oh, and the fact that Ms. Stewart was a woman of color? Totally irrelevant. Except when it's not. We will be the ones to decide when it is and when it's not, thank you very much. Why can't we all stick together? Why must you constantly derail from the important issues with your own trifling problems? Don't you know that ____ are ____ in ____? Fuck you anyway, you selfish [redacted], for trying to make me feel guilty when clearly I have it worse than ANYONE. There's only so much empathy to go around, you know, and I need all of it. I mean, "we." yes. "We." Whoever "we" is THIS time.

Did I leave anything out?

/rectal divination

Saturday, February 09, 2008

phone conversation just now

dude on other end of phone: Hello. May I please speak to the youngest
adult male in the household who's over eighteen and registered to
vote?

me: (pause, ignoring the second clause) You could, but he's busy in
his litter box right now.

dude: (pause, same dull telemarketer drone) Are you referring to the
cat?

me: Yes.

dude: Well, I meant a human.

me: Sorry, can't help you. -click-

I'm such an asshole...

my theory, by me, brackets [Miz] brackets

(ahem! ahem hem!)



It’s just a small one.

90% of everything that’s wrong with the world is the fault of the assholes. There are many flavors of and justifications for assholery, sometimes quite elaborate ones. Institutionalized assholery can take on a life of its own, yes, and has many dimensions. But ultimately? It all boils down to bein’ an asshole (singularly and collectively).

Therefore, such frames for analysis as feminism and so forth help? but you still also need a basic “no, actually, -this- is just assholery” to ground you. otherwise, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll be any better than those other assholes even if you do manage to overthrow ‘em.

Friday, February 08, 2008

the last straw(feminist)

i can't believe this shit. oh wait, yes i can.

those scarecrows are awfully fucking lively, some days, aren't they?

gah.

on edit: this, to me, is both real feminism and real Christianity. and no, it doesn't take a lot of "advanced" tutelage, this. it's really quite simple. shame so many fundamentalists of both stripes apparently can't see it that way.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

tangentially: on "advanced feminism" and related topics

Just highlighting this tangential exchange from a thread at RE's, because it's a fair point.

A Nomen Nescio says:

now and then i run into self-described feminists who insist that people should read up on the basics of feminism before commenting on it. these are folks who can get very upset with anyone who tries to criticize what they (the "anyone") see as "feminism" without first having read some laundry list of classics the self-described feminist considers essential to any enlightened debate and criticism of the subject. these are the sort of people who'd not only start "feminism 101" websites, but insist you have to go read all the back archives of same before speaking up on feminism.

which, y'know, is reasonable in itself. there's lots of subjects that people really should read up on before jumping in with both feet and landing with them both in their own mouths. no reason why feminism can't be one more such subject, really.

except... that's usually the case with subjects of academic study. ivory tower stuff, where the language used is highly technical jargon and one reason to read up is just so you'll be able to understand what's being said, and so on.

but if you want to have a grassroots movement for social change --- that is, political activism --- then you really can't afford to retreat into the ivory tower. if you want to change the society we all live in, you'll have to speak to everybody using everyday language that nobody needs any special education to parse. that's really just the way social activism works, i think.

so, is feminism an academic specialty for rarefied study, or is it a grassroots in-the-trenches movement for changing how everybody lives? can any one thing be both at once?


My off the cuff response:

eh, i feel two ways about it. yes, there is more to feminism than usually gets talked about on the blogosphere, and it'd be nice if more people...read more. and no, activism and theory are definitely not exclusive.

meanwhile, thing about feminism 101, that actual site as conceived, I mean, is meant more as a sort of perma-intrablogular FAQ so that other topics elsewhere don't get dragged down, over and over, by people responding to the same questions or points that have been posed by other people a million times before. this, i don't have a problem with. it's not that the concepts are so difficult, it's, well, FAQ.

but yeah, i do find it obnoxious when people throw around shit like "this is advanced feminism," particularly when it's painfully obvious that if there -were- any such thing, that would not be it: 9 times out of 10, it's not about o say comparing subtle differences between early radical feminism, socialist feminism, and cultural feminism, or an exegesis of Helene Cixous' idea of the "abject," or even a non-academic but still complex "personal is political" discussion of the ways in which sexism intersects (o noez) with racism, homophobia, ableism, classism...

but no, most of the time, no no no. usually what it means is, the person is pulling rank, making up in spittle and volume what she (sometimes even he) lacks in either activist cred -or- theoretical chops. much less plain ol' decent behavior toward the actual other women in the topic...

"Cool it. I'm an ice cream salesman. I am senior to both of you."

forget it, Jake, it's Internetstown.

****

That doesn't really address how it does and doesn't play out in what is laughingly known as "real life," I realize.

There is also the (long predating Internets) feminist concept of "the personal is political," which has been tossed about here before, and if I can find the relecant conversations, I'll come back and link 'em.

Nutshell, mine at least: it was supposed to be, and this was indeed a radical concept, once, that so-called "trivial" shit, iow everything normally consigned to the domestic sphere, is also part of the political structure.

So, basically, what this means in practical terms is, sometime during the throes of the Boomer generation sociopolitical upheavals, a number of women who'd been fighting for various leftist causes looked at their lives and then each other, and went,

"You know, Radical Robbie keeps yakking away about labor, and don't get me wrong, I support the union, too; but somehow he doesn't seem to make any connection between the exploitation of the Workers (tm) and the fact that I'm expected to make his damn dinner and do his laundry, without pay, while he yaks away, completely oblivious as to how dinner got on the table and the clean clothes got in his drawer. What's wrong with this picture?"

...among other things. Including reproduction and yes, sexuality in general, which is arguably where the whole thing went pear shaped. Or perhaps, where it became not just "including" but "primarily about, to the exclusion or at least dwarfing of all else." I'm not gonna argue that either way right now. Certainly it's gonna be explosive, because its incredibly intimate and we have (again, arguably, depending on your standpoint) all manner of collective sexual and bodily hangups which cannot be rectified by anti-misogyny alone, although yes, there does seem to be a connection.

Anyway. Long story short, for whatever reason, and however it came about, what seems to have happened here is, "the personal is political" has devolved, by and large, into

"If we all rigorously police ourselves and each other for our individual choices, some of which blatantly support the Patriarchy (tm) and others do not, all those individual decisions to abstain from porn-watching, lipstick wearing, blowjob-giving, and so forth, will add up to Revolution. This is by no means Underpants Gnome logic. p.s. By a total coincidence, those things which I need and value in my own life are among the acceptable compromises or even no problem at all, whereas the things -you- need and value are frivolous at best, oppressive of women, which is to say Me, at worst, and you really need to stop doing it or at least feel guilty about it or I can't treat you like a human being. Why must you be so divisive? You must not be a real feminist. No, really, you're not a feminist. ...Where have all the feminists gone?"

****

Kim has apparently been thinking along similar lines, again. Or rather: here is, perhaps, where that pesky "intersection" comes in:


In Ideal Feminism, all prostitutes are poverty-stricken addicts, bonus if they are under the thumb of an evil male pimp. These prostitutes are all miserable, broken shells of women who want desperately to be set free from sex slavery and addiction.

In Ideal Feminism, all women in domestic violence shelters are beaten and broken frail little husks of themselves, desperate to embrace a life free from the men who abused them.

In Ideal Feminism, homeless women are victims as well; victims of deadbeat dads who don't pay child support; unable to find employment due to sexism in the job market and unequipped with the necessary survival skills due to abuse they suffered at the hands of the patriarchy.

In Ideal Feminisms, all these women are the Linda Lovelace of homelessness, domestic violence, addiction and prostitution.

But...

In the real world, many women just don't have the hatred for The Patriarchy that many of these educated, privileged, soaked-in-reading feminists have. In the dog-eat-dog world of crushing poverty, addiction and homelessness, many women could give a rat's ass for Dworkin or Frye. So much of feminism today seems limited to college campuses, quaint coffee shop discussion, hip little bars and of course, the internets. So much of it seems so marinated and basted in Idealisms, Theories and Ain't I Smart? that I damn near could vomit.

I want a working tool, not a fucking fairy tale.

In the real world, every woman is not Linda Lovelace, beaten, broken, repentant and begging to be rescued. The perfect damsel in distress for feminism to play its knight in shining armor role – and then to plaster the damsel's sad, sad story on poster boards as proof.

Too, these feminists who fill up their blogs with post after post of the plight of third world women and those feminists who apparently scour the internet for stories on violence against women.

You’re talking a real risk there, sister. Good for you for not leaving your house and congrats on your internet searching ability!

"But I am raising awareness," they pout. "I am letting THE WORLD know about these horrors, oh and here is a quote from a famous, published-for-real feminist to back me up!"

Bullshit you're raising awareness.
Who is reading your blog other than those just like you?
Additionally, I never trust an “activist” with clean fingernails.

...Feminism is a woman’s movement.
I do indeed believe women still battle for equal rights and therefore, I believe a woman’s movement is needed. Still, I’m calling it as I see it: today’s feminism, especially blogging feminism is a tainted, stinking, foul cesspool of rivalry.

Right, then:

White feminists v. WoC Feminists.
Anti-porn radical feminists v. “sex pos” feminists.
Born lesbian feminists (with a “clear-eyed gaze”) v. heterosexual feminists.
Non-trans feminists v. trans-feminists
Perfect Grammar Feminists v. Not-So-Perfect-Grammar-Feminists
Childfree by Choice Feminists v. Breeding Feminists
Daughter only breeding feminists v. Son-breeding feminists (I shit you not with this one.)

For starters.

Anyone who claims feminism is some giant umbrella of sisterhood is sadly mistaken. Would that this were so. Rather, feminism is polluted with exclusionary tactics and Orwellian “more equal than others” philosophies.

Saddest of all, some of these feminist bloggers who claim to care so very much about women are the same women who have so polluted this movement for me.

I’m certainly not alone here. Many feminist bloggers show a trail of bodies behind them: women who all finally reached their personal saturation point with whatever exclusionary, sometimes cult-like dogma was slung their way once too often...


No, she's not alone.

There is also, again, the question of: so, is this mostly an online phenomenon. Certainly there are plenty of actual longtime activists who find this blog drama as bewildering and offputting as the next person. The Internets do have qualities of their own, yes.

But, no, at the same time, I think, it's not only that; the 'Net isn't in a completely separate sphere from the "real world," people being people, by and large. and frankly, this shit is, well? Not new.

Eh, rambling now: floor is open.

Teeth: the movie.

This? Looks fucking brilliant. It probably isn't, due to the Law Of Whatever It Is, but...frankly, I'm surprised it took people this long...



from the youtube description:

Dawn is her chastity group's most active participant. But she discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence and experiences both the pitfalls and power of living the vagina dentata myth.


...eh, maybe not. From a review:

Though reminiscent of the bonsai charms of Larry Cohen's '80s output (and the 2003 direct-to-DVDer Angst), Teeth has a severe lack of concentration, due in no small part to a scattershot editing job: Random shots and scenes abruptly come in to reiterate motives or allow for another redundant sight gag. For a film that is basically humping one note, Lichtenstein sure does know how to wear out a welcome, and by the fourth victim, even seeing a bitten-off penis getting gobbled up by a mutt comes off as repetitive. Call me old-fashioned, but three is enough to get your point across.

The hints and intimations towards feminist theory, the male gaze, and fear of women are all well and good, but it's the B-movie spunk that makes Teeth entertaining. It owes a special ode to Cohen's It's Alive, the schlockmeister's homage to abortion and fear of parenthood. The looming cooling towers insinuate that Dawn's problem stems from pollution, but Lichtenstein's script, often overwrought, is very careful to never explain Dawn's mutation. Though never egregious, the faults in Lichtenstein's filmmaking render Teeth a passable entertainment and nothing more. You'll have to forgive the pun, but it simply lacks bite.


Like everyone and their auntie isn't going to be using that particular pun, but o well.

("bonsai charms?")

fun little idea, anyway, although personally i don't really need to see the leftovers when she's finished dining. never been a big gore fan though.