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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to maintain white supremacy on social media in 3 simple steps

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

Step 1:

Do you know anything about privilege, power structures, or institutional oppression? Yes? Good, now pretend that you don't and act hurt and aggrieved any time a group tries to organize to address specific issues. Take for example, oh say... "Black Lives Matter - TORONTO PEACEFUL PROTEST ACTION". Take everything you know about oppression and anti-black racism, and use that as a reason white people are being oppressed by this group. How dare they ask white allies to respectfully concede the space to black protestors? How dare they specifically discuss police violence and murder against black folks? This is segregation, and reverse-racism, and every other "social-justicy"-kinda sounding words you can string together. Folks who are legitimately concerned about addressing oppression may just wind up getting sucked into conversing with you for a day and a half, and those who don't know enough about trolls or white supremacy might just be fooled into taking your side.

Step 2:

Take up space. If it's an online group or comments section of a newspaper, keep posting. It doesn't matter if it's one word or a copy pasta of "How to Make Friends and Influence People". Make sure that no conversations are allowed to go on without your interference. It's much harder for folks to maintain momentum and enthusiasm when they have to spend all their time on you. Suck the air out of the room and if you have to leave, ensure you've brought in more folks to replace you. Pretend you don't know them and are just impressed by how thoughtful and right about the world they are when they, funny enough, parrot your exact talking points.

Step 3:

People are seeing through you and calling you a racist? That's racist! Report their comments that are rightfully telling you off, because there's a far greater chance Facebook will give them a suspension for defending themselves and their rights to focus on black issues than of you receiving any repercussions.

I'm posting this not to encourage trolls, but to point out that this is what they are already doing. These are a few of their tactics. You can see this happening on pages that are supposed to be dedicated to supporting the family of Mike Brown and other victims of police-sanctioned murder. It's transparent as fuck if you know what you're looking for and acknowledge that, for the most part, these people aren't ignorant or misguided. This is a concerted, organized effort of anti-black, white supremecists to take over what should be safer spaces and interfere with planning and solidarity efforts.

They will concern troll:
"But if you exclude white people, then how will we change things? We all need to work together, and I am just honestly concerned that your divisive tactics will hamper that progress."
They will gas light:
"Police brutality is not a black issue. It's a human rights issue. I've been the victim of police brutality, and I'm white, therefore you're assigning race to an issue that it doesn't belong to."
They will call you racist:
"You're lumping all white people together by saying that we take up too much space. That's racist! Anybody else catch how racist that is?!"
They will not "see the light" if you keep talking to them. You can be calm, collected, and articulate as possible. They are not there in good faith. They are literally trying to wear people down to get them to abandon the page/ group/ organizing committee. These are their tools. Don't let them get away with it. If you are moderating a page/ site and you see this happening, I strongly recommend just to ban/ delete them. Yes, they'll like start in with "freedom of speech" arguments, but what they're doing is interfering with your freedoms to assemble.

Let's get things back on track and reclaim the spaces eked out to create change.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

From One White Ally to Others

by: Liberate Zealot

Let me take a moment to explain that I'm on my tablet as my computer's mouse is haunted and so there might well be more spelling mistakes than normal and I won't be able to include links to sources as I would like.  Now on to actual content.

I'm sure everyone reading this is in some way aware of the police violence and protests in Ferguson, perhaps you're even aware of certain feminist and LGBT groups speaking up in defense of the protesters and stating the concerns of police violence and racism in America  need to be concerns of mainstream feminism and LGBT groups.   These are connections I've seen white people speaking out against, sometimes even while claiming to support and stand in solidarity for the people in Ferguson.

So this is my message to white people, specifically those who want to support Ferguson protesters and what they stand for.

Firstly, shut up for a while and listen.  I know this is hard, I like sharing my opinions too.  But honestly, unless we're addressing other white people, and unless we're basing on our opinions on the testimonies of people of color it isn't out place to speak.  So again, spend a long time listening silently, and trust the black people who do speak out and share their experiences.

Next, remember our privilege.  As white people we are given the benefit of innocence by the police and media in a way black people aren't and this has shaped every single one of our lives and opinions.  By growing up to see police as protectors and only having that view point challenged (and at a remove at that) as adults means we might not understand the impact police violence and racism has on reproductive justice.  This is not something that effects out lives.  But if we can remember the first point and listen and trust we will learn from black women how fears of police violence against their children impacts their reproductive choices and parenting.  Things do not need to be self evident to us for them to be obviously and automatically true to the people who are actually affected.

Third, we need to remember that people of color are necessary parts of our feminist/LGBT/differently abled/etc communities.  Their concerns (that our white privilege removed us from) are not ancillary but need to be reconized as fundamental parts of our movements.  To do otherwise is to say people of color are ancillary and not fundamental parts of our communities.  And I hope that I don't need to explain that this makes us at least passively racist.

Lastly, we need to take direct action in support of the people of color in our communities.  However, while doing so we need to remember our privilege and our proper place.  We, and our families, are not Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown, or Cece Mcdonald.  We cannot fully know their experiences, and the experiences, fears, and concerns of their families and neighbors, and so we cannot speak for them.  Our jobs are to be microphones, to amplify their voices so more people can hear them, not to speak over them or steal their words.  When we do speak with our own voices and words on these issues we need to do so at the right time and place and towards the right people.  At candle light vigils we stand in silent support.  We raise our voices to the predominantly white police, politicians, and media to call on them to act with justice and hold them accountable and culpable for their actions and words.  We challenge white people who tone police, and play respectability politics, or what want to turn the Ferguson protests and the extrajudicial slaying of Michael Brown away from the endemic racism of police violence.

And again we listen, we respect, we trust, and we support.  The concerns and oppressions of people of color need to be fundamental parts of feminist/LGBT/other movements, but in doing so we white people need to remember our support cannot include speaking for people of color.  

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rape, Rape Culture, and Recovery - 3 Years Out

By Liberate Zealot
*Content Warning - Discussions of rape, rape culture, and PTSD*

Let me begin by saying these are my own personal experiences and in no way meant to reflect the experiences of all victims/survivors.  Even victims/survivors with similar experiences of sexual violence might experience very different effects and have very different roads of recovery.

The one thing I think the vast majority of us share is that recovery is not an absolute, it is a constant journey of progress and triggers and backsliding and unlikely to fully ever end.

I know sometimes I have thought I've reached, or nearly reached, the end of my recovery.  Months have passed since I've thought of him, or that night.  Since I've felt that knot of anxiety in my stomach, or that strange mental disconnect where my brain seems to float partially separated from my body.  Since that dizzy, rushing feeling overtakes my ears, eyes, brain, and body.
Sometimes months pass, but then something happens.  His name shows up on my Facebook feed, I see someone who looks like him when I'm out and about, I hear about another woman's rape which is similar enough to mine that I cannot disconnect my own experiences from hers.  Perhaps I hear a rape joke, am watching some movie or TV show that features a rape (these are worst when I cannot prepare for them).  Perhaps I just surprisingly dream in some way of that night and awaken, shaking.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Statistics vs Lived Experiences for Women at College

By Liberate Zealot
*Content Warning for discussion of sexual assault, rape, stalking, domestic violence, and rape culture*

Recently in the feminist/social justice sphere of social media that I inhabit a variety of people have been naming Cards Against Humanity and one of its originators, Max Tempkin, as good examples of those with privilege listening/learning/and properly apologizing for when they harm others.  And this regard for the game, and its creators, especially of Max, is something I take great issue with.

Not only because it is a game created by a bunch of (to my knowledge) heterocis white dudes who are upper middle class and therefore its hard to take any of its racist/sexism/homophobic/transphobic/ableist jokes as "ironic".  After all Max Tempkin wrote a lovely apology about that using all the appropriate language of "privilege" and how irony doesn't "punch down."

The issue with this apology and Cards Against Humanity is that I know Max.  We attended the same small liberal arts college, we have many mutual acquaintances, and Max Tempkin is a rapist.

Monday, 30 June 2014

To Those Being Dismissive of the Seriousness of the SCOTUS Ruling About Hobby Lobby

By: Liberate Zealot

For everyone claiming that women just have to pick better employers or it is no big deal to pay out of pocket for hormonal birth control, I urge you to deeply consider the realities of employment and health care in this state and country. More than 10% of women are unemployed, countless more are employed in minimum wage jobs from corporations that already seek to avoid covering health insurance. For many people they need to take whatever job they can. Spending extra time to seek carefully for the one (increasingly rare) job that has the best health insurance for them isn’t an option for the majority of Americans. And considering that 90% of corporations now have the right to refuse to include hormonal contraceptives makes this a bigger issue than one employer (even if they are a large corporation). 
Likewise, let us remember that employees pay into their health insurance policy, these women have already paid for their contraceptives, and now, because of the “strongly held” but factually inaccurate religious beliefs of their employers they must pay again, out of pocket. And some of the contraceptives that have been ruled against (like the IUD) can cost up to a month’s wages when not covered with insurance.
This is not a small issue. This ruling negatively impacts the lives of millions of women and their families.  This is a ruling that dehumanizes women, while granting even more powers to the already legally bloated corporate “person hoods”. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Babe, Is This Sexist? Goldstar Beer

Babe, Is This Sexist? is back with a very important message about Ladies and Drinking.

Hey Ladies,
Isn't it hard being a woman with a delicate pink girly brain that can't even handle a night out drinking.  I mean even that runs the risk of heartbreak needing to be assuaged with ice cream.  And every drunk hook up only has a 1 in 3 change of ending in heterosexual bliss with our knight in shining armor.  It just doesn't seem worth the appletinis.
After all it's not like you're lucky enough to be a man.  Only men can drink without unfortunate consequences, or any consequences at all.  It's because their macho blue boy brains aren't caught up in the over-emotional vulnerability that us little ladies suffer from.
So really, think before you drink.

Or else tell the champions at Goldstar Beer, or their advertising agency McCann Erikson that you're #NotBuying this sexist product.

View other installments of Babe, Is This Sexist? At the Master List. 

Please leave suggestions for the next installment of Babe, is this Sexist? in the comments of this post, or the most recent Babe, is this Sexist?  Alternatively, you can message us on Tumblr or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Also check out the F.A.R. Facebook page for polls about future installments.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Yes, I Hate Men

By: Liberate Zealot

I’m sick and tired of having to moderate myself.
Yes, I hate men as a class, and I hate the majority of individual men I meet, Including my one brother. 
No, this isn’t just intellectual.  It’s a visceral hate, knowing they see me as less than, and that the majority don’t even care enough to hide their disdain. 
So really. I Hate the majority of men.  And if you’re one of the few I don’t hate (like my father) you know enough about feminism to get why you don’t deserve an exception. 
Men’s hatred diminishes my economic worth, it attacks my freedom, my sexual health, my ability to live free of PTSD.  Random men murder and assault women (in every imaginable way) but I’m supposed to forgive.  Never mind I’m more likely to be attacked by a man than a shark or dog, and that’s not even getting into the moral, emotional, and mental attacks waged by my brother and his ilk. 
But, love one’s neighbor they say.  Never mind that one’s neighbor, and  his brother, and his club, are holding the knife.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

By Liberate Zealot

Because watching my drink
And white knuckling keys between my fingers
And wearing jeans and sensible shoes
Was supposed to be my contract with the world
Providing safe passage
Protection against rape from the shadowy stranger
Haunting the corners of the club or streets. 
Because in the years of safety advice
From teachers, friends, chain letters, and police
Never once did they admit I would know him
That he would look me in the eyes and smile
He would wait days or weeks or months
And say all the right words before ignoring my own. 
Because even after that night
They still won’t admit its not the stranger in the street
I should fear
Or that the predator in the clubs is the ex-boyfriend
Or that it wasn’t caused by the length of a skirt
Or having long hair and a glass of wine.
Because they won’t admit
That following the rules isn’t protection
I know other women will have
The same realization that the one that will hurt you
Isn’t the shadowy figure in the night
(Though we’ll still fear him too).

They're Not "Bad Apples" They're the Whole Barrel

By: Liberate Zealot

Women are expected to see the actions of Elliot Rodger as a “lone gunman” someone suffering from mental illness.  Just as we’re supposed to view the other men who commit violence against women through domestic abuse, rape, or sexual harassment as “bad apples.”  Not all men are like that.  Maybe they too are crazy. 
However, if there is any illness its one shared by society. These actions are not those of insane individuals.  Rather they are the natural results of a society that finds sexualized violence against women as more acceptable than female sexual agency. 
And this is acceptable to these men and much of society.  Because they do not see women as fully human, (Rodger’s screed, praised in the MRA/PAU movement, proves he saw women as objects or animals, but not people) it is easy for them to prioritize their ideal sex lives over are actual lives. 
So many men see women as nothing more than some type of toy or sex doll, to be used, destroyed, and disposed of based on their whims. And it isn’t that surprising considering this is how so much media portrays us.  We’re trophies, tragic backstories, and catalysts of revenge, not independent characters with out own motivations.  Not people. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

About Body Acceptance

By: Malanka Sveta

Last year my (then) three year old looked up at me one night and, appropos of nothing, said, "I love my boobs...I think they're pretty". I want her to say the same thing when she's thirteen. When she's thirty. When she has thirty great great grandchildren.  And at all points in between. (I also want the same for all of you, men included.) I think this is why I find her fart humour so engaging and powerful. Fart humour, like loving her boobs, is a form of body acceptance. And I know a lot of my friends have really been enjoying that part of her childhood. (In case anyone was curious, she is fascinated by bums this month.)

I read Beauty by Sherri S. Tepper in 1995, and became acquainted with this new body acceptance that seemed revolutionary  to me then, but now seems common sense. (It may be worth mentioning that Beauty is half fairy, half mortal.)

" 'In many imaginary lands, as here, they shit and piss,' she advised me.  'As on earth, though rather less copiously.  But not in Ylles nor, I believe, in Baskarone.  Never mind, dearest.  When you eat fairy fruits, you will not be bothered by such grossness any longer.'

I had not precisely been bothered up until this time, though afterward I seemed to give a great deal of unaccustomed attention to the matter. No doubt this was one of the differences Roland sensed in Mama. The implications were shattering. How refreshing to have all the joys of love (I write in a literary or conventional sense, rather than from experience) sand consequent familiarity with those anatomical proximities which humans find both so unfortunate and so teasingly attractive. I came to the conclusion that there would be no perversions in Ylles."

(Ylles being the name of a portion of Faery.)

" 'Mother doesn't like me,' I said, needing her to say it wasn't true.

'That's not entirely true,' she said.  'Humans make myths about mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. I have counted on them myself, butsometimes the two generations are simply not sympathetic. Especially when they resemble, let us say, the other side of the family.'

It was true.  Except around the eyes, I most resembled father. I resembled him in other ways. Fleshiness. Corporeality. The thousand stinks and farts that flesh is heir to."

(The fairies are extremely attracted to Beauty, and it is her mortality that both fascinates and repells them at different times of her life.)

"I had been wrong about there being no perversions in Faery. Their perversion was to lust after human bodies, with all their stinks and scattish contiguities."

How is this body acceptance? Well, bodies are disgusting. Really. We've all seen what comes out of them.  It's not pleasant. But it doesn't matter, because all bodies do this. Fulfilling the needs of our bodies is a natural and normal thing, and we should embrace it, all of it, because without the ability to accept these thousand stinks and farts we lack the ability to embrace all of the truly wonderful things our bodies are, all of the glorious needs they have, and every fabulous desire of our flesh. The freedom to love our bodies begins with accepting our bodies as they are. Our bodies are beauty, our needs are beauty, even some (possibly most) of our perversions are beauty, and to deny this beauty is to harm ourselves and others. To starve this beauty, to overexcercise this beauty, to fetishize a body ideal, male or female, that doesn't exist is to reject beauty in the name of beauty. (I'm almost certain that was a sentence.) What's the worst that could happen if we all decided, today, right now, that we accept and embrace our beauty, that we love our bodies? I'm actually asking. What's the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen if we lived for ourselves instead of a painful ideal that almost no one can ever achieve?

I love my boobs.  I think they're pretty.  And I think yours are pretty, too.