The Silence of Our Friends

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Please Help!

I'm really worried about Mary Beth over at Wampum and the Koufax Awards. Her latest post at the Koufax site says this: "I'm sorry I got behind tallying, but I really have been quite sick. When rales set in, I knew it was probably pneumonia, most likely viral, as the leftover antibiotics I took a few weeks ago didn't even touch it. Of course, we have no health insurance, so going to the doctor is out of the question. Isn't it great living in the wealthiest country in the world, and not having access to affordable health care, even when you're really sick?"

I just sent a donation through Paypal but I know it isn't enough to cover a doctor's visit not to mention the cost of any prescription. Pneumonia is so dangerous and the longer she waits the more likely she will be hospitalized and that is the last thing that she or her family needs. Everyone please do what you can, send a few dollars if you are able, use your blogs to ask others to help too.

If you are able to donate go to Wampum's front page, on the left side bar just below the 2004 Koufax Finalist emblem there is a text link to donate at Amazon and just below that there is a Paypal button to donate there. Let's show our appreciation for the great writing she does at Wampum and the hard work that goes into the Koufax Awards, and show immense compassion for a mother with small children depending on her!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clearing Up Misconceptions About Indians

In the last post I said:
"Our money", meaning white people, meaning their taxes. I'll get back to this in the next post.
this is a common misconception in Canada and when you read the excerpt below you will see it is also common in the US. People assume that there had to be wars between the Indians and white people and that treaties were surrender of land and rights by defeated peoples. There are a few like that, but most were the result of difficulties and misunderstandings and attempts at negotiating ways for the two sides to coexist peacefully. Here's an interesting little known fact, the US has broken every single treaty they have signed with Native people, every one. Indians did not give up land and resources, they made treaties and pacts protecting these things, and eventually white people simply overran them, took what they wanted, and ignored the treaties they signed in order to do so.

On to the excerpt from The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes, copyright 1989 by the American Friends Service Committee, page A-21:

Between 1821 and 1839 the Maine Legislature authorized the harvesting of timber from Passamaquoddy land in violation of the 1794 treaty. Over the years, also in violation of the treaty, the Legislature authorized the sale or lease of various pieces of Passamaquoddy land without compensation and without consent of the Passamaquoddies. Several of the Penobscots' islands were sold without compensation, as well. In addition, in 1833, in violation of its own deed procedure as well as a former treaty, four townships or 95% of Penobscot land at the time, were transferred to the State of Maine.

In 1833 the Penobscot trust fund was established with the $50,000 that the State paid for the four townships. In subsequent years monies from the sale of timber, hay, and shore rights also went into this fund. The Passamaquoddy fund was established in 1856 by a deposit of $22,500 (for a lease of timber, grass, and power rights), the next year $5,225 was added, and in following years additional proceeds from the timber harvest on Passamaquoddy land were added. Interest on the deposits was supposed to be paid at six percent per annum. For a period of one hundred and ten years, from 1859 for Passamaquoddies (1860 for Penobscots) until 1969, no interest was ever paid, but rather went for the annual use of the Indian agensts.

The state's treatment of Indians was paternalistic, and the Legislature assumed the authority to make whatever decisions it thought necessary at any given time. Even the state courts fostered this attitude. In 1842, for instance, the highest court in Maine stated that "...imbecility on their [the Indians'] part, and the dictates of humanity on ours, have necessarily prescribed to them their subjection to our paternal control; in disregard of some, at least, of abstract principles of the rights of man."

People who had once lived in abundance were now impoverished, and wherever they went in the larger society they faced prejudice, discrimination, and injustice. Indians were lazy, it was said. Yet their livelihood had been taken from them. They lived on welfare, it was said. Yet the so-called assistance given to them was in fact income from the products taken from their land (hay and timber) or income from the rent or lease of their land. After 1930 the State of Maine arranged that this money be paid to the state; then it was passed on (not all of it, at times) to the Penobscots and Passamaquoddies. Thus, what was income was made to appear as welfare. During the nineteenth century Maliseets and Micmacs, who had always lived on both sides of the United States-Canadian border, lost their hunting territories in Aroostook County when Americans opened this area to settlement.

These kinds of things should be common knowledge, but instead it's the lies and misconceptions that are "common knowledge". The Wabanaki were nomadic within our territories. We travelled from campsite to campsite depending on the season, if the hunting was good we were in the woods, fishing and planting season we would have areas designated for that. When we were enclosed on reservations we could no longer sustain our livelihood and the white people over-hunted/over-fished/over-harvested the trees anyway which made it difficult even when we were allowed to roam. The Indian agents insisted that we become farmers instead, but gave us little training and would do things like deliver seed too late and too few for a good harvest anyway, and underpay us for our crops. Also, everytime we come up with an idea for a self-sustaining industry in order to get a little ahead it seems like white people step in and make up new rules and laws to stop us. This is what happens if we do try to run a forestry program or fisheries and now it is happening on the reservations that want to run casinos. There are lots of white people who were allowed to become millionaires doing these things but when we try it, suddenly they are worried about over-fishing and over-harvesting or morality where gambling is concerned and gotta have laws and regulations.

Basically, when white people pay taxes and some of that goes to Indians it is because of treaties that their leaders signed sometimes centuries ago. It isn't because Indians are welfare bums. You're forefathers assumed we would all assimilate or be killed off and didn't think they would be paying so long. And now you want to forget that these treaties exist and just "let bygones be bygones". It's always the ones who made fortunes on the backs of others who want to forget history and what is owed. They take everything away and then tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, only they took the bootstraps too. To those who say that your ancestors weren't here to steal from Indians (or that your ancestors didn't own slaves) you still benefit, your family benefitted too. You are probably living on stolen land right now and getting cheap resources because your government is still giving away what is ours for pennies on the dollar to oil companies, wood processors, mining, etc on our land. Yes, even now.

One last thing, alot of times white people say that Indians have no concept of ownership so it was okay for them to come in and take the land in a free for all anyway. But when you look at maps in history books do you notice they always have boundaries for the territories in which you will find certain tribes? That's because we didn't have ownership in the way that white people mean, individuals having deeds for specific plots of land, but we knew where our territory began and ended and unless we either asked permission or were looking to start a war we didn't cross into other peoples' territory.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Where Tragedy Falls Off Canada's Map

This is from an article in the Toronto Star, Where tragedy falls off Canada's map by Marie Wadden. It starts:
Aboriginal communities are out of sight from most Canadians. Our family spent two weeks one summer on Vancouver Island. My children were hoping to see the people who made the wonderful totem poles of Stanley Park. We didn't see a single Aboriginal person in our travels.

I understand better now, after a frustrating drive back and forth on the same highway this summer looking for the Nanoose Band Reserve near Lantzville, B.C. There aren't many off ramps for reserves.

Reservations aren't on the best land or best locations. Many are difficult to get to and from and Ms. Wadden seems to think that may be by design. I do too, although there are two Maliseet reserves in Fredericton, NB (St. Mary's & Kingsclear) and another nearby (Oromocto). This is more of the exception than the rule since these areas were also traditional "towns" for Maliseet for centuries. I also think that the white folks didn't plan on Fredericton growing so large that it would eventually encompass these reserves.
I drove past prosperous middle-class homes. The source of wealth — a large paper mill. Alongside it are railway tracks. On the other side of the tracks is a long line of cookie-cutter CMHC bungalows stretching as far as the eye can see.

I knew I was on the reserve because I'd also run out of pavement. This was the pattern wherever I travelled and I began to see the lack of pavement as a metaphor for neglect. Neighbours to reserves have told me over the years, "pavement isn't a priority for them." Or, "I guess they've got other priorities." The assumption is, Aboriginal people choose bad roads.

White people got rich harvesting our resources while our people are living in CMHC shacks, um bungalows. And of course we like it that way and the dirt roads too. *sarcasm*
The Aboriginal community has been fighting assumptions for more than a century, most of them about the money — "our money," as one friend pointed out — being spent on their welfare and problems. This year, it is about $9 billion, out of Canada's total budget of $227 billion.

Sometimes the money doesn't make it to them. In 2005, $700 million was allocated for Aboriginal health care, but the money never left Ottawa. The bill to free up this money was not passed before the Liberal government fell. Yet that same year, $2.6 billion was fast-tracked for Newfoundland after Premier Danny Williams insisted on getting a fair share of offshore oil and gas revenues. The message: There are twice as many Aboriginal people in this country as there are Newfoundlanders, but they don't count as much.
"Our money", meaning white people, meaning their taxes. I'll get back to this in the next post. Can't let the white Newfoundlanders go without, but the damned savages? They don't need any healthcare. On my reservation, the post secondary (college/trade school) money was held up last year, which means that students do not get their scholarships and living expenses, no groceries or rent money for months. Nice.
The United Nations Human Development Index equates the Aboriginal standard of living in this country with that of Brazil, well below the Canadian norm.
In 1978, I was in the Labrador community of Davis Inlet, where the people lived in shacks. "Indians don't know how to live in houses," I was told. Inside I found walls built without struts, sheets of drywall installed without proper framing, a single lightbulb to light a three-bedroom house. The "Indians" didn't build these houses; some southern contractor profited from the construction.

This year, I met Phyllis and Andy Chelsea, a Shuswap couple in B.C. whose house is rotting with mould. Statistics Canada says 50 per cent of reserve housing is like this.

I was so wrapped up in writing their story, I missed an event at my child's school. Later, when a parent asked where I'd been, I told her about the Chelseas' predicament. Her husband works for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and has told her the houses on reserves are mouldy because "they leave their water running."

I lived with the Chelseas for a couple of days at Alkali Lake and their water wasn't running. Neither was the electricity. Huge trucks piled high with timber routinely knock out the power lines. To add insult to injury, the truck drivers are not Aboriginal. And the timber is going off the reserve, to enrich someone else's life.

Contrary to some taxpayers' perceptions, Aboriginal people don't get their housing free. It is provided through loans to band councils that are repaid by charging rent. In B.C., I heard many stories of people being evicted by band councils because they couldn't afford to pay their rents. Taxes? Only goods purchased on reserves are tax-free — most reserves have little to sell. The Inuit pay all the same taxes we do and more because of the higher costs of goods shipped north.

Aboriginal people have another way of looking at the issue of "our" money. They believe "our" money is being made off their land. Some Canadian judges have agreed.

You see the pattern? Indians don't know how to live like civilized people, they like living like animals. And we're leaches living off welfare and paying no taxes, while white people come in taking the resources, not even hiring our people for menial jobs, and ruining things in our lives. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
In 2000, the Canadian Institute of Child Health reported 126 out of every 100,000 First Nations people has committed suicide, compared with 24 per 100,000 in the rest of the country...

...I was reeling from this when I checked my emails before going to bed to find this, from Allan Saulis of the Maliseet Reserve in New Brunswick:

"There was another suicide this weekend in our community. ... This will be the third. ... How many more will it take for the authorities, governments, and the media to take affirmative action once and for all?"
Allan is from Tobique (my reserve) and a distant cousin. Two of the suicides are my first cousins, Gabriel Perley and Darren Perley. Gabe died in his father's home right next door to my mother's house. Darren was raised in the home on the other side of my mom. Politics are extremely divisive on Tobique and there was a man who laughed about these suicides and said something along the lines of, "Let all these Perleys kill themselves, who cares." In a terrible irony it was his son who was the third suicide.

One of the reasons I was glad to find this is because recently someone said there isn't any racism towards Indians anymore. As you can see this isn't true, there are several misconceptions and bigotted attitudes out there, and don't think that just because this is the way it is in Canada that it has nothing to do with the US. It is worse in the US.

The Art of Stealing Human Rights

UPDATE: Hello to those of you who have been directed here from Feministing by that racist/sexist whiner Tom Head. Yes I think he is a racist and sexist bastard because he sent you here in the hopes that you will bash me, a woman of color, on behalf of him a white man. I have something much more interesting for you to read instead. BfP's site is having server problems and she has a guest post here. You'll be interested since it's in answer to Samhita's post at Feministing.

I thought it was about time I did a post or two or a dozen about my heritage and while googling Tobique (my rez), I came across this:

Extracts from a speech given by Gerry Gambill at a conference on Human Rights at Tobique Reserve in New Brunswick, in August, 1958. In this speech he warned native people about how society goes about taking away the Human Rights of native people.

On the Art of Stealing Human Rights

The art of denying Indians their human rights has been refined to a science. The following list of commonly used techniques will be helpful in "burglar-proofing"
your reserves, and your rights.

GAIN THE INDIANS CO-OPERATION- it is easier to steal someone’s human rights
if you can do it with his OWN co-operation. So...

1. Make him a non-person. Human rights are for people. Convince Indians their ancestors were savages, that they were pagan, that Indians were drunkards. Make them wards of the government. Make a legal distinction, as in the Indian Act, between Indians and persons. Write history books that tell half the story.

2. Convince the Indian that he should be patient, that these things take time. Tell him that we are making progress, and that progress takes time

3. Make him believe that things are being done for his own good. Tell him you’re sure that after he has experienced your laws and actions that he will realize how good they have been. Tell the Indian he has to take a little of the bad in order to enjoy the benefits you are conferring on him.

4. Get some people to do the dirty work. There are always those who will act for you to the disadvantage of their own people. Just give them a little honor and praise. This is generally the function of band council, chiefs, and advisory councils: they have little legal power, but can handle the tough decisions such as welfare, allocation of housing etc.

5. Consult the Indian, but do not act on the basis of what you hear. Tell the Indian he has a voice and go through the motions of listening. Then interpret what you have heard to suit your own needs

6. Insist that the Indian "GOES THROUGH THE PROPER CHANNELS." make the channels and the procedures so difficult that he won’t bother to do anything. When he discovers what the proper channels are and becomes proficient at the procedures, change them.

7. Make the Indian believe you are working for him, putting in much overtime and at a great sacrifice, and imply that he should be appreciative. This is the ultimate in skills in stealing human rights; when you obtain the thanks of the victim.

8. Allow a few individuals to "MAKE THE GRADE" and point to them as examples. Say that the ‘HARDWORKERS" AND THE "GOOD" Indians have made it, and that therefore it is a person’s own fault if he doesn’t succeed.

9. Appeal to the Indian’s sense of fairness, and tell him that even though things are pretty bad it is not right for him to make strong protests. Keep the argument going on his form of protest and avoid talking about the real issue. Refuse to deal with him while he is protesting. Take all the fire out of his efforts

10. Encourage the Indian to take his case to court. This is very expensive, takes lots of time and energy and is very safe because laws are stacked up against him. The courts ruling will defeat the Indians cause, but makes him think he has obtained justice.

11. Make the Indian believe that things could be worse, and that instead of complaining about the loss of human rights, to be grateful for the rights we do have. In fact, convince him that to attempt to regain a right he has lost is likely to jeopardize the rights that he still has.

12. Set yourself up as the protector of the Indian’s human rights, and then you could choose to act only on those violations you wish to act upon. By getting successful on a few minor violations of human rights, you can point to these as examples of your devotion to his cause. The burglar who is also the doorman is the perfect combination.

13. Pretend that the reason for the loss of human rights is for some other reason, other than the person is Indian. Tell him some of your best friends are Indians, and that his loss of rights is because of his housekeeping, his drinking, his clothing.

14. Make the situation more complicated than is necessary. Tell the Indian you will have to take a survey to find out how many other Indians are being discriminated against. Hire a group of professors to make a year-long research project.

15. Insist on unanimity. Let the Indian know that when all the Indians in Canada can make up there minds about just what they want as a group, then you will act. Play one group’s special situation against another group’s wishes.

16. Select very limited alternatives, neither of which has much merit, and then tell the Indian that indeed he has a choice. Ask, for instance, if he could or would rather have council elections in June or December, instead of asking if he wants them at all.

17. Convince the Indian that the leaders who are the most beneficial and powerful are dangerous and not to be trusted. Or simply lock them up on some charge like driving with no lights. Or refuse to listen to the real leaders and spent much time with the weak ones. Keep the people split from their leaders by sowing rumor. Attempt to get the best leaders into high paying jobs where they have to keep quiet to keep their pay check coming in.

18. Speak of the common good. Tell the Indian that you can’t consider yourselves when there is a whole nation to think of. Tell him he can’t think only of himself. For instance, in regard to hunting rights, tell him we have to think of all the hunters, or the sporting good industry.

19. Remove rights so gradually that the people don’t realize what has happened until it is too late. Again in regards to hunting rights, first restrict the geographical area where hunting is permitted, then cut the season to certain times of the year, then cut the limits down gradually, then insist on licensing, and then Indians will be on the same grounds as the white sportsmen.

20. Rely on some reason and logic (your reason and logic) instead of rightness and morality. Give thousands of reasons for things, but to not get trapped into arguments about what is right.

21. Hold a conference on Human Rights, have everyone blow of steam and tension, and go home feeling things are well at hand.


You could easily apply most of these to many situations since these are common strategies of the wealthy/powerful against the poor/weak, especially the legalities, stalling, and projection (claiming the Indian is the greedy one). I immediately thought "Condi Rice" when I read 4, it's all about finding the sell-out, not just in the Native communities but any community you want to steal rights from. She is also an example of 8. You just gotta love when white people throw up the good exception to point out that you're a loser, or the bad exception to point out that you're all lazy, ignorant, criminal, drug users, alcoholics, violent, on and on.

Number 7 angers me and I've been meaning to post on this in particular. It isn't just the government that does this, it's your average privileged liberal asshole. Yes this is particular to our side of the fence because conservatives are open about their hatred. What I am talking about is when some condescending jerk pats you on the head and you tell him you resent it, or simply disagree with the ideas he is putting forth. He will get all pissy about how ungrateful you are, and that you should be thankful that he even pays attention to you and talks to you at all. YOU CAN NOT EXPECT HIM TO TREAT YOU DECENTLY LIKE HE WOULD A WHITE PERSON, YOU HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR IT. The last time I saw this in action was some white male buttmunch (Tom Head) pulled it on Nubian over at Feministing when she thought that Jessica's book cover sucked. He patted her on the head and she slapped his hand. His patronizing comment is about a third of the way down this thread.
I usually agree with Nubian, but in this case I'm not sure where she's coming from...

...I'm sorry, Nubian, you know I love you and your blog to pieces, but your argument in this case makes no blooming sense to me at all.

After Nubian says love or not, the cover is wack, he has this to say:
I have backed you up pretty consistently in the past, but you are so far off base here--and with so much cruelty and betrayal thrown in for shits and giggles--that I can't support you, and am frankly beginning to wonder if I had the wrong impression of what you were doing all along. I am an incredibly stupid and gullible man, and my obviously unappreciated loyalty to you and to your blog is Exhibit A.
I don't see what's wrong with the title. I do see a problem with the cover photo in that it's a missed opportunity--it's a McBody, basically--but you know, the nastier and more unfair the criticism of Jessica gets, the more it grows on me. If this keeps up, I'll absolutely love that cover by the time the book goes to press.
Nubian has been so consistently nasty to Jessica in recent weeks that I can't really blame her for saying "I'm done." It's a waste of time to argue with people who are full of hate and uninterested in a two-way discussion.

This is not to say that I don't think other criticisms of the cover are valid--including my own! But let's be fair here.
jpjesus, the ones I saw earlier today were vicious and hateful, concluding with a comment by Nubian to the effect that she would never visit Feministing again anyway (which kind of undercuts the whole "she just wants a dialogue" argument--she doesn't, she wants to make one-way smears). If the discussion has improved since then, that's great, but I'm in no mood to waste time on the blog of somebody who has specifically told me that she doesn't give a damn what I think and has dismissed me out of hand. What would be the point?
You've always had, and will continue to have, my support--in no small part because you've always included and supported me in this movement when other people have tried to push me out. You have always spoken for the imperfect, struggling human beings who make up real on-the-streets feminism, not the hateful and purely abstract blogging community. I'm sure none of the people who participated in Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Summer '06 would be satisfactory to Nubian either. She has already made it clear that I wouldn't.
I think that handling this the way Nubian is handling it--where she is saying some truly ugly stuff, and has made it clear that she is making one-way accusations and does not want to have a discussion--is mere "disagreeing." ...

...Nubian is doing a shady and intellectually dishonest hatchet job here. Don't mistake that for disagreement.
I have learned exactly two things from Nubian's criticism. First, she hates Jessica. Second, she hates me. Third, she is not interested in seeing either of us redeemed in her eyes through dialogue.
and how about this little tidbit of projection and whining
And no offense, but when Nubian starts throwing around phrases like "capitalist whore" and says to a longtime vocal reader and supporter "at this point, i don't care if you love me or not and whether or not you agree with what i say," it IS personal. I wasn't the one who made it personal; Nubian was. I was more than happy, as you will see if you read up, that I was more than willing to respect Nubian despite her incoherent smear against Jessica--until she disavowed Feministing in her own blog comments, and essentially flipped me the bird for not blindly siding with her in this strange little jihad.
or this tear jerker *snort*
I don't think Nubian's criticisms make any more sense than Althouse's, but if y'all see something to them, I guess I should respect that. I'm backing out of this thread. For my part, I'm disappointed in Nubian and will not be participating in blac(k)ademic again. I have seen a side to her that has surprised me.

I have a long and distinguished history of backing up friends of both genders, so the "chivalry" smears are not really appreciated, but I guess those loyal to Nubian are understandably upset at me for my criticisms of her.

This thread has really been an education for me, on so many levels, on where I really should be spending my time. It would probably make more sense if I put time spent blogging on national/international feminist blogs into the Jackson Area and Mississippi NOW web sites instead. There is something to be said for face-to-face relationships; the friendships I've made over the Internet seem strangely ephemeral, and I have been hurt many times by how expendable other people consider those friendships to be. This week it was Nubian. Next week, it could just as easily be Jessica. I need to invest less of myself in this sort of thing or I'm going to be hurting for a long, long time.
(That was, BTW, my last post in this thread. After being essentially called a misogynistic racist by people I had considered allies five minutes ago, and watching the crickets chirp as absolutely nobody went "Well, I'm sure he meant...," speaks volumes about my misplaced priorities. Lessons learned, my friends. Thank you.)

I know I posted way too many quotes but would you believe I even left some of that nasty whining shit behind? You can see the progression. Sure he loves her so damned much which is why he can turn on her in a split second, now that's true love. How dare that black woman challenge him??? Well she needs a smack down for disagreeing and not telling him he's the best master and hoping he'll throw her a milkbone for being such a good pet. FUCKER!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bees Something Or Other Blah Blah Blah

I didn't realize that a particular post was what was inspiring many of the post I had read in the past week or so. The original was eventually password protected, which kind of defeats the purpose of warning the world about those nefarious wasps. For those who are curious to see the original Bitch|Lab has a copy. Trust me, if you need a good laugh, go read it. I hope I never write anything that convoluted and ridiculous.

I swear, some days you need to put on your full body asbestos jumpsuit to withstand the blast furnace that is Blackamazon! You have been warned, click the link at your own peril!
The choosing sides aspects bothers me as for many folks " choosing" would be a luxury something like a unicorn.

Magical, mythical, and completely unattainable.

One who is not a desireable does not choose sides. This isnt dodgeball. People aren't playing around with minor irritants or positions. The reason we do not "shift" positions has less to do with a preplanned wasp meeting that we should all present a united front than real life experience and commited BELIEF in what it is we're saying.

And frankly for those of us whom this isn't an exercise in "Theory as Therapy, Rally as Reassurance, and Politic as Personal Proving ground" there is no "Shifting" with out denying a large part of the personal experience if not identity
Considering the long as stage times "proper" white girls have had in readjusting and being the mouthpiece for "feminism" is it any wonder that the other say 98.7 percent of it for whom things were not better or more clear in the halcyon days of yore (which by the bye never really existed) are just a touch annoyed at the idea that our


But not say the constant and unflailing need for some people to have both a leader and the most high seat at the damn table while everyone else has to scrounge to eat?

(and yep I still remmber the flack that was caught when it was mentioned at the outcry that arose when a white woman couldnt get an abortion but the near constant backhanded rationalising that went on when black ones needed pads or the deafening silence of Brown ones trying to get their votes counted)

I don't know how many times and ways we have to say it. BA is saying it again in a new way, and maybe it will get through to a few more people. People are not rallying to get us to "their side" in the big ole dodgeball game. They are too busy telling us to shut up, and that our identity politics will lose elections, that our problems and issues are trivial. That is why we don't shimmy and sway with each wind that blows in the feminist blogworld. We know who will stand with us and who won't; it has nothing to do with some "fun wasp" meeting getting together to play pranks and cause trouble for those "serious bees". Who happen to be 99% privileged white women completely blind to any issues that do not center them.

And I would be remiss if I didn't include some excellent posts from Belledame222. You have to read footnote wrt "fun" (feminism, or anything else) since it's a continuation of my last post with Belle's unique view of the situation.

And a newer post about something else, but related, Dear Heart:. This one burns me up since Heart was objecting over at Women of Color Blog about the people saying that she is bigotted, and then she goes and writes bigotted crap like this? I think Heart really is proud to be a monster, but not in the way that either Little Light or Robin Morgan meant. She's proud to be hateful and insensitive.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Busy Life and Writer's Block

If there is anyone left reading my blog, I thought I should explain why I've gone missing in action again. First, expect it to happen quite often. I'm one of those people who gets interested in something and throws myself into it entirely, but also drops it like a hot potato when the next thing comes along and then throws myself into that entirely, etc. So I'll come online everyday for an hour or so, and read some of my favorite blogs and comment but not write anything here. I think a couple of my favorite bloggers are like that too; *eyeing Nanette and Ravenmn*, since they don't update their blogs regularly but can be seen from time to time commenting on other people's blogs the way that I do.

The other reason is the holidays and family illness. It's been crazy busy during the holidays and then afterwards my kids and I caught that norovirus that was going around and now my sons have a sore throat and fever. I'm hoping it's not strep since I did get a notice from the middle school that strep is going around. I don't think so though, since they don't have those white spots back there, and tylenol is handling the pain. If you've ever had strep you know it feels like swallowing razors and tylenol doesn't cut it.

And last, writer's block. Although not really, since I write these great posts offline in my head but when I sit down I forget what I was going to say, or have a million things I want to say and I don't know where to start. I assume writer's block is more like being totally blank. I'm feeling that way now, and wasn't going to write anything but figured it's about time I sit down and crank out something and just see where it goes.

So I'll tell you what I've been reading. I have about 5 must read blogs and one of them is Fetch Me My Axe. I see that people are still upset over the feminist wars and followed links from one of Belle's posts over to RenEv's place and from there to Faith's place.

I agree with each of these feminists. I'm no academic, I did graduate college with a bachelors in business administration, but haven't had any classes in women's studies or anything having to do with race relations for that matter. So I have a difficult time with terminology and mostly speak about my experiences instead, but it makes it difficult for me to lay any sort of claim to being a feminist when I am not sure what that means, and it appears to be more complicated than believing that women should be equal to men, and have the ability and choices to determine her own destiny. That was the definition I assumed and would call myself a feminist if that is what we are talking about.

The complicated part and the part that has these women annoyed, disgusted, and angry is that some radfems have declared themselves the arbiters of who is and isn't a feminist. Those women who choose and enjoy presenting themselves in what could be considered a traditionally feminine way and/or in traditionally feminine roles must be kept out of the feminism clubhouse. I'm not sure how this can be viewed as anything but as stifling as the patriarchy, our choices are still being constricted, but now it's by the matriarchy.

I'm a stay at home mother and wife, talk about a traditional role... anyway, I think it's a great choice for a woman. I feel lucky that my husband and I both wanted it and made the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. I don't think any woman should be forced to stay at home if she prefers a career outside the home. Choices!

I don't like either pornography or prostitution, but that is only because for the most part both are degrading to women and I would guess that most women aren't actually choosing it. When your options are be a prostitute or slowly starve with your family, I don't consider that a choice. And I would bet that worldwide that is the reason why 90% or more women are prostitutes, and the same goes for pornography.

My "traditional role" is now woman friendly. It isn't about my husband or society keeping me in my place, it's about me choosing to do what I want to do. I think the same could be done for pornography and prostitution. I'd like to see prostitution legal with workers safety protections in place. Pornography could also be more woman friendly if more women were behind the camera, producing, directing, scripting, etc. These are some of the things we could be discussing as feminists if it was about more choices instead of judging each other and fitting ourselves into a new constrictive role.

As for fun feminism and the frivolity of make-up, skirts, grooming, and performing certain sex acts. I really think for the most part it is tangental to feminism. My opinion is that fashion is women dressing for other women, not men, not the patriarchy. Most men hate lipstick, I can't think of many men who are that interested in my footwear either, unless he has a foot/shoe fetish, and grooming, most men are happy with a woman who bathes and wears clean clothes that generally match, no polka dots tops with plaid pants kinda thing. I'm not saying there are no feminist issues surrounding these choices, but to me it's only when women feel pressured or are forced into dressing or grooming a certain way. So scrawny models? Yeah that's a feminist issue when women need lipo or have eating disorders to feel acceptable. My thinking is the same for sex acts. There is a big difference with a couple who likes performing oral sex on each other, and a man who tells a woman she will be beaten unless he gets a blow job. One isn't a feminist issue, just a personal preference or choice.

I also happen to like men. My youngest sister's husband was a stay at home dad for a few years. My oldest sister earns more than her husband. In the past these things would have been shameful for men. Only a mouthbreathing Christian conservative fundamentalist would have a problem with either situation now. That's because of feminism. Feminism means more choices for everyone including men. None of us has to be constricted by traditional gender roles, we can choose them, or not.

If feminism is about more choices and more freedom, then I'm a feminist. If it's about taking me from one person's repressive definition and putting me into a diferent but also repressive definition, I guess I'm not a feminist. Hmmm, that first one sounds like a sex positive feminist and the second sounds like...well, let just say that I must be a sex positive feminist.