Text and Subtext

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I started thinking about TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) the other day and it suddenly hit me why they are the way they are.

WARNING:

You/They aren’t going to like it.

Of course, the chances of even a single TERF reading this blog is in the negative numbers, but just in case, I’m going to preface this with another important warning:

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

So sit down and get on your listening ears.

If you are identifying yourself as a feminist while ferociously fighting to keep trans women out, you are a fraud.

A HUUUUUGE, card-carrying fraud – you are not a feminist at all.

Because you have, in your heart of hearts and very bones, digested and taken on what the patriarchy wanted you to all along.

The doctrine of “separate but equal” is the rallying cry of every movement designed to keep some segment of the population down and in chains – one of the most efficient ways to make you not only turn the key on the lock of those chains yourself, but to police your fellow-slaves on behalf of your jailers.

And – here’s the real kicker – if you want to keep transwomen out, if you claim they aren’t “real” women, it’s the evidence of your own fear. It’s the evidence that you still toe the line and sing the lyrics you claim you oppose.

The underlying reason you cannot allow the idea that transwomen are women is because you are scared that some other woman will perform “woman” better than you.

You are terrified that you won’t measure up to the patriarchy’s definition of “woman”.

You have bought into the bottom line of your own oppression, the distraction that prevents you from doing more than talking about equality instead of achieving it.

You are in competition with other women.

And that’s exactly where the system wants you to be.

 

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No Pretty Pictures

There was a song by John and Yoko Lennon that came out in ’72, called “Woman is the Nigger of the World”.

It was an intentionally shock title, of course, but it held a certain ring of truth.

One of the reasons that women especially have been at the forefront of first, the Abolition movement of the 19th century and then later in the mid-sixties Civil Rights movement, as well as in anti-war protests and in the fight for unionization, to name but a few, is that women of every culture, time, and political variance have been oppressed in ways that made it easy for them to identify with other defining characteristics of oppression.

It’s not surprising that they fought for equality for other identifiable groups, and it is equally unsurprising that their energies could be harnessed for those objectives, while being easily convinced to put their own liberation onto the back burner in service to these more “important” causes.

They were continually seduced into thinking, for example, that once men of colour got the vote, their own suffrage would follow – that those men would in their turn support their right to enfranchisement.

We have been deceived, and then our role in those confrontations has been erased, every time.

And that’s why movements toward freedom must, for women, be intensively inclusive. We cannot allow ourselves to be deflected or fractured, which is how we have been used and betrayed in the past.

We have to comprehend and absorb the differences between our various situations, and come to grips with the chasms between, say, a white middle-class woman’s oppression and an Islamic woman’s more immediate risk of physical torture in the form of genital mutilation, without giving in to the lure of playing one-upmanship with victimhood.

Oppression is not a competitive sport.

We need to recognize that one woman’s oppression is oppression of us all – that it all has to go, and that none of us are free so long as even one of us is in chains.

I will not allow my undeniable privilege in this world to blind me to this incontrovertible fact.

Reminiscing about Terry Pratchett

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(Reblogging from July 16th, 2016, because…)

It’s taken me a long time to really process that he’s gone.

 

I started reading Pratchett’s books when there were, like, maybe four of them published. They struck me as both funny and wise, and I became addicted.

 

In the 90s, a friend of mine, Deloris Booker, and I opened a bookstore that concentrated on genre fiction: back-and mid-list SFF, mystery and Romance, as well as new releases, bits of history and myth/magic that attracted a collection of Goth teens who would hang out and talk to us about Truth and Beauty, and got along surprisingly well with the older ladies who came in for their Nora Roberts fix every weekend.

 

As part-PR and part- “We love SFF”, we got involved with a few SFF conventions, and eventually agreed to underwrite the cost of bringing in Terry as the GoH for a little convention out in Banff, in exchange for him doing a reading/signing on the Friday afternoon before the con.

 

He arrived exhausted, and spent part of his time asleep on the floor of the office before it was time to meet the fifty or so kids and adults who had come to see him.

 

He was incredibly gracious and patient with everyone, and then slept in the uncomfortable passenger seat of Deloris’ truck all the way to the hotel in Banff.

 

But for the entire weekend, he was our favourite person ever.

 

He came by the shop set-up in the dealers’ room, perused the books, tried to buy two (but we managed to convince him to take them as gifts), talked us up to everyone who was there, mentioned us TWICE by name in his GoH speech (“You should shop at Blue Castle Books, and support them, they’re terrific!”), argued passionately with me about nuclear power and then bought me beer, and stayed late in the parking lot, signing one last, tardy fan’s collection of Discworld books.

 

It was only the one encounter – we interacted in brief moments over a mere three days – but it seemed like so much more.

 

Nowadays, when I go into a bookshop and see the rows of Pratchett titles, my heart still breaks in little ways.

 

I miss that talent. I miss that light. I wish I’d known more and better, when I had the chance.

Flash Fiction Friday!

He noticed the girl immediately.

She was dressed in a tiny black miniskirt, a black t-shirt, rather clumsy-looking black army boots, and black tights that were slashed open in several places, and the sun illuminated her as if bathing her in liquid honey.

There was a sketchbook propped on her left arm. Her right hand clutched a pencil, and she held it out, waggling it slightly from side to side, in the time-honoured and recognizable gesture of an artist trying to measure the exact proportions of some object she was trying to render, and, curiously, she was standing on one leg.

Like a flamingo, he thought. At least, he thought he meant a flamingo. It was possible he meant a pelican, but he wasn’t sure.

She was like an exclamation mark against the landscape, a sudden declaration of how intense and brilliant life could be.

Despite his full and decisive intention of climbing over the side of the bridge and throwing himself over, he paused.

Flash Fiction Friday!

Angus was the kind of guy that everyone liked.

He was funny and intelligent, and he had the ability to mirror back to you your own best qualities, so that in every social situation, those around him felt better-looking, wittier, and infinitely more confident than they normally did.

Men especially found Angus endearing. While he seemed to embody all the masculine virtues – he was strong, forthright, brave, and good-humoured, and he knew a lot about Formula One racing – he was also empathetic and able to sum up one’s problems in life succinctly, in ways that often suggested a solution as if it were your own idea.

Not a pub night or an evening of poker was complete without his presence, and at the annual company Christmas party, he proved every year to be the best wingman ever.

But Angus had a terrifying secret.

Angus had not always been a human.

ALL PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY?

(In view of the Gillette commercial “controversy”, this maybe needs to be reposted…)

angry_mob

https://qz.com/1054260/procter-and-gambles-new-anti-racism-ad-is-roiling-white-america/

When commercials like these come out, no matter how hard the company gets slammed, they mostly keep the commercial on for the length of the planned campaign. They rarely knuckle under to angry responses immediately.

They obviously know from the start that they’re going to get some push-back, and they seem okay with that.

How interesting it is, don’t you think, that when a company runs an egregiously outright racist/sexist commercial, or is caught perpetrating outmoded and offensive stereotypes, they act all surprised and “innocent”, and claim it was a “mistake” in judgement?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one

And yet, those ads, too, generally run for at least part of the planned campaign. They don’t disappear immediately.

I think that in both cases, the companies know exactly what they are doing, and have no illusions about the reactions they will get. It seems very unlikely that they wouldn’t: they all hire professional advertising agencies with decades of experience, and they do masses of market research before they ever book the airtime.

I think in the first instance, the company believes strongly enough in at least this much: that the bulk of their market will respond positively over the long haul to anti-racist/pro-equality messages and will associate the brand with their own core values.

It’s entirely possible that some of these ads are even less cynical than that, and that the people running these companies do, in fact, care about these issues, and are willing to publicly support them for purely ideological reasons.

It’s okay if it’s both.

The point is: they are doing it on purpose.

Which means, logically, that the companies who spend their advertising dollars on racist, anti-equality messaging also do it on purpose.

 

 

Additional Note: This, too, is part of the issue (pay attention to the presentation of both the fact and the wording of the “apology”… “some” call it offensive? That, in itself, tells you a lot right there.):
http://www.ajc.com/news/world/publishing-company-apologizes-for-textbook-that-includes-theories-some-call-racist/0zu5WzSkt6RIkfU5JN7GXO/