Obligatory reading for today

  • Jun. 6th, 2012 at 3:54 PM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
[personal profile] thatlitgirl writes an uber insightful post about queerness in Western Superhero media: The lies, the scars, the musculature.

Alan Scott, the once and future Golden Age Green Lantern, is gay, in the new DC Universe. Is there a maximum quota of queer people that they had to retcon his son Obsidian out of existence to fill? How tokenistic.

More importantly – this reboot Alan is a media mogul, a wealthy white man, in a genre where queer characters who aren’t wealthy white men get little enough airtime as it is.

The highest-profile character who doesn’t hit those buttons is Kate Kane, who is wealthy and white, but also a Jewish woman. Intan called it “homogeneous diversity”, which is about correct.

Even amongst well-off white women characters, who remembers Ayla Ranzz and Salu Digby? Then there is Renee Montoya, who is a B-list character; and her ex-girlfriend Daria Hernandez, another queer working-class Latina, has not made an appearance in ages. There is Karma, a Vietnamese-USAmerican displaced by war, on whose body has been projected objectification and fat hatred. And Mystique, whose gender/queerness is either ignored or used to titillate.

This applies not just to canonically queer characters, I feel, but also to the queering of characters in fanwork.

As I tweeted: “I wonder what Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark fics say about masculinity, dominance, and capitalism.”

The superhero genre was – once, long ago – fantastically subversive. It hasn’t been that way for a long time, of course, but I do blame the visibility of RDJ’s Tony Stark in the Jon Favreau films, and Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s, for telling and reaffirming stories about Western saviours in conflict zones and affluent saviours in urban ghettos.

My friend is living through something awful

  • Jan. 18th, 2012 at 4:23 AM
la_vie_noire: (Clare-killing)
Completely belated "South Asians for Justice" (SAJ) statement + my response.

The letter that SAJ send her is there. I'm just going to quote her words:

They coddled and protected a man who is ten years older than me, phd-track and from a highly class privileged background. The perpetrator is also jeering, spiteful and self-justifying about what he did to me, and tries to elicit pity and caretaking from women when talking about his current sexual violence ideations. All of this is transcripted through chats and emails. But unfortunately, Amita and co. were more concerned about preserving his access to organizational spaces.

I find the handwringing piece about state intervention ridiculous, since there has even never been any remote possibility of Saurav going to prison. The part that says that they don't want to be "punitive" ludicrously equates making safer spaces with the U.S. prison system. They demanded that he leave spaces ONLY if I am there. This is a man who has put in writing that he is a sexual predator. Apparently there are no minimum standards for participating in anti-oppression oriented spaces. Saurav perpetrated sexual violence against me after I experienced police violence. But I doubt anyone in these spaces would ask me to cry about the wounded psyches of the cops who harmed me.

They also left out that the "male ally" they used in this process told me my criticisms weren't worth engaging with and ditched the process. He was more dedicated to his friendship with the perpetrator than the process. Two months later, we finally are having a side accountability process to hold him accountable as well. Ridiculous. The accountability process group was itself not accountable.

It became evident through Saurav's own written admissions about his sexual violence and homicidal ideations via creepy emails to me, as well as information through others he harmed, that he has had an ongoing pattern of emotional and physical abusiveness and misogyny, despite his savvy utilization of feminist/social justice language and paid work on gender issues. He had also utilized his academic credentials and age to put me in my place; these were hierarchies that were being reinforced elsewhere in my life during my college years. He had also presented himself as a major source of support over the years, but opportunistically utilized multiple status differences and my vulnerabilities when I came to him for support last year during a time of crisis (which included trauma from recent gender-based stranger violence on the street). He repeatedly dodged responsibility over the course of the last year or so.


Due to the age gap, his peers/"friends" included my supervisors and professors, some of whom cofounded SAJ. I had outed him as an abuser to them by selecting "reply all" to a mass email he sent to to them and to me last year. Almost no one (including Aley, Svati, Linta) responded. One person, Thanu, outright dismissed my story as "gossip". Amita indeed sent out an email to those people early this year, trying to use her leverage as their peer, and only 3 of them responded. I don't think they're all particularly close to him, but I did feel uncomfortable sitting at the SAJ potluck with someone who I know used to hang out with the perpetrator (Linta), but basically silenced me before hand via email and told me to stop talking about it. I felt jarred when I first read the list of ten or so names behind the cofounding of SAJ and behind the mission statement, because of the incongruence between the language of the statement and the actual actions of those individuals. Many of those individuals are gender studies professors, anti-violence activists, etc.The SAJ mission statement includes language around gender justice and recognizing internal hierarchies around power/privilege, as well as the importance of recognizing the ways people are harmed by both interpersonal and state violence.

I find disgusting the ways the 30-something crowd who are peers of Saurav, well-established, paid to do anti-violence work, or teach race/gender/class issues as academics have responded. They do not speak for me.

So. This is a community that supposedly had to protect her. But privileged her abuser.

Pretty brilliant entry

  • Dec. 25th, 2011 at 8:41 PM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Gender Imperialism.

It has been and continues to be a challenge for me to resist the Western, imperialist constructions of gender. This conflict has been my *only* source of gender confusion and dysphoria. Before I was kicked out of my dad’s house, I was perfectly comfortable with my gender. But as I became entirely surrounded by the Western gaze, with no refuge, I began to feel discord with my gender and body. I have spent years struggling with my gender only to realize that the issue was not about my relation to my body but my relation to how the West views my body. My gender dysphoria was the result of Western imperialism.

[...]Eventually, these experiences (and a toxic friendship) convinced me to throw my skirts away (lovingly hand crocheted by myself) and make up, so that I could be a ‘man.’

Trying to live up to this Western, gender normative notion of ‘man’ did a lot of damage to myself. I’m getting over it, but it hasn’t been easy. And as I exit this stage of my life I’ve been re-examining my relationship with the trans umbrella (and the cis/trans binary). Ultimately, I’m resisting this label too, partially out of mistrust and a fear that even trying out this better, but still Western, conception of gender will still do damage to me. And I think it would. Because accepting the trans label as a bakla means that I’m defining and understanding my gender within a Western context. It is an acceptance of the imperialism and continued colonization of my body by the West.

My gender identity, and its expression, exist outside of the Western construction of gender. It is the product of a culture that, while it has a colonial past, is its own.

Jun. 16th, 2011

  • 4:33 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
The Price Of Noncompliance.

Toronto couple Kathy Witterick and David Stocker did the usual thing that any parents do when their new child is born, they sent out an email notice noting their new baby’s vital statistics and eye color. But what they did differently was to leave short, simple statement about their baby, named Storm.

It read:

“We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …”

Essentially what Witterick and Stoker have decided is to not assume that Storm is cisgender and to leave it to Storm to figure out whom zie is for zimself in the spirit of self determination and autonomy, free of coercive gender stereotyping.


2. “This is social experiment with a political agenda.”

Again we see the effects of cis-centric thinking at work here. The truth is that I’m an experiment, you’re an experiment and we’re all experiments of a cis-supremacist and misogynistic society. Saying this ignores that children are influenced by gender stereotypes and depictions of gendered behavior dozens, perhaps hundreds of times a day. People only notice this when someone refuses to conform to these stereotypes or decides not to teach them to their children, as Storm’s parents are doing.

Socialization can come in good and bad forms. For example many kids today are socialized in to racist ideology and behavior. Yet we don’t talk about the evils of that kind of socialization because it would challenge white supremacy prevalent in American society. And in this case, we don’t hear about objections over gender socialization until people are giving their children the free will in a challenge to cis-supremacy.

And our normative gender relations and stereotyping have an enormous political agenda, namely in defending patriarchy, heterosexism and cis-supremacy to the bitter end.


  • May. 25th, 2011 at 1:34 AM
la_vie_noire: Yuuko, smoking and looking pensive (Yuuko thinking)
SI has a pretty interesting post: The Racialization of Mental Illness. (Also, about gender, and how psychiatrists described illness.)

As the urban background suggests, this fear extended beyond individual safety to social unrest. In a 1969 essay titled “The Protest Psychosis,” after which Metzl’s book is named, psychiatrists postulated that the growing racial disharmony in the US at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, reflected a new manifestation of psychotic behaviors and delusions afflicting America’s black lower class. Accordingly, “paranoid delusions that one is being constantly victimized” drew some men to fixate on misguided ventures to overthrow the establishment. Luckily, pharmaceutical companies proposed that chemical interventions could directly pacify the masculinzed, black threat depicted in advertisements like the above. “Assaultive and belligerent?” it asks. “Cooperation often begins with Haldol.”

Apr. 23rd, 2011

  • 2:20 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Beyond the Binary: Body Image.

Most representations of people labeled as not male and not female are very similar, and tend to share some basic characteristics. They are thin or slender. They have flat chests and narrow hips. They tend to have more angular features. When people are asked to picture someone ‘androgynous’ or to visualize a person of ‘indeterminate’ gender, this is usually the mental image that arises. Note, please, that many of these traits are traditionally associated with masculinity. Nonbinary people can occupy a range of gender identities and bodies, including bodies like this, but people often assume that all of us share this appearance and this specific body type, that people who do not look this way are somehow faking or pretending.

Someone like me, with fat, broad hips, breasts, and soft features, is read as female, because I do not fit the image of a nonbinary person.[...]

Feminism discusses body image and normative trends about bodies a lot. Sometimes it even tosses a few scraps to trans women when discussions about body image take place. But feminism is silent on nonbinary people; there isn’t a huge body of work talking about nonbinary body image and, specifically, how antifemininity ties in with the relationships we have with our bodies. And how fighting antifemininity in feminism might, just possibly, make the world safer for us.

And this is the reason I basically ignore [livejournal.com profile] ontd_feminism lately. (And that I basically ignore everything because I have no time lately, but you get me.)

Awesome things

  • Apr. 2nd, 2011 at 11:43 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
[personal profile] dingsi has has an amazing linkspam.

With amazing, amazing post: The Phalloclitoris: Anatomy and Ideology.

We all begin life with genitals that have four basic external elements. At the top is the part numbered 1 on my drawing: the sensitive end of the phalloclitoris, which can differentiate into the head of the penis or clitoris. In the center is structure 2: an inset membrane that can widen or can seal as the fetus develops. It will form the urethra, and the vagina, if any. Around it is structure 3, which is capable of differentiation into either a phallic shaft, or clitoral body and labia minora. And at the outside is the fourth part, the labioscrotal swellings, which can develop into labia majora or a scrotum.

There is a lot of variation in how each of the four basic parts of the genitalia develop from person to person in all of us. For example, we acknowledge with a lot of rib-elbowing the variation in penile size. Variation in the size and shape of genitalia, and in other parts of the body, is part of human diversity. Surgeons are well aware that livers and lungs and blood vessels vary a lot between individuals, and may look quite different from an iconic anatomical diagram. But we rarely care about having an unusually shaped liver. The shape of genitals, however, is given huge cultural weight, because we pin our commitment to dyadic gender roles on them. We look at the shape of a newborn's genitalia and project a future of dresses and diets and talking about emotions, or sports and strength and getting under the hood of a car. We do know that people are complicated. Most of us want to be more than walking gender stereotypes. Still, we understand people through the lens of dyadic gender difference, and intersex people call that into question. When we see a baby born with intermediate genitalia, and can't project a future for them based on our well-known gender narratives, people in our society--including doctors--freak out.


Have this parrot:

Some important linking

  • Jan. 15th, 2011 at 12:10 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Massive protests in Tunisia have ended in President Ben Ali (in power since 1987) leaving the country. Tunisia: The end of an era.

It all started about a month ago when a public suicide of a frustrated, disillusioned Tunisian grew into widespread anger. Days later the ink-spot has been ever growing in an unprecedented scope and magnitude.

The outcry against unemployment rapidly evolved into a popular movement asking for Ben Ali to leave power, for corruption to be rooted out and for the repressive police apparatus to be held accountable for human rights abuses.

Leslie Feinberg: While a hostile relative re-writes my life: ‘Who is, and is not, my family.’

In autumn 2010, Knopf published a “transgender” themed young adult novel. The author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, is an estranged relative of mine.

The analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Hyde’s young adult fiction novel will come from those who are living the identities, and oppressions to which she has applied her imagination.

However, as part of the media coverage and publicity tour for the release of the young adult novel, Hyde claims much of her expertise and authority for writing her “transgender”-themed young adult novel as based on my life and identity.

[...] Since I became acutely ill in October 2007, it has been very hard for me to write, or to speak. So it is opportunistic and unconscionable that a hostile relative would take this opportunity to re-tell my life in a way that changes my sex, mis-describes my gender expression, and closets my sexuality. Hyde also attempts to silence me politically as a revolutionary, reasserts the dominant legal control of the biological family, and ignores and disrespects my chosen family.

My verbal and written request for no further contact has been violated by my relatives numerous times over the last forty years. So I do not rely on them to respect my wishes. Instead, I have clarified and strengthened my legal papers, and I am making this statement public: My living biological relatives—Irving David Feinberg, Betty Vance Hyde, and Catherine Ryan Hyde—are not my family. They do not speak for me.

Poet Susana Chavez’s Death Sparks Outrage in Juarez

Chavez is one of over 500 women in Juarez who have been found murdered in the last decade. And her death has caused an uproar because she had been one of few to speak out against the growing femicide, coining the phrase, “Ni una mas,” (“Not one more) and routinely criticizing local authorities for refusing to properly investigate the crimes. Her death has cast new suspicions about local authorities’ ability to handle the cases. That is to say that they’ve largely chosen to ignore them; so far, 92 percent of cases of women who’ve been murdered in the region remain unsolved.

Dec. 25th, 2010

  • 10:16 PM
la_vie_noire: (Claymore4 Rachel and Audrey)
Via [personal profile] torachan, Man Enough.

There's this idea in cissexist society that trans people are naïve about gender. It seems people assume that guys like me "don't know how to be women" and therefore "don't know how to be men" either. Trans people are supposed to be tragically caught in between, too clumsy to conform to either socially sanctioned gender.


I've talked before about this double bind, in which therapists, doctors, families and friends, along with the media and all the rest of cis society, try to impose very rigid gender roles on trans people, making compliance with these roles a condition for access to hormones and surgeries and then turn around and criticize trans people for our supposedly unenlightened approach to gender. I've even heard people suggest that a good women's studies course could "cure" a trans man of the need to transition, by elucidating all the options he could have as a "different kind of woman." (Retch.)

It's like cis people don't think we've thought about our genders. We have, trust me. In fact, if you're cis and you're reading this, there's a good chance that I have thought more about my gender than you ever have about yours. Much more. We're talking countless hours, endless angsty journal entries, manifold anguished conversations. Hell, I even went to therapy, just for my gender. A lot of us did. (Those who didn't aren't missing much: just another opportunity to be pathologized and forced to justify their own existence.)

The fact is, cis people are generally the ones who are naïve about gender. [...]

Trans Day of Remembrance

  • Nov. 20th, 2010 at 7:41 PM
la_vie_noire: (Claymore10 about to cut)
It makes sense.

The trans community’s marked by violence – so many of us have experienced it, live with it, and so many of us die from it. When we hear that one of us have died, we remember the violence we faced, the threats, the fear we live with.

And yet, whenever a trans person is murdered, the very first thing we trans people have to do is sort through the layers and layers of transphobic misinformation from police, media and families in order to work out who that person was, how they lived their life, what their appropriate pronouns and identifications were.

Because the words are almost always wrong, and almost always an act of erasure. First they will begin by making a reference to assigned sex, as something this person “is” – most commonly, “a man was found in woman’s clothing.” And it’s like, ok it’s certainly possible for it to have been a male crossdresser. We must be cautious and not jump to conclusions, because that would be an act of erasure. And it is after all being reported as a fact by the media. It “makes sense,” because the “knowledge” of the majority always makes sense.

And then they will use an assigned name, a name given to the person at birth. But then, almost always, it will turn out that wait no it was a trans woman. And then we find out that she’d changed her legal name. And had been on hormones. And she was most certainly not known by the name she was assigned at birth to the people in her life. That yes, she was a woman, that she lived and died as a woman, not a “man in women’s clothing.”

But none of that matters to the institutions that create someone’s public memory. Because another reality has intervened – cissexual reality – and how she lived and who she was has disappeared.

Because in all likelihood maybe her real legal name will be put in quotation marks after the false name she discarded – like she was just living some wacky nickname which everyone indulged – and maybe she will be referred to as “a transsexual,” this mystical beast which is somehow not a woman. But she will rarely if ever be described as a transsexual woman by the media, and certainly never as just a plain woman.

Sep. 14th, 2010

  • 7:27 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] delux_vivens, French senate bans the niqāb.

Many Muslims believe the legislation is one more blow to France's second religion, and risks raising the level of Islamophobia in a country where mosques, like synagogues, are sporadic targets of hate. However, the vast majority behind the measure say it will preserve the nation's singular values, including its secular foundation and a notion of fraternity that is contrary to those who hide their faces.

France would be the first European country to pass such a law though others, notably neighbouring Belgium, are considering laws against face-covering veils, seen as anathema to the local culture.

Uhm, "fraternity contrary to those who hide their faces." Do I need to say more?

Amazing post on [livejournal.com profile] ontd_feminism: The white person's guide to being visibly racist.

Despite your best efforts, your earnest and totally misguided offensive appropriation can fade from memory with time. Luckily, there's a way around this. For generations, people have covered their flesh in stereotypical depictions of other human beings and their cultures, and it has yet to go out of vogue. A couple of sugar skulls on your upper arms will lend an exotic vibe to any WASP, and, what with the overwhelming current of xenophobia and racism in today's society, no actual Latin@ is likely to feel comfortable challenging you on it. If they do, make sure to tell them how much you loooooove their culture and it means sooooo much to you. They'll look like ungrateful meanyheads and will be forced to back off. If all else fails, ask them how they celebrated the last Day of the Dead. No doubt they'll say something boring about visiting the graves of their dead family members or something, whereas you made up your face like a Sylvia Ji painting, baked some authentic Mexican bread using authentic internet recipes, and built a shrine to Frida Kahlo. It's clear who the winner is.

Not feeling this Mexican stuff? Get a gypsy or geisha, or maybe an American Indian. Don't let anybody tell you this is offensive. After all, such designs have been used for years, and tattoos are all about your feelings, not about centuries of ongoing marginalization and genocide. It is your right as a privileged person to have cartoonish depictions of other human beings permanently marked on your body.

Also, Sociological Images people find this video "amazing".

The appropriation of the song works on so many levels: the all heavily-white, all-female group, the sweet choral arrangement, the pastel prep fashion, the strategically placed tennis rackets. They use race, class, and gender contradictions to force us to see and hear the song in a new way. All serve to mock the original, taking the teeth out of the language at the same time that they expose it as grossly misogynistic. Awesome.

Apparently, the fact they are all white women with sweet choral arrangement, pastel prep fashion is supposed to be... what? Dude, no one is going to deny the song is misogynist as fuck, but... here, I'm not quite finding it that funny. Not if you take into account USA's culture, and how black men were actually murdered for daring to look wrong at white women. Also, why are only white women there when it's supposed to be a "reaction" to the song when said song isn't even about white women. But you know women of color aren't useful for the parody because they aren't regarded as "pure" as WASP are. Which I don't find funny. Have Karnythia's post: White Women, Tears, and Coded Images (she is talking about Taylor Swift and Kayne, not about the issue of this song with women which is a big deal but, again, not towards white women):

Ooh, a whole stage show geared to present this image of delicate white femininity while you sing about your innocence being violated. By a scary black man.

Gee, that’s not a coded message we’ve seen before at all. Oh wait, let’s talk about the idea of white people feeling violated by black people “not knowing their place” and what that’s meant historically to American society. Better yet, let’s really dig down into why we’re singing about violated innocence like being interrupted on stage is at all equivalent to being physically assaulted. Oh, but then we might have to get into who interrupted her and whether this would be such a big deal if the racial makeup was different.
la_vie_noire: (Default)
I blame ontd_feminism.

Man says he would never vote "guilty" if he were a jury in a rape case despite the evidence because menz are oprezzed by US's law. All the comments agree and consider him heroic because we live in a misandrist world. The whole site is a jewel. (Triggering for rape apologism, victim blaming and lot more shit I can't name.)

Also, there was this post featured about a white US senator saying white privileged was a myth because white people were impoverished.

Hmm. Some days.

Ah, hating the world.

  • Jul. 23rd, 2010 at 4:22 PM
la_vie_noire: (Clare-killing)
Dead Firefighter’s Family Sues His Widow Because She is Trans.

Warning: quoted text and linked articles contain transphobic language.

This story is enraging and heartbreaking all at once. A woman named Nikki Araguz recently lost her husband Thomas, when he died while working as a firefighter on July 3. Instead of being allowed to mourn this horrific and sudden loss of her life partner, Nikki is instead being sued by her late husband’s family.

The lawsuit attempts to void the two year marriage of Nikki and Thomas, for the purpose of preventing her from having access to his death benefits. The family brutally alleges that the entire marriage was a fraud, revealed personal details about Nikki’s life, and have dragged her into court and before television cameras during this grieving period.

All because Nikki is transgender.

A Wharton county judge is expected to hear evidence on Friday in the first step toward sorting out the estate of a firefighter killed in the line of duty, in dispute because of a lawsuit between his parents and his widow who was born a male.

Nikki Araguz on Thursday decried allegations lodged in the lawsuit by her late husband’s family that she is a fraud because she was born male.

“I’m absolutely devastated about the loss of my husband, a fallen firefighter named Thomas Araguz III, and horrified at the horrendous allegations accusing me of fraud because they are absolutely not true,” Araguz said at a Thursday press conference. “And that is all I have to say.”

She spoke briefly at the law office of Phyllis Frye, a transgender attorney, who said her six-lawyer firm is poised to fight the family’s lawsuit. Moments after her statement, Araguz stood up in tears and walked out of the press conference.

“She cries,” Frye said after the abrupt departure. “It’s been 18 days since her husband died.”

The Associated Press outlines:

In a lawsuit filed July 12 in Wharton County, his mother, Simona Longoria, asked to be appointed administrator of her son’s estate and that her son’s marriage to Nikki Araguz be voided because the couple were members of the same sex.

Voiding the marriage would prevent Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had, with these things only going to her husband’s heirs, said Chad Ellis, Longoria’s attorney.

A Friday court hearing is planned to determine whether to extend a temporary restraining order granted Longoria that prevents Araguz from receiving insurance or death benefits or having access to bank accounts or property the couple had.

Ellis said his client’s efforts to void the marriage are supported by Texas law, specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage, as well as her wrongful death claim, was invalid.

“The law is clear, you are what you are born as,” Ellis said.

It's everything what is wrong with law.

No one should be living what this woman is living right now. Reality is that most trans women do.

News! Cis people being privileged assholes!

  • Jul. 12th, 2010 at 4:31 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
New York Times Says Trans People are Ethically Required to Out Themselves on Dates.

Randy Cohen, the ethicist, has declared that trans people are ethically required to disclose to their dates. He says:

Getting to know someone is a gradual process. I might panic if on a first date someone began talking about what to name the nine kids she’s eager for us to raise in our new home under the sea. Premature disclosure can be as unnerving as protracted concealment. But as partners cultivate romance, and particularly as they move toward erotic involvement, there are things each should reveal, things they would not mention to a casual acquaintance — any history of S.T.D.’s, for example, or the existence of any current spouse. Even before a first kiss, this person should have told you those things that you would regard as germane to this phase of your evolving relationship, including his being transgendered. Clearly he thought you’d find it pertinent; that’s why he discreditably withheld it, lest you reject him.

So he actually does use the word “panic” in that paragraph, which is kind of ominous. He also compares disclosing that you’re trans to disclosing STDs or whether you’re currently married to someone else.

As usually happens when it comes to trans people and dating, confidentiality and privacy are thrown out the window as soon as cis people insert themselves into the situation. Cohen (who is, by the way, a humorist and not an ethicist, who has written for the historically transphobic David Letterman show) says that it is fine for the cis woman who asked this question to out the trans man she dated to her friends, that her right to process something that doesn’t actually have a serious impact on her supercedes his right to privacy or any consideration for confidentiality.

He tries to soften it by saying “No handbills, and don’t ask him to announce it from the pulpit,” but as many of us have experienced, once someone outs you, the word can spread like wildfire. Cis people seem to think that learning that someone is trans is a particularly salacious and juicy rumor, one that will get passed around from person to person. It just takes hitting one cis person who doesn’t care more about your safety than about hir ability to get a cheap thrill exposing your secrets, and in my experience the majority of cis people are like this. Cohen even describes the trans man in question as discreditable, because he withheld this information until he was ready to divulge it. This is a pretty explicit acknowledgement of how many cis people view trans people: Our transness makes us discreditable. It doesn’t matter when we’re outed (by ourselves or others), once we are, we’re discreditable. Everything we say is doubted – about our competence, about our honesty, about our gender. Everything about us is false except what cis people allow us to have by inscribing upon us, usually against our will.

Oh, the fuck.
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Kynn very well points on the cisprivilege that is going on with this outrage over "genital mutilation". TRIGGER WARNING: POST TALKS ABOUT GENITAL RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY.

It's really an intersex issue that everyone is choosing to forget.

Here is a wonderful anonymous comment that points a lot of the issues here and everybody who is not an intersex person should read. Because as informative and useful [livejournal.com profile] lizardspots's post is with all the mess that this has become, it also reeks of cis privilege:

Children should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want genital reconstructive surgery, and which gender identity they wish to align themselves with. While doctors may be right in some cases, in a large number they are not, particularly because they decide the child's gender identity largely based on the size of the cliterophallus. Most cases have nothing to do with the chromosomes of the child and everything to do with the heterocentric notion that the child, if allowed to be 'male' will have an unhealthy sexual life because his penis will not be able to pleasure a woman because it is too small.

It is far, far more traumatizing to be given a gender identity you do not want and to have your genitals hacked apart before you are really cognizant of them as an adult. Many, many intersexed could have had much happier lives with genitals closer to those that they really wanted, and happier childhoods without the pressure to conform to an applied gender identity that did not fit them. This also touches on transphobia, because many people cannot deal with the idea that a child should be free to choose what gender they ascribe to. Contrary to what may be a common belief, if a child is given guidance about the nature of their genitals, they'll deal with it pretty well. Children are really more flexible and strong than most people given them credit for.

Also people? Terms like "normal" and "anormal" aren't neccesarily "neutral," "right" or devoid of any demeaning/discriminating connotation just because they are used regularly in medicine. God knows that in this context, with intersex issues, they are definitely not that.

Something about scientists: most of them are privileged people who don't live completely dissociated from their environment.

Jun. 7th, 2010

  • 1:45 AM
la_vie_noire: (Anthy flower)
Tracing this Body. Transsexuality, pharmaceuticals & capitalism is one of the most (if not the most) amazing, complex, and intersecting articles I have read. A must-read written in 2003 by Michelle O’Brien and still holds true and how. Seriously, I'm making a crime just quoting a bit, you have to read it (if you haven't already):

These battles over HIV, transgender health and drug use are real, with millions of people's lives on the line. Politics is changing fast around the world, as old resistance movements have disintegrated, and new forms of domination are deepening their entrenched authority. Capital flows more and more rapidly around the globe, while access to health care is strictly limited and regulated. Wars of healthcare, over the terrain of our bodies, are among the most significant political battles in the world today. Healthcare is a major site in defining, and transforming, what race and class domination mean in our day to day lives. This fight is so profound, so real, so important, precisely because it is the place where the three levels of flows come together: 1. those flows of T-Cells and hormones, of viruses and antivirals, of methadone and heroin, within our own bodies; 2. those flows of our communities, families and lives through our communities; and 3. those flows of capital and institutional power across the globe.


The politics of our bodies - as trans people, as drug users, as people living with HIV - require a sophisticated grasp of multiple contradictions. We are dependent on the very systems that oppress us. We make demands for change, and appropriate the refuse of capital for our own survival. We live in the flows, suffer in the flows, envision a new world in these flows.

Many theories of power and politics offer little to grapple with such a struggle of bodily survival. I grew up working in radical environmental movements in Oregon, using direct action to defend ancient forests. The anticapitalist analysis of many such activists relied on a fanatical commitment to purity and an attempt at a total refusal to participate or be complicit in any form of corporate rule. Veganism, do-it-yourself punk ethics, buying natural and local, Lesbian-Feminist separatism, back-to-land self-sustaining agriculture and especially eco-primitivism and other movements common around Eugene, Oregon, all frequently rely, to various extents, on a commitment to non-participation in global capitalism and certain idealized notions of purity. Since then, I've encountered similar phenomena in many political spaces, from AIDS denialists working in animal rights organizing to the MOVE family of Philadelphia, from genderqueer denunciations of medicalized body modification to the glorification of drop-out travelers by the anarchist writing network known as CrimethInc.


These languages of purity and non-participation are frequently counterposed by the glorifying ideological cheerleaders of capitalist domination. Every major U.S. newspaper, every president and senator, every corporate trade journal is aggressively advancing the absurd notion that capitalism is the best avenue to manage and stop human suffering. Believing that state power and corporate tyranny will somehow make a decent world have a major impact on the popular discourses of science, technology and industrial production. Such pro-capitalist perspectives are of no use to me.

Instead, I've tried through this paper to trace other ways of thinking through the relationship between my body and capitalism. Each step, I've tried to simultaneously recognize my participation and complicity, and trace the possibilities of resistance and liberation. In trying to describe the complexity of these relationships, I've found inspiration in Donna Haraway's essay "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." A truly remarkable text, Haraway's essay brilliantly cut through polarized debates characterizing science as either a wonderful tool of capitalist improvement or the evil bane of patriarchy. Instead, Haraway describes the figure of the cyborg. The cyborg is the bastard child of the patriarchal realms of capitalism, nature and technoscience. Rather than reproduce their systems of command, control and communication, the cyborg ran radically challenge, undermine and resist domination. The cyborg is a new vision of feminist consciousness, a radical means of relating to technology and science. The cyborg is never pure, never free of the systems it subverts, never belonging to a realm before or outside of capitalist technoscience and patriarchy. But the cyborg is also a revolutionary, an effective, empowered, conscious being that reworks, redirects and restructures the oppressive systems that birthed it.

This vision of the feminist cyborg has been very useful and inspiring to me in understanding my own body and in struggling to the liberation of trans people. Like the cyborg, we are both complicit in and a challenge to the biomedical industries. We are drastically rebuilding our bodies with the aid of technology, surgery and drugs. And we are doing this all on our own terms, committed to our own well being, striving to our own liberation. Far from dupes of doctors or the crude escapists of ecoprimitivism, we are living amidst the systems we are always subverting. Trans people live in that hybrid edge of technology, science, nature and capital that Haraway correctly and brilliantly identifies as a tremendously power space of resistance and movement.

We are all in the midst of structures of tremendous violence, oppression and exploitation. There is no easy escape or pure distance from them. Our ability to resist, in this world, at this time, is deeply inseparable from our ongoing connection to these very systems. But resist we do. Every day, in so many ways, we are all struggling towards a new world of liberation, healing and respect.

Here is Donna Haraway's 1991 essay: A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century, if you want to read it.

Humanity, how you made me... arg

  • Jun. 3rd, 2010 at 4:43 PM
la_vie_noire: (Clare-killing)
If you are going to pretend that stereotypes aren't something extremely ugly and insulting when used on minorities who are devalued in a society dominated by people who love to discriminate against them... well, I have nothing. You know you aren't being naive.


The problem with some anti-rape campaigns is they they "show women naked, and they make men think more of sex, and that's bloody stupid". Please kindly kill humanity, thank you. Apparently, men can't look at women's skin without wanting to rape women.

Also, something I totally forgot to quote due to rage is the truly good critique Cara does to that poster:

On the one hand, I really, really love the focus on affirmative consent rather than passive consent or the lack of a “no.” I’m frankly tired of “no means no.” I hate the idea that someone has to say no to get someone to stop touching them, rather than say yes before someone feels the right to touch them in the first place. I like that the poster actually defines consent as the presence of a yes rather than the absence of some kind of revocation of consent that is otherwise constantly presumed to be present. “She didn’t say no” is an incredibly repulsive defense[*], and one that seems to only be growing in popularity and acceptability. It’s very important to combat that.

On the other hand, I find the “no entry” symbol and further pun regarding “entry” in the text to be glib and all around off-putting. Rape isn’t about “entry,” it’s about violation, and that can take many forms. And it really just seems like the wrong time for sexual innuendo and wordplay.

Further, while I don’t find the image to be overtly sexual, that doesn’t mean I don’t find it objectifying. I’m tired of seeing women’s bodies detached from their person, women being represented by their bodies rather than their faces, and women’s bodies just all around being used as symbols rather than treated like they belong to us. I’m tired of the idea that if we don’t show a face, it’ll be more universal — personally, I think that showing a face is a much better reminder that women are people, with thoughts, and feelings, and minds of our own. Beyond that, if we are going to use women’s body parts as representations for women, I’m tired of seeing the same precisely shaped body parts over and over again. I’m tired of the idea that only a thin woman with a flat stomach and no cellulite is “good looking enough” to be raped. And while I think that it would have been just as problematic, if not more so, to feature a woman of color in this kind of disembodied, headless, and objectified position, it is incredibly frustrating and disturbing that white women are so persistently presented as the only real victims of rape.

*Because you know how all people can say "no" or even consent. Heck, some rapists even look for people who can't consent (drunk, unconscious, disabled people) to rape.


Reborn fandom, as every fucking week of my life; fuck you you and your misogyny. Thank you.

Dear Reborn. Spoilers for latest chapters )
la_vie_noire: (Juri-flirt)
[livejournal.com profile] rawles writes, a quick note

Along this same vein, deciding that you can defeat the misogyny of the source material/relationships in the source material by removing the women and replacing them with/focusing entirely dudes similarly reeks of bullshit. Because obviously the feminist way to deal with a misogynistic narrative is not to balance out relationships or illuminate and explore the female characters, but to ignore them! Riiiight.

The erasure of female characters from a narrative is never feminist. Period. The end.

Dude, seriously. Seriously. Not only that, there is also this shit with bashing female characters claiming they are so "unfeminist and problematic" and then going all starry-eyed and writing about whatever the awesome shit the guys are doing.

(But the "peen" part in that post made me cringe. Cis people, stop with the genitalia thing.)


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