Saturday, June 27, 2009

top three gay porns that carry a nerd/latin theme

Number Three: May the Foreskin Be With You

Number Two: Dungeons and Daddies

Number One: Super Barrio Bros. Strike Back!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exploring a Thought on Racism

Simultaneously reading Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and blogs that deal with racism is, well, trippy. There is a trend that I feel I am noticing more and more among a lot of the, um, less polite blogs on the subject.

People pick out news stories or other blogs in which someone, usually Obama, is painted in a way that jives with traditionally racist overtones. Or Clinton is painted in traditionally sexist overtones. And this is decried as proof that the authors are racist/sexist and usually that by extension everything else they say is invalid.

Political blog noise machine aside, here is my struggle with this: I do not doubt that we live in a society where racism is a structural feature of much of the system. I don't think it takes much argument or convincing to notice that there just aren't a lot of black romantic leads (let alone Asian or latino), or that people of color get stuck more easily in poverty cycles, or that there just aren't a representative number of people of color in positions of authority.

But I do kind of take issue when someone points out a particular story or blog (or movie or book) and says "here! This is an example of racism manifesting in society!" Because the things is, they might be right. It could very well be a manifestation of racism. But even in really compelling cases, it also might not be. The best example I can give is this. If this featured Obama, there would be a huge outcry, and reasonably so. There is a huge amount of racist literature comparing African Americans to monkeys, and it would be really hard to argue that such a comparison was not tapping into that dialogue.

But maybe it wouldn't be. Maybe it would honestly be someone comparing Obama's less photogenic moments and saying, "hey look, this kind of looks monkey-like. That's kind of funny!" And that's the thing: in individual instances we can never really get into another person's mind and say what motivated them. Even if there is an undercurrent of racism that sparks a lot of similar-sounding rhetoric, any individual instance of that might not be motivated by racism (or sexism, or whichever ism). It's essentially looking at a scatterpoint and noticing a trend without necessarily being able to account for any individual dot.

And this, I think, sparks what one of the major difficulties is with racism: it's hard to name. It can be hard to see. And in individual instances it can be hard or impossible to know if it is really happening. I don't think anyone is comfortable with that uncertainty, and some people respond by saying that racism doesn't exist at all and others by pointing out every instance of seeming-racism as absolute incarnations of racism in society. And I think the reality is both a lot less certain and a lot less comfortable for everyone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

on the sadness of lost things (or death by implosion)

Let me start off by saying that it is unnecessary to follow the links in this post, and perhaps an immense waste of time. It is more a chronicle of the train of thought that has led me here.

Since I am now reading blogs more frequently than I have in a few years, I have noticed the passage of time impacting some of the stuff I used to read. Nowhere is this more evident than with the Shakesville blog. This is a blog that I used to absolutely love. It taught me a lot about what feminism is, and what it means to be feminist, and why that is something worth standing up for.

I would not start reading it now. Not that there aren't still some excellent posts and some insightful commentary, but the tone has changed and it makes me really and quite viscerally sad. The comments section is an incredibly hostile environment, where it seems to me that people have become so used to trolling that any disagreement is read as trolling and the responses are unmerciful. Perhaps not always, but often enough that it makes me feel ill to see people shot down in the way that they are, or to hear commenters echo the points of the original post using the exact words of the original and trash anyone who doesn't use those words. Or, and this one hurts the most, to see people use terms like "safe space" and "trigger" as ways of minimizing commenters who aren't seen as socially progressive enough.

It turns out that I am not the only person who feels this way, and that just as I have started to read it again the blog is disintegrating under the weight of its own comments section and losing a fair amount of its readership. In fact, it is at the center of a huge internet controversy about what it means to be a "safe space" and an "online community." Perhaps the thing that struck me the most was the blog entry of a former contributor at Shakesville, a contributor whom I liked, essentially trashing what it had become. I hadn't even realized that she no longer contributed, and have to wonder how bad that must have tasted for the creator (Melissa McEwan) to have heard or read.

Here's where I acknowledge that probably nobody reading this actually knows or cares anything about Shakesville. However, I would liken it to the sadness of being disillusioned by a favorite teacher who you find out is racist, or an old TV show that takes a terrible story-arc, or a book series that goes sour (I'm looking at you Terry Goodkind). It's the sadness of a progressive who thinks of change as inevitable and wants that to be a positive thing, but sometimes it isn't. I want something back that I will never have, and its current incarnation only reminds me of that more painfully. A minor thing to grieve, definitely, but still grief.