Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thursday Theory is Tuesday Theory this week

I shot the Serif, link here.

via Tom Gauld

Proud to be an "American," over at the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

I have familial obligations this Thursday, so here we go a little sooner!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Re: Cis as an Inflammatory Term

I really do not understand the resistance to the word/prefix 'cis.' However, as it showed up in my post about cis as an academic term as well as current leveling at Pam's House Blend, apparently lots of (cis) people think it is a big deal.

Here is the argument I see most often leveled against it, with my corresponding this-is-why-your-logic-doesn't-work responses:

"I didn't choose to be called cis. I don't like it. You don't like 'tranny,' and I don't call you that, so don't call me cis."

Yeah, you probably didn't pick cis. And here's why: cis is an unmarked category. As my women's studies professor explained it--there's the NBA and then there's the WNBA. It's not the MNBA because "man" is an unmarked category.

Same goes with cis and trans--to be cis is no big deal, to go unnoticed. To be trans is to be marked, to have your gender noticed. Of course that last sentence is a gloss but you get my drift.

As per the third sentence in this statement, cis is not an inflammatory term. "Tranny" is. Calling someone a tranny is an act of violence. Calling someone cis is not.

God, cis doesn't even have that derogatory ring on the end of it, the -y or -ie of infantilization, you know?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Academic Blog Portal

I've been trying to find other blogs out there with relatively the same bent as my own. Today I stumbled up on The Academic Blog Portal, so I thought I would share it with you, since it's kind of what I was looking for. I sort of blanch at the thought of theory=academic, as that's sort of the antithesis of this blog, but you know. Take what you can get.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What does it mean for something to be socially constructed?

I thought I'd write a quick post about this, because someone's search engine query brought them this way, and I don't think that anything I've written so far really answers it.

The way that I've encountered the concept of social construction is that, basically, things like rocks and humus and earthworms are not socially constructed, while things like washing machines, gender, and sex are. What supports a social construction is a a society or culture's defined conventional rules.

I'm at a point in Foucault's History of Sexuality where he is talking about the creation of homosexuality. Essentially, he notes that before the Victorian (well, modern? I'm not sure) era, sexualities were not compartmentalized like they are now, and that until homosexuality was defined as "someone who has an (unnatural) desire for someone of the same sex" that it actually became homosexuality.

We created homosexuality, then--it's a social construction. As sexuality shifted, and we added more rules, we added more quantifiers of identity that break the rules. Ta-da! Homosexuality.

God, that doesn't really answer the question of what does it mean for something to be socially constructed. But I'll elaborate later.

Basically, when someone asks me what I mean when I say something is socially constructed, I say, "Did humans do something about it, did they create it, or do they define if it's being done in the right or wrong way? It's probably socially constructed, then."

Feel free to disagree in the comments.

Thursday Theory, spell check edition

Hey folks, a short Thursday Theory so I can break down some Foucault stuff.

Over at US Food Policy, we learned the following: "The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the planting of GE alfalfa can cause potentially irreversible harm to organic and conventional crops. Monsanto’s petition to rehear was denied in full." Take that multinational food companies! Oh, yeah, I think I'm going to go see Food, Inc. tomorrow.

Um, I'm pretty sure that if you want to make English the official language of the US, you should be bothered to make sure your sign is spelled correctly.
Image via ThinkProgress and enGender.

Monica Roberts over at TransGriot talks about how gay marriage negatively affects transgender marriages.

Also via TransGriot, a Trans-Inclusive ENDA was introduced.

Word of the Week, via Word Journal

Abligurition: what I've been performing excessively.

Weird and Cute Pictures

Critical Mass, 1885, via Married to the Sea

ENDCAT, Cute Overload

An office worker squid, via Boing Boing

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Theory Thursday--Really Long Apology Addition

Folks, I'm sorry that I didn't post a Theory Thursday last week, and also for not, well, really posting at all. I've been at work an awful lot, and preparing for testy stuff, as well as trying to some more personal writing.

To make up for it, today's Theory Thursday will be super long.

News of the Fucked Up
Resist Racism wrote about the terrible fucked-up way we do health care for American Indians (as well as everything else). The news article cites this statistic:

"The U.S. has an obligation, based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the government, to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But that promise has not been kept. About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service...American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.

American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.

While campaigning on Indian reservations, presidential candidate Barack Obama cited this statistic: After Haiti, men on the impoverished Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere."

Weird Texas News
Want an example of male privilege endorsed by the state? Recently in Travis County (that's where Austin, TX is), a police officer tasered a 72-year-old woman because she was "belligerent." Bilerico blogs it here. Here's the video (note: it's really graphic.)

Baby Armadillo, via Cute Overload. Because, you know, armadillos are in Texas. Seriously, there are so many armadillo references in Austin. My water bottle from my local bike shop has an armadillo on it.

Trans, Queer, and Gender Stuff

Feministe is rounding up their semi-regular Feministe's Next Top Troll. All the comments are pretty hilariously ridiculous, and are very indicative of Foucault's ideas of pre-modern punishment--flagrantly display the punished for all to laugh at and consume.

This connects to my last comments about fucking up, and what it means, and also what it means to just not understand trans issues. sexgenderbody wrote a post about how Trans ignorance isn't trans phobia, and Queen Emily over at Questioning Transphobia responsed that ignorance is pretty much the core of trans phobia. She notes:
"The one thing ignorance is not is innocent,
it is about having the power not to know and not to care..
and we simply can’t afford to be naive
enough to think otherwise."
Check both posts out, and more on this later.

There's going to be a Stonewall Anniversary Weekend in Atlanta, and Caitlin Childs will be at a reading for Femmethology in celebration. Here's more info:

queerradical raises the important question: Should you sleep with people who don't share your politics? Sounds like a young adult novel worth writing.

Thursday Theory Recipes

OMG Cheese Straws. This is Deb's photo.

My friend Jackie has a Sick Bake Friday and blogs about it, usually, as well as her cat. You should check it out. She made these granola bars (and took the picture for them). They're vegan.

Words and Letters
Do you know the word for "to loathe to the point of nausea"? (Oft applicable for many issues). The word is wlate.

Whenever you go to the New York Times website, you can look up a word by highlighting it. Here are the 50 most looked up words, via Word Journal.

France has chocolate scented stamps. That is seriously a good idea.

All right, y'all. Have a good week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Theory Thursday Links and Pictures

Oh, y'all, I promise that sometime soon I will write an actual blog post. I'm a few dozen pages into The History of Sexuality Vol I so you'll get some deconstruction of that soon. I've just been working a lot and reading a lot; summer is harder than I thought.

Harvard endowed a chair for "gay studies" (emphasis on that it's called gay studies, for crying out loud--that's so 1992). Harvard is saying it's the first school to endow such a chair, but whatever Harvard--the University of Louisville has had the Audre Lorde endowed chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality for four years now. I guess that if it's not about white gay men then it doesn't count as the "first" endowed chair about sexuality.

This doesn't have much to do with theory, but the World Beard Championship was about two weeks ago, and there were some awesome beards.
The photo is from Kempt.

Both cripchick and Wheelchair Dancer (in response to Brown Femi Power's post about What is Butch?) took on the butch/femme dichotomy a few days ago and discussed how disability interacts with gender. Well, not just interacts with gender, but completely reshapes it, and also how ideas about gender and gender theory are rather whitewashed and portrayed as able-bodied.

I've been thinking a lot about fucking up lately--what exactly does it mean to "fuck up," particularly in the context of being someone with a privileged identity fucking up and being oppressive around folks with marginalized identities. It's really complicated, and I think that for me, being a trans person that people don't think is trans, fucking up around me is super complicated. I'm thinking particularly of the time (there are of course, countless other times) I met someone's new boyfriend, who in all other respects was a great guy, really funny, and extremely respectful of my friend. But at one point in the night, "tranny heels" passed from his lips in regards to someone's particularly high shoes. I didn't say anything to him, and I always regret it, because I think standing up for not just myself but other trans people would have been really good. But what does it boil down to to call people out? And why do we fear being called out when we say something stupid or wrong or oppressive?

This is a really interesting juncture of theory and praxis, I believe--here are these instances, these missteps, that remind us of oppression when we've forgotten about it for a moment, and then we have our own instances and missteps where we choose to say things or not say things. I'm being rambly, but that's because I'm thinking through it. Part of what I want to write more about this summer is when theory fucks up--for instance, when Judith Butler uses women of color to prove her point that "woman" as the subject of feminism is too universal, but then just drops any other analysis of race after she's used the theories and bodies of women of color to prove her fucking point. That's some theory fucking up. So it is too when Foucault sort of forgets about women in his whole History of Sexuality and all. How do we address fucked up theory? How do we interact with it, still use it, write about it, and not be fucked up ourselves? Is there any way around it?

Anyways, BFP wrote a post contextualizing fucking up. Talking about a clinic where some terrible stuff happened, BFP wrote:
for women of color centering the lives of women in the worst part of the city–this is what happens when they “fuck up.” the women that need the most help are brutally murdered, and twenty years later, the guilt, the violence, the regret, the horror is still with those who were trying to help. this is learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t. this is learning the hard way what “movement” really means. this is courage, massive huge radical fucking courage: because that clinic didn’t fold under the guilt, the violence, the regret, the horror. Twenty years later, it is still centering women, fighting for women, believing in women with every fiber it has. A whole lot wiser–after a whole fucking world of mistakes.

doesn’t being called “a racist” or being told “that is racist” (or any other thing out there), seem a lot less horrifying now?

it really should.

See you soon, y'all. I don't think I can say much more after that.

Subscribe to canonball

About Me

I'm a young trans person living between two states, trying to make ends meet, both intellectually and monetarily.