Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What a Profound Expression of "black-woman-pain"

Poem for Some Black Women
©1992 Carolyn M. Rodgers

i am lonely,
all the people i know
i know too well

there was comfort in that
at first but now
we know each others miseries
too well.

The rest of the poem is after the jump.

we are
lonely women, who spend time waiting for
occasional flings
we live with fear.
we are lonely.
we are talented, dedicated, well read

we are lonely,
we understand the world problems
Black women's problems with Black men
but all
we really understand is

when we laugh,
we are so happy to laugh
we cry when we laugh
we are lonely.
we are busy people
always doing things
fearing getting trapped in rooms
loud with empty...
knowing the music of silence/hating it/hoarding it
loving it/treasuring it,
it often birthing our creativity
we are lonely

being soft and being hard
supporting our selves, earning our own bread
knowing that need must not show
will frighten away
knowing that we must
walk back-wards nonchalantly on our tip-toeness
if only for stingy moments

we know too much
we learn to understand everything,
to make too much sense out
of the world,
of pain
of lonely...

we buy clothes, we take trips,
we wish, we pray, we meditate, we curse, we crave, we coo,
we caw,

we need ourselves sick, we need, we need
we lonely we grow tired of tears we grow tired of fear
we grow tired but must al-ways be soft and not too serious...
not too smart not too bitchy not too sapphire
not too dumb not too not too not too
a little less a little more
add here detract there

*Credit to Feministing for letting me see this.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thoughts on "Gender-Week" - 10th-17th April

Got my chance to have a say about my opinions on gender-relations in the Varsity Newspaper and here it is online. So I am satisfied about that not for the stimulation of my ego but rather to offer university students a better clarification of feminism so that the stereotypes of angry, under-sexed, done-wrong, hard, butch, man-hating and power-hungry "bitches" will dissolve somewhat.

I attended a panel discussion during last week on the topic of "Masculinity in South Africa". I was glad to hear strong mention of a deeply entrenched white-supremacist (imperialist) patriarchal masculinity by all three of the panelists with one even making mention of the notion that "masculinity is made" i.e. socially constructed and a result of condition. The kind of masculinity she was making reference to of course that which feeds off of conquest, power and domination. The final panelist was also profound in conveying how this same white-supremacist patriarchal masculinity has embedded itself in our history. How we are made to admire the European colonial style of seizing power of weak natives and that this is the model we naturally wish to follow in order to gain a feeling of satisfaction with ourselves. This reminds me of a quote from Nineteen Eighty-Four in which O'Brein tells Winston, "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever". That's it..."Power is not a means, it is an end" which is also another quote from the book. It's all its about, that's all it's ever been about. One does not gain power for any other purpose than to satisfy themselves with a sick feeling a contentment. In closing, the panelist left us with the thought that we should continue to think critically about our history and not let history ride over us. If we never question how whites came to dominate the way they do, we'll never understand our the power-structure, economic-system and social-heirarchies. Why some people have it easier than others. History can not be divorced from the present. History has shaped our present and trying to forget about it will not make it's influence on today disappear.

But I still find this one interesting. The Deputy Editor of Varsity in the usual Editor's Comment section writes this:

If someone is against abortion, homosexuality and disagrees with feminism then that is their right and they should not be adversely judged or treated for believing it. The world, indeed liberals need more people who adhere to the bible saying that says “let those who are without sin cast the first stone”.

Which can be read in full here

Now although I agree with the notion of letting people be and not interfering with their personal right for individual expression, I have got to say that underneath Tatenda's self-righteous veil, he is practicing a very common habit patriarchal males struggle with and that is defending male privilege. Anyone who disagrees with feminism is simply defending male privilege and chauvinistic ideas.

Enough about that, during gender week three large boards were placed up at the Jammie Plaza one with the words gender week, another with a female figure and another with a male figure. With this, people were asked to write about their thoughts about gender and as you would expect the boards were cluttered with obscene, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic remarks aplenty. No surprise, are young people expected to have any morsel of maturity in a discussion of this nature. As consumers of highly sexist forms of entertainment what more would you expect aside from the usual sexualized trash when it comes to the topic of the gender-binary.

But of course it was racism...

Through CNet e-mail, I only found out about this incident this incident now. I do not refute the fact for a second that this young man would not have been arrested had he been a caucasian male. It sounds harsh becuase racism is essentially harsh you know. Harsh on those that have to live it everyday of their damn lives.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Faithful Daughter of Patriarchy

She reminds me of that mindless Camille Paglia. Kudo's to Feministing for raising my awareness of this:

Off the record, in dozens of interviews over a period of years, male soldiers and officers have confided that many men resent women because they've been forced to pretend that women are equals, and men know they're not.

 This is typical internalized chauvinism at its very best. As if the solution to the crisis of male violence can be solves by reverting into a time past where women were severely oppressed and not offered equal right. Let it be said that I don't think these acts only started to take place in a post-feminist era. Sexual violence against women has been going on since the beginning of time and stopping women from joining the military will not make that fact disappear. Instead of blaming a system that raises boys with a notion that violence, coercion, domination and manipulation are expressions of true masculinity, she blames women for the violence enacted upon them. How typical and how reflective of a person who has absorbed so much of the patriarchal ideology that she fails to attack it. It's always easier to blame a woman from a misogynistic perspective. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Allure of Fight Club

Before I begin, let me just say this. Yes, I LOVED Fight Club, I think it's one of the dopest movies ever made. I enjoyed watching it, I enjoyed the way the storyline unfolded. I enjoyed the way Helene Bonham Carter played the eccentric Marla Singer to perfection. I enjoyed Brad Pitt's half-naked body. I enjoyed the wonderfully-nuanced performance Ed Norton gave (yeah, I think he's sexy too). So, after reading the book a while ago and reading Chuck Palahnuik's afterword in which he lists the innumerable ways in which pop culture has assimilitated the movie and turned into something of a modern-film classic.

But why does the vision of a place where men can go to vent their frustrations with life through physical brutality hold so much appeal. Why is this an image that is so seductive? In my mind, much of this has got to do with quite obvious patriarchal definitions of masculinity. Built along the lines of a capitalist mentality which asserts that manliness is reinforced by one's ability to bring home the meat, Fight Club paints the picture of a man who is frustrated mainly as a result of his failure to live up to the very standards that a capitalist society maintains. In escaping from a life of materialism and choosing to live simply, Tyler Durden attempts to escape the pressures of a life built on the importance of accumulating possessions but chooses instead a life through which violence offers enrichment and fulfillment. The will to do violent acts is instrinsic, I believe, in this same patriarchal notion of being a man that Fight Club does nothing more than show us a young white male caught up stuck in much the same way men find themselves stuck and unable to escape the pressures placed on them to live up to the standard of manliness that society insists on maintaining. In that regard, whether Palahnuik offers his character any sort of escape or not (in the book, he ends up in a mental institution), he does a very good job in holding up a mirror to the ways in which capitalist patriarchy operates on the individual psychological level. These are men who seek to reclaim a false notion of masculinity they believe they cannot achieve through violence - they work regular jobs living pay-check to pay-check & grew up in homes where fathers were absent - Fight Club serves as their escape from these numerous castrations they believe life has performed on them. Unyet if only the their mindsets would change, if the definition of masculinity was not based on the same old tired patriarchal ideas, these men would find salvation from their own self-inflicted torture - of absorbing the notion that they have failed to live up to the standard. 

It's because of Fight Club's ability to raise this important aspect about the ways in which society's built capitalism create a people who imagine that a life of seeking possessions and wealth is a life well-lived and the story's commentary on how this very society informs gender-expectations that make it a modern-day classic. Beside the twist at the end of the movie that got me so good, I had to stand up for a minute and take a breath, it's a a story that speaks volumes about the tyrannical nature of a white supremacist capitalist patriarchal system (as bell hooks so aptly describes it).

Some Sources of Misanthropic Thinking

This incident noted at SWPD is heartbreaking. Nobody deserves public humiliation but to face this public humiliation to an indifferent audience is even more painful to experience. It's at this point most people lose faith in people. Some become misanthropes. *Ahem* You realise how cold-hearted people are and you give up, just give up on people in general. It happens on a wide-scale. The folly of it, we are all acting like icy motherfuckers to each other and secretly yearning for compassion yet not doing shit about it. Seems the practice of kindness and compassion requires conscious deliberation. You can't do it automatically because from all the coldness one gets anyway, it's enough to become indifferent and turn the blind eye to injustice anyway. It's a case of "well, why should I - it's not like anyone's been kind to me". But that's where character comes in. If you're strong enough to be kind and empathetic and compassionate despite all the cruel shit people have done to you then you are showing your true worth. This is a tough task but you have pass the test of character with flying colours when you are fully capable of completing it.

This makes me recall an incident which occured almost 10 years ago in which a black woman was seriously assaulted by a white man at what is now called Nelson Mandela Square after she slapped his sister who initially called out a strong racial epithe. Same shit, different day, different location. Of course, people just stood and watched. It's just a black woman afterall. Who cares?? Right??

I Saw Venus this Morning

Mercury and Venus Over Paris
Credit & Copyright: Josselin Desmars

Explanation: Go outside tonight and see one of the more interesting planetary conjunctions of recent years. Just after sunset, the planets Mercury and Venus are visible quite near each other. Now Venus, being commonly discernible as one of the brightest objects in the sky, is frequently mistaken for an airplane. (Venus will set quite slowly, though.) Mercury, however, is dimmer and usually harder to find. Recently, though, Mercury can be found just to the right of Venus, appearing increasingly below the brighter planet over the next week. Pictured above, Venus and Mercury were imaged next to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. ?A careful inspection of the image will further reveal that the bright object nearly below Venus is iconic Eiffel Tower

Okay, yeah. It's always been there I just haven't taken notice until this morning when I looked in the direction of the Eastern sky at 6h15 just before sunrise whilst a waning gibbuous moon made it's passage toward meridian. There it was, the morning (and evening star) shining very brightly. Reflecting about 70% of incoming solar radiation, it is the brighest object in the sky. Even when the sun is rising, light population isn't great enough to diminish its effects.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Input to Varsity Newspaper

This is an article I just sent to the Opinions Section for the Varsity Newspaper. Hope they publish it. The whole thing that is! Here goes:

In response to Gosia Podgorska's succint article about the subtle ways in which chauvinism comes into play within our daily interactions with one another, I would like to expand on a number of points she made. But firstly, and this is by far the most important piece of news you will ever receive with regards the feminist movement: it is not an ideology that seeks to point men out as egregious rapists, wife-beaters and murderers. Quite clearly, there are plenty of men, young and old that each one of us can point out as not coming even nearly close to fitting this profile. But the truth of the matter is, on a broad scale, our world's collective society has evolved in such a way as to place the male gender on a higher position on the heirarchy. We see this manifestation in the wage-gap phenomenon (which is not much of a phenomenon when one begins to closely inspect the dynamics between genders). The fact that historically, women have been economically-repressed for centuries, by not being given access in the workplace, held back from seeking tertiary education, not being allowed ownership of property and land, disallowed from partaking in the public vote, being given titles in accordance with maritial status (which still happens today mind you) and others are plenty of cause for such a movement as feminism to have struck its climax during the 1970's and though some argue we now live in a post-feminist society (the same claim they would make with respect to race), I disagree. Put simply, until we reach a state of absolute equality between women and men in every sphere of society, feminism will still have its place in attempting to galvanise the notion that yes "Women are people".
To describe this pattern of degrading, dominating, controlling and humiliating women, I use the word misogyny. It's important to note that this word does not relate to the ways in which men view women but often times the ways in which society as a whole treats people who belong to the female gender. Women too can be guilty of it; I can bravely say that because our society is built on sexist beliefs pertaining to the gender-binary and chiefly subscribes to a notion that there are specific and clear-cut roles that women and men must play, the very language we speak, is a language of male chauvinism (upholding the false notion that men are superior to women).
From the ways women's bodies are commodified for media consumption and sexualized for the purpose of male erotic stimulus, it is no surprise that general "guy-talk" or what I would personally call "douchebag-talk" comprises of the excitement found in dominating a women sexually and then calling her a "slut" which relates to a very intrinsic manner in which society as a whole likes to compartmentalize female behaviour - you are either a "good-girl" or a "ho" (the virgin/whore dichotomy). Sexism often shows up in the dismissal of female intelligence and creative agency. Often times women are treated as if we are dumb and are in need of male instruction. It goes further, our ideas are often discredited despite the richness they may carry. In worse cases a male may even steal the idea and take credit for it knowing full well that people will have a better time believing in his intelligence rather than that of a woman. In asserting a gender-binary with regard to stereotyping, we all do ourselves a great disservice. I know for sure, there are young women out there who you'll probably find one afternoon sitting in front of the TV with beer in hand and Arsenal jersey getting aggravated about Fabregas missing the goal. Gender stereotypes are a fallacy, they are socially-constructed. We have effeminate men and tough chicks and plenty other types of personalities that bear to relation to the individual involved's gender whatsoever! What Gosia described is misogyny (hatred of females) in three acts. This perpetual need to re-affirm patriarchal masculinity by observing women as sex-toys, virgins, whores, crazy, uncontrolled, docile etc and not as the individual PEOPLE that they are. It's an attitude that unfortunately does prevail and for this reason, feminism is absolutely necessary in combating misogyny and deconstructing patriarchal definitions of masculinity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thelma and Louise - Reeeeemix!

This is some severely twisted, hyperanimated, comic version of Thelma and Louise and yes, me and my twisted, eccentric, always-searching-for-something-different, Grace-Jones-obsessed nature LOVE IT!!!

Beyonce, I have one word of advice for you. Keep on hanging with Gaga, she's your career's only hope. Oh, and while Rihanna is steadily suffocating in the ditches of hypersexualized, young singing sensation, maybe just maybe you can re-invent yourself and stop boring the pants off of everybody with the same old material.
Yeah, and thank God you dropped the Sasha Fierce get-up. That was getting a little tired too.

Good yes, Queen Grace. You have plenty to be proud of! Look at the legacy you've left behind. Ah, it's just wonderful.

Yeah, that's Tyrese Gibson being killed. HAHAHA!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I'm Such a Bookworm

My college campus is running a 10 Days of Academic Activism and part of their campaign is this:

This campaign serves as a reminder to all students that our academics are the means through which we can take ourselves to new heights and reach the goals that we have set out to achieve in our lives.
 I love it when people emphasise the importance of the academic life. For me, it's not a matter of toughing it out for a couple of years so that I can get a decent job. It's about taking myself to new heights and using this organ I have sitting in my skull to the absolute fullest. Stretch my mind as far as I can possibly stretch it and do my part in making a positive contribution to the world at large. And not for vanity's sake. Oh no! (Although, I am tempted to sometimes...that's a sincere admission which took plenty of courage to make.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Ankh is Back...yeess Ms Badu

Firstly, I'm sure none of us who have followed Erykah since the very first days when she was crooning about her man calling his homeboy Tyrone and telling him to get his isht and what not that Ms Badu is ummm...eccentric. Yes, we have all known that. But if you haven't given a toot about her until now then you may not be able to understand where she is coming from artistically. Such as the bottom three people who I couldn't imagine knowing a single thing about her until their news network made them aware of the story which they'd have to critically discuss and offer opinions too.

Offensive?? What could be so offensive about a nekkid female body. She's naked, yeah, so?? Not like you don't know what the female anatomy looks like is it?

They're comments were too superficial. They were only talking about surface stuff - her being nude, the kids around, disrespectful of the president. Looking deeper. See the symbolism behind her choosing to mimic the assasination of JFK - a president who at a time of great civil turmoil in the US, attempted to make strides in ending segregation and galvanising a creed of equality. He was a revolutionary somewhat, why else did the people's feel such intense loss when he was shot down. So, if anything - this is a good remark for the legacy of JFK, one of America's most loved presidents. But people, as usual, too simpleminded to understand metaphoric speak.

Another thing - as for them not understanding the correlation between the video's statement and her lyrics. PUH-LEASE! I've only heard a bit of the song and know very well that she is communicating her wish for liberation, for a sense of freedom from all the limiting standards that society sets up along lines of gender, race, sexual orientation, age etc etc. And how all this eventually evolves to mistrust of the other, ignorance, fear and eventually hatred of those whom are dissimilar to ourselves. DUH! But I guess when you have been privileged and a member of the dominant racial group, you'd never understand this quest to escape dominance and oppression because you simple haven't experienced this.

Catch the video at http://erykahbadu.com. But where oh where could that unedited cut be?? Hmmmm???