Gender Justice

SlutWalk Comes to Austin

 On June 11  SlutWalk will come to the Texas Capitol. The rally will begin at noon on the south steps of the Capitol and the march will proceed down Congress Avenue. SlutWalk Austin is part of an international group of events held in order to draw attention to victim blaming culture and empower survivors of sexual assault.

SlutWalk began in Toronto in April as a community reaction to a Toronto police officer advising women to avoid sexual assault by not dressing like "sluts". The enough-is-enough outrage that created the Toronto event has resonated with communities the world over. Seventy-eight cities have held or will hold a SlutWalk this year, which speaks to the need for change not just in one Toronto police officer.  These events show that we all need to confront the attitudes about respect and violence perpetuated by our culture. Here in Austin, two people are raped or sexually assaulted every day.

Through subversive language, the event aims to draw attention to the absurd justifications for violence we endure in our society. For more information on SlutWalk Austin, please see their site.

Hanna: An “Alternative” Movie Review (as more interesting and informative than your typical valedictorian speech).

 

Hanna: An “Alternative” Movie Review (as more interesting and informative than your typical valedictorian speech).
 
By Dave Dense
 
Hanna is a 16-year-old killing machine trained by her father to be a super-soldier/ super-spy assassin. Her father Erik (Eric Bana) now is considered to be a “rogue asset” for the CIA (presumably a previously trained special agent) and is also considered dangerous. So is his daughter, as trained assassin, considered a danger to the Agency (or at least to one “bitch” of an employee there who seems to share several of Hanna’s characteristics).
 
[Note: This review is not meant to give you all the typical facts and highlights of the movie. Standard movie reviewers have already presented their perspectives, the basic story line, and its several notable features. (Feel free to read a few to get the story and the media’s interpretation.) Whereas this essay is meant to take more seriously what is really a rather stupid plot, as story line, but still within a beautiful movie and action packed piece of entertainment, and to speculate how it may fit “within” the too often vacuous audience culture that might watch it, as well as the movie industry that created it and critiqued it. And, granted, it is often presumptuous to interpret a work of art as something that can be criticized as more subjectively serious, or to pretend to see things probably never intended—but the idea of juxtaposing a fairy tale with CIA operatives is just too tempting to “not” deconstruct. That is to say that even a dumb plot about a culture of intelligence work may be instructive.]
 
The “fairy” threads of this suspense story come in basically two forms. First, Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan (pronounced 'Sur-shuh') is noted in other reviews for her “porcelain” skin and “delicate” feminine girlish look. Fairy lore has long noted the “ethereal” and “hypnotic” beauty of fairies such as those of the Tuatha de Danann (tootha day danan) of Ireland. (And yet “few,” if any, professional movie reviews made note of her “blonde” hair—which as much part of fairyland of northern Europe as any singular feature—even the creaminess of the skin.)
 
[As an aside, but perhaps an important comment to this first thread of a fairy tale theme is that “many,” if not “most” fairies, at least in Western fairy lore, were of the female gender, and equally many, but not all, were blonde. Also it seems instructive to realize that some characteristics of fairy people were related to adjectives like “fluidity” and “fun” (as opposed to “rigidity” and “hostility; ” as “fairy” (from fate) is, at least on a psychological level, really a synonym for the word “fantasy,” and one only browse any number of fashion magazines, or erotic magazines and films, etc., to know that blonde women are fantasized about—and this is not disputable claim—it is part of fairy lore (still which is not to argue fairies were considered to be blonde or Teutonic—or that the very essence of fairy fate has much to do with physical attributes or specific race of people.)
 
The second thread of fairy tale in this movie is related to Hanna’s upbringing in some remote wilderness of a wild, wintery, and snow-white, Finland, that is out-in-the-wild where reindeer live. Hanna is raised solely but her father “isolated” from civilization, save what he teaches her about the world and how to be a the kind of person he thinks she should be. So he raises her to hunt, to kill and skin animals, to fight like a martial artist expert, and to shoot weapons etc. In another words she has the training, as a child, of that even the most “macho” of special forces adult males would dream of being able to perform, as lethal weapon with jugular instinct to kill. (Not exactly your typical fairy imagine of flowery and dainty flower child or pot-smoking hippie.)
 
Yet ironically the director, Joe Wright, in an interview, said that he: “…hopes the PG-13 film’s portrayal of a teenager, completely uninfluenced by society’s notions of how women are supposed to look and behave, will speak to younger audiences” and: … “I hope it will make them think a little bit, evaluate celebrity culture and the general consensus to conform.” Yes, how ironic, that the idea of a girl-child being trained to be a macho assassin for some unspecified mission related to her mother being murdered by that bitch at the CIA (even if she doesn’t wear makeup and still looks hypnotically attractive) is now supposedly a healthy notion of what feminism and equality was all about?
 
But she is not just a grunt—no. She is taught, at least, three languages by her father. But she has access to two kinds of book—an adult set of an encyclopedia and a copy of the 1812 Grimm’s Fairy Tales (from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm brothers, the same brothers who also wrote: “The German Heroic Tale”.) But this fairy book is as close as Hanna gets to a childhood life, which at least allows her occasional glimpses into a fictional life of some fancy. Hence the show is booked as a brutal and modern day fairy tale, as even Wright declares the movie “rectifies” fairy lore back to the horror story as opposed to childish notions.
 
Hanna, however, has little time for childish notions, as fiction, out there as feral child, unlike the “civilized” adults who willingly adhere to many fictions, such as all the fictionalized fairy tales of the Bible, and equally the many myths about how great is American and Jewish exceptionalism. Hanna has one long childhood of “rigorous” training to be like an adult—but not any adult, but a spy/ soldier assassin, which requires much, much, learning for eventual success of a mission. (It is kind of like the story about John Stuart Mill being trained by his father to read Latin and Greek Classics before most kids started kindergarten at the age of five.) Only she is not taking walks with her father rather he stalks her to surprise attack her so she learns to constantly react to danger.
 
(But here we note that one additional fairy “tale” in this movie, as implied as a preconceived conceit, is the idea that one can fluently learn a second or third language without being exposed to cultures and the people who actually speak the languages. And this too correlates to the naive notion that one can readily understand and memorize an entire encyclopedia out there in the wild, and that such a momentous task is good preparation for dealing with real life situations as “intelligence” methodology. Yet these kinds of zombie notions about education are what Americans bank on, especially when they attack teachers and school systems for being the “problem” to the U.S. educational system. (But hey intelligence agencies “need” people who can absorb knowledge and speak different languages so it makes for tall tales.)
 
The serious question that could have been asked by movie reviewers (those that actually get paid to write such things) is why is this father figure is raising a girl to fight and kill and then to have a “transponder” switch, that he has been keeping around for presumably years, which when finally triggered will bring CIA special SWAT teams into the hinterlands of Finland to track down both this same father and his daughter so as to kill or capture the both of them because the witch Marissa (Cate Blanchett) has been waiting for such a signal for years? (Nothing odd in the non-logic of this half-baked story?) There is little on the Internet about the screenplay writers? 
 
Instead this question is covered away by drama queen Marissa (Blanchett dollied-up with high-strung fairy glamour of intelligence stereotype) scowling and snaring like a mean old wolf wanting to taste Goldie Locks. She seems some big shot at CIA HQs, where she explains to top level decision makers the need to find and destroy both the father Erik and Hanna—or “secrets” could get out—one being that Hanna was part of a DNA genetic program to select for genes to produce a “super” species of soldier/ spies who are stronger, have more stamina, are less empathetic, yet remain highly intelligent—kind of like the stereotype of a wolf in the wild.
 
In another words the Third Reich’s propaganda of a “superior” Aryan race is all over this movie but again “none” of your movie critics so much as mention this dimension to the movie, save to a fleeting references to “Teutonic” and “Berlin” where the movie will rendezvous—naturally to a fairy theme park where the brother of Erik, also a handsome brunette, who seems in a fleeting way, to represent the character of a clown, but really a man who has the Humanities’ humanity such as an appreciation for art, laughter, music, dance, but is brutally tortured (not on screen as witnessed thank goodness) by a “blonde,” effeminate, sexually ambiguous, psychopath who apparently takes his cruelty and murder much as sport.
 
(And it is worth noting this normally brunette actor, as mercenary Isaacs (Tom Hollander) in this movie bleach-dyed his hair blonde for this movie as special effect. Why? If the fairies were thought as “fluidity” and “fun” this implies they were creatures who enjoyed the sentiments of humanity—that is the arts, and had the ability and propensity to laugh, to sing and to dance, etc. Equally, in the fairy world the dimensions of sexuality and gender are not rigid as black and white. There was no Judeo-Christian condemnation of eroticism in general or an androgynous nature in particular. But somehow the blonde “male” here is portrayed as a sexual “pervert” who has a torture streak that doesn’t end? (Still how funny that how often “blonde” women show up in modern day erotic magazines and films and yet they, as women, are almost considered desirable, wholesome, welcome etc., even if they have enjoyed the carnal fruits? Men are not psychologically free to wear the fairy art of woman’s clothing store as art gallery. No men should stay in the colors of black, gray, brown and blue, where the fashions are stoical, predictable, and stultified—otherwise you are, well, gay, or as the say, fey.
 
But then we could recall that Bruno, as bleached blonde, rode a white horse in what mortal people call “lewd” and “offensive” depictions of sexual deviance. Yet despite some clear objections to his insouciant, in--our-face, can’t-you-take-a joke, humor, he as jokester, had sophisticated media pundits to protect his creative personality from people taking complaints too far. Yet, supposedly, it was “trooping” fairies of Scotland and the Daoine Sidhe (theena shee) who used to go on fairy rades (rides) in processions on horses. Whereas Lady Rhiannon, fairy of Wales, rode her white horse “between” the worlds of mortal and fairy on Beltane. (Still Bruno should have known that the male gender trying to play Lady Godiva was not going to set well in the mortal world.) (Still one has to admire “the man” because many titans like media empire moguls like Rupert Murdock and Ted Turner wouldn’t be caught dead even wearing tights on walk in their neighborhoods—even if women walking their dogs do so any day of the week.)
 
But then it must have been that Donald Trumps hair fluffiness was what he was all about with his unmitigated arrogance—maybe a connection there—too much preening in this guy—if you will? Whereas the dominatrix and leggy Ann Coulter couldn’t repress her desire to “Breck-girl” John Edwards (and he is not even bleach blonde.)
 
Nevertheless it took a “real” fairy by the name of Tina-the-tine, a la le Fey, “disarm” Sara Palin. Yes the lady with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips to show us what the wit of real fairy power could do. One Barbie doll versus another and both look “hot” in bathing suits. And if you don’t think Tina Fey is not a fairy then you don’t understand—period—irrespective of whether she is a fighting machine and/ or was raised in the wild to be feral.   
 
Nevertheless the stereotype of someone who is sexually “ambiguous” is more likely to be criminal in general, as suggested in Tom Hollander’s Isaac psychopath, may not likely play out in real terms of forensic science—yet it is interesting how the team that put this movie together with its obvious Nazi connotations portrays the blonde male killer psychopath versus the blonde female?
 
And this is no small point in this time of CIA sponsored torture, and U.S. support of “many” dictators around the world, and equally and the jackboot tactics used in Israel—yet all we get from the movie industry these days are movies about Nazis and Jews as victims. And so it still seems easy to suggest the myth that blonde people are “more” prone to racial pride when the fact remains most of the top Nazis were not blonde, and its propaganda machine was not primarily run by blonde people, and that Hitler himself was not a blonde. (This is not to argue there were no blonde Nazis—obviously there were—Germany was and is a country full of Teutonic people. Still there is something more than a little specious when a movie industry gives us a plethora of Nazi movies when it is clear that Israel, and its lobby here in the United States, played a “pivotal” part in getting our country to illegally attack Iraq (with Israeli military attaches in cahoots with neo-con-artists Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith at the Pentagon), and also is still playing a significant part in more false intelligence used to lie to the American people in trying to get the United States involved in a war with Iran. (All this while Israel continues to push the Palestinians into more desperate ghettoes.) (See ww.Occupation101.com). Because there seems to be some conceit with some Jews who actually think they are of a “superior” culture, whether they consciously admit to it or not, even though much of those fairy tales of their Biblical history was either made up, revised, or copied for other Middle Eastern ancient cultures. (Still Middle Easterners and Mediterranean peoples could lay claim to “real” civilization since they had early access to written language—which is the basis of modernity—whereas the Scandinavian peoples did not—and thus were considered “barbaric”.)
 
Yet this story about the CIA involved in breeding a super class of warrior is somewhat plausible, given bio-engineering, and gene-splicing, but what is more the likely story? America spends a great deal of its money on “super” weapons—and not so much on personnel—which they treat as dispensable—including some spies. Soldiers today learn how to kill from the distance of a computer using drones or pilots bombing from airplanes so they don’t have to experience the real horror of war.
 
(Read John Pilger’s The New Rulers of the World published between the time we attacked Afghanistan and were moving to attack Iraq—still a “very” worthy read now after the full-press propaganda campaign from the military, intelligence, and mainstream media, about Osama bin Laden—because this eye-opener of a book, from one of the “great” investigative journalists is still a breath of truth amounts a vast sea of lies that Americans are drowned in every day.)
 
And one of the many important questions or facts that Pilger reveals is: “Was it not terrorism to horrendously bomb 600,000 neutral Cambodians in a secret war? Or was it not terrorism to genocidal kill-off of Iraqi children during the U.S. led embargo? Many people know that there were plenty of “fake” Osama bin Ladin videos that showed up on dubious websites that claimed to speak for him. Yet now we are suppose to believe that his supposed death justified our invasions and places like Guantanamo. Pilger has some interesting things to say about our involvement in Afghanistan. And he notes in his chapter “The Great Game” that during the 1930s the term “anti-German” was used against critics of the Third Reich to silence them. (But hey no relation here.)
 
And so that is point of criticizing this movie if we can assume much was worth criticizing—as the industry itself has not taken it serious or tied it to much of any relevance. Rather critics, like a bunch of clueless chatterboxes, have focused on how much Hanna runs, or how good the cast for talent, etc., or how alike is Blanchett and Ronan, etc. That is to say the movie has really anything to do with reality or culture. It is just entertainment. And it clearly has several worthy aspects of drama and scenery and acting. But what does this response say of the American culture and mainstream media?
 
After all what kind of personality traits are being reinforced here in the states—not intelligence, not curiosity, not inquiry, but rather the opposite, and the ability to dissimilate (that is to lie), and capacity to “not” notice the huge police state that has evolved with what even the “beltway” Washington Post portrayed as an intelligence apparatus that is run amok in its story on “Top Secret America” by Dana Priest as only revealing the barest of an outline that speaks pages of unanswered questions: 1200 governmental organizations and 1900 private companies (not required to reply to freedom of information requests) working on counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S. This includes 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances, etc. America’s spy culture is super-big and just waiting for a demagogue to come along and blow it into full fledged fascism—while Obama, who, rumor has it, was trained under Henry Kissinger, does nothing. (Investigative journalists owe us more insight into the Kissinger/ Obama connection).
 
Good Americans are the Good Germans only this time it is OK because Americans aren’t fighting against Israel—and it is OK to have an anti-Semitic campaign as long as the Semites are Muslim and Arab as opposed to Caucasian Jews. Even the ADL can sponsor films that defame Muslims and question any influence they may have here in the United States!
 
So obviously America’s power elite don’t want DNA creatures that think, that that judge as individualists separated from our society’s acculturation and presumption of being special and above the law, but rather people who are shallow, and don’t think too much, and don’t ask too many questions. Ass-spanking Marissa ala Blanchett is no Valerie Plane—as Ms. Plane and her husband Joseph Wilson seemed to act on principles that we claim to value. And you can’t say the FBI went out of their way to promote, or genetically “select” for traits of Sibel Edmonds (see The American Conservative story “Who’s Afarid of Sibel Edmonds? November 2009). She may not be blonde but the heart tissue in her courage is more real than most people will ever meet in the courses of real life.
 
Instead we American are suppose to care about being consumers and be consumed with feelings of low-self-esteem so we buy even more to compensate ourselves. We may play lip service to super human capacities like a 16 year old girl who can out smart a commando SWAT team and out-fight three or four adult male assassins. (No fairy tale here?) But the fact is most Americans live in a bubble of deluded fairy tale even as they think it their reality.
 
No one that sees this movie is an island—because you have to live in society to know about it and see it. Furthermore people don’t learn to think independently by living in some exotic place and killing caribou. People think independently by learning to think well, and learning that one does not have to conform to inanity. And just maybe the U.S. Intelligence business is all that intelligent?
 
Still besides John Pilger’s worthy revelations about our involvement in Afghanistan, Andrew Bacevich’s Washington Rules points out that after the cold war both our military and the intelligence business should have “split” their budgets in half. But then people would not have been promoted and there would have been no money to be made, or conned, off the American taxpayer. But magically with this War On Terrorism these budgets have doubled while U.S. popularity has significantly decreased. (More importantly like pagan fairies of the non-urbanized areas were forced to go “underground” when Roman imperialism officiated Judeo-Christianity to a State Religion of empire, so too “un-believers” of officiated propaganda and dogma may need to go underground as well.)
 
This review is not meant to give you all the typical facts and highlights of the movie. Standard movie reviewers have already presented their perspectives, the basic story line. Whereas this essay is meant to take more seriously what is really a rather stupid plot, but still within a beautiful movie and action packed piece of entertainment, and to speculate how it may fit “within” the too often vacuous audience culture that might watch it, as well as the movie industry that created it and critiqued it. And, granted, it is often presumptuous to interpret a work of art as something that can be criticized as more subjectively serious—but the idea of juxtaposing a fairy tale with CIA operatives is just too tempting to “not” deconstruct.
 
 
Hanna: An “Alternative” Movie Review (as more interesting and informative than your typical valedictorian speech).
 

The Rabid, Transphobic Hate-Mongering of the Anti-Pornography Movement

From the Transadvocate, May 15, 2011

www.transadvocate.com/the-rabid-transphobic-hate-mongering-of -the-anti-pornography-movement.htm  

Todays Guest Transadvocate is Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan. Ryan describes herself as a “transgender, Feminist, Queer, Fat+, Activist, Educator, Writer, Speaker and Firebrand”. She is also the author of Gender Quake: Poems and the co-producer of three autobiographical films.

 

This weekend, there was a conference at the University of New Hampshire entitled “Pornography as Sexual Violence.”

I was asked by the key organizer to co-present a panel with David Jacobsen at the conference. I titled the session Pornography and LGBT Identities: Documenting Harm, Plotting Resistance. My Power-point presentation was entitled: “From ‘She-Male Sluts’ to Trans-Sister Survivors: Interrogating the Degradation and Sexualization of Transgender Women in the Porn Culture” and I gave it the following abstract:

“For a number of years now, a sub-genre of pornography that depicts transgender women, offensively labeled “she-male”, has been gaining in popularity. Like other forms of pornography, “she-male” porn is filled with degrading, misogynistic and racist images that function to further the oppression of transgender women in everyday life. In this presentation, Joelle Ruby Ryan will utilize words and images from this sub-genre of heterosexual pornography to discuss the backlash against feminism, the economic and cultural war waged against gender-variant people, and the ways in which racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia in pornography function to preserve the power and privilege of white, presumably-heterosexual, cisgender men. Against the backdrop of this archive of cruelty that celebrates rape, bigotry and abuse, trans-feminism can play a powerful role in fighting for a world which truly values all human beings and that will not stand for the fragmentation and destruction of our sacred sexualities.”

Leading up to the conference, I did a Google search for Lierre Keith. I had seen her the previous summer at the Stop Porn Culture Conference in Boston and knew she was attending this conference at UNH. Most of the hits about her concerned her views on veganism, and she has indeed pissed off a lot of vegans! However, I also discovered several troubling articles about her that linked her to transphobic bigotry:

here, and on a thread here a poster writes:

“This is a bit off-topic, but I just have to say that I find Lierre Keith’s ties to anti-trans politics troubling in the extreme. Keith is a founding and present member of the Radical-Feminist Lesbian Festival, which is ‘unalterably opposed’ to the existence of trans people. In addition to promoting the anti-trans works of Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys, RadLesFes is explicitly opposed to allowing trans people access to trans-related health care.”

When I told the organizer about this, she reached out to Lierre and they had a discussion via email about this. Here are excerpts from that conversation in Lierre’s own words:

“Well, I’ve personally been fighting about this since 1982. I think ‘transphobic’ is a ridiculous word. I have no strange fear of people who claim to be ‘trans.’ I deeply disagree with them, as do most radical feminists.

Try this on. I am a rich person stuck in a poor person’s body. I’ve always enjoyed champagne rather than beer, and always knew I belonged in first class not economy, and it just feels right when people wait on me. My insurance company should give me a million dollars to cure my Economic Dysphoria.

Or how about this. I am really Native American. How do I know? I’ve always felt a special connection to animals, and started building tee pees in the backyard as soon as I was old enough. I insisted on wearing moccasins to school even though the other kids made fun of me and my parents punished me for it. I read everything I could on native people, started going to pow wows and sweat lodges as soon as I was old enough, and I knew that was the real me. And if you bio-Indians don’t accept us trans-Indians, then you are just as genocidal and oppressive as the Europeans.

Gender is no different. It is a class condition created by a brutal arrangement of power. I can’t fathom how mutilating people’s bodies to fit an oppressive power arrangement is frankly anything but a human rights violation. And men insisting that they are women is insulting and absurd.

There is no such thing as ‘woman’ or ‘man’ outside of patriarchal social relations. These are not biological conditions–they are socially created, by violence in the end. If I can’t be a rich person born in a poor person’s body, then I can’t be a woman born in a man’s body. Not unless you are going to argue that man and woman are biological or essential conditions. The whole point of feminism is that they are neither; gender is social to the roots, and those roots are soaked in women’s blood.

So there it is.

I would highly recommend reading the work that radical feminists have produced critiquing the entire culture of queer, including s/m and porn, that gave rise to the phenomenon of ‘trans.’ Sheila Jeffreys’s books _Unpacking Queer Politics_ and _The Lesbian Heresy_ would be a great start.

[The Trans Community is] in fact deeply misogynist and reactionary when it comes to any understanding of male power. Indeed, they often claim it ‘oppresses’ them to even use the words ‘men’ and ‘women.’ Meanwhile, men are raping and brutalizing women on a mass scale. I hate to say this, but it’s porn culture that really created the whole concept of trans. I watched it happen… for your own edification, you might want to read up on Pat Califia, whom I talk about at length, and whose life and writing proves every point radical feminists make about queer politics, pornography, violence against women, sado-masochism, the eroticization of power and breaking boundaries (including the boundaries of children), and trans. All of it is right there” (italics mine).

So there it is? Umm, so there it ISN’T. Lots of hogwash that belongs back in the 1970s. Needless to say, it is quite obvious from this diatribe alone that Lierre Keith is a transphobe. Since she finds the word so ridiculous, perhaps we can call her a trans-hater instead. Would that pass muster, Lierre? And how dare she put my identity in scare quotes; but in the spirit of tit for tat, I will put her identity “radical feminist” in scare quotes, since my version and vision of radical feminists do not hate an entire group of people due to prejudiced and bigoted assumptions and stereotypes. Keith’s rant is not even remotely original, but an old page out of Jan Raymond’s hate-fest The Transsexual Empire (right down to her ludicrous comparison between transgenderism and race-switching) and Sheila Jeffreys’s bullshit, attention-craving prose. Any one who calls a life-saving surgery (Sex Reassignment Surgery) a “mutilation” is, by definition, a rabid, anti-trans hate-monger, and not someone I wish to have anything to do with. And I love how Patrick Califia somehow becomes a stand-in for all trans people, or somehow emblematic. Because it is so fair to stereotype an entire community based on one individual, right?

Despite this, I decided to go forward with the conference. I thought it would be easy enough to avoid Lierre and her ilk. And I had a project that deserved attention. The feminist critiques of pornography have not been inclusive of looking at images of transgender women, just like they have done little to be inclusive of women of color, gay men and others outside white, heterosexual pornography. As is typical with feminism, the needs of white, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual women have been elevated above the needs of all others. In addition, the voices of non-white and non-cisgender critics have been glaringly marginalized in feminist anti-pornography discourse. White cis women (lesbians and heterosexual) and white, straight cis men have dominated anti-pornography discourse for far too long, My experiences both this summer and today don’t hold much promise for this changing, as this is a movement which is utterly uninterested in inviting diverse identities into the fold as they are too obsessed with propagating their narrow, outdated “radical feminist” and “lesbian feminist” ideology rather than welcoming in fresh voices. While Bob Jensen asserted that he and the rad fems are against she-male porn, you would not know it from their writings since they ignore the topic.

Early in the conference, I went to the women’s restroom and found this lovely hate screed next to the toilet in a plastic case:
No Such Thing as a Transsexual By Margaret Jamison:

If there are so many males who “just want to change their body,” without regard to gender, then why are they calling themselves “women” after they’ve had themselves chopped up? A mutilated male is a mutilated male. As I’ve said before, if males just want to hack off their penises and shove plastic bags under their pecs, how about they call themselves eunuchs instead of “women,” “transwomen,” and “transsexuals”? How about calling themselves males who wanted to chop off their penises and have it fashioned into a hole?

I get so sick of seeing women defend the “transwomen” they know in real life with reminders that not all “transwomen” want to wear dresses and pantyhose. OK, fine, they don’t want to wear dresses. What does that have to do with the fact that they’re still walking around calling themselves all manner of “woman”?

That is the crazy part. That is what makes them insane. One cannot change sex, and any indulgence of the, yes, insane, notion that they can is anti-female. I don’t give a damn what eunuchs wear or don’t wear. All I care about is whether or not society is actually obliging them in any way by calling them women. They are not women, insofar as ‘woman’ means adult human female, and they never will be.

I took the hate screed down and found another one in its place several hours later. A third copy of this hate speech was found in a bathroom on a lower level. While it is unknown who put the hate flyers there, I will leave you, smart reader, to your own devices to figure it out.

Finding the hate speech flyer was very upsetting. To be honest, I wanted to leave the conference but decided to go through with the session. David and I gave our respective talks and got to the Q&A part. I specifically did not talk about anti-trans feminism during my Power-point talk as I was not interested in “going there.” However, during the Q&A, a person asked about community for David and I as members of the LGBT community who are lodging critiques of pornography. I stated that as a transgender woman, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there is the queer and trans communities, which for the most part are caught up in the whole “sex-positive” or “sex-radical” tradition that tends to celebrate pornography, BDSM and prostitution, while on the other hand the rad fems have a long history of bigoted views of transsexualism and transgenderism dating back to the 1970s, views that sadly have not been updated in 30 years, apparently! Several more questions were answered until the last question, when Bob Jensen decided to launch into a full frontal attack on me as a transgender person. He just had to “challenge” my description of radical feminists and their views on transgender identity. Apparently, I have been mistaken all these years. Their views are not bigoted, nor are they hateful! They are a righteous political critique of transsexuals and our horrible habit of preserving rigid gender roles! Someone pass the puke bucket.

Thanks to Bob, the panel, and really the whole conference, ended on a completely sour note. Despite my best effort to bite my tongue, Lierre and Bob just had to push their HATE-MONGERING agenda. Lierre and Co. had wandered out for most of David and I’s session. But when I confronted Lierre about her rabid bigotry, she and her pals decided to quickly jet. Unfortunately, Bob decided to stay. For what seemed like the next hour (it was at least half an hour) Bob Jensen berated me about my trans identity, transgender issues, sex reassignment surgery, the invasion of “men” into women’s spaces like the Michigan Womyn’s Hate-Fest and the “failure” of transgenderism as a political project. Over and over again, he said that he was neither a bigot nor hateful. It reminded me of the person who says “I am not a racist” and then goes on to say the most incredibly racist things. Bob, you may not think of yourself as an anti-trans bigot, but I certainly do! Can you imagine the outrage if the identity under attack was Jewish, or Gay, or African American? But when is a hate crime not a hate crime? When it happens to a transgender woman, that’s when!

I won’t bore you with the outpouring of hogwash from Dr. Jensen, but I can assure you it was vile and pathetic. I learned that all drag queens are a bunch of horrific misogynists parodying real women, that sex reassignment surgery is a tragic mutilating procedure, and that the transgender movement that I belong to is an utter “failure.” While gay male and transgender politics and communities where raked over the coals, Bob could not wait to strongly defend all facets of 1970s-style “lesbian feminism” . It was a humiliating and grueling experience—having your identity attacked and told that your politics are reactionary and inherently anti-feminist. And when I complained about the oppression of transgender women, Bob informed me that that was not due to radical feminists, but due to the patriarchy. Umm yeah, kind of like when Audre Lorde called Mary Daly out on her virulent racism and she said racism was because of men and patriarchy—a perfect way to eschew taking responsibility for the very real hate that feminists also are responsible for. And, a convenient way to avoid actually transforming feminism to be inclusive of the lives of trans women and women of color. (And yes, the phrase “false consciousness” was ACTUALLY used! Another word I thought had been left to decompose 20 years ago.) I certainly hope Bob has never had any transgender students; I pity them if they have to put up with his obvious ideological bias and never-ending “fountain of undiluted foolishness.”

During the Q&A after the film screening, Bob told a story about an audience who watched the documentary “The Price of Pleasure.” It was made up mostly of people from the porn industry. Bob mistakenly thought they had had a civil dialogue after the film, and seemed genuinely surprised to find blogs that trashed him and the film in the days and weeks following the screening. I don’t know if he thought our “dialogue” (which was really him using his white, straight, male, cisgender privilege to talk AT us) was either civil or productive; so let me erase all ambiguity: NOTEPIC FAIL. Sorry, Bob, I am NOT one of your students! I’ve got the same Ph.D. after my name as you, and your hate-filled bullshit did not alter my absolute pride in my transgender identity one iota, nor did it prompt me to think that your ideology, or Jan Raymond’s or Sheila Jeffreys’s, is not 110% WRONG. So thanks for wasting your breath. And though you said you had a “gay past” David and I want you to know that we were queer yesterday, queer today and queer tomorrow; we can’t run headlong into straight male privilege like you so easily can, Bob.

During her history of the anti-pornography movement (much of which consisted of bashing Patrick Califia and feminists who did not toe the line of HER ideology) Lierre Keith stated that there can be no middle ground. And so, the sex wars détente continues unabated. It is precisely this unwillingness to find common ground that means this movement will continue to be dead in the water. And it is precisely this unconcealed hatred of diversity of thought and multiplicity of social identity in this movement that will guarantee its continued failure. With friends like these, who needs enemies? As Dr. Bob goes back to his wife and kid (though he was gay for a “period”), and his religion as a “radical Christian” (so it is possible to be a “radical Christian” but fundamentally impossible to be a transgender woman and a radical feminist. Huh?) , and his work as a tenured professor (although he is not, as he says, an academic; I wonder then what the University of Texas thinks they are paying him for, exactly?) I will also go back to my life: as a transgender individual, as a feminist woman, as a queer person, as a person of size fighting sizeism, as an economically-challenged person, as a first-generation scholar, as a non-tenure track instructor, and as a person who does not use my “radical” politics to shit all over one of the most oppressed, maligned and vulnerable populations in the society.

Reposted with persmission from Transmeditations blog

 

 

The Khul' Divorce in Egypt

 

Under the rules of divorce in Islamic sharia, a husband has the prerogative right to divorce his wife any time, any place, with or without any reason. Under certain conditions, the wife may request from the religious judge a judicial divorce in case of ‘harm’ or maltreatment (darar), as stated by the Maliki School of jurisprudence.

NOW: GOP Assault on Middle Class is a 'War on Women'

 

This Mother's Day-Support all Mamas Rights to Choices in Pregnancy and Birthing

 

Vermont Moves Closer to Establishing Nation's First Single-Payer Health Care System

 

ILPS joins the celebration of the Centennial of the First International Toiling Women's Day

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, express our most militant greetings to women all over the world and join you in the celebration of the centennial of the International Women’s Day.  The history and current trend of militant women’s struggle must be highlighted in the midst of the global depression and chaos that pervade the various regions of the world today.

Women in Hip-Hop Event Raises Funds For Poor Women of Color in Austin to Access Birth Support

 

 
MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT
Women in Hip-Hop Event Raises Funds 
For Poor Women of Color in Austin
to Access Birth Support 
 
Mamas of Color Rising, a “collective of working class and poor mothers of color based in and around Austin, TX” is hosting Mama Said Knock You Out, an all-women hip-hop showcase at the historic Victory Grill, on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.  The event is a fundraiser for the group’s Sankofa Birth Companion Project, which will provide free training for women of color in the Austin community to become DONA-certified birth companions (doulas) in exchange for a commitment of trainees’ time to provide no-cost birth companion services to poor women of color in the greater Austin area.  
 

 

 

 

“Austin is known as a haven for alternative options in how women receive pre-natal care and give birth.  However, these options are not available to everyone.  These services cost a lot of money and many are not covered by private health insurance or Medicaid/CHIP.  Unfortunately, in our community, it’s poor and working class women of color who have the fewest options in pre-natal care and labor/delivery options,” said Eshe Cole, a member Mamas of Color Rising.
 
Kellee Coleman, also a collective member noted, “While our birth access project is the centerpiece of our work right now, we wanted to do a fundraiser that is in line with our broader social justice values.  We created a program that highlights the voices of community rooted women hip hop artists, and chose a venue that has supported community organizing and has helped to preserve black history and culture in East Austin.”
 
Detroit based artist Invincible, scheduled to speak and perform at SXSW music festival, is coming to town early to perform at the benefit because she says, “it is important for artists attending SXSW to support the local Austin artist community when we’re there, as well as build solidarity with local organizations such as Mamas of Color Rising. Similar movements are growing in Detroit, and all over the country, good music helps bring us together to exchange strategies and lessons.”“Austin is known as a haven for alternative options in how women receive pre-natal care and give birth.  However, these options are not available to everyone.  These services cost a lot of money and many are not covered by private health insurance or Medicaid/CHIP.  Unfortunately, in our community, it’s poor and working class women of color who have the fewest options in pre-natal care and labor/delivery options,” said Eshe Cole, a member Mamas of Color Rising.
 
Kellee Coleman, also a collective member noted, “While our birth access project is the centerpiece of our work right now, we wanted to do a fundraiser that is in line with our broader social justice values.  We created a program that highlights the voices of community rooted women hip hop artists, and chose a venue that has supported community organizing and has helped to preserve black history and culture in East Austin.”
 
Detroit based artist Invincible, scheduled to speak and perform at SXSW music festival, is coming to town early to perform at the benefit because she says, “it is important for artists attending SXSW to support the local Austin artist community when we’re there, as well as build solidarity with local organizations such as Mamas of Color Rising. Similar movements are growing in Detroit, and all over the country, good music helps bring us together to exchange strategies and lessons.”

 

San Antonio International Woman's Day March

 

 

SAVE THE DATE: MARCH 5, 2011-SA International Woman’s Day March & Rally

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