The problem with Beyhive bottom bitch feminism.
"Is a feminism sponsored by the corporate music industrial complex as big as we can dream? Is the end game a feminism in which the glass ceiling for black women’s representation only reaches as high as our booties? Can’t we just love Bey as an amazing corporate artist without selling out the hard won accomplishments of our black feminist and womanist foremothers? Can we not love her for the gorgeous and fierce mega pop star she is without appropriating her for some liberal, power feminist agenda?"
Continue reading at Real Colored Girls.
Posted by Sociological Images.
December 19, 2013
A 50-year-old California man described by relatives as a “loving father and a doting grandfather,” White had been living on the streets of Hayward for years. He wanted to work and was able to find odd jobs here and there, but it was never much or consistent enough to afford a place to live. Hayward has no emergency shelter with beds for single men, so White slept outside.
But things were looking up. Last Saturday, White was second on a long list to get permanent supportive housing in Hayward. He had been waiting in line for months and it seemed as though he might finally catch a break.
White died on Sunday.
Temperatures in the Bay Area plummeted to near-freezing on December 10, an uncommon occurrence in a region generally known for its lack of inclement weather. White’s body was found in the old Hayward City Hall courtyard. He’d been beaten up and robbed by multiple men, who took the new winter coat White’s sister had given him on Friday. He was wearing just a hoodie and shorts. His cause of death is still being determined, but police speculated that his death was weather-related.
White is now the seventh homeless person in the Bay Area to die in the cold since November 28. The others were Daniel Brillhart, 52; Enrique Rubio, 56; Andrew Greenleaf, 48; Daniel Moore, 53; and two men in the East Bay and Peninsula whose names have not been released.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. Those deaths tend to occur in the East Coast and Midwest, not California. But temperatures in the Bay have repeatedly dipped below freezing in the past few weeks, leaving thousands of homeless people in danger.
The Bay Area has one of the highest homeless populations in part because of the explosion of recent wealth that has led to increasing inequality and a lack of affordable housing for those without high-paying tech jobs. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area is the wealthiest in the country, even outpacing New York-Connecticut and Washington DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia. This influx of money has brought higher housing prices and more evictions in the past few years.
And for those viscerally impacted by rising inequality, life is especially difficult when the temperatures drop. Many communities in the Bay Area lack emergency shelters, in part because freezes aren’t very common. But what happens to many of the thousands of people living without shelter in the Bay Area, waiting for their name to be called for the few affordable housing units that exist? “What happens is they die on the street,” Betty DeForest, director emeritus of South Hayward Parish, wrote in an email to the City Council last week following White’s death.
In other words, we live in a society that leaves many people too poor to survive but are surprised to see them die.
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti’s minimum wage will nudge up 12% on Jan. 1, from $4.65 to $5.23 (or 200 to 225 gourdes) per day. Calculated hourly, it will go from 58 to 65 cents, before taxes.
But the raise will not affect Haiti’s 30,000 assembly factory workers, who are supposed to already be receiving about seven dollars for an eight-hour day – about 87 cents per hour. Recent studies have found rampant wage theft at almost two dozen of the factories that stitch clothing for companies like Gap and Walmart.
I’ve been highlighting some pretty shitty responses to my “Prologue to Consent Is Not Enough” post (because, hello, my name is maymay and I’m awesome at pointing out shitty things, and less good at pointing out awesome things), but this professional dominatrix’s reflections are pretty interesting. I find myself agreeing with a lot of what they write, save a couple notable exceptions, which I’ll share after you check this out:
This is something I think about, more as a professional practitioner than as a lone player (because I really don’t get involved in the kink “scene” anymore, and my personal taste in play has gotten more physical and technical and less psychological/power driven in the last couple of years, which may or may not be a phase) — what are my best-practice obligations to my clients? (I say best practice to address the fact that not all clients meet me in a place of equity, and I’m not too concerned with the personal development of people who actively attempt to abuse or assault me.)
One of the reasons that I love my job, and consider myself to be a long term or “career” worker is that I believe really seriously in the idea that what I do makes people happy. It may make them “better” or more at peace with themselves, or more able to be good partners or good people, it may give them understandings of their desires that lead them to live more fulfilledly, but that’s icing on the cake. That’s an awesome day, not a good enough day. A good enough day is simpler than that for me — I want my client to be happier than they were before they saw me. I probably can’t fix the big, overarching problems in their lives (remind me to tell y’all about my days as a baby domme, where I thought I was going to get all of my clients to come out to their spouses and everyone would all go to big kinky orgies together. Just call me Mistress Save-A-Bitch, I guess.) but I can make at least an hour of one of their days better than the hours that came before it. And so far, that’s been enough for me (although one time, I did diagnose a dude’s clubbing and convinced him to see a doctor, which led to him getting life saving double bypass surgery, so that was pretty fucking cool. For the record, dude never tipped.)
So MayMay’s words make me think — should that be enough? I have clients who I have been seeing for as long as three years, and I have clients who I see on a weekly basis, like clockwork. Should I be crafting a long term goal for these people to eventually “graduate” from my care? Certainly, it would be unethical to enhance situations that keep my clients dependent on me (case in point: a terribly problematic regular of mine has many times asked me for help crafting his okcupid profile, and while I’ve always given him honest advice, I’d be a complete liar if the thought hadn’t occurred to me to give him booby trapped recommendations that would keep him single. Fortunately, despite my best efforts, dude remains an irredeemable assface, so my income from him is reasonably secure.), but does it go beyond that in any way?
For me, at least, the answer has got to be on a case by case basis, and there are some big factors that make it a very different relationship from the ones MayMay talks about in his essay. First and foremost, professional dominatrix is a service industry job, so the way in which I might have power over “my submissives” is at best, extremely nuanced, and more frequently, ime, nonexistent. If I whip a client, I might enjoy it, sexually and/or intellectually, but I’m not facilitating my kink in any way (I know some dominatrixes operate this way, or claim to operate this way, but that’s a discussion for another day) — my pleasure, rather than my professional satisfaction and payment, is a bonus. If I make the focus on facilitating my personal kinks, then in many ways, I’m doing an irresponsible thing (not to mention, probably not a very lucrative one). So I guess in that sense, dominatrixes start from the position that MayMay thinks that scene dominants should aim towards — the focus is already on facilitating the submissive’s desire to submit, and inherently removed from the “True Submission Means Doing What I Say, Even If You Hate It” trope.
Certainly, I have had clients who I have seen for a limited period of time, who have had specific goals around their kinks — to experience and explore certain things, and ultimately to move on to seek out new things with me or with different people. Or to use kink to process particular feelings or traumas, rather than as an ongoing part of their sexual orientation. And those clients have unfailingly been some of the most pleasant, easy to work with, and rewarding clients I’ve had. The baby domme that remains lodged in my brain absolutely appreciates the opportunity to achieve something “big” that way. But if you universally apply the “obsoletism” goal to a sex work relationship, you run smack in to the assumption that sex work clients seek out providers because they can’t source unpaid relationships, and that the paid relationships they build are by nature lesser or less real and satisfying for them. And in my experience, that is not the way it works. When I do have clients who are seeing me because they’d rather have an “amateur,” those are inevitably experiences that are pretty shit for all parties concerned. These people are more likely to push my boundaries, more likely to take the “No’s” I give them with bad grace, and rather than graduate, they are usually expelled after a period of time. My best clients are the ones who specifically have a place in their life that I fit — for whom the professional and strictly boundaried relationship is as much of plus as my technical skill or (admittedly fabulous) ass. And with clients like these, I don’t feel that I’m serving their interests well by making the goal to move them along a pathway where they don’t need my services anymore. BDSM as a source of personal growth is a beautiful and electrifying thing. It has been, at some points, a wonderful experience of just that for me. But a comfortable plateau is not necessarily a negative thing either — for people who have come to a point where they are happy with the place that submission has in their lives, I think that looking “ever upward” can be every bit as damaging as your typical Gor-ean scenester.
So, thanks for sharing that, and it’s a pretty cool perspective. It just has this glaring problem:
But if you universally apply the “obsoletism” goal to a sex work relationship, you run smack in to the assumption that sex work clients seek out providers because they can’t source unpaid relationships, and that the paid relationships they build are by nature lesser or less real and satisfying for them.
This is wrong. Or rather, it’s implicitly assuming that “universally applying the ‘obsoletism’ goal to a sex work relationship” also causally implies an assumption that the only reason clients seek sexual labor service providers is because “they can’t source unpaid relationships” of a sexual kind. This is just not true.
As I’m sure you know, there are many, different, legitimate reasons why a client might hire a sex worker than only their lack of access to partnered sex, just as there are many, different, legitimate reasons why someone might want to have partnered sex in the first place. If (and maybe only if) one assumes that the only reason to hire sex workers is lack of access, then it makes sense one would also naturally consider sex with someone who didn’t want financial compensation to be “better” and “more satisfying.” But this makes as much sense as saying people eat at restaurants because they can’t cook at home.
From listening to what the sex workers in my life have told me, and from reading what others have written, I know that’s not how it works.
The reason I bring this up is because I reject the idea that the “goal of obsoletism” is not applicable to “a sex work relationship.” It very much is, just as it is for every other job-relationship. I can flag my political activist cred with the best of ‘em (“sex work is work,” and all that), but the crux of this issue is that it is immoral for a society to require anyone to work in order to have access to basic needs such as food and shelter, and that means working for money is, at its core, complicity with the abuses of capitalism. Sex is irrelevant.
Does that mean you should not do sex work (or any other job)? No, of course not. You’re being threatened with starvation unless you do your job, and this is certainly a threat you should take seriously. But it does mean that if you can replace money in as many ways as possible in your life, then you should do that. Do that not only because it is more ethical, but because it is safer; every time you work to take down a system of oppression, you take down a threat against yourself.
The point of working to “obsolete” yourself in a job is therefore two fold. First it is the only ethical way to accomplish “a good job.” And second, it is the only ethical way to exist in capitalism while working to end your complicity with capitalism.
With respect to power, there are two relationships worth considering independently:
- employer-employee and,
Employers obviously have more power than their employees but the scales are not so clearly weighted in the case of employees and clients. That’s why, in my Prologue, I only spoke of employers. And although I agree with you when you say “professional dominatrix is a service industry job, so the way in which I might have power over ‘my submissives’ is at best, extremely nuanced,” I find it impossible to believe that it is ever “nonexistent.”
For one thing, consider the situation where some clients seek your services because it is their only available opportunity for some experience. Capitalist jobs—including sex work—are premised on the scarcity of a thing. The thing that’s scarce for your particular clients might be “access to partnered sex,” or something else, but regardless of what it is, if the thing they lack is a thing they want that you have, you have a power over them.
For another thing, you’re a professional dominatrix—that means in sessions with your clients, dominant, right? So you do have a power over your clients. The influences of domism do not vanish in a puff of smoke just because you were paid after the scene.
Systemic powers are not like sound waves or differently signed numbers; structural influences don’t cancel each other out. A systemic power of one kind (like dominance, or whiteness) does not void power of different kinds (like maleness, or financial wealth).
Caring about ethics means having to account for each structural influence; all of them, all the time, all at once. It’s not a zero-sum game. And if you’re evaluating “who has more power” by assigning weightiness to influences themselves instead of in the context in which they exert force, you’re doing it wrong.
So, is having some specific power creating a situation in which you ethically should and can safely work to “facilitate [your client’s] growth so as to make yourself obsolete”? I don’t know. That depends on the powers at play, on you, your client, the circumstances of your lives, and how all those things interact together at a certain place, in a certain time.
But don’t model yourself after throngs of others who are so quick to dismiss the importance of actually assessing this in the situations they find themselves just because those situations involve sex work. That’s not ethical. That’s lazy.
[My brain is fried right now, so I’m sorry if these words make little-to-no-sense the way I’ve strung them together]
Ooooh this is a really good question. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’m still not sure I have a definitive answer.
As of right now, I’m inclined to say that it really depends on the particular sex worker who’s taking + posting the picture. If you come from a background of poverty, or if you’re not privileged in a lot of the ways that most high-earning sex workers are (young, thin, white, cis, educated, etc.) then posting a picture of your earnings has connotations of hard-won celebration + defiance. If, however, you’re from a middle-class background and/or happen to look a lot like the very particular beauty ideal in our society (like me), the context changes. That picture is going to come across more like rubbing your privilege in people’s faces. And that’s not cool. It’s often hard to tell what someone’s background is and what their particular privileges are, though, so don’t go around shaming anyone for posting these photos. Just maybe don’t post them yourself if you’re a young, white “elite companion” making $800/hr or whatever.
I also feel like saying a few words about why sex workers in particular are so likely to do this literal money shot thing. 1. Sex work is one of very few occupations in which income is usually cash 2. Sex work is one of very few occupations in which income is often large sums of cash 3. Sex work is one of very few occupations in which income is so inconsistent. When you make $200 one week, you’re more likely to want to shout to the world about making $1000 the following Tuesday. 4. The level of risk most sex workers take (in terms of stigma if not also criminalization) makes the money feel particularly hard earned, and, therefore, more worthy of bragging about.
If more people worked under these sorts of conditions, more people would be posting these kinds of photos. So it’s not that sex workers are particularly greedy or status-obsessed; it’s that no one is giving us a steady paycheck with a firm handshake of approval. (Not that you were implying that that was the case. Just throwing it out there.)
In all, it’s a phenomenon that is very understandable to me, if not necessarily something I approve of across the board.
I want more people to talk about the ways trans women experience madness, mental health and illness, (psychiatric) disability, and/or neurovaiance, especially how our experiences are structured by transphobia, ableism, racism, sexism, capitalism, colonialism, and other systems of exploitation and oppression. Following from the feminist idea of finding the political in the personal, I thought one of the best ways to do that would be to start talking about my own experiences.
I have so much writing on these topics: essays, prose, rants, polemics, personal narratives. But, because of the stigma, it’s been very hard to ‘come out’ as someone who deals with mental illness, as a crazy person — in many ways, even harder than coming out as trans. I want to start sharing that writing, and stop hiding those parts of my experience. Otherwise, I’m afraid I will never holistically understand how to transform the conditions of my life.
Trans women, especially women of color and sex workers, disproportionately suffer from a lack of housing, health care, physical safety, jobs, family/support networks, education, positive role models/media representations, and more. These disparities mean we’re more likely to experience violence, poverty, and incarceration, and – by extension - mental illness. Just about every trans woman I know has experienced some kind of mental illness, especially post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and ‘panic disorders.’ A great many have also been diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia and other disorders.
It’s hard enough to find a job when background searches out you as trans. It’s worse when you have a disability (psychiatric or otherwise) that means you can’t even work for the few people who are willing to hire you. (And why do we need to toil for other people’s profit just to survive anyway?) This is what it’s like to exist at the confluence of a world that concentrates wealth in the hands of a few and denies the basic means of survival to so many, a world that constructs gender as an absolute binary, and a world that punishes madness. We are trapped in precarity, and this violent social and economic instability expresses itself in our bodies and minds as anxiety and fear.
And yet, the existing systems built by the State and private for-profit ventures to provide mental health care locate our illnesses as a purely personal, apolitical pathology and offer only the most meager treatment (if you can pay the right price or are lucky enough to qualify for the ever-dwindling safety net in an age of austerity).
Worse still, sometimes it is impossible to fight back against these very unjust social conditions if we aren’t healthy enough even to take care of ourselves or one another. This is part of how the cycle of poverty keeps marginalized people, such as trans women, “in our place,” and thus perpetuates the economic system and social conditions necessary for the continued enrichment of the few at the expense of everyone else. As such, the focus of my revolutionary praxis is attacking these very intersections of capitalism, cis supremacy, and ableism.
Especially in times of economic crisis such as this, Capital needs a reserve army of unemployed and precarious labor to sustain low wages and the State needs a scapegoated ‘Other’ to fill its prisons and justify its violence. Our liberation is thus intimately tied to all of those who are exploited by this system, cis and trans, employed or unemployed, blue collar or black market. But trans women, especially women of color and sex workers, are most often at the very bottom of this pyramid scheme, and I believe we must take leadership from those who are most directly impacted by the systems against which we fight. In addition, it is here, in the lives of us at the very bottom, in our lives, that Capital’s structural weakness and brutal cruelty is most transparently revealed.
As disabled people, trans women, sex workers, people with psychiatric illnesses, our minds and our bodies literally bear the scars of this failed society based on the exploitation of the weak by the powerful. And this is precisely why we have the most at stake and the most to gain by destroying this hierarchical system based on competition. A society based on private profit and individualism, with its roots in patriarchy, slavery, and on-going colonialism, will never take care of us because it cannot. Disabled by a society that excludes us and is designed to privilege bodies/minds that are not like ours, pushed to the margins of an economy that does not care about our needs unless it can find a way to commodfiy and profit from them, violently pursued by a society that fundamentally mocks our very existence, we can’t produce or consume, so we can’t pull ourselves up by our own boot-straps. Our only option is collective empowerment. Revolution is our imperative.
I’m writing largely for my own benefit, because writing helps me deal with my own mental illness. But I also hope to create the space for others (whether you are trans or cis) who need it, too. We need to take care of each other, because the system won’t even admit it is part of the problem.
We may not be able to create a world where everyone is healthy all the time, but we can create a world where we have the support we need to get through dark times. And as we take on the ruling social order, let’s take care of each other too. Otherwise, our movements will never be sustainable or liberating.
Taken from his book “Soledad Brother: The Prison Writings of George Jackson.” (page 254)
"the way I see it, you have a choice: feminism or Goldman-Sachs"
It makes me so angry that most Americans consider the only relevant means of political change to be peaceful. I can no longer hopefully sign your petitions. I can no longer hopefully go to your protests. I’m tired of believing the lie that the revolution will be signed off on by those in power. I’m tired of believing the lie that asking those in power to ~~~please pretty please with a cherry on top give us our rights sir (no? what if a lot of us stand around and yell catchy chants???)~~~~* is going to get eventually result in freedom.The biggest lie of representative democracy is that it pretends to arm the oppressed with the tools to undo their own oppression.
I do not want inclusion in the state- I want to establish my rights outside it. We stood in the streets to expand the grip of the capitalist state from straight marriages into queer relationships rather than demanding an end to the legal institution of marriage. And that makes me feel like there is no hope left.
I want the courthouses burned at night when they are empty, and the banks rendered powerless, and the police politically radicalized. I want the physical institutions supporting the death and poor wellbeing of millions of people torn down, and the psychological institutions that did the same dismantled next. I want to take back the power that belongs in the hands of the people who work to make this world function (the cooks, the servants, the grocery store workers, the street-cleaners and the laborers) rather than engage in glorified, large-scale begging for it in the streets and whitehouse.gov petition databases.
Because the institutions put into place by those currently in power will not be their own undoing.
The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.
The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.
The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.
I have not been the first to say it. I will not be the last. I’m just so fucking tired.
An Oregon trail to end student debt: “Pay it forward, pay it back” model leaves big banks out of education
July 10, 2013
On July 1, federal student loan rates doubled—yes, doubled—from 3.4 percent to 6.8, after members of Congress went home for fireworks without lifting a finger on the issue. Meanwhile, in Oregon, legislators unanimously passed a bill paving the way for students to attend public universities without paying tuition or taking out traditional loans at all.
Fueled by the organizing savvy, policy creativity, and relentless effort of the state Working Families Party, and by a classroom of outstanding college students, the new bill offers a progressive victory and a common-sense national model on an issue where Congress has recently been derelict at best. The legislation, which Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber is expected to sign, instructs Oregon’s Higher Education Coordination Commission to come up with a “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” public university financing model in time for a legislative vote in 2015.
Under such a model, students pay nothing while in school; instead, after graduation, four-year students pay 3% of their income for the next two decades or so to fund the education of future students—without a role for the big banks. (Those who attend for less time would pay a pro-rated amount.) Once start-up costs are addressed (no small matter), the system could pay for itself. It would ask the most money of those graduates best equipped to pay, and it would represent a huge stride in putting an end to the crushing debt horror stories which Occupy Wall Street helped to place on the national radar.
While victories like Oregon’s are often the result of decade-long campaigns, this incremental step came to pass with a speed that surprised even its most ardent supporters. And it demonstrates the power of unconventional alliances. The “Pay It Forward” approach has been tried in Australia, but not in the United States. It got legs here when John Burbank, who directs the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute, connected with a college class taught by Barbara Dudley, who co-founded the Working Families Party of Oregon. Students in the Portland State University class, “Student Debt: Economics, Policy and Advocacy,” took up a push for “Pay It Forward” as their group project, and the WFP embraced it as a legislative priority. Together, they seized legislators’ attention, and secured their support.
In the process, WFP activists and allies talked to thousands of students, built a coalition ranging from MoveOn.org to the faith group Jubilee USA, and won over university administrators. It was a classic “inside-outside” fight, in which the potency of skillful lobbying and common-sense argument were amplified several times over by grassroots firepower. The unanimous vote in favor of the bill can also be credited in part to the WFP’s successful electoral efforts last year, in which the party ousted Oregon’s most conservative Democratic state representative in a primary and helped power another Democrat to victory in a swing district. With the Higher Education Coordination Commission tasked with incubating the plan, and a legislative vote looming in 2015, the WFP has pledged to get to work on ensuring a progressive result from the HECC, and making approval of that plan a major issue in the 2014 campaign.
“We never imagined that we would actually accomplish something like this, and definitely not in such a short time,” student Ariel R. Gruver told The New York Times. The Times’ Richard Perez-Pena noted that “The speed and unanimity offer a sharp contrast with Washington…” You can say that again. Progressives, who face slow-motion crises on a battery of issues and the ever-present danger of cynicism, could use another reminder that it’s still possible in this political landscape to pass a big, just idea through hard work and visionary organizing. Both will also be necessary if we’re to send a powerful message to members of Congress who just doubled interest rates: Americans deserve much better.
Comic by Matt Bors
What are everyone’s thoughts on this type of model?
Rising Profits, Sinking Planet: Socialist Solutions to the Climate Crisis
Featuring Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism (Haymarket Books, 2010) and Amity Paye, contributor to Occupying Wall Street (Haymarket Books, 2011)
Filmed in Boston, MA, 15 Dec 2012.