Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Slut-Shaming Week in Review

It has been a very productive week for people who like to blame victims and shame bodies. As posted earlier, The Williams Sisters were in the news because of Serena Williams’ Wimbledon win, not because of the win, but because their bodies are built like athletes’s bodies and not like soft hourglasses of caramel and pixie dust that society deems impossibly acceptable for women. Bill Cosby is again in the news, this time because a witness came forward to explicitly state that Mr. Cosby bought quaaludes for the purpose of drugging women and having sex with them: Bill Cosby himself, back in 2005. On the web, AshleyMadison.com, a site for people who want to have extramarital affairs, was hacked, and the hackers threatened to release the identities of the site’s membership. Finally, a local Rochester blogger “exposed” that the widow of a fallen police officer not only has a new boyfriend less than a year after her husband’s death, but she is also pregnant.

Regarding the Williams sisters, I already ranted enough about the racist insults about their bodies, and the sexist responses to the racist insults. I will say this: no one claims that a carpenter has an unfair advantage over a piece of wood when he/she sharpens saw blades before cutting wood. An athlete’s primary tool is her own body, so why would she not keep it in shape? If you are seriously criticizing a female athlete’s lack of “femininity”, but you have never played against said athlete, challenge her to a match. If you lose, shut the hell up...actually, if you win, shut the hell up. Chubs.

It is now known that Bill Cosby ADMITTED to buying drugs in order to drug women and have sex with them. I tried to ask him directly on Twitter about it, but he is now apparently blocking people challenge his credibility, so soon, it will be just him and Camille tweeting back and forth to each other. There are STILL people who are holding on to the notion that this is some sort of large conspiracy that he is being ruined because he is a successful black man, or because he tried to buy NBC, or because he’s rich, and why would someone rich do something so evil when he could just buy sex? There are still people saying that a few of the victims could have lied to “get on the bandwagon”, to get money or fame. Even if that were true, that is still tacit admission that he did rape some of them, which would mean HE’S STILL A RAPIST. There are still people who say the victims knew what they were getting into and were asking for it, going to a man’s house or hotel alone. There are people who are still saying “innocent until proven guilty”. All of these individuals are people I like to call “no longer my friends”. The only conspiracy is the one Cosby initiated to drug these women and then to do his best to publicly discredit them when they came forward, and it doesn’t matter if these women walked up to Bill Cosby’s room completely naked except for a sign that reads, “I want to bang Leonard Part VI”. If they did not consent to sex, it is rape. Excuses be damned.

The AshleyMadison thing is somewhat complicated...Actually, it is not. Some deem the hack and exposure as karmic retribution for the cheaters on the site who signed up, so we should not feel sorry for them. Here’s the problem with this idea: yes, the site does explicitly say that it’s a site for people to have affairs, and maybe a lot of members do that. From my own failed marriage, I can say that infidelity, when only one person knows of it, is VERY painful when it is finally discovered. However, who knows the dynamic of the people’s relationships who are on AshleyMadison? Some couples could be on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement. Maybe both husband and wife are on, and they are into cuckolding. Maybe they are swingers and looking for new swing partners. Perhaps everyone in the relationship knows. Maybe they are on there because their spouse is verbally/physically abusive and cold, and they just need to meet a person who will listen and get some semblance of joy. No one can assess what is going on in the mind of every single person on the site, and therefore, no one can say that everyone on AshleyMadison is on there to insidiously deceive his/her spouse. The thought that every marriage must be a two-person dynamic where parties mate for life and never see another person sexually desirable is puritanical and ridiculous. In a country that supposedly embraces freedom and expression, we sure do have a lot of antiquated thoughts about relationships and sexuality. I would not get an AshleyMadison account for the same reason I would not play a GTA game: I don’t like the basic premise. However, I would not speak ill of anyone who goes on AM or plays GTA, as I don’t know what their intentions are, nor is it my business. We all know what will happen if this hacker group releases these names: the men exposed will be excused with statements like, “boys will be boys”, and, “What did the wife do wrong?”, while the women exposed will be affixed with a red “A” for all the Internet to see, and all repercussions in real life and the Net will follow them forever. These hackers are not righteous. They are petulant.

This thought falls in line with the case of Amy Pierson. She is the widow of Daryl Pierson, a Rochester Police Department officer who was killed in the line of duty, whose murderer was just convicted and sentenced. Another blogger named Davy Vara exposed that Ms. Pierson is pregnant by her new boyfriend, less than 10 months after her husband’s death. It’s a bit complicated: thousands mourned for her and with her. Pierson’s funeral was so big, it was held in the Rochester Blue Cross Arena. A dealership gave her a car, and people offered to pay off her mortgage. People sent her money. She is definitely getting whatever pension/widow’s benefits that are afforded to spouses of officers. Mr. Vara seemed incredulous that she would have a boyfriend so soon after Ms. Pierson’s death, and that she is pregnant and boasting about it on Facebook! It just shows how insincere her sorrow was! Or does it? First, Mr. Vara said that he was old fashioned and how her own mother had eyes for no other man after his father died. He said that back in the day, people partnered and stayed together through thick and thin. What he failed to mention was that the “thick” was often chronically abusive relationships with near sex slave conditions for some wives, and the “thin” was that in some places divorce was illegal, even in the US, and that in most places divorce was equivalent to scrawling, “I’m a whore” on your forehead, no matter what the reason for separation was. What I didn’t see in the article is whether he knew the dynamics of their relationship. There was talk of her cheating on her husband with a lieutenant and of her presumed affair with her current boyfriend, but how does he know that this is the case? Were they in an open relationship? Were they slowly on the outs? Also, who is to say how soon is “too soon” in grieving? Everyone is different, they grieve in different ways, and perhaps during her grieving, she found someone else, who she happened to know already. If they were in any type of non-monogamous relationship, there is a common myth that these types are less pure than strict, binary monogamous unions. There is no real measurement for love. Even if Ms. Pierson was in an open relationship, or if she was actually cheating on Daryl Pierson, that does not mean she loved him less, and it does not mean that her grief was not sincere. A DJ in Baltimore to whom I listened when I lived there lost his wife in a car accident. His first three times back on the air, he had to go off the air and let his partner take over because he couldn’t function. 5 months later, he talked about his first sexual encounter after the death of his wife. No one would accuse him of no longer missing his wife or loving her less. None even questioned him. What was the point of “exposing” Amy Pierson and claiming she may have misled everyone, based on a Facebook post? Without talking directly to Ms. Pierson, how would anyone know how she is feeling? The whole article is similar to the AshleyMadison hacker situation. America is too damned puritan, which is ironic, because we use sex and women’s body parts to sell everything.

This has been your week in Slut-Shaming. Hopefully, this will not be a regular segment.

Slut-Shaming Racism: The Williams Sisters

Serena Williams is a motherfucking badass. Both of the Williams sisters are powerhouses in their own right. They are the two of the greatest tennis players, and athletes, in modern history. This is not hyperbole; this is assessment based on statistics and achievements in their field.
You would not know that, though, because it seems both the public and the press are obsessed with the shape of their bodies. When Serena Williams won at Wimbledon last week, The Internet went INSANE, not with praise for a great athlete who broke a record, but with criticism, excuses, and outright blatant insults, all explaining why she won. People claimed that she is shaped like a man. Many said she was animal-like, namely like a gorilla. Others took those assessments of her body and said that she had an unfair advantage over more “feminine” (blond white) opponents. Some went completely infantile with their statements, but more polished writers wrapped their insults in pretty packages so that you didn’t know how disgusting their diatribes were until about five minutes after you read it. I’m looking at you, New York Times. By the way, if you don’t understand why comparing a black person’s physical attributes and/or athletic prowess those of a gorilla, chimpanzee, monkey, deer, or dog, then you need to pick up a history book, and look up what “scientists” of the past did to equate them with lower creatures. The only acceptable black person/animal comparison of which I know is the cat, and that is usually only acceptable in jazz clubs and 35+ river day cruises.
What is worse than the borderline racist comparisons of Serena and Venus Williams to apes and men in memes and articles veiled as journalism is the angry retort from people “defending” the Williams sisters. Normally, a measured response to such invectives would be welcome. Hell, a collective silent middle finger to such vitriol would be nice. Instead of either of those, a cavalcade of counter-memes was the response. For nearly a straight week, I saw nothing but responses to Williams/Man/Ape comparisons in the form of zoomed-in shots of the Williams’s breasts, buttocks, and legs with tag lines about what posters would like to do to those specified body parts. Rarely were the Williams’s faces prominent in the pictures, but if we were lucky, at least their faces would not be cut off in cropping. Now, I am not a robot. The Williams sisters are FINE. If one of them told me that she was into pudgy middle-aged black men, but only for carnal indulgences, I would drop everything and fly to...wherever the hell they live. However, defending people’s physical criticisms of their bodies by objectifying them and reducing them to body parts is NOT HELPING. I’m all for pushing back against longstanding racist tropes, but not by using longstanding misogynistic tropes. This isn’t an antebellum auction block. It’s somewhat like saying, “How dare you insult that bitch!” YOU’RE STILL INSULTING. Objectifying the Williams based on their prominent body parts is the same as body shaming them based on the hue of their body parts. You’re being just as corrosive, just with a different acid.
Yes, male athletes do get attention based on their looks, but the first thing you hear about a male athlete are his achievements as an athlete, and then if he is good-looking, perhaps he’ll get a modeling deal with Calvin Klein or Express. How he looks is a side note, though, not the focus. People don’t shame a guy for having muscles, as he SHOULD have, because he needs them to do his job. The Williams sisters have 103 singles titles between them. They have 43 doubles titles, 56 Grand Slam titles, and 8 Olympic gold medals. By all accounts, they are likely two of the best players in the history of professional tennis. Sadly, though, I fear that this will all be overshadowed because as black women, they will be body and race shamed by both their detractors and their “supporters”.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Missive to the Most Anglo of Saxons

Dear straight white Christian-raised male,

Between the Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, I can tell that this year is especially rough for you. I have seen taped rants, essays, and treatises from so many people just in the last few weeks, and I can tell that you are frustrated and angry.

There’s a trend in popular culture to cast and depict your originally white male heroes as women or people of colour. This seems to be so enraging to you, to see fictional characters who will have no real effect on your life be shown in a different light. It is as if Lawrence Olivier wore blackface to play Othello, or if Angelina Jolie was cast to play Mariane Pearl, an Afro-Sino-Cuban woman who actually exists.

You have no idea how to respond to Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation from Bruce. It must be so difficult for you to see an Olympian who you likely forgot about transition into a body and mind state that will ultimately make her happy and cause absolutely no consequence to you. How will you cope with this?

Just this month, you found out that your precious Alexander Hamilton may no longer be on the $10 in place of a woman. You poor things. The Founding Father who was felled in a duel will now be again felled by a person with ladybits, a push set forth because of all those pesky feminists, wanting women to be seen more prominently in society, just because they are 50% of society.

Then it was brought to your attention that it is offensive for a government office that claims to be working for all citizens and residents to fly the flag of a dead country that advocated owning other humans as a means to gain economic wealth and prosperity. It only took was 5,000+ murders and lynchings, plus the 9 that happened last week for you to realize that. Sure, the only reason that the flags were raised at those current government offices were to protest the fact that the federal government was starting to recognize that every citizen should be treated equally under the law. But you’re getting serious feels because “it’s just some fabric” and “there are more important issues”.

Why are all these things coming up at once? It is as if it is cool to be accepting and respectful of people different from you. I’ve heard you claim that it is all show and just a passing trend and sensation. It could not possibly be that these marginalized groups have been talking about this for years, taking to the streets at times, for hundreds of years, and people are just now paying attention in this century. There are books and speeches and manifestos promoting gender and racial and sexual equality that date back to when it was illegal to publish such literature, but it seems that the 20th and 21st century is when things actually started to change.

And for that, I am sorry. I truly am. I am sorry that your zero state has been put into question. I am sorry that you were too oblivious of the fact that there are other humans on the planet who have been offended by your zero state and have been screaming at the top of their lungs about it, but you were too busy dismissing their pleas for reason and respect. I am sorry that you can no longer casually say racist, Anti-non-Christian, sexist, homophobic things anymore without someone calling you out on it. Your life is so hard now, having to respect people. This is happening all of a sudden, and I am sure it is difficult for you. I will make an appointment to cry a river for you.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dylan McDermott Owes Us an Explanation

Speak for your people!
In light of the Charleston, SC church shooting yesterday, I am calling on Dylan McDermott to make a statement on behalf of all Dylans and all white people, condemning this heinous act of violence. Mr. McDermott, you need to represent your entire race, and your first name. You may have no relation or knowledge that this Dylann Roof ever existed until now, but this murderer of nine innocent black people in this church that was an epicenter for the fight for black freedom and civil rights is unconscionable. It is as if he was doing a victory lynching!

Dylann Roof is a known white supremacist. He has many ties in the white power movement. Sure, some say he was a “lone wolf”, but that is just whitesplaining for “known terrorist”. Roof is a terrorist, and though he was caught and will hopefully face justice, we need to crack down on ALL people of his ilk! We need to monitor on all white people named Dylan! Limit their movements. Flag them for extra screening at airports. Make sure they cannot practice their day-to-day routines. Check to make sure they are LEGIT Dylans. Sure, you can claim that they are mostly peace loving people, but look at what is on the news right now! A white guy named DYLANN killed nine people, and when he did it, he claimed it was because they were raping his women and taking over his country! How do I know that other white Dylans don’t feel this way! Perhaps we should round them all up and ship them back to Wales.

The name “Dylan” means “great tide”. Great tides have destroyed coastal cities for years. And I am to believe that these white Dylans are people of peace??? I don’t think so. I am afraid to walk out of my door, for my neighbour is a Dylan. What is he taking out of his mailbox at 6 in the afternoon? It looks like a Men’s Health magazine, but it could be anthrax. I’ll never know. Where is he going from 7am to 5pm every weekday? is there a meeting that his terrorist buddies hold to plot more violence?

Dylan McDermott, you need to come clean. Where is your birth certificate? Were you even born in the US? Why haven’t you dissociated yourself with this white Dylan yet? How do we know you’re not a Welsh terrorist? I’m afraid for my life to look up pictures of you now!

This boy loved racist ass flags.
I realize that Nicki Haley already gave a tearful speech regarding these killings, but doesn’t get you off the hook, Mr. McDermott. First of all, since this was obviously a terrorist crime against brown people, another brown person can’t dissociate a white Dylan from society and denounce the actions of this Dylann Roof with the amount of apologetic rigor that you can. Secondly, this particular brown person is the governor of a state that still flies a confederate flag on its capitol! The confederate flag is not only the American swastika, it is literally the flag of a rogue nation that sought to be not part of the United States. Now it is a symbol that racists and bigots use to show that they are against the social progress of the last 150 years. Not all who fly it are bigots, and many say that we need to preserve it “for history’s sake”, but I don’t see too many synagogues in Europe preserving and flying the Nazi emblem so that they can remember it “for history’s sake”. The best way to observe such a history is by teaching it in history class. In light of the flag, and that it is flying over the capitol of the first state to secede from the Union, Ms. Haley’s comments fall a little bit flat. I bring up all this flag fiasco, because Dylann Roof apparently has an affinity for the flags of institutionally racist regimes. Why else would he patch his jacket with the old flags of South Africa and then-Rhodesia?

Dylann Roof explicitly said he planned to kill people, and he had the means to do it. The public needs to know if that is the intention of all Dylans, Mr. McDermott. What so your teachings implore you to do in the name of Wales and all Dylans? Are your loyalties with the public or just your cadre of Dylans? Speak up, and show that you are part of society, and not another Dylan white supremacist terrorist, like Dylann Roof! Your apology for his actions will be appreciated.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

When 'Soul Man' Was Real and Not Funny UPDATED

This film was up for a reboot anyway.
In 1986, a movie called Soul Man depicted C. Thomas Howell as Marcus Watson, a white college student who got a perm and bronzed his skin in order to earn a scholarship for African Americans to go to Harvard. Hilarity ensued...maybe. I was 8 when I saw it, so it could have been a cinematic abortion. My 8-year old judgement cannot be trusted. As we all know, children are idiots. I still believed that a fat old white man annually came down my chimney and gave me presents based on arduous scrutiny of my behaviour. You know how stupid I was? WE NEVER HAD A CHIMNEY!
Well, Soul Man just played out in real life: Rachel Dolezal, head of the Spokane Washington NAACP, was just outed as being white, by her parents, no less. This sounds like the plot of a reboot, and why not a Rule 63 version? Sadly, it is nowhere near as funny, not even to my 8-year old self. It brings up frustration and anger for so many reasons, and not from the usual sources.
There is a cadre of seemingly sociology experts even though they are currently doing extensive studying in their parents’ basements in between stints at 7-11, who bring out the who “race is a social construct, and being mad at Dolezal means you’re a perpetrator of it”. That is a very nice sentiment that is also a load of socially constructed bullshit. Yes, race as we know it is a social construct. It was put in place to justify dehumanizing others, from Middle Eastern natives and  Africans and indigenous North and South Americans to Italians and Greeks and Irish and Italians. You know what else is a social construct? Marriage. Property ownership. City, province, and country border designations. Society is a social construct.

The fact is that with many social constructs, race has not gone away, and likely will not any time soon. If I am stopped by a policeman who says that he is responding to a call of a black man looking suspect in the neighbourhood, I can’t say, “Well, that can’t be me, because your perception of my blackness is a social construct”, and expect to not get locked up at best. Talk to the families of the few hundred unarmed black people who have been killed in the last few years about how their offspring, siblings, and parents were victims of the “social construct”, and see how much traction you get with them. Justice is a social construct as well, and they don’t have that. People who harp incessantly on the “social construct” of race and racism are oddly in the same camp as the #AllLivesMatter camp, who are “I’m-not-racist-but...” racists. You’re all just whitesplaining, and you’re not helping.
I'd like to think this is how she was found out.
Some think that the outrage is ONLY because she was imitating black as a race. Had she done this to another race, there would be no ripples in the water, because for some reason, African American is the Yale of complaining about unjust things that happen to us, no matter what. Tell that to Emma Watson and yutz who cast her to portray an Asian/native Hawaiian, when her skin is so porcelain, it is nearly certain that she had to sleep in a coffin during the day while shooting on location to prevent bursting into flames. People of all ethnicities are somewhat offended when they see someone not of their ethnicity portraying real historical figures who were definitely NOT white. I would expect just as much pushback of Samuel L. Jackson playing King Henry VIII in a biopic as there was when Christian Bale portrayed BatMoses. Keep in mind, fictional characters are free territory, so calm down nerds. Your griping about a black Spider-Man are still unwarranted. If DC makes a white Steel tomorrow, the world won't implode.
Another annoying group of individuals is the one who conflates this case of “transraciality” with transsexuality. It shows how badly we need to do better with teaching science and sexuality in our schools, and how mind-numbingly ignorant some people are. Rachel Dolezal wasn’t born thinking she was missing an ethnicity, or that she always should have been black. She took on the persona of what she thinks a black person is and ran with it. Ask any transperson, and they will acknowledge that something felt off or wrong about them. Transexuality, like homosexuality and bisexuality is more a physiological state than merely an emotional state. The only thing physiological that Rachel Dolezal shares with African Americans is that she is human…I guess now she gets to share the “joy” of her every move being overly scrutinized.

Dolezal during her Howard years
Here is the most annoying thing about Ms. Dolezal’s shenanigans: SHE NEVER HAD TO LIE. She was white when she went to Howard University, an historically black university. She was white when she married her black husband. She was white when she took family photos with her ethnically diverse family. No one batted an eye. She was accepted as a pretty decent person. Why lie when joining and leading the NAACP? It’s the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and that includes if your color is pasty super-light beige. NAACP does NOT have an exclusionary policy when it comes to membership or leadership. It’s not the black KKK. It was founded by both black and white people, and there are chapters that were lead by people who are not black. Before The Internet lost its mind over this story, you could actually google the term “White NAACP Chapter Presidents” and get a few hits. ethnic identity is not, and will never be, a criterion for membership or leadership in the NAACP, contrary to what talking heads say. Half of the NAACP national president is white, for crying out loud!

Even though the NAACP stood by her and Dolezal resigned from her post, hopefully this will blow over soon. Is Rachel Dolezal just another Iggy Azalea or Vanilla Ice, though? She DEFINITELY appropriated an entire culture that was not originally hers, and she doesn't seem too apologetic or contrite about it, so you be the judge. The saddest part about this debacle is that now Spokane, WA now has no black people.

For future reference, though, people, no one has a problem with a person revering a American black culture. Go to an HBCU. Focus your studies on African American history and African cultures. Be the most educated white person on black history in your town. Focus your service activities on empowering underprivileged traditionally black communities. Enjoy some of our fashion and music. Hell, marry a black guy or woman or something. We will likely still respect you. Just DON’T LIE. 


Well, a few things came to the surface in the last few days since I first penned this. It seems Ms. Dolezal sued Howard University for racial discrimination in 2002. Obviously, she identified as white back then, or else there would be no impetous for suing a historically black college or university for discrimination. The court didn’t think she had a case, as the judge threw it out and made her pay Howard university’s $2,000 court fees. She also received a few pieces of hate mail...from herself.  She must have been black at that point. She claimed to have received hate mail and a noose in her PO box, but it was not sent through the US Post Office. The only way it could have gotten there was via someone with a key to her mailbox. Racist bigots don’t use the Post Office! Everyone know their favourite mail delivery is window/brick interface, stuffed in molotov cocktail, or ignited lowercase “T” on the lawn! Had she claimed to receive anthrax or ricin through the mail, she would have been more believable. Right wing nutjobs LOVE sending powder.

She also went on The Today Show and claimed she felt she was black since she was 5 years old. I guess she had a little bit of a “white spell” at Howard when she sued them, then.She also questioned the validity of her parents claiming that they were her real parents. beside the fact that they (used to) look like her, there is a large cache of photographic evidence that shows that they are definitely her blood.

The amount of cultural appropriation that Rachel Dolezal has done would make Iggy Azalea say, “That’s a bit too far, mate”, or “That shit ain’t trill, cuz”, depending on what day you see her. It was all unnecessary. She could have done everything she wanted to do without concocting such an elaborate ruse. She’s not Jane Goodall; she can appreciate, emulate, and support a culture and community WITHOUT making an entirely new persona and Pretending to BE a part of that community. This whole mess has completely derailed anything she may have achieved and any progress she was making on newer projects. I hope it was worth it to her.

Seriously, though, how the hell did she get her curls so TIGHT!? I know black women who spend $1,000s to get their hair UNcurly, but she mastered getting her hair as tight as lamb’s wool after a heavy rain! Maybe this was all a ruse to push hair care products...

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