Monthly Archives: June 2010
A few days ago I made a post titled “If feminism were a song,” where I shared a song by Fantasia that I felt truly captured what feminism means to me. Continuing on with that same theme, today I want to share a poem that I think captures what feminism is all about.
That poem of course is “Still I Rise” by Dr. Maya Angelou.
“Everyone in the world is going to bed one night or another with fear or pain or loss or disappointment, and yet each of us has awaken arisen, some how made our absolution, seen other human beings, and said, “Morning how are you? Fine thanks and you?” And it’s amazing, wherever that abides in the human being, there is the nobleness of the human spirit, despite it all, black and white, asian, spanish, native american, pretty, plain, thin, fat.” – Dr. Maya Angelou
Share poems that represent feminism to you!
People often ask me why I am so vocal about my atheist beliefs. They ask me why do I feel the need to let the world know that I don’t believe in mythical beings. I usually just point out to them that theist and in particular christians in the United States are also vocal and that in my own little way I am balancing out the equation.
But on a serious note, there seems to be this notion amongst theist that they alone have the right to express their views in public. That by virtue of them believing in whatever deity that it is they believe in they can profess and proclaim their faith to society unchecked.
Take for instance the situation that took place in Charlotte, N.C., where a local atheist group erected a billboard with the words “One nation indivisible,” alluding to of course the way the Pledge of Allegiance was recited prior to the 1954 inclusion of “Under God.”
Someone, who we can only assume was a theist, or an atheist with a weird sense of humor, took it upon themselves to deface the billboard and remind secular humanist that when they choose to erect a billboard that’s crossing the line. It’s as if theist feel that they alone have the right to profess their mythical beliefs. That their belief in a magical being gives them the right to erect billboard after billboard promoting whatever religious belief they are promoting and also using those beliefs to scare women out of getting abortions.
I suppose we’re suppose to accept that its perfectly fine for theist to use their mythical beliefs to attack things like a woman’s autonomy over her body, but how dare those evil secular humanist erect a billboard!
I’m not going to back down from my secular humanist beliefs and I am not going to sit idly by while religious fundamentalist try to create a climate where in which only they are allowed to exercise their beliefs and all others should just know their place.
The defacing of that billboard in North Carolina just inspired me to go harder!
Atheist billboard defaced: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_ts2936
The BP Oil Spill has been devastating the Gulf of Mexico for over 60 days. The catastrophic man made disaster has unleashed unthinkable pain upon the residents of the Gulf Coast as well as the precious ecosystems of the Gulf. There are many important lessons to be learned from the BP Oil Spill and many deep conversations need to be had, but one of the most important lessons from the BP Oil Spill I have taken from the disaster is how closely it resembles and relates to a different kind of spill, The Patriarchy Spill.
Patriarchy according to the great feminist scholar bell hooks, “Is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially women, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”
Now Imagine if you will that the millions of barrels of oils spilling into the Gulf is the system of patriarchy. Imagine that the millions of barrels of oil destroying lives and wild life in the Gulf Coast was patriarchy destroying the lives of women, children, and men all over the world. Imagine that the many warnings against deep water off shore drilling and the many justifications made for it, were the voices of feminist all over the world challenging patriarchy and the insistence by those in power that patriarchy is the best way for the world to be organized. Imagine that our insatiable appetites for oil represented so many of our allegiance to patriarchy despite the many adverse affects of the system.
Feminist and other progressives have pointed out for years that patriarch poisons humanity and is the source of much human suffering. Like the scientist and thinkers who warn about our reliance on oil and its harmful affects which lead to global warming. But feminist who challenge and critique patriarchy, and dream of a new reality where respect for both genders is the way of life, are met with the same resistance as those like Al Gore who are seen as progressive conspiracy theorist trying to whip everyone into a frenzy over nothing.
There are so many parallels between the BP Oil Spill and devastating consequences of patriarchy that it kind of scares me. As long as we continue to support the reckless pursuit of profits at all costs we will continue to see many more BP Oil Spills and in a similar vain as long as we continue to support the system of patriarchy the lives of women, children, and men will continue to be devastated.
11 lives were lost when the Deepwater Horizon oil rill exploded in the gulf and my thoughts go out to the families of those men who died. Our allegiance to patriarchy continues to lead to the deaths of women, children, and men all the world. The notion that a man must be violent in order to be powerful underlies so much of the violence that takes place in our society.
We have a chance to learn from the lessons of the BP Oil Spill and think of new ways to approach our energy needs. We also have a chance to challenge and change the system of patriarchy and conceive of a way of life not based on patriarchy.
This is what patriarchy looks like!
History hasn’t always been kind to people who are developmentally disabled (I use this term only after looking for the most appropriate one possible as I by no means want to offend anyone.). They have experienced unspeakable injustice and I am the first person to educate others about their own disableism. Given the treatment of the developmentally disabled in our society I often give them a pass when it comes to understanding some of their behaviors as they aren’t aware of all the social rules and cues as that the rest of society might be operating under.
Today while waiting for my 4:45 class to start I took a seat at a computer in the on campus library. Sitting next to me was a developmentally disabled young man. This was my second time encountering this young man as I had seen him on another occasion, and the only reason why I am writing about this young man now, is because of the way he related to the young women who came in the library.
The way this young man got a young woman’s attention was by snapping at her. If he succeeded in getting the young woman’s attention he then told her what year he was (he said freshmen) and began to question what year she was.
He asked the young women could he have their number. His exact word were, “Yo baby can I get yo digits.” He told each of the women that he wanted to go on a date with them and that he was single.
I wanted to tap him on the shoulder and let him know that a young man should not solicit a woman’s attention by snapping at her and that he should speak to her without calling her “baby” or “sexy,” but I didn’t.
I consider myself well versed on a lot of issues and I try to keep myself abreast of the latest information in terms of relating to all humans and showing them dignity and respect, but I was stumped with this young man. It’s obvious to me that he has picked up on how to relate to women from the men in his life or the images he sees of men relating to women on television. His snapping and demeaning language was learned somewhere.
I guess the question I was left wondering was if it’s important to teach the developmentally disabled to be respectful of others. Should this young man know that its inappropriate to speak to women in certain ways? That women are not sexual objects?
I plan on doing some research tonight so I can help myself answer these questions.
Update: I asked the young man his name and took the time to tell the young man that it wasn’t cool to snap at a young woman. He also asked me how to spell “mp3 player” and I helped him spell the word and helped him type in the rest of the word.
In 1938 Hattie McDaniels won the role of Mammy in the film Gone With The Wind. Her salary from the film was $450 a week. During the 1940′s she earned no less than $31,000 for the film projects she did. This was a huge deal back then but no where near the amount her white counterparts were earning.
Fast forward to 2010 and Forbes has just released its Celebrity 100 Power list ranking the most powerful celebrities in the world. While not a big deal in most people’s eyes I think it should be noted that the number 1 & 2 most powerful celebrities in the world according to Forbes magazine are two African American women.
I think I should repeat that again. The two most powerful celebrities in Hollywood and the world according to Forbes magazine are both African American women.
1. Oprah Winfrey
2. Beyonce Knowles-Carter
Oprah Winfrey earned $315 million in 2009 and Beyonce earned over $86 million in the same time frame.
That is something.
Even though there continue to be major disparities between the wealth of people of color and white Americans. The symbol of two black women topping Forbes is a powerful one.
Congratulations to both Oprah and Beyonce for their significant achievements.
I’m sure Hattie McDaniels would be proud.
The BET Awards aired last night and the one story that everyone is talking about is predictably Chris Brown. The headline however, isn’t about Chris Browns fairly decent job at performing The King of Pops iconic choreography, but rather the bizarre(staged) breakdown the artist had on stage last night.
Chris Brown could have left the BET Awards last night with most people congratulating him on a job well done performing Michael Jackson’s choreography. I and many others were going to grant him that, and, say job well done kid. Instead Chris Brown chose to make his “tribute” to Michael Jackson all about Chris Brown. Part of being a professional means the ability to remain professional. Chris Brown showed last night that he isn’t up to that task. He made it through the dance steps but when it came time to sing “Man in the Mirror” the tarnished singer couldn’t muster a single note because he was crying and carrying on all over the stage.
Instead of everyone talking about how great a job Chris Brown did paying tribute to Michael Jackson, now everyone is talking about “Did you see Chris Brown break down last night.” What was supposed to be a tribute to the late Pop Icon has been reduced to Chris Brown and his crocodile tears.
Many people will buy into the act Chris Brown put on last night but it left a sour taste in my mouth. Jermaine Jackson stated that finally someone was going to fitting pay tribute to Michael Jackson.
That didn’t happen last night.
Today is National HIV Testing day and as such many people are tweeting and taking to Facebook to voice the importance of being tested. Some people are saying that they need to see paperwork before they engage in sexual acts with someone and that having documentation is important if you are trying to get with them.
While I think these sort of messages for getting people to get tested are important I think they also miss the mark.
The importance of HIV testing in my opinion is that if you are infected with the virus the earlier it is detected the better your prognosis will be. The problem with so many people with HIV is that they never got tested and thus when they discovered they were HIV+ they were into the later stages of the virus and were more likely to experience the complications associated with AIDS.
HIV testing allows those who are infected to have a chance to take control of their infection early on which changes their prognosis from a life threatening infection to a chronic disease that can be managed.
HIV testing shouldn’t really matter when it comes to you having sex. If you test negative you should still continue to use condoms as obviously you want to keep it that way. I personally assume that everyone is HIV+ and use a condom anyway. An HIV test is just a window of your status at one particular time and thus you could have done anything to change that so I must still be on high alert.
So while HIV testing is important for knowing the status of your partner it’s even more important for helping to get early diagnoses for those who may be infected and a chance for them to start taking the life saving medication from the start.
Paperwork or no paperwork, test or no test, you should still be using condoms for all your sex partners.
It pains me and I mean truly pains me that people in 2010 still do not know what homosexuality is, and both uninformed gay and straight individuals are guilty of this. Information is at our finger tips and knowledge is just a google search away. It seems like ignorance is at the top of every gay mans list when it comes to conceiving their own sexuality.
Homosexuality is not:
A birth defect.
Or any other crazy demeaning and belittling thing homophobic people try to label it.
For the last time.
Homosexuality along with heterosexuality and bisexuality is a sexual orientation. A legitimate sexual orientation at that.
So please stop spreading this ignorant homophobic rhetoric that homosexuality is anything other than a sexual orientation.
“Let a man be a man.”
Would you believe me if I said that the aforementioned line was one of the most dangerous statements in the English language? You would probably think I was crazy if I tried to convince you that a seemingly harmless statement like, “Let a man be a man,” was in fact one of the most dangerous, problematic, and troubling statements in the English language, and given the way our society is organized I can understand why.
When I think of all the women and men who have been seduced by the lies of patriarchy the statement “Let a man be a man” comes to encapsulate so many of the problems with gender bias and bigotry in this country and the world.
The notion that anyone has to let a man be a man is dangerous. I and many other minds strongly believe that manhood is a state of being. It is not an act, it is not a performance, and it is not a show.
Many men and women falsely believe that a man should be allowed to say certain things, and do certain things. The notion that a man should be allowed to be a man is always a thinly veiled acceptance of the man as ranking at the top of the power structure.
Women all over the world excuse the reckless, violent, and abusive behaviors of their men, they couch their submission behind the notion that a man should be allowed to be a man. A father who is not nurturing to his children, a husband who who never considers his wifes opinion, a son who respects no one are all allowed to be this way, their behaviors explained with the age ole and very troubling adage, “Let a man be a man.” So many women put up with all kinds of horrible behavior from their men simply because they feel they need to let a man be a man. His cheating, his lying, his deception, his lack of commitment, his lack of concern, his lack of sound judgment, etc. All become excused in the name of letting a man be a man.
This has to stop.
This poisonous statement doesn’t just affect the heterosexual community and relationships between men and women. The power and problem of the statement, “Let a man be a man,” can be seen as one of the primary components in the prominence of homophobia.
It is assumed that all men are heterosexual and that any man worth his weight wants to be with a woman sexually. Oftentimes you hear many straight men pass of homosexuality by declaring, “How could any man wanna be with another man when there is so much pussy in the world.” The notion being that the opportunity to sexually conquer women is just to alluring to ever consider being with another man.
So when we think of letting a man be a man we do not associate this with allowing a man to be gay. For a man to be gay is to not be a man, but instead to be something different, less than, perverse.
“Let a man be a man” is not particularly favorable to gay men in that sense. And it informs much of the effemiphobia so prevalent in the gay community.
We have the ability and the power to reject the notion that a man should be allowed to be a man. Women and gay men have a unique position to challenge and change this notion. We need to give up this notion that when it comes to certain things, a man should just be allowed to be a man. Excusing violence and abuse in the name of allowing a man to be a man only creates and continues suffering. Being a man should not center around constantly having your behavior excused and forgiven. Being a man should not center around having a free pass to act any kind of way.
Instead of “Letting a man be a man” how about we hold men accountable for their actions and don’t give them a pass simply because they are men. I know the idea seems radical but trust me the lives of men, women, and children will be better because of it.