Archive for the 'blogosphere' Category

I’m at the Allied Media Conference!

This weekend I’m attending my very first Allied Media Conference!! It’s been wonderful though a bit overwhelming so far. No time to blog, really, though I’ve taken some good notes on a couple of sessions (links soon!) I’ve also gotten to meet a few folks I’ve known only through the blogosphere for years, like Alexis and Blackamazon and Brownfemipower, and have run into other folks I’ve not seen for a while like Maegan La Mala, which has been awesome.

And tomorrow, I present! I’ll be wearing my techie hat for From Open Source to Community Source: Collaboratively Created Tech for Movements:

The daily choices we make around technology, storing and sharing data, and communications have political implications for issues important to our movements: privacy, self-determination, labor and economic justice, corporate control, amongst others. Our session will address such issues, including strategies for reclaiming control of our technology, and ways we can shape it to serve our movements. We will explore how “free” software often demands risky compromises, how open source can help avoid those compromises, and how community organizations and activists can and must be involved in shaping open source. We will us and as examples of community source tech developed by and for our movements.

If you’re at the AMC, come check it out!

Where I’ve been & where I am

So, as evidenced by the date of my last post, I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for quite a while, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I needed retreat in order to focus on my work. I’m a freelance Drupal/web developer and general techie working with non-profit organizations, and both the freelance and the non-profit aspects of that mean I need to bust ass and stay very, very focused to make a living, make progress, make deadlines, just make it. I wasn’t focusing like I needed to and found myself struggling to keep up with my work, do justice by my clients, and make enough money to pay taxes and the bills and the rent. So I necessarily stepped back from many time-consuming things in my life, including blogging. When I get really into the blogosphere, especially when I get wrapped up in the more heated discussions, debates, and arguments, it drains a whole lot of my time, and since I’m a freelancer, it’s easy to eat into work hours, promise myself I’ll make up that time later – and never really make it up. But I’m happy to report that I’ve made tons of progress, am more financially stable, and have been making exciting moves towards expanding my work and increasing my collaboration with other folks. I’m still trying to stay primarily focused on work – expansion takes a lot of time and energy – but I’m in a much better place.

The other reason I’ve been gone is that blogging itself was getting away from me – at least, blogging right was. See, it started with commenting on other blogs. I realized that while I was reading amazing stuff from amazing bloggers, I wasn’t really engaging in the conversations or expressing my appreciation, agreement, disagreements, whatever my reactions were to their words. And as a blogger myself, I know how important it is to get that feedback and to take part in the conversations; blogging in a vacuum isn’t very good blogging at all, in my opinion. Then I started slipping on reading other blogs at all; hell, I was barely even reading what my co-bloggers on Feministe were writing. That felt pretty crappy and made me feel even more disconnected from the larger conversations. And finally, I started having trouble responding to comments on my own blog posts. I still can’t believe it took me more than 2 months to respond to Denise Oliver-Velez’s comment on my Young Lords post (she was a leader and member of both the Young Lords and Black Panthers). When I can’t even respond to the people who are taking the time to read and respond to my work, then I’m not doing my duty as a blogger, punto.

So – all that is to say that yes, I’ve been gone, but I’m not gone for good. I’m starting to get the itch to blog again, and that itch got soooo much itchier since I got to the Women, Action and Media conference yesterday. And though I do have to stay on top of my work stuff and can’t let blogging bleed into those hours too much, I do want to come back to this. But I want to do it right, so I’ve set some rules for myself: first, I start reading other folks’ blogs; then, I start commenting on those blogs and get involved in the conversation; then, I start really getting back to blogging again, as long as I can keep up with my comments. I may post here and there before I can really start reading the blogs (including posts about WAM, which I hope to start writing soon). But if I’m gonna do this right, I need to be a part of the blogging communities that are important to me, I need to listen to them and contribute to them and be aware of what’s going on. It’s the only responsible way I can do it, and it’s the only way I can do this blogging thing right.

So yes – hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me soon!

Meeting Bill Clinton

Me and Bill Clinton

(Note: details of the meeting follow my personal narrative!)

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to represent Feministe as a credentialed blogger at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, which kicks off today in NYC. I was psyched, a tad skeptical, and more than a tad nervous all at once. I’ve never been invited to participate in anything as A Blogger, much less something this high-profile. I tend to think of myself as a relatively little fish in the blogosea, and all sorts of self-doubt about whether I was really qualified for this or deserved it started running through my head.

All of this anxiety was amped up exponentially when I got the additional invite to participate in a blogger meeting with President Bill Clinton before the start of the CGI meeting. I responded to the invite right away, but then all that doubt flooded in I nearly wrote back and said never mind. I mean, really – was I good enough or important enough to deserve a spot?

But then I thought to my self, now hold up, Jack. These doubts were certainly due in part to the sorts of insecurities that everyone gets from time to time about their skills, and also due in part to some rational acknowledgment of the fact that, for sure, I haven’t busted ass posting or networking or engaging in the public discourse as much as some other folks out there, so I’m understandably gonna be smaller potatoes. But I think they were also fueled in no small part by internalization of the sort of dynamics that permeate the blogosphere as much as the rest of the world; dynamics of privilege and power that automatically lend higher degrees of traction, legitimacy, or “authority” (as Technocrati puts it) to certain voices than to others for reasons entirely apart from the quality and quantity of their thoughts and words. The kind of dynamics, for example, that led to a 2006 blogger meeting with Bill Clinton being all white (and that helped this year’s meeting be predominantly white, too.) [1] Internalization is all about oppressed people learning to help keep themselves down, so I checked myself and decided not to help out on that count.

There was also an entirely different set of misgivings: how would I reconcile my politics with this meeting? Continue reading ‘Meeting Bill Clinton’

The women still in the race

Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente

For all the talk about the historic nature of the Clinton (woman!) and Obama (Black!) campaigns that’s gone on in the mainstream media for the past year, you might not have any idea that a third, equally unprecedented ticket was being run: Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the Green Party. This is the first all women of color presidential ticket in the history of the United States. Now, I understand that a nomination’s historical importance and newsworthiness tends to be defined by the likelihood of its success – or, as is often the case, by the degree to which people decide to blame the Democratic party’s failures on the Greens. Yet one would hope that in between all of the celebrity gossip and other tripe that makes it onto the news regularly, the mainstream media would find a little more time to devote to a presidential ticket that is unique not only for its makeup but also for the platform it’s running on, a platform that offers a radically different choice from the rightly-named corporate parties that dominate the politics of this nation.

But predictably, the mainstream media has almost completely ignored the McKinney/Clemente ticket. When they won the Green nomination, there were a few articles here, a few news reports here, most of them focusing more on the candidates’ chances of being “spoilers” in the upcoming election rather than focusing on, you know, their positions or platform or qualifications, all of which the MSM apparently deems irrelevant. Most of what I’ve heard about McKinney and Clemente has come from the blogosphere, and even here, coverage is slim. The majority of the mentions I’ve seen have been about McKinney being a possible alternative vote for Clinton supporters who don’t want to vote for Obama, and even there, McKinney is discussed less often than John McCain as the alternate vote. Even on Feministe (if my memory and our search tool are working properly), McKinney’s candidacy hasn’t been mentioned in an actual post, only in the comments.

Now I get that this lack of coverage is to be expected, especially if you’re measuring a candidate’s importance or significance by their likelihood to win come November. McKinney and Clemente won’t be in the White House come January, and I’m sure they both understand that. However, the actual presidency is not the only thing at stake here, especially for the Greens and more generally for the future of third parties in this country. In an interview with Newsweek (subtitled “Will a third-party candidate be a ‘spoiler’?”), McKinney discusses another important and far more feasible goal (emphasis mine):

There are currently about 200 members of the Green Party who are elected officials. These are mostly local elections. The Green Party does not yet have representation on the federal level, but it’s quite a successful “minor” party. With 5 percent of the electorate, it can move from minor party status to major party status [and qualify the Green Party for federal funds]. So our goal is to get onto as many ballots as we can, since then achieving a 5 percent goal becomes possible. When I got to Washington D.C., I realized that public policy was made around the table. The 5 percent puts another seat at the table.

As Obama continues to hedge, flip-flop, and trend right on a variety of issues, and as McCain continues to be his usually sucky self, it becomes clearer and clearer that another seat at the table, a true alternative to corporate politics as usual, is desperately needed. And while even 5 percent of the vote is an uphill battle for McKinney, Clemente, and the rest of the Greens, it isn’t impossible. Such a victory would be huge, a major step in breaking this country away from the two-party system that time and time again shows itself to be severely lacking for people who believe in true peace and true justice.

But who’s gonna vote for them? Continue reading ‘The women still in the race’

Guest blogging at Feministe

As you may have gathered from the little “cross-posted” note at the end of my last post, I’m guest blogging over at Feministe this week. I’ve never guest blogged before; it’s an honor and quite exciting. And I think it’ll be a good springboard for this whole “blogging a lot again” business. I’ll be cross-posting stuff here, but I suggest that folks check out and engage in discussion in the comments over there, in addition to reading the posts by the resident Feministers and my fellow guest bloggers.


Now that I’ve returned to Brooklyn and the life, love, and work contained therein, it’s harder to keep up with all of this blogging business! Not only the writing, but the reading of other people’s blogs, the linking, the commenting, the responding to comments here, etc. How do some of y’all manage to keep up with it all?

Part of what’s fallen to the wayside is continuing to participate in the massive, multi-blog conversation about feminism and trans politics & identity. The conversation continues to move to new blogs and posts; one recent, active, and interesting thread is going on over at Alas, a blog.

I’d intended to write my own post highlighting the excellent conversation going on in the comments on this earlier post, especially the dialogue between Holly and Fire Fly. I’m not going to get to write that post and pull out quotes from that discussion with any degree of timeliness, so instead, I’ll encourage folks to read and participate more in the discussion, either in the comments on that post, or here on this post. (Also, Holly rocks and says a lot of stuff that I just wind up nodding furiously too, since I couldn’t say it better myself.)

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.


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!

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.