Friday, June 24, 2005

Camping time

Out of town camping this weekend, don't expect anything until at least Sunday evening. In other words, I'm blogging at my normal sporadic pace, but there's actually a reason this time. Other bloggers have been taking requests, if anyone has any questions or subjects for which they'd like definitive answers, leave them in comments. Email them in if you're embarrassed or racist and want to remain anonymous, maybe we'll have enough for more mailbag fun when I return.

Late to the party (again)

I'm way late to the discussion, but in case nobody noticed there's been a lot of posting about rape lately. This is a subject where I usually feel as though my limited capacity to express myself has been exceeded; for a fantastic treatment concerning thepoint of view of the rational male read Ross's essay "I am not my cock." For the record, I'm not Ross's cock either. Read the follow up, too.

Quite a long time ago I dated a woman who had lost her virginity to rape. She was sixteen and had gone to a party at the house of a friend whose parents were out of town, gotten drunk, and passed out in a bedroom. She woke in pain, with some guy she'd never seen before (or since) on top of her. I'd like to say that the fact of her rape didn't affect our relationship, but it did. Not because I felt she bore some sort of taint due to being raped, but because I was hyper aware that she had; for the first few weeks I behaved as though she were made of glass whenever things became sexual. Feel free to discuss in comments how taboos concerning public discussion of sex in general, and rape in particular, create a culture of ignorance which further vicitimizes women who have been raped (please refrain from commenting that rape is a violent act rather than sex, the head-in-ass taboo embraces both as similar).

What got me going on this story was reading Ross's second essay, wherein he describes several incidents of unwelcome sexual advances. While I was reading this (or any discussion of rape) I naturally thought of my ex-girlfriend and how "no means no" doesn't quite cut it in terms of framing issues of consent. The ongoing discussion has very thoroughly introduced and discussed male sexual entitlement in our society, in that context it is criminal that we do not rather say "anything other than an unqualified 'yes' means no," although that wouldn't really fit on a bumper sticker. "No means no" opens the door to animalistic little fucks viewing an unconscious teenage girl as a legitimate sexual opportunity because hey, she didn't struggle or say no. Yeah I'm still pissed, you have a fucking problem with that?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We prefer our vices white

I was watching television last night when I saw a commercial for this local casino. I don't recall the specific language used in the commercial, something to the effect of "non-tribally owned" was displayed on a graphic, but if you refer to the link they describe themselves as "the first Non-Tribal casino in Washington state." That's a slightly less obvious way of saying "not Indian owned" without sending up any immediate red flags, and obviously it works to the extent that local television stations and cable providers run this racially tainted commercial.

For those of you who've missed the early show and don't read the archives, racism directed against Indians is so pervasive and is such an ingrained part of American pop culture that it is frequently accepted without notice.

Imagine a commercial in Georgia plugging a business as "non-black."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Cultural hegemony

Part of my weekend was spent in Barnes & Noble. As one of the many services I provide, when I get bored in a bookstore I wander into the Cultural Studies (or Native American Studies, whatever) section, cull through it for the crap which doesn't belong, and drop it of in a more relevant section (fiction, New Age, whatever).

This weekend I was a little more bored than usual, so I took my finds to the customer service desk, and very politely told the young woman there that all these books had been mistakenly placed in the Native American section of Cultural Studies.

Employee: "I'm sorry, but that's where those books go."
Me: "No, it's not. That's what I'm trying to tell you."
e: "But that's where we have them categorized."
m: "That's why I'm bringing it to your attention. Look at this; "The Education of Little Tree" by Forrest Carter. This is fiction, and the author is not only white, but a segregationist and klansman. How does it get into Native Studies?"
e: "It's about an Indian."
m: "Sherman Alexie's books are about Indians. N. Scott Momaday's books are about Indians. Leslie Marmon Silko's books are about Indians. All those authors are Indians, but you have their books in fiction. You're telling me a white author's fictional book about Indians belongs in Native Studies, but an Indian author's fictional books about Indians go in fiction?"
e: "Um, that's right. Listen, these get assigned by corporate, we just do what they tell us."
m: "And you have no ability to move them from one part of the store to another?"
e: "No, because then our catalog will tell us to look in the wrong place."

Like the BIA in miniature. I understand the poor woman's dilemma, but it's sad and frustrating. As I've said before, there are big problems with perceptions and stereotypes, but when someone maybe wants to find out a little more about Indians they're almost as likely to be presented with fiction or New Age claptrap as genuine accounts.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

You can't spell assimilation without a-s-s.

Same-sex marriage ban becomes law

"Navajos debate traditions and clanship beliefs for the modern era

"WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Increasing the debate on modern-day implications for Navajo traditions, the Navajo Nation Council's June 3 override of the Navajo president's veto on a same-sex marriage ban means the law will go into effect on the Navajo Nation."

I'm not Dine', don't know jack about their internal politics, and of course respect their sovereignty, but this is just sad. Like the overwhelming majority of tribes, historically the Dine' did not discriminate against or reject homosexuals. Fuck.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sitemeter is a harsh mistress

Hey, whoever cruised in here from, I was just kidding. Really.

p.s. - You'll never take me alive.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Flag Day!

I hope all you liberal America haters out there at least have the decency to observe some respect for cultural symbols today.

Fly that flag high.

Monday, June 13, 2005

What's the difference between a woman and a shovel?

There's no punch line to that, Lauren got me going on the joke theme.

Several years ago I read a study of people who'd had the corpus callosum in their brains severed. With no communication between the hemispheres of the brain it was frequently the case that the left hand literally didn't know what the right hand was doing. One of the features of this study was displaying simple commands which would only be perceived by the right brain, something like "leave the room." When the researchers would ask the subjects why they were leaving, they would invariably articulate an actual reason; getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom, grabbing a smoke.

All this is a circuitous means of reaching a simple point, which is that when we try and evaluate cultural traits, there are two things which are generally at work. An underlying functional reason, and what people consciously think they are doing.

Using a real life example, if we ask someone why they oppose abortion they'll probably talk about morality, the sanctity of life, functional illiteracy, and so on. Functionally, what I see thrown out by feminists when they talk about abortion is control of women by men. I don't think that's wrong, but there needs to be an awareness of the relationship between control and the expressions of morality percolating up through the Christian hive mind.

I previously posted very briefly about the distinction between stable foraging societies and growth oriented civilizations. The imperative toward growth in civilizations infects every aspect of our society, where even a stable institution is viewed as stagnant or unhealthy. When we look at views toward sexuality across a variety of cultures we can see how this intrudes into our views on the subject. What we find is that societies who attempt to regulate and maintain stable populations are accepting of both birth control and homosexuality, where populations which are trying to grow themselves tend to reject both (there is a strong correlation between the two).

Christianity grew up within the Roman Empire, and adopted the growth attitude full on. This is reflected in the so-called Great Commission, to go forth and knock on my door early in the morning and attempt to convert me before I've had my coffee. There are two ways Christians can add to their numbers--they can either convert new Christians or spawn them, and the Pope got a solid lock on reproduction by declaring it a sacred duty to reproduce willy nilly. And not be gay.

We've also had the bad luck to see Christianity rise to prominence at the same time the modern idea of history has really developed. Matters have become exponentially more ridiculous now that Christianity is trying to compete with the modern doctrines of history and science; in an effort to do so Christians have attempted to both establish the Bible as objective fact and anchor it temporally. Which is a windy way of saying that it is viewed as not subject to change over time. While we've had partiarchies and the subjugation of women in order to produce more members for thousands of years, it's become a more serious problem now because it's set up to never change.

I should add a disclaimer that I'm really speaking of the fundamentalist brand of Christianity when I'm slopping my broad brush around, I certainly don't have any beef with Christianity per se. While I'm at it I should add another disclaimer that this post is a pretty half-assed attempt to deal with very complicated subjects in the short amount of time my ADD addled brain can handle. Thank you for your cooperation.

Jumping on the Kos pile

By now everyone's read about the latest implosion by Kos. I stopped reading his site a little over a year ago, for a couple of reasons. First was a post he put up after the deaths of the four Blackwater consultants in Falluja:

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries (sic). They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

There was a justifiably huge shitstorm in blogland over this, and Kos's response was to delete the initial post and replace it with a rationalization. Not a retraction or an apology. Everyone has their moments when they pop off and perhaps say something they regret, and while this is a little less forgivable online, where the rule should always be "think twice, post once," it happens. What pissed me off was the deletion and the mealy mouthed attempt to justify the post. If you mean it, fucking own it. If it was a mistake, apologize and move on.

I don't bring this up just to stir up old shit, I just find it particularly ironic that Kos devalues the lives of security contractors by labeling them mercenaries when I'm certain there's a similar dynamic at work in the current situation.

The second incident which soured me on the Kos crowd was a post on the South Dakota Senate race, written by a guest poster. Tim Giago, the founder of Indian Country Today, declared he was going to run as an Independent because he did not feel that Indian issues were receiving the attention he felt they deserved.

Giago seems to be a decent guy who's been widely honored for his journalism and advocacy on issues important to Native Americans. But putting issues on the table to be discussed doesn't by itself do anything to address the crushing poverty and roughly 50%-plus unemployment found on many reservations; a Republican-led Senate presided over by Bill Frist may listen to issues, but it won't be as interested in actually doing something about Native-American issues as would a Democratic Senate presided over by Daschle.

There's a good bit wrong with that, primarily the assumption that Indians are even microscopically better off when Democrats are in power. The difference between 50% unemployment and 49% unemployment is significant for the 1%, but isn't really relevant when we're talking about what's wrong with Indian policy in this country. Democrats are a slightly less redass version of the Devil, but that's not particularly compelling in and of itself. The overall tone here is "shut the fuck up and vote Democrat, we'll let you know what issues are important."

Sound familiar to any of the feminists in the room?

Monday, June 06, 2005

It's all in the framing

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mailbag fun!

I knew the email link would pay huge dividends. I'm disappointed in the lack of comments, this shit is much more fun out in public. No names included, but you know who you are.

The federal/tribal relationship: "Don't all Indians get a check from the BIA?"

Referring to genocide: "There is only one genocide, the extermination of Jews by Nazis. All of you Indians claiming genocide are anti-Semites."

One reason I always use Indian instead of Native American: "You guys displaced people already here. Who were they? I am not sure, but I think the Indians hid them."

What makes an Indian: "The government classifies you people on race. Wait, it classifies you on culture. No wait, it classifies you on both. So it's acceptable for me to do so too, and make improper generalizations about you people." That one I summarized for your benefit. One of the many services I provide.

Validate me, White Man! "Indians don't even work at the casinos, they are not good business people. They just sit back and collect the money. This means they don't know what they are doing."

For the individual who arrived here after searching up "6 piece dark meat special," sorry about that. Although if I start a different blog, that name bears consideration.