Archive for October, 2007

alright folks, I’ve got an announcement.

I’m not feelin’ it anymore. you know, it’s been a great two years (and a bit), being here with you all, discoursin’ and whatnot. It’s been a pleasure, really. I’ve learned so much – SO MUCH. Maybe even more than what I learned during my whole undergrad degree. Certainly what I have learned through engaging with you all has been personally extremely useful and satisfying.

But, I am not feelin’ it right now. I’m super-busy, and there’s the ramifications of moving and starting a new degree, leaving all my real life friends and family behind, while having to extend myself past my little world in my head in order to meet new people and build a new community here. I want to be successful at what I’m doing here, and I also need to take care of myself. And, unfortunately, I feel that right now, part of taking care of myself is not doing this anymore.

Maybe for now, maybe for a while, maybe forever. I may not be able to resist poking my head in and letting a post loose every now and then, but that will all take place on the schedule of TCB -Taking Care of Baby (which of course, is me). If it feels right and helpful for me to do so, instead of a chore, then I’ll do it. so keep your feed readers active.

So for now, imagine me doing yoga, sitting and drinking tea with a friend, swimming, cooking wonderful things to eat for myself and my peeps, reading non-school related books, and getting lots of rest and/or work done, INSTEAD of being here. I’ll continue to deal with comment moderation, but I may not respond in the same manner as I used to do, as per the new TCB schedule. So that being said, I’m going to leave it up to you, faithful readers, to help me out in answering comments that may arise. And of course, please, all of you fellow bloggers, continue to lambaste, rankle, subvert, protest, rise up against, resist, and whatever other adjectives come to mind,  the hegemonic forces going on all around us. Don’t worry, I’ll still be doing all that too. You just might hear about it in different ways.

Regulars, friends, please do email me. I’d love to hear from you on a personal basis. You’re no less dear to me because I’m backing out of blogging.

Peace, my sisters and my brothers. TG out.

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came across this post over at Shakesville. It’s a 101 post about MRAs. God, it’s so great. but what is really great, is the comment section. for a good dose of cognitive dissonance you can really get a good belly laugh from, I suggest you go over and take a read of it.

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I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to attend a session held by a local anti-trafficking group, during which I heard the most wonderful speaker, Benjamin Santamaria. He spoke less about what his organization does, and more about the issue overall, and the culture under which this problem has been permitted to flourish.

Human trafficking is a terrible problem; it’s hard to know how many people are trafficked every year, but women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for sex as well as domestic slavery. Victims generally are stolen or sold from less developed nations and taken to wealthy western countries for these purposes, or are held within their own country or a neighbouring country and used by wealthy westerners who come to less developed countries for the purposes of sex tourism. It seems a lot of trafficked persons have family situations that make them vulnerable, from extreme poverty to abuse to orphanism. These are often people that are vulnerable because nobody is looking for them; they are disappeared and nobody knows.

Ben talked a lot about white western culture as a culture of domination. [this particularly incensed the young woman I was attending the talk with, for typical white liberal “white people shouldn’t have to feel guilty for what our ancestors did” reasons, but that’s not really what I want to talk about just yet; please keep it in mind for later, however.] He spoke of “white is right” attitudes, about how white settlers on this continent felt they conquered the indigenous populations who were already here (they didn’t), and that gave them the right to [attempt to] obliterate indigenous culture, language, and spirituality, replacing them with the laws, language, and religion of the white homeland (didn’t do that, either, but not for lack of trying – for the indomitable spirit of indigenous peoples). He spoke about the continuation of those attitudes in the here and now, and the richness that is missed by shutting ourselves off from learning from other cultures. He spoke about a lack of sprituality the dominance of religion can bring. He spoke about the soullessness of capitalism, the attitude that everything can and should be commodified – even human beings, human lives.

but, while this is a large problem that takes place at a societal level, Ben was careful to offer a solution. He expressed that the solution of public policies and international treaties was important, but that the underlying attitudes of individual people are what will really matter most.

hold on.

We spend a lot of time here and on other forums talking about patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism as being overarching structures, a “culture not a conspiracy.” We say, “we’re not talking about YOU as an individual; we’re talking about your default position within relations of power that are larger than just you, don’t take it personally, try to see yourself and your position as one within the matrix.”

Well, it hit home to me, listening to Ben speak, that this is true, but it also isn’t the end of the story.

Going back to how the woman I was sitting with was infuriated by Ben’s slam against white culture. She was completely and utterly pissed off by this, ranted on afterward about how white people have a culture too, and it’s just as important as other cultures, and how other cultures can’t be so great really because after all, look at how they treat their women. [yup, seriously. this is a woman who has done a lot of international development work. just goes to show you, I guess…]

I felt none of that righteous anger toward him for saying such things. I was nodding along with him! I wasn’t offended by anything he said about white people at all! Why is that? I thought about it for a while. At first, I just felt like, “well, he’s not talking about ME.” Not in a pin-a-rose-on-my-nose, I’m-not-a-racist way, but more in a culture-not-conspiracy kind of way. but then, that wasn’t quite it, either.

What Ben was talking about was individual responsibility. He was talking about how these attitudes are ingrained in the fabric of our society, but that we are individually responsible to and capable of unravelling ourselves from that fabric. He described a lot of things that we could do, individually, to change how we felt and believed some of the underlying attitudes that make human trafficking possible, that make it possible for people to be bought and sold on a global marketplace and used like they mean nothing.

He spoke about spirituality – not religion, not dogma, but spirituality. Belief that everyone has a soul, a spirit, a spiritual life that needs nourishment, that needs fulfilment. He spoke about sexism, and how men must not force women to do or be what we don’t want to do or be, but allow us to develop into our own beings, support us, get the hell out of our way. He talked about the mistreatment of the animals we use, from labour to entertainment to food. He talked about racism, and the belief held so dear by so many that white culture is dominant because it is superior. He spoke about capitalism, the commodification of everything under the sun – the land, the water, the sun itself – and how screwed up that is, because the earth is for everyone, it can nourish all of us, and yet we scramble to get our little tiny piece of it all for ourselves. He spoke about not buying these things, not buying into the capitalism matrix, not buying goods from countries where humans are trafficked, not watching TV, not watching CNN.

And you know? yeah. I felt myself nodding, moved by this message. YES! We are, individually, responsible for the attitudes and beliefs that we hold. We can only, ourselves, change those attitudes and beliefs. And that is the difference. When we work to achieve attitudes of love for others, of spirituality, of equality, of harmony with the world around us – that is when the guilt fades, that is when the righteous anger dissipates.

I know I’m not perfect. I know that my placement within the social stratification system of this country, this culture, gives me unearned privileges that I can’t exactly back out of. But. I know that I am trying. I know that in my heart, I am moving from those negative, overarching, dominant and dominating atittudes, maybe a little everyday, as an individual person. And so, I know he wasn’t talking about ME.

I say this not to hold myself up as a shining example of light, or for congratulatory backslaps and praise. I say this because it clicked a little deeper for me that day.

We ARE individually responsible, within this culture of domination. We must be HELD individually responsible for atrocities that happen to others, because OUR ATTITUDES OF DOMINATION have led to, have supported, have made possible, those atrocities. It’s not about guilt. It’s about movement. It’s about change. It’s about evolution. It’s about revolution.

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had to read some stuff for class the other day on whether or not black judges and female judges could be impartial.

yup. that’s what I said.

and, of course, I harkened back to my summer of researching and writing my thesis. all kinds of stuff came spilling out about how the dominant class always thinks they have the market cornered on what is objective. but how of course, nobody is exempt from having a social identity, and how it’s pretty much impossible to ever escape the perspective that you have as a result of that identity. And so, those who claim they can are pretty much fooling themselves by assuming a false (because it’s not possible) and disingenuous (because they claim they can) god’s-eye view of the world.  Because the very act of claiming that false position is protecting the interests and values of the dominant class.

I think what we need to do is re-think the entire notion of objectivity. Because it’s ridiculous to claim that one group (who happens to be the dominant class, funny how that works) has a perspective that is unbiased and impartial, and all the rest can’t possibly achieve objectivity because they’re too tainted by their vaginas or their dark skin or slanty eyes or their homo/bi/trans-sexuality.

seems to me that the best way to get to a model of the world that reflects reality most closely is to include everyone in the process. you know, like EVERYONE. poor folks, white folks, women folks, gay folks, jewish folks, black folks, lesbian folks, men folks, rich folks, transfolks, hispanic folks, middleclass folks, bi folks, native folks, mixed race folks, intersexed folks, smart folks, asian folks, disabled folks… all folks. we all need representation, ya know? the more people who are excluded from a process like, oh, justice or academia or science or whatever, the more slanted that “truth” is gonna be (holla Kevin!).

class dismissed.

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Dear misogynists –

here it is:

I’m tired of holding your fucking hand, being sweet and nice and understanding, calmly explaining things of a feminist nature with patience, giving you the benefit of the doubt. I’m tired of letting you get away with comments, quietly simmering, feeling the pressure build up inside me. I’m tired of  letting you define the terms, twist my words to use against me, read unintended meaning into what is said. I’m tired of your fucking ‘counter-examples’ that are meant to be some kind of silver bullet to the fact that things have been this way for thousands of years in the great majority. I’m tired of taking care of you in a discussion where you begin by saying, “so, you want to debate feminism with ME, do you?” (Answer: feminism is not up for debate, asshole.) I’m tired of watching you pack up your toys and go home when you can’t “win your point” and shut me up or down, and I’m tired of being blamed for your inadequate arguing skills and the fact that you know you’re wrong and if you can’t win you don’t wanna play. I’m tired of being accused of being a “wet blanket,” a “stick in the mud,” “humourless,” and being unable to take either a joke or a compliment. I’m tired of having my and other women’s experiences of misogyny in action made light of, taken over or sidelined by, and compared to men’s experiences of the world that have nothing to do with the discussion, in order to make some kind of point that “shit happens to everyone, it has nothing to do with your gender, stop whining about sexism, you’re bringing it upon yourself by seeing it everywhere, if you didn’t look so hard you’d see that it was something else, you’re reading too much into it.”

sick and fucking tired, I am.

because the thing is, the fact that you are arguing about it means you so aren’t even there yet, with enough internalization of  basic feminist principles, to even have such a discussion with me. I am not debating the basics of feminism. I am not questioning the validity of feminism as a system of thought or a framework for looking at the world. I am not suddenly going to give up on feminism because you think you’ve found a brilliant counter-argument to support your misogyny (like “not all guys are like that! you’re pigeon-holing all men! that’s just as sexist as what you’re complaining about!”).

the truth is, the guys who get it, don’t argue about it. And they don’t get so riled up by feminist theory, discussion, etc. that they freak out whenever a feminist has something negative to say about men in general or even just one specific man who has, oh say, chased and threatened her in the street. Because they know, I’m not talking about them.

so, stop trying to make me feel bad because I’m making you upset to be reminded that your privilege is unearned and undeserved, even as you’re using it like a club over my head.  I’m not the one who should feel bad about that. I don’t have to worry about your feelings, your ego, your pride, whatever – you clearly aren’t worried about me and mine. In fact, I’d say your entire purpose in discussions like these is to “bring me down a notch,” yes?

Stop casting me in some role of male caretaker – I’m nobody’s mother, nobody’s nursemaid, and nobody’s wife. I get no benefit, emotional or otherwise, from taking care of you. Demanding that I do so is reinforcing the gendered roles that have me so infuriated to begin with! This is not about social graces – it’s about demanding that even during a discussion about sexism, I have to play a gendered role that necessarily means giving way to you.

so, don’t tell me to be “reasonable” (as opposed to emotional? which is so bad, right?). based on thousands of years of evidence, I think I am being pretty fucking reasonable, actually, in analyzing the world in the way that I do and responding to it in the way that I do. I’d prefer to be pleasantly surprised by a non-sexist man than unpleasantly surprised by a misogynist.

This is how we survive. and yeah, it is that serious.

so, fuck you. holding your hand, taking care of your ego, being a “nice lady,” giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re one of the few men I have ever met in my entire life that isn’t sexist, is not my fucking job. Sometimes, I’m going to tear you a new one. Sometimes, I’m going to give you a look of utter disgust, scoff at you, and turn and walk away because that day I refuse to engage with assholes. Sometimes, I’m going to school you with a stream of theory and not stop to explain the basic principles because you should already know them. Sometimes, I’m going to have more patience and answer your inane questions. But, no way am I going to assume some kind of caretaker position for you and your ego, or avoid pointing out your misogynist behaviour, or break my analysis of the world into easy to digest morsels for you. I’m no babysitter; I don’t cut anyone’s meat for them. I’m no nursemaid; I don’t repair fractured egos. I’m no teacher; I don’t have to instruct you on a gotdam thing. You wanna know about feminism? you wanna have a meaningful discussion about feminism? you wanna be one of the few men I’ve met in my life that aren’t sexist patriarchs?  start by not asking me to do your work for you. go to a library. catch up with the rest of the class. think long and hard about it – you’re not just studying history, you’re studying a living body of work that reflects the lives of women, today, right now. set down your macho armor and talk to women about what it’s like to be a woman in this world. think about the role you play in that world, and start by assuming that you are sexist, and you do benefit from  male dominance. because you do, whether you want to admit it or not. admit it. and move on.
the end.

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