yeloson: (pic#459017)
I've been thinking a bit about privilege, oppression, and how it plays out.

There's the classic Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs- the basics, food/clothing/shelter, then up to things like freedom and entertainment, etc. From the most basic needs to survive to the things which are necessary to thrive.

The way privilege rolls, is that some people's wants matter more than other people's needs.

"My freedom of speech matters MORE than you not being shot."
"My right to religious practice matters MORE than you not dying of horrible, treatable, medical conditions."

We're not even talking about two things on the same level of needs - where we can start really exploring ethics- we're just talking about "My less life necessary thing is more important than your MORE life necessary thing because you don't fucking matter."

Anyway, I've been thinking about this a lot, right now, because of Trayvon Martin. He's murdered. Not being shot is pretty much one of those basic needs to live. And the ways in which people are talking about this only highlight this issue.

For example- white people's "need" to have black people always appear non-threatening (mind you, non-threatening blackness is a series of ever-moving goalposts which cannot be met, short of not being black) MATTERS MORE than Travyon's need to have not been shot. White people's need to feel as if racism is over, and not have to deal with it, matters more than the fact there is a dead child.

That's on that, directly.

But shit like the Occupy folks jumping over the Million Hoodie protests? Again, white people's need to be the center of attention, over recognizing a horrible murder.

And that's what this is, and what we're going to see, throughout ALL Of this. They're going to claim reverse racism when anyone asks for anything resembling parity on Maslov's hierarchy of needs.

The backlash is going to be the fact that we, are caring TOO MUCH about a person of color.
yeloson: (Default)
I choose not to watch the racist white girl at UCLA talk about asian folks, but this article about how she's getting death threats and campus security is there for her is also problematic.

Now, yes, death threats are bullshit. Period.

But I'm wondering where campus security is folks are dealing with domestic abuse? Where's campus security when nooses are getting hung up in the black students' areas "for good fun"?

A white girl says racist shit and, guess what? When there's actually enough folks on campus that they're no longer afraid of speaking up, and they speak up, suddenly:

"Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate," she said. "I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would."

The levels of cognitive dissonance - you damn well know what "possessed" you (hint: no external force or entity "possessed" you, but at least you're honest enough to say that you'd rather not have the consequences.
yeloson: (Default)
http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/takeyogaback

The popularity of yoga continues to skyrocket in the Western world as yoga studios become as prevalent as Starbucks and the likes of Lululemon find continued success in the mass marketing of $108 form enhancing yoga pants. As this $6 billion industry completes one Suryanamaskar (sun salutation) after another, there has been growing concern from the Hindu American Foundation about a conscientious delinking of yoga from its Hindu roots.

From asanas named after Hindu Gods to the shared goal of moksha to the common pluralistic philosophy, the Hindu roots of yoga seem difficult to deny. Yet, more often than not, many Western yoga practitioners are aghast at the very suggestion that the cherished "spiritual practice" of yoga is firmly grounded in Hindu philosophy. In fact, in a letter to Yoga Journal magazine, HAF noted its disappointment at finding countless descriptions of the Upanishads or Gita as "ancient Indian" or "yogic", but rarely "Hindu".

Shortly after being told by Yoga Journal that "Hinduism carries too much baggage," the Foundation formulated its stance on this important issue with the release of its paper Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice, quoting extensively from both the legendary yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar as well as his son, Prashant Iyenagar. The stance paper highlights not only the delinking of yoga from its Hindu roots, but also the erroneous idea that yoga is primarily a physical practice based on asana. Yoga covers a wide array of practices, embodied in eight "limbs," which range from ethical and moral guidelines to meditation on the Ultimate Reality. Asana is merely one "limb" which as become the crux of Western yoga practice.
yeloson: (pic#459019)
http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/11/10/too-asian/

Discussing the role that race plays in the self-selecting communities that more and more characterize university campuses makes many people uncomfortable. Still, an “Asian” school has come to mean one that is so academically focused that some students feel they can no longer compete or have fun. Indeed, Rachel, Alexandra and her brother belong to a growing cohort of student that’s eschewing some big-name schools over perceptions that they’re “too Asian.” It’s a term being used in some U.S. academic circles to describe a phenomenon that’s become such a cause for concern to university admissions officers and high school guidance counsellors that several elite universities to the south have faced scandals in recent years over limiting Asian applicants and keeping the numbers of white students artificially high.

Although university administrators here are loath to discuss the issue, students talk about it all the time. “Too Asian” is not about racism, say students like Alexandra: many white students simply believe that competing with Asians—both Asian Canadians and international students—requires a sacrifice of time and freedom they’re not willing to make. They complain that they can’t compete for spots in the best schools and can’t party as much as they’d like (too bad for them, most will say). Asian kids, meanwhile, say they are resented for taking the spots of white kids. “At graduation a Canadian—i.e. ‘white’—mother told me that I’m the reason her son didn’t get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots,” says Frankie Mao, a 22-year-old arts student at the University of British Columbia. “I knew it was wrong, being generalized in this category,” says Mao, “but f–k, I worked hard for it.”


(Bolded for emphasis)

So, the fact that people are so fucking head-in-ass-of-white-supremacy to assume they were entitled to go to a university by color of skin more than hard work? That they get to declare "too many of YOU PEOPLE" as if other folks were plants in their garden, to move about at will?

I think I understand better the logic behind racist cries against affirmative action, now. Of course they imagine it can only be based on skin color and not, say, merit, because they themselves were counting on that same logic to get them in.

Of course they can't tell the difference between being excluded due to structural racism vs. excluded due to simply not being up to standard - although they will have no problem having it go both ways whichever way serves them best- "I should get in because I'm white/you shouldn't get in because of quotas"/"If there's no black or native people here, it's because they're too dumb and lazy/but don't expect me to compete with asians, that's not fair".

And of course, that kind of dumbassery also means the real issue, that yes, asian folks grind to suicide to get up on it and are allowed that much as long as they're not too dark, is still a sign of problems with higher education and institutionalized discrimination.

Instead, of course, we'll just be seeing folks use asians as the model minority against other folks and yet, at the same time, unwilling to accept they they, too, don't make the cut by merit either.
yeloson: (Default)
Watching recent online antics come forth, and I'm realizing something that has bothered me for a while.

There's this thing people do where they mistake celebration for actual equality. You know, like the idea that if a bunch of white people show up to watch a lion dance in Chinatown, they're not racist, or by having Black History month, or a bunch of straight folks showing up at Pride, or a bunch of men judging Ms. Universe...

You know, somehow by the virtue of showing up to be entertained and say nice things once in a while, that it somehow is a replacement for real, actual changes in power structures and social dynamics.

Hence, why somehow voting for Obama ended all racism.

Right now, I'm watching a bunch of supposed feminists flip out over the fact that WisCon will not honor a bigot who puts out hate language.

And I realize, these people are probably the people I described above- the whole premise of WisCon, and why women would even MAKE a separate convention is completely invisible to them- it's actually only about coming together to "celebrate" and have a sparkly fluffy time...

...the idea that there's more to feminism than simply saying "Women are AWESOME", that, you know, you might actually have to negotiate power structures and policy, that you might have to call out people in your community, that people you look up to might be problematic to the point of not being able to participate in all the happy events...

This hasn't crossed their minds at all.

Because real anti-oppression work isn't fun, it isn't an AWESOME celebration, it's hard fucking work that means you have to pick your battles and the costs you're willing to pay for the principle that all people are people.

Or you know, you can sit back and only show up for the parties and act like you did something. And stomp your feet when you show up and aren't entertained.

After all, that's what equality is all about, right? Someone dancing for you because you're special and they know their place?
yeloson: (pic#459017)
Reading about the most recent "Self Help/Men's Awareness" scandal, I'm thinking a bit about how much these things are like grotesque appropriations from traditional societies, and the results we keep seeing- cult behavior and straight up harm to people.

Traditional initiatory religious practices often use applied stressors as well as specific ritual action to disrupt a person's sense of self and re-arrange it. I suspect the big changes we've seen in modern society is this: you're not in a community where you have to live with this person around, for the rest of your life.

That's not to say there isn't room for abuse, or often enough, historical examples of abuse, but that at least, if nothing else, there is a motivation on your part and others around you to try to limit that stuff- because at the end of the day, you still need a functioning member of your community, and, hopefully one who won't flip out and leave your ass in a ravine with a broken leg.

I'm thinking the fact that nearly all of these modern groups are basically profit-driven enterprises, with attendees from around the country or larger area, but not in close community, means the incentive to actually give a damn about what happens to them drops, not to mention the ability to see what the long term outcomes of these practices are.

In many ways, the hard protocols and traditions of older societies involved with this stuff usually is based in the idea of trying to limit variables and results of what kind of people you "make" in the process.

(This isn't to say there isn't a lot of "traditional" groups now that have been modernized in the same way with the same issues. ATRs that demand $3000 for initiations or guru traditions in which adherents meet from around the country once a year... Again, though, I think the core issue is that it's no longer based in a small community setting.)

The sad thing is that this is pretty much the same problem we talk about when we talk about cultural appropriation - you can copy the obvious, but do you know the full context of what and why things are being done?

If we look at the benefits people are hoping to get out of sweat lodges, drumming, chanting, meditation, etc., it's a real question why they never bother to also consider that these activities are measured in years or decades of training and practice and not just a simple "How to" booklet.

The idea that there is anything in this world that can help without also containing the potential for harm is dangerous and foolish. It's like assuming every pill in the doctor's bag is good for you, so you can pop them at random to solve your problems.

Of course, it doesn't help that a lot of this is couched in terms of transactional thinking and privilege. "I paid this much money, THEREFORE what I receive must automatically be of value". Or, "I just started this thing, but I know BETTER than the people who've done it for thousands of years how to do it, and you don't REALLY need all those restrictions and rules."

I suppose I could just as well make money teaching people that repeatedly hitting themselves in the head with the Bible brings the Word of God directly into their brains, or something.
yeloson: (pic#459017)
It's always interesting when someone puts out a work that is racist, sexist, heterosupremacist, or otherwise fucked up and problematic... that when people point out the problematic elements - that the response goes like this:

1) Well, you people don't buy/read/watch this stuff (and therefore your money doesn't matter)
2) We NEED to include this stuff to sell (the rest of the world is bigots and they're our market)
3) You are being irrational oversensitive (Even though I just said in #2 that I'm totally willing to alter my artistic integrity for the sake of irrational market demands to make a profit)

But... once people start saying, "Well, I guess I won't buy/go see/support this work, and maybe other works by this person" THEN suddenly it turns to, "Why are you hateful people trying to put me out of business and starve me and my family? I'm so poor, I work so hard, etc."

Fascinating how our money doesn't matter enough to NOT include messages that have, and still do, get us beaten, murdered, raped, denied jobs, denied health care, education, arrested, etc. but if we decide to take our money elsewhere (after all, we aren't the "target audience") suddenly our money is capable of wrecking entire lives?

This usually also goes hand in hand with "Well, you're trying to censor me!"... which isn't actually true- your work is already out there and critical analysis of it is definitely not the same as enacting government law to remove it OR say, threats against your person to silence you.

Strangely, though, the idea of consumers exercising their free speech about what constitutes a good product or not, or exercising their right to choose what they want to buy or not buy, suddenly freedom is now a threat that must be stopped.

How convenient.

If you really are happy with the market you're targeting, it should never even be an issue when the people who were a "negligible profit" decide to take their money elsewhere.

Of course, what it turns out to being, instead, is that we have creators who:

a) are profiting on bigotry and promoting it
b) are too cowardly to accept the social consequences of it - if you promote bigotry, your work will be labeled as such, and so will you, whether you "believe in it or not".

This is why they focus so much on blaming critics, fans, and the public despite all the claims that they were making conscious market choices. Silencing the social consequences takes a higher priority than the supposed profits.

And if profit isn't the driving motive- then the bigotry is there just because that IS what the creator meant.

The phrase about not assuming malevolence where incompetence will do, actually isn't quite right here. Irrational malevolence is generally too incompetent to hide it's motivations- it reveals itself through it's attempts to defend itself.

If it were just a matter of money, either criticism wouldn't matter, or perhaps, there'd be adjustments to future works, after all, it's "what the people want".

But irrational bigotry? That needs defending.
yeloson: (Default)
Study indicates social power results in poor behavior.

"It's an incredibly consistent effect," Mr. Keltner says. "When you give people power, they basically start acting like fools. They flirt inappropriately, tease in a hostile fashion, and become totally impulsive." Mr. Keltner compares the feeling of power to brain damage, noting that people with lots of authority tend to behave like neurological patients with a damaged orbito-frontal lobe, a brain area that's crucial for empathy and decision-making. Even the most virtuous people can be undone by the corner office.

I guess we can see where the whole issue of normal folks being incredibly racist, sexist or homophobic comes up- once the power difference is great enough, suddenly the nice boy down the street is one of the 10 kids beating up the foreigner...

This sadly only confirms privilege as socially groomed narcissistic personality disorder.
yeloson: (Default)
The Borderhouse Blog has a post on a situation where someone experienced someone go from casual troll to actual stalker. Luckily, the situation described didn't escalate, but the real issue is this:

First, it's the history of people who have hate issues becoming violent, and the way in which they're indulged in their hating. I'm thinking of folks like the shooter who targeted only women, or the Holocaust Museum shooter. It's a cycle. These people openly hate, and people put up with it.

Eventually something goes wrong in their life, maybe bad luck, maybe poor choices, maybe even they end up going too far, people finally draw the line (years later).

At this point, the hater doesn't even see it as the result of their own actions- after all, all these years of saying and doing messed up stuff never had consequences - it can't be what they were doing was wrong, it has to be THIS time, someone ELSE, must have taken action against them, targeted them specifically, etc. They've built up a long practice of externalizing causes to the shitty cycles in their life, and they just took a big hit- naturally they'll use the same thought process, just amped up with panic and anger.

The incident described in the link is this pattern. And the troubling thing isn't that these people exist- it's the guild and group who basically said through their actions - "This asshole's fun trumps your fun, this asshole matters MORE than you do", which is true every time and place where the group supports hateful acts over non-hateful people.

You know, that's how people internalize privilege- when folks keep handing it to them, over and over.

And, vice versa, these are the risks people take in speaking out against power.

Of course, all of this is invisible to people who live in that privilege, who don't understand fearing power, only fearing not having it to lord over others.

Unsafe indeed.
yeloson: (Oh NOES)
The last couple of days have been pretty demonstrative of privilege.

Writer, Jay Lake, complains that he is afraid to go to WisCon, you know, because someone might criticize him.

Or: A writer complains that he is afraid to go to a convention because he might be criticized for his words.

Or: A Man is afraid to go to a convention for Women in Science Fiction, because he won't receive a free pass to not be criticized on privilege.

Or: A Man is afraid because he might be held to the same standards as every other human being.

I haven't even gotten to the racial angle of his statement, or it's mirroring the same "ZOMG, Brown = violent!" dog whistles of previous writers and privilege that seems to come up whenever people of color write more lucidly, logically and intelligently than the writers criticized, but I'm sure you get the picture...

In the bigger picture, this is just an example to the real phenomenon.

That fear tells us a lot about how privilege thinks. The level of narcissism that completely ignores the context of why women would organize a convention in the first place, that you get a free pass to do what you want without criticism, that your feelings matter more than anyone else's.

All the issues of why women build these spaces "doesn't matter", because in the mind of privilege, everyone else's problems are fictional. They're not real, not important, mostly the victim's fault anyway. Not like the special privileged snowflake - those things ARE real, those things MATTER.

Privilege doesn't understand what hate looks like- so being held to normal standards is "threatening", since they keep acting out and keep getting checked. They don't see what they did as wrong, but everyone telling them so, somehow is. So now it's time to claim victimhood, how everyone is unreasonable for failing to obey massa not listening, and how you have friends of the offended group and how much you've done for them.

Poor white man's burden!

The ignorance of privilege is a facet of denial, subconsciously the person knows there's a power issue, which is why they're quick to claim victimhood - to try to deflect the power issues involved. Obviously, this just a slight modification of White Women's Tears and the terrible injustice that the world is not all yours to have. One need only look through history and current media to find examples of how privilege reframes itself as the victim ("Those savage Indians keep forcing us to use violence!"/"Why did you make me have to hit you?/Your Political Correctness is impinging my right to insult you with genocidal slurs!" etc.)

Because this is a denial thing, the rationalizations are self-contradictory. It works one way when it benefits, then it works the opposite way, whichever way is most convenient to the moment. (Ex: "I get to demand people provide evidence without providing any of my own. I get to tell other people about things I have no background or study in, but dismiss their statements, even when backed up by accepted sources and authorities.")

See also: a small child throwing a tantrum about not getting to have their cake and eat it too.

Privilege understands "hate" as anything that doesn't let it get it's way and nothing else, in classic narcissistic fashion.

Which is why there's no point in talking to most of these people - the only value in engaging is to hopefully display to the rest of the world what kind of person this is, and to highlight the behavior as an educational example- much in the same way you might dissect the rantings of Charles Manson or the Timecube author.
yeloson: (Default)
Consider Teabaggers. The logic of stuff like "public option" = death panels, etc.

You have someone who:
a) Has no fucking clue what they're talking about
b) Refuses to do the minimum to look it up
c) is looking to silence all conversation through inflammatory, though completely false, rhetoric
d) Doesn't care about the facts, only understands that there is a "side" to be taken.

Yeah? Yeah. Ok. That's easy enough to understand and mock. It helps that they do stuff like have signs demanding "English Only" when they misspell half the words.

Now let's go over to the people who've typically come up recently:

a) Has no fucking clue what they're talking about
b) Refuses to do the minimum to look it up
c) is looking to silence all conversation through authority bids, "conciliatory tone", or dismissal arguments with no basis in reality
d) Doesn't care about the facts, only understands that there is a "side" to be taken.
e) Happens to be famous for writing, editing, or publishing books.

I mean, if your best argument against anti-racism is, "I refuse to know anything about it, but I'm still right, because you people are being mean to my friend(s) for saying ignorant things!"?

Seriously. All we're dealing with here are well spoken Teabaggers when folks are making these arguments.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
Life likes to give examples. Today's example is Neil Gaiman saying stupid things about Indians. When called upon it, he makes what initially sounds like an ok clarification and apology.

Except, he also had to add this:

"Also apologies to any Icelandic or Norwegian readers who are offended by my imprecision. Obviously none of the Newfoundland settlers were Vikings."

Ah, yes! After all, you wouldn't want the descendants of Vikings getting upset!

They might be offended by a little invisibility or absence, after all, it's just like being the survivors of a centuries-long genocide that covered two continents along with being written out of history and being silenced to this day? Right?

"A few dead Indians" is exactly the history told in this country, every day.

Context. Without context, nothing means nothing.

Germans gassing Jews might as well be Aliens vs. Robots*. Product placement is just as bad as lynchings.

"I don't see what everyone's upset about!" (You people don't matter anyway!).

Yeah. And the thing is, that thing about Vikings? It's not based in genuine naive ignorance of the situation- it's a nod, a signal, "Oh, look I have to be 'politically correct', the natives are restless. Oh bother!"

Of course, if you really care about what you did wrong, you might want to understand what it was, so you could not do it again.

Until then, I guess we'll "keep being oversensitive" about genocide and stuff, until we get our priorities correct, right?

*People often read that comic as "Ha-ha, racism doesn't exist!". Try reading that comic backwards, right to left, and consider... context!
yeloson: (Oh NOES)
There's a game kids do. They do something really obnoxious, like wave their hands around another kid's face, "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you!" and then, when the other kid either screams at them, or hits them, they go, "MOOOOOM! He's being mean!"

It's pretty stupid, but it's something kids do.

Now, when you come to the internet, it's really interesting to watch even grown folks do things which are basically that kind of behavior, then turn around and go, "Woe is me! All these people are being MEAN!" when you get the same response.

If you anonymously comment, make bizarre statements and refuse to cite anything in reality, ignore valid points, and basically show off your ignorance even more? You might find yourself being mocked.

Woe is you!

Look at how mean the world is!

What's interesting is the degree at which this shows up in privilege and silencing discussions. "Woe is me" works really well because the circle the person usually is engaged in, is oblivious to the privilege, and the problematic behaviors in the first place, so easy sympathy points there. (Politeness and Tone are usually part of this game as well).

At the same time, it shows exactly how much this person wasn't engaging in good faith discussion to begin with.

It wasn't about learning -what- was right, as much as an exercise in reassuring non-thought about privilege (-who- was right, and that who is the person playing the game, why are you so mean?)

If someone's not talking with you, there's not point in wasting precious moments on the stupid.
yeloson: (I see crazy people)
Reading the most recent white supremacist antics at WorldCon, I've come to an understanding of that damaged way of thinking in privilege:

Only "equals" have the right to be angry.

When you are wronged, you have the right to be angry.

But it's "not wrong" to treat us like shit, in the mind of white supremacist. It's "not wrong" to expect us to be dismissed, silenced, and put to the side. It's "wrong" for us to expect to act as full participants, with full voices. It's "wrong" for us to not have attached ourselves Harujuku girl style to some white person as supporters and hanger-on accessories... after all, wasn't the whole world and everything made for white use?

It's "wrong" for us to protest the logic of megalomaniacal narcissism as a way of life.

When a white person goes on a crazy shooting rampage, the question is always "WHY?!?" There's a desperate need to know how this person, this murderer, wasn't helped, was underserved, was wronged. When a person of color sounds angry? There is no seeking of empathy, no looking for motivations, no seeking of ultimate causes.

An elderly black man yells at a cop. "He's crazy and mean and angry for no reason."
A cop shoots an unarmed child in the back. "Oh, he was scared."

You who blame victims and protect abusers and murderers?

How can you define "rude" when you applaud savagery?
yeloson: (Default)
I came home to see the roommate watching some documentary about some surfers who go down to Peru. As I'm cooking dinner, I overhear the narration:

"...They explored the depths of this ancient culture... They took them in, and revealed their magnificent heritage to them... 'We got to see places people don't go to', etc."

Seriously, you can explore the depths of a culture, or be totally taken in and assimilated in a 2 week trip? And of course, who guided you to all these places "people don't go"?

Oh, that's right. Not everyone counts as people.
yeloson: (Oh hell no)
It's really hard to claim victimhood when someone takes a time out and you decide call them mentally ill and in need of therapy.

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