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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Gendering the Body's LiveJournal:

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Monday, July 9th, 2007
2:36 pm
WOW!  I am so amazed at everybody's projects so far!  I mean, I knew you all were talented, but WOW!  Thank you so much for all the hard work and creativity you've put into this class!  I am so impressed!   So, tomorrow we'll do a little food and see  the rest!  Yea!
:) liz
10:57 am
Even though the class is coming to an end, this blog will stay up as long as you want it to!  We can certainly keep these conversations going, use the blog to stay in touch, etc.  Of course, you can also use the blog for your own purposes as well!   It's been a grand experiment, and I appreciate your hard work all summer, esp. w/ the volume and difficulty of some of what we've read.  I hope the blog has served you well, as a place to  chat outside of class, to rant, to share resources etc.  I've certainly enjoyed it!  Thanks to all of you!
:) Liz
Sunday, July 8th, 2007
3:21 pm
            I've been saving this post until the end of the session. I started thinking about it since the second day of class, when we discussed how we perform gender in our lives. Lots of people said that they perform their expected gender roles on the job. I too find myself performing gender at my day job teaching elementary drawing classes, but I perform it a lot more at my night job as an entertainer at a local gentleman's club. From day one I've taken note of all the silly power struggles that exist in that type of environment. The expectations that customers have upon entering vary greatly, but all of them expect us to be at least a bit feminine. Unlike some of the clubs in Richmond, my club accepts women of all sizes, shapes, colors, and skill. I was disappointed to learn of the conformity that is expected at some of the "better" clubs.
         I've also picked up some funny stories about gender from my co-workers. One of the best was the explanation behind our closing of the second stage, where we used to employ male dancers. Unlike the usual patrons, the women that would come to see the male dancers were the most rowdy crowd they'd ever had. Most male customers are rather sedate as they watch the girls perform, but the female customers were constantly starting fights and being kicked out. Most would think the men would be the rowdy ones with their big manly overcharged sex drives, and sure these men exist, but all of my senoir coworkers insist that they couldnt have closed down the male stage fast enough. Those women just went wild for that man-thong.
       Taking this job as been one of the most empowering experiences overall. Sure, there are good shifts and bad ones, as well as good and bad customers. This job has given me the chance to examine myself and others in a strange but open environment. I have gained a lot of self-confidence, and met many interesting people from all walks of life. The pressure is high, in polite society, to hide this part of my identity. For a long time I would not even disclose to my closest friends the location or name of the club. The nice thing is that, for me, its more of a social experiment; it is a place to watch and listen to all kinds of people. You'll dance alongside anyone from an accountant to a dental assistant, married and not, gay and straight, and anything beyond and between. Its nice to know the job is not forever, but its fun while it lasts, and is really just like any other occupation.

Current Mood: contemplative
Friday, July 6th, 2007
9:44 pm
Dear livejounal,
I don't know how to work you. So I f-ed you up badly. I'm sorry. Emo sad face. :(

Hey guys,

Were my journal entries showing up twice? my bad. heres the deal: I thought that people were looking or posting to either their journal or question gender and if you posted to just your journal it wouldn't show up in the community blog but if you just posted to the community blog that it wouldn't show up in other peoples friends pages. How can I get them to show up in both without doubling? Plus I want to keep my journal so that after the community gets deleted I still have my posts, I also have peoples comments on one or the other so I don't want to delete anyones credit by deleting one of the doubles? help?

***so tell me, is this post showing up twice on your friends page??****
5:50 pm
Written on the Body as Modern Art
When I heard of the term "co-creation" I thought of modern art. The art does not exist without the participation of the viewer. Art, especially abstract art is sometimes about the process of making the art, wherein the physical actions behind the work is the actual art itself and resulting piece is just evidence of that process and becomes art as well i.e. Jackson Pollack being the first person to paint without using a paintbrush. Sometimes though, art is for the viewer to project their own feeling onto and to infuse the work with ideas. Because we each come from different places, modern art can reveal things about ourselves, and about society as we analyze why our feelings are the ones that we have. We can learn even more by examining our feelings comparatively to another persons feelings about the same work of art because of our differences in gender, race, class, and preconceived notions.

The mind being separate from the body was another theme that we talked about today in class. I find that similar to the relationship between the art itself and its viewers. I see the art as the body and the viewer as the mind that puts thought into the art, therefore the body is doing the work of untangling the complexities that exist within the mind by extracting ideas and emphasizing their existence.

I find that if people aren't engaged in art, they often think it is stupid. Just as you may think Written on the body is not fulfilling unless you are willing to "fill in" the gaps with your own thoughts and ideas. Once having done so you can learn so much about yourself from analyzing why it was important for you to fill in the gaps and also analyzing what you filled them in with. Like why was it so important for me to know the gender of the narrator?
5:06 pm
Thursday, July 5th, 2007
8:27 pm
Veiled Intentions
I hope that I am correct in that we weren't supposed to write a paper just blog on the articles "Lyric In a Time of Violence" and "Veiled Intentions"

What both of these articles both seemed to have in common is the misconceptions the western world has about "olive skinned" people. So much so that they can't even tell an Indian person from a Middle eastern person. Once again, let's hear it for American ignorance!

What I mainly tuned into in Meena Alexander's article was the fear of being targeted as a dark skinned individual after the twin towers came down. Thats what I like to call racism... and it's not as if that racism didn't exist before, it was just brought to the surface by the events. Same old, same old. Creating stereotypes by lumping different ethnicities and cultures together solely on the color of skin. Also, let's not forget that where she comes from is besides the point. Even if she was from the middle east that does not make her in any way, shape, or form a terrorist and absolutely NO ONE should be targeted because of what they look like. And it's happening to people like Maher Arar yet we have no idea how often because it is kept secret. I don't blame Meena for being scared, she could just disappear and, with president bush trying to get rid of habeas corpus, never come back again. What are we going to do set up internment camps again? Oh wait, we already have those, they just aren't inside the United States (Guantanamo Bay.) I think it is terrible that people like Meena are being forced to censor their ethnicity (taking off a sari) and look as western (white) as possible to be safe.

I always had the same impression of the Muslim coverings, oppression. She made some interesting points for the oppression of western fashion as objectification. I see what shes saying and I definitely see the tradition in a different light, I am not fully convinced of any point that shes making. I'm not necessarily sure that a head scarf guarantees respect, maybe she demanded more respect from men because she believed that.

She goes onto say in her article that the covering is a "choice." Not for the women in the article above, if those women "choose" not to wear their covering they're whipped. I do think that it is important for women to understand that liberation is not what you wear on your body but what you get to do and be with that body that is important, being able to go to college, hold public office, etc. It is almost as if drawing attention back onto the body is another way of emphasizing that a womans value is her body and not her brain. The article above just barely touches on something that I think is a more crucial issue, and its not just true of women in the middle east, its true of women here too. Why are we talking about our bodies(being able to wear nail polish), when that's been pushed on us already by men as our primary value. All women, here and abroad, need to talk about social justice not whether or not they have the "choice" to wear make-up.

Okay, no matter what culture you live in as a woman your "choices" are ingrained in you. We have no concept who or what we would be if not for societal norms and their impact on our thinking. You can say the same thing for western women, it's a tough call that requires that we look at history. Not too long ago women in our culture were not allowed to reveal their ankles, women were forced to bind their bodies in corsets and subvert their sexuality, sounds oppressing right? So women, first in the flapper era, and then in the 60's decided that they were going to "liberate" themselves with shorter hemlines, hence the miniskirt was born. While this liberation was going on, the men were LOVING IT! First our bodies were being suppressed by men, and then they were being objectified by men! What a revolution! Rise of the body image!

Now every body part women show is subjected to male and female scrutiny, like *shaving. And there are consequences besides objectification if you choose to show skin, it is used as an excuse for rape. Or an excuse for you to be known as a "slut" Those consequences are used to keep women from being too liberated with their sexuality. In essence: dressing does not = sexual liberation. We as women have not really benefited at all, and the beauty industry (men) has no problem giving us more make-up and short skirts so we will be content in our "make believe" social equality. We use our dress as the fake proof of being more liberated, and scoff at a Muslim hair covering. What a delusion! None of us are liberated!

So what "choices" do we really have? You can be hidden or showing. A slut or a prude. Oppressed or objectified. This really also reveals another one of the structures that makes being a woman a lose/lose situation. It is the virgin/whore complex. While one contradicts the other they are both still expected of women simultaneously. No matter how you dress, you cannot escape the patriarchy.

*(which I might add was only "invented" for women in the earlier part of the last century as the razor blade industry targeted women for the first time to increase their plummeting profits, shaving was a marketing ploy! Maybe I should continue this in a post?)
7:44 pm
Gendering the Children

These images were scanned from the latest issue of print magazine. The article had little to do with gender and was mostly about the history of the colors blue and pink and how they evolved into emphasizing the gender dichotomy. What is more interesting to me than even the color is the objects that are in no way subtle in their attempt at pushing gender roles and stereotypes onto adolescents. It isn't just the colors that are wrong with these pictures. How is a child supposed to be free to make life choices as an individual when society is constantly telling them how to act out their gender, and therefore to act out their lives based solely on their gender.

Girls: Make-up, childcare, princesses

Boys: Sports, superheros

The girls get to be the damsels while the boys (heroic) get to save them. How about encouraging girls to save themselves!?
Monday, July 2nd, 2007
6:11 am
 i'm so bummed to have to cancel our class today.  (if this is news to you, check your vcu email)  i was so looking forward to talking to y'all about what you thought about the latest piece of the winterson!  so let me know what you think if you happen to be blogging today.  i will be on and offline at random today.  i think i have mild food poisoning, so i can't make any promises:)   ugh.  and the thing is, i know exactly what i ate that did it and i was questioning whether i should eat it or not and i did and now i'm sick so....

lesson of the day:  trust your instincts!

hasta manana! :) liz
Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
6:14 pm
updated syllabus!

Thursday, June 28th:  Discussion of Reading.  Intro to Jeanette Winterson.

Assignment for Friday, June 29th:

  1. Read Written on the Body, pp. 1-63
  2. Read “The Semiotics of Sex” by Jeanette Winterson in the course pack.
  3. Write a one-two page response to the reading, due 6/29.

Friday, June 29th:  Discussion of Reading.

Assignment for Monday, July 2nd:

  1. Read Written on the Body, pp. 64-128
  2. Read Denise Levertov poems, “Birth” (Anais Nin), and Anne Sexton poems in course pack.
  3. Write a one-two page response to the reading, due 7/2.

Week Four:

Monday, July 2nd:  Discussion of Reading. Schedule Course Project Presentations!

Assignment for Tuesday, July 3rd:

  1. Read Written on the Body, pp. 129-end
  2. Read  Sylvia Plath poems, “Cro-Magnon Karma” (Chris Godsey), and “Size Queen” (John Chaich) in course pack.
  3. Write a one-two page response to the reading, due 7/3.

Tuesday, July 3rd:Discussion of the Reading. 

Wednesday, July 4th:  NO CLASS!  INDEPENDENCE DAY!  Declare your independence!

Thursday, July 5th:  NO CLASS!!

Assignment for Friday, July 6th:

  1. Read:  “Lyric in a Time of Violence” (Meena Alexander) and “Veiled Intentions” (Maysan Haydar) in the course pack.
  2. Post blog in response to the reading! 

Friday, July 6th: Discussion of reading.  Preparation for Course Project Presentations.

Assignment for Monday, July 9th:

  1. First “round” of presenters prepare your course projects! Due 7/9.
  2. Make “finishing touches” on your blog.  Blog “closes” for grading at noon Sunday, 7/8.  Of course, after that, continue to use the blog, but for grading purposes, I have to put a temporary “end point” to the postings so I can grade themJ 

Monday, July 9th: Class Presentations!

Tuesday, July 10th:  Class Presentations and Class Party!  Woohooo!

Wednesday, July 11th:  Instructor office hours to discuss final grades, etc.

12:20 pm
Transgender Shorts
While I was in Boston I attended a transgender film festival being held at the Museum of Fine Arts there. I looked up the movies I had seen and attempted to find some being hosted online to share with the group. I found one entire movie, a trailer for a non trans but interesting film and a few stills from another.

View this montage created at One True Media
Wrong Bathroom

I had never really thought about the difficulty for trangendered individuals to use the bathroom but after I saw this movie I realized how such a simple need can become so unnecessarily complicated. Little cheesy, or annoying if you don't like punk music BUT some great comments from the people who are interviewed.

A Trailer for the movie "Female to Femme": http://www.altcinema.com/ftfclip.html

These are stills from the documentary entitled "Black and White"

Black and White focuses on the profoundly moving story of Mani Bruce Mitchell. In the initial pandemonium following her birth, Mani was assigned the gender “male”. With investigative surgery subsequently revealing that “he” had ovaries, “Bruce” was renamed “Ruth” and reassigned the gender “female”. Searching back through a rich and revealing archive of family photographs, Mani reveals that she learned of her intersex origins only accidentally, whilst going through family papers after her mother’s death. Black and White picks up on Mani’s story in 2005, weaving together her unflinching yet unexpectedly humorous insights, along with photographer, Rebecca Swan’s fascinating description of their creative collaboration. Their intertwined story foregrounds not only the provocative images created for Swan’s groundbreaking book, but goes on to document the execution of a new set of photographs of Mani as part of Rebecca’s ambitious new photographic project “ONE”. Mani’s story is one of courage and fierce commitment to change. In boldly expressing her own intersex identity through the medium of art, Mani defies the categories of “male” and “female” and provokes debate over the rigid notions of masculinity and femininity. Mani challenges the viewer to see her for who she is. Combining intimate, present-day interviews with archival slides, photographs and film footage, as well as playful fragments of Super-8 stop-motion animation, Black and White concludes with stunning footage framed by the epic grandeur of New Zealand’s rugged southern coast.

You can view the website for Rebecca Swan's "one" the photographic project that is documented in the movie "Black and White" here: http://www.rebeccaswan.com/one.html

Here are the rest of the films I saw in Boston. Google them, read about them, do whatever you want with them.

On My Skin by Amy André (US/Mexico, 2006, 8 min.). What's at the intersection of race, color, gender and family relationships? Logan Gutierrez-Mock, a light-skinned person of mixed race on the cusp of transitioning from female to male journeys to Mexico to search for connection to his Chicano heritage;

Mizery by Carmen Oquendo-Villar (2006, 17 min.) probing intersections of sexuality and race where gender is just another blurred border, one more flight north across a fading sky. Director present.

Tough Enough by Lukas Blakk (Canada, 2006, 4 min.) a short experimental film that looks at how being outside of a mainstream gender identity can shut you out from even the most basic contact;

Black and White by Kirsty MacDonald (New Zealand, 2006, 17 min.) the interwoven stories of intersex activist Mani Bruce Mitchell and acclaimed photographer Rebecca Swan, exploring their potent creative process;

Kaden by Harriet Storm (2006, 8 min.). A look at a transgender female-to-male individual preparing for chest reconstructive surgery, as he considers what he will leave behind and what the future holds;

Wrong Bathroom by Shani Heckman (2005, 9 min.) an expose of the battle for entry into gender specific restroom for those who don't fit into the cookie-cutter silhouette on the door.
10:13 am
Um, excuse me, your sexism is showing

This is an article that is using a VERY select group to once again prove the trite notion that in the nature vs. nurture debate nature wins a small amount, ahem I mean ALL of the time.

To me this article proves exactly the opposite, that gender is prescribed. Okay, See how many biological women that you told were genetically men would suddenly rise up to the realization that they have been "acting" all their lives. Society puts so much pressure into gender that we loose all concept of individuality.

This whole article is sexist for many reasons. First: that it is heartbreaking for "men" to be deprived of penises. Second: These doctors are assuming that a strict gendered dichotomy does or should exist in nature.

As far as evolution is concerned maybe it is possible for more than two physical genders to exist and these people are proof and they're being destroyed for it. Their bodies are being destroyed in favor of saying "boys are boys" and "girls are girls" and striking out people in terms of their individuality because it is less favorable than continuing to push society's gender roles. Why is it something to "fix?"

Because these "girls" (genetic men) are realizing, like I realized, that they don't fit into the assigned gender role "woman," science is now free to conclude that gender is biological, instead of questioning the validity of what the gender "woman" is. They are not taking into account that the individuality of a person (AKA human being) in all actuality means that a person does not submit to gender fully, and in fact healthily picks and chooses from attributes deemed male or female to be the PERSON that is right for them.

The scientists, doctors, and writers (probably all men) who contributed to this article have such deep assumptions about gender that it has stopped them from asking all the question they could. "These genetic 'boys' never played with dolls" THIS is their evidence that gender exists from birth? They never stopped and asked: Is pink, ruffles, dolls, and long hair forced on individuals who might otherwise reject them? They prefer not to ask questions that question the very assumptions of gender and yet they are trying to prove it is biological. This article serves not only the purposes of perpetuating sexism & gender roles, but also for this articles contributers to feel more secure in their sexist beliefs. Um, excuse me, your sexism is showing.

These SIXTEEN people are the only instance where they could possibly bring science into the debate based on these peoples "genetic genders"and their swearing off gender roles as proof of innate "maleness." What about me, and all the other women who liked to play outside, get dirty, never wore dresses, and in some instances realized that gender roles did not identify who they were as individuals? Some of us might have realized how these roles are an excuse used to subordinate, so we swore off the gender of woman because it was a lose/lose situation used to validate inequality. Why aren't they reporting on us? Why are we not a scientific phenomenon? Is it because we can't be used to further the agenda of gender?

Maybe these "women" wanted to "become" males because they realized they were second class citizens. Who wouldn't want to heighten their status in society? Who wouldn't want respect and equality? Because who really wants to sit around and play with dolls?

All women's gender roles are taught to distract women from the fact that they are equally capable of anything a man is. While we're playing dress up and putting on makeup, they're becoming scientists to try and prove that we belong out of the lab, and there are very few women present to question their assumptions.

Bottom line: If any of those scientists had been put in dresses, made to wear pink and told that baby making was the only science in store for them you better believe they would want to become a man too.
Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
12:18 pm
Misogyny, Racism, and Hip Hop

One of the better articles I've read on  this topic recently.
:) liz

Caucasian Please! America's Cultural Double Standard For Misogyny & Racism
By Dr. Edward Rhymes, Black Agenda Report
Posted on June 26, 2007, Printed on June 26, 2007
Editor's note: Despite the firing of Don Imus, corporate media continue to attempt to divert attention from long-established institutional sexism, in order to depict Black youth culture as the vector of the disease. The American reality is one of pervasive celebration of violence, in general, and violence against women, in particular -- a white cultural invention. Black rappers, who are owned and controlled by white corporations, did not create this culture of violence and misogyny, but are made the scapegoats for a much deeper national social crisis -- a landscape in which "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" are revered as "classic" films.
In this composition I will not be addressing the whole of hip-hop and rap, but rather hardcore and gangsta rap. It is my assertion that the mainstream media and political pundits -- right and left -- have painted rap and hip-hop with a very broad brush. Let me be perfectly clear, hardcore and gangsta rap is not listened to, watched, consumed or supported in my home and never has been. I will not be an apologist for anything that chooses to frame the dialogue about Black women (and women in general) and Black life in morally bankrupt language and reprehensible symbols.
In the wake of MSNBC's and CBS's firing of Don Imus, the debate over misogyny, sexism and racism has now taken flight -- or submerged, depending on your point of view. There are many, mostly white, people who believe that Imus was a fall guy and he is receiving blame and criticism for what many rap artists do continually in the lyrics and videos: debase and degrade Black women. A Black guest on an MSNBC news program even went as far as to say, "Where would a 66 year-old white guy even had heard the phrase nappy-headed ho" -- alluding to hip-hop music's perceived powerful influence upon American culture and life (and apparently over the radio legend as well) -- and by so doing gave a veneer of truth to the theory that rap music is the main culprit to be blamed for this contemporary brand of chauvinism.
However, I concur with bell hooks, the noted sociologist and black-feminist activist who said that "to see gangsta rap as a reflection of dominant values in our culture rather than as an aberrant 'pathological' standpoint, does not mean that a rigorous feminist critique of the sexist and misogyny expressed in this music is not needed. Without a doubt black males, young and old, must be held politically accountable for their sexism.
Yet this critique must always be contextualized or we risk making it appear that the behavior this thinking supports and condones -- rape, male violence against women, etc. -- is a black male thing. And this is what is happening. Young black males are forced to take the 'heat' for encouraging, via their music, the hatred of and violence against women that is a central core of patriarchy."
There are those in the media, mostly white males (but also some black pundits as well), who now want the Black community to take a look at hip-hop music and correct the diabolical "double-standard" that dwells therein. Before a real conversation can be had, we have to blow-up the myths, expose the lies and cast a powerful and discerning light on the "real" double-standards and duplicity. Kim Deterline and Art Jones in their essay, Fear of a Rap Planet, point out that "the issue with media coverage of rap is not whether African Americans engaged in a campaign against what they see as violent, sexist or racist imagery in rap should be heard -- they should. ...[W]hy are community voices fighting racism and sexism in mainstream news media, films and advertisements not treated similarly?
The answer may be found in white-owned corporate media's historical role as facilitator of racial scapegoating. Perhaps before advocating censorship of a music form with origins in a voiceless community, mainstream media pundits should look at the violence perpetuated by their own racism and sexism."
Just as the mainstream media and the dominant culture-at-large treats all things "Black" in America as the "other" or as some sort of science experiment in a test tube in an isolated and controlled environment, so hardcore rap is treated as if it occurred in some kind of cultural vacuum; untouched, unbowed and uninformed by the larger, broader, dominant American culture. The conversation is always framed in the form of this question: "What is rap's influence on American society and culture?" Never do we ask, "What has been society's role in shaping and influencing hip-hop?"
Gangsta and hardcore rap is the product of a society that has historically objectified and demeaned women, and commercialized sex. These dynamics are present in hip hop to the extent that they are present in society. The rapper who grew up in the inner-city watched the same sexist television programs, commercials and movies; had access to the same pornographic and misogynistic magazines and materials; and read the same textbooks that limited the presence and excluded the achievements of women (and people of color as well), as the All-American, Ivy-league bound, white kid in suburban America.
It is not sexism and misogyny that the dominant culture is opposed to (history and commercialism has proven that). The dominant culture's opposition lies with hip-hop's cultural variation of the made-in-the-USA misogynistic themes and with the Black voices communicating the message. The debate and the dialogue must be understood in this context.
Popular Culture's Duplicitous Sexism & Violence In Black And White
In a piece I penned a couple of years ago, I endeavored to point out the clear ethnic and racial double-standards of the media and society as it pertains to sex and violence. My assertion was, and remains to be, that the mainstream media and society-at-large, appear to have not so much of a problem with the glorification of sex and violence, but rather with who is doing the glorifying. In it I stated that "if the brutality and violence in gangsta rap was truly the real issue, then shouldn't a series like The Sopranos be held to the same standard? If we are so concerned about bloodshed, then how did movies like 'The Godfather,' 'The Untouchables' and 'Goodfellas' become classics?"
I then addressed the sexual aspect of this double-standard by pointing out that "Sex & The City," a series that focused, by and large, on the sexual relationships of four white women, was hailed as a powerful demonstration of female camaraderie and empowerment.
This show, during its run, was lavished with critical praise and commercial success while hip-hop and rap artists are attacked by the morality police for their depiction of sex in their lyrics and videos. The don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it appearance of Janet Jackson's right bosom during [a] Super Bowl halftime show. ... caused more of a furor than the countless commercials that (also aired during the Super Bowl) used sex to sell anything from beer to cars to gum. Not to mention the constant stream of commercials that rather openly talks about erectile dysfunction medication."
The exaltation of drugs, misogyny and violence in music lyrics has a history that predates NWA, Ice Cube, Ice T and Snoop Dogg. Elton John's 1977 song "Tickin," was about a young man who goes into a bar and kills 14 people; Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," featured a couple on a shooting spree, and his "Johnny 99," was about a gun-waving laid-off worker; and Stephen Sondheim's score for "Assassins," which presented songs mostly in the first person about would-be and successful presidential assassins.
Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" and the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (LSD) as well as almost anything by Jefferson Airplane or Spaceship. Several songs from "Tommy" and Pink Floyd's "The Wall" are well known drug songs. "Catholic girls," "Centerfold," "Sugar Walls" by Van Halen were raunchy, misogynistic, lust-driven rock refrains.
Even the country music legend Kenny Rogers in his legendary ballad, "Coward Of The County," spoke of a violent gang-rape and then a triple-homicide by the song's hero to avenge his assaulted lover. Marilyn Manson declared that one of the aims of his provocative persona was to see how much it would take to get the moralists as mad at white artists as they got about 2LiveCrew. He said it took fake boobs, Satanism, simulated sex on stage, death and angst along with semi-explicit lyrics, to get the same screaming the 2LiveCrew got for one song. Manson thought this reaction was hypocritical and hilarious.
Other artists like Kid Rock have won commercial success easily and faced only minor battles with the FCC with songs such as: "F**k U Blind. Consider the lyrics of Kid Rock, whose piercing blend of hard rock, metal and misogyny has sold millions of records:
Now if you like the booty come on fellas show it This is your last verse to wax so why would you blow it And if the ladies if you are tired of a man on your fanny Then f--k you go home and watch the tube with granny ... Just look at all the girls that are dying to get some Man, just don't be a wussy
And I'll guarantee you could get a piece of p----
Likewise, consider the lyrics of the rock song "Anything Goes" from Guns 'N Roses:
Panties 'round your knees
With your ass in debris
Doin' dat grind with a push and squeeze
Tied up, tied down, up against the wall
Be my rubbermade baby
An' we can do it all.''
The bad-boy, outlaw rockers have traditionally and consistently been marketed and packaged as misogynistic. Artists and groups such as David Lee Roth, Kid Rock, Metallica, Uncle Kracker, to name a few.
Take note of the following list of rock groups and some of the albums and songs that they have released: American Dog (released an album in 2001 titled, Six Pack: Songs About Drinkin & F**kin), Big C*ck (released an album in 2005 titled: Year Of The C**k -- with titles like Bad Motherf***er, Hard To Swallow & You Suck The Love Out Of Me) W.A.S.P. (released an album in 1983 titled: Animal: F**ks Like A Beast, an album in 1997 K.F.D.: Kill, F**k, Die), Faster Pussycat (released album in 1992 titled Whipped -- with a song titled Loose Booty, 2001 titled: Between The Valley Of The Ultra P**sy, 2006 album titled: The Power Of The Glory Hole -- with such titles as Porn Star and Shut Up & F**k), Lynch Mob (released an album in 2003 titled: Evil: Live -- featuring the song (Tie Your Mother Down) and a compilation album released in 2003 titled C**k'N'Roll: The World's Sleaziest Rock Bands -- displaying "hits" like: Dog Sh*t Boys -- One Minute F**k, Sagger -- The Closest I've Ever Come To F**king Myself and Hellside Stranglers -- Motherf***ers Don't Cry.
In an article by Dana Williams titled, BEYOND RAP: Musical Misogyny, Ann Savage, associate professor of telecommunications at Butler University stated: "It's the repetitiveness of the messages, the repetitiveness of the attitudes, and it builds on people...." "People say rap is dangerous. Yes, rap music does have misogyny, but there has always been an objectification and misogyny against women in music," said Savage. "Yet we focus on the black artists, not the rockers and not even the white executives who are making the big money from this kind of music."
Savage further asserts that the race-based double standard applies to violent content in music as well. "There was the Eric Clapton remake of Marley's 'I Shot the Sheriff,' and there was little to be said. But then you have the 'Cop Killer' song by Ice-T and it's dangerous and threatening."
In this same article Cynthia Fuchs, an associate professor at George Mason University, affirmed that "the public seems far more disturbed by misogynistic lyrics in the music of rap and hip hop artists who are largely black than similar lyrics in rock music, perceived by most as a white genre."
"The flamboyance of rock is understood as performance, rather than from the perspective of personal feelings," said Fuchs, who teaches courses in film and media studies, African American studies and cultural studies. "These guys are seen as innocuous. They appear to be players in the fence of accumulating women in skimpy costumes, but they aren't necessarily seen as violent. The mainstream takes it (hip hop and rap) to represent real-life, so it's seen as more threatening than some of the angry, whiney white boy rock, even though the same messages and images are portrayed."
Moreover, in a piece titled C*ck Rock from the October 21-November 3, 2003 edition of the online music magazine Perfect Pitch, it was revealed that when the Hustler founder and entrepreneur Larry Flynt wanted to combine the worlds of porn (the ultimate god of misogyny) and music he did not turn to rap, but rather to rock.
It was stated that since porn has been mainstreamed, they wanted a more "contemporary" look -- and when they looked for a contemporary look, did they seek out the likes of Nelly, Chingy, 50 Cent or Ludacris? No. Rock legend Nikki Sixx was chosen to "grace" the cover of Hustler's new venture along with his adult-entertainment and former Baywatch star girlfriend Donna D'Errico wearing nothing but a thong and Sixx's arms.
It is my belief that this paradigm; this unjust paradox exists because of the media stereotypes of black men as more violence-prone, and media's disproportionate focus on black crime (which is confused with the personas that rappers adopt), contribute to the biased treatment of rap. The double standard applied to rap music makes it easier to sell the idea that "gangsta rap" is "more" misogynist, racist, violent and dangerous than any other genre of music.
However, I believe that bell hooks conceptualized it best in her essay Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap?: "To the white dominated mass media, the controversy over gangsta rap makes great spectacle. Besides the exploitation of these issues to attract audiences, a central motivation for highlighting gangsta rap continues to be the sensationalist drama of demonizing black youth culture in general and the contributions of young black men in particular. It is a contemporary remake of 'Birth of a Nation' only this time we are encouraged to believe it is not just vulnerable white womanhood that risks destruction by black hands but everyone."
Part of the allure of gangsta or hardcore rap to the young person is its (however deplorable) explicitness. The gangsta rapper says "bitches" and "hos," defiantly and frankly (once again... deplorable) and that frankness strikes a chord.
However, it is not the first time that a young man or woman has seen society "treat" women like "bitches" and "hos." Like mother's milk, the American male in this country has been "nourished" on a constant diet of subtle messages and notions regarding female submission and inferiority and when he is weaned, he begins to feed on the meat of more exploitative mantras and images of American misogyny long before he ever pops in his first rap album into his CD player.
Young people, for better or worse, are looking for and craving authenticity. Now, because this quality is in such rare-supply in today's society, they gravitate towards those who appear to be "real" and "true to the game." Tragically, they appreciate the explicitness without detesting or critically deconstructing what the person is being explicit about.
There have been many who have said that even with Imus gone from the airwaves, the American public in general and the Black community in particular will still be inundated by the countless rap lyrics using derogatory and sexist language, as well as the endless videos displaying women in various stages of undress -- and this is true.
However, by that same logic, if we were to rid the record stores, the clubs and the iPods of all misogynistic hip-hop, we would still have amongst us the corporately-controlled and predominantly white-owned entities of Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and Hooters. We would still have the reality TV shows, whose casts are overwhelmingly white, reveling in excessive intoxication and suspect sexual mores.
If misogynistic hip-hop was erased from American life and memory today, tomorrow my e-mail box and the e-mail boxes of millions of others would still be barraged with links to tens of thousands of adult entertainment web sites. We would still have at our fingertips, courtesy of cable and satellite television, porn-on-demand. We would still be awash in a society and culture that rewards promiscuity and sexual explicitness with fame, fortune and celebrity (reference Anna Nicole, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears).
And most hypocritically, if we were to purge the sexist and lewd lyrics from hip-hop, there would still be a multitude of primarily white bands and principally-white musical genres generating song after song glorifying sexism, misogyny, violence and lionizing male sexuality and sexual conquest.
Dr. Edward Rhymes, author of When Racism Is Law & Prejudice Is Policy, is an internationally-recognized authority in the areas of critical race theory and Black studies. Please view his website: Rhymes Reasons. He can be reached at Edward@rhymesworld.com.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/52343/
11:57 am
Blogosphere is Blowing Up w/ this Story!

On June 14, four African-American women—Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20) and Renata Hill (24)—received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years in prison. None of them had previous criminal records. Two of them are parents of small children.

Their crime? Defending themselves from a physical
attack by a man who held them down and choked them,
ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and
threatened to sexually assault them—all because
they are lesbians.

The women and their families now call on our communities for support. Their emotional and financial burdens have already been immense. These hardships will only continue as the women begin their prison terms and the process of appeal.

Pro-bono legal support: Most if not all of the women need new lawyers for the appeal. Finding new counsel is the #1 priority for support. All leads and contacts welcome.

Media contacts and writers: Journalists to report, community members to write opeds, and media-savvy people to advise the families about working with media.

Pen pals: Prison is profoundly isolating, as well as boring. Expressyour solidarity and prayers for the women's strength.

Money: Some of the families have depleted their life savings paying legal fees. Also imagine: collect calls from prison, transportation costs upstate for prison visits, paying for prison commissary. Direct financial contributions (even $10, $20, $30) are needed, along with
people to organize fundraisers.

 Diverse organizational support: Building a public campaign requires support from all corners. If you think the sentences these women are receiving are too harsh, there is a place for your support.

Tuesday, July 10th at 6:30pm at the new office of FIERCE
located at 147 West 24th Street, 6th Floor
(between 6th & 7th Ave 1/F/C/E to 23 rd Street)

For more information about how to get involved, please contact:
Bran Fenner [ bran@fiercenyc.org], Jessica Robertson [jessonia@gmail.com], or Jessica Stern [ sternj@hrw.org].

Lesbians sentenced for self-defense
All-white jury convicts Black women

By Imani Henry
New York
Published Jun 21, 2007 2:58 AM

On June 14, four African-American women—Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20) and Renata Hill (24)—received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years in prison. None of them had previous criminal records. Two of them are parents of small children.

Their crime? Defending themselves from a physical attack by a man who held them down and choked them, ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and threatened to sexually assault them—all because they are lesbians.

The mere fact that any victim of a bigoted attack would be arrested, jailed and then convicted for self-defense is an outrage. But the length of prison time given further demonstrates the highly political nature of this case and just how racist, misogynistic, anti-gay, anti-youth and anti-worker the so-called U.S. justice system truly is.

The description of the events, reported below, is based on written statements by a community organization (FIERCE) that has made a call to action to defend the four women, verbal accounts from court observers and evidence from a surveillance camera.

The attack

On Aug. 16, 2006, seven young, African-American, lesbian-identified friends were walking in the West Village. The Village is a historic center for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) communities, and is seen as a safe haven for working-class LGBT youth, especially youth of color.

As they passed the Independent Film Cinema, 29-year-old Dwayne Buckle, an African-American vendor selling DVDs, sexually propositioned one of the women. They rebuffed his advances and kept walking.

“I’ll f— you straight, sweetheart!” Buckle shouted. A video camera from a nearby store shows the women walking away. He followed them, all the while hurling anti-lesbian slurs, grabbing his genitals and making explicitly obscene remarks. The women finally stopped and confronted him. A heated argument ensued. Buckle spat in the face of one of the women and threw his lit cigarette at them, escalating the verbal attack into a physical one.

Buckle is seen on the video grabbing and pulling out large patches of hair from one of the young women. When Buckle ended up on top of one of the women, choking her, Johnson pulled a small steak knife out of her purse. She aimed for his arm to stop him from killing her friend.

The video captures two men finally running over to help the women and beating Buckle. At some point he was stabbed in the abdomen. The women were already walking away across the street by the time the police arrived.

Buckle was hospitalized for five days after surgery for a lacerated liver and stomach. When asked at the hospital, he responded at least twice that men had attacked him.

There was no evidence that Johnson’s kitchen knife was the weapon that penetrated his abdomen, nor was there any blood visible on it. In fact, there was never any forensics testing done on her knife. On the night they were arrested, the police told the women that there would be a search by the New York Police Department for the two men—which to date has not happened.

After almost a year of trial, four of the seven were convicted in April. Johnson was sentenced to 11 years on June 14.

Even with Buckle’s admission and the video footage proving that he instigated this anti-gay attack, the women were relentlessly demonized in the press, had trumped-up felony charges levied against them, and were subsequently given long sentences in order to send a clear resounding message—that self-defense is a crime and no one should dare to fight back.

Political backdrop of the case

Why were these young women used as an example? At stake are the billions of dollars in tourism and real estate development involved in the continued gentrification of the West Village. This particular incident happened near the Washington Square area—home of New York University, one of most expensive private colleges in the country and one of the biggest employers and landlords in New York City. The New York Times reported that Justice Edward J. McLaughlin used his sentencing speech to comment on “how New York welcomes tourists.” (June 17)

The Village is also the home of the Stonewall Rebellion, the three-day street battle against the NYPD that, along with the Compton Cafeteria “Riots” in California, helped launch the modern-day LGBT liberation movement in 1969. The Manhattan LGBT Pride march, one of the biggest demonstrations of LGBT peoples in the world, ends near the Christopher Street Piers in the Village, which have been the historical “hangout” and home for working-class trans and LGBT youth in New York City for decades.

Because of growing gentrification in recent years, young people of color, homeless and transgender communities, LGBT and straight, have faced curfews and brutality by police sanctioned by the West Village community board and politicians. On Oct. 31, 2006, police officers from the NYPD’s 6th Precinct indiscriminately beat and arrested several people of color in sweeps on Christopher Street after the Halloween parade.

Since the 1980s there has been a steady increase in anti-LGBT violence in the area, with bashers going there with that purpose in mind.

For trans people and LGBT youth of color, who statistically experience higher amounts of bigoted violence, the impact of the gentrification has been severe. As their once-safe haven is encroached on by real estate developers, the new white and majority heterosexual residents of the West Village then call in the state to brutalize them.

For the last six years the political LGBT youth group FIERCE has been at the forefront of mobilizing young people “to counter the displacement and criminalization of LGBTSTQ [lesbian, gay, bi, two spirit, trans, and queer] youth of color and homeless youth at the Christopher Street Pier and in Manhattan’s West Village.” (www.fiercenyc.org) FIERCE has also been the lead organization supporting the Jersey Seven and their families.

The trial and the media

Deemed a so-called “hate crime” against a straight man, every possible racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and anti-youth tactic was used by the entire state apparatus and media. Everything from the fact that they lived outside of New York, in the working-class majority Black city of Newark, N.J., to their gender expressions and body structures were twisted and dehumanized in the public eye and to the jury.

According to court observers, McLaughlin stated throughout the trial that he had no sympathy for these women. The jury, although they were all women, were all white. All witnesses for the district attorney were white men, except for one Black male who had several felony charges.

Court observers report that the defense attorneys had to put enormous effort into simply convincing the jury that they were “average women” who had planned to just hang out together that night. Some jurists asked why they were in the Village if they were from New Jersey. The DA brought up whether they could afford to hang out there—raising the issue of who has the right to be there in the first place.

The Daily News reporting was relentless in its racist anti-lesbian misogyny, portraying Buckle as a “filmmaker” and “sound engineer” preyed upon by a “lesbian wolf pack” (April 19) and a “gang of angry lesbians.” (April 13)

Everyone has been socialized by cultural archetypes of what it means to be a “man” or “masculine” and “woman” or “feminine.” Gender identity/expression is the way each indivdual chooses or not to express gender in their everyday lives, including how they dress, walk, talk, etc. Transgender people and other gender non-conforming people face oppression based on their gender expression/identity.

The only pictures shown in the Daily News were of the more masculine-appearing women. One of the most despiciable headlines in the Daily News, “‘I’m a man!’ lesbian growled during fight,” (April 13) was targeted against Renata Hill, who was taunted by Buckle because of her masculinity.

Ironically, Johnson, who was singled out by the judge as the “ringleader,” is the more feminine of the four. According to the New York Times, in his sentencing remarks, “Justice McLaughlin scoffed at the assertion made by ... Johnson, that she carried a knife because she was just 4-foot-11 and 95 pounds, worked nights and lived in a dangerous neighborhood.” He quoted the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” (June 15)

All of the seven women knew and went to school with Sakia Gunn, a 19-year-old butch lesbian who was stabbed to death in Newark, N.J., in May 2003. Paralleling the present case, Gunn was out with three of her friends when a man made sexual advances to one of the women. When she replied that she was a lesbian and not interested, he attacked them. Gunn fought back and was stabbed to death.

“You can’t help but wonder that if Sakia Gunn had a weapon, would she be in jail right now?” Bran Fenner, a founding member and co-executive director of FIERCE, told Workers World. “If we don’t have the right to self-defense, how are we supposed to survive?”

National call to action

While racist killer cops continue to go without indictment and anti-immigrant paramilitary groups like the Minutemen are on the rise in the U.S., The Jersey Four sit behind bars for simply defending themselves against a bigot who attacked them in the Village.

Capitalism at its very core is a racist, sexist, anti-LGBT system, sanctioning state violence through cops, courts and its so-called laws. The case of the Jersey Four gives more legal precedence for bigoted violence to go unchallenged. The ruling class saw this case as a political one; FIERCE and other groups believe the entire progressive movement should as well.

Fenner said, “We are organizing in the hope that this wakes up all oppressed people and sparks a huge, broad campaign to demand freedom for the Jersey Four.”

FIERCE is asking for assistance for these young women, including pro-bono legal support, media contacts and writers, pen pals, financial support, and diverse organizational support. For details, visit www.fiercenyc.org.
Monday, June 25th, 2007
2:19 pm
My friend Connie
In my life I have met one openly transgendered person.  Connie is officially a cross-dresser.  He is a 73 year old male, married to a woman, has four children, and several grandchildren.  Unfortunately, she is embarrassed to have this irresistible quality of being transgendered.  From the time she was 12 until 55, she tried to ignore this "masturbatory fetish."  It was impossible.  One day after the kids had all married or gone to college, Connie's wife, in the midst of reading books on retirement plans, traveling, and sex play for the elderly, asked Connie if there was anything that she  wanted sexually that they had not done together.  On that day, for no particular reason, Connie felt bold enough and loved enough to tell her/his wife that he felt more sexual when he was a woman.  Connie's wife loves her unconditionally.  She honors the vows she took almost 50 years ago.  Of course she was not happy about it, but her love did not change.  Their marriage has been wonderful ever since Connie was able to tell her the truth.  Connie has said that the past 18 years of being "out" with her wife have been the happiest of her life regardless of the expectations of society.  This past Valentine's Day Connie was given a tube of lipstick by her wife.  I spoke with Connie the next day and she said she cried and is one of the luckiest people in the world. 

I don't know what the norm among transgendered people is for revealing their status.  I've only met Connie.  But I've always thought it was interesting that she will only reveal one side of her identity at a time. (That damn binary again)  For instance, I do not know and have never known Connie as a man.  She's a college professor and she teaches as a man and does not reveal her feminine identity to her students or co-workers.  Her reason: safety.  She knows how other people feel about "people like us" as she explains it.  Connie has a very happy and comfortable life that she would not risk anything for.  The only person who has seen both genders is Connie's wife.  When Connie told me this, it made me sad.  I'm only 21 years old and am seriously ignorant to evil in the world so maybe I was more sad than Connie expected.  Why should anyone have to hide who they are?  It is just not fair. I think of those years Connie wasn't honest about this with her wife.  All those years that they had a fair to poor marriage because of societal expectations.  Connie said all I could do was love the people who are different and accept everyone, no question.  It's just so frustrating and not fair.
Sunday, June 24th, 2007
4:26 pm
Oprah update
So, Oprah decided that she should use her amazing powers to put together a "Town Hall Meeting" show where she compiled a panel of mostly men to discuss what should be done about that pesky rap music. When I first turned the show on it was toward the end of Day 1. They were discussing the portrayal of women in rap music/videos/etc. Oprah had on her concerned face as she listened to a panel of black women who attend a conservative college somewhere. They were all adamantly against the new wave of rap music about bitches and hoes. They all claimed they all shun the more pop-rap artists who encourage such lyrics and images.
I couldn't help but laugh though, at the women on that college panel. They were all very light-skinned black women, with only one that could be considered medium/dark. They all had relaxed hair (which mimics the texture of European hair) spoke and dressed very conservatively. They were obviously a very skewed sample of opinions.
I thought it was strange to flip on to a show that I think about for make-overs and free gadgets for audience members, and see them trying to (in 2 hour-long episodes) figure out what to do about this gender issue. They of course had the radical pseudo-feminist on there yelling about how all the record labels should drop all the artists that have questionable lyrics, and then the guy that sides with the artists free expression. By the end of the second day they, obviously, hadn't agreed on anything; except that people should be more critical of what theyre listening to, and boycott music that broadcasts negative messages.
Oh Oprah, why don't you stick to what you know. Go give some family with 15 kids a new mini-van or something.

Current Mood: aggravated
Friday, June 22nd, 2007
12:26 pm
awesome children's cartoon
my boyfriend was flipping channels this morning, and we caught this weird cartoon on. it featured a pretty woman with a baby, and she described hearing thunder. one of the other characters tells her its thunder mountain. thunder mountain is a bunch of feminist ladies dancing and singing. they tell the young mother to regain her voice. she retorts her problem is personal, and one of the feminist ladies says " the personal is the political " i didn't watch much more of it, but i did see later a scene where the same young mother did not want to cook for her husband anymore.

hooray for a positive and encouraging message in a children's cartoon. we're fighting back against those bratz (c) dolls!

Current Mood: hungry
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
5:31 pm
omg guys
is anyone else watching Oprah today? this is ridiculous!

(more to come)
7:12 am
resources about transgender, leslie feinberg, and intesex
Resource page about intersex: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/gender/resources.html
List of community trans groups: http://www.transgender.org/
A site that looks at the legal issues:  http://www.transgenderlaw.org/
The APA site about transgender (interesting!): http://www.apa.org/topics/transgender.html#whatare
Trans Health Resources: http://www.lgbthealthchannel.com/transgender/

Leslie Feinberg's Home Page: http://www.transgenderwarrior.org/ (Note:  Feinberg is also a socialist organizer, so many of hir articles deal w/ the class issue as well)
Curve Magazine interview w/ Feinberg: http://www.curvemag.com/Detailed/6.html
Feinberg's Partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt's, page: http://www.mbpratt.org/mylove.html

Kate Bornstein's home page: http://www.katebornstein.com/KatePages/kate_bornstein.htm
Kate Bornstein's blog: http://katebornstein.typepad.com/kate_bornsteins_blog/
Kate Bornstein's myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/stranger_in_paradox

Current Mood: awake
1:42 am
Our Mother's Gardens
I had never though about it before, but my roommate and I were discussing the Walker
article earlier and I realized how one mother I knew had constructed her own garden.

In highschool I dated a boy named Tim for an indecently long amount of time, by high
school standards, so our families go to know each other pretty well. His mother was a
very interesting lady. She worked at a hospital overseas during the Gulf conflict with
the army. She held a job for many years in another hospital upon returning. However,
when Tim was 15 or so, she and her husband decided to have another child. She is
an amazing homemaker now, after giving up working to raise her young son. By the
time I knew her she seemed to live a rather dull life, focused on the needs of her
three men. At one point, she began taking cake-decorating classes at local craft
stores. In a year's time, she had exhausted all the resources available in the area to
improve her craft. She had professional tools, and made all her cakes from scratch.
Around then, she made my mother's wedding cake when she got re-married, and
my cousins' wedding cake as well. They were some of the most beautiful things I
had ever eaten. For these, not only did she use her amazing skill to ice the cake in
amazing basket-woven patterns, but she also created lifelike colored sugar-
flowers to perch all over each tier. This was her "garden" as Walker puts it. She
never shone so proudly as when in the presence of a finished masterpiece. Though
chances were, if it was one of her many "practice" cakes, it would barely have a
minute to shine before it was picked apart by hungry on-lookers. She made 5 or
6 amazing cakes for us over the next couple of years, and I hope she continues
to develop her craft and feel the power of her own creativity.

Current Mood: blah
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