Pirates of the Caribbean II and the Tradition of Racial Oppression

I was very excited to see Pirates of the Caribbean II: The Dead Man’s Chest Friday night; I loved the first film and used to work at the Magic Kingdom theme park where I frequented the Florida’s abbreviated version of the ride. Beyond watching the trailers, I’d remained spoiler free and didn’t know what to expect from Pirates. While queueing at a small town American theater, I studied the poster for the film and saw three brown-skilled men with jeering and perplexed looks on their faces in the lower left-hand corner. Uh-oh, I thought. What am I getting into?

Here ye be warned, this post contains some mild spoilers for Pirates of the Caribbean II.

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I'm flashed, yet somehow it's my fault

Yesterday, my friend and I were sitting on my apartment’s balcony eating dinner when something happened. My building overlooks another apartment building that is across the street. One of the neighbors in this building was sitting with his chair beside his open porch window, turned sideways. My friend remarked, “That guy keeps staring at us.”

I looked, and saw a pink cock in a rocking hand. My first instinct was to yell at him, publicly call him on what he was doing. But then I thought what if he comes over here? He knows where I live. “[Friend],” I said. “He’s masturbating. Let’s go inside.”

We lost our appetites, and were no longer comfortable sitting outside. Our mobility was limited by our fear of this man.

When relaying the story to friends, I had a few laughs with friends. But I was asked innocently, “Guess no more wearing skimpy outfits!” (We weren’t–not that I owe anyone that explanation–but so what if we were?) I was teased, “Were you wearing skirts?” And I was told, “That’s what you get for looking in someone’s window.”

My friend and I are involved in someone’s fetish against our wills, and we’re the ones questioned by people who are generally supportive. Hell, the first thing I do is defend that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But so when would the wrong have started? If my friend and I had been egging the guy on? By being physically affectionate towards each other? Sunbathing in our bikinis?

Carnival of Empty Cages 2

Welcome to the second issue of the Carnival of Empty Cages, the collection of blog posts celebrating compassion, veganism, and animals. This issue’s theme is passion. What gets you going? Read on to find out.

Looking at Oppression

George Dvorsky, Canadian transhumanist philosopher, writes on The myth of our exalted human place on his blog, Sentient Developments. He argues that transhumanists and animal rights activists are on the same wavelength, and critiques speciest:

At the very core, though, what the speciests cannot bear is when an animal’s life is ‘put ahead’ of a human’s. More accurately, what they find repugnant is the thought of a human death when a cure could have been developed through animal experimentation — the underlying assumption being that an animal’s life does not have the same value as a human’s. To the speciest, the animal’s suffering is either not really happening (i.e. the misconception that animals don’t really feel things the way people do), or that its suffering is a justifiable sacrifice in the name of science or in helping more ‘worthy’ human lives.

Carnival organizer vegankid writes about love, loss, and a few animals lucky enough to escape the fate of the discarded in no token mother’s day:

The animals in my life provide an unmeasurable amount of inspiration in my life. When i think of their stories and look at them, i know that my role as a mother cannot simply stop after feeding time. Lets look at Trombone. Trombone came into my life last year. I was at a friend’s house when we received a call explaining that Trombone was in the back of a pet store awaiting his sentance of death by freezer and wondering if either of us would care for him if he were to escape from prison. Any animal lib kid is well-aware of what we call vegan guilt. Well, of course we said yes (even though there were already a dozen animals between the two houses). And thus began Trombone’s life as a liberated political prisoner.

Brownfemipower writes about how
Animal rights are being used as a way to further animalize and violate people of color
. She writes:

Radical women of color activists, unlike most of the white dominated animal rights organizations, have long recognized the link between animal health and community health–government endorsed mass extermination of animals was used as a blatant tool of genocide against native peoples. And it is the Native women of Canada and Alaska that first recognized changing migratory patterns of caribou and increased levels of dioxins in the fatty tissue of the animals they eat.

It is our breasts that fill with poisons from the animal meat we eat, it is our wombs that create diseased eggs, it is our children that are born without skeletons and die from government handouts or gas station hot dogs induced diabetes.

Becoming and Being Vegan

Being vegan can sometimes be isolating, so it’s always encouraging to find we’re not alone. Isil of The Veggie Way reports that Dr. Janez DrnovÅ¡ek, President of Republic Slovenia, is possibly the world’s only vegan head of state. She quotes him:

We don’t always realize how we treat animals, how we manage them. They are living creatures. … Just think of all slaughterhouses and production of beef or poultry where conditions for animals are impossible. Often animals are transported in trucks without any water, which is extremely cruel.

The Vegan Vulcan traces how she became vegan in not so ethical vegetarian:

Many moons ago (winter of 2001, to be exact) I became a vegetarian. Kind of. I felt that by eliminating meat from my diet, I was making an ethical choice, good for the environment, good for animals, good for me. But this story is not praise of myself, and my dietary “ethics”– it is a story about waking up from what I consider to be the myth of ethical vegetarianism.

Kristy of Bluer Than Pink searches for her passion and decides that it’s living by example by sharing her love for food. In her post Passionfruit she writes:

The strangest thing happened after a few months of being vegan I suddenly felt a lot of clarity about everything, the interconnectedness of everything (animal rights, environment, women’s rights, peace and more),I even had clarity about how the current relationship I was in at the time was not suitable, yes I know i’m starting to sound like a hippy or maybe a little crazy, but it was truly a beautiful feeling.

Yes food is my biggest passion and is very much connected to my veganism.

Tara of Tara’s Ramblings blogs on her transition to veganism with photographs of meals and links to her favorite vegan products. From Going vegan?:

I’m feeling myself being pulled more and more towards this. Though I don’t ever see myself as a vocal advocate, nor as agonizing over every single purchase I make, as some do, even eggs and dairy foods are sounding less and less appealing to me. I had a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich this morning–I have always loved these–and it tasted just…wrong. I mean it tasted normal, but just wrong. I suppose for once I couldn’t get out of my mind (previously easy to do) exactly what I was eating. Of course, that’s blatantly sitting on an english muffin staring you in the face. A lot easier to ignore when it’s cooked inside the food.

The Broke Vegan writes about being vegan and fairness:

Part of the reason veganism has finally become part of my life is because I believe life should be fair. I believe that no living creature is more significant than another. I do not believe that the life of a cow is less important than mine. I do not believe that I am better than another because I have a Master’s degree. I do not believe that I am inferior because I am a woman or because I am Black. I do not believe I am superior because I am married or because I have a boy and a girl, etc. etc. Because of this, life gets very hard sometimes.

Masculinity and Meat Politics

Our own tekanji analyzes the sexualization of meat in response to a Burger King commercial in I’m So Glad I Stopped Eating at BK. She writes on the emasculation of men who don’t love meat:

They quite obviously draw the line between “healthy” food (tofu, especially, is the poster child for “healthy food”) and MAN FOOD, namely BK’s burgers. And, you know what, I don’t think that’s cool. As someone who loves burgers, I don’t like one of my favourite foods being used to shame men into thinking that if they aren’t “carnivores” then they are less manly. I, frankly, see it as BK emasculating men who don’t want to buy their product. And, really, if anyone is going to be emasculating men around here it should be us feminists. I’m kidding! Jeez, y’all can’t take a joke. What are you, a bunch of humourless feminists? Ha, ha. But I’m serious about the BK thing. And that’s not cool.

There is also a discussion of the Burger King commercial on the veg_feminism LiveJournal group. LJ user xmorningxrosex writes:

So. veg*n guys must not exist. because we all know that you need meat, and lots of it, to be a man. and women can’t eat meat without seeming unladylike. no, salads and diets are for women, big piles of meat are for men.

The Disillusioned Kid also writes on the manliness of eating meat. From Flogging the dead cow:

Note the way that meat is associated with strength and – at least impliedly – sexuality. Your very manhood is determined by whether or not you maintain a sufficient intake of dead animals. If you should fail in your duty to maintain this intake tean it is incumbent upon your female partner to “drag” you to an appropriate meat dispensary (cooking it at home is clearly insufficient) and put this right. Maybe you should go the whole hog and move to the States while you’re at it. Just to make sure.

Food Specifics

Katie the Frugal Veggie Mama writes about the importance of veggies sending good food to represent our cooking:

I always have angst when I bring food to my kids’ classes. I always feel like vegans/vegetarians can’t send in a less than amazing treat or people will turn their noses up. Tuesday evening found me biting my lip while searching for the perfect treat. Just to make it interesting, several kids in the class have allergies to chocolate and peanuts. What’s a frugal veggie mama to do??

She develops a molasses cookies recipe!

Speaking of food, Christy and Paul of Two Peas, No Pod share photographs of their hearty tofu scramble breakfast.

Every Saturday we get up at 7am and go to the Farmers’ Markets with my Mum. When we get home, we take full advantage of our newly acquired fresh produce (and the fresh home-made tofu that we buy there too), but having a hot breakfast of scrambled tofu, garlic mushrooms and tomatoes with sourdough toast. We also try to make fresh celery, carrot, apple and ginger juice.

It is the most delicious way that I can think of starting the weekend.

In Closing

This last-coming submission from Ninth Wave Designs on the novel Weight is a wonderful closing to the carnival:

Space travel was a larger-than-life factor in the mythos of my childhood, and I was familiar with the story of Laika’s trip into space as part of that myth. The story I read in grade school never mentioned that she died during her mission, but I knew without being told. For some reason all of the great expansive American optimism associated with our early space program, contrasted with my instinctive sense of Laika’s cruel claustrophobic end, generated a deep conflict in my young mind that is still with me. Winterson has unexpectedly found a way to address my early established deep sense of suspicion, and offers a balm with these words: “Laika was free.”

That’s all for this issue. The vegan blogging community is awfully quite and made me collect a lot of these posts myself, so I want to say a special big thanks to those of you who submitted things: vegankid, Brownfemipower, Kristy, and NWD.

Please visit the carnival home for information about hosting a future issue of the carnival. Hosting carnivals is fun. The next issue will be August 1, 2006, at two peas, no pod.

Carnival of Empty Cages: Last Call for Submissions

I just got home from helping put on Veganfest, my school’s animal rights club’s annual dinner, and feeding 200 hungry people yummy vegan food. Just in time to remind you all to get those submissions for the Carnival of Empty Cages. I’m extending the deadline to midnight on May 30. Submissions are coming in slowly, so feel free to nominate posts of others (including recipes) if you don’t have time to write something.

Hate Speech on Campus: Abortion Compared to Genocide

The Center for Biological Reform was invited to my school on Tuesday and Wednesday by Western for Life, my university’s anti-choice club. They put up a display comparing abortion to genocide in the center-most public area of campus. There were signs that read, “Warning, Genocide Ahead,” but the area is difficult to avoid and many students told me they proceeded expecting something about a real genocide.

I took a few pictures of the displays. They are graphic and probably not work safe, so you may want to skip this post if you’re not up for being in a bad mood.

I took these pictures on the second day. On the first day, there were small children behind the barricade, in the sun, and infants being carried by women.

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International Respect for Chickens Day

Happy International Respect for Chickens Day! Even if you’re not a vegetarian, please think of these cool birds today when making your meal choices.

This is a snapshot I took a few weeks ago of Garnet (front) and Henrietta, two of the hens that live with my parents. (They usually stand outside, but Garnet likes to tap at the back door and beg when I’m visiting.)

I got four baby chicks when I was in the 9th grade, and raising them changed the way I see myself as a woman in relation to animals, my food, and the world. I’m happy there are others out there as crazy about chickens as I am.

Carnival of Empty Cages: First Call for Submissions

I am hosting the second issue of the Carnival of Empty Cages here on June 1, 2006. You can submit posts via the web form or E-mailing at lakedesire@gmail.com by May 30, 2006.

To quote my original pre-call:

The issue’s theme will be passion. What animal liberation or veganism/vegetarianism gets you going? Spending time with your companion animals? Inventing recipes? Working at a shelter? Building solidarity with other social activists? Raising vegan children? The theme is just a suggestion, of course. You don’t need to be vegan to participate so long as your post isn’t contradictory to the carnival’s dedication to animals, animal liberation, and animal rights. If you write a special interest blog, I encourage you to discuss animals in relation to your blog’s theme. I look forward to reviewing your submissions!

If you’d like to host an issue of this bi-monthly carnival, E-mail veganwonder [at] gmail [dot] com. Vegankid is especially looking for new and low traffic blogs, although anyone is welcome to host.

Please link this post to spread the word.

A Declaration of Ambiguity

As I find myself being more and more vague when talking about dating, I realize that nobody knows what my sexual orientation is. Maybe I’m becoming more aware from getting closer to my queer friends, or finally feeling comfortable enough to talk about sex when I talk to other women (of all persuasions).

Well, it’s about time I outed myself in honor of Blog Against Heteronormity Day because heteronormity is what made me default to straight. Well, this is my first public admittance: I don’t consider myself a heterosexual.

It feels good to say that. So what am I?

I’m not bisexual. I’m not sure why the term bisexual makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe because it only seems one step off of a binary, positioning my self in the middle of a system as if my interests can be broken down into percentages. Or maybe it is left over from my teen years when I was torn between hating raunch culture and wanting to participate in it. (I didn’t realize at the time I was so saturated in the gazing male narrative that I saw the world very much from a male perspective, but that’s a future blog post.) I wanted guys to think I was hot, sexy but I wanted approval, too, and too few girls met both qualifications.

When I was in the tenth grade, I had a crush on a girl in my class. I told my boyfriend and he thought it was cool. When I broke up with this guy, I admitted I had liked this girl to two of the boys who courted me my junior year. The first, the nerdy senior boy from this post started saying things like, “Since you’re bisexual…” in front of other people. I freaked out because that wasn’t his label to give me. The second boy, a pot smoker who was my age but had been held back, was actively pursuing me (by my interpretations) through cuddling, calling, and flirty IMs. We went to the Sadie Hawkens dance with a group and I dropped him off last so we could talk about whether or not we were dating. He told me he didn’t want to date me because he wasn’t into bi girls.

“I’m not bi,” I said. He ignored me, his mind was made up. Bi girls seemed so objectified, and that wasn’t for me.

Am I a lesbian? Nah, that’s not me. I’m not a pansexual, either, although I’ve had crushes on transpeople. The term pansexual, all-sexual, suggests that I like sex, that I’m into sex. And I’m not.

Not into sex? I must be asexual! No, I’ve ruled out that one, too. Although I’m currently celibate, I would like to enjoy sex someday. I just think it will come later. And when it does happen, I don’t want to feel like I’m not supposed to enjoy it because of my identity. Right now I want to keep sex out of dating, but don’t want to label myself something that will rule out options. (Although I love being single, I also don’t want to feel I can’t pursue someone because I’ve labeled myself something usually associated with being a non-dater.) I’m not going to find empowerment through sex, but I may learn to enjoy it someday when I’m fully riveting with everything else that excites me: learning, creating, loving. Writing, theorizing, having conversations that bring people somewhere new.

I do like the word queer. Maybe someday I’ll be comfortable using it to describe myself. Right now, I don’t know if I’m queer enough. Sometimes, I feel like I’m nothing. Is it privilege of living as a perceived heterosexual to identify myself as no orientation? I don’t think so, since the models of sex and relationships I’ve had growing up have made me feel inadequate for not being more interested in sex.

But I’m not nothing. I’m ambiguous. Fluid, undeclared. Well, I’m declaring it a sexual orientation, my sexual orientation. And it’s one that won’t leave me stagnate, will grow with me. One that opens options for me, rather than closing them.

It feels wonderful to talk about this, to be open. To have an identity.