Archive for the Not an activist Category

I support you whether you like it or not

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , , on July 3, 2015 by idnami

I’ve been running into ally shaming a lot lately and I think it’s fucked up that this is becoming a thing. I don’t mean educating someone to become a better supporter of your cause, I mean straight up shitting down their throat for trying to support as best they are able. Some of it is from the feminist community, telling men who want to stand by us that they aren’t good enough at it, some of it from the LGBT community, telling cisgendered heterosexual supporters that they aren’t good enough at it. And like, yeah ok. Sometimes that support is offered clumsily or imperfectly, and some people are more talk than action, for sure.

I still think the fact that the talk is happening is a very encouraging sign, so let’s think about not alienating people who are sincerely trying to be part of the solution.

So, historic US Supreme Court decision blah blah, finally catching up to Canada after 10 years yada yada. We all know what happened and I’ll skip the rehash.

I know some LGBT people that this actually really matters to. American ones who want to get married. This was kind of a huge win for them and I was genuinely happy about it. Also it pissed off a bunch of bigoted fuckheads and that always makes me smile. So I threw a rainbow filter on my profile pic just like several million others. The intention was something along the lines of putting on a party hat. It was not intended as activism in itself, only a festive celebration of a thing that happened that means good things for certain people I care about. I’m pretty sure I could say the same for most of the people who did this.

But then, some other LGBT people said, “No you fucking hipster, don’t expect me to be grateful to you for jumping on this rainbow bandwagon.”


But why?

Well… I didn’t expect them to. And it’s ok that they weren’t. Gratitude is not an appropriate response to a party hat. But the talk became positively hostile and days later I’m still thinking about it. Cuz I actually give a fairly large number of fucks about LGBT rights, and whether I was expressing that in a way that could please everyone or not, ouch dude.

So no, me sporting a flag doesn’t directly help anyone. What it does do is tell the people I encounter something about me that I want them to know. It tells LGBT folks that I’m on their side. It also puts any homophobic idiots in the immediate vicinity in a snit, perhaps even provokes a reaction so that I know who they are and can shun them in future.

But, know who else I’ll shun? Every other type of bigot out there, including feminists who hate men and straight-hating LGBT people. Hate is the thing I’m actually fighting here.

I’m not a feminist because I think oppressing women is bad, I’m not anti racist because I think oppressing people of colour is bad, and I’m not a LGBT supporter (do I even say supporter if I’m bi? I’m in the acronym!) because I think oppressing gay and trans people is bad. I am all these things because I think oppressing people is bad. But I take part in the conversation about specific forms of oppression and the people they affect because I think just calling yourself a humanist is another way of saying you’re equally apathetic about everything.

I think we also need to recognize that apathy is a perfectly valid response to a world which demands that if you care even a little, you must care all-consumingly or you can go fuck yourself with a rusty hatchet.

I get it. Some of us have been so hurt so badly that we see the face of our abuser in anyone who shares characteristics with them. I get that I am a privileged member of a historically oppressive culture, whether I like it or not, and that sometimes I’ll be the focus for that rage. That doesn’t mean I have to hold still when someone starts flinging shit at me.

I don’t have to take a bullet for you. I don’t have to agree with everything you say. I don’t have to like you personally. I don’t have to be your punching bag, or drown in guilt for the hurt you’ve suffered at the hands of someone I may vaguely resemble. And the fact that I may think you personally are an asshole doesn’t mean I’ll stop actively supporting your rights. But if you get shitty enough at enough people, maybe some of them will. I see this with men vs feminism all the time.

Being an advocate of human rights, for me, means when I hear racism or sexism or LGBT bashing I don’t tolerate it. I address it and I’ve changed more than one person’s thinking simply by asking them to think. It also means treating people like human beings no matter what genitals or skin colour they have, who they love or where they come from. It does not mean being everyone’s friend, walking on eggshells, or treating their point of view as more important than mine. It also doesn’t mean spending every waking second educating myself on the special situation of every oppressed group. I tried that for a long time and it got exhausting. There is just too much to know and I’ve got my own shit to think about too. But feel free to tell me what you need. If you have the time to tell someone that it’s not your job to educate them and lecture them for not knowing what you feel they should, you have time to copy/paste a link. have time, speaking as a feminist who is getting pretty fed up with the unnecessary exacerbation of hostilities.

The us vs them mentality of this seems to imply that your struggle isn’t my struggle too, that our struggle isn’t theirs, and you bet your ass it is. I don’t want to live in a world where rights are granted in some kind of weird gradient system. So when I’m told that because I don’t understand every nuance of an issue I want to help fight and therefore I’m not welcome in the battle, I find it incredibly counterproductive. Also it really hurts my feelings, and hurting your allies sometimes just makes you extra enemies.

I’m glad that legal rights in the US have taken another step forward, but as we’ve seen with every other fight against systemized oppression, you can’t legislate true equality. Women didn’t magically become equal just because the government granted us the right to vote, and we are still fighting almost 100 years later. The evolution that society needs to ensure that every person has the same rights as every other person comes from changes in the hearts and minds of the individual members of of that society. In other words, look at all these fucking rainbows. They mean that more and more and more people stand up for the idea of equality. It’s not just lazy, idle, armchair activism. It’s a sign of changing times.

So if you see me flying a rainbow flag, please know I do not expect a pat on the back for it. But I also don’t expect a punch in the face. Unless you’re a trans/homophobe, in which case, get in the ring, motherfucker.


Your accusations of racism might actually make you a racist

Posted in just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , on September 1, 2013 by idnami

Because there’s no escaping it, and in the interest of staying abreast of current events, I made myself watch a 2 minute clip of the Miley Cyrus VMA video. I dismissed it by saying something like, “She looked like she was having the time of her life. Good for her.” And then I got back to the many more important things in life, like watching Schmoyoho videos on Youtube.

A friend of mine responded that it was racist because she slapped a black woman’s ass and was “using black people as accessories to be ghetto.” I didn’t think she needed any help being ghetto, but I replied that as she is an accessory herself I didn’t see the big deal so long as the backup dancers were paid well.

Later on I saw my gorgeous black neighbour taking out the garbage without his shirt on. I admit, I gawked. Then the conversation I related above crossed my mind and I had a sudden stab of guilt for objectifying a black man. I thought about this for a moment then said to myself, “Don’t be such a goddamn racist!”

This was not because I had been objectifying a black man, but because I suddenly felt guilty about it because he was black, which is frankly ridiculous.

Let me be clear. I’m an equal-opportunity pervert. Black men are attractive in a quite different way than white men. And when I am ogling a guy I’m not thinking about his personality traits or intelligence, his value as a human being, how much money he makes or whether or not he would be a good father or political candidate. There is no human quality judgement going on there.

I’m not going to tell you what do I think about because it may change your perception of your favourite blogger.


Not this.

I think there comes a point, a very awkward point, where sensitivity to issues of race can become racist in itself. and there can be a fine line between caring about protecting people from exploitation and simply being patronizing.

What if the woman whose ass got slapped liked it? What if they planned it out beforehand giggling all the while? What if maybe she didn’t enjoy it particularly but the pay cheque was high enough that she didn’t care? It was clearly planned and the woman didn’t appear surprised by it, so what’s the big deal?

All of these possibilities are equally valid but I don’t see anyone asking the lady who got slapped how she felt about it. Instead we are using her too.

We are judging the situation based on the skin colour of the people involved and shamelessly using both of them to make our point. That is racism and exploitation right there, my politically correct friends, and it’s just as wrong.

We must acknowledge that if Miley was on that stage by choice, so was everyone else. To imply that the black person was a victim rather than a willing participant (an assumption based on her blackness?) is to fail to give her credit for intelligence, equality and the capacity to choose. We hold Miley responsible for her actions on stage, so why not the others?

As a member of a historically oppressed group (women) who is all too aware that the time when I could have been considered property isn’t long past, it really chaps my ass when it’s implied that every woman making a pay cheque off her sex appeal is a hapless dupe being exploited by the patriarchy. This assumes a lesser intelligence in women making these choices, a sense that we cannot be trusted with our own sexual expression. And though possibly well-meaning, it’s sexist as fuck.

As a burlesque artist I’ve done some extremely risqué stuff. Each time I walk onstage I’m there by choice. As a feminist I demand that choice be acknowledged and respected. Many women making a living as strippers or porn stars would say the same. Many of us do this because we like it, because it pays well and because we don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about that. So if a woman chooses to have her ass slapped on stage, why are people who weren’t part of that decision crying racism?

As for white people “stealing black culture” I’d like to point out that black urban culture is as heavily influenced by European culture as it is by ancestral African heritage. If you don’t believe me please take off those blue jeans.

Stylistic fusion is how humanity develops culturally. I don’t get mad at drag queens for “stealing” my feminine culture, even when they look better in heels than me. Similarly I am not being racist when I:

Sing the blues

Wear a shirt with a Mandarin collar

Eat bannock and salmon

Wish I could play sitar

Twerk (lying. I can’t twerk)

Slap a consenting human adult of any colour on the ass.

And feeling as though I am is as silly as it would be if I got mad at a black guy for wearing a plaid shirt because he’s “stealing my Scottish culture.”

I feel that one of the most important human rights is freedom of choice. Too often in trying to stand up for oppressed minorities we treat them like children and oppress them further. If we fail to respect a human being’s capacity for informed and intelligent decision making based on their skin colour, exactly who is the racist here?

Idle no more?

Posted in just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , on December 29, 2012 by idnami

Because I live in the very specific bubble that I live in, in some ways my perception of things isn’t any clearer than that of people who get all their news from Fox.

I don’t get my news from anywhere specific. When I read multiple references to a story on Facebook I eventually Google it. Considering what I know about the ethics of mainstream journalism I never know what sources to trust. So I read a bunch of sources and try to piece it together.

I’ve learned that everyone is biased to their cause. I’ve seen multiple posts stating, “As of December 4 there were (widely variable and increasingly large number of) protected lakes and rivers. On December 5 there were (alarmingly small number). I’m not saying that something seriously goddamn alarming isn’t happening here, I’m saying the information on either side can be misleading.

But that isn’t the point at all.

The point is that something really amazing is happening. Round dances in malls, highway blockades and a hunger strike on the steps of Parliament. It’s amazing in its beauty and it’s happening because something really goddamn alarming is happening.

Fucking Harper. That guy just keeps getting scarier. I see that Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has offered to meet with Chief Spence, despite the fact that Chief Spence is making a very specific request to speak to a very specific group of people. Now I get that you just can’t insist on talking to a Very Busy Man like Stephen Harper, at Christmastime no less, just because you take issue with his sneaking in of drastic and potentially catastrophic changes to policies that affect the entire country.  Again. If we could the guy would get no sleep at all.

Was that snarky? Whatever. Anyway, I remember reading about Attawapiskat this time last year. They were in a state of emergency for months and no one came to help. I’ve heard some cynical comments that their predicament was their own fault. But I do wonder if, say, Turner Valley were in the same predicament, fault would have meant those people not being aided?

I also wonder if a massive toxic spill beneath a school house could be classified as their own fault.

We have a lot of racist attitude in this enlightened country of ours. Like it or not, we all have our biases. So do they (by “they” I mean whoever we happen to be biased against) of course and this all makes for a big miscommunicative clusterfuck. But you name me one other racial, cultural of geographical group that can be totally abused and neglected without some bleeding heart roaring about it.

I hear people saying, “They should integrate!” In the case of any immigrating group I agree wholeheartedly. You chose to come here pal. Learn the language, don’t drag your country’s problems along with you and don’t expect the laws and customs to change just because you decided to move here instead of somewhere else. Except of course that we (We being the European ancestors of fouth-genners like myself) didn’t do that ourselves. We showed up, took what we wanted and said “Fuck those guys! This is gonna be a Christian land!” (By Christian I mean racist, classist, opportunist, capitalist, environmentally irresponsible spoiled megalomaniacs, I guess.)

I really have to learn to focus. Anyway, what I’m saying that of all the people to whom we could reasonably say, “Integrate!” to, it’s pretty laughable to do it to the people whose way of life you bulldozed to make room for yours. But we keep doing it, from metal cook pots and whiskey to residential schools all the way up to polluting treaty lands and fucking with the justice system to marginalize those people even more. It’s like we figure if we ignore them they will eventually go our way or go away.

They aren’t about to go away. They are the fastest growing population in Canada at the moment. We like to present them as a dying culture but they are not.

I also don’t see them going our way, do you? Those who haven’t preserved their traditional culture seem lost and it is largely the lost ones that we see in the streets of our cities and base our lofty judgements upon. Or perhaps those few of us who have bothered to do slightly more research can tell us, “We keep throwing money at them and they keep squandering it!” So popular perception paints them as hopeless drunks and addicts or avaricious idiots who don’t even know how to make proper use of their ill-gotten gains.

Now lets consider for a moment that they don’t want to integrate. Who would? They also realize that we aren’t about to pack up en masse and let them get back to doing things their way. So there they are, stuck between their own way of life which is in many ways dying out thanks to over 200 years of interference and bullying, and ours which is repugnant to them and many of us quite frankly. Should they really be asked to sacrifice all that they still hold sacred and embrace the earth destroying machine?

This brings me back to the point I started out on. For Theresa Spence this has moved way beyond Attawapiskat. And this is what I think (conjecture, I haven’t asked her personally) is the real reason why Chief Spence refuses to meet with John Duncan. She hasn’t been starving herself for over two weeks in the hopes of getting some decent heating and plumbing for one town. John Duncan is pretty irrelevant to what she wants now. I think this is about making us all aware that it can’t be us and them anymore.

We don’t need the intermediary of an Aboriginal Affairs minister. We need to look each other in the eye. We need to acknowledge that we have given these people no tools for successful “intergration” with the culture we’ve forced on them nor have we made it even remotely possible. Racism against our native population is ingrained and widely considered acceptable in so many ways that we aren’t even aware that we are doing it. We have a nation in crisis, spiritually and materially and yet some people have the gall to state that Chief Spence’s concerns are unworthy of the direct attention of a man who once said, “You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

Fine words, Harper. In what very real sense are you joining in this journey when you fail to respond to a nationwide movement clamouring for true change and justice?

The First Nations people have wisdom we really need to listen to. If we don’t we are going to destroy ourselves. It may very well be that if we (European culture) could quietly destroy ourselves without taking them (Original people of this continent) down with us, they might just let us do it. I mean maybe not. Maybe they are way more forgiving than we would ever be of such a contemptuous oppressor. But they are drawing a line at the threat to whatever number of sacred waters our current legislation now threatens.

So I’m thinking, and I think Spence is thinking, the solution is not to ignore them or throw money at them, but to talk to them and fucking listen to them. Include them in the decision making processes of our country. Because if we want the right to tell them to integrate we need to integrate some of their values too.

My main point I guess is that very few people in this country are being included in the making of decisions which affect not only us but our descendants. And that the one culture for whom the preservation of the land for future generations is a priority are being disrespected and ignored. And that we all need to stand up for our right to be heard. And that Stephen Harper is an evil, soulless robot (is it possible to be evil without in fact having a soul? No, but in his case I feel an exception can be made) who needs a good spanking, a non-confidence vote and a competent replacement with the best interest of all Canadians in mind, in that order.

Idle no more? I really hope so, you guys. Not like I have any idea what to do about it personally mind you. But no one deserves to create a peaceful revolution in this country more than the First Nations do.