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Archive for September, 2008

In the meantime….

Let’s pay poor women to have their tubes tied because that’s really what has happened to the economy.

Check out what Renee has to say because I can’t even deal right now.

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Hmmmm

Effigy of Obama alarms George Fox campus.

Don’t read the comments if you want to keep your breakfast down.

ETA: more here.

A George Fox University employee discovered the life-size cutout of the Democratic presidential candidate hanging from a campus tree with a fishing line around its neck. Posted on the cardboard effigy was a sign that read “Act Six Reject.” Act Six is a program that promotes campus diversity and urban leadership. It annually awards full scholarships to up to 10 students most of whom — but not all — are minorities.

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I am thinking about beauty, about acceptability, about the notion of real women, acceptable women, the impossibility of the ideal woman and the great distraction that happens when we focus so much on what we look like – and how nearly impossible it is in this culture to just look like what you look like, be happy with that because no one is going to judge you for it (but see, already it’s not just a simple matter of being judged for it and then saying I don’t care what other people think about me because what other people think about me can impact where I can live, the work I do, and that impacts my ability to make a living, etc. etc. etc.)

Remember this?

The distractions – when we are so focused on our own stuff, we can’t pay attention to anyone or anything else. We can’t be involved in the real work of caring for each other and the rest of the created order. There are women and girls whose lives are impacted by the choices I make.

(Greenpeace notes: Thanks to the staggering public support for our international Dove campaign in April 2008, Unilever has now agreed to play their part in saving the Paradise Forests of South East Asia. As the biggest single buyer of palm oil in the world, Unilever has a special responsibility to help clean up the industry that’s behind so much forest destruction.)

So it is good to be on guard regarding messages about female perfection. But I was always a little squicked out by the fact that the first message came from a corporation that sells beauty projects. Shouldn’t a response to such an ad be “Yes! I’m going to say no to the messages about what I should look like/smell like/be like and the products and corporations that make try to sell me this stuff! I’m opting out completely!” My guess is that people who have made that decision aren’t buying this stuff anyway.

I don’t want to be the beauty/femininity/humanity police anymore than I want anyone to police me.

The other morning my 17-year-old daughter asked me to French braid her hair. As we sat on the steps I realized I hadn’t done this for a long time. There was a time when I did it every day. When she was small she had a considerable mass of long, thick hair. We struggled over it regularly because of the mass and thickness and yes, the nappiness of it. I tried to never give the idea that there was something “wrong” with her hair. Eventually she decided she wanted to get her hair chemically relaxed, and she continues to. I’ve been down that road… the hot comb (straightening comb, for you old school folks) and the chemical relaxers.

My preference would be for her to wear it natural… but I don’t want to police what she does with her hair and her body. What is the line between preference and self hatred? Is self-hatred birthed in being told you look like a freak?

From the advice column Annie’s Mailbox, September 18:

During my daughter’s last year of high school, she talked about getting dreadlocks. I didn’t want her to graduate looking like a freak and spoil her chances of finding a decent job, not to mention that getting rid of dreads can be nearly impossible.

(Note – I don’t know what racial category this writer and her daughter fit into. The letter is actually about her mother-in-law undermining her authority, and letting the daughter get dreadlocks. I have worn my hair in locks for over ten years now, and I’m happy to say that I don’t look like a freak.)

Some women prefer straight hair. Some women prefer light skin.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

h/t Siditty

It’s a long video – I’ll note some highlights. There are many heartbreaking things going on here – the damage these women are doing to their bodies, the generational hatred of dark skin. Also heartbreaking, though, is the condemnation of these women by the audience members and the show host herself. They never deal with the reality that our society constantly gives the message “white is right.”

At 21:56 Tyra finally talks briefly about living in a racist society. But only for a couple of minutes – then it is quickly back to trashing the guests – even tricking them by having a “doctor” offer phony medical procedures that promise to lighten the skin, although with terrifying side effects. That is horrid. The fake procedures that they describe to the women include burning off the top layer of skin, undergoing a skin transplant – sending skin to Switzerland?

The focus remains on fixing these women, and not on fixing society. Again at 39:05 Tyra mentions society, but again quickly blames the women for having a sickness, an illness. They are crumbling under pressure that other black women don’t cave in to. I’m not a therapist, she says, but there is something else there. She encourages them to do some “self reflection.” I suppose that makes for better TV, but really, in the end, what does it solve?

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No comment.

Okay, maybe one comment. Hers is bigger than mine.

h/t We Are Respectable Negroes

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Interesting to note that while O’Reilly yammers on and on regarding Michelle Obama, the angry black woman, there is video playing with Obama flashing smiles, connecting with her audience, listening carefully and looking thoughtful, and yes, looking serious. The editors might have found more… angry looking footage if they were trying to make a point, no?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Which is not to say that Michelle Obama, or any black woman, or any woman, or any person does not have the right to be angry. Listen in the interview as O’Reilly badgers Vogue editor Rebecca Johnson and columnist Michelle Oddis to give him some angry Michelle:

O’REILLY: How did you find her in person? Was she engaging?

JOHNSON: I found her lovely, actually, very bright, very thoughtful and, you know, an impressive person, intelligent. She was great. I was impressed.

O’REILLY: Now, I have a lot of people who call me on the radio and say she looks angry. And I have to say there’s some validity to that. She looks like an angry woman. Did you ask her about that?

JOHNSON: Don’t they say that about you, too?

O’REILLY: Yeah, but I’m not running for — I’m not going to be the first lady.

JOHNSON: But she’s —

O’REILLY: I hope not, anyway. The perception is that she’s angry in some quarters. Valid?

JOHNSON: Well — they say she looks angry because of maybe of the cast of her eyebrows or something like that. But, no, I don’t find her to be angry. I think what happens is that we expect women to be cheerful and happy all the time in that kind of television personality kind of way. And she’s not like that. She’s a thoughtful person. She’s not going to —

O’REILLY: Warm and fuzzy?

JOHNSON: No.

O’REILLY: Not warm and fuzzy?

JOHNSON: No.

O’REILLY: Even to you, who she’s trying to win over as an author of the piece?

JOHNSON: You know, she was not trying to win me over in any way.

(more here)

Note: People call O’Reilly on the phone and say Michelle Obama “looks” angry; this notion is refuted by someone who actually sat down and spent time with her.

Note: Michelle Obama is not “warm and fuzzy.”

Note: Michelle Obama does not put on a fake persona in order to “win people over.”

Note: None of these things equals “angry.”

However. Angry – all right with me. I want people to be angry about inequality, inaccessible health care and housing, an economy that is falling in the toilet as we speak….yeah, a little anger would be nice right about now.

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Best Rally Sign Ever

My mom sent this to me today via email, with quotes from someone attending the rally and a bunch of pictures.

The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

I like the “hockey mama” sign for probably obvious reasons, and at least one maybe not so obvious. The use of coded language for demographic groups is highly irritating. I’m particularly irritated by the ones that refer to women, ostensibly putting us into what the lazy thinker might believe are monolithic groups. Last election one of the big blocks of women voters were the “soccer moms.” This is coded language for a group that definitely did not include the likes of me – yet I have 2 children who play soccer. (My son has delighted in calling me a soccer mom ever since.)

Apparently, the same dynamic exists for hockey mamas. Can’t all be put in the same basket.

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They made it!

3 short days.

What else could be accomplished by pulling together, spreading the word, and taking care of each other?

I wonder.

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