Thursday, April 10, 2008

That thing we can't admit.

The links off Dw3t-Hthr's recent post have gotten me to thinking again. I'm not going to go into the heart of the fiasco, because I'm only a bystander and the injured party doesn't want more shit stirred for her sake, but, you know, thoughts.

Why is it that racism is the one sin we can't seem to admit to? Okay, so it's not just racism, it's prejudices in general, because they're all connected, but it really seems to come up an awful lot when women of color take white feminists to task for being racist.

How hard is it to say, "Sorry, I see that what I did there marginalized you and appropriated your work in a way that was racist of me, and I'll work to fix that behavior now"?

We live in a racist (among other ugly things) society. Those of us who grow up under the invisible banner of privilege are going to have racist thoughts, are going to do racist things. Me? I am a little middle-class white girl whose understanding of the issues of people of color is largely limited to anime (I mean, seriously), the television of David Simon (a white man, I might add), and blogs. I'm going to think and say and do racist shit sometimes, and then I'm going to have to apologize for it and make sure I don't do it in the future. Them's the breaks. It's how we learn.

Denying it when it's this obvious only adds "being a self-involved ass" to the list of bad behaviors you're displaying.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

trying to post more, New Scientist edition

March 15-21 edition, New Scientist magazine:

"Using data on political groups in Bangladesh, for example, [Steve] Shellman's team [at the University of Georgia in Athens, US] has shown that repressive government policies, such as violent clampdowns on political groups, have side effects. When many political groups were repressed at once, formerly peaceful groups turned violent. So, while repression might seem attractive to governments, the model shows it often backfires."

No, really?

I suppose now at least we can at least say that it is scientifically proven that oppression is a Bad Thing.

Monday, March 31, 2008

late to the party, but what the hell

"The fact is that all prostitution, including Spitzer’s brokering of a high-priced call-girl, is dangerous for several reasons: first, as a population, prostitutes suffer grave victimization and physical harm; second, prostitution degrades the status of all women by affirming the pathology of associating sex with property; finally, prostitution undermines perhaps the most important moment of reckoning in our country’s history – when we established legally that human beings cannot be bought and sold."

Does anybody see what's wrong with this statement?

I mean, okay, besides the various false assumptions in the first two reasons listed. The idea that the reasons many prostitutes suffer grave victimization and physical harm all stem from some inherent flaw in sex work itself, rather than the culture of bigotry and shame that surrounds it, is an assumption with only philosophical ramblings to back it up. The second reason listed is even more pernicious--the idea that what one woman does can somehow degrade all women has been used to legitimize sexism for ages. But the third one? The idea that selling sexual services makes you a slave?

Can we count the ways in which that's fucked up?

There's the idea that the only sex workers who "count" are those who are forced into it and essentially treated as slaves. You're only allowed to be in the picture if you fit a (supposedly) more privileged writer/thinker's view of your profession. If you're doing it because it's better than flipping burgers, or, heaven forbid, because you actually like it, you don't exist.

Well, that's just stupid. But somehow, I don't think that's what the writer is getting at. I think what he/she is saying is far nastier.

I think it rests on this: the assumption that one's sex, alone among physical services, represents one's entire humanity. How else would getting paid for performing sexual services be seen as equivalent to having other people exchange money to use your entire life as they see fit?

And this idea that a woman (or anyone who puts themselves into the feminine role of whore) can be defined entirely by sex is at the heart of the oppression and misogyny that makes the world worse for everyone, especially all women.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Round hips sink ships!

Why is it that so many "compliments" to a woman's appearance revolve around her unsuitability for the workplace?

All right, that's a bit of a rhetorical question. I could provide some answers easily enough. Because women are supposed to be passive objects, not active workers. Because sexism requires compliments to women to always have a bit of a sting in their tail (keep them down even when you're being nice). I could go on, really.

The usual is this one: "A pretty girl like you shouldn't be doing a tough job like this!"

But the other day, I got a different one. I got: "How can anyone work with such a pretty girl? She's too distracting!" And, when he thought I couldn't hear: "That girl's so hot, I wouldn't be able to work with her."

(This was particularly charming as, on the day in question, I was rather under the weather with a cold and actually looking rather sunken-eyed and wan. Buuuut, on account of warm weather, I was wearing a low-cut shirt. So I had a bit of a guarantee there that what made me so hot wasn't even my face--it was my T&A.)

So that's yet another angle to come at it from--not only must we compliment working women by reminding them of their inherent unsuitability for the workplace, but we can additionally remind them that their mere existence makes things difficult for the poor menfolk!

I wonder how many more angles this particular delightful shape has?