So Natasha wrote a guest post at Feministe about the economy, and showing that things are perhaps a lot worse than we expected. Her post itself is nice in that she talks about a way out of this mess by reworking our economy, even though I doubt this will happen without a lot of pressure from the population. And I think that pressure is unlikely to come in the near future.
You probably also noticed that the economy isn’t doing so well, and it isn’t producing jobs. Instead of caring about the wage collapsing effects that are draining public funds, the people who were wrong about everything in the first place and missed the crisis coming, have busied themselves withslashing the social safety net for ordinary people.
This is the political climate in which we have to work to close the gender pay gap. There are uncanny similarities to when the New Deal coalition fell apart in the 1970s, as eerily highlighted by Jefferson Cowie; the early racial integration of the labor force had the bad fortune to coincide with a contraction that decreased opportunities for (almost) everyone.
And at this point, I tend to assume that since there are whole other countries that have done things differently for years and had it work out fine, that decreasing opportunities for (almost) everyone is sort of the point. It isn’t as though the way overwhelming concentrations of power follow overwhelming concentrations of money is some kind of secret to people with power.
There’s a lot more at the link, and this post collects multiple links that paint a rather grim picture for how things are now and have been in the time leading up to this point. I think it illustrates how class needs to be emphasized more in social justice given the role it plays in supporting every other part of kyriarchy. I think Robert Anton Wilson wrote in some book or other that being poor was like being ostracized. Without money you are unable to effectively participate in your own culture at the very minimum. At worst, you cannot afford to pay for food or shelter or clothing and often must survive off others’ charity, to whatever extent you can access such resources.
I don’t have a complete picture to offer here, but I think we should be talking about this a lot more than has happened so far.
Trigger warning: Contains graphic descriptions of transphobic violence.
From HRW Press Release:
On the night of December 17, 2008, Nohelia, a sex worker in Tegulcigalpa, refused to have sex with [Amado Rodriguez Borjas, an off-duty police officer]. The next evening, he returned by car with two other men. Based on evidence presented at the trial, Borjas stabbed her in the neck when she approached the car, not knowing who was inside. The men then dragged her into the car and drove to the outskirts of the capital, where Borjas stabbed her on her arms, back, and front of her body.
She managed to escape through the car window, and a passerby later picked her up and took her to a hospital. Nohelia has a permanent scar on her throat and several others on her arms.
On September 9, 2010, a three-judge bench sentenced the police officer, Amado Rodriguez Borjas, to 10 to 13 years in prison for his role in the attack. [...] It is the first conviction of a police officer in Honduras since 2003 for a crime against a transgender person, even though police abuse is common.
The case was fraught with acts of intimidation, with police, a witness, and prosecutors as well as Nohelia threatened by anonymous attackers and callers. On March 21, unknown men kidnapped Nohelia and threatened to kill her if she continued with the case. She was shot in the arm in the ensuing struggle with the kidnappers but managed to escape.
A witness for the prosecution and police in charge of the investigation received anonymous threats. As a result, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights extended protection measures to Nohelia, the police officers, and prosecutors.
Attacks on transgender people – often targeted because their looks and demeanor challenge prevailing sex-role stereotypes – are commonplace in Honduras. Nearly every transgender person who Human Rights Watch interviewed during research in Honduras in 2008 and 2009 spoke of harassment, beatings, and-ill treatment at the hands of police. The most recent killing took place on August 30. Two men in a motorcycle shot and killed Imperia Gamaniel Parson, a trangender sex worker in San Pedro Sula and member of the Colectivo Unidad Rosa.
Bias-motivated attacks on transgender people by private individuals are endemic. At least 19 transgender persons have been killed in public places in Honduras since 2004; many more have been injured in beatings, stabbings, or shootings.
These attacks rarely lead to an investigation or prosecution in Honduras.
“The larger question is whether this trial will be followed by the prosecution of other individuals who commit hate crimes against the transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people,” Cano Nieto [researcher in the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch] said.
The fact that the court’s judgment did not address discrimination even though the prosecution presented evidence of homophobia and transphobia as motives for the attack was a weakness in the outcome of the Borjas case, Human Rights Watch said. Nor did the court accept prosecutors’ arguments that the sentence should be increased because of homophobic bias.
In addition, most court personnel treated Nohelia and a transgender witness with seeming disdain; only the prosecutor and one of the three judges referred to them by their chosen pronoun.
“The court should be applauded for finding that a serious crime had been committed, but we look to the day when the courts understand the full measure of hatred behind the crime,” said Indyra Mendoza, director of Red Lésbica Cattrachas. “We still have a long way to go to ensure that the justice system understands and properly addresses sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Curtsey to Justus for the heads-up
A federal judge in Riverside declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional Thursday, saying the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy violates the 1st Amendment rights of lesbians and gay men.
U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips said the policy banning gays did not preserve military readiness, contrary to what many supporters have argued, saying evidence shows that the policy in fact had a “direct and deleterious effect’’ on the military.
Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the policy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, which defended “don’t ask, don’t tell” during a two-week trial in Riverside, will have an opportunity to appeal that decision.
The ruling comes just over a month after a federal judge in San Francisco tossed out California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, providing back-to-back victories for gay rights advocates seeking policy changes in the courts that have eluded them in Congress and at the ballot box. The case was filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest political organization for gays in the GOP, in 2004.
I do not have anything to add on this right now. Can someone tell me whether trans people are still banned from serving if the injunction happens?
Tea Party president jokes about murdering LGBTQ people:
A Facebook exchange:Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”
Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint(sic) America no more! @ Dennis, Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
Now, this is obviously a reference to Matthew Shepard and a direct reference to homophobic hate crimes, but trans women are also frequently targeted for this kind of hate crime. I doubt they’d stop to make the distinction.
A political action committee that supports Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern sent an e-mail to members this week calling Kern’s transgender opponent, Democrat Brittany Novotny, “a confused it.” The e-mail from the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, posted on Novotny’s website on Thursday, goes on to say that “Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.”
“It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves,” the OCPAC e-mail states. “If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.”
This isn’t simply a matter of trying to defeat a political opponent, this is about annihilating not just her credibility, but her humanity. This is about presenting her as being in a fallen state, outside the grace of God and doomed to Hell. This is undiluted hatred, of the kind that breeds violence.
I hope these tactics fail, that they’re a step too far, but I suspect a lot of cis people will empathize with them.
Both of these stories relate to a larger topic I want to talk about: That the Religious Right in the United States is not interested in accommodation, acceptance, or tolerance. They have made their position clear over and over again. I do not necessarily mean the people who make up the members of the various Christian sects that compose the religious right, I mean the leadership. Look to Focus on the Family’s tactics, attacking LGBT rights in every part of the country that they appear, backing local activist organizations such as “NotMyShowers” a year or so ago, or proposition 8 in California.
But the US religious right is also doing things like going to Uganda to preach hatred of LGBT people:
KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
They go to another country and spend three days preaching hatred and describing a group of human beings as evil and sexual predators just for who they are and the people there who were already sympathetic to these arguments are pushing for the death penalty for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual? No one has the right to act fucking surprised by this turn of events. They blatantly exposed their homosexual agenda.
The anti-LGBTQ activism all over the US is basically about keeping us out of work, out of restrooms, out of the public sphere. Hide who we are, never transition, never openly love who we love. When little light wrote The Sky is Falling she said exactly what this is. We are being marked as in intractably evil enemy, an enemy who hates God, who supposedly tempts children into our sinful so-called “lifestyles,” who are positioned as sexual predators and dangers to cis straight women and children. They try to keep information about us out of schools and generally out of the hands of children, despite the fact that LGBTQ teens have a high suicide rate and are more frequently bullied than cis and straight children and teens. They oppose anti-bullying measures. They do not care that this causes deaths, that this sometimes (much less often than before) drives us into hiding because we don’t learn how to cope and can’t find community. They don’t want us to exist at all. If we have to exist, we should accept their “cures” and become cis and straight.
This is, flat out, eliminationism. Cultural genocide. This is pure hatred. We aren’t the only ones targeted, but we are targeted politically, socially, and legally.
So for the several days I’ve written about calling out, ignorance, social justice, radical love, and the like, and I’ve see a few responses elsewhere that imply to me that people got the impression from what I wrote that I was instructing people as to what they have to do or setting down some kind of ground rules, and that wasn’t the point at all. I think I may have pushed something too hard about questioning whether we need calling out at all, and presenting it as a solution or a start to a solution rather than a question and the start of a question. A continuation of a conversation that started months ago. None of these posts are setting policy on QT (although I am making a few changes based on past events, and I seriously want to rethink how I deal with people saying and doing busted things online).
So, if I misrepresented anyone’s views (like bfp’s, since I quoted her in the context of my own views and questions) I apologize for that. Especially if I presented what appeared to be certainties and solutions and conclusions instead of questions. I want to talk about these things, not shut them down or demand any kind of ideological conformity.
I also want to clarify what I do not mean in critiquing calling out as a process:
In so many ways, the definition of being oppressed is how society hurts you, injures you on a daily basis just for being alive and being who you are. It’s a thousand cuts over and over again. There is no way I can imagine saying that we cannot defend ourselves with the tools we have available. It is just that I no longer trust one particular tool that has been used and abused.
I do not mean to question whether people should be able to protect themselves. To make themselves safe. I do not mean to question whether people have a right to be angry or respond with anger when they are harmed. I do not mean to tell anyone that they need to be polite or use the supposedly correct tone when responding to these things. I do not know what any of the answers may be. I know little more than I did before I asked the question.
At most I can suggest, if and when you call people out, seriously consider how you’re doing it, whether you’re giving the person you called out space to respond, whether you’re willing to give their responses the benefit of the doubt when they do respond, whether you even trust them to treat you in good faith. And I don’t mean don’t be angry or be nice, and sometimes the things that are done to us are simply too harsh for a measured response to be adequate, or that they always deserve the benefit of the doubt. And no matter what, you need the space to protect yourself. To take care of yourself.
If you are an ally who does not experience the oppression you are calling out, I will absolutely ask you to think carefully about your tone, your use of anger, your ability to derail a conversation to look heroic and decisive, ask you to educate if you can and point to the voices of oppressed people on whose behalf you have intervened. I ask you to not speak for or over these people, and the point of your intervention is not to look good or catharsis, but protection. And I think most of us are allies in some sense and still oppressed in others.
But these are more questions I have, and okay, a couple suggestions. They are not instructions and they are not the answer.
The bar on this just keeps moving, right? Anyway, share any links you might have, promote your own blog. Discuss anything. This post is as off-topic as you want it to be.
Videos, Science Edition:
They Might Be Giants, “Why Does the Sun Shine?”
So I want to talk about ignorance, not strictly as an individual problem (although that’s how we usually interact with it) but as a systemic, institutional problem.
Ignorance is not a neutral state of lack of knowledge. It’s not a situation, typically, where a person just doesn’t know anything about a topic. Ignorance is a malignant, hostile state in which people learn about things based on received wisdom, common sense, media representation, and how it’s slanted as news. Ignorant people are not malignant and hostile, but their ignorance is informed by this malignant hostility.
Take trans women – what is someone who is ignorant of trans women likely to think? Some totally false and harmful ideas include:
- Trans women are really cis men in dresses
- Trans women transition because we have a sexual fetish about feminity or femaleness.
- A trans woman who has sex with a cis person (especially a cis man) is probably tricking that cis person into sex by not disclosing that she’s trans and thus “really a man.”
- That if the cis person attacks, injures, or even kills her for this, his crime is “understandable” and perhaps this assumed deception could be described as rape
- Trans women do not understand femininity, makeup, fashion, and overdo it to the point of artless hyperfemininity
- Trans women like being objectified as sex objects
- Trans women are really like cis men until one day we decide to transition.
- Trans women sin by transitioning.
- Trans women are entirely focused on surgery.
- Chromosomes define sex and gender
- Genitals define sex and gender
- Cis women are “biological women” and trans women are not.
- Trans women are dangerous predators and should not be allowed to share restrooms, showers, DV and rape shelters, and other spaces with cis women
And I could go on. These are prejudices that are justified with ignorance, because you know, people don’t know. But I know cis people who informed by these hostile stereotypes can still treat trans women as women and human beings, and I know cis people who have the education and knowledge that these are not correct, and are still toxically transphobic. Like I said in my Empathy and Kyriarchy post, the failure is empathy, the inability or unwillingness to make a connection with another human being because she is different in some perceived or tangible way.
And I want to talk about ignorance from this perspective, that it’s not a state of innocence or a blank slate. That they’ve already been inscribed upon by living in a transphobic, misogynist culture. As I said in my post about socialization, socialization does not indelibly define us for life, and of course people of all kinds have the ability to resist this cultural demonization and come to their own conclusions.
But that doesn’t mean ignorance isn’t harmful and that putting information out there to correct these prejudices is useless. It’s absolutely important to put our own lived realities out there, because this ignorance breeds violence, hatred, it justifies cis people making laws against us, challenging our marriages, our lives, firing us from jobs, never hiring us, refusing to allow us to rent housing. This ignorance creates a world where the many trans women live in poverty and are unable to work for a living, where the intersections of transphobia and misogyny in addition to race, disability, and class combine to place trans women in a vulnerable position.
This post focuses on trans women, transphobia, and misogyny, but this applies to everything else. One thing I’ve been learning about ADHD is just how much ignorance is out there, how much misinformation the internet and the media are flooded with. How ADHD simply pathologizes “normal childhood behavior,” how medication always turns children into zombies, how ADHD is not really a severe or serious (if treatable) condition, how ADHD is something children have but adults do not, how it’s a totally manufactured disorder funded by pharmaceutical companies to sell pills that no one really needs, and so on and on it goes. It’s there with race and class and we could be here for hours.
My point is, that there’s a lot of territory between active hate groups (such as Focus on the Family) and people whose ignorance shapes their attitudes and behavior toward us more than active antipathy or hatred, but that ignorance itself is fueled and disseminated by hatred. That it perpetuates itself as common sense or received wisdom does not mean that institutionally, that this is anything but malicious. But when we address it, we are addressing people, and I think it’s useful to keep that in mind.
Edit: Just to be clear, if anyone takes the message from this that I am saying to be nice, “watch your tone”, etc, that’s not my point at all. People need to be able to protect themselves and choose how and when they engage. My main point is that ignorance is not a neutral state, and that people who are ignorant are informed by a hostile system. I am more interested in trying to disempower “ignorance” as a reason for hateful commentary.
So a story that’s been sweeping the internet lately is Antoine Dodson’s video in which he is talking about a rapist stalking the women in his neighborhood and how he is helpless to protect his sister. And how this video was turned into comedy for many who viewed it, and more.
I didn’t watch the video, and I’m disappointed because I didn’t really realize what was going on, what people were doing to Antoine and how they were erasing what happened to his sister and the other women in his neighbhorhood in search of a laugh. Several have post about this already, and rather than offer my own uninformed analysis, I’m going to direct you to their blogs:
Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper – On Feminism, Liberals, Black Folks, and Antoine Dodson:
For those who do not know, Antione Dodson is the brother of a potential rape victim. He, his sister [whose name I will not use in this post], her daughter, and his mother lived in low income housing, Lincoln Park, in Huntsville Alabama until recently. According to Dodson a rapist was targeting Lincoln Park because no one was doing anything about it. He said several young women and girls had been raped, and had either received no assistance or not asked for help because they knew the police were not going to do anything. Dodson also says the same thing happened to his family.
In late July, a rapist broke into their small home through a window and attempted to rape his sister. Dodson managed to scare the assailant and force him out of the apartment. He then called several of his friends in the area to look for the person because, like everyone else, he did not believe the police were going to do anything about an assault in low income housing. Later Dodson called both the Housing Authority Office that runs Lincoln Park and the Police. Hours went by before the police arrived and according to Dodson and others no major search was mounted by them. Also according to Dodson and others, the Housing Authority issued a statement but has made no improvements to security or safety in Lincoln Park to help protect them from being targeted. In fact, an attempted rape following a similar m.o. (rapist came through bedroom window, advanced on girl inside) occurred the following evening.
Sylvia at Problem Chylde – Think Twice:
this post is going to be a little didactic.
think twice before you laugh at antoine dodson. i know everything is supposed to take a backseat to short-lived fame and exposure. but how would you feel if your sister was attacked by a rapist and people did nothing about it? officials laughed at you, police took their time coming to investigate, media crews didn’t arrive until you called them, and then your time on the news gets spoofed to entertain others instead of warn them. antoine’s taking his time in the spotlight in stride, and i think he’s doing it for kelly’s sake. i hope all the people laughing and singing “hide your kids, hide your wife” are writing all of the people in kelly’s community and state to do something about catching the rapist.
i planned to write about this at feministe, fast on the heels of the gang rape of a 12-year-old at a nearby skatepark. what does it mean when you read about attack after attack after attack, and one of the thoughts in your head is “i hope no one auto-tunes something like this” or “how can this story garner more attention than it’s gotten,” when these stories should be enough to knock ten people on their asses with grief.
Black Amazon – Antoine Dodson HAS to be HILARIOUS:
Antoine Dodson is a lionheart . But for the rest of us he needs to be funny. He needs to be an internet meme , funny poor black guy,autotuned to death.
Prof Susurrois so amazing with her analysis of the three groups ( myself included ) that are full of teh fail , but I want to break em down a bit
Dodson has to be hilarious , because if his situation isn’t funny it would have to be enraging.
Dr. Goddess gives an excellent summation of what brought us this young lionheart ( i am calling him that forever) to national media attention.
There is a serial rapist in his community.
Yes if you are laughing about what got Antoine Dodson so angry you are laughing because serial rape is funny!
The Crunk Feminist Collective – Antoine Dodson’s Sister: On Invisibility as Violence:
We are in the midst of Antoine Dodson Mania! For those that don’t know him, he’s the now famous man who fought off the intruder that climbed into his sister’s second story window in the middle of the night and tried to attack her with her daughter present. Remember his reaction? Hilarious right? I mean pissed off that his sister was attacked! LMFAO! So hilarious that now there is this song that has remixed the news clip and turned it into the new summertime hit. It has even made the iTunes Top 20 and we can purchase sexual assualt for $1.99 and jam all day! And the star of all this is of course was Antoine Dodson for his “comedic” reaction to violence and the Gregory Brothers for their creative innovation of putting it to song. Sarcasm aside, I must admit that to remix a news story like that is pretty amazing. But what does it mean to remix violence against black women when our stories are already left behind?
See usually when a black woman is attacked we find some way of making it her fault. We ask questions like what was she wearing? What does she do for a living? How many sexual partners has she had in the past? You know, the typical stuff that removes accountability from her attacker. But in this case, where a black woman minding her damn business awoke to an attacker in her second story apartment, normal victim-blaming would not work. So now what do we do, because we obviously can’t take a black woman’s story of violence seriously? Well, that’s simple. We marginalize the attack and focus the story on her brother, whose anger we can exploit because it fits into stereotypes of queer masculinity that provide comic relief. The producers used the footage to lock Antoine in a frame, to capture him in place, in order to tell a story that fits their truths—black women’s confrontations with sexual violence are either not real or unimportant. Framed under the guise of “news” this masquerades as a story about a woman awaking to an intruder in her bed but is really a story about a funny black man, hilarious in his anger. It was never about her.
I know there’s more conversation in the blogosphere about this, and I hope there’s a lot more. I’m still reading through everything, and I think it’s definitely worth anyone’s time to do the same. This highlights so many issues with race and the intersection with gender that it’s hard to summarize properly.
Oh, and I definitely fit into Prof Susurro’s groups – QT was silent on the whole thing. I do admit I have trouble keeping up with things, but the end result was still silence.
Edit: category/intersectionality fail corrected
I was not so happy as I looked in the pictures on my parents’ walls. It was something that resonated with me as I read a beautiful, radical poem by Jo Carillo ‘And When You Leave, Take Your Pictures With You’ which used as a leitmotif pictures of Latinas working under the sun that might hang in the livingroom of a blanquita radfem. Like so many things in the anthology- This Bridge Called My Back- that poem is immortalised in, it made me think, not just about its own very important subject which is, alas, an all too salient issue even today… but about the pictures that were once on my wall too.
They were windows into a very particular past, a past that is assuredly a minefield on multiple levels. Much has been said, including on the pages of Questioning Transphobia itself, about those pictures. How they can oppress, or how they can liberate. It vexed me because as a budding sociologist I’m easily entranced by questions of meaning, and constantly working upon my mind was a need to decipher the meanings of those pictures in my own life. Not just the meanings of the photographs themselves, but what they represented.
And to begin the, perhaps necessary, use of ten guinea words in this piece; what the past those pictures evoked could say about my subjectivity.
What it means to be trans is one of those existential questions that excites and puzzles as surely as other such questions about the categories of human existence, the lines drawn in flesh that mark us off as one thing or the other. In the more evolved discourses of identity politics and its modern intersectional incarnations, there is an understanding that being trans carries with it a certain experience, a certain perspective on the world that only trans people have.
Certainly the vagaries of this can be disputed but one question that I’ve had and felt very troubled in answering is this one: Is my lived experience as someone who was forced to be male part of my subjectivity?
Let me be clearer still: I was never a man, no, but I lived as a male per the directions and encouragement of every social actor in my life up until the age of 21. In moving through the world in that utterly ill fitting skin, that imposed disguise whose existence tantilised the very edges of my conscious mind, I still ended up seeing things a certain way and being made to undertake certain actions, think certain thoughts. Such for me provides rich perspective, and informs my participation in discourses on misogyny. But can I talk about what that meant for me and what it felt like? What the specific experience was for me as a young trans girl- a woman forced in very deep ways to put on what society deemed a male persona? Can I say that this taught me something about male privilege or provided me with some perspective on what being a young man might be like?
Not without siring a world of trouble, that much is for sure.
Quinnae Moongazer of The Nuclear Unicorn will be guest posting on QT, at least for one amazing post.
Treat her well!