Christina Engela's picture

Proving Ground

This weekend was far more interesting than I wanted it to be. The fact that this is becoming a something of a regular occurrence is somewhat disturbing I think. This morning I discovered that yet again, I had grounds to do an "I told you so dance" because SA's government had thumbed it's nose at SA's pink community - in effect saying to us "fuck you" because they not only ignored all our pleas to speak out against the oppressive regime in Uganda - but also appointing homophobe Jon Qwelane as its ambassador there. And it seems Jon was also sneaked into Uganda two weeks ago when JZ went there on his infamous and disgraceful state visit - while he is supposed to be in the Equality Court answering charges of hate speech and incitement to hatred and even violence against the gay community.

Be that as it may, one other interesting event took place over the weekend - the killing of well-known right wing leader Eugene Terreblanche - a 69 year old man who had been rebuilding his right wing white supremacist group, the AWB with its swastika-like symbol and Nazi ideology and structure. According to some, ET had emerged from his prison term some years ago a changed man, who no longer exhorted racist racist remarks, but simply wanted a homeland and self-determination for his "Afrikaner Volk". Personally, I know too little about the "new" Eugene Terreblanche to comment on this - but even if it is true, and ET turned over a new leaf - he still seems to be known for his more publicized racist past as the leader of the AWB - which not only still visualizes a future based on separation along racial lines - but which also still detests GLBTI people.
arvan's picture

Coming Soon: "Finding Bibi" - a film about being a woman, between cultures

Bita Haidarian, an Iranian American filmmakersets off on a journey around the world to find out where she is from and who she is.

Born in America to Baha’i refugee parents from Iran, Bita tells the tragic-comic story of her family coming to America, her childhood in Texas, trying to fit in, and competitive cheerleading – all part of the quest of a girl who knows more about MTV than Al Jazeera.

Bita wanders through the US, Europe, the Middle East and Pakistan examining the cultures at play on her life and the lives of women in these places.  It looks thoroughly engaging and we're lucky, I'll have an interview with Bita here in the near future for you all to read.

The overwhelming trailer response has inspired us to build an organization around the movie.  Our goal: to bridge the gap between east and west by sharing the compelling stories of women - some empowered, others seeking empowerment - from both hemispheres. (website)

And Bita’s plea to public – please watch my film!  If it doesn’t succeed, I’m going to have to get married.

They have a website, a facebook page and a twitter account.


Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Gentleman’s Agreement

Ah Gregory Peck, how you mesmerised us in To Kill a Mockingbird. A movie I haven’t seen if I’m to be honest, but it’s the first thing that came to mind when beginning this post. A movie of his that I did see, however, is Gentleman’s Agreement. I watched it over the Christmas Holiday and I made a mental note of it, actually I created a draft in WordPress with the title. I figured now is as good a time as any to bring it up again.

I like old black & white movies, so I’m pre-disposed to like this type of movie. You too? Great. You should rent this one if you haven’t already seen it. It’s about a man named Philip Green (played by Peck), he’s a reported whose assignment is to write a series about antisemitism. At first he’s kind of underwhelmed by the idea since he believes, as does everyone else in the movie apparently except for the editor who gave him the assignment in the first place, that this story has already been written to death. Philip Green is no anti-Semite, but he just doesn’t see what HE could possibly bring to the table.

Wait, there’s a twist. One night, after a conversation with his mother (what a great mom) he comes up with an idea. He goes undercover and pretends the be Jewish. After all, he just moved to the city and no one knows him there. What ensues, is his realization of how people’s attitude towards him change by simply telling them he’s Jewish. He doesn’t alter anything else about himself. There’s no stereotypical caricature. The only thing that changes is other people’s perception of him.

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

The Underbelly of Political Correctness

Let me go on the record and say that it is incredibly, torturously cold in Montreal right now. The kind of day where you don’t go outside unless it’s absolutely necessary. Unfortunately for me, I had to go buy myself some food. On my way to Provigo I went, trying not to freeze to death on the way there. I soon gave up walking and decided to take shelter inside a bus stop. Almost every person who walked by was swearing to God.

I was waiting for the bus by myself for an eternity (ten minutes at most) when an older lady joined me within our glass enclave. At the time, I was wondering when the damn bus would show up, but I did not want to expose myself to the wind and go check the schedule. The lady who was waiting with me was freaking me out a little, because she was strangely bent over behind me. I was wondering what the hell she was doing and when I took a peak, I noticed that there had been a bus schedule behind me this entire time. I also realized that this would have been useless information since I did not have a watch.

Now, while I was waiting and hoping the bus would get there as soon as possible and put me out of my cold inflicted misery, my arms where going numb from holding my scarf up around my face and I wished I had one of those full face masks with the eyes cut out. This thought, as they often do, led to another and I found myself remembering an incident that had taken place when I was in high school.

Christina Engela's picture

Immoral Support


Like others in South Africa over the past few years, I have long been asking the South African government for an explanation for not signing the UN Statement to Decriminalize Homosexuality in 2008 and what they meant when they said they did so on the grounds of "having principles". It seems they have been answering my question in increments.

I got an inkling of what this might mean when our new president, who is on record for making homophobic statements in the media, went on stage in the hall of the Rhema cult and placed gay rights on the bargaining table for right wing religious fundamentalists less than a month before the General Election in 2009.
Christina Engela's picture

Right, Wrong and Justified

(Image courtesy of The Alaska Chronicle)
I don't know why some people just seem to get their jollies on hate speech, I really don't - and add to the insult and injury caused to those who are targeted by these people, they seem to lack the courage of their convictions - or at the very least, courage - to post their hatred to Facebook groups or newspaper websites under their real names.  No, "Witwolf" or "Boerseun" sounds far more impressive.  And a lot less likely to carry consequences.

Aside from that, it also tends to taint good, decent Afrikaans people with that horrible shade of bigotry reminiscent of the bad old days in this country.  Indeed, when I see posts like that, I have to wonder how far have we come in the last 15 years - and how far we still have to go before we live up to claims of being a "true" democracy.

Oddly enough - or maybe not, many people who are blatantly racist are also the same folks who indulge in homophobia and transphobia.  Often their conversation or topic of their derogatory "jokes" will swing from one to the other.  Next time you're in a group of people who are telling jokes to each other - or hacking away at the humanity of others, just listen.
Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Mad Men: Have Things Really Changed?

I started watching the AMC series Mad Men a few weeks ago, the show is set in the early 1960’s and follows the lives of a few ad men and the women in their lives, from their secretaries, to their mistresses and to their wives. My interest in the show, at least at the beginning, was in the novelty of watching the lives of people from a different time period: the clothes, the speech, the fact that EVERYONE SMOKES ALL THE TIME.

Beyond the novelty, came the characters and the way they interact with each other and the most notable interactions, at least for me, are between the men and the women. I’m sure there are a few people who watch the gender dynamics and think to themselves “ah the good old days when you’d come home and your wife would have dinner for you on the table” and if you’re anything like me you might have sighed a sigh of relief “thank god things have changed”.

The thing is though, the more I watch the show the more I realize that things really haven’t changed as much as you’d think and that was a realization that was much more disturbing than anything I had seen so far. Every subject that the writers of Mad Men tackle: gender roles, abortion, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, religion, war, and racism, are all still very much present today. Of course a lot of things have changed, laws have been put in place that make prejudice and out and out wrongdoing illegal.

arvan's picture

"Illegal" Word is a Gateway to Racism and Exploitation

What about illegal do you understand?

Fresh off the press is Colorlines superb video with Rinku Sen dissecting why our conversation around immigration is so often driven to extremes. Taking the term ‘illegal’ to task, Rinku shows us how we need to re-examine our stereotypes and the reasons we have grown immune to the hostilities directed at immigrants.

The truth is when we deny due process to some people, we put all of our rights at risk. This is exactly what has happened in our Restore Fairness video with racial profiling spreading its tentacles to affect even legal immigrants like Ana Galindo and Walter Chavez, victims of a warrantless raid, as well as their U.S. citizen son who still has nightmares about the ordeal.

fugitivus's picture


I used to do a lot of news and political blogging, back when I was in an abusive relationship.

EvilSlutClique's picture

What Does It Mean To Be Female?

You may or may not be following the news stories about South African runner Caster Semenya. After the 18-year-old Semenya won the 800 m. in the 2009 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 1:55:45 - the fastest time of the year - suspicions of her gender were raised. The International Association of Athletics Federations conducted a gender verification test in the weeks before awarding her the medal. The IAAF claims that they do not suspect cheating, but wanted to determine if she had a "rare medical condition" that would give her an unfair advantage. (They also claimed that they would not necessarily withdraw her medal if she "failed".)

This is just another sad case of what happens when a female player is just too good...

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