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Surfacing
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Good reads
Topic: Reading

Ballastexistenz:  The Best Present I've Ever Received, which has planted the seed of an idea about Christmas presents for my family.

Shakesville: Impossibly Beautiful - links to the full series at the bottom of the post, all well worth checking out.

Anxious Black Woman:  Held to a Higher Standard?  A very thought-provoking post on how African Americans are pitted against other marginalized communities, that asks: "Are full citizenship, full participation in the state, and - inevitably - the "promise of whiteness" (for what else does whiteness promise but "full citizenship"?) the goals we must strive for, or can we envision something different for ourselves?"  I keep re-reading this over and over. 

Feministe:  Is It Worth the Risk? - Stop and think about how your "helpful" advice may very well be hurtful to people living with disabilities. 

Feminist Philosophers: Explaining Psychopathologies - the language is admittedly dense, but the ideas about the self and human relations are very intriguing.


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Updated: Saturday, 16 August 2008 3:32 AM BST
Friday, 9 May 2008
That Mean Old Yesterday
Topic: Reading
 - the title of Stacey Patton's memoir, which I'm putting on my reading list immediately.


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Sunday, 6 April 2008
What is your feminism for?
Topic: Reading

Immigrant communities are living in near-constant fear, with little "safety"; women and trans and gender-nonconforming people are suffering gender-based violence at the hands of federal immigration officials; and the movement for immigration-policy reform is arguably the largest mass movement in the United States today.

Where are white feminists?

- On Prisons, Borders, Safety and Privilege: An Open Letter to White Feminists by Jessica Hoffman (via Feministe)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg - Hoffman's challenge to white feminists is self-reflective and intense, and well worth reading, even for those who don't identify as feminist.  This will provide some intense fuel for the conversations I've been having with with friends lately about where, on a personal level, our energy is and should be going - how do we envision our communities changing, and how do we support that change?


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Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Chewing on
Topic: Reading

I'm briefly re-broadbanded, thanks to a visit to my parents'.  If I can finish everything else I need to before I head back to Baltimore, I'll try to get a lengthier post up.  But for now, here's some of the thought-provoking reading I've encountered recently:

In light of the recent publicity around the Jena 6 and the absence, prior to last week, of the case from the mainstream media and major liberal blogs, BfP's links post on the case of the Jersey 4 is very timely and important, highlighting the discourse that paints the story as "not important" or "invisible" until it's discovered by the main(ly white)stream - as was also the case with the Jena 6.  If you haven't heard of either of these cases, go now and click!

Pyjama Samsara on child labor and ethical procurement issues with the UN and NGOs in Indonesia: "The organisation I work for supposedly has a zero tolerance for child labour. No compromise. However, it does not care where its inputs come from if it is via a contractor. (Hypocrisy is astounding)."

A powerful critique of National Geographic's Living Tongues project at Barista:

These shows valorise Americans. A visiting “expert” arrives, does some science which is depicted as crucial and important. Local experts tend not to be consulted; if they are, they are often seen to be actually directed by the Americans. (Think History Channel or Discovery Channel here, with the endless forensic shows.) Interiews are in English, subtitles are not permitted, and narration replaces dialogue. Often the presenter is seen to suffer to get to the location, which is dangerous and far from civilisation. The makers are in heaven if there is some sort of deadline - to “rescue” a graveyard before a dam is built, to collect DNA before the snow makes the passes impassable.

It feels nice to be able to share again . . .  


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Friday, 6 July 2007
Silencing women of color on the internet
Topic: Reading

This post by Jenn at Reappropriate  (via Hoyden About Town) should be bookmarked for handy reference when someone asks "Why aren't there more women of color (or women, regardless of race) bloggers?"  Well, for starters:

many female bloggers have chosen to not participate in blogging or online discussion forums as a direct result of malicious treatment by male participants.
... 

The intolerance towards female bloggers, therefore, is not just a disincentive towards female participation online, but it is an attack on feminism, itself. What male aggressors promote by their threatening actions is to maintain male-centric control over online discussion, and to subvert the development of feminism in cyberspace.

For women of colour, disincentives may be particularly severe. Not only are we vulnerable to threats based upon our gender, but we may also expose ourselves to racist treatment based upon our race. Further, women of colour have been largely silenced in American history; our narratives have been subjugated by White male-dominated society such that we are expected to fit into little boxes. As we take steps towards breaking out of the confines of those little boxes, we become the targets of backlash from those who prefer we play along in a role of their own design.

Every single blog I read in which a woman, whether she identifies as feminist or not, advocates for equality or a man who identifies as feminist or pro-feminist does the same, has had more than one post expressing disgust and rage at the ignorant, hateful comments and e-mail they receive.  The vileness that gets spewed at bloggers who are women of color is appalling.  They face harassment based on their sex, their race and - a topic Jenn does not address in this post - from women who identify as feminist who believe that oppression based on sex and gender is more important than oppression based on race (a belief many of them have come to because they haven't had to deal with race-based oppression).

I am amazed that women who face this torrent of garbage continue to maintain their web presence.  I stand in awe of their courage, their commitment, and their passion.  And I stand in wholehearted support of their efforts to break the silence that so many attempt to impose upon them.

I will not take the tack of the Washington Post article that concludes with the pessimistic suggestion that women bloggers may diminish in number over time, as a response to an intolerant blogosphere. I believe we will survive — indeed, thrive — not simply by refusing to “cut and run” but by building support networks. We will help one another stand steadfast. Because we believe our voices are not only a benefit, but a necessity.


Monday, 4 June 2007
Recommended
Topic: Reading
BfP has posted a powerful, moving reflection on historical trauma, work, systemic oppression, and what she and her family have learned while tending their garden.  Read it here.


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Monday, 18 September 2006
"I Ain't the Right Kind of Feminist"
Topic: Reading

(excerpted) 

First off I'm too confused
Secondly you know my blackness envelops me
Thirdly my articulateness fails me
When the marching feminists come by
I walk with them for awhile
And then I trip over pebbles I didn't see
My sexist heels are probably too high
I'm stuck in the sidewalk cracks

...

I am a woman
You are a lady
We are sisters in the movement
It's about neapolitan ice cream
Mixed and oh so sweet
It's not about white and sterility

...

Come share with me sister feminist
Let us dance the movement
Let my blackness catch your feminism
Let your oppression peek at mine
After all
I ain't the right kind of feminist
I'm just woman

~ Cheryl L. West (1983)
Appears in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991


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Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007 11:42 AM GMT
Thursday, 13 July 2006
Totally random
Topic: Reading

1. Pick up any book.
2. Go to page 127.
3. Find third sentence
4. Post it on your blog (plus these instructions)
5. Don't choose the book, just pick up the one closest to you.

Why? I don't know why. Why not, especially since I've always got a book to hand?

'Such reinforcement lends legitimacy to possibly controversial decisions and actions and also serves as a constant reminder to all peacekeepers.'
- Gender, Conflict and Peacekeeping, edited by Dyan Mazurana, Angela Raven-Roberts and Jane Parpart

There's something about the pointlessness of this exercise I find appealing. Or maybe not the pointlessness so much as the effortlessness, because everything seems to be so much work right now. Writing is like pulling teeth and research is just dreary. Bleh. I hate to feel like I'm just slogging, with no inspiration behind what I'm doing.

Added:  From a blogless friend, who would've commented if Tripod hadn't done something new and alarmingly non-functional to the comments facility (sorry, if anyone else has found it not working - unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about it aside from send irate e-mails):

"Priests should, therefore, ensure that they so preside over the celebration of the Eucharist that the faithful know that they are attending not a rite established on private initiative, but the Church's public worship, the regulation of which was entrusted by Christ to the apostles and their successors." 
-Sacrosantum concilium (The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy) Chapter 9, paragragh 45.


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Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006 7:20 AM BST
Thursday, 6 July 2006
50
Topic: Reading

50 books
6 months
39 novels
20 sci-fi/fantasy novels
7 books for uni
7 books I didn't especially like
5 good recommendations from friends
39 books by women
3 books read once prior to 1 January

Book #50 is White Noise by Don DeLillo. Which was the one recommendation from a friend that I just wasn't into. I didn't dislike White Noise once I got a few chapters into it, but if my friend hadn't been so adamant that I had to read it, I don't think I would've bothered to get that far in. DeLillo doesn't seem to care about the characters at all - they're constructs on which to hang his ideas. They all speak the same way, distinguished from one another only by the theme they obsessively talk about. There are no distinct voices. Fear of death, the meaninglessness of rampant consumerism and advertising, power, interpersonal politics, and the awkwardness of familial relationships are just some of currents throughout the book, and it's not that DeLillo isn't insightful about these themes, or skillful at weaving them all together with sharp, ironic wit, it's that when all is said and done, I don't care, because I can't accept the characters as real people. I'm not at all opposed to novels about Big Ideas, but I like them to involve characters I have some feeling for, one way or another.

Update:  The full list can now be found here.


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Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006 12:58 AM BST
Tuesday, 20 June 2006
Connections
Topic: Reading
It's interesting, the number of strands of things I'm interested in that Connie Willis has drawn together in Doomsday Book in an intriguing mesh of science fiction and historical fiction. The novel opens in the near future, where time travel is used by historians to engage in field work in their period of interest, blurring the boundaries between history and anthropology. Kivrin, a young historian at Oxford University, is about to be sent back to the early years of the fourteenth century, a period previously deemed too dangerous for direct study by anyone, let alone a female undergraduate student. The machinations of university politics have created an opportunity for her, however, one that she is determined to seize. Despite all her careful preparations, crisis after crisis erupts in both the past and the future, challenging Kivrin, those in the future who are concerned about her, and those in the past she comes to care about.

I think what I responded to most strongly in the novel is the way in which all the years of planning and study that went into Kivrin's project have, at best, mixed results. Little in the past is what she expected, proving the limitations of study done at a distance, rather than through experience. Kivrin's resourcefulness and the relationships she forms are every bit as important to her survival as all of her preparations. The past is another world, and an unfamiliar and bewildering one. All the study in the world couldn't have prepared her for everything she encounters in the past.

The picture of the past that Willis paints is detailed and evocative, in both its hardship and its beauty. Willis' speculation about the people of a rural English manor in the fourteenth century and the way they live is unromantic and realistic. The world of the near-future is a familiar one - not at all a high-tech paradise. The little details of university politics, bureaucracy and infighting are all too true to life. Most importantly, the contrast between the past and the future lies more in wealth and technology than in any change in human nature. Willis explores the richness and messiness of relationships, and reflects on altruism, selfishness and suffering, and in particular, what people owe to each other by virtue of their shared humanity. The nature of the things that have true value in life, she suggests, has not changed in seven centuries.


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