Sunday, October 31, 2010

Glee, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Stereotypes, Transsexuals, Transgender, Radical Feminism. Part 2: Rocky Horror

image is from here
Series links:
Part 1: Glee
Part 2: Rocky Horror
Part 3: Transsexuals, Transgender, and Radical Feminism
Part 4: Racist Patriarchy, Post-Modernism, Genderism, and Bigotry

I can't describe fully to you what the experience was for me, just out of adolescence, still a teenager, sitting in a movie theatre watching giant painted red lips (not those of a woman) singing the opening number to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A white male friend had told me and a few mutual white friends, "You HAVE to go see The Rocky Horror Picture Show!!" This cultural mandate was declared ages before Netflix and movies coming out on DVD or video so soon after initial release. If you didn't see a movie in the theatre, you had no assurance you'd ever see it any other way, especially if it didn't grab great box office. But this wasn't the initial release of the film, and so was kind of in a category of its own: the first cult film I'd ever seen as it was still becoming a cult film.

He was so enthusiastic about this cultural phenomenon that a couple of mutual friends and I made plans with him to see it ASAP. Probably the following Saturday night! This whole seemingly secret society had thus far totally gotten by me. Yes, I was sheltered in some ways from everything other than what was on television--I was a complete TV addict--into The Waltons and Little House on The Prairie, among other shows. I didn't yet know that "TV" meant anything other than "television". I had NO IDEA those two capitalised letters could also mean "transvestite" nor was I especially sure what it meant or didn't mean to be a transvestite.

Once, in my memory, when age five or so, my brother and I went to a white male friends home and he led us into his older sister's room and we all got into some of her dresses. DRESSES. I think she only had a few. And it was kind of thrilling, to be honest. Not sexually exciting, but just fun and boundary-pushing for us three male children to be running around in a home without any adults in it, in dresses! Sex codes and rules were so rigid then. I liked the experience and wouldn't put on another dress or skirt for about twenty years, when at a progressive, queer-friendly place where males could wear skirts--not to look like "women" but just because they were comfortable. That was what I liked: the option to dress comfortably. And the skirts males wore weren't short. The "comfort" wasn't in showing off our tighty-whiteys. The "comfort" wasn't in being gawked at or commented on as "sexual objects for a male (or female) gaze". We just liked having the choice to wear what we wanted without fearing being beaten up by misogynistic and homophobic (while strongly homosocial) guys for doing it. I'll be speaking more about "drag" later in this series of posts.

With our expectations set for "high", the four of us (two females, two males) went to see the movie at a local theatre. Before entering it was clear this wasn't going to be like any other movie theatre experience I'd ever had. For one thing, I was going to my first midnight show--of anything. For another, there were some people outside, young--we were all young--no adults at all--who were dressed up like some of the main characters. It was wild. I was filled with antici..... pation! We went in, got seated, and watched the characters--literally/figuratively--walk around laughing with one another. I sensed these people had been doing this for a while--how did this get by me?! (That's what good friends are for--making sure you don't miss out on the coolest thing ever.)

Before the film began some of those "regulars" began to shout to the screen--LIPS! (They wanted lips.) I was confused. And then bright red lipsticked lips--and quite possibly not a woman's lips--appeared on the dark screen. They came from the center, small and grew huge and began singing the opening number. This was definitely not like anything I'd ever seen before.

The next two hours were spent laughing hysterically, delighting in the music and characters, and being amazed at how the audience "regulars" were calling out comments to the movie as if scripted--as if these things were all supposed to be said and the movie wouldn't even be the movie without the audience's participation. That was what was so amazing: "we" were part of the show. The people in the rows in front of us and behind us who were wearing costumes like the characters were introducing us into part of the script that the screenwriters never wrote. It was like a strange and wonderful portal to another world had opened, just for people like us. Freaks. Odd-balls. "Queers". Two of the four of us, including yours truly, would come out as gay within ten years time, but for now just seeing bisexuality and transvestitism and lust depicted on screen and celebrated by the audience was kind of emotionally liberating. There weren't many places then to show overt regard for gendered experiences that weren't "normal" and "normal" then was very boring--at least my normal was. Until that night, probably around Halloween, circa 1978.

We caught wind of the fact that in a bigger city we had access to, there was a much better audience production. That's where we went several times over the course of a few months, some of us dressing up more and more. I was shy about stuff like that, so probably just wearing lipstick and eyeliner was as brazen as I got. But the male not-yet-gay friend who introduced us to this experience would later rival anyone else's impersonation of Frank-N-Furter. He had all the facial gestures down pat. He had acquired the outfit, piece by piece. And another of our little group of four would perform a fabulous Magenta. By then we all knew how to dance the Time Warp and had memorised the lyrics to all of the songs. What never occurred to me to consider was how I'd never really heard the actual soundtrack uninterrupted constantly. When, many years later, I rented and watched the film at home on video, I couldn't believe how mild an experience it was, by comparison. I don't recommend anyone do that--don't rent the movie and watch it alone or only with people unfamiliar with it.

The storyline, in a nutshell, is as follows: two white middle-"American" suburbanite newlyweds head off for their honeymoon and wind up more or less trapped inside a scary castle on a hill, occupied by various characters who engage in questionable activities, some of which we get a taste of, and some of which are only alluded to in song. This is place of transgression and sexual exploration--of being taught new values and how to embrace them. And it is also a place where some sinister things are going on that might spoil your appetite.

Here are a couple of other plot descriptions from IMDb:

After Janet accepts Brad's marriage proposal, the happy couple drive away from Denton, Ohio, only to get lost in the rain. They stumble upon the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite who is holding the annual convention of visitors from the planet Transsexual. Frank-N-Furter unveils his creation, a young man named Rocky Horror, who fears the doctor and rejects his sexual advances. When Frank-N-Furter announces that he is returning to the galaxy Transylvania, Riff Raff the butler and Magenta the maid declare that they have plans of their own. (An audience participation film) Written by Rick Gregory

While driving home during a rain filled night, straight-laced lovebirds Brad and Janet, by chance, end up at the castle of one Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his strange and bizarre entourage, and find that he's having a party. This is no ordinary party, no ordinary night. This is the unveiling of the Dr's latest creation: Rocky; A man-made Adonis that will give...absolute pleasure. This is an exceedingly grand visual and musical camp satire of the golden days of the B-movie horror and science-fiction genres. Projected along with a musical soundtrack to give "audience participation" a new meaning in dimension, time and space, this shall be a night that both Brad and Janet will remember for a very, very long time in the sexually kinky, rock 'n roll (f)rock-opera world of a gender-bending scientist...and his time warped plans. Written by Cinema_Fan

The theatre was an oasis of sexual libertarianism and while we all came from white suburban liberal families we didn't have permission to get decked out in this form of drag unless it was Halloween, and Halloween then wasn't what it is now: pornography hadn't yet taken over the society imposing its anti-sex, pro-sexxxism values on everything. Dressing as any of the stars of our midnight picture show was risque, but quite tame by contemporary standards. Our parents and care-givers knew we were getting heavily into the movie though, and assumed it was, more or less, harmless fun--which was the case for us. There were no drugs or drunks there that I could see, and it was just a place for teenagers and people in their twenties to rock out to this crazy theatrical experience that excluded no one who would be considered an outsider in our more or less white middle class suburban lives.

It would be safe to come out as, well, just about anything in this environment. It sure was not a place where being lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transsexual were "bad" and "shameful" things. Queer youth needed a space like this, and the theatres showing the RHPS at midnight were one such space. Whether it was genuinely liberatory or just a form of WHM supremacy draped in drag-queen garb is a question that will be taken up in the next post in this series. I'll also be discussing the role of this film and other events through the 1980s played in the social construction of dominant queer culture.

Over the decades, I went on to introduce other generations of older teens to this cinematic/theatrical experience, much to their delight. It was, for many of us, a rite of passage in a culture that usually only has rites that involve gross forms of self-destruction or destruction of other people, by humiliating and violating them, for example, such as in grade school bullying or college hazing rituals. That this was, for me, completely harmless fun cannot be overstated. I felt safe. I had a very good time. No one around me seemed to be out of their minds drunk or drugged, no one appeared to be harassed or violated, and at the end of the day--er, in the wee early morning hours, all I had to do to "recover" was use remover to get the black polish off my nails, and some cold cream to get the eyeliner and lipstick off my face. From there it was off to bed for sweet dreams of sweet transvestites from Transylvania.

The remainder of this particular post is a description of what any intrigued "RHPS virgins" out there needs to know, from the official website, Please be on the look-out for Part 3 on the rise of Queer Culture and Feminist Activism.

VIRGIN - In the common world, this usually refers to a person who has not engaged in sexual relations. In the ROCKY HORROR world, this word refers to the many unfortunate people who have never experienced THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (RHPS) in a theater with an audience and a live cast. Seeing it on home video (Blu-ray, DVD, VHS, Netflix Instant, etc.) or on TV doesn't count!

You came to this page because you are hopefully going to consider attending a showing of Rocky Horror in a theater.

If you've already seen the movie by itself on TV or home video and wondered what all the fuss was about, read on. If you haven't seen the movie on TV or home video - GREAT! The more surprised you are on your first time, the more fun it is.

Rocky Horror is the first and only true audience partici-(SAY IT!)-pation movie. People yell back lines at the screen during the extended pauses between dialogue, dress up in costume and act out the film, and throw props various times during the film. The audience participation phenomenon was observed as early as the film's first run in 1975 (when it bombed during limited engagements in 7 of 8 cities), and was later re-released as a midnight movie where the audience participation really began to flourish. And by the way, for the "gore sensitive", Rocky Horror is NOT a horror film. It is a rock-musical send-up of old science-fiction and horror films.

Enough history! You are interested in going, so here's what you really need to know.

First, the only thing you really need to bring your first time out in order to have fun is a sense of humor, and money for admission (and food at the nearest 24-hour diner afterwards.) Of course, being surrounded by 10-15 of your friends is also a good thing. You should dress in whatever makes YOU feel comfortable, but also does not violate any local standards (this usually means nudity is out.) Speaking of violating laws and norms of society, it is usually best to go to RHPS sober the first time. Not only will you be more in-tune to pick up all the clever things going on around you, some theaters will not admit those people who look drunk - what theater manager wants to clean up after a drunk at 2:30 a.m.?

But hey, what about the props and audience participation lines and dressing up in costume? Well, no one expects you to know much of anything your first time out. While audience participation is mandatory to keep the show alive, it is not mandatory that everyone participate, every time. Virgins are not expected to know a damn thing (just like in sex.)

If you really want to bring props, check with your local theater and ask what props are not allowed. The safest ones to bring are rice (banned at some, but not most theaters), toast (unbuttered), toilet paper and a deck of cards. A newspaper may help keep you from getting wet, but water is banned at many theaters. Watch everyone else to figure out when to throw these items. A prop list is available on this website.

Oh, and if you need to know one AP line, there is one that is almost universal to every theater, that you can use multiple times. Whenever you hear the name "Brad Majors", yell "ASSHOLE", okay? An important note here: AP is NOT fixed from theater to theater and night to night. If you feel an new line coming on, YELL IT! A big part of keeping the show fresh is creating new lines with topical humor. (i.e. "Is Jessica Simpson a real dildo?" film: "YES!")

Hmmmm... sounds interesting. I am not going to be targeted for some humiliation because I am a virgin, right? Maybe. Usually, theaters will have some sort of virgin ritual which almost always only includes 2 virgins. Since at any one time, an audience can consist of 25%-50% virgins, it is not likely that you will be chosen for this harmless ritual (well, usually harmless, it varies by theater!) If it looks like you are about to be picked, the best thing to do is point to a friend of the same sex and mouth to whoever (whomever?) is looking at you that he or she is a "virgin" (the soon to be ex-friend that you are pointing at.) Once you have completed an entire showing of Rocky in a theater, they can not ask you to participate in this ritual... you only have to worry about this once. (And once you see it, sometimes you actually WISH you were picked!)

Now get off your butt, check the showtimes list and find out where to see Rocky (and don't rent the damn thing again until you do see it.) REMEMBER: Rocky Horror is like sex, you can only have one first time so make the most of it.

A 7 November 2010 ECD addendum:
Ruth Fink-Winter contacted me by email to alert me to some problems with the "contributors" listed below. What is below is exactly what appears on the original site--I just copied and pasted the whole thing. But below what follows I'll list the names as she believes would be more appropriate, honest, and accurate. Thank you, Ruth!!

As listed in the original:
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS DOCUMENT: Christopher Amblers, Ruth Fink-Winter, Karen Majors, David Shetterly

As listed according to Ruth's helpful corrections:
Christopher Ambler, P7A77, Ruth Fink-Winter (for a latter period of time when some of this was written up), Karen Majors, and David Shetterly.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Glee, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Stereotypes, Transsexuals, Transgender, Radical Feminism. Part 1: Glee

image of the Glee cast with Rocky Horror Picture Show disc insert is from here.
The cast of characters, left to right, back row first, is: Quinn, Terri, Sue, Rachel, Will/Mr. Schuester, Emma, Puck, Curt, Mercedes, and [front row] Arnie and Finn. Missing from this photo--or blocked by the RHPS insert, among others, is Santana and Sam.
Series links:
Part 1: Glee
Part 2: Rocky Horror
Part 3: Transsexuals, Transgender, and Radical Feminism
Part 4: Racist Patriarchy, Post-Modernism, Genderism, and Bigotry
Hi, my name is Julian and I am a Gleek and a Rocky Horror Fan. I only became a Gleek this summer, when the reruns of most of the first season's shows were re-aired, and I've been faithfully watching the second season since it began a few weeks-for-gleeks ago. I became a RHPS fan when I was a newly post-adolescent teenager. I've seen the film with performers in the theatre about a dozen or fifteen times. I've seen the movie without the performers a few times. It's so much more fun with the scenes acted out under the screen as the movie is playing, and audiences singing along and calling out the cleverly placed comebacks to on-screen characters and situations that were never part of conception of the original film. The film did okay when released. But by the end of the 1970s it hit some major cities as a midnight show that was far more than "watching a movie with a friend or two". That's "The Rocky Horror experience". I think I first saw it in 1979. If you've only ever "just" watched the DVD--alone (horrors!), you've NOT had the RHPS experience. And I consider you  to be, in RHPS audience parlance, a "virgin".

Over at, I've been reading a bit from their discussion of Glee's "Rocky Horror"-themed Halloween episode. There are many issues to discuss, if one is a Gleek (a fan of the show, Glee: get with the program, people--literally!). I'm going to analyse and critique the show quite a bit here, but please know this is what progressives and radicals must do. We want our television and we have to publicly critique it to appear not to "only" enjoy it. For the most part, however, I do "only" enjoy Glee. Some of the show's cast were in the news recently for a GQ "Glee Gone Wild" photo "spread" that I found really over the line in terms of turning people-who-portray-teens into pornography--correction: FEMALE teens into pornography for WHM. See *here* for much, much more.

Here's what I like and don't like about the show: relative to most U.S. television programs on major networks, it is far more socially diverse. There are several people of color (not just one person of color in an otherwise all-white show, like, say, Big Bang Theory and too many other programs to name). That said, too many stereotypes get replicated. The most glaring stereotypes, to me, are The Dramatic Slim White Dramatic Femme Out Gay Boy, The Dramatic Fat Black Femme Supposedly Straight Girl. Amber Riley plays Mercedes Jones. PLEASE: could we have a more stereotypical name? Well, actually we could. Her first name could be Shaniqua. And maybe her last name could be one of those early slaver presidents like Washington or Jefferson. To see pics of the cast-mates, please go here at IMDb. But wait: wouldn't you know it--Amber Riley is the only person whose pic isn't up! Can they really not find an image of her to put in there? Does she really have no publicity shots?

For fewer photos but more background info on the show, please see here at Wikipedia. For information, images, and THE FULL EPISODE of "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" please click a few words back or go here, to the show's official Fox website. (They do have pics of Amber Riley. Hey: there's a name for an African American girl--Amber Riley!!! Wait, that's not stereotypical enough. Never mind.) Oh, and Chris Colfer plays Curt Hummel, with a tries-hard-to-be loving Dad. Their relationship on television is a profoundly new experience. I've never seen a straight father/gay son storyline on television that is remotely honest and moving. This one is VERY both. Wouldn't you know it--Mercedes doesn't seem to have a family. She's dimensional in size, but not in character development. As THE ONE AND ONLY person of size on the program (subliminal message: Black is fat; non-Black is thin), we are at least spared some of the typical anti-fat bigotry and "humor" known to run rampant and naked throughout dominant media. ("The Biggest Loser" has to be among the worst offender of any show I've heard of. I've yet to watch an episode of that program, out of sheer protest.) This isn't helped when thin celebs speak of needing to be thinner, and when heavier celebs speak of needing to be thinner, and also  repeatedly speak out loud about being deeply unhappy as if it's a personal failure rather than a resource-stealing, corporate agribusiness-adoring, fast food-producing First World imperative, to be heavy. No, I'm not naming names.

No butch or non-femme girls--lesbian or straight--are allowed on television EVER. And butch gay boys aren't really either. The boys must be thin, almost without exception. The Fat Gay Boy just doesn't meet with a white het male supremacist audience's approval, including the white gay male portion of that audience. Apparently, we want our gayboys thin or muscular, but never, ever FAT.

So let's get that clear from the start. Butch women are very, very rarely allowed on television, and if a woman appears too butch (or too unfemme--which isn't the same thing, btw) and somehow makes it in front of a camera--Susan Boyle being a classic white example--she will be "made over" ASAP so her eyebrows aren't really her eyebrows any more, so that her hair is "done" into some kind of "hair-do", and so her face has coloring added through products that usually test on non-human animals, such as by applying product ingredients in the eyes of bunny rabbits to see how irritating they are. (The ingredients, not the bunny rabbits.) Coast Sue Sylvester and a more recent addition to the cast might qualify as white butch women only reinforces more stereotypes: that of the "unappealing white non-femme lesbian".

The students of Asian descent--well, at least there's more than one, barely. We have yet to learn any can play violin. One girl can sing; one boy can dance. The most prominent female character is "Tina"--no last name readily known, but if you search for it you find out it is "Cohen-Chang". Well, the Askkenazi Jewish-Chinese name combo is unique--I'll give them that. But the choices of each--the Jewish last name and the Chinese last name are hardly unique.)

Tina is played by actor Jenna Ushkovitz; no program in the U.S. is going to give an East Asian character the last name "Ushkovitz" even if  that is the last name of the girl playing the character. I wonder if because her last name IS Ushkovitz, they stuck the Cohen on to her character's last name. (Some questions in life just aren't all that answerable; it's what keeps life "a mystery".) The "other" student of Eastern Asian descent is presented as a cool dancer, not a singer, in a Glee Club. There's an on-going story line about boys in Glee Club: exactly how ostracised will they be? How "gay" is it to be in a glee club? Answer: VERY. So, with that in mind, I find that ethnically East Asian characters on U.S. television shows fit into one of two categories usually: they are either well-assimilated into dominant white suburban culture, or are well-assimilated into non-dominant African-American (and maybe Latino) urban culture. Generally the girls hang with the lily white wealthy girls, and the boys hang with the not-wealthy Black and Brown boys. This makes each gender "cool".

We have one Latina character among the students and a Latino male character among the school's staff. He's presented VERY one-dimensionally, as sort of the low-class loser (he's the janitor) who aspires to have a "pretty"* white girlfriend or wife, in this case the counselor who is enamoured of the show's white het male hero-with-a-heart-of-gold, Mr. (Will) Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison). (*Note: "pretty" in the U.S. is synonymous with "white".) The more featured character is the counselor. The janitor really only appears in relation to her, for the most part. This can be true of men of color on programs with white women. It is generally not the case with white men on programs with women of any color. The White Het Man is always "center stage", has the most allure, has the most status, and has the largest part. She's Naya Rivera and plays the character Santana Lopez. Not so original with the last name, again. (Jones. Chang. Lopez. Where HAVE I heard these names before??) She's in with the white girls, and appears to be in with one particular white girl in a kind of "bi" way. There are many allusions to their bisexuality (which of course means the show is hinting at "hot lesbian teen girl sex" made for het men). The other bi student is named Brittany and is played by Heather Morris. I don't know which name would be more stereotypical: Brittany or Heather, for this particular character. Brittany is a bit more contemporary, I guess, and allowed her to shine in the episode with Britney Spears, due to them sharing that name--at least phonetically.

Will Schuester, the Great WHM, runs Glee Club (he's the drama teacher). He's fun, cool, hip, down with the kids but not so down as to be inappropriate. And if he crosses some line, he admits it to the students so they can learn from the mild, mild error of his ways. This happens in the Rocky Horror Glee Show episode, when the counselor--who he "wants"--brings to glaring consciousness the fact that he's only putting on the show in order to try and win her back from some new guy who is helping her work through her OCD limitations. She's the school counselor (Emma Pillsbury, played by Jayma Mays), so she's got to have "issues" and in her case she might just as well be the librarian: she's painted for us as prudish while perhaps secretly naughty. Don't the straight white guys love that little madonna/whore not-so-complex stereotype! It's so pro-rape and pro-pornography narrative (same thing).

Will has a wife, Terri Schuester, played by Jessalyn Gilsig, who is yet another stereotype: the over-privileged white het woman who apparently lacks intelligence, who is very femme'd up, and who has way too much time on her hands. She concocts this silly idea of feigning pregnancy while secretly planning to adopt a white straight pregnant girl's baby. The girl is Quinn Fabray (played by Dianna Argon) and, along with Brittany and Santana, comprise the three Cheerios--the high schools cheerleaders who got into Glee Club to spy on them for Sue Sylvester (coach of the Cheerios, played by Emmy winning Jane Lynch, who is an out lesbian in real life and apparently doesn't play one on tv, although the woman sports coach is notoriously known for being the lesbian stereotype; this butch-and-possibly-lesbian stereotype is played up in a minor role by the woman coach of the boys' football team). Sue is perpetually up to no good. Subtle subliminal message: woman who oversees girls is evil. Het man who oversees boys and girls is good--practically holy. Quinn's character is both stereotype and non-stereotype. I suppose this could be said about most of the characters, who, if you watch the show regularly enough, do sort of just become "who they are" in the show, which is to say, in the viewer's life. Quinn breaks the stereotype of the very white, thin, heterosexual female who is "pretty" (white, thin, heterosexual, and female), by being smart. Yes, folks, she's intelligent, and is probably--along with Artie, portrayed as one of the smartest students on the show. Although Santana, too, is very smart, and Mercedes has brains too, so never mind. Curiously, all the boys who aren't disabled and aren't gay are not so bright in the "intellect" department.

There was, for a time, some other character, a horrid stereotype of a white gay adult man who apparently WAS a child molester in the show's sub-sub-plot. He was very creepy in some virulently anti-gay ways, and was made that way by the show's writers.) Even Sue, lately, has become part of Glee Club, which kind of means they're phasing out a Cheerios storyline, which is fine with me as girls in cheer leading outfits is one pornographic stereotype prime time can really do without. I mean seeing high school girls' underpants: does it get any more pornographically (and simultaneously) misopedic and misogynistic? Grown het men are all about this imagery and if a girl can be an athlete too, that works as well, as long as she's in a skirt, and is white, and is thin, and is heterosexual, and is femme. Say, like, Anna Kournikova. If white het men weren't allowed the occasional peek up the skirt of high school girls' attire, you get the sense they might die of withdrawal.

I mention this obsession of het men because gay men are not allowed this obsession to be broadcast without the gay men being seen as perverted, child molesting homosexuals. Why aren't all the het men who jerk off to images of Anna Kournikova stigmatised as perverted, child molestiing, heterosexuals? Oh, yes, because (non-poor able-bodied) WHM can't have a stigma attached to them: they are the teflon-coated socio-political demographic, after all.

Which brings us to Artie Abrams, played by Kevin McHale. Kevin McHale, in case you don't notice, is a decidedly white Irish name. It could also be an African American name, due to the convergence of Irish-English names replacing the original names of enslaved Africans, who freed themselves, lived through Jim Crow, and began to assimilate into dominant white society, in part because of having Irish-English names that could be on resumes and not be tossed out by white employers. Artie Abrams is a bit more white-Jewish sounding. And so, he's nerdy. VERY nerdy-looking. And what goes well with nerdy, meaning unsexy? Being in a wheelchair! He's THE disabled student, because "disability" on television usually only means things like "can't walk". Not "major post-traumatic stress due to daddy fucking you from age two to twelve, or five to fifteen. We don't get THAT disability on television. Only the "can't walk" variety. The show has also had a deaf student plot-line, but it's been awfully stereotypical and kind of cruel. Other blogs have done a good job of articulating what's fucked up about how Artie's disability is handled in the show's storylines. For a very succinct analysis, there's this, from (I'm clearly not geeky enough, as I had no idea what "RPG" meant. In case there are other not-so-geeky people out there, it stands for role-playing [online] game.)
I’ve touched on RPG characters with disabilities being played by TAB-people above, so I’ll just make a general comment. The lack of characters with diabilities in role playing game isn’t unique to RPGs. It’s the systematic problem that exists in all media, which is kyriarchal in nature. You don’t see people with disabilities often in television, books, film, theatre and even then when they do exist they’re often caricatures, comedic relief, or done really badly. I remember reading the frustration of a lot of wheel chair users at Glee because people would just push Artie’s wheelchair around. When I heard that, having spent time around people who use wheelchairs, my jaw dropped because that was at best horribly rude. However, that’s how the Kyriarchy thinks, always from their perspective and so they don’t see a problem with any representation that fits within their world view.
Who have I left out?

Two Jews and two white het guys who are, in the show, three not four characters. The first Jew is one of the STARS of the show, adores Barbra Streisand as a singer/idol, and is named Rachel Berry played by Lea Michele. She has commented, in real life, that she's one of the few girls in her high school who didn't get a nose job. One wonders if she would have been cast in this role, playing a Jew, if she had. Jennifer Grey and so many other Hollywood female actors have had nose jobs to Aryan-ise their shnozzes. Jennifer now regrets it. (To me, she was SO much more attractive before she got the generic Christian-white-euro girl nose. But the pressure to be whiter and more appealing to the WHM gentile masses is ubiquitous, and you'll make less money if you look too "ethnic", so there you have it. She, and lots of other Jewish and non-Jewish female actors have gotten a nose job for their careers.) Rachel Berry is a stereotype: class-privileged, snobby, stuck up, self-absorbed, selfish, and seemingly obsessed with her career (fame along with money acquisition), not things like "compassion for humanity". She's also relatively pale, although not nearly as pale as the non-Jewish white girl characters.

The other Jewish character is a darker-skinned male. His name is Puck (no last name, and one presumes this was not his birth name). He's played by Mark Salling. He's on the football team along with Finn, who I'll get to in a moment. I'd say Puck appears to be Sephardic, not Ashkenazi. In the show he's anti-nerd and part-time bully. He's the guy on the show who is both very "hot" and very "cool". He's got a slow-growing "mohawk" haircut, which, by appropriating Indigenous North American stereotypes, makes him all the more cool. Appropriation of invaded, colonised, and/or destroyed nations' cultural terms is usually 'cool' in white television shows. Or at least totally acceptable. Consider professional allegedly het male team sports (Indians, Braves, Redskins, etc.) and U.S.-made automobiles (such as the Jeep Cherokee and the Pontiac) and famous U.S. states and cities (Seattle, Chicago, Missouri, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, Alabama, Alaska, and let's not forget "Indiana"). Puck fucks around and it's well known and there's no stigma attached to him for doing it, as there would be if he were any other gender or sexual orientation. Everyone else is called "a slut" for having lots and lots and lots of casual sex with multiple partners. But not white het men. Go figure.

Puck's football and on-again/off-again homosocial buddy is Finn Hudson (played by Cory Monteith), who is probably THE main character among the students, along with Rachel. The show always features a duet with the two of them singing. (She's the better singer, by far. He's okay. Now, in RHPS audience parlance, this is where you're supposed to shout, along with the character Dr. Frankenfurter: "OKAY!?!?! I didn't make him for YOU!)

In the movie, the character Frankenfurter is referring to is "Rocky"--the creation. On Glee, "Rocky"--in this one episode, is played by the character Sam Evans, who is new to the show, coming in during season two. He's played by Chord Overstreet--a more white/goy-boy name there's perhaps never been. I do wonder if it is his birth name.) He's the new "hottie" guy who both Curt and at least one het female character has a crush on. Curt confirms a suspicion, in a very subtle glance "down" as Sam is showering, that his head of bleached-blond hair is "not natural".

In the RHPS, Rocky is introduced in the last part of the song, "Sweet Transvestite". Dr. Frankenfurter is speaking/singing to the two main characters, Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down outside in the rain, near a castle occupied by some very strange and possibly "Transylvanian" souls:

So why don't you stay for the night? Or maybe a bite? [Get it?]
I could show you my favourite obsession [movie audience yell out "SEX"].
I've been making a man [audience: "Not him"] with blond hair and a tan
And he's good for relieving my [audience yells out: "SEXUAL"] tension

Here's a video clip of that song, in which Dr. Frankenfurter makes his simultaneously dramatic and campy entrance from the elevator:

And with that, we'll end part one. Stay tuned for Part 2: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I see you shiver with antici......[movie audience yells out "SAY IT!!!!"] ...pation. If you're at all confused, please find a way to somehow see the mid-1970s cult classic, preferably in a movie theatre at midnight on Halloween, so you'll be more "in the know" for Part 2 of this ARP blog series. And, well, just because it's a whole lot of fun.

850 Afghan Children Dead: If Yemen Killed 850 U.S. Children on U.S. land, what do you think the response would be from the U.S.?

this exceptionally disturbing photograph of U.S. warfare-murdered children in Afghanistan is from here
If the U.S. military murders anyone at all, it is never, ever "terrorism" not matter how terrifying the assaults and invasions are on human beings. When any aggression, or threats of aggression, or possibilities of explosives being on planes headed to the U.S., our media will call it "terrorism" even while no one was terrorised, raped, bombed, or murdered. Does that make any sense to you?

What follows is from


Another Day, Another 850 Afghan Children Dead

Submitted by davidswanson on Fri, 2010-10-29 16:48
Bamiyan Diaries – Day Five
By David Smith-Ferri
“Is This Normal?”

In a small storage shed at the edge of town, we watched as fourteen-year-old Sayed Qarim signed a simple contract agreeing to borrow and repay a no-interest, 25,000 afghani loan (roughly $555). Daniel from the Zenda Company, the loan originator, counted out the crisp bills and handed them to Qarim, who smiled broadly and shook hands. Qarim, whose family farms potatoes and wheat, plans to use the funds to purchase a cow and her calf. “There are great benefits of owning a cow,” Qarim explains. “Our family gets to use the milk, and we can sell the calf for a good profit.”

No one walking by outside on the narrow dirt road would have known an important business transaction had just occurred, one that could in fact help a young man and his family gain economic traction and greater security. The transaction didn’t take place in a bank. No village leaders were present. Only a fourteen-year-old boy, the representative of a private business company, and a witness. And while the signed agreement constitutes a business relationship, the Zenda Company sees it as primarily personal.

Qarim was recommended for a loan by Faiz and Mohammad Jan, two other young men who live in his village and who have themselves recently received and repaid loans. Following this recommendation, Zenda spent much time getting to know Qarim, meeting with him, assessing his knowledge, his resources (such as access to grazing land), and his character, answering his questions, and describing to him his responsibilities as a borrower.

Now that the transaction is complete, Qarim is required to send a picture of the cow and her calf as “proof” that the money was used as agreed. In addition, Hakim, another Zenda Company representative living in Bamiyan, who is fluent in Dari, the local language, will visit Qarim periodically. Along with Faiz and Mohammad Jan, he will try to provide whatever support Qarim needs to succeed.

Eighteen months ago, Mohammad Jan borrowed funds to purchase a cow and her calf. Three times in the intervening months, he has fattened the cow, raised the calf, sold them and used the money from their sale to purchase another cow and calf. He has repaid the loan in full and netted a profit thus far of nearly 7,000 afghanis. Faiz has been equally successful, using borrowed funds to purchase lambs; he repaid his loan, took out another, and now owns ten sheep and two goats, prized locally both for their meat and for their fleeces.
Zenda Company’s small business loan program has evolved gradually through trial and error in Bamiyan, and Hakim, a Singaporean medical doctor and ex-pat living now in an outlying village, is central to its success. Hakim (a name given to him by local people which means “learned one”) originally came from Singapore to Quetta, Pakistan, on the Afghanistan border, where he worked for two years with Afghan refugees. “I essentially lived within a refugee settlement, and I was treated as a local.”

While there, however, Hakim wanted to do more than treat the symptoms of war. Six years ago, he came to Bamiyan as a development worker with an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Today in Afghanistan, NGOs involved in development work are as thick as wheat stalks in a field, and their presence and operation has a significant impact in the country. But Hakim found that “the NGOs, too, have problems. They hold all the aid power, because they have all the money.” Because of this, says Hakim, despite their intentions, despite their mission, despite even their best efforts, international NGOs in Afghanistan often have a colonial relationship with Afghan communities, encouraging dependence rather than local initiative and sovereignty.

And then there is the intractable question of results. As one Afghan person told us, “The world says it is helping us. Where is this help? None of it reaches the people who need it. Here in Afghanistan it has been going on so long that we have to joke and laugh in order to manage our anger and disappointment.”
Seven months ago, Hakim left his position with the NGO. When he first arrived in Bamiyan, he was invited to visit and later to move into a small village. “The villages are very conservative. The only way to enter the community, even for a visit, is to be invited.”

Hakim has been in the community now for six years, living as people in the village do, eating only what people in the village have to eat. Like a member of the family, he participates in work. “I help in the fields, too,” he says with a self-effacing laugh, “but I’m not very good at it. I cannot work nearly as long or as fast as others.

“With time,” he says, “I’m realizing what it takes to practice what a young Afghan boy once told me, that without peace, life is impossible.” As he sees it, “morality, democracy, and intellectual honesty are dying. Here we have forty-three countries (in the ISAF) trying to solve the problem of violence in Afghanistan.

How can we allow these countries to say that more violence will solve the problems of violence, without asking them for evidence, for results? Where is intellectual inquiry? Moral skepticism? Why is war always the next solution? Why not reconciliatory talks; who dictates that talks are impossible for human beings? Why are we so willing to accept that violence and terror are the norm? If ordinary people don’t question this, academics at least should, but they don’t. A local shepherd boy knows this is not normal.”

In a country where villagers typically do not farm enough land to actually subsist, where malnutrition and stunted growth are in fact the norm, and where the situation is worsening as land is divided and passed on to children, Hakim began to realize that peace cannot be pursued separately from economic security and food security. With this in mind, Hakim took his current position with Zenda Company.

Through Zenda’s revolving loan fund, dozens of Afghan individuals have borrowed money for business start-up. These businesses include not only loans to villagers for livestock purchase, but also loans to shop owners, and a number of loans to existing street vendors, who might, for example, benefit from having the funds to purchase a cart as well as additional inventory. The repayment terms on these loans are simple: one half due at the end of one year, and the full amount due at two years. People interested in applying for a loan do so by supplying a simple handwritten proposal. At present, Zenda has received requests for loans totaling far more than it has funds to lend.

According to the United Nations, during the period 2005-2010 in Afghanistan,
life expectancy at birth was less than forty-four years ( Child mortality (before the age of five) is the highest in the world, and mortality for women in childbirth is among the highest. 850 children die daily in Afghanistan. According to UNICEF, in the 2003-2008 period, an astounding 59% of Afghan children under the age of five are considered “stunted,” and for 9% of Afghan children under five, malnutrition is so severe it is considered wasting. “Is this normal?” Hakim asks.

Kathy Kelly, Jerica Arents, and David Smith-Ferri are Co-Coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( They are currently traveling in Afghanistan.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right, Here I am

image is from here

It should come as no surprise that I'm no fan of Democrats or Republicans, white neoliberals or white neoconservatives. They're all a bunch of corrupted, pro-corporate greed, pro-procurement, pro-rape, pro-racism apologists and enablers. In part because of past incorrect allegations made against the likes of Dworkin and MacKinnon, that they were, somehow, "in bed with the Right"--a lie that won't die--I want to make it very, very clear: I support and agree with the work of Dworkin and MacKinnon and don't agree AT ALL with neoconservatives. AT ALL. Now, if they were "in bed with the Right", how could that be? I support the Dworkin-MacKinnon anti-pornography ordinance becoming the law of the land in the U.S. and elsewhere. And I despise the politics and values of the Religious Republican Right. How could that be?
The reason people think that Dworkin and MacKinnon were allied with the Right is because, back then, as now, if you're not pro-neoLiberal you were, by default, pro-neoConservative. Because according to dominant media, there really are no other choices. I was friends with someone for years--he was a white conservative man. He knew I opposed rape, racism, and genocide. He knew where I stood on most issues and came to the conclusion that I was a liberal. He was quite surprised to know I was as anti-Democrat as anti-Republican. Surely it's not because the Democrats are anti-rape, anti-racism, and anti-genocide.

I told him that in the U.S. the political spectrum runs from far Right, to not so far Right, to moderate Right, to Right-wing liberals, to liberal liberals, to progressive liberals. I explained that the dominant media and dominant culture as a whole will not care to comprehend the views of anyone else. And that this "if you're not one you must be the other" mentality and worldview is absurdly narrow, he sort of scratched his head, but agreed. He's not stupid and he's not a jerk. He's just a white conservative het guy, who isn't homophobic or very misogynistic, btw.

Corruption is part of U.S. politics in the same way that voting and racism, classism, heterosexism, and misogyny is. Hypocrisy, including the protection of criminals who are never arrested while criminalising and permanently imprisoning people who don't do harm, is here, it's fearful, and we're asked to get used to it. Terrorism in the form of men battering women and men raping women and girls, and some boys too, is not going to be regarded as "terrorism" the way finding packages with possible explosives on planes will be. Because that "terrorism" is committed--allegedly, by people "out there" who "aren't us". But incest perpetrators, child molesters, and serial batterers and rapists are "us" and are "here, fearful, and they want us to get used to it. It's all part of The U.S. American Way.

What follows is from Mother Jones and may be linked back to by clicking on the title just below.

Tom Marino's Free Pass

Can reported ethics shenanigans and alleged mob ties keep a GOPer out of Congress? Fuggedaboutit.

— By Nick Baumann
Fri Oct. 29, 2010 4:10 AM PDT

How big of a scandal does it take to make a congressional candidate unelectable? This year, if you're a Republican, it has to be pretty darn big.

Take GOP House candidate Tom Marino in Pennsylvania's Tenth District, located in the northeast corner of the state. As a US attorney, Marino gave a reference to his "close friend" Louis DeNaples, a convicted felon his office investigated for potential mob ties. When the Department of Justice reportedly launched an investigation into the reference, Marino resigned, and got a job working as DeNaples' in-house lawyer.

Since then, Marino has offered several different stories about whether he was authorized to give DeNaples the reference in the first place. (He wasn't.) But the scandal, which Marino's Dem opponent, Rep. Chris Carney, has harped upon in ads and speeches, seems to have had little impact on Marino's chances of ousting the two-term incumbent Blue Dog Dem. Nate Silver, the New York Times' polling guru, gives Marino a stunning 74 percent chance of winning on Tuesday.

DeNaples, who was convicted of defrauding the government of more than half a million dollars in the 1970s, needed a reference so he could obtain a license from the state gaming commission to operate slot machines at the Mount Airy Lodge, a resort he owns in Eastern Pennsylvania. In 2005, Marino provided that reference.

According to reporting by the Allentown Morning Call's Matt Birkbeck, Marino's assistants learned about the reference in 2006, after they had launched a perjury investigation into DeNaples' statements about his relationship to the Scranton-based Bufalino crime family. Marino's assistants reported the conflict of interest to the Justice Department, which recused Marino's entire office from the case and transferred it to another district. Then the DOJ launched an internal investigation into Marino's conduct. The probe was closed when Marino resigned in 2007 to work for DeNaples.

On at least two occasions—in an interview with a local newspaper reporter last September and a radio appearance this April—Marino claimed that he had provided the reference only after receiving permission from his superiors at the Justice Department. That wasn't true—at least according to the DOJ.

On September 28, Marino conceded that he never received permission to give the reference, and told the Sudbury Daily Item that he was allowed to give such references provide he "didn't use his job title or attempt to promote individuals on his staff." That meshes a bit with Justice Department guidelines, which say US attorneys shouldn't use their "position or title" to "coerce; to endorse any product, service or enterprise; or to give the appearance of governmental sanction."

Unfortunately for Marino, it is highly possible that he did in fact use his job title to provide the reference to DeNaples. The Pennsylvania State Gaming Commission has not released DeNaples application for the slots license. But blank license applications clearly indicate that references must include their occupations and business addresses. So if Marino filled out the form correctly, he also revealed his occupation when he provided the reference for DeNaples.

There's also little doubt that Marino's recusal from the DeNaples investigation constitutes an admission that there was a potential ethics issue involved in providing the reference. Justice Department rules mandate recusal "only where a conflict of interest exists or there is an appearance of a conflict of interest or loss of impartiality." Deborah Rhode, a legal ethics expert at Stanford University Law School, says "it suggests that there is a relationship there that may be compromised by a conflict of interest," cautioning that some of the details of the case remain confidential and she is only familiar with what has been reported publicly.

It's clear that Marino feels the DeNaples story is damaging to his campaign. In mid-October, he told the Scranton Times-Tribune he didn't want to take any more questions on the controversy. His spokesman did not return a call requesting comment. (Carney's office also did not respond to interview requests.) Not taking questions "looks bad on multiple levels," says Rhode. "This kind of conduct by a candidate is deeply problematic."

I also asked Kent Kauffman, a legal and business ethics expert at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, to analyze the situation. Here's part of what he wrote:
If the allegations made against Mr. Marino are accurate, at least three, and perhaps up to five federal regulations on Department of Justice employee ethics are at issue.5 CFR 2635.702(b) (on Misuse of Position) allows a DOJ employee to "sign a letter of recommendation using his official title only in response to a request for an employment recommendation or character reference based upon personal knowledge of the character of an individual with whom he has dealt in the course of Federal employment or whom he is recommending for Federal employment."

If the gaming license reference doesn’t qualify as a ‘letter of recommendation’ under the Code of Federal Regulations, then this rule might not apply. However, if the reference document required the listing of the referent’s business position, then a question could be raised that Mr. Marino used his official title, which would seem to show that the reference was based on the underlying DOJ investigation. That rule’s focus is on the recommender’s knowledge of the recommended party coming from DOJ employment.

If Mr. Marino were to claim that the reference he gave to Mr. DeNaples was purely personal in nature and not official, that would seem to fly in the face of the purpose of a reference made to support someone’s business activities. When seeking such a reference, it would seem to be implicit that the title of the reference provider is more important than his or her name and address.
Kauffmann also cited other Justice Department rules on misuse of position, impartiality, and personal relationships as potentially problematic for Marino.

Even right-wing activists have had their doubts about Marino. In March, during the primary, Zach Oldham, a contributor, wrote a post calling Marino the "GOP’s Giannoulias"—a reference to Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, whom Republicans have accused of being a "mob banker." (RedState chief Erick Erickson promoted the post to the site's front page.) Here's how Oldham wrapped up:
One of the keys to a Republican resurgence is not only ensuring we have credibly conservative candidates running for office, but also candidates with a personal and professional record we can be proud of and defend. Tom Marino doesn’t fit the bill.
I recently asked Oldham if he still feels the same way about Marino. He responded via Twitter:
... to be honest, I haven't paid attn to that race post-primary, but I'm sure he's better than Carney.
According to the polls, a lot of the voters in the district feel the same way. Marino may have a pretty big scandal to deal with. But at least he's not a Democrat.

Charlie Sheen was caught with his procuring PANTS ON THE GROUND and his racist mouth wide open: How Much Will Hollywood Pay this WHM Who Yells N**ger, N**ger, N**ger! Answer: $2 Million for a 1/2 Hour of Broadcast Time a Week, in "Two and a Half Men"

this "black and white" image of the criminal spewer of hate speech, exploiter of women, and addict dad, Charlie Sheen, is from here
Q: What should you do when you find a white guy screaming the n word repeatedly?
A: Throw a white sheet over him.

You think I'm joking. (Read on, ARPers, read on.)

Charlie Sheen is the highest paid crack/coke addict in Hollywood, and not even him yelling the n word

repeatedly is likely to get him tossed off his hit program. And why is that? Because Hollywood values money more than it values sobriety and ending white male supremacy. That's why. And because serial procurers of prostitutes don't count as predators, as exploiters, as rapists. They're just "normal guys" who "man up" by paying women for sexist sex. And because he has Hollywood-rich white het male privileges and entitlements to do whatever the fuck he wants to do, however destructive, however self-destructive, and get away with it.

How many poor Black men get caught with crack and are put in jail? How much time in prison is Charlie Sheen going to see for having cocaine all over his face, high out of his mind? This isn't a crime in what sense? Either it's a crime for poor Black men AND rich white men or it's not a crime for anyone. Isn't that what the U.S. allegedly stands for: equality for all and such? Or if you're rich, white, het, male, and famous, is there a very, very different standard of justice for you than for everyone else? According to dominant media and dominant society, if you're Black you're a no-good criminal; if you're white you're a poor addict. Got it.

If a woman of color is poor, is a cocaine addict, is found naked in hotels with people engaged in systems of prostitution, and has coke all over her face, is she regarded as "a good mother"? Why is Charlie Sheen regarded as "a good father"? What about him being a procurer of trafficked women and women who are rape survivors, and a rampant drug addict, and a spewer of racist epithets makes him "a good father"?

Quintuple standards, not double standards, are operative here: fame, class, race, sex, and gender.

[Please also see this A.R.P. post titled "Two and a Half Misogynist Men", about Charlie Sheen's sexist TV show.]

From the Huffington Post. Please click on the title below to link back.

Charlie Sheen Found Nude In Restaurant, Screaming
N-Word: Report

Posted: 10-29-10 10:12 AM is reporting some lurid details about Charlie Sheen's wild Monday night in NYC.

Before police were called to his suite in the Plaza, Charlie was out to dinner at Daniel with a group of friends and their escorts including porn star Capri Anderson, who charged him $12,000 for the night, according to Radar.

"At one point he convinced Capri to go to the bathroom with him. When they got into the bathroom he started snorting cocaine and then took off his pants," a source told the website. "Charlie wanted to have sex with Capri and tried but she stopped him and demanded her $12,000. He didn't have the money on him so she left him in the bathroom!"

When Charlie failed to return to the table, his assistant went into the bathroom looking for him.

"When the assistant opened the door, there was Charlie standing there naked with cocaine all over his face!" the source said. "He was delusional and just completely lost. Totally out of it."

The assistant reportedly helped Sheen get dressed and got him out of the restaurant and back to the hotel. This likely happened after Denise Richards stopped by and posed for a photo with Capri.

Back at the Plaza, a delusional and high Charlie went off his rocker and started spewing the n-word, Radar reports.

"He was punching the walls of the hotel room and going crazy and shouting 'n**ger, n**ger, n**ger for no reason at all," a source said. "It was absolutely bizarre."

Charlie reportedly tried once more to have sex with Capri, but she demanded her money first. When he couldn't find his wallet he began throwing furniture around and screaming violently and she locked herself in the bathroom. Police were called, and when they arrived Charlie was nude, disoriented and screaming the n-word. They threw a sheet over him and tackled him, the source said.

Friday, October 29, 2010

While Breast Cancers Needs a Cure, Western Media Makes Aryan Whiteness into Middle Eastern Experience

image of book cover is from, here
What do we see when we look into media and literature through the lenses of children? How do children register messages--subtle and overt--that whitenes and lightness is good and blackness and darkness is bad. Do we assume it makes lighter-skinned people feel better than darker-skinned people? We do know, from decades-apart studies using "white" dolls and "black" dolls that African American girls, regardless of what shade of brown their skin was, would prefer to have a white doll over any browner-skinned doll. Where do you think girls get those messages? From genes? From God? Or from society? My hunch is the messages come from society.

Breast cancer is a particularly prevalent and deadly disease in some regions in the Middle East. I hope that various struggles to assist with finding a cure for breast cancer succeed. And maybe along the way, other life threatening conditions--like patriarchy, like warfare, like racism, like white het male supremacy--find ways out of our lives as well.

Please note that the story above takes place in the Middle East, where, not surprisingly, many Middle Eastern women live: and unless they've relocated from Europe, most women there are far from fair-skinned and blond-haired, while also thin and young. There is a kind of female person the Western media loves to "show off" in exploitive and also in racist ways--the hidden messages are that this is what women ought to look like; whiteness and lightness is good; darkness is not so good or even bad. This Western culturally imperialistic and genocidal narrative finds its way into a story about breast cancer in a place where very, very few people of the region have very blond hair, pale skin, and non-brown eyes. Wouldn't you know, though: NBC News finds one such woman to focus their story on, even while noting that breast cancer impacts the lives of so many women in the region of different religions and ethnicities. Because, well, a darker-skinned Palestinian woman's story just wouldn't have given white heterosexist male supremacy the same media boost it routinely requires. And the U.S. has a financial and military stake in maintaining white heteropatriarchal standards and practices there in Israel. For one thing, the more lighter people there are there--sort of Christian European-looking, the more likely anti-Semitic and racist U.S.ers are to feel supportive of Israel.

I wouldn't necessarily make the claim that Western news media specifically close this woman who is a whiter-shade-of-pale. I would make the claim that in the white supremacist West, and in countries that are increasingly white dominated, such as Israel, the media will "naturally" gravitate to telling the stories of the women they most want to see survive. The oppressive mistreatment and terroristic mass murder of women of color across the globe by white men, including women of color in the West and in the Middle East, is one sign that white men don't hold much regard for women who aren't light. They don't hold white women in very high regard so you know white men's behavior is going to be especially ugly when it comes to invading places where darker people to live: hence we invade darker people's countries, displace the citizens, harass them, relocate the residents, rape them, and  murder them not so much with suicide bombers, but with military jet bombers and other weapons of mass destruction, so "our" people don't necessarily have to die in the process.

There was a Bounty paper towel ad with white-gloved hands showing us that those curiously brown spills are presented as nasty and also get cleaned up nicely with bleached white paper towels. And, Brian Williams also informed/warned/alarmed the U.S. public with this report, noting that for the first time, the most common newborn boys' name in England is one of several spellings of Mohammed. Xenophobia and racism find their way into practically every story.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dakota Activist Waziyatawin, PhD will speak on Indigenous Peoples and Global Collapse, Nov. 2, 2010 @ Univ. of Victoria

media still featuring Waziyatawin is from here
What follows is from Culturite. Please click on the title just below to link back.

Indigenous Peoples and Global Collapse: Waziyatawin

October 27th, 2010

Waziyatawin, an incredible Dakota scholar, activist and one of my Indigenous Governance professors, will be speaking at the University of Victoria on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. The talk is being presented as part of the UVic Native Students Union Speaker Series and will be held from 11:30am – 1:30pm in the First Peoples House Ceremonial Hall at UVic. The presentation will be tailored for an Indigenous audience. The event is free and no registration is required.

Waziyatawin’s recent work builds on her own research and writing, as well as existing literature on peak oil and the impending collapse of Western Civilization, as framed by Derrick Jensen (Endgame) and the END:CIV project.

To my Indigenous brothers and sisters: if you haven’t yet had the chance to hear Waziyatawin speak, I urge you to come out and listen. She will rock your world,  shatter your assumptions about peak oil, and compel you to take action to defend yourself, your people, and your homeland!

Indigenous Governance will also be hosting Endgame: An Evening with Derrick Jensen at UVic on November 17th.

The Most and Least Corrupt Countries in the World... by what standards?

map of most 
corrupt countries
Transparency International

The stats and map are posted. Sunny piss-yellow, golden places are "good" or, rather "very clean". Menstrually bloody red places are "bad". Darker bloody red places are VERY bad, or "highly corrupt" according to this report. Men piss on things to mark them. When women bleed "down there" they are said to be dirty.

How much you wanna bet that if a bunch of white men are deciding what countries are most corrupt, the ones white men patriarchally, racistly, militarily, and economically destroy will be red while the countries where white men live will be yellow or golden? For the really big version of this map, that has more detail and information, please see *here*.

We can note in the top left corner how "corruption perceptions index measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption  in 178 countries around the world."

What is clear is that whoever is deciding the criteria for what constitutes "most corrupt" and "least corrupt" has some major biases against what might be termed "global-impact corruption". A definition is posited which disallows factors which would have the U.S. ranked as most corrupt. It goes a bit like this: "We're not talking about corruption in the sense of breaking the law," she said. "We're talking about a sense that the system is corrupted by these practices. There's an integrity deficit."

What if we were going by breaking the law? Breaking international laws of human rights, for example? Breaking the law in terms of starting and continuing illegal, corrupt wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been militarily ruling for years. Note how Iraq and Afghanistan make the "most corrupt" list but the U.S. is at the other end of the spectrum, in the "least corrupt 25".

What if we were making determinations based on countries that make and reinforce laws that allow corruption to occur but appear to be "free trade"?

What if we were going by breaking our own laws against raping children in our homes, nationally, regionally, and internationally?

Which countries claim that men raping women is a crime and his awful but allow it to flourish and protect rapes that are filmed as "free speech"?

Which countries pride themselves on being anti-racist white practicing white supremacy?

Isn't "hypocrisy" a sign of corruption?

Which countries in the Global North hoard the most wealth and resources, at the expense of the rest of the Global South? Which countries have been committing genocide unabated for the longest periods of time? The U.S. has been at it since before it became an allegedly more perfect union. And it shows no signs of stopping as it strives for even greater "perfection".

What if we were basing this on this criterium: which country most supports the most wage slavery and sexual slavery while also having the material and military means to stop it?

Which country claims to be most egalitarian, most fair, most just, most free, while participating in activities that are torture, criminal, barbaric, genocidal, and gynocidal?

Which countries are most responsible for working at polluting and killing the Earth. Where's England on the list with their BP corruption? Where's does the U.S. with ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and many other evil-doing corporations rank?

Which countries funnel the most armaments to poorer countries so that poor people can kill each other in ways that would be utterly impossible were it not for those weapons of mass destruction?

The countries that are most corrupt according to the above and other measurable atrocities would be some of these golden yellow areas: the U.S. and Western Europe. There are countries where rape is endemic in ways it is not in the U.S., but the U.S. claims to respect women and calls itself post-feminist, while making rape inevitable, and while it and European countries socially, politically, economically, and naturally destablising every country where rape is at alarmingly atrocious levels.

The map above and the rest below are from Transparency International. Please click on the title below to link back.
Transparency International

Corruption seems endemic. It follows war and chaos like an unwelcome cousin. Transparency International has just released its annual report ranking corruption across the world.

At the bottom of the list, the most corrupt, are countries hit by warfare and strife, unsurprisingly. Somalia is the worst, followed by Burma, then Afghanistan and Iraq. The least corrupt countires are Denmark, New Zealand, and Singapore, unchanged from last year.

In a press release, the organization said, “Notable among decliners are some of the countries most affected by a financial crisis precipitated by transparency and integrity deficits.” Greece fell from 71 to 78 and Italy from 63 to 67. The US also fell, from the 19th spot to the 22nd. From Reuters:
Nancy Boswell, president of TI in the United States, said lending practices in the subprime crisis, the disclosure of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and rows over political funding had all rattled public faith about prevailing ethics in America.

"We're not talking about corruption in the sense of breaking the law," she said. "We're talking about a sense that the system is corrupted by these practices. There's an integrity deficit."

Various financial scandals at state and city level had encouraged the impression that the regulatory oversight was weak and that influence could be bought, she added.
Corruption is something that just becomes ingrained in a society and once it's there it's hard to stop. It becomes a habit of mind, a sense that this is simply how things done. An official pamphlet given to Iraqi refugees who are heading to the States advises them not to bribe police officers. After working in Iraq for years I came home from one trip and had to go to the DMV. I'm waiting in line, as one does, and all I can think is, "Who can I bribe to make this go away?" To address corruption you have to change a society's whole way of thinking about what the cultural norms are, which is not easy, to say the least.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why an Intersectional Anti-Rape Movement is Necessary, along with a link to Feminsm, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory, by Catharine A. MacKinnon

poster image is from here
If the following link works for you, please read any or all of the material and let me know what you think of it. You can also find this work in MacKinnon's 1989 book, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. In the journal, Signs, the content appears on pages 515 and 516. I found it on a website called Racism and National Consciousness Resources.

I've discussed the beginning of this essay earlier this year, *here [2 Feb. 2010 post]*.

Race, like gender, like sexuality, like economic class, all exist as socially real phenomena, lived complexly while organised and politically constructed to appear to be predominantly and irredeemably natural and inevitable. There is, in my view, increasingly less and less recognition that each category necessarily includes all the behaviors which manifest each. And that among these political behaviors are some which might seem relatively benign, but are linked to those others which are more overtly unjust and inhumane. To see how the apparently benign behaviors are tied to those that are terroristic ought to lead us perpetually and perennially toward developing approaches and strategies for stopping the madness. Perspectives which clarify rather than cloud the foundational, destructive dimensions of each hierarchical caste system, must congeal through the process of arresting, obstructing, and halting the forces used to maintain each system of power: white supremacy, male supremacy, and heterosexism. The theories are borne and honed in the practice of the resistance and rebellion, not prior to it.

Post-modernism, in the wrong hands, becomes a tool for obfuscating the political and terroristic social nature of each of the aforementioned hierarchies. Social norms and roles work to make it appear these play as they should. Whether through media propaganda or military might, we are routinely led back to the fundamental belief that whites ought to be positioned over and against people of color structurally, so that white supremacist ideology and its practice of oppression keeps whites better off, living off the bodies of those who are not white. What liberals misunderstand is that hateful ideologies alone don't oppression make. Hate, or callousness, or cruelty, or selfishness, must be institutionalised and backed by major systems of force in order to be collectively dangerous. The force of ideology isn't found primarily in ideas, but in terroristic and brutal actions. The idea of Black Power, for example, offers no significant threat to white power as long as whiteness rides a history and present of anti-Black slavery, lynchings, apartheid policies, and gross discrimination. The same with gender, sexuality, and economic class. The idea of feminism isn't substantively threatening to male supremacist power as long as misogyny is normative and rape is inevitable. Men who disparage feminists do so not because feminists will harm men, but because men want to ensure they can continue to harm women, for profit, pleasure, and significant privilege.

When the suffering of women who are terrorised and otherwise harmed by male supremacists is seen as psychological and personal, not structurally political and social, it may be diagnosed as a dysfunctional aspect of the oppressed not adjusting properly to positions of mandatory servitude. Refusal to agree to the terms of one's own subjugation is cause not only for being harmed, but also incarcerated and institutionalised. Denial of the level of threat, displacement of rage onto those similarly oppressed are among two strategies for surviving while the cattle cars make their way to the gates of Auschwitz. Assimilation into or acquiescence within systems of destruction can only enable more destruction. And those with the most structural power are the most responsible for stopping the trains on their tracks, then dismantling the tracks and the train cars, as well as concentration camps and the SS.

Post-modern theories were developed in Europe, mostly by anti-status quo white men, to assist in toppling oppressive regimes--in thought and beyond thought in the very bloody social world. They were not intended to be used to reinforce and maintain the status quo. But, as with most theories exposing the vulnerabilities of the most powerful, or the lies that prop the leaders up, post-modernism, largely, has been misappropriated by the Academy, along with post-structuralism, to confuse the issues at hand. Where "woman" was, for a time, defined by some feminists as the category of people assigned female at birth, raised as girls, and treated as women as adults, post-modernism in sexuality and gender studies assumes that there is no such discrete category. This effectively invisibilises the force and terror used to create it as such. People who are initially indentified as female, are raised to be feminised because that is seen to be appropriate-while-compulsory, and who are treated as feminised adults by men, sexually and socially, are a particular oppressed group in a male supremacist system. To pretend that group isn't specific while diverse, is to ignore social-political reality.

Once we stray from the idea that gender is political into the belief that gender is fluid, flexible, and malleable, we drift away from the urgency to radically challenge gender's right to exist in the first place. To make race only into "ethnic difference" is to pretend white supremacy doesn't construct "race", including especially the white one.

We are living in dangerous times. Theories that once held value in communities of resistance to the status quo are threatened by other theories which effectively mess with the project of dismantling and radically transforming corporate racist atrocious patriarchy (CRAP) by back-burnering actions aimed at exposing and eliminating the terror and force necessary for CRAP to exist.

If race or gender is re-naturalised as one of many differences in the human species, seen only as too constrictive due to their not being enough categories, we are left with white and male supremacy as ruling systema of oppression. The same is true of sexuality and economic class. More presence of more races, genders, sexualities, and classes inside CRAP effectively avoids dealing with the issue that one of them, "non-white" or "woman" or "non-heterosexual" or "poor" is required to be submissive and subservient to another group of people, called "white people", "men", "heterosexuals", and "the wealthy".

One of the reasons I have, in some posts, questioned why bisexuality is contained in the acronym of the social group working to end heterosexism is because it doesn't come with a political agenda other than to fight for its right to sit at the table that dead lesbian and gay youth rot under. I support a bisexual agenda to dismantle heteropatriarchy. I simply haven't seen one materialise.

I question the usefulness, even, of perpetuating the term "gay" if all it means politically is a category of feminised men striving to not be seen and treated as if feminised while allowing or encouraging women to be treated as such. Better I call myself pro-feminist, to locate my relationship to opposition to masculinist/patriarchal force and terrorism, including that aimed at gay men. But what I call myself matters less that two other things: how I am treated--statused or stigmatised, why that is the case, and what I am doing in concert with other oppressed people to end these conditions of some groups being privileged while others are persecuted.
If we accept, without organised resistance and as inevitable, the systems which necessarily destroy some of us, we insure the tally of traumatised and murdered oppressed people will go higher and higher.

The way to stop deaths by warfare is to end the wars. We don't collectively work to stop warfare if we are socialised to consider it heroic, erotic, or profitable on any level. There are many wars being waged. Let's not forget about these: men's against women; whites against people of color; straights against lesbians and gays; and the rich against the poor. The oppressed seeking membership in the clubs of the oppressor don't accomplish the dismantling necessary to end the bloodshed. Nor do efforts of the oppressor seeking to join the ranks of the oppressed.

We either collectively challenge and end the terrorism or we don't. To turn it into entertainment such as via video games, into sex such as via pornography, into increasingly complex sociology via an academic version of postmodern theory, or or into official status by honoring and celebrating those who murder people abroad, such as in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we allow the terrorism to thrive. We make the trauma and horror that comes with this terrorism into something we need to figure out how to endure endlessly, not end by any means necessary. Once the degradation and subjugation of the oppressed is revered as normal by the systemically privileged controlling groups, we are left with the illusion that hierarchies are merely differences, not expressions of  dominance.

When I challenge men to take up the project of ending the rape of women by men, or the incesting of girls by men and boys, what I get back is either resignation that such a project is doomed to fail, a complaint that I'm ignoring the ways boys and men are also hurt in society, or the argument that it isn't a worthwhile project relative to others that are seemingly more important. To understand how rape is tied not only to patriarchy, but also to white supremacy, heterosexism, and capitalism, is to begin to make the case that de-prioritising an agenda and organised practice of ending rape is keeping all those other systems of force in place.

Once you see who is raped in society and care about the experiences and feelings of raped people as much as those of anyone else, you might also see how white supremacy, male supremacy, heterosexism, and capitalism operate together terroristically.