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Archive for the ‘GLBTI’ Category

My latest column for Fairfax newspapers is here:

Go ahead and brainwash your baby. There are few enough privileges as a parent, you might as well seize this one. If you want to change the world and make it a less sexist place then this little human sponge of yours is the best chance you’ve got. Because truth is, the world is going to try to brainwash your baby right back. I’m wary of anyone being too prescriptive about either parenting or feminism these days, I’ve made my share of compromises with both, and I’m not much interested in perfectionism. But in case you’re after a starting point with anti-sexist parenting then here’s three general tips from my own experience.

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From Michelle Goldberg in The Nation with “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars”:

Yet even as online feminism has proved itself a real force for change, many of the most avid digital feminists will tell you that it’s become toxic. Indeed, there’s a nascent genre of essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it—not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists.

This is a big conversation. The answers won’t be found easily; certainly not in one article. The problems aren’t even going to be identified all that easily. Feminism is messy and difficult, as it should be.

For more on these dynamics see this excellent piece here by Quinnae Moongazer. And other times I’ve discussed Internet feminism here include: Is feminism too cool?, Understanding Internet feminism, and Criticising Twitter activism.

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This is about so much more than hip hop or awards shows; it is instructive reading for any white person. Because we want to acknowledge racism but we don’t want to give up any cake in the process…

The Grammys have long been a source of disappointment because of the recording academy’s lackluster record of acknowledging the gifts and artistry of black musicians. The 2014 Grammys proved to be just more par for the course. The first award given during the live broadcast was to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for best new artist followed by a performance of Lorde’s “Royals.” Lorde went on to win song of the year for “Royals,” a critique of gratuitous consumption in hip-hop culture.

The most egregious error of the night was seeing the brilliant Kendrick Lamar get totally shut out. Everyone knows he’s the best new artist. Macklemore on his best day can barely hold a candle to Kendrick on his worse day. Even Macklemore acknowledged that he “robbed Kendrick,” via a text message that he then sent out screenshots of via social media. However, Macklemore claimed that fear prevented him from taking a courageous stance and saying exactly that when he went up to accept his award. But Kendrick Lamar can’t do anything with a private apology, Macklemore. Far too often, allies refuse to speak up in public while asking for absolution via private confessions. Macklemore failed to use the white privilege that he has readily acknowledged to challenge this structure of power in a moment when the world was watching.

Simultaneous to us witnessing this whitewashing and erasure of the black bodies and black artists who helped create the sound of folks like Macklemore, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Katy Perry and Robin Thicke, the Grammy’s force-fed us a lie of American progress in the form of a diverse marriage ceremony performed near the end of the show, featuring 30 couples, including straight, same-sex and mixed race pairings. As Queen Latifah, who many folks believe is queer, pronounced these folks married, we saw a spectacular display of American multiculturalism. A putatively queer black woman performed a marriage ceremony for the likes of America’s post-race, post-hetero progeny, as Macklemore, rap’s newest great white hope, serenaded the lovers with his hit song “Same Love.”

We know America is no more post-race than it is post-hetero, but each of these lies fuels the other. Macklemore is so popular in part because his music critiques gratuitous consumption and homophobia, both of which are figured to be problems endemic, not to American society, but to hip-hop culture in particular. Thus both he and Lorde scored big awards, he as best new artist, and her song of the year, because the view is that these white folks have come to a transnational consensus, that hip-hop culture is what ails us, and their critiques constitute a cure.

From Brittney Cooper (one of the best new writers around) in Salon with “Macklemore’s useless apology”.

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I have long argued (privately) that our current phase of online activism is very much hobbled by the logic of neoliberalism and its emphasis on the individual, in ways that many of us are completely unaware of. Much online activism exalts the particular at the expense of the collective, rewarding individual episodes of catharsis and valuing them with considerably higher esteem than the more hard-nosed and less histrionic work that sustains a community. This is the dark side of the anxiety over the “tone argument.”

The essay is both thorough and thoughtfully written and really deserves a read. From Quinnae Moongazer with “Words, word, words: On Toxicity and abuse in online activism”. I also have HUGE problems with the way neoliberalism dominates feminism today, particularly at the expense of maternal feminism.

Thanks to Alison Croggon for the link.

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This new documentary, Lucky by journalist, Laura Checkoway about a young, punk, homeless mother called Lucky Torres who is living in New York with her seven year old son looks really amazing. It was selected for New York’s Documentary Festival. I am very excited to see more stories about motherhood on the fringes being told and this one looks particularly engaging, but I must admit to feeling a little apprehensive too. We feel an enormous entitlement to poor people’s lives. We scrutinise the most intimate aspects of their choices and somehow imagine we have great insight to their history and circumstances. Documentaries can do much to highlight our ignorance to us, but they also encourage objectification by their very nature. And so here we are in, what must be said is, a really interesting interview over at ColorLines with the film-maker, talking about Torres’ behaviour at a screening and although the answer was quite good, I would hate to see the discussion around Lucky orientate too much towards this kind of analysis.

Anyway, I will keep an eye out for opportunities to see this film as it hopefully makes its way further afield.

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If you wondered about whatever happened to that cute little baby called Storm who was being raised gender neutral there’s an update here. And Demeter Press, one of the best publishers for parenthood has a book being launched about gender fluid parenting practices which includes an essay by Storm’s mother. The book is available from here.

 

 

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“My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made.”

The Wasp Factory is one of my favourite novels. It’s a wonderfully dark story and an absolutely fascinating exploration of misogyny.

Farewell Iain Banks.

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