Category Archives: links

Marriage As Inequality – Link with Commentary

Most people know I have very mixed feelings on marriage in general (Not The Marrying Kind) and the push for marriage equality in particular (Marriage Equality: Yay for California but My Overall Reaction to Marriage is *shrug*). I am far from the only person to critique marriage as an institution or the push for marriage equality but up until now most of where I’ve heard it is in more radical or independent presses/spaces.

Then someone pointed me to this New York Times article that was published after the marriage decision in New York. Judith Stacey a sociology professor at NYU and brings up some excellent points in her piece, Unequal Opportunity. Such as:

My research suggests that younger gays are less likely than their forebears to envision alternatives to marriage and nuclear family life.

Which has always been something that bothered me. The narrative of: ‘There is a different way to live your life, a different family structure you can form that may not look like what you’ve been taught to expect but is valid nonetheless’ has gotten completely lost in the last couple of decades. More and more I see the marriage equality push legitimizing itself by trying to look more and more normative by which I mean white, male, masculine and traditionally attractive. A line is drawn, those who want to get married and “freaks”.

Another great point Ms. Stacey brings up:

For this very reason, same-sex marriage enthusiasts are wrong to celebrate the democratizing effects of their victory in New York. To be sure, it removes an indefensible form of discrimination against lesbians and gay men. But the upshot of celebrating marriage is to exacerbate discrimination against the unmarried and their children — a rising proportion of our population, particularly among its poorer and darker members. Same-sex marriage, like its heterosexual model, is disproportionately accessible to members of the white middle class.

I enjoy the fact that she acknowledges that this is a blow against discrimination but that there are more complex issues and interactions at work here as well.

The article is shorter than I wanted and doesn’t goes as in-depth (I’m thinking I may need to pick up her book on marriage) but hits some excellent points that I and other people have been arguing for years and it’s great to see these points and perspectives brought up in a larger arena.

Now go read the whole thing

Unnamed Privilege: College Education

This post was inspired by some drama going on. See my vow to try and stay more connected with the internet over winter break has failed. I realize that while I’m out of class (which ends this week, emo!tear) the last thing I want to do is increase my stress level by dealing with idiocy online.  So all that is to say that I only know the gist of this drama as opposed to all the intimate details because I could not bring myself to wade through the hot mess but from what I’ve heard and the few posts I have read the basic gist is:  Elizabeth Bear made a post about Cultural Appropriation on her livejournal, a conversation happened in the comments of that post about Bear’s own problematic portrayals of POC and some of the wording in her post, Avalon’s Willow wrote a very interesting open letter to Elizabeth Bear regarding her work, it then became pile on Willow day and somewhere in discussing the difficulties of race and writing one of Bear’s friends and fellow author Sarah Monette jumped in with a defense that basically accused Willow and other criticizers of being “too emotional” and pointing out, without an evidence I might add, that they were coming from different directions one an academic, critical thought perspective and one an emotional perspective.

One guess which side she thought she was on and which side she thought Willow and other POC in the discussion were on. 

Okay aside from that sounding like the whole  “You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.” craziness from Anne Rice’s rant on Amazon.com when folks didn’t like one of her books it is such an incredibly problematic defense that it really shocked me to realized supposedly educated people felt completely comfortable throwing that into that discussion.

Note: When race is part of the discussion accusing someone of not being “educated enough” is a big hot button issue. Many People of Color grow up constantly reinforced with the idea that not only do we not belong in academia, we should not even try because we just aren’t smart enough. So to be having a discussion of race where a white person rolls in and basically tells a group of People of Color: “You’re complaints are invalid because you’re not smart enough” well it’s not exactly the best tool in the anti-racist’s arsenal is it?

And I assume I don’t really have to get into how “too emotional”, “too angry”, etc., etc. are silencing techniques used by the privileged to keep the oppressed from speaking about their situation honestly. Because it’s such an arbitrary judgment it can be used even against a completely rational argument and still be assumed valid by others because of the oppressed’s position in society.

But as I said because I’m not up on everything that went down and I don’t right now have the mental strength to wade through a bunch of fuckery I present you with some great links so you can read all about it should you want to. For more of a rundown of what’s going down I recommend:
http://rydra-wong.livejournal.com/ – she has multiple posts with links on her journal
http://seeking-avalon.blogspot.com/ – Avalon’s Willow’s open letter and other posts about it
http://aqueductpress.blogspot.com/2009/01/great-cultural-appropriation-debate-of.html – A round up of links
An awesome idea that’s come out of the hot mess: http://yeloson.livejournal.com/530108.html – The ReMyth Project

I’ve written a lot about cultural appropriation and will again but right now I rather post about a privilege that is never really acknowledged or when it is it’s only paid lip service too: the privilege of being college educated. Now it’s a fact of life that often those who have degrees are given preferential treatment in careers, social interactions, bureaucratic situations and just in general. People who enjoy this privilege often try to write it off by claiming it has to do with intelligence and being educated and not just the idea of ‘going to college’. This leaves me with one question. Who decided that colleges were the arbiters of intelligence  and the only way to acquire knowledge?

I wonder who it was that decided that other ways of learning – reading on your own, being in a more group learning environment, or just learning as you live your life – were somehow inferior. Doubtless those who could get into places of further education* went along with and perpetuated the belief that only those that exited the college system were worthy of respect. The thing is that most folks know that’s not true, most of us know people who’ve never gone to college but are among some of the smartest people we know.

I’m saying all this as someone who has seen my estimation in people’s eyes go up because I’m in grad school. And yes there is a part of me that revels in that because I worked hard to get into grad school but then there’s the other side of the equation – the automatic assumption that I deserve more respect for attending further education comes with the flip side ideal that anyone who did not go to college does not deserve that level of respect and in fact that they deserve less for never going to college.

The idea that some who doesn’t have a degree or didn’t attain a degree lacks the ability to read critically, to think through problems, to be a knowledgeable or intelligent person is prevalent and supremely problematic. And the idea that everyone who gets through college is smart is patently false. I’ve been to college so you can’t pull the wool over my eyes, a lot of my undergrad experience was dealing with total and complete idiots in my classrooms. So why do we cling to the notion that my decision to go heavily into debt for the benefit of a piece of paper somehow elevates me above people who needed or wanted to work right after high school? Why am I somehow more worthy of respect?

The privilege of being college educated intersects with a lot of other privileges.

The racism that is blatant in academia can not only stop people from attending college but can drive them away or funnel them into other majors professors deem “more appropriate”. 

The sexism that continues to convince women that they are worse than men at math and the sciences.

The classism of being able to afford college or it even being in your life plan after being constantly bombarded by societal messages that you as a “low class” person you could never walk through those ivory halls.

The unnamed privilege of being an American citizen and having more and easier access to places of further education.

Of course the above are all more complex and there are many more -isms both named and unnamed that intersect heavily with the idea of college.

All the bullshit that happens in the world at large happens at college but on a smaller scale which is not always a good thing. Professors can still be sexist, racist, heterosexist, classist, isolationist, stupid or any other number of things, like within all groups of people there is a range of belief and action. My point is that college is far from a bastion of all things good, lovely, smart where people go in uneducated lumps and come out cultured geniuses.  And most who go through college know this but still fall into the perceptions of society. 

The fact is that were all affected by this attitude. It, as with many privileges that lack “-ism” names, is hardly talked about or acknowledged but it’s there and like all oppressions/privileges it can be internalized and is always self-perpetuating. My decision to even apply to grad school was hampered by continual doubts that “someone like me” didn’t belong in grad school. Even now I can’t tell you what exactly “someone like me” meant in my head but growing up we all are bombarded by ideas of what makes a “true college student”. 

So what can we do? The same thing we should do for all privileges that we possess, deal with your prejudices, be aware of it and when you might be using it, do your best to bring it up in certain situations.

What should we not do? Claim that somehow being college-educated makes us better than anyone else. You may know more about a subject than someone else but they probably know more about a different subject. To put it in a different perspective, had I rolled into a discussion and said that by virtue of being male I was right and all the women in the discussion were in the wrong because my experiences as a man shaped me into a decision-maker. You would laugh and mock me heavily but there are people who really think that. 

Having a degree does not mean you can think critically, or that you’re smarter than anyone else. College is an experience like any other in life – you can take the time to actually learn some things or you can skate through and not bother. Just because you hold the degree doesn’t mean your opinions are more valid than anyone elses.

 

 

*further education  – I use this term instead of higher education because I feel the term higher education is really hierarchical and problematic. Of course further education has its own problems as a term, still involving the idea of out-distancing someone else but at least the verbiage doesn’t automatically bring to mind ideas of being above others so until I find a better term I use this one. 

“Prop. 8 It Passed ‘Cause of Black People!” …. Yeeeeeeah, no.

So the new screed for the No on Prop. 8 people is that it’s the fault of black people that the proposition passed. So let’s break the numbers down, black people make up 6.7% of California and 52% of people voted yes on Prop. 8! Even if every black person in CA voted Yes on Prop. 8 it does not equal even remotely the number of white people who voted for it, so how is it our fault again? Why is the focus all on us?

Is there queerism within communities of color? Yes abso-fucking-lutely, but that’s present within all communities and we all need to do that work. I don’t mean to diminish that queerism at all but I also do not want it elevated because it’s occurring within a community of color which is the M.O. of a lot of the focus around the intersections of POC communities and queerism. Rarely if ever when queerism within POC communities is discussed do queer POC get a chance to speak on their experiences at the intersection of those two or more identities.

The whole campaign for ‘No on 8’ was fucked from the jump.

As my friend Jackie said – “The Yes on 8 people were smart, they campaigned heavily in People of Color communities from the beginning and their commercials included People of Color (POC)”.

The No on 8 people came into communities of color late and they came soft, the whole push for No. on 8 was soft. In so many ways the current push for gay rights is predicated on assimilating into the mainstream and yet somehow trying to keep enough status to call on People of Color communities and say, “We’re just like you! We’re allies!” But here’s the thing we’re only allies when you need something. When initiatives for/about POC have come up the gay community has mostly been completely silent. For more on this read LadyJax’s post Something told me this was going to happen. Where she talks about gentrification, coalition building and reciprocity. Like she says the No on 8 folks needed to come hard and say ‘Bottom line our rights are being taken away. We are a minority who is having our rights stripped and if it happens to us it can happen to you.’

Do two wrongs make a right? No absolutely not (and that’s not what LadyJax is saying either).

What is being said is that you can’t act just like any other cog in the oppressive system one second and then try to play on some invisible connection to POC the next when you’ve done nothing to nurture any kind of bond or relationship there. In so many ways the big GLBT organizations – HRC, GLAAD seem to ignore POC as much as possible you just have to look at the amount of praise that shows like The L Word & Queer As Folk receive as opposed the silence that shows that feature queer POC like Noah’s Arc are greeted with. They would like to ignore the fact that there are in fact queer POC. Communities of Color, our issues and problems are completely ignored and a lot of that has to do with the fact that rich gay white men, the focus and funding of GLAAD and HRC profit off of not remembering that – especially in regards to gentrification and the way that POC get treated in our own neighborhoods when gentrification begins. Because they would prefer to ignore us the outreach that happens is minimal if there at all. Is it any wonder that when we’re approached a couple of weeks before the election with comparisons to segregation and civil rights that we’re more likely to scoff than join hands and sing a round of kumbaya?

In so many ways liberals just expect the support of minorities just for being liberal but guess what it doesn’t work that way. We’re just like every other group of people, there are going to be some who are queer, some who aren’t, some who support Prop. 8 and some who don’t and you need to do the work, to do the outreach and to build communities not just come to us when you need something.

The bottom line is if the support of communities of color is sought then coalitions need to be built, we need to be acknowledged as a constituency that have power and pull and treated like any other. I mean the NAACP of California came out against Prop. 8 but was that mentioned anywhere that you saw? I only learned it this morning and that’s something that should have been explicitly brought up in their ads and literature.

I went a bit off point there but the fact is that not only is the assertion that it’s black people’s fault that Prop. 8 passed racist as all get out for spotlighting the their support for Prop. 8 as the deciding factor as opposed to the majority of white people that voted for it but it’s also exactly the kind of attitude that DOES NOT lead to coalition and relationship building. You want to win next time, you want POC support next time? Then you go into the community, you speak to people, you communicate, you build relationships. You don’t wag a blaming finger in the face of black folks and say “Oh it’s all your fault how could you?!” because that? Won’t get you any kind of positive reaction next time around.

For more posts from POC check out rydra_wong’s awesome linkspam.

Awesome Site – Check It Out!

My friend the angry black woman has started a new website called Corner Beauty Shop– a virtual gathering place for all Women of Color to talk about beauty. The All About Us page states clearly:

The Corner Beauty Shop is a virtual gathering place for Women of Color (WOC) to talk about the things that matter to them with other women who share the same or similar background.  We can all commiserate over the difficulty in finding makeup for our skin tone, or the trauma of transitioning from processed hair to natural, or not being able to find clothes that fit because designers only have one “typical” body shape in mind.

Here we’re going to talk about products and fashion and makeup and stores.  We’ll praise who we like and dog the mess out of the rest.  There’s no need to walk on eggshells at the beauty shop.

Here’s something the fashion and beauty industry needs to understand: we don’t need an “Ethnic Aisle”.  Sure, products made for Black, Asian, Native, or Latina women are great.  But aren’t some of them good for non-ethnic women, too?  And don’t some of those “mainstream” products work just as well on dry, oily, or combination skin no matter what the skin tone?  In other words: we’re not interested in being marketed to as if we’re a niche.  What we want to know is will this product work for us?  Will these pants fit?  Do you only use WOC models for the ads going in Essence and on BET?  Do you think about WOC at all?

This is the Corner Beauty Shop, and the ladies within will have something to say about all of that.

Let me tell you why I think this is such an awesome site. First of all it’s an aesthetically gorgeous site, love the picture up top and the layout, easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. Secondly it’s a site that’s needed, there are thousands of sites where people try to sell beauty products to WOC but very few were WOC can gather to discuss the things that worry and affect them when dealing with haircare, make-up, clothing, etc. Thirdly I love that it’s all WOC as opposed to focused on a specific ethnicity because I think those sites already exist and I see this as community building across racial lines in spite of the white supremacist patriarchal society that would love WOC to remain silent. So I say right on.

A last note Non-WOC are allowed to participate but we must remember THIS IS NOT ABOUT US it is about WOC and if you have something valid to contribute go right ahead but don’t make it about your issues, your interactions or your feelings because (and this cannot be reiterated enough) IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! Check out The Rules section for more on this.

White Privilege & The Republican Ticket

Yes I’ve been gone for a couple weeks school and work have combined into a maelstrom of kicking my ass. I’m gonna try and get back on the horse of posting even if it’s just links and not original posts – although I want to try and do at least one  original post a week. Now these are two links about the way that white privilege is affecting the election and especially the republican ticket.

The first one is the much linked “This Is Your Nation On White Privilege” by Tim Wise. I’ve always had an political crush on Tim Wise and this just solidified it.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

Read the rest of the essay at Tim Wise’s blog!

Really fantastic – go read it now.

And be sure to check out his follow-up “Explaining White Privilege to the Deniers and the Haters”

The second link is to a blog called Raving Black Lunatic and the post “Just A Reminder” where he name checks the Wise article above and discusses the linguistic racism at work with Sarah Palin.

Every time she said “doggone it,” or “darn it” or “aw shucks” I got a little more angry and frustrated. And it wasn’t just because her voice reminds me of a Minnesotan on crack.

Listening to her spew colloquialisms, I wondered if a “plain-speaking” black person would be considered a legitimate presidential candidate. You know, a black person who said stuff like “fo’ sho,” or “girl, please” or “that ain’t right.”

Really good stuff, check out the whole article.

That’s all for today but hopefully I’ll have an original post for y’all pretty soon.

Links – Female, Muslim & Mutant, Olympic Rumors, WoC & Beauty Carnival, Publishers Contract Issues – Deja Vu & Why Say No?

Links for today!

*Broken Mystic explores the position of Muslim Women in comics comparing the American-created Dust and super-heroines created by Muslims such as Noora, Hadya, Jalila and Aya in two parts – Female, Muslim and Mutant (Part 1, Part 2) . All characters are deconstructed and its a very interesting exploration of the true existence of Muslim women and the biased Western views of the lives of Muslim women. Also the comic he talks about “The 99” sounds pretty awesome I’m picking up the English translations as soon as payday swings around.  

*Racialicious talks about black athletes being banned from bars in Beijing during the Olympics and the xenophobia and racism that’s been directed at Chinese since these unsubstantiated rumors popped up. It all exploded at Perez Hilton’s blog and the comments are really quite horrifyingly racist and soul-killing – Perez Hilton Hates Yellow People.

*A new carnival is looking for submissions. The Women of Color and Beauty Carnival looks to explore:

This Carnival is intended to focus on beauty and what it means to and about women of color. In particular, I would like to see discussion go beyond a focus on the ways in which women of color can internalize self hatred to the ways in which women and communities of color recognize and celebrate beauty.

Submissions from women and men of color are welcome, focusing on these areas:

What does beauty mean to women of color?

What is the difference between beauty and ethnically based sexual stereotyping? How does stereotyping and white supremacy affect our concepts of beauty, and how can we create change? What kind of responsibility do white women who identify as allies have to analyze and take ownership of their privilege in this area?

How do popular standards of beauty based on generalized whiteness affect our relationships with ourselves, each other, and between different groups of people of color?

The deadline for submissions is August 5 so hop to it, I’m gonna try to come up with something myself for this soon.

*If you’re even marginally involved with the publishing world in any capacity then you probably remember last year when Simon & Schuster and the Authors Guild went head-to-head over a change made in their contracts. If you didn’t hear about it or want a quick refresher go here. Pub Rants is a great blog by Agent Kristin who blogs about new writer mistakes, query letters, contract negotiation and more. This morning she brings us news that though S&S’s bid to change the contract failed here in the States the Random House Group is now trying something similar in the U.K

*Liz Henry over at Feminist SF – The Blog! asks:

Why are characters in SF so reluctant to Undergo The Great Change or quaff the vial of super-spice or be part computer or become immortal or have my DNA reengineered to be part-alien and merge with the giant group nanoconsciousness?

Then asks readers what they would do if offered that kind of choice. Head over and join the discussion. I’ll go into more detail in my reply over there but the simple answer is I would not hesitate to “quaff the vial of super-spice” at all.

Too Through…

Let’s go through the list shall we, now due to Sanders open and outright bigotry many no longer want to be associated with Helix magazine. Yoon Ha Lee requests that her story be taken down from the website. Sanders replies and does this but in the letter says how he never liked it in the first place, it didn’t make sense and he only bought it to increase writers of color in his magazine…and a lot more, basically he acts like an 8 year-old. (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Then yesterday Sanders makes a public post claiming it was his idea to allow people to removes their stories from the archive, says anybody who wants to remove their story should email him and he’ll take it down.There’s also a lot of insinuation in the post about people being greedy and this all being some attack -because yeah Sanders is that big, everyone wants to attack him that’s what it’s all about. He says to act now because he’ll decide capriciously when this offer ends and if you don’t like it you can shut your pie-hole, classy and professional! (Yoon Ha Lee’s journal)

Tempest describes what was left on the pages of the stories that were removed and in a post today Sanders says that anyone who wants a story removed must pay $40 to the webmistress Melanie. Now keep in mind that just yesterday his letter said Melanie shouldn’t have to deal with this and he would take care of everything. My guess is that either a bunch of folks sent in requests and he’s trying to stem the tide by charging or his petulance is growing exponentially as he discovers most folks now know he’s a bigot.

Tobias Buckell weighs in and suggests sooe sort of drive for folks who want their story down but can’t afford the $40.To Sanders $40 may be nothing but to a lot of us it’s the difference between eating actual food this week or Ramen. Many in the comments urge folks not to pay anything because it would be like paying Sanders for his bigotry.

Kate Nepveu suggests since most folks say the contract with Helix is for non-exclusive internet rights that any authors who’re unhappy or don’t want to be associated with Helix any longer can post the stories on their blog or anywhere they want and redirect all their links there. Which personally I think is awesome.


 Other things in the SF/F world:

Kate Elliot starts a dialog on reviews and what readers would like to see in their reviews. While this may seem only tangentially about SF/F, it is a post by a well-known and fa I find the ideas in the post align with my thoughts a lot because I critique a lot of things here and I think for some people that reads as if I hate these things but no, I love them, that’s why I critique/review them because I want them to be better in regards to power/privilege/oppression. Anyway, go join the conversation let Kate know what you like/dislike about reviews.

Yoon Ha Lee links us to someone starting a new on-line magazine specializing in “literary adventure fantasy–character-driven stories in secondary worlds”, paying SFWA pro rate for stories, opening to submission on August 1st called Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I’m thinking of submitting one of my stories to them after some major edits.