Tina K. Russell

March 26, 2009

Transmisogyny

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:05 pm

Here’s my friend Tobi Hill-Meyer, and why she’s my friend.

Here, she gives examples of “transmisogyny,” the misogyny faced by transgender women. Here’s a section I found important, but you really oughta read the whole thing.

What Transmisogyny Looks Like « No Designation
“Male Privilege”

When trans women are told that they need to stop being assertive and strong because it is a sign of male privilege – invariably by “feminists” who, of course, encourage cis women to be assertive and strong – that’s transmisogyny.

When trans women are pressured into being silent, rarely offering their opinion, and refusing leadership roles for fear of being seen as male or accused of having male privilege, that’s transmisogyny.

When trans women are afraid to analyze or discuss the role of male privilege in their life because of the way accusations of male privilege have been used as weapons to silence, shame, and misgender trans women, that’s transmisogyny.

When trans women do analyze and discuss the role of male privilege in their lives and come to different conclusions than the dominant cis feminist perspective and are told it is because they simply don’t understand privilege or are ignorant of feminism, that’s transmisogyny.

I think she really nails it with the first one. It’s a pretty common paradox of transsexual existence. People who spend their lives rightfully arguing that woman can be just as strong and assertive as men will suddenly turn around when a trans woman does so, and will argue that she should be submissive and timid, like a “real” woman! Some people don’t even notice this contradiction with everything they stand for. Add the fact that you really have to be confident and assertive in order to transition successfully, and get ready for a barrel of identity-politics fun.

To those who know of this contradiction and encourage all women, transgender and cisgender, to be confident and assertive, thank you! You brighten up my life.

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April 26, 2008

God’s work

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:36 pm

From an interview with Canadian diplomat and philanthropist Stephen Lewis:

allAfrica.com: Africa: Activist Praises Europe, Slams U.S. on Aids (Page 1 of 2)

What is your view of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the 50-billion-dollar initiative of the Bush administration in the United States?

Everybody is so shocked at getting a sizeable amount of money that they forget that there are tremendous flaws in Pepfar, most of which are destructive towards women. The amount of money is not sufficient and they should be clamoring for much more instead of this endless acting as a cheerleader for the administration.

Do you have some specific examples of ways in which you say it falls short?

Pepfar still insists that up to 50 percent of the preventative monies be spent on abstinence and fidelity when abstinence clearly isn’t a choice for so many women, not only young women who are already sexually active, but women in marriage. Fidelity isn’t the problem of the women in marriage; it’s the problem of the men in the marriage … It’s an outrageous continuation of an ideological weapon wielded by an administration which is reactionary and out of touch with the real world.

Then there is the prostitution gag rule, where you can’t work with sex workers when in fact they are a high-risk group with whom organizations must work. That’s another attack on women. And then there’s the fact that you can’t do reproductive and sexual health in conjunction with work on HIV/Aids when obviously the two are inexorably linked. That’s another attack on women.

Here you have a piece of legislation where the money is inadequate and the flaws are all rooted in misogyny… in attacks on women. People are applauding it as if it’s some sort of contemporary Marshall Plan. That’s crazy and it should be seen for what it is – both inadequate and irresponsible in many respects.

I am a Christian. I have noted this before. Part of being a Christian is doing God’s work on Earth. And yet, I do find critiques on religion, like the one below, well-founded for reasons like what Lewis cited above; motivated by religion, we sometimes add little caveats that undermine what we’re trying to do.

LETTERS; Faith, Politics, and the Good Deed Factor – New York Times

To the Editor:

Yes, evangelical groups do excellent antipoverty work. They are often the first into and last out of the most dangerous, poor and abjectly miserable places on earth.

But we notice that there’s a different character to evangelical involvement on the issues of H.I.V.-AIDS and sex trafficking. When evangelical groups fight those problems, they do so by curtailing rights (usually women’s) and limiting options (usually women’s).

As a result of policies lobbied for by the religious right, 33 percent of American financing for AIDS prevention must now be directed to abstinence-only programs. Organizations receiving financing must take an anti-prostitution pledge, hamstringing their ability to provide condoms and education to at-risk sex workers.

Evangelical work on trafficking has focused more on punishing prostitution than on helping men, women and children avoid the circumstances that lead them to be trafficked into debt bondage.

Liberals are right to reject an approach that is dismissive of individual rights, prolongs suffering and hinders AIDS prevention.

Kate Cronin-Furman

Amanda Taub

New York, Feb. 4, 2008

The writers are the authors of a human rights blog.

God gave us hearts, but God also gave us brains. We have to listen to these criticisms and use our heads when we attempt to do God’s work. Remember, Jesus did not look down upon the prostitutes and tax collectors that were outcasts from society, but worked among them, as an equal, as a friend, not name-dropping his daddy or trying to needle anyone out of the way they lived. Jesus’s lessons are for everyone, and before we condemn the acts of people we do not know and are not connected to, we need to look inside ourselves and see what we need to clean up in our own behavior.

It often doesn’t help, when ministering to someone, to pretend you know the way, the only way, and you’re going to help them get there. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you do know the way, and the only way this person is going to live is by listening to your advice. You will never accomplish you goal of turning someone around if you browbeat endlessly the people you’re trying to help, telling them how and why they should change. You need to help them where they are, finding what they need and giving it. For instance, in the long term, homeless kids do need showers, clean clothes, and job skills. In the short term, however, what they need is love, understanding, and companionship. With that–and as long as you are ministering to them and not at them–the “cleaning up” part will come from them and not from you.

Sexual activity and prostitution are both complicated issues that defy easy moralization on either side. I do not think, though, that Jesus’s rigid moral codes, as expressed on the Sermon on the Mount and in his parables, kept him from ministering to and loving people he disagreed with. In general, if someone is sexually active, and you wish they weren’t, you should recognize that it’s their choice and not yours, and the best you can do is prevent them from something that is unequivocally bad, like disease, abuse, or coercion. Even if you view (and I don’t) that sex is merely a step on the way to such bad behaviors and situations, your goal should be the other steps from happening, rather than pursue an all-or-nothing strategy that fosters disease and abuse.

God gave us hearts to love, and brains to think, and when rigid ideology impedes our efforts to help people, we are failing to use both.

April 25, 2008

On Liabilities

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 4:11 pm

I never thought I’d say this, but Bill Clinton is starting to sound like Stephen Colbert… in character.

President Bill Clinton says the Obama campaign “played the race card” on him « Y-Decide 2008 (via Political Wire)

“I think that they played the race card on me. We now know, from memos from the campaign that they planned to do it along.” – President Bill Clinton.

And that’s how President Clinton begins his answer to WHYY’s Susan Phillips who, during a phone interview earlier this evening, asked the President how he feels about one Philadelphia official who says she switched her support after interpreting Clinton’s remarks in South Carolina as an attempt to marginalize Obama as “the black candidate.”

Clinton goes on to say that “you have to really go some to play the race card on me.” He lists a number of his accomplishments on behalf of people of color, inexplicably putting the fact that he has “an office in Harlem” at the top of the list.

Clearly, Clinton seems clearly frustrated by the question or the suggestion by anyone – either the reporter or the Philadelphia official whom she quoted – that he was somehow making a negative statement about Obama (or Jesse Jackson) based on their race. His frustration comes through towards the end of the recording when, apparently unaware that he was still on the line, Clinton asks whoever is with him, “I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?

Holy living–! I don’t want to watch this any more! Bill Clinton has clearly gone from “savvy politician” to “slow-motion train wreck.” I think he feels bad–from my armchair psychologist perspective–that he’s been such a drag on his wife’s campaign and knows no other reaction than to try and compensate, and instead, make it worse.

Would you please stop, Bill? This is painful. You used to have real trust with communities of color, and you’ve thrown it all away. I mean, I want Barack to win, but it hurts when the opponent is being marginalized by an out-of-control spouse. It all seems like a bad sitcom.

Part of the problem with Hillary’s bid for the presidency is that Bill’s campaign was promoted as a “two-for-one deal,” with two remarkable public servants running for the White House. I can’t help but feel–particularly when Bill fails to shut his yap–that it’s all an underhanded, Kirchner-style switcheroo. Bill is undermining Hillary’s image as a calm, measured hand on the Presidential phone, and giving us nightmares of a man who cannot handle his wife running a campaign alone, much less running a Presidency alone.

That’s really an unfair statement; Hillary needs to be judged as her own woman, not as some kind of counterpart to Bill. There is, of course, a fair amount of sexism inherent in the media’s fascination with her husband (as opposed to, say, Michelle Obama, who has gaffed before, but never with Clintonian gusto), as well as with Hillary’s campaign narrative that she has sixteen years of executive experience through osmosis.

Hillary’s her own woman; she’s not an extension of her husband. Unfortunately, the two people most responsible for undermining that message are Bill and Hillary.

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