Thursday, April 30, 2009

Women in Gaming: Part One-Alyx Vance

Note: If you found this article by Googling Any of the following phrases-
  • "Alyx Vance nude"
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  • "nude alyx half life"
  • "fucking Alyx Vance pictures"
  • "Half Life 2 Alyx Vance nude"
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-please go read either this or the article entitled Alyx Vance Fucking. Once you have finished those, you are ready for this. Thank you.
~The Management

Games are, of course, traditionally marketed to male teens. And what makes a male teen feel like he's better endowed than he may or may not be in real life, than having to save some helpless woman who somehow, through extreme ineptitude or idiocy managed to get herself captured.

It's a formula that goes back throughout the ages, and is as old as time, or at least as old as Super Mario Brothers.

And I sat here today and thought...there's got to be someone who bucks the trend, a game heroine who isn't content to just be rescued, but to get out there and do something.

The answer was so obvious, she was staring me right in the face with that trademark sarcastic grin of hers: Alyx Vance.

For those of you not initiated to the storyline of Half-Life 2, Alyx is the daughter of one of the main supporting NPCs. You, as "everyone's favorite emotionally oblivious mute, Gordon Freeman"* are introduced to her in the beginning of Half Life 2. After being stunned by Civil Protection, you hear her call their attention and upon coming to, you see her and four or five Civil Protection units out cold on the floor.

The immediate implication is that she is a girl who can take care of herself easily. As you play through the first game, she leads you to safety, gives you remote protection when you are separated and you must find your way to her and her father, and she serves as your teacher for some of the mechanics of the game. In short, without Alyx, Gordon would be next to nothing, if not actually nothing.

It's an interesting switch of the roles, in which Gordon literally needs Alyx to show him the way, to clear obstacles and survive. Through subsequent releases of Episode 1 and 2, Alyx becomes even more vital to you, fighting side by side with you as you struggle to make your way back to the resistance.

Valve, Half Life 2's developer, has usually been quite progressive in this way, using Alyx as a companion, as a teacher, and as a helper without whom Gordon would not be able to survive, and they are to be commended on this point. It's been a growing trend in gaming lately to give more and more strong female characters, and I suspect this is because it hasn't gone unnoticed that the demographic for games is changing: that more and more women are becoming gamers.

We're talking about more than a "token feminist" or some such, we're talking about true strong women who can get along as easily without a man as with one.

Of course..Half-Life 2 is not perfect. Alyx is meant to visually appeal, and while not nude or scantily clad (though there are mods you can get for that), she is at least somewhat sexualized. There are no cutscenes, and Gordon never talks so the storyline must be conveyed through the actions and words of those around you, and it does get a bit frustrating to see Alyx sort of shyly and tentatively throwing out hints as to her attraction to him so that the player begins to feel as if there might be a romantic relationship between the two. The idea, I'm sure, is that Gordon is silently conveying his approval and reciprocation of this, and many players I'm sure vocally convey this from behind their computer screens but as a woman playing the game, it feels a little forced to me.

However, it is a step in the right direction, a step that few developers previous have even bothered to take, and in light of that I'm willing to be less harsh on them for sort of forcing the romantic storyline between Gordon and Alyx. Overall, Alyx Vance is a very good example of the growing shift in gaming towards women of power and capability, and I look forward to what Valve intends to do with her in the upcoming Episode 3.

*Quote credit goes to Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Strike that...Reverse it

And now, my adoring fans, we get to play my favorite game.

That's right!

Its the "Logic is the Tool of the Devil" Game!

Lets meet today's contestant!

Say hello to Robert Peters. Robert is president of Morality in Media, an organization originally founded to combat pornography (like Cosmopolitan, which is of course porn in its purest form), and he is concerned, folks.

"It is my intention to point out that the success of the sexual revolution is inversely proportional to the decline in morality; and it is the decline of morality (and the faith that so often under girds it) that is the underlying cause of our modern day epidemic of mass murders."

Alright, he passes the qualifying round with a perfect 10 in "faith" based prattling! Extra points for sneaking it in under the guise of public concern and therefore making it that much harder for logical folks like you and me to point out the assumption that religious belief is the source of morality. Clever clever Robbie-poo!

Lets move on to round 2!

"This secular value system is also reflected in the 'sexual revolution,' which is the driving force behind the push for 'gay marriage;' and the Iowa Supreme Court decision is another indication that despite all the damage this revolution has caused to children, adults, family life and society (think abortion, divorce, pornography, rape, sexual abuse of children, sexually transmitted diseases, trafficking in women and children, unwed teen mothers and more), it continues to advance relentlessly,"

The crowd is tense...the judges are quietly conferring. Remember, in this round we are looking for a sense of self-righteousness, and the delusion of helping the helpless. False conflations are a plus, and it seems that Robbie will have this in the bag...Whats this? There seems to be a consensus...AND ITS ANOTHER PERFECT 10! THE CROWD GOES WILD! Wait...wait...wait, I'm getting a message from the judges that extra points were awarded for his complete and total waving away of the existence of these same societal issues well before his precious morality was threatened!

And now we move into the final evaluation round.

"It most certainly is not my intention to blame the epidemic of mass murders on the gay rights movement"

Oooh, and oldie and not quite goody. The set up for the "Why so srs?" defense, but with zero follow-through. This lack of originality and hedging is going to hurt his final score. The judges look disappointed, its sad. They were clearly expecting so much more from this contestant, and to find that hes only a blind rewind the likes of Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts but without their sanctimonious belly-fire is almost crushing.

He still may have a chance in his all over score, remember folks, its cumulative so he may still have hope from those extra points awarded earlier.

It looks like the judges are returning, and its...its...a thumbs down! What an upset! Sorry, Robbie, but due to your tired old ignorance and recycled arguments, you will not be going on to the Champion round of our game! Robbie, I have to say, we in this sport truly do expect more from the Godbots than the stubborn ignoring that the crimes you want to blame on a "moral decline" are committed mainly by people who cling to those morals you cry about.

Join us next time for our champion round: "Logic Makes the Baby Jesus Cry," which will feature Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin going head to head in a knockdown, abstinence-only, librul conspiracy theory brawl!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Excuse me you sexist prick, but is that my ubersaw in your head?

Okay. Let me make this clear for those of you who may not be aware: I am a gamer. I am a huge gamer. A basic Google search of Witchiebunny will turn up my involvement in the Steam gaming group, The Furry Pound where I am head admin.

I generally play FPS (First Person Shooters), which is generally the domain of teenage boys and young adult men, though exceptions (such as myself) do exist. And my favorite games include the aforementioned TF2, along with Left 4 Dead, Portal and The Ship.

I love gaming. I've made some very wonderful and worthwhile friends whilst playing on TF2 servers. However, my gaming experience once I finally obtained a microphone always started out with the inevitable, astonished "You're a GIRL?" realization, and the subsequent re-evaluation of my gaming ability based on that. It's not even like I'm the only girl who plays on our servers either-there's at least five of us that I can think of off of the top of my head (and this includes one who is trans).

To be sure, women are a minority within the gaming world, though the gap is closing. We are out there. And we are every bit as good as male gamers.

So it does kind of piss me off when I hear the joke "There's no girls on the internet". Especially when it's for the hundredth time.

And I do so love how many of the pubs on the servers choose to attribute my skill and how well I, and by extension, my team is doing to one of the male members of my team.

Newsflash? Just because Doom is on my team, it does NOT negate my skill at blowing you to kingdom come on my own.

However, what has really been upsetting me is the fact that recently, I had to make a rule on TFP concerning harassment. Now bear in mind, I don't get harassed on the servers-that's the privilege I get for being head admin and wielding the ban-hammer, and I *know* I get it. However I have made it clear to all of my gamers if they are being harassed, to bring it to me.

So imagine how I felt when one of my gamers-a 19 year old woman-came to me and told me that players were telling her to stop playing and "get back in the kitchen".

Yeah. Really.

It was one of the few times I more or less bypassed my team of admins in the creation of a rule. And yet, even then I had to make it carry a less harsh penalty than I would have liked-in short, harassment is a temp ban, rather than a permanent ban as I'd like.

Why? Because even if women are complaining, we have to give the men who have already shown a lack of respect for them another chance after they show their ass before we can throw them out permanently.

It's worth noting, that one of my admins tends to hop to and get on harassment cases more if it's a woman complaining than if it's anyone else. It's bigoted to the opposite degree, but given how little some of my other admins seem to care about harassment claims in general, I think I'll take it for now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh no you didn't, or how I learned to stop worrying and ignore the fakers.

Some people have SOME fucking nerve.

I am currently living in Philadephia, apart from my still legal husband who is in Tucson. We're still talking, but otherwise apart at the moment.

I do own a Livejournal, mostly friendslocked because certain people, such as my mother, have had no problem with using my private thoughts therein against me. (Then again, my mother felt she had the right to break into my physical diary, read it, and write back to me in it before locking it and putting it back, but that's neither here nor there.)

When one is posting in a private space, one that is locked to a certain audience there is the reasonable expectation of privacy therein, and a common understanding that what is written in such a space will remain private.

At least, that was the theory.

So imagine my surprise, shock and sheer blinding rage when my husband comes to me last night to tell me three nights ago, he was approached by someone who was offering up private chat logs and friendslocked LJ entries to show him, supposedly about how I was deceiving him and talking about him behind his back, how I was leaving him in the lurch, etc.

If you want, you can see the entry here.*

Now, read that over, then venture over to her business site* where she sells her digital art.

Tiari (as I will refer to her, though I do know her personal details) paints herself as a progressive, pro-feminist, modern woman, a stay at home wife and mother of two who makes her money via her business.

In the days when my marriage started to go south, I began posting to my Livejournal, looking for advice from those married, those not, from friends who knew the entire story and those with an outside perspective on everything. Tiari had been one of those who had attempted to warn me before the marriage, but once I was in it became an advocate of staying in the marriage no matter what.

Through cheating, through an attempted rape..through being ignored, marginalized and blown off. Why? Because she, too is married to a thoughtless jackass, and of course misery loves company-if she choose to stay in a marriage she hated so much and stuck it out for over 20 years, then of course I should too, because it's what a good wife does!

Nevermind that her husband asked her to be a stay at home wife, knowing she can regularly command a much higher salary than he can. Nevermind that he would let his relatives berate her for being lazy and not working, even though it was at his behest. Nevermind that she resents the hell out of her daughters and husband for keeping her from the life she could have had.

A good wife stays no matter what. A good wife suffers for her husband. A good wife shows no regard for herself whatsoever.

Fuck that shit.

I dared to step out of her little mold, going against her "seasoned advice" and took steps to make myself happy. And as soon as she realized this, she gathered up the trust I had bestowed in her, and used it to try to punish me, by trying to go behind my back to my husband with chat logs and entries I had shared with her in confidence.

The thing is, my husband came to me to tell me this happened. And she wanted him to not tell me that she did it, as opposed to how brazenly she came out in my LJ.

For being such a "progressive" woman, she sure does tend to cater to the stereotypes of women needing to be weak and protected in her art. For being so "pro-feminist", she sure didn't hesitate to punish me for stepping out and doing what I needed to do for myself, and stepping out against my "role" as the dutiful wife.

What is it about our society and culture that women feel the need to punish those who step out against the sexist expectations of our culture?

I'm a bit sad to lose a friend. I'm more sad that I live in a culture and society that rewards women for doing this type of thing.

*Please, do not troll her. My purpose is to demonstrate, not to punish her in return. Thank you.

You can stuff your apathy

I have one thing to say right now, just one, to any person out there who has ever said some variation of the following:

"Well, stick and stones, you know? I mean they're only words! Why let them get to you?"

I dare you, I DARE you, to say that to the family of Jaheem Herrera or the family of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. Go ahead. Tell those people who have lost a chunk of their hearts that it's "just words!"



I don't know how many times I have to say this, words mean things! Words shape how we define the world, how we perceive things that others do or are. Words MEAN things, and trying to brush those meanings off as someone who is hurt being "oversensitive" is privileged and heartless. Words harm people. Words can kill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Allen Andrade has been found guilty of first degree murder in the death of Angela Zapata. He has also been found guilty of a hate crime, as well as identity theft and vehicle theft.

I have no words, only tears.

Tears that women like Angie are killed just for existing.

Tears that the defense spent the entire trial trying to make it a matter of "deception" by misgendering her and using her birth name.

Tears that the jury saw the person beyond the spin and sent a murdering bigot to prison for the rest of his natural life.

Tears that I did not expect to see justice done.

Tears that it is a surprise.

It's apparently been a while since we've seen these things..

Called Diplomacy and Politics.

I'm referring the hullabaloo over President Obama appearing to be chummy with Venezuelan President Chavez. A lot of people have been giving him a lot of grief over his smiling, and appearing to be getting along with President Chavez.

People? This is called POLITICS. Do you really think that Obama isn't smart enough to try to foster good relations with this guy, while not trusting him farther than he can throw him? You know, not getting on other nations nerves so they don't want to nuke us off the map?

One of the things that the previous administration had apparent trouble grasping is that when you make vague threats, and begin posturing and fostering an "Us vs Them" mentality, it doesn't exactly make other nations jump to attention and go "We like you, let's give you our natural resources!"

Venezuela has access to some of the largest reserves in the western hemisphere and if we like driving, it might be in our best interest NOT to piss off Venezuela. And this isn't even going into the fact that certain people will *never* be happy with anything Obama does, because he can't win. If he's diplomatic and professional, he's capitulating to these horrible bully countries. If he's hardline and angry, then he's an angry black man and can't be trusted.

Seriously? You pundits need to make up your minds, because your prejudice and ignorance is showing.

Hair and community

Note from Dori: Today we have a post from our new contributor Witchiebunny. Welcome Witchie!

Please forgive me a bit of long winded background.

When I was a little girl, I remember my mother sitting me down and telling me that I would always have two things against me in life.

The first was that I was a woman. The second was that I was black.

It was not the first, nor would it be the only lesson I was to have in racism, both outside of my family and culture and within it.

I remember having my hair relaxed before going into kindergarten. I remember being ashamed when my hair was nappy, or when I had "peas" in the back of my head. My mother made sure I went, without fail every six weeks to have my touch up, treating the roots as they came in so my hair would continue to be straight.

All this to say, it didn't take very long at all for me to assimilate into the idea of "good skin" and "good hair". It's ingrained in us from childhood on, that if you do not have good skin and good hair, that you must find a way to get one, if not the other and the easiest way to do that is to process our hair until it forgets how it was meant to be, and damage it in the process.

I began rebelling against this idea when I was eighteen, when I stopped going for relaxers and then, finally, with the help of a couple of friends cut my hair short, leaving me with a small afro. I was loving my hair-natural at last. However the black women where I worked (which included my mother) made fun of my hair...walking up and touching it, making comments on it. When I complained to my mother, I was told that I had done it to myself and when shortly thereafter, I was forced back into moving in with my parents, my mother gave me a wig to wear. She was ashamed to be seen with me with my hair as it was.

I moved from Philadelphia to Tucson, Arizona to be with my then boyfriend, now ex-husband and, free from the immediate inner cultural pressures I began to experiment with my hair, relaxing it, not relaxing it, until I finally shaved the entire mass off and started over. I grew my hair-completely naturally-for two years before I finally dreaded it.

And not only did I dread it, oh no....I didn't use sisterlocks or twist and pin, wool rubbing or the "neglect" method....I backcombed my hair and let it do its own thing from then on for over a year.

Finally I moved back to Philadelphia. Last night, I saw my mother again for the first time in two years, and in that time I've gotten tattoos, stretched my earlobe piercings, and of course, the dreads. As I sat in my parents rec room basement, happily eating the first real cheese steak I've had in years, my mother fingered my hair and I could tell, she was already planning how to remove the dreads, salvage my hair and relax it again so I could get back to where I "should" be.

Should the standards of black culture within this city, and this country. And I find it so interesting that for years, civil rights leaders fought so hard for equality. They had boycotts and sit ins, non-violent protests and marches. They fought so diligently and paid so dearly for the chance to be treated as equal...and then we turn around and upend that progress by perpetuating a special kind of racism and hueism within our own ranks.

Those who are lighter are automatically better off than those who are darker. Those with nappy, kinked hair need to their time and money on correcting this "mistake". Even those women who dare to step out, and do something else with their hair had better do it in the culturally approved way or else they're a detriment not only to themselves, but to everything everyone has struggled to build.

Because of course, the only way for a black woman to be taken seriously is to make herself as much like a white woman as possible. I've seen the looks I get for having my hair as it is....and I've heard the mutterings of people around me, even from my own parents.

I don't do things the black way....I'm trying to be white...I'm doing a disservice to other black women, who must now prove themselves in spite of people like me.

Excuse me?

To all those who buy into the system..I put forth this idea: Perhaps the way to truly define ourselves as our own separate culture, equal to any other in this world is not to change it to suit the tastes and whims of another. We should not be building our cultural identity around trying to look like and pass for another culture, in the guise of being "pretty" or "professional". The reason those of us who truly step out against this inner-culture racism aren't taken seriously by the establishment is because our own culture, our own people won't back us up.

How ironic is it to be told that we're not "black enough" by the very culture that is based around trying to be as white as possible while still pretending to be black?

Think about it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I've had it up to here

Okay, I have avoided commenting on this because meta makes my head hurt (and I realize that my avoidance, and ability to do so is a function of my privilege) but I can't keep shirking that responsibility. A basic run down for those of you who don't follow the politics of progressive (and I use that term loosely) bloglandia: a boycott of some big name feminist blogs has been called for by members of the trans blogging community due to repeated issues of representation, the lack thereof and/or the representation that they do get being derailed by centering it around the concerns of the cis-people in the thread.

Below is a list that outlines some of the blog posts that have been at the center of, or in addition to the malestrom.

(ganked from Gender Goggles)

The Feministing/Feministe Boycott

[1] Men in Women’s Bathrooms: Is Your State Next?: the Focus on the Family transphobia post with errant comment thread on Feministing*
[2] By Any Other Name: transmisogyny post with errant comment thread at Feministe
[3] Bathroom panic, it’s totally feminist: Queen Emily’s response to errant comments on Feministing.
[4] Very Necessary: Voz Latina’s call for a boycott of Feministe/Feministing.
[5] It’s Always About The Cis Women: Lucy’s post about both Feministing and Feministe.
[6] On Cis Supremacy, Feminism and Feministe: Cara’s response to all of this on Feministe.

The Dust-Up at Bitch, Ph.D.
[1] Teabag Me: the original post at Bitch, Ph.D.
[2] Ann Coulter Really Is A Cunt, People: the response at Bitch, Ph.D.

I just read the Bitch, Ph.D posts, and that was essentially the shit cherry that topped off the vomit sundae. Its what made me realize that I couldn't keep avoiding this.

Big note to anyone who wants to be considered "progressive" and "feminist":


Also, fucking up and showing your ass as a privileged person is going to happen. When it does, the proper response on being called on it is SINCERE APOLOGY AND MAKING SURE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN.

Now I know what its like to teach five-year olds. Christ.
Anyway, I have removed both Feministing and Bitch Ph.D from my blogroll. I'm keeping Feministe for the moment as they are the only ones that have taken this criticism in and tried to improve. As of now, I don't know if Feministing has responded at all, and frnakly, Bitch Ph.D's non-apology ("well I'm sorry that you're offended" etc) just pissed me off more, so I don't think I can, in good conscience, go back there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Was Born Palestinian

"Its not very comfortable in there is it?" said the stony faced official, cigarette smoke forming a haze around his gleaming oval head.

"Its OK. We're fine" I replied wearily, delirious after being awake for a straight period of 30 hours.

"You could be in there for days you know. For weeks. Indefinitely. "So, tell me, you are taking a plane tomorrow morning to the US?"

Go read the rest of this.

I can't begin to explain the depth to which stories like this rock me.

It is best viewed with the background of the events I have detailed previously.

I truly feel that there is no denying the racial subtext of the occupation of Palestine. I don't care how justified it claims to be. Nothing justifies treating people the way your own people have been treated for generations. They don't deserve this any more than we ever did.


Okay, so I'm a little slow on getting to this, and a little confused now that I have.

So there is this conference that the UN put together, The Durban Review Conference, that is meeting next week to asses the progress from the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Apparently, the US and Israel walked out of the last one because of the focus on the plight of Palestinian refugees and the suggestion that their treatment was rooted in racism. Depending on who you talk to, they either considered such a suggestion to be anti-Semitic, they felt that Zionism was being conflated with racism, or Zionism was being conflated with racism and they felt that this was anti-Semitic and anti-religion. Frankly, I have no fucking clue what actually happened, because I can't find an account that isn't built on press releases from either country, so I'm not going to assume that any one of those is exactly the reason why.

Anyway, fast forward to February of this year. The Obama administration seemed to be ready to boycott this year's meeting for the same reason, again with the suggestion that the conference was anti-Semitic.

They reconsidered the boycott, and then went with it anyway.

The biggest issue, at least from an Israeli perspective, is the participation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, who has publicly denied the Holocaust before, as well as the participation of oil-producing Arab states who supposedly used the last conference to bash Israel and Zionism. This alleged bashing (and I say alleged because I have yet to see anything more concrete than one side or the other making accusations after the fact) is being held up as an example of why some of the most powerful countries in the world are refusing to participate even after they negotiated to have any references to Israel and Palestine taken off the table.

The UN Human Rights chief has criticized these countries for putting politics over the needs of marginalized people. I think I have to agree. I don't see this boycott as helpful in any way. The only thing it may achieve is solidifying the assumption that I encountered during my time in the Middle East, that Israel controls all the large governments and power in the world. It reinforces this feeling of being oppressed by Israel that many countries seem to have. It also removes the opportunity to help create a framework that will help solve so many problems beyond just the Israeli one.

As far as the whole "Israel's actions against Palestinians is rooted in racism" and Zionism being conflated with racism, well I would like those of you who have actually read this far to consider a few things.

One major argument for refusing a single state solution or even a solution at all to the conflict over the Palestinian territories, as well as limiting access to resources, or jobs outside the territories is the demographic argument. It can be summed up thusly: Israel was created as a Jewish state by European Jews. A one state solution would let too many of "them" in and the state would no longer be Jewish. This being said, Israel welcomes immigrants from the US and Europe who are of Jewish heritage, but has repeatedly blocked the entrance of Ethiopian Jews who have been trying to immigrate for decades. I have no sources for this, but it seems to me that Israeli officials who make these decisions see "Jew" in a particular way that excludes people who are too dark.
Anyway, my point is that there is something to a discussion of racial motivations behind the treatment of Palestinian refugees.

That being said, if Zionism was conflated with racism, that is decidedly unhelpful. Zionism has this big boogieman reputation, but in reality, it is nothing more than a political ideology that arose in response to anti-Semitism in Europe, which was rooted in racism itself. That and context cannot be ignored. "Zionism" and "Zionists" are often used as "code" words for Jews the world over. By framing an argument as anti-Zionist it is really easy to make anti-Semitic arguments and pretend that they are relevant political critique, when in actuality they are nothing more than the same eliminationist rhetoric that Jews as a culture, ethnicity and religion have been hearing for as long as we have history to track.

In the end, no one is helping. A boycott only allows those issues that are inaccurate and inflammatory to go unchecked, and also allows governments who are not completely innocent to shirk their responsibility to the larger global community. A history of being threatened does not make one completely justified in all actions and reactions. A history of being on the receiving end of reactions that come from not the nicest of ideas does not give one the right to pretend like tragedies didn't happen. Either side forgetting or ignoring the humanity of the other is going to do nothing but perpetuate the cycle of violence, misinformation and hatred.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I search your profile
for a translation
I study the conversation
like a map
'cause I know there is strength
in the differences between us
and I know there is comfort
where we overlap
~Ani D.

The way we address intersectionality is important. Part of the call for intersectionality in anti-oppression work is not because someone can be pared down and defined purely by one or two random traits. The call was made because each identity and the experiences it brings shapes the others and the experiences they bring. There is no monolithic, hive mind, universal experience.A queer woman of color will not have her experiences of womanhood separate from her experience of race separate from her experiences of sexuality.Her experiences of womanhood will be those of a queer woman of color. It is easy to imagine the extrapolation of this spiraling onward, and onward. In the end, we are each individuals and every experience we have will be colored and shaped by our individual identity. When one lives in a system that treats one as "less than" for one or more of those identities, and seeks to separate one's racial identity from one's gender identity, a discussion absolutely about one or the other by those who benefit from that same system that oppresses one, regardless of intention, only exacerbates the problem.

That is not to say that trends are not identifiable. Women of all colors can relate to each others experiences of sexism, even though not a one of them will have the same experience as the others.

When we talk about which identities overlap and how they do, we must be careful to avoid treating identity as a Venn diagram. As Morbo would say: IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Because I can't say it better

Jeff Fecke at Alas:

Is it…is it really April 15? Has the blessed day come at last?

Why, bless my soul — it has! It has! It’s Teabagging Day, everybody! It’s Teabagging Day

Yes, that most sacred of days, when angry white men (plus a few token women, plus one token black guy) get together and proclaim how angry they are that they have to pay taxes, and all they get for it is roads, schools, courts, police, fire fighters, the military, safe food and medicine, a rudimentary safety net, a space program, weather monitoring, and about 50,000 other things.

Unfair! scream the white men, who are not only asked to pay taxes, but asked to pretend that women and minorities are their equals. Unfair! scream the straight men and women, who are really mad that somewhere, two men are fucking. Unfair! scream the rich, as they sneer at the lucky duckies who don’t have to pay as much in taxes, just because they only make 1/250th of what CEOs make.

What fun it will be!

Yes, we all know that the pure spirit of Teabagging Day has been undermined by its corporate origins, but hey, Valentine’s Day started out as a corporate holiday too. And what is Teabagging Day but the opposite of Valentine’s Day, a day we can all celebrate our hatred of our fellow man, our own selfish greed, and our anger that an inadequate black male is in the White House?

Yes, it’s very exciting. Already, the wise men and women of Teabagging Day are spreading out throughout the country to spread good cheer. St. Hannity is going to be there! And Goofy Glenn Beck! And the Hate Fairy, too! And of course, what is a Teabagging Day without a Dick Armey?

Neil Cavuto also may show up, I guess.

So come, my fellow Americans, let’s celebrate our hatred and mutual fear! Come, let’s pretend Barack Obama really is a secret Muslim! Let’s argue for the inherent superiority of the white man! Let’s babble incoherently about a grab-bag of grievances that mostly boils down to anger that the Republicans got smoked in 2008! Muffy, fire the help! Biff, move your money to an off-shore tax shelter! It’s Teabagging Day, everyone — the most wonderful day of the wingnut year.

ETA 4/14/09 13:24- I will be updating this post sporadically throughout the day with links and discussions of today's "Oh Hai! I'm A Privileged Dipshit!" events.

Shakesville has Paul The Spud:
One of the most hilarious aspects of this whole teabag brou-ha-ha has been the insistence that these protests are "non-partisan." Of course, none of the participants could be bothered to raise a finger while Bush spent money like a drunken sailor, no Dem officials or liberal pundits are attending or participating, FOX television has been rah-rahing the whole thing, it's being funded by right-wing money, Americans for Prosperity is offering money to participate, blah blah blah. I think you all get it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Go read this now. I felt a profound impact when I read this, and while I want to ask the context, I think it stands more strongly because I don't know.

And while you are at it, read this as well. Its really easy for those of us who identify as feminist to make assumptions based on our own biases and be blind to the fact that we are doing so. We think because our intentions are good, then our actions must be as well. We have a responsibility, if we wish to change anything, to be honest about our biases and privilege and how those things effect our perspective and, vicariously, our actions.

For Angie

Today begins the trial of Allen Andrade for the murder of Angie Zapata in Colorado.

I haven't written about this like I should have only because events like this are very personal to me and kind of make me want to take my spouse and my kitties and just hide from the world.

The details of what happened the day Allen killed Angie are rehashed constantly in blogs devoted to progressive and trans friendly content as well as in the news. I hear story after story after story about the deaths of transpeople and all I see in my minds eye are the faces of my friends and loved ones.

I see the words and actions of women (in the link, the women being referred to are in the comments, not the author of the linked post), who claim to be "on my side," dehumanizing and dismissing the people that I love and others like them, using attitudes that are the same as the attitudes that lead to some of the highest rates for death and marginalization of an oppressed population in the US, and (I strongly suspect) the world.

I have lit a candle for Angie, for an end to the dehumanization of transpeople, not because I want progressive cred, not because I want a cookie, a gold star, or a pat on the head. I am lighting a candle because I owe my life to the people that I love.

My (hopefully) Last Post on the Amazon Bullshit

A few explanations have come out about this debacle besides the "glitch" excuse. There have been attention-seeking man-children attempting to take (unearned) credit for it "for the lulz," as well as explanations and theories about meta-data and filters, experimental ratings systems, some random employee tagging things as "adult," language barriers, and (the crowning glory) a cataloging error.

I don't buy the "I did it for the lulz!" bullshit. That is some punk with a need for attention trying to capitalize on this event because being a privileged wanker is fun. I also don't buy the "glitch" or "error" excuse. The most reasonable explanation is that someone classified anything having to do with "sexuality" as automatically adult, and therefore getting pulled as possibly offensive to somebody, somewhere. My cynical side says its someone who thinks that the word sex is a sin and even thinking about it makes you a bad person, but that's why its my cynical side.

Not as impressive as some sort of conspiracy to silence progressive voices, I know, but still an indicator of a larger social framing issue. The issue resides in categorizing works written about, for and by TLBGQ individuals as automatically about sexuality and conflating sexuality with sex, erotica and "adult" concepts. Having a filter for "sexuality" would lead to the censoring of a suicide prevention guide written by a transperson while leaving a book about treating women like garbage accessible. It would explain why a children's book explaining that some families are not heterosexual gets taken down, but a book about "preventing" homosexuality is left up. This displays a dangerous dissonance in moral categories on a social level, and its a dissonance that leads to ideas like the ones that help pass anti-trans, anti-woman and anti-queer legislation. This displays how unconscious these ideas of misogyny, transphobia and homophobia are in our social consciousness.

So, for all those privileged people in the comments of the articles linked here who are wondering why this matters, laughing about "moral outrage" or mocking those of us who this matters to: this is why this is so important. At best, this event is a perfect microcosm of the ideas that continue to allow people like me, my spouse, and every other gender-variant and queer person in this country to be treated like less than full humans. This is a public exhibition of why we are denied full personhood, again, and again, and again.

If the best reaction you can come up with is "why so srs?" then I recommend a crowbar to remove your head from your rectum before mold starts growing on your nose.

ETA: Or what she said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dear man-child Seth Rogen,

Rape is not a fucking joke.

No matter who it happens to.

Putting this in your film as a joke does not make you edgy, clever, funny, or ironic. It makes you a fucking scumbag douchnozzle who clearly doesn't give a rat fuck about who you hurt as long as they have a vagina. Adding her "why are you stopping?" statement as justification is also bullshit.

Anyone who wants to come here and try to defend this tripe can bring it the fuck on. All you prove by doing so is that you also don't care who gets hurt for your jollies. This is not a case of evil feminazis wanting to take your fun away, this is a case of you thinking that something that traumatizes another person is funny. We are not over-sensitive, you aren't sensitive enough, and I hope every woman in your life knows that you think rape is fucking hilarious.

It was totes a glitch you guize!

Instead of apologizing for letting something this disgustingly discriminatory happen, Amazon is crying "glitch!" and effectively blowing off taking any responsibility for this event.

Uh huh.

A "glitch."

And I'm the motherfucking Tooth Fairy.

This "glitch" has been going on for months. Its focused, specifically on anything that presents sexuality in a positive, progressive light. The autobiography of Ellen DeGeneres is delisted but A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality isn't. Books on sexuality and disability are gone, but the autobiography of Ron Jeremy is still up.

Glitch my fat ass.

Way to go Amazon. You could have apologized and agreed to fix it, but no, letting the people who have been excluded feel like they are worthwhile customers to you is just beyond your capabilities, isn't it?

Same Shit, Different Company.

When in doubt, deny, deny, deny. Even in the face of evidence.

You keep using that word...

I want to talk about responsibility. I want to talk about who gets held "responsible" and who does not.

Its a word that one hears a lot. I tend to hear it in discussions about abortion, rape, transphobia, homophobia, violence against women, racism, poverty and any intersection of the preceding list.

Do any of these arguments sound familiar?

"Well, I'm against abortion because it lets slutty women get away with not taking responsibility for getting themselves pregnant!" (Because women bud, like yeast, and get pregnant all by themselves without any help from anyone or anything!)

"It sucks for hir that zie got raped, but its irresponsible to wear short skirts/drink alcohol around people/go outside at night/smile at men/be so pretty/have tits/exist! What did zie expect?" (Again, like the example above, rape survivors totes rape themselves for funsies!!)

"Well, murder is bad, but when you lie about what you really are, and then someone attacks you for it, you share some responsibility." (Because a rational response to discovering that someone you are with is trans* is bashing their head in with a fire extinguisher.)

"Maybe you queers wouldn't be so threatened if you didn't hit on straight people/hold hands in public/exist. There are consequences when you decide to be/act gay, why is it our responsibility to treat you special?" (Because making someone uncomfortable with questioning their sexual desire simply by existing means you are trying to be "special" if you want access to full rights.)

"What did she do to make him hit her/rape her/kill her/their kids/random innocent bystanders?" (Because, once again, potentially fatal violence is a totally acceptable response to being annoyed, insulted or having your masculinity threatened, provided you have a penis and you only use it to fuck cis-women and provided that the source of your annoyance/insult is a woman and/or a member of any oppressed group.)

"Why do you have to blame the white man for all your problems? Isn't slavery over?" (Didn't you hear? We are post-racial now! Trufax!)

"If being poor is so horrible, why can't they just get a job? Why do I have to pay for them to have food/somewhere to live if they won't?" (The recent corollary being "Yeah, there were predatory lending practices, and the system was set up in such a way as to profit now and not worry about later, but those stupid poor people still are responsible for taking out loans they can't afford!")

See anything in common in any of those examples?

Why is it that the people with the least social value and power are expected to be the scapegoats for the behavior of those who the system is set up to serve?

We are not responsible for your actions. It is not up to us to prevent you from hurting us, restricting our choices, killing us, and generally treating us like less than human beings.

It is YOUR responsibility to not rape, abuse, restrict and murder us. Start exercising that responsibility before your rights to it are taken away.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Queer Kids Don't Exist-Action Needed

And the saga of clueless hetero people being obsessed with teh GHEY SEXXORS! continues, now with added fuckery.

Amazon dot-fucking-com has decided to strip the sales ranks from TLGBQ books, which keeps them from showing up in bestseller lists and some searches, because they have been deemed "adult" material.

Someone is thinking "what about the children?" in deciding to do this, and indeed, I wonder "What about the children?"

What about the gay children?
What about the lesbian children?
What about the bisexual children?
What about the trans children?
What about the children that come from families with transitioning, transitioned and/or queer parents/siblings/other family members?

Why the fuck doesn't anyone think about them?

Cause its only about the sex right? Thats the only reason anyone is trans or queer, because of sex. Dirty steamy stinky sweaty sex. We are all just straight folk with a fetish, right? And if its about sex, then we can't have the children seeing it! Oh NO! Except for Playboy. Because objectifying women is okay, hell, standard operating procedure, and we have to train em young, amirite?

What can you do about this?
There’s a petition going here, and you can complain to Amazon directly. Their exec customer service email is and their customer service phone number is 1-800-201-7575. Folks are trying to google bomb the term Amazon Rank (more info here). And, of course, you can boycott Amazon. I am also going to contact the company I work for (who sells our product to Amazon) and let them know that it would be a great show of support to the non-cis and non-het communities if they joined the boycott as well.

If you want more information, the first link in this post leads to a great collection of links and a great take-down of this stinky business.

I intend to do everything I can to let this company know that I don't appreciate being treated like a shameful family secret.

ETA: textual fury has mentioned in the comments that books about disability and sexuality are also disappearing!

What the fuck! Its like the biggest troll in the world got into Amazon and took the fuck over! Only cis, het, abled bodies can bump uglies now or else its too "explicit" for kids?

I have also heard rumors that feminist theory is starting to go missing as well.

I will say this again, because it bears repeating: What...The...Fuck?!

Calling it what it is..what was that again?

(This post contains sexual assault and rape triggers. Please proceed with caution.)

Out of the 4 women in my immediate family, myself included, I know for sure that 2 of us have been raped, my mother and myself. I am fairly sure that one of my sisters has also experienced rape. She has admitted to me that she has had experiences that fit the criteria but she is reluctant to call it "rape" and seems to prefer to file it under "sex with regrets." my mother also doesn't use the word rape to describe her experience, although she is open about the fact that her enthusiastic consent was never obtained. Even with this acknowledgment, she still relies on euphemism to name what happened to her.

I have had quite a few fights with my spouse about rape and when to use the word. The last argument centered around a post at The Curvature in which Cara discusses Lil' Wayne and how his first sexual experience(at age 11 initiated by a 14 year old girl) can probably be classified as rape but is treated by others as a mark of status as a male, especially as a black male. The discussion was specifically about rape apologism as it applies to men. My spouse was very upset that I called it rape. Zie claimed that I had no right to call it that if the victim did not.

I'm not sure I accept that argument. There are certain elements of it that sound like they are progressive and do fit with my ethics, namely that we do not have the right to define the experience of another. However, this argument specifically feels inauthentic. Mainly because we don't talk about any other assault or crime like this.

What makes rape different? It took me years to define my experiences as rape, and I am still resisting it to a degree. Why does everyone, survivors and non-survivors alike, freak the fuck out when you dare to utter the r-word?

Part of it seems to be a dissonance between what rape is and what we think it is. There is a nauseating list of popular myths about "real" rape, like the persistent myth that rape is what happens when a stranger jumps out of the bushes and drags you down a dark alleyway with a knife to your throat, and if that isn't what happened then it isn't "really" rape.

In fact, part of the reason there is so much social contention over rape statistics can be directly attributed to how rape is defined. For example, the way rape is defined in studies where survivors are asked to self-report what happened to them changes the statistics on rape prevalence considerably.

There is also a social dissonance about who rape happens to. There are apologies up the wazoo every time the word "rape" rears its head. We have pervasive social myths about how rape victims want it, or deserved it. Even in cases that seem clear cut there is talk of the survivor's behavior and character as if this excuses the fact that someone else felt they had a right to hir body.

Another part of it is how we stigmatize survivors. This ties directly in to the ideas of "real" rape. No one wants to be a "raped" person when that means being stigmatized either as a liar, a slut or as damaged goods.

I don't know. I'm still working on this, but I refuse to be shamed for what happened to me. Anyone who wants to try to make me feel ashamed can kiss my fat ass.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

You can lie to yourself, but stop lying to me

Dear every jerk who has ever tried to tell me that women are "just as or more violent" than men,

If your assertion is true then why is it almost always men who kill their families and assorted others before checking out themselves?

In the above paragraph, there are 4 separate mass killings, all perpetrated by men, in the last few weeks in the US. There have indeed been female serial killers and mass murderers, as well as women who have killed their children. There is still CONSIDERABLY FEWER OF THEM.

A man leaves his wife, he generally doesn't have to worry about her killing him for it. Statistically, he is in no danger from her physically. For women? Its so fucking common that it doesn't even make the news.

So you types who want to try and draw a parity where there isn't one to placate your pwecious widdle egos can just fuck miles of off.