Archive for December, 2006

That’s so thirty years ago.

I have spent far too much time in the comments section of this post on I Blame the Patriarchy. I need to stop, and soon. But first, check out this doozy.

I wrote this, in response to something that someone else wrote to the effect of “fight the REAL enemy”:

See, slade, that’s the problem right there – it’s not only rich white hetero boys who have power and privilege. They’re also not the only ones who should be challenged and criticized. Most of us have power and privilege that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, despite whatever oppression or lack of power we might also experience.

So a certain Ms Kate responds like so:

Teh Patriarchy sez … MMM. DIVIDE AND CONQUER. YUMMY.

And while we analyze our feminist souls for original (and not so original) sin spots, The Patriarchy is throwing yet another kegger down at the local frat – and laughing at us for being so hairy and angry.

Um… hello, what? WHAT? People, people – haven’t we gotten past this ridiculous line of thinking? No, apparently not.

My response:

Funny… this sounds so much like what white women told – hell, tell – women of color who spoke out against racism within feminist communities.

“Shut up and fight the real enemy, whilst we continue to ignore your issues and your lives and act in complicity with your oppression as women of color, or as trans people, or as genderqueer people. Because we’re all in this together, right, sisters?”

Arguments like that? SO OLD. SO TIRED. SO PLAYED OUT.

Face it, Ms Kate – you probably don’t have a monopoly on oppression. Your dismissive tone especially suggests that you’ve probably got a whole bunch of privilege and the prejudice that goes with it. Trying to cover it up by pointing at the “real” enemy doesn’t make it go away. Being a woman or a feminist doesn’t give you a “Get Out Of Examining My Own Privilege Free” card. None of us get that card. Not a one.

Sheesh.

Mostly, I wanted to post that here as a prelude to something along these lines that has been brewing in my head for the past couple of days and will appear here shortly. But also because… WTF, right?

Also – I have no idea if I ever use the word “whilst” correctly. I hope I do, though, because I do love using it!

say it ain’t so

The only comforting thing about this and this is that it sounds like it might be temporary. Please, please let it be temporary.

It’s really fuckin’ sad and infuriating that the people who get the most heat and the most bullshit are so often the voices that we need to hear most.

We need a support group, y’all.

Transphobia in Feminism’s Clothing

So much for not diving into the fray – since I started commenting on this rather flippant response from Twisty, I may as well dash off some really late night thoughts that have been knocking around in my head. (by the way, I’m Jack on that thread, not JackGoff, for clarification’s sake. And the comments are looking to get just as messy as the ones that started this whole brouhaha. Once again, some of the comments are a sight worse than any flippancy, silence, or writing on Twisty’s part.)

Society teaches us to be transphobic, just as it teaches us to be all sorts of nasty things. Being queer or trans both violate cardinal rules about what it means to be a proper man or woman in our society. Traditional understandings of gender and sexuality are deeply ingrained and are drilled into us from a very early age. So it’s no small wonder that many folks wind up being homophobic and transphobic, just as most people wind up with sexist, racist, classist, ableist, and all sorts of other prejudicial views – which, in turn, we all have an obligation to challenge in ourselves and overcome.

I believe that some self-named feminists try to hide their own transphobia under the guise of feminism. By claiming that one’s anti-trans views are really just about being a feminist and anti-patriarchal, one creates a convenient moral shield for one’s own prejudices. If, in turn, someone challenges those ideas as transphobic prejudice, one can easily accuse the challenger of being sexist, anti-feminist, or simply not respecting one’s feminism or woman-centrism or what have you. And since, quite often, those trans-positive challengers consider themselves to be feminists as well, it’s a great cheap shot – “You don’t like my pro-women views? Huh, that’s not very feminist of you, is it?” As if one must make a choice between supporting trans people and supporting non-trans women.

I think that one of the most telling aspects of this transphobia dressed up as feminism is the double standard, for lack of a better phrase, that is exhibited towards trans women and trans men by some anti-trans feminists. Oftentimes, I see people claiming that trans women can never truly escape or abandon their “male” privilege and the “male threat” that they somehow pose towards non-trans women (see the arguments about trans women making women’s bathrooms unsafe.)

Alright – so apparently, trans women are always “still men” to some degree, entertaining that view for a brief moment. So what about trans men? Are they embraced by these same anti-trans feminists because of their apparently intrinsic and inescapable womanhood, their continued inherent lack of male privilege? Seems like the logical continuation, right?

Wrong. Trans men are either demonized for taking on male privilege and turning their backs on women, or are patronizingly pitied for being self-hating women duped by their own internalized oppression. Now, following that logic, wouldn’t one think that trans women might be embraced by these feminists for voluntarily shedding their male privilege and aligning themselves in solidarity with other women? Nah – see above.

And who knows where genderqueer folks like myself fall with these feminists. I’m sure they’d have something dismissive, disempowering, and/or vilifying to say about our identities. Luckily, we’re still ignored enough to be spared such commentary.

Well then, it seems like you’re screwed, one way or another, unless you stay right where you belong: within the gender assigned to you at birth, a gender based on biological essentialism, a gender determined by a patriarchal, sexist system of sex and gender roles. Huh. Somehow, that doesn’t sound very feminist to me.

Rather, it seems like a very convenient way to twist feminism in order to protect one’s own transphobia. Hell, feminism has been twisted to protect folks’ racism, sexism, and classism in the past, so I suppose it’s not so surprising that transphobia would get the same treatment.

These folks don’t like trans women, and they don’t like trans men. They can cry feminism all they want, but all I hear is the same “OMG EW TRANS GROSS!!!” that I hear from your average sexist homophobe. Sad, really.

Note: since this was a 3am post, I’ll likely be doing a good deal of editing to it. So please point out any glaring typos, and if you see any sudden changes, that’s why!

good words on racism from a white person

Yes, it does happen, folks – there are quite a few white folks out there in the mainstream media who have their heads on right and can talk good on racism. Here’s a great example – Alfred Lubrano, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In two recent columns, he takes on the topic of racism. In the first, he reflects on the insidious nature of racism today:

Meantime, just because you don’t say the n-word doesn’t mean you’ve fixed the problem. Bias lives in all of us. And we can’t let our good intentions deceive us into thinking we’re handling race well.

He does think that there can be “truly unprejudiced people” who get that way through a life of “positive interracial experiences.” I don’t share that belief; call me a cynic, but to paraphrase the Avenue Q song of which I have never actually heard more than the first line, everyone’s a little bit prejudiced. But still, good stuff.

He got lots of angry letters after that column, many of which demanded to know why he didn’t also call out “black racism.” In a second column entitled “Listen up, white folks: your racism cuts deeper,” he responds:

America is a white-majority country. When one group has substantially more power than all others, its biases, prejudices, and mouth filth matter more.

And if whites possess the keys to the White House, the executive suite, the law firm, the construction company – not to mention the gun lockers in the police stations – then what they think about black people has greater weight and consequence than what black people think about them…

… lots more black people than whites have endured systemic, organized violence in this country. And my ancestors walked off the boats that brought them here unchained.

Refreshing, and a good addition to my little collection of “Racism 101″ writings. Speaking of which, I’ve been planning to create a section on my site that collects such materials on racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other such things; if anyone has good suggestions of things to include, please share!

Many thanks to kristiangrrl over on the debunkingwhite Livejournal community for the heads up to the articles.

holy shit.

Saddam Hussein was executed.

Immediate reaction? Now it’s time to brace ourselves for what will happen within Iraq, and beyond.

It’s huge. And somehow, just really fucking weird.

Whoa.

Did I miss the party?

And by party, I mean the little firestorm that has erupted around trans and feminist issues, specifically centering around the shitfest of a comments section on this post at I Blame the Patriarchy. Within those comments and the resultant posts on other blogs, there have been some very good points made, and some very disgusting and infuriating things said by people who like to call their transphobia “feminism,” thereby making you anti-feminist and anti-woman if you’re not down with it.

I’m actually glad that I missed the beginnings of this whole craziness; had I been online at the start, I would likely have waded into the fray and made myself batty with righteous rage in the process. As it is, it’s far too overwhelming to start reading everything now, so I’ll just direct you to the good things said by brownfemipower on her blog.

Now that my two weeks with the family for the holidays has been blessed with broadband wireless internet access, I’ma really try hard to start this blogging business again. Yeah yeah, I know, I’ve said it before, but this time I really mean it! But first I’d like to let folks know that if you comment on really old entries – say, ones about gentrification – I’m not likely to respond. I just can’t keep engaging with people who stumble upon those articles and want to tell me that gentrification is really a great thing and that I’m really just a reverse racist. Boring! Please wait until I write a new entry on gentrification, maybe then I’ll bother responding.

And finally – I returned to the blogosphere just in time to see Blac(k)ademic making her departure. We’re losing a really good one there. Kudos to her for all the knowledge she’s dropped over the year plus of blogging.

NYC Department of Homeless Services: Stop discrimination against domestic partners!

The NYC Department of Homeless Services is riddled with ineffective and discriminatory practices that wind up doing homeless people a lot of harm; this is just one of them. Take a few seconds to send the DHS a postcard calling for them to stop demanding an unfairly high burden of proof of domestic partners who are seeking to enter shelters together, as a family. Because this proof is very difficult to provide, homeless couples who are not married are often forced to choose between staying together on the streets, and being split up in shelters. Here’s the link from the LGBT Center in NYC.