Showing posts from October, 2009

"Brown" "White" "Tanned" "Olive" "Other"

These are the options for skin colour at ModelMayhem,com to insert into model profiles. It enables photographers to search for us by skin colour, or gives a photographer / makeup artist a sense of the model's skin type (for the former, lighting would be an issue; for the latter, foundation types).

I currently have "Olive" picked as my skin type, but I can't say I like it.

You see, whenever I go out for pizza with a friend, he always orders a pizza with cheese(s) and olives. The olives that come out are always black. And whenever I go to the supermarket, olives are green.

Neither of these are indicative of my real skin colour, which is either white or tanned with a yellow undertone. And yet I have to pick Olive, because it definitely isn't an "Other" or any of the other skin colours listed.

I know that Olive is supposed to be this safe alternative to "yellow" seeing as the term "yellow" has all sorts of unpleasant connotations and is …

The Curse of Perfectionism

I've been posting in this blog only for a few months. I've tried to make it good so far, and I've got a small following (I have a following?! WTF, people, don't you have better things to do?! <3), not to mention, I've got an awesome blogging gig at It's awesome.

But I've been reading and reading, and knowing that there are so many better writers than I am, sometimes I feel I fall short. I was having trouble articulating how I felt. There was something missing, I thought, something that my blog needs, my writing needs, all of it - there's somewhere where I'm falling short. Whenever I wrote posts, I'd wonder if I got it right, or committed some ridiculous fail.

Sady at Tiger Beatdown got my feelings down pat, without meaning to:
I’m saying I miss being in that place where being wrong always felt like an option, an acceptable option, because I was learning. The problem, I think, is that I believe I know what I am talking about now, and a…

Re-Centering Geography, or, How To Sound Like A Complete Jackass

I was talking to Ay-Leen the Peacemaker the other night about grad school options, and she mentioned that the University of California has "a very strong Far East Studies program". We were both surprised at this. And then I said, "that's kinda strange. You'd figure that the Far East for California would be more Near West."

Remember what I said about Eurocentrism? Part of it is reinforced by our geographical language. The Orient used to be the Middle-East, and began encompassing more of Asia as time went by, and it's a term used to center the European (or, now, neo-European) experience as normal, which everything else is measured against.

So I thought, maybe the next time someone calls Asia the Far East, I'll ask, "whose East? Yours or mine?"

When they inevitably ask why, I'll rightly point out to them that when I am flying to someplace like Chicago (which I've been doing to get to Halifax - since Halifax is right smack dab across t…

Malaysiana: This Is The Only Malaysia We Have

I am currently finishing off Leela Gandhi's Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction. It's been a very good read so far - I've had so many moments of recognition within the book, I don't even know where to start with it! But while reading, Gandhi discusses the counter-narrative that Rushdie provides. She notes, "Rushdie's invective against India here ... is ... characteristic of his larger oeuvre. ... we might consider the fact that Rushdie's narrative renditions of [India] have always been pathologically and unequivocally reductive."

(Shorter layman's terms: Rushdie's a jerk who simplifies India in a completely non-productive manner.)

So how to respond to this anti-colonial, anti-nationalistic prescriptive method? Gandhi suggests, "we might still observe that perhaos what postcolonialism literature needs is a properly romantic modality; a willingness to crtique, ameliorate and build upon the compositions of the colonial aftermath.&qu…

"I don't like your tone"

Tone argument. Example: "you shouldn't sound so angry when you talk. No one will pay attention to you if you speak in that way." Or "I don't like your tone / how you're talking to me, so I'm going to ignore what you're saying" [even if what you're saying has more validity than what I'm saying even if if you have every right to be angry but seeing as I have the upper hand here I'm going to dismiss you anyway.]

Or you could read this.

I understand that most times, a nice polite tone works a lot better than an angry tone. I like being nice to people myself. It helps keep things all sweet and shiny. Recently, I was very nice and calm to someone who decided to take a shit all over my opinions because he didn't like what I was saying. Did I get through to him? Hell no, but it was in a public forum so I thought I ought to be nice anyway, for the sake of anybody else coming across our argument. I don't think it worked, and that the arg…

Ally Issues: Feeling Useless

I am not feeling my best today. Part of it is because my depression is kicking me around and laying me down. Part of it is some form of mental exhaustion which I'm not sure whether to attribute to my depression, or reading too much, or just staring at the computer too much.

I was inspired today by Feminists with Disabilities (cunningly, cleverly shortened to "FWD", ha!) to write a post about steampunk and how disablism would intersect in the subculture. I could find examples of steampunk wheelchairs (mostly of Dr. Loveless from the movie Wild Wild West) but I guess, no one's really thought about it.

Or rather, they have but just as another awesome thing to steampunk up, which sounds awfully unsettling to me, as if the wheelchair is just a prop, rather than an actual tool to aid mobility.

I had to pause though, and wonder whether it was worthwhile writing about disability issues within steampunk. There aren't a lot of visibly-disabled people in steampunk, are ther…

Steampunking: Are Steampunk Westerns Non-Eurocentric? No

My friend Ay-Leen the Peacemaker is putting together a project called Beyond Victoriana, which will focus on examples of steampunk beyond the typical Eurocentric sampling at the moment, which is predominantly centered around England. Ay-Leen is also taking examples of North American steampunk, and people are citing Wild West / Weird West examples, such as Wild Wild West (TV show and movie).

I myself suggested some Japanese examples which could be counted as steampunk, although I have several reservations about them myself. Mainly because when I think non-Eurocentric, I keep this in mind:

"... By Europeans, we refer not only to Europe per se, but also to the "neo-Europeans" of the Americas, Australia, and elsewhere. ... The residual traces of centuries of axiomatic European domination inform the general culture, the everyday language, and the media, engendering a fictitious sense of the innate superiority of European-derived cultures and peoples."
(Ella Shohat / Robe…

Why I Don't Miss High School: More thoughts of feminism and children

So, while thinking further on children and feminism, and how they are inextricably linked, I gradually came to realize why I don't really like education systems as they are set up now.

Whenever I go home to Malaysia, I try to make it a point to visit my old high school. Partly to catch up with the teachers, let them know I'm still alive. Some of is it, although I don't miss high school, I still do feel some sense of loyalty towards it. Also, I tend to go in shorts andI guess I'm a little rebel who likes causing a fuss because the teachers are all like "OMG why are you in shorts! The headmistress will kick you out!"

I would occasionally chat with them about their job, and it turns out, Malaysian teachers, particularly government teachers, are ridiculously overworked and underpaid. Ain't that the truth for pretty much every oppressed class, eh. Besides having to teach the students, often 30 - 40 students in a class, they also have to attend other courses to k…

Malaysiana: Belated Thoughts on Cowhead Fail

A while back, there were some dumb shenanigans in Malaysia, involving the protestations of a few crazy people against the building of a Hindu temple in what they felt was a Muslim area. For some dumb reason I do not understand, they took this seriously, and there were photographers floating around showing pictures of these dudes walking around with a cow's head - like, a real cow's head, not some papier-mache doohickey - in order to make their point.

Aside from how utterly stupid this display was, which caused a bit of an uproar, there's not much I can say about that incident per se.

What I want to address are the reactions to the incident, which I will now refer to as Cowhead Fail.

Specifically, the lack of reaction. There were a lot of emails floating around about how "real Muslims don't do this" and "how can this happen in this day and age" and "why are people so barbaric". Which is fine for the first few times, but eventually it all boile…

Fun With Glow Magazine, November 2009

Hey folks! It's Fun with Glow Magazine, again, in which I flip through Glow magazine to identify just how racially representative the media in the magazine is! I get Glow for free since I spend plenty on my Shoppers Optimum. I actually do love this magazine, but hell if I'm going to not make fun of how whitewashed it is.

And this month, it's a double-doozy since there's a special issue on Montreal's Fashion Week!! So let's get through the main magazine!

COVER: White.
Vichy ad: white
Pantene stuff: white, white, white, white.
Aveeno: White
Table of contentts: white
Revlon: White. I don't know, she could pass as black.
Vichy: White, blue-eyed
Marc Anthony: white, white, white
Editorial and L'Oreal: white, white
Juicy Couture ads: white boy, white woman
Aveeno ad: Unsure! Olive skin.
Makeup-tip: White, blue-eyed.
CoverGirl: white
Beauty Talk - Hair update: Black! White, white, white, white white, Asian, white, white,
More Beauty talk, on lipsticks: white
Covergirl: White (…

Co-Signing: An Open Letter to Feministing

I haven't been to Feministing in over a year because I felt it was a bit too 101 for me, and by that time, I had found other spaces which were more challenging. However, I feel the need to co-sign this, related to the continued able-ism demonstrated by Feministing staff and commenters. Any sort of -ism should be challenged, even - no, especially - if it happens in a feminist space like Feministing.
Dear Feministing,I’ve been reading you guys for a while now. I haven’t always liked everything you do or say, but I think that you bring some important issues to my attention and sometimes some good conversations happen on your website.But, you know, in recent months I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the exclusionary language and attitudes I see on your site, most particularly in reference to people with disabilities and people in lower social classes. You have a pretty poor track record on even covering disability issues, and the casual ableism which I see in your comment threads an…

Library Love

Nova Scotia has a library system linking all the university libraries together, from the Cape Breton University to the Agricultural College. You can get books from any of these libraries delivered to the library of your choice for pickup. This means a wide variety of books at your disposal.

Although I find that if at all possible, I like to go to the libraries themselves to pick up the books, and browse around the shelves. After all, the books are arranged by subject matter too, so there're a bunch of books together all relating to the same subject from different angles within the same shelf.

I love picking up books from the library to peek through the contents and decide whether or not to take them home. I love that I don't have to pay for them at the counter.

I'm very much a cyber-inclined person; I spend a great deal of time reading and writing blogs, catching up with the rest of the world on the Internet, and this is one of the few ways I stay connected to the rest of the…

Mother Nature is Her Own Vagina

Now that I have your attention.

I was watching Nausicaa the other night with some friends, followed by Princess Mononoke. It's interesting to watch them one after the other, particularly Nausicaa first, because they both have the same theme: the reconciliation of Man and Nature. It's a difficult question and both Nausicaa and Mononoke-hime really do their best to show the best and worst of human nature coming to the fore.

It's clear that in both, human progress is shown as working against nature. It's quite remarkable how most of us make this assumption that progress is measured by how well we can control our environment and thus, nature. The problem with this, of course, s that nature retaliates. In Nausicaa, nature retaliates against the humans poisoning the ground by growing poisonous plants that take root in the bodies of large Ohmu, giant insects that have begun to roam the earth. Using the bodies of the Ohmu as fertilizer, the plants become forests, that are eventu…

Quintessentially Chinese?: Filial Piety Edition

The online flaming of Shanghainese Lou Jing has been disturbing on many levels: the appalling racism, the objectification, and the complete ignorance of this monoculture's denizens to what constitutes racist acts of statements have been ridiculous.

Not only has Lou Jing has been criticized for showing her face when she's a half-black Chinese, her mother has come under fire for 1) having an affair with an African-American man, 2) having and raising a child out of wedlock from that union, and 3) daring to show her face on any public platform for this stuff which she should be ashamed of.

Some selected comments have been translated here.

The slut-shaming combined with ugly racism really comes to the fore as it's slagged not just at Lou Jing's mother, but Lou Jing herself. I'm going to put aside the objectification of Lou Jing that has come out, ironically in support of her, and focus on Jennifer Kesler's comment:

"I’m sorry, are people actually giving Lou Jing cr…

Roman Polanski Raped A Child

I do not understand Polanski's defenders.

Now, I've not seen many Polanski movies. I think the only one I've ever watched was Macbeth. It was a decent movie. I've never seen any of his critically-acclaimed movies. Hell, Polanski as a filmmaker hardly even made a blip on my radar when I was younger. Possibly because I was in Malaysia and we only ever get the blockbuster stuff, none of this schmancy film festival stuff.

But let's make it clear: he raped a child.

Never mind that he raped her 30 years ago. Honestly, that should make it worse, not better. Running away to another country? How could the government there have slept properly knowing they're harbouring a man clearly flouting laws that are put in place to protect innocent people? And he flouted it, too. He pleaded guilty, and never showed any remorse, only gave excuses. How can people excuse this?

Oh, but Roman Polanski is a great artist.

I've known for a while that Hollywood wasn't the bastion of libe…

Review: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Ponyo was unfortunately only playing at the two more far-reaching cinemas in Halifax: Bayers Lake and Dartmouth Crossing. I'm not sure why Empire Theatres would do this, seeing as Miyazaki movies tend to resonate with those of us yuppies who live downtown, as opposed to out in the suburban boonies, but whatever.

Ponyo is, as a friend described it, "like the Little Mermaid, except cooler with no singing." Well... yes and no.

Ponyo is about a little fish-girl, the most magical of all her sisters and the daughter of the wizard hermit Fujimoto and Granmamare, a goddess of the sea. She sneaks out from her father's deep sea ship to the surface, where she is rescued from a jar by Sosuke, a little boy. The two of them immediately take to each other, and when Fujimoto tries to keep her home, she rebels by harnessing all her magic to transform into a human. The consequences? The little town that Sosuka lives close to is completely drowned underwater as the moon is pulled closer …