Archive for May, 2007

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salty sunday

May 20, 2007

The NYTimes discusses ethical concerns about the high compensation fees for egg donation (and what effect this has on “informed consent” for a fairy extensive and potentially dangerous medical procedure).

DMI blog on the NYC housing myth: there is, without a doubt, enough vacant property in Manhattan to house every single homeless person. So why are they still living on the street? This entry links to a new study published by Picture the Homeless on why this is happening and what can be done to change it.

Angry Brown Butch links to previously classified NYPD documents from the RNC, released after a legal victory for I-Witness video.

Queer artists: consider submitting to the Borders and Bridges art gallery at the Southern Comfort conference in Atlanta in September. You do not need to attend the conference to submit your work.

Jill at Feministe responds to the recent criticism of Full Frontal Feminism.

Quench Zine likes the food stamp challenge (of which I am not such a fan).

Everything I know about feminism, I learned on on youtube – at Fetch Me My Axe. There’s some great stuff there, especially that video of Staceyann Chin. Damn.

The LA Times has a piece about the changing West Village and the recycling of homophobia. Via NSRC feed.

NYTimes on shelters for gay youth.

Birthright Unplugged made it into Newsweek.

Finally, a little bit funny and a little bit sad: Sam Brownback thinks he has a uterus. Via Pandagon.

DON’T FORGET TO BLOG FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS, TUESDAY, JUNE 5TH!

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Blog for Domestic Workers on Tuesday, June 5th!

May 19, 2007

dw_sticker1b.jpg

Attention bloggers: Tuesday, June 5th is Blog for Domestic Workers day! The event is in conjunction with a massive Town Hall meeting and accountability session at Judson Memorial Church in New York City on Thursday, June 7th. Domestic Workers United (DWU), an organization of nannies, housecleaners, and elderly care givers, is pushing a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights through the state legislature in Albany. If passed, it would be the first legislation of its kind, guaranteeing basic rights to domestic workers in New York state. Domestic workers have been excluded from most federal and state labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.

Domestic workers number over 200,000 in the New York tri-state area alone. They work tirelessly for low pay and little respect, yet they enable about 400,000 middle- and upper-class folks to go to work every day. They make this city run, yet they have received little recognition for this work. It is no coincidence that most domestic workers are immigrant women of color and do traditional women’s work. The time has come for the world, or at least New York City, to recognize and appreciate what a vital role domestic workers play. (more here)

No matter where you live, please consider posting on June 5th about anything that relates to domestic workers: your experiences working as one; being raised by one; political issues from your own broad perspective; your thoughts on how this issue is a feminist issue; how it relates to the other immigrant experiences; ideas on how we might frame this issue for a mainstream audience. Anything you like, just frame it as why I support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. Take part in breaking the silence on this issue. Help bring it out of the closet by doing what you do best: writing your heart out. June 5th. If you can, please link to info about the Town Hall event and to the text of the Bill of Rights. And don’t forget to leave a link to your post in the comments section of this one and if you can, please use the image at the top of this page in your post. Thank you and I look forward to seeing all of your fantastic posts on June 5th!

RESOURCES:

*UPDATED 6/1* more fantastic resources:

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nature nurture blah blah blah

May 19, 2007

Mainstream media on queer gender: blah blah nature nurture blah blah? That’s all I hear. Yahoo news has a series of clips from this week’s 60 Minutes on sexual orientation. Let’s see if we can essentialize gender and chalk it all up to science, shall we? OK. Go watch the clips and then come back.

Things you learn from this brilliant show:

    1. Twins of the same biological gender can have remarkably different gender identities and expressions. Say what?

    2. In discussions of queers demonstrating traits of the opposite gender, make sure never to mention the possibility of anyone being trans, as that fucks with our needed conflation of gender and sexuality. Even though the girly 9-year old boy (who is SUPER cute, btw) says out loud that he wants to be a girl.

    3. Gay men are almost always feminine; lesbians are almost always masculine. Phew, glad we got that one cleared up. That explains everything. Case in point: this dyke played with trucks as a child, now she has short hair and doesn’t cross her legs in a chair. Also, her voice is kinda low. THIS IS SO EASY! Let’s essentialize SOME MORE!

    4. If we give male rats female hormones at birth and vice versa, they become gay! Then the boy rats mount the other boy rats and don’t make rat baybeez! I don’t know what this teaches us about human sexuality and human gays but it sure does make scientists look bizarre.

    5. The more older brothers you have, the more likely it is you will become a gay. Something about the mother dealing with having foreign hormones in her womb or something.

Things queers can tell you without scientific research:

    1. Nature/nurture is an inherently flawed dichotomy which excludes historical and contextual factors. Nature/nurture assumes that we are a product of a combination of our biology and our parents’ child-rearing, that we were born into and move through the world as isolated beings, protected from everything around us and from our collective history as humans and as Americans, separate from our race and class experiences. I’d rather see nuanced questions like, how do nature and nurture interact with one another? Why can’t we complicate these two black and white forces of what made us? See my favorite article on the development of gay identity, D’Emilio’s “Capitalism and Gay Identity” for further reference. (And of course, the offer still stands – if you want a copy, just email me. Saltyfemme at gmail.)

    2. Scientific explanations of queer identity can be offensive because they amount to straight people dealing with their homophobia not in the respectful “I’m going to learn about this thing that is foreign to me” way but in the “they can’t help it! It’s inborn! Therefore I must force myself to deal!” way. (remember this guy?)

    3. As many people as there are in the world, that’s how many different expressions of gender there are. Don’t chalk it up to pink and blue or who crosses their fucking legs. Or even to who you fuck. Yep, straights can gender bend too. I know, shocking. Most queer people I know do not fit into these convenient little boxes that scientists have created in order for the world to deal with homophobia. DON’T DELUDE YOURSELF, curious straights. We come in a million colors and stripes, in varying degrees and combinations of masculinities, femininities, and androgynies.

And for the record: saltyfemme crosses her legs and talks girly. She played with Barbies. She likes the boy types. You’d probably think she was straight if you saw her. She is most definitely not. So fuck you, 60 Minutes.

Via Pandagon.

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Long Island couple accused of abusing domestic workers

May 17, 2007

Just another reason why domestic workers need a Bill of Rights. A Long Island couple has been charged with abusing, underpaying, and overworking two Indonesian domestic workers. From the NYTimes:

Police and federal immigration agents developed the case against the couple after one of the women, identified only as “Samirah” in court papers, was seen wandering near a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Syosset on Sunday morning, wearing only pants and wrapped in a towel. Her face was bruised, and when shop employees tried to communicate with her, she made gestures of slapping herself and uttering what sounded to them like the word “master,” prosecutors said.

The police took Samirah to Nassau University Medical Center, where, with the help of an Indonesian translator, she told them that she and a second woman, identified in papers only as “Nona,” were forced by the Sabhnanis to work long hours, given little food, forced to sleep on mats on the floor, kept hidden when company came, threatened with violence, and in Samirah’s case, frequently beaten by Mrs. Sabhnani.

Nice. So now I want the mainstream feminists to pay close attention: there are over 200,000 domestic workers in the NY metro-area – I don’t even know what the numbers look like for the whole country. They are almost exclusively immigrant women of color. And they are not covered by labor laws. Talk about not valuing women’s work.

If we could pull our attention away from the pressing opt-out myth discussion for just a second and wonder who takes the place of these middle- and upper-class parents when they “opt” to go back to work? Where are the rallying cries from the feminists about double-standards, frighteningly low wages for care work (women’s work), immigrant domestic workers being blackmailed by their employers because they don’t have papers?

Plans are under way for a blog for domestic workers day on Tuesday, June 5th. Posts can range from personal stories to theory to political essays or any combination – the idea is to get the stories and issues around this important topic out of the domestic closet and into the public. These women have raised countless numbers of children who are not biologically theirs; they take care of elderly people who might otherwise have to move out of their apartments and into nursing homes; they also clean apartments so that people can work their 9-5 jobs and come home to a beautiful space. They work hard, they support their own families – and ALL of us, whether we are domestic workers ourselves, have a relative who is, were raised by one, grew up in a house with a “cleaning lady,” have elderly grandparents with live-in help, or simply understand that taking care of children and cleaning is difficult and thankless work, we are ALL connected to this issue in some way. Please consider joining me in this important project and check back into saltyfemme soon for updates – by next week, I’ll have pages for linking with the text of the Bill of Rights and information about the Town Hall event on June 7th at Judson Memorial Church here in NYC.

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salty sunday

May 14, 2007

Yesterday was too beautiful a spring day to be sitting at a computer. So I bring you the first salty Monday.
ALLEN street
(a vast improvement from the scantily clad hipster girls, don’t you think? Apparently the founder of American Apparel is hot for the rebbe Woody Allen these days. The corner of Allen Street and East Houston will never be the same.)

First up: Maya Escobar, of the now-famous JAP videos, brings us a piece on cultural appropriation in the form of Guatemalan tallitot.

Petitpoussin on how the definition of ‘alternative media’ seems to be a bit skewed these days to some mainstream feminists. And why everyone should shut up about Rosie for the love of all things feminist and more freaking important!

Piny at Feministe on fetishizing trans folks. A really great introduction but also great if you’ve been trying to organize these thoughts on this issue in your head but can’t get a really good grip on it.

There are a great many feminists who are pretty pissed about “Full Frontal Feminism” and about the general state of the feminist blogosphere (mainly that it is replicating problems in the larger movement: silencing/erasing voices of women of color, dealing with issues that are vapid and ridiculous when there are clearly more important things to blog). For book reviews, clicky here, and here. On the rest, try here and here for some unbelievably powerful writing.

The Onion has a hilarious Women’s Issue. Highlight: Women Now Empowered by Everything a Woman Does. Via everyone.

Queer masculine folks of all stripes should consider contributing to Beyond Masculinity: Essays by Queer Men on Gender and Politics. Deadline is May 31st. Via Feministing.

Israel/Palestine news, Via Jewschool since it’s too depressing to follow. Violent police response to leftist protestors outside Hebron has sparked a storm of criticism. Also three new settlements have been approved on the land between East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion to continue creating contiguity between the two.

Finally, the best mother’s day post I read is at DMI blog. In Homage to All Mothers, Maureen Lane asks how we honor mothers living in poverty. A complicated and detailed piece, definitely a must-read.

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salty sunday

May 6, 2007

Remember the bomb that was found at the abortion clinic in Texas last week? A man was arrested for allegedly planting the bomb, which apparently contained 2,000 nails. Via Feministing.

Marriage and divorce for economic reasons? But I thought it was all about love and baybeez! Via Feministing.

Pro-life = anti-woman, anti-child, anti-choice. Case in point, South Carolina.

I heart New York. Governor Spitzer introduced the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act. Via Feministing.

A Jewish woman in France was attacked, stripped, and had swastikas drawn on her body. The incident wasn’t called anti-Semitic. It also wasn’t called a sexual attack. Um, what? Via Jewschool.

A succinct summary of why anti-choicers are hypocrites. Via Feministe.

Domestic Violence as a public health issue? Interesting. Via Kaiser.

37th Carnival of Feminists is up!

Social justice and spirituality go hand in hand, at least according to Tikun Leil Shabbat in DC. The word is spreading!

Great May Day series over at Women of Color Blog – photos and videos – because words can’t convey everything, especially the emotion of protest. Click here and scroll to the bottom for #1.

The NYTimes profiles a shelter in Astoria for transgendered teens.

This article explains why I hate the new Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. It’s shallow, predictable, boring, and has three female leads who are all sex- and love-starved and can’t seem to be happy without pathetic men around giving them attention.

Finally, coherent policies to reducing poverty, thank you! So we can put the slumming aside and maybe make some real change happen.

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rule #1 to peacemaking: do not sexualize soldiers

May 5, 2007

OK I get it, it’s tongue in cheek, I should stop being so serious all the time. Laugh! But I can’t. Because when websites like Mideast Piece try to be funny, they only make me shake my head in disgust. Mideast Piece, whose tagline is ‘Uniting Gay Men for Peace,” is all about “GLBTQ community-building and human rights.” Most interesting is seeing it described in the G-rated Israel-news site Israel21c:

Matt Lebow and John Leonard wanted to do something different. Fed up with traditional gay Internet sites that offered only crude and X-rated material, the Israel-based students decided to create a new web site that would combine their fervid interest in the region’s handsome men with a bit of culture, a dash of political activism and human rights, and most of all peaceful dialogue with other gays throughout the Arab world.

Firstly, both of these men are Americans, one is Jewish, neither are Arab. Perhaps not the best candidates to start a blog to unite gay Middle-Easterners. Their tongue-in-cheek mission statement of the website gets under my skin the most. After describing the beautiful, tanned men of the Middle East and explaining that the world better start caring about preserving them and preventing them from killing each other, they move on to the “values” of the site. If you were a Palestinian gay man, wouldn’t you want to read and contribute to a blog like this? Value #1:

• Soldiers are hot. They should not be killed in war. They should be trained – strenuously – and put on display for all to lust after. That’s Mideast Piece.

Oh boy, where do I even begin. How about “They should not be killed in war. They should also not kill in war. Or out of war. No one should kill. At all. We should not be fetishizing an image that valorizes and sexualizes uniforms, weapons, wars, and military might. This will contribute to more MIDEAST PEACE than any website fetishizing “that most sacred and bronzed of species, the Middle Eastern man.” Dear god. Onward, values #2, #3, and #4:

• Gay men and their supporters face similar challenges all over the world. Mideast Piece is where a shared dialog can provide solutions, mutual support, and hope to gay men of the region – plus tips on where to get a great body wax.

• Gay Jewish Israelis and neighboring gay Arabs have more in common than, say, a gay New York City Jew and a homophobic Salt Lake City Mormon in the US. We must focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us, i.e., a great ass, nice arms, killer smile, etc.

• Young gay men of Israeli Jewish background and young gay men of Palestinian Muslim background should get to work, which is what Mideast Piece represents. They must educate all gay – and curious – Middle Eastern men and their allies to make Mideast Piece, not war.

Actually, contrary to what white gay men from the West might think, not all gay men share the same life experience. What usually happens in these situations is that the voices of actual gay men from the Middle East get erased. The blog editors admit that they are having a hard time getting Muslim contributors. However, they attribute this only to the oppressive situation of gays in Muslim countries, not to the fact that perhaps those gay men might be turned off by who started the site, what assumptions are made (the masses agree: soldiers are hott), and to whom the site is directed. This blog receives thousands of hits a month. It is clearly a popular site. I just wonder if it’s more for the pictures of fetishized man candy or than the unity and dialogue. What are we really trying to accomplish here? Why does the mission statement of “GLBTQ dialogue and human rights” seem so far off from the content of the actual blog? And why are Jewish men posting about Islamic history? Say what?

The one thing I will commend them for is not even attempting to include lesbians in this blog, save for the requisite L in GLBTQ. At least the rule of “I am not X, I am Y, therefore I should not claim to speak for X but only for Y” applied for gender, if not for race, nationality, and religion. I await a diversity of voices on this website, but I’m not holding my breath. I could imagine the possibility that some gay Muslims would probably look at the politics of this blog with a tremendous amount of suspicion.