Sunday, December 30, 2007


I am grieving the loss of Benazir Bhutto. I didn't actually know much about her, except that she was the first woman to be elected head of a Muslim nation (something we haven't managed yet, and the woman-hating aimed at Hillary Clinton is really coming out from under wraps, ain't it). Still, her death feels like a world loss to me.

So far, the best response I've read has come from Heart at Women's Space, so I'll link you all over there (do read the comments, too): Benazir Bhutto Assassinated.

(Serafina Pekkala from "The Golden Compass")

For those of us who've been discussing the His Dark Materials trilogy, mostly at Maoist Orange Cake (also briefly a while ago at Dykes To Watch Out For), Pandagon's Amanda Marcott has published a great review and launched a wonderful conversation about it. Not too late to join in, I don't think.

("Mexican Cook", woodcut by Michele Ramirez)

I want to second Feministing's recommend of a post at Guanabee concerning the pornification of the term "Latina": Hottt Wired: The Currency Of The Word "Latina" Online.

I remember when I read Andrew Holleran's Dancer and The Dance, a pivotal gay novel of the 80s, I was struck by the implicit racism of the gay male community, especially with regard to the sexual objection of "Latins". It's not desire, it's not love, it's not appreciation, and it's not positive.

And, this post brings up an interesting aspect of using Google images, which I rely on heavily for graphics on my blog: Seems like most any term having to do with women (including and especially, to my disgust, lesbian) brings up mostly pornographic images for pages on end. Don't tell me this severe imbalance of visual stimuli is NOT having a negative impact on how we see things. What if a search for "white male" 80% of the time showed images of dismemberment and pain? Would that be no big deal, either? (Although, given who's doing the killing and raping, it would be accurate in terms of projection...)

Alex Jung has an excellent article up at Alternet, White Liberals Have White Privilege Too!, and I recommend reading not just it but also the comments -- despite the fact that the initial defensive, at times hostile reaction from white liberals tended to prove all the point she'd just made. But the comments list gets better after a while. Here's an abbreviated version of her "List of misunderstandings that many white liberals have about race":
1. White supremacy? You mean white men in white sheets? (Not only.)
2. I'm not racist, but...
3. Colorblind as a bat.
4. Kumbaya, multiculturalism!
5. It's not a "[insert racial group here]" issue as much as it is a "human" issue.
6. One of my best friends is [insert nonwhite group here]!
7. How could I have white privilege? I'm poor/female/gay/Polish/disabled!
8. The white savior complex.
9. "Good" people of color
10. All that guilt.

Another recommended read is an examination of "Acceptable Sexism and Racism" in the media and punditry world by Chris Bowers at Open Left. The opening paragraph states:

"Long-standing sexist narratives that macho pundits have often used to denigrate not only female candidates, but also Democrats in general, are more acceptable in our national political discourse than crass, barely coded racism against African-Americans. Crass, barely coded racism against Muslims and Mexican immigrants is a different story. Talk of deporting the tens of millions of people in America who falls into these categories is quite acceptable, for example."

It's not just macho pundits, however. Too many white male "progressives" can't disagree with a woman without engaging in thinly-veneered woman-hating, and even the "good" ones still use mankind instead of humanity. Or think it's most important for them to say what they think than find a way to encourage the voices not yet present in the discourse.

For all the vocabulary geeks who read this blog, The New York Times' List of New Words of 2007 is out and includes:
Colony collapse disorder
Forever stamp
Global weirding
Post-kinetic environment

(Good news, only one out of the six takes a jab at women.)


Liza said...

Thanks Mags. I've come to depend on your Sunday Evening Roundup.

And bummer about the results of an image search for women. Not surprising, but icky.

Try doing more specific image searches. You probably already do, but try something like "woman gun woodcut" or "women book lithograph" or "woman 1952 car ad." Then just jump around and follow links.

I love the woodcut you used, by the way.

Maggie Jochild said...

Thanks for the search tip, Liza. I'll try it -- although sometimes, I want to be presented with a grab-bag, you know, because my visual sense is NOT developed like yours and I don't even quite know what I'm looking for yet.

That woodcut, along with a treasure trove of others, is courtesy of following links at Austin Kleon's blog. Always a smart idea to sniff out whatever he's run through his brilliant hopper. And YOU turned me onto him in the first place, see how the circle works?

kat said...

Hm, I checked out the Dark Materials discussion, which was interesting to a certain extent, but everyone was saying that the prose was bad. I happen to passionately adore Pullman's books, and love his style, so I couldn't really connect fully. I wonder if it's the very "English-ness" of his writing that is hard for Americans? I don't know, what do you think?

About the google searches and "Latina" question: search engine optimization. I don't know a whole lot about it, but apparently, what gets you to the top of the google list isn't always the actual number of people going there. Give a company some money, and they'll basically create the impression of importance in google's eyes and get you to the top of the list. Porn sites have a financial interest in being first on the google list because they want the a way, this explanation makes the whole thing doubly gross and disturbing, huh? Objectification, sexism, and corporate bullshit! A trifecta!


Maggie Jochild said...

Thanks for the point about search engines, Kat, which I'd forgotten. Good one.

And I agree with you that I find Pullman's books VERY well-written, much better than, say, J.K. Rowling. I'm not sure what you mean about English-ness, but I think his vocabulary is more extensive than most, and he doesn't "spell it all out" for the reader, unlike most dumb-it-down books these days. Leaving it to us to fill in motivation, horror, etc. makes for a much richer artistic experience. But the IM/reality TV/X-Box crowd is ill-equipped to extract meaning from nuance.

kat said...

I wasn't sure what I meant, really, but was trying to figure it out....I think you nailed it, though: things are subtle and nuanced, and you're not swimming in explanation or exposition.

omg, u mean im-ing iznt smRt?