Posts tagged ‘sexism’

Comment from Literary Agent Alison Fargis

  • Pardon my grammar errors here. I wrote in a hurry. Below is Alison Fargis’ response and my response to her.
    Alison Fargis · Vassar

    There are many books published that are basically lexicons of dirty words in other languages including Spanish, French, Korean, Italian, and, yes, even an existing title called DIRTY SIGN LANGUAGE, and none of them degrade the languages or cultures they include.
    Reply · Like · 15 minutes ago
     
  • Octavian · Works at Currently Unemployed

    And your point is, Alison? Those books are at least accurate. This is not. And we also have to examine who the authors/creators are and what they understand about the language and the cultural politics that surrounds the language. You are clearly not paying attention to the issues being raised. This is NOT about dirty language. This is about cultural appropriation, sexism/misogyny/racism, and a boatload of issues that others have gone to great lengths to explain. If you’re going to defend this, especially as the literary agent involved, it would be wise to take the time to read through all of this and undertake some education about what African-Americans, Native Americans, and other minority groups have said regarding cultural appropriation. This is mockery and exploitation.
    Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago
  • Octavian · Works at Currently Unemployed

    Alison Fargis Furthermore, your response shows that you know absolutely nothing about sign language, deaf people, or cultural issues. It is irresponsible, as an literary agent, to try to peddle a work without being at minimum aware of the potential fallout. Would you try to peddle a book written by a white man mocking black women and making caricatures out of black women? There’s a reason why that’s no longer acceptable- because African Americans and their allies have spent the last century or so fighting racism and we all know racism is not cool, not acceptable, and basically political suicide. At least when it’s overt. You know what this is called, Alison? AUDISM. ABLEISM. And one day, we will all realize it’s equally uncool, unacceptable, and political suicide. Especially when it’s as overt as this book/Henson is being. But because disabled people and deaf people’s struggles are more recent and because scholars have not given much thought to disability studies and the disabled experience, people can’t equate that to racism and sexism.
    Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago
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Petition to St. Martin’s Press

Sign this petition to St. Martin’s Press regarding the publication of Kristin Henson’s book.

For more information, see previous post.

Spread the petition far and wide.

 

UPDATE: ACTION Alert: Hearing Person Exploiting ASL for Profit

So some hearing woman thought it’d be cool to borrow our language and make money off it while being misogynistic, sexist, racist, what have you.  She even got a book deal. She’s making money off us. Our language. Our culture. In a really uncool, totally inappropriate way.  Others have spoken so eloquently, I’ll keep their comments here but am redacting names as I do not have everyone’s permission.
I have submitted comments and emails to Stonesong Press and  St. Martin’s Press.
UPDATE: E-mail the Publicist for the book directly. Kimberly Hanson. 
UPDATE: E-mail the editor of the book directly. Daniella Rapp. 
UPDATE: Please sign this Petition: ask your friends to sign, tweet the petition, Facebook, e-mail, and get the word out!
Post your comments on Facebook, click on the links in this post to contact editors and producers to protest the promotion of a hearing person using OUR language to perpetuate sexism, racism, and make money off it while misrepresenting our language and our culture.
Dear Editors:
I am writing to share my extreme disgust and displeasure at your agency’s decision to publish Kristin Henson’s book: Super Smutty Sign Language. I am a deaf white man. American Sign Language is my language. I find Henson’s videos and view of ASL to be sexist and racist. Her use of my language is cultural appropriation. You, by publishing this book, are exploiting deaf people and our language. For profit. You are exploiting racism and sexism for profit. I am copying and pasting a few comments from others regarding Henson’s book. We suggest you rethink publishing this book. Doing so only affirms that it’s okay for hearing people to steal our language, dirty it, use it in ways that is wrong,  perpetuate oppression of minority groups, and make money off that.
Person 1 · 
I’m a [cultural-linguistic] deaf woman of color, and american sign language is one of my languages. I didn’t want to play any of the videos above. I immediately catched the at once subversive/overt racism and misogynism in some of kristin’s ‘instructional’ video, which was enough for me to abstain from clicking ‘play’ on any of them. by her ‘teaching’ us how to ‘be’/ sign ‘gangsta’ and ‘bitch, please’ I i see a simultaneous exoticification and minimization of sign language, appropriated and packaged for [white, patriarchal] entertainment value. I don’t think it is okay to reduce any language to ‘dirty words’ and even more, use a person who is just learning the language to showcase such phrases. upholding the power structure much?
kristin– you have 11,500 subscribers to your videos, which ironically have completely shoddy closed-captioning. I can get that you’re amped to learn sign language. that’s nice. but language is never removed from cultural politics, especially if you go on to commodify it. quite frankly, you’re doing it wrong. wrong wrong wrong. youre teetering the line of contributing to the cultural-linguistic appropriation of ASL and consequently u.s. deaf culture as a whole. you do even more injustice to us deaf people of color with ‘damn it feels good to be a gangsta.’ I’m not sure who gave you a misguided ‘in’ with the community so that you went forth with this disillusioned and completely offensive project. chances are, you will continue to do this project because ‘omgz it’s so cool, and like, my friends and like, all these people love it’ but I hope my comment plants a politically-conscious seed in this mind of yours, however buried it might be for awhile.
Person 2 · Washington, District of Columbia
An American Sign Language novice with 90 tutorials under her belt is “translating crude and bizarre phrases and slowly defining a universal language of sex and strife.” Oh really? Hipster racism is never cool.
Totally racist, sexist, offensive, and narrow-minded of you, Kristin, to do those incredibly tasteless vlogs. Most of the signs are inaccurate thus sorry they are not beneficial and useful like you may think. I can go on more but I can’t stand to be on this webpage any longer.
Person 3 ·
I’ve quickly scanned your psychobabble…and as a Deaf person I can tell you that what you have complied in all these videos is definitely an insult to the likes of us (Deaf community). You should start considering removing all of your videos as they show ignorance and disrespect toward the signing community. I dare you take American Sign Language (ASL) courses because I doubt you’ll last long, not because of your inability to learn, but because of your inability to realize its richness and complexity of the language. It’s sad to see how someone can take the language apart and destroy it like this.
Person 4·
Thank you so much for contributing to the commodification of one of my languages and one of my cultures. /endsarcasm I am offended and appalled by these videos and your *nerve* in thinking it’s OK to do this. You wouldn’t dare do it to Spanish, Chinese, Thai, or any other language, I bet. Why is it OK to do this to ASL? Daily Dot, shame on you for highlighting this example of racism, misogynism, ethnocentrism, minimization of ASL, etc.
Person 5- This is reprehensible. On the behalf of my community, the community of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and ASL users, I cry foul of the most malicious kind. This is wrong on so many levels. Appropriating a language you aren’t fluent in, appropriating a culture you clearly do not interact with, and propagating racism and sexism and audism in the name of “humor” and “knowledge”. I will do everything I can to see this book never gets off the presses.
Person 5, Part 2- I posted THIS directly to Stonesong: SUPER SMUTTY SIGN LANGUAGE is a huge slap in the face of the collective Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and American Sign Langauge (ASL) community. This is extremely offensive, not only in the subject matter, because yes, we swear and use slang, and talk dirty, but that is the point- WE do. Kristin is not a fluent signer, she is not a member of the community, and is therefore misrepresenting an entire community, an entire language, a culture, a people. This book should not be published. Yes, there is freedom of the press, but there is also libel, cultural appropriation, and theft of a language. I am a Deaf professor of ASL and Linguistics who also teaches Deaf Culture, and this has just stunned me beyond measure. This is a tragic example of a poorly researched project and endorsement of audism- which is behavior based on the notion that people who hear, or the manner of acting like those who can hear, are superior to those who do not.
Person 6- I wholeheartedly concur with what everyone said below (Octavian, [redacted], [redacted], etc). You should be -so- ashamed of yourself, putting videos of yourself butchering MY language on the internet. I was hoping everyone who commented below was being oversensitive, but it only took one video to realize their objections to what you’re doing are completely and utterly justified. If you had any shred of self-respect, and respect for the Deaf community, you’d take this down — immediately.

Intracommunity Division and “Deaf Nazis”

I’m doing this because I care deeply for all my brethren. By brethren, I refer to all deaf, hard of hearing, and those who choose to identify as hearing impaired. I do not want to focus on “labels” because that veers into the territory of identity politics. Here’s a comment I saw earlier today…”I’m severely hard of hearing and all this deaf/hearing/asl competition over cultures and languages is really getting old. I’m tired of the Deafy Nazis..they can “Have” their culture.”

My heart breaks for people who see themselves as victims rather than as survivors of the existing systems of power, privilege, and oppression. This intracommunity division exists because some of us have internalized ideas from the dominant majority that we are objects to be “fixed,” that we are inherently bound for failure and limited lives, and that we are somehow lesser than others. So many have adopted the idea that the only way we can be “equal” is if we are normalized and assimilated into the majority- as in being able to communicate orally and achieve flawless English, at the expense of other aspects of our Selves.

This is not an experience unique to the deaf community. In other non-dominant population groups, we see similar processes of assimilation, internalized oppression, and intracommunity division. Some have so deeply internalized the message of the dominant majority that they turn on each other. A little snippet from another website:

“There are two ways that internalized oppression functions:

2. Internalized oppression occurs among members of the same cultural group. People in the same group believe (often unconsciously) the misinformation and stereotypes that society communicates about other members of their group. People turn the oppression on one another, instead of addressing larger problems in society. The results are that people treat one another in ways that are less than fully respectful. Often people from the same cultural group hurt, undermine, criticize, mistrust, fight with, or isolate themselves from one another.”

My message to those who feel they are marginalized by the “Deafy Nazis”: I see you as my brethren. I am fighting the fight for you too, not just those who are Deaf ASL-Users, but for all deaf and hard of hearing people who ultimately are affected by systematic audism and linguicism. I am determined to battle systems of oppression that has potential to limit our access to mainstream society and full citizenship. I am resisting systems of oppression that limits deaf children’s access to language, education, and ultimately economic opportunities. I am tired of seeing our language, our bodies, our culture being exploited for profit by colonizers. I am tired of seeing deaf children turn into bitter adults. I am saddened to see deaf adults not have a sense of belonging.  My resistance is centered on those systems of power, not against my fellow deaf/hard of hearing brethren. I may disagree with your positions or your politics. My intent is to educate and raise consciousness but I do not have any interest in excluding you from this community, this culture, or American Sign Language.

I see some people in our community attacking each other rather than focus on the systems of power, especially the medical-industrial complex and clueless education policy-makers, for putting us in the position where we do not have first-class citizenship.

I suspect that those who are referred to as the “Deaf Nazis” or the “deaf militants” are those who feel passionately about advancing the place of deaf people in mainstream society. I cannot speak for everyone else but I can speak for myself and those with whom I work. We are not rejecting those who are not fluent in ASL or do not buy into deaf culture nor making claims on ASL and deaf culture as being exclusively ours. We feel passionately that all deaf children should have full access to language and education, to be seen as whole beings beyond their ears, and to have access to a community of people who share the deaf experience and share the challenges of audism. We are not attacking you for the decisions that were made by medical professionals interested in curing/fixing you or turning a profit, by education policy makers who do not understand our unique needs and challenges, and by well-meaning parents who made difficult decisions based on what they were told was best. When we attack those systems, we are not attacking you, the byproducts of that system. There is not a separate “you” and “us.” This is about all of us regardless of identity politics.

I can understand why some deaf/hard of hearing people feel personally attacked when deaf activists agitate against oral education, cochlear implants, and so on.  We do not hold deaf/hard of hearing people responsible for decisions made by others when they were children. But we do hold deaf/hard of hearing people responsible for the decisions they make as adults. When consciousness has been raised, one can no longer avoid responsibility for the choices they make in being a victim or survivor, or their choice in victimizing their own brethren using the ideology of the systems in power.

What drives my passion? Here’s a little story I want to share with you excerpted from an older post.

I went to the Deaf Community Services center this afternoon for an employment-related interview. While in the waiting room, I watched a DCS produced video. This video asked the question: “why I love DCS.” The respondents were apparently selected at random, their responses unedited and unscripted.

At the end of this video, two little girls, about 8-10 years of age, appeared. One said, “DCS helps me get ready for school so that I can have a successful future.” Her friend responded, “heh, heh. If we can! Heh. Heh,” while shrugging.

Heartbreaking. Tragic. Illuminating.

I wonder. Does this little girl question her ability to be a successful adult because she is deaf and she has somehow internalized the idea that deaf adults are generally not successful? Is she, as a deaf pupil, told she will struggle because of literacy and linguistic acquisition?

Or is she, like the Dove commercial on television, one of the majority of girls who drop out of what they enjoy doing because they are insecure about themselves as girls growing into women? Is she, as a female pupil, told that she cannot succeed in the sciences and math because boys are simply better at those subjects?

Or is it all rolled into one as a deaf female? We cannot separate out precisely the moment, those experiences, those messages she received as a girl, as a deaf child, and as a deaf girl, that she had to question whether or not she would succeed. What disempowers this child? Her femalehood or her deafhood? How do those disempowerments nurture each other?

This illustrates why we cannot separate out the experience of being deaf from other facets of our existences.

This is why we must combat all forms of privilege and work for true equality for all. We cannot separate those threads out; we cannot empower an individual by empowering one aspect while neglecting to empower the whole.

The Video Clip can be found here. The pair appear at the end.

Address Racism in the NAD: My Letter to Affiliates

Dear Organization,

As an advocate for racial equality and inclusion, I am writing you to express my concerns about the National Association of the Deaf’s decision to invite Governor Dennis Daugaard to give a plenary presentation at the NAD Conference this summer in Louisville. Governor Daugaard’s legislative record includes the passage of legislation that impede or outright deny the civil and human rights of women, LGBTs, and people of color.
On March 12, 2012, Governor Daugaard signed an anti-Muslim bill, HB 1253 which reads, “No court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code. The reasons why this is unconstitutional may be found at this website. This should concern all of us for a number of reasons. First, although this bill is not overtly directed at Muslims, it was generated by Islamophobia in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Islamophobia should especially concern you as organizations that advocate for the rights and inclusion of deaf people of color. Although Islam is a widespread faith practiced by people from all walks of life, Islam has been racialized in popular discourse. Due to fearmongering and mass media portrayals, Islam is now closely associated with south/west Asian brown skinned people. Furthermore, mainstream Americans cast a suspicious eye toward Islam during the 1960s and 1970s when Islam emerged in the African-American Civil Rights movement as African-Americans sought to reclaim the religion of their ancestors. Mainstream Americans associated Islam with the radicalization of the African-American Civil Rights movement. Americans have long had discomfort with Islam, not only because of theological differences but because they have associated Islam with non-white populations. The relationship between Islamophobia and Racism cannot be denied.
Governor Daugaard also signed into law on March 5, 2012 anti-abortion measures that limited a woman’s access to health care and reproductive rights. Those attacks on reproductive rights are often intertwined with attacks on poor women and women of color, women who have disproportionately lesser access to health care as compared to their white counterparts.
As affiliates to the NAD that represent deaf people of color, I urge you to make a stand for inclusion, equality, civil rights, and admonish the NAD for providing a prominent platform to a legislator who has actively legislated to narrow civil and human rights.
Thank you,
Tavian Robinson