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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Thoughts on International Women’s Day

I couldn’t let the day pass without writing about some of my thoughts and reflections on International Women’s Day. With the plethora of articles talking about the end of men and how “feminism” is to blame, it is more important now than ever to take a step back and thank the women who came before us.

Too many of us have a bad habit of letting nostalgia cloud our perspective. We get so caught up in reminiscing about the “good ole days” that we actually begin to rewrite history. Others are so distraught by their own poor choices that they long for the days when they were oppressed and could not make choices at all.

The pattern is all too familiar. Someone writes an article in the New York Times or some other publication with bombastic language warning readers about the end of men, the war on boys or the demise of masculinity as we know it. Numerous pundits, bloggers and academics weigh in and before you know it feminism becomes the inevitable scapegoat. You see, if it weren’t for these feminists being all bitchy fighting for their rights and stuff, then men would know how to be men! Who can blame them for being in a state of extended adolescence?

Another popular story is that of the “lost generation of women” who for all of their success, can’t seem to find happiness (a man). Thanks to the birth control pill and evil feminists telling them then can “act like men,” these poor lost souls have wasted their lives having meaningless sex only to find themselves alone at 42 with no husband or children. These women usually have a long list of people they blame for their plight. “Feminists told me I could have it all!!!” Is one of their typical complaints/excuses.

You will then hear scores of stories from folks proclaiming to be “old school” taking about how things were back in the day. How men knew how to be men and women knew how to be women. And how things were so much better back then. And that today’s problems in our society are all the fault of men and women not “knowing their role.”

I find these arguments to be not only sexist, but incredibly dishonest. Was life better for the woman who died as a result of a back alley abortion? Or the woman who was beaten by her husband who had no recourse because domestic violence was considered a “private matter”? Was it better for the rape victim who was shamed to silence? Were things better when women were not allowed to vote? Should we long to go back to those days?

It is also an absolute slap in the face to blame the women’s rights movement for our personal failings. Feminism is not a self-help program. Freedom is about the right to make choices. Sometimes hard choices. Sometimes heartbreaking choices. Sometimes incredibly stupid choices. But they are ours to make. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, February 25, 2011

UniverSOUL turns a Perfectly Good Circus Act into a Tyler Perry movie

When I first read this, I was certain that it came from the Onion. What on earth does a skit about pimps, strippers and Jesus have to do with the circus? Were the organizers coming off a 36 hour binge where they took turns getting high and watching Tyler Perry movies?

Kristen Brown told Channel 2’s Eric Philips she took her 5- and 8-year-old children to the Universoul Circus Sunday night and was stunned by the final act.

“There are ladies pretending to strip, men throwing money at her, then a pimp comes on the stage and the woman’s boyfriend sells her to him and the pimp slaps her when she refuses to cooperate,” Brown said. “They’re pretending to smoke marijuana and sniff cocaine.”

A circus spokesman defended the act, saying it has a message. “Our show is about positive messages and sometimes to get to those high you have to go to those lows,” said circus spokesman Hank Ernest.

Ernest told Philips the gospel-themed finale ends with the main female character giving her life to Christ and starting over.

This is the Perryfication of Black Entertainment at its absolute worst. There is much more to black life than dysfunction and church. This “positive” skit was offensive for a variety of reasons. First of all, the content was clearly not appropriate for young children. Second, why does a “positive message” have to be included in everything directed to black people? Third, and I know this may come as a shock, but ALL.BLACK.PEOPLE.ARE.NOT.CHRISTIAN. Blacks of all faiths (or no faith at all) should be able to take their children to a circus without having to be knocked over the head with a bootleg sermon. How many more black shows, movies, television shows, etc. will have to be Perryfied before we start getting a clue?

Friday, January 28, 2011

My 5 Favorite Blog Posts of 2010

Just when you thought all of the 2010 "best of" lists were over and done with, here I come at the end of January with yet another list. I have been wanting to publish this for a while but I could not find some of my bookmarked links and things have been quite crazy at the new gig. But like they say better late than never!!! Here is a brief list of what I thought were some of the best blog posts of 2010.

They are listed in no particular order by the way:

Let's Not Forget the Black Women Who Defined the Civil Rights Movement

The title alone says it all. I suspect when most people think "civil rights" they have visuals of a male southern preacher leading his followers in the fight for equality. The often untold part of the story is that that many women were just as instrumental in bringing about the social change that we take so for granted today. These women were then told to step aside and take the "prone" position when civil rights became a national issue and the cameras started rolling. It has also amazed me how there has been some mumbling over the years that black women somehow "had it easier" because white racists did not see them as a threat. Somehow an oppression olympics developed between black men and black women, with black men being the sole victims of white supremacy and black women being the beneficiaries. This incredibly offensive and dishonest kind of revisionist history would make the Tea Party blush. I dare someone tell Recy Taylor that she somehow had it easier. Black women were raped, beaten, lynched, sprayed with firehoses (the latter being an approved strategy by civil rights leaders, who knew that footage of police attacking women and children would elicit sympathy and outrage), subject to routine street harassment and so on. Faith (the author) reminds us that we cannot forget these stories.

The Womancession

If you haven't already figured it out, many of the blogs on my faves list will be dealing with women and women's issues. The whole reason behind the title of my blog was that I wanted to explore how women could game the system and win! I am not really the "down with the establishment" type, which I will go into a little bit more in another post. June Carbone and Naomi Cahn do a great job in breaking down the economic challenges that women currently face. I also appreciate them for having the courage to state the severe economic danger that early, unplanned pregnancies pose to women:

In the late nineties, unintended pregnancies were falling for college grads while they rose for less educated women. There is every reason to believe those trends have gotten worse. The 2008 teen birth rates in Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were the highest in the country, with more than 60 births per 1,000 teens. Yet, each of these states emphasizes abstinence be stressed over more effective programs.

American policies that fail to invest in the human capital of the next generation, pointlessly encourage early marriage and childbearing, and perpetuate workplaces ill-equipped to adjust to family needs make workers more vulnerable during recessions.

Sex and the City Aftermath, Misogyny Unleashed

I can say that the offensive and incredibly sexist attacks on SATC2 had a couple of silver linings. First, I discovered the Women and Hollywood blog, which is now over on Indiewire. The other was that I was so offended by the reviews that it actually prompted me to write which became my very first blog post! You think the movie is dumb, cool. I get that. Didn't like the writing? That's your opinion and I totally respect that. You had a problem with the depiction of Islam, fine. But the criticism of the film went much deeper than that. Mainly it was review after review of "who do these old bitches think they are!!!!" When the focus became on the actresses looks and age, I knew that something else was going on. I also was annoyed that if a movie featuring women does not pass some feminist purity test, the claws come out. A woman wearing makeup is not setting us back 50 years. If men can have 50-11 movies about tanks, tits and ass, we can have an escapist flick too.

How to Spot An Agent In Your Organization

After seeing some the online antics of the Professional Left lately, I am convinced that many of them are plants. Their behavior is way too disruptive for it to be written off as a simple ideological difference. I have reason to be suspicious: Agent Provocateurs have been destroying social justice organizations for decades:

I’m sick and tired of watching good groups fail because of the wicked people who are still being sent among us. Moreso because of our failure to respond appropriately to these wicked people. I don’t blame them so much as I blame us for not doing anything about them. But we who are intelligent people should be wise enough to know that COINTELPRO still exists, both online and in real life. Yet very rarely do I hear about people being “run from among us” nowadays. So we know that they’re here, yet we continue to let them do their work? They’re not gathering info. They’re making us fall apart. And my survey says that they’re being highly successful. So if you can use this to improve your organization, please do so.
There is no Savior

Again, the title says it all. I think women have a very dangerous mental habit of wanting to be rescued by a man, parent, company, government, church or some other person or institution. Maybe we feel like we have no real control of our lives and therefore must depend on to goodwill of others. Many of us dream of our "big break" and are devastated when that moment never arrives:

There are two things you can do to prevent your own self-destructive B.S. moment from happening. The first thing is to realize that there is no “savior”. There’s probably not one person or event that will “save” your business or blog or catapult you into the mainstream. Rather, it’s consistent effort that pays off. It’s the daily grind of writing, finding customers, and making sure your existing customers and/or community are happy that pays dividends in the long run.
The reason I enjoyed this post so much is because it reminds us all that no one is going to save us, so we must save ourselves. That means continue to make connections, meet new people and pursue opportunity.

What were some blog posts that you enjoyed reading last year?

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

"Surely, you can't be serious."
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

How can you not love the person who uttered those words? Like many in my generation, I became familiar with the late Leslie Nielsen after watching his Airplane and Naked Gun movies. I have been a fan of comedies ever since.

What is so amazing about Nielsen is that he was in his 50s when Airplane was being filmed. Prior to this, he had a very impressive resume as a dramatic actor. The success of Airplane and the Naked Gun introduced him to a new genre as well as a new fan base. Thinks about this the next time you catch yourself whining that you are "too old" to learn a new skill or that is "too late" to pursue your dreams. I know I definitely will.

Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Nielsen. You will be missed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My holiday wish list...

I avoid Black Friday sales like the plague. I never participate because it includes almost everything I hate about life (crowds, traffic, waiting in line, cold weather, getting up early in the morning, etc.) But that does not mean that I am not on the lookout for a good sale, or do not have a couple items that are on my wish list. Santa, if you are out listening, please hook a sista up!!!

Jay-Z: Decoded

Being a lover of all things Jay-Z, I absolutely have to get this book. I also love memoirs (although this technically is not considered a memoir or autobiography) and it has received fantastic reviews. Dream Hampton is an excellent writer so I know she did a fabulous job as well.

Valentino Bag
As part of my "Operation Upgrade" plan, it is imperative that I get my purse game up. I found out about Valentino after looking at a purse forum and I have been in love ever since. The bags are absolutely beautiful and feminine. Look at that bow just adorable!!!

I am not a tech person by any means, and I have never been one to salivate over the next gadget. When I dropped my phone down an elevator chute, I taped it up and continued to use it for months! I also am not a fan of touchscreens and having an actual keyboard is a must. Luckily, Sprint carries a couple of Android phones with a Qwerty keyboard that slides out. Since I am not eligible for an upgrade and I am looking for something that makes it easier to send and receive email and browse the web on the go, it may be the perfect time to pick one of these up.

A Cute Sparkly Dress
With these holiday parties coming up, I know I will need something to wear. I have always wanted a blingy dress with tons of sequins. Fredericks of Hollywood (of all places) actually has a very cute sequin dress for sale on their website.

A Big Cocktail Ring
I absolutely love this ring that Rihanna is wearing. I would love to find an enormous and unusually shaped ring like that. I am also a fan of huge brooches as well.

What are some of the items on your wish list???

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Leslie Johnson is a Down Ass Chick, Stuffs 80K in her Panties


I guess Jack and Leslie Johnson are the T.I. and Tiny of Prince George's County. There are so many elements of fuckery in this story that it was hard to decide what angle to cover when writing about this. It wasn't long before the details of their arrest began to resemble something out of a Biggie song:

"The charges stem from a frantic phone call on Friday in which Leslie Johnson told her husband that "two women were at the door" and ultimately ended when federal agents found $76,000 in Leslie Johnson's underwear, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal charges.

The pair were taken away in handcuffs separately shortly before 1 p.m. Johnson, wearing a camel-colored suit and white shirt, did not address reporters' questions. The Johnsons made their initial court appearances late Friday and did not enter a plea. A hearing was scheduled for next month.

According to the affidavit, two agents came to the door of the Johnsons' Mitchellville home on Friday morning. At the time, agents were listening to a phone conversation between Leslie Johnson and her husband. Jack Johnson told his wife not to answer the door and told his wife to go into their bedroom to retrieve a check from a developer.

The agents allege it was a $100,000 check given in return for Johnson's support of the developer's project. The developer was not named in the complaint. Jack Johnson is overheard on the recording ordering Leslie Johnson to tear up the check. "Tear it up; that is the only thing you have to do!" according to the affidavit.

Leslie Johnson also asked Jack Johnson whether she should remove cash from the house, and he suggested she put it in her underwear, the affidavit says. Jack Johnson instructed his wife to "put it in your bra and walk out or something. I don't know what to do," according to the document."
Women seriously need to chill with the Ride or Die Chick routine. I do not know much about this case but I find it very telling that Jack Johnson would put his wife in harms way by having her so involved in his alleged criminal activities. Even Biggie had enough sense to "keep your family and business completely separated." No man is worth going to jail over, and if he really gave a damn about you, he wouldn't even put you in that position to begin with. Not to mention putting money in your drawls does not sound very sanitary.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Social Media Fail: GOP Operative Posts Home Addresses of Democratic Staffers on Twitter

Apparently Kat Stacks is running the National Republican Congressional Committee. Enraged over a claim by the Tom Perriello congressional campaign that opponent Robert Hurt's spokeswoman is a carpetbagger, NRCC press secretary Andy Sere decided to retaliate by posting the home addresses of several Perriello staffers on Twitter. Incredibly, the NRCC actually defended this childishness. Sere finally got around to deleting his tweets and a petition is now circulating demanding that he be banned from the social networking site, since posting personal information is in violation of Twitter's terms of Service.

Robert Hurt is not happy about this either. Prior to this stunt, he has been doing so well in the polls that there are rumors going around that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considered Perriello a lost cause and was going to focus on funding more winnable races. These latest developments endanger all of that. In politics, going off message for just one second can destroy a campaign.

Unfortunately, Sere's actions are part of the "dark side" of social media. People with a grudge or an ax to grind can make your most personal information instantly available to millions of people. There was a case where a scorned ex-boyfriend posted his ex-girlfriends information in the adult services section of Craigslist. She was beaten and raped shortly after. So before we write off Sere's actions as a lapse in judgment, it is important to keep in mind that there are severe public safety concerns involved. What's interesting is that while the NRCC trolls have no problem blasting others personal information, they go to great lengths to conceal theirs!

Anyone working in politics or activism may want to do the same and have a "shadow address" to protect themselves against this kind of thing in the future.