I’m pretty tired of always being expected to be apologetic to hegemonic persons who automatically get riled up at the merest hint that they may be in collusion with an oppressive system – whether men, white people, cis-people, straight people… Seriously, no matter how good you THINK your intentions are, you benefit as a member of that group from the oppression of others. You have a responsibility to proactively act against all the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate the existing structure. You don’t get off by saying “I don’t see color” or “we’re all human” or “everyone is equally deserving of respect”, or “Just be nice to everybody!” (“nice” really isn’t the issue). By doing that, you are erasing and ignoring and minimizing the actual lived experiences of marginalized people – THEY never say they don’t see color or that everyone should love each other equally, because their ENTIRE LIFE EXPERIENCE is based on the fact that people DO see color (or gender, or ethnicity, or weight, or age… and they DON’T LIKE IT). You don’t get to say “generalizing about men is equally sexist to what men do to women”, because guess what: it isn’t. If that was all we were dealing with, we wouldn’t be here, doing this feminism thing. And getting no end of crap for it. We get to be mad, because we’re the ones getting raped, murdered, beaten, paid less, judged, disowned, legislated against, maligned, harassed, and more. You don’t get to act as if there is parity between us. If I hate you – nothing happens to you except you feel I was unpleasant to you. I live in a state of fear and violence, whether or not you even recognize my existence. I get to say “I hate straights/cis-people/men”, even if that isn’t “nice”. I don’t owe you my niceness. You don’t get to hate women/people of color/trans* people – because when you do, you are supporting an entire system of oppression and violence. Someday, when the playing field is even, you will have a right to claim that this attitude might lead to oppression. Someday, on that day that will only arrive if TODAY YOU RECOGNIZE YOUR PRIVILEGES AND THE OPPRESSIONS OF OTHERS. But for now – you don’t get to take away our anger. Their anger. The anger that comes from being stomped on and marginalized. YOU JUST DON’T.
I love when I discover new *stuff*. I certainly spend enough time just jumping from tab to new tab in my browser… If I spent this much time actually working my career might be in a different condition… (-;
But back on point: CLITERACY. How did we live without it till now????
Sophia Wallace is an American conceptual artist whose topics include queer representations and the of gendering of aesthetics. I really love her work and recommend spending an inordinate amount of time on her beautiful website.
But this post is all about Cliteracy, which can be found on her Tumblr:
From Rhiannon Schneiderman's photography blog:
The Lady Manes is a series of eight self-portraits. In each image I’m standing in your typical feminine pose in an outfit or article of clothing, and I’ve accessorized each outfit with its own unique, stylized ‘Lady Mane.’ A ‘Lady Mane’ is just a somewhat empowering pseudonym for a bunch of pubes, a “bush,” your “hair down there”… And that’s what the series was about for me: empowerment. I can’t really pinpoint any one source of inspiration for the project because it really was a culmination of so many things going on at the time; I’d moved to and lived in Daytona Beach, the armpit of Florida and possibly all of civilization, for almost two years (for school) during which time I’d witnessed and been subject to some pretty amazingly sexist ordeals. I was moving more into my hardcore feminist phase, which I think every lesbian in their 20’s goes through, and just so happened to have a hardcore feminist, fine-arts-major professor who had been giving me a semester of the most intense and life-altering class critiques I’d ever experienced. I’d been introduced to Cass Bird’s “Rewilding”, an amazing body of work that continues to influence me. All of these things, and maybe a few Lady Gaga songs, were inspiration enough to create a series that kind of laughed at conventional gender norms. I wanted to tell people that they were ridiculous, makethem uncomfortable for a change. I wanted to challenge femininity and the objectification of women that is still so incredibly prevalent in society. I guess it was my way of saying, “Fuck you. Enough is enough.”
Here are 16 of some of the most awesome women in the movement to end violence against women. We hope that they will inspire you as much they do The Pixel Project team:
Female Role Model 1: Anuradha Koirala – Nepal
Anuradha Koirala, CNN Hero 2011 and human trafficking activist, founded Maiti Nepal, a nonprofit which saved more than 12,000 women and girls from sex trafficking and prostitution, when she escaped an abusive relationship that left her with three miscarriages. After the relationship ended, Koirala used a portion of her $100 monthly salary to start a small retail shop to employ and support displaced victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. Maiti Nepal was her brainchild for giving voice, legal defense and rehabilitation to victims of sex trafficking. The group also takes in rape and domestic violence survivors, as well as abandoned children. “The hardest part for me is to see a girl dying or coming back with different diseases at an [age] when she should be out frolicking,” Koirala said. “That’s what fuels me to work harder.”
Female Role Model 2: Betty Makoni – Zimbabwe
Betty Makoni is the founder of Girl Child Network Worldwide and a CNN Hero. As a survivor of child abuse and rape, Betty founded GCNW to educate and empower Zimbabwean girls. Her work has forced her to flee Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom where she continues to run Girl Child Network Worldwide, bringing her model of empowering girls from the ground up to numerous countries across the world. Betty’s incredible story has been captured in a poignant documentary, Tapestries of Hope, by Michealene Risley. Betty said: “We focus on girls to transform them from being like a passive victim to the “masculine” qualities that we want because… it’s all about standing tall. This is what we teach boys: a man is strong. We can say to the girls the same: a girl is strong”
Female Role Model 3: ‘Bibi’ Ayesha – Afghanistan
18-year-old ‘Bibi’ Ayesha had her ears and nose chopped off by her abusive husband and was brought to the United States to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. While in the United States, she bravely shared her pre-surgery face with the world by going on the cover of Time magazine. Aisha’s portrait is a powerful and visual Teachable Moment that inspires and galvanises all of us to work towards eliminating violence against women wherever we are in the world and with whatever skills and tools we have at hand.
Female Role Model 4: Brenda Isabel – Kenya
Brenda Isabel, a young Kenyan survivor of sexual violence, turns her personal tragedy into communal good by starting a centre to help other young Kenyan women house their dreams and is working to make it self-funding by starting a business to make eco-friendly sanitary pads. Brenda wants to help change things by empowering other young women like her with education and life skills. She recently launched her own programme called The Human Relations Trust. What an inspiration and a great example of being able to move beyond the pain and to turn pain into a force for good! To learn more about Brenda and her amazing initiative, you can watch a video about her work here.
Female Role Model 5: Esther Chavez Cano – Mexico
The late Esther Chavez Cano began her distinguished work against violence against women in Mexico after she retired as an accountant. Profoundly shocked by the lack of police attention to the brutal killings of the women of Cuidad Juarez, she founded the March 8 Organisation to bring together campaigners protesting at the violence perpetrated against women in the area. She collected articles on the murders from local papers for several years, and distilled the reports into facts and figures that could be used to hound the police services and embarrass politicians. As her list of victims grew, so did her tenacity. In 1999 she opened the Casa Amiga shelter and rape crisis centre, which now helps thousands of women each year, free of charge.
Female Role Model 6: Holly Kearl – United States of America
For ten years Holly Kearl has addressed gender-based violence and women’s equity issues, starting with volunteer work at a local domestic violence shelter during her senior year of high school. Tired of strange men whistling and honking at her, calling out to her, following her, and grabbing her when she was alone in public, Holly wrote her master’s thesis on gender-based street harassment and how women were using online websites to combat it. In 2008 she founded an anti-street harassment website and blog and began working on an anti-street harassment book. In Aug. 2010, her book came out and it is available online: Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women
Female Role Model 7: Iana Matei – Romania
Iana Matei is Romania’s leading advocate and activist for the end of the sex-trafficking of girls and women. Until a few years ago, Ms. Matei’s shelter here was the only one in Romania for victims of traffickers, though the country has been a center for the trade in young girls for decades. In 1990, as Romania was emerging from Communism, she participated in daily street protests and eventually fled to and resettled in Australia where she earned a degree in psychology and worked with street children. In 1998, she moved back to Romania where she began working with street children and eventually rescuing underaged girls from prostitution and sex trafficking under dangerous conditions.
Female Role Model 8: Julia Lalla-Maharajh – United Kingdom
Julia Lalla-Maharajh, founder of the Orchid Project, was volunteering in Ethiopia when she came across the scale and extent of female genital cutting there. She was determined to do something about this. When she returned to London she volunteered with FORWARD to discover more about organisations working in this field. She was able to appear on the Plinth in Trafalgar Square spending her hour raising awareness about FGC, putting on and taking off 40 t-shirts to represent countries where FGC is practised and cutting the petals of 40 red roses. Following this, she entered the YouTube/World Economic Forum competition, the Davos Debates. In a global vote, she won and went to Davos, to hold a dedicated debate with the head of UNICEF, Amnesty International and the UN Foundation.
Female Role Model 9: Kathleen Schmidt – United States of America
Kathleen Schmidt survived a childhood and brutal first marriage full of abuse to go on to a happy second marriage and a full life dedicated to helping others. Kathleen tells her story in the book, Escaping The Glass Cage as a way of sharing her strength and experience with others to show them that there is hope. She is also the founder of Project Empowerment, a weekly Blogtalkradio show where she interviews experts, survivors and leaders in the movement to end violence against women and domestic violence about their work and solutions to this seemingly intractable problem.
Female Role Model 10: Layli Miller-Muro – United States of America
Layli Miller-Muro is the Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting women from human rights abuses through the provision of legal aid and public policy advocacy. Miller-Muro founded the organization in 1997 following her involvement in Matter of Kasinga, a high-profile case that set national precedent and revolutionized asylum law in the United States. Fauziya Kassindja, a 17-year-old girl who had fled Togo in fear of a forced polygamous marriage and a tribal practice known as female genital mutilation, was granted asylum in 1996 by the US Board of Immigration Appeals. This decision opened the door to gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum.
Female Role Model 11: Lisa Shannon – United States of America
Lisa Shannon founded the first national grassroots effort to raise awareness and funds for women in the DR Congo through her project Run for Congo Women. They have sponsored more than a thousand war-affected Congolese women through Women for Women International. These women are raising more than 5000 children. She traveled solo into Eastern Congo’s South Kivu province for five and half weeks in January- February 2007, and again in May 2008. Prior to Lisa’s travels through Congo, was named a “2006 Hero of Running” by Runner’s World Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine wrote, “Lisa Shannon read our report—and started a movement.” Lisa presently serves as an ambassador for Women for Women International.
Female Role Model 12: Olivia Klaus – United States of America
Filmmaker Olivia Klaus spent nine years creating “Sin by Silence,”a documentary on women in the United States sentenced to prison for killing their abusive partners. Klaus volunteered to work with the group Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA)—the subject of the film—after a friend in an abusive relationship turned to her for help. She named her film after something Abraham Lincoln once said, “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.” She said: “This is my way of protesting and breaking the silence.” Klaus believes that anyone can get involved with stopping violence against women – from being there for a friend to volunteering for a shelter to protesting for legislation.
Female Role Model 13: Rana Husseini – Jordan
As a Jordanian woman journalist writing for The Jordan Times, Rana Husseini focused on social issues with a special emphasis on violence against women, as well as the brutal crimes that are committed against Jordanian women in the name of family honour. Her coverage of and dedication to ending this unjustified practice against women helped raise national awareness on a topic that is traditionally considered taboo. Until The Jordan Times began reporting on so-called crimes of honour, the local press shied away from addressing the issue. The government responded by introducing legal changes that suggest tougher punishments for perpetrators of such crimes.
Female Role Model 14: Roya Shams – Afghanistan
Roya Shams is a 16-year-old Afghan girl who walks to school every day to get her education, regardless of threats of violence from her neighbours and community. Roya is not only determined to learn and to finish high school, but she intends to go on to university and get a degree. She then plans to stick her neck out even further: in a country where a woman is easily cut down for having the nerve to speak up, the burning ambition of Roya’s young life is to become a politician. “We have to study,” she insists. “We have to show them the way.”
Female Role Model 15: Sunitha Krishnan – India
Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, born in 1969, is an Indian social activist, a gang rape survivor and Chief Functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, an institution that assists trafficked women and girls in finding shelter. The organization also helps pay for the education of five thousand children infected with HIV/AIDS in Hyderabad. Prajwala’s “second-generation” prevention program operates in 17 transition centers and has served thousands of children of prostituted mothers. Prajwala’s strategy is to remove women from brothels by giving their children educational and career opportunities. Krishnan and her staff train survivors in carpentry, welding, printing, masonry and housekeeping.
Female Role Model 16: Waris Dirie – Somalia
Waris Dirie is a Somali model, author, actress and human rights activist working to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Waris underwent FGM as a child and at the age of thirteen, she fled her family to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. In 1997, Waris left her modeling career to focus on her work against FGM and was appointed UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of FGM. In 2002, she founded the Waris Dirie Foundation in Vienna, Austria, an organization aimed at raising awareness regarding the dangers surrounding FGM. In January 2009, the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights’, was jointly founded by Waris and French tycoon François-Henri Pinault (CEO of PPR) and his wife, actress Salma Hayek. Waris has also started the Desert Dawn Foundation, which raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia.
This week, my friend Leehee Rothschild published a record of how she was detained by Israeli security, held, and questioned for hours. Her crime? Political activism on behalf of Palestinians and against Israel’s occupation of that nation. Not surprisingly, some of the responses she got were belittling ones, “boo hoo, you’re quite the martyr, having spent three whole hours in security!”, blatantly ignoring the fact that she was being intimidated, threatened, sexually harassed, her freedom curtailed… Also (as she alluded to in her article) she has had other more intrusive run-ins with Israeli security.
As a matter of fact, Leehee Rothschild is well-known to Israeli security forces because of her ardent and extensive activism, but as long as her politics are on the “wrong” side, she is to be belittled, and reduced to a whining little girl, rather than the powerful, intelligent, political woman she is. (Read more in her blog, Radically Blonde).
Well, Leehee’s story has moved me to do a little whining of my own.
I must admit that while I am also an outspoken, strong, intelligent, and political woman, I have never been arrested for it, or threatened, or tear gassed. I’ve had shouting matches with police, been shoved by them, threatened as part of a group… But so far, I’ve escaped their notice as a focal point. Until, that is, the dreaded FACEBOOK police.
This week, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade campaign kicked off. Lo and behold, it is entirely based on nationalistic ideas and imagery. Homonationalism is a problematic concept anywhere, but in Israel it takes on special significance, given the sharp divides between Jews and Arabs (whether citizens or not) and the treatment of other marginalized groups.
The reproduction of hegemonic power structures into the “LGBT” community is an ongoing issue. I am fond of calling the LGBT center the “gay-white-man center”, that’s how obvious and blatant the marginalization is. All the men in positions of power there are quick to deny it, and point at the one or two women in the room (somehow, never named, never quoted, never heading up any important projects…). But even the two token white lesbians, does NOT an “LGBT” community make. Nor does it encourage any idea of commitment to equality when Ethiopians, Palestinians, any non-Jews (unless they are cute European gay guys), trans folk of any ethnicity, and others are continually made to feel unwelcome.
So back to the Pride campaign. Based on and inspired by the ultra-nationalist idea of celebrating Israel’s independence, just using the rainbow flag… A white-Jewish-male-gay-guy-spokesman felt obliged to note that “this is not meant to promote nationalist sentiments, and community members from minority sectors are included and invited to participate in the parade.“
Well, um. Yeah. Minority sectors = Arabs, right? How kind of you!! I mean, it doesn’t really matter how unfriendly you make it for Arabs, as long as you then add a disclaimer in the small print.
(To put this in context, Arab supreme court justice Salim Joubran was excoriated by Knesset (parliament) members and the public recently for not singing the national anthem (which calls for the *Jewish* national state), and as this is being written, the latest outrage around Arabs (and other minorities) being entirely excluded from Israel’s upcoming Independence Day ceremonies.)
So, back to me, and Facebook. I made a poster/caricature of the Gay Center similar to this one:
It’s not about the WHITE, it’s about the PRIDE, dummy!
Having gotten carried away with my own annoyance at the Center, and my desire to point out the ridiculousness in their assertions of inclusion, I disregarded the fact that Facebook runs bots on your pictures, and can pick out certain symbols. They immediately flagged the klansman, and blocked me indefinitely, putting a dent in my political activism as well as my social life!
So now I know what it feels like to be singled out by the police for my activism for social justice. And just for kicks, here is another draft of the idea.
Until recently, I hadn’t encountered transphobia from feminists. Call me lucky :)
In my feminist community, a key part of our world view is a commitment to equality for all oppressed groups, according to the idea that there cannot be justice for only some — justice means justice for ALL. So there is a connection between oppression of women, oppression of Palestinians, oppression of queer folk… And so on.
Most of the women I know in this context use the term “radical” to some extent or another — in their feminism, politics, or elsewhere. Because we believe in changing societal power structures, from the root (the word radical is from the Latin radix (gen. radicis) “root”, meaning “going to the origin, essential”). On the face of it — Radical Feminism.
Contrast this with my newly found experience with North American radical feminism (sometimes called RadFem). If I understand their position correctly, they claim that gender — as a *whole* — is entirely a cultural construct, and therefore, there is no such thing as gender dysphoria, because your body, or chromosomes are the only thing that make you a man or a woman. Anything else is decoration. RadFems will often use dismissive and demeaning language saying things like “a man who puts on heels and make-up magically becomes a woman, yippee”, totally disregarding the trans experience and identity issues trans people describe.
In the past few months I have come across Facebook groups, blogs, and online warfare, carried out by RadFems, regarding trans women, especially on the topic of trans women’s acceptance in women’s spaces. While I had been generally aware that there is not universal acceptance of trans women in women’s spaces (take the well-known example of the Michigan Music Festival and the womyn-born womyn movement). What I did NOT expect was outright hatred and demeaning of trans women. Call me naive.
Examples include refusing to refer to trans women using female pronouns (to the extent of changing the text in blog responses), calling trans women “rapey men” who are all about the sex, and trying to get “into the panties” of (cis) lesbians, to terms such as “stealth men” trying to “take over”, to horrible caricatures and jokes and demeaning representations in quotes and images, meant to denigrate and humiliate and erase the existence and legitimacy of trans women. Well, of all trans people, but particularly trans women. One site went so far as to troll the Internet for pornographic images of trans women and post them against the intention, desire, and permission of the women involved — once again, in an attempt to vilify, objectify, and humiliate. And promote hatred and bigotry, of course.
As an activist who deals daily with multiple forms of oppression against multiple groups, both outright direct oppression, and the hidden forms as well — I’m not generally surprised by the levels of hatred, bigotry, stupidity, meanness, violence, and other negatives humans are capable of. But I guess my naivete shows when people ostensibly committed to such ideas as equality and social justice do it.
I will do more research on this, because my experience with radical feminism in the US has more to do with ideas about sexual violence by men, and anti-pornography, than an obsession with gender identities per se, but then — when I left the US many many years ago, there was a whole lot I didn’t know about a lot of things. (And there still is :) ).
Also note that unlike my usual practice, I have intentionally avoided linking to RadFem blogs, sites, or discussions. Several of the most hateful among them have cleverly pushed their sites up in Google search through extensive cross linking. My goal here is to include several trans links explaining some of the key issues from a trans perspective, while avoiding giving more of a stage to the haters. I will be posting more about this topic, and am also happy to answer questions or point you in the “right” direction if you want to read more.
Meanwhile, here are some links that are must-reads if you want to understand more about the dialog between transgender women and cis-gender women:
Pretty Queer is one of my favorite sites. It covers a range of issues from a frequently “heretical” perspective — such as calling out privilege and transphobia and transmisogyny within queer communities.
It was here I first discovered Savannah Garmon, who wrote this post:
In the post she discusses her experience in how she is accepted (or not accepted) by cis women, and how trans and cis women came together in a workshop called “No more apologies: Queer trans and cis women, coming/cumming together!”, in which the foundations were set for a wider dialogue about trans woman inclusion in queer women’s spaces/communities and social settings.
Her blog leftygirl is also on my blogroll. Check her out!
Monica Maldonado — responding to the outlandish claims that trans women are demanding cis women “make themselves sexually available” to them:
This blog post by Jade Pichette discusses identity erasure, cis-privilege, and consent:
This event in Ottawa — No More Apologies Ottawa/ Pas Plus d’Excuses Ottawa — has been drawing a LOT of transphobic attacks. See the event on Facebook.
Slavery in the Georgia school system, and teaching about sexism in the civil rights movement — (almost) just in time for MLK Day; Saudi women take baby steps toward political empowerment; Roe v. Wade celebrates its anniversary; Huxtables — hot or not? Who is your favorite Manic Pixie Dream Girl? And if YOU TOO blame the patriarchy, have I got a blog for you…
It’s a new Thursday Round-Up!
Slavery Examples Used in Georgia Schools
A few weeks ago this hit the interwaves — A Georgia elementary school teacher was using slavery in math questions (really!), and when horrified parents turned to the school district, their concerns were basically dismissed.
“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”
“If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
What the hell is going on in the US, people??
Discussing Sexism in the Civil Rights Movement
In the Internet age, high school kids are no longer limited to the by-the-[text]book material about key figures they learn about. If they look up Martin Luther King, for example, they will likely read about his infidelity, chauvinism, and other not-so-nice stuff in addition to his activism and struggle to promote civil rights and end segregation.
Teaching Tolerance, a project run by the Southern Poverty Law Center, published this guide to dealing with the complexity of multi-dimensional.
What do you think? Good? Bad? Excuses?
Saudi Women to Vote Without Male Permission
Recently, Saudi King Abdullah announced that women in his country would be allowed to run for office and vote in municipal elections without male approval. While widely lauded as a step in the right direction, Saudi male-guardian laws remain largely unchanged: women cannot drive, work, travel, marry or even go to hospital without the approval of their male guardian.
Roe v. Wade – What does it mean to you?
January 22 was the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision. Planned Parenthood launched this interactive site where everyone can write what Roe v. Wade means to her.
Gender and Socialization
Trust Women week
Culture and Media
I have to admit I never really liked the show… But when I came across the Huxtable Hotness blog, it really cracked me up. Some weird form of nostalgia?
The Weekly Trope
From the TV Tropes entry on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope:
“Let’s say you’re a soulful, brooding male hero, living a sheltered, emotionless existence. If only someone — someone female — could come along and open your heart to the great, wondrous adventure of life…
It’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the rescue!”
Coined by Nathan Rabin in his review of Elizabethtown for the A.V. Club’s My Year In Flops, the manic pixie dream girl is that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
If she’s hot, “quirky” and exists only as a means-to-an-end plot device, you’ve got yourself a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. (From one guy’s take on MPDG)
|Natalie Portman in Garden State||Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown|
Blog of the Week
Not for the timid :)
This is from the About section:
You are reading I Blame The Patriarchy, the patriarchy-blaming blog that has been advancing the radical feminist views of Jill Psmith and/or Twisty Faster, a gentleman farmer and/or spinster aunt doing the butt-dance in Cottonmouth County, Texas, since 2004.
I Blame The Patriarchy is intended for advanced patriarchy-blamers. It is not a feminist primer. See Patriarchy-Blaming the Twisty Way for details.