Archive for the ‘advice’ Category
This second session has been wonderful, but a little more draining… It inspired me to finish up the mix I was making for campers this summer with some themes on friendship, loving yourself, and being solid with each other.
This is one long mp3 file, because I love actually mixing songs. The campers in the band I was helping as band manager were all 8 or 9. I tried to have a variety of songs and appeal to their tastes on the themes I was wanting to share.. <3
Dear queer loves,
I get it. The shit that’s happening in this country is super scary regarding laws coming forward that would allow businesses, employers, housing, etc. to discriminate against queer folks openly based on their religion. I partially grew up in Arizona, I was assaulted many times for many reasons. Because I was a girl, because I was hanging out with my latin@ friends, because I was queer. I understand the pain and frustration that comes with the threat of violence and discrimination. Guess what though?
It’s not the same as Jim Crow.
As a friend-of-a-friend said, “I don’t think it’s a good comparison and I think it’s actually harmful to the work we do and the alliances we say we care about. Jim Crow laws were a broad set of measures created specifically to make it impossible for black people to participate on any equal basis with white people. Jim Crow has a unique legacy and Jim Crow is about race. Framing these religious exemption policies as ‘gay Jim Crow’ suggests that the LGBT community is engaged in some kind of parallel experience to black people who lived under Jim Crow. I hope that’s not what we are intending to do.”
These laws are horrible, they’re painful, they’re troubling, but it’s also horrible, painful, and troubling for white folks who are queer to appropriate the term “Jim Crow” for queer causes. The origin of the phrase “Jim Crow” has often been attributed to “Jump Jim Crow”, a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface. That right there begins to differentiate the situations. There is no “gay face” and we’re not fighting a legacy of slavery of gays and an incredibly segregated society. We are fighting attempts to legally discriminate and there are many queer-protective laws in this country. The situation is bad in its own right, which is incredibly worth talking about, but to call these anti-gay laws “The New Jim Crow” is appropriating, alienating, and ignorant.
It deepens problems marginalized communities already have in fighting with each other, it shows a lack of mutual respect and understanding.
DO PLEASE TALK about those bits of legislation in their own horribleness. Talk about how it might hurt YOU, talk about YOUR history in those states, if you have one. Talk about YOUR fears and pain in seeing such laws coming into our society. You can do this without appropriating the traumatic experiences of other communities.
Debate class is emotionally rough for me this term. I ask my students to steer the topics and, as a result, shit gets real. I am working on writing about this more, but, daaaaamn, I need to facilitate a solidarity club at my school already because our debate topics (or zine/comics topics or pretty much whatever I talk about with these kids) are really these kids working through how oppressive our society is to them. I am grateful they feel comfortable talking to me (probably because I’m one of the few adults in their lives who cares to sit down and actually listen), but this stuff is rough.
I see them trying to hold onto the ideals adults have appeared to celebrate to them as children (being kind, sharing, working together, having empathy for others, celebrating individuality), while also experiencing the frustration and internal conflict that comes from the process of becoming an adult in an oppressive society (full of media messages) that actually gives fuck all about folks being kind, sharing, working together, having empathy for others, celebrating individuality.
Internet feminism. Let’s hop on the train!
UGH. So, one problem I really have with Sinead’s letter is that it she rather demonizes sex work (I hope inadvertently), which is incredibly problematic, but, despite that, she has a point and some insight… The bigger problem I have with it? Why isn’t the letter addressed to the men and the industry? If Sinead thinks Miley is being used, why condescend to directly and her publicly? Throw the dudes in power and the institution under the bus publicly, call Miley to come over for tea. Maybe I’m wrong, but she’s Sinead O’Connor! Couldn’t Sinead have her manager or agent or whatever call Miley’s and they do lunch or something? If Sinead cares about Miley in this way and is mad at what’s happening, I feel that attacking Miley is a bit… Philosophically misdirected.
I don’t think it’s really montoring behavior, but I want to give her a little respect for trying because, let’s get real, Miley has been doing some problematic stuff.
Amanda Palmer’s letter? Triple UGH. Considering Amanda Palmer’s track record, I’m surprised she’s interested in advocating for anyone in any kind of solidarity. Her past problematic behavior (that she has been terribly unaccountable for) ranges from transphobia, to ablism, to racism,to exploiting other artists, to rapey skits aimed at another female pop star… Does this letter mean she’ll finally apologize to Katy Perry? But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, as it reads to me like she’s advocating for another white, cisfemale popstar about doing whatever the fuck she wants without consideration to anything.
I agree that Miley’s wardrobe being revealing or sexual shouldn’t be something she taking criticism for, but appropriating the experience of sex workers and non white folks to make a buck demands a lot of criticism and leave me with very little respect for Miley… Especially if she is running her show.
And for LOLs at myself… http://www.autostraddle.com/open-letters-an-open-letter-199234/
Supporting Women You Know…. Reciprocation and Integrity in Subcultures and Radical Communities, Where’s It At?
Personally, I feel that the most feminist thing you can do is be a supportive and accepting friend to other women in your life. To defend the women in your life when they’re being torn down by others, to work not to tear down other women, to help other women you know. Even the loud women your other friends are “intimidated” by. I know people think I’m such a strong and independent person and whatever, but this applies to a few people in my life (right now and all the time) and it breaks my heart. I’m sick of being treated like an alien by people who will also call me when they’re freaking out and unhappy. Many people say that reciprocation and respect is important to them, yet seem unable to see where they’re exploitative of certain people in their lives. If you’re more interested in talking to one or all three male people I’m dating than me, it’s time to more closely examine your internalized sexism and get over the fact that I am a woman and I have opinions, ethics, and confidence to speak my mind. Yes, all at the same time. I know it’s hard to believe and it’s really weird, but get over it.
Meeting people in a lot of subcultures and radical communities, I still often approach them as potential new friends who I should try to have solidarity with. This means extending myself to others. It means being honest. It means trying to meet them where they are at. That’s something I believe in, I feel it would be unethical to approach people that I share communities any other way… Yet I am consistently disappointed that most people don’t behave that way, even though many think they do. I recognize that expectation often breeds disappointment, so, while I acknowledge that meeting people where they’re at means that there are people I will want to support that won’t be able to reciprocate that support, I must confess that I am still very weary and I am still learning how to balance having love for myself with loving others in my communities.
Shouldn’t I expect that women seeking to empower themselves and be anti-oppressive would be a bit more responsible towards their female friends and their relationships? Shouldn’t I expect that dudes who attend panels on ending rape culture wouldn’t spend a couple hours complaining about how I have such a strong personality to one of my partners? Shouldn’t I expect that a sex and consent educator in a sex positive community wouldn’t push the boundaries of a non sober person they’re hanging out with at their house while their asleep? Shouldn’t I expect that other queer radicals who complain about feeling isolated would think about how little they reach out to the same person they’re complaining to about feeling lonely and isolated to? You know, maybe reach out when they don’t have something to complain about, just for fun or because they know I’m going through a hard time? Shouldn’t I expect the people I am supporting to be equally willing to meet me wherever I am at?
The thing is that those people might not think of me as worth their time outside of what I might be able to do for them (listen to their problems, advocate for them on their behalf as mediator, give them a ride, etc). It breaks my heart, but I also don’t want to be closed off to others because I recognize that everyone has to start somewhere in learning how to really build genuine relationships of reciprocation. I also theorize that those people don’t realize what they have to offer in personal relationships. I find that, because I often take on leadership roles in projects or communities, people imagine I have all the answers or that I have magical, self-esteem powers. I think some people don’t reciprocate because they don’t imagine themselves as having anything to offer me. I also imagine that some of this may come from the fact that some people view me as inherently different from them because I am a little bit different from them, so we couldn’t possibly be closer friends, though they are using me as a confidant because their friends are unable to help them in ways they imagine I can help them in whatever moments they’re seeking me out. I think stepping down from some community roles this past summer will help change this a bit for me moving forward, but I hate that I have to pull back in order not to feel like I am overwhelmed by being there for people, simply because they are unable to reciprocate, due to lack of maturity, courage, or knowledge to see how draining and selfish they can be in their personal relationships.
Unsolicited advice? You think you’re an activist, you think you’re a feminist? Start in your own life, deconstruct your biases and oppressive dynamics. Stop struggling to have white male approval above everyone else. Be there for the people you turn to and rely on even when it’s not convenient or when it’s painful and forces you to have hard conversations. Do you feel down on yourself, do you feel disempowered, do you feel unheard? Look around at who is close to you. Do they tear down women they perceive as weird or powerful? Are they willing to listen to women? I will be the first to say I haven’t always practiced behaving like this and it’s something I still find myself needing work on, it’s been a long journey, but it’s something I work really hard towards. I have found that trying to have supportive relationships with other women, even when I don’t imagine that I totally relate to them, has been one of the most transformative experiences in my life for loving myself. I hope that loving the women and other people around me is a journey I never find myself ending…
And I hope to have more people in my life who are willing to respect me as a human, not a stereotype or just another resource for them to use as they learn more about the world and how to empower themselves.
Even though I am complaining, I want to acknowledge that I do have a few really awesome friends, like Katy and Becky and my partners Marco and Matt, who do actually do this. I want you to know how thankful for you that I am. You make me feel so less lonely in this world and you all remind me that there are folks who appreciate the energy I put into my relationships and who will return it… Or tell people trashin’ on me that they’re wrong or they just don’t get what’s up. I would feel much more alone and hopeless and drained without y’all.
The older I get, the more I am fully myself and live the life I want to live, because I have confronted myself and my inner workings. I have confronted my biases (granted, my identities force me to because there is a lot around me that would have me be biased and hate on myself) and I see that they are an issue to be constantly tackled. And the more I am fully myself, the more people simultaneously admire me for being myself while also trying to shame me for being myself.
Let me tell you this:
I rather be myself (happy, realizing my dreams, getting things done in my communities). I rather be sincere, honest, and confronting hard questions within myself and of those around me. I rather be true myself and my values than to be quietly, unhappily conformist and avoidant.
Confronting life is how you let go of what is hard. It can feel painful because we are so often taught to keep our heads down and so many have issues being direct and dealing with honesty, but that is how you come to a real understanding with the folks around you. By confronting and addressing your differences. If you are really incompatible, you don’t have to be around each other, but, if you seek to share space, you gotta work that stuff out by confronting and respecting differences.
You know, I have been uncomfortable with the focus on the neighbor’s recounting in a recent news story and here’s a great article that helps verbalize some of part of why I think it makes me uncomfortable… http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/05/07/charles_ramsey_amanda_berry_rescuer_becomes_internet_meme_video.html
I would like to try to verbalize why, however, further thinking on my part of why the working-class bystander (that intervenes in a terrible situation or that speaks about something terrible) being pointed to and focused on as a colorful hero in a tragic news story really bothers me, because look at the longer clips with him really talking.
Something really, really awful happened and I think putting the spotlight on the working-class, verbose neighbor to have a laugh is part of the collective unconsciousness’ way of avoiding dealing with the troubling story. And it’s a really messed up way of avoiding the serious thing that happened. It speaks to how rampant sexism, classism, racism is in our society, that people will have a laugh at someone that they imagine fulfills a stereotype of poorness, or blackness, or some other kind of objectification to avoid dealing with a tragic event or to avoid processing something awful. Whether it’s toward a poor person, a nonwhite person, a nonmale person, or some other marginalized person. I think it’s really unhealthy and I think it upholds the social justice problems that contribute to the dehumanization of poor people, female people, queer people, people of color, and other oppressed people in our society.
Basically, it’s like a lot of people are unconsciously avoiding dealing with the seriousness of the story .”Something horrible just happened, but let’s have a laugh at this person!” The problem is, we really need to deal with the seriousness of what happened, we need to talk about it..
I would like to point out that the person that everyone is laughing at, is doing more then just calling 911, he’s offering any reward money to the people who were actually affected by the tragedy. You know, because they went through the trauma and it’s not magically over because they walked out of a basement. They are alive, but they are not yet safe. But the way the news reports it, suddenly they are “alive and safe.” To me, that’s a more important part of the story, because they are not safe, it’s not just over. You know what else is important? Asking ourselves, how did this happen? Why did this happen? What do we do in awful moments like this? How so we support and rebuild the lives of the people affected by the horrible thing that happened? The person that a lot of people are laughing at is actually dealing with the situation and you’re focusing on him as joke. I have so much respect toward this man for trying to refocus the spotlight on the people who went through the horrible situation.
I would implore you to listen to this person’s words before you make a caricature out of him.
I am not saying you’re a horrible person if you laughed at the condescending or demeaning memes going around, what I am saying is that you might want to really sit and think about why you’re laughing. What’s so funny about it?
It might be a little uncomfortable, but, as a society, we need to start dealing with this shit.