Archive for July, 2007

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pro-lifers can be rendered speechless

July 31, 2007

…when you ask them what would be a proper punishment for women who have abortions if they became illegal. Truly amazing stuff.

UPDATE: I can’t embed the YouTube video anymore, but you can watch it here.

Via Feministe. Read Anna Quinden’s piece and then Jill’s commentary at Feministe. They said it better than I could.

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dudes declare sexual assault funny as long as the victims are men

July 30, 2007

I’m guest blogging at Feministe this week! Check me out. And check out this entry over there for discussion, it’s cross-posted.

It’s humor so this warning may seem strange – this video is potentially triggering.

I was wary of posting this video for fear of directing more traffic to it. When I saw how many people have already watched it (it has nearly three million views on YouTube and counting), I figured it might be worth the attention. “Bro rape” has achieved mass popularity among (mostly) white college students for reasons I don’t entirely understand. Offensive stuff aside – and I’ll get to that in a minute – I actually just don’t find it funny.

The video is supposedly a parody of Dateline NBC’s programs about catching pedophiles. The Derrick Comedy group, made up of a group of NYU grads, write and perform pretty typical white college student humor, involving alcohol and sex jokes and always tinged with tones of sarcasm and self-mocking.

For those of you who don’t care to watch, here’s the opening bit. After a pretty gross fake rape scene, the fake news announcer jumps in (camera frozen on a “bro” being raped by a fellow “bro”):

It’s a type of rape that’s gone overlooked for decades. And it’s risen 44% in the last year. I’m talking, of course, about bro rape. What is a bro? A bro is an 18-24 year old male who wears Birkenstock sandals, watches Family Guy, plays ultimate Frisbee, and wears an upside-down visor or a baseball cap with a pre-frayed brim. You know, a bro. For every suburban house party, four bros will be raped, and only one in seven bros will tell their boys what happened the next day. As a result, most bro rapes go unreported.

The skit continues with the fake news team luring “bros” on the internet to come to “Chad’s place” to do dudely things. The reporter then rifles through each culprit’s bag, finding dudely items like gamecubes, beer, Axe deodorant and always a big black dildo, at which point the bro is considered caught. If someone can fill me in on why this is so funny that three million people have watched it, please do.

The skit ends with another fake rape scene. News flash to privileged college boys: rape is REAL. Men have been and continue to be victims of sexual assault. This is a pretty ugly contribution to the stigma men face around being rape victims. It mocks and silences male survivors of sexual assault, all of whom deal with the same crap as female victims plus all the feelings around not being real men because real men, straight men, don’t get sexually assaulted. And here’s why this video is silencing male survivors of assault – a group of college boys can make a video mocking male sexual assault that millions of people watch and find hilarious and not feel guilty about it because sexual assault against men is somehow not real. It’s almost as if the reason this sort of comedy is allowed is because it is so far from the realm of possibility. Everyone knows it’s not funny to mock sexual assault against women. Men, of course, are fair game. The reason it’s so funny is because it could never happen, right? A straight man could never rape another straight man. Right, except that most of the perpetrators of sexual assault against men are heterosexual. All of this humor rests on the fact that it is mocking something the creators deem impossible. This is dangerous territory for three million viewers.

Is it possible that they are mocking their own masculinity as a performance in and of itself? The opening lines from the newscaster I blockquoted above are some of the funniest lines in the skit, I think. It is a pretty impressive feat to have a group of boys who possess an overly heterosexual masculinity and style be able to step back and mock themselves. But are they simply reasserting their heterosexuality by mocking the idea of male sexual assault? I’m also curious about what makes this college humor among (mostly) white students. There is also be a bizarre race thread in this skit – why are most of the bros white (with one exception) and all the big dildos black? Mocking rape survivors, racism, homophobia, hints of sexism. And huge popularity with little criticism. What am I missing here?

Crossposted to Feministe

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salty sunday

July 22, 2007
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This is from an actual ad campaign by UNICEF in Germany to raise awareness about education in Africa. I didn’t know blackface was making a comeback. More at Black Women in Europe, via BFP. (great comments underneath both of these posts, in case anyone is looking for a bit of analysis)


A Tale of Two Genocides
. Check out this article raising questions about US inconsistencies when it comes to genocide in Africa. Turns out, shockingly, that what matters is not how many people are dying but who is vying for power. Via Sylvia.

Via TAN: white people think it’s easier to be black than to not have TiVo. Sounds like an Onion headline, right? Yeah, not so much.

Hollywood is not dealing with abortion in this summer’s blockbusters about accidental pregnancies. Curious. Via Kaiser.

Transpeople and bathroom issues at Feministe.

Ooooh I just lurve this headline. Corporate America: The New Gay Activists.

The next generation of republicans: more war, less gay. Or something. Via Feministe.

And finally, some satire. Stephen Colbert presents “the Susan B. Anthony of Pole Dancing,” your feminist of the day. Via Feministing.

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on femme invisibility and street harassment

July 21, 2007

There’s been a great deal of fantastic blogging about street harassment (SH) over at Feministe – first, a post on SH with a focus on queers and one about SH and race/class, both courtesy of Jack, who is guest blogging this week. I don’t usually read the comments underneath the posts – mostly I don’t have the time or the energy. My ears perk up, though, when I see nuanced writing about an issue that is not explicitly queer that includes queer perspectives on it. Jack asks towards the end of her post:

And then I always think – how do visually feminine women, who get way more of this than me, deal? How do femmes and other feminine queer women handle that on the daily?

While I can wax theoretical for hours and hours around other queers about my experience as a femme, I haven’t had much experience doing it with straight women. (sidenote: the vast majority of the women who comment at Feministe are straight – case in point, Jack gives her queer perspective, asks for others to give theirs, but with a few exceptions, the thread ends up being dominated by a discussion of whether a man should be allowed to give a polite compliment on the street – as in, is it a man’s tone or the mere fact that he’s talking to a strange woman that makes me feel degraded and violated?).

Maybe I’m just exercising caution. The differences between straight femininity and queer femininity are pretty huge but nuanced, especially to the naked (i.e. straight) eye. Hell, the differences between how white women and WOC experience femininity are also huge and complicated and I wouldn’t even know how to touch that. I can only talk about my own experiences as a white femme and admit that I share some of those experiences with white straight women. I fear that when I talk about empowerment or “reclamations” of femininity or especially about how I relate to masculine partners, I will hear the dreaded “why is your experience any different than a straight one?”

This is actually exactly what happened at Feministe. I posted this and then got this response. Read it if you like, the gist is that I wrote something about invisibility and about the complications of queer femininity becoming lost on the street and that catcalling further invisibilizes the queerness. The responder rightfully asks, how is your experience any different from a straight one?

I can’t speak for straight women. I don’t know what makes up their personal reaction to catcalling. I would guess that if you are normatively gendered, you don’t necessarily think and obsess about your gender presentation the way queers do and you certainly don’t feel your gender being erased in the same way. After all, I experience my gender as mostly synthetic and unnatural and in that way, it is pretty fragile.

I am not saying that straight women do not obsess about appearance. I’m saying that as a queer feminist, I’ve gone through phases and thought long and hard about what femininity means in the world and the ways that it’s been oppressive and powerful and sometimes both and the ways that I, personally, have experienced it as both. I’ve also obsessed over what it means to have a queer perspective on the world, looking out from inside a body that often passes as straight. And the answer, over and over again, is about invisibility. My answer about SH was not about straight women, it had nothing to do with straight women. And maybe I just need to make peace with the fact that straight women can and do relate to some of my words. (And blah blah identity politics we can have overlapping experiences and still be different people.)

At the same time, queer femmes walk around all day long being taken for something we are not. We’re misread as straight, and of course enjoy the privileges that come along with that, and also are included in the joys of SH. This asshole comes along, “hey baby, hey sexy,” and it’s like boom, again, hit me when I’m already down and already feel like I don’t exist. If the femme experiences of femininity is “empowerment,” there’s nothing more disempowering than a strange man telling you you’re sexy. (And for the record, I hate the word empowerment but I can’t think of anything better. I wouldn’t hate it so much if the fucking Pussycat Dolls and white middle-class pole dancers hadn’t co-opted it.)

And now the navel-gazing must come to an end, please go read and take part in the discussion about SH and race/class issues – namely about why sites like HollaBack seem to be dominated by stories of white women being harassed by men of color.

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salty sunday

July 15, 2007

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This is old, but some of you might have missed it. I kind of love Manhattan Mini Storage. Via Feministing.

OK I admit it. It is way more difficult to keep up a blog in the summer. I can’t promise salty sunday every week, but I will try.

Salon had a great piece last week about reproductive rights and poverty in Mississippi. Catch-22s abound: without sex education, teenagers don’t use protection and also don’t get tested soon enough after getting pregnant – and in Mississippi, abortions become more expensive after the first trimester because you have to travel out of state in order to have one legally.

New queer group blog Bilerico Project reports on a Florida judge who declared “two victims” in a trans hate crime.

Check out this summary of the US Social Forum at Workers World and also this piece from the AFL-CIO blog on the exciting new National Domestic Workers Alliance formed at the USSF. Also in DW news, the July/August issue of the Brooklyn Rail includes an article about DW issues and the Bill of Rights. There is also some mention of the JFREJ campaign and has some great quotes from employers!

I’m totally psyched about the brand new health justice blog Cure This – there are already a bunch of great pieces up. Definitely check it out. Via BFP.

Also in the category of new health websites, the Kaiser Family Foundation has started Health08, a resource for health-related election news and analysis. Via Feministe.

At Feministe, Trailer Park Feminist reports that fundies are pissed that a Hindu prayer was read aloud for the first time at the beginning of a US senate session. There were hecklers! Jesus. No pun intended.

I haven’t done salty sunday in awhile and I missed some gems over the weeks that I want to share: Blackamazon on not being a radical (hard to sum up), How to destroy an African-American city in 33 steps (Via BFP).

Finally, some humor. Belledame points readers to genius blog Passive-Aggressive Notes, which accepts submissions from lucky folks who have been subject to the notorious notes left behind by angry flatmates and co-workers. (A personal favorite: “Erica, Thanks for cleaning! It’s so nice to have someone else do it once in awhile!”). I used to be the roommate who left passive-aggressive notes. I’m getting better. I think.

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heighten us, purify us

July 12, 2007

I just watched one of the most powerful visual images of occupation that I think I’ve ever seen. A Palestinian fruit grove in the village of Ertas, near Bethlehem, was destroyed a few months ago to make way for a new sewer system for Efrat (a Jewish settlement). The first half of the video shows some of the village’s inhabitants camping out on their land, discussing the IDF plans for the confiscation and razing of their land. There is an interaction between a Palestinian and a soldier that has an almost friendly tone to it. The second half of the video shows protesters being dragged off and apricot trees literally being uprooted while their owners look on from the side. It is so unbelievably heartbreaking. Part of the drama of the second half of the video is the melodramatic music playing in the background. For the unfamiliar, the song is from the Friday evening (sabbath) prayers. The translation of the lyrics:

Please, with the might of your right, untie the bundle:
Accept your people’s prayer song, heighten us, purify us, Mighty one:
Please hero, your uniqueness worshipers, guard them closely:
Bless them purify them, your rightfulness mercies, always reward:
Immune, proud, with your good will, manage your people:
Single, proud, address your people, who remember your holiness:
Accept our plea, and hear our cry, he who knows histories:
Blessed be his kingdom’s honor forever: (source)

Via Jewschool.

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Michael Moore connects the dots and gives it to CNN

July 11, 2007

Michael Moore is a beautiful beautiful man. He calls CNN on their shit, straight to Wolf Blitzer, and he has no shame about it. He connects health care, problems with corporate media, and the war in Iraq. Blitzer keeps trying to gets soundbites out of him and he’s just not copping to those silly rules.

Via BFP.