Disabled people vary a great deal and some of us cannot attend rallies and protests, while others can and have fought for a lot including disability rights. For those gimps, crips and mads who can attend here is a handy legal guide though from Boston for participation in direct action.
In 2014 when I read 26 ways to be in the struggle beyond the streets I also knew many abled protesters I knew didn’t care. With a few, we’d been acquainted online for a coupla years, I came back in part for them, for the struggles we had in common, and I met with ableism, complete disrespect (which I was meant to be okay with since the person made a place accessible for me once, not structural or involving efforts or expense) or disinterest. I was greener on the other side. I was probably seen as something closer to grass than to human. The disabled are not perceived as fully human by most. In this case, I had been reposting disability justice posts for these years online, so these activists were not ignorant. It did seem that when I post some words by a white person they had never heard of, it has more weight than whatever I have to say. Sure, my white-passing USian friend was much more articulate than I am, in English. Now when I repost a lot from a Black USian activist, and sometimes from an Asian one, or Black South African, no one cares.
It ties in with elitism, social-capital-ism, and new-ageism. I’m appalled at social justice here. I can clearly see some I still am in touch with who are just waiting for me to die so they can tag me because in death I’ll be at least valuable to them. This is positive thinking, folks! You see, it’s clear I won’t put up with tokenism, and I call people in. That is why I have no value now. They also say they didn’t know other disabled folks personally, either because they are callous or they don’t like the idea of disabled folks organising.
Fortunately it is not the case in all movements everywhere. On the upside, I’m so relieved these local activists didn’t get onto my twitter, an all-too-quiet and peaceful place.
Deconstructing Disability Oppression within Social Justice Work
All manifestations of oppression are connected to form a matrix of domination, necessitated by settler colonialism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, cis* gender supremacy and economic exploitation.Because we have all been socialized into this matrix of domination, anti-oppression is therefore a life-long process of unlearning, relearning and resisting.
Ableism: a set of institutionalized attitudes, policies and systems which dehumanize, pathologize, criminalize and either desexualize or hypersexualize people whose bodies* do not fit into socially constructed notions of what constitutes a ”normal” human being/body.”
— A presentation by the fabulous Edward Khanya Ndopu, black queer disabled Afropolitan femme.
*including brains and gut brains =]
Julie Burchill was a fan of David Bowie in her adolescence. I was not, I might have first heard of Bowie in relation to Iman. There were about 2 supermodels close to my skin colour; and music magazines weren’t easily available on my island.
Content note: Rape (incl. statutory rape), rape culture; rape humour and details in the xojane piece.
Recently I read Lori Mattix, who was 13 or 14 when she first got raped, by Bowie. Here is something about children and consent and words by someone who has been like “baby groupies”. In response to posts, rape apologists have said Mattix/Maddox changed her statements on whether it was Jimmy Page or Bowie first but they absolutely trust her words when she says it was not rape. As hard as it may be to lay charges against a celebrity for rape, a 30-year old did but Bowie was not charged. I must have heard about a rape allegation and at the same time I knew of a pervert who was a fan, I chose to not listen to Bowie. I must have heard some on the radio and at a friend’s, a huge Bowie fan. I thought of her when I got the news, I felt sorry for her. Recently I also learned about R Kelly being a pedophile and today I learn about Iggy Pop. Well I wish I hadn’t wasted my money on his music in the past. I’m disgusted that a fave cartoon had a jingle by him! It was on TV and it is for kids! This is white supremacist culture. Part of what is triggering is not that the world’s “faves are problematic”. “Problematic” isn’t even appropriate, and let’s also recognise that global majority cultures have a heavy global north bias.
I’ve been thinking of how abusers are charismatic in life as in culture. Some, without even knowing the celebrity is a rapist or abuser, may not understand what the big fuss is about their work then on the whole, it’s almost as if there have been efforts to propel abusers to the forefront of culture. That they make “art” and get funds or the opportunities to make more funds is one thing; it’s another that Iggy Pop, a rapist, is asked to make a tune for kids! That just feeds into my impressions that white culture is deliberately constructed in this way. The terrible reactions or endorsements from our friends, colleagues or strangers following DB’s death reinforce my impressions. These conversations did not start with DB’s death but with the news of his last album. That is when I learned Mattix/Maddox’s name. I’m older now, had free time and internet access (both which I haven’t always had readily). His death opens a space of public discussion that goes predominantly as headlines tell us, it is dishonest in more than one way and please don’t call it disrespectful when there’ll be other discourses. Many are only finding out he was a rapist. His fame triggers rape survivors. Survivors who get broken then see their assaulters not only get on with their lives but who are put on a pedestal while the survivor is called a liar or mentally unstable; assaulters remain free to assault others. ‘Free’ not in the carceral sense but as if permission is granted by society for abusers to thrive.
I can’t recall if I’d heard about Bowie’s anti-semitism before his death. I also read “actively anti-racist” as a descriptor but I see stories of him as a white saviour. Let’s not use this moment to redefine what is anti-racism. Rock Against Racism started against Bowie. Then he reportedly changed. Racism is a business, as is charity or media statements against it. Transphobia has been colonised into cultures, then culture places gender bending white performance as revolutionary.
“Though he’s helped many folks realize their gender and sexual identity, while he impacted the gender binary, it’s imperative to credit most of that – along with the acceptance he was shown by pop culture – to the fact that he was white, male, and wealthy.” Impacted the gender binary for whom?
Kemp’s fascination with kabuki in particular was a major influence on Bowie’s gender-bending ways. “The main thing [Bowie] got from Kemp was his taste for turning life itself into a performance, another Kabuki-like influence,” Ian Buruma writes in the New York Review of Books. “In the old days onnagata actors [men who dressed as women in Kabuki theatre] were encouraged to dress up as women in real life too.”
Lately regarding Bowie, it was his persona’s gender expression people are talking about when they say “gender identity” or “androgyny”. It was appropriation for commercial purposes, a bit like Eddie Redmayne portraying Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, except no one has been saying that Lili Elbe was intersex! Did Bowie’s impersonating a disabled woman make him an icon for white trans PwD? Is Eddie Radmayne’s role as a PwD praiseworthy?
Mostly white bisexuals, or queers commemorate Bowie speaking of his influence on them or on their gender. Does the narrative change with all the space he gets to occupy around his death?
It was his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (commonly shortened to Ziggy Stardust) that shot Bowie into mainstream and commercial success. […] As soon as the world finds out that David Bowie is not heterosexual, his gender expression is more accepted and almost expected. […] This is problematic for those in the transgender community […] and even the bisexual community because their gender expression and orientation is not part of a character or role; that expression is their identity and who they are.”
I wonder if someone had said that he tried to be gay or bisexual by choice (those are valid orientations) and he failed, Bowie didn’t say it, he said he was a closet heterosexual thus mis-appropriating even the word “closet” perhaps, I wonder.
What were Ziggy’s pronouns?
“[…] taking a closer look at some of his lyrics, there are some raised questions about his personal gay pride. In the song “Lady Stardust” Ziggy is “Lady Stardust [singing] his songs of darkness and disgrace.” If Ziggy was strong and comfortable with his identity and proud of who he is (as Ziggy and as Lady), why are his songs filled with darkness and disgrace? These lyrics just raise certain questions about the pride of this strong gay persona. But, in his song “Width of a Circle” off of The Man Who Sold The World, the lyrics seem to demonize the gay lifestyle. The narrator sings that “he smelt the burning pit of fear” and his “tongue [was] swollen with devil’s love.” The song tells a story of a gay seducer and it seems that through these metaphors for gay sex, that Bowie is commenting that they are wrong and sinful.
A Bowie biographer, Christopher Sandford explains that a sexual acquaintance of Bowie said that Bowie and his wife at the time “created their bisexual fantasy” (Sandford 48). It would seem that David Bowie used bisexuality and androgyny in his performance as art and a way to gain fame and money.” Latter quotes from this essay.
“we for whom queerness is not a phase seem to have two options in terms of how we deal with Bowie’s fraught relationship to our name and our stuff. We can be pissed off and view his career as, at least in part, an act of sly cultural appropriation—one of many that pop has committed at our expense over the years. Or, […]”
“Bowie would seem to be a natural fit in this category; you can’t appropriate what you help create. ”
DB helped create what he appropriated from Little Richard, Romy Haag and kabuki?
“The biggest mistake I ever made,” Bowie told journalist Kurt Loder over some beers in Australia, “was telling that Melody Maker writer that I was bisexual. Christ, I was so young then. I was experimenting …” Though many queer fans viewed this recantation as “an act of betrayal” according to biographer Marc Spitz, coming as it did at the onset of the AIDS crisis, Bowie doubled-down in 1993. You can read more here, and about “culturally gay” It just sounds like gaypitalism trying to profit from Bowie’s appropriation or is inclusive of anyone who has money. After all white gaypitalism would rather count Bowie among them than those they leave to be homeless, face violence, live in poverty or die.
Looking at the bigger picture, gaypitalism would rather have someone who was a hebephile freely commiting statutory rapes, and accused of rape on a 30-y-o, upheld as a queer icon even though politics of substitution (Puenzo’s XXY, end of page) of pedophilia/ hebephilia with minority sexual orientation or gender identity vilifies the SOGI minorities. Then again perhaps it is a sign that rich white gays are now immune to that. They’ve had representation in white popular culture while transwomen continue to be devalued or vilified and non-binary is erased. *Little Richard had been an inspiration for a decade before Bowie, Little Richard was the homeless queer youth turned genius, flamboyant performer, the bisexual alien who embraced that label again 9 years ago.
I have many people to thank for making this eye-opening moment more bearable on social media. I want to quote them all (each and every status or comment I liked or post I shared has been so valuable, and each presence has been important though I don’t know most of those people) but for readers, here’s a couple:
“Y’all can keep all your rape apologists scenarios and deflection:
*Yes, I’ve done plenty of shit wrong in my life. None of that includes raping anyone.
*There’s no complexity to it. I don’t support rapists. If all my idols are found to be rapists, I then have no idols.
*I don’t give a fuck if David Bowie was on his John Brown shit, A RAPIST IS A RAPIST. Keep your fucking white savior awards and ally cookies. They are not rape pardons.
*If we don’t define people by their worst acts, tell me why the fuck OJ is associated with murder more than football? Tell me why y’all CHEERED when Osama bin Laden was killed. Tell me why y’all don’t go digging up all the good done by suicide bombers.
*Ain’t a CD, TV show, movie, clothing line or book on earth that would make me conflicted about calling a rapist what he is.
*Rape culture is a fucking problem. Just because rape is confined, excused and explained away doesn’t make it any less morally reprehensible.
*Stop fucking asking why people are bringing this up now, after his death. I ain’t see none of y’all mention him before yesterday either. Obviously, people are going to have something to say when you’re fawning over a rapist.”
Tony Brazier : I was thinking about writing an article about how there probably won‘t be as big of a deal made when Little Richard dies[…]. At first I thought it was a really good idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized no one would want to publish that article. I doubt if you will see as much on Social Media, about the artists that really did something new. Not to discount Bowie, but it’s not like he created a whole new genre, I mean he had 10-20 years of Pink Floyd, the Beatles, ELO, Black Sabbath, etc… to pave the way before him. Richard, and many other black artists made something totally different from jazz and blues and took it out into the world where they faced insane challenges. […]
Intersex. Few people have heard of the term, and those who have often confuse it with a «third» gender identity or with the mythical figure of the hermaphrodite, presuming we possess both typically defined female and male genitals.
This is not exactly the case. To explain who we are we need new words, or new framings of bodies and identities. But for people to understand intersex as living truths and not as disincarnated concepts, we must speak them with our own voices while carefully clearing a path between euphemisms which threaten to pull us back into the silence of a taboo that feeds human rights violations committed against us, and a direct language which can be twisted around into voyeurism and suffused with other meaning.
Put plainly, either we are objectified and mistreated by medicine which has most successfully erased us from public consciousness, or we will be subjected to…
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Rape culture is when I was six, and my brother punched my two front teeth out. Instead of reprimanding him, my mother said “Stefanie, what did you do to provoke him?” When my only defense was my mother whispering in my ear, “Honey, ignore him. Don’t rile him up. He just wants a reaction.” As if it was my sole purpose, the reason six-year-old me existed, was to not rile up my brother. It’s starts when we’re six, and ends when we grow up assuming the natural state of a man is a predator, and I must walk on eggshells, as to not “rile him up.” Right, mom?
Rape culture is when through casual dinner conversation, my father says that women who get raped are asking for it. He says, “I see them on the streets of New York City, with their short skirts and heavy makeup. Asking for it.”…
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“Here I thought Pride started with three trans women of color [Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia R. Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson] who’d had enough and started the Stonewall Riots. I thought Pride was about demanding our right to live, not about teaching straight people how to be more quirky.”
Now that I got your attention with a click bait headline (sorry!) let’s talk about Savage. He’s probably best known for his column of terrible advice and his campaign to turn a politician’s name into a product of sodomy. Savage has a history of bi erasure, asexual erasure, transphobia, transmisogyny, general misogyny, and ableism. He’s also a popular and successful gay man so he gets invited to do things like be a Grand Marshal of NYC Pride.
So when I saw that Dan Savage had written out advice for straight guys wanting to attend Pride marches, I knew it was gonna be bad. I just didn’t know it was gonna be this bad.
“Don’t eat the pussy at Pride, it’s not for you…unless it’s bi pussy, in which case, go crazy.”
My how charming. I wonder if Savage will pay the women he’s selling to shitty allies. Somehow I think…
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My bus is all but parked, its frame quivering and growling as the engine idles. I look up from my book at the packed seats around me: an array of glowing white faces in the dark of night. Two white faces talk across the aisle a few rows in front of me, one pale to the point of translucence, the other light tan with soft undertones of yellow. I hear the word “Ferguson” as teeth peek out from behind pink lips stretched into a grin. I can’t imagine what there is to grin about.
Cold air swirls around my ankles and sneaks up my coat; a shiver follows it up my spine. The bus doors are still open and the bus driver is standing at the front of the bus. How long have we been parked here while I sat engrossed in the words of Simon R. Green? I slide…
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By Andrea Smith, Unsettling Ourselves
We often hear the mantra in indigenous communities that Native women aren’t feminists. Supposedly, feminism is not needed because Native women were treated with respect prior to colonization. Thus, any Native woman who calls herself a feminist is often condemned as being “white.”
However, when I started interviewing Native women organizers as part of a research project, I was surprised by how many community-based activists were describing themselves as “feminists without apology.” They were arguing that feminism is actually an indigenous concept that has been co-opted by white women.
The fact that Native societies were egalitarian 500 years ago is not stopping women from being hit or abused now. For instance, in my years of anti-violence organizing, I would hear, “We can’t worry about domestic violence; we must worry about survival issues first.” But since Native women are the women most likely to be killed…
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I’ve had similar experiences with white folks in South Africa, white people (age 30+) with kids or not. Their tone often changes a lot when they’ve realised their mistake, not because they’re apologetic but I’d guess they look down on POCs and more so on POCs working in certain sectors. I greet store employees as I would any stranger I’m trying to speak to in a public space, these white people have often not greeted me while mistaking me for an employee! And these people have strange thinking – I’m always with a walking stick (I’m yet to see an employee of these places using one – these tend to be jobs where one walks a lot) and they’re always sighted people (who were just reading product labels on shelves).
PSEUDO DISCLAIMER: The following post is about the author’s retail experiences with “old white people” who have mistaken her for being a store employee. For the record, the author isn’t stating that all “old white people” assume – erroneously or otherwise – that ‘shoppers of color’ are retail store clerks. Furthermore, the author’s blog post is not meant to disparage those hard-working individuals who are employed by retail and/or restaurant establishments. We at ‘You’re Entitled To Be Wrong’ do not discriminate against people based on age, race, sex, gender, class, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. We only have it out for those individuals who make stereotypical assumptions because they’re culturally lazy and myopic.
I’m not much of a shopper. The best thing to happen to me when it comes to shopping is the…
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