Not The Historical Problem

Spotted amongst the arguments for Presbyterian divestment:

At the General Assembly itself, a shocked Presbyterian blogger reported that during prayers, Virginia Sheets, the vice moderator of the Middle East issues committee, “suggested that Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell the Jews when they were wrong.”
My first instinct, upon reading this, was to vomit.

But after the initial wave of nausea passed, I had two different thoughts. The first was to observe that, among the many characteristics one might use to describe institutional Christianity across history, “unwillingness to tell Jews how they ought behave” is not really on the chalkboard. One might even say it is the unifying feature of the Christian tradition — starting with Jesus, perhaps, but continuing all the way down. Exhorting Christians to be less passive about criticizing Jews is like telling Mississippi to stop bending to the NAACP, or France to let the Germans win for once. And one might further add that this particular Christian fetish might be not just the single thing they’re worst at, but (at least in terms of duration) the single most-worst thing ever. It is quite possible that no single entity has ever been as consistently bad at something over a longer period of time than Christians have been at making normative judgments about Jews — a multi-millennia run of failure, often punctuated by violence, invariably associated with oppression, that characterized Christians never-ending self-assurance that they understand the Jewish situation better than Jews do. But be not afraid, Presbyterians! This time, it will be different I’m sure.

Thought number two goes to this idea of fear. Rev. Sheets’ fellow Christians should not be “afraid” to tell them Jews what’s what. One hears this refrain a lot — how deeply frightening it is to stand up to the dreaded Jewish Lobby. Christians, of course, have rarely been particularly “afraid” to take Jews down a peg — mostly because the scariest thing about criticizing Jews is the prospect that the Jews will say something that makes you feel temporarily bad about yourself (before reminding yourself that They’re Just Playing the Anti-Semitism Card — always a quick pick-me-up). Jews, on the other hand, have historically had to be genuinely fearful of telling Christians they’re wrong, or refusing to heed Christian “criticisms” of Jewish behavior. To do so often quite literally was to render one’s life forfeit. At best, it runs the risk of a massive backlash that threatens hard-won and precariously-preserved political and social rights. And so Jews have historically stepped quite lightly around Christian sensibilities; mouthing meek assertions about how maybe tones could be tempered and aren’t we all brothers here and I know you mean well, but….

It is a unique feature of the past 60 or so years that this situation has changed a little bit. Not that Christians now have to fear Jews, though there appears to be no power on earth that could convince the most powerful social organization the earth has ever seen that it is not being victimized by The Other. But it is the case that sometimes, in some contexts, Jews can criticize Christians without the automatic specter of a massacre looming. Or — and this I suspect is worse than Jewish criticism — Jews can sometimes ignore Christian criticism without immediate and obvious consequence. For people who view their power over Jews as an entitlement, this I think is what really rankles: there is an entity, that is Jewish, that Christians criticize, that sometimes does not listen.

Power, as Carol Gilligan once wrote, means you can “opt not to listen. And you can do so with impunity.” Like most things, this is a double-edged sword. Of course being in position where can “opt not to listen” means one can safely ignore voices at the margins, and thus comfortably maintain a privileged state. But being able to not listen is also a predicate to autonomy. For historically marginalized groups, such as Jews, having the option not to listen is a break from thousands of years of imperial domination where our fates, our rights, and our lives were governed by the whims of others whose words we were bound to respect. Part of liberationist politics is respecting the reality that the formerly dominated group will make its own decisions and, sometimes, stand by those decisions even when their former rulers passionately disagree.

It’s a lesson Virginia Sheets, and the Presbyterian Church, might want to learn.

via The Debate Link http://ift.tt/1j9VC8X

(Source: schraubd)

"Fat shaming, though cruel, is another form of bullying that often goes unchecked because people believe that it will spur others to lose weight, and, as the logic typically goes, become healthier. This is misguided first and foremost because there’s nothing inherently wrong with being fat (see No. 3). And even if there were, fat shaming doesn’t help people lose weight.

According to researchers, those who experience weight discrimination are more likely to become or remain obese. Even simply calling someone “fat” can have this effect: A recent long-term study out of UCLA found that young girls who were called fat by someone close to them at age 10 were more likely to be obese later in life.

Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, echoed this sentiment in an interview with NBC News regarding a previous study that had reached a similar conclusion: “Stigma and discrimination are really stressors. … And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety.”"

— 9 Facts Shatter the Biggest Stereotypes About Fat People: 6. Fat shaming isn’t helpful. (via sancty)

"Every therapist I have had (I am too embarrassed to say how many) has done some gentle prodding, asking if maybe I suffered abuse as a child, since many of my symptoms seem to align with those of people who have. I spent years racking my brain, trying to remember, wondering if there’s someone I could blame in all of this. In some ways it would be a relief to know that something caused all of this. But on the other hand, I’ve stopped looking for a reason. Maybe there isn’t a reason, maybe there is, but finding one wouldn’t fix anything. And it might start a whole new nightmare. If there’s something I don’t remember, I think I prefer to keep it that way."

The Jumble of Chronic Mental Illness

(via brutereason)

"When you’re depressed, you want to sleep. When they give you medication to combat your depression, one of the main side effects is drowsiness. I can easily sleep twelve hours in a row and then have a nap a few hours later. It’s hard to stay positive when you’re constantly plotting how soon you can be unconscious, honestly wondering if anyone would notice if you curled up on the sidewalk for a bit, or a subway platform. I once spent an hour lying under a jungle gym at night, and I only got up the willpower to leave because I was worried that someone might call the police and report a dead body. On top of the physical sensation, there is a weariness that hovers around what you might call your soul. My brain is tired, my heart is tired. If I knew where to go to officially give up, I would."

The Jumble of Chronic Mental Illness

(via brutereason)


There’s a very good sentence written by a black woman named Kay Lindsey in which she said, ‘Where the white woman is the sexual object, black women are sexual laborers.’

White womanhood has been the prevailing standard of femininity in this country [the United States of America]. If you were beautiful you had pale skin,…you had light skin, preferably light hair, you were gentle, you were retiring, you were sweet, you were chaste.

Because of our historical position as black women, most of us were slaves which means we worked as hard as any man on the plantations, then we moved into factories. Most of us were not pure because on plantations we were bought to be breeders and whores. We were not qualified for the prevailing standards of femininity, white femininity, so we were passed down.

If you are a woman who does not fit women’s standards, you’re a piece of crap. So we [black women] got none of the benefits of being a woman. They’re double-edged benefits but they are benefits: money from wealthy men, so-on and so-forth. We [black women] got all of the liabilities. As I said before, we are on the lowest rung, even in a profession like prostitution because we are valueless as black women.

So we [black women] were brought up outside the pale of femininity but we weren’t considered worth turning into useful men; because ‘What is a Black Woman?’ She’s a woman and she is also black. We weren’t as good as black men and we were useless, we weren’t good enough to be imitating white women. So we had nothing.

[Black women] were total outsiders. Which is why economically we are on the absolute bottom and psychologically, if you will, of the barrel.


Margo Jefferson on Some American Feminists (1980)

(Source: exgynocraticgrrl)


In talking about rape, we often talk about strangers who rape women, because that is the stereotype of rape, and also because strangers do rape women, though in less than half the rapes committed. Most women will be raped by somebody they know. So why is it that we are brought up to believe that rape is committed by strangers when mostly it isn’t? … The stranger in rape is used in a very important political way, especially in organizing women on the Right: the stranger is used as a scapegoat. In the United States the stranger is black and he is a rapist. In Nazi Germany the stranger was a Jew and he was a rapist.

This use of rape associated with a stranger is a basic component of racism. Women’s fears of rape are legitimate. Those fears are manipulated to serve the ends of racism.


When feminists began paying attention to rape, our intrusion into this area of male thought and male study and male activity was not much appreciated. We were told that we were making things worse for certain groups of men, especially for black men. Before the feminist movement, rape was treated by politically progressive people as a complete figment of a woman’s imagination or as a vengeful, reactionary, racist effort to destroy somebody else or as an act of personal vengeance. The distinction I am making here is very important because rape is real. The selective use of the identity of the rapist has been false. That is a staggeringly dangerous piece of information, because when we look especially at white male anger with feminists for dealing with rape at all, we find that suddenly for the first time in the history of this country white men were included in the category of potential rapists. Somebody was onto their game at last. They did not like it. It is precisely the white liberals who have been saying that they have been fighting universally fraudulent claims against black men all these years who were most stubborn in refusing to understand that rape was real and that rape was committed by all kinds and classes of men, including them. They were perpetuating the racist stereotyping by refusing to acknowledge that all kinds of men do rape, thus leaving black men as the rapists in the public mind.


Andrea Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone

(Source: exgynocraticgrrl)



Eating meat is funny and sexy; don’t stop eating meat!

By Lisa Wade, PhD

Activist Carol Adams has famously argued that the common phenomenon of sexualizing meat products is designed to make us feel better about eating animals. One of the ways it does this is by making it funny.  She explains:

Uneasiness becomes sexual energy… and everybody knows what to do about sexual energy.  You can laugh at it, you can talk about it, it reduces whoever is presented to an object.  And so it makes it okay again.

Sexualizing meat also turns the object of consumption, the animal, into a willing participant.  Sex takes two and, even when one partner is objectified, there is a desire.  If not “want,” it’s a “want to be wanted.”

If the meat wants you to want it, then you don’t have to feel bad about eating it.  As I’ve written before, “this works best alongside feminization, as it is women who are typically presented as objects of a lustful male gaze.”

The ad above, in which roosters flock to Carl’s Jr to ogle and lust over chicken “breasts,” is a disturbing example.

Thanks to @wegotwits for the link!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


…[P]atriarchy [is] a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women…the use of the term social structures is important here, since it clearly implies rejection both of biological determinism, and the notion that every individual man is in a dominant position and every woman in a subordinate one… patriarchy is composed of six structures: the patriarchal mode of production, patriarchal relations in paid work, patriarchal relations in the state, male violence, patriarchal relations in sexuality, and patriarchal relations in cultural institutions…

The patriarchal mode of production refers to the undervalued work of housewives who are the producing class, while husbands are the expropriating class. The second level, which describes patriarchal relations in paid work, refers to the fact that traditionally women have been granted worse jobs. The level which is about patriarchal relations in the state refers to the fact that the state is patriarchal, racist and capitalist and it clearly has bias towards patriarchal interests. Male violence constitutes the fourth structure and explains how men’s violence against women is systematically endured and tolerated by the state’s refusal to intervene against it. The fifth level describes the patriarchal relations towards sexuality, where the patriarchy has decided for us that heterosexuality is and should be the norm. The sixth level which is about patriarchal relations in cultural institutions describes the male gaze within various cultural institutions, such as the media, and how women traditionally have been exhibited via the mass media etc. (Walby, 1990).

We can go back beyond the birth of Christ to encounter patriarchy, when Aristotle and his often avant-garde ideas blossomed. Aristotle assumed that women were the defective part of humanity, having only developed as a mistake when the temperature during conception was too low (Weitz, 2003). During the Middle Ages this ideology was at its peak. Amongst renowned beliefs during this age was firstly that the woman was believed to be more stupid than the man. Secondly she was believed to be mainly driven by her libido and as a consequence she was blamed for the first sin ever committed in the sanctuary of Eden (Weitz, 2003). Capitalistic economic practices incrementally became institutionalized in England between the 16th and 19th centuries and from there this ideology spread throughout Europe, across political and cultural frontiers. Finally, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Capitalism had become the main means of industrialization throughout much of the world (Capitalism, 2009). The arrival of capitalism led to the loss by women of areas of work which had been theirs and in the aftermath they also lost certain legal rights over property that they had before held (Walby, 1990). Furthermore, with time the patriarchy changed from being private to public:

Private patriarchy is based upon household production, with a patriarch controlling women individually and directly in the relatively private sphere of the home. Public patriarchy is based on structures other than household, although this may still be a significant patriarchal site. Rather, institutions conventionally regarded as a part of the public domain are central in the maintenance of patriarchy (Walby, 1990, 178).

The rise of capitalism surely did lead to the development of a new form of patriarchy. However it did not lead to an alteration in its basic structures since this historical shift did not have great effects upon gender relations, “men remained the dominant gender; all six patriarchal structures continued across this period; only a minor shift in the relative significance of public and private sites of patriarchy, which can be identified as far back as the seventeenth century, accelerated” (Walby, 1990, 200).


(Source: exgynocraticgrrl)


Perhaps the most daunting of all is the discovery that the same message can be conveyed by the very high culture to which the neophyte artist aspires. Novelists’ female characters, like painters’ female nudes, can discourage. Lee R. Edwards, a contemporary scholar, recalling her college education, says flatly: ‘… since [no] women whose acquaintance I had made in fiction had much to do with the life I led or wanted to lead, I was not female … if Molly Bloom was a woman, what was I? A mutant or a dinosaur.’

And here is Adrienne Rich:

all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women … inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth … Or they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or … cruel … and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet … the girl or woman who tries to write … is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world … she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over … she comes up against something that negates everything she is about … She finds a terror and a dream … La Belle Dame Sans Merci … but precisely what she does not find is that absorbed, drudging, puzzled, sometimes inspiring creature, herself.

Cultural messages can obliterate even the concrete evidence of female experience recorded by female artists and do so very young. Novelist Samuel Delany reports a conversation with a twelve-year-old who ‘had devoured all six books of Jean Rhys; she is a pretty bright kid!’

Me: What kind of books do you like?
Livy: Oh, well…. you know. Books about people.
Me: Can you think of any women characters in the books you read that you particularly like?
Livy: Oh, I never read books about women!

The tragic point is that even a twelve-year-old already knows that women are not people.

— Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983), pp. 1415 (via mikroblogolas)

(via alcindora)

"Society remains uneasy with female strength of any stripe, and still prefers and champions the angel in the house—an outdated sentiment that limits all women. But because the “angel” is still viewed as unequivocally white, it is a particular problem for black women. As long as vulnerability and softness are the basis for acceptable femininity (and acceptable femininity is a requirement for a woman’s life to have value), women who are perpetually framed, because of their race, as supernaturally indestructible will not be viewed with regard."

Precious Mettle | Bitch Media (via brutereason)

(via yoursocialconstructsareshowing)