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.
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.

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.

Things I liked today

  • Jan. 17th, 2011 at 6:40 PM
la_vie_noire: (Default)
ebook piracy. Because I'm tired of white first-worlders these days.

The part that is set in stone for me -- the following principles.

1) Pirating ebooks infringes authors' (and publishers') intellectual property rights (IPR) and is therefore unlawful in all the jurisdictions I know of.

2) Something being illegal does not make it immoral. Plenty of legal things are immoral and plenty of illegal things are moral or morally neutral. That doesn't mean ebook piracy is morally neutral, but if you want to argue that it is immoral, you'll need to rely on a reason other than "it's illegal". (You'll also need to rely on a reason other than "it hurts my self-interest".)

3) It's impossible for me to get overly het up over piracy. Part of the reason for this is, obviously, the issue of ebook piracy has no bearing on my livelihood at all. The larger reason is that I am Malaysian. I'll talk about the disparity in purchasing power between nations later; that's another thing I'm not interested in arguing about.

Not social justice from where I'm standing.

I almost always see asexuality brought up as a negative and inaccurately. For example, a disabled character or character of colour in a television show might be denied sexuality or coded as non-sexual. Someone critiquing this portrayal from a social justice perspective might condemn it as "asexualising" or some such, as though asexuality is an oppressive tool rather than an orientation.


The upshot here is that asexual people get hit particularly hard as being repressed or messed up, standing in the way of a singular social justice narrative around sexuality. I don't want to set up sex positivity and asexuality as oppositional; I want to point to how an image of an appropriate sexuality leads to a widely misunderstood and scoffed at group becoming even more so. I mean, I thought the idea of an appropriate way of doing sexuality is what we're trying to fight against, right? Perpetuating ideas of asexuality as fake, as always a result of trauma, the domain of prudes who just have to come out of their shells, and so forth, doesn't look like positivity or justice to me.

Aug. 13th, 2008

  • 4:21 PM
la_vie_noire: (Utena & Anthy / Kiss)
Via Questioning Transphobia.

Here a long, long article, but one I think everybody should read.

Transsexual women suffer a lot of discrimination. And not only outside the feminist movement.

ETA: Some clarification. A cis-person is someone whose gender and the genitals with which they born match. A trans-person is someone whose gender and biological sex do no match. Thus, cissexism is discrimination for NOT being a cis-person.

It is also common for trans feminine spectrum individuals to be called out for "reinforcing the gender binary" more so than their counterparts on the trans masculine spectrum. This is due, in part, to the fact that female and feminine appearances are more readily and routinely judged in our society than male and masculine ones. And because concepts like "transgression" and "rebellion" tend to be coded as "masculine" in our culture, whereas "conformity" and "conventionality" are typically coded as "feminine," there is an unspoken bias that leads masculine transgender expression to be seen as more inherently transgressive than feminine transgender expression. Indeed, such unconscious presumptions about masculinity and femininity have surely contributed to the tendency exhibited by many feminists to praise women who engage in traditionally "masculine" endeavors, while expressing anywhere from apathy to antagonism toward men who engage in traditionally "feminine" endeavors. In fact, one could make the case that historically feminism has been predisposed toward "trans-masculinism" -- that is, favoring gender transgression in the masculine direction. [...]

While all transsexuals face cissexism, trans women experience this form of sexism as being especially exacerbated by traditional sexism. For example, trans women are routinely hyper-sexualized in our society, especially in the media, where we are regularly depicted as fetishists, sexual deceivers, sex workers and/or in a sexually provocative fashion (trans men, in contrast, are not typically depicted in this way). The common presumption that trans women transition to female for sexual reasons seems to be based on the premise that women as a whole have no worth beyond their ability to be sexualized. Furthermore, most of the societal consternation, ridicule and violence directed at trans people focuses on individuals on the trans feminine spectrum -- often specifically targeting our desire to be female or our feminine presentation. While trans men experience cissexism, their desire to be male/masculine is typically not mocked or derided in the same way -- to do so would bring maleness/masculinity itself into question. Thus, those of us on the trans feminine spectrum don't merely experience cissexism or "transphobia" so much as we experience trans-misogyny.

And another fantastic article (but not so long), but this time by the aforementioned blog:

A social constructionist/performative idea of gender can just as easily assume that as gender is constructed through the re-iteration of behaviours and the already-gendered body matter, trans people’s gender is as socially constructed as anyone else’s. And hence EXACTLY as real. And EXACTLY as fake.

[...] But this “gender is not real” thing is almost always used to ONLY illuminate the falseness of trans genders. And considering the notion that we are “really” a man or woman despite appearances tends to feed into transphobic discourse, legislation and eventually violence, I think it is worthy of refuting those non-trans normative biases and presumptions.

See some feminist and queer theorists approach trans women by applying different rules—a cis woman’s identification as woman is unquestionable, but a trans woman’s identification as woman is incomprehensible because gender doesn’t exist.

It is apparently not possible to identify as a woman, to live as a woman, if you’re transgendered and meet the feminist standard of anti-humanist anti-essentialist social constructionism.

Because the double-bind here is, either you meet societal expectations of a feminine gender presentation, in order to pass on a day-to-day basis without the massive amounts of harassment from the general public a non-passing trans person. In which case you’re a misogynistic man just acting out the dictates of the Patriarchy onto the entire female gender. There we go, polluting the ontology again.

Or, you do not have a traditionally feminine gender presentation, or you’re too loud, too “aggressive,” in which case, well, evidence that you’re really a man. The defense rests, your Honour.

I wish I could quote ALL of the second article, because it IS awesome. But I can't, so you'll have to read it. It's very enlightening.


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