Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.
We’ve all seen it: the photo of a teary-eyed African child, dressed in rags, smothered in flies, with a look of desperation that the caption all too readily points out. Some organization has made a poster that tells you about the realities of poverty, what they are doing about it, and how your donation will change things.
I reacted very strongly to these kinds of photos when I returned from Africa in 2008. I compared these photos to my own memories of Malawian friends and felt lied to. How had these photos failed so spectacularly to capture the intelligence, the laughter, the resilience, and the capabilities of so many incredible people?
The truth is that the development sector, just like any other business, needs revenue to survive. Too frequently, this quest for funding uses these kind of dehumanizing images to draw pity, charity, and eventually donations from a largely unsuspecting public…
This is not to say that people do not struggle, far from it, but the photos I was seeing only told part of the story… [To contribute to correcting this,] I am taking two photos of the same person; one photo with the typical symbols of poverty (dejected look, ripped clothes, etc.), and another of this person looking their very finest, to show how an image can be carefully constructed to present the same person in very different ways. I want to bring to light some of the different assumptions we make about a person, especially when we see an image of "poverty" from rural Africa.
McNicholl's acquaintances participating with their own choice of clothes and posing as they like:
It is not uncommon to see similar depictions made by charities for other purposes as well, be it for providing education to women in rural areas, financial assistance to persons with disabilities who need them, etc. The idea is to appeal to the better off groups by presenting those in need as objects of pity and completely at the mercy of donors. This is not only denying of dignity and highly dehumanizing for those at the receiving end, but it often also serves to remove a sense of responsibility those making the donations may have to take. Such representations tend to go in line with the just-world hypothesis where conditions like these are seen as simply matters of circumstance or cases of exception and often restrict identifying the reasons why these condition continue to exist or challenging oppressive systems that may be at work. Perhaps the worst thing is, whatever it is that these people are in need of, it is rarely shown that they have a RIGHT to get it. Not as an act of mercy from others or as a given.
2) The only person whose opinion matters about how you look is your own. Don't rely on other people to give you worth, they won't always be there.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
Thursday, 30 August 2012
Each and every noun and adjective of this matrimonial ad that appeared in the main edition of India’s leading newspaper ‘The Hindu’, recognizes our divided society and the difficulty in connecting the divisions.
1) It is the father who has applied for the daughter to get married, not the girl herself. The ad targets the boy’s parents and not the boy himself. Parents re-enforce the ancient habit of elders deciding whom the children should spend the rest of their lives with.
2) The girl is only 22 years old. At such a young age and fresh out of college, she would have no idea of the real world. A practice of traditionally conservative families, to get the girl married, as soon as she finishes her basic college education.
3) The Ad describes her as ‘family oriented’, which usually means she is an house-wife material and is ready to sacrifice all her career dreams, to take care of her husband and his family.
4) The girl is fair (colorism? Check. because we never see 'dark' being mentioned. Writing 'fair' is not to show the girl is fair but to indicate she is not dark.), pretty and the boy should be handsome (no criteria for 'handsome' here but since its a boy, anything will do). This rules out a huge majority of the Indian male community, even if their wealth can match this aristocrat and even if they can be better husbands, in terms of care and affection.
5) Even if the boy happens to be extra brilliant, handsome, well-cultured, highly qualified and belongs to respected and reputed family of high stature, his horoscope (a.k.a mumbo jumbo superstition) should match the astrological requirement.
(source for pic and part of the text: 'Indian Quotes' page on Facebook)
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
So when I read Rosmarie Garland Thomson's essay "Roosevelt's Sister: Why We Need Disability Studies in the Humanities", it was something that I could relate to in many places. Taking Judith Shakespeare from Virginia Woolf's famous book A Room of One's Own, she creates a similiar character, Judith Roosevelt, who has cerebral palsy and is the sister of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In a clear and realistic way, her life is narrated both in the traditional setting and contemporary period.
Virginia Woolf is probably our greatest modernist writer and our most creative feminist thinker. In Woolf's 1928 collection of feminist essays, A Room of One's Own she, invents a character she calls Judith Shakespeare, the imaginary sister of the famous playwright, who is equally creative and ambitious as her brother. In her amusing, but instructive essay, Woolf uses the figure of Judith Shakespeare to show the social constrictions women who wanted to write faced. Woolf invents Judith, who as Woolf has it, must stay home to care for the family while her ambitious brother Will goes off to school and then to London to try his hand at theater, and the rest is history for him. Dutifully, Judith obeys until her father plans to marry her to an odious neighbor. When she refuses, he beats her, and she runs away to the London stage door to offer her talents, where they are rejected. She becomes pregnant by a charming fellow actor she meets that first day. Disgraced, Judith dies alone in childbirth and is buried in an unmarked grave.
I'll offer here another figure to think through the social constrictions facing disabled women. Following Woolf, my heroine will be Judith as well. But this is not Judith Shakespeare; rather this is Judith... Roosevelt, the younger sister of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Friday, 24 August 2012
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Is this something I need to know? Is this information any of my business? Is this information something I can get elsewhere, like Google or Wikipedia, so as not to waste the questioned’s time? Might my question trigger or seriously upset the questioned? Why do I feel entitled to this information, and why might that entitlement be wrongly assumed? Am I being respectful, appropriate, and inclusive in my phraseology? Do I acknowledge that I am not entitled to an answer, and am I willing to accept silence or a denial of information as an answer?
- via bittergrapes
It's not that they're too rude or arrogant if you don't get a reply. Maybe, just mabe, they've answered it a million times before and are tired of it. Maybe the information is something widely available on the internet and still people (more annoying when those on the internet itself) ask the same thing like they're the first person to bring out such a 'clever', 'new' question. Maybe they have the right answer and know what they want to say but just can't put it into words that will convince you.
It is especially important to keep these in mind when you're asking to those people who have to regularly deal with the same questioning and yet suceeding very little in pushing understanding through the questioner's biases and prejudices when answered. Feminists, PoC, LGBTQA, PWD.. (don't know the full forms? I ain't gonna say it this time, Google them.). However, most marginalized people are willing to educate others about their condition because they know speaking out and bringing their problems to light is the only way to awaken a sleeping society. It's only that we as outsiders (and more so if as perpetuators) have an equal responsibility to 'put an effort' at 'finding out' on our own if we can, without expecting them to neatly and carefully position everything into our heads.
Monday, 6 August 2012
Sunday, 5 August 2012
Throughout the journey whenever I look outside the window, I would check to see how many places has a ramp to its entrance. The result was disappointing as expected. I really felt bad that the need to keep a ramp next to a door is such a difficult concept to understand! I remembered about a disability rights activist I had met once who works towards creating accessibility in public places and wondered how much progress they might be making.
We reached there by next day morning and rented a single room house. After a quick freshening up (the salty water made you want to bathe because you bathed in it) and breakfast, we left for the shrine. The structure was absolutely stunning. More so the awe at how much our species has evolved from using primitive tools to creating such architectural sophistications. Simply being there made me marvel and feel proud of our human history.
The good feelings were however short lived, till the moment we entered the church. I felt like a drop of oil in a pool of water, not able to mix with the atmosphere of religious binding. I couldn't be a participant (didn't want to either), only be an observer. Many of the practices all so familiar and yet oddly, revealing new meanings that stayed hidden during those years of blind conformation.
There was this ritual of making people, mostly those with illnesses, sit as 'adima' (slave) to the Velankanni Mary and I was thinking, 'yeah right, that's some 'love' she's got there to require people to be slaves.' The name Vailankanni (meaning 'Virgin of Velai') itself made me cringe when I Googled it, the religious obbsession with virginity was so apparent. At one place there was a nearly one kilometer long paved way filled with beach sand for a custom in which people had to go through that full distance on their knees. My dad somewhat pressured me to participate but I stuck to my refusal. We saw a two year old kid doing it (mainly by his father forcing him) and everyone were like ''so cuute''. The words coming to my mind were 'child abuse'.. Later, on returning to our rented house, we were to find our neighbor sitting ouside with his knees bleeding after he went for that.. There was also a Thirupathi style head shaving and applying of a cinnamon powder misture. Many of our bus mates returned bald.
Some of the things actually made me laugh, the kind of unreasonable behavior even seemingly well educated people were exhibiting (like couples wanting children tying handkerchiefs in the shape of a cradle on sacred trees). Showed how deeply entrenched superstition is in our culture and how education does not necessarily guarantee rational thinking. But the thing I felt most bad was when after the Mass, which had a huge attendence of people from different parts of the country and outside, I saw most of them crying, some badly weeping, as the procession brought holy water and statue of Jesus. I felt so bad that all these people were being cheated..the amount of faith they were having..all for nothing.. It was so unfair.. Many of them were spending money they otherwise wouldn't have. Many of them had left their medicines or given up hope on treatment and come with so much expectations for being cured. And some would even return with the false belief that they really had been, and stop their medications, where in fact the healing could be only a temporary placebo in effect. I felt so enraged at the same time, the fucking church spreading their lies and taking advantage of so many innocent people's trust and sorrow, mercilessly cheating them with their dogma for wealth, power and control..
It made me realize no 'loving' god, if there was one, would ever want to put his children through such an ordeal where they had to flatter him and beg for relief from a fate he himself impossed on them. No 'merciful' god would punish you if you failed to do so according to standards set by people claiming to have telepathic connections to him, unprovable to others.
Friday, 3 August 2012
//Ableism refers to: A network of beliefs, processes and practices that produces a particular kind of self and body (the corporeal standard) that is projected as the perfect, species-typical and therefore essential and fully human. Disability then is cast as a diminished state of being human. (Campbell, 2001, p. 44)//
//Whether it be the ‘species typical body’ (in science), the ‘normative citizen’ (in political theory), the ‘reasonable man’ (in law), all these signifiers point to a fabrication that reaches into the very soul that sweeps us into life and as such is the outcome and instrument of a political constitution: a hostage of the body. The creation of such regimes of ontological separation appears disassociated from power. Bodies in this way become elements that may be moved, used, transformed, demarcated, improved and articulated with others.//
//Women talk about being proud of who they are – proud because they are women; aborigines talk about being proud because they are aborigines; gay men and lesbians about being proud because of their sexuality. But throughout the disability movement we are much more likely to hear people with disabilities talking about pride in themselves despite their disability. (Parsons, 1999, p.14)//
//Viewing the disabled body as simply matter out of place that needs to be dispensed with or at least cleaned up is erroneous. The disabled body has a place, a place in liminality to secure the performative enactment of the normal. Detienne’s summation points to what we may call the double bind of ableism when performed within Western neo-liberal polities. The double bind folds in on itself – for whilst claiming ‘inclusion’, ableism simultaneously always restates and enshrines itself. On the one hand, discourses of equality promote ‘inclusion’ by way of promoting positive attitudes (sometimes legislated in mission statements, marketing campaigns, equal opportunity protections) and yet on the other hand, ableist discourses proclaim quite emphatically that disability is inherently negative, ontologically intolerable and in the end, a dispensable remnant. This casting results in an ontological foreclosure wherein positive signification of disability becomes unspeakable.//
//Everyone is virtually disabled, both in the sense that able-bodied norms are ‘intrinsically impossible to embody’ fully and in the sense that able-bodied status is always temporary, disability being the one identity category that all people will embody if they live long enough. What we might call a critical disability position, however, would differ from such a virtually disabled positions [to engagements that have] resisted the demands of compulsory able-bodiedness (McRuer, 2002, pp. 95–96)
To be a Mirror is different from being a Face that looks back . . . with a range of expression and responsiveness that are responses of a Subject-in-Its-Own-Right. To be positioned as a Mirror is to be Put Out of Countenance, to Lose Face. (Narayan, 1997, p. 141). . .
//Internalized oppression is not the cause of our mistreatment; it is the result of our mistreatment. It would not exist without the real external oppression that forms the social climate in which we exist. Once oppression has been internalized, little force is needed to keep us submissive. We harbour inside ourselves the pain and the memories, the fears and the confusions, the negative self-images and the low expectations, turning them into weapons with which to re-injure ourselves, every day of our lives. (Marks, 1999, p. 25)
The way you see me, it’s not me, not the real me. You see the shambling, the stumbling, the lunge, and you don’t see me. Except for the feet, I’m almost you. But most of all, I’d like a chance to show you the way I see myself, the way I know I am. It’s not that bad once you get used to it. Please, just a day, no, not that – a minute, a second, a second – that’s all I need, a second – you would all love me. (Bell, 2000, p. 285)//
Because racism is an ingrained feature of our landscape, it looks ordinary and natural to persons in the culture. Formal equal opportunity – rules and laws that insists in treating blacks and whites (for example) alike – can thus remedy only the more extreme and shocking forms of injustice. . . .It can do little about the business-asusual forms of racism that people of color confront everyday and that account for much misery, alienation, and despair.
Paternalism enables the dominant elements of a society to express profound and sincere sympathy for the members of a minority group while, at the same time, keeping them in a position of social and economic subordination. It has allowed the non-disabled to act as the protectors, guides, leaders, role models, and intermediates for disabled individuals who, like children, are often assumed to be helpless, dependent, asexual, economically unproductive, physically limited, emotional immature, and acceptable only when they are unobtrusive.//
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
“Seems you’re making a catch-22: if people talk about it, they’re trying to be victims, but if people don’t talk about it, it doesn’t happen.”
When people talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, xenophobia, classism, ableism, etc. — we often get caught in a particularly nasty Catch-22, beautifully summarized above. If we don’t talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry… nobody will know about it, and it can and will be ignored. In fact, many people will assume that this particular form of oppression and marginalization and bigotry is now a thing of the past, and doesn’t even exist. If a certain amount of progress has been made in a certain area — sexism, for instance — many people will act as if the problem is entirely behind us, and we don’t have to worry about it, or think about it or, Loki forbid, change our behavior.But if we do talk about this oppression and marginalization and bigotry? We get accused of “playing the victim card.” We get accused of making up the marginalization, or exaggerating it, or going out of our way to look for it, or twisting innocent events to frame them in this narrative of victimhood, or trying to manipulate people into giving us our way by scoring sympathy points we haven’t earned. And not at all coincidentally, this once again results in the marginalization being made invisible: ignored, treated as if it either flat-out doesn’t exist or is too trivial to worry about.
And you know the thing that really galls me about this particular Catch-22? Aside from the whole “invisible” thing, I mean. The thing that really galls me is that speaking out against oppression is the opposite of victimhood. Speaking out against oppression is one of the first steps to claiming power. Speaking out against oppression takes strength, courage, a willingness to take flak. Speaking out against oppression can put you in harm’s way. Speaking out against oppression isn’t “playing the victim card” — it’s saying, “I am sick to fucking death of being a victim, and I am demanding that it stop.” (originally not underlined)
So the question I have for people making this “victimhood” accusation: How, exactly, would you like marginalized people to proceed? Is there any possible way we can make oppression and marginalization and bigotry visible, which will meet with your approval?
And why, precisely, do you think your approval matters? Why do you get to be the ones who decide which forms of oppression and marginalization and bigotry are important… and which ones are not? Why do you think that decision should be up to you?
Apart from the fact you don't need anyone's approval, the last people whose agreement you would need in order to speak out about your "own" experience (oppression) are the ones who get annoyed by it. The ones most irritated by your speaking out are the ones contributing the least to changing the situation, if not propagating it.