'Race' and Colonialism
Sex, Gender and Sexuality
- NOCs (Nerds of Color)
You’re not going to be popular to anyone by saying that racism exists, even less so when you point out that it exists in almost everything that we love.
But race, and all of these things, they do matter. In my dreams and in my life, they do. They shape who I am and how I treat other people. They influence how I see the world and how I work. Facing my own internalized hatred was one of the most difficult, and terrible, things I have ever done in my life. It was ugly and sad and hurt not just me but people I cared deeply about. There was nothing romantic or noble about it, but it was necessary.
And it’s not like I have any particular cause to be righteous. As much as I was critical of the way brown people were portrayed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and all of the Star Wars films, I am still a big fan of both franchises. I am not without my own contradictions, my own questions. But I think applying a critical mind to the things we like and love is necessary.
- Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story, and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have and entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.
- Mixed Kids are not “Prettier”: Blowing Up Hybrid Vigour
B.S. “positive” stereotypes like this are just as damaging as negative ones (on a large scale). Allowing ourselves to be reduced to the equivalence of domesticated animals? Hell no. Let somebody “other” you in a “positive” way, and you’re just setting yourself up for the negative stereotypes and prejudice to follow suit – and trust me, it’s going to happen.
- Side Effects of Being Invisible in Hollywood
Author Benjamin Rich supports the fact that the same goes for white people who think they're immune to racism. A person cannot grow up in a "whitopia" (itself a product of maintained white privilege), hear racist dialogue daily, see the consistent exclusion of all things "Other" and magically not internalize some of that racism. That, in itself, is what I like to call delusional racism; i.e., they don't "think" it's there, so they confidently tell themselves (and proudly, stupidly tell others) that voila--it's not there! Their perceived immunity is nothing more than a denial-based fantasy created to keep them from having to think too deeply about racial reality in America--yet another form of white privilege.
- Zetta Elliott on race and reviewing
I must confess that lately, the only white-authored books I read are those about people of color. I sometimes feel obligated to read these books in order to ascertain whether or not black people are being misrepresented by white authors who mean well, but don’t really have a clue. I generally expect white authors to get it wrong, but sometimes they do surprise me (Liar would be one example; Octavian Nothing Vol. 1 is another) so it’s important to keep an open mind. Mostly I just wish white authors would leave people of color alone. I appreciate their desire to be inclusive, but statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center show that there are more books about African Americans than by African Americans. This brings to mind a documentary I saw on PBS not too long ago about the white anthropologist Melville Herskovits. His contribution to the understanding of black culture and identity formation was significant and lasting, but this white Jewish man became “the” expert on black people at the expense of qualified black scholars who lacked the same privilege and access to resources. That said, I can imagine how desolate my childhood might have been without the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats. Yet it’s hard to fully appreciate the efforts of well-intending white authors when I know that authors from my own community are being shut out of the industry altogether. And, ultimately, being able to write about anyone from anywhere is a privilege reserved primarily for whites.
- Que veulent vraiment les blancs ? Caste et classe en France. Par Christine Delphy
- Black pupils 'are routinely marked down by teachers'
Black children are being systematically marked down by their teachers who are unconsciously stereotyping them, it has been revealed.
Academics looked at the marks given to thousands of children at age 11. They compared their results in Sats, nationally set tests marked remotely, with the assessments made by teachers in the classroom and in internal tests. The findings suggest that low expectations are damaging children's prospects.
The study concludes that black pupils perform consistently better in external exams than in teacher assessment. The opposite is true for Indian and Chinese children, who tend to be "over-assessed" by teachers. It also finds that white children from very poor neighbourhoods were under-assessed when compared with their better-off peers.
- Some Basic Racist Ideas and some Rebuttals, & Why We Exist
- Letter Urges French to Repay Haiti’s “Independence Debt”
- Of Collateral Damage and Roosting Chickens: Reflections on Racism, the Economy and the High Cost of White Ambivalence
Sex, Gender and Sexuality
- Why strong female characters are bad for women
They don’t have to be physically strong, although they can be [...]. Strong just means they have their own goals that move beyond “I want to do whatever the male hero wants to do” or “I want to marry the male hero.”
- Le sexe est avant tout une question politique
La philosophe Elsa Dorlin, auteure de "Sexe, genre et sexualité : introduction aux philosophies féministes" (PUF), dresse un état des lieux du féminisme à l'occasion de la 100e journée internationale des droits des femmes.
- On men being stronger than women
Plus, there are women who are stronger than many men: female bodybuilders. They don't get treated as proof that men and women can be physically on par with each other. They get treated as freaks, because they cross a gender-boundary line, and that line exists not because it's preordained by nature or God, but because it helps men keep women oppressed. When a woman edges into territory that's supposed to prove male superiority, she gets mocked viciously in order to discourage her and other women from getting any more ideas about starting shit.
- Australia is first to recognise 'non-specified' gender
Australia may have made gender history this week, as the New South Wales government lays claim to being the first in the world to recognise an individual’s sex as officially “not specified”.
- Judith Butler Turns Down Civil Courage Award from Berlin Pride: 'I Must Distance Myself from This Racist Complicity'
Instead of racism, the press focuses on a simple critique of commercialisation. This even though Butler herself was quite clear: 'I must distance myself from complicity with racism, including anti-Muslim racism.' She notes that not just homosexuals, but also 'bi, trans and queer people can be used by those who want to wage war.'
- European Parliament wants EU countries to recognise existing same-sex unions
On Tuesday the European Parliament reaffirmed that the effects of civil documents (birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) must remain the same throughout the European Union.
This implies that all couples, including same-sex couples in marriages or civil partnerships, must retain their rights in all EU countries. Currently, same-sex couples often lose the rights given by their existing marriage or civil partnership when travelling in the European Union.
- Why inclusionary language matters
Some of these words are actively used today as insults, and some of them have a historical context of use as insults which oppress, silence, and marginalize large groups of people, some of whom happen to be women. Some of these terms are racist, some are sexist, some are classist, some are cissexist, some are heterosexist, some are ableist. [...]
Every time we use them, we engage in othering. We exclude The Other, and make it clear that we don’t actually care about the issues that other people may experience. We make it clear that our claims of ally status are just lip service.
At its core, feminism should be, to my mind, about justice. Justice for all women. Not just women who fit into a very narrow set of categories. And this is why we need to use inclusionary language. This is why we need to cultivate spaces which are truly safe for everyone. This is why we need to own our actions and apologize for them if they are hurtful. We cannot repair the damage we have done to other human beings, but we can work to prevent it in the future.
- Question Time: Thinking About Website Accessibility
Today’s question revolves around website accessibility. There are scores of guides to making websites more accessible, and even some accessibility standards for websites. But if there’s one thing we know at FWD, it’s that “accessibility” is not one size fits all, and in fact sometimes accessibility needs actively conflict. While these guides make a great start for people who are just beginning to think about accessibility, they barely scratch the surface, and we would like to delve a little bit more deeply into what “accessibility” really means (and can be) on the web.
- Evelyn Evelyn: Ableism Ableism?
Thus far, it looks like Evelyn Evelyn’s primary aim is to be “inspiring” to abled folks (and to be a bit of creative fun for Palmer and Webley). The three songs currently available on MySpace only serve to continue this trope; “A Campaign of Shock and Awe,” in particular, casts the twins as “the 8th wonder of the natural world.” Good to know that even fictional people with disabilities are not exempt from being cast as “wonders” from which non-disabled people can draw inspiration and “marvel” at. Sound familiar? Add in a dash of hipster ableism and you’ve got something that looks positively transgressive, especially in comparison to the rest of the music industry.
- For your consideration
When I blogged about Evelyn Evelyn for FWD over a month ago — critiquing it from a feminist disability perspective — I got all manner of off-topic reactions, including derails, a bunch of abled people showing up to tell me how things really are and/or spewing their privilege all over the place, and death threats.
When Amanda Palmer got blogged about on Jezebel.com a few days ago, she got an interview with the New York Times…about feminism. She referred to this on Twitter as “life/lemonade!”
So, what sort of lemonade am I supposed to make from death threats? Or from Palmer herself recently making the very existence of disabled feminists into a joke on Australian television?
- LADYPALOOZA PRESENTS! How Amanda Palmer Lost a Fan, or, My Own Private Backlash
- I don’t have a “real” mental health condition, I’m just weak, and other bad self-talk
- Liberal Ableism
This is precisely what makes liberal ableism so insidious, and so often hard to bring up (much like hipster ableism and, to some extent, hipster racism and liberal sexism, as well as liberal racism, though I do not wish to conflate all of these as the exact same type[s] of oppression) precisely because so much energy is dedicated to brushing off any discussion of ableism in liberal circles with some claim to liberal or progressive “cred.” Instead of deflecting and immediately whining, “But I’m not like that! I’m liberal!” many of these folks might do well to take a step back and consider how they themselves are contributing to so much of the offal that PWDs face daily with their actions and words.
- Fat acceptance: when kindness is activism
Not fighting isn’t necessarily surrender. It could mean being the mother who doesn’t dissect and grade her body parts in front of her children. Or, as the brilliant Charlotte Cooper reportedly said at the recent Fat Studies conference in Sydney, ‘fat activism can be as simple as walking down the street eating an icecream.’ Maybe it’s walking with someone you care about, while they eat that icecream. Gazing in the mirror and knowing that your cellulite is not a moral failing is activism (and feminism). Asking your friends to shift their focus off of your weight and onto your well-being is activism. Insisting that the bodily autonomy of everyone, no matter what size, should be honoured, is activism. And telling your doctor that you want to follow a Health At Every Size approach to health, and why? Activism.
Sometimes fat acceptance is just choosing to cut the snark and show some respect to the human body in its diverse awesomeness. A little kindness – just kindness – is one of the most powerful forms of feminist activism available to us. We should use it.
- Reclaiming UGLY
Let’s think about this logically: what does me or you being beautiful do to improve the lives of others? Nothing, really. Certainly it does not do as much as passion, or kindness, or empathy, or bravery… these are the attributes that change the world… not beauty. And, even better, these are the attributes that have nothing to do with genetics. We can CHOOSE to go out of our way to be kind, to be brave, to passionately chase dreams, to harness our talents to change the world. At any moment, each and every one of us has the power to be a strong, compassionate, brave, and make a difference in the world.
- Redefining masculinity is key to stopping rape
Why these men believe it's ok to rape or sexually assault a woman or girl is bound up in conceptions of gender normativity and the imbalance of power between men and women that flows from such assumptions: Masculinity is associated with dominance and virility while femininity is deemed passive. Men's sexual prowess is regarded as something 'natural', while women's sexuality must be controlled.
- It's just a joke!
When someone tells a homophobic/biphobia/transphobic/sexist/
racist/etc, etc, etc, joke and somebody tells them they are hurt by it, you can be sure that someone is going to say that it's just a joke, lighten up, it's not serious buisness.
- Amending the rules
1) The more someone has done/studied something, the more they likely know about it.
2) Personal experience is a more valuable guide than third-party information, except where negated by Rule 1.
3) The more thought someone puts into a decision, the more likely that decision is to be correct, valid, and worthy of respect.
4) Privilege is not experience. Experience is experience.
- Dear USians on the Internet
Other countries exist! And the people in them? The world around you? Do not revolve around you. We have our own contexts, but sometimes it is hard to focus on anywhere but the United States because YOU KEEP THRUSTING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY IN OUR FACES ALL THE TIME.
- To Err is Human
To err is human. Understanding the mechanisms by which humans repeatedly make errors of judgment has been the subject of psychological study for many decades. Why do people disagree about beliefs despite access to the same evidence, and why does evidence so rarely lead to belief change? Psychological research has examined numerous risks of assessing evidence by subjective judgment. These risks incude information-processing or cognitive biases, emotional self-protective mechanisms, and social biases.
- There is no UK music business without the fans – so look after them
What if, as several studies of piracy and music purchasing seem to suggest, the good fans (buyers) and the bad fans (illegal downloaders) are the same people?
- 13 Ways of Looking at Liz Lemon
I have, for some time, been referring to a particularly irritating brand of privileged semi-feminism as “Liz Lemonism.” I associate this brand of feminism with a certain variety of white, coastal-city dwelling, fairly well-to-do heterosexual cisgendered woman, a woman with a comfortable white-collar job that is so very comfortable and so very white-collar that she is free to spend her spare time yearning for, and semi-believing that she could attain, something with more “meaning.” This woman doesn’t do Blogspot, but she does do Tumblr; she doesn’t do posts about sex workers’ rights, but she does do complaining about “raunch culture”; she doesn’t do anti-racism, disability activism, or trans ally work to any huge extent, but she does do “body image” (and oh, does she ever do body image, without taking much note of the fact that as a white, abled, cis person she conforms to the “beauty standard,” and benefits from conforming to it, in more ways than she will ever let on); she can’t have a conversation with you about Michelle Tea, Sugar High Glitter City, Kathy Acker, or Carolee Schneeman, but she can tell you that as a feminist she has a right to be Concerned About Porn; she’s Brooklyn not Queens, brunch not breakfast, flirty not slutty, fond of cupcakes and feminist theory but unsure how to make either one herself, and thoroughly incensed about Vajazzling.
- Abortion provider's killer is sentenced to life in prison
Scott Roeder, the antiabortion extremist who murdered George Tiller, one of a handful of American physicians who performed late-term abortions, was sentenced to life in prison in a Wichita, Kan., courtroom Thursday and will not be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.
- I Critique Because I Care
There are, in fact, many things in this world which I critique because I care. Like America. Or feminism. I critique these things because I think that they have value and potential, but they still have problems. I am not going to refuse to acknowledge the problems simply because I like these things. Indeed, I think that it’s my duty, as someone who likes them, to critique them and try to improve them. That includes defending things which are personally not to my taste, sometimes, and it includes protecting fellow critiquers when they are being attacked by people who seem to believe that if you dare to criticize something, you obviously hate it.
- Lessons for Girls - A Feminist Vade Mecum
- Anger, by Historiann.
- Opting Out, by Dr. Crazy.
- On Pity, by Professor Zero.
- Independence, by Sutton.
- Trust Your Instincts, by Undine.
- No Apologies, by Exile in Academia. [EDIT] Broken link.
- It’s okay if not everyone likes you, by Geeky Mom.
- You don’t have to be a mom, by Squadratomagico.
- You can say no, by Tiffany.
- Don’t peak early, by Minnesota Matron.
- Love your body, by Knitting Clio.
- If you don’t ask, you don’t get, by Bavardess.
- You are not what you wear, by Roxie the Wire-Haired Fox Terrier.
- Don’t just ask, insist on help (even if it makes you feel weird), by Sisyphus.
- Girl School, by the Bittersweet Girl.
- Romance is for your pleasure and enjoyment, by Professor Zero.
- Those silly girls with stars in their eyes
These elements combine to become particularly powerful in the context of fandom because it can be deceiving at first, in that it feels reassuringly conventional. In the end, fandom is still centered on 1) male actors (“actor” used here in both senses of the word), and 2) pop culture, considered a “safe” interest for women in its triviality. Because feminism and political consciousness in our society are demonized, people will often reject them as concepts simply out of a desire not to be tarred with an unflattering brush. Fandom is a gateway drug. Even the most feminism-shy among us probably won’t see the danger in giggling with our girlfriends over a celebrity crush. And if we stumble over some type of awareness in the process, well, who could have predicted that?
But fandom’s not all sunshine and rainbows and picspam. For one thing, it’s far from a haven from misogyny. “Comprised of women” doesn’t necessarily imply “not sexist”. This can sometimes be seen in the way that certain female characters are treated.
- Feminism vs geek culture?
The question I would ask - one that lyssie addressed in a post today - is why does female geek culture find it hard to be female-friendly? I don't mean in the "liking female characters" way - I mean in the "only women doing masculine-coded stuff are awesome!" way. It's the idea of the strong woman gone horribly wrong - see my icon for a character who is always written as a "strong woman" but is almost never written as a woman with agency*. Being a tough bitch (and I do mean "bitch" in the patriarchal sense) with a sword or a gun or a supernatural power does not mean the character has agency; being a woman (or a man) who displays more feminine-coded characteristics does not mean the character is an appendage to the Big Damn Hero. This is not so hard to see in everyday life (though it certainly was when I was a girly-stuff-hating teenager!) but it really can be in the media we enjoy.
So I wonder: is it the fact that we're geeks that means we appreciate the actors and the doers, who are mostly male? Are we harnessing our feminism to our geekiness, so that we can say we love female characters, as long as they give us the exact kind of geeky joy to which we are accustomed? I really hope that baby geeks who have grown up being able to identify with Scully OR Xena OR Starbuck OR Wendy Watson (not to mention find all the other fangirls online!) may be able to be both female and geeky without feeling the contradiction that the Jezebel article seems to think is automatic. Those of us who grew up identifying with Spock and Data and Doctor Who - not because they are male but because of character types we appreciate being written male and girls mostly being "The Girl" - need to get our heads around liking women characters without them needing to be a Strong Woman, which is just another version of The Girl. Can Sue Storm, for example, come from being The Girl to being a Strong Woman to being a character with agency? Not very often, and almost always in geek culture, rather than in media productions.
- The cost of art
Because it comes down to this, as I've said before. When the price for art and statements about art came around, Badu paid up, in full, on time, and without hesitation from her own metaphorical coiffers, and it is becoming a steep price. Palmer passed the buck onto those who have already paid so much for the statements and "art" and "irony" of others. The price is steep, but she is not and never will truly be on the hook for it. Because she chose other bodies, other selves to put in the line of fire.
That is part of what I believe divides good art from bad art. The good artist pays up out of their own pocket and does not ask others to sacrifice to unwillingly, unknowingly things for them, does not force people to become participants in something by virtue of ramification. The bad artist? Makes sure the check goes to another table, makes sure they get a free ride, ropes people into being part of their art whether they want to or not.
The good artist is not afraid to do what is brave, what is true, to sacrifice from the self. The bad artist is only too willing sacrifice anyone but themselves.
- Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!
See, the great thing about this thaumaturgy is that it protects anything a privileged asshole says! So it fits in line completely with that glorious sense of entitlement that privilege tends to confer, basically, the idea that you can say anything you want and should never have accountability for what you say! Because you see, all privileged people have this ancient eldritch power called “Intent”. In fact, intent is one of the primary elements of the world (see figure 1). Like fire, water, wood, metal, air and earth, Intent helps make up an important part of the very existence of the universe. So when you invoke its ancient might, its tendrils of ephemeral power shift in the very fabric of the ‘verse, creating a magic so powerful that you can manipulate thousands upon thousands of threads of fate, just to protect the person you just said or did something supremely privileged and horrible to.
- Reclamation: Marginalised Bodies, Self Labeling, and Empowerment
If you do not identify with a marginalised group, you had better be very, very, very careful about how you use reclamatory language used by that group. This language is part of a vocabulary of insiders. As a person with privilege, you aren’t an insider. And when you use that language, it becomes hurtful, unless you are specifically invited to do so, and you do so with the knowledge of how reclamatory language works, and what your role in systems of privilege and oppression is.
- Courtney Stoker on Feminist Geek
"Fan communities have the potential for an extraordinary amount of subversion.
Any act of participation in the creation and deconstruction of the show can be a radical act. By cosplaying, by writing or reading fan fic, by blogging about the (good and bad) choices made by the writers, a fan asserts her importance, her active consumption and interaction with the material. She is not a passive consumer, forced to accept the narratives and values given to her, but a creator and a critic.
All of which is not to say that it isn’t important for sci fi shows to get their collective acts together, and start portraying the experiences and narratives of people who aren’t white dudes. But a fan who loves these shows doesn’t necessarily need to feel guilty about loving them, because she can subvert their weaknesses and actively participate in them."
- A Very Special Episode of Grey Areas: Privilege Denying Dude Edition
This week, on a very special episode of Grey Areas, we’ll be talking about Privilege Denying Dude! Again! Because if there is anything we at Tiger Beatdown like to do, it is run things right into the ground!
I spent quite a great deal of time writing about PDD last week. Initially, I had concerns. Those were sandblasted out of me once I read the deluge of commentary from real life Privilege Denying Dudes who wanted this meme scrubbed completely from the Internet. Not the avalanche of racist, sexist, ableist memes that metastasize through the Internet at large: no, no, no, those are obviously free speech. But the concept that marginalized people might be using their jokes against them, OH FUCK CALL THE PRESIDENT SOMEONE NEEDS TO SHUT THE INTERNET DOWN.