"Wow, that is so inspiring!" "She has truly overcome her handicap." "You are so brave!"
Do any of these exclamations sound familiar? They might, if you are a person with a disability who has been on the receiving end of "good intentions" that mask an unfortunately pervasive Western trope about disability and people who live with disabilities: Supercrip.
Besides being Operations Director here at Bitch Media, I'm an activist on climate and globalization issues. So needless to say I'm a big fan of author and super-activist Naomi Klein, and have been closely following her dispatches from the UN climate mega-summit in Copenhagen, which has been miserably failing at coming up with a just and scientifically viable post-Kyoto agreement.
I thought I'd share this illuminating (if laryngitis stricken) interview she and french journalist Jade Lindgaard had this morning with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! where she discusses the US position and Hilary Clinton's statement's at the conference this morning.
Poster 4 Tomorrow is a project based out of France that was founded this year to encourage artists to advocate "on behalf of those who don't enjoy the same freedom of expression that you do" by designing posters that pronounce an explicitly political sentiment regarding the universal right to free speech. Right away this struck me as problematic. In order to truly work from a praxis of liberation, one must struggle with not for those who are oppressed, as speaking for the oppressed simply reifies their dehumanization (and by extension one's own) and contributes to the oppressed persons' being prevented from having an autonomous public voice. Replacing one master with another (albeit one who seems well-intended) is not a solution.
Ka-ching! Aw, did you hear that? It was the last of 80 raffle tickets sold off from the Lesbian Herstory Archives Benefit Art Auction! That means if you didn't pick up your ticket in time, you don't get to take home one of 80 works of art by 80 lesbian artists. The good news is that if you're in New York City this weekend, you can still view the works on display and support the archive at the door. (That way, it's like you won ALL of the art!)
The rest of us can view a few of the works online at Own This City, where I found the above photo, "Battaglia al Castello di Civitella Ranieri" by Patricia Cronin, and mark down a trip to the archives the next time we find ourselves in Park Slope.
If you're in need of a gift for a friend who is interested in learning crafty basics, pick up a copy of Erin Bried's How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew. The out lesbian author (and Self magazine staff writer) aims to teach things you might need to know, like how to tie a necktie or how to make a Manhattan. It's a how-to book that anyone could learn something from.
Bried also demonstrates several of these acts on her YouTube channel (including "How to brew beer.") and has lesbian chef Cat Cora vouching for her:
In some ways, the news is anti-climactic: Michael David Barrett, an insurance executive of Illinois, pled guilty yesterday to the interstate stalking of ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews.
More specifically, Barrett admitted to buying information about Andrews over the internet; traveling to follow Andrews; staying in three hotel rooms next to hers (the hotels told him which room was hers); twice filming videos of Andrews while she was naked through the door's peephole; posting those videos online; and trying to sell the videos to TMZ.
It's just another chapter in the long, long story of the objectification of Erin Andrews.
But what stands out about yesterday's hearing is that for once, it gave the 31-year-old sportscaster the chance to speak for herself -- and what it is like for her to pursue a job she loves while navigating fierce misogyny and harassment.
Full disclosure: I am a 90210 junkie. I've seen every episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210 at least twice and sometimes feel I remember their high school experiences more clearly than my own. So of course I watched the newly revived 90210 when it premiered last year. Putting aside the reworked theme song (BAD! WRONG! INVIOLABLE!), it was pretty ok and worth watching, if only to marvel at the outfits and the hairstyles.
And then they made Silver, one of the primary characters, bipolar, and I had to stop watching. The story arc around her "mental breakdown" and subsequent hospitalization was so offensive and unrealistic that I deleted the next few episodes from my Tivo without watching them, intentionally skipping Donna Martin's return to West Beverly. My interest in and love for the Donna Martin character is such that this is roughly equivalent to ignoring Obama's inauguration after working on his campaign for two years, which should show you how wildly upset the bipolar storyline made me.
In Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo Freire wrote, "Critical and liberating dialogue, which presupposes action, must be carried on with the oppressed at whatever the state of their struggle for liberation...Only dialogue, which requires critical thinking, is also capable of generating critical thinking. Without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education." Because I believe dialogue is a critical component in working toward radical social change, I have quite a bit of love for conducting interviews--and thus, do so with some frequency.
Last week, my interview with Lorraine M. López, the editor of the newly published collection An Angle of Vision: Women Writers on Their Poor and Working-Class Roots, was published in WireTap Magazine. Since my conversation with López was more lengthy than the allotted space would allow, I was given permission to post a complimentary piece here. The two posts are intended to be read in tandem in order to experience the full scope of our conversation.
If there is a better metaphor for the corrosive spiritual effects of internalizing the dehumanizing commercial definition of "beauty" than the soul-sickened doctors of "Nip/Tuck," I haven't seen it on TV.