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robertogreco : misogyny   10

Italian writer Igiaba Scego rewrites the Black Mediterranean
"Igiaba Scego is one of the most prominent voices of a new cohort of Black writers in Italy. Scego was born in Rome in 1974 to parents from Somalia; her father served as a high-ranking official in the Somali government before the 1969 Siad Barre coup d’etat. A prolific novelist, journalist, social commentator, and activist, Scego has won numerous awards for her writings on African-Italian identities and the legacies of Italian colonialism. Her newest book, Adua, released in Italy by Giunti this September, represents a welcome intervention into the diversity of Black experiences in Italy. Indeed, Adua can be read as an exploration of what Jacqueline Nassy Brown has termed “diaspora’s counter/parts”–relations among the African diaspora that are based not solely on affinity and sameness, but also on differences and antagonism.

Adua is told through two voices and over three historical moments, which Scego describes as “Italian colonialism, Somalia in the 1970s, and our current moment, when the Mediterranean has been transformed into an open-air tomb for migrants.” Zoppe is a polyglot Somali, descended from a family of soothsayers, who works as an interpreter in the 1930s under Italian fascism. In many ways an embodiment of the tragic maxim “translator as traitor,” Zoppe is torn between his struggle for survival and his deep sense of ethical obligation toward family and nation. A survivor of brutal racist attacks while in Rome, Zoppe’s translation work also affords him a terrifying window into the impending and bloody Italian re-invasion of Ethiopia.

Adua, Zoppe’s daughter and the book’s namesake, was born in Somalia but left for Rome at the age of seventeen. She is known as a “Vecchia Lira” (Old Lira), the irreverent term used by younger immigrants to describe women of the Somali diaspora who arrived in Italy during the 1970s. Adua’s young husband is a recent Somali refugee who came to Italy via Lampedusa escaping civil war; she calls him “Titanic” in reference to the precarious boat on which he arrived, and the two share an ambiguous relationship that oscillates from the maternal to the hostile.

Young Adua dreamed of becoming a movie starlet like Marilyn Monroe–her romantic images of Italy were shaped by the films she watched as a child in a theater built by the fascists. Yet after decades in Italy, she only has one title to her name: a humiliating and degrading erotic movie exploiting Italian stereotypes of Black female sexuality. Adua’s own tragic tale is belied by her triumphal name, bestowed by her father to represent the first African anti-imperialist victory.

Adua is deeply and thoroughly researched, a process Scego describes in the “Historical Note” after the epilogue. It is also a captivating read: the novel is sweeping in its geographical and temporal scope, yet Scego nonetheless renders her complex protagonists richly and lovingly. Adua makes two critical contributions. First, she centers Italian colonial history (particularly Italian colonization and occupation in East Africa) and its reverberations in the present through the lens of lived experience–the layers of intimacy and violence that characterize imperial entanglement. Contrary to the rabid rhetoric of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, and border securitization in Italy today (seen in the aggressive taunts launched against the likes of Mario Balotelli that “there are no Black Italians”), Scego’s book underscores that “Africans” are not foreign Others intruding into bounded Italian space; rather, these intertwined histories predate Italy’s “official” transformation into a country of immigration during the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

And second, Scego dispels the notion that there is any sort of unitary Blackness in Italy. Her characters are colonial subjects and aspiring freedom fighters, migrants and refugees of multiple backgrounds and generations–in other words, Afro-Italians of many stripes and political valences. Scego has taken us beyond the all-too common invocation of subjects “trapped between two worlds,” instead portraying a range of experiences that–while still structured by racism, misogyny, and other axes of power–can do justice to the changing face of Italy today."
igiabascego  2015  italy  mediterranean  colonialism  race  africa  racism  misogyny  power  blackness 
16 days ago by robertogreco
Noam Chomsky takes ten minutes to explain everything you need to know about the Republican Party in 2019 / Boing Boing
"Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewed linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky and asked him to explain Donald Trump; in a mere 10 minutes, Chomsky explains where Trump came from, what he says about the GOP, and what the best response to Russiagate is.

Chomsky lays out the history of the GOP from Nixon's Southern Strategy, when the party figured out that the way to large numbers of working people to vote for policies that made a tiny minority of rich people richer was to quietly support racism, which would fuse together a coalition of racists and the super-rich. By Reagan's time, the coalition was beefed up with throngs of religious fanatics, brought in by adopting brutal anti-abortion policies. Then the GOP recruited paranoid musketfuckers by adopting doctrinal opposition to any form of gun control. Constituency by constituency, the GOP became a big tent for deranged, paranoid, bigoted and misogynist elements, all reliably showing up to vote for policies that would send billions into the pockets of a tiny rump of wealthy people who represented the party's establishment.

That's why every time the GOP base fields a candidate, it's some self-parodying character out of a SNL sketch: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, etc. Every time, the GOP establishment had to sabotage the campaigns of the base's pick, until they couldn't -- Trump is just the candidate-from-the-base that the establishment couldn't suppress.

You can think of the Republican Party as a machine that does two things: enacting patriarchy and white supremacy (Trump) while delivering billions to oligarchs (McConnell, Paul Ryan, etc).

Then Chomsky moves onto Russiagate: Russian interference may have shifted the election outcome by a few critical points to get Trump elected, but it will be impossible to quantify the full extent and nature of interference and the issue will always be controversial, with room for doubt. But campaign contributions from the super-rich? They are undeniable and have a massive effect on US elections, vastly more than Russian interference ever will (as do election interventions of US allies: think of when Netanyahu went to Congress to attack Obama policies before a joint Congressional session right before a key election): "The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those."
Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off."

[Full interview: https://truthout.org/video/chomsky-on-the-perils-of-depending-on-mueller-report-to-defeat-trump/
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/18/chomsky_by_focusing_on_russia_democrats
https://www.democracynow.org/shows/2019/4/18?autostart=true

"NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Trump is—you know, I think there are a number of illusions about Trump. If you take a look at the Trump phenomenon, it’s not very surprising. Think back for the last 10 or 15 years over Republican Party primaries, and remember what happened during the primaries. Each primary, when some candidate rose from the base, they were so outlandish that the Republican establishment tried to crush them and succeeded in doing it—Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum. Anyone who was coming out of the base was totally unacceptable to the establishment. The change in 2016 is they couldn’t crush him.

But the interesting question is: Why was this happening? Why, in election after election, was the voting base producing a candidate utterly intolerable to the establishment? And the answer to that is—if you think about that, the answer is not very hard to discover. During the—since the 1970s, during this neoliberal period, both of the political parties have shifted to the right. The Democrats, by the 1970s, had pretty much abandoned the working class. I mean, the last gasp of more or less progressive Democratic Party legislative proposals was the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act in 1978, which Carter watered down so that it had no teeth, just became voluntary. But the Democrats had pretty much abandoned the working class. They became pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans shifted so far to the right that they went completely off the spectrum. Two of the leading political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, about five or 10 years ago, described the Republican Party as what they called a “radical insurgency” that has abandoned parliamentary politics.

Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

And, I should say, the Democrats are helping him. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. I mean, for one thing, it’s undetectable. I mean, in the 2016 election, the Senate and the House went the same way as the executive, but nobody claims there was Russian interference there. In fact, you know, Russian interference in the election, if it existed, was very slight, much less, say, than interference by, say, Israel. Israel… [more]
amygoodman  noamchomsky  corydoctorow  donaldtrump  republicans  us  politics  extremism  billionaires  inequality  campaignfinance  money  power  policy  mitchmcconnell  paulryan  abortion  nra  guns  evangelicals  richardnixon  ronaldreagan  georgehwbush  govenment  corporatism  corruption  russiagate  legislation  wealth  oligarchy  plutocracy  paulweyrich  southernstrategy  racism  race  gop  guncontrol  bigotry  misogyny  establishment  michelebachman  hermancain  ricksantoram  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  netanyahu  barackobama  congress  climatechange  canon  democrats  democracy  insurgency  radicalism  right  labor  corporations  catholics  2019  israel  elections  influence 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Teju Cole en Instagram: “⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Brushing my teeth last night, on the cusp of the hour-stutter, I asked myself how evil came into the world. Pandora, the one who…”
"Brushing my teeth last night, on the cusp of the hour-stutter, I asked myself how evil came into the world. Pandora, the one who bears all gifts, is first named in Hesiod’s “Works and Days.” A century or so later, in the 6th century BCE, unknown Hebrew authors write “Genesis,” probably while in Babylonian exile, likely influenced by the Greek story.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Pandora opens the jar. Eve eats the fruit. The misogyny in the narratives is one parallel; another is that evil enters the world through too much knowledge. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, no less than Pandora’s Jar, is a device. The lid that is sprung, the knowledge that comes streaming out like arterial blood, the one-way torrent of pain that cannot be reversed or undone. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The one who bears all gifts... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Too much knowledge...
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And no going back..."
tejucole  pandora  evil  knowledge  2018  ancientgreece  greekmyths  myths  religion  bible  babylonia  misogyny 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Molly Ringwald Revisits “The Breakfast Club” in the Age of #MeToo | The New Yorker
"John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teen-agers experience. Whether that’s enough to make up for the impropriety of the films is hard to say—even criticizing them makes me feel like I’m divesting a generation of some of its fondest memories, or being ungrateful since they helped to establish my career. And yet embracing them entirely feels hypocritical. And yet, and yet. . . . 

How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go.

While researching this piece, I came across an article that was published in Seventeen magazine, in 1986, for which I interviewed John. (It was the only time I did so.) He talked about the artists who inspired him when he was younger—Bob Dylan, John Lennon—and how, as soon as they “got comfortable” in their art, they moved on. I pointed out that he had already done a lot of movies about suburbia, and asked him whether he felt that he should move on as his idols had. “I think it’s wise for people to concern themselves with the things they know about,” he said. He added, “I’d feel extremely self-conscious writing about something I don’t know.”

I’m not sure that John was ever really comfortable or satisfied. He often told me that he didn’t think he was a good enough writer for prose, and although he loved to write, he notoriously hated to revise. I was set to make one more Hughes film, when I was twenty, but felt that it needed rewriting. Hughes refused, and the film was never made, though there could have been other circumstances I was not aware of.

In the interview, I asked him if he thought teen-agers were looked at differently than when he was that age. “Definitely,” he said. “My generation had to be taken seriously because we were stopping things and burning things. We were able to initiate change, because we had such vast numbers. We were part of the Baby Boom, and when we moved, everything moved with us. But now, there are fewer teens, and they aren’t taken as seriously as we were. You make a teen-age movie, and critics say, ‘How dare you?’ There’s just a general lack of respect for young people now.”

John wanted people to take teens seriously, and people did. The films are still taught in schools because good teachers want their students to know that what they feel and say is important; that if they talk, adults and peers will listen. I think that it’s ultimately the greatest value of the films, and why I hope they will endure. The conversations about them will change, and they should. It’s up to the following generations to figure out how to continue those conversations and make them their own—to keep talking, in schools, in activism and art—and trust that we care."
mollyringwald  thebreakfastclub  #MeToo  2018  film  1980s  teens  youth  identity  sexism  harassment  johnhughes  chauvinism  nationallampoon  writing  homophobia  tedmann  sexuality  sixteencandles  prettyinpink  change  harveyweinstein  adolescence  havilandmorris  insecurity  sexualharassment  misogyny  racism  stereotypes  outsiders  invisibility 
april 2018 by robertogreco
When We Mourn Paul Walker, We’re Really Mourning The Death Of Male Friendships | Decider | Where To Stream Movies & Shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, HBO Go
"But Vin Diesel’s modeling of grief is perhaps the most interesting. For most of 2015, Diesel has been eulogizing Walker in every interview, at every promotional stop, and in every other Facebook and Instagram post, referring to Walker as his brother, using the term of endearment Pablo, talking candidly about how sad he was after Walker’s death, and posting pictures and videos of the two of them together. In March he announced that he had named his newborn daughter Pauline after his late friend.

All of this emotion can be explained by what I think we’re really mourning when we mourn Paul Walker: the end of a resonant example of a particular kind of male friendship absent from most of our own lives. That is, when we mourn Paul Walker, we are also mourning the end of Brian and Dom.

Male friendship in America, at present, is in a bad way. As sociologist Lisa Wade reports, “Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.” However, these same men crave deeper, more intimate friendships. As Wade explains, “Men desire the same level and type of intimacy in their friendships as women, but they aren’t getting it.” How come? Misogyny, homophobia, and men’s long-standing anxieties about being “real men,” basically. Wade writes:
To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. “Real men,” though, are not supposed to do these things. They are supposed to be self-interested, competitive, non-emotional, strong (with no insecurities at all), and able to deal with their emotional problems without help. Being a good friend, then, as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly.

“When men do have especially close relationships,” notes Alana Massey, “we teasingly call them ‘bromances,’ as if there must be something amorous between two men who choose to spend time together one-on-one.”

In effect, what both Wade and Massey are saying is that somehow straight men in America have internalized the idea that intimate male friendships are gay.

In a weird way, queer theory also encourages this. It would be easy to read, for instance, the onscreen relationship between Brian and Dom as queer in some way, i.e., that the Fast and Furious movies are secretly a romantic love story between Paul Walker’s Brian and Vin Diesel’s Dom. Let me be clear: this is a legitimate – even fun! – reading. The deepest and most-sustained love relationship in the series is between Brian and Dom. Though they each have female partners – Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), respectively – their primary emotional sustenance over the course of the franchise comes from each other. Slash fiction exploring this idea in greater depth isn’t hard to find online.

Significantly, the franchise doesn’t explicitly deny this sort of queer reading. There’s none of the anxious disavowal of homosexuality you find in movies such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and I Love You, Man. Nor does Vin Diesel display any of the fear of emotion Wade talks about.

But I don’t think the reflexive queer reading – progressive though it may be – helps explain why Furious 7 can bring a theater full of young straight men to tears. No, I think there’s something else going on here. As Rachel Vorona Cote writes, “Friendship is not a pale imitation of sexual romance. It is a romance unto itself.”

In his book Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill argues that friendship today is “a form of love that’s in danger of being downgraded or dismissed in our imaginations.” One of the reasons for this, he contends, is our tendency to think “that the desire for sex is the secret truth of every relationship, so that any mutual liking or interest must be something more than chaste affection.” From this point of view, the intimate friendship between Brian and Dom in the Fast and Furious movies must really be a cover for a sexual relationship. But what might happen, Hill asks, if we take a friendship like Brian and Dom’s at face value? How might that challenge our views of what a friendship can be?

Hill argues “friendship can and should be understood along the lines of a vowed or committed relationship, much like a marriage or a kinship bond.” Hill asks us to imagine “friendship as more stable, permanent, and binding,” “friends more like the siblings we’re stuck with, like it or not, than like our acquaintances,” and “at least some of our friends as, in large measure, tantamount to family.”

You might think the writings of a gay celibate Christian writer like Hill and a multi-billion dollar street racing franchise would have different takes on friendships, but you’d be wrong. As a matter of fact, lines such as Dom’s “I don’t have friends, I’ve got family” and (to Brian/Paul at the end of the film) “You’ll always be my brother” wouldn’t look out of place in Hill’s book. Brian and Dom’s friendship in the movies and Paul and Vin’s friendship in real life are best understood, I would argue, as different versions of the same “spiritual friendship.” Theirs is a union that manages to be resolutely heterosexual but not homophobic, sincere but not self-serious, strong but sensitive.

In a world where straight men are often still worried about being perceived as feminine or gay and thus fail to form close bonds with other men, Brian and Dom’s bond is an important symbolic outlet for normalizing “spiritual friendship” between men. The Fast and Furious franchise offers a post-bromance model of male friendship and suggests a new call to seriousness about friendship’s role and importance. Thus, in mourning Paul Walker, we mourn not only the end of Brian and Dom’s relationship, but also the end of Paul and Vin’s, as well as the dearth of such relationships outside of the Fast and Furious franchise. We mourn our own inadequacy. That’s why it hurts so much. But that mourning is also a celebration, a celebration that something such as Paul Walker’s Teen Choice Award, while seemingly trivial, is one small part of."

[back in circulation because: "Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again is now the most-viewed YouTube video of all time"
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/11/15952010/wiz-khalifa-most-watched-youtube-video-fast-furious

via: https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/884994991570944000 ]

[Related: "It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/upshot/members-of-the-opposite-sex-at-work-gender-study.html

"This came in my circles so I'd like to make a thread about it: One conversation we rarely have is about the lack of male female friendships."
https://twitter.com/Gaohmee/status/884555261867720704

thread continues:
"There were some news articles floating around at the beginning of the year about Pence and his rule that he doesn't meet women alone, ever.

Since then, studies have emerged about this problem being an epidemic, presumably not only in the US, especially in workplaces.

The gist of it is that people believe being alone with a woman other than your partner is inappropriate by default. Just think about this.

There is an absolutely insane believe that male female friendships are not real, are inappropriate, are dangerous and problematic.

Think about what impact that has on women's rights, our work, the respect for us. This means, men in power specifically don't know us.

It means that when we talk to men, their underlying concern is that it could be seen as inappropriate - or even feels inappropriate to them.

This obstructs equality more than we may realise. It means there is a barrier of understanding women's ideas and thoughts to begin with.

It ramps up all biases that people pile up and that obstruct change and progress. It means it influences the way people hire.

And no wonder if you think about it: The representation in media, on TV, anywhere of male female friendships is basically non-existent.

All stories we see about male female interaction are romances, jealousy dramas, even work relationships are depicted as romantic.

We. Fail. To. Tell. Stories. Of. Male. Female. Friendships.

We hugely fail telling them, because we believe they don't exist or are boring

There is a whole other layer to this where male female friendships are only possible when one of the parties is "ugly"/nerdy.

The gist of it is: We need to foster healthy, meaningful friendships and colleague relationships to fix gender inequality.

As creators, we can be part of this by telling those stories. Re-define how men and women relate to each other, represent real friendships."]
mattthomas  men  friendship  sexuality  gender  2015  jenniferscheurle    2017wesleyhill  brotherhood  society  bromances  alanamassey  heterosexuality  emotion  emotions  friendships  masculinity  misogyny  homophobia  intimacy  fastandfurious  georgecarlin  vindiesel  paulwalker  wizkhalifa 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - The New Yorker
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.

Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.

Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.

Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women.

Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?

Now is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.

The case for women is not that they are inherently better or more moral. It is that they are half of humanity and should have the same opportunities—and be judged according to the same standards—as the other half. Clinton was expected to be perfect, according to contradictory standards, in an election that became a referendum on her likability.

Now is the time to ask why America is far behind many other countries (see: Rwanda) in its representation of women in politics. Now is the time to explore mainstream attitudes toward women’s ambition, to ponder to what extent the ordinary political calculations that all politicians make translate as moral failures when we see them in women. Clinton’s careful calibration was read as deviousness. But would a male politician who is carefully calibrated—Mitt Romney, for example—merely read as carefully calibrated?

Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this."
chimamandangoziadichie  culture  politics  us  race  racism  donaldtrump  class  classism  responsibility  resistance  freedom  populism  climatechange  identitypolitics  berniesanders  media  workingclass  economics  listening  sexism  gender  misogyny  rwanda  mittromney  words  howwespeak  communication  consent  2016  elections  hillaryclinton 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Women Touching Women, on Screen | Broadly
"Despite the obvious cultural markers of Indian society, you can place Parched, culturally, anywhere. Yadav has a unique ability to evoke the very deep sensibilities of womanhood and female sexuality: The trapped secrets of infidelity or desire, and abuse; the realities we rarely are allowed to share. Of all the people Yadav based characters on, she says the woman who inspired Rani was particularly compelling to her: "She cooked all day for us. We talked and laughed. She was needling and then, at one point, she turned to me and said, 'I haven't been touched in 17 years. Do you know what that means?'" Moved and inspired, Yadav felt that her specific story had to be shared with an international audience. "That's something I really wanted to explore: The necessity of touch. I wanted to capture that energy, that soul in the film."

Yadav says she struggled, at first, with telling these stories: How could she weave in a tale about the lightheartedness of these women but also their sadness? She felt it was important for her to balance both their strength and their day-to-day struggles with internalized misogyny, while also juxtaposing it with the genuine happiness they found in their friendships, or the small pleasures of their lives. Parched is not a story of anguish. It's a story of resilience in light of pain. "I did post-production in LA and I would be in the cutting room all day," Yadav says. "After a couple of days I felt like I was going mad. Not being near people, not touching people—it was suffocating. I stopped eating food because I couldn't eat it with my hands. So I wanted to really explore that a lot with Rani and Lajjo: The meaning of touch for the both of them." What would touch mean to two women who had never been loved by the men they were with?

At one point in the film, after Manoj beats up Lajjo—again—Rani comes to her aid. Lajjo has collapsed and is incapable of moving, so Rani nurses her wounds, slowly removing her top to get to the bruises, exposing Lajjo's breasts. It's subtle, a shot filmed with fragility and tenderness. As Rani begins to caress Lajjo's breasts, the experience looks more familiar than sexual, erotic only due to its earnestness. It's a loaded and nuanced moment. "It's a scene that makes a lot of people uncomfortable because they call it a lesbian scene, but in fact it's a mother-daughter scene, or a friends scene—it takes on every role between two women," Yadav explains.

Women touch each other—sometimes sexually, sometimes non-sexually. Female relationships encapsulate the diversity and the multitude of dimensions and roles that women exist in; we can be maternal to each other, romantic, or even sexual. Women explore themselves through their relationships with other women. In that sense, female friendships are far more varied than male relationships. Although the scene with Rani and Lajjo may seem simply sexual, the moment shows their desire for care as Rani's fingers linger on Lajjo's nipples. It reveals the desire to be validated through sensory feeling.

A stereotype exists about people never discussing sex in India. Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai has famously never kissed one of her onscreen co-stars—presumably because sex, and the depiction of it, is still a contentious issue in India. In 1998, after the release of Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta's Fire, many prominent Indian politicians called the film immoral, pornographic, and against Indian tradition and culture. They then claimed the film's depiction of lesbianism was "not a part of Indian history or culture." (Fire is a film about two sister-in-laws, Sita and Radha, who live in the same house and fall in love with each other.) Members of the far-right political party, Shiv Sena, ransacked theaters across India, smashing glass panes and attempting to shut down screenings of the film. A lot of this, I presume, was backlash towards the audacity that women choose their sexual outlet, removing men from the equation of pleasure.

As Yadav reminded the audience in a panel after the screening of Parched, "India is the land of [the] Kama Sutra." Conversations about sex, however, seem to be confined to the kitchen, or enclaves of women, and not as much on the pop-cultural forefront. This is why films like Parched matter, why Yadav's frankness about sex is simply revolutionary for all women. It's about demanding more for both women and men.

At the same screening of Parched, a white man stood up and said he hoped people would see this film particularly for the scene where Lajjo has sex with a shaman-esque man of great spirit. The scene, which is erotic and highly charged, illustrates Lajjo's growing self awareness through sex. It's portrayed as an odyssey of deep arousal, both sexual and spiritual; for the first time, Lajjo finally learns sex is supposed to be pleasurable. The man in the audience followed his observation with the wry question: "How many men in the West know anything about the act of making love?" The room, which was full of women of all demographics, laughed raucously at his response.

In many ways, Parched tells a universal story; it reflects the stories of all women because women around the world have a lot in common. "When I shared this script with friends around the world, they would send me their stories," Yadav says, her eyes big, warm, and watery. "Nobody interacted with it like a script, so that's why I made the characters symbolic of something more, symbolic of issues that I wanted to highlight."

What's so profound about Parched—beyond the superb storytelling and its universality—is its critique of the patriarchy, which, obviously, is also universal: Although the women in this film grapple with systemic misogyny, Yadav emphasizes how that happens outside India. "With this movie in particular I get, 'I didn't know things were so bad in India!' a lot, and I think to myself, Are you kidding me?" she says. "People forget it happens on every level. If an audience isn't perceptive, they sit on their high horse and judge—like, 'Oh poor things, is this what happens?' If they are really receptive they'll understand it's happening in their backyard.""



"The last question during the Q&A came from a man who stood up to thank Yadav. His voice, bellowing with passion, kept breaking. It almost seemed as though Yadav had saved his life. Her partner, and well-known producer, Aseem Bajaj, told the man that this movie completely floored him as well. "It's changed me," he said. "It's completely changed the way I interact with women." Mahesh Balraj, who plays Manoj, agreed: "I'm different now when I look at women. I think of them differently." Yadav just smiled in response, her head down, hands crossed over.

As I watched and followed her offstage, she was met with a flurry of thank yous. I walked behind her all the way through the cinema, more people coming towards her as we made our way through the aisles and out into the foyer, where I was met with her publicist. I wanted to say something that wouldn't sound cliché; unlike everyone else in the theater, I didn't know how to say thank you or express how much this film meant to me. Everything felt embarrassing. She turned to me, and I could only say, "Hey, I'll be interviewing you tomorrow." She said, "Hey," too, smiled, and turned away from me. Soon after her publicist walked her to a meeting. I stood for a few seconds longer, feeling truly blissed.

I couldn't say to her how, as a woman, as a South Asian woman, and as a woman invested in the lives of the many other women who are abused and harassed for their gender, this film is not just necessary. It is life-affirming. At our interview, Yadav reticently describes how her position as an artist is always undermined by her sex first, her race second. "In this industry people want to constantly remind me, and call me, a woman director, but I'm a director," she says. "Nobody would ever call a male director a male director.""
touch  film  gender  women  fariharóisín  2015  leenayadav  sexuality  misogyny  friendship  india 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements | INCITE! Blog
"Informants in our movements are usually sent by an agency (I say this based on my personal investigations and reading of historical accounts) and Agents Provacatuers are usually self-nominated and misguided individualists (Same source). Whether you blame the state for the appearance of the latter, you can only blame our movement’s incohesion and inability to deal openly with internal conflict for their continued existence in the roles which serve to divide us.

Unless and until men (especially white men) are held accountable and actually challenged by persons in the movement in an open manner, this problem will continue to fester. What happens instead is the soft approach; the telltale abuse survivor adaptation of slander, often anonymously posted or subversively communicated.

Oh, sure it is an effective way to get at the real bastards and undercut their authority. But it is also a great way to play on the fears, ideals, and guilt of the left in general, and isolate the not-so-bastards. Because we each want so earnestly to be good allies, we tend to adopt the “believe the victim” maxim. And that is a great thing to offer when it is time to listen in private to someone who needs to tell their story. But it is a toxic thing to turn around and repeat that story as if you “know” it to be true. It is especially toxic to turn that “knowledge” of only one side of the story into action in the community. Often that action is only symbolic, sometimes it is violence. Would any of us tolerate a state trial which muzzled the defense attorney? We sure would – if the accused were a white male who pisses us off in a meeting!

We hold governments to be acocuntable through an open medium, and expect debate and counter argument. But too often we throw this out when we hear rumors of bad behavior by the guy who pisses us off in a meeting. We expect the government or corporations to come clean with an account of what they are doing, and yet almost never actually do that hard work when it comes time to find out whether someone who was accused really is that bastard their former partner says they were.

Abuse is real, and it needs to be challenged wherever we find it. But too often, we really want validation and not a harder search for the truth – and we are too easily swayed by anyone who tells us we’re special, that our own bad behavior really isn’t as bad, or bad enough, to be addressed. Isn’t that what the mysogynists say? It sure is. The most disgusting thing I ever heard a mysogynist say was that she was not responsible for her abuse because of her gender.

I am a man, and I have made mistakes for which I will always mourn. But I am a man, and not a role or an ‘archy,’ and I will always demand of my community that it speak truth to power even if that power is me.

Nothing about me, without me."

[See also: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/228916/on-sexism-sexual-assault-and-the-threat-of-the-non-bro/ ]
gender  misogyny  feminism  activism  politics  2014  informants  history  blackpanthers  brownberets  courtneydesireemorris  disruption  abuse  power  conflict  incohesion  organization  hierarchy  horizontality  organizing  anarchism  sexism  blackpantherparty 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Teresa Forcades, the radical Catalan nun on a mission - video | World news | guardian.co.uk
"Sister Teresa Forcades is one of Catalonia's foremost political figures, but uniquely for a faith-led figure in Spain, her ideology is feminist and left-wing. Against a backdrop of continued economic contraction and austerity, she spoke to the Guardian about the need for an alternative to capitalism and criticised the misogyny of the Catholic church."
teresaforcades  2013  spain  españa  catholicchurch  catholicism  religion  politics  catalonia  cataluña  feminism  left  economics  capitalism  independence  diversity  culturaldiversity  culture  homogenization  misogyny  pope  power  women  gender 
may 2013 by robertogreco
How to Kill a Troll - Incisive.nu
"When it comes to actually changing minds, I think we’re stuck with love.

Recognizing the humanity of people who do awful things is one of the core challenges of being human. (We have enough trouble recognizing it even in people who are like us.) But it’s the only way out. Even when the worst trolls are beyond visible redemption, the way we handle them is visible to so many others who are still capable of feeling empathy or recognizing pain or changing their minds.

As Dr. King put it:
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

That’s from a sermon I reread every few weeks. I’ll probably be reading for the rest of my life as a part of my struggle with my own deep-rooted anger.

There’s a segment of This American Life that illustrates the dynamic perfectly. It’s about John Smid, a man who used to run an “ex-gay” Christian ministry—called, paradoxically, Love In Action—and the activist whose willingness to be human, vulnerable, and rational gradually led Smid to understand the harm he was doing. The activist never talks about love, but that’s what this is. And it’s exactly what King was talking about:

While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

I have tremendous empathy for people who want to skewer and shame their attackers. I catch myself falling into it even though I know it’s an obscene waste of energy and time. It is utterly unfair that the targets of hatred and meanness and violence are nearly always the only ones who can break the cycle of mutually assured hostility. And it’s not the responsibility of the victims of this crap to act with grace.

I doubt that I’ll ever have much empathy for people who talk about women as “stupid whores,” or who try to shut us up with violence or threats of violence.

But my best shot in fraught discussions is try to remember that actions rooted in love are the most practical tool we have. It’s a position of extraordinary resilience, too, because it doesn’t rely on the back and forth of an exchange of blows. It’s steady, unexpected, and weirdly difficult to defend against—the rhetorical equivalent of stepping inside someone’s guard. And it can’t be faked.

Love is not all we need. But combined with civic firmness from platform-makers, drastically better law enforcement for actions that cross legal boundaries, and the simple rejection of vileness by the people who genuinely know better, it’s our best shot at evolving beyond this troglodytic bullshit.

This is how that MLK sermon ends:
Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.

Internet, I love you. Let’s try."
erinkissane  love  mindchanges  discussion  trolls  mlk  2012  wisdom  change  makingchange  canon  hate  misogyny  sexism  harassment  thisamericanlife  martinlutherkingjr  mindchanging 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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