Thursday Reads: bell hooks (and other news)

Good Morning!!

Yesterday we lost bell hooks (born Gloria Watkins), feminist theorist, poet, and activist.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read her work, but I was impressed by what I read about hooks this morning. Dakinikat was inspired by her, so perhaps she will share her thoughts today and/or tomorrow.

Lucy Knight at The Guardian: bell hooks, author and activist, dies aged 69.

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, has died aged 69.

Her niece Ebony Motley tweeted: “The family of @bellhooks is sad to announce the passing of our sister, aunt, great aunt and great great aunt.”

She also attached a statement, which said that “the family of Gloria Jean Watkins is deeply saddened at the passing of our beloved sister on December 15, 2021. The family honored her request to transition at home with family and friends by her side.”

The author, professor and activist was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, and published more than 30 books in her lifetime, covering topics including race, feminism, capitalism and intersectionality.

She adopted her maternal great-grandmother’s name as a pen name, since she so admired her, but used lowercase letters to distinguish herself from her family member. hooks’ first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?, was published in 1981, and became widely recognised as an important feminist text. It was named one of the 20 most influential women’s books in the last 20 years by Publishers Weekly in 1992.

She went on to write Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center in 1984, All About Love: New Visions in 2000 and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity in 2004, continuing to draw on themes of feminism, race, love and gender.

Since 2004, she taught at Berea College in Kentucky, a liberal arts college that offers free tuition.

In 2016 hooks wrote in the Guardian that Beyoncé’s album Lemonade was “capitalist money-making at its best”, but criticised the notion of “freedom” depicted in the lyrics. “To truly be free,” wrote hooks, “we must choose beyond simply surviving adversity, we must dare to create lives of sustained optimal wellbeing and joy.”

“I want my work to be about healing,” she said in 2018 when she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers’ Hall of Fame. “I am a fortunate writer because every day of my life practically I get a letter, a phone call from someone who tells me how my work has transformed their life.”

Gloria Watkins bell hooksFrom The Literary Hub:

hooks’s first published work of theory, Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, was published when she was 29 but written when she was an undergraduate, launching a four-decade-long career of writing and teaching, with a focus on classroom accessibility. hooks’s extensive body of scholarship and poetry—that remains and will continue to remain relevant—was consistent in its generosity, emphasizing the importance of loving communities to challenging systemic inequalities. Hooks believed a “militant commitment to feminism” was not at all at odds with joy and humor; in fact, that love “is the necessary foundation enabling us to survive the wars, the hardships, the sickness, and the dying with our spirits intact.” As she told The New York Times in 2015,

“We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor. Every time we see the left or any group trying to move forward politically in a radical way, when they’re humorless, they fail. Humor is essential to the integrative balance that we need to deal with diversity and difference and the building of community. For example, I love to be in conversation with Cornel West. We always go high and we go low, and we always bring the joyful humor in. The last talk he and I gave together, many people were upset because we were silly together. But I consider it a high holy calling that we can be humorous together. How many times do we see an African-American man and an African-American woman talking together, critiquing one another, and yet having delicious, humorous delight? It’s a miracle.”

hooks’s family said contributions and memorials can be made to the Christian County Literacy Council, which promotes reading for children, or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County, where a biographical exhibit is on display.

From the New Yorker piece:

I came to her work in the mid-nineties, during a fertile era of Black cultural studies, when it felt like your typical alternative weekly or independent magazine was as rigorous as an academic monograph. For hooks, writing in the public sphere was just an application of her mind to a more immediate concern, whether her subject was Madonna, Spike Lee, or, in one memorably withering piece, Larry Clark’s “Kids.” She was writing at a time when the serious study of culture—mining for subtexts, sifting for clues—was still a scrappy undertaking. As an Asian American reader, I was enamored with how critics like hooks drew on their own backgrounds and friendships, not to flatten their lives into something relatably universal but to remind us how we all index a vast, often contradictory array of tastes and experiences. Her criticism suggested a pulsing, tireless brain trying to make sense of how a work of art made her feel. She modelled an intellect: following the distant echoes of white supremacy and Black resistance over time and pinpointing their legacies in the works of Quentin Tarantino or Forest Whitaker’s “Waiting to Exhale.”

Yet her work—books such as “Reel to Real” or “Art on My Mind,” which have survived decades of rereadings and underlinings—also modelled how to simply live and breathe in the world. She was zealous in her praise—especially when it came to Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” a film referenced countless times in her work—and she never lost grasp of how it feels to be awestruck while standing before a stirring work of art. She couldn’t deny the excitement as the lights dim and we prepare to surrender to the performance. But she made demands on the world. She believed criticism came from a place of love, a desire for things worthy of losing ourselves to….

This has been a particularly trying time for critics who came of age in the eighties and nineties, as giants like hooks, Greg Tate, and Dave Hickey have passed. hooks was a brilliant, tough critic—no doubt her death will inspire many revisitations of works like “Ain’t I a Woman,” “Black Looks,” or “Outlaw Culture.” Yet she was also a dazzling memoirist and poet. In 1982, she published a poem titled “in the matter of the egyptians” in Hambone, a journal she worked on with her then partner, Nathaniel Mackey. It reads:

ancestral bodies
buried in sand
sun treasured flowers
press in a memory book
they pass through loss
and come to this still tenderness
swept clean by scarce winds
surfacing in the watery passage
beyond death

I enjoyed reading this piece from 2019 by Min Jin Lee in The New York Times: In Praise of bell hooks.

In 1987, I was a sophomore at Yale. I’d been in the United States for 11 years, and although I was a history major, I wanted to read novels again. I signed up for “Introduction to African-American Literature,” which was taught by Gloria Watkins, an assistant professor in the English department, and she was such a wonderful teacher that I signed up for her other class, “Black Women and Their Fiction.”

46-Bell-Hooks-Ideas-Bell-Hooks-Quotes-WordsGloria — as we were allowed to address her in the classroom — had a slight figure with elegant wrists that peeked out of her tunic sweater sleeves. She was soft-spoken with a faint Southern accent, which I attributed to her birthplace, Hopkinsville, Ky. She was in her mid-30s then but looked much younger. Large, horn-rimmed glasses framed the open gaze of her genuinely curious mind. You knew her classes were special. The temperature in the room seemed to change in her presence because everything felt so intense and crackling like the way the air can feel heavy before a long-awaited rain. It wasn’t just school then. No, I think, we were falling in love with thinking and imagining again….

I was 19 when I took hooks’s classes, and I was just becoming a young feminist myself. I had begun my study of feminism with Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Virginia Woolf, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, among other white women, and perhaps, because I was foreign-born — rightly or wrongly — I had not expected that people like me would be included in their vision of feminist liberation. Women and men of Asian ethnicities are so often neglected, excluded and marginalized in the Western academy, so as a college student I’d no doubt internalized my alleged insignificance. bell hooks changed my limited perception.

Her book of theory taught me to ask for more from art, literature, media, politics and history — and for me, a Korean girl who had been born in a divided nation once led by kings, colonizers, then a succession of presidents who were more or less dictators, and for millenniums, that had enforced rigid class systems with slaves and serfs until the early 20th century, and where women of all classes were deeply oppressed and brutalized, I needed to see that the movement had a space for me.

What else is in the news? January 6 and the never ending pandemic. 

January 6: Could it be that the investigation is really heating up?

David Rohde at The New Yorker: Is There a Smoking Gun in the January 6th Investigation?

William Saletan at Slate: The Chilling Lesson of Mark Meadows’ Text Messages.

The New York Times: Meadows and the Band of Loyalists: How They Fought to Keep Trump in Power.

Kyle Cheney at Politico: The Jan. 6 puzzle piece that’s going largely ignored.

Kyle Cheney at Politico: Jan. 6 investigators mull whether Trump violated obstruction law.

CNN: Jim Jordan sent one of the texts revealed by January 6 committee.

The Washington Post: Role as Trump’s gatekeeper puts Meadows in legal jeopardy — and at odds with Trump.

Georgia Public Radio: Exclusive: More Georgia Secretary of State’s office officials interviewed by Jan. 6 committee.

The never ending pandemic

CNBC: Omicron symptoms could seem like a cold — but don’t underestimate this variant, experts warn.

AP via KTLA: U.S. faces a double coronavirus surge as omicron variant advances.

Ian Bogost at The Atlantic: I’m Starting to Give Up on Post-pandemic Life.

Yasmin Tayag at The Atlantic: Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron.

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: America Is Not Ready for Omicron. The new variant poses a far graver threat at the collective level than the individual one—the kind of test that the U.S. has repeatedly failed.

Have courage and enjoy the present moment. There’s no telling what will happen next.

Sunday Reads: Gas Mask Love, A Toxic Overload 

Good Afternoon

There is nothing like a bit of toxic love between two people…or between two countries, for that matter.

So, here’s to some toxic acidity to get your gears turning.

Earlier this week, on Joyce Arnold’s Facebook feed, she posted this quick thought:

It really made me think. Not at once, I saw the thread and carried on my day.

It stuck with me however because earlier that morning I had seen this on my Instagram feed:


View this post on Instagram

Double tap if you agree.

A post shared by Purple Clover (@purpleclvr) on

Sometimes it takes balls to be a woman.

It is a sentiment that I’ve repeated myself, and to others…and I will admit that I never really thought much about it. But this morning, it bothered me. It really got to me, irritated me. I saved it in my Instagram feed. I saved it too in my Pinterest folder especially made for topics to write about on the Sky Dancing Blog. This was before I read that little post from Joyce. (Yeah, maybe that is why Joyce’s thread hit me, I don’t know.) But with my lower than average reaction time, it wasn’t until the next day I think when it all registered.

As Joyce said:

Joyce L. Arnold That whole need to make being male to be the norm, the standard for being human …

Fuck yeah.

If you want to put it into a cultural aspect, let’s look at something from television. I thought about a scene from Veep from a couple of seasons ago…‘Veep’ Season 4 Finale Recap: Ma’am Up – The New York Times

It was when Selina realizes that the election is a tie.

This is what Amy says to her:

Here we see yet again the depth of Selina and Amy’s relationship. When Selina learns that Tom James could replace her as president, Gary stands to offer a hug. But Selina, in tears, turns past him and his outstretched arms, past her daughter, Catherine — and collapses into Amy.

Amy looks utterly uncomfortable with the sudden display of emotion. But, in her own way, offers the encouragement that Selina needs, telling her that with all due respect, she needs to get her act together. “Ma’am up,” says Amy. “You’re still the leader of the free world, hmmm?”

And these are the words that transform Selina back into the striving, climbing, ambitious, spotlight-hungry politician we recognize. Realizing that during her mini-meltdown, Tom James has taken the stage in an effort to provide the increasingly restless crowd “a hit of political meth,” Selina springs to action.

The words Amy uses is “Ma’am up” and to me that is a perfect way to show an example of use in a particular show that can sometimes make some feminist writers peeved and angered.

That phrase, was it uttered in connection with the use of the word Ma’am as the correct way of addressing the office of the President? Or was it one feminist telling another…get your shit together, without relying on the male significance as definition of power and success? I don’t know. But what ever you want to call it, I like it. And from now on it is something I intend to use. Am I wrong?

Maybe it comes down to intersectionality?

On the same day…I also saved this:

Please read the explanation in the description on the instagram itself.

And then, there is this….but calling it “sublime.”  I don’t think so. How absurd. Look at the expressions on these women’s faces:

To that I wonder….does it take balls to live that kind of life? If we put it into that perspective, what color balls?

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Just a few links for you all:

Trump to offer exclusive contract to service U.S. student loans | Reuters

Foreign leaders told to praise Trump on election win: report | TheHill

Red With Envy: A Feminist Anthropology of Republican Policy – Ms. Magazine Blog

SPLC, other civil rights groups challenge wealth-based bail system in impoverished Alabama county | Southern Poverty Law Center

Trumpcare and the Return of Rape and Domestic Violence as Pre-Existing Conditions – Rewire

This Photo Series Highlights Chicanas Who Are Proud to Be Malditas

These Ethiopian superheroes fight for girls’ rights in badass new TV series



Women pioneered computer programming. Then men took their industry over. Via Timeline.

How “computer girls” gave way to tech bros

Those articles should give you something to do to pass the time.

I will end this thread with a sample of illnesses for admittance to the “nut house” if you were a certified “nut job” back a couple of centuries ago:



Why look at that! How many of those are suffered by women?

Go figure, it sure doesn’t take a set of balls for that.

This is an open thread.

Wednesday Wonk: Not Ready to Make Nice, March on Washington, and the Achy Breaky Patriarchy

1268899_212689705572726_66084798_oFasten your seat belts, newsjunkies. I’m feeling very much like Natalie Maines in her song/video, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

I have a couple questions for us as a society.

To the right [via NYC Light Brigade]: The night before the 50th anniversary celebrations of the March on Washington, the NYC Light Brigade travelled to DC to shed light on Dr. Martin Luther King’s message to End Militarism, and contrast that with the current administration’s drone warfare policy which has resulted in the death of untold civilians throughout the world.

For what exactly are we marching and showing solidarity for this 28th of August in the year 2013?

I know it’s terribly disturbing-of-all-things-party-unity, which is all the more reason why I must ask you all to think seriously about what happens to a feminist dream deferred?

What feminist dream, you ask?

Let’s go with the Hollie McNish spoken word poem I shared with y’all a couple months ago. To refresh, here’s both the transcript and video (scroll down for the latter)… I know it’s long, but it’s worth it (especially if you just scroll down, click play, and listen for yourself):

Poem: Reverse:

I would love to reverse things for a day
A short break for those who say its all ok
I’d have an MTV where every male celebrity was dancing on a pole in pants
While all the female, fully clothed, stood back, just singing
As they can, cos that’s their talent
For just one day
The women’s lifestyle section of the magazine rack stands would
See a sea of choice of topics
Not just cooking, home or looking grand
But politics and sport and art, design and science, top shelf porn perhaps
And watch as men look all forlorn and wonder why their lifestyle section is full of naked pouting men on cover
Licking gadgets in their underwear
For just one day I swear I’d scream
To see young male celebrities standing on tv next 2 50 year old female copresenters
Watching as this token eye candy giggles politely at everything she says
I said for just one day I would pay to see a newspaper take a double spread about what the president eats for tea
ten pages to talk about David Camerons choice of socks and hand cream
While focusing on Kate Middletons degree and how she feel about personal freedom
Next to images of Price Williams top ten jackets worn this Summer
For just one day I’d read the sports pages and undercover news reporting without watching as men gawp at 18 year old tits while I’m trying to make the point that women can be more than this
And page three licks should be in specialist magazines not newspapers anyone can grab and read and
For just one day I wonder what would happen
If there were airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every women’s magazine and airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every mans magazine
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every shop window
And airbrushed half dressed posed male teens on the front of every tv screen
And loads of fully dressed women in photos everywhere
Cameras staring at their faces in shoulder shots, their wrinkles photoshopped deeper like every male magazine man feature
For just one day
Music award ceremonies would award
Rihanna for her singing
And think about not giving awards to Chris brown
And women with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing
And Men with amazing voices would be awarded for their amazing voices and they would show their amazing voices on stage by singing whilst also shaking their crotch and pretending to shag the floor, snogging other men with amazing voices while dancing around poles in gold stringed jock straps and swimming trunks
And lunging forward
And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses
For just one day I’d go to parties where the women, like the men, dressed for the weather and walked the high street to the club in coats and jumpers as the rain and snow fell down
For just one day
And for just one day
I might those men around me say:
For fuck sake,
I don’t like gay porn so why do I have to watch naked fucking men all day
I might hear those men say
Is it really ok to show two men in g strings pretending to fuck one another in a dance routine on X factor at 7 oclock in front of my sons
And I might hear those men say
Is it not enough that he is an amazing singer or rapper or songwriter and musician, why does have to wear a flashing crocodile toothed jock strap everytime he performs on stage
And I might hear those men say
Maybe, I might hear those men say,
Ok, I get it,
You’re not just on your period.
Perhaps you have a point.
Maybe you’re not just jealous of her tits
Maybe there’s more to this than you being annoyed by the way women are portrayed in the media.
And for just one day
I might wake up and not worry about my daughter growing up to be a women in this place where newspapers prey on teenage tits and tell me this is all ok
For just one day.
I’d like to see what those men who mock me say
If everything was the other way around.

So, what happens to this feminist dream deferred exactly?

If you guessed the Miley Cyrus[-Robin Thicke] Twerk performance at the VMAs on Sunday night, ding ding ding, you’d be correct.

I swear to Durga, I was just here on Sky Dancing not but a few weeks ago posting up women-powered parodies of Robin Thicke’s Blurred BS and his even more ridiculous claims to be the founder of a new feminist movement.

Let’s revisit Hollie McNish for a second, though — specifically:

Licking gadgets in their underwear

And bending over with cameras pointed at their arses

Ponder the entire poem and those two lines in particular, spoken by McNish nearly a year ago.

Compare to present-day Twerkgate, pretty much obsessed with Miley Cyrus and not-so-much Robin Thicke’s longstanding nonsense.

Then read this sexologist’s two cents on the 2013 MTV VMA’s:

Dear Society,

If you think a woman in a tan vinyl bra and underwear, grabbing her crotch and grinding up on a dance partner is raunchy, trashy, and offensive but you don’t think her dance partner is raunchy, trashy, or offensive as he sings a song about “blurred” lines of consent and propagating rape culture, then you may want to reevaluate your acceptance of double standards and your belief in stereotypes about how men vs. women “should” and are “allowed” to behave.

Dr. Jill

Any questions?

(Hint: The problem starts with a P ends with a Y and rhymes with Achy Breaky….and don’t even get me started on those creepy Vanity Fair photos her father Billy Ray Cyrus posed for with daughter Miley…if that doesn’t say Father failure, I don’t know what else much will.)

Now, let’s take a look at another late August milestone/anniversary, August 26, 1970 [via Haymarket Books]:

1185746_595393833844199_827582056_nThe Women’s Strike for Equality was a National strike which took place in the US on August 26, 1970—the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. The rally was sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW). Defying mounted police, almost 50,000 marched down NY City’s Fifth Avenue. Dutch women marched on the US embassy in Amsterdam to show support, while French feminists demonstrated at the Arc de Triomphe, carrying a banner that read, “More Unknown Than the Unknown Soldier: His Wife.”

The strike primarily focused on equal opportunity in the workforce, political rights for women, and social equality in relationships such as marriage. It also addressed the right to have an abortion and free childcare.

In the words of the late Dr. King himself:

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.”

When is America going to be true to what it said on paper? All men created equal and a more perfect union?

Right now, in the year 2013, our Texas khaleesi Wendy Davis is collecting our signatures in support of Equal Pay for Equal Work.

So, I ask of you, why are we still in the same eternal battle? Women’s rights vs. War?

Alice Paul and Herstory, anyone?:

National Woman’s Party:

Alice Paul was chair of a major committee (congressional) of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) within a year, in her mid-twenties, but a year later (1913) Alice Paul and others withdrew from the NAWSA to form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. This organization evolved into the National Woman’s Party in 1917, and Alice Paul’s leadership was key to this organization’s founding and future.

Alice Paul and Militancy:

In England, Alice Paul had taken part in more radical protests for woman suffrage, including participating in the hunger strikes. She brought back this sense of militancy, and back in the U.S. she organized protests and rallies and ended up imprisoned three times.


Equal Rights Amendment (ERA):

After the 1920 victory for the federal amendment, Paul became involved in the struggle to introduce and pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed in Congress in 1970 and sent to the states to ratify. However, the number of states necessary never ratified within the specified time limit and the Amendment failed.

Alice Paul and Peace:

Paul also was active in the Peace movement, stating at the outbreak of World War II that if women had helped to end World War I, the second war would not have been necessary.

And, in the direct words of the Iron Jawed Angel herself:

Mr. President how long must women wait to get their liberty? Let us have the rights we deserve.

Women’s Liberation Now.

Not World War III.

What is going on in Syria is harrowing.

There’s also a humanitarian crisis right here in these United States of America.

In the words of the late Coretta Scott King:

If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children.

In the words of Dr. Dorothy Height (from her memoir Open Wide the Freedom Gates, p. 200-1):

As economic pressures tightened, the black woman found herself trapped in a triple bind of racism, sexism, and poverty.

America, be true to what you said on paper. And, connect some dots already.

If it’s not Miley’s buttcheek, it’s Rihanna. If it’s not Rihanna, it’s Britney. If it’s not Britney, it’s Janet Jackson’s tit.

If it’s not Janet Jackson, it’s Honey Boo Boo Child and her mom or whatever their names are. (I thought we loved those very same characters in Little Miss Sunshine, but I guess that was only for Hollywood’s benefit.)
If it’s not the Honey Boo Boos, it’s the entire Real Housewives franchise cast of Bravo TV trying to keep up with those evil Kardashian women… (But, never ever Ryan Seacrest…)

Or, it’s Paula Dean:1234979_435679589881967_1417955754_nI’ve tried to connect some dots and vignettes here for you, that I think present a social and political commentary/context for discussing what we should be marching for–I’m going to stop here, because if I haven’t made my point clear by now, you’re probably not reading anymore anyway 😉

Also, I want to stop just short of offering my explicit answers so you can fill in the blank(s) yourself, below in the comments:

Today I march/pledge my solidarity for                                                               .

And, with that I’m going to turn the soapbox over to you Sky Dancers. Do your thing!

Sisterhood…Solidarity, forever.

Oh, and… Hillary 2016:

Caturday: Same Love

581797_431533186963274_214555754_nHappy Caturday, newsjunkies!

I see “Batman” is still trending on my social media feeds for the second day in a row. Gahhhh. Please alert me when the next super-shero blockbuster is due out, thanks.

Honestly, I’ve been super busy this week and really out of the loop news-wise, and even just feminist junkie wise this week, so y’all please chime in, in the comments, with whatever you’ve got on your blogging list this weekend. All I know is I still believe in equal rights for every last person on this earth! And, I really love this graphic from “Have a Gay Day” on fb.

Speaking of human rights for ALL–I’ll start with a super depressing story on one of the most marginalized and forgotten populations I can think of, then build my way up to some more inspiring stories.

So here it is, read it and, literally, weep… First Nations Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade On Ships Along Lake Superior:

Native women, children, and unfortunately even babies are being trafficked in the sex trade on freighters crossing the Canadian and U.S. border on Lake Superior between Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Duluth Minnesota.

Next month, Christine Stark—a student with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, who is completing her Master’s degree in social work—will complete an examination of the sex trade in Minnesota, in which she compiles anecdotal, first hand accounts of Aboriginal women, particularly from northern reservations, being trafficked across state, provincial, and international lines to be forced into servitude in the sex industry on both sides of the border.

Stark’s paper stems from a report she co-wrote, published by the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre in Duluth in 2011, entitled, “The Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” Through the process of researching and penning this report, Stark kept hearing stories of trafficking in the harbours and on the freighters of Duluth and Thunder Bay. The numerous stories and the gradual realization that this was an issue decades, perhaps centuries, in the making, compelled Stark to delve further into what exactly is taking place.

She decided to conduct an exploratory study, “simply because we have these stories circulating and we wanted to gather information and begin to understand what has happened and what currently is happening around the trafficking of Native American and First Nations women on the ships” said Stark, in an interview with CBC Radio’s Superior Morning. “Hearing from so many Native women over generations talking about the ‘boat whores,’ prostitution on the ships or the ‘parties on the ships,’ this is something that… was really entrenched in the Native community and we wanted to collect more specific information about it.”

Through her independent research and work with the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Centre, Stark interviewed hundreds of Native women who have been through the trauma of the Lake Superior sex trade. The stories she’s compiled are evidence of an underground industry that’s thriving on the suffering of First Nations women, which is seemingly going unchecked and underreported.

feministcatI don’t even have the energy this afternoon to rant. I’m glad Stark is researching this story. This is just so sad.

And, appalling, racist, misogynist, capitalist/classist, the whole she-bang of despicableness that is patriarchy:

In an article written for the Duluth Star Tribune, Stark describes one disturbing anecdote of an Anishinaabe woman who had just left a shelter after being beaten by her pimp—who was a wealthy, white family man. He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the Cities for prostitution with Native women…he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden’ and ‘European colonizer’ myth with him during sex.”

Another important snippet:

I spoke with Kazia Pickard, the Director of Policy and Research with the Ontario Native Women’s Association based in Thunder Bay. Their organization has also been researching this issue. Kazia told me over email: “People assume that trafficking always takes place across international borders, however, the vast majority of people who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls from inside Canada and sometimes, as we’re now starting to understand, across the US border.”

In an earlier interview with the CBC, she also alluded to the possibility that there was trafficking taking place across borders in Southern Ontario as well. She made it clear to me that the image most people imagine when they think about “human trafficking” often isn’t accurate: “The majority of women who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls. So it’s not that you have people being trafficked across international borders in shipping containers or something like that.”

This is all too reminiscent of what I call the “stranger danger from within”… the manipulators and abusers with which women and children share a community, as opposed to the creepy guy no one ever knew:

In most cases it’s a lot more subtle. “Women may say they [have been pulled into it by] a boyfriend, there have been some reports of family members recruiting women into the sex trade… so it doesn’t appear in this sensationalized way that we may [think it is].”

All that said, there are nearly 600 aboriginal women who are currently missing or believed to have been murdered in Canada, a number the RCMP—who have are being accused of human rights abuses against aboriginal women on a monthly basis—have publicly questioned.

Well, now that I’ve sufficiently depressed you, how about a pick-me up? H/t to Joyce Arnold on this one–it’s a Bert and Ernie montage to Macklemore’s “Same Love”… Enjoy! … :

Here’s another one for smiles, just because:


Okay keep those warm and fuzzies somewhere nearby in your spiritual reserves, because this next one is depressing again…a not-so great development on a not-good story we’ve been following here at Sky Dancing…

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Facing New Disaster:

Storage tank leak sparks fears more could follow suit
Tokyo Electric Power Company workers have detected high levels of radiation in a ditch that flows into the ocean from a leaking tank at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said Thursday the leak could be the beginning of a new disaster – a series of leaks of contaminated water from hundreds of steel tanks holdng massive amounts of radioactive water coming from three melted reactors, as well as underground water running into reactor and turbine basements.

A new disaster? Uh, have we even resolved any of the previous disasters?!

This just sounds horrible, and I don’t want to be alarmist…I defer to experts on this stuff in our Sky Dancing community who can make better sense of all this of course, but WTF?!! Is this like a domino effect of Fukushimas? :

Tokyo Electric Power Co. says about 300,000 litres of contaminated water leaked from one of the tanks, possibly through a seam. The leak is the fifth, and worst, since last year involving tanks of the same design at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, raising concerns that contaminated water could begin leaking from storage tanks one after another.

“That’s what we fear the most. We must remain alert. We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more,” Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka told a news conference. “We are in a situation where there is no time to waste.” The watchdog also proposed at a weekly meeting Wednesday to raise the rating of the seriousness of the leak to level three, a “serious incident,” from level one, “an anomaly,” on an International Nuclear and Radiological event scale from zero to seven.

The watchdog urged TEPCO to step up monitoring for leaks and take precautionary measures.

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath waiting for TEPCO to do that. /sigh

I think I could use some more feminist lolcat, how about you? I really love this one:

sisterhood lol cats

And, as the trend of this post has been established, yes, I’ve got another sad one for you… via SocialistWorker, Struggling for their lives:

Orlando Sepúlveda reports from Chicago on a struggle led by immigrants whose loved ones are being denied a place on transplant lists at local hospitals.

Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church  (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)Some of the hunger strikers at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church (Orlando Sepúlveda | SW)

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS activists in Chicago held a memorial march, followed by a daylong occupation outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital following the death of Sarai Rodriguez, a 25-year-old undocumented woman who was in critical need of a liver transplant, but had been denied by the hospital last March, according to her mother, because she was uninsured and couldn’t afford the procedure.

Once again, I’m so exhausted by this. We can and must do better. This is an inhumane system. Human beings are not illegal. Insurance is not healthcare. And, healthcare is not a privilege–it is a right.

Here’s something cool to end with on Howard Zinn’s birthday:

1233456_10151611842454677_1367831120_n“I feel very lucky to have been Howard Zinn‘s student. He was a very creative, magical teacher. He taught us how to think for ourselves, to analyze, to question what we read, and speak truth to power. He was just engaging in every way. . . .I don’t think I would have survived at Spelman in the late ’50s without Howie. But he was extraordinary. He didn’t just teach; he lived what he taught.” — Marian Wright Edelman

Continue reading this and other stories collected by the Zinn Education Project from former students in honor of Zinn’s birthday today and in honor of the impact of powerful teachers every day. Please read and share:

Well, that’s what caught my eye this afternoon, Sky Dancers. Please share what’s caught yours and have a great Caturday!

Wednesday Wonk: Watch out, haters

1175623_429013850548541_816965767_nHi, I’m baaaack. How have you been, newsjunkies? As you know, a week is a whirlwind in sex and politics, so… prepare yourself for a very un-fancy link feast…starting with some items on Our Gal Gals, of course.

Wendy 2014, Hillary 2016

  • The Liberal Agenda posted the meme to the right on Tuesday. What a difference five to six years makes… with pieces like The Atlantic’s “How the Left Wing Learned to Love Hillary.”  As evidenced by Daily Kos’ hilarity in the forms of diaries titled “Hillary Clinton will be a very, very cool president” and such.
  • I really am wary of this “perceived inevitability” crap in the progressive feeding trough, though. We’ve been to that rodeo before–pass on Meet the Beast all over again. Hillary’s likely running–we see all the political movement opening the way for her to essentially be drafted into doing so. But, she’s not inevitable, thank you very much David Axelrod and co.
  • Please, remember as a true Hillary stalwart–Peter Daou–has cautioned in his “A Reader’s Guide to Anti-Hillary Themes.” Repeat after me, Sky Dancers: Hillary is not inevitable. “No matter what she says about working hard, staying focused and not taking anything for granted, detractors create this perch then try to knock her down from it.” –Daou
  • And, though I can’t see the lovely Liz Warren primarying Hillary, damn the debates we could have from a match-up of that kind would be epic and exhilarating. If only the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones were still alive (not that she would primary Hill either). Now, that would really be a primary season to savor.
  • Wonkgirl daydreams aside… I *welcome* a healthy primary contest. May the best shero win–it will only make her stronger as a candidate and Madame president. Maybe good ol’ Joe can change his name on the ballot to Robinette BidenI know, bad Wonk. Just can’t help myself. I still remember his philosopher king distinction on the campaign trail in ’08 that “girl-girls are tougher than boy-girls.” (I would link if I could find a source that wasn’t batshit rightwing. Google at your own peril. I do remember Joe Biden saying this, though. Just nobody on the left wanted to look at it because he was on the Obama ticket by then.) Seriously, I can’t wait for a healthy primary debate.
  • And, don’t forget. Before 2016, we’ve got the 2014 election cycle with which to smash and weaken the hell out of the patriarchy first. I’ve got a bunch of Stand With Texas women links up on Sisterhood of the Pink Sneaks. A very small taste, via Burnt Orange Report: Texas Democratic Organizations Urge Wendy Davis to Run for Governor. Draft Wendy. Draft Hillary.
  • I know, we’re all preparing for the onslaught of backlash. We’ve already seen some claws come out–iron my shirt slapping Hillary and such. I know Fox News et stupid al. still can’t shut up about the Weapons of Mass Destruction they found in Benghazi. Channeling my best Kiki McLean here to say: They’re STUPID. And, they are bleeding anybody who doesn’t have political derangement psychosis. Let them eat their Joker cake…
  • If they think Hillary fatigue is a concern this far out, they ought to actually worry about Hillary/Woman hater fatigue. The more desperate they get in their respective Hillary and Obama derangement, the more they will “radicalize hundreds of thousands of us” that will turn into millions and millions of us scary hairy feminists who “don’t give a flying frigidaire about your Boehners, Weiners, or Spitzers” at the national ballot box or elsewhere. Or, you know. Just normal everyday people who don’t want a bunch of Newt Gingrich clones on stupid-steroids running this country into the ground with a Second Contract against America.

Chris Christie: Teanderthal extraordinaire

  • Flashback to last August:

“For instance, I hear people talk all the time about female voters. I think it’s condescending to women to say we have to have a different message for women than we have with men. I’m going to lay out a message for our party tonight [at the Republican convention] that I think will resonate just as much with women voters as it will with men voters.”

–Chris Christie


Be-YOU-tiful, Sky dancers! Have at it in the comments. I’ll talk to y’all later tonight.

Right now, I’m off to go take care of a few things before my doctor sister’s White Coat ceremony this evening. This is the girl who rolled her little eyes at me for making her do “really hard” book reports on pandas when I played teacher and she, reluctant/only teacher’s pet. Well, look at her now. My Little Sweetheart forever, all grown up! I may be older than her by a gazillion years, but she inspires me to keep going…

…not unlike Hillary or Harriet Tubman. (“If you hear the dogs…keep going.” –Hills, DNC 2008.)