Tag Archives: Feminism

Post the Eighth 2 or On Juneteenth and Modern Day Slavery

I want to start this by saying as a non-black Latin@ that I have less of a stake in this. While my people today are subject to increased targeting by the prison-industrial complex, my people were not subject to slavery in the North. As a mestiza from Colombia and Puerto Rico, I am unsure of what legacy I have with colonization and slavery. I write this for my non-black sisters and brothers, so that we can talk about the ways that slavery still effect us.

Today is Juneteenth. It is the day that commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas. While the Emancipation Proclamation made slavery illegal in all of the United States in 1863, it didn’t roll out to all of the states until 1865 when the Union army came to Texas to enforce it 2 years later. In fact, Texas down right ignored the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union army had to take over the Texas government to make it happen.

Today is a day of celebration. It is the marking of a great victory. The liberation of a people from bondage. It is a commemoration that change can happen. And that often the change only comes at the point of a gun. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Union army, or even Abraham Lincoln, freed the slaves because the believed in the liberation of the slaves. It was all about winning the war and having Texas conform to the federal law. Lincoln himself said that if he could have won the war without freeing slaves, he would have.

Which brings me to today. Yes, we should celebrate. Because something is better then nothing. However, our work as abolitionist is not done. We are not yet free. You see, when Lincoln wrote the 13th amendment, he outlawed slavery except when it was the punishment of a crime. Slavery is still legal. And the prison-industrial complex is the logical extension of chattel slavery. Black and brown people are still being targeted at an alarming rate for incarceration. The sentences that black and brown people face are much harsher then for their white counterparts. And all too often they are convicted of crimes that were necessary for their survival. The inheritance of slavery is still plain to see in the generational poverty that Black folks have and the generational wealth that white folks have access too.

Whats more, folks who are funneled into the prison system then become virtually free labor for multinational corporations. Companies like Victoria Secret, Microsoft, Forever 21, Boeing etc all use prison labor to make their products. And these prisoners make pennies a day. On top of that, private prisons are booming and the prison industry is now a many billion dollar industry. The government and corporations are still reaping profit from the bodies of black and brown people. And it starts young. Young people of color are being targeted at alarming rates by schools and are being funneled into the prison system. And once in, it is very difficult to escape.

The prison-industrial complex is the result of 400 hundred years of colonial, patriarchal and capitalist violence. It is the tool of the state to continue to commit genocide against black and brown communities. Instead of private ownership, bodies are now owned by the state and given to the profit of corporations.

The other thing that is interesting to me is how the movement against human trafficking has capitalized on the term “modern day slavery” to paint women who are trafficked as helpless victims. Don’t get me wrong, I think that human trafficking is a terrible thing that should be stopped. No one should be forced to do things against their will. However, the response that anti-human trafficking advocates have is to further criminalize sex work and to rely on state power and incarceration. This not only makes things harder for sex workers who aren’t trafficked but also doesn’t address the underlying reasons for human trafficking, namely colonial and state violence. All of the solutions that the mainstream anti-trafficking movements advocates for actually make the lives of trafficked women harder. All the while obscuring the very real ways bodies are being owned here in the US. Because the anti-human trafficking movement frames the problem as something that happens in other countries and not here in the US. And that the way to save all of those poor brown women is through imperial violence and conquest.

But the state will not protect you. You cannot solve a problem with the problem. And we are none of us free, until we are all free.

(Check out this post for more information on prison abolition and anarchist people of color.) 

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Post the Ninety-Fourth or How to be a Douchebag

The room as dark

As your mind

The stage as bright

As my scrutiny

And you walk

Full of vacant

Masculine swagger

Your words

Devoid of meaning

Bullshit pouring

Out of your mouth

Splattering all over the stage

Confusing sexism

For philosophy

Your trite and hollow poetry

Masquerading as

Profundity

School is in

Session

So take a seat

And remember that

Reading

Is Fundamental

You say

We are equal

Say that there is no

Difference

In our experience

But just

Listen

To the millions of women

Who are victims

Of domestic violence

Just read

About the millions of women

Who are assaulted and raped

By men

Who think

We are equal

You say

“I should just be able to compliment

A beautiful woman”

But all I can think

About

Is what that man whispered

As he tore at my crotch

And violated the most intimate parts of myself

“You are just so beautiful”

“How could I resist”

You say

You feel objectified

But when

Was the last time

A stranger

Followed you down the street

Hurling compliments

At your unwilling ears

When was the last time

Some asshole commanded you

To smile

When was the last time

You felt unsafe

Because you thought someone would sexually assault you

When was the last time

Someone called you

A bitch

Hoe

Slut

Cunt

Dyke

Because you denied some strangers

Advances

The thing is

Dude

You can’t say

The same sexist shit

That society tells women

And be a feminist

You can’t be “for equality”

When you fail to see the disparities

That keep us unequal

Matter of fact

You wouldn’t know what

Feminism was

If it fucked you

Matter of fact

You are not entitled

To a woman’s

Affection or attention

Just because you are

a Nice Guy™

You do not get a cookie

For meeting the standards

Of being a decent person

But please

Keep crying those salty motherfucking tears

About how hard it

Must be to be

A man

In a world dominated by men

But by all means

Continue to regale me

With all those stories

Of how you

Are such a misunderstood

Nice Guy™

But hold up

Before you do that

Do us a

Kindness

And fuck off


Post the Eighty-First or On Risk and Good Will

So in this final semester of school before I graduate, I am taking a class called Feminist Perspectives. In a nutshell, it is a class that goes over the different types of feminist theories that have been developed since the first wave. The class also seeks to locate those different feminist theories and place them within their historical context so that we can fully understand where the authors are coming from.

And for the most part, I really enjoy it.

One aspect of the class that is particularly interesting is the execution of the feminist classroom as a style of teaching. This involves many different things, but the one aspect that I want to focus on here is the formation of agreements. Agreements are ground rules for the class that everyone agrees on and that help facilitate communication. One of the agreements that we all “agreed” to was that we would all enter the space assuming that everyone has good intentions.

This bothered me. It bothered me because for those in positions of privilege, there is no risk in assuming good intention. Straight white men don’t have to worry about being assaulted by microagressions or being subjected to language that is harmful. They can assume that everyone has good intentions because they are the least likely to be hurt in those situations. But for those in positions of less privilege, there is a lot of risk in assuming good intentions. I can’t assume that you are coming with good intentions because you, as well as I, have been socialized to act and think in ways that are oppressive and harmful.

People in positions of privilege will fuck up. It is inevitable. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that people in positions of privilege are inherently bad people. Its just that they don’t know any better. They’ve been given these scripts and there privilege allows them to take those scripts at face value even if they are really harmful. And they are harmful regardless of whether or not the person means it to be harmful. Intentions are not magical and if you say something oppressive, it is going to cause damage regardless of whether or not you didn’t mean it that way.

So there is a lot of risk if I assume that you are coming with good will because regardless of whether or not you are, what you say will affect me. Further, having good will doesn’t absolve you from the harm that your words cause. Because what matters is not whether you meant it to be hurtful or not. What matters is what happened and the consequences that result. If I run over you with a car, even if I didn’t mean too, you are still gonna be laid out. And I’m still held responsible for the action.

When discussing topics such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, cissexism and/or ablism, its super important that folks who are privileged in some or all of these areas check themselves. If you think it might be oppressive, think twice. And if you do say something oppressive and someone calls you out, listen. Listen and don’t do it again. These conversations need to be had, to be sure. But the needs of the oppressed must always be centered.