Read & Resist Tucson!

In last week’s Sunday Salon (on my book blog), I mentioned that I was kicking around an idea in my head to get people reading Tucson’s banned books list. I’d originally intended to do a weekend-long event where people could “read-in” and post their impressions along the way, but then I decided to go for it and make it a yearlong reading challenge. May I present Read & Resist Tucson:

Read & Resist Tucson

The challenge rules are very simple: you set your own reading goals, so long as you read and write about at least one book on the banned list. The list has been updated since I originally posted it last week, and I’ll keep adding to it whenever I learn of new or missing titles (speaking of which, if you see anything missing, let me know).

And if you’ve already written about some of the books in the past, please do me a solid and add your links to the database! I want people to have access to as many opinions about the books as possible.

I hope you decide to join. Spread the word!

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Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging

Cross-posted from The Feminist Texican [Reads].

Arab and Arab American Feminisms, edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber, is a book I wish every feminist/womanist would pick up. Though it is mostly academic in nature, the book is also interspersed with personal anecdotes and poetry that revolve around the book’s focus on Arab and Arab American feminists’ experiences. The book addresses a plethora of issues regarding to Orientalism, sexism, U.S. imperialism, homophobia, and transphobia. Each of the authors illustrate the need for addressing all of these things overlapping, rather than separate, issues. More importantly, though the book embraces the important work done by radical feminists of color, it also turns the feminist “sisterhood is global” motto on its head, positing that “there is no universal woman’s experience.”

The book’s thirty-two essays are split into five sections: Living with/in Empire: Grounded Subjectivities; Defying Categories: Thinking and Living Out of the Box; Activist Communities: Representation, Resistance, and Power; On Our Own Terms: Discourses, Politics, and Feminisms; and Home and Homelands: Memories, Exile, and Belonging. From the outset, the book’s contributors illustrate the dangers of conflating experiences and identities into neat categories. The introduction alone explains just how much the dominant U.S. discourse erases the experiences of those who fall into the categories of “Arab” and “Muslim”:

[This discourse] assumes that all Arabs are Muslim, all Muslims are Arab, and all Muslim Arabs are the same. It obscures the existence of Arabs who are not Muslim (including, but not limited to, Christians and Jews) and Muslims who are not Arab (including Indonesians, Malaysians, Chinese South Asians, Africans, African Americans, and Latinos/as). It also erases the historic and vast ethnic communities who are neither Arab nor Muslim but who live amid and interact with a majority of Arabs or Muslims.

By ignoring this diversity and conflating all of these identities under the umbrella of “Arab” or “Muslim,” it becomes much easier for the mainstream U.S. discourse to espouse detrimental stereotypes. As a result, Arab and Muslim feminists find themselves always starting from scratch. They are frequently met with resistance and end up spending their time and energy on dismantling these stereotypes instead of addressing important issues affecting their communities. Many of the contributors wrote of personal experiences where they were delivering speeches or presenting papers at conferences, only to be met with silence or rude, off-topic comments–often based on stereotypes–during the Q & A session. The frequency of blatantly racist comments in an academic setting was alarming.

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Virgen Art VI

Haven’t done one of these in a while. If you want to see the Virgen art from past posts, check out the gallery (I finally put it all in one place)!

Virgen de Guadalupe

Virgen de Guadalupe by Emilia Garcia

In 2006, this next one was chosen to be part of Centro Cultural Aztlan’s Galeria Expresion. The Centro ultimately decided to pull the painting from the exhibit because of its potential for controversy:

Virgin by Anna-Marie Lopez

Virgin by Anna-Marie Lopez

This is so pretty:

Virgen de Guadalupe by Naia711

Virgen de Guadalupe by Naia711 at DeviantArt

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Asshole of the Day: John Cornyn

I’m one of those people who contacts her representatives regarding impending legislation, and the recent battles for Planned Parenthood funding at the federal and state level were no exception. I sent my senators a personalized email, and this is what Sen. Cornyn sent me in return (I added the emphasis):

Thank you for contacting me about federal funding for Planned Parenthood. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this important matter.

On April 14, 2011, I supported House Concurrent Resolution 36, legislation that would have prohibited federal funding from being appropriated to Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, this legislation failed to pass the Senate; however, you may be certain that I will continue to support initiatives to prevent federal taxpayer dollars from funding Planned Parenthood during the 112th Congress.

As you may know, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s decision to carry her pregnancy to term or abort her pregnancy falls within a right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court’s decision created a previously unrecognized legal right to privacy and severely restricted states’ ability to regulate abortion.

I strongly believe that the Supreme Court majority decision regarding Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in America, substituted its own will for that of the American people. Though the Roe v. Wade decision still stands, I am committed to building a culture of life in America. I believe that all human life is a gift from God, and I will continue to work within the law to see that all human life—from conception to natural death—is treated with the dignity and respect it deserves.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

Um, Cornyn? If you want to build a “culture of life” in America, you should probably stop “substituting your own will” by showing contempt for poor people and immigrants. Your voting record is atrocious. Jackass.
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Feminism and transmisogyny

This is the inevitable problem with all attempts to portray trans women as “fake” females (whether media or feminist in origin): They require one to give different names, meanings, and values to the same behaviors depending on whether the person in question was born with a female or male body (or whether they are perceived to be a woman or a man). In other words, they require one to be sexist. When people insist that there are essential differences between women and men, they further a line of reasoning that ultimately refutes feminist ideals rather than supporting them.

–Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (51)

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In celebration of Women’s History Month…

I’m featuring nonfiction women’s history/women’s studies-related books all month long on my book blog. I’m also hosting at least 1 giveaway each week in March that everyone is free to enter. The ones currently running are US or US/Canada-only, but over the next couple of weeks I’ll also be hosting some giveaways that are open worldwide.

You can find the full list here; I’m updating as things get posted.

This will be sticky-posted for the rest of the month.
Posted in art & literature, women's history month | 1 Comment

James Bond Supports International Women’s Day

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