Tag Archives: normal

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part III)

We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about Whiteness, but maybe it’s time just to ask the question directly.

When I say something’s White, what image pops into your head?

Is it something like this?

Or something like this?

Or maybe one of these?

There is a certain image attached to White people, or the very least, generalized to White “culture.” That of the dork. The effete nerd. The bland, out-of-touch suburbanite, fearfully barricading themselves in their comfortable gated community.

And that’s a little ****ed up.

A little.

My day isn’t ruined when I hear a comedian lampoon White folks. I don’t fly into an indignant rage when someone cracks a joke about mayonnaise being too spicy. I certainly don’t think being called “Cracker” carries the same nasty implications as someone getting called “Nigger.”

But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me just a tiny bit. Continue reading

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Hollywood’s Cover-Ups or Indonesia’s Castration Method: How Should We Deal With Pedophiles?

The sexual assault of a child is the most abhorrent crime in the world. As a society we curse those who commit such crimes and refuse to recognize them as anything but outsiders and deviants. Unfortunately, pedophilia is far more common than we care to admit.

Former child actors Elijah Wood and Corey Feldman recently drew attention to the problem of pedophilia in Hollywood. While Wood only pointed to events he had heard about (and last year’s documentary film, An Open Secret), Feldman referred to his own experience with abuse

Unfortunately for Feldman, even if he would like to call out the men who abused him as a child he is unable to do so for legal reasons:

I would love to name names. I’d love to be the first to do it. But unfortunately California conveniently enough has a statute of limitations that prevents that from happening. Because if I were to go and mention anybody’s name I would be the one that would be in legal problems and I’m the one that would be sued.

In a stark juxtaposition to Hollywood, Indonesia is also in the news for their dealings with pedophiles. After a 14-year-old girl was brutally gang raped and then murdered, President Joko Widodo introduced a new law that would mean the death penalty or chemical castration for the sexual assault of a minor.

After reading about the injustice of Hollywood, where survivors are unable to prosecute the predators who took advantage of them, reading about Indonesia can feel like a breath of fresh air. However, it’s worth looking beyond our gut reaction to ask if forced chemical castration, and the possibility of the death penalty, will actually work as a deterrent against the sexual assault of a minor. Continue reading

Homosexuality in Comics: Here Be Lesbians

Just as in most forms of media LGBT representation has been lacking in comic books, both in the content created and those responsible for its creation. It’s a conversation that will last for decades until such a time that we can look to art and see that yes, it does reflect the world we live in, such as it is. In regards to all of this there are times when a person will look at their pull list and decide that the stars have aligned just right, and that it’s time to dust off a blog feature of sorts that hasn’t been used in years.

It began with “Homosexuality In Comics As Of May 20th”, a post in 2012 that shone some light on DC Comics’ announcement that they would be introducing a previously straight character as gay,  having that person become “one of [their] most prominent gay characters.” One year later there was “… As of July 26th”, in which I revealed the aforementioned hero-

Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-2 [an alternate universe]

-and shared my personal opinion on how not to introduce LGBT characters [ie. as a revelation after decades of established straightness]. That was where I left things, saying that we need more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, etc. men and women and others in the medium that I love so dearly without offering much of a solution.

Thankfully two of this week’s titles helped a) me out in this regard and b) improve the pop culture landscape of which comic books are only a small part of. Continue reading

Black, Yellow, Brown, Or Normal

The title of this post comes from the image below, which I see floating around the internet from time to time. It might’ve been from one of Cracked’s PhotoShop contests, I really have no idea.

ornormal

The reason I’m bringing this to your attention is to underscore the fact that, by and large, “White” really does equal “normal,” at least in North America. You don’t really have to search hard to stumble across that fact, either. Think about how it works when you recount stories to other people-

Imagine you’re talking about this weird dude who sat down next to you on the subway. If he was White, would you bother mentioning that? How about if he was Black, or Asian, or Latino?

The terminology used in this gif aside, you probably never make reference to a White person’s ethnicity.

Continue reading

Pride Weekend: Now and The Future

The CN Tower, putting on a special light show for Pride Week.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that this upcoming weekend is a long one due to Canada Day [July 1]. Imagine my continued surprise when I found out that not only is this weekend Pride Weekend, but that it actually coincides with the national holiday more often than not.

I’ve been in Toronto for the past six or so summers, and it really has taken it this long for the latter to dawn on me; that’s in spite of the fact that this city hosts one of the largest gay pride festivals on the planet. We have an entire week dedicated to celebrating LGBT people, an event that has one of the most user-friendly websites I have ever laid eyes on. Continue reading

Shame Day: Microaggressions

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a website called The Microaggressions Project and then promptly forgot about it. Returning to it tonight I looked over the “About” page, which had the following paragraph at the top:

This project is a response to “it’s not a big deal” – “it” is a big deal. ”It” is in the everyday. ”It” is shoved in your face when you are least expecting it. ”It” happens when you expect it the most. ”It” is a reminder of your difference. ”It” enforces difference. ”It” can be painful. ”It” can be laughed off. ”It” can slide unnoticed by either the speaker, listener or both. ”It” can silence people. ”It” reminds us of the ways in which we and people like us continue to be excluded and oppressed. ”It” matters because these relate to a bigger “it”: a society where social difference has systematic consequences for the “others.”

A little later on they define what “microaggressions” are, a term that was originally coined to speak about racial experiences. From the essay “Racial microaggressions in everyday life: implications for clinical practice,” which appeared in American Psychologist, Vol. 62, No.4:

“Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”

One example of this could be a White couple walking down the street and having a Black man pass by them on the sidewalk. The woman clutches her purse tighter against her body, the subconscious idea being, of course, that Black men are prone to crime and should not be trusted.

As an Asian-Canadian I’ve experienced microaggressions plenty of times. I’ve had someone ask me if I was half-White [I am clearly not] with their rationale being that my “English was very good.” It can be an everyday occurrence for non-White people [I deign to use the word minorities, since I do believe that balance is turning the other way], and begs the question: “Why is this such a big deal?”

Writer of the aforementioned article and author of Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation, Derald Wing Sue, PhD, has observed that microaggressions have actually been found to: “(a) assail the mental health of recipients, (b) create a hostile and invalidating work or campus climate, (c) perpetuate stereotype threat, (d) create physical health problems, (e) saturate the broader society with cues that signal devaluation of social group identities, (f) lower work productivity and problem solving abilities, and (g) be partially responsible for creating inequities in education, employment and health care.”

In other words, a Black or Latino man being stopped for a “random vehicle check” by police could be upset, and may even be accused of overreacting. Maybe they should simply be used to this and not let it bother them. The truth is that it makes them feel, even if only subconsciously, like second-class citizens. It’s true in a case as blatant as this one, and in an as subtle an action as hanging a Confederate flag or  having a Native American stereotype as a high school mascot.

To broaden this to the scope that The Microaggressions Project seeks to attain, microaggressions can include people saying to a person with Asperger’s, with no ill-intent whatsoever, “That you seem so normal!” It can be a 17-year-old girl being told by her gynecologist that just because she has access to birth control pills doesn’t mean she can just sleep around.

Microaggressions work in every direction. It’s like going to a Vietnamese restaurant and being given a fork and spoon instead of chopsticks because you’re White and not Asian. Microaggressions are built on assumptions and can make people painfully aware of who they are. They are rarely meant to offend, but often do. 

It truly is a shame that so much of the time we send out microaggressions without so much as a second thought, and then defend ourselves by deeming the offended to be “too sensitive.” While we won’t always be aware of how our words or actions can harm others, we can at the very least listen to the people being hurt, and in doing so try to lessen the presence of microaggressions in our society.