Category Archives: sexual stereotypes

More White Men Behaving Badly: A ‘Brain-On’ Look At The Hangover

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

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For perspective’s sake, let me start with a confession: Tropic Thunder made me laugh aloud several times, even after the misgivings I had about Kirk Lazarus. The Alpa Chino twist in the village was brilliant, even if the villagers were written like something out of an Oliver Stone wet dream. And I regularly laugh as much as I grimace at South Park and Family Guy, neither of which is exactly friendly to … well, anybody. So I’m not opposed to “lowbrow” humor.

What I cannot abide is brainless humor. And so, when I tell you that The Hangover is celluloid excrement, I don’t say it lightly. I refuse to believe that it’s “just me.” But I’m telling you, R readers: this isn’t a comedy, or even a film. I’m now halfway convinced it’s proof those cheeky Hulu “alien plot” commercials are really taunting messages of truth from our secret alien overlords. Sure, you might say, “just turn your brain off, it’s a movie,” but don’t you need a working brain to enjoy any movie?

SPOILERS AHOY!

Ostensibly a Las Vegas travel ad masquerading as a bro-mantic comedy, the root of the problem is one common to a lot of modern comedies: we’re dealing not with characters, but anthropomorphic third-rate comedic tropes – Phil the Player (Bradley Cooper), Alan the Weirdo (Zack Galifanakis) and Stuart the Wuss (Ed Helms). Coding them as such is believable when you start a film, but there’s barely a hint of personal development, let alone the “growing up” moments that usually permeate these types of films. Continue reading

Relationship or Rorschach Test? Interracial Relationships and Societal Self-Projecting

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

In a recent discussion about the content of Ciara’s video “Love, Sex, Magic,” in which the songstress collaborated with Justin Timberlake, many readers commented that the video itself served as a classic example of race baiting via sex and sexuality on the small screen. The video demonstrated what some considered a clear example of exotification and sexual exploitation of black women for the fodder of a white male audience. And again, in recent weeks, came the criticism of comments made by Kate, of the TLC show about adventures in parenting Jon and Kate Plus 8, who declared her attraction to, and arguably, fetishization (in the connotative sense) of Asian and Asian-American men.

These accounts garnered considerable attention from tv audiences, gossip column connoisseurs, and critical race theorist alike. Yet despite the aforementioned controversy, few considered the experiences of the interracial couples “on the ground.” In many instances, interracial relationships exist as some conversation piece or pivotal point for people who talk about race, but there is little attention paid to the simple fact that, like any other relationship, interracial relationships deserve the respect and courtesy of same-race relationships, respect in this sense meaning the right to exist sans accusations of racial essentialism and an excessive amount of societal self-projecting solely on the basis of the relationship being interracial.

In simply beginning an interracial relationship in the United States, one often suffers a considerable amount of social pressure, be it from family members, friends, or co-workers. When the presence of an interracial relationship is noted, its very existence at times solicits a barrage of questions in the minds of onlookers, one firing after the other. The questions range from the simple, “how did they meet?” to the complex, “do they really love each other or are they just together because they wish to rebel against social norms?” to the intrusive, “how is the sex?” Some of these questions are customary when considering any relationship, yet with interracial relationships, there seems to be an exceptional increase in curiosity, one that certainly rivals that of intraracial pairings.

And while there are plenty of unuttered questions, there is an equal, if not greater, number of unspoken answers, guesses and assumptions as to the many aspects of the relationship. In relation to interracial couples, the participants are rarely given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their reasons for being together in the first place, at least not in the same way as intraracial couples. For example, if one were to date someone of the same racial background, the issue of essentialism, the idea that one has chosen his or her partner solely on the basis of race and the characteristics one attributes to said race, is rarely considered. Thus we have the double standard. People of the same race could very well be dating each other for calculated reasons, one of them being race, yet this is rarely considered and applied to such couples. Only interracial couples fall victim to such assumptions.

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If Hello Kitty Had A Mouth She’d Be Screaming By Now

by Guest Contributor Czerina Salud, originally published at the Huffington Post

Alec Baldwin’s apology over his Filipina-mail-order-bride comment hit the web this past Wednesday. While there were over 400 comments posted to his blog, a strikingly relevant voice was missing from this discussion. Sadly, the discussion was missing (what seems to me, a Filipina-American woman) an essential voice in this public dialogue — that of a Filipina woman.

So I’m throwing my two cents in because it pains me to see this voice under-represented in this discussion. It feels like you are that troubled kid in the room everyone is talking about but no one is talking to.

Nowhere is the invisibility of the Filipina woman in this dialogue more evident than in the endless comments to Mr. Baldwin’s post that unbelievably condone his behavior from both sides of the Pacific:

“Regarding Alec Baldwin’s comments on ‘mail-order brides’ — it was a joke!” — weber1633

“As someone from the Philippines, the apology was a nice gesture, but there was no need.” — Biboy Hernandez

“Frankly, I think it’s ridiculous that you even had to apologize; I don’t personally know anyone, including any Filipinos, who found that offensive.” — lz1982

Oh really?

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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

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