The Silence of Our Friends

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ilyka, where are you???


Friday, May 08, 2009

Memorializing the Feminine Beauty Ideal

Over at Racialicious I came across a discussion of a photo shoot featuring Gisele Bundchen and several male models, black male models. I agree that the photos are definitely racially charged, and I also think they are racist, but opinions on that differ. The work as a whole is confusing, and I believe that is deliberate. I think the photographer, Sølve Sundsbø, may have had a few concepts in mind instead of one over-all concept. The one that really stopped me in my tracks was this one:

To me this photo is reminiscent of the Iwo Jima memorial of the Marines planting a flag. But that impression didn't seem to make much sense within the context of the other photos. At Racialicious only four of the eight photos are displayed, but they link to Project Rungay, where there are four more photographs.

There is a commonality to these photos, as well as the first one, that I see. Gisele is bland and emotionless. I do think that she is meant to represent a memorial, statue, piece of art. A common racist trope is that black men (and women) are beasts of burden. In each of the photos it can be interpreted that they are moving this piece of art to it's pedastal or display case. The reaction that people have to beautiful artwork is reverence, awe, and covetousness. I think the last two photographs have that in them. Another common racist trope is that white woman is the beauty ideal and what all men want, including black men, especially black men. I also think that the choice of body builders as the male models isn't coincidental, it is representative of hypermasculity and the nudity represents hypersexuality. These once again are common racist tropes about black men, but also represents a danger to the fragility and chastity/purity of the white woman.

This last photo, I am not sure what the photographer meant by it. The statue comes to life and covets the beast of burden? I had that song from Sesame Street in my head when I saw it, "Which one of these things is not like the others?"

In the discussions both at Racialicious and Project Rungay some people are quick to dismiss the racist aspect to the photographs. They say that the photos are beautiful, and that black and white skin makes for a wonderful contrast in the photos. I am not denying this, that some people will find the photos beautiful, interesting, and that the contrast adds to that. But offensive artwork done with skill can be visually beautiful and interesting. Many people collect and study war propaganda for one example because of the artistic viewpoint and rendering, as well as the social and historical commentary. I think that might be true here also, that these photos have a certain beauty, but that there is social commentary to be made and interpreted in them.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pain and Judgment

I went and did it again. I took two vicodin so I could write a post. I am going to be so sorry when I run low before I can get another months supply. So I better get on with it before my pain creeps back up on me and I have to go lie down.

Okay I want to know something, here Renee at Womanist Musings writes for Blogging Against Disablism Day:
To talk about our pain is construed as whining. Someone will always come up with a story about a friend of a friend who had a disease similar to yours who took this herbal pill from Tibet or some mountain that you have never heard of and suddenly was cured and got on with their lives. More likely than not this friend of friend just finally got the message that talking about their illness was not cool and decided to be silent. You see we can talk about pain but only in terms of what we are doing constructively to get better and not about how much it hurts or hard it is emotionally. It makes people uncomfortable and so it is understood as easier for all if we would just be quiet. I know this to be correct because the moment you answer truthfully about how you feel the subject is quickly changed or silence ends the conversation.

I want to know why someone would be wrong to say to her:
WOC are born fighting and we die fighting. Acknowledge your pain and get the hell up. We cannot even afford to have one sister down for the count when there is work to be done.
Seriously full of shit...
and you are completely hell bent in wallowing in pain...
So 40 years from now when you are still telling the world about your hurt what will you have accomplished? What proactive action will you have taken? Playing victim does not make anyone powerful...

Would it be okay for me to tell her she is curling into a fetal position and sucking her thumb in defeat? Should I tell her that she should refuse to be the eternal victim? Maybe she needs to put on her big girl panties?

Honestly, I agree with everything Renee says in her post about disability. I also suffer from chronic pain and my disability is invisible. So I don't actually want to say any of those things to her. What I am doing is repeating her own words to BlackAmazon. Here are the posts where I got the quotes from:
I started something really inflammatory
Big Girl Panties and the Cycle of Victimology

And recently Renee did this to someone again, Step It Up, Wimp!

This is the problem I am having, this is what I hate, not Renee, but the fact that it's okay for her to feel pain, write about her pain, expect sympathy and empathy instead of judgment, expect commiseration and understanding, make her own decisions about what is best for her, including resting, bowing out, taking care of herself first, but she is quick to judge others without knowing their circumstances or even very much about them at all. I really just don't understand why it's okay for her to decide whose pain is valid, when they have suffered and discussed it long enough, when they need to get up and fight, and choose their battles and priorities for them.

I did want to note something interesting, most of the people who agreed and were moved by the Big Girl Panties post were white, not all, but most. And again those who disagreed were POC, not all, but most. This goes to how white women are viewed vs. WOC. The stereotypical white woman is a weak delicate flower, white feminists are fighting against this stereotype, so a post telling them they are strong warriors will resonate. WOC on the other hand are stereotyped as super strong beasts of burden whose feelings don't matter, so being told quit bitching and keep on marching will grate.

And I want to note something else, about the post referenced by whirlwitch at Womanist Musings, Walking Away: The Luxury of an Ally. Walking away CAN be a sign of privilege. But there is a huge difference between someone telling you they are suffering, stressed, have too much on their plate, etc as the reason they walk away and someone who says, "I'm cis, transphobia and transmisogyny don't affect me, so why should I care? I'm walking away from this."

Also Renee states multiple times that trans people can't just walk away, she's both right and wrong. For one thing vriane, the woman she is castigating, can't escape transphobia and transmisogyny since she is a trans woman and the target of those oppressions, so Renee is right that she can't walk away from that...BUT vriane is talking about limiting her exposure to certain websites and news sources that are triggering her because she can't deal with that right now. That is what she is walking away from. This is very similar to what BlackAmazon was trying to explain to Renee. Since BA is a woman she can't hide from sexism or walk away from it, but she can walk away from useless white middle class feminism, and find better ways to spend her time, and other WOC to work with.

The day after blogging against disabilism day.

I missed blogging against disablism day. It wasn't accidental though, it wasn't exactly purposeful either. There are times I want to talk about it, and times I don't. I didn't at first, but read some other posts, and now I feel like I want to. So my post is for the day after blogging against disablism day.

I am a disabled woman. It took me a long time to conclude this. I had hopes that my condition was temporary, but now I know that isn't true. If you are reading this you probably already know, I have herniated cervical discs with a bone spur which cause chronic pain that can have me laid up for anywhere from hours to days at at time. I've been having a particulary bad flare up since around Christmas time, I can't pinpoint an exact date, because my pain had been increasing and yet not steadily. People who have seen their doctor for pain know about "the scale", your doctor will ask you to rate your pain from 0-10. Last spring/summer my pain was anywhere from 0-3 with very short zaps up to 5. Now the scale is at 5-7 with zaps up to 9. It's out of control, because yes, the lowest my pain goes is 5.

ARGH! There is so much I want to say now that I don't know where to begin, and I'm worried that if I go down one avenue I will forget another that I meant to talk about, and that much of this will not make sense anyway, because my meds are severely affecting my memory and ability to concentrate.

One thing I want to say is that I lied about something. Right now my pain level is about 3...but I said the lowest it goes is 5, didn't I? WELLLL...the lowest it goes is 5 if I stick to the treatment plan my doctor expects me to. I am allowed 5 vicodin per day. I've taken 7 today though, in the last hour took 2. If I take that much it lowers the pain enough so that I can sit here and type up this post. Can you figure out that I think that my dosage needs to be adjusted? My doctor refuses, she has no other chronic pain patients and isn't comfortable adjusting it without some guidance. The one who was supposed to give her that guidance is an asshole "pain management" doctor who doesn't believe in giving patients opiod narcotics for pain AT ALL. She's upset because she wants to help but he won't give her any advice, so we decided to fire him. He resents being fired though, and even though I signed a release so that he should give up his treatment notes to my new pain management doctor, he is dragging his feet. He told them that I didn't sign a release, so now I have to go back to his office and sign another, and I have no doubt he will find some other way of screwing this up. Either by not sending, or sending incomplete notes, or writing something in there that will make me look bad and make my new doctor wary of treating me. My new pain management doctor refuses to make an appointment to see me until he has notes about my current/recent treatment. So I'm in limbo.

I also know my primary is worried about addiction, which is why she will not adjust my meds without guidance. Of course I worry about this too, but you know what? I worry more about being useful and having a life. If I stick to the treatment plan I can lower the pain enough so that I can move without screaming, but still have to just grit my teeth and get on with it as best I can. No one should live like this and especially when there are options and they don't have to.

When I was first diagnosed it was easy to treat. I was given a six day prescription of prednisone and my symptoms would clear about the third or fourth day in. I'd be pain free for up to a year. Then I'd get more prednisone for the next flare up, good to go again for up to a year. This stopped working about 5 years ago and I've been through numerous treatments and meds since then. Five years ago, when I knew it wasn't going to go away so easily I used to get suicidal thoughts. I simply didn't think I could handle living in so much pain for the rest of my life. But I had to hang in there, if not for me, for my family. They are what kept me going. Eventually I sort of got used to dealing with a certain level of pain, and my treatments/meds did help sometimes. So the hope was always there that things could get better.

Now I'm scared, because I'm getting the suicidal thoughts again. Nothing serious, like planning it out or anything like that. But I thought I was past that and now I know I'm not. It's that same hopeless, "My God, I don't think I can live like this forever." I don't want anyone worrying that I will actually carry through with it, it really is only a passing thought at this time, and I quickly dismiss it, but I don't like that I am thinking it at all. I'm not telling my readers this to get a pity party going or anything like that. I'm telling you this because it doesn't have to be this way. I already said that I am functional now because I doubled my dosage tonight. (I also doubled my dosage this morning which is why I was able to post earlier. This explains why I have had 7 instead of 5 vicodin today.) I wish doctors would listen to their patients, I'm not a drug seeker, and my doctor should know this since my dosage has gone down as well as up since she has been treating me for the past year and a half. I do want my dosage level raised now, but only for as long as it takes to find a non-narcotic treatment for my pain, then we can lower the dosage again or remove it altogether.

I guess this is the background post. It's getting pretty long so I'll conclude here for now and gather my thoughts for the next avenue I'm headed down.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Latest update on ME!

I've got several things to say and several things to sort through. Hopefully I will say and sort them in a way that isn't too confusing!

First I just wanted to mention that I am sort of blogging at LiveJournal now, I just wanted to try a different platform, and one thing I like about lj is the friends/community aspect. The friends page is sort of like having a built in CSS reader so that you don't miss anything that is going on with your friends and communities who also blog at lj...unless you don't sign in to lj and check your friends list! Anyway, for anyone interested my lj is here:
The Silence of Our Friends - LiveJournal version
Go ahead, friend me, I generally friend back, but I readily admit I'm slow about it. It's only because I forget to check who has friended me that often. Don't worry, you won't miss anything since I haven't had any locked posts yet. But of course, I also don't want to miss what you are saying and need you on my friends page for that. So go ahead and poke me in comments to let me know to get over there and friend you.

There are a few things I don't like about lj, the first is threaded comments. I find them confusing and wish that lj would make it so that you can change preferences for that, at the very least have it so that you could "expand all". It would also be great if there was a way of marking which comments are read and which are unread. The last thing is, now that I make the move over to lj, everyone else is moving to DreamWidth! This is just my luck.

Ok, in general 'Donna News', I just got back from a vacation. It started out as the vacation from HELL, we got to the airport with over an hour and a half to go before our flight. We were flying Southwest, and they were badly understaffed. The line was huge to check our luggage and get boarding passes, but after an hour we did...and then we got into the line for security to get to our gate. That was also huge. We got to our gate just in see our flight leave without us. We weren't the only ones, there were 8 passengers who missed that flight. Now think about this, we were checked in, they knew we were in the airport because we had boarding passes and our luggage is already on the plane, but they didn't hold the plane for a lousy 5-10-15 minutes to get all passengers on board. Now I'm not saying that an airline has to wait forever for every dawdling passenger, but they know they are understaffed and the lines are huge, their fault...they also see how long the lines are for TSA, not their fault, but certainly not the passengers fault either. Instead of waiting a few more minutes to board everyone, now they are stuck trying to fit us on other overbooked flights to get us to our destination. Now they have a bunch of irate passengers instead of pleased customers.

And...most importantly, our luggage is on that plane without us. I thought new security measures were in place so that this never happens. You see, one of the things terrorists do is put bombs in their luggage, check that luggage, and then don't get on the flight. So when luggage is on a flight without the passenger who checked that luggage, the airline is supposed to delay the flight and remove that luggage from the cargo hold. (Here is a related article about "Positive Passenger Bag Match" or PPBM from MSNBC.) They really do not give a shit about their passengers, or crews, just the schedule. And you know something, a plane does not travel at only one speed. It can speed up and slow down like most other vehicles. This means that even if a flight is delayed for 15 minutes, it will still likely be on time to it's arrival destination, the schedule is just fine!

We were there at the airport all morning and much of the afternoon, watching flight after flight take off without us. They kept telling us that maybe they could get us on the next flight and get a connecting flight from there. But no, all their flights were booked and no last minute cancellations. Finally we told them we want our money back and that we would see if we could find a flight on another airline.

So at home I'm working the computer trying to find us other flights, everything in NH and Mass was either booked solid or so overpriced we couldn't afford it. So we ended up flying out of Hartford, CT. Yeah we had to make a three hour drive to start our vacation. But back up a bit, we also had to cancel our car rental since we wouldn't be there to pick it up, and we had a one day stay at a hotel to cancel too. And of course we have to make a new car rental reservation, but the hotel situation wasn't a problem since the rest of our vacation was staying FREE at a timeshare my sister owns.

Anyway, so far we have heard from the car rental that they refunded our money, but I don't know if the hotel charged us since we had a late cancellation. And really I'm not sure if Southwest even really refunded our money or is pulling a fast one and giving us "credit" with Southwest for a flight at a later date. They mumbled something about that and we told them absolutely not, we will never fly Southwest again, but that doesn't mean they didn't do it anyway. Waiting on our latest credit card bill to make sure we get our money from them.

So we finally make it to Florida. The weather was gorgeous with high temps in the mid 80's to low 90's, and sunny every day but one, when it was mostly sunny but we had a few showers in the afternoon. After a long New Hampshire winter this was heaven. Of course I got sunburn, but it wasn't the really painful bright red kind, although now my arms and legs are all peeling. I hate that! My sister's timeshare is at Orange Lake Resort and the place is beautiful and very roomy even though there was 7 of us in a two bedroom. We didn't go to any of the amusement parks, we just can't afford it and really shouldn't have even gone on this vacation. All we did is run up the credit card. We had sunshine and pools to keep everyone happy, this is what we really wanted. The kids are teens so a trip to Disney doesn't thrill them anymore, although I'm sure they wouldn't have turned down a day or two at Universal. They met and hung out with lots of teens from all over and even have some of them friended on their facebooks.

After a bad start basically a great vacation. Although...I do have more. I'm just pressed for time right now and will either just end here or come back with the rest later, if I find more time. Oh well, I wrote a lot more here than I thought I was going to already!