Sunday, 30 January 2011

solidarity, not charity

"I want interdependence and community as more than words. In order to do this, I have to practice. Awkwardly, intentionally, again and again, I have to practice. I don’t know what it means to live in ways that support art-making and creativity, that fully supports those people who show up with the medicine that opens our lives up even further. I have grown up with the same things you have, a private medical system and a culture of shame that still and again, sees illness or disability as a personal problem and any act of support or aid as charity. Transforming this means practice, daily and never ending practice. How do we show up for each other? How do we remember the things that have come before us – the people, the words, the experiences that have made us stronger and more whole?
“Solidarity is not a matter of altruism. Solidarity comes from the inability to tolerate the affront to our own integrity of passive or active collaboration in the oppression of others, and from the deep recognition of our most expansive self-interest. From the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet, and that politically, spiritually, in our heart of hearts we know anything else is unaffordable.”
Aurora Levins Morales"


"Corporations and governments are not being lax in the face of peak oil. No way. They are busy extending their paradigms of abuse into ecosystems across the globe. Maybe it is this: that the end of cheap energy spells the end of cheap power. So cheap energy must be pursued at all costs. Those costs, of course, include land grabbing, land poisoning, destruction of communities, destruction of ecosystems:
"The results are the expansion of forest monocultures in poor countries, the occupation and degradation of territories and productive lands, the installation of industrial plants in the South, the worsening of living conditions and quality of life in occupied territories, the violation of rights, particularly serious impacts on women and excluded population groups, concentration of power in corporations which control the right to property and technologies, as well as the risk of contamination to a degree which cannot be predicted. …It is very well-known, the companies of the cellulose sector and paper install their plantations in the countries of the South, where besides having the mentioned conditions – low costs and big quantities – the environmental, social and labor legislations are lax and they allow the violation of multiple environmental rights and of the communities. …[R]esearch on new raw materials for fuels, primarily cellulosic ethanol and genetically modified trees is carried out by universities or research institutes in industrialized countries and is funded by multinationals forest and/or energy, a situation which is repeated with the development of technologies, marketing and other stages of the chain. Thus replicates and maintains the colonialist model in terms of energy, technology and economics that has characterized North-South relations.”
An added layer of disgusting interest is that this is done under the banner of saving the planet. It is renewable. It is sustainable. It is a carbon sink. All these things are, of course, untrue. The pivotal sleight of hand in this process of deception is the expansion of the definition of the word ‘forest’. More forest is a good thing, right? Everyone knows that. Except that under the definitions of various international climate agreements and accords, eucalyptus plantations are now ‘forests’. As are jatropha plantations. As are palm oil plantations. As are pine plantations. What I wish everyone did know is that these monocultures are not forests.


There are complex international carbon trading schemes to support this abuse. In Britain, taxpayer’s money goes to subsidise the building of building biomass power plants because they are classed as “renewable” energy producers. This biomass will not come from the diverse, scenic oakwoods of this privileged island. Oh no. It will come from industrial plantations.

This is all neocolonialism with an environmental twist. It is eco-colonialism."

Sunday, 23 January 2011

real people stand up to end capitalist heteropatriarcy

Women's Aid invites you, yes you! to Stop Violence Against Women and Children by buying his 'n' hers t-shirts in support of their Real Man campaign ("Real Men Stand Up To End Violence Against Women And Children"). Choose between the manly black 'Real Man' tee, or the dainty white 'I'm A Fan Of A Real Man' cap-sleeved number, no this is not some kind of poor ironic joke, this is a genuine women's charity endeavour and we would like to promote the idea that women must applaud a man - by buying a t-shirt - who wants to appear to be not-an-abusive-knobend - by buying a t-shirt - you see? and in doing so we get to prove how totally we've abandoned any semblance of feminist social critique for whatever it was worth in the first place. and, look, we're subverting masculinity by making some of the celebrities look a bit gay with like headbands and stuff, so cute! didn't you always wish those hot hunks could be yr GBF at the same time? shhh, no they're not fair trade or anything, we thought about it but it was like too expensive so like we just need to make women in the global south make t-shirts in violent conditions so that we can sell them to pay for our Important Work pushing paper and risk assessments and asking the state for more criminal justice remedies for domestic abuse because this Ends Violence Against Women And Children, obvs.

(And meanwhile Women's Aid's competitors Refuge thank - get this - British American Tobacco and Philip Morris among their corporate sponsors. Plus, depressingly, Avon&Refuge in corporate partnership seem to be the highest-profile voice protesting cuts to DV services. kill me now)


My friend sent me this amazing article:
"Does the feminist kill other people's joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced or negated under public signs of joy? [...]

"The angry black woman can be described as a killjoy; she may even kill feminist joy, for example, by pointing out forms of racism within feminist politics. [...]

"To speak out as a woman of color is then to confirm your position as the cause of tension; your anger is what threatens the social bond. [...]

The exposure of violence becomes the origin of violence."
Sara Ahmed, Creating Disturbance: Feminism, Happiness and Affective Differences

and there's that rare feeling again - sheer relief when somone pins down a truth that is so obscured by our culture. those who identify violence disrupt the comfort and happiness of those who are profiting from that violence. and they will consider that disruption to be violence against them, so entitled do they feel to that comfort and happiness.

kristin says

we have to do what we came here to do, no excuses.
"Honestly, I'm so shy that I find most contact with people deeply unsettling, but songs [...] mean that I'm burning with sound, not frozen with fear. 'Cause they're my way down to where we all are.

I didn't ask to go down to where we all are, but as it turns out, I'm a member of a deeply social species in which the only truths worth speaking are the most naked."
kristin hersh, Paradoxical Undressing

Thursday, 6 January 2011

walking in the opposite direction

saw this on =Anarcha='s tumblr:
"I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of White supremacy and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. Some of the bystanders may feel the motion of the conveyor belt, see the active racist ahead of them, and choose to turn around, unwilling to go to the same destination as the White supremacists. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt - unless they are actively antiracist - they will find themselves carried along with the others."
— Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race
standing still on the walkway: inaction/passivity in the face of racism and all abuse = being swept along with the momentum that is taking you to further success, acceptance, approval, social captial. these are a few of the priveleges we have to actively walk away from in order to fight against racism and other interlinked abuses. reminds me of the quote from mai'a that i put up before:
"stopping the abuse means stopping the abuser.  and the abuser is popular.  so you wont be." 


one of the purposes of this blog is to have a place to put the stories that turn up in the corners of my mind, out of all the stories i've been told. this one showed up today.

in one of the support groups there was a woman who'd had many children. she shared in the group that there was no consensual sex within her marriage - she named it as rape - and no option of contraception. she told us that she loved all her children though, "so he didn't win me on that".

one of her children had died as a teenager. while this woman was grieving and distraught she would play her son's favourite song on repeat. one day she saw a robin outside and it looked like the robin was dancing and hopping along to the song. it seemed to her that the robin was her son. she put out bread for the robin and it came back the next day, and she played the song to it again. soon the woman's washing line and patio were covered in bird feeders. the robin stuck around. after a while people suggested to the woman that this was not healthy, and she agreed to see the doctor. she told the doctor that she was sure the robin was her son and the doctor put her on some medication.

...that story sticks around in my mind, with its hundreds of story buddies, asking questions.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

being accountable to complicated histories

i was so excited to read this:
"Rape has a history.  Histories, actually.  One of the patterns of a more local history can be seen and felt in the ways some instances of rape have the effect of mobilizing, even galvanizing people in ways that other acts of violence do not.  I am not just speaking of feminists.  If my dashboard is any indication, folks in my orbit have expended exponentially more outrage on the recent Julian Assange rape case, and the left’s response to it, than, for example, the human rights abuses that have spurred the prisoner-organized and coordinated strike that’s been going on in Georgia.

“If we get rid of prisons,” they’ll say, “what are we going to do with all the rapists and murderers?”  When I hear this, I think that feminist descriptions of rape culture have actually not accounted for the ways in which the idea of rape—is tied up not only with a culture that punishes women for attempting to tell the truth, but with a culture that punishes, full stop.  That punishes populations that include women, but also include people who are gendered differently.  I think about how much we rely on the law, and ultimately, on the penal system, to define what it means to be safe.  To the extent that we experience the incapacitation of the rapist—the locking of those convicted of rape—as if it were justice, overlooking conveniently the persistent evidence that more prisoners do not mean fewer instances of sexual violence.
I think about the idea of prison rape, and how rarely I see this invoked in descriptions of rape culture. I recall the “dropping the soap” joke made by a women’s studies professor in a classroom, and the uncomfortable receding of laughter once it was recognized that I  wasn’t participating in it.  I think about the degree to which indifference to prison rape is also an essential part of popular culture, and how rarely I hear this in feminist outrage toward rape culture.  About how the condition of “prisoner” has an underrecognized resonance with the condition of “woman” to the extent to which becoming a prisoner is, to some extent, not only to become rapeable but to be seen by many as deserving of it.  Rape culture tells you that you shoulda thought about that before you committed the crime.  Crime as submission, before the fact, to rape culture.

I think about how rarely I see the myth of the black male rapist referenced in discussions of rape culture, and I think, at the same time, about witch hunts.  I think about the systematic rape of black women categorized as the master’s use of his property.  Rape culture as the protection and promotion of the sancticity of white womanhood—all of which, I suspect, did nothing to decrease the instances of rape against even those women whom it enshrined as ideal.

I wonder if the victims of prison rape are not victim enough for the feminism I see on my dashboard.  I wonder if a black body swinging from a tree will be seen as the victim, or victim enough of rape culture for that kind of feminism.  I wonder these things because I want to see a movement that doesn’t isolate rape from other kinds of violence, or as a violence experienced by an amorphous and undifferentiated category of “women.”  Because, I suppose, I want to be part of a feminism that understands that certain uses of the idea of rape culture can actually strengthen patriarchy, and that being accountable to complicated histories is not to participate in apologism.  So I have to wonder if it isn’t more than a coincidence that the feminists I am reading are not organizing in support of the strikers.  I have to wonder at the sense of risk I feel in writing that I don’t think that extending the reach of an already problematic criminal justice system is a solution.  I question the flinch I feel in saying that I think it lets this  state, one so deeply and fundamentally complicit with rape culture, off the hook.  I question my reservation in saying that I want to recognize our reliance on this very state to protect some of us from violence and to enact justice as a tragedy.  In saying that I think that rape culture is actually part of a culture that relies on incarceration to solve problems.  This really has so little to do with Julian Assange."
written by low end theory. (via mai'a) there is more amazingess at the start and end so again - please read the whole thing.