Thursday, November 05, 2009

Valuing Fat

I really loved this post over at FWD/Forward (if you haven't checked them out: do! They put out a steady stream of awesome). I thought of it today in my biology class. We weren't about disability or mental health, but about fat.

My professor was listing things that are good about fat. Which is great! Fat is not intrinsically bad! In fact, we need it!

But during the talk about what is good about fat, she used the phrase "Unfortunately, women have more body fat than men". Women have more of this thing I'm trying to tell you that your body needs: unfortunately.

She directly followed that sentence with: "That's why if you go to Sea World, for example, the pearl divers you see are female." Which, is, cool! This is a thing women can do better than men because they're fat! This is a situation in which we must reframe what we value! This is a context in which something that we usually see as a burden, is a gift! SO COOL.

If only you hadn't completely defeated that point in your previous sentence.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christopher Street Boys Are Badass

I'm all about the idea that if we "accept" differences without valuing them, it's not really progress. (i.e. I'm for women's rights - they just have to act like men because girly feminine stuff is sissy and weak and frivolous. I'm for gay rights - I want gay people to get married because a marriage is the only kind of relationship that should have protections and rights. And so on.)

Naturally, I totally loved this video by Jay Smooth about the idea that anything gay = weak. When, really? Christopher Street Boys (and Girls and Otherly Gendered Folk) are badass.

Transcript below the cut (which hopefully works now!):

"Christopher Street Boy." Larry Johnson, the running back for the Chiefs, got into an argument with a fan on twitter this weekend - which is always a smart thing to do - and in the midst of this argument, Larry Johnson called this fan a fag, and then he said "Christopher Street Boy. Is what us East Coast cats call u." Christopher Street Boy. Now, Larry Johnson, I gotta ask, what is it you think Christopher Street Boy means, exactly? Because I don't think it means what you think it means. I'm guessing have a vague idea Christopher Street is associated with gay people, and in your mind gay means weak, so you thought that was a good way to insult somebody. But that's not exactly what Christopher Street Boy means. So since I am also an East Coast cat, I'm gonna try to help you out, and break down some history for you.

Christopher Street is associated with gay people, mostly because of something called the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Riots happened in 1969 in a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, which like most gay bars back then used to get raided by cops all the time, because cops thought it was their job to harass gay people. But on this particular night, at this particular gay bar, these particular gay people decided that they were not having it. And they went outside the bar and fought back for the first time against these cops. And they fought back so hard against these cops outside the bar? That ten cops had to run back in the bar and lock themselves inside to hide from the crowd. This gang of ten cops was hiding from the people who you call Christopher Street Boys. And then, when those cops called a whole bunch of back up, that crowd of Christopher Street Boys, and Girls, had a showdown in the street with all of that backup, that went down in history as the Stonewall Riots and gave birth to the gay rights movement. Which means, Larry Johnson, that when you call that guy a Christopher Street Boy and you think it's a clever way to call him soft and wimpy, you're actually talking about people who are famous for winning a bar fight against a GANG OF COPS. You're talking about people who started a movement by showing the world gay DOESN'T mean weak. You're talking about people, Larry Johnson, that were way tougher and more courageous than you will ever be in your life. That is who Christopher Street Boys are.

And I'm not saying you don't have a right to speak! I'm actually rooting for you to keep on tweeting. I want you to jump in that social media hole and keep digging, so that the Chiefs will finally be forced to put your crappy two-yards-per-carry ass on the bench. And then I can start using your backup on my fantasy team. That would be great for me.

But I still felt like I should pass this message on to you, because as a representative of the East Coast Cat coalition, it's my duty to let a fellow member know you were slipping on this one, and you need to tighten up.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Loving Because, Not Despite

Today is Love Your Body Day.

I've been thinking the past few days, about bodies. Bodies is a big old topic. When we talk about "loving our bodies", we're usually silently adding "...despite our weight/size". And for good reason - one source indicates that more than 50% of young women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat. It makes me wonder, of course, how many of the women included in this study were fat? How many of those fat young women indicated that they would rather be hit by a truck than be themselves?

The thing about loving our bodies is, we shouldn't be loving our bodies DESPITE of anything. We should be loving our bodies BECAUSE of everything, fat included. Nomy Lamm has written an excellent piece on this topic. Me? I don't identify as fat, because I don't think fat oppression has affected me, at least not any more so than it affects any thin person. I don't want this to seem like I think being fat is a bad thing, something I was to disassociate from, or that I think there is some magical specific weight/shape where fat ends and thin begins. I just don't think it would be right for me to call myself fat when it's not something that actually impacts my life on a day to day basis. That said, I have fat, and I do not see my fat as an inherently negative trait. I'm squishy, and I love that about myself. Kittens sleep comfortably on my belly. People of all kinds find me quite cuddly.

Fat hatred isn't the only thing that keeps us from loving our bodies, though. In my case, I spent a lot of time and energy hating on my hair. My body hair, I mean, and not just on my legs and under my arms - hair springs profusely from my neck, chest and stomach. Growing up, a lot of people told me that hair on women was unattractive. I didn't meet or even see hairy women until I was a legal adult, and by then, it was too late. I was thoroughly dependent on my (fairly ineffective) hair-ridding rituals. Even after I got the message that hairy women were real and could be successful and beautiful and awesome, a lifetime of self-hating left me a lot of insecurities. I'd say it's only in the past six months, as I've increasingly identified as gender variant, have I been able to fully embrace and display my body hair with real love and pride. While the relief and self-love have been super amazing (seriously - you may not understand the impact of this statement unless you've been paralyzed with fear at the mere thought of it, but I actually like to wear shorts in public), it strikes me, of course, that only in recognizing my gender as non-binary could I recognize my body hair as beautiful. To be a truly empowered hairy woman may elude me forever.

In my mind I see this woman, this normal woman. We know she's normal, because we see her everywhere, but she doesn't actually exist.

It's almost easier to describe what this normal woman is not than what she is, because almost everything she is becomes invisible in its ubiquity.
This normal woman is thin. We know fat women are not normal, because we don't see them, and when we do see them, they are a cautionary tale.
This normal woman is able-bodied. We know disabled women are not normal, because we don't see them, and when we do see them, they are to be pitied.
This normal woman is white. We know women of color are not normal, because we don't see them, and when we do see them, they are exotic.
This normal woman is cis and gender-conforming. We know trans and gender non-conforming women are not normal, because we don't see them, and when we do see them, they are the butt of jokes.

I'm simplifying a lot of issues here. The point is, loving your body is discouraged on many different fronts. Loving your body can not be about loving your body despite. Loving your body despite means accepting a non-reality: that this normal woman exists and everyone should/can aspire to be her. There are too many bodies whose realities can never, ever line up with kyriarchal standards of beautiful, or even of normal.

Love Your Body Day may be over by the time you read this, depending on what time zone you're in, but I encourage you to spend a little time anyway thinking about the things you have been taught to love your body despite of - the things about you that you have been told are ugly, abnormal, or just the things you have never been told are beautiful. Loving these things is a radical act.

Love everything about your body - and, I think this is crucial, also love everything about someone else's. The more we realize the vast variety of things we can love in others, the more we feel worthy of love ourselves.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

On Humankind (The Word, Not the Kind)

So, if you haven't read The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck, read it. Then seek out the follow up posts. Then you should maybe just subscribe to Shakesville, it being one of my favorite places on the internet.

Anyway. The piece got published by The Guardian, and surprise, the comments were not as supportive. I want to talk about one thing in particular that kept coming up: "humankind".

Melissa McEwan uses gender-neutral language as an example at the end of a long list of little things that complicate her (and many women's) relationship with men, even and especially men they respect and love:

"My mistrust is not, as one might expect, primarily a result of the violent acts done on my body, nor the vicious humiliations done to my dignity. It is, instead, born of the multitude of mundane betrayals that mark my every relationship with a man—the casual rape joke, the use of a female slur, the careless demonization of the feminine in everyday conversation, the accusations of overreaction, the eyerolling and exasperated sighs in response to polite requests to please not use misogynist epithets in my presence or to please use non-gendered language ('humankind')."

In the comments at The Guardian, that very last bit is brought up over. And over. And over. In order to prove Melissa is somehow overreacting, and this is the proof - she cares about this little tiny linguistic semantic nonsense. Some even say that, she makes good points, but that one? Ridiculous. Just a few examples, so you don't have to wade into the shitstorm that is, really, most comments threads:

"Has it never occured to her that she hears all this 'sexist abuse' as comments like 'use non-gendered language ('humankind')' are a red rag to a bull to pisstakers? Does she really not realise how ridiculous she actually comes across as? is there any self awareness at all?"

"Whilst I'm generally a supporter of women's movements for social and political equality, some things in this article seem a bit much. For example: please use non-gendered language ('humankind'). Why the hell does it matter if they say mankind? We're all adults here, and no-one apart from Foucault's spawn genuinely believe that slight alterations of language mean anything for women's rights."

Listen up: I'm going to start using the word "womankind", since it doesn't matter, and, come on, you know what I meant. I'm going to do this not just in friendly conversation, but in all of my classes, whenever I'm writing an article for publication, whenever I give a speech or presentation on any topic, and especially whenever I'm reading in church.
Most of my professors use "womankind", too, you know, because it's easier and, who cares? Changing it to the neutral "humankind" doesn't affect anyone and it's not going to solve anything. Politicians have picked it up, too. And clergy - priests, rabbis, imams, what have you - they have to use "womankind" a lot, and why bother changing it? It's been around forever, and it's not a big inconvenience to anyone.

Oh, and when I walk into a room to greet people of mixed genders, I'm going to say "What's up, you gals?" Then we're all going to hang out, maybe watch the NBA, or if no games are on, the MNBA. When they leave, I guess I'll hang out alone and listen to my walkwoman, or play on my gamegirl.

This exercise might have struck you as a little silly. Good. It strikes me as a little silly that flipping it this way doesn't occur to most people. And it strikes me as a little silly that a person who has heard themselves acknowledged in the language everyone around them uses since the dawn of fucking time can tell someone else that language doesn't affect them, and furthermore, that it's worth mocking someone who does feel affected.

Maybe language is a symptom of a "real" problem of male experience being considered universal and female experience being considered specialized (and therefore less valuable). Personally, I think it's more than that; I think there is an attitude and assumption built into all that language (or, that all that language was built ON), and using it perpetuates that problem. I think changing it would make a difference, because it would hopefully cause one to think about why the assumption present in that language is not ok. (Not to mention the thousands of women who would feel less stressed out by being reminded that society neglects and excludes them, for example, in church, or in the literature that we consider classic, or in speeches by their elected officials, or in a chat with their friends.)

But maybe you don't agree. In which case you have two options, as I see it: argue until you're blue in the face that changing the language fixes nothing! You're wasting your time! No one cares about this shit! Linguistics! Semantics!

Or woman up and just attempt to say "humankind" because there's no real reason not to.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Favorite Thing... Ever?

Maybe that's a tad hyperbolic, as I'm also a fan of food and oxygen and the human capacity to love.

But somewhere near the top of that list? Free documentaries on the internet. Here's a few sites dedicated specifically to this:
Snag Films
Hulu Documentaries
Logo Real Momentum GLBTQI Documentaries

But what triggered this post was actually a documentary I watched on youtube yesterday, Boy I Am. It doesn't speak to my exact experience (no single piece of media really speaks to anyone's exact experience, does it?), but a lot of the topics it addresses are topics that have been bubbling in my head as a feminist (and beyond that, a person whose work and studies and support networks all involve feminists and feminism), and as an increasingly gender non-conforming person who has always been invested in transgender inclusion and rights.

Here's part 1:

And part 2:

The rest is on youtube (you can find it, I believe in you), and I recommend viewing the whole thing. If you want to know more about the film or buy it, the film's official site is here, and you can purchase it through Women Makes Movies.

This is also one of the reasons I really truly deeply love the internet: finding people who think like you (especially in the case that "you" are marginalized or non-normative) is easy in ways generations before could not imagine.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

New (Reality) Love

I don't want to say I'm over Project Runway. But after a few seasons of on-and-off watching? It's not vital to my being. I might still comment on it - because I do still watch it - but, you know what? I've found someone else.

None of the designers, or the styles, on Project Runway have really caught my eye the way Ashley of Top Chef already has.

Of course, I might be biased by the fact that the first challenge was completely dull. Red carpet? Seriously? The place where boring = classic, and actually expressing an ounce of individuality = worst dressed list. I know we're under new management here, but usually the first challenge of Project Runway is about throwing everyone out of their comfort zone and seeing who doesn't lose their shit. Not "make a pretty dress for pretty people - that's it, ok, go!"
So, time will tell if I'm actually interested enough to write anything on this. But don't wait patiently on it.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Problem with Shaking My Ass

I use Stumbleupon, and I once thumbs-upped a website about feminism. I don't remember what the site was, but I remember one of the comments on it, along the lines of: "Women have it better than men. They get a speeding ticket, they shake their ass. They need a drink, they shake their ass. They want a promotion, they shake their ass."

In response to that comment on Stumbleupon, I said "Yes, because I love having to get things with my ass instead of my voice." But there's more to it than that.

This morning, I thought about the fact that a State Fire Marshall is coming to my workplace, and that my boss told me that if we upset him, even if it had nothing to do with the fire code, our whole facility could be in danger. I was changing this morning, saw myself in the mirror and thought, What if he comes to talk to me while I'm working the front desk? What if he doesn't like the fact that I'm gender non-conforming? What if he says something about it?

I couldn't do anything if that happened, I told myself immediately. I couldn't complain or report it. I shouldn't even talk back to him. My workplace might have bad relations with the fire department for a long time if I did, and too many people need this place to thrive. Then my mind wandered.

What if I was looking particularly feminine that day instead, and what if he hit on me? I should take it, I told myself, to keep him in a good mood, to not endanger my job and the jobs of others.

What if I was pulled over, and the cop told me to shake my ass to get out of my ticket? More importantly - what would he do if I didn't? Would I get a bigger ticket? One that I couldn't afford? What if he touched me? What if I didn't let him? Would I be arrested? Would I be attacked?

Later today I was reading the deeply disturbing post about anti-feminist reactions to George Sodoni on Alas, A Blog. Some said that women should consider the murders a "tax" for women taking advantage of men. Some said that women deserved this for not sleeping with men.

The thing the anti-feminists ignore, or maybe just accept, when talking about how women take advantage of men, is that in their imagined situations, men have the actual power. Unfortunately, in reality, it usually remains true, that straight white able-bodied cis men have the most power - socially and economically, and they are more likely to be in positions of authority. Women, according to anti-feminists, gain access to (or "take advantage of") men's power by giving men a sense of ownership of their bodies (shaking their ass or "putting out").

Of course, the idea that this is what "power" is for women is so deeply problematic. But if we follow the logic, what happens when women deny men ownership of their bodies? They remain powerless. And those with power can (and often do) punish them.

No, anti-feminists, women don't have it better than men. Because it can come down to this. Because if I don't shake my ass, I'll get a ticket. Because if I don't flirt back, I don't know how this stranger at the bar will react. Because if I don't have sex with him, maybe my supervisor will fire me. Because if I don't put up with sexual harassment, I will be punished. Because if I report it, those in control of my life will resent me. Because if I acknowledge that my body is mine, and not yours, I am putting myself in danger.

The worst part of writing this? Is that I know there are some minds that wouldn't change from reading it.

edit: I'm not saying this is right, or that therefore women SHOULD put up with harassment or SHOULDN'T report it. I'm saying that anti-feminists who complain about women having it better don't realize that punishing women for expressing body autonomy is not a TAX or a PAYBACK for taking advantage of men - it's a system that ensures men can continue taking advantage of women.
I also think if anything DID happen, my workplace would support me in reporting it - but the people who I would be reporting on would have the power to make our lives more difficult, and whether they'd exert it or not, that's the crux of the issue.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Breaking News: White Privilege Exists

Obama mishandled comments on race. Bold headline, eh?

According to the article: "Americans are more likely to disapprove than approve of how President Barack Obama has dealt with the racially tinged dispute between a white Cambridge, Mass., police officer and a well-known black Harvard scholar — with white voters especially likely to take a negative view, according to a poll released Thursday."

Emphasis mine.
Gee. Really? White people are less likely to empathize with Obama's sentiments on this? I think this poll, and the wording of its reporting, is less telling of Obama's tact and more telling of those who took the poll. In other words, white privilege still exists. Of course, that headline might not go over as well.

Also, I'm continuously surprised (though I shouldn't be) that the public is surprised that police officers did something racist. This story - and I'm sure some bloggers have touched on this but I haven't read them - is only a big story because a Harvard professor was involved. If it were a middle class or poor black person that no one had heard of before, this would not be reported on. It would be the norm. And, Ian added when we were discussing it today, "he would probably still be in jail".


Saturday, July 18, 2009


Q: Where in the news media can you find a discussion of race in which the host addresses the most basic ways white people are privileged, instead of mindless squawking about what is and is not racist, or, more often lately, "reverse-racist"?

A: Come on now.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Neutral Man's Burden
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Theme of the Day Is, Themes

I am endlessly amused and impressed by collections of clips displaying themes in pop culture that we take for granted. And so today I have amassed for you a COLLECTION OF COLLECTIONS.

Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions (Lonely Island):

I'm Not Here to Make Friends (FourFour):

Finally Tonight, Jesus (Everything is Terrible):

Put the Camera Down/Turn It Off (FourFour):

Medicine (Target Women with Sarah Haskins):

I could actually use a lot of other Sarah Haskins videos, I'm sure. I'll leave just this one for now, since I was shocked that I never noticed this stupid black and white theme.
I'll add more as I find/they inspire... please leave any I've missed!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Overdue (aka No Longer Relevant)

Alright. I have a few posts in the queue that are long overdue. And I refuse to go the usual route of letting them die alone. So, a solid month after the airing, here are my thoughts on the Dollhouse finale. I'll break it down into things I liked, and things that disappointed.

What I liked:
- I liked that Alpha's obsession with Echo was not actually based on his recognizing her brilliance, or her capacity to be like him, or anything that justified his treating her like an experiment and plaything. I liked the reveal, be it contradictory to all that was built up, that Alpha just became obsessed with an unhealthy crush.
- Amy Acker. Though I'm sold on Eliza Dushku as Echo, sometimes during assignments I find myself thinking about Faith (during her fight in the restaurant with Ballard, I actually said aloud "This is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Battlestar Galactica crossover episode." Though I've never actually watched BSG. This is my distaste for Watchmen [the comic, not the movie, which I haven't seen] make me a bad nerd. Among other things). But Amy Acker, not surprisingly, is amazing in every new role. I completely forget her character in the last scene and totally buy into whatever she's playing that minute. I wonder why few if any fans saw the Dr. Saunders being a doll thing coming - what a perfect way for Joss to utilize her versatility. I mean, to my understanding the last time they worked together, he killed off her character just to create a chance for her to play something else.
- Topher's facade cracking. Please, please, please, let this continue to develop in season two. Topher, the goofy asshat, taking a introspective and serious turn could have major positive implications for the direction of the show.
- Ballard feeling discomfort and conflict around November. His reactions to her in Briar Rose were infuriatingly simplified. The ending would indicate that she's being phased out, which is really frustrating. I feel unsatisfied. Speaking of...

What I Didn't Like:
- The playing up of Alpha's violent past and the playing down of the Dollhouse's recklessness with him. This was a huge problem for me. If this was the case, why was it even significant that Echo retained memories? I'm a little interested in Ballard's talk of souls, since the intersection of science and spirituality is always a rich and worthy topic, but, I feel like, they're undermining their own point. Society controls us - except you can't change people! I'm deeply disappointed by this 'evil people are just evil' mixed message.
- The instantaneous of Echo's enlightenment (conveyed so user-friendly-y via monologue) followed by the erasure of that enlightenment. No struggle in either direction.

Well, at this point the show has been picked up for a second season, and I'm glad. I still believe in the basic concept, and despite the missteps, I want to see where it goes. Oh, and if I get my hands on the unaired actual finale, maybe I'll write something up on that. The shots I've seen from it have been most titillating.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Today in Victim Blaming

Alright. Am I the only one who saw this ad and legitimately thought the message was going to be "don't be a shithead when your friend might have alcohol poisoning"? No, unfortunately, actual medical information about the dangers of binge drinking is not the way anti-drug ads tend to roll. Shame is the way anti-drug ads tend to roll. Whatever people do to you when you're incapacitated is your fault, not theirs, apparently.


Sunday, June 07, 2009


Today I was asked: "So, what does a feminist do?"
To which I replied: "Anything they want to."

Oh my gosh I'm going to write about Dollhouse and share things from rallies in RI but just for the minute have Joss Whedon's Equality Now speech:


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

How It Works

Um, I haven't been posting lately because I've been hopping around the East Coast and then over in France at Taize.

It was my third pilgrimage in the last three years. Maybe this isn't something you would assume about me from this blog (or maybe you would? I have little idea about how I'm perceived). After talking about being a bit of a church geek (though the friends I travel with to Taize constantly remind me that I'm not a real church geek, not at all) in a response to a Bishop poem that alluded to Peter, I've had a professor ask me, "So being a church geek is compatible with being politically left?"
To which I, bewildered, answered: "..Yes?"
"How does that work?"
I gave him a brief and insufficient answer about Jesus being a big liberal commie. I guess I could rant on it a while here but, I started writing this entry about how I wasn't going to write anything lengthy yet. And I always feel utterly scattered whenever I try to pull my shit together to talk about religion. But what it boils down to is that the base of my political views and the base of my Christian views are the very same: Egalitarianism. In other words, love. It's not some miracle that they work together. Truly, sometimes, it is the only way they work.

Anyway, that's why I've been out. Maybe I'll write something more expansive soon. I'll leave you right now with my two favorite English-language songs from Taize. Neither of these videos are mine.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Few Words on Political Correctness

So, today Shakesville pointed me over to the Daily Kos, which I know of but almost never read and, well, I guess this kind of thing is why.

The writer, after really sensibly explaining that dismissing marginalized groups as "oversensitive" and "too PC" is just a convenient way to acknowledge what you're saying is disrespectful, but belittle and emotionally attack your critics, and go on offending people. Good.

Then, of course, he goes right on to belittle and emotionally attack critics and go on offending people. But don't worry! It's ok because the people he's pulling fatphobic, transphobic and misogynist joke about are conservatives! He also throws in some racism and ableism in at the end for good measure.

"Look. I totally sympathize with the transgendered that they would not want to be associated with Coulter..."

You REALLY don't get it already.

"Coulter dresses for 'fan service' - that is, she knows a significant percentage of her fans find her attractive and she uses that to her advantage... The fact that she's not particularly feminine becomes an obvious point of ridicule. Does that mean the message is 'Ha ha, Ann Coulter is a transsexual and transgendered people suck'? No, the message is 'Ha ha, Ann Coulter is trying to flaunt her stuff with so very little to flaunt.' Juvenile? Yes. 'Transphobic?' No."

Ok, first, fuck putting quotes around transphobic. I know you know it's real. The problem with jokes aimed at conservatives, or anyone, that exploit marginalized groups (in this case, people that deviate from normal/ideal gender phenotype and presentation) is NOT that you're directly saying "such and such groups sucks!" It's almost never that clear. But the joke just isn't fucking funny unless it involves the prejudice. If gender was acknowledged to be fluid and gender binary was meaningless? Calling Ann Coulter a man, a drag queen, a tranny, masculine, or saying she dresses too femininely, or isn't feminine enough just wouldn't make any sense, never mind being funny. By making a joke about anyone's gender nonconformity, you are reinforcing the validity of gender conformity. One may say "but I support transgendered people!" I'm sure you have, politically. But you're also happily engaging in the system that dictates their difference; their difference which makes them the butt of jokes, their difference that causes people fear them, their difference which causes their lives to be valued less than NORMAL people, their difference which causes the brutal murders which create the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance.
You didn't mean to. But you fucking did.

I see similar in arguments against hate crime laws - why is this joke worse because it's aimed at a certain kind of person? Why is this crime worse because it's aimed at a certain kind of person? Neither is because hating super-special marginalized people is the super-awfullest kind of hate and so we have to be super-sensitive to it. It is because when you joke about, or harass, or commit violence against, one marginalized person (or one person who is targeted because of their perceived association with a marginalized group, such as a cisgender person who is perceived as transgender), you are sending a message to ALL people of that marginalized group: it is not ok to be what you are. It is deviant. It is funny. It is bad. It will not be tolerated. It will be punished.

God, I could go on, but that part infuriated me the most for personal reasons, and of course because I've heard too many "progressives" repeating the ever-hilarious "Coulter is a man" sentiment recently.

Here are a few calmer words on being "politically correct" (i.e. respectful) from Jay Smooth:

Jay Smooth: "...we think we need to prove to everyone that being past racism means being freed from the unfair burden of ever having to care how we affect each other. Did I mention that this means you're crazy?"

And embedding is disabled, but yeah, I immediately thought of Beau Sia's response to Rosie O'Donnell a few years ago, when the writer at the Daily Kos finished with:

"Let's quit trying to find reasons to be offended by each other and instead deal with the real issues facing us."

And I thought, real easy to say when you have the privilege of not associating these "jokes" with "real issues" like, say, the violence they justify.

Beau Sia: "I speak... for those who know what ching-chong ching-chong feels like combined with a swinging bat. Learn from this... Tap into the humanity I know that you possess."


Thursday, May 07, 2009

why I still love the internet

lily allen + queers + webcams =

Seriously, I love you, internet. I was researching androgyny the other day, and, can you imagine trying to find a comprehensive and sympathetic perspective on that in books? I mean, I'm sure it exists somewhere, but in my local library? Nuh-uh. Thank you internet, for connecting queers!

I am using the word "queer" today in retaliation to the Plumber Who Must Not Be Named's recent admonishment that:

"People don’t understand the dictionary—it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that."

I'm not sure if he's trying to attack GLBTIQ folk's right to use it, or defending his right to use it. If it's the former, well gosh, I have no idea why we'd want to spin unusual and different into a positive. And if he's defending his right to use it, well gosh, I have no idea why a guy who says he has gay friends but won't let them near his children calling us unusual and different might be insulting.

Also, who the fuck says "honky"? Really? That's really the racial epitaph that... oh, why do I bother. This is what Lily Allen lyrics are for.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Briar Rose Thoughts and Theories

Here be Dollhouse spoilers!

Predicting plot details of my favorite TV shows correctly inflates my head in a very special nerdy way, and Maia at Alas, A Blog independently put together the Alpha has an imprint of Topher theory I put forward a few weeks ago. Alan Tudyk has also stated that "the fact that Kepler's mannerisms are so similar to Topher's was not an accident". Whether or not this will be the catalyst for a character change in Topher that I was hoping it would be is perhaps less likely. Especially if the show doesn't get much farther.

So, after the last episode, new theory. Thinking about what the future would hold for Victor now that he's had his face sliced up, I realized that Dr. Claire Saunders is a doll. I've felt from the first few episodes that she's an inaccessible character intentionally, though at first I thought she was Alpha's person on the inside. One of my viewing buddies smartly pointed out back in that everyone-gets-high episode that Saunders is the only one kept out of the mix - I thought it was because it would reveal too much about her, and in a way that's true, because her reaction would have revealed she was a doll. (That episode was also useful in establishing that Topher was not a doll, which I had wondered about.)
Then, of course, two episodes ago came the revelation that Dr. Saunders never leaves the dollhouse. I am a bit ashamed I didn't put this together right then. Last night, I was first tipped off when Dominic said "Whiskey", which is part of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet which all the dolls are named after. I didn't know why everyone would act like he was talking about the drink, but it makes sense if the doll he was talking about was in the room. Then, of course, came Alpha's leading question, "Did you always want to be a doctor?"

I thought this was too obvious to write about, actually, but my viewing buddies seemed perplexed by my conclusion at first.

As far as the more philosophical content of this episode, I was feeling the "it's not your fault you can't leave" message, but then not so much the "the prince is the dream of the princess" message, though that might have been for lack of clarity. This is a much longer post, but a problem I have with Joss Whedon at times is that he always has these leading strong women whose power was forced upon them from men. The thing with Buffy was that the show lasted long enough for her to fully explore and eventually undermine the source of that power, not only making it her own but ultimately sharing it with other women. I don't expect Echo to undermine the Dollhouse(s) and welcome the other dolls to share in her power quite yet. But I am tickled with anticipation to see her to undermine her savior, Alpha.


Sunday, April 26, 2009


I am busy and will be busy for a while.

In the meantime, watch this:


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buddha, Eve, Victim Blaming

The Boy has voiced his own comparison brought on by my shaved head, and I'm downright tickled by it. He thinks my state of hairlessness (or at least, near-hairlessness) resembles the Buddha! He added, "But the one you see... on the internet... do you know what I mean?"
Not really, but maybe he was talking about the body art forms logo:

Hmm. The labret, the plugs, the squinting grin, the thick brows... I can actually totally see this one.

So this post has some meat, let me mention a discussion I had about a different religious icon this past week. After reading excerpts from Paradise Lost, my literature class split up into two teams for a mock trial. It wasn't the devil being tried, it was Eve, and to my surprise, the vast majority of the class was on the team condemning her.

So, I hesitate to explain or label my religious inclinations, but I'd say I'm more Christian than your average liberal arts college bear. But this Eve being responsible for the fall thing? I think it's bullshit. We were going by Milton, not the Bible, of course, in which case, this Eve being responsible for the fall thing is even BIGGER bullshit.
She is so clearly deceived into biting the stupid fruit (the devil as a serpent tells her: you need to do this, I did it and I'm fine, I'm better than fine I'm great, it will really be OK with God, heck, he'll probably be proud of you, and so on), and then Milton makes it so clear that Adam is making his choice freely, with full knowledge of the consequences. Basically, Adam was capable of informed consent and Eve was not.

Can you already imagine how the "trial" went?

Instead of arguing that, say, Eve should have followed the commandment of God above the advice of a snake (a shaky argument, but the only valid one in my mind), these are legitimately the kind of questions I got on the stand:
-Why did you want to go out by yourself?
-Didn't Adam warn you not to go out by yourself?
-Didn't you know that there was an enemy in your midst?
-Weren't you suspicious of a talking snake?
-Didn't you know you would be tempted?
So, they sort of acknowledged Eve was deceived, but it was her fault for getting into the situation because she was reckless. Sound familiar?

Yes, this fake trial of Eve was a cornucopia of victim-blaming language. After a few minutes of this all going unquestioned, I asked to speak out of turn to say "If you knew theres a robber in the neighborhood, it's still not your fault you got robbed."

This is not misogyny in the Bible, or in Paradise Lost. This is misogyny straight out of the mouths of my college peers, who think these kinds of approaches are valid legal maneuvers. I'm sure they didn't make the connection to rape trials, but the logic is appallingly similar.
In seventh grade or so, we spent a whole day learning about and discussing consent. I still remember most of it - we were given a lot of scenarios, some sexual and some not, and asked if the victim or the perpetrator was to blame for the crime. The number of people who, totally or partially, blamed the victim steadily decreased throughout the day.

At the time I thought that, like learning about puberty or drugs, this was the standard.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, About Habeas Corpus.

Obama, you're off my trust list.


I Was Going to Post Something Curmudgeonly

About the tea parties, and/or habeas corpus (fucking, fuck). But then I remembered buzz cut loves:

No one has drawn these comparisons yet, which is surprising, considering the musical tastes of my loved ones.

I should be bothered by people wanting to touch my head, but honestly, I feel slighted when people DON'T want to touch it. Guh. I love my head.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Almost Too Good to Be True

Right-wingers love teabagging, and NOM (who I can only assume are I Can Has Cheezburger enthusiasts?) have created Two Million For Marriage (2M4M), a campaign against gay marriage (apparently, no one tried googling m4m before the launch).

All of this has me itching to create the Board for the Defense of the Sanctity of Marriage (BDSM), just to see how many join up.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Some Things I Needed

So. It might be redundant to say gender issues are a theme of my life right now, but the past few days have just been... you know when you're reading a book, and you get to the chapter that uses the title in a bunch of sentences? It's been like that.

I had dinner with the wonderful Jennifer Miller on Tuesday. Here's the short youtube version of the documentary Juggling Politics about her political Circus Amok:

On the way to see her screen the film and perform that night, I got harassed for the first time about my buzz cut. Nothing traumatic - a gang of ten-year-olds shouting. I didn't hear most of it. A friend told me later that they asked if I was a boy or a girl.

The next day, we workshopped a short story in a fiction class that had a scene implying rape was justified/healed by pregnancy. I wish I was surprised that some other people didn't understand why it was upsetting.
Later that day I watched the single most disturbing film of my life. There were multiple graphic rape scenes. My professor apologized afterward for not warning us about them. I was trying not to break down for the rest of the three-hour class.

Today in another class were talking about Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. That's always a little bothersome because I'm practically a Bechdel fangirl, but also because the book deals with sexuality and gender a lot, and I'm constantly being reminded that my understanding and experience with these topics (and therefore the connections and reactions I have with the book) doesn't match the majority. There's a lot of examples I could pull out, but what affected me today was Bechdel's story about seeing a pornographic wall calendar and feeling inexplicably exposed and ashamed, and then telling her brothers to call her Albert instead of Alison. Other students assumed it was just another example of wanting to be butch and masculine, but I think the inclusion of the calendar points to something else - the inherent vulnerability of being female.

So my head is swelling with all of this and more. Shaving my head has spurred some thoughts on where I fall on the gender spectrum. The other day a friend online posted something I really needed to read: she, like me, was wondering about her gender identity, and she, like me, had the thought, "Who the fuck am I to be transgender? How dare I?" I have this feeling, like, if I wasn't strictly female, I would have figured it out by now. Which is, of course, bullshit.
I also found Alison Bechdel's coming out story online this week, and this scene was really significant:

Speaking of shaving my head, I posted some photos on my facebook account, and somehow the whole of my extended family knows about it now. I expect this entry itself will be read by at least one or two family members that google me with enough intensity. I don't know if I can express this without sounding like a hypocrite, or self-important, but, the thing is, if I write publicly about my personal life (which I have, more in song than here, but I hope this blog is headed for a more personal tone), I don't do it for people that I know. I'd prefer if people that I know let me choose how and when I share things with them. I write publicly in the hopes that someone else needs to hear something that I have to say; just as I needed to hear about Jennifer Miller and Circus Amok when I came to accept that my body would never match ideals about hair (without much unwanted suffering), just as I needed to read that Alison Bechdel was still struggling with her identity at age nineteen as I'm still struggling with mine at age twenty-one, just as, in that fiction workshop, I needed to hear that one other person was upset by that scene before I could say it myself.

Today on Feministing, this song was posted:

I've been listening to it kind of non-stop all day. After a week of feeling drained the casual nature of misogyny and the normativeness of ignorance about gender's complexities, I needed this.

(edit: CocoRosie's history of racism has been pointed out in the comments on Feministing. Ugh. Their song made me cry, but, ugh.)


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Reflections on Head Shaving

After saying for years that I would do this soon, I hunted down a pair of clippers and just did it. I have never been happier. I have urges to fix my hair throughout the day, and instead I touch my fuzz and just smile. I feel like I've escaped somehow.

All of the attention I've received has been positive so far, but I haven't strayed far from my college campus. Here are some things I have noticed, though:
1. Several people have asked if I did this for charity, or gave my hair away. It wasn't long enough, but I didn't really think about that option. I don't think that's a bad thing, or a good thing, just neutral: didn't think of donating my hair. Just wanted to chop it off. No reason required.
2. I have been compared to every Famous Bald Woman I can think of, save Britney Spears (whose head-shaving incident, I maintain, was awesome). Natalie Portman, twice. GI Jane. Sinead O'Connor. Deb from Empire Records. Though I liked all the comments, since I like all of these women, it baffles me that shaved heads are still abnormal enough on women that this sort of thing happens (and that people focused on Britney's baldness as a sign of insanity). Also, thinking of fictional shaved women, I couldn't help but notice a trend: Portman's character was forcefully shaved. Demi Moore's character shaved for the military (I haven't seen the movie, but I imagine it's either compulsory or, more likely, to prove herself). Robin Tunney's Deb freely chose to shave her own head (a scene which really stuck with me and I've posted it below), but throughout the film she's poorly adjusted and in a place of desperation. I looked for more on the web - Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3 apparently shaves to avoid lice. Where is a happy well-adjusted fictional woman who ditches her hair?

The idea to write this down came from the popular What I Learned By Shaving My Head.

Share in the shaved head heaven with me:

There's a longer version of the following scene on youtube, with embedding disabled.

Watch more Empire Records videos on AOL Video


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Ada Lovelace Day Conrtibution: Diana Eng!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and I'm joining many bloggers by celebrating women excelling in technology. The first one to come to mind was one of the first people I wrote about in this blog. If you've been here before, you may remember it all started with a little show called Project Runway, just before their second season. My favorite contestant on that season, and I contend the most kick-ass person to ever be on the show, nay, reality television:


Diana Eng, self-proclaimed "Nerd and Fashion Deisgner". She was an automatic favorite of sorts because she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, not twenty minutes away from where I grew up, but I was completely swept away when in her audition, she introduced a hoodie that contained a small camera and a heart monitor. When the wearer's heart rate increased, the camera snapped a photo of whatever they were viewing.
Eng didn't make it to the final rounds on Project Runway, unfortunately, because, among other things, Michael Kors doesn't understand how magnets work. (Me? Bitter?) There's also the fact that the time and material constraints of the show didn't make room for her skills with technology (though in 2006, she did design and create ablogging purse with two teammates in less than 24 hours).

Of course, Eng is too good for me to define her through the show. When she was only 22, an inflatable dress she designed had been featured on ID Magainze. Here's the cover, and her blog entry marking it:

"I've dreamt of making it into ID magazine since I was 13. As a child I made really awful pamphlets and brochures documenting my latest design ideas for things such as nesting tea cups and landscape inspired furniture. Then I would send the brochures off to ID mag editors positive that they would feature me the next month. I was never selected. And after going to art school I've often wondered what they thought of my subpar entries. But this month I made the cover with the inflatable dress I made with Emily Albinski. The gorgeous girl in the photo is my roommate JungIn You."

Her first book, Fashion Geek, came out March 17th, full of projects for tech-savvy. She also helped found the hacker group NYC Resistor, where members "meet regularly to share knowledge, hack on projects together, and build community". She's included in their own Ada Lovelace day post, wearing what I believe is the same fibonacci scarf pictured above - a fibonacci scarf!

You can follow what Diana Eng is up to at her blog, Fashion Nerd.
Thanks Diana, for being my technology heroine, and showing literally millions of girls and women how fashionable math and science can be!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Damn you, Joss Whedon

For getting me so emotionally invested in this show.

So, not a full recap or analysis or anything, but yeah, the Episode That Changed Everything delivered. We abandoned the adventure-of-the-week set up, and I'd be happy to never go back- Echo is still central, but we got really involved in the other characters.

Sexual violence got serious treatment this time, and I thought these things were important: It was clearly treated as rape even though Sierra didn't say no or physically resist; and the rapist handler, whose name escapes me, tried to excuse his behavior because the Dollhouse is "in the business of using people". Obviously the excuse isn't acceptable, but I think Joss was wisely making a connection of sexual violence to the environment of objectification and exploitation.
Things that bothered me about Sierra's storyline: I can't recall if they actually used the word "rape" - I know Dr. Saunders said "Sierra's had sex" after the exam, but I don't know if they changed the language after it became obvious that she didn't (and really, couldn't) consent. Also, a little mad at Boyd for letting the other handler attempt again in order to "catch him in the act" instead of, oh I don't know, asking Sierra about him. Of course, it was hugely satisfying to have him punched through a glass wall with his fly down.

The big thing that changed with me is that I am now completely invested in the fate of Mellie/November:

I saw the reveal coming, but it was still a bit heartbreaking. Previews for future episodes indicate possible revolt against the Dollhouse. Can she just be the main character now, please?

Unrelated to this episode: another blog pointed out how wildly inaccurate the homebirth scene was... which I really should have noticed, since I've seen homebirths. Though Topher's probably not a mifwifery expert, and you probably couldn't get away with a completely accurate homebirth on TV (we need to throw a sheet over her- for medical reasons!), this is a still a case of ball-dropping. Oh well. I appreciate the attempt, if not the execution.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Problem with Echo (which is not actually a problem)

Alright, so. I've been putting off writing about Dollhouse because - besides the fact that I've only been casually engaged blogging lately - the series is young, and I felt analyzing the shit out of it was a little premature. It was episode two, and a lot of people seemed to be complaining that "this is not a feminist masterpiece yet!", and, you know, wait.

But, I want to get some writing on it in before the alleged mind-blower next Friday. I don't really want to talk about this past Friday's installment, True Believer - except for Victor's man reaction, which I'll get to in a minute. I want to talk about episode four, Gray Hour, because for me, it solved a fundamental problem a lot of people seem to have with the show, and it made me realize a direction the show could go in, which excites my obsession with the construction of identity to no end.

Particularly after the first two episodes (once again - dude, you have to wait) I read a lot of complaints along the lines of "there is no one to root for". Or relate to, or sympathize with, or what have you. Everyone who works in the dollhouse is evil (Dominic), borderline evil (Topher), or at least has big whomping moral gray area (Boyd). The dolls are either a completely fabricated person or a completely empty person. Well, people with moral gray areas seem to be a staple of the Whedonverse, so I think the answer for a lot of people was to root for Boyd, especially after episode two, The Target, in which we realize that he actually cares for Echo and prioritizes her over the dollhouse itself.

But, Echo is the main character. Though I hope, and think, we will see an episode with someone else in the A-Story (though I suppose it could be argued that The Target was really more about Boyd than Echo), this is clearly Echo's story. And the story we're following is about a person without an identity. And that's a problem. Right?

I think the pilot, Ghost, partially answered this concern for me: we can relate to Echo in an imprinted state, because even though we know it's all made up, it's incredibly real to whatever person she is that day. So we can relate to the main character for the length of the episode, which can be effective, as I think it was in Ghost - especially since we were reminded that, even if it wasn't Echo's real experience, these bad memories were real. But maybe this only works to an extent. Without something steady, it'll get harder and harder to buy into Echo's persona-of-the-week.

Episode three - I don't actually know what it was called because it was, admittedly, the weakest episode so far, the only time so far I've felt THE METAPHOR! was being shoved in my face. But the revelation that Echo was "adapting" to her assignments indicated something important - that Echo does not have a consistent identity on assignments, but she does possibly have a consistent underlying personality, that her self is shading her imprinted personalities. This doesn't really solve the relating-to-Echo problem either, though, I think, since it's not really clear what these glitches imply, except of course plot twists aplenty.

And that still leaves blank doll-state Echo to deal with. The tabula rasa state may be the closest thing to the dolls' "true" personality, and they're, you know, empty hats. Which is why Gray Hour is my favorite episode thus far, and why Victor's man reaction is important (I'll get to it in a minute!).

In Gray Hour, we're watching Echo - not Caroline and not an imprint, but wide-eyed empty-headed Echo, and we find out she's not an empty hat - she's a person. She doesn't just sit around gaping and asking where the massage table is. She gets scared, she thinks about art, she makes a connection to one person and abandons another - she's not a plaything. She's not a blank slate, not really. She's a person who just isn't given a chance to be one. And this, for me, solves the who-do-we-relate-to problem once and for all, but also asks a lot more questions.

Victor's man reaction, i.e. his crush on Sierra, is another example of this. We're being shown that not just Echo, but Dolls in general aren't robots, they're people. DeWitt's cold demand that Victor be "scrubbed" and the whole forced utopia is, you know, goddamn disturbing in this light.

I took a college course called "Science, Literature and Gender", in which we read The Cloning of Joanna May, which deals with identity in a different sci-fi scenario. Sparing the details, since this is already really long, the class talked about the idea of a whole identity versus fragmented identity. The former is usually what we think of as "identity", but the latter isn't necessarrily a bad thing. Joanna May had several outward "selves" whereas Echo has several inward "selves". Joanna May ultimately doesn't become "fragmented", but multiplied, her power increases by virtue of being split up. This possibility for Echo - which I thought of when she uttered the heart-stirring line, "I'm not broken" - really excites me.

Ok. Miscellaneous other things about Gray Hour:

I like the midwife intro, because the show finally winks at us about having too much sex, and because, yay midwives! Even though it seems only the super-duper rich can afford them - or maybe the super-duper rich don't trust ordinary midwives. Whatever. "Yay midwives" stands.

Alas, A Blog took issue with the portrayal (or lack thereof, I suppose) of sexual violence in this episode, which is totally understandable. For me, though, since the people in the show are programmed to consent, I feel much more disturbed by the "consensual" sex that's constantly happening and so far hasn't been dealt with at all. Here's hoping for improvements in this whole area.

(If I could make a subtitle for this post, it would be "And a Journey of Self-Discovery for... Topher?")

Topher knows from the get-go that Alpha would be able to achieve a remote wipe, only thinking it's impossible because he assumes Alpha is dead. If no one understands this technology but Topher and Alpha, and imprints are made from real people, could this imply that Alpha has an imprint of Topher, or at least part of Topher? It's not implausible - if something happens to Topher, how else could they keep the Dollhouse running? I've been toying with the idea that some of the faculty in the Dollhouse are dolls themselves, that this may even be the true meaning of putting someone in "the attic", and this reveal would put a new angle on the exploration of identity. We don't sympathize with Echo's constructed identities because we seem them come and go, sure, but if, say, Boyd or Saunders or Dominic were revealed to be a doll, then how does our relationship to the character change? How does the character's relationship to other characters change? Would they defend their long-term constructed personality or reject it? Of course, I'm thinking more and more that this isn't going to be the case.
BUT, if Alpha has an imprint of Topher, what implications could this have for Topher's sense of identity? Could this be the thing that takes him from witty loveable douchebag to - well, something more interesting?

Alright, that's all. My fangirl is showing.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Are you fucking kidding me?

I'm constantly bewildered by facebook advertisements, trying to get me to shave all my body hair, or telling me to OBEY this new diet tip, but seeing this yesterday was a whole new low:

The media has had a series of fucked-up and dangerous reactions to this relationship and the violence against this woman. This takes the cake though: trying to make a quick buck with direct victim-blaming.

I marked this shit as offensive, but, really? Does a giant site like facebook really have NO standards for their advertisements outside of user preferences? I shouldn't have to mark this offensive. I shouldn't see it.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Breakdown of 300 at Racialicious

Please read it. Because I'm sick of explaining why I hate this fucking movie. I am continuously flabbergasted by its popularity.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


I enjoy the antics at Daily, even. They've got this goofy internet culture thing down, but often manage to be a little more involved and intelligent in their content. They've made swipes at sexism, racism, and even implemented the f-word.

But the article I read this morning bothered me, and revealed something that often rubs me the wrong way on Cracked and about internet culture (though that's hard to define) in general: the assumption of maleness.

Of the Dream Jobs that Would Actually Suck, "video game tester" and "brewmaster" may seem stereotypically masculine, but believe me, I know enough women that have considered these options. The #3 job, however, is "stay-at-home dad". This item makes some seemingly progressive points: stay-at-home parents deserve a three-figure salary and end up with squat. Of course, it then goes on to say that wives break up with their househusbands because nurturing is not sexy, and traditional gender roles preserve relationships. Without pointing out that the deal inverted still fucking sucks for stay-at-home moms, even if it's better for the relationship because of "instincts" (bullshit).

But the real problem is that this article assumes an all-male audience. I have enough headaches about people assuming that there's only two genders, but more and more I'm noticing instances that people only assume one. It goes both ways, of course- I realize that I assumed the Hollywood's Attempts at Feminism article above was written by a guy. Why did I assume that? Because male is the default, and female is a specialty. This should be news. But it's still as annoying.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

clearly the most important thing that happened today

Michelle Obama chose clothing to wear to her husband's historic inauguration. And it was yellow.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Can Someone Explain To Me

How do the little pictures next to stories on Google News get chosen? Because sometimes they are only vaguely related. For example:


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My Blood and Sweat is in Kaniakapupu

I suppose I've been writing here semi-regularly, so let me share just a little something from what I'm doing. I'm on an anthropology travel course right to Hawaii, learning about the islands' history and culture. There's a million things I could tell you about, but I'm exhausted so for now I'll just point you to a few resources:
Support the Friends of Iolani Palace
Defend Oahu Coalition
(I wish I had more... keep checking back!)

Some books to look for:
Music, Past, and Present at Kamehameha Schools
Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887
Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawaii
From a Native Daughter
Hawaii's Story By Hawaii's Queen

And this video is almost the exact tour I took of the ruins of the summer palace at Kaniakapupu with Dr. Baron Kaho'ola Ching, except, of course, we didn't have the guy with the cheesy-TV-host-sounding voice and after the tour my roommate and I chopped down a tree that was degrading a wall (something tells me cheesy-tv-host-sounding-voice-guy didn't jibe so much with the manual labor). I can't begin to describe the experience and this youtube video, despite its 27 minutes, pales in comparison.