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Member since: Mon Aug 23, 2004, 10:18 PM
Number of posts: 40,317

About Me

Whiteness is a scourge on humanity. Voting for Obama that one time is not a get out of being a racist card

Journal Archives

Moving the Margins to the Centre: Shifting from Anti-Racist to Pro-Black

(I thought this a thought provoking read, I've excepted her salient points, the whole article is good)

Understanding anti-racism work as being fundamentally pro-people of colour and pro-black in the way you are pro-women forces you to actively engage with, and support these avenues that promote non-white life whilst stressing commitment to corresponding political action within your feminist space.

So what does that look like in reality?

Learn: contextualise, locate and attempt to understand the varied and complex ways systems of domination work historically and in the present. There are books, videos, lectures, events – an abundance of resources for you to learn and critically think about how systems like white supremacy, colonialism, slavery and imperialism work to frame varied and complex experiences of inequality and oppression. It harnesses the possibility of limiting reduction, being able to identify more broadly as ‘women’ (or ‘men’) whilst offering the room to confront the fundamental differences that accompany that very same category or how that category is defined (e.g. indigenous meanings or concepts of gender or sexuality).

Decolonise: If someone calls your privilege out or identifies ways you may be reproducing racism don’t take it personally. The reason why systems of domination are so effective is that they are reproduced not only through institutions and structures, but through real and living people. Having been socialised into society, and not outside of it, every one of us will be guilty of doing so even if it is subconscious. As bell hooks succinctly puts it: “labelling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.” Step outside of yourself and think about what or when you may be at risk of doing so and challenge that. Always acknowledge the limits of your knowledge and experience and learn how to use those limits as an excuse to do the radical: go beyond them. It’s likely a whole world will be revealed in a new light, offering agency and possibility for transformation in very personal but political ways.
Responsibility and accountability: At every opportunity think about what you can do to incorporate or support People of Colour or other marginalised groups. Support spaces of agency or self-determination run and organised by these groups. Consider how particular agendas affect different people (e.g. Slutwalk or women and board representation). Encourage other white women or others with privilege to engage in the same way. Even if you feel that your work does not directly relate, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore or negate what you can still do outside or beyond it to make your politics more inclusive and progressive.

Listen: one of the most powerful critical thinking skills is listening. Recently, I came across quote that forced me to contemplate the power of listening and what we in fact miss out when we don’t: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” (Stephen R. Covey). Listening, like decolonising and learning processes, allow us to understand the limits of our knowledge whilst opening up avenues for debate and discussion. Melissa Harris-Perry in her Wellesley Commencement Speech makes a poignant point about the distinction between choosing to be silent and being silenced. As feminists we often have to find our voices and use them to challenge the silencing patriarchy enforces upon us, of being able to say what we need to say. However, choosing to be silent is a resource and tool or as Harris-Perry puts it: “a vital precursor to voice”. Choosing to be silent in the face of those who have less privilege opens up room and space to listen in order to understand, to learn, to engage with and ultimately to enhance resistance based on the agency we all have and use.


"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply"--- love this

My job at the abortion hot line

The murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has exposed frightening corners of humanity — 30-week fetuses, jars of baby feet, venereal disease, snipped spinal cords, a refugee drugged to death, and unfortunately, more. Whatever the verdict, we may never understand Gosnell’s motivation. But what of the women who streamed into his allegedly filthy clinic for years? Who were they? Why would some of them have been seeking such late-term abortions? Why would they put their own lives at risk? As it happens, I think I have a pretty good idea.

I was 21, and for nine months in the mid-1990s, I worked as a hotline counselor on the toll-free line at the National Abortion Federation, a voluntary membership group of several hundred providers nationwide. Overtly, the job went like this: Women called to ask for a clinic near them, and I provided the address and phone number. Each clinic had been vetted by a NAF inspector. The clinics I could mention were not the only clinics out there. They met certain standards and agreed to pay a membership fee for the referral service.

But the job involved much more than that. Women had questions. I had answers. Some, anyway.

My guidelines and fact sheets were contained in a thick black-covered binder, which I scanned early on. Basically, I was to remind callers I wasn’t a doctor, and refer them to expert counseling services if needed. I wasn’t working for one of those church-based pregnancy counseling centers. I didn’t try to sway anyone, nor did I discuss the matter of “Should I or shouldn’t I?” Rather, I was like a crossing guard for abortion. The women knew where they wanted to go. I just helped them get there.

The phone rang every few minutes, all day long. Answering it was at once intimate, anonymous and terrifying.


Bra Company’s ‘MILF’ Ad Campaign Seems Like a Pretty Bad Idea

There are bad advertising campaigns, and then there are bad advertising campaigns. With “Are You a MILF?” True & Co., the online bra company with the magical algorithm that’s supposed to make in-store bra fitting a thing of our shameful, barbarous past, has probably launched a campaign that’s just a misguided exercise in punning, and, really, who doesn’t appreciate a good pun, hmm?

MILF, in this instance, means “Mom I’d Like to Fit,” and True & Co. launched what is probably a star-crossed campaign as part of its Mother’s Day. “Are You a MILF?” is meant to, according to the company, “celebrate the moms in our lives,” but the fun doesn’t stop at merely repurposing an acronym made famous in American Pie. According the Lingerie Talk, True & Co. has managed to add another creepy component to the MILF promotion:

Readers are encouraged to submit photos of their moms to be included in True’s online MILF Gallery. Entries will be included in a Mother’s Day contest, with the top prize being a $100 gift card for a bra make-over.

Customers will also receive temporary MILF tattoos (above) with each sales order until Mother’s Day.

And may I just say ewwwwwww.

Big Manosphere Reveal: Matt Forney was Ferdinand Bardamu

Longtime readers of Man Boobz may remember “Ferdinand Bardamu,” the pseudonymous blogger behind the thoroughly despicable In Mala Fide blog. How despicable? Well, once upon a time, “Bardamu” wrote a post with the lovely title “The Necessity of Domestic Violence,” in which he set forth the proposition that “[w]omen should be terrorized by their men; it’s the only thing that makes them behave better than chimps.” Yeah. It was that kind of a blog. You can find some more of Bardamu’s terrible thoughts in the MB archives.

You may also remember that Bardamu took down his blog about a year ago, and seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.

Except it now turns out he hasn’t been gone at all. Indeed, he’s been hiding in plain sight the whole time. For, just about the same time that Bardamu vanished off the face of the earth, a new and almost-if-not-quite-as-thoroughly-despicable new Manospere blogger appeared, writing under his real name: Matt Forney.

He’s perhaps best known for a post in which he “jokingly” offered advice on how to get away with rape by murdering your victim. Ha ha! What a card! (Ultimately, Forney deleted his post, and offered a half-hearted, feminist-baiting “apology” for it.)

Forney came out as the Artist Formerly Known As Ferdinand Bardamu on his blog last week.

His explanation for his vanishing act? In part, he explained, it was because he had started getting disgusted by some of his own followers. “Surround yourself with the worst humanity has to offer and it will inevitably wear on you,” he wrote.


Let Spare Rib reflect all the richness of online feminism

Consciousness raising, the cornerstone of 1970s feminist activism, can now be found online. It's never been easier to tap feminism into Google and find a cacophony of voices bringing home that jarring realisation that gendered inequality is a worldwide phenomenon. It's what I did four years ago when I first stumbled across the F Word, a website with content that would change my perceptions of gender forever.

Online feminism is free, instant and accessible – a mass of thriving, divergent opinions. The beautiful thing about feminism online is that you don't just hear from the same people who have somehow unofficially been crowned feminism's official representatives. Online feminism means the people in the mainstream media no longer get to set the perimeters of debate. Instead, there is a rich melting pot of voices who have never before been given a platform. There are sex workers – passionately opposing the narratives that assume that their mere existence threatens women's liberation. There are black women, like me – making the case for intersectionality, bridging those tension-filled gaps between feminism and anti-racism. There are transgender women – rejecting assertions that their existence is a threat to feminism's progress. For many disabled feminists and disabled activists in general, online activism can tackle the question of accessibility, particularly when demonstrations and events fail to provide it.

Feminism is not dogma, and it has no leaders. It's a place not just for questioning power structures, but for questioning each other, a place to grow, and learn, and change. Every voice levels the playing ground.

But we should never underestimate the power of the written word in hard copy. The return of Spare Rib is exciting, because, apart from the odd transgression, feminist politics aren't often found in women's magazines. As well as articles, the magazine served as a noticeboard for feminist events and activism. A significant development of online feminism has been the exploration of the intersecting and complex factors that contribute to a structurally and institutionally unequal society, with those factors including, but not limited to, gender. This conversation might be recent, but it's nothing new. I've got a copy of Spare Rib from September 1981 nestled among my books. With a front page dedicated to black women rising against racism and police harassment, articles about sex workers on hunger strike, and coverage of working class female factory workers challenging their employers with the Sex Discrimination Act, the magazine was nothing if it wasn't intersectional.

This should be interesting. If we can bring divergent voices together, have honesty in debate; listening as well as speaking, teaching as well as learning, it will more than interesting.

These 5 Women Came Out Long Before Jason Collins

(Note; I in NO way want to reduce the impact of Jason Collins, but it's very telling how homophobia in sports has lead to him being the first professional male to come out, while most haven't heard of, or care about these women)

While NBA player Jason Collins' "coming out" party is just beginning — and make no mistake, this is huge for the NBA and male professional sports everywhere — several female professional athletes have already publicly embraced their sexuality. The WNBA, UFC, Women's Professional Soccer, and many more women's leagues with "major" male counterparts have welcomed out LGBT athletes for years, though they have not garnered the same magnitude of respect as males.

The reasoning seems simple enough — NBA or NFL athletes, for example, face much more backlash from millions of fans (and players) who simply assume that there's no way the "tough" and "masculine" guys they watch on TV are gay. Women athletes, on the other hand, don't get as much publicity in anything they do, much less coming out as LGBT.

Here are 5 openly LGBT current professional women athletes you might (or might not) know:

1. Brittney Griner

The Baylor basketball phenom known for her height and her dunks acknowledged in a series of interviews following her #1 WNBA draft pick that she is a lesbian. (Seimone Augustus and Ann Wauters are also current/recent openly lesbian WNBA players.) Griner has spoken about being bullied, both growing up and even as she gained popularity at Baylor. But she said she has always been open about her sexuality, and in doing so is a perfect role model for young athletes of any gender who are uncomfortable about coming out.


Ending oppression in the Middle East: A Muslim feminist call to arms

(This one's for you BainsBain)

Saudi Arabia's religious police have recently allowed women to ride bikes in parks and recreational areas on the condition that they are accompanied by a male relative and dressed in an abaya. I wonder if the male relative has to be riding a bike too? Or does he simply hold the leash attached to the bike?

In 2011 women were allowed to work in lingerie stores in Saudi Arabia. Previously, men were selling women bras and panties because the avoidance of "mingling" between the sexes at work meant that most shops had male assistants. So a man staring at your chest to guess your bra size was acceptable, but driving a car is not.

Every day it is a struggle to reconcile my deep conviction in, and devotion to, the Islamic faith with the sickening reports of abuses of many women in the name of Islam. Not for a moment do I think that the oppression and brutality directed against women stem from sincerely held religious beliefs. Whether it is targeting girls who seek an education in Afghanistan or treating women like second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia, the fact is that the oppression of women is essentially about coveting power and dominating women - a lust for control that is both illogical and pathetic, collapsing under the slightest interrogation.

As a devout Muslim woman, I find it abhorrent that Islam is used to justify the subjugation of women in many parts of the Muslim world. I refuse to be an apologist, to minimise this appalling state of affairs. But equally, I am no Ayaan Hirsi Ali or hysterical Femen-devotee who peddles a vulgar form of Islamophobia in the misguided belief that a liberated woman is a woman who has rejected Islam. While I'm sick to death, as a Muslim woman, of the hypocrisy and nonsensical fatwas, I confess that I'm also tired of white women who think the answer is flashing a bit of breast so that those "poor," "infantilised" Muslim women can be "rescued" by the "enlightened" West - as if freedom was the sole preserve of secular feminists.

Ultimately, I do not see Islam as the problem; I see it as the platform for change. I believe in gender equality - including the rights of Muslim women to dress as they please - because, as a Muslim feminist, I value agency, choice and autonomy. Moreover, I have deep conviction that these values are integral to the Islamic tradition, and are not simply ideals imported from the West.


This is a very interesting read.

Christian misogyny: Megachurch pastor tells women they must ‘submit’

(I'm from Seattle, I know about all about this church--the guy's a complete pig, but his rhetoric is a common to all misogynists, secular or religious)

Women are “quarrelsome nags,” and must “submit” to their husbands, according to Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll. In a sermon dripping with Christian misogyny, Driscoll told his flock that God wants women to submit to their husbands, and that being married to a woman is like torture, a life sentence.

Driscoll, leader of the Seattle based megachurch, found support for his overt misogyny in the Bible, basing his sermon in part on the text found in Ephesians 5:22-33, which says wives should "submit" to their husbands. Driscoll also used the book of Proverbs to fuel his misogynistic rant.

The following is an excerpt from Driscoll’s sermon:

And some women – you're a nag. You're disrespectful. You're quarrelsome. Being married to you is like a life sentence, and the guy's just scratching on his wall every day, 'One more day. Just one more day.'

Proverbs talks about certain women – they're like a dripping faucet. You ever tried to sleep with a dripping faucet? Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk. It's what we use to torture people who are prisoners of war. A wife is like that.

Driscoll’s Christian misogyny is yet another reminder that religious superstition is a toxic force for ignorance and bigotry, and that religion poisons everything, even love.


Magic Mike - what's life really like as a male stripper?

My views on sex work are this; when for every female sex worker there is a male--up to and including strippers, when sex work is not perceived as exclusively heterosexual, when there is no sexual trafficking, no pimps, no violence, no exploitation, when the choice to become a sex worker is an actual choice and not a patriarchy driven cultural default, when sex workers are revered and cherished, when sex isn't referred to as 'nasty' or 'dirty'---then I'll stop critiquing sex work.

It's the stuff of dreams for the nation's womenfolk this week as Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughey get their kit off in male stripper movie Magic Mike. Of course, you might be forgiven for thinking that having women gawp at you for a living is as good as it gets. But what's the reality of life as a male stripper? MSN Him spoke to some to find out.

On MSN Movies: Highlights: Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey web chat
Is stripping a dream job?

"I have challenged people for years to find me one that's better," 35-year-old Billy Jeffrey tells me. Billy is one of the world-famous Chippendales. He landed a role with the Vegas-based showmen after being spotted on a reality TV series.

"Our show is around two hours long. The rest of the time you're hanging with your friends, getting your workout in, travelling the world, eating at the finest restaurants or food prepared by our private chef, partying at the hottest nightclubs; we basically get a 'key to the city' and did I mention the girls?"

It's a similar story for Tristan Edwin Everard Mills from www.adoniscabaret.co.uk, a company that runs shows across the UK. "I've been a male stripper since 2000. Since then I've travelled the world and been paid to drink and party with pretty ladies."


Are there valid comparisons here to the life of a female sex worker?

HollabackPHILLY's Comic Book Project

This post is written as part of the RaiseforWomen Challenge, a joint campaign between The Huffington Post, the Half the Sky Movement and the Skoll Foundation to raise funds and recognize NGOs that are empowering women.

The Half the Sky documentary is hard to watch. The challenges facing women and girls around the world are so serious -- lack of access to school, human trafficking, female genital mutilation -- that after seeing the documentary, it took me a moment to refocus on HollabackPHILLY's current project. If girls around the world are at risk of being trafficked, raped and mutilated, shouldn't I drop everything and work on that... not on a comic book about catcalling? Luckily, like I said, refocusing only took me a moment. What we're fighting here is rape culture, and unless we work on it from all angles, we'll never uproot it. The message of Half the Sky is that we all have to work together to end these problems, and every person's effort makes a difference.

At the time I saw the documentary, HollabackPHILLY was just starting to work on developing an anti-street harassment comic book in partnership with Philly artist Erin Filson. During the fundraising phase of this project, we had many people ask us "Why is this important?" Our response? Being harassed on the street reduces girls, women and LGBT folks to objects, causes fear,and restricts their movements in public spaces. No one should feel unsafe walking down the street because of harassment, and especially, no young girl should grow up internalizing messages from strangers commenting on her body and making sexual advances. Street harassment is the perfect example of rape culture: it exists in every country and is normalized to the point that people regularly tell us that we should not take it so seriously. We will never stop taking it seriously. Every one of the issues featured in Half the Sky was not taken seriously at some point, and most of them are currently still not being taken seriously enough.

HollabackPHILLY's comic book is meant to be used as a tool in school workshops, to start discussions among young men and women around what street harassment is, how it impacts people and what we can do to stop it. People who don't experience street harassment often do not realize how prevalent it is, or the kind of impact it can have on young girls and members of the LGBT community. Similar to Half the Sky's game, we are also developing a choose-your-own-adventure style interactive component that will help students talk through their options and possible outcomes in street harassment scenarios. We hope that approaching the problem in this more open-ended way will lead to discussions of the deeper issues at play. We are particularly proud that our comic book includes a bystander intervention storyline. Street harassment will not end just because some people choose not to harass others on the street. Like any major cultural shift around gender equity, the end of street harassment will require engaged bystanders and men and boys who talk to each other about the problem, establishing new social norms for acceptable behavior.

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