Category Archives: sexual stereotypes

Geishas and Whores

by Guest Contributor (and regular commenter) Atlasien

Geisha cultists seriously disturb me.

Surprisingly enough, many of them are women. They love the geisha mystique, the tinge of nostalgia for a bygone era, the careful artifice, the idea of humans as living artwork.

I’ve enraged a few of them simply by dropping the “geishas are prostitutes” bomb. They tell me they know about Japan more than I do. I’m a lowly mixed-race Japanese-American. I don’t even speak Japanese. I’m pluralizing “geisha” wrong. I obviously have no respect for the traditions of my ancestors. Geisha = serious business. Ha!

Geisha are not very relevant in modern-day Japan. They’re a fossilized archetype, almost like ninja. If you asked a group of Japanese people the burning question, “are geisha prostitutes?” depending on region and generation, you would probably get a variety of answers: “that’s an insult, of course not!” “Well, it depends on your definition.” “Yes, they’re high-end prostitutes.” “I don’t really know.”

But a lot of people, especially white people, are invested in defending geisha, in putting them on a pedestal. And when they do that, it does harm to Japanese-American women and to all Asian-American women. Appropriation is almost too mild of a word. It’s not just theft, it’s domination. Imagine a young girl, on the verge of understanding herself as a sexual being, looking deeply in the mirror… and seeing her mirror image controlled by puppet masters. Continue reading

Lil Wayne, Sexual Violation, and The “Acceptable” Black Male Discourse

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

I give mad kudos to Cara for her smartly written analysis about Lil’ Wayne having his rape exploited as talk-show fodder on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. She said a lot of what I was thinking when I saw the clip. She felt her thoughts were “long and wandering”, but she sorted through several pieces of baggage packed in that 2 ½ minute clip and, sometimes, the usual short-n-snappy post writing style just doesn’t cut it. But we can further unpack this conversation around race, men, and sexual violation.

The final consideration in analyzing the reaction to this story is the question of race. Again, Sociological Images asserts that the reason people do not see this as rape is because Lil’ is not only male, but a black male.

It’s certainly true that black men are hyper-sexualized, and that anyone who is hyper-sexualized is instantly construed as unrapeable, all other considerations becoming irrelevant. But at the same time, while Lil’ Wayne’s race surely plays a part not only in the failure to interpret his “virginity loss” as rape but also the prodding by the while males for him to brag about the assault he endured, I’m unsure that this would necessarily be interpreted as rape if a white male was the victim. For an example of why, you can again see above.

Then again, Anthony Kiedis is also interpreted as hyper-sexual both due to the image that he has created for himself and by virtue of being a rock star. Take that away and leave his situation with clearly older predators in tact, and you may have a situation where a white male would be seen as a victim, but a black male (or perhaps other male of color) would not be. It’s not easy to say. While we can say with certainty that racism plays a role in the reactions we see to the story that Lil’ Wayne recounts, we can’t say how exactly the reactions would be different when racism is taken out of the picture.

Unpacking the Kiedis/Wayne Comparison

Though both are famous male musicians whom were raped by older women in their lives (Kiedis’ father’s girlfriend; Wayne’s babysitter), the analysis can’t just rest on “these guys survived sexual violation.” It’s the same mushed notion that all female victims suffer rape and other sexual violence without consideration of other factors, like race. Rock stars, especially white ones, are given more latitude to discuss and display a gamut of emotions and experiences, including physical, emotional and sexual violations, from classic rock to emo and beyond. Lil’ Wayne, being a Black male–and a hip-hop artist at that, in an industry that says Black male voices are profitable and, therefore, listenable only in R&B and hip-hop–simply isn’t allowed that same space to talk about such issues.

Unpacking the Statistical Silence
The National Center for Victims of Crime runs down some of the latest numbers :

  • About 3% of American men – a total of 2.78 million men – have experienced a rape at some point in their lifetime.
  • In 2003, one in every ten rape victims was male. While there are no reliable annual surveys of sexual assaults on children, the Justice Department has estimated that one of six victims are under age 12.
  • 71% of male victims were first raped before their 18th birthday; 16.6% were 18-24 years old, and 12.3% were 25 or older.
  • Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though it is estimated that they make up 10% of all victims. Continue reading

When a Man is the Victim: A Second Study in Rape Apology

by Guest Contributor Cara Kulwicki, originally published at The Curvature

I’ve previously done an in depth analysis of victim-blaming and rape denial, and how it varies and how it stays the same, in a case of rape where a man was the victim of a female assailant. After seeing this video at Sociological Images, along with the questions Lisa poses about the attitudes towards sexual violence it reveals, I’m compelled to do a second one. The results are a bit long and wandering.

Below, rapper Lil’ Wayne appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live and (starting at about 2:40) is asked by the host whether or not it’s true that he “lost his virginity” at 11. After looking shocked and attempting to laugh it off, Lil’ Wayne tells his story, and it may be triggering to some of you.

I do not know what Lil’ Wayne would call his own experience, but though he does not use the word, the admittedly few details he provides do indeed portray this quite clearly as rape, for reasons that I hope are obvious to most readers here, and which will be delved into in more detail below. Lil’ Wayne seems to me to be uncomfortable with the line of questioning, and yet Jimmy Kimmel and the other man on the show continue to laugh and joke around about it, even after Lil’ Wayne says very clearly that the experience was harmful to him.

It seems like a reasonable question, to ask what the hell is wrong with Jimmy Kimmel. But the problem is, while not excusing his actions for a single second, that he has a whole culture (and audience) backing him up.

In the majority of sexual assault cases, where a woman is the victim of a man’s violence, rape apology is rooted primarily not in the denial that male violence exists, but in the denial that male violence means something and needs to be stopped. Conversely, in cases where a man is the victim of a woman’s violence, rape apologism is strongly rooted in the denial that women’s actions can count as violence at all — and especially that their actions can count as sexual violence against men, who are routinely construed as incapable of being victims.

In cases of both of these two types of sexual violence (though hardly the only two that exist), the victim is accused of “wanting it.” But while the female victim is also, when that reasoning fails, accused of deserving it, this seems to not be the case with men. No, they just always wanted it. (Again, talking only about male victims of women — gay male victims of other men are routinely portrayed as “deserving” it as well as “wanting” it.) There are no sneers about what he should and shouldn’t have been doing. Just jokes about how awesome the assault must have been for him. Like we see Jimmy Kimmel engaging in above. Continue reading

Your Sex Acts–And Partners–Aren’t Uplifting the Race

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

My gurl S., who followed the Justin Timberlake/Ciara post and thread very closely, just about fell out while we talked on the phone.

She was apoplectic over Timberlake pulling Ciara’s chain in the video, of that salient image of BDSM (and possible race play) as well as the article about race play I linked to in the comment thread. Too through, she told me she “had to get up from the computer when I read about race play.” “I mean, I knew about it, but I never read about it in detail. I just can’t believe it!!”

“I know,” I told S. “I know.” ‘Cause I’ve heard this reaction to race play before. Talking to another blogger, she flipped out pretty bad about it. I had to calm her down by saying, ‘I feel you. Personally, I think of race play and, yeah, I feel the body memories of slavery, too. And, yeah, I even felt a negative undercurrent in Hernandez’s piece, one of ‘This isn’t uplifting The Race!’ But, S., I’ll tell you what I told the blogger: the reality is–whether we like it or not–people are into it.”

“And, I added, “you can’t flip out about race play [with the Racial Uplift] argument because some folks can use the same argument about your liking anal beads: ‘The slavemasters–and white men–have stuck all kinds of objects into us to violate us. Why would you want to do something like that? That’s not uplifting the race!’”

S. got quiet. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Unfortunately, this argument gets whipped out among people of color when a PoC steps out of sexual line of “acceptable” sex practices and partners, especially in a public space, like Ciara did in her “Love Sex Magic” video. On the thread from the other day, she gets “read” as a slut corrupting the youth or a victim of the patriarchy or both. Some of the comments:

“Ciara is clearly desperate…her albums aren’t selling like the execs thought they would…in sense she is a slave…so the video is perfect fit.”

“The video is way sexualized to a point that’s unnecessary…My issue is with the fact that Ciara chose to go so far that she came off as tacky.”

“I don’t know that I’ve witnessed this much (grand plié in 2nd position) crotch, thigh waving and close-up butt rumbling by non-brown bodies in a music videos of late…She is dancing around and below him, she is an armrest for him, she is performing for him (and us – not an essentially bad thing, but a thing I’m keeping in mind) . . .”

“Ciara tends to be very sexualized in general. Did anyone see her performance with Chris Brown at the BET awards? This is how she markets herself…But I feel Ciara’s video is too sexual, and I blame that all on her. We need to start making women accountable in these situations.”

“I think the portrayal of Black women in general, rather a Black rapper or rip-off artist like Justin Timberlake, is discraceful no matter who does it. We have girls and boys, Black, white, latino, asian, in middle school watching this crap, and thinking this is how men and women act, and women should have to get half naked to get status while boys have to be immature, crass, and disrespectful, its alienating to the self and destroys creativity. What ever happened to convincing and natural sexuality?” Continue reading

Soulbounce Asks “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women And Get Away With It?”

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Crash Happy tipped me to this provocative article published on SoulBounce, asking “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women and Get Away with It?

Contributing editor Ro writes:

Someone please explain why Justin Timberlake continually gets a pass to fetishize and exploit the image of Black women. Right now. Because after watching him aggressively pulling on a chain wrapped around Ciara’s neck only to later use her bending body as a leaning post in her new video for “Love Sex Magic,” it’s getting ludicrously difficult to understand.

It been years since “Nipplegate” after which he distanced himself from Janet Jackson, cowardly allowing her to endure the overly harsh criticism alone. The outcry against his actions from those of us in the indignant minority was quickly overshadowed by an increase in album sales, multiple music awards and an increase in his Pop stardom miming Black music and culture. Instead of subjecting his next project with trepidation–let alone dismissal–nearly every “urban” club, radio station and music channel on the planet had the masses bumping to a song with a hook that’s about shackles, whipping and slavery.

From behind a wry smile and with his hair faded he actually tarnished a reigning, Black Pop star’s image arguably beyond repair by exposing her breast on national television and then built his street cred further by bringing sexy back, Middle Passage style. He’s transitioned from the post-racialist’s pop culture dream of somewhat harmlessly lusting after beautiful Black love interest in the video for “Like I Love You” into something more sinister. He uses the scapegoat of S&M edginess in which he is the aggressor, the dominant force, to subordinate his object of desire when she is Black.

Ro goes on to argue that while both Ciara and Janet Jackson chose to collaborate with Timberlake, “that just makes his ability to exploit their collaborations to the point that they are subjugated to his dominance, wittingly or not, more protestable.”

The comments over at SoulBounce were as provocative and engaging as the post. Here are a few of the choice ones:

You talk about JT “miming Black music and culture,” but until we get away from this insular view of racial ownership of culture (and a type of music) we will never be an integrated society. By making him out to be an imposter because he borrows from hip-hop and collaborates with black women (although his last popular single was with Madonna), aren’t you singling him out soley for the color of his skin and not the content of his musical product? That seems like precisely the kind of thing we are trying to get away from as a country.
Luce | March 25, 2009 5:02 PM | Permalink

Continue reading

Quoted: Jaemin Kim on Stereotypes, Asian Women, and Hate Crimes

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


During a one month period in Autumn 2000, the predators abducted five Japanese exchange students, ranging from age 18 to 20. Motivated by their sexual biases about Asian women, all three used both their bodies and objects to repeatedly rape – vaginally, anally and orally — two of the young women over a seven hour ordeal.

In Spokane, one of the attackers immediately confessed to searching only for Japanese women to torture and rape — and eventually all pled guilty and were convicted. It clearly was a racially-motivated criminal case. The victims also believed they were attacked because of their race, the prosecutor told me.

What is astonishing, however, is that the district attorney failed to bring an additional charge that would have tagged the crimes as motivated by racial bias. The police also neglected to report the crime as a “hate crime,” as demanded by the Justice Department to keep accurate statistics of all bias-driven crimes. Although the attackers all received long sentences, an important opportunity to raise the nation’s consciousness was lost. We, as a society, were told that it’s not a hate crime to rape an Asian woman because of her race. Continue reading