Category Archives: feminism

Retro Flashback: Ruminations on a Song and on a Word

by Latoya Peterson


Warning – Explicit Language

While I was researching a piece for Feministe, I stumbled across an old video.

The video is of a TV appearance for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, performing their song “Woman is the Nigger of the World” on the Dick Cavett show.

John Lennon goes into great detail as to how the record was made. He mentions that most of the people who have an issue with the title are white and male. Also in his explanation, he notes “All my black friends feel I have quite a right to say it.”

He also reads a statement from the then-chairman of the Black Caucus:

“If you define nigger as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, then good news! – you don’t have to be black to be a nigger in this society. Most of the people in America are niggers.”

Lennon goes on to say “I think the word nigger has changed, and it does not have the same meaning that it used to.”

They then go into the song.

Thoughts?

Help Us Keep Bitching

by Latoya Peterson

So, I’m currently reading an advance copy of Tricia Rose’s new book, The Hip-Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip-Hop – And Why It Matters. I’ve already flagged pages to post as part of the “Quoted” series, as well as planning a few arguments around Rose’s ideas to post as part of the Hip-Hop Feminist canon. I even have an interview scheduled for next Tuesday, where I planned to spend about an hour dissecting the book with the author.

But unfortunately, y’all might not ever read my interview, or the article that was supposed to spring from our discussion.

That’s because on the day I received my contract in the mail, Bitch Magazine posted a video by Andi Zeisler and Debbie Rasmussen saying that they may not be able to publish the next issue because they don’t have the money. Bitch is $40,000 short of what they need to publish next month’s issue. (That’s how much it costs to publish an issue, y’all.)

So, please help.

If you like the fact that there is a magazine dedicated to a feminist critique of pop culture, please help by subscribing or donating.

If you don’t know what Bitch is, please check out their website and their back issues.

If you have a small business, an Etsy store, whatever, please consider taking out an advertisement.

And if you like what I do, and you like how I write, please help as well. Bitch is one of the few publications that will actually publish a lot of the things I write about, without me worrying about what gets filtered out, or if they are going to edit the racial/gender analysis out of my pitch.

I know there are about 5,000 of you reading Racialicious each day. (I’m not sure on how many people visit Feministe, where I am going to cross post this, but I hope a lot.) If half of you take the time to donate $5.00, we’ve raised $12,500.00 and we would be a quarter of the way there.

I already gave you a head start – I donated $10.

Here’s the video from Andi & Debbie:

Looking at Sarah, Somehow Seeing Condi

by Latoya Peterson, originally published at Feministe

As the uproar over the Palin VP pick enters its third week, the media and the blogosphere show no signs of letting go of mining every aspect of the controversy. Feministing put up a Friday Feminist Fuck No as to whether or not Sarah Palin is a feminist, Octogalore says we need to focus on the double standards being aimed at Palin, Alternet is comparing Sarah to Barbie, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is trying to talk her friends out of voting for her, Camille Pagila claimed Palin is a new “feminist force,” and Katha Pollitt ripped her a new one in her piece “Lipstick on a Wingnut.

Throughout this all, it appears that there are two dominant ideas swirling around this debate:

1. Palin cannot be a feminist because her views are in complete opposition to what is meant by feminism as a movement.

2. Palin should be supported because she is a strong woman, who represents what feminism is about and in many ways shows what the feminist movement has done for women.

Now, I’ve been following this debate with some interest, and watched many women mount impassioned defenses of Palin, and chide feminists for not providing more support to this strong woman candidate. I don’t care for Palin’s politics at all, and while I can see she was a smart pick for the GOP, there’s a big trump card for me. Palin doesn’t represent anything close to the womanhood I know. So while I listen with interest while people argue about how Palin represents “every woman,” I can’t relate. I just don’t see her in those ways.

But I can put Sarah Palin into context fairly easily, as the issues surrounding Sarah Palin, (white) women, and feminism correspond with the issues around Condoleezza Rice, black (women) interests, and racial politics. Continue reading

Feminism, Race, and Sexist Dating Guides

by Latoya Peterson

One of the many issues I have with feminism is how my racial identification is treated as a problem, separate from the “real issues” that feminism seeks to deal with – despite the fact that the world perceives me as a “black woman” rather than a “woman.” (The “white” that goes before “woman” is silent.) My race is supposed to go unmentioned and unnoticed – until, there is some kind of “black culture” thing to tsk-tsk and blame on the inherent sexism in the black community.

So, it was with great trepidation that I clicked on a header post from Feministing. Titled “Dating Advice from Assholes: ‘Stop Treating Women Well,‘” Ann summarizes a Washington Post article about yet another crappy book about how to catch a man.

Titled “The Re-Education of the Female” (charming, right?) some bama basically regurgitates the same bullshit being spouted at women since time eternal – cook, clean, fuck, and STFU. The cover lets me know that my initial eye-roll was the right reaction.

Boooo!

Now, Ann’s post was cool, and I was about to click off to some other part of the internet, but for some reason, I decided to read the comments.

The first ten or so were cool, expressing general disgust at the ignorant sentiments. And then, we get to this one:

I echo the sentiments already expressed. I am disgusted by this.

I am also disheartened by the fact that this filth is targeted at black women. I have a feeling that black women generally (but not all, of course) would be more susceptible to these ideas. There seems to be an a fairly strong sentiment among many black women that they need to stand by “their” men, as though they are disgracing themselves and their heritage by dating outside of their race. I have several times seen reference to the shrinking number of black men due to incarceration and consequently a shrinking dating pool, the implication always seeming to be that women have little choice but to date in this pool. Furthermore, there is the specter of single motherhood looming over black women. I fear that the expectation that black women date black men and the fear of scarcity of good black men will cause the women who identify with these issues the most to buy into these horrid ideas for fear of ending up alone otherwise.

*sigh*

Paging the white savior – the Negro women need your guidance!

Continue reading

White Feminists and Michelle Obama

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

Should white feminists be taken to task if they don’t defend Michelle Obama from the misogynistic attacks sure to continue coming her way as the presidential campaign unfolds? Not necessarily, say Corinne Douglas and Jacquelyn Gray, who wrote an editorial called the “Cost of Silence” at the Root.com.

In the article, Douglas and Gray argue that black women remained silent when Hillary Clinton suffered a litany of misogynistic attacks. Therefore, white women can’t be held accountable if they refuse to defend Michelle Obama from the evils of sexism. Douglas and Gray write:

“The misogynistic savaging of Hillary Clinton was one of the most inexcusable elements of the primary campaign, and the silence from black women in the face of those attacks, because they supported Obama, was, at least, a tactical mistake. It is entirely unacceptable to go along with unfair attacks against women simply because you disagree with the particular woman under attack.”

Continue reading

Conversations on Feminism: Domestic Violence Against Aboriginal Women in Australia

by Latoya Peterson

Megan over at Jezebel provided a provocative conversation topic in her post “Aussie Feminist Germaine Greer Argues That Domestic Violence Against Aboriginal Women Is Understandable.”

She writes:

Despite Kevin Rudd’s official apology to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders for their treatment at the hands of the Australian government, his government continues to support and fund the previous government’s Northern Territory Intervention, which puts troops on the streets of Aboriginal towns (among other seemingly repressive measures) to combat the well-documented widespread epidemic of domestic and child abuse. That said, feminist Germaine Greer’s response to it is nearly as shocking. She suggests that domestic violence is an understandable outlet of rage against oppression and thus argues that we shouldn’t ask them to stop. What?!

When I first saw this story, I thought she was joking, but she’s not. In trying to argue that rage, substance abuse and violence is a result of the oppression of the Aboriginal people, most people would be hard pressed to say that she’s wrong. Addiction begets addicts, violence begets violence, and crushing and hopeless poverty and societal isolation does nothing to help. But that does not mean that no one should try.

Continue reading

Diversity in Mass Effect

by Guest Contributor BomberGirl, originally published at Girl in the Machine

I’ve recently been replaying Mass Effect, Bioware’s 2007 action RPG, and I’m totally in love. Though there’s plenty of things I could babble on about, I want to discuss the first thing I noticed when I brought the game home back during the holidays.

Women and people of color. They aren’t invisible . . . in fact, in this game, they’re all over the place! Just like, you know, real life! Way too often, sci fi falls into the trap of showing us a universe where PoC and women have been sucked into a black hole or something and no longer exist. Mass Effect introduces a galaxy that’s truly diverse, an experience we don’t often get in video games.

An interesting facet of Mass Effect’s immense cultural salad is the absence of racial tension among humans. Humanity’s discovery of advanced Prothean artifacts is only quite recent; their technology jumps two hundred years, and thus all contact and interaction with alien races is relatively sudden. These aliens all look down on the human race and treat them as lesser beings. As the first human member of an elite agency called Spectre, the protagonist Shepard must combat prejudice and bigotry as well as your typical monsters and other foes.

Mass Effect pitches humanity into a situation where all racial tensions seem to vanish in order to unite against the prejudice of the alien races. Now, I realize that Bioware did not craft this game for the purpose of social commentary, so I don’t blame it for not directly addressing human racial interaction along with the new problems presented by alien prejudice. It’s a fascinating thought, though: could humanity put internal racism aside when all of us, collectively, face the same from an outside source? Continue reading