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Friday, 5 December 2014

Why I am disappointed with Carlos Latuff

16:10 Posted by Afro Latina , , No comments


So cartoonist Carlos Latuff has declared war on Radical Feminism. Well, for a myriad of reasons I try not to expect much from men, anyway. But I must confess I feel pretty hurt with the news that I saw with my very own eyes, today. 


It saddens me that I have to write this post. Here is the cartoon he drew earlier in the day. In it, he claims there is two types of feminism. One, supposedly a "good" one, where women fight against patriarchy, and the "bad" feminism, which happens to be radical feminism, that wants to destroy men. 

Note he didn't even draw a different woman to represent his version of "radical" feminist, maybe because in the end he just sees us as being all the same.

But what exactly triggered a man who is well-known to take a stand for the oppressed, being vocal about the injustices that go on in Palestine and supporting leftist causes and revolution? It appears to me that the answer is quite simple: the possibility of having his male privilege tainted. That's the only possible reason, in my humble opinion. The whole story behind his reaction is still developing and all I can say is: it involves women being emotionally abused and apparently, there was pedophilia too.


There is this big Brazilian blogger who is also a professor in the United States, his name is Idelber Avelar, and from what I can infer, he is close enough to Latuff to make him go so far as comparing what is going on with the U.S lynchings of black people. Yes, in a big post which can be read in Portuguese here, Latuff resorts to the argument that Avelar, a white privileged male, is being a victim of 'lynching' in the same fashion African Americans were in the 60s. Yep, he went that far. 


Avelar, a self-declared feminist male, apparently has the habit of flirting married women who are NOT in open/polyamory arrangements, because he enjoys laughing on their betrayed men. So much that there is a print circulating in Brazil where he jokes about one such husband keeping his wife at gunpoint upon discovering the affair she had with him. 


There's many tales going around the web and they all reveal a man who is far away from being feminist. It shows a guy who is comfortable in his position of a white privileged male and who is fine with calling women names they are clearly not comfortable with. He is now ranting Brazilian feminists are 'moralists' and whatever he does in his private life should be none of our business. The only problem is, those women got vocal about the issue and collectively created a Tumblr where they expose all the abusive chats they had with the guy. 


I am pretty sure nothing will really happen to him, even though one of the girls he was targeting was only 15 (apparently he gave up on her upon learning her age, but she was already tainted by the aggressive tone of the talks). Also, there was a 17-year-old who actually got to go out with him, they went to a motel together (cultural note - in Brazil, a motel is a place people go to have sex away from their homes, there's all sorts of motels, from very cheap to very sophisticated ones). Getting there he began the unsolicited dirty talk calling her - repeatedly - a whore. She got terrified and asked him to take her back home and he dropped her, not without claiming she was a 'moralist' and cursing her all through. 


Well, I trust those women. I honestly don't know if they took the right course of action, but I am sure something had to be done. Their intention was clearly to raise awareness for such cases, to tell other women that they felt abused and gaslighted by that professor and also that we should all be careful not to idealise the so-called 'feminist men' too much, for we don't really know whether that's only a social mask they are wearing just to attract more women and then have fun at their expenses. 


What I do know is that I am disappointed with Latuff's reaction. I had him in high esteem and somehow feel let down by his arrogant posts. I decided to translate an excerpt from a facebook status update that captures well what is really going on in Brazil (and maybe everywhere else, really): 


"Leftist guys are able to recognize institutional and economic oppression easily. They can spot whenever a rich guy has oppressed a poor one, they can see whenever a boss is a dick with a worker, when a policeman abuses a citizen, they can see economic, racial, sexual orientation and elitist oppression. They know how hard it is to collect evidence whenever the violence has not been physical, when it is symbolical and institutional and they are usually quite contented with the account given by the oppressed. They only fail to analyse class when the class under scrutiny is gender. You are all brothers because you have been socialized into being so, just so you won't review your privileges and therefore lose structural power over women" - Daiane Novaes. 

I really don't know if this post is clear enough, as I am really tired at the moment. All I can say is I am largely disappointed with Latuff's position right now. That is not who I thought him to be. He probably has the best intentions in his mind, like he wants things to be discussed in a civilized manner without the metaphorical lynching of anyone, but let's face it, the guy is talking about misandry, as if that was really a thing. Will men ever be able to honestly, earnestly, sincerely review their privileges?

If you are into reading/translating Portuguese, the whole story can be read here


UPDATE:

Okay, so he apologized. I still find it quite bizarre that a guy like Latuff could not review his privileges before attacking radical feminism in order to defend a white, privileged man who is being accused of pedophilia. I just feel sorry for the whole thing but quite relieved with his latest take on the issue. I just wish this got broader attention, maybe from international media, because it really is something we should be discussing more: are all leftist men gender aware? I'd say no.

Translating here what he said: "Feminism is necessary and relevant, indeed, however aggressive their approach might appear, the Radfems are not the ones who kill in Brazil and in the world, what kills is machismo".

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I don't blame women.

10:48 Posted by Afro Latina , No comments

Today I came across a quote the internet attributes to Amy Poehler, allegedly about women who renounce feminism, and it reads "That's like someone being like, 'I don't really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don't know what I would do without it'."


I took a deep breath and responded to it, and the backlash was immediate. I understand I might have sounded a bit confusing in my discomfort with said remarks, so I decided to blog about it, in order to try to clarify where I stand in relation to this type of argument, which unfortunately keeps popping time and again in many mainstream feminist online pages. 


First off, this is not about Amy Poehler. Her analogy is one in millions, but somehow I had time to argue and now I avail of the patience to try to develop it further, although I am not quite sure I would be able to express everything in one blog post - that's how complex this is. But here, I am a feminist who used to engage in that very type of reasoning, by blogging and even thundering things like "being woman and not supporting feminism is like being black and racist, gay and homophobic, jew and nazi, a cat person who adopts a dog" and so on. 


I did that until someone pointed out to me that I was actually blaming the victims. And I know liberal feminism is particularly attached to the notion of 'agency', but failing to understand why someone does not subscribe to a certain view because it OBVIOUSLY benefits her is, to say the least, arrogant and condescending. Not only it fails to take women who fall outside the category "white-middle-class" into consideration, it also exempts men from any guilt. And I do believe men are the main perpetrators of violence in patriarchy. I wouldn't be a feminist if I thought it is merely half-half. 


That said, I also do need to point out that many people think I just can't argue this is victim blaming, because otherwise I would need to be as compassionate with men, for that's just how both males and females are raised in a patriarchal society. Now it is time for me to inhale and unhurriedly let the air out of my lungs until I am calm enough to say: if that was the case, such quotes wouldn't really exist, they wouldn't be so popular. Their popularity lies precisely in the fact they are directed at women. Apparently, Amy did not have men in mind when she uttered those words, and in all honesty I also didn't when I used to subscribe to such view. That's why I feel it is an oversimplification to assert that the oppressed who agree with the system are part of the problem. 


So I realized it is a counterproductive thing to do in my personal practice and, even though that particular page might be directed at the white, middle-class niche of North America, I do think we need more intersectional considerations before we just go ahead with certain posts. The most obvious reason is, we live in a globalized world where English is the lingua franca and that is reason enough to efface other practices, other points of view that might be of particular relevance to any given discussion. So I think it's a good idea to contemplate whether a quote is important in any context other than that of privileged women, just for a change. 


I also believe my experience is relevant, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it. Like, I clearly remember when I quit straightening my hair. As a black woman, I've been always aware that racism is beyond terrible. However, for over 20 years I tried to disguise the blackest thing about my being, which is my hair, in the name of unattainable beauty standards that somehow benefited me, as I would 'pass' as non-black in many contexts, and even be able to gain access to a job I wouldn't have gotten with natural curls. In other words, my hair feels offensive to many people, and when I decided to love it, a revolution took place in my life. 


However, I grew resented of others who weren't as 'enlightened' as I was, those friends who insisted in ironing their tresses in order to benefit a little from the system. Thankfully, I realized my narcissism soon enough. So today I wouldn't say I cannot understand what it is that makes women of color straighten their hair. Because I do - sadly, I do. I comprehend them well enough to refrain from judging. And I think that's precisely what is missing from feminism. Looking back in time and realizing that maybe those women who 'renounce' feminism are not really different from what I was is essential to keep my struggle humane, I guess.


And let's be careful with lines such as "MRA's use women, homossexuals and people of color who rebuff activism in order to validate their arguments". As militants, we should be able to recognize tokenism well enough to refrain from it. Again, I am not here saying what you should and shouldn't be doing in your activism. I am not a mind colonizer. I just felt I should clarify where I stand in this, and I believe many people would give it a second thought and re-direct their attention to the root of the issue: men oppressing women. 


So this is what I have to say today. I am not denying the agency of women, I am just stating that maybe the limitations patriarchy imposes in such agency make it even harder to engage in facile, black-and-white statements. And again, I fight for women. I acknowledge and celebrate the fact that men can benefit from feminism as well, but today, at this very minute, I want to be with women, embrace them, not judge them, for patriarchy does that all the time. 






Sunday, 30 November 2014

Menstrual cups

19:46 Posted by Afro Latina , No comments


I need to write about something light. Sometimes I feel I am too old school to try certain things. So I take my time, and it means I usually take longer than other people and I presume that is why I hardly ever appear to be acting in accordance to the age I have. From the very moment I understood myself as a person, and that also took a little while more than usual, I decided I would do things in my own time, not in the frame of others. It clearly does not work if you conceive of yourself in capitalistic terms, but if you take profit out of the equation, you realize it actually is liberating, and you then feel good about yourself.


The whole introduction above is just to illustrate my difficulties in starting new things, like creating new habits. I've been struggling to eat better these days, but I realize I have so many deeply entrenched bad habits that eating well is something that would require a gargantuan effort on my part, and I don't know if I am quite ready for that. Isn't it crazy that we are not really ready for things that would greatly improve our lives? There you go, sometimes we just aren't, and there is no point in fighting hard to prove otherwise. On the other hand, if we never fight our comfort zone, we will never reach there and it makes me angry that we need to think in such terms, but it is just true that certain things will only improve with practice. I am not, for obvious reasons, talking about the lives of the workers that never seem to get any better, regardless of how much hard work they put in whatever they are doing. 


Then there is this new trend, which is using menstrual cups instead of pads and tampons. I run a blog with a few Brazilian friends of mine, and one of our most popular posts is about said cups. They are what every modern, environmentally conscious girl seems to be doing right now. I reckon whoever designed that might be floating in an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with money. That idea seems unappealing to me, though. Anyway. There is this cup, and there is me, and the thousands of excuses I have been giving myself in order to avoid it. But you know, we women who bleed, we hear about things. And we want to try them. Because trying new things is what keeps you feeling awesome and a little less preoccupied with your decaying cells and all privileges you are slowly losing due to a clock that won't cease gulping all your milliseconds away. 


I want to try this cup. The main challenge I think I will face is the second day of my menstruation, that one which looks a lot like I am about to drown in my own blood. Because no matter how much my friends assure me that it won't be an issue, I just don't seem to be able to come to terms with going out and having to take that thing out to empty it in some random toilet. In my mind, I go and take it out and throw the blood away. Then, what am I supposed to do with a dirty cup in my hands? Just reinsert it into my vagina? I don't know if I feel comfortable with that idea. I would need to rinse it off somehow and I just cannot picture myself getting out with a cup that will be probably dripping blood and washing it in some sink where other ladies will be probably washing their hands and they would gape their eyes in horror and I don't even wanna think about what would happen next.


I could get two cups, I reckon. That would save me the hassle of having to worry about washing it before I can tuck it in again. Yes, I think I am comfortable enough with two cups, even though I will have to carry a dirty one in my bag. But why is it that we feel blood is so dirty? What's so inherently wrong about touching your body, touching your blood? And why is it that we should spare others the view of our very red fluids? Why can't we all bleed together? 


Well, I've seen some pretty cool art done with menstrual blood. Google it, you might even want to try making some art for yourself. I will probably do that if I get to wear the menstrual cups :D


  

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

They shall not pass - Não passarão!





I should have gotten used to it by now but bigotry makes me feel incredibly sad. Today a guy directed some racially charged abuse towards me and I know that is probably always going to happen not only to me but to many, many people everywhere on this planet but the thing is I feel so sorry for this guy and at the same time the whole thing is representative of such a tragic system that well… sadness is the only thing left to me at the moment.


I suppose this is a very daring thing to do. You see, I am a woman, but on top of being woman, I am also what some would call "of color". So I decide to get out in the open to fight for my rights to have a body. I decide to go fight for the right to be a person, because the way things are today, we women are relegated to a status that is lower than personhood. But then, people see me there, daring to wear a tee with the sound print "MY BODY, MY RIGHTS" in it and I suppose it is too much for them to take, really. Because, if they regard women to a lower status than that of men, to us women of color there is nothing left, really. It was like they were saying "Do you want rights? But you're just an animal, you cannot think". That's precisely what that guy said to me, with other words, obviously. But you know what? I just gotta be strong, and I will keep on swimming, like Dorie from Finding Nemo. Except that I will not forget, and those very words he said to me, I am saving them: there will be some literature. 

And don't worry about me. I will be able to laugh again. I will laugh, I will swim, I will rise. But all this is still very, very unfortunate. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

06:10 Posted by Afro Latina No comments
Just came across this one and its brilliance had me post it here. I cannot believe only now I am getting to see Anton Kennemeyer's work. I'd totally post it to my fb wall but away from social networks for a a while.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

01:06 Posted by Afro Latina No comments
Life is that very moment you download a new operating system and cringe at how stupid developers can be, so you feel like crawling into a dark hole where you could stay forever, with your teethy mouth gaped and your eyes firmly shut, so you could feel the decay of each cell in your body in peace. But then you resign to the fact that said developers are like gods and they actually get to tell you that whatever change they have implemented is an <<enhancement>> and you don't really want to go back to the previous OS because that would feel even more stupid and there is nothing else to do besides being annoyed for a few days and then getting used to it. Why, we tend to get used to shit.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Over sharing

15:38 Posted by Afro Latina No comments




I realize it's been a while I don't drop by to say a word, it is not one of those cases where words went missing from my head, they are still there aplenty, it is just that I cannot usually get out of my state of complete apathy in order to have any sort of clarity and write things down. On the other hand, the longer I stay away, the better I realize that I might never achieve such state of lucidity, so why not stream a bit of my consciousness here anyway? 


This is not a post about anything. I don't want to rant, I don't feel like complaining about stuff, I am not really willing to be self-indulgent and pity myself and then give a tap on my own back and say Girl, you are super cool and awesome and beautiful and great. No, I am past that, I promise. Today I just want to write about nothing special. Like the day I have behind me. 


I've just shared with himself that I spent a good deal of my day plotting the best, cleanest way to end my own life. He gasped in horror and retired to his room, feeling extremely disappointed that I would ever ponder on such baffling topic but it is what it is: I was wondering how I could possibly die without getting too graphic, shocking too much, leaving scars on people. As I was not able to give those three questions a proper answer, I did what I always do whenever such thoughts cross my mind - I muffled them.


I think what separates me from people who actually let go of themselves is that I lack the courage to hurt myself. In short, the what ifs prevent me from being gutsy enough to say enough is enough and just go away. I know I am perturbed, I have always been like this, but the very fact that I am now able to talk about it feels a bit liberating. I want to talk about death. 


The other day I had a brief conversation with a guy at a sauna. I love saunas, they sort of remind me of the heated place I come from, and I am not joking. So there I was, enjoying some heat and thinking about life when this guy starts small talking to me and the conversation was soon to become philosophical. He's probably in his late twenties and has never had a job in his life. You don't miss what you never had, he said. I was mulling over that for a few days and I must confess I have nothing conclusive to say, but I do tend to disagree with his statement, and I am not sure if I will be able to explain myself as I have this maddening ear pain which prevents me from thinking clearly now and I do think the pain is also one of the reasons why I so earnestly wish I ceased to exist. 


But why do I disagree with that statement? In short, I think I've never been really free in my life. I need a parenthesis here, I don't blame anyone. Maybe it's the whole system I was born into. Or maybe it's me. We could even say it's an amalgamation of both. The thing is, I really wanted to be free. I would love to have a life of my own and not have to give anyone any explanation about my actions whatsoever. It's as if I secretly wished the people I love the most did not really exist in my life, and I know it's a rather daunting thing to say, but it's true, and again, they are not at fault. When I look back in time I sort of realize that saying yes to India was actually an attempt at freedom, which did not happen de facto. You cannot be free when your only option in life is to move from the hearth of your parents to that of your husband. Even if they are the nicest and most loving and awesome people alive. This is not about love, it is about independence. 


And that's pretty much what I've been thinking about since I traveled to Portugal in the end of October. I've been contemplating on my ineptitude to be independent, I've been wishing I had the courage to say to myself, loud and clear, that I am enough, instead of being so vulnerable and in need of care. Somehow I got convinced along the way that I am the one people should look after. At some point in my life I was made to believe, not only by others but most importantly, by myself, that striving for a secondary career would be enough. I thought I really did not need a career, because somehow in my mind I would be occupied minding my children (they never came, I am childless, and although English is not my mother tongue I do understand the difference between being childfree and being childless, so I did use the correct term here) and the main income should be that of the man, and what a pathetic human being I used to be. 


There is no point in being consumed by regret, I suppose. My mantra is It could have been worse, after all. I guarantee that I've grown in ways I could have never predicted. The only thing that still keeps my flame flickering is knowing that I am able to empower myself through writing, even though I completely abhor most of what I do, but that's because I am not really keen on myself, so I would obviously hate anything that comes from me, perhaps being infertile is not a bad thing after all. Nature knows I wouldn't be able to cope with a mini-me anyway. What I did not know, until very recently, is that I would probably be happier if I had some sort of independence. 


Do I regret having become a feminist? Not even a tinge. These things happen to shake things up a little. There is a lot I need to deconstruct inside of me. For the time being, I am a bit paralyzed, but I feel I will be able to get to a more lighter state, and it will probably feel unbearable, but I do want to try it anyway. No, I've never had it. But I do know I need it. I want to appreciate people for what they really are, not for what they can provide me with. I think I might be getting to that stage where I finally learn that relationships do not necessarily need to occur in capitalist terms. Although I am pretty much a stray cat who got adopted and now has food and a roof over its head, I am confident I will be able to provide for myself, soon. Perhaps that's the only hope that prevents me from going ahead with the project of killing myself.


The only thing that made me smile today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b6LU-nBzLo