Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fat-phobic Progressivism

Ban T-Shirts

When I see a shirt with the EZLN star on it, naturally I have to go check this store out, cuz I've always wanted one, and looking through all the shirts I more or less was liking what I was seeing.

Then I saw this:

Really? Yeah let's fat shame people, that's super progressive!

Maker of this shirt, please ask yourself: How does re-iterating a sexist, classist and racist beauty norm challenge the system the rest of these shirts are speaking against? I hate fast food as much as the next bleeding heart SLOW food liberal, not because they're "making people fat" but because they're loading their products up with ingredients that are fucking up our planet and fucking up our bodies. But un-health and "fat" don't necessarily go together!

Just like the "ironic racism" that seems to be so popular these days, the totally accepted and often cheered on fat-hate I so often find amongst hipster fauxgressives makes me just a tad nauseous. And clearly that's what's going on here, they're real careful to have that in fashion "alternative" type look (ohhhh tattoos!) and models of color, but, oh, all conventionally slim and pretty and able-bodied. HOW DARING.

At Feminist Review (where the EZLN shirt was reviewed and where this odyssey began) Mandy pointed out that the image is also incredibly ironic being as the model they chose is a woman of color, in a country where poor communities of color are known to have lower access to healthy food and higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

Was the shirt a rather fucked up dig at the food industry for putting their worst shit in the neighborhoods of low income people of color? A dig at people of color for their eating habits? Or a totally unconscious but really problematic aesthetic choice?

Whatever the thought process, we are left with an image loaded with messages, messages I don't particularly like.

Too bad too... Still like the EZLN shirt.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sorry All

I know my weekly links post isn't up yet. I was a bit behind on it anyway because of the first week of fall semester and ensuing craziness, but then my husband got mugged last night and we have been figuring out what to do about it. So I might not be getting to it tonight either, perhaps I'll just be skipping it this week and do a larger one next week, we'll see.

Anyway, hope everyone else is having a lovely week. I have lots of posts in development, we'll see if any come to fruition. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interesting Day

The Irony of Anti-Sex-Positive Feminist's Arguments

It's been a while since I wrote a post from a specifically sex positive perspective. But that all changes tonight because a few days ago I had a run in that sent my mind off in that direction.

In comments at's place a conversation began about sex positive feminism, with a very angry radical feminist who was hearing about it for the first time and didn't like what she was reading. Needless to say, she and I exchanged words. But since then I've been going over and boiling down my argument and though it's getting to the same point as my very first post about sex positivity, I thought it might be worth going into again.

The radfem's main argument (in the comments conversation, though her argument in her blog post appears similar) consisted of two points 1) certain sexual behaviors are inherently degrading to women (she also threw in there that heterosexual sex can never truly be consented to, which I would take to mean is "always rape" as the famous quote goes, but I never got to follow up on that point) and 2) that by supporting and accepting women who choose to engage in such behaviors for pleasure, sex positive feminists are supporting and enabling the sexual exploitation and degradation of women.

So here's my problem: this line of arguing is utilizing the master's tools.

Here's what I mean by that... Kyriarchy doesn't want women in solidarity with each other. That's the reason we're socialized to dislike each other (which is the essence behind this post on my Tumblr). It's the same tactic used against poor whites and poor Blacks after emancipation and into today, the same tactic used to divide white feminists from womanists and feminists of color, the same tactic used against the middle and the working classes, and on and on and on; divide and conquer. "We" must create divisions and hostility between them or "they" might join forces and overthrow us.

And there's this fine line between critique and condemnation that too many anti-sex positive feminists (as I've experienced them) trample all over. Critique is "there are these things that influence us towards accepting this behavior and eroticising it and we should be conscious of that." Whereas what this and so many others I've seen do is "that behavior is degrading, the end!" And anyone who makes an argument in support of women's sexual agency is cast promptly as the enemy, woefully brainwashed by Patriarchy. Critique leaves room for discussion, the latter just shuts conversation down entirely.

So let's take a step back here...

We're ALL woefully brainwashed by kyriarchy.

Feminism isn't an end to that, its just a lens we can use to liberate ourselves and each other. A lens which helps us figure out and hopefully dismantle our brainwashing. Radfems and SexPos' alike = brainwashed by kyriarchy. And sexual practices, like so many things, are essentially a nature vs nurture debate.

What came first, me liking to be spanked or kyriarchal norms teaching me that sexually fulfilled women should be disciplined?

The fact is? WE WON'T EVER KNOW. We can deconstruct the messages we're indoctrinated with, we can dissect our turn ons, we can even construct elaborate and well thought out theories as to how and why we ended up being turned on by sexual discipline, but we'll still never know what came first; the kinky bdsm chicken or the leather loving egg.

But in their fervor to impart how degrading some sexual practices are, and to point out the sexual horrors women as a whole are subjected to, this particular brand of radfem seems to forget that they are conditioned too.

They also seem to forget that kyriarchy fears few things more than unconstrained female sexuality. I mean, that's a given, yes? If asked, every feminist would agree that the powers that be have spent inordinate amounts of time and effort to "reign in" the terrors of female sexuality right? That's what the whole "virgin whore dichotomy" is all about, that's what rape as a punishment is all about. And yet when these radfems are turning on their sexpos sisters, it never seems to occur to them that perhaps this condemnation and social shaming is just as much a conditioned response as they think the desire for so-called kinky sex is.

And as the history of kyriarchal successes go: women once again turn on each other, disciplining each other's behavior and creating wide rifts across which solidarity really isn't possible.

Is that "radical feminism"? Really?

What is radical about disciplining other women's sexual choices? How does that tear down kyriarchy?

And I know the argument to this; "well their behavior is reinforcing patriarchal norms!" Well, maybe. Maybe it is. I don't know for sure (but neither do you).

What I do know is this:
1) In a woman's search for sexual liberation there will undoubtedly be times when she is not "perfectly feminist". Because none of us are always perfectly feminist, ever.
And 2) there is nothing that kyriarchy fears more than women becoming truly sexually liberated... except for women in solidarity with each other.

Whether one particular sexual practice "does it" for you, or not, if you're throwing up walls against those who practice them, if you're setting yourself up to deny the sexual agency of other women...that's definitely not creating solidarity. It's only creating more divisions. It's only making it easier for you to disregard "those women".

Which is exactly what the Patriarchy wants.

Now, let me end with some ownership because I am not immune to this critique either. I wasn't particularly gentle in my approach with [name redacted at subject's request]. No, I was incredibly irritated by the utter reading failure she demonstrated throughout our conversation. And that dominated my response; not any sort of compassion for the emotions which were stirred up by that reading (false though it was, clearly a nerve was hit and I definitely didn't help delve into that and compare/contrast it with sex positivity).

Was I creating solidarity in that moment?

Hell no.

I was too pissed at seeing yet another feminist tearing down and shaming fellow women, fellow womanists/feminists for their sexual choices, and for basically utterly missing the point behind sex-positivity and at the same time dismissing it entirely out of hand.

Was that really the best way to handle it? Probably not, no.

I can't apologize for defending women's agency and criticizing what I still think was a total misreading, but I could have done so from a very different starting point, and taking my thoughts here to their logical end, I should have.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The post in which I talk about CLOTHES (gee maybe I am femme after all?)

Today as I was driving home from Costco I drove past a park I've driven past many times before. In this park where a bunch of twenty and thirty-somethings in comfortable clothes, yoga pants, tanks tops, you know, neo-hippie gear and I thought to myself; "I bet husband and I would like those people".

And from there I started thinking about: clothes. Clothes are an interesting personal item I'd never given a whole helluva lot of thought to before. Certainly never much critical thought. But there I was sitting in my car and considering how I'd summed that group of people up and I thought: clothes are our adornment, our peacock feathers or brightly colored scales. They tell a tale about us, whether we're conscious of it or not. They communicate values.

It's like the exercise to identify class values in Acupuncture is Like Noodles. What clothes we choose testify somewhat to what we value. This group, in their comfortable, clean and clearly not new clothes communicated to me that they were more interested in being comfortable than being fashionable, though their choices in yoga pants and tank tops suggested some sense of fashion and that they were willing to spend money on clothes, though the obviously not brand newness of them said they weren't willing to do this all the time. The particular combination of clothes was that neo-hippie look I think many people expect all of northern California to dress like, communicating to me that they were comfortable being identified this way and therefore probably held similar values to me: progressivism, social justice, anti-capitalist(ish?)...etc.

These are all variable attributes to me, and so I drove past with the automatic assumption in my head that probably I a) had something in common with these folks and b) would enjoy spending time with them.

It made me wonder what other people see as they drive past this park with these folks hanging out in it. Do they see "degenerates"? Do they see air heads? Druggies?

How effective are our peacock feathers, and how easy to they make it for others to pigeonhole us or write us off?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Words to Remember

When you make rape jokes, bear in mind that you’re not just making them around potential rape victims. You’re making them around potential rapists. You are making a joke that tells the women around you who have been raped that you think their rape wasn’t serious, and you are making a joke that tells the men around you who have raped that you think what they did is not serious. You are telling rapists that they have an ally in you.
Two More Things « Fugitivus

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do you wanna date my avatar?


Everyone in The Guild is so fucking awesome. As are Felicia Day, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen just in general.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Document the Silence - Where’s Aniysah?


On March 3rd, 2009, Aniysah was taken from her mother’s arms by New York’s Family Court System and placed in the care of Aniysah’s father who has a history of domestic violence offenses. Furthermore, there were no records verifying that she would be taken to a safe living environment or that she was enrolled in school. Questions about her health and well-being went unanswered. That was over 150 days ago. To date, Aniysah remains lost in the family court system. A system where black and brown children go missing every day. A system where black mothers like Aniysah’s are often left to fend for themselves in a brutal, dogged battle just to make sure their children are safe. On the surface, this case appears to be a simple custody dispute, however, if one digs deeper it is a story about the injustices of New York’s Family Court System and how it fails brown women and children daily and how it can be used to further terrorize and re-victimize survivors of domestic violence.

Here at Document the Silence, one of our goals is to break the silence surrounding violence against women of color, particularly those who are poor and working class. Moreover, we want to raise awareness about how this violence informs and intersects with various aspects of our culture, including the media, and the legal system. Thus, we think it’s critical to point out that the “Where’s Aniysah” campaign is not only about the failings of the family court system but is also about domestic violence and how it has shaped the legal struggles of Aniysah and her mother, Angeline. As a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of Anyisah’s father, Angeline is a living testament to the “intimate” connections between experiences of abuse among women of color and the mistreatment they experience in the family court system.
Because of the case is still pending we cannot list all the facts of the case in this email, but you can find all the facts on our website, (

It’s time to hold the family court system accountable. Document the Silence asks that you join them in the “Where’s Aniysah?” campaign by posting information about this case on your blogs, online social networks and throughout your community ( At the website you will also find a petition, and additional facts and information about Anyisah’s case, and suggestions for what you can do to demand that justice is served on August 24, 2009. We especially encourage you to leave comments on the site expressing your support for Aniysah and any details about what you plan to do to help.

If you are in the New York City area, please show your support for Angeline’s case by coming to her next family court hearing on August 24, 2009 at 11:00 am. The courthouse is located at:

Courtroom E-123, Annex Building
Justice Fernando M. Camacho
125-01 Queens Boulevard
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

If you can make it to Angeline’s next court hearing on August 24, 2009, please let us know by emailing us at:

Thank you in advance for doing your part in breaking the silence surrounding injustices against women and children of color.

In solidarity,

Document the Silence

No, it's really not funny. Except a laugh instead of cry kind of way.

A new poll shows that 62% of Republicans think that government should “stay out of Medicare.”

I admit that I snickered at first. Quite heartily, in fact. So I certainly can’t hold it against anyone for doing the same.

But then I remembered that this kind of ignorance — which isn’t exclusive to Republicans, as 24% of Democrats and 31% of independents answered the same way — is precisely the reason why I’m so concerned that when this is all said and done, I’m still not going to have health care, and neither will millions of other Americans, including many who need it a lot more badly than I do.

this isn't actually funny

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Last Week's Posts of Awesome

Another Post About Rape
If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.

Happy Birthday To Me.
Your eyes , your web clicks justify existance now, feed or don't feed people and are the difference between action and non action. Your email is being trolled, and peopel are having four figure lunches in " liberal" circles to send you blasts on how to be better.

thinking about “organizing”
And it makes me so incredibly fucking horribly sad that in ‘normal organizing’ you have to fight so hard to get the time to be accountable to yourself–that you literally have to forget the needs of others so that you can take care of your own.

The Problem with Politeness

Court frees 20 convicted in Mexican massacre

A Tragic Story of Continual Violence against Women of Color: Anyisah’s Mother’s Story, Angeline

stuff white people do: pat themselves on the back for having black friends

Whole Foods comes out against health care reform, calls it "socialism"

It's About Community, Too
It's not a secret: by products from industry disproportionately affect poc communities. To many, the poisoning of Anniston is old news, but the lessons of it's history bear repeating. For years decades, Monsanto poisoned the area around Anniston. Lawrence King talks about Monsanto and the primarily Black community of Anniston, Alabama.

In short, there is a reason that talking about love leads to ridicule and marginalization in this culture, and the reason is patriarchy.

the assault on the black middle class

How nationalism overrides and hides violence against women

Pondering the Senator McCaskill Hillsboro town hall…

Remember Aafia Siddiqui?

My Name Is Herta and I Am About To Be Deported

First The Burka and Now The Burkini, C’est Viva La Difference dans France

Teh Stupid Comes in Threes

Discussion: Is the New LIAR Cover Not Enough?

Trans Women In Male Prisons: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Trans Woman Sues Over Photo Request
A Pennsylvania transgender woman has filed suit against her former employer, who she said requested a photograph of her genitalia as a condition of continued employment.

When sex workers aren’t white and beautiful

Disabled Character: Able-Bodied (Emaciated) Actresses Only, Please

The people and their cultures: POC and the movies

The Latest for Afghan Women

Topless Coffee Shop Burned To Ground

More Flight Anxiety For Transpeople As New TSA Rules Implemented

The American Way or What’s Really Going To Destroy America…

Anti-Sex Worker Bigotry Makes Its Way Into Rape Trial

Costco and The Lil’ Monkey Doll

The End of the Beginning of the Dunbar Village Trial

Walmart: Justice Clarence Thomas Welcome But Homeless Must Go

"Can poor POC be gentrifiers if they are activists"? Reflections on & confusion around that question

pregnancy, money, health insurance, and social justice

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DeLee Sentencing - Lateisha Green Case

New York, NY, August 18, 2009 -- The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today welcomed Judge William Walsh's sentencing of convicted killer Dwight R. DeLee to the maximum term of 25 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of Lateisha Green. Green, a 22-year-old African American transgender woman was shot and killed by DeLee on Nov. 14, 2008 in Syracuse, NY. On July 17, a 12-member jury found 20-year-old DeLee guilty of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. DeLee's conviction for committing a hate crime is the first involving the death of a transgender person in New York State. It is only the second such conviction in United States history. In addition to the sentence for manslaughter, DeLee was sentenced to a concurrent term of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison on the weapon possession conviction.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stay classy PETA.

via and nueva voz

I guess they couldn't settle for just insulting women in general (over and over and over), people of color, lesbians, immigrants, and I'm sure that's just for a start. Nope, not good enough, it's fat women's turn! Because there are no fat vegetarians, and of course, being fat is BAD!

I don't know that there's anything that's turned me off more to animal rights than PETA. Congrats, assholes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Andy, Weeds and the Attraction of Flawed Men

Been catching up with Weeds.
Is it weird that I think Andy is awesome and hot?
There's something about flawed men I like. Men who have to grow on you, who are vulgar or brash or too sarcastic or immature but as you get to know them they reveal sincerely good qualities... There's something real about that to me.

Guys who seem perfect right off the bat...all that's left to learn is their flaws. They always seem "too perfect" and I end up feeling like I'm performing someone else's life instead of living my own when I'm with them. And often I find out they're actually jerks. So when I see those guys in TV or movies or books, I instantly distrust and dislike them. It's just so fake.

I've noticed this about the type of guy I'm attracted to more and more, and it goes way way back to adolescence (Han Solo, baby).
Lately, at times it has bothered me, because it seems like that type of guy is valorized and touted as this "the real man" type bullshit in social discourse..."the bad boy" or whatever, type. But it's not as simple as that archetype for me, because there are many "bad boy" types I can't stand.

I haven't sussed it all out yet, but I think I hit on something tonight with the: you're either discovering flaws or discovering admirable traits, thing... And that I prefer to discover goodness.

Anyway, going back to Weeds, these seasons keep getting darker and darker it seems like. Interesting the way it has taken us through different levels of the drug trade, I like that. Though I was sad to see Conrad and Heylia go, as I liked both of them a lot.

And yah, notably to me, Andy's grown on me. Now I just wish Nancy would give him a chance (but clearly that's not going to happen, and Alanis Morissette instead = awesome, I have to admit).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Whole Foods Is Against Health-Care Reform

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, a supermarket chain beloved by liberals and progressives across the nation because of the organic and natural products it sells, opposes health-care reform. Mackey wrote a scathing opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal, attacking the Democratic health-care reform proposal. But Mackey's piece should come as no real surprise. He's a Texas libertarian/conservative who is anti-union while paying his employees less than other supermarket chains, and who seems to get his jollies by making huge profits from selling overpriced organic products to gullible liberals

via East Bay Express

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Helping is a natural behavior

Likewise, the proponents of today’s digital libertarianism exploit any evidence they can find of evolutionary principles that reflect the fundamental competitiveness of human beings and other life forms, while ignoring the much more rigorously gathered evidence of cooperation as a primary human social skill. The late archeologist Glynn Isaac, for one, demonstrated how food sharing, labor distribution, social networking and other collaborative activities are what gave our evolutionary forefathers the ability to survive. Harvard biologist Ian Gilby’s research on hunting among bats and chimps demonstrates advanced forms of cooperation, collective action, and sharing of meat disproportional to the risks taken to kill it.

Edge: ECONOMICS IS NOT NATURAL SCIENCE By Douglas Rushkoff (via champagnecandy)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Things that make me happy

Sonia Sotomayor being sworn in as a United States Supreme Court Justice on Saturday.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Be a Part of the American Idiot Musical Set!

Here's your chance to be part of American Idiot. Set designer Christine Jones, part of the extraordinary team of artists working to turn a seminal Green Day album into a raging piece of rock 'n' roll theater, is sending out a call to musicians and fans to be - literally - part of her set.

Christine would like you to send in artwork that has been generated for your own bands -for concert posters or album covers - which would then be used to paper the walls of the warehouse-like set. She is also interested in handwritten song lists and handwritten pages of songs in the process of being written. Photocopies are acceptable. Send your submissions by Aug. 25 to: Berkeley Repertory Theatre Scenic Studios, Attention Lisa Lazar, Scenic Artist, 2526 Wood St., Oakland CA 94607.

Once the articles you send become part of the set, obviously, they cannot be returned, but they will be part of history as American Idiot makes its world premiere at Berkeley Rep Sep 4-Oct 11.

I'm thinking about maybe doing some poetry and sending it in. Whenever I write poetry I always think about it as a song anyway.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Does one person make a difference?

So I recently read about the newest Miss England at Bitch Blogs and the writer, Mandy Van Deven, asked if the inclusion of a black woman who is openly athletic and ambitious as the number one beauty queen in her country could be seen as feminism at work. My first reaction was a very tentative, "maybe?"

The problem is, women can be included in something without that something (whether it be politics or community leadership or motherhood or beauty pageants) necessarily taking on anything (values, practices, etc.) remotely feminist (much less womanist). We see this all the time, don't we? Women's options for participation in life have been expanded, but only if we play by the rules.

Looking at Rachel Christie's pictures and reading about her, it reminded me of a case I had heard of before: Vanessa Williams.

And the question that came to my mind was: does the inclusion of these Black women really challenge whiteness? Or is it simply more of the aforementioned "play by the rules and we'll let you have this" mentality?

Lo and behold, a mere week later I was assigned a reading for this women's political history class precisely about the Vanessa Williams case. Reading through Sarah Banet-Weiser's essay, I got my answer: a resounding "No".

Pageants have a set of rules they play by, it's called "idealized white womanhood" and while women of color can be included now, it's only by showing white America that "we're just like you".

Banet-Weiser talked about the way specifically Black women (though I would argue this applies to all women of color because they are so severely underrepresented in pageant winners or even contestants) must "pass" while also "eroticizing their difference". In other words, they have to make us (the audience, the, white, audience) want them, while also feeling they could be one of "us". They have to fit a mold and prove to us that they can represent the same "values" as their white pageant sisters.

This played out in a huge way with Vanessa Williams' fall from grace because she broke the rules of proper "American" (read: white) womanhood. She was, in her Penthouse pictures, too sexual and sexually deviant across boundaries of both "appropriate" race and sexuality.

Most importantly, there have been no institutional changes to the pageant since Vanessa Williams became the first Black woman to win the Miss America title. More Black women (and one Asian American woman) have followed in those footsteps, but there is still a very strict formula one must follow to be a beauty queen. Look at the winners before and since, there is definitely a "look" that is deemed "correct". And the behavioral components Banet-Weiser discusses certainly seem to still be strongly in place.

So to me, is Rachel Christie's victory "feminism at work"?

No. Because I have no reason to believe her win will challenge the rules of the pageant, and those rules are markedly anti-womanist/feminist.

Certainly her win is an achievement for a talented and ambitious young Black woman in the UK, and perhaps that's a good thing in of itself (though I had to put that "perhaps" in because I'm unsure if indoctrinating women of color into the cult of white womanhood is really a good thing for anyone). But that doesn't make it feminist.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Another Fan Plays Jesus of Suburbia

Even more adorableness in this one!

One of the greatest things I've ever seen. Watch to the end, he is so fucking adorable with her!

And geez, she must be tiny if his guitar is that long on her, he's not exactly tall....

GREEN DAY - Jesus Of Suburbia LIVE 7/27/09 Madison Square Garden, NYC complete 16x9 HQ! MSG (via brianvicet)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Womanist Musings Radio Show!

Transgender History With Dr. Susan Stryker!

I am very excited about this weeks show. The head of my department (Women and Gender Studies at SFSU) is friends with Dr. Stryker and we used an anthology she compiled in one of the first classes I took at the university. She's like a rock star of Queer/Womens/Gender/Transgender Studies. Squee!