September 30, 2009

I support calling people and things by their right names

Posted in Current events, Human rights, Language at 3:43 pm by The Lizard Queen

A pet peeve of mine is people calling undocumented immigrants “illegals.”  It’s dehumanizing.  Naturally, then, I appreciated this passage from a recent Crooks and Liars post, which goes into more detail on that point, and makes enough really good points that I wanted to reproduce it here in hopes of contributing just a little bit toward making the discussion a bit more… dare I say civil?… and grounded in reality.  The excerpt is fairly long, so I’m putting it below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


I support democracy in Guinea, and elsewhere

Posted in Media, News, Politics at 12:08 pm by The Lizard Queen

A friend of mine has a bumper sticker on her car that says, “I support democracy in Iran.”  Now, obviously I agree with that statement, and I understand her motivations for putting the sticker there.  However, sometimes the trouble with bumper stickers and bumper sticker-style statements is that they can come of as sounding exclusionary.  “I support democracy in Iran” — but what about, say, Honduras, or Taiwan, or Liberia?  I think it’s safe to say that my friend supports democracy in other countries as well, but I can’t help but be reminded of the media coverage of the Iran election and fallout versus the media coverage of election- or democracy-related unrest and violence in other countries.  As other bloggers before me have discussed, it strikes me as problematic.

I thought of the Iran coverage yesterday when I came across an AP article discussing pro-democracy protests in Guinea:

CONAKRY, Guinea – Guinea‘s government said Tuesday it would investigate why troops opened fire on protesters at a pro-democracy rally. A human rights group said 157 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured.

While saying it would investigate, the government continued to maintain that the protest was illegal. It also said far fewer people died than reported.

Hospitals were flooded with patients Tuesday, and the death toll rose through the day.

Presidential guard troops fired on 50,000 people at the main football stadium Monday, shattering hopes that this West African country was shedding the yoke of dictatorship.

Some of those at the rally, upset that a military officer who seized power in a December coup might run for president in January elections, had chanted: “We want true democracy.”

I don’t watch much TV news, particularly since right now we don’t have MSNBC, otherwise I would no doubt be watching Keith Olbermann’s and Rachel Maddow’s shows on a regular basis.  That was true in June, too, though, and I still heard tons about the post-election unrest in Iran.  As far as I can tell, people aren’t talking about the unrest in Guinea the same way, and I can’t help but wonder why not.  I don’t have any firm thoughts on the matter, just vague ideas, the bulk of which were already covered in the Feministe link above.  At any rate, though, I wanted to call attention to this story, and state that my thoughts are with the pro-democracy protestors in Guinea, along with others around the world who are struggling to create or maintain governments of, for, and by the people.

September 25, 2009

The Dalai Lama is a feminist

Posted in Current events, Feminism, Gender issues at 4:33 pm by The Lizard Queen


Given how many people refuse to self-identify as feminists for a variety of reasons ranging from entirely valid (e.g. the feminist movement’s exclusion of women of color) to… questionable, let’s say… (e.g. “aren’t all feminists hairy-legged Birkenstock-wearing man-hating Lesbians?”), it pleases me to no end to hear the Dalai Lama put things so succinctly:

“I call myself a feminist,” said the Dalai Lama. “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”


He goes on to engage in what sounds, at least out of context, like gender essentialism — “The Dalai Lama went to on say that women are more prone to compassion, since they have the responsibility of bearing children” — which y’all know I’m not terribly keen on, but hey, it’s a start, no?

(Hat tip to and image shamelessly stolen from Feministing.)

September 16, 2009

Hump Day Poetry: Toi Derricotte

Posted in Poetry at 3:07 pm by The Lizard Queen

The Weakness

That time my grandmother dragged me
through the perfume aisles at Saks, she held me up
by my arm, hissing, “Stand up,”
through clenched teeth, her eyes
bright as a dog’s
cornered in the light.
She said it over and over,
as if she were Jesus,
and I were dead. She had been
solid as a tree,
a fur around her neck, a
light-skinned matron whose car was parked, who walked
on swirling
marble and passed through
brass openings–in 1945.
There was not even a black
elevator operator at Saks.
The saleswoman had brought velvet
leggings to lace me in, and cooed,
as if in service of all grandmothers.
My grandmother had smiled, but not
hungrily, not like my mother
who hated them, but wanted to please,
and they had smiled back, as if
they were wearing wooden collars.
When my legs gave out, my grandmother
dragged me up and held me like God
holds saints by the
roots of the hair. I begged her
to believe I couldn’t help it. Stumbling,
her face white
with sweat, she pushed me through the crowd, rushing
away from those eyes
that saw through
her clothes, under
her skin, all the way down
to the transparent
genes confessing.

—Toi Derricotte, 1989