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.

More Avengers

  • May. 27th, 2012 at 11:59 AM
la_vie_noire: (kashira kashira)
Via [personal profile] eccentricyoruba, this reading of The Avengers as a geek culture/industry commentary is marvelous: An Unbiased Review of the Marvel “Avengers” Movie. Won't exactly agree with it -and the writer acknowledges that may be reading too much/giving the movie a lot of credit-, but still a fascinating interpretation. Don't miss the part about Loki's motivation.

Have they intentionally created a movie which is more satisfying to think about than to actually watch? If not, is the helf-heartedness of Loki’s fake plan just bad writing? After the immensely subtle critique of gender in Norse culture which we took from the Thor film, we cannot assume pure clumsiness on the part of the planning team. Right?


Thus my conclusion: Marvel’s Avengers Assemble film is an elaborate commentary on the reduced funding the Space Program received in the last budget cycle, viewed through evolution of nerd culture, specifically the increasing frequency with which the “commercialized nerd” has appeared in mainstream popular media (from advertising to Big Bang Theory). The film’s creators are arguing that, even as society is embracing and cultivating the commercialized nerd who helps the economy and supplies the consumerist status quo with toys and technological solutions, that public nerd-love is concealing the fact that society and the government are stifling and rejecting the revolutionary nerd who still aims at Mars and beyond. The little boy who dreams of living in the future is being tricked into thinking the World of Tomorrow is merely the World of Today with more toys, and if he escapes that propaganda then he finds himself an enemy of the present, while his adversaries are armed with weapons built by his fellow nerds. If Earth or the Asgardians had cared enough to try to rebuild Bifrost and continue contact (i.e. if the Space Program had more public support), Loki might have put his genius at the service of such ambitious races, instead of having to become their enemy. By failing to realize the cultural importance of First Contact (read the comparative lack of discussion of the retirement of the Space Shuttle), Stark and Banner’s ignorance proves the revolutionary is truly alone (we must look to privately-funded space travel?). That it is ultimately not Stark but Banner (the nerd who fears his own power) who defeats Loki suggests that the writers think the biggest obstacle is the nervous and comparatively conservative baby boomer generation of ex-comics readers, who dabbled in sci-fi as kids but gave it up on reaching adulthood, and can tolerate Stark’s playful goading but not Loki’s attempts to use science to achieve real change.

Also, honey, "the boy," "he"? You should check your demography most often.

Feb. 24th, 2012

  • 11:54 PM
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
Willow is always amazing and you have to read it because I cannot quote it all: Transethnicity Claims, Piracy, Faeries & Appropriation.

The 1st thing to hit me, is how mocking this is to transgendered individuals, that their situation is seen as so damn 'science fiction', somehow, that something as mocking as 'Trans Ethnic' can be set up as part of any kind of conversation. 'So, you think you're not the gender you physically appear to be / were assigned at birth? Ha! I top you. I don't think I'm the ethnicity 'assigned' to me at birth/ that I appear as. And none of this having a damn thing to do with the modification of birth certificates so that NDN people could pass as non-native for a chance at a better life. None of this gets into black who passed as white, to try and life a better, safer life within a white supremacist state. None of this gets into trans racial adoptees and their personal conflicts of identity and how they feel vs how they're treated.


Cultural appropriation seems to exist, because in order to be white and in order to be USian, various peoples several decades ago decided to put aside their cultural and ethnic heritage in order to fit in. The less you showed some distinct aspect of your identity the more it supposedly meant you were leaving it behind to embrace your new Usian life.

So goodbye, traditions, language, clothing, manners, foods, songs and stories. And now here we are, a couple generations later, with a set of people who want something to belong to, but even in this day and age of Ancestry.com (for white folk) they're not going back to research what they gave up. And I don't know if it's because the attitudes to give it up and leave it behind are still strong, if sub and unconscious. They're instead reaching towards those peoples who've fought and struggled and suffered to hold on to anything at all. And reaching towards peoples whose suffering and oppression has formed a new culture and new identity within this 'new land'. So I suppose it's not surprising so many people want to be Native American - because how much more 'belonging' to this new land could one be? Or that they want to be 'Black' which is an identity that was created on these shores (well these and other places of colonialist import of slaves).

But history and struggle, accomplishment and identity, folklore, stories and song, foods, clothing and culture are not something you can buy in a store.

[...] But whoa. Looking at the terms 'Trans Ethnic', however, makes me feel as if minority/non dominant/colonized culture and societies are somehow as mythical and unreal as fairies, dragons, and spiritual wolves and bears - because ANYONE can decide that's who and what they are and decide to pick it up and somehow 'live by it'. And while you cannot disrespect fairies and dragons, and disrespecting wolves or bears gets you murdered and dead - disrespecting non dominant ethnicities happens, is real, is hurtful and painful and dehumanizing and devaluing.

If your inner self is a water dragon, well, whatever. That's your thing. If your inner self is black? Fuck you. There have always been assholes (particularly teenagers), dressing in certain clothes, copying certain slang, listening to certain music and claiming they were down with __insert ethnic minority here__. New age dressing it up as 'Trans Ethnicism' doesn't change the asshole badge.


I said I'd talk about Trans Ablism / Trans Disablism, and I will. Disability has a culture, it has many in fact. Deaf culture, isn't blind culture, isn't the myriad wheelchair cultures, isn't invisible disability culture, isn't chronic illness culture, isn't ... the list goes on. Those cultures too? Came out of struggle and strife, dedication, hard work and more. They were created to sustain the myriad peoples who're involved in them. They have their dark ass times, their deprivations and horrors, their triumphs, their moments of weeping for joy and of pain. There are institutions, schools, lock aways, slurs, words, language, music, dance, art, etc, and yes they were all created - some of them only a couple hundred years old. But they? Are REAL. You don't get to go shopping for them either.

Cause this shopping people are doing, has nothing to do with learning the history of anything, it's just another type of entitlement. It's grubby grabby hands. It's trying to fill some lack and hole with someone else's inheritance. It's grabbing someone else's sandwich cause they dealt with the jeers and kept their food, and you threw yours aside.

Feb. 14th, 2012

  • 2:33 AM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
Always brilliant [personal profile] deepad has a great post: On JLF, Rushdie, but also, On Violences. I think you should read it all because I cannot quote it enough.

As totemic bineries go, Valentine's Day vs. right wing religious fundamentalists is just about as irksome as Salman Rushdie vs. right wing religious fundamentalists. I saw Valentine's Day being cooked up in India as I was growing up along with Archies Gallery and the desire to market greeting cards; it's an festival imported by capitalist marketeers that is embarassing in its conspicuous display of materialistic measurement of heterosexual conventional romantic relationships. Of course no one should be stoned for wanting to flaunt pink heart-holding teddy bears. (Of course, Salman Rushdie should not be threatened with any form of violence.) It's just a little wearying, though, to be asked to make Valentine's Day a symbol, when having a conversation about gay rights, or honor killings, or polyamorous relationships, or marital rape with the average person who wants to buy a greeting card for their sweetie is an exercise in verbal violence more often than not. And Salman Rushdie, defender of rapist Roman Polanski and U.S.'s war against Afghanistan, advocate of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, and disparager of all post-colonial vernacular writing is hardly a poster child for the virtues of a self-righteously unrestricted tongue.

One of the posters designed for flashreads has a quote by Salman Rushdie: "Free Speech is the whole ball game. Free Speech is life itself."

The hubris of such a sweeping statement does not appeal to me, not when people are fighting to liberate their bodies from physical violence, not when they weigh their words against the impact it will have on their life, and choose silence, or obfuscation, or tempered disagreement because they know that death of words is not actually the same thing as death of a living, breathing body, whether that is of a loved one or one's own.


Ah yes. The benevolent white USian church ladies who feed the starving children in 'Africa'. From the book donation guidelines at Books for Africa and The Book Bus, it seems that there is a pressing need to send books written in English and published in the U.S. and U.K. thousands of miles across to those deprived, needy children, though nothing says that maybe what those books say about race, and class, and nationality and normativeness is really important to think about.

I've known what its like to be yearning for books, but I've also known what it is like to yearn, while surrounded by books, for ones that represent people like me. I can't speak for the child I was, but the adult I am is happy to have not been exposed to some of the more virulent books I know about now back then, when I was more desperate and less discerning.


I defend the rationality of being offended by a misrepresentation of what one holds sacred. I defend the right of those in the marginalised, threatened or oppressed position in a hierarchy to challenge and question and reject those ideas and stories that reinforce the injustice being done to them.

But no matter how much value I may want ascribed to non-physical violence--be it economic, ideological, legal or cultural--I do not wish to downplay my rejection of physical violence. In the hours it has taken me to write this, I scroll up and compare my kneejerk irritation at the JKF Rushdie imbroglio to the aching empathy I felt for Rashid in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, exiled from the source of his stories. Free speech and it's consequent debates around book banning, censorship and the like is one thing. But bodies imprisoned or exiled because of threat of violence, translators stabbed, defenders beaten;** this is wholly more absolute injustice. I consider the written word sacred enough that though I have felt the desire to do damage to a book, I could never imagine ripping, or burning or physically harming even the most loathsome text. How much more sacred then, is even the most antagonistic human soul, the source for those words, enshrined in a fragile and totally irreplaceable body.

A banned book may be resurrected, a dead person cannot be.

Arkh Update

  • Feb. 10th, 2012 at 4:35 PM
la_vie_noire: Yuuko, smoking and looking pensive (Yuuko thinking)
The creator made a statement on Tumblr, which I think is sensible enough and deserves to be mentioned. Tell me what you think:

I should mention:

Haruka is in a qipao because a Chinese friend specifically asked they be put in one. We’ve been thinking about changing it for a while reagardless of that.

Edits are actually free. That’s why the initial cost of the images is so high. You did not want to see these characters in the edits that weren’t shown.

Any people complaining about how the characters aren’t trans* enough can get themselves to a damn stadium.


It’s amazing. People know we aren’t a major company, but they expect much more from us than they do any major company. They talk shit about how they reblogged something…uh, we aren’t on tumblr ALL DAY. There is no way we could see every reblog. That’s why we ask people to send EMAIL.

You reblog something on a massive site that only leaves the last 15-20 reblogs on a page and expect us to spend all day searching for critique instead of actually working on the things people claim we’re not working on?

Jesus fuck, we’re not heaven, we’re not god, and we’re NOT omniscient. SEND A DAMN EMAIL. Everyone’s who sent an email with critique has gotten a response, along with severe thanks for actually giving us something we can be sure to read. Reblogging and complaining we didn’t see it is essentially being angry with us for not doing exactly what we shouldn’t be doing…not working on the fucking game and spending all day digging around tumblr for things to reply to. Y’all ain’t new to tumblr. You know this shit gets mad busted and makes things disappear, and yet you expect us to magically…control things we can’t possibly control. Right. Gotcha.

About the “anti-white we don’t let white people on the team” shit. Uh. The PoC writer thing we put up is because at that point in time, MOST of the writing team was white. And we wanted to balance it out. Once again, people talking shit when they have no fucking clue.

As far as “OMG AAA GAME ON SUCH A TINY BUDGET!!!” We’re aiming high. Perhaps not AAA-level, but we’re aiming as high as we can. The POINT of this project is to aim high. Because there’s nothing like this at a high level.

In other post, Riley says is not their intention to do business, but to create something that could be inclusive enough. What do you think?
la_vie_noire: (Default)
For those of you hoping to follow the situation in Syria

Might I recommend the following resources (For all but the “overview” sources, I’ve focused on sources that are based out of Syria, live-update and are available to the non-arabic speaker)

Overview of the Revolution:


Twitter Accounts (Mostly English):

Youtube Channels

Feb. 6th, 2012

  • 10:52 PM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
[personal profile] eccentricyoruba always shares awesome information, and this is no exception:

Getting Somalia Wrong: a history of international misreading – By Abdi Aynte.

In her book, Harper goes into great lengths to contextualize the loaded term “failed state,” which is casually applied to Somalia in the news media and popular culture. The absence of central authority since 1991, she writes, is not an appropriate yardstick to measure Somalia. To this incredibly clannish society, Harper argues that the notions of ‘state’ and ‘failure’ are western misfits. “It would therefore be misleading to describe Somalia as ever having a stable, fully-functioning nation state, democratic or otherwise,” she writes.

That assertion is contentious. The academic Ali Mizrui, who is widely cited in Harper’s book, says that 1960s Somalia was the closest thing that Africa had to modern day stable and democratic state.

Unlike your average journalist, whose description of Somalia is the fait accompli gloom and doom, Harper goes out of her way to report on the vibrant civil society and business community in the country. She documents successful entrepreneurs who have helped Somalia become one of the most technologically advanced countries on the continent.

Politically, Harper also spends a great deal of her book decoupling Mogadishu, the capital city – and consistently the most chaotic corner since 1991 – from the rest of the country. She points out that clan-based polities in the northwest (Somaliland) and northeast (Puntland), among others, are self-governing with a remarkable degree of success in terms of local governance.

Somaliland, the former British protectorate, features significantly in Harpers book. She shows how this island of calm in an ocean of chaos has managed to strike a balance between traditional leadership (Guurti) and modern state systems. “Somaliland held elections that are far better than many African countries,” she correctly observes. Harper criticises the international community for ignoring these local stability initiatives by overemphasizing the importance of that most evasive of Somali institution – ‘central government. To this end, Harper suggests some type of “federalism” for Somalia, allowing local communities to exert greater control over local governance.


  • Jan. 19th, 2012 at 11:42 PM
la_vie_noire: (kashira kashira)
Hablando de "Piratería" y "economía de compartir", este es un artículo en español muy interesante:

Para ti, Lucía.

Existe, cada vez más, un mundo flamante en el que el número de descargas virtuales y el número de ventas físicas se suma; sus autores dicen: «qué bueno, cuánta gente me lee». Pero todavía pervive un mundo viejo en el que ambas cifras se restan; sus autores dicen: «qué espanto, cuánta gente no me compra».

El viejo mundo se basa en control, contrato, exclusividad, confidencialidad, traba, representación y dividendo. Todo lo que ocurra por fuera de sus estándares, es cultura ilegal.

El mundo nuevo se basa en confianza, generosidad, libertad de acción, creatividad, pasión y entrega. Todo lo que ocurra por fuera y por dentro de sus parámetros es bueno, en tanto la gente disfrute con la cultura, pagando o sin pagar.

Dicho de otro modo: no es responsabilidad de los lectores que no pagan que Lucía sea pobre, sino del modo en que sus editores reparten las ganancias de los lectores que sí pagan.


Abro el archivo adjunto, leo el contrato. Me fascina la lectura de contratos del mundo viejo. No se molestan en lo más mínimo en disfrazar sus corbatas.

Al cuento que me piden lo llaman LA APORTACIÓN. En la cláusula cuatro dice que «el EDITOR podrá efectuar cuantas ediciones estime convenientes hasta un máximo de cien mil (100.000)». En la cláusula cinco, ponen: «Como remuneración por la cesión de derechos de la APORTACIÓN, el EDITOR abonará al AUTOR cien euros (100 €) brutos, sobre la que se girarán los impuestos y se practicarán las retenciones que correspondan».

Pensé en los otros autores que componen la antología, los que seguramente sí firman contratos así. Cien euros menos impuestos y retenciones son sesenta y tres euros, y a eso hay que quitarle el quince por ciento que se lleva el agente o representante (todos tienen uno), o sea que al autor le quedan cincuenta y tres euros limpios. No importa que la editorial venda dos mil libros, o cien mil libros. El autor siempre se llevará cincuenta y tres euros. ¿Firmará Lucía Etxebarría contratos así?

Oooh yes.

  • Jan. 18th, 2012 at 11:25 PM
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
Via [livejournal.com profile] laurus_nobilis:

What's Wrong With #FirstWorldProblems.

I don't like this expression "First World problems." It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn't disappear just because you're black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here's a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.

One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion's technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don't wake up with "poor African" pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is--quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.

Jan. 16th, 2012

  • 5:39 PM
la_vie_noire: ilustración de una mujer leyendo un libro (leyendo con poca ropa)
Disabled Bodies and Ableist Acceptance.

I think the combination of positive and negative reactions is worth noting, in light of Campbell’s writing on culture and disability. Mullins and Pistorius are admired for “overcoming” a perceived disability, and this admiration feels especially safe for people embedded in able-bodied culture because they are conventionally attractive in every other respect. But this is a story with which we only feel comfortable provided that it doesn’t present any kind of threat to our conventional categories of abled and disabled bodies. It is unacceptable for a disabled body to be better at what it does than an abled body. It is even slightly uncomfortable when a disabled body manages to be “just as good”.

After the images of Mullins and Pistorius, I also showed my students an image of speed skater Apollo Ohno:


Like the images of Mullins and Pistorius, Ohno’s body is explicitly being presented here as an attractive object. By most standards, Ohno is as able-bodied as one can get. But as I pointed out to my students, he manages this on the back of technology – on specially designed skates, in special aerodynamic suits, with the help of carefully balanced exercise and nutrition plans; almost no athlete is really “natural” anymore. But at least in part because of the closeness of his body to an able-bodied ideal, this presents no explicit threat to our categories. Ohno fits the accepted model of “human”. Who would look at him and doubt it? And if Mullins and Pistorius are perhaps not as close to that ideal, they at least fall into line with it, by virtue of the fact that they don’t explicitly question its legitimacy as an ideal – unless they seek to transcend it.

My point, in short, is this: we are uncomfortable with disabled bodies that question or trouble our accepted, hierarchical categories of abled and disabled, of human and non-human, of organic and machine. We are far more comfortable with them when they perform in such a way that they reinforce the supremacy of those categories. They become acceptable to us.

In things you should read

  • Jan. 15th, 2012 at 5:48 PM
la_vie_noire: Anthy painting a portrait (Anthy painting)
Here, in Colonialist Criticism & Culture, [personal profile] thatlitgirl quoted a segment of Chinua Achebe's essay, Colonialist Criticism:

Does it ever occur to these universities to try out their game of changing names of characters and places in an American novel, say, a Philip Roth or an Updike, and slotting in African names just to see how it works? But of course it would not occur to them. It would never occur to them to doubt the universality of their own literature. In the nature of things the work of a Western writer is automatically informed by universality. It is only others who must strain to achieve it. So-and-so’s work is universal; he has truly arrived! As though universality were some distant bend in the road which you may take if you travel out far enough in the direction of Europe or America, if you put adequate distance between yourself and your home. I should like to see the word ‘universal’ banned altogether from discussions of African literature until such a time as people cease to use it as a synonym for the narrow, self-serving parochialism of Europe, until their horizon extends to include all the world. If colonialist criticism were merely irritating one might doubt the justification of devoting a whole essay to it. But strange though it may sound some of its ideas and precepts do exert an influence on our writers, for it is a fact of our contemporary world that Europe’s powers of persuasion can be far in excess of the merit and value of her case. Take for instance the black writer who seizes on the theme that Africa’s past is a sadly inglorious one as though it were something new that had not already been ‘proved’ adequately for him. Colonialist critics will, of course, fall all over him in ecstatic and salivating admiration – which is neither unexpected nor particularly interesting. What is fascinating, however, is the tortuous logic and sophistry they will sometimes weave around a perfectly straightforward and natural enthusiasm. […]

The colonialist critic, unwilling to accept the validity of sensibilities other than is own, has made a particular point of dismissing the African novel. He has written lengthy articles to prove its non-existence largely on the grounds that the novel is a peculiarly Western genre, a fact which would interest us if our ambition was to write ‘Western’ novels. But, in any case, did not the black people in America, deprived of their own musical instruments, take the trumpet and the trombone and blow them as they had never been blown before, as indeed they were not designed to be blown? And the result, was it not jazz? Is any one going to say that this was a loss to the world or that those first Negro slaves who began to play around with the discarded instruments of their masters should have played waltzes and foxtrots? No! Let every people bring their gifts to the great festival of the world’s cultural harvest and mankind will be all the richer for the variety and distinctiveness of the offerings.

My people speak disapprovingly of an outsider whose wailing drowned the grief of the owners of the corpse. One last word to the owners. It is because our own critics have been somewhat hesitant in taking control of our own literary criticism (sometimes – let’s face it – for the good reason that we will not do the hard work that should equip us) that the task has fallen to others, some of whom (again we must admit) have been excellent and sensitive. And yet most of what remains to be done can best be tackled by ourselves, the owners. If we fall back, can we complain that others are rushing forward? A man who does not lick his lips, can he blame the harmattan for drying them?

Vote for the Worst Companies in the World

  • Jan. 10th, 2012 at 6:40 PM
la_vie_noire: (Clare-killing)
Public Eye Awards.


Against its better judgement, Tepco, Japan’s largest energy company, grossly neglected the structural safety of its atomic power plants in order to cut costs.

In its factories, Samsung uses banned and highly-toxic substances without informing and protecting its workers. The result: cancer.

Barclays, banking giant and the world’s fastest-growing food speculator, drives up global food prices at the expense of the poorest.

In the midst of Amazonas rainforest Vale is constructing the Belo-Monte-Dam. 40’000 people are suffering forced eviction.

Despite being banned in Europe Syngenta markets its herbicide Paraquat in the Global South. Thousands of farmers have already died due to the use of the product.

For 45 years the US-mining corporation Freeport McMoran pollutes with its mine the environment in West Papua. Those who raise their voice get tortured or killed.

Vale is my personal favorite. But Freeport is a close second.


  • Dec. 16th, 2011 at 6:35 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
People. You have to look at this. Gorgeous Gus fan art is gorgeous.
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Gay Ghetto Comics 1: Constructing a Dominant Gay Habitus.

Sender draws on Bourdieu’s concept of the “habitus”, which describes how tastes shape the relationship between the body and its symbolic and material contexts; “Habitus embodies the lived conditions within which social practices, hierarchies, and forms of identification are manifested through an individual’s choices, but signals that those choices are already predisposed by an existing social position” (2004: 14).

Sender argues that the most visible and socially sanctioned gay collectivity is not particularly diverse in terms of race, class, and to some extent gender: “This constituency is identified in part by its participation in a dominant gay habitus” (p. 15). The identities and practices associated with a dominant gay habitus are displayed “in bars, music clubs, parties or on the street” (Fenster: 1993, 76-77). They are also represented in cultural products such as magazines, advertisements, films – and comics.

In his essay on queer punk fanzines, Mark Fenster (1993) argues that dominant positions within gay communities tend to be held by “middle class adult homosexuals who are more assimilated within dominant economic and social structures”, and who are thereby better equipped to represent themselves and to circulate those representations through various forms of commercial media (p. 76-77).

The gay habitus constructed through marketing and in gay publications serves to make visible such gay and lesbian individuals – that is, those who are already otherwise empowered. Sender argues that gay marketing practices focus on members of a dominant gay habitus, obscuring the less “respectable” – and therefore less marketable – members of the LGBT communities, including people of colour and poor and working-class queers.

Nov. 20th, 2011

  • 8:27 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Transnational Corporate Control over the Global Economy.

Although Republicans and President Obama are said to disagree about economic policies, there is one initiative that they both enthusiastically support: free trade agreements.


One answer is the enormous economic power of transnational corporations (TNCs), the main beneficiaries of these agreements. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development:

TNCs worldwide, in their operations both at home and abroad, generated value added of approximately $16 trillion in 2010, accounting for more than a quarter of global GDP. In 2010, foreign affiliates accounted for more than one-tenth of global GDP and one-third of world exports.

The largest transnational corporations are from developed capitalist countries. These corporations also tend to be among the largest and most powerful firms in their respective home countries. At the same time, as the table below shows, their international operations now account for a majority of their assets, sales, and employment. Looking at all TNCs, the United Nations reports that the value added by their foreign affiliates generated approximately 40% of their total value added in 2010, up from 35% in 2005.

Now, transnational corporations generally rely on complex cross border production networks that involve the linking of production across many countries, with final sales often taking place in still other countries. Most importantly, these networks often include “independent” partner firms that undertake various activities according to an overall transnational corporate strategy. While some of the partner firms may themselves be transnational corporations, many are not, which means that TNC controlled activity is greater than the combined activities of parent and affiliate firms.

Transnational corporations use a variety of so-called “non-equity modes” (NEMs) of control to direct the operations of their partner firms, with contract manufacturing and service outsourcing among the most important. Cross border activity involving NEM relationships is conservatively estimated to have generated over $2 trillion of sales in 2010. The United Nations reports that some 18–21 million workers are directly employed in firms operating under NEM arrangements. Around 80 per cent of NEM-generated employment is in developing and transition economies.

As the following figure reveals, cross border production activity anchored by NEM relations now dominates a number of key export industries. For example, NEM production now accounts for more than 50% of all toy, footwear, garment and electronics exports.

People should read the rest of the article, to understand some things.
la_vie_noire: (Stop with the idiocy)
The memory of sexist abuse online.

Memory of pain is a peculiar thing. There’s no doubt that the online abuse I got then, hurt – but I have difficulty remembering what it felt like. I remember the disgust I felt at those cartoons: I don’t think I was afraid but I’m not sure I would remember feeling fear any more than I properly remember feeling pain – they’re both essentially visceral emotions, not easy to remember with your head years afterwards. What I do remember, from both then and now, is the anger, the frustration, at not being able to do anything to the men who were enjoying themselves hurting me. Reporting them to LJ Abuse ceased to be satisfying as an act of retaliation when it became clear after a few days that LJ Abuse intended to do nothing about them. Banning them from my journal was not satisfying when I knew they would simply create a new journal and comment again. I wanted those men to be stopped. I wanted them permanently off livejournal as their playground. I wanted the ones who’d posted the worst threats reported to their local law enforcement. I wanted LJ Abuse to take action, as according to their own TOS they were obliged to do. And I do remember exactly how it felt to know that they wouldn’t.

As a direct result of my experiences as a product that didn’t fit in the eggbox, I became an early adopter (2007) of the Internet proverb that if you’re not paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. Website corporations will only care about online abuse of “the product” if it makes “the product” less saleable: and the online abusers, let’s not forget, are also “the product”. And it appears quite likely to me that they are considered a better “product” than we are – this is a gendered situation, with women overwhelmingly those being abused in this way. Women are traditionally, simply not considered as valuable an audience for advertisers. Why would our corporate overlords care if online abusers drive women away from their site, so long as the men stay?


The reality of online abuse is that some men hate women. As Sian at Crooked Rib points out, there is a recognisable set of excuses by men to make out that it doesn’t happen. The reason why so many website hosts ignore it or treat it as unimportant – we’re not useful product. Of course that perception too is rooted in sexism, and the use of sexist abuse to silence women is, as Laurie Penny points out, Older Than Dirt.

Just appearing sporadically ...

  • Nov. 8th, 2011 at 1:15 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
... to link pretty good posts:

Dating from the Margins: Desexualizing and Cultural Abuse.

I am often frustrated by people who are otherwise invested in understanding and opposing systems of oppression, but who nonetheless exclude dating and desirability from analysis or self-critique. This is especially frustrating when they are privileged by those very systems. This lack of analysis by those who have access and who are prioritized as desirable by their communities effectively silences the experiences of those whose trans status (or having a disability, or not meeting cultural beauty standards, or any of the markers of undesirability imposed by external systems) limits or completely denies access. In many queer, sex positive, polyamorous activist communities I have experienced those with access treating their privilege as the status quo, something which is never discussed, is neutral from criticism, and to which all are assumed to have access. This is done with an often startling ignorance of those who do not.

Understandably, who we are attracted to is a very sensitive topic for most of us. We want to believe our desires are our own, unshaped by the media, patriarchy, racism, ableism, transmisogyny, or other oppressive systems. This is even more challenging when one’s identity is based in ideas of activism, social justice and equality; We don’t want to feel like we’re upholding oppressive standards, or engaging in systems which sometimes violently desexualize marginalized identities.

About London Riots

  • Aug. 9th, 2011 at 1:17 AM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
Such a brilliant post. Panic on the streets of London.

Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.

Months of conjecture will follow these riots. Already, the internet is teeming with racist vitriol and wild speculation. The truth is that very few people know why this is happening. They don’t know, because they were not watching these communities. Nobody has been watching Tottenham since the television cameras drifted away after the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ’’


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