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So... I'm working through the race and ethnicity chapter with my students at the mo', and predictably, several of the white students are turning in reaction papers to me that talk about the evils of "reverse" discrimination. I know that, once upon a time, I read a pretty excellent essay on the term(s) "reverse discrimination"/"reverse racism," and why these terms are egregious and offensive warpings of the way discrimination and racism actually work. But I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it is I read; and an Intarwebz search for the term "reverse discrimination" reveals any number of resources that take the term at face value. Help, anyone?
riot_nrrrd: (Default)
Okay, so, here's the deal.

I'm in a class this semester that is, in essence, made of epic fail. I don't think I've mentioned how much this class fails in LJ before, so let me take a few moments to explain it to y'all.

The class is called "Undoing Gender." And in theory, it's a really great class. It's supposed to be a survey of texts-- both theory and novels-- that explore the limits of mainstream assumptions about gender and sex (i.e., that there are only two sexes, that there are only two genders, that people's gender always "matches" their sex, and so on). And it tries to ask the question of what it means to pose a challenge to this kind of binary thinking-- how the lives of people who challenge these assumptions are affected by them. While we do some general queer theory stuff, there's an obvious emphasis on trans identities, intersexed people, and so on.

In practice, the class does not live up to its promises. I know this is kind of a hilarious assertion to make about a class that prides itself on challenging binaries, but there are two kinds of people in the class. There are people who know trans folks-- people for whom trans people are our friends, our current and former lovers, our family members-- people, in short, for whom these identities have a face, and who believe the questions we ask in this class actually have an impact on real people's lives. Then there are the people who have never met a trans person, for whom they are spectacles on a screen if they have faces at all, for whom "trans" represents a shiny new gender paradigm rather than actual people. ("Trans people" is not one of those categories-- if there are any trans or intersexed people in my class, they have not outed themselves.) Which makes the class particularly awful to sit through: the people in the second group keep flubbing pronouns and generally saying ignorant things, while those of us in the first group are sick of having to teach Trans 101. Again.

One of the things that bugs me personally about this class is that, to the extent that we talk about trans people at all, we talk about them as either a) recipients of medical discourse or b) victims of violence (or, more abstractly, victims of gender paradigms). I'm not saying that these are topics to avoid. Yes, the pathologization of trans identities is a real problem; yes, so is anti-trans violence. But one thing that keeps missing from this discussion is trans people as activists. Trans people as people with agency, as people with voices. And that's what I want to bring to this class.

Thus far throughout the class, I have, at varying points, let slip various things I know about the current wave of trans activism, in small and trickling ways. I have also been using the terminology I have learned through my relationships with trans people and the places where my queer women's communities overlap with trans communities, and have only really begun to realize that my terminology is not that of my classmates'. (Ask me about the offensive glossary one of my classmates gave the class last week. Go on. Ask me.)

Well, I have to give a presentation in class on Thursday, and I've decided to try and present what I know about the current wave of trans activism in a more systematic, thorough way. So I'm trying to think through what I want to tell my classmates-- the new terms I want to define for them, and the activists and issues I want to highlight. And in order to do the best job I can, I need some help with a few questions. So if you can, please look beyond the cut and help me out.

Here thar be questions. )

Thanks so much in advance to anyone who chimes in with answers, corrections, confirmations, and so on. I'm really struggling to put together a good presentation and address the gaps in my colleagues' knowledge in a sensitive but pointed way, and I'm grateful for any help you give.
riot_nrrrd: (Default)
Like most Americans, last week I watched the excerpt from Sarah Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, in which Palin all but admits that she has no fucking clue what the Bush Doctrine is:

And like many Americans (I'd like to also say "most" there, but I'm too cynical to believe that to be true), I find it pretty alarming that the person who, if her doddering old running mate is elected, could literally be one heartbeat away from the presidency, is someone who a) has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is, b) doesn't seem to have any clue that the U.S. government has, of late, literally been overstepping its bounds in Pakistan, c) appears physically incapable of giving a direct answer.

But upon reflection, that is not the only thing about this clip that disturbs me. I also find the way Palin calls Charles Gibson "Charlie" every three seconds really creepy. Not only is it obvious filler, but it strikes me as an attempt at excessive friendliness as a means of deflecting from the issues. It's as if Palin honestly believes that if she successfully turns on that ol' charm that landed her the Miss Congeniality title so many years ago, nobody will ever realize that she has no idea what she's talking about, or that she's a big, scary, neofascist right-winger theocrat who literally believes that most of this country is going to hell in her lifetime.

Besides, the more I watch this clip, the more it reminds me of yet another YouTube classic:



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Revolution nrrrd style now!

May 2010

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