Because we have the right to create and distribute work that critically considers the world around us and our place in it as young women and as women of color. Because we have the right to let others know what we think, connect with those who feel the same way, and educate those who disagree. Because we have the right to acknowledge that we have been oppressed as women and as women of color and to encourage other women to identify and fight against oppression in their lives. Because we have the right to help cultivate a strong female community at K College, in Kalamazoo, in this country, and in the world. Because we fucking hate patriarchal, hierarchical, bourgeoisie, white supremacist society that tells us we're weak. Because we have the right to not speak, and listen, and shout at the top of our lungs, and be acknowledged and respected. Because we have the right to wear our hair naturally, cut short, legs hairy, short dresses, or low cut shirts without being ogled. Because we have the right to flaunt our sexuality and visions without consequences, threats, or fear. Because we love our fat, bony, curved, muscular, soft, pale, dark, golden, beautiful selves. Because we remember that what we do to the earth and each other, we do to ourselves. Because our anger and sadness and empathy and love is valid, and we won't apologize for it, or let it be burned out or turned against us. Because we believe the change will not be televised, tweeted, posted, tagged, blogged about, painted, sung, scrawled, or published. Because we believe the change starts from within. Because we believe in the inherent dignity of each and every person. Because we believe in a better world with our whole spirits, minds, and bodies, and imagining and working toward one is what we do.
A radical situation is a collective awakening. . . . In such situations people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons. . . . People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic "social studies" or leftist "consciousness raising." . . . Everything seems possible -- and much more is possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in "the old days." . . . Passive consumption is replaced by active communication. Strangers strike up lively discussions on street corners. Debates continue round the clock, new arrivals constantly replacing those who depart for other activities or to try to catch a few hours of sleep, though they are usually too excited to sleep very long. While some people succumb to demagogues, others start making their own proposals and taking their own initiatives. Bystanders get drawn into the vortex, and go through astonishingly rapid changes. . . . Radical situations are the rare moments when qualitative change really becomes possible. Far from being abnormal, they reveal how abnormally repressed we usually are; they make our "normal" life seem like sleepwalking. --Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution slingshot.tao.ca
To the woman who is addicted to bathing in bleach: You would rather burn than live in your own skin. Deep shades of cocoa, rich and beautiful That you see as dirty and constantly in need of a chemical scrub. You wash away any trace of melanin, in an effort to lighten your pigment To make skin match the blonde highlights in your hair. But that is not who you were meant to be, Only what the world has told you had to live up to. This is for all the little brown girls who scrub and scrub themselves away, Trying to be like the women on the TV screens. Trying desperately to lose the natural beauty that was vested upon their creed. Dear Gloria, You do not have to burn through seven layers of skin to find yourself. You do not have to separate the colors from the whites in order to match them. You are a world of dark shades outside of the confines of white bleach bottles, woman. Salwa Tareen
A BRIEF GUIDE TO CONCIOUS, ETHICAL SPENDING Bloody Mary Smith and Emerson Invert Some people don’t like New Year’s Resolutions, finding them trite, or useless, or whatever else. But the new year can be an opportune time to take an inventory of one’s personal practices and attitudes and revise them as necessary. One major aspect of life that deserves a second look is money. In addition to being a divider of people into classes and a symbol of power sometimes squandered or misguided (which it undoubtedly is), money is also a tool, a resource, a conduit for personal agency, a way for even, say, yr average college student to support practices and ideologies they agree with, and withdraw support from those they don’t. We may not always feel like we make a huge different in the world, but through conscious consumerism—that is, the intentional spending of one’s money, and education on the businesses one’s money sustains—we can make sure that the differences we are making are ones we want to make. Resist defeatism; refuse to feel that you have no choice but to support unsavory businesses or business-owners. You do have power and you do have agency, even if you’re just a student earning $7.40/hour on K’s payroll. Think of it this way: it’s only through individual support that any company, big or small, flourishes or flounders. But, you ask, how can i know which businesses i agree with, and which i don’t? Well, the Internet is a great resource, as usual (tho not always). For a more comprehensive guide, try The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones. Also check out knowmore.org. Finally, if you’re wondering where a certain company stands on gay equality, you can text the Human Rights Campaign at 306-44 with the name of the company to find out how it scores in the HRC’s Buying for Equality guide (hrc.org). But we’ve done some of the work for you: below are some major companies and a summary of their business practices, both positive and negative. There’s info on where the company stands with ecological practices, human and worker’s rights, gay rights, and general business ethics; few companies are black/white good or bad, so you’ll have to decide what yr values are and what you’re willing to support, under what conditions. Amazon.com The world’s biggest general online marketplace doesn’t have the best record: the site only collects sales tax from residents of five states, thus costing states whose residents it doesn’t tax valuable income (The New York Times); Amazon also fired over 300
customer service reps in 2001 who were pushing for a union. And it’s impossible to quantify the sheer amount of revenue Amazon has cost local merchants due to the convenience and occasionally lower prices it offers; the site sells pretty much anything you could think of, from groceries to electronics, from sex toys to toy cars to real cars, from musical instruments to books, CDs, and movies. While we realize the occasional necessity of online shopping, it’s also a good idea to make an effort to shop at local stores when you have the time and ability (and we don’t mean your local Wal-Mart). American Apparel Plaintiff’s counsel: “Did you ever, at work, refer to women as ‘sluts’?” AA CEO Dov Charney: “In private conversations, where such language was generally welcome. (knowmore.org) Touting itself as highly ethical (“Sweatshop free” is the company’s catch-phrase and their website bears a list of examples of their “commitment to the community”), American Apparel’s overall morality is not as simple as it appears. Dov Charney, CEO, and the company as a whole have been sued time and again on sexual harassment charges (business-ethics.com), and Charney as an individual is apparently a raging, testosteronecharged misogynist. He was even, for instance, quoted in a McGill Daily article as saying "Feminism is extremely restrictive. You can’t call a woman a bitch, you can’t call her this, you can’t call her that. But that’s what life’s really like. Yet she can do whatever she wants...”. Such remarks are clearly reflected in the number of sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed against Charney and his apparent lack of willingness to change his behavior. Another prime example is described in a 2004 article in Jane magazine by Claudine Ko; during an interview with the CEO, Charney proceeded to masturbate in the midst of the interview. Ko recorded a later communication, as well: “’Masturbation in front of women is underrated,' Dov explains to me later over the phone. 'It’s much easier on the woman. She gets to watch, it’s a sensual experience that doesn’t involve a man violating a woman, yet once the man has his release, it’s over and you can talk to the guy” (Jane). This not-so-charmingly cavalier exhibitionism has led to three sexual harassment suits against Charney alone. Though American Apparel’s commitment to sweatshop free production is laudable, this company simply cannot be supported if it is founded on such outright misogyny.
Apple “Despite the popularity of its products, where the environment is concerned this company is one sour Apple.” (knowmore.org) Apple has been the target of numerous campaigns undertaken by groups such as Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network advocating the company take steps to reduce their negative environmental impact. Almost all of Apple’s products contain toxic materials and chemicals that are harmful enough on their first use but become exponentially more threatening when the products are discarded, usually ending up in a developing country to be dismantled for scrap materials so that the toxicity is even more dangerously exposed. If you are unwilling or feel unable to completely boycott Apple, take action through the Computer TakeBack Campaign (http://www.computertakeback.com/home/) to insist that Apple better their business and environmental practices. Delta Despite being the world’s largest airline, Delta commits few of its resources to the fight against global warming or off-setting the greenhouse gas emissions its jets produce, earning it a 5 out of 100 score in Climate Counts’ climate-consciousness scorecard. For a slightly more environmentally-conscious airline, try US Airways, which scored a 43 on the same scorecard. Delta did, however, earn an 85 out of 100 from the HRC. Gap Gap is a mixed bag when it comes to ethics. Throughout the early 2000s, Gap was revealed to be involved in human rights violations in countries from the Dominican Republic to India to Thailand. Gap factories in these countries were found to employ children as young as ten, to underpay women, to overlook physical abuse of factory workers, and to have workers working as long as 12 hour days (knowmore.com). However, Gap responded to this sort of exposé by promptly discontinuing these factory contracts, by joining the Ethical Trading Initiative in 2004, and by integrating a rigorous system of assessing company practices called the Global Compliance program (http://www.ethicaltrade.org). Gap is also rated 100 (out of 100) by the Human Rights Campaign on its Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies’ practices towards queer employees (hrc.org). Google Rated as one of the 2010 World’s Most Ethical Companies by
ethisphere.com, Google bears as its (informal) motto the phrase “Don’t be evil.” By and large the company seems to be successful at upholding its ideals, though it has received criticism largely for censorship and copyright infringement issues. Though there’s not too much inherently wrong with Google, then, it’s good to keep in mind that there are other search engine options— notably Goodsearch.com, where you can choose a charity or organization to benefit from the engine, which donates a portion of its profits (50%!). Kimberly-Clark This giant corporation manufactures about a dozen well-known brands of paper products, including Kotex, Viva paper towels, Kleenex, Cotonelle toilet paper, and Huggies diapers. However, until 2009, when the company finally caved under pressure of a Greenpeace campaign called Kleercut (kleercut.net), KimberlyClark harvested the wood pulp for its products from ancient Boreal forests in parts of Canada. Though the company has officially agreed to change its practices, a continued sense of skepticism couldn’t hurt. Target As major companies go, Target is one of the better (as opposed to Wal-Mart, below). Its Target School Fundraising program has donated more than $100 million to public schools since its inception in 1997; the company scored an 85 out of 100 from the HRC and upholds a policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation (among other things). Environmentally, while not perfect, “they frequently encourage recycling and many of their facilities are sustainable” (knowmore.org). Target is also extremely philanthropic, donating 2.1% of its income (Forbes); offering monetary and material donations and shelter in times of natural disaster; and donating some returned or seasonal merchandise to Goodwill. Wal-Mart Perhaps the company most notorious for its bad business practices, Wal-Mart is also the largest company in the world, employing over 1.5 million people worldwide. Wal-Mart’s practices are questionable enough to merit a documentary that speaks out against them, 2005’s Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices. As such, it’s hard to know where to begin to describe Wal-Mart’s lack of ethics, but for one, the typical full-time employee’s work week is limited to 32 hours/week rather than the standard 40 hour work week, disqualifying employees from working overtime and making it difficult for them to receive health benefits. Wal-Mart also aggressively opposes unions and is currently the defendant in a class-action lawsuit on the grounds
of systematically discriminating against female employees. WalMart relies heavily on imports from overseas, despite its image as an all-American company, which has, at least, inspired the company to launch an internal investigation of its overseas practices to ensure that none of them violate U.S. federal law (International Business Times). Environmentally, the company has a terrible track record, including a habit of building stores in “environmentally sensitive areas”; for example, in 2009, Wal-Mart lobbied to remove the Northern Pine Snake from the endangered species list so it could build a store in the snake’s last remaining habitat. The company has also stated that it is responsible for 250 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, with no apparent efforts to offset this (knowmore.org). Despite all of this, Wal-Mart is an enormously popular store, attracting scads of shoppers with its advertising campaign that boasts low prices for consumers (at the hidden expense of employees and taxpayers); in 2011, the company grossed a whopping $114.2 billion (wikinvest.com). Though the company is making some efforts to clean up its act, as evidenced in the aforementioned internal investigation and some investment in renewable energy sources, Wal-Mart is still a nightmare in so many ways, and we’re going to go out on a limb and suggest that everyone boycott it until some significant reforms are made. → A final important consideration when it comes to ethical spending is the presence of women in the corporation under question. None of the companies above have female CEOs. In fact, out of not just all Fortune 500 companies but indeed all Fortune 1000 companies, there are only 22 with female CEOs (womenonbusiness.com). Kraft Foods, Xerox, Yahoo, Sunoco, TJX (incorporating TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, HomeGoods, etc.), and PepsiCo (incorporating Gatorade, Tropicana, Quaker Oats, etc) are among the few companies with women at the top. Furthermore, some companies on the 2011 National Association for Female Executive’s List of Top Companies for Executive Women include General Mills, State Farm, Sodexo, and Xerox. Rock on!
Between Our Sheets Tshephiso Teseletso Daily as I stare at our mirror A deep, stretched scar at my lower lip greets me I make an effort to smile But a set of two teeth seemed to be robbed Strangely I can’t quite remember why or how I start to cry but no tear flows They have long been drained by him I touch my pale-red cheek To squeeze a depression-symptom pimple That had turned concentrated yellow I see a reflection of my trembling hands. My index and middle finger are crippled From last decade’ one of the many battles When I had forgotten to wake up And untie your shoe laces on your way from work All because I had long waited for you and retired to our bed And you appeared in the dawn of the following day I know my mother once told me fiercely Long before you told me to shut her out of our lives That my face and posture are a reflection of pain and misery She had told me I was a living picture of her passed-away daughter But why can’t I find any relevance in her words to me Why can’t I feel like I am as oppressed as she said I was One thing I know is that I used to love him Then I started to hate him spitefully Then I roamed somewhere between loving and hating him Now my heart cannot yield any subtle emotion It is so confused and in suspense of its stance
Or better has lost its privilege of voting what it holds dear As I stand and stare blankly at our blue-painted kitchen I canâ€™t quite remember when and what I ate last My stomach used to yield complaining sounds That reminded me that i should grab something to consume But at times I used to forget what the sounds summoned And I guess it ran out of patience and sympathy and gave up. I canâ€™t quite tell when the last time I tightly closed my eyes was And got a soundless undisturbed long sleep-I am bed phobic. I fear the wrath of the daring scary long dreams That seems to be stored somewhere between our sheets I wish so much that I had the courage to wash our sheets And disperse these enduring nightmares that dwell in them Apparently I have to conserve the memory of him and me Between our sheets with a pirate skull drawing in the centre I just cannot shower, before he passed away He always emphasised that there was no difference Between the showered me and the about to shower me The difference was the same that was what he said after I showered I believed him and still do, he has always been right about everything They say he has died but each night I hear his footsteps in the bathroom And his knock on the kitchen door behind I quickly rush to hide between our sheets Only to find that I am all alone in the spacious bed But still I feel his fierce, strong hand coming towards my face The sound of his deep, fast heartbeat rocks and shakes our bed But when I reach out with a trembling hand i cannot touch him Between our sheets I lay alone confusedly, With nothing except his haunting memory.
Masturbatory Timeline (incomplete) Emerson Invert circa age 9 Sometimes, i get on the arm of my father's arm chair that i like to sit in when he is away, watch television and do homework from. When i get on the arm, i press on it slightly, pressing my pelvis against it, and the harder i press, the better it feels in a strange, unfamiliar way. I don't have words for this, and when i choose to do it, it's almost subconscious; i don't think to myself, i'm going to ride the chair now, but just find myself doing it in idle moments after school when the house is empty, when i feel the phone won't ring and jerk me out of my reverie. For i do feel a certain shame about this, even though i have no idea what i'm doing or that my mother's religion is against it. It's as if these ideas have seeped into my fourth grade brain subconsciously, insidiously, and i'll find a few years later, when i'm wise to all this, that i was right to feel wrong. To make myself stop, i think, "What if daddy saw me doing this? Grandpa? Would i feel ashamed?" The answer is yes, and i get off the chair. age 11 I've become aware of sex, mostly through movies at first, and hushed talk in the classroom and on the playground. Sometimes, when i'm in bed at night, i replay sex scenes from the relatively rare PG-13 movie my father allows me to watch. After i've become good at this, i start to think up simple scenes of my own, focusing on beautiful women. I don't touch myself while i do this; this idea hasn't yet crossed my mind, despite the fact that two years earlier, i was doing the touching without the thinking. And again, i end up feeling guilty at the way the thoughts make me feel good, and one night decide that it's dirty, and that it's wrong and that i should stop, and i feel righteous when i do so, virtuous, and subsequently guilty whenever i succumb again. age 12 A piece of spam directed to my little-used but frequently checked Hotmail account introduces me to porn, a website called "Please Bang My Wife." Even at this point, i wasn't entirely sure of the mechanics of sexâ€”i knew it existed, that it was where babies came from, that it was (only) between men and womenâ€”but had no idea what it looked like. My brief human sexuality units in late elementary school had glossed over these details, and my father avoided the subject entirely. So when i am faced with a close-up clip of a woman being fucked, i feel frightened, shocked, and intrigued. This same year, a friend tells me that sex probably hurts, because female lions look like they're in pain when they mate with male lions on the Animal Planet. This, coupled with the noises the woman in the clip makes, and the very appearance of the sex act, forces me to conclude that sex is painful. From this point on, it's common for my vagina to clamp painfully shut at the mere thought of penetrative sex, which is the only type of sex i know of for another year or so. Even so, porn fascinates me, morbidly so, until i am seeking it out almost every day, different types and websites, sometimes with my computer on mute with my father in the very same room, in the very same family room in the very same armchair i'd ridden a few years prior. Shame over thinking sexual thoughts dissipates gradually. However, i don't like how drawn to it i
am, how sometimes it makes me feel dirt, and i find it ugly simply because of the style, the graphicness, and i make myself stop watching. age 13 A friend and i become aware of sex together. She is a year older than me and is able to inform me of further intricacies. Eventually we become aware of masturbation, in its full-fledged name-ness and methods and possibilities. I decide i want to. And realize i (think i) don't know how. So i Google it and find myself in the shower one evening, house empty, shower head in hand. A consciously chosen temperature and a well-positioned stream of water later and i feel better than i ever have in my life. Eventually, i can make my hand work, too. age 16 Though i regularly masturbate to the thought of women, mostly view lesbian porn (which i'd since learned to combine, on the occasion, with masturbation for best results), i don't want it to occur to me that i could be gay, until i come in my sleep for the first and only time thus far while dreaming of kissing my newest best friend and favorite person, a beautiful girl named Bloody Mary Smith. age 18 I am attending a meeting of the feminist organization at the small liberal arts college of my choice. As it's the beginning of the year, we are going around the room, sharing names, majors, highs and lows of our weeks. One girl, a senior, rattles off a typical spiel, pauses just a moment, then adds, "Oh, and my new vibrator arrived in the mail today. I hope you don't mind a little bit of oversharing." Everyone laughs appreciatively, but i am deep in a realization: I have a debit card. I now have a private mailbox, far from my aunt and her meaning-no-harm but having-no-boundaries eyes. And i have access to the internet. A week later, a nondescript box arrives for me at the mail center, and i scurry to the bathroom of the student union to rip into the package, admire my brand-new vibrator in its package, oddly patriotic with its swirls of red, white, and blue. I pick up C batteries in the bookstore, praying on one will ask me what they're for, relatively obscure product that they are anymore. No one does, and for the rest of the year i live in muted terror that the vibrator that i come to use almost every night will be discovered by an unsuspecting friend who flops themselves onto my bed, that i'll forget to stow it in an innocent plastic tub of winter clothes, along with my shame. Luckily, that doesn't come to pass.
â€” Katie Woodward
Shit I m Too Black For: Audre Lorde Quotes There s this big ass word called INTERSECTIONALITY. I know y all heard it. It s definitely a buzz in the academe. Get into it, tho. Think of that shit like the cross stitch to a good weave. Not that cheap shit. Hella interwoven. So then understand that traditional systems of oppression are interlocking and do not act independently of one another, don t get it twisted. Therefore, my white people, I ma need y all to officially get off this Audre Lorde quote, if you re not going to understand the context of her entire speech/essay: For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support. Or the statement above it (yeah, we know, Lorde was on that genius shit): Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist. Because you know, you have to ask, what was the following paragraph though? If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism? What was Audre commenting on, we wonder? Oh, perhaps the racism that is deeply embedded within feminism, which itself often goes unchecked in its dependence on patriarchy. Don t think for a moment that white women stood idly by during slavery. No ma am. The Idyllic Plantation Mistress is a myth. Do read Thavolia Glymph. Do read Darlene Hine. Do read Jennifer Morgan. Lorde was trying to let you know that by saying, Let s stop the divisiveness, we re all women, you are denying that women of color are suffering under other systems of oppression that include not just sexism. Yes, white womyn, it hurts to know that you, too, can be agents of oppression.
Now if Audre said this in the 1970s, what makes you think that the bullshit you spitting now is any more relevant or any more new? Don t attempt to whitewash the power of Lorde s words because they don t sit pretty with your feminist utopian vision of women s equality. What Audre Lorde was asking for was equity. -SITBF
References Invert, E. and Robertson, A. Personal communication.
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