jhameia: ME! (Default)
One of my cohort, Bev, moved back to Regina yesterday. I was supposed to go over in the afternoon to get a table from her, but I thought she would call or text me to tell me when she was available, and I sort of didn't notice as the hours went by. When I finally called her, she told me, her apartment was unlocked, and I could go in and take whatever I wanted from there.

I didn't want to go grab a table all by myself, and Allie was coming over to watch Labyrinth, so I hung out and waited.

When Allie got here, we went to Bev's apartment. There're four main corridor entrances, and Bev lived in a different corridor than me, so I couldn't get access to her front door. However, I knew where her kitchen back door is, so that's where we entered. Sun had gone down, so that was a good five minutes groping in the dark looking for a light. It was HILARIOUS. I had a clue of where I was going, but I didn't know where the kitchen light was. Allie was in the hallway groping for a switch, and I had to look for the washroom.

When finally we got a light on, we RAIDED that place, ya'll. LIKE A BOSS. For some reason, because the apartment was so empty, and we KNEW it was unoccupied, that just made the whole venture so much more cooler. It was an exercise in, uh, recycling and re-using that didn't rely on permissions! I took two small racks for my shoe cupboard and storage closet, and blinds.

Basically, Allie and I helped ourselves to free shit and it was AWESOME. We talked extensively about rocking out and raving in the space. There is something about occupying an empty space without outright permission, knowing that it's a liminal space waiting to be legally occupied again.

It reminded me of when I was leaving Halifax, and leaving free shit by the sidewalk for people to just take and use for themselves. There is something about a give-and-take economy, where items get passed around to people who could use them, for absolutely no charge. It seems especially important in a space where people live transiently (like students who have to move around for school) and where people are encouraged to spend more spend more spend more just to make their shelter space livable.

Anyways, I have to throw out my writing table now, which I transported all the way from Halifax, because it's too small and the dining table V left behind for me is probably better. Maybe someone else can fix it up and use it better, because I certainly can't. It kind of sucks how unprepared we generally are to fix things. And how unfixable so many things are.

I hope if I have to leave town, I'll find a place to drop off my stuff where people can pick and choose as they like. I'd like to be able to contribute to an economy of sharing, where notions of property are loose and easy for so many necessities, like tables and chairs, workspaces, food. I mean, I can't easily give up luxuries, like my piano and books, but I can deal with plain furnishings.

Except my bed; I'm so moving with my bed.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Blackamazon started a meme of some sort on Tumblr, with a challenge:

Let’s have a project cause I wanna see something.- Reblog this post.

I want you vision for a more just world in regards to sexual and economic violence the *hot topics* of the hour.

Here are the rules:

- Can’t start with a negative statement- “where we are not” or NO MORE…. nope sorry you have to want something AFFIRMATIVE
- can’t center around who you are taking from- this is about BUILDING so no discussion of anybody but the people you do this FOR
- you have to state one selfish goal out loud
- One of them has to be LOCAL

I am asking to see if I can mobilize all my followers ( I know all 10 of ya’ll will hold me down) to circle it out to this ” SJ ” community and see if our so called leaders and thinkers actually have vision.

You can also reblog this with bets on what happens….

Would be cool to see what folks would answer to this quest for a vision. Copy and answer on your own blog?

Some answers here:
karnythia
elevateddifference
so-true
somewhitenonsense
khamelion
strugglingtobeheard

Cut for my own self-involved answers )

=(

Oct. 2nd, 2011 01:27 pm
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Want a doggie. Can't have a doggie. I move around too much, I have no income of my own, my landlady doesn't like dogs, I'm no good at training dogs.

Sigh.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So, some of you probably know it took me about two years to figure out what it was I wanted to do for my MA degree.

This program is only one year. By the end of August I am expected to be done, completed.

I'm not sure what the project will actually end up looking like. For one, it's a Research Project, so it doesn't have to be a thesis. Will doing a non-thesis thing mean I have less of a chance getting into a PhD program?

My idea is this:
1) Read up on lots of theory (so far, race, postcolonialism, postmodernism, performativity)
2) Do a lit review of early proto-steampunk works (Edisonade, Victorian pulp, Gothic lit) and other writings from the Victorian era in the English-speaking work that deal with the racialized Other (I have a couple of books of missionary stories).
3) Analyse how racialized bodies are written about then.
4) Compare how racialized characters are written now, within the new boom of steampunk lit of the last, oh, 5 years or so.
5) Ideally, end with a general framework for RaceFail Avoidance in Steampunk. Alternatively, embark on a creative writing project of my own (I can do this.)

Still not quite sure how the theory is going to play into this. I'm focusing on the lit, although I've got a couple of recs on performativity theory.

Thoughts?

With all this, I've got to decide at the very least if I'm staying in Canada after my MA. I could go home to figure out my PhD except then I'd have to go through the hassle of moving my shit all the way across the world. I could try to stay here to find a job, although I'm not sure as what (maybe a lecturer... I kinda think I would do okay with that; but I might score a lecturing job at home too).

My dad wants to go cycling in Belgium in September, since my flight will take me through Amsterdam Schipol. So I gotta figure out what's going to happen to my stuff here and how long I'll be gone for.

I just had the idea of maybe analysing South East Asian myths and folklore. Not just Malay literature, but also comparing with myths and folklore from other SEA countries too, to see how they compare, similarities and divergences. The thing is, I don't know what they would fall under? And I have zero background in that kind of ethnographic type stuff.

I would eventually like to return to Malaysia.

Anyways, that's thinky thoughts for now.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
It's time to look for a grad school.

Seriously.

Stuff I'm looking at:

McMaster University - Cultural Studies and Critical Theory MA
Looks pretty funky and this year's subjects are stuff I'm actually interested in. No guarantee they'll be offering the same courses next year but I'll take a shot.

University of Alberta - Comparative Literature, in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies
Steampunk Scholar is actually doing his doctorate here, under this degree. He told me that from what he's seen of my writing, I'll fit right in. I'm not sure I can handle learning another language. I'm horrible with languages unless I take it really slow.

University of Toronto - Collaborative Masters in Asia-Pacific Studies
This looks really cool except I'd have to pick a "home department" (only one of which I'm interested in: Women's Studies). I'll think on this. May not happen though.

ETA
Wilfred Laurier University - MA in English
The faculty looks pretty awesome.

University of Hawaii Manoa - MA in English
So does this faculty staff. Interestingly, they have a MA CW program in which students can take on a CW project and then undergo questioning on how their CW project fits into their research. ... Which admittedly sounds like my cup of tea! Description: Students in Creative Writing complete their M.A. with a creative thesis, which they are then asked to place, in their oral thesis defense, within the context of other works in the same genre.

IS THAT NOT AWESOME?

Suggestions for other schools are also welcome.


What I'm looking to do:

I'd like to stick to my English Lit roots of engaging critically with text, although this time, I'll be looking at it from a more SEA perspective. Part of this includes:

1) I'm a bit confused/miffed at the whole "post-colonialism" thing, because it assumes that there's a "colonialism" period (which there totally is!) and if post-colonialism is important, why not colonialism? I ask this because we all know, in colonial countries, that the colonizers have left an indelible mark, and it seems remiss to not explore the voices of the colonized from that time period.

2) The intersection of race theory within Western discourses and how race is explored within most western literature, if at all. If it isn't what does the silence say? If it is, what is said about it?

3) The manifestations of race within current literature, particularly scifi/fantasy and their subgenres. This may end up being a project of mine cataloging stuff, and it's totally being written about now, but I'd like to explore this from a more academic PoV.

In fact, a syncretization of all of these topics would probably end up happening, because I can't really deal with one without dealing with the others.

This bears more thinking.

ETA: Any suggestions on what would be better - course-based MA or thesis-based MA? I kinda... want to do both. But I'm not sure I'd be allowed to.
jhameia: ME! (Totes Me!)
So, today, I read an essay in Yes Means Yes (which you should totally read), and it was about a WoC radfem who found herself in an abusive relationship, the relationship she'd promised herself she'd never be in, and she wrote about how for all her theorizing, for all her politics, her sense of logic, for all her reasoning, it would never have helped her break the vicious pattern of violence in her life, because that sort of detachment does NOT help anybody deal with pain. Pain that is here and now, pain that is raw, pain that is real.

Couple of quotes:

"I had to walk down a path of self-destruction to be able to see how little it mattered how far, intellectually and politically, I had developed myself. My analysis was still so emotionally empty that it had allowed me to become a wommon I despised."

"We've learned too well to become good theoreticians, but have not learned to be good practitioners of what we preach. When ideas from books become only that and don't translate themselves into our lived realities, at best we've become disingenuous, and at worst we've become dangerous and destructive to the ideas of the movements to which we adhere."

I've been thinking a lot lately about suggestions made by well-meaning friends about my tone and how I should be talking to people. I've been told that it's better to be objective about stuff than to get emotionally caught up, because it's only when you're being objective that you can say, for certain, you're right.

I just couldn't agree, but I couldn't express why. And I still don't think I can express it properly.

It's so easy for me to sit back and theorize about stuff. But for some reason, lately, I've been letting it get to me. I sit at my desk and I read a horrible report about someone getting killed due to some kind of -ism and I cry and cry and cry.

And for some reason, I think it's necessary. I think it's so necessary to confront the pain and the awfulness, with this primeval emotion deep inside, because people get hurt, and the pain is real, and if we don't feel it for ourselves, if we don't let it "get to us", then how do we know who we're fighting for? How do we know we're truly, totally, in it for the cause? Which, in the end, is for the people anyway?

So yeah, still having a good long think on it.

ETA: Found this awesome quote elsewhere:

"It's not necessary for every single utterance to be precise, scientifically accurate, academically rigorous, and polite. While one might think that calm, rational, well-articulated utterances are more effective than angry rants, when it comes to challenging privilege, activists can tell you that doesn't actually tend to be the case. That's why activists often use more agitating tactics like strikes and protests and sit-ins -- because sometimes that's what you have to do to get anyone to listen to you."

Although I'm not coming at this at an activist angle.
jhameia: ME! (Totes Me!)
Blogger appears to have a "scheduled posts" option now, which means I can stuff posts as I please there and they'll appear over the course of a few days, rather than a post-dump on a single day.

Which is sort of driving me to its arms, in terms of blogging activisty stuff. Currently I use my Blogger account for my modeling, but I don't actually update much for it to really matter.

There are times when I want to make a LOT of posts (I'm talking upward of five posts, each with a pretty heavy thought) but I refrain because I don't want to overwhelm other people's f-list. And then I forget I thought about them, and I end up not writing them out, and they dribble out of my brain as quickly as they come in.

I wouldn't stop posting here, of course, but it'll be mostly the personal stuff, like random happenings at work, or What I Ate With Alicia And Elie. Now, of course, the personal is political....

However, part of blogging is taking into consideration one's audience. Just as I add you guys because I'm curious about your lives and thoughts, I assume you've added me because you're interested in stuff I have to say. Would you guys miss it if I stopped posting as much feministy-politico posts? Might you pop over to wherever I've moved, even occasionally, to check what else I've written? Or would it simply not matter as you hand it over to me as it's "my choice"? (one of the first things we learn in a writing class is that the audience matters just as much as author intention, if not much more...)
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
There is a qualitative difference between the Pussycat Dolls and Aishwarya Rai.

Really.

Here're the Pussycat Dolls. They dance awesome. I like it. It's out there and intense, yeah. This is one of their better ones, in my estimation. There are certain things which annoy me:

- The insertion of a male person in there who exists to ogle the PCD and show how awesome they are
- Shoes on the roof of a car (not sure why this bugs me but it does)
- Hypersexuality

However, I still love the dance sequences, and frankly, I don't think there's enough of dance sequences going on in their music videos - they're REALLY good dancers and I get visceral pleasure out of watching people dance like that. It makes me wish I could too.

Here's Aishwarya Rai. And I'll embed because I can and because she's awesome:



Now, obviously the sequence is different because this is in the context of a movie, so it doesn't shift around as much, but still, Ms. Rai works it. Now, there is the question of where the Male Gaze comes in here (note that there isn't a single male in the scene). The audience of the movie? Maybe. Certainly the dancers dress down enough for it. But because the sequence is nothing but dancing, I get the feel that we're supposed to be awed, not by Ms. Rai's very nifty sexiness, but by her dance virtuousity. She's still sexy, but it's a fun kind of sexy, whereas the PCD's sexiness feels like a power play, trying to grasp at whatever they can by blowing their sexuality out of proportion. PCD's dance sequences feel like they cater to the Male Gaze only, whereas Ms. Rai feels... more inclusive, more inviting to the female watcher to also have fun because anyone can dance like that, given enough practice.

That, and I like billowing skirts.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
So it occurred to me after doing some heavy-duty reading at Hugo Schwyzer's (and finally connecting some dots with other feminist blogs as well) that crying is apparently gendered female in this part of the world (North America).

Which isn't my experience.

When I was about eleven years old, my dad got mad at me for some reason, and found that I had opened a new can of condensed milk while having not yet finished the last can which still had some condensed milk mixed with water that I had intended to mix in with my morning drink a few mornings previous.

This was in the days when my dad was, when pissed off, easily abusive and The Scariest Person On Earth, and he shoved the can into my face, demanding that I drink it right there and then, and me being me and not seeing what the big deal was except that my dad when PISSED OFF is fucking scary, I started crying and dropped the can.

My mom happened to come into the kitchen then, demanding to know what had happened, and my dad snapped his explanation at her. Since she agreed, she took one look at me and said, "stop crying like a baby. You should be ashamed of yourself, crying like that."

So, growing up, the cultural cue, at least in my family, was that crying was a baby thing, something one only does when one doesn't have the reasoning faculty to realize that crying looks embarrassing and, well, childish. (OK, actually I don't know what the reason behind being ashamed at crying was.)

But thinking it over, it could have been altogether possible that crying was simply not an option for anyone unless it was something seriously upsetting (like the death of a family. Being peeing-in-your-pants scared of your parents was not a reason to cry) - TV dramas had both men and women crying at their vulnerable moments, but crying was seen more as a result of weakness or extreme burden than anything gendered.

So, fellow Malaysians (or generally, fellow Asians), agree / disagree? What do you think?
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I decided a long time ago that if I got pregnant before being ready to have a child, I'd have an abortion. Yes, I'm on birth control. Yes, I'm not currently in a sexual relationship. Yes, I've never been raped and my chances of that are (relatively) low. However, any number of circumstances can be in place and I could still end up with a child, and if I really couldn't have a child then, I'd have an abortion.

I also decided that if an abortion was impossible, for whatever reason, I would never give up my child. I've always had this fear of this new human growing up in me, and then giving birth to it and knowing what it looks like -- and then having it taken away from me and I wouldn't know what happens to it after that.

Which is why whenever pro-lifers talk about adoption as the best option for expectant mothers who cannot keep their child, I get a bit antsy deep inside. I couldn't express why. Only that I knew that I could never give up an unwanted child for adoption. Which is why I'm such a strong proponent for abortion - I don't get to resent a child I never wanted, the child never gets to resent me; I don't ever get to wonder what happens to the child I never wanted but still care about anyway because well, fuckdammit, I carried the critter for NINE MONTHS and anybody who thinks that's a piece of cake can shove said cake up their arse; the child never has to wonder about their own origins and about me.

At Shakesville, there is a post which everyone should read. It is an anonymous post by a birth mother who gave up her child several years ago.

And has never gotten over it.

The birth mother is a very rarely considered viewpoint in the adoption angle of many prolifers - often it's just about handing off the baby to a family that wants the child, just so the woman wouldn't get an abortion. Very rarely do they care about what happens to the child and the woman after the adoption process is done. It's generally a viewpoint that adoption agencies tend to hide from prospective adoptive parents, because it raises many ethical issues about adoption.

In abortion, the possible suffering burdens only one person: the woman getting the abortion.

In adoption, the possible suffering burdens several: the birth mother, forced to relinquish her child and in many cases never knowing what happens after that and spends YEARS wondering; the child who may or may not have issues with their adoptive status; the family who has adopted the child, who has to live with the knowledge that their joy in life has come at the expense of another person's suffering.

It also doesn't help that for many birth mothers, the ONLY counselling they'll possibly get runs along the lines of: "You did the right thing" "your child is in good hands" "you'll get over it" "you can have another one".

I've been considering the idea of children as commodities in our societies today, and I can't help but feel that this angle is terribly important to the overall idea - that to many who have never given up, never been in that position, it is so easy just to give up a child for adoption, as if it were a kitten or a simple possession. We forget that that child is going to grow up a human being, with agency, sensitivities and all other issues involved in being human. Sooner or later the child will question their origins.

We don't own our children, our children own us. People say this about cats, but look, a fucking cat can't really compare to a child that will, under our guidance, grow up to become a part of our society - the onus is on us to deliver to society a well-adjusted adult who is capable of empathy, community and contribution. A child is of us, yet not ours.

Because I can't keep talking about this since I need to go to bed, I'm going to copy-paste some excerpts. Hopefully you'll be tempted to go read the whole thing yourself.

Post-adoption counseling turned out to be focused on getting yourself together enough to make yourself a new Christian baby so you could be a good Christian wife and mother. I kept getting the same thing. What if you don't want to have a New Baby (tm), or can't? Or you're not religious? And why the fuck are actual babies so disposable that you're expected to get over it after a suitable period of mourning (i.e., till you get a good Christian husband) in the case of adoption? It's odd how this does not apply in the case of aborting a blastocyst, when you're expected to wall yourself into a tomb away from decent society and gnaw on the bitter bones of your own despicable evil. Bad woman. BAD.

...

I'd also like to point out that every time I mention the adoption in public (including the Net), one of these things invariably happens:

1: metaphorical pat on the head: "you did the right thing", which helped at first, but rapidly came to sound amazingly condescending. Nobody asked me if I was doing okay or anything like that, ever, even though I quite spectacularly wasn't.

2: "what kind of a woman gives up her BABIES?!" - this is always said by exactly the kind of people I don't want to be having a conversation with in the first place.

3: "don't worry, you can have another one" - would people say this to a parent whose child had just died? That's what giving one up feels like.

4: a lecture on the evils of abortion, which seems grotesquely out of place in this context, and inevitably makes me turn extremely vicious in real life. I can pretty much guarantee that talking about the downside of being a birth mother on the Net will bring out at least one, regardless of where on the Net it's posted.

...

Adoption fucked up my head far worse than abortion. I've googled over the years about the psychological aftereffects of giving up a baby, and what little I found is astonishing. Depression and suicide rates ridiculously high, comparable to PTSD - and beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is no way you can cook any post-abortion trauma study to come anywhere near post-adoption trauma levels. Strange how peer-reviewed studies on this are damn near non-existent; strange how nobody mentions any of this when it's not just your mind on the line, but also that of your kid or kids (more on that later).


Also, read the comment thread, because there are some heart-wrenching stories. In particular this one made me break into tears:

"When I met him, I told him that it was like standing on a railway bridge, late at night, halfway across the span, when you realize there's a train coming, and no way to escape. So you fling the baby wildly out into the night and hope that he lands somewhere soft."

And another from a different perspective, that from an observer of the pain:

"I was training as a midwife at the time, and she was sitting in one of our clinic rooms, wailing. She had milk leaking out of her breasts, lochia coming out of her vagina, and her ankles were still swollen from her nine month pregnancy. She had previously worked out an agreement with the adoptive parents to have an open adoption, but I don't think it was going to still be an option, since she was frantically calling them over and over, and sleeping in the hotel parking lot where they were staying with the baby in her car. She sobbed to me, saying "They told me not to get an abortion! No one told me how hard this was going to be!" I wanted to say "I wish you had asked me first," but of course that was not productive then, and I didn't say it."

Another observer:

"So my friend, still half doped by the drugs they had given her, signed what she believed was a semi-open adoption for the baby she delivered. Still reeling from the realization of what happened, she believed that she would be able to know this child somehow, receive pictures and updates. She was deeply depressed, down on herself for not knowing, and grasping at straws trying to find a way to cope w/ a secret she could tell no one, all while trying to figure out a way to find a relationship w/ this baby and his new family.

The agency her mother contacted told her a few months later that she had in fact signed a closed adoption, and I can't believe for the life of me that someone still on drugs in a hospital can be expected to make permanent, legal decisions. Even though she was in no position to raise a child, she just wanted contact in a quasi-anonymous way, hoping that someday the shock of who she was to him wouldn't be so harsh b/c she would be a familiar face. She was shut out faster than a blink, and left w/ no one to talk to (except apparently me), b/c in the end, she was forced to keep a secret out of shame."

A quick comparison between abortion and adoption, this one's up for discussion:

"Remember: 'adoption' is an alternative to 'safe, cheap and legal abortion' like a snorkel tube is an alternative to a skateboard. They are just two very different things that don't substitute for one another at all."

A very snarky, but spot-on criticism of the criticisms that all parties involved get:

"Everyone seemingly is just expected to forget. Adopted children are criticized for not forgetting they were born to another. Adoptive parents are expected to forget they didn't do the birthing themselves (yeah right!). Parents who give children up are expected to forget they ever had a child, get over it, gone and done with. This entire system lacks compassion."

Here's a radical thought I'd never considered before this:

"***ADOPTION ABORTS MOTHERS!*** It saves the baby and throws the mother away with the bath water, like the wrapping on a gift. And, it ABORTS, destroys and severs FAMILIES...often for no decent reason. Adoption should only occur when there is no one in the entire extended family of kin who are willing and able to provide safe care for a child. And even then, there are alternative ways to provide that care without destroying the family/ kin ties.

Adoption enslaves the children it purports to help by teated them forever as second class citizen in about 45 of our 50 states - disallowing them the same access to their own birth certificate as non-adopted citizens take for granted. If it's such a wonderful thing to be promoted, why is it STILL shrouded in secrecy and lies?"

(And she's right too... which is why I think the nuclear family model is such a failure, and the worst thing that came out of the Industrial Revolution. Yes, let's isolate a couple and make them raise their child themselves without benefit of extended familial support. This model works for uncaring capitalist companies that find it convenient to have workers that can be mobile and are willing to move across the country, away from aforementioned family support, and the parents are literally bound to their jobs in order to provide and care for their children. It's a tough system.)

There're so many things to consider in an adoption, but I'm more convinced than ever that adoption isn't really the shiny alternative to abortion that pro-lifers seem to think it is, because in the end, it still disregards the pregnant woman and denies her her agency, her choices, her life.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
There's half a ton of debate out there (as well as a media circus) about the woman who had an IVF procedure with EIGHT embryos and all of them resulted in pregnancy.

Fishy things about this?

- She already has 6 children.
- One is a special-needs child.
- She's recently filed for bankruptcy.
- She's basically relying on the support of her family.
- She claims she didn't know that all eight embryos would take in this procedure, but having conceived several more times before through the same procedure, surely she would have realized it was possible to end up with eight babies?

I'm trying very hard not to pass judgement on what she's doing with herself: it IS her body, and it's her business what she does with her body. Just as every woman has a right to an abortion, so should every woman have a right to motherhood.

And then I think about Somel in Herland's response to Van's question about criminal types having children in that country, and when she replies that those women weren't allowed to raise their children, Van says, "I thought motherhood was for all of you."

"Yes, motherhood, maternity, the right to bear children. But raising children is left to our highest artists," comes the answer.

Which is how I feel in this case - a woman has the prerogrative to keep or dispose of an embryo as long as it is within her body and mostly a biological parasite. However, once it is OUT, a child is a life now (albeit a financial, psychological, emotional parasite until it becomes more independent), to which society must be responsible. (That's why pro-lifers are annoying... for them it's just the pregnancy that matters, and beyond that, they expect the woman to be on her own - or preferrably with a man - to raise the child.)

This woman's not exactly in a country where children are very highly regarded (except as methods of social control) - maybe if she was in a country more like Herland where each child could be guaranteed of the best possible start to life because the entire country is geared towards caring for the next generation, this situation wouldn't sound so awful as it does.

But as it stands, I find her incredibly irresponsible to have so many children without being completely capable of providing for them, short of publicity (similar to the Duggars) - not for what she's done with her body, but for her existing children. However, her choice has been made, and there will be eight more little children in the world to consider.

And the rest of the media and public stares a-goggle as if it were a freakshow, rather than a situation to be taken seriously, pointing fingers and blaming her for being the crazy one. And I want to know what crazy IVF clinic she went to that implants EIGHT embryos under the assumption that only ONE will take. Here I thought they implanted at most two or three, not EIGHT.

I think we forget how true the old adage "it takes a village to raise a single child" is.

I hope some kind people pitch in and help her out. I don't think it'll happen, seeing as she's a single, unmarried WoC. Still, I hope her kids grow up okay. It's really hard to raise children in today's world, much less a large family like that.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
I'm also recovering from a fever. Normally I wrap myself up, crank up the heat and go to bed to sweat and break the fever, and then I'm okay. I broke the fever last night, I think.

First few days in villages so darn small you can't find them on the map )

A bit about squat toilets )

Hot Springs Awesomeness )

Yang Shuo, and consumer whoredom )

Guilin, and general temperature misery )
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
Here's my full response to the AP reporter. You can find the article here.

The reporter was initially attracted to my blog by way of this post.

Clickies to read! )

Thoughts, criticisms, comments?
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
So last night I was writing to an AP reporter who wanted some commentary from me on how Obama winning would affect other countries, especially mine. I answered the best I could, because in no way can I speak for my country, especially since our racial politics are much different than America's.

This morning while at work I had it open to CNN's page waiting for the state ballot initiatives come in. The numbers weren't looking good. But not all the precincts had reported in, so I was willing to give Americans the benefit of the doubt. Surely they wouldn't allow personal "ew yucks" to make them vote away the rights of others. That would betray the fundamental core of American values.

But they did. Oh god they did. They used their democracy, that ideology meant to bring out the best in people, to hurt others, their own neighbours, and possibly their own kin, their own fellow Americans. They made their message to homosexual Americans clear: you're not human enough in my eyes to have this right to marry.

Right now, my heart aches for my LGBTi friends in America who have essentially been told that they're not human enough to deserve the basic right to marry and have children to have, hold and raise.

From Feministe's Thomas:

Today is a day of both triumphs and disasters. When we went to bed last night, We were not saved, if maybe a little more than We had been the day before. And this morning We are more broken than We were when We went to bed. But today as yesterday, We fail, and We fall short, and We do the wrong thing, and our country is broken. So I’m not celebrating. And that the ways We fail often benefit me personally isn’t a comfort — it’s a rebuke of my complicity. Every day I benefit from it I cheat people who’ve never wronged me; who I’ve never met.

I’m going downstairs now to the drugstore near my office, and I’m going to get some black electrical tape, and I’m going to wear it over my wedding band, and I’m going to tell people that what happened is wrong. I need to do whatever I can to fix this, so that when my kids are old enough to ask, I have a better answer than “No We Can’t.”



This morning, while watching CTV News, one of the reporters asked, "are the Secret Service taking extra measures to protect president elect Obama?"

It reminded me of the cold hard truth that Obama may be the first black president in U.S. history, but that in no way renders racism null and void. That it was the collective votes of all persons of colour (white, yellow, black, brown, etc) getting together to vote, and whether or not we like it, there still is a demographic of racist white people who will do everything they can to hold others down.

From Tim Wise, guest-blogging at Racialicious:

And so it is back to work. Oh yes, we can savor the moment for a while, for a few days, perhaps a week. But well before inauguration day we will need to be back on the job, in the community, in the streets, where democracy is made, demanding equity and justice in places where it hasn’t been seen in decades, if ever. Because for all the talk of hope and change, there is nothing–absolutely, positively nothing–about real change that is inevitable. And hope, absent real pressure and forward motion to actualize one’s dreams, is sterile and even dangerous. Hope, absent commitment is the enemy of change, capable of translating to a giving away of one’s agency, to a relinquishing of the need to do more than just show up every few years and push a button or pull a lever.

This means hooking up now with the grass roots organizations in the communities where we live, prioritizing their struggles, joining and serving with their constituents, following leaders grounded in the community who are accountable not to Barack Obama, but the people who helped elect him. Let Obama follow, while the people lead, in other words.

For we who are white it means going back into our white spaces and challenging our brothers and sisters, parents, neighbors, colleagues and friends–and ourselves–on the racial biases that still too often permeate their and our lives, and making sure they know that the success of one man of color does not equate to the eradication of systemic racial inequity.

So are we ready for the heavy lifting? This was, after all, merely the warmup exercise, somewhat akin to stretching before a really long run. Or perhaps it was the first lap, but either way, now the baton has been handed to you, to us. We must not, cannot, afford to drop it. There is too much at stake.



The reporter last night asked me how this would reflect on racial polity in Malaysia - would it inspire it? Would Obama's presidency inspire Malaysians to look at their politics and identify the racism within? My answer was more complex than he probably wanted, but for more, this election was more than race - it was about the civil right of women to claim control of their bodies, and it was about the civil rights of LGBTi to be able to partake in an institution that comforts, consoles, and inspires many.

Frankly? In Malaysia, we haven't even STARTED to talk about either of those yet. We don't talk about abortion rights - we don't even want to acknowledge the existance of sexuality. We don't want to talk about gay rights - we prefer to mock Anwar Ibrahim's indiscretions, as if anal sex was a dirty little secret that we should all point and laugh at. We're hardly fucking touching these issues, and frankly? These are the two issues which are more dear to me than the issue of race in Malaysia. And I'm sure f-listers of mine are frustrated with Malaysia's glossing over of other issues important to them, too.

But America, we are watching, and your petty squabbles lead the way for the rest of us. I'm going to take the lessons I learnt from watching arguments on Feministe, Feministing, Pandagon and Shakesville, take them home to Malaysia, and set about trying to educate away the racism, sexism and homophobia of those unlucky enough to cross me. America is a huge country and all these people are connected through various communities, grassroot organizations, campaigns, and other whatnot that amounts to so many teaspons working their way through the large pile of oppression that has been building for centuries.

If any of my fellow Malaysians are reading this blog, I want to hear from you: would you bother wielding a teaspoon with me to clean our own waterworks? Or is it too hard, and we should just move away to places which would appreciate us more? And for good measure: Did Obama's win affect you at all?
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
h/t to [livejournal.com profile] eiko82 for this interesting vid. I think I'll head over to Video Difference and see if they might have the first season.



It's a series on human trafficking, and it's got a pretty impressive scope: covers several countries, several nationalities, and it's multi-lingual (and by multi-lingual, I don't mean has a couple of commonly-spoken language, I mean, this has a whole slew of them). It seems to be pretty drama-intense and might be worthwhile to watch.

What I AM leery of, however, is that often people paint the sex industry and human trafficking with the same brush, like they're inextricably connected. This leads to a reviling of the sex industry as a result of its unfortunate links to human trafficking, and lends to the idea that prostitution and the like should be banned in order to stop human trafficking. Which would be wrong, since human trafficking is about treating humans as objects (literally), whereas the sex industry, at its best, is about the sale of sexual services under controlled conditions where all participants (producers, providers and consumers) are satisfied with the transaction. (And sex workers don't even get that, which is such a pain.)

In my humble opinion, human trafficking can only be stopped with the following wide-scale overtures:
- treating human beings as human beings
- giving victims voices, agency, advocacy and resources so they don't get taken in by traffickers
- enabling families to earn a fair living wage
- encouraging clients / john / consumers of sex services to ensure they are not buying the services off traffickers.

Unfortunately, all these require full-scale attitude checks and thorough education... possibly a bit of brainwashing too. However, I have a blog, and I have a voice, and an opinion, and I can use these to open minds to these possibilities.

I invite anyone else to come weigh in on the subject of human trafficking.

Oh, and don't forget, Haligonians, VALERIE SCOTT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTION OF THE SEX PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, IS SPEAKING TOMORROW! 7PM, ITALIAN CULTURAL CENTER. FREE. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
It was all over the newspapers - the sordid details of the murder, the biography of the victim, the profiles of the murderers.

I was 14 and didn't quite grasp what was truly awful about it. I knew it was horrible because a young person had died - I didn't understand why. As I grew older and became more informed on gay rights, homophobia, and the bullshit excuse that is "gay panic", deaths of young gay people at the hands of blind hatred began to mean more to me.

Matthew Shepard's death hovered in the back of my brain, and a thread on Model Mayhem reminded me that today, ten years ago, Matthew Shepard died.

Knowing what I do now compared to what I knew then, the enormity of the blind hatred that kills young people like Matthew Shepard is finally coming to roost in me.

One of the photographers on MM posted this - an article written by a Chaplain from Trinity College. I thought I'd share.

Chaplain's Reflection

I saw on the news today that Matthew Shepard died. He was the 22 year old man from Wyoming who was beaten and tortured and left to die for no reason other than he was a homosexual. This tragic murder has raised a national debate again, the kind of periodic soul-searching our society goes through whenever a crime of hate startles us into awareness. The burning of Black churches, the bombing of innocent people, the death of a shy young man from Wyoming: these events suddenly shake us out of complacency and remind us that fear, prejudice and rage are always the shadows just beyond the light of our reason. And so people suddenly start to speak out. There are voices of outrage and grief. Voices of sorrow and demands to know why such a thing could happen. And predictably, there are also defensive voices: the governor of Wyoming trying to explain why his state has no laws to protect people from hate crimes and the leadership of what is called the Christian "right wing" trying to explain why their national ads against homosexuality don't influence people to commit such violence against gays and lesbians. In the days to come, these many voices will fill our media and the cultural consciousness it imprints until we are once again lulled into the more familiar patterns of our lives, dozing off as a nation until the next tragedy rings the alarm of despair. As the chaplain for our own community, I would like to invite us all to consider Matthew's death in another way. Not through the clamor or denials, not through the shouts or cries of anger: but rather, through the silence of his death, the silence of that young man hanging on his cross of pain alone in the emptiness of a Wyoming night, the silence that ultimately killed him as surely as the beatings he endured.

Silence killed Matthew Shepard. The silence of Christians who know that our scriptures on homosexuality are few and murky in interpretation and far outweighed by the words of a savior whose only comment on human relationships was to call us to never judge but only to love. The silence of well meaning educated people who pretend to have an enlightened view of homosexuality while quietly tolerating the abuse of gays and lesbians in their own communities. The silence of our elected officials who have the authority to make changes but prefer to count votes. The silence of the majority of "straight" Americans who shift uncomfortably when confronted by the thought that gays and lesbians may be no different from themselves, save for the fact that they are walking targets for bigotry, disrespect, cheap humor, and apparently, of murder.

Crimes of hate may live in shouts of rage, but they are born in silence. Here at Trinity, I hope we will all listen to that silence. Before we jump to decry Matthew's senseless death or before we seek to rationalize it with loud disclaimers: I hope we will just hear the silence. A young man's heart has ceased to beat. Hear the silence of that awful truth. It is the silence of death. It is the silence that descends on us like a shroud.

At Trinity, as in Wyoming, we are men and women surrounded by the silence of our own fear. Our fear of those who are different. Our fear of being identified with the scapegoat. Our fear of taking an unpopular position for the sake of those who can not stand alone. Our fear of social and religious change. Our fear comes in many forms but it always comes silently. A whispered joke. A glance to look away from the truth. A quick shake of the head to deny any complicity in the pain of others. These silent acts of our own fear of homosexuality are acted out on this campus every day just as they are acted out every day in Wyoming. Through silence, we give ourselves permission to practice what we pretend to abhor. With silence, we condemn scores of our neighbors to live in the shadows of hate. In silence, we observe the suffering of any group of people who have been declared expendable by our society.

As a person of faith, I will listen, as we all will, to the many voices which will eulogize Matthew Shepard. I will carry that part of our national shame on my shoulders. But I will also listen to the silence which speaks much more eloquently still to the truth behind his death. I will listen and I will remember. And I will renew my resolve never to allow this silence to have the last word. Not for Matthew. Not for gay men or lesbian women. Not for any person in our society of any color or condition who has been singled out for persecution. Not in my church. Not in my nation. Not in Wyoming. And not at Trinity College.


By no means is Matthew Shepard the only one to die of blind hatred... Angie Zapata, for example, was another victim of such a crime.

To be silent against abuses suffered by fellow humans at the hands of others is to allow such hatred to propogate and sow seeds of violence in our societies. To be silent against gentle cruelties tossed carelessly about is to condone unkindness. To accept half-hearted excuses that attempt to justify the enormity of a killing commited by irrational, illogical hatred is to be complicit in the thoughts of the murderer that lead up to the action itself.

Ten years ago, Matthew Shepard died, and it behooves us all to remember why.
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
There's a discussion on Model Mayhem about whether a photographer can reconcile taking nude photographer with being Christian. His girlfriend thinks nudity should be for intimate's viewing only, whereas he celebrates his art as honouring God by showing the temple that is the human body.

My favourite response:

Eve was naked, until a servant of the Devil tricked her into putting clothes on.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
So most people don't like Helena from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream - she's kinda whiny, and a bit pathetic because she keeps following Demetrius around, and even tells Demetrius about Hermia and Lysander running off because she thinks he'll be indebted to her after that (and even HE asks her why she's in love with someone who hates her, although he doesn't actually hate her that much).

Anyways, at some point, Demetrius is like, all pissed off because she keeps trailing him in the forest, having followed him there, possibly because she thinks since they're now alone he HAS to pay attention to her, and because she just can't leave him alone, and maybe she thinks she can help take care of him in the omg-dangerous-forest.

So, in general, it's a pretty not-so-great situation (this is a comedy, so it's not really a BAD one, I guess), and Demetrius warns her about her reputation and the general danger she's in being alone in the woods with a man, and she tells him, basically, I trust in your goodness enough that being around you is a good thing, and when he threatens to run away and leave her to be eaten by, I dunno, monsters in the woods, she says, none of them are as bad as you, and anyway, even if you DO run, I'll chase you anyway.

Finally, he says, keep following me, and "I'll do thee mischief in these woods" - which we're, I guess, supposed to take it for a threat of rape. And she replies, oh, you're already doing that wherever I am.

And he runs away. Because the plain fact is, women aren't supposed to be so open about their love and sexuality, and he's punishing her for her honesty (because girls have cooties; they're much better when they're sexless and uninterested).

This bit used to bother me, because it seemed kind of extreme for Demetrius to threaten rape - he never appeared to hate her that much, and it all seemed a bit of a hollow threat since he basically runs off after making it. Maybe men really do hate women.

So it bugged me, until last night I was thinking about this bit for some reason, and I thought, maybe I'm focusing too much on what Demetrius is saying. What if I reframed the situation and thought about it with a focus on Helena's words?

And what IS she saying/doing, that makes Demetrius run the hell away like he does?

A few things hit me first:
She's not taking "no" for an answer. This is, obviously, a no-no for women, because we're supposed to acquiesce to whatever men want. It's creepy when men do it. It's supposed to be comical when women do it, but while the audience is laughing, Demetrius is running the fuck away!!

And then, she's CHASING HIM IN THE WOODS. She's making it really clear that whatever it is about him she wants, she wants it, and bad. I dunno about complaints today young men make about women never making the first move, but in this situation, Helena IS making the first move, and Demetrius finds it intimidating and he's running away! (Is it any wonder why women don't? Our traditional literature tells us not to bloody do it.)

'Scuse me while I repeat myself: she's CHASING HIM IN THE WOODS! She's TOTALLY blowing away traditional myths: "The story shall be changed: / Apollo flies and Daphne holds the chase..." which is an interesting comparison, because Daphne runs from Apollo because she's chaste and he's, well, he was being a horny asshole (some retellings credit this to Cupid firing him with an arrow, but let's not absolve him of responsibility), and let's face it, even today there're still conservatives which encourage children to die instead of 'allowing themselves to be raped'. It's a sign of commitment to the concept of chastity. Because, you know, when a penis enters a girl, suddenly she's soiled beyond repair. (And for this women are punished; if a penis is so corrupting, why aren't we castrating more men?)

And here is Helena, who is being threatened with rape, and she flings it back with something along the lines of "you can't rape the willing, and besides, you don't actually want me, so even if you did, who'd be raping who now, big boy? Hur hur!"

Confronted with this baffling lack of control over her, of course Demetrius runs away.

And Oberon, impressed by Helena's assertion of her desires to make her story go her way, helps her out. Hilarity ensues.

Thoughts?

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